Scottsdale Mayor Mary Manross said Wednesday she granted the former city attorney a “less traditional office schedule’’ to pursue outside legal work while still serving the city.
Manross said she allowed David Pennartz to cut his office hours to 2 1/2 days per week during his last months as city attorney before he left Aug. 15 to start his own private law practice. He made $125,361 annually with Scottsdale.
Pennartz said he struck a deal with the mayor when he tendered his resignation March 31. He offered either a month’s notice or 4 1/2 months with a flexible work schedule to start his practice. The mayor opted for the four months so the city also could start a national search to replace him.
“He was always available. He addressed every issue. He did all his work. He completed his responsibilities as city attorney,’’ Manross said. “He just wanted different hours being in and out of his office so he could try to begin to transition into private practice.’’
Pennartz defended his work schedule and said he “didn’t hand off his responsibilities to anybody.’’
“Some weeks it was seven-day work weeks . . . and some (weeks) it was five–day work weeks,’’ Pennartz said. “I put in faithful hours to the city. I mean there’s a lot of times I worked Saturday and Sundays and nighttimes and I was available 24 hours a day,’’ he said.
Dan Schmidt, human resources director, said he was unaware of the arrangement.
“That would be something between him and the mayor,” Schmidt said.
Manross said she did not violate any city policy and City Manager Jan Dolan was aware of the deal.
In May, Pennartz picked up a personal injury case for Glendale — his former employer — while still serving as Scottsdale’s lead city attorney. He resolved that case for Glendale within three weeks and made an appearance before a judge in a settlement conference, said Julie Frisoni, a Glendale spokeswoman. Further details could not be obtained late Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Pennartz’s name appeared on an Aug. 25 City Council agenda for two legal contracts — one for $50,000 for the Los Arcos project and the other for $30,000 for the Scottsdale Waterfront project and personnel matters.
City Council members Cynthia Lukas, Bob Littlefield and David Ortega said they were not aware of the flexible-hours deal.
“I knew he was doing some work on his own,’’ Councilman Tom Silverman said. “I knew he wasn’t putting in 40 hours.’’
Still, Silverman is comfortable having Pennartz as outside counsel for Los Arcos because developer Steve Ellman has to pick up the costs under a redevelopment agreement with the city. But, he’s not sure about the Waterfront contract.
“It was my clear understanding that (Pennartz) was going to touch base with every single council person,’’ Manross said.
Littlefield said he does not think it sets a good precedent, especially by allowing Pennartz to start his own business on city time.
But Lukas said, “As long as he was fulfilling his workload for the city, I suppose that would be OK.’’
Ortega recalled seeing Pennartz’s desk cleared in May and Pennartz “was always available but not visible.’’
Deputy city attorney Donna Bronski defended Pennartz.
“His schedule was that he was in the office primarily 2 1/2 days towards the end,’’ she said. “But he was also working outside the office, too.’’ She said he attended meetings and was in constant contact with the 50 law office employees he supervised.