Palo Alto names Molly Stump new city attorney

Stump, legal counsel for SFO, to head City Attorney's Office

Palo Alto concluded its search for a new city attorney Thursday, naming San Francisco Airport General Counsel Molly S. Stump as its choice to succeed retired attorney Gary Baum.

Stump will take over the City Attorney's Office at a time when Palo Alto is preparing to take over operations of its own airport from Santa Clara County. Before working at SFO she spent 15 years in the San Francisco City Attorney's Office, where she supervised the public protection team and served as chief counsel to the Police Commission and the police chief.

Stump has also served on San Francisco's labor employment team, where she defended the city in labor lawsuits and negotiated labor agreements, according to the city's statement. She was also a "special transition counsel" to former San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.

Stump's appointment will begin on April 18. She will receive a base salary of $208,375, the city announced.

Mayor Sid Espinosa said in a statement that he is excited to welcome Stump to Palo Alto.

"Molly Stump has spent her entire legal career in service to the public sector," Espinosa said. "We welcome her to Palo Alto. We are excited that she is joining the team and we look forward to working with her."

City attorney is one of four city positions -- along with city manager, city clerk and city auditor -- that are appointed directly by the City Council. The council selected Stump after a search that began just after Baum's retirement on Oct. 31, 2010.

Assistant City Attorney Donald Larkin has been serving as interim city attorney since Baum's retirement.

Councilwoman Karen Holman, who chaired the Council Appointed Officers Committee, said in a statement that she and the committee are "very pleased that Molly Stump has accepted our offer and welcome the experience, expertise and capability that she brings to Palo Alto."

"We look forward to a long relationship and the beneficial impact that she will have on our community," Holman said.

The committee selected Stump earlier this month from a field of five finalists, Holman told the Weekly. She said the committee was particularly impressed with Stump's "intelligence, her approach to problem solving, her analytical, personnel and people skills and her approach to management issues."

In addition to her base salary, Stump will receive a monthly $325 "auto allowance" and 180 annual vacation hours. If the council asks her to resign or terminates her contract, she would receive six months of severance pay. The severance-pay benefit would increase by one month for every year of completed service, to a maximum of nine months, according to the proposed contract.

The City Council is expected to approve Stump's contract at its March 21 meeting.

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Like this comment
Posted by Don
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 18, 2011 at 11:19 am

I'm sure Ms. Stump is a worthy person, but the salary for our small town seems excessive. And to get 22 days of vacation per year is far beyond what people in the private sector get. (Maybe with the exception of overpaid chief executives.)

I hope she can review the pluses and minuses of a Palo Alto run airport. Will it cover its expenses? With her background she could help the appropriate city departments analyze the operation and either continue our commitment or terminate another losing money sink.

Like this comment
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 18, 2011 at 11:56 am

We are not a small town...we're a small city. If you add in the number of companies, the university, etc. - PA is unique combination of citizens and commerce. Hardly duplicated.

That being said, the salary in question should be compared to like-type positions of size and responsibility. Then you have to add-in the relative high-cost of living for our region. Then someone could do an objective assessment of appropriate salary levels.

Offering 22 days of vacation is not unusual for executive compensation when bringing in a seasoned/experienced individual. This done all the time in the private sector.

Like this comment
Posted by Bob
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 18, 2011 at 1:38 pm

> I hope she can review the pluses and minuses of a
> Palo Alto run airport.

While this is something that needs to be done, it's unlikely that the City Attorney's office will take on such a task.

Like this comment
Posted by Lindsaylee
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 19, 2011 at 3:29 pm

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Short story writers wanted!

The 33rd Annual Palo Alto Weekly Short Story Contest is now accepting entries for Adult, Young Adult (15-17) and Teen (12-14) categories. Send us your short story (2,500 words or less) and entry form by March 29. First, Second and Third Place prizes awarded in each category.

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