Palo Alto's new city attorney passed her first test Monday night -- she sat through a four-hour debate on composting technologies and emerged not just awake but downright impressed.
"The work you did tonight was amazing and it was wonderful to observe it," newly hired City Attorney Molly Stump told the City Council after hearing comments from dozens of residents and a lengthy council discussion. "It illustrated everything that makes me excited to join your team."
Stump, who will officially begin her duties on April 18, attended the meeting as a spectator and received an ovation and welcome from the council. Mayor Sid Espinosa told Stump that the council very much looks forward to working with her and assured her that "this place will never get boring." City Manager James Keene said city staff is "excited" about her joining the team.
The council also voted unanimously to approve her contract, which includes a base salary of $208,375.
Stump told the council that one of her main priorities will be transparency. She said she wants to change the City Attorney's website to make more documents available to the public. She said she believes in "open government" and public participation.
"There's a lot of information about the city's legal programs that can be made available to the public and it's important to me that it be done quickly and expeditiously so that people can participate," Stump said.
Stump, who serves as general counsel to San Francisco Airport and who had previously spent 15 years in San Francisco's city attorney's office, also said she is committed to providing "excellent customer service" and making her office "a great place to work." This includes making people in her office feel like their careers are nurtured.
"I want both attorneys and staff to be inspired to bring their best effort to work every day," Stump said.
The approval of her contract immediately followed a lengthy debate over the city's composting options. Dozens of speakers provided feedback to the council about the preliminary results of a feasibility study evaluating the costs of building an anaerobic-digestion facility on a nine-acre site in Byxbee Park.
After hearing the complex discussion and the thorough presentation from Public Works staff, Stump acknowledged that she'll face "stiff competition" from other City Hall departments in her quest to distinguish her office for "excellent work product" and "excellent customer service."
Stump will succeed Gary Baum, who retired last October. She was chosen earlier this month from a pool of five finalists.
"I'm sure I'll be challenged every day and I look forward to that," Stump said. "I can't wait to get started."