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City Attorney Quits As Los Al Council Undergoes Power Shift

Sandra Levin, who has worked for the city since late 2009, will quit her post amid the change in leadership on the contentious City Council following this month's election.

Following this month's election, the sharply divided Los Alamitos City Council will see a shift in its majority and, amid the changing of the guard, City Attorney Sandra Levin has opted to resign.

Levin, a partner in the firm of Colantuano and Levin, announced her plan at a Monday City Council meeting to resign from the position.

While the three members of the council’s current majority praised her service to the city, Councilman Warren Kusumoto offered a harsh assessment of her tenure, suggesting her decision to leave was motivated by the council’s upcoming performance review process.

“Effective no later than Jan. 31, 2012, I will be leaving my post as City Attorney of Los Alamitos,” Levin said. “I am available to assist the city in finding a new attorney and will do my utmost to help ensure there is a seamless transition moving forward.”

Levin said she was proud of what the city had accomplished under her tenure including new staff training programs, "the successful defense of all claims and litigation without a penny assessed against the city as a result of legal claims during our tenure," and most recently, the passing of Measure DD.

To read Levin’s full speech, click the pdf below the story’s images.  

Levin joined the staff in late 2009.

According to her firms’ web page she also serves as the City Attorney of La Habra Heights and General Counsel to the Orangeline Development Authority and the Los Angeles County Law Library. 

In a brief interview with Patch after the Monday City Council meeting, Levin said that it was the correct professional move to make, especially in light of "the changing makeup of the City Council."

She added that the move didn’t have anything to do with the often contentious Los Alamitos City Council meetings and that the arguments didn’t bother her.

“I’ve had to develop a thick skin,” Levin said.

After Levin’s announcement, Councilman Ken Stephens, Mayor Troy Edgar and Mayor Pro Tem Marilynn Poe praised Levin for her work.

“You’ve done an excellent job,” Stephens said. “It’s not too often that we can have a city attorney that was so proactive in responding to council questions and questions from the community.”

Stephens added, “I know you have the best interest in the city at heart. I, as a resident, am going to miss you.”

After the meeting, Kusumoto released a statement in which he said he was sorry Levin was leaving and that he wished her "success in her future endeavors."

However, he also sharply criticized some of Levin's actions.

In the letter, Kusumoto accused Levin of denying him city documents he was entitled to, failing to properly handle the city’s trash contract and withholding key information when the council voted to prosecute him for alleged Brown Act Violations.

He said he regretted how their relationship had become strained “since it was obvious that she couldn't or wouldn't provide equal treatment and support to all five Council members.”

To read Kusumoto’s full statement, click the second pdf below the photos.

Councilwoman Gerri Graham-Mejia suggested it was the divisive climate of the Los Alamitos City Council that prompted Levin to quit.

“I believe that she just realized in her vast involvement as a city attorney with this city -- and with other cities -- that she has the potential to be more effective when there’s more consensus on the council," said Graham-Mejia.

Dave Emerson November 21, 2012 at 10:20 PM
Thanks for an accurate report and including the .pdf files! Levin and her firm made tens of thousands of dollars giving bad legal adivce. Advice that was certified as being wrong by Orange County Superior Court Judge Andrew Banks. Details at LetsFixLosAl.com: http://letsfixlosal.com/blog/levin-resigns-as-city-attorney/
Jennifer April 30, 2013 at 10:52 PM
Sandra Levin no longer serves as City Attorney for La Habra Heights. (See http://letsfixlosal.com/blog/2012/12/21/sandra-levin/.) She also stepped down as General Counsel to the Orangeline Development Authority; that position is now held by Teresa Highsmith, former City Attorney for the City of Alameda. (See http://www.olda.org/Participants/staff.shtml, http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com/2013/04/the-results-of-our-pra-request-to-city.html and http://alameda.patch.com/articles/alameda-city-attorney-teresa-highsmiths-departure.) Per the LA Law Library's website, the Executive Director position that Levin now holds is a full-time job. (See http://www.lalawlibrary.org/news/newsitem.aspx?id=129.)
Jennifer April 30, 2013 at 10:52 PM
Sandra Levin no longer serves as City Attorney for La Habra Heights. (See http://letsfixlosal.com/blog/2012/12/21/sandra-levin/.) She also stepped down as General Counsel to the Orangeline Development Authority; that position is now held by Teresa Highsmith, former City Attorney for the City of Alameda. (See http://www.olda.org/Participants/staff.shtml, http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com/2013/04/the-results-of-our-pra-request-to-city.html and http://alameda.patch.com/articles/alameda-city-attorney-teresa-highsmiths-departure.) Per the LA Law Library's website, the Executive Director position that Levin now holds is a full-time job. (See http://www.lalawlibrary.org/news/newsitem.aspx?id=129.)

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