TUSTIN : City Attorney Quits Post, Cites Election


City Atty. James G. Rourke said Thursday that he has retired as a municipal employee and has given up his medical and life insurance benefits to keep his employment from becoming an issue during campaigning for the April 12 city election.

But Rourke, 67, said he will stay on as a contract attorney for the city through his law firm, Orange-based Rourke, Woodruff & Spradlin, which already provides legal services to the city.

“Certain people are trying to make me an (election) issue,” said Rourke, who has worked for the city since 1953. “But I’m not supporting any candidate, nor am I opposed to any candidate.”


Four candidates are contesting the two City Council seats at stake in the election and two of them, Michael Doyle and Tracy Worley, have said that the city must find ways to cut legal expenses, including possibly hiring an in-house attorney.

The other candidates, incumbents Leslie Anne Pontious and Charles Puckett, said they are satisfied with Rourke’s work.

In a letter to council members on Jan. 24, Rourke said he would give up his benefits, including participating in the Public Employees Retirement System.

Finance Director Ron Nault said the city pays about $1,700 a month for Rourke’s life and medical insurance premiums and contributions to the retirement plan and a so-called deferred compensation plan.

Since the city joined PERS in the 1960s, contributions to PERS on Rourke’s behalf have reached more than $90,000. Rourke said he expects pension payments from PERS of about $40,000 a year.

Rourke’s announcement has added a new twist to the campaign.

This week, Doyle and Worley, who are seeking public office for the first time, were endorsed by the police and city employee unions.


Anne Bonner, who heads the employee union, said it is backing Doyle and Worley because they appear to be more sensitive to the views of the employees about labor problems.

Bonner said union representatives interviewed the candidates to seek their ideas on certain issues. Pontious declined to be interviewed by the unions.

“I think it would be a conflict of interest to seek their endorsement,” Pontious said.