Blue Springs City Attorney Bob McDonald is riding off into the sunset, and will be retiring this spring, after 28 years of service to the city.
For the first 23 years of his tenure as city attorney, he was in private practice, with the city as his regular client. Over the years, the responsibilities of the job became so immense, that five years ago the city brought him "in house" and hired him full time.
He will be difficult to replace.
For these many years, Bob has served the City of Blue Springs with a level of knowledge, professionalism, and legal expertise that is beyond compare.
Or, as one attorney once said, Bob "is the best city attorney that a city could have."
Being the city attorney for a city like Blue Springs is not exactly a cake walk.
Its legal issues are many, varied, and often-times complex. Land use, zoning, taxation, contract law, real estate law, employment law, litigation, civil rights, annexation, city codes, and use of police power constitute a smattering of the areas that fall within the scope of a city attorney's responsibilities.
In many cities, different lawyers with different specialties handle these varied issues.
In Blue Springs, not so much. Bob is the "go to guy." He is a walking legal encyclopedia, a lawyer who knows more about more than perhaps anyone I have known.
But perhaps more significant than Bob's outstanding legal acumen has been Bob's demeanor.
As city attorney, Bob has been the city's man at the front of the firing line for many an emotional and challenging controversy. On a number of occasions over the years, I have been the lawyer on the other side of that line.
And, over the years, despite the high level emotional and economic interests that might be at stake, fueled in part by what, in my opinion, have been the difficult positions Bob was at times required to advocate for the city, one factor never varied: Bob has always been unceasingly calm and credible, a true gentleman who always rose above the negative emotions that any matter might bring to bear, and conducted himself with unmitigated professionalism.
Plus, his legal analysis has been generally spot on, too.
I remember occasions over the years, when I was a bit younger and more excitable, in which I would just be bouncing off the walls over some spat a client of mine was having with the city. Bob's approach was always the same: "Well, the city's position is ..." he would state without responding in kind. Then, he would calmly ask a question or make a comment or two to illustrate his point. A true professional. Rather than get angry, Bob was one to agree to disagree.
I always thought that Bob would have made an excellent judge. I even mentioned that to him once or twice. But, despite his tremendous legal acumen, he would not be interested in delving into the politics that such a pursuit would require. That's not his style.
And now that he is soon to ride off into the sunset, as a lawyer who lives and works in the city he has served so well, it feels to me like the end of an era.
Good luck, Bob, and enjoy your retirement!
Ken Garten is a Blue Springs attorney. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org