BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – In the midst of the nation’s largest ever municipal bankruptcy, Jefferson County commissioners have forced their longtime lead attorney to retire.
Commission President David Carrington placed attorney Jeff Sewell on administrative leave with pay Monday. He and other commissioners offered little explanation at that time. Thursday, during a special-called administrative services committee meeting, Carrington expressed concerns with Sewell’s job performance and made a motion to terminate his employment. Carrington specifically mentioned instances when Sewell had cancelled meetings with outside bankruptcy attorneys.Sewell, allowed to respond at the meeting, said any such meeting cancellations were in the best interest of his client, Jefferson County.
“If you don’t want me to be your county attorney, come talk to me. I’ll retire if you don’t want me to be your county attorney. This is not the way to treat somebody who has devoted 25 years of their life to this county,” Sewell said.
Commissioner George Bowman was the only to vote against the resolution to fire Sewell. During a break prior to the final vote, Commissioner Jimmie Stephens pulled Sewell aside. That started hours of negotiations that eventually led to a revised resolution to allow Sewell to involuntarily retire.
Details of that agreement are still being worked out but Sewell will not leave empty-handed. He will collect unused vacation and sick time. That amount has not yet been finalized but with Sewell’s annual salary of nearly $400, 000, it will potentially be thousands.