Niles Township has new attorney

Published 8:40 pm Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Niles Township Board of Trustees selected Mary Lasata Spiegel as the new township attorney Monday night.

The board approved hiring the Niles Township resident by a 4-1 vote with Supervisor Jim Kidwell voting no. Trustee Ron Goodwin did not vote because he is on sick leave.

Kidwell said he voted against hiring Spiegel, because she is Clerk Marge Durm-Hiatt’s niece.

“I feel there is a conflict of interest,” Kidwell said in an interview Wednesday. “With something of this nature, an attorney shouldn’t be this close to somebody on the board. The majority of the board didn’t care about that, I guess.”

Durm-Hiatt did not participate in discussions of the candidates nor did she vote on the issue.

“I personally do not think it is a conflict of interest,” Durm-Hiatt said. “We are in a small community, and I have a large extended family. We’re just a very large family and very community-minded and involved.”

Kidwell drew criticism himself in March 2009 when he appointed his daughter Tammy Youngs as deputy supervisor, a new position he created for the township. Some residents and board members felt the move was wasteful spending of tax dollars and a display of favoritism to a family member.

Four other firms were interviewed for the township attorney position.

“I felt there were some other firms more qualified to handle township business,” Kidwell said.

Durm-Hiatt pointed out the other candidates were from north county.

“Mary has her office in Niles Township,” she said. “She was born and raised in Niles Township and has a passion for helping the township.”

Spiegel takes over for Chris Lynch, who held the position for several years.

Durm-Hiatt said it was a “mutual separation” between Lynch and the township.

Spiegel had her first day on the job Wednesday.