ISLAMORADA -- Twenty-five people have applied to take over the village's legal department when the town makes the transition to an in-house attorney in October. However, none of the applicants currently practice in either Islamorada or the remainder of the Florida Keys.
"Doesn't bother me at all," said Councilman Dave Purdo. He added that local lawyers might have been discouraged by the fact that they wouldn't be allowed to keep their private clients if they got the post.
Among those who did submit applications before the Aug. 15 deadline are several people who have significant municipal law experience in Florida, which is one of the major qualifications the village seeks. Perhaps best known in the Keys is Ralf Brookes, who in the 1990s worked with the Monroe County Attorney's Office on a contract basis. Brookes has also done contracted city attorney work for St. Pete Beach, Bradenton and, currently, tiny Yankeetown, west of Gainesville.
Another applicant with past Keys experience is William Webster, who has worked as both a prosecutor and a public defender in Monroe County. Webster also gained municipal law experience as the city attorney in the Panhandle city of Carrabelle from 1985 to 1998.
A third applicant whose background includes something of a local connection is Marlon Weiss. He's now a senior associate of the Deerfield-based Garrity Weiss firm. But in 2008 and 2009 he was an associate with the Weiss Serota law firm that the new village in-house attorney will replace.
Other applicants who have significant Florida municipal experience include:
• Robert Dunckel, associate city attorney for Fort Lauderdale since 1988.
• Henry Hunnefeld, assistant city attorney in Miami from 1999 through 2008. Hunnefeld is currently supervisor of the litigation division for the Miami City Attorney's Office.
• Gabrielle Radcliffe, assistant Port St. Lucie city attorney from 2006 to 2012.
• Ramon Irizarri, city attorney for Sweetwater in Miami-Dade County from 1998 to 2009.
• David Michael Migut, senior assistant attorney for St. John's County in northeast Florida since 2011 and a former assistant attorney for Fort Myers.
• L. Roland Blossom, city attorney between 2002 and 2008 for Deltona, north of Orlando.
With the applications in, an ad-hoc committee appointed by the Village Council will now evaluate the candidates. The committee, which is comprised of local attorneys Jim Lupino and Scott Black as well as Weiss Serota's Nina Boniske and businessman David Gross, will convene this morning, Aug. 21, at Village Hall. Their meetings are public.
The council expects to hire the in-house attorney before the Oct. 1 start of the next fiscal year. The position has been tentatively budgeted for $140,000, but the actual salary will be determined by negotiation.