City attorney announces retirement

The city announced today that Michael Martello, Mountain View's longest serving city attorney, is set to retire in December.

"Before he came here no one had much confidence in the legal office and we had a lot of problems," recalls council member Jac Siegel. Martello made his office accessible to council members and staff. He would say "tell me what you want and I'll tell you how to do it. He was one of those guys who would say 'we'll figure out a way.'"

Since being hired by the City Council in January 1994, Martello has defended the city in some of the most significant legal battles in its history. In 2005 he successfully won the city over $10 million in lawsuit against Clear Channel and others for rent due on the Shoreline Amphitheatre and in the mid 1990s he saved the city millions from an investment pool with Orange County. Orange County had gone bankrupt, and cities with less competent legal help lost far more than Mountain View did, Siegel said.

"Mike really saved our bacon in that one," Siegel said. "We would have potentially lost millions of dollars."

Siegel says that since Martello took the helm, there have been far fewer questionable "big pocket" claims against the city. If there was ever any doubt about a claims validity for something, such as a city tree's roots damaging a resident's sewer line, Martello would take the claim to court, which discouraged many potential lawsuits. The number of claims just "dropped off," Siegel said.

City officials say Martello never lost a high profile lawsuit in his 16 years. In his 29 year long career he also served as city attorney in Concord and Thousand Oaks, Calif. and has become a leader among city attorneys statewide. He is considered an expert in conflict of interest law and is a certified to train city officials in the topic.

Martello will continue to live in Mountain View and may even write a book about conflict of interest law, Siegel said.

"He will be very hard to replace," Siegel said.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Daniel
a resident of Rex Manor
on Oct 13, 2009 at 4:31 pm

Could not he retire BEFORE he destroyed the Creek trails dirt-jump spot?

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Drew Seutter
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 13, 2009 at 4:46 pm

Replace, Hell. This guy should leave today. This is the bonehead that ordered the bike trails to be bulldozed, I assume without the proper Fish and Game and County grading permits. Send him out to pasture and tell him to leave his fat pension here in the city where we can use the extra dough.

Good riddence.

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Drew Seutter
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 13, 2009 at 4:48 pm

Oh, and Jac Siegel is a bonehead too.

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Alan R
a resident of Castro City
on Oct 14, 2009 at 12:34 pm

He is probably leaving in disgrace because he bulldozed those jumps and now he can't look himself in the mirror anymore.

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