City Attorney Michael Biddle quietly announced his decision to Council in closed session that he would not be seeking re-appointment when his contract expires on June 30th. Biddle joins City Manager Sabrina Landreth, Police Chief Ken James & Chamber of Commerce President Bob Canter as high-profile City employees & affiliates who have all announced their departure or retirement in the last few months.
“I will actually retire from public service, but I will enter into private practice as a partner with the firm of Burke Williams & Sorensen in Oakland where I will concentrate on various development projects throughout the bay area”. BW&S counts Sherwin-Williams developer SRM Ernst amongst its clients. Biddle noted that he would jump right in after leaving Emeryville but has plans to do some traveling next year including a trip to Ireland. “Life and work will go on, just a different venue” he commented over email.
Biddle graduated with a degree in environmental science then pursued his Law Degree with an interest in environmental law. Biddle began his career in Emeryville in 1989 as the Assistant City Attorney and was appointed City Attorney in 1994 after then City Attorney Anne Haden retired. “I couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity (laboratory) than Emeryville. However, Emeryville quickly became more than just a job for me and I know that sentiment is shared by the City staff. This is a City that knows how to get things done and as a result it is enjoyable coming to work every day”.
Biddle’s career spans a very transitional era of our City and he deserved to go out on his own terms. “Michael Biddle’s retirement on July 1st is a great loss to Emeryville” noted longtime Councilperson Nora Davis, whose own 27 year political career parallels Biddle’s. “Over the years he has successfully managed complex legal issues for the city resulting in favorable court decisions worth millions. He has served the city well, faithfully and successfully. I wish him all good fortune in whatever new path he takes”.
“After 26 years of service, I want to take on other challenges outside Emeryville and private practice provides me that opportunity” added Biddle when asked about his decision. “It also opens up opportunities in the City Attorney’s Office for the next generation of public servants, which I believe is very important. I will never forget my time here in Emeryville, nor all the really good people I have come to know and have had the opportunity to interact with representing this great City. Many of those good people are still here and so I know Emeryville is in good hands. It has been a pleasure and an honor and Emeryville will always be a special place for me. Thank you Emeryville.”
Who will fill the City Attorney position is an issue for the Council to tackle and they will need to do this quickly with so many high-profile initiatives at stake including Minimum Wage and the new residential development guidelines that the city is exploring. Biddle was well compensated at $260K in total pay & benefits in 2013 according to TransparentCalifornia.com (second highest amongst City Employees) and will surely yield a generous pension.