TAMPA — A new boss will take the reins of the city's legal affairs after Mayor Pam Iorio announced Wednesday that City Attorney David Smith is leaving.
She named Chip Fletcher, an expert in environmental and administrative law, as his replacement.
Fletcher served four months on the Tampa City Council, filling in for Rose Ferlita in 2006 after she won election to the Hillsborough County Commission.
Later, Fletcher helped the city craft an agreement with state regulators and environmental groups to provide more water to the lower Hillsborough River.
Fletcher also represented Democrat Christine Jennings in her recount challenge of the results in her 13th congressional district race in Sarasota in 2006.
Smith said he is leaving for a better opportunity in the private sector, where he worked before Iorio hired him in 2004.
Iorio said after learning of Smith's resignation that she quickly thought of Fletcher as someone who "really cares about public policy issues."
She invited him to lunch at the University Club and asked him to join the staff.
He will begin work July 16 with a starting salary of $150,000. The City Council will vote on his appointment next week.
Smith, a real estate and land-use attorney, said he has accepted a job at the GrayRobinson law firm, where he was a partner before going to work for Iorio in 2004.
"I am very impressed with the level of expertise and competence that exists in the city," Smith said. "I can tell you it was not what I expected."
Many people in the private sector have the impression that government employees don't work hard, he said.
On the other hand, Smith said he was also surprised by how slowly government moves.
"I've always watched and followed political things. It's always been from the outside," he said. "I appreciate in a new way the difficulty of everything that goes into governance."
GrayRobinson does work for the city, and its attorneys sometimes represent clients doing business with Tampa government. The city's ethics code limits what kind of city-related work Smith can handle for the next two years.