State Sen. James Clayborne’s law firm has been dropped by the City Council as attorneys for East St. Louis and a Belleville law firm that includes former county Chief Judge John Baricevic is being considered as a replacement.
Clayborne, 53, who as the majority leader in the Illinois Senate was considered the No. 2 Democrat in the state, announced Thursday that he would not seek re-election from the 57th District, an office he has held since 1995. The district, made up primarily of St. Clair County, produced a narrow victory for Clayborne in 2014 when he out polled Republican Katherine Ruocco 30,624 to 28,486. Clayborne’s term ends in 2018.
Clayborne did not respond to a written request for comment. He typically does not talk to the media.
Baricevic, a Democrat, who lost his bid for re-eletion last year, said the firm of which he is a partner, Chatham & Baricevic, submitted a proposal to East St. Louis and expects a response sometime next week. Baricevic said Friday, “I have no idea,” concerning how much the city would have to pay the firm as a retainer. “Those numbers have not been finalized.”
In a 2015 article, the BND reported that its review of city records showed that Clayborne’s firm — Clayborne, Sabo and Wagner — was paid $778,039 in 2014 for service to East St. Louis, the first full year that the firm held the contract. At that time, Clayborne’s company received a retainer of $156,000 and was allowed to charge between $130 and $170 per hour for additional work. The total was about double what attorneys representing Belleville were paid for that year.
City Clerk Dorene Hoosman said the City Council voted on Sept. 14 to terminate Clayborne’s contract, effective Nov. 14. She said the council has 60 days from the vote to hire new counsel.
Councilman Robert Eastern III said he was satisfied with the representation by Clayborne’s firm but commented that the council “wants to go in a different direction.”
Eastern said the board’s “consensus” was to select Baricevic’s firm. He said a retainer figure of $380,000 had been discussed.
“They’re working out the details,” he said.