SM Officials Honor Outgoing Longtime City Attorney

He will be gone, but not a ghost, and he certainly won’t be forgotten.
Steve Dorsey, a partner with Richards, Watson and Gershon Attorneys at Law, has formally resigned as the city attorney for San Marino. Dorsey, who grew up here and continues to live here, had served his hometown since May 14, 1986.
“I know I was not thinking 31 years ahead to tonight,” Dorsey said, reflecting on his appointment at the Wednesday, May 10, City Council meeting, “but I do recall how excited I was at the opportunity to represent the city that my family had chosen to call home. That excitement has proven to be well-founded.”
Steve Flower will take over as city attorney.
Dorsey, who accepted a plaque from the City Council honoring his 31 years of representing the city, said it was a joy to serve and the quality of the people elected and working for the city made it so.
“Even though I did not have an office in City Hall, I always felt included and treated as a member of the team, and that’s not always the case for a contract city attorney,” he said.
Mayor Dr. Richard Sun, who presented the plaque, said it was “a little bit hard to make this presentation,” and pointed out that Dorsey had served under 18 different mayors and six presidencies during his tenure and attended more than 500 City Council meetings.
“I really want to show my thankfulness to you for all the contributions you have made over the last 31 years,” Sun said.
Dorsey praised all of the elected officials who served while he was city attorney for the hard and honest work they did representing San Marino’s residents and for their collegiality in working with each other.
“That does not mean that all votes are 5-0,” Dorsey added. “Principled people can disagree. What is important is that the City Council members — and I hope the public appreciates this — have always been motivated by their perception of what was best for the residents, not what was best for themselves or their friends.”
Councilman Dr. Allan Yung praised Dorsey for being able to analyze an issue and give objective advice, even on emotional and divisive issues.
“His advice is very much heeded by everyone,” Yung said.
Councilman Richard Ward said he’s learned much from Dorsey during his two terms on the City Council.
“And I’ve appreciated the dedication and the erudition that he brings to this council every session,” he said.
Second-year Councilman Steve Talt, himself a lawyer, said he’d previously known Dorsey as a legal opponent when he represented clients against the city.
“As a resident of San Marino, before I was elected, even when we disagreed on something, it was always done in a very professional, ethical and honorable way, and you were always a true gentleman,” he told Dorsey at the meeting. “Now that I’m sitting here on the other side of the bench, so to speak, I’ve learned that I should have listened to you more back when I was a resident.”
Talt, a UC Berkeley alumnus known for his frequent quips, added Dorsey has had a wonderful career “except for that Stanford thing.” (Dorsey earned his undergraduate and law degrees from Stanford University.)
Councilman Dr. Steven Huang said he was sorry for not being around for more of Dorsey’s career, but, in his defense, he noted he was “only a junior in high school” in 1986.
“I’m glad I’m here today and it was an honor to work with you for the past 17 months,” Huang said.
Although now resigned, Dorsey has not yet retired and said he would help the city out on occasion, given his institutional knowledge. Because he was raised here, raised his own family here and has enjoyed the uniqueness of the town and its close-knit residents, he said he plans on sticking around.
“We’ll miss you, but thank God you’re still in the neighborhood,” Ward said.
In keeping with “tradition,” the city has appointed another Steve to continue legal representation. On the same contract as before, Flower, with Richards, Watson and Gershon, will serve as the city attorney. He was formally sworn in shortly after Dorsey accepted his plaque.
“I have every reason to believe your relationship with the city will be as rewarding as it has been for me,” Dorsey said.
Flower, already with work to do after this meeting, said he plans on being a presence at the meetings for the city’s various committees and commissions as well.
“I look forward to doing my best work for the city,” he told the City Council last week.

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