Mayor Alfred A. Hopkins appointed as the new Annapolis city attorney last night a man who grew up with the mayor's own children.
Paul Garvey Goetzke, whose appointment was confirmed by the City Council at last night's meeting, said the mayor used to umpire his Little League games and, later, watched as he played football with Mr. Hopkins' son, Mark, at St. Mary's High School.
Excited by the appointment and because his wife, Suzie, gave birth to their first child, Harrison David, Sunday night, Mr. Goetzke said, "My life has nowhere to go but down, things are going so well for me right now."
Mr. Goetzke, 33, who lives in Annapolis' Homewood neighborhood, takes over as the city's chief counsel on Dec. 7.
He replaces Jonathon Hodgson, 42, who announced his plans last January to leave the office after the Nov. 2 election to join a private law firm.
A litigator with the Annapolis firm of Council, Baradel, Kosmeri & Nolan since he graduated from the University of Maryland in 1985, Mr. Goetzke will be responsible for advising the mayor, aldermen and department heads on legal matters. He also must defend the city against lawsuits.
About 25 lawsuits are pending against the city, Mr. Hodgson said. Suits often are filed against the city when someone twists an ankle stepping off a city bus, trips over a cracked sidewalk or is injured in an accident with a city vehicle.
The city attorney also must defend the city against discrimination suits and charges of police brutality, Mr. Hodgson said.
When someone appeals the approval or denial of a liquor license, building permit or zoning change, the chief counsel represents the city in those cases as well.
Mr. Goetzke's firm currently represents two clients, including a firefighter dismissed during in a 1991 sex scandal, that have brought suits against the city.
Mr. Hodgson said he does not believe that those cases will pose any conflict of interest because Mr. Goetzke is severing ties with the firm.
Mr. Goetzke, who said he has not been involved in the cases against the city, said he will quit the firm by Dec. 3.
If a potential conflict of interest arises, Mr. Goetzke said the city could hire a private attorney to represent it in those instances.
Mr. Goetzke said he also will be resigning as chairman of the Anne Arundel County Ethics Commission and as a member of the Annapolis Board of Appeals.
Mr. Hodgson, who will be joining Snider, Buck & Migdal on West Street, will continue under contract with the city until January. In private practice, he said, he will represent clients before local governments, including Annapolis.
City code bars him from going before the council on issues he handled as city attorney for one year, he added.
Appointed by then-Mayor Dennis Callahan in 1985, Mr. Hodgson developed a reputation for successfully arguing municipal cases in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court and drafting precedent-setting city ordinances.
He wrote an affordable housing bill in 1986 that was among the first in Maryland and a law barring private clubs from discriminating that is still being tested in court.
In April, Annapolis lawmakers passed a bill he drafted that made the city the first in the state to outlaw sexual harassment.
In June, Mr. Hodgson successfully defended the boundaries of the city's new councilmanic districts against a lawsuit filed in Circuit Court to create a third majority-black ward in Annapolis.