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Clawson city attorney resigns after 41 years

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published October 15, 2019




CLAWSON — In a letter dated Sept. 17, longtime Clawson City Attorney Jon Kingsepp notified the Clawson City Council of his resignation.

Kingsepp said he wished to spend more time with his wife and grandchildren, but that he would like to continue to serve the city as legal counsel in the complex litigation resulting from the August 2014 flooding.

“I have had the wonderful experience of representing this city for 41 years; through struggles, challenges faced together, and experiencing many rewarding times,” Kingsepp wrote in the letter. “However, as a trial attorney and representative of public bodies, I have spent more time on my clients than on my family.”

With his grandchildren, many of whom live out of state, maturing, he said he wished to see them more often.

He also communicated a confidence that the city’s prosecuting attorney, Renis Nushaj, would make an ideal candidate for the position of interim city attorney. 

Kingsepp praised the city’s residents, staff and department heads and said that he would miss everyone.

In an Oct. 4 phone interview, Kingsepp said he enjoyed his career as a mediator and arbitrator, traveling around the nation and even the Virgin Islands to work on cases.

He said he watched Clawson evolve from a docile town with little transition to a highly popular destination for new residents within the past several years.

“I’ve had exciting cases. My litigation practice has always been stimulating and exciting,” Kingsepp said. “I’m really grateful for the profession I’ve selected and the ability to help people, both voluntarily and in litigation cases.”

Besides working on the city’s flood litigation, Kingsepp plans to continue to write stories about some of his more notorious cases, and he is contemplating creating a children’s series dealing with the issue of civility.

“As a new mayor, I needed to be able to lean on somebody who had the knowledge and history of this community, and have a mentor that could help weed through things, and he was there for me, and I’m going to miss him,” Mayor Deborah Wooley said. “He has gotten this city through all sorts of rough times, and I just really want to thank him for his service and wish him well in an exciting new chapter in his life.”

Councilwoman Paula Millan said she has a lot of respect for Kingsepp.

“I know he had many people who did not have the confidence in him for all things, but I think his illustrious career with Clawson speaks for itself,” she said. “I really appreciated his professionalism and kindness that he always showed, whether he thought you were on the right page or not. I think he was a really good leader, and I just hope people think well of him, because he deserves it.”

The council unanimously appointed Nushaj as the interim city attorney and unanimously voted for staff to prepare a request for proposals for a new city attorney. The council will vote on the RFP at its next meeting, set for Oct. 15.

Nushaj recommended that the council grant Kingsepp’s wish to continue representing the city of Clawson in the flood litigation for the same hourly rate of $130.

“The flood litigation is very intense. It’s been going on for about four years. There’s a minimum that I could count (of) about 500,000 pages of pre-discovery — we haven’t even gone into discovery — of material that has been exchanged with the attorneys involved, 10 municipalities, the county and plaintiffs,” Nushaj said. “(Retaining) an entirely new firm or individual to take over will literally bankrupt the city just getting caught up with the reading material.”

He thanked the council for appointing him interim city attorney and said that it has been his honor and privilege to serve Clawson, and he looked forward to continuing to do so. In anticipation of the appointment, he said he had already begun meeting with city leaders.

“I hope to at the next (City Council meeting), the first order of business will be to have a new, finalized version of the animal ordinance,” Nushaj said.

Call Staff Writer Sarah Wojcik at (586) 218-5006.