Bob Sullivan’s excellent adventures as Portsmouth’s 40-year attorney

Imagine. Forty years on the job. That alone is an achievement. How many of us have spent 40 years on the same job? And loving it.

That’s 2,080 TGIFs, and counting.

Jim Splaine

Jim Splaine

Since his first day, Monday, July 26, 1982, Bob Sullivan has attended more than 700 City Council meetings, plus a similar number of work sessions and budget meetings. And staffing thousands of boards, commission and committee meetings. Add writing what must be several million words that have become statutes and put into the city’s law books.

The coffee bill itself is staggering.

I was on the council for 12 of his years and saw him cope with some of his most difficult adventures, including the Geraldine Webber tragedy of several years ago, the Toyota controversy and the McIntyre saga. I observed true professionalism. He seldom raises his voice, even when the council majority overrules his advice, and gets itself into trouble. Some of that was seen during the two years of our previous council, resulting in a lawsuit that cost taxpayers dearly — money we would have saved if we had listened to him.

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When Bob began his service I was in the state Senate, interacting with him on city-state issues. Then in 1987, the City Council asked voters to create a nine-member Charter Commission, with the mission to fully review the document for the first time in 100 years. An election was held, and I became chair of the group. We spent a year holding hearings about everything from our form of government, authority of the council, taxing and budgeting, the process of elections,

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