Tuesday, May 27, 2008

City Council intends to hire its own attorney

The taxpayers of the city already pay for a legal department. We don't want to pay for another.

I'm with Motznik and Dowd.
City Council intends to hire its own attorney Council members Jim Motznik and Patrick Dowd did not sign the letter.
If you have five pitchers on the team and they are not getting the job done, fire the pitching coach -- and -- fire a few of the pitchers. Bring up a few new replacements.

Don't hire a sixth lawyer. Don't hire more.

To rebuild our city, we must take down some of the broken parts first. Then we can build on solid ground.

City council should move to make the budget for the law department ZERO for the next six months. The law department isn't doing the job it needs to do. So, they should not be funded.

City council has the power of the purse. Use it.

The city, the taxpayers, and the citizens are all going to suffer -- nobody wins -- when more lawyers are hired. When parts of the city fight with other parts -- the only victors are the lawyers. We don't need more lawyers. We don't need to spend additional money on lawyers when the ones we have don't do the jobs that they should be doing.

What do the OVERLORDS say about the hiring of additional attorneys? They are often attorneys too -- so that will be interesting.

How about if the members of city council want to get a second opinion, then they go to the Act 47 Overlords or the ICA Overlords (we have too many of them too) -- and ask their attorneys to come up with an answer.

So, we really have the city law department, plus, we have the law departments of the two sets of overlords. I figure that is THREE sets of attorneys.

How about if they run to one of the authorities and use the legal council that they hold on retainer.

The School District has its own attorney. Perhaps we can get some additional work out of him?

What about the Allegheny County Bar Association? What about some of the law schools in the area? Perhaps Pitt Law or Duquesne Univ. might be willing to help out in a pinch?

Is this about patronage and jobs, again?

Why not get some advice from the lawyers that are quick to rush into municipal bond deals?

In the past, Jim Motznik hired attorneys to do the work of his district out of his district's slush fund. If the staff of the council is not good enough with law -- then perhaps a member of city council should hire a lawyer for his or her staff. Use staff money to hire lawyers. That is already in the budget.

City council staffers are too busy working on the next pets to present before city council meetings. There are the proclamations too -- but here, I mean dogs and cats. Council and Bruce Kraus is working to make sure that the animal shelters are moving animals.

The legislation that was presented and eventually passed today was redundant, so he said himself. There were changes (amendments) to the new law that came after talking with a local District Judge. Thanks District Magistrate King. Pittsburgh does NOT need new laws that are just re-dos of ones that are already on the books.


City Council increases fines before passing graffiti bill: "Now vandals can be hit with fines ranging from $250 to $1,400 per incident, depending on the amount of damage done, in addition to being compelled to remove the graffiti. Councilwoman Tonya Payne pushed for the higher fines -- up from a range of $100 to $500 approved last week -- which were unanimously approved."

More questions:

Is council going to do a national search for its lawyer? Will this be a bid process? Can a 'retainer' be used for the contract?

Did the present law office director undergo scrutiny after Luke fired all (or most) the directors? They had to re-apply, right? What about George?

Does council provide a 'performance evaluation' of the law department and its director? Does the mayor?

What do the OVERLORDS think about more spending by city council for marginal value added services in terms of fixing the city's massive debt? Might the overlords nix the contract for council's own attorney?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

City Council intends to hire its own attorney
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
By Rich Lord, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

A majority of Pittsburgh Council members has agreed to hire a lawyer to represent the city's legislative branch.

Seven council members signed a letter, filed with the City Clerk's Office today, citing legislation passed last year that enables council to spend as much as $39,900 on a variety of professional services, including legal work. The letter suggests that all of that may be spent on a lawyer.

Council members Jim Motznik and Patrick Dowd did not sign the letter.

Council members have long spoken of hiring their own lawyer, as permitted by the city charter, rather than relying solely on the Law Department's attorneys. The city solicitor runs that department, and reports to the mayor's administration, leading some council members to the view that the department may face a conflict of interest when there is a dispute between the two branches of government.

The issue resurfaced as part of a dispute over a $10,706 bill submitted by attorney Hugh McGough for work done on behalf of four council members who challenged a permit for an electronic billboard on the Grant Street Transportation Center. Councilman Bruce Kraus, one of the four members, said the $39,900 would not cover that bill, which is now the subject of a State Ethics Commission review initiated by the four members.

The Law Department has classified that bill as a personal debt of the four members, and has said they entered into a conflict-of-interest situation when they voted tentatively to have the city pay the tab.

The lawyer would be administered through the city clerk's office, but specific rules on how the lawyer could be used haven't been made public yet.

More details in tomorrow's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

First published on May 27, 2008 at 11:31 am