Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Lamar bears its head again around the council table and Kraus spoke too soon, as usual.

This isn't unusual, so said Bruce Kraus.

Jim Motznik put Mr. Kraus onto the carpet for spending money and then going to council to authorize the spending. Then Mr. Kraus said "This isn't unusual."

Council members only have power as a member on the council that votes on matters. Great government 101 lecture came from Professor Dowd.

If city council allows a "post fact expense" come to us and say, 'gold star' -- then council is open to many other expense.

The body did not authorize the action in the zoning board of audustment.

If we are going to do the right thing,

No dollars shall be expended before a vote of council...

Watching on tape delay.

"Think of this as an algabraic formula," said Patrick. That lost em.

Kraus got hot. Rev. Burgess said, "I'm trying to speak less." Mr. Kraus needs to take that same advice.

This is one for the VCRs!

Mr. Burgess wants to spend $11,000.

Have the checks been written? Mr. Kraus asked. The answer is "NO."

Kraus does not understand city government.

Service has been rendered, but checks have NOT gone out. And, council is NOT on the hook.

Kraus said, "We were sued personally and professionally. We did not wrecklessly enter into legal action." -- WRONG.

Kraus said that because we had perfect legal representation, we saved money for the city -- said Kraus. -- WRONG.

To protect the citizens of the city -- my oh my. Kraus is a joke.

Specter: To the extend, that indiv council members or any city employees would be sued in your official capacity that the city law department would represent him (Dowd). And, we (Law Dept) would be willing to get outside council for the employees. The lawyers for the individuals did not want this.

Dowd asked, "What is the public paying for?"

"Council is well aware without doing DNA," said Shields.

Each of the four should pay $3,000 out of their own slush funds.

Council votes to pay legal bills for billboard appeal Council votes to pay legal bills for billboard appeal
from today's P-G.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Council votes to pay legal bills for billboard appeal
Wednesday, May 07, 2008
By Rich Lord, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

An effort by some Pittsburgh Council members to have the city pay $11,000 for their legal battle with Lamar Advertising passed tentatively today by a 5-2 margin, after a long, bitter debate.

The legislation would have allowed council to as much as spend $40,000 -- down from $80,000 in the initial draft -- on its own attorney. But it was prompted by the need to pay a single legal bill stemming from a permit granted to Lamar in December to place a 1,200-square-foot electronic billboard on the front of the Grant Street Transportation Center, and eventually amended just to cover that $11,000 expense.

Councilman Patrick Dowd appealed the matter to the Zoning Board of Adjustment, acting as a private citizen and paying legal bills from his own pocket. Council President Shields, and colleagues William Peduto, Bruce Kraus and Ricky Burgess filed similar appeals in their official capacities, with attorney Hugh McGough representing them without a council vote to hire him.

The zoning appeals were settled by Mr. Dowd in a deal that compels Lamar to submit a new permit application that will go before the Zoning Board and the City Planning Commission.

Mr. Dowd said the original bill would create "a little legal slush fund." Paying Mr. McGough's bill, even though his hiring was never approved by council, would create a bad precedent, inviting "the administration to come to us on a weekly basis, having acted, and then asking us for after-the-fact appropriations."

He abstained on the vote.

Mr. Shields said the four council members incurred a $10,500 legal bill, and noted that members are paid $56,405. "There were five members that felt strong enough to go to court," he said. "Mr. Dowd chose to do it as an individual and pay for it out of his own pocket. I'm not going to do that."

"You went out and got an attorney and spent the money," Mr. Motznik told the four members who hired Mr. McGough. "This is highly unusual, and the normal process would be that we would talk about this before an attorney is hired."

He joined Councilman Dan Deasy in voting no.

"I was sued for $2 million," Mr. Peduto said, referring to a suit filed by Lamar that the company has since promised to withdraw. "And you're telling me I shouldn't hire a lawyer?"

The city has a Law Department that can have as many as 16 attorneys. Council typically relies on their expertise, but historically it has occasionally hired an outside lawyer when it has disagreed with the administration.

A final vote is set for Tuesday. Councilwoman Tonya Payne was not present for the vote.