Thursday, January 08, 2015
Phil Lauer on the Tightrope
As a lawyer for a municipal body, do you tell them what they want to hear or give them the law? Accomplished municipal solicitors like Jim Broughal always plays it straight, and that is the route Lauer has taken as Council's legal adviser. But it is a bit of a tightrope act, especially in a divided Council.
Last year, Lauer advised Council that a no-bid contract for PR consultant Sahl Communications violated the Administrative Code. Council Republicans still tabled an attempt to test the contract in court, but the Executive ultimately decided to re-do the contract and seek bids. He also ruled that the Executive's proposed budget for this year, which originally included a $20 million line of credit, was contrary to the Home Rule Charter's requirement of a balanced budget. He was careful to avoid calling it illegal, but a budget that fails to comport with the Home Rule Charter is illegal.
One fair criticism. His delay in reaching this conclusion angered Democrats and Republicans alike.
Lauer has given advice that Democrats disliked, too. He contradicted Lamont McClure, who had argued there was insufficient public notice of a vote, taken at a Budget Hearing, to restore the funding for a bond to benefit St. Luke's Hospital.