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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Phil Lauer on the Tightrope

The re-appointment of Phil Lauer as Solicitor of Northampton County Council is the sole item on tonight's agenda. Lauer, if approved, will be paid $52,405 for what is becoming an increasingly busy job. Though some members of Council did consider replacing him, it appears that he has the five votes needed to last another year.

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.


Anonymous said...

I thought Phil Lauer was a criminal lawyer?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Then he's perfect.

Anonymous said...

He's more of a conciliere, like Tom Hagen to the Corleone family.