Sunday, December 21, 2014

No private lawyers needed in latest Council lawsuit

It's hardly atypical for City Council to turn to the private legal world when it wants to hire legal help. More than $1 million worth of contract awards were made in the current fiscal year for just that purpose.

No private lawyers needed in latest Council lawsuit

It's hardly atypical for City Council to turn to the private legal world when it wants to hire legal help. More than $1 million worth of contract awards were made in the current fiscal year for just that purpose.

But when three Council members moved earlier this week to sue the Nutter administration, they decided to keep the work in-house given the city's bleeding budget.

"There was no reason to hire outside counsel since we have the capacity in office to put this lawsuit together," Sophie Bryan says.

She and Lauren Vidas - both are lawyers who now work as aides to Councilman Bill Green - are handling the case. The issue: Green, along with Council members Jannie Blackwell and Jack Kelly, are trying to stop Nutter from closing 11 branch libraries at the end of the month.

Bryan, who graduated from Harvard Law School in 2000, and Vidas, who graduated from the University of Miami Law School in 2005, are working on the premise that two city ordinances and part of the City Charter state that the mayor can't sell city buildings unless Council approves.

No thought was given to turning to the city solicitor's office, which is also tasked with representing council, for help, Green said. Why?

"In this case," he said, "the city solicitor has a conflict because she has already said she thought that the (city) law was invalid."

A hearing is set for 10 a.m. Monday in City Hall Room 426.

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The Philadelphia Inquirer's Chris Hepp, Tricia Nadolny, Julia Terruso, and Claudia Vargas take you inside Philadelphia's City Hall.

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