Jeremy Boren lets the cat out of the bottle.
Councilman Jim Motznik said Shields' proposal is a waste of money because council has access to a staff of 12 to 15 lawyers in the city's Law Department who earn salaries ranging from $44,000 to Specter's top salary of $94,592.
"(Shields) wants to do this because he doesn't get the answers he likes when it comes to billboards or vehicles, the petty stuff that a few council members worry about," Motznik said. "It's kind of like going to a different doctor because you don't like your prognosis that this doctor is giving you." (Trib, Jeremy Boren)
Doug Shields spells out his reasons. Bill Peduto and Ricky Burgess are involved, somehow. Alecia Sirk says that Mayor Ravenstahl is pleased with Geroge Specter.
George Specter has no comment. Why would he?
Councilwoman Tonya Payne introduced a resolution Aug. 1 that year to put an attorney for council on retainer, after then-Mayor Bob O'Connor abruptly fired City Solicitor Susan Malie and two other top officials during a power struggle.
Payne argued then, as Shields does, that because the city charter allows the mayor to appoint and dismiss the city solicitor at will, the solicitor isn't likely to produce a legal opinion that contradicts the mayor's wishes for fear of political retribution.
Tonya Payne was right. From the Home Rule Charter:
310. POWERS OF COUNCIL Council shall have the following additional powers:
a. to employ or retain its own staff and consultants including a city clerk and an attorney qualified to practice law before the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, who may act as a legal advisor to council, and may represent council as a body in legal proceedings. Council's attorney shall not represent the City as a municipal corporation in any legal proceeding;
This is the first of nine listed ordinary powers of council, before the more extraordinary ones are dealt with. It must have been fairly important to the framers, for reasons that ought to be immediately apparent.