City taxpayers will cover an $11,000 attorney bill incurred by four Pittsburgh council members in their battle with Lamar Advertising if yesterday's first vote -- taken after a testy debate -- holds up in a final tally Tuesday. (P-G, Rich Lord)
Testy may well turn titanic.
Councilman Patrick Dowd, who also challenged Lamar and paid a lawyer from his own pocket, said council shouldn't pay "after the fact" for an expense it never voted to authorize.
The several nuances of his position were effectively lost on the other council members, who had been caught up in a rapidly escalating war with the administration and its allies.
Councilwoman Darlene Harris joined the members who incurred the bill in voting to pay it.
Any more of this, and they'll have to reassign seats.
"I was sued for $2 million," Mr. Peduto said. "And you're telling me I shouldn't hire a lawyer?"
Typically, one does not pay out-of-pocket for legal expenses that one incurs on the job. The question is, did the foursome have to play their hand in the way that they did? Or was their hand forced by administrative and corporate malice?
At any rate, we believe this all a good argument for council activating § 310. A., and retaining in the future a humble attorney for the purposes of securing independent, timely and routine advice, and official or unofficial representation as necessary. A vigorous government can expect to have its share of intramural squabbles. Why pay retail?
Missing from the P-G account is the effect of Dowd's decision to be content with Lamar's agreement to send the LED billboard through the Zoning Board of Adjustment and the Planning Commission -- while taking a pass on the golden opportunity to subpoena records of contacts between Lamar and the administration. Which might have been illuminating.
Weather permitting, crews will hoist UPMC's giant letters atop the Golden Triangle's tallest structure this Saturday. (P-G, Edit Board)
See, we already have one Fordian artifact being erected on Grant Street. One should be more than enough.
Speaking of all of the above, those who would be troubled by $11,000 going down the tubes due to legal tussles with Lamar would be apoplectic at the prospect of missing out on 14 months and $134,000 worth of planning and zoning expertise. Yet that may be the cost of the paid leave requested by Pat Ford and granted by Mayor Ravenstahl, while we await the outcome of a State Ethics investigation also undertaken on Ford's recommendation.
Ford's lawyer questions whether even a 2 month "preliminary" inquiry will be necessary, due to the nominal nature of the gifts.
The Comet, which is in agreement that a surround-sound system does not seem a major scandal make, continues to wonder how then our rather vanilla inquiry resulted in a hastily-arranged confessional to the Tribune-Review, followed by a dismissal, a temporary suspension with paid leave, and a State Ethics inquiry all within 27 hours -- and all arranged at Pat Ford's request?
There has got to be more to this story. There has got to!