Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Controversy Over Legal Bill Continuing To Fascinate Dozens

"I just cannot understand how we could support paying for private bills. That is at the core of this," Dowd said. (Trib, Jeremy Boren)

We're still stuck conceptually at Square One on the merits, but we're moving past that aspect.

Today it is likely that the legislation that would have paid the legal bill racked up in the Lamar imbroglio will be pulled off the table and scrapped for good.

Since the city Law Department contends that Shields et al are only entitled to reimbursement for those portions of the invoice pertaining to the lawsuit filed by Lamar Advertising, and that the four members are conflicted as to the rest of it, the portion of the bill incurred from the members' protest appeal at the Zoning Board is no longer to be considered city business, according to Council President Shields.

As such, wrote Shields to Specter, no one besides those four individuals have a right to see any of those particular invoices and letters of retention.

Coucilman Dowd had asked about a week ago during a session of council to view the full set of documents. Copies were placed on file at the Law Department, according to the office of Councilman Shields, and additional copies of that which pertains to the Lamar suit were distributed to the mailboxes of all council members yesterday morning. The minor delay was attributable only to the holiday weekend, and to the difficulties of coordinating between the four stakeholders.

For his part, Dowd says that he had really been asking for those documents backstage since March, when the issue of these legal fees and the permit appeal first arose. He also felt entitled to those portions pertaining to the ZBA hearings, since he had been asked to vote on it.

Of course, such documents contain privileged attorney-client information and legal strategy. It is no great secret that Shields at least suspected Dowd of acting as a "straw man" for Lamar (a phrase that does not mean what he seems to think it means). In addition, many felt that Lamar and the mayor's office were coordinating, at least to an extent.

So what could be in those documents? Nothing? Anything? Everything?

Too bad it's no longer any of our business. Forhaps it will become so once again.

Ed Heath, 46, of Stanton Heights voted last year for Dowd in his narrow victory over then-incumbent Len Bodack.

Now Heath, who runs the blog "Cognitive Dissonance," worries Dowd's ability to get legislation passed could be hurt.

"I don't think he's picked up any alliances at all. I think he's cut himself a little hole," Heath said. "Grudges seem to be a fact of life around here. That could hamper his ability to get things done."

Depends what things.


  1. I thought I said "dug himself a little hole". grumble.

    Meanwhile, on the "Straw Man" thing, shades of the "Princess Bride"

  2. Forget the lawyer's bill for a moment. Forget that there were really 5 councilmen who okayed hiring McGough in the first place (Darlene Harris was #5) Forget that there wasn't a formal vote on the lawyer hiring because there wasn't time before the appeal deadline happened. Forget that the appeal clock almost ran out because (according to Shields) Dowd filed as the private citizen himself, instead of the real private citizen he told Shields he had, and Dowd's legal standing was questionable, and Dowd's actions were entirely different than he had told Shields they would be ....

    Forget all that.

    Lets get current. Lamar has once again filed for a permit the wrong way. Downtown signs are still "conditional use" but Lamar will not recongnize that.

    So .... Is Dowd gonna join with the others on council who want to stop Lamar (again)? Or are we back to the very beginning where Dowd just doesn't feel that its council's place?

  3. As I understand it (no guarantee), Dowd signed away his right to take part in any kind of protest of the Lamar sign moving forward, EXCEPT casting his vote as councilman if and when the matter makes its way to council as part of a conditional use application.

    Now. Most of the white-robes around here have been treating the Lamar sign as obviously permissible only under a conditional use. But there is a theory floating around that *it may not even be permissible* under those rules. That is, it may be flat-out illegal outside of amending the present zoning code. Just something to add to the mix...