Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Lee-gal Bills

The City Council's MLGW committee voted down a resolution approving the release of more than $426K in legal bills for former MLGW head Joseph Lee this morning.

The full council already voted against the measure in October, but then the minutes of that meeting were pulled after chairman Myron Lowery suggested a compromise of a lesser amount.

"[MLGW] President [Jerry] Collins has been working with Mr. Lee and his attorneys to work out a different or the same compromise and they have been unsuccessful," councilperson Barbara Swearengen Ware told the MLGW committee she chairs.

"We have the option to approve this or deny it. If it is denied, then we could possibly spend a lot more in attorney fees, because it will go to court."

Council members Wanda Halbert and Janis Fullilove wondered why the council was second-guessing the MLGW board, which already approved the full amount. The council has to approve any MLGW expenditures above $25,000.

"We are stepping all the way outside our responsibility," said councilperson Wanda Halbert. "Why are we talking about this? Are we trying to overrule their body? is that what we're trying to accomplish?"

Ware responded: "I think so, because the compromise offered a lesser amount. ... This body thought it had the authority to supersede what was recommended by the MLGW board."

Committee members Jim Strickland, Shea Flinn, Bill Boyd, and Bill Morrison voted against paying Lee's legal fees. Ware voted to do so.

"It's not like we haven't paid more [before]," Ware said. "It's just this case that has become the issue."

The measure will now be taken up in full council.

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