Recently, my coplaintiff Kathleen Devine and I were in court on the second Open Meeting Lawsuit and we discovered a new lawyer handling the case for the City, her name is Eve Pieomonte Stacy. She formerly worked for the City's Law Department but has since moved on to greener pastures with Roach and Carpenter a boutique firm whose namesake is head of the Board of Bar Overseers. She will be handling the suit about the pay raises for the City. I guess it is a sort of backhanded compliment that a lawyer, Michael Flaherty, who has a bunch of lawyers, the City Law Department, decides that those aren't enough so they use taxpayer money to hire outside lawyers to defend themselves. It must be nice to have our money at their disposal to use. I did a FOIA search and found that they were hired as part of a no bid $100,000 contract to defend the city on a number of items at $140 dollars an hour.
The City also announced in court that they would be appealing the decision in the first Open Meeting Suit. This allows the politicians to continue their charade about not being guilty (yet!!!) and again using precious monetary City resources to defend them. Remember, we have offered many times to sit down with them and work out a solution, but compromise seems to be beneath them, but then again they are certain they have not done anything wrong, so as any "innocent" defendant, like OJ, would do they are getting the best defense our tax dollars can buy them.
I do want to commend Michael Flaherty however on a recent issue. One of my blog readers informed me that there seemed to be a "never ending" meeting posted on the City's website of the Rules Committee. It started in February and ended December 31st, Monday through Friday in the Curley Room. What this did was allow a vehicle for the counselors todo an end around the Open Meeting Law by popping into the Curley Room and discuss whatever they wanted to discuss and be able to claim that the meeting was Posted! You would have to camp out in the Curley room to happen to catch them.
Shirley Kressel spoke to and wrote emails to the City Clerk asking this to be taken down or clarified. For about two weeks we got no response. Before filing another Open Meeting Lawsuit (which is really wearing us down) I suggested calling Michael Flaherty first and trying to work it out. Over the course of another two weeks we had a few conversations, he did some checking and eventually he had the posting taken down.
Although Michael will spin this as him taking the lead in crafting new rules due to the courts ruling, don't believe it. The councilors have been doing everything they can to circumvent the Open Meeting Law. As Mr. Flaherty said to me, "this is the way things have been done for years." In that I agree with him, this certainly predated him. However, as he explained to me his new rules allow a bill to goto a committee chairperson who is then allowed to work on, edit, add, subtract all he/she wants then submit it back to the full council without ever having an open discussion on it, and have a vote on it. The public would never know, and would have no chance to be heard. How Mr. Flaherty can claim this is open, transparent government is beyond me. It may meet the letter of the law, but certainly not the spirit. Everyone who votes him back in as council president is complicit in this version of government.
Speaking of less than open bodies, my Ward 9 committee has refused to have a meeting during this election cycle. As a committee member I have asked and emailed the members to hold a meeting so we can interview, vote on and support candidates. Why would we want to do that, I mean we are only a democratic ward committee and this is the middle of election season????
The reason is probably because our Ward is run by politicos who are loyal to Dianne Wilkerson and do not want any hard questions or democracy to get in the way of their loyal daughter being reinstated. It certainly doesn't get me fired up about the greatness of the Democratic Party over, say, the Republicans. So much for grass roots, getting people involved politically and asking the questions that makes democracy excel.
Meanwhile on the home front, we've had two more car break-ins, and a car left over from drug deal left at the end of our alley blocking the driveway. Why would anyone want to move to the suburbs?