Rockford Approves Funds for Legal Second Opinions

Here’s an interesting nugget from a Rockford Register Star report:

ROCKFORD — Aldermen have adjusted the 2011 spending plan that they approved last week to give themselves $50,000 to hire attorneys or consultants in the coming year.

The idea, which was approved tonight with a vote of 8-5, stems from last summer’s bitter disagreement over whether the mayor has the power to appoint a department head and set a salary without the council’s consent.

Code interpretation
During that debate, a handful of aldermen disagreed with Legal Director Patrick Hayes’ interpretation of city code and sought their own legal advice. Ald. Carl Wasco, D-4, obtained a second opinion from Chicago law firm Klein, Thorpe and Jenkins, but there was no fund like the one created tonight to pay for the firm’s services.

According to a related article, it’s common for aldermen to request second opinions on legal interpretations. What’s unusual is bypassing city staff to obtain them.

More:

Rockford City Hall happenings in 2010. Highlights:

  • Half of Rockford’s TIFs are running in the red
  • The city’s ownership of 700 properties is scrutinized
  • There’s no means for replacing its aged fleet of vehicles
  • 2 thoughts on “Rockford Approves Funds for Legal Second Opinions”

    1. For some reason I am unable to find where the Star reported the outcome of the second opinion on mayoral appointments!

      Part of it depends on what type of city government Rockford has. Here’s a link to descriptions of the different statutory types. Since council members’ terms of office are not staggered, Rockford must have the Strong Mayor form of government, in which case Mayor Morrissey indeed has the power to appoint department heads without the consent of the council. Setting salaries may be a different story.

    2. Lynn, your posting of this article deserves the equivalent of a Nobel Prize for DeKalb affairs. Not only should DeKalb have a second opinion fund, but it should be accompanied by a “three strikes and you’re out” clause in the city attorney’s employment contract. As we frequently discover, best practices are out there if only the city remained accountable and not blind.

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