Chalk One (Make that Two) For the Good Guys
As a taxpaying citizen of New Albany I want to thank the council majority for a job well done last evening. Many of us see the great potential that exists in our city and we understand that calculated risks must be taken in order for it to have a chance at becoming our reality. We are willing to take those risks and are glad to see that this council agrees.
So thank you for standing firm behind your original position on the Scribner Place project.
Thank you also for seeing the economics of not employing one full time person for a job that by its nature requires multiple persons in the law department.
While I am on this subject, my understanding of Indiana Code is that it Does Not say that a second class city Must have a Full Time city attorney!
Under IC 36-4-9-4 Section 4(a) it says “The city legislative body shall, by ordinance passed upon the recommendation of the city executive, establish the executive departments that it considers NECESSARY to efficiently perform the administrative functions required to fulfill the needs of the city’s citizens.” The key word here being necessary ! To me that indicates some leeway to consider both the creation and staffing of a given department.
To continue, under Section 4 (c) it states that “The following departments MAY be established” The city law department is item (2) of the list following. Again the key word here is may!
Further, under IC 36-4-9-6 entitled Second class cities; appointment of officers, employees, boards and commissions, we find under Section 6(a) the statement “This section applies ONLY to second class cities.” Then in paragraph (b) “The executive shall appoint; item (3) “a corporation counsel.”
Now here is where the wicket gets sticky as it were. Although the terms Corporate Counsel and City Attorney are used interchangeably they do not necessarily have the same job description.
As I understand it, the corporate counsel’s duties are basically to insure that the city does not enter into contracts with other entities that may be illegal or otherwise put the city in a position of civil or legal liability.
On the other hand, the city attorney is by statute, the mandated head of the law department (if we have one) and serves more as a prosecutor and enforcer of the city’s laws and ordinances.
Can one person, by statute, serve as both for a city? As I read the code, YES! Provided he/she has sufficient staff and budget to do so.
Does either, by statute, have to be full time employees of the city? Again, as I read the code, NO! It is up to the executive to determine what he/she needs to do the task at hand and the council to pass the legislation and appropriate the funds necessary to do it.
Now here is the sixty four thousand dollar question; do I have a law degree, or training otherwise to state these interpretations as legal fact? Absolutely none! All I have is the ability to comprehend what I read and make a decision based on that comprehension.
I’m simply offering them up for consideration prior to the next council vote on this issue, for if we are in as dire straights financially as some would have us believe, we need to get the biggest bang for the buck that we can come up with.
By the way, here is the link to where I found this information if you want to check it out!
Again, I want to thank the council majority for doing the right thing last evening and I hope you will continue to do so in the future.