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Deadlocked City Council Unable to Approve Legal Bill

A resolution to pay $25,000 in legal bills failed on Wednesday night.

The city council was unable to approve legal bills on Wednesday night, during a meeting filled with petty yelling and heated back-and-forths.

An amendment to a legal bill with the firm Florio, Perucci, Steinhart & Fader of $25,000 — for a total amount not to exceed $50,250 — failed in a 4-4 vote.

Only eight members are currently serving on the city council, often resulting in a deadlock.

The matter pertains to an appeal by a former employee of the city, said city lawyer Melissa Longo. Longo said the money was added to the bill because she recently assigned the firm with a new case.

Florio, Perucci deals with labor matters, Longo said, as well as negotiations with the city's municipal employees union.

The firm of Florio, Perucci also recently responded to a request for qualifications to become the general counsel of the Hoboken Housing Authority.

PeoplePlease February 21, 2013 at 01:29 PM
I think in the heat of the meeting last night some points were being missed by both sides. One of those points is one that Councilman Occhipinti was trying to make regarding the escalation of legal bills the city of Hoboken has been dealing with. Occhipinti was asking Corporate Council Melissa Longo about her staff and why her staff could not handle more of the cases brought against the city of Hoboken. Longo responded that the city's corporate council is spread thin and that their time is spend mostly in other areas (ABC, Contracts, ect...). Fair enough. A team of three is not many in a litigious (that is a real word, I had to look it up) city of Hoboken. I think a good solution would be to take the fiscal year 2012 and try to estimate how many additional counselors would be needed to handle say.....75% of the work that was needed to be outsources to private firms. Then estimate the cost of adding these X number of employees to the city payroll and compare that cost to the outside legal fee's the city paid. I have to agree however...there seems to be a lot of money flowing to outside law firms and don't even get me started on the fact that it costs $25K+ to fire a taxpayer funded employee. If someone wants to be a hero...there's the fight to win.
puzzledone February 21, 2013 at 02:29 PM
PP, this is a beautiful oversimplification if any lawyer were fit to handle any case. What Tim fails do consider is that there are a large number of different types of cases that the city needs to fight (You wouldn't bring a knife to a gunfight, or ask your internist to treat cancer, why bring a labor attorney to the legal fight to stop Monarch from building high rises). That's the primary reason so many different law firms are used. Of course, when Tim is named plaintiff on a lawsuit against the city, his asking for different lawyers to do the cities bidding seems disingenuous at best.
Ojo Rojo February 21, 2013 at 03:07 PM
Well it will cost a hell of a lot more to fire that employee if they sue the city and we have no lawyer or we just agree to settle w/o adequate legal representation fighting the suit.
PeoplePlease February 21, 2013 at 03:17 PM
No, I understand. But this is why you would hire council with experience in matters that seem to persist. I also understand that Monarch is a separate $190 hr monster and get why outside services are sometimes needed/required. I took away last night, a sense that any city employee has the right to litigate after being fired - to the tune of at minimum $25K. It seems to me that there should be an in house person with the experience and time to handle these cases.
PeoplePlease February 21, 2013 at 03:22 PM
It makes you wonder though. Would a judge give $25K to a city employee. I am assuming the employee was fired for good reason of course. And dont get me wrong...im not advocating we go without representation. btw...any back story or rumor on who this employee is and what he/she did to be terminated? I love gossip!
Ojo Rojo February 21, 2013 at 03:55 PM
Generally not defending yourself in a suit results in a default judgment and I suspect the judge would give the plaintiff whatever he or she asked for. Chances are it is a hell of a lot more than $25K.
Ojo Rojo February 21, 2013 at 03:58 PM
The problem w/ an in house lawyer for that specific type of case is the city's lawyer would most likely end up knowing the plaintiff in some of these cases. They might even end up being friends, lunch buddies or at least associates who may get along well w/ the plaintiff. Not a good idea to have the guy or gal representing the city to have any sort of non-lawyer related relationship w/ the person suing the city.
puzzledone February 21, 2013 at 04:40 PM
Anyone can sue. Also, if it's more expensive to fire someone, it may make good sense to outsource rather than pay wages + bennies + any termination cost.
recallbethmason February 21, 2013 at 08:24 PM
the city will celebrate when beth mason's term has ended or she gets recalled...good riddance.
DaHorsey, SmartyJones of MSV February 22, 2013 at 03:47 AM
Respectfully, the law and the complexity involved in different types of cases does not allow you to hire one or two "all-around legal gurus." If you believe Timmy knows what he's talking about, that's an even bigger mistake. The bankruptcy attorney saved Hoboken. He cost a lot of money but he saved the City and the hospital in the end and protected it from liability later. For his superb work on our behalf, he took abuse from people much below his intellect and a ridiculous amount of insults from the no-nothing petulant mouthed Timmy Occhipinti. It was an absolute embarrassment. It's one that never ends. The legal upside is the City is cutting off the faucet to the easy target where the backroom deal was okay, my client is going to sue you and you will pay him x + y and let's call it a day. That's over. The City is winning these case: Al Arezzo being one of the biggest.

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