What Say I
For those wondering where I stand on the issued legal opinion of the resolution to terminate the Chalmers contract, here it is.
First, the legal opinion: the opinion clearly articulates the rationale for rendering the proposed resolution ineffective given the language or lack of language in the charter. In short, why should the mayor cede administrative authority to the council vis-a-vis separation of roles and powers. Effectively counsel considers the approval as a bright line that once the approval of the contract crosses, the power rests in the executive branch and as there is no explicit statement otherwise limiting the administrative powers of the mayor, the opinion assigns the right to terminate or not terminate a contract to the executive within the granted administrative powers.
On the other hand, the lack of clear language in the charter subjects the opinion to scrutiny on its assertion that a bright line exists based upon historic precedent of city and ironically on the very lack of clear language stating otherwise. So the legislative argument counters that the lack of clarity does not cede authority to the executive but preserves that authority in the legislative branch.
I spent a fair amount of time trying to find similar cases and even looked at NYS General Municipal Law along with the City Charter to no avail. While I did find cases of Mayors terminating contracts –which suggests they can choose not to terminate– I also found cases of legislative termination of contracts.
My bottom line: I see the corporation counsel’s opinion as wholly rational, articulate and reasoned. That said, the council could challenge and likely will challenge the opinion as stated above. I’m not sure what happens in such a showdown between executive and legislative but I expect we will find out. And I think we should find out as regardless of what side you’re on, we need the process to work within the framework of sound governance. In this case, I’m willing to let the legal process unfold as it requires objectivity, legal expertise and knowledge of municipal law– none of which I can claim on this issue.
Now we all know that this is about more than a legal opinion; there’s the politics. And on the political equation, I will be less kind and tempered in my remarks. But for that you’ll have to wait as I’m out of time for now.