If a township issues an ordinance or resolution to cap the legal expenses that an individual lawyer (who also happens to be on a $50,000 retainer) at $310,000 a year, doesn’t that mean that said lawyer doesn’t receive reimbursement for fees that exceed the $310,000 mark during that year?
I thought so, but apparently some of members of the Middletown Township Committee think otherwise.
Township Attorney Bernie Reilly, who until this year was the only Municipal Attorney in town, has been designated to handle all of the Townships litigation needs while new kid on the block and political cronie Brian Nelson, deals with municipal matters. Each has been given the same deal with the Township, a $50,000 retainer and a cap on legal expenses of $310,000.
When Nelson was designated as Municipal Attorney and Reilly as Litigation Attorney, there were immediate objections by Patrick Short and Sean Byrnes, the Democrats that sit on the Township Committee. In a time of economic stress and with a projected $3 million budget shortfall,they questioned how could the Republican majority justify doubling the expenses that the township pays in legal counsel.
They answered by saying, the expenses for each lawyer were capped at $310,000 each and because of Nelson limited roll as just “Municipal Attorney”, he should not exceed the cap on legal counsel that was in place. Their argument was the same for Reilly.
Well guess what, here we are 5 1/2 months into 2009 with no budget in place and the township committee slips in Resolution. 09-137 which authorizes the payment of an additional $7,041 to Bernie Reilly for work done in 2008.
How is this possible if there is a cap in place, a cap that Reilly agreed to no less? Unbelievable.
This is the game that the Middletown GOPers play to keep their buddies employed. They set a price, but have no intentions on holding their cronies to it. With the employment of two special litigators Nelson and Reilly, the potential to exceed the $310,000 amount stated in the resolutions voted on at re-org day is obvious now.
This is what keeps the tax rate on the upward spiral year after year (9.2% proposed for this year). If the town operated legally and stopped frivolous law suites against their adversaries (the Azzolina’s and Schwebel’s) there would be no reason for half the lawsuits brought on.
And if this was not enough the Township also authorized the additional payment of $12,000 to The Special Construction Litigation Lawyer,Paul A. Sandars III of the law firm of Lum, Drasco & Potisan LLC for ongoing legal work on the Cultural Arts Center.
Their legal work was capped at $45,000 by the township committee in Resolution 8-026 last year.
You can read more about this at MiddletownMusing, where Pat Walsh picks it a part.