Council rejects legal contract proposed by mayor

The City Council last week unanimously rejected a resolution proposed by the mayor that would have awarded a $75,000 contract to a Parsippany law firm.

The contract with Inglesino, Pearlman, Wyciskala & Taylor would have provided general legal service, essentially splitting the estimated legal work for 2013 with the city’s longtime general counsel, Teaneck-based DeCotiis, FitzPatrick & Cole which also handles legal work for Redevelopment Agency, Parking Authority and Union County Utilities Authority.

A Request for Qualifications (RFQ) under the “fair and open” process was solicited in compliance with state law and submissions for the positions were reviewed, according to the resolution. The governing body voted 8-0 against the resolution, AR-31-13 (only 5th Ward Councilwoman Jennifer Wenson-Maier was absent at the Jan. 14 meeting).

“Now is not the time to be adding additional services and contracts for the city,” City Council President Samson Steinman said before voting against the measure. Councilman At-Large James Backer concurred, calling the resolution untimely. “We have sufficient legal counsel. I wouldn’t call the resolution frivolous but not necessary at this time,” he said, before mistakenly voting for it, then correcting himself and voting against.

Mayor Rick Proctor did not reply to an email message seeking comment. He retained Inglesino, Pearlman, Wyciskala & Taylor as special counsel by the mayor to investigate a dispute over sick and vacation time and work performed by Redevelopment Director and former City Administrator Peter Pelissier. For more on that situation, see the minutes from the 90-minute executive session on Dec. 4 and 24-minute executive session on Dec. 10 (.pdf’s) of the City Council. It was after the Dec. 10 meeting that the governing body approved a settlement agreement with the former administrator.

The mayor is expected to deliver his State of the City address at February’s City Council meeting, breaking from the traditional January meeting, though it’s unclear why.

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