Mike Madriaga 11:30 a.m., July 22
City Attorney says Filner did not need approval from council before firing state and federal lobbyists
Opinion comes weeks after Mayor Bob Filner did not need to ask council before firing state and federal lobbying firms
Mayor Bob Filner was fully in line with the law when he fired the City's longtime state and federal lobbying firms, writes the City Attorney's Office.
In a January 29 memo, Deputy City Attorney Carrie Gleeson determined that Filner didn't have to gain council approval before firing state lobbyist Sloat Higgins Jensen & Associates and federal firm Patton Boggs on January 2.
The issue caused quite the stir, mainly from the UT San Diego's editorial board who accused Filner in a January 5 editorial of "threatening to further strain an already tense relationship between his office and the City Council."
What the UT San Diego's editorial board failed to mention, though, was Patton Boggs was hired to lobby federal lawmakers to approve the controversial Navy Broadway Complex-- a joint development agreement between UT-owner Doug Manchester and the Navy. Matt Potter first reported on the lobbying efforts in a January 26 article. Go here to see the disclosure from Patton Boggs.
The City Attorney opined that Filner was able to fire the two firms for two reasons. One, the two contracts were under the amount needed for city council approval, and two, the contract was intended to bridge "the gap between the termination of the earlier contracts and the new Mayoral administration and included clauses for termination of the contract at the convenience of the City, the Mayor may terminate the contracts without involving the Council."
The legal opinion, however, does say that the city council is allowed to ask the Mayor's Office for detailed information on how the terminations could impact future legislation.
As for hiring new state and federal lobbyists, the Mayor must follow current laws which in some cases requires "competitive bidding and council approval."
Lastly, the deputy city attorney confirmed the strength of the strong mayor:
"Does the Mayor have the right to veto a resolution passed by the City Council adopting a legislative program?
"Yes. The Mayor’s veto power extends to “all resolutions and ordinances passed by the Council” unless one of the stated exceptions applies. Charter § 280. A resolution passed by the City Council adopting a legislative program for the City does not come within any of the exceptions listed in section 280 and is subject to Mayoral veto. A Mayoral veto would require the Council to reconsider the item before final passage. Charter § 285. Now that the Council consists of nine seats, six votes are required to override a Mayoral veto. Id."