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Counsel hired to enforce ongoing code violation

Thursday, August 28, 2014 - Updated: 10:26 AM

By CASEY CROUCHER

Recorder News Staff

A resolution to hire an outside legal firm to represent the city was adopted during a special Amsterdam Common Council meeting Wednesday afternoon.

"The city wants to enforce a code violation against a current client of mine, and also a former client with regard to defending code violations before I was the city attorney," Corporation Counsel Gerard DeCusatis said. "So I can't be involved because it's a conflict of interest, so they need to hire outside counsel for that."

Attorney Ronald Schur, of Mayfield-based Schur and Rose PLLC, was authorized in the council's resolution to represent the city in a legal case, which involves alleged city code violations against an unnamed resident.

Schur's payment for the representation will not exceed $2,500.

City Controller Matthew Agresta said he was worried Schur would "go through $2,500 quickly" and there would still be more work to do on the case.

Fourth Ward Alderwoman Diane Hatzenbuhler said she's going to visit Schur at his office and talk about the city's financial issues regarding this case so that the city doesn't spend too much money on outside counsel.

She said action has to be taken against the alleged code violator.

"We cannot let them stay there and destroy that neighborhood anymore -- it's been going on for 15 years," she said. "We've got to start somewhere and [the Codes Department] has done everything they possibly can."

DeCusatis suggested the council amend the wording of the resolution to include that the "the mayor is authorized to hire."

Hatzenbuhler was worried with that idea.

"By putting the mayor in there does it give her the opportunity to override this? Is that the intent?" she asked DeCusatis.

"The mayor is the executive officer and does the hiring," he responded.

"The council authorizes the hiring, the mayor does the hiring. So, I believe she has every interest of pursuing the hiring of outside counsel."

     

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