Commission to look at new legal services
After 64 years of legal representation for the city of Birmingham by municipal law firm Beier Howlett, the city commission voted 4-3 on Monday, September 14, to look into a review of legal services. Mayor pro tem Therese Longe made a motion, supported by mayor Pierre Boutros and commissioners Clinton Baller and Brad Host, that “the city manager provide us with an unencumbered review of counsel to legal services without any conflict to Beier Howlett.” Longe stated, “While we've had excellent services Beier Howlett since 1956, many services benefit from reviews for best practices.” Boutros noted there could be an issue with the city charter in having the city commission institute the review in that the charter gives the city manager authority to select legal counsel. “We have to discuss what 'advise and consent' means in the city charter. I suggest we get outside advice (for) what that means before we discuss this further. Why are we doing this?” Boutros said. “I don't think we get to that resolution without understanding the charter. I would suggest outside legal counsel if fine. I cannot support the motion. The question you're asking is does the city commission have the authority to change the legal services,” said commissioner Stuart Sherman. “We have to determine what our role is, and the role of the city manager relative to the city charter,” said commissioner Mark Nickita. “This motion does not address the charter.” Commissioners Sherman, Nickita and Rackeline Hoff opposed the motion.