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Legal Advice

During our efforts opposing the 42 North project, we learned that City Council had received written legal advice from the City Attorney to the effect that the provisions of the City Code addressing public health, safety and welfare were unconstitutionally vague. The Council members were instructed not to share the written advice with the public because it was deemed to be covered by the attorney - client privilege.

We believe that the City Charter requires the City Attorney to make public such legal advice. We have learned that the Attorney has created a fictitious distinction between legal "advice" and legal "opinion". The following section of the City Charter includes the requirement that the City Attorney make opinions available through the City Clerk's office.

City Attorney
(a) The Attorney shall be attorney and counsel for the City, and shall be responsible solely to the Council. The Attorney shall:
(1) Advise the heads of administrative units in matters relating to their official duties, when so requested, and shall file with the Clerk a copy of all the Attorney's written opinions;
(2) Prosecute ordinance violations and shall represent the City in cases before courts and other tribunals and file with the Clerk copies of such records and files relating thereto as the Council may direct;
(3) Prepare or review all ordinances, regulations, contracts, bonds, and such other instruments as may be required by this charter or by the Council, and shall promptly give an opinion as to the legality thereof;
(4) Attend all meetings of the Council; and
(5) Perform such other duties as may be prescribed by this charter or the Council.

(b) The Attorney may, with the approval of the Council, delegate one or more duties to an assistant who shall be appointed by the Attorney and whose compensation shall be fixed by the Council.

(c) Upon the Attorney's recommendations, or upon its own initiative, the Council may retain special legal Counsel to handle any matter in which the City has an interest, or to assist the Attorney therein.