CORTLAND Mayor is against retaining law firm

A councilwoman says the law firm has done a good job and should be retained.
CORTLAND -- Mayor Melissa Long says she will try again to stop council from hiring a Cleveland law firm to represent the city.
Long says if council passes final reading of an ordinance to hire the firm, she will veto it.
During Monday's regular meeting, council voted 4 to 2 to pass first reading of an ordinance to retain the law firm of Johnson & amp; Angelo for a monthly fee of $3,000. If this ordinance passes three readings it would replace the current ordinance which pays the law firm $1,200 per month. The firm was initially hired by council in September 2000.
Council also gave first reading to an ordinance to pay the firm $15,000 for service rendered. Long says she plans to also veto that ordinance.
"The amount of money that they want to pay this firm is way too much," Long said. "There is no reason we should be sending this money out of town. We have good lawyers here in Trumbull County."
Other views: Councilwoman Deidre Petrosky, however, said the firm has done a good job for the city.
"When city council hired outside legal counsel, we were looking for a quality firm with municipal law experience and Johnson & amp; Angelo has exceeded our expectations," Petrosky said. "Their work product is one of uncompromising quality."
She noted that the city owes the firm the extra $15,000 because they performed additional work for the city.
Petrosky explained that the original ordinance passed by council hired the firm to work about 20 to 30 hours a month, but the firm incurred 339 billable hours, which averages to 56.5 hours per month over a six-month period.
"Of these 339 hours, Johnson & amp; Angelo feel that 132 are unnecessary as a result of the mayor and service director's failure to provide sufficient and timely information to council," Petrosky said.
Appointments denied: Long has noted that she has been trying to appoint a law director since former Law Director Rob Platt resigned July 3, 2000, but council has refused to approve her appointments.
"They keep turning down my appointments so that they can hire this out-of-town law firm at a ridiculous high price," Long said.
Under the city's charter, the mayor appoints the law director but council must approve the appointment.
Long has filed a lawsuit against council in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court to force lawmakers to approve one of her appointments for law director. The case is pending.

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