Faulty Copies Of Charter Let Council Hire Ineligible Lawyer

February 17, 1991|By Carol L. Bowers | Carol L. Bowers,Staff writer

When the County Council voted, 6-1, last week to hire Robin Page West as its lawyer, members didn't mind that she lived in Baltimore County.

But the County Charter does.

Unless West moves to Harford County, the council will have to vote again, said Lester Feinberg, the retiring council attorney.

Westcould not be reached for comment.

Council members didn't realize the charter requires the council attorney to live in the county because of faulty copies of the charter that omit the requirement. A council staff member said the printing mistake was made in 1988 when the county laws and an amended County Charter were reprinted.

But Feinberg, the outgoing council attorney, said the mistake doesn't change the law.

"There are always misprints. Unfortunately, this is the way you find them, even though you try to guard against it," said Feinberg.

Council member Joanne S. Parrott, R-District B -- the only dissenter in the council attorney vote -- said she discovered the printing error Wednesday while researching another issue.

Parrott said she voted against West's appointment Tuesday because she believes thecouncil lawyer should live in the county.

The attorney is paid $27,500 a year to advise the council on legal matters and to attend thecouncil's three meetings each month.

"We had talked about awarding contracts to Harford County firms. Well, lawyers are Harford Countyfirms," Parrott said. "Many times with Mr. Feinberg, you could call and say, 'If you're not too busycould you come over and discuss something.' Accessibility is important."

The search committee -- Parrott, Theresa M. Pierno, D-District C, and council President Jeffrey D. Wilson -- reviewed 22 resumes before recommending four candidates.

Other finalists were: Bel Air lawyer Edward Andrews; Victor Butanis,the recently fired county attorney; and Aberdeen lawyer Steven Scheinin.

Scheinin is Parrott's campaign treasurer, but Parrott said she did not see a conflict of interest. She said he planned to resign if he were selected as council attorney.

Pierno said the committee included Scheinin among the finalists after Butanis withdrew his namefrom consideration after receiving another job offer.

"We felt giving the council two names to choose from wouldn't be fair," said Pierno. "Steve Scheinin was next on the list."

She said Scheinin listed his position as Parrott's campaign treasurer on his resume.

Wilson said he was initially concerned about Scheinin's connection with Parrott, but he said he talked at length with Scheinin.

"I did have some questions, but Mrs. Parrott was still one vote out of three," Wilson said. "And I didn't want to overcompensate. I didn't think it should count for him, but I didn't think it should count against him,either."

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.