Council Chooses Lawyer Who Resides In Bel Air

Out-of-county Lawyer Aviolation Of Charter

February 24, 1991|By Carol Bowers | Carol Bowers,Staff writer

The County Council has withdrawn an offer to hire Robin Page West asits lawyer after members unanimously agreed they had accidentally violated the county charter.

After a lengthy debate, the council voted 6-1 on Tuesday to offer the job to Bel Air lawyer H. Edward Andrews III.

When council members voted two weeks ago -- also by 6-1 -- to offer the job to West, a Baltimore lawyer, they weren't deterred by the fact that she lives in Baltimore County.

But the council and its staff members had relied on faulty copies of the charter that did not list a requirement that the council lawyer must live in Harford County.

In placing the advertisement for the job, council members said they had discussed whether to list a residency requirement as it had in previous ads. But that idea was rejected after Lester A. Feinberg,the outgoing council attorney, suggested it might be a discriminatory requirement, council members said.

"It was dumb luck the appointment violated the charter," said Robert Wagner, R-District E. "One ofthe more attractive things about her as a candidate was that she would not be influenced by living in the county."

Council President Jeffrey D. Wilson said he had consulted informally with several lawyers to see if there was a way to honor the offer to West.

"I feel asif I've been in a hat shop and tried on every hat and none would fit," said Wilson, before voting in favor of withdrawing the offer.

The council then debated whether to start from scratch on the search for a new lawyer to replace the retiring Feinberg, or whether to choose from Andrews and Aberdeen lawyer Steven Scheinin, the two remainingfinalists.

Council member Joanne S. Parrott, R-District A, was the only vote against Andrews.

She said the three-member committee that waded through more than 20 resumes should have submitted another finalist's name so that the council could choose from three candidates.

Andrews made an unsuccessful run for the House of Delegates last year. He has served as a public defender in the county, but now maintains only a private practice.

He will be paid $27,500 to advisethe council on legal matters and to attend council meetings three times a month.

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