Solicitor Janey faces council today in reconfirmation hearing No problems foreseen for Schmoke appointee

vote will be Monday

February 21, 1996|By Robert Guy Matthews | Robert Guy Matthews,SUN STAFF

City Solicitor Neal M. Janey will come before the City Council and the public this afternoon to make his case for keeping his job as Baltimore's longtime top lawyer.

Mr. Janey, appointed by Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke in 1987, is expected to glide through the question-and-answer hearing, scheduled for 5 p.m. in City Hall, despite criticism from some council members last year about perceived conflicts of interest and city legal work given to private firms.

The council is scheduled to vote on whether to reconfirm Mr. Janey during Monday's council meeting.

"I don't think there will be any problem or controversy," said 1st District Councilman John L. Cain.

In the past, he said, the solicitor's office had sometimes been slow to give the legal opinions required for all proposed council legislation, and sometimes the opinions weren't detailed enough. However, Mr. Cain said, "they have not done it lately because I think we took them to task."

Other questions are expected to center on why Mr. Janey, whose office usually represents the council on legal issues, chose to represent the Housing Authority last year in a dispute with the council over a $25.6 million no-bid repair program.

The Harvard-educated lawyer announced last year that he would leave office and return to private practice with the prominent Miles & Stockbridge law firm. He unexpectedly changed his mind and returned to his $108,600 position.

"I will ask why he decided not to quit," said 1st District Councilwoman Lois Garey, who will chair today's hearing.

As solicitor, Mr. Janey also serves as one of five members of the Board of Estimates.

In the summer, Mr. Janey and Mr. Schmoke were criticized for contracting too much legal work to private firms instead of relying on Mr. Janey's staff of 78 to do the work. He was directed by the mayor in the fall to do more in-house work.

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