Mayor Veto of Council’s Change to City Charter regarding hiring authority and duties of legislative counsel

June 25, 2007

City Council President Leo R. Pimental
Honorable Members of the City Council
133 William Street
New Bedford, MA  02740

Dear Council President Pimental and Members of the City Council:

I am vetoing the ordinances you presented to me, amending Section 2-61 of Chapter 2 and Section 2-47 of Chapter 2 as I have the following objections:

(1)  As to Section 2-61, the case of City of New Bedford v. City Council of New Bedford, 13 Mass. App. Ct. 251 (1982) established the power of the City Council to make certain appointments for the staffing of the legislative branch of City government, “as are necessary to carry out its legislative responsibilities, subject however to such appropriation and other powers as may be held by the Mayor.”  Id at 256 [citations omitted].  The ordinance before me makes the Clerk of Committees the appointing authority for the “assistant clerk of committees and the hiring of any other position under the Clerk of Committees (sic) department” [emphasis added].  This is an inappropriate delegation by the City Council of its own appointing authority, pursuant to ordinance Section 2-201.

(2)  As to Section 2-47, my objections are that the position of Legislative Counsel, as drafted in said ordinance, has been granted duties which exceed the scope of a Legislative Counsel whose sole function is to assist the legislative branch in its legislative function.  Furthermore, the amended 2-47 contradicts Section 2-85 which specifically makes it the duty of the City Solicitor “to commence and prosecute all actions and other legal proceedings and suits begun by the City and to defend all actions brought against the City…and to defend any of the officers of the City…when any right, privilege, ordinance, act or direction of the City Council may be brought into question.”  In addition, since the powers of the legislative counsel are so overbroad, the change in appointment so as to remove the Mayor as such counsel’s appointing authority is an attempt to usurp what is under a Plan B Charter, a mayoral appointment.  Should the duties of Legislative Counsel have been delimited to those which were incidental to the legislative powers and functions of the City Council, I would agree that the appointment of such a counsel would be by that of the Council itself.  The ordinance before me is not so drafted.

Very truly yours,

Scott W. Lang