In discussion of the gray area surrounding the St. Davids decision by the Board of Supervisors (Lamina, Kampf, Olson, Richter), several residents inquired about our township solicitor, and how does his judgment weigh in on the legalities of this decision. Tom Hogan of Lamb McErlane PC, (township’s contracted law firm) was absent on Monday night (due to knee surgery, not vacation as earlier suggested). Another attorney from his firm attended the meeting in his absence.
Tredyffrin has a contractual agreement with Lamb McErlane but I was not clear on the duties of the township solicitor. In review of the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors website, I was able to locate the township solicitor’s job description (which I have included below). On one hand, in Section 1101 it is clear that the ‘township solicitor serves at the pleasure of the board of supervisors’ but then on the other hand, in Section 1102, it states that the township solicitor is to have control of all legal matters. Section 1103 does state ‘The township solicitor shall furnish the board of supervisors, upon request, with an opinion in writing upon any question of law.’ Do you suppose that Supervisor DiBuonaventuro, Kichline or Donohue could individually ask for a written opinion from Mr. Hogan?
If we consider the St. Davids Golf Club decision, is it possible for the township solicitor to serve at the pleasure of the board of supervisors if those same supervisors may (or may not) act in a legal manner? A township solicitor may advise the board of supervisors on legal matters but the supervisors have the right to make the final decision for the township (apparently, even if the decision is questionable). So as far as the St. Davids decision is concerned, the township solicitor is responsible only to the supervisors. Further, I am not clear what counsel was given to the supervisors in Executive Session on the St. Davids GC escrow matter, prior to the supervisors meeting. In the end, I guess it does not matter, the supervisors remain the final word. Bottom line, if we want this latest Board of Supervisor decision to be challenged . . . it is not the job of the township solicitor.
I am not satisfied with the St. Davids Golf Club decision on many levels but I need help as to where we go from here . . . just think that if this decision is allowed to stand, what will be next? The Board of Supervisors meeting which was scheduled for Monday, February 1 has now been changed to Monday, February 8. Coincidentally (?), the February 8 is the important TE School District Finance Committee Meeting (2010-11 budget discussion). Remember what happened this week . . . many residents attended the TESD meeting and not the Supervisor Meeting (because if you reviewed the BOS agenda, there was no mention of St. Davids Golf Club) and we saw what happened! One can only wonder what the ‘Block of 4’ (Lamina, Kampf, Olson, Richter) have planned for the February 8 meeting of the Board of Supervisors (that won’t appear on the agenda) .
ARTICLE XI TOWNSHIP SOLICITOR
Section 1101. Township Solicitor.–The board of supervisors may appoint and determine the compensation of a township solicitor. The township solicitor shall be licensed to practice law in this Commonwealth and may be one person or a law firm, partnership, association or professional corporation. The township solicitor serves at the pleasure of the board of supervisors.
Section 1102. Solicitor to Have Control of Legal Matters-The township solicitor shall direct and control the legal matters of the township, and no official or official body of the township, except as otherwise provided under law, shall employ an additional attorney without the assent or ratification of the board of supervisors.
Section 1103. Duties of Solicitor.–The township solicitor, when directed or requested so to do, shall prepare or approve any bonds, obligations, contracts, leases, conveyances, ordinances and assurances to which the township may be a party. The township solicitor shall commence and prosecute all actions brought by the township for or on account of any of the estates, rights, trusts, privileges, claims or demands, as well as defend the township or any township officer against all actions or suits brought against the township or township officer in which any of the estates, rights, privileges, trusts, ordinances or accounts of the township may be brought in question before any court in this Commonwealth and do every professional act incident to the office which the township solicitor may be authorized or required to do by the board of supervisors or by any resolution. The township solicitor shall furnish the board of supervisors, upon request, with an opinion in writing upon any question of law.