In a split vote, the city council voted 3 to 2 to pay the law firm Howard Beach for representing Mayor Yepsen regarding her ethics violation. Sources tell me that she declined to meet with the Ethics Board and instead, the law firm submitted a memorandum to the board on her behalf.
The bill was for $12,340.00. At a rate of $230.00 per hour it computes to fifty-five hours.
Commissioners Madigan and Scirocco voted against the authorization. Mayor Yepsen, Commissioners Franck and Mathiesen voted for.
More details to follow.
At today’s City Council Agenda meeting Mayor Yepsen placed on her agenda for tomorrow night’s Council meeting, a request that the Council approve a letter of engagement with the Harris Beach law firm for its representation of her before the City Ethics Board. The letter indicated that the rate being charged will be $230.00 per hour. At the agenda meeting, Mayor Yepsen did not indicate what the actual cost would be.
The letter from Beach required that she sign the document and return it to them before they could represent her. The letter was dated May 19, approximately two and a half months ago.
According to Commissioner Michele Madigan, such an engagement letter needed to be approved by the Council prior to the Mayor signing it.
In a prepared statement Commissioner Madigan stated:
At Tuesday night’s City Council meeting Mayor Yepsen will be asking the council to approve a letter of engagement from Harris Beach Law Firm for its representation of her before the City Ethics Board. City procedures require that Council members seek prior approval before incurring liabilities for which the city will be responsible. The engagement letter, however, is dated May 19th. It is most unfortunate that Mayor Yepsen has waited until now to seek Council approval. It places the members of the Council in an extremely awkward situation as this request asks us to violate an extremely important city policy/procedure.
I solicited a response from Mayor Yepsen but as of this posting, I have not heard from her.