Friday, June 21, 2013

The City Council Residency Problem May Be Bigger Than You Think

The residency question for Darden Rice, Dr. David McKalip and possibly Lorraine Margeson could go well beyond the election process.

What happens if one or two of these candidates get elected and seated on City Council?

What if in a major decision such as a new Pier, the Rays, the Mid -Town Redevelopment or some other critical issue, someone on the losing side files a law suit saying one or more Council votes that affect the outcome are invalid because the candidate or candidates are illegally seated because they did not meet the residency requirements?

If that were to happen and the challenger prevail, then what would that ruling do to any previous decisions where the now unqualified/invalid candidates votes would affect the outcome?

Should you think this scenario is a bit over the top, consider the enormous amounts of money council spends each year, and the recent actions of power brokers on all sides of the current hot City issues.

When you are dealing with organizations of the stature of major league baseball on legal and financial issues, I would think the administration would want to be on as sound a legal ground with City Council as possible.

It would seem to me that allowing candidates to proceeded where there are genuine residency questions related to their candidacy, constitutes a significant risk to the City and an opportunity for the entire organization to thrown into chaos during and after any such legal maneuvering.

The City Legal department has the responsibility to protect the administration and the citizens from undue legal risk. If there was ever a time to act this is it.

What would be wrong with City Legal asking a judge to validate the residency requirements of all candidates in the primary election?

Throwing your hands up in the air and claiming the City doesn't "verify the accuracy of that affidavit" but relies on candidates to be truthful", as Mark Winn assistant City Attorney said might be fine if your pretty sure the candidate in question is going to lose, but in this case one and possibly two may have a real good shot at winning.

So it is time to for the Legal department to get off its hands, get its head out of the sand and ask a judge to verify the residency of the entire candidate list. That approach assures there is no favoritism.

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