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POLITICS (New York City): New York City Council, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, litigation, council independence?: "Judge Deals Blow to Council in Fight With Mayor Over Powers" ....

***New York City Council, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, litigation, council independence?

* New York Times (J. David Goodman):  "Judge Deals Blow to Council in Fight With Mayor Over Powers" - From the NYT:

The New York City Council, ever eager to establish independence from Mayor Bill de Blasio, suffered a setback this week in a legal clash over the separation of powers in a Manhattan court. At issue is the ability of five Council members to file an amicus brief on behalf of plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging the city’s property tax system. The members sought, in their official capacity representing some 800,000 residents, to register their contention that the property tax system discriminates against minorities and is unfair to homeowners and renters alike.

The de Blasio administration argued that doing so was not allowed; it contended that the members can only be represented by the Law Department, and the Law Department is already representing the city in the case. Essentially, the city argued, the City Charter prohibits this sort of friend-of-the-court filing, even when the opinion expressed by the city’s legislative branch is directly at odds with that of the executive.

On Wednesday, a judge in State Supreme Court in Manhattan agreed with the city and blocked the five members — a diverse group that includes Democratic and Republican officials from the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens — from filing their brief. The judge said that the City Charter did not allow them, in their official capacity, to hire an outside lawyer to represent them, though they could do so as private individuals. “Because the corporation counsel will not represent them, the movants may not file their proposed amicus brief,” Justice Gerald Lebovits wrote in a four-page decision that came after arguments on the issue in November.

“We’re obviously disappointed in the result,” said Noreen Anne Kelly, a lawyer with McGuireWoods who is representing the five Council members. “We are considering an appeal.”


A spokesman for the city’s Law Department, Nicholas Paolucci, said the lawmakers are welcome to share their views “as individuals.” “We are not opposed to the effort by these council members to be heard on this important issue to the extent that they represent their views as individuals and not as city officials,” Mr. Paolucci said ............