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City's top attorney defends her appointment

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Updated: 8/20/2013 8:26 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Tension is mounting between some Jacksonville City Council members and the city's top attorney.

Cindy Laquidara represents 32 elected Jacksonville officials and every independent board. But the subject of her most recent legal review may be her most unusual -- herself.

"I think it is of the upmost importance to make sure that people who serve in office are in fact legally appointed or elected into those offices," said Jacksonville City Councilman Bill Bishop.

Bishop questions the legality of Laquidara's appointment.

This comes after two attempts by some City Council members to oust Laquidara from the Office of General Counsel.

According to Bishop, one vote of "no confidence" is still pending.

Bishop requested that Laquidara weigh in with a legal opinion regarding her own appointment.

The result is a 13-page opinion, which Action News has obtained from the City of Jacksonville through a public records request.

It states, "I have no doubt that my appointment is legal."

In a meeting involving Bishop and City Council President Bill Gulliford Tuesday, Laquidara called the request a personal vendetta.

"I'm not a politician, which is why I'm continually under these types of attacks, but I will continue to provide the best legal services I can," said Laquidara during the meeting to discuss her legal opinion.

Bishop denied Laquidara's claim that politics played a role in his request for her to draft a legal opinion about her place in office.

It wasn't long before Laquidara walked out in the the meeting.

She wouldn't talk on camera but told Action News' Ryan Smith by phone, "I'm not questioning why or whether it was a good idea for me to write an opinion ... just preparing the best legal opinion I can because that's the duty I owe my clients."

Action News found out taxpayers are shelling out $200,000 for her annual salary.

So just how much did this report cost taxpayers? Laquidara would only say she spent "hours" working on her self-opinion.

Bishop says the opinion wasn't a waste of city resources. According to city law, this is the first step to investigate whether her appointment is legitimate.

Bishop says the General Counsel is the "supreme legal authority" of the city and a challenge to Laquidara's position must go through her office.

Bishop had other attorneys review Laquidara's opinion over the weekend and says he doesn't agree with her interpretation.

He drafted a letter in response that points out what he calls "internal inconsistencies."

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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of Action News Jacksonville

jayz934 - 8/20/2013 9:17 PM
0 Votes
wow she get`s paid 200.000,what ezactly does she do to earn that and what about the other members seems we the public are always in the dark about what these people realy do!
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