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By Staff
Council overturns mayor's veto
The Madison City Council voted 5-2 Monday night to overturn Mayor Jan Wells' veto of an ordinance that effectively gives the council – as opposed to the mayor – the power to appoint the newly created in-house city attorney.
Only council members Marc Jacobson and Cynthia McCollum voted against overturning the veto.
Consequently, the council will begin the process of interviewing applicants sometime this week.
The final move came in light of the recent controversy over exactly who has the authority to appoint Madison's new position of in-house attorney, but has relied upon Woody Sanderson, a contracted outside attorney, for the city's legal counsel.
Sanderson announced his resignation for the position at the June 25 meeting of the city council. Sanderson said that he was stepping down as to expedite the council's desire to move to an in-house attorney.
With Sanderson's resignation, though, came the question of who will hire his in-house replacement.
Sanderson advised that, in his legal opinion, the authority would fall to the mayor, unless otherwise provided for by council ordinance.
And, that providing ordinance was exactly what came next. Proponents of the ordinance contended that it would be preferable for seven council members, rather than just one mayor, to have input in filling the position.
"There can be thorough reviews by the full council of the city's legal services, just as there are for the services of the police, fire, and city clerk," Councilman Bob Wagner argued, in defense of the council ordinance. "(The ordinance) will insure that the city and its residents are receiving the highest quality of legal services possible from the city attorney by having a council of seven reviewing instead of a mayor of one reviewing his or her job performance."
The mayor disagreed.
She maintained that the whole controversy is rooted in trivial political squabbling. Opponents of the ordinance have suggested that the appointment of an attorney by the council would be, by nature, more political than an appointment made by a mayor.
"Sadly…it is a game of power politics," Wells said. " I remain convinced that our legal matters are too far-reaching to be subjected to political election cycles. I am tired of dealing with distrust and suspicion and pettiness. It's time to set that aside and move forward in agreement."
On Aug. 13, the council appointed Anne-Marie Lacy to be the director of legal services and city attorney for Madison. Her term will expire Oct. 2004. She will be paid $72,000 per year in 26 equal installments.

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