CITY COUNCIL WATCH : Enough Already

The legal bills for Los Angeles City Councilman Nate Holden, accused of sexual harassment, are stacking up at a rate of $25,000 a month. The total is $185,000, and climbing. The Los Angeles City Council had placed a $150,000 cap on his legal costs. So much for the cap.

Is there no end to the costs that the city--read taxpayer--will bear in this litigation? The city attorney's office last year determined that the city must pay for Holden's defense, at taxpayer expense, because the accusations grew out of his employment--a determination that has been questioned by critics. The city attorney's office said that to not pick up Holden's legal bills would require a prior determination that he is guilty; Holden has vigorously denied the charges, leveled against him by three former aides.

Several council members say privately that they are uncomfortable with the payments but are legally required to make them. OK. But if the council members really feel bad about these expenditures, why don't they put their own council office budgets where their mouths are? Council office budgets come from taxpayer funds too, but council members are especially protective of money that directly affects their ability to operate. Maybe if council members suddenly couldn't hire a needed aide because a few thousand dollars per month was going to pay a colleague's legal bills, the council would find a way with the city attorney to bring the matter to a close.

It may be a dream, but during a time when the city is struggling to cover its debts it's a nice dream.

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