Mayor vetoes law firm hires

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on Thursday vetoed a City Council plan to spend $210,000 for nine outside law firms to defend the city against nearly two dozen lawsuits stemming from the MacArthur Park police melee on May 1, 2007.

In a letter to council members, Villaraigosa called the number of law firms "excessive," saying he would support the hiring of just two in the midst of a budget crunch.

He argued that the majority of 21 lawsuits and hundreds of claims filed against the city could be resolved through mediation, reducing the need for outside legal help.

But the council's expenditure last month may represent only a fraction of the city's potential legal costs over the litigation.

City Administrative Officer Karen Sisson said the city attorney has estimated the cost of outside legal fees for the litigation at $5 million to $10 million in the next three years.

Sisson recommended that the city hire more in-house attorneys to save money.

In a statement Thursday, a spokesman for City Atty. Rocky Delgadillo said the office agreed with the mayor's effort to reduce the number of outside firms, as long as additional resources are added..

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