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City Council Won’t Fund Lawsuits Filed Without Its Approval

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Aired 4/19/09

San Diego City Attorney Mike Aguirre is fighting back against the city council’s bid to limit his power. Monday night, in an unexpected budget related item, the council voted 6-to-2 to withhold funding from lawsuits the city attorney files without their approval. KPBS reporter Alison St John has more.

Aguirre has long argued that as an independently elected city attorney, he defends the public interest rather than the city councils’. He has pushed ahead with attempts to roll back pension benefits granted by the city council -- against the will of some council members.

Aguirre says the council’s vote not to pay for court cases they haven’t approved has no legal validity.

Aguirre : If the council can control who enforces the law as opposed to the citizens, then that means that there is a breakdown in the separation of powers.

Aguirre also says he’ll investigate if the city council violated the Brown Act, by discussing the vote before the meeting. Council President Scott Peters’ office denied that charge and retaliated -- saying Aguirre accuses anyone who opposes him of being corrupt.

Two council members who voted against limiting the city attorney’s powers say a deeper debate of the city charter is needed. Alison St John KPBS News.

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