Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake accused City Council members Wednesday of playing political games after they refused to hear her proposal to pay for outside legal help in the federal investigation of the Baltimore Police Department.

The move put into jeopardy the city's $6.4 million settlement with the family of Freddie Gray.


The Budget and Appropriations Committee withdrew from consideration on Wednesday Rawlings-Blake's plan to pay $2 million to an outside law firm. The bill also included the money for Gray's family.

The mayor said she is considering what to do next.

Councilwoman Helen Holton said the committee wants the administration to split the spending into separate bills. The panel did not hear public testimony before making its decision.

That rankled Rawlings-Blake.

"When there's not a public discourse, it seems like political wrangling and posturing," she said. "That's the type of thing that needs more public discussion, not less."

The mayor also took issue with comments this week by a spokesman for City Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young.

Spokesman Lester Davis told The Baltimore Sun this week that the administration was trying to "weasel out of some reforms we greatly need" by hiring the Washington-based law firm WilmerHale to assist city attorneys with the Justice Department investigation into Baltimore police policies and practices.

"I have no interest in weaseling my way out of police reform," Rawlings-Blake said Wednesday. "There is absolutely nothing in my background to suggest that. What my background suggests is I'm very meaningful and intentional about getting this right."

Many council members have said they support the money for Gray's family but do not want the city to pay WilmerHale.

"Deciding whether to spend $2 million for legal help in the federal investigation of the Baltimore Police Department should be completely separate and isolated from individual civil payouts," Councilman Nick Mosby said in a statement Wednesday.

Mosby is one of several local officials running to succeed Rawlings-Blake, who has decided against running for re-election.

Administration officials say the money for Gray's family and the outside lawyers was packaged together because both would be paid from the Police Department's legal fund.

The city has already paid WilmerHale about $1 million. It's unclear how the city budget would be affected if the council refused to approve the request to use the police legal fund to cover the expense.

Rawlings-Blake said the extra lawyers are needed to keep down the cost of reforms ordered by the federal investigation.


"This is a wise investment," she said. "It could be the difference between a $30 million price tag or a $300 million price tag."