City Council OKs hiring its own lawyer

The Baltimore City Council unanimously granted preliminary approval Monday to a proposal to hire an independent lawyer instead of relying on City Solicitor George Nilson for legal advice.

Some council members say they believe Nilson, who reports to Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, is loyal primarily to the mayor, and does not give the council's views the same weight in making decisions.

The charter amendment legislation requires the council's attorney to be paid as much as a chief in the city law department, a position that currently pays $107,300 annually. It also prohibits the attorney from holding outside employment.

Nilson has said he believes the bill is duplicative and wasteful, but he helped the council in crafting it, nevertheless. If approved in a final vote by the council later this month and signed by Rawlings-Blake, the measure would go before the voters in 2014 for approval.

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