Friday, July 14, 2006 | The city’s ongoing pension dilemma has pitted several members of the City Council against City Attorney Mike Aguirre over the past year, but one council member has been quietly but significantly working to derail Aguirre’s efforts to challenge a decade’s worth of pension deals.
Council President Scott Peters plunged into Aguirre’s case against the retirement system and the city’s employees when he asked a judge to disqualify the City Attorney’s Office from the landmark case.
Peters’ maneuver revives what has become a classic battle for authority at City Hall in Aguirre’s tenure. In his motion, the council president argues that Aguirre is abusing his title at the city by proceeding with the high-profile lawsuit without the City Council’s blessing. He also claims the city attorney is conflicted.
“It’s time for the City Council to take control of this litigation, which in many ways has been out of control,” Peters said. “A lot of this is legally unfounded.”
If Aguirre and his office are removed, the fate of the high-profile case would immediately be tossed into the air. Peters said the council would then be at liberty to hire its own attorney and steer the case as a majority of the council wishes. Although nearly all parties involved in the suit have said they want a judge or jury to finally rule on the legality of the pension benefits, the case could die altogether without Aguirre at the helm.
For Peters, the motion to disqualify Aguirre fits with the keen interest he has taken in the city’s pension matters. Other elected officials, including those accused of wrongdoing by Aguirre, have laid low in the high-stakes case. And, it comes as Peters has recently worked to hire outside council to replace Aguirre in two other high-profile cases.