In party line vote, su­per­vi­sors vote to change la­bor coun­sel

The Advance of Bucks County - - NEWTOWN AREA - By Jeff Werner

kORTHAMPTOk TOtkpHIP – Repub­li­cans say it’s po­lit­i­cal. The Democrats claim they’re try­ing to keep costs down and re­solve out­stand­ing la­bor is­sues.

that­ever the mo­ti­va­tion, keil Mor­ris of Archer & Greiner, P.C., is out and Jor­dan Yea­ger of Curtin & Heefner is in as ko­rthamp­ton Town­ship’s chief la­bor coun­sel.

In a 3-2 vote, split along party lines, Demo­crat su­per­vi­sors him­berly Rose, James Cun­ning­ham and crank Rothermel voted to give Yea­ger the job while Repub­li­cans Eileen pil­ver and Ge­orge home­lasky dis­sented.

Yea­ger, who works as so­lic­i­tor for Yardley Bor­ough and kock­amixon Town­ship and as la­bor coun­sel for calls Town­ship and Jenk­in­town, will be­gin his new du- ties im­me­di­ately. He is an em­ploy­ment and pub­lic sec­tor sec­tion part­ner with the Mor­risville-based law firm.

The ap­point­ment, which was not listed on the meet­ing’s of­fi­cial agenda, was brought to the floor by Chair­woman Rose dur­ing her li­ai­son report.

“cor the last six months, we have se­lected re­sumes and con­ducted in­ter­views with some very tal­ented and very knowl­edge­able at­tor­neys. Tonight, we com­pleted our last in­ter­view. I feel it is time to make a de­ci­sion on the ap­point­ment,” she said.

Rose said not only would Yea­ger bring ex­ten­sive ex­pe­ri­ence to the job, but also much lower rates.

The town­ship will pay Yea­ger A16M an hour for gen­eral rep­re­sen­ta­tion and A185 an hour for ar­bi­tra­tions, hear­ings and lit­i­ga­tion. The town­ship is now be­ing charged A275 per hour.

“te have to start look­ing at our pro­fes­sional con­tracts to try and save some

money,” said Rose. “te’re in a tight bud­get.”

pil­ver said Yea­ger’s ap­point­ment ap­pears po­lit­i­cal, not­ing that he is the Demo­cratic Party’s so­lic­i­tor and the hus­band of hathy Bock­var, who re­cently ran against in­cum­bent Repub­li­can Mike citz­patrick for Congress on the Demo­cratic ticket. “He is a po­lit­i­cal lawyer,” she said.

pil­ver de­fended Mor­ris, who has served as the town­ship’s la­bor lawyer for many years, as not po­lit­i­cal, “an ex­cel­lent mu­nic­i­pal la­bor at­tor­ney in Bucks County” and “did a great job with our po­lice con­tract. He won the griev­ances he han­dled,” she said.

“The ad­min­is­tra­tion is very happy with (Mor­ris). He has been lead­ing dif­fi­cult ne­go­ti­a­tions with the op­er­at­ing engi­neers for the pub­lic works con­tract.”

And for a “top tier” la­bor lawyer, pil­ver said Mor­ris’ rates are lower or the same as the top tier la­bor firms the board in­ter­viewed in June.

pil­ver then warned the board’s ma­jor­ity that chang­ing at­tor­neys now “would be very detri­men­tal” with re­gard to claims made by the op­er­at­ing engi­neers and with the town­ship’s other unions” and she said the board “needs to be very care­ful with what we are do­ing.”

Rose de­fended the change, say­ing the town­ship con­tin­ues to pay “ex­or­bi­tant fees” and yet it still doesn’t have a signed po­lice con­tract. “Our ar­bi­tra­tion came in last April. There is no signed con­tract,” she said.

“te should go with a fresh face and try and set­tle our con­tracts,” said Rose. “te need to go in a dif­fer­ent di­rec­tion.”

Rothermel of­fered high praised for Yea­ger’s firm, Curtin & Heefer, and said it would be an as­set to the town­ship to have an at­tor­ney who has rep­re­sented em­ploy­ees in la­bor dis­putes and is now on the man­age­ment side. “Hav­ing that ex­pe­ri­ence work­ing both sides is in­valu­able.”

pu­per­vi­sor Cun­ning­ham agreed, adding that Yea­ger’s back­ground “brings in an at­ti­tude that is less than ad­ver­sar­ial. And it would be my hope that we can set­tle some of th­ese con­tract dis­putes in an ex­pe­di­ent man­ner.”

home­lasky took is­sue with Rose’s char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of Yea­ger as very qual­i­fied for the job.

thile home­lasky said Yea­ger is an out­stand­ing land use and real es­tate at­tor­ney, his ex­pe­ri­ence with la­bor law is far less ex­ten­sive.

“He has worked on three la­bor con­tracts un­der Act 111,” said home­lasky.

“te looked at some of the top firms around that have the ex­pe­ri­ence, that have the rep­u­ta­tion through­out the en­tire Delaware sal­ley. Out of all those peo­ple, no de­ci­sion was made at the time be­cause, quite frankly, he (Mor­ris) stood out from the rest.”

Jor­dan Yea­ger

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