Recent letters to the editor attacked Mayor Santos for his stand on the authority of the mayor to recommend appointments for approval by Meriden’s City Council. Often cited was an opinion written at the request of Corporation Counsel. None of Mayor Santos’ detractors acknowledged the mayor also had a written legal opinion that concluded the mayor does have authority to recommend appointments of Corporation Counsel to the City Council.
I have asked 4 attorneys their opinion about the matter. All four told me they believe the City Charter does give the authority to the mayor to recommend appointment of City Counsel. One lawyer, who reviewed the opinion written defending Michael Quinn’s position, described that opinion as a “colorable,” typical of attorneys retained to defend the position of their client who has paid them to do so.
You don’t have to be a lawyer to read the City Charter. In very plain English the Charter states under the section labeled as “How appointments by City Council made,” “The Mayor shall recommend any and all appointments to officers or positions within the appointing power of the City Council” and then proceeds to identify only one exception. The phrase “any and all” is very strong and expansive. The fact that only one exception is cited immediately thereafter reinforces that the Charter intended the mayor to have broad authority in this matter.
This interpretation makes sense and is prudent government policy. In this manner, the Charter requires cooperation between the mayor and the council regarding key appointments. Neither the mayor nor the council has unilateral unrestricted appointment authority.
Finally, under what authority did Quinn seek and pay $3,000 for a legal opinion? The Charter states he shall provide a written opinion upon written request of the council. Did the council issue that request?