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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Reaction has been swift to KDKA’s report on Thursday how Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and the city council have been spending an awful lot of time in court lately.
Peduto this week said he’ll defend the city’s power to regulate guns all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary. But the expected battle comes when his law department is already working overtime fighting a half-dozen other lawsuits accusing the city of legislative overreach.
On Facebook, Suzanne Craig questions the use of time and resources in fighting these legal battles, posting: “Where is all that money going to come from Mr. Mayor???”
While Tony Bodura defends the mayor, saying, “At least he is doing something. Both R and D have been kicking the can down the road for years and doing nothing afraid they will get the NRA mad.”
“There are things worth fighting for,” the mayor said.
From bills that would make private employers pay mandated sick leave, to another requiring landlords pay for their own inspections, to another requiring building owners to train security guards, to one banning animal prods at the circus — city council and the mayor have landed the city in a number of protracted legal battles.
In each of these cases, the issue is roughly the same — that the city is trying to legislate on matters that are governed at the state and federal levels. Duquesne University Law professor Joe Mistick says this mostly settled law and these bills were doomed to fail at the start.
“These kinds of lawsuits are not cheap. Very expensive in terms of time and money and unlikely that you’re going to success because this has been the law since 1868.”
According to that 1868 ruling known as Dillon’s Rule, Mistick says “the state dictates the powers that reside in local government”
But Peduto says the city is challenging that in court.
“Cities are either being pre-empted by state government or limited by federal government to be able to take care of their people,” he said.
Peduto believes in a city’s right to govern itself but these fight are costly in man hours to law department and legal fees — having already paid $28,000 to an outside law firm in two of the cases.
On Facebook, John A Bugay posts “All legal fees should come out of his pocket, he and council know full well they can’t preempt Pa State law.”
But Keith Bastianini writes: “Don’t back down Mr. Mayor.”
And Peduto said he’ll fight on.
“Every movement that has happened in this country whether it was worker’s rights, or civil rights or a woman’s right to vote started at the local level and challenged which federal and state laws are just,” he said.