Over the objections of Mayor Donna Smith, the city will hire attorneys to defend City Council members Tomas Ursua and Nell Soto, who were sued for slander and invasion of privacy last month for claiming that special interests had profited from dealings with the city Redevelopment Agency.
The city will also provide the legal defense for Howard Emirhanian, a private detective who was hired by the city to investigate corruption and was sued after his confidential reports became public.
Smith and Councilman Boyd Bredenkamp voted against paying the legal expenses of Ursua and Soto. Smith said the council members should bear the responsibility for the comments they make.
But Councilman Willie White, who voted with new council members Paula Lantz and Ken West to provide legal counsel, said Ursua and Soto acted properly. "I don't think they spoke out of turn," White said.