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Hawkeye board to limit use of Philly law firm

March 27. 2013 11:28PM

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WILKES-BARRE — Board members of Hawkeye Security Solutions, the nonprofit corporation overseeing the city’s camera surveillance system, voted Wednesday to limit the use of an out-of-town law firm and look locally for representation.

Board member and City Councilman Mike Merritt said Fox Rothschild LLP of Philadelphia will not be considered “for any kind of litigation that doesn’t lend itself to expertise in closed circuitry.”

“For everything else we’re looking to go local,” he said.

The law firm had an area connection in J.J. Murphy, former city administrator, who was instrumental in the creation of the citywide surveillance system. Murphy’s brother, former U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, is a partner in the firm.

Fox Rothschild hired J.J. Murphy’s Goals Consulting at a rate of $300 an hour to work on the plan to lease the city’s parking assets. He was paid about $35,000 before the Wilkes-Barre Parking Authority board capped the consulting fees and later scrapped the plan, terminating Fox Rothschild.

J.J. Murphy left his position with the city in 2010. He was hired last year as city manager for Hobbs, N.M.

At its regularly scheduled monthly meeting, the Hawkeye board also held off on paying a bill from the law firm for $3,602. The board wants an explanation and not just a dollar amount for the bill, Merritt said.

Merritt held off on committing to paying the bill even it’s itemized. “If it’s warranted, sure,” he said.

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