Legal bills still in limbo
City demands itemized bill before paying up

Arthur Milnes
Northern News Services

NNSL (Sep 30/98) - Show us the bill we want, then you'll see the money.

This was the message delivered to a member of the Yellowknife Property Owner's Association Monday by city council.

Ken Pook told council it was high time they paid the legal fees the association's lawyer is owed over the group's successful lawsuit against the city over secret meetings.

In May, Mr. Justice Howard Irving ruled on the side of the association after a lengthy legal battle. He also ordered the city to pay approximately 50 per cent of the association's legal costs in bringing the case forward.

Using words such as "dirty players," "half-truths" and "lies," Pook argued forcibly it was high time the fees were paid.

Mayor Dave Lovell told Pook the city wanted to see an itemized bill before they made the payment.

"This isn't personal at this point," Lovell said. "But, I'm not willing to pay without an invoice."

Pook argued the association's lawyer, Steven Cooper, has in fact already submitted a bill to the city.

By demanding an itemized bill Pook says the city is attempting to cause further costs to the association by forcing them to again appear in court to examine the bill. This legal procedure is called taxing, he argued.

"From what I have been able to obtain from certain council members, (city administrator) Max Hall and Mayor Lovell gave information to council that was certainly... slanted to having the monies taxed that we due to the... Yellowknife Property Owner's Association," he said.

The comments came before a motion by Coun. Peggy Near to reconsider one passed previously not to accept a $30,000 lump-sum payment to the association's lawyer, was defeated Monday.

A motion to reconsider requires a two-third majority of council to pass. Councillors Blake Lyons, Ben McDonald and Kevin O'Reilly voted against the new motion while Councillors Cheryl Best, Robert Slaven, Bob Brooks and Peggy Near were for it. Without the required majority, it was defeated.

Coun. Dave Ramsay is away.

In the end, Coun. Cheryl Best agreed to attempt to contact the lawyer directly in order to receive a bill.

"If we can get a copy," she said. "... I'm more than willing to bring forward a motion to write a cheque for 60 per cent of that bill... We'll clean it up and put it to Yellowknife's history. I'm sick of it."

Lovell argued the city had the right to examine a detailed bill to ensure everything they were paying for was, in fact, demanded of them by legal practice. Rules are in place, he said, outlining what is payable as part of such a judgement.