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Robinson, solicitor end longtime partnership

| Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013, 8:57 p.m.

Robinson and its solicitor parted ways this week, ending a relationship of about three decades.

“It's a tough decision. ... We didn't want it to end the way it did, but that's the way it came out,” said Jesse Forquer, vice chairman of the township's board of commissioners.

In executive session on Monday, the board voted, 3-2, to fire Downtown-based law firm Goldberg, Kamin & Garvin or allow the firm to resign, which it chose to do.

Forquer and Commissioner Earl Mapel, who voted to replace the firm, took issue with its handling of at least seven years of legal issues related to a proposed housing development, Stafford Park, and its handling of tax-increment financing plans, or TIFs, for the Mall at Robinson and surrounding commercial properties. Robinson officials say the plans have not generated enough tax money for the township.

“We have philosophical differences on how these cases ought to be handled,” said Sam Kamin, who began representing the township in the late 1970s and whose firm has done so for at least the past 20 years.

He declined to specify those differences but said he wishes Robinson commissioners well in their endeavors.

At the commission's regular meeting, the board voted, 4-1, to terminate the firm and hire John Butya as interim solicitor for at least 30 days. Board Chairman Samuel Abatta voted against.

Abatta said the township did not give the lawyers a chance to respond to commissioners' concerns, even though the firm's partners were present.

“I think it was underhanded,” Abatta said.

The board directed township Manager Aaron Bibro to solicit proposals for a permanent solicitor.

The township budgeted $100,000 annually for solicitor's fees for 2012 and 2013.

“Throughout our tenure in Robinson township, we have always fought vigorously to promote the interests of the township and always have advised the township as to our opinion of what was appropriate, given the applicable facts and law,” said Jonathan Kamin, who works at the firm, on behalf of his father, Sam.

Tory N. Parrish is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-5662 or tparrish@tribweb.com.

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