Pittsburgh solicitor OK'd after residency question

She owns condo in Shadyside, home in Upper St. Clair

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Pittsburgh City Council voted Tuesday to confirm Lourdes Sanchez-Ridge as the city solicitor after a lengthy battle over whether the former federal prosecutor met the city's residency requirements.

During her public interview last week, three council members raised concerns about whether Ms. Sanchez-Ridge was technically "domiciled" within the city. Though she purchased a condominium in Shadyside last year, she still owns a home in Upper St. Clair, where her husband and teenage daughter still live while her daughter finishes high school.

Otherwise, council members praised the former federal prosecutor's qualifications.

Following last week's interview, Councilman Ricky Burgess requested the mayor pull his nominee and asked for an outside legal opinion on the matter. The mayor's chief of staff, Kevin Acklin, responded with a three-page letter arguing that Ms. Sanchez-Ridge met the city's requirements, citing two legal opinions from past solicitors.

The debate continued this week. Mr. Burgess said he was dissatisfied with Mr. Acklin's letter because he said the mayor's chief of staff had a conflict of interest. He said Mr. Acklin was "inappropriate in sending us his concerns" and again asked for "a verified legal opinion."

At his request, council recessed Tuesday's public meeting for a closed-door executive session with city lawyers, during which they provided Mr. Burgess with a legal opinion affirming their view that Ms. Sanchez-Ridge meets the requirements.

Mr. Burgess said he was convinced after seeing the opinion and, whencouncil convened later Tuesday, he voted to confirm her.

Councilwoman Darlene Harris, who also had raised concerns about Ms. Sanchez-Ridge's residency, cast the sole dissenting vote.

Moriah Balingit: mbalingit@post-gazette.com, 412-263-2533 or on Twitter @MoriahBee. First Published February 4, 2014 12:51 PM

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