During the year-long battle over Mayor's Scholarships, the legal debate has sometimes -- some say often -- slipped out of law and into the realm of pure politics. But there has been another kind of politics in the case and it has been sitting right under the judge's nose all along -- at the lawyers' tables. Both Arthur Makadon, the University's lawyer, and Thomas Gilhool, an attorney with the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia, have been involved in area politics for years. Makadon is a longtime friend and advisor of Mayor Ed Rendell. They met during the late 1960s, when the two worked at the district attorney's office. Last night, Rendell said Makadon is "certainly one of my closest outside-the-government advisors." Makadon served as finance chairperson during Rendell's unsuccessful 1987 mayoral campaign, and he introduced Rendell to David Cohen, who is now the mayor's chief of staff. In 1990, Philadelphia Magazine said Makadon himself was "definitely the stuff for higher office," noting that he had turned down an offer to become the city's chief lawyer. But despite both the rumors and his political connections, Makadon said yesterday that he will stick to law. "I'm getting too old for that kind of stuff," he said. "That's a different grind." Makadon also said that his involvement in the Mayor's Scholarship case has nothing to do with his close ties to Rendell. "I got involved in this case long before Rendell was mayor," he said. Until Rendell announced his support of the University's position last winter, it was not clear which side the city would take. The city's siding with the University appears to have helped the University's position in the case. On the other side of the courtroom is Gilhool, one of four PILCOP attorneys handling the Mayor's Scholarship case for the plaintiffs. Gilhool has been with PILCOP since the 1970s, but left in 1987 for a two-year stint as Pennsylvania's secretary of education. His tenure in Harrisburg ended in 1989, when he resigned after a battle over funding for special education. Gilhool then began teaching eighth grade at a local inner-city public school. But a controversy soon arose over whether Gilhool had bypassed hiring regulations by tapping connections in the school district's administration. After teaching for a year, Gilhool returned to PILCOP in 1990, where he is currently chief counsel. In 1991, the Philadelphia Bar Association awarded him the prestigious Obermayer Award for work in education. He recently rejoined the political world when he and his wife, Gillian, co-chaired Jerry Brown's 1992 presidential campaign in Pennsylvania. All three were classmates together in the Yale Law School class of 1964. Both Makadon and Gilhool have also had past professional dealings with the University. Gilhool, through PILCOP, represented students and student groups in a 1986 suit against the University that led to the University's divestment of companies doing business in South Africa. The suit sought to reverse a decision by the University's Board of Trustees to delay complete divestment. It claimed that Trustees had violated state open meeting laws and had not properly disclosed possible conflicts of interest. Two months after the suit's filing, the Trustees voted again, this time deciding to sell all University holdings in those companies. Gilhool's fellow PILCOP attorney Michael Churchill, who is also working on the Mayor's Scholarhip case, was co-counsel in the suit. Makadon most recently represented the University in the government's lawsuit against members of the Ivy Overlap Group, a group of private colleges and universities which shared financial aid information. The federal government first investigated and later sued all eight Ivy League schools and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology over their participation in Overlap. The University and the other Ivies signed a consent decree last year promising to stop sharing financial aid information. Only MIT decided to fight the government and was found guilty last summer of violating anti-trust laws. Philadelphia Magazine, in the same article about city lawyers, called Makadon "a brilliant litigator." He is head of litigation at his law firm, Ballard, Spahr, Andrews and Ingersoll, which has represented the University in other cases as well.Comments powered by Disqus
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