Office of the City Solicitor
Daniel W. Cantu-Hertzler
Chair, Corporate and Tax Group
Assistant: Barbara LePera
The Chair of the Corporate and Tax Group reports to the City Solicitor and is responsible for all corporate (commercial, transactional, and regulatory) and tax matters in the Law Department. Daniel W. Cantu-Hertzler has served as Chair of the Group from 2000 to 2004 and since 2006, having also served as Chief Deputy City Solicitor of the Regulatory Affairs Unit from 1999 to 2000 and 2004 to 2006. After graduating cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1986, Dan served for two years as a staff attorney for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. He practiced at large and small firms in Philadelphia for eleven years, with a varied caseload including commercial, insurance-coverage, and environmental litigation, appeals, tax, and small business and nonprofit counseling.
The Corporate and Tax Group includes the following Units and attorneys:
The Commercial Law Unit is responsible for handling all commercial contracts and financing matters and for counseling City departments on a range of related matters involving procurement, information technology, telecommunications, and the solicitation and award of contracts for goods and services. Chief Deputy City Solicitor Michael Athay leads the Unit, which includes the Finance and Contracts Division (Francois Dutchie, Divisional Deputy City Solicitor; Michelle Flamer, Senior Attorney) and the Intellectual Property Division (Robert Sutton, Divisional Deputy City Solicitor; Valerie Robinson and Christopher Malcarney, Senior Attorneys).
Special Corporate Counsel Cheryl Kritz serves as counsel on several complex city-wide practices, including healthcare, employee benefits contracts and correctional health contracts, contract reform matters and other special projects. Cheryl reports to the Chair.
Commercial Litigation attorneys James Cousounis, Senior Attorney, and Robert Aversa, Deputy City Solicitor, also report to the Corporate and Tax Chair, handling litigation against the City concerning City contracts and related commercial matters.
The Economic Development and Investments Unit is responsible for negotiating and documenting economic-development and other transactions for the City and its Board of Pensions and Retirement, including deeds and other transactional documents and specialized contracts, as well as counseling the Board in benefits matters. James P. Leonard is Chief Deputy City Solicitor for the Unit, which includes the Real Estate and Economic Development Division (Douglas Kubinski, Divisional Deputy City Solicitor; Lawrence Copeland, Senior Attorney) and the Pension and Investments Division (Christopher R. DiFusco, Divisional Deputy City Solicitor), which represents the Board of Pensions and Retirement and also handles Right to Know matters.
The Regulatory Affairs Unit handles matters involving Philadelphia International Airport and other transportation matters, environmental law (counseling all City agencies and representing it as plaintiff and defendant in administrative and court proceedings), energy and utilities (including Water Department, Gas Commission, and other energy matters and relations with the Philadelphia Gas Works), and certain Streets Department matters including bridges and contracts with waste haulers. Chief Deputy City Solicitor J. Barry Davis heads the Unit, whose divisions include the Environmental Law Division (Patrick K. O'Neill, Divisional Deputy City Solicitor; Scott Schwarz, Senior Attorney), the Transportation Division (Joseph Messina, Divisional Deputy City Solicitor; Sara Beth Kalb and Leslie Hope, Senior Attorneys), and the Water Division (Gerald Leatherman, Divisional Deputy City Solicitor). Senior Attorney Mark Zecca handles affirmative litigation and other Regulatory Affairs matters.
The Tax Unit collect delinquent taxes, water revenues, and certain other debts on behalf of the City and the School District of Philadelphia, and supervises the work of outside firms that also collect similar debts. The Unit also represents the City in administrative and court tax appeals, and handles tax sales and bankruptcy matters. Under a 2011 reorganization, the Unit reports both to the City Solicitor (through the Corporate and Tax Chair) and to the Commissioner of Revenue through Revenue Chief Counsel Frances Ruml Beckley. Long-time Chief Deputy City Solicitor Cynthia E. White is responsible for the Tax Administration Division, which handles Municipal Court litigation concerning business taxes and water/sewer delinquencies. Other divisions within the Unit include the Major Tax Enforcement Division (Frank Paiva, Divisional Deputy City Solicitor; Anne Whitcombe, Senior Attorney), which handles business tax controversies, high-dollar tax delinquencies, bankruptcies, and executions on personal judgments; and the Real Estate Tax Division (James Zwolak, Divisional Deputy City Solicitor), which handles delinquent real estate and use and occupancy taxes as well as Sheriff's sales and property assessment appeals. Senior Attorney Christine T. Bak handles matters involving economic development and realty transfer tax, among other special projects.
The Tax Unit has retained outside counsel to take properties to Sheriff's sale for nonpayment of delinquent real estate taxes. We have assisted in the Revenue Department's listings of tax delinquents against whom lawsuits or liens have been filed and in the Revenue Department's programs to impose involuntary withholding on City employees and City pensioners who are delinquent.
Counsel to the Office of Property Assessment is Drew E. Aldinger, Senior Attorney. Drew advises the Office of Property Assessment, which is the successor to the Board of Revision of Taxes for the assessment of all real property within the City. Drew also defends assessment
appeals before the Board of Revision of Taxes.
Commercial Law Unit
Economic Development & Investments Unit
Regulatory Affairs Unit
Special Corporate Counsel