Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Public Entities fleecing taxpayers to avoid responsibility for wrongdoing

From Voice of San Diego
All Those Legal Bills
By Tom Adler, San Diego
Tuesday, June 24, 2008

I was delighted to read that the city council has finally come to their senses and has begun to balk about paying for outside consultants.

It does seem a bit ironic however.

During their pension dustup the council members couldn't get enough of them. Council member Jim Madaffer, for instance, had no trouble at all in March 2006 requesting that the taxpayers of this city pay his personal attorney a sum of $327,231. These attorney fees were supposedly incurred to enable Mr. Madaffer to get advice from an attorney as to whether he had violated any laws in regard to the pension debacle. In more than 30 years as a lawyer, I never knew anyone who paid this amount to get advice from an attorney as to whether they had broken the law. He wasn't the only city councilperson to request these outrageous fees. Councilman Brian Maienschein requested $345,000. Councilwoman Toni Atkins requested $365,696.

The other councilpersons were close behind with their requests with the exception of Councilwoman Donna Frye, who not only refused to take taxpayer money but also paid her own attorney fees which amounted to $5,000.

I wonder if a private citizen could have paid these fees, which to this date have been unaccounted for due to the refusal of the city council and mayor to release the records necessary for a full accounting. In any event, the council approved these fees and also fees for the representation of any other city employee who was to be interviewed or deposed. It didn't matter whether or not any of them had been sued or even suspected of wrongdoing. They all received counsel from private attorneys at the taxpayers' expense. At last count, the fees paid for these counseling attorneys was in excess of $3 million.

Maybe if the city had competent council members and skilled employees there would be less need for this continual army of experts who troop through City Hall with their main strength being how to bill.

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