Are Legal Fees Killing Costa Mesa?
The agenda for the Costa Mesa City Council meeting next Tuesday, January 17, 2012, was released earlier today. Unfortunately, as I type this several staff reports are not available for review yet. In hindsight, I should have known better than to tackle this today...
However, the Warrants that are part of the Consent Calendar - that section of the meeting where those items might be voted upon as a group without comment - and a few items really rocked me back.
HERE'S THE LINKS...
I'll simply address the legal fees on these Warrants, #2402, HERE and #2403, HERE.
MERE CHICKEN FEED...
You may recall that the Warrants in the previous regular council meeting contained some eye-opening legal fees, too. For example, high-priced Jones Day billed us at that time for $133,000! I was aghast at that number. HA! Chicken feed!
SEE WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU IGNORE ELEANOR!
Warrant #2402 contains a check written to Jones Day in the amount of $175,000! Hold it! Hold it! On the next warrant, #2403, we cut them ANOTHER check for $81, 919.26! Two checks totalling $256,919.26! And, as you will recall, despite repeated demands by resident, former employee and lawyer, Eleanor Egan, for some kind of a cap on their contract, our City Council went ahead and gave Jones Day a virtual blank check!
BETTER SIT DOWN
Feeling kind of woozy from those numbers. You'd better sit down, then, because it gets worse.
JONES & MAYER, TOO
We also cut a check to our contract City Attorney, Jones & Mayer, for $111,461.34! Yep, we budgeted $800,000 in July - about $68,000 per month - and have consistently spent nearly double that amount each month just for Jones & Mayer. There is also an amount for $540.00 to another law firm, bringing the total for legal fees to $368,920.61!
NOT DONE YET!
Stay seated, there's more. We also cut a check to The Krolikowski Law Firm for $150,000 for the settlement of an injury claim!
THE GRAND TOTAL IS...
So, in these two warrants and a legal settlement, we managed to spend $518,920.60! Yikes!!
THE NUMBERS LEAVES YOU BREATHLESS
If we throw out the settlement, which I suspect was paid from our self-insurance fund, that still leaves $368,920.61. Multiply that number by 12 and you get $4,427,047.22 - the rate at which they are blowing through the legal budget!
SPENDING LIKE ADDICTS
We have the mid-year budget review scheduled for a meeting on February 28th. By that time it's likely we will see another quarter million dollars spent on legal fees thanks ENTIRELY to the irresponsibility of the majority on this city council. They're acting more like drug addicts than fiscal conservatives with our money - a fact that should not be taken lightly.
I knew I shouldn't have read the council meeting agenda on Friday, the 13th...