CostaMesa-fication of Irvine Continues with Hiring of New Interim Law Firm

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The Republican council majority in Irvine has awarded the Fullerton based law firm Jones & Mayer, LLP a no-bid contract to act as the interim city attorney after parting ways with Rutan & Tucker LLP which represented the city since its founding in 1971.

Mayor Pro Tem Jeff Lalloway told the Daily Pilot the replacement of Rutan & Tucker was “business and not personal” yet Lalloway cited language from a Voice of OC story on the council majority’s decision that, “When the Democrats held the majority, the law firm took positions against the council’s Republicans.” 

“The City Council has direct authority for two positions, the city manager and the city attorney. We need to feel comfortable with the people in those positions, and I think the vote tonight was reflective of those feelings,” said Republican Councilman Jeffrey Lalloway.

From the Daily Pilot story:

Lalloway said that during his 24-year tenure as an attorney, he too has been fired. He also noted that nearby Orange County cities like Anaheim and Santa Ana are in the process of replacing their city attorneys.

“It happens, this is business,” he said. “This is not personal … We don’t need the faux outrage.”

In making the move, Irvine saves about $30 an hour in paralegal fees and the Republicans award a contract to one of their cronies, with a no-bid contract they are only critical of when they aren’t in power.  Jones & Mayer, the same firm used by Lalloway’s friend Costa Mesa Mayor Jim Righeimer, has never lived up to Righeimer’s promise of saving money on legal fees for that city when they were brought in a few years ago actually going way over budget two years in a row.

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From the Daily Pilot:

According to invoices from the Fullerton-based firm, Costa Mesa spent $827,229.77 in nonlitigation spending, surpassing last year’s total of about $817,000 and exceeding the city attorney’s budgeted $803,000 by about 3% for the 2011-12 fiscal year.

Since outsourcing its legal services to Jones & Mayer in the 2004-05 fiscal year, Costa Mesa had not exceeded $550,000 in annual expenses before these last two years, records show

The city has no inside counsel.

“When you look at it, since the beginning of this whole thing, the City Council has said we need to pursue outsourcing to save money, and none of these savings have materialized,” Orange County Employees Assn. spokeswoman Jennifer Muir said.

But Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer said the savings will come.

“Clearly, we can lower all the costs in the city tomorrow just by throwing in the towel and handing the city control over to the employee groups,” said Righeimer, who has spearheaded the effort to outsource multiple city services that began in 2011. “The fruit of that labor has not been realized yet … the changes have to be made now. Nobody said it wasn’t going to cost money to get it done.”

Councilwoman Wendy Leece disagreed.

“Spending this amount is irresponsible,” she wrote in an email. “Had the city’s policies and contracts with employees been followed, the excessive spending on attorneys [in] the past 18 months would have been unnecessary.

“I hope Costa Mesa taxpayers are outraged with this excess. I am.”

So it took this Irvine city council majority less than four months to do exactly the sort of thing it criticized the Democratic majority for doing when in power.  Cost savings of $30 a hour are basically insignificant. 

But for Mr. Lalloway to suggest any of these moves are business and not personal would be entirely inaccurate.  The political retribution tour continues onwards and one can only guess who is next on the hit list. Look out Irvine’s Public Employee Unions. You’ll be expected to sacrifice so Mayor In Name Only Steve Choi can pay for a $100 million library without raising taxes.

  5 comments for “CostaMesa-fication of Irvine Continues with Hiring of New Interim Law Firm

  1. Ltpar
    March 28, 2013 at 9:50 am

    Bottom line is there is no big expose story and as has been described, it is merely the City of Irvine changing one of it’s vendors for Contract Service. At least this time around, the Coucil will have the professionalism to open up the Contract to all bidders and not use the Larry Agran “No Bid” methodology. To this resident, that is doing business the right way and the Council is to be commended for their actions. Sorry Agranistas, your days of having your friends feeding at the Great Park trough are over and done with.

  2. Dan Chmielewski
    March 28, 2013 at 10:58 am

    Titan & Tucker predate Agran’s arrival in Irvine Pat. It’s a no-bid contract with a firm likely to get the contract after a sham search.

  3. Ltpar
    March 28, 2013 at 6:47 pm

    I am familiar with Rutan and Tucker’s tenure in Irvine and actually they were doing the legal work for the City of Costa Mesa when we contracted to Irvine for Police Service from 1972 to 1975. Being a large and competent law firm, I am assuming that the City of Irvine liked what they saw and hired them. That said, then comes the trust factor between the Council and it’s legal advisor. The facts are the past City Attorney wrote the legal opinion slamming Council Members Christina Shea and Steven Choi when they attempted to obtain documents from the Great Park about Larry Agran hiring one of his friends from Chicago as Great Park Director. Shea & Choi were forced to hire an attorney and sue the City to get those documents. They won their case and the City Attorney was discredited in his legal opinion. Now why in the world would a new Council majority want to have an attorney advisor on board that had done that to them? Without question, the bond between Agran and Rutan and Tucker had to be severed and to this Council’s credit, they didn’t hesitate. You know more that I do about the temporary law firm which has been brought in on an interim basis, so I will defer to you on that. In the final result of who the permanent Law Firm may be, in my book, they can select anybody they feel comfortable with as long as it is cost efective and transparent in the process. Pardon me for saying it, but that’s a hell of a lot more than we ever got from Larry Agran and Beth Krom.

  4. Vince Hanna
    March 29, 2013 at 7:00 am

    What does everyone expect from new council? To work in the same incompetent and wasteful fashion as Larry and his cronies have done in years past? Change is a normal part of any business evolution. The Great Park is a complete disaster and anyone doesn’t see that, they need to attend a business 101 class. I applaud new council.

  5. March 29, 2013 at 12:39 pm

    Yes, Costa Mesa uses Jones and Mayer. When the city shifted from in-house council to contract people, one of the reasons was to retain a firm with significant litigation experience. As it has turned out, Jones and Mayer has outsourced all serious litigation to other firms – more expensive firms, like Jones Day, at $495 per hour. The “outsourcing” scheme tried by the Righeimer-led city council has cost Costa Mesa more than a million bucks and the meter is still spinning.

    The city council didn’t like advice Kimberly Hall Barlow was giving them as City Attorney (via Jones and Mayer) so she was replaced with Tom Duarte – who seems much more compliant.

    Is Costa Mesa getting value for the cost? Hard to measure, but recent experience would seem to indicate a big NO.

    Ltpar, I owe you a response – please contact me at the email address on my blog profile. Thanks.

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