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.
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.