What Charter Reform Measures Might Have Helped the City of San Bernardino Avoid Bankruptcy? An Elected Auditor and an Elected City Prosecutor.

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

We do not yet know the full story about what went wrong as far as misstatements or miscalculations (incompetence) or concealment (fraud) of numbers in the City of San Bernardino that led to the situation wherein the City of San Bernardino had or has, at some point, less than $150,000 in its bank account.  Some political campaigns in San Bernardino County have more than that in their accounts right now.

The Finance Department of the City of San Bernardino created a report, dated July 9, 2012, that blames, on page 1 in the Executive Summary:

. . . the City is still facing insolvency due to a variety of issues including accounting errors, deficit spending, lack of revenue growth, and increases in pension and debt costs.

Something went wrong with the way government is supposed to work, with checks and balances regarding these unspecified accounting errors.

The Charter of the City of San Bernardino has a variety of checks and balances, and there are also external checks and balances in the municipal system of government from California law and to some extent in Federal law.

Within today’s Charter, there are eleven elected officials in the City of San Bernardino: Council members from seven geographical wards, an elected Mayor, an elected City Clerk, an elected City Treasurer, and an elected City Attorney. However, the structure if the City lacks an appropriate check and balance to find either a well-concealed fraud, or even a miscalculation of numbers that appeared on financial reports but did not reflect actual amounts.

Here is the problem, from the same July 9, 2012 report, Page 7:

Starting General Fund balance has been erroneously stated for the past 2 fiscal
years

Fiscal Year                                July 1st Audited Fund Balance              Staff Reported Fund Balance
FY 2009-2010                           $2,708,319                                                     $2,557,9oo
FY 2010-11                               $410,293                                                             $1,770,400
FY 2011 -12                              $(1 ,181,603)                                                       $2,044,100*
*Mid-Year report presented April 3, 2012.

Shouldn’t an audit have found the problem? Maybe, but if there was actual fraud, it can be difficult to find because some skilled in financial deceit can falsify document to make the numbers match up.  Even if a skilled City Council member with a background in accounting exists, they probably won’t find the discrepancy.   However, from these numbers, it seems that an audit did catch these numbers, though it doesn’t say when and who it was reported to.

What about the City Treasurer?    The Treasurer’s Duties are:

The Treasurer shall receive and pay out all moneys belonging to the City, and shall keep an account of all receipts and expenditures, under such rules and regulations as may be prescribed. He/She shall make a
monthly statement to the Mayor and Common Council of the receipts and expenditures of the preceding month, and shall perform all duties required of him/her by law and the Mayor and the Common Council. He/She shall not pay out any monies belonging to the City except on claims presented, allowed and submitted in the manner provided by this Charter.   Charter section 70.

However, if numbers are falsified by members of the Finance Department (which the Charter gives day-to-day supervision to the City Manager), the City Treasurer’s Office may not catch the problem.

What then, is the answer?  Part 1, Create a City Auditor, like the City of Los Angeles Controller, that is elected and has the power to audit, investigate, and request prosecution or discipline according to the needs of the situation.

The Controller in Los Angeles, per the Los Angeles City Charter, has these duties:

BookmarkSec. 260.  Auditor and General Accountant.

The Controller shall be the auditor and general accountant of the City and shall exercise a general supervision over the accounts of all offices, departments, boards and employees of the City charged in any manner with the receipt, collection or disbursement of the money of the City.  The Controller shall be elected as provided in Section 202.

BookmarkSec. 261.  Powers and Duties.

The Controller shall:

(a)     appoint assistants, deputies, clerks and other persons as the Council shall prescribe by ordinance;

(b)     prescribe the method of keeping all accounts of the offices, departments, boards or employees of the City in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles, except that any change of the system of accounting shall first be authorized by the Council;

(c)     regularly review the accounting practices of offices and departments and upon finding serious failings in accounting practices, be empowered to take charge of the accounting function, and thereafter assist the office or department in implementing appropriate accounting standards and practices;

(d)     maintain a complete set of accounts which shall be deemed the official books and accounts of the City, which shall show at all times the financial condition of the City, the state of each fund, including funds of departments responsible for managing their own funds, the source from which all money was derived and for what purposes all money has been expended;

(e)     in compliance with generally accepted government auditing standards, audit all departments and offices of the City, including proprietary departments, where any City funds are either received or expended; be entitled to obtain access to all department records and personnel in order to carry out this function; establish an auditing cycle to ensure that the performance, programs and activities of every department are audited on a regular basis, and promptly provide completed audit reports to the Mayor, Council, and City Attorney and make those reports available to the public;

(f)     maintain a reconciliation between the accounts in all offices and departments with the accounts in the Controller’s office, and from time to time, verify the condition of all City funds in the City Treasury, and report to the Mayor and Council thereon;

(g)     allocate among the several respective funds all public money at any time in the City Treasury not otherwise specifically allocated and appropriated by law or ordinance, and promptly notify the Treasurer of the allocation or appropriation;

(h)     report to the Mayor and Council, at times established by law, the condition of each fund, and make other reports as the Mayor or Council requests;

(i)     maintain each fund on a parity with its obligations at all times by transferring from the Reserve Fund as a loan to any fund which may become depleted through tardy receipt of revenues, and upon receipt of revenues sufficient to make an allocation as will restore each fund to parity, retransfer the amount of the loan to the Reserve Fund;

(j)     monitor the level of debt incurred by the City and report periodically to the Mayor and Council on City debt; and

(k)     conduct performance audits of all departments and may conduct performance audits of City programs, including suggesting plans for the improvement and management of the revenues and expenditures of the City.  Nothing in this subsection shall preclude the Mayor or Council from conducting management studies or other review of departmental operations.

BookmarkSec. 262.  Approval of Demands on Treasury.

(a)     The Controller shall, prior to approval of any demand, make inspection as to the quality, quantity and condition of services, labor, materials, supplies or equipment received by any office or department of the City, and approve before payment all demands drawn upon the Treasury if the Controller has adequate evidence that:

(1)     the demand has been approved by every board, officer or employee whose approval is required by the Charter or ordinance;

(2)     the goods or services have been provided, except that advance payment may be authorized by ordinance for specified categories of goods and services;

(3)     the payment is lawful;

(4)     the appropriation for the goods or services has been made;

(5)     the prices charged are reasonable;

(6)     the quantity, quality and prices correspond with the original specifications, orders or contracts; and

(7)     any additional criteria established by ordinance have been satisfied.

(b)     Notwithstanding subsection (a), the Controller shall delegate to the various offices and departments the duties of inspection of goods and services and approval of demands, in accordance with methods for inspection and approval established by the Controller, but the Controller may suspend the authority delegated pursuant to this subsection upon a finding of abuse of that authority or on a determination that the office or department lacks adequate controls to exercise that authority properly.  In the event of suspension of the authority delegated pursuant to this subsection, the Controller shall assist the office or department to achieve adequate controls and standards prior to reinstatement of that authority to the office or department.

(c)     The Controller shall withhold approval of any demand, in whole or in part, if there is a question as to whether it is improper, illegal, or unauthorized, and immediately file a report with the Mayor and Council stating the objections to the demand.  The Council shall promptly consider the report and may overrule or sustain the objections of the Controller.

(d)     The Controller shall keep a record of all demands on the Treasury approved by the Controller and of all demands to which objections have been made and overruled.

BookmarkSec. 263.  Approval of Expenses of Controller.

All demands for the expenses of the office of the Controller shall, before payment, be presented to the Mayor, who shall have the same powers as to approval or disapproval as are exercised by the Controller in the case of other demands. The action of the Mayor shall be subject to review by the Council.

BookmarkSec. 264.  Reduction of Demand on Treasury.

No demand upon the Treasury shall be allowed by the Controller in favor of any person or entity indebted to the City without first deducting the amount of the indebtedness, to the extent permitted by law.

BookmarkSec. 265.  Payment of Bonds.

Nothing in this Article shall be construed as interfering with or preventing the payment by the Treasurer of principal and interest on bonds payable by the City in accordance with the California Constitution, laws and ordinances authorizing the issuance and payment of those bonds.

BookmarkSec. 266.  Periodic Surveys of Proprietary Departments.

(a)     The Controller, Council and Mayor shall jointly cause, at least once in every five years, an industrial, economic and administrative survey to be made of the business and property of each of the Harbor, Water and Power and Airports Departments and shall select an independent qualified industrial engineer or organization specializing in such surveys to conduct the survey.  The cost of each survey shall be paid for from the funds of the surveyed department.

(b)     Each survey shall be made in consultation with the Mayor and City Council to ascertain if the surveyed department is operating in the most efficient and economical manner.

(c)     A copy of the report of each survey shall be transmitted to the Mayor, Council, and board of the surveyed department and shall be made available to the public.

Solution Part 2: Create an Elected City Prosecutor.  The City Attorney in San Bernardino is already the City prosecutor.  However, by splitting the functions, the City will have the best of both worlds.  An elected City Attorney will give advice to the City as an entity without the fear of being fired for not giving advice to the other elected officials in power, and a City prosecutor can prosecute violations of the Municipal Code and the areas of State law given by Charter or state law with the independence necessary, with the independently elected City Auditor, to root out these kinds of corruption.

If an elected City Attorney is an elected watchdog, a City Prosecutor would be doubly so.  The City Attorney’s client is the City of San Bernardino, the entity, and the City Attorney must protect the entity’s pocket book.  The role of exposing corruption sometimes is at odds with that goal.  Adding a separate elected City Prosecutor can rectify that situation and protect, in the long run, the People’s interest without regard to the City’s financial interest.

Of course, the bad numbers shown above do not add up to the alleged deficit, but if Council members were going on the correct numbers to start with, perhaps they would not have made the political choices that led to the fiscal emergency.

The information you obtain at this blog is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading or commenting on this blog. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.

A: 300 E. State St., Suite 517
Redlands, CA 92373-5235
T: (909) 296-6708

City of Burbank Police Department: Recent Discrimination Verdicts

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

Last August, I wrote this post regarding alleged misconduct by the City of Burbank regarding discrimination against African-Americans:

Here is a paragraph I found while doing some research on the Internet.  It is from the Complaint, Page 14, Lines 1-4,  Rodriguez et al. v. Burbank Police Department et al., Los Angeles Superior Court Case BC414602, Filed May 28, 2009.

It should be noted that, as of the date of the filing of the within complaint, no African-American employee in the entire history of the Burbank PD has ever been promoted above the title of “police officer.”  No African-American detectives. No African-American sergeants. No African-American Lieutenants or Captains.  Never.”

Usually, sentence fragments are to be avoided in formal writing.  But this simple paragraph forcefully delivers one of the themes of the case.

The purpose of the post was not about the merits of the case, but about what I found to be an effective piece of writing by an attorney.  However, yet again, I stumbled upon another City of Burbank case in the Verdicts and Settlements database of Westlaw (and I really wasn’t looking for it).  The cite is JVR No. 1204110010, 2012 WL 1199439, and the case is called Taylor v. City of Burbank.   The verdict was $1,290,000, and it says the City of Burbank is looking to appeal.  The similarity, at least superficial, to the Rodriguez case above, as shown in this small excerpt in the Verdicts and Settlements item:

The former deputy chief for the Burbank Police Department alleged that the City terminated his employment to retaliate against him after he raised concerns of harassment and discrimination within the police department, as well as his refusal to terminate African-American and Hispanic employees because of their race.

In trying to confirm the facts about Taylor v. City of Burbank, I found this article from the Burbank Leader dated April 6, 2012 by Maria Hsin, in which the City of Burbank lost a case filed by a detective, Steve Karagiosian.  The jury verdict was $150,000.  From the article: “The detective who filed the lawsuit, Steve Karagiosian, testified in Los Angeles County Superior Court that detectives and sergeants in the Police Department regularly used derogatory terms — such as “towel heads” — in referring to Armenians.”

The Karagiosian case is the same case as quoted above, Rodriguez et al. v. Burbank Police Department et al., Los Angeles Superior Court Case BC414602, Filed May 28, 2009.  Steve Karagiosian is one of the “et als” in that case.  They appear to be trying the cases separately.

In an unpublished case found at 2012 WL 646338, filed February 27, 2012, the Second District, Division 4 Court of Appeal made a ruling in some of the cases.  The initial complaint, as stated before, was filed on May 28, 2009 by Omar Rodriguez, Cindy Guillen-Gomez, Steve Karagiosian, Elfego Rodriguez and Jamal Childs.  Summary Judgment was entered against Elfego Rodriguez in July 2010.  The Court of Appeal concluded that “Elfego Rodriguez’s “contentions are without merit and that the trial court did not err in granting the motion for summary judgment.”

Officer Guillen’s trial is set for this month, and Lt. Omar Rodriguez’s trial is in federal court.  The saga of the City of Burbank and the Burbank Police Department appears too complex to summarize in one post, but I thought an update was in order regarding that quote I highlighted last year.

The information you obtain at this blog is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading or commenting on this blog. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.

A: 300 E. State St., Suite 517
Redlands, CA 92373-5235
T: (909) 296-6708

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The information you obtain at this blog is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading or commenting on this blog.  You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation

Fictitious defendants in Federal U.S. District Court for the Central District of California

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

 

California Code of Civil Procedure allows fictitious defendants, that is, naming unknown defendants, which you will commonly see in a caption (such as “Doe 1” or “Does 1-50, inclusive”).  See California Code of Civil Procedure § 474.

The use of Doe (fictitiously named defendants) in federal questions cases is permissible when the complaint alleges why the defendant’s real name was not known. See Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Fed. Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388, 390, fn. 2, 91 S. Ct. 1999, 2001, 29 L. Ed. 2d 619 (1971). Central District of California Local Rules Rule 19-1 limits the Complaint to no more than ten Doe or fictitiously named parties.

Though there is an easy way to add fictitiously named defendants in California Superior Court, the way to do it in U.S. District the Central District of California is by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 15(a)(2), and Rule 21:

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 15(a)(2) reads:

          (a) Amendments Before Trial.

. . .

(2) Other Amendments. In all other cases, a party may amend its pleading

only with the opposing party’s written consent or the court’s leave. The

court should freely give leave when justice so requires. Fed. R. Civ. P.

15(a)(2)

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 21 provides, in pertinent part, that “[o]n motion or on its own, the court may at any time, on just terms, add or drop a party. . . .” Fed. R. Civ. P. 21.

“Fed.R.Civ.P. 15 places leave to amend, after a brief period in which a party may amend as of right, within the sound discretion of the trial court. [Citations omitted]. In exercising this discretion, a court must be guided by the underlying purpose of Rule 15 to facilitate decision on the merits, rather than on the pleadings or technicalities. [Citations omitted]. Accordingly, Rule 15’s policy of favoring amendments to pleadings should be applied with ‘extreme liberality.’” United States v. Webb, 655 F.2d 977, 979 (9th Cir. 1981).

“If the underlying facts or circumstances relied upon by a plaintiff may be a proper subject of relief, he ought to be afforded an opportunity to test his claim on the merits. In the absence of any apparent or declared reason-such as undue delay, bad faith or dilatory motive on the part of the movant, repeated failure to cure deficiencies by amendments previously allowed, undue prejudice to the opposing party by virtue of allowance of the amendment, futility of amendment, etc.-the leave sought should, as the rules require, be ‘freely given’.”  Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182, 83 S. Ct. 227, 230, 9 L. Ed. 2d 222 (1962).

The information you obtain at this blog is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading or commenting on this blog. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.

A: 300 E. State St., Suite 517
Redlands, CA 92373-5235
T: (909) 296-6708

 

 

California Law and Campaigning in Uniform

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

Recently, a Sheriff of the largest County in California appeared in a video supporting a candidate for District Attorney while in uniform.  The candidate is currently the elected City Attorney of the second largest City in the United States.

In general:

No officer or employee of a local agency shall participate in political activities of any kind while in uniform.   Government Code section 3206.

Firefighters, in the Firefighters Procedural Bill of Rights Act:

Except as otherwise provided in Chapter 9.5 (commencing with Section 3201), or whenever on duty or in uniform, no firefighter shall be prohibited from engaging, or be coerced or required to engage, in political activity.   Government Code section 3252(a).

Public Safety Officers are specifically mentioned in the Public Safety Officers Procedural Bill of Rights Act :

 Except as otherwise provided by law, or whenever on duty or in uniform, no public safety officer shall be prohibited from engaging, or be coerced or required to engage, in political activity. Government Code section 3302(a).

One published case interprets Government Code  section 3206.  That case is California Common Cause v. Duffy (1987) 200 Cal.App.3d 730.    In that case, then-San Diego County Sheriff John F. Duffy was sued by taxpayers for illegal expenditures of public funds and the use of on-duty personnel in political campaigning.  Duffy was distributing post cards that had strong anti-Chief Justice Rose Bird messages.  18,000 postcards were distributed through the San Diego Sheriff’s Department.  Duffy told deputies that they “could distribute the postcards while on duty to citizens who requested them.”   Id. at 739.  At least 25 deputies in uniform participated.  Id.

In addition to the statutory prohibitions found in Government Code section 3206 and 3302, the court noted that the San Diego Sheriff’s Policy Manual prohibited political activities in uniform.  California Common Cause at 746.

More recently, the Stanislaus County Grand Jury found that:

[The] Stanislaus County Sheriff violated California Government Code section 3206 by
attending political functions, while in uniform, on at least two separate occasions.  Stanislaus County Civil Grand Jury, Case #11-10C.

 

In a letter to then-Assistant Sheriff of Orange County dated February 21, 2008, a then-Senior Assistant Attorney General and the District Attorney of Orange County opined that while “violation of Government Code section 3206 is not a crime, it is a violation of law that could be the subject of a civil suit or other proceeding against an office holder including and up to removal from office.”  The Assistant Sheriff appeared at a San Clemente City Council meeting in full uniform, including his side arm, on November 20, 2007 and addressed the Council, in the opinion of the attorneys, on political topics.  The strongly worded letter concluded “you are hereby advised and directed to avoid such practices in the future and as interim head of the Sheriff’s Department to ensure that the members of your Department do so as well.”

The information you obtain at this blog is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading or commenting on this blog. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.

Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

A: 300 E. State St., Suite 517
Redlands, CA 92373-5235
T: (909) 296-6708

LAPD Legal Payouts By the City of Los Angeles

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

On January 22, 2012, the Los Angeles Times published a spreadsheet showing the amounts paid by (or collected in some rare cases) by the City of Los Angeles related to the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD).  The numbers are fascinating, and no doubt required a great deal of clerical work either by the employees of the Los Angeles Times, or by the employees of the City of Los Angeles.  This is a good illustration of the benefits of the California Public Records Act.

The cases run the gamut from minor traffic accidents to wrongful death suits to disability payouts to Federal civil rights cases, and even dangerous condition of public property.  I have a perspective on this data because I am a plaintiff’s attorney, both in the personal injury and the 42 U.S.C. Section 1983 civil rights arenas, and because I defended cities and police officers for about ten years, first as a Deputy City Attorney and then as as an Assistant City Attorney.

The information regarding the car accidents is not surprising.  In an accompanying article, reporter Joel Rubin writes:

The city has paid nearly $24 million in settlements or verdicts in about 400 LAPD traffic-related lawsuits over the last nine years and must contend with dozens more cases that remain unresolved, city records show. In all but a few of the closed cases, city officials opted to pay a negotiated settlement instead of taking their chances at a trial — a strong indication that the officers were in the wrong.

However, other interesting information can be gleaned from the data: the City of Los Angeles does not try as many cases as you would think for a City of that size or a City Attorney’s Office of that size.  I counted only 25 trials out of 921 cases with a listed disposition.   On the other hand, there were not that many outright $0 verdicts or settlements, 16 by my count.

Thirteen of those are what I would characterize as alleged Federal Civil Rights allegations: 4 were listed as Dismissal-Court, which I would take to mean a Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.    There are 4 voluntary dismissals, though it is not clear if that means that there was a dismissal with a waiver of costs and a release, or whether the cases listed as Settlement (three cases).  Only one of the civil rights cases was listed as won on Summary Judgment.  One case does not give information about how the City of Los Angeles was not liable.

Federal Civil Rights cases are very fact dependent, so looking at the raw statistics without more information (the alleged conduct, the case number, stage of disposition), for example.

This is good investigative journalism by the Los Angeles Times.

The information you obtain at this blog is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading or commenting on this blog. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.

A: 300 E. State St., Suite 517
Redlands, CA 92373-5235
T: (909) 296-6708

Email: michael@michaelreiterlaw.com

In-House City Attorneys in Southern California: When Were They Admitted, Where Did They Attend Law School, and What University Did They Attend?

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

 

This is a continuation of my series about Southern California In-House City Attorneys in California.  This information is gleaned from open and public sources, all online, including the State of California’s website.  This may seem like very personal information, but it is not.  Each of these attorneys are public officials and public figures.  They knew the job was dangerous when they took it.

 

City Name Name of City Attorney Tenure Law School Undergrad Admitted in CA
San Bernardino County
San Bernardino James F. Penman 1987 Western State Univ. CSU San Bernardino 1980
Redlands Daniel J. McHugh 1994 McGeorge SOL Rutgers 1983
Riverside County
Moreno Valley Robert Hansen 2010 Southwestern Univ. Brigham Young Univ. 1987
Riverside Gregory Priamos 2001 Loyola Law School U.S.C. 1988
Los Angeles County
Burbank Dennis Barlow 1997 Univ. of San Diego Brigham Young Univ. 1975
Compton Craig J. Cornwell 2008 Whittier College SOL U.C. Santa Barbara 1994
Culver City Carol Schwab 1997 U.C. Hastings SOL U.C. Berkeley 1985
Glendale Scott H. Howard 1990 Southwestern Univ. U.S.C. 1976
Hawthorne Russell I. Miyahira 2009 U.C. Hastings SOL U.C.L.A. 1986
Inglewood Cal P. Saunders 2006 U.C. Hastings SOL CSU Long Beach 1975
Long Beach Robert E. Shannon 1998 U.C.L.A. SOL U.C.L.A. 1969
Long Beach City Prosecutor Doug Haubert 2010 McGeorge SOL U.C. Santa Barbara 1999
Los Angeles Carmen Trutanich 2009 South Bay Univ., Harbour City, CA U.S.C. 1979
Palmdale Wm. Matthew Ditzhazy 1994 Michigan State Univ. Univ. of Michigan 1985
Pasadena Michele Beal Bagneris 1997 UC Berkeley/Boalt Hall Stanford 1984
Redondo Beach Michael W. Webb 2005 U.C. Hastings SOL U.C. Santa Barbara 1987
Santa Monica Marsha Jones Moutrie 1993 U.C.L.A. SOL U.C.L.A. 1976
Torrance John L. Fellowes III 1993 U.S.C. Law School U.C. Irvine 1981
Orange
Anaheim Cristina Talley 2009 U.C.L.A. SOL Cal. Poly Pomona 1982
Huntington Beach Jennifer McGrath 2002 McGeorge SOL U.C.L.A. 1995
Newport Beach David R. Hunt 2008 McGeorge SOL U.C. Irvine 1983
Orange David A. DeBerry Western State Univ. San Diego State 1989
Santa Ana Joe Straka 2011 Cleveland-Marshall SOL Kent State 1987
Ventura County
Oxnard Alan Holmberg 2008 U.S.C. Law School Oberlin 1975
Simi Valley  Tracy M. Noonan 2009 Southwestern Univ. CSU Long Beach 1994
Thousand Oaks Amy Albano Albany Law School S.U.N.Y (Unknown Location) 1982
Ventura Ariel P. Calonne 2007 U.C. Hastings SOL U.C. Riverside 1983
San Diego County
Carlsbad Ronald R. Ball Santa Clara Univ. Stanford 1977
Chula Vista Glen R. Googins 2010 UC Berkeley/Boalt Hall Dartmouth 1988
Escondido Jeffrey R. Epp 1996 Univ. of Wyoming COL Univ. of Wyoming 1986
National City Claudia Silva 2010 Univ. of San Diego U.C.L.A. 1993
Oceanside John P. Mullen 2006 Univ. of San Diego U.C. San Diego 1992
San Diego Jan Goldsmith 2008 Univ. of San Diego American Univ. 1976
Vista Darold Pieper 2005 U.S.C. Law School U.C.L.A. 1971
Imperial
El Centro Luis F. Hernandez 2008 UC Berkeley/Boalt Hall Santa Clara Univ. 1979

For Law Schools, this is the tally:   U.C. Hastings has  five active in-house City Attorneys,  University of San Diego School of Law has four, McGeorge has four, Boalt Hall (U.C. Berkeley) has three, U.C.L.A. has three, U.S.C. has three, Southwestern has three, Western State University has two, Loyola, Santa Clara, Albany, Whittier, Michigan State, Univ. of Wyoming, Cleveland-Marshall, South Bay University are tied for one a piece.

I am not an in-house City Attorney, but as frequent readers of this site will note, I am a former Deputy City Attorney for the City of San Bernardino, and a former Assistant City Attorney for the City of Redlands.  Roughly, I worked about nine and a half years for those cities, and I was also a clerk in law school for the City of Santa Clara.  I graduated from the Santa Clara University School of Law and the University of California, Berkeley.  I have been admitted in the State of California to practice continuously since 1998.  In private practice, I work in municipal law both for the public and on behalf of public agencies.

Previous posts in the series of In-House City Attorneys in Southern California:

Cost Per Attorney for In-House City Attorney’s Offices in Southern California

Ratio of Attorneys to Population in In-House City Attorney’s Offices in Southern California

An Abbreviated Version of the Chart of In-House City Attorney’s Offices in Southern California

In-House City Attorney’s Offices in Southern California

The information you obtain at this blog is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading or commenting on this blog. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.

Address : 300 E. State St. Suite 517

                  Redlands CA 92373-5235
Telephone: (909) 708-6055

 

Cost Per Attorney for In-House City Attorney’s Offices in Southern California

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

Here is another chart comparing the various in-house City Attorney’s Offices in Southern California.  This time, the comparison is the cost per attorney.  This is the number arrived at by dividing the 2011-2012 budget (or the latest available budget) by the number of in-house attorneys.  This is not the true cost per attorney, because the budget includes such things as supplies, investigators, secretaries, and paralegals.  El Centro and Hawthorne have incredible numbers, that if true, show a very tight ship indeed.  Newport Beach’s ratio is high because it includes the outside counsel budget.  The City of Riverside spends more than $56,000 less per attorney, a number that could be attributable to the City Attorney investigators used in San Bernardino.  Oxnard and Oceanside, which are the two cities I think are most analogous to the City of San Bernardino as far as legal problems, demographics and size, are underspending San Bernardino by about $35,000 and $47,000 per attorney.  A closer examination of the differences between the offices is in order before drawing more conclusions.

City Name # Attorneys 2011-’12 Budget $/Attorney
San Bernardino County
San Bernardino 10 $3,026,000* $302,600
Redlands 1 $429,237* $429,237
Riverside County
Moreno Valley 3 $910,535* $303,512
Riverside 14 $3,451,041 $246,502
Los Angeles County
Burbank 11 $3,614,447 $328,586
Compton 4 Not Online Unknown
Culver City 4 $1,779,809 $444,952
Glendale 13 $3,720,156* $286,165
Hawthorne 3.6** $551,447 $153,179
Inglewood 10** $2,342,133** $234,213
Long Beach 22 $8,585,107 $390,232
Long Beach City Prosecutor 17 $4,824,978* $283,822
Los Angeles 444 $94,950,894* $213,853
Palmdale 2 $3,988,760 $1,994,380
Pasadena 20 $6,467,000* $323,350
Redondo Beach 6 $2,496,915* $416,152
Santa Monica 24.5 $8,672331* $353,972
Torrance 6 $2,160,322* $360,054
Orange
Anaheim 23 $5,592,143 $243,137
Huntington Beach 7 $2,311,624* $330,232
Newport Beach 5.7 $2,298,563.87*** $403,256
Orange 4 $1,411,049* $352,762
Santa Ana 8.5 $2,081,395* $244,870
Ventura County
Oxnard 5 $1,336,917* $267,383
Simi Valley  4 $983,400* $245,850
Thousand Oaks 4 $1,564,032* $391,008
Ventura 4 $1,711,112 $427,778
San Diego County
Carlsbad 4 $1,336,460* $334,115
Chula Vista 8 $2,271,182 $283,898
Escondido 7 $1,873,925 $267,703
National City 2.5 $703,760 $281,504
Oceanside 6 $1,535,860 $255,977
San Diego 147 $42,442,992* $288,728
Vista 3 $1,011,603 $337,201
Imperial
El Centro 3** $588,772** $196,257
* 2011-2012 Proposed
** 2010-2011 Adopted
*** Includes Outside Counsel budget

The City of Palmdale’s City Attorney’s Office bares more scrutiny.  Looking back at it, it has a category of “operating expenses” without a detailed break-out of what that entails.  However, even if it includes outside counsel (like Newport Beach), the number seems high.  Perhaps litigation reserves are included in the City Attorney’s budget?  The City’s budget gives the personnel expenditures of $822,060.  That includes two lawyers, and 4.16 positions in total.  The price per attorney for just salaries, wages, and similar would be $411,030 per attorney, still higher than the average.

The information you obtain at this blog is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading or commenting on this blog. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.

A: 300 E. State St. #517
Redlands, CA 92373-5235
T: (909) 296-6708

How To Write Compelling Legal Prose: A Clever Paragraph With Impact

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

Here is a paragraph I found while doing some research on the Internet.  It is from the Complaint, Page 14, Lines 1-4,  Rodriguez et al. v. Burbank Police Department et al., Los Angeles Superior Court Case BC414602, Filed May 28, 2009.

It should be noted that, as of the date of the filing of the within complaint, no African-American employee in the entire history of the Burbank PD has ever been promoted above the title of “police officer.”  No African-American detectives. No African-American sergeants. No African-American Lieutenants or Captains.  Never.”

Usually, sentence fragments are to be avoided in formal writing.  But this simple paragraph forcefully delivers one of the themes of the case.

The information you obtain at this blog is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading or commenting on this blog.  You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation

A: 1255 W. Colton Ave. Suite 104, Redlands, CA 92374
T: (909) 708-6055

Ratio of Attorneys to Population in In-House City Attorney’s Offices in Southern California

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

Continuing my series on In-House City Attorney’s Offices in Southern California, here is a new set of data comparing the Attorneys to population in City Attorney’s Offices.

City Name Pop. (2011 est.) # Attorneys Atty/Population Ratio
San Bernardino 211,076 10 21,108
Redlands 69,231 1 69,231
Riverside County
Moreno Valley 195,216 3 65,072
Riverside 306,779 14 21,913
Los Angeles County
Burbank 104,304 11 9,482
Compton 96,925 4 24,231
Culver City 38,973 4 9,743
Glendale 192,473 13 14,805
Hawthorne 84,854 3.6** 23,571
Inglewood 110,028 10** 11,003
Long Beach 463,894 22 11,894
Long Beach City Prosecutor Included Above 17 Included Above
Los Angeles 3,810,129 444 8,581
Palmdale 153,334 2 76,667
Pasadena 138,915 20 6,946
Redondo Beach 66,970 6 11,162
Santa Monica 90,174 24.5 3,681
Torrance 145,927 6 24,321
Orange
Anaheim 341,034 23 14,828
Huntington Beach 190,377 7 27,196
Newport Beach 85,376 5.7 14,978
Orange 136,995 4 34,249
Santa Ana 325,228 8.5 38,262
Ventura County
Oxnard 199,722 5 39,944
Simi Valley  125,026 4 31,257
Thousand Oaks 127,557 4 31,899
Ventura 107,124 4 26,781
San Diego County
Carlsbad 106,555 4 26,639
Chula Vista 246,496 8 30,812
Escondido 145,196 7 26,774
National City 58,785 2.5 23,514
Oceanside 168,173 6 28,029
San Diego 1,311,882 147 8,924
Vista 94,431 3 31,477
Imperial
El Centro 43,145 3** 14,382
* 2011-2012 Proposed
** 2010-2011 Adopted

Not surprisingly, the ratio is usually lowest in cities that prosecute state law misdemeanors and in large cities.  For example, Anaheim has a ratio of one attorney per 14,828  in population.  Los Angeles has one attorney per 8,851 people.  San Diego, the State of California’s second largest city, has a similar ratio, one city attorney per 8,924 people.  Palmdale, Redlands, and Moreno Valley have the highest ratios.

What does the data mean?   The average in Southern California is one attorney per 20,000 population. I think in some cases, it means that some cities are richer than other cities.  I think Santa Monica is certainly in this category, with one attorney per 3,861 in population.  In other cases, it may mean that some cities are overweight.  In researching this data, I found, for example, that El Centro was considering eliminating its in-house City Attorney’s Office.  The City of Oxnard looks like it could use another attorney, but these are fiscally trying times.

One caveat is that the cities are not equal.  The number of attorneys includes attorneys in cities that prosecute state law misdemeanors.  Also, full service cities should be expected to need more help then non-full service cities.  That explains Palmdale and Moreno Valley a little, but Moreno Valley cut a vacant position in 2010, also skewing the ratio.

The information you obtain at this blog is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading or commenting on this blog. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.

A: 300 E. State St. Suite 517

Redlands CA 92373-5235
T: (909) 708-6055

An Abbreviated Version of the Chart of In-House City Attorney’s Offices in Southern California

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

Usually WordPress is a very reliable platform, but in this case, it did not like the chart that I created to illustrate my earlier post.  Here is a more readable post without information about each City’s City Attorney:

City Name Pop. (2011 est.) City Form Charter or General Law Full Service? Elected/Appointed # Attorneys 2011-’12 Budget Prosecute State Law Misdemeanors?
San Bernardino County
San Bernardino 211,076 Charter Y E 10 $3,026,000* No
Redlands 69,231 General Law Y A 1 $429,237* No
Riverside County
Moreno Valley 195,216 General Law N A 3 $910,535* No
Riverside 306,779 Charter Y A 14 $3,451,041 No
Los Angeles County
Burbank 104,304 Charter Y A 11 $3,614,447 Yes
Compton 96,925 Charter N E 4 Not Online No
Culver City 38,973 Charter Y A 4 $1,779,809 No
Glendale 192,473 Charter Y A 13 $3720156* No
Hawthorne 84,854 General Law N A 3.6** $551,447 Yes
Inglewood 110,028 Charter N A 10** $2,342,133** Yes
Long Beach 463,894 Charter Y E 22 $8,585,107 No
Long Beach City Prosecutor Included Above Charter Y E 17 $4,824,978* Yes
Los Angeles 3,810,129 Charter Y E 444 $94,950,894* Yes
Palmdale 153,334 Charter N A 2 $3,988,760 No
Pasadena 138,915 Charter Y A 20 $6,467,000* Yes
Redondo Beach 66,970 Charter Y E 6 $2,496,915* Yes
Santa Monica 90,174 Charter Y A 24.5 $8,672331* Yes
Torrance 145,927 Charter Y A 6 $2,160,322* Yes
Orange
Anaheim 341,034 Charter Y A 23 $5,592,143 Yes
Huntington Beach 190,377 Charter Y E 7 $2,311,624* Some
Newport Beach 85,376 Charter Y A 5.7 $2,298,563.87*** No
Orange 136,995 General Law Y A 4 $1,411,049* No
Santa Ana 325,228 Charter Y A 8.5 $2,081,395* No
Ventura County
Oxnard 199,722 General Law Y A 5 $1,336,917* No
Simi Valley  125,026 General Law N A 4 $983,400* No
Thousand Oaks 127,557 General Law N A 4 $1,564,032* No
Ventura 107,124 Charter Y A 4 $1,711,112 No
San Diego County
Carlsbad 106,555 Charter Y A 4 $1,336,460* No
Chula Vista 246,496 Charter Y E 8 $2,271,182 No
Escondido 145,196 General Law Y A 7 $1,873,925 No
National City 58,785 General Law Y A 2.5 $703,760 No
Oceanside 168,173 Charter Y A 6 $1,535,860 No
San Diego 1,311,882 Charter Y E 147 $42,442,992* Yes
Vista 94,431 Charter N A 3 $1,011,603 No
Imperial
El Centro 43,145 Charter Y A 3** $588,772** No
* 2011-2012 Proposed
** 2010-2011 Adopted
*** Includes Outside Counsel budget

The information you obtain at this blog is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading or commenting on this blog. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.

A: 300 E. State St. Suite 517

     Redlands CA 92373-5235
T: (909) 708-6055