Friday, November 13, 2009

People Who Sue Sierra Madre

With rumors making the rounds regarding a couple of new lawsuits about to hit Sierra Madre, maybe it is time to reflect a little on the real cost of these things. And while there are lawsuits that do have some merit and are therefore worthy of being brought before a Court, the vast majority are not. Oftentimes they are brought about by individuals nursing a personal or political grudge, and then there are always those looking for that big payday. But any way you look at it, the people being hurt the most are the taxpayers forced to pick up all those legal expenses. People such as our esteemed selves.

And according to an article posted last week on the blog CityWatch, the costs to California cities and counties from lawsuits have now crossed the half a billion dollar mark. And that in just the last two years! A huge figure if you think about it. And at a time when most government agencies are laying off many of their workers, while also separating those in need from aid that they so desperately need, a devastating one as well.

But obviously most of the individuals dragging our cities into Court could care less. For these folks such considerations are meaningless.

An organization that has put a lot of thought into this problem is the California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse. And this month CALA (acronyms are like taxes, inevitable) has issued a report called The Hidden Impact of Lawsuit Abuse on Taxpayers. And rather than just rail against the damage lawsuits are doing to many of our municipalities and counties, they have taken the actual dollar figures lost to litigation and stacked them up against the costs of real government programs.

Here are some examples of costs to California cities:

City Litigation Costs: In Fiscal Year 2007, the cities of Anaheim, Bakersfield, Fresno, Los Angeles, Oakland, Sacramento, and San Jose spent $101.2 million in litigation, $60.9 in verdicts and settlements, and $40.2 in outside counsel ... In light of recent budget cuts in nearly every city and county in the state, cities are no longer deep pockets that can afford to absorb such steep litigation costs ... To illustrate the weight of these costs, following are examples of city programs that could have been funded by what was spent on litigation:

* In Anaheim, the $2 million could have maintained 146 acres of park land and 105 sports fields.
* In Bakersfield, the $3.7 million spent on litigation could have more than paid for the city's entire Parks and Recreation Department.
* In Fresno, the $4.6 million could have funded 75 cameras and supporting equipment for a new video policing program, the Mayor's Gang Task Force for prevention and Intervention Services, and the Stamping Out Graffiti program.
* In Los Angeles, the $64.9 million spent on litigation could have funded all infrastructure improvements such as streets, storm drains and bikeways, in the city's budget.
* In Oakland, the nearly $7 million spent on litigation could have funded the entire Police Department's Port Security program (which provides public safety services, traffic safety and law enforcement in and around Oakland's airport and seaport) and the addition of 21 part-time recreation staff to support after-school programs.
* In Sacramento, the $1.9 million spent could have paid for maintenance and increased security in Old Sacramento, as well as brought world-famous events such as the Dixieland Jazz Jubilee and New Year's Eve Fireworks Celebration to the city.
* In San Diego, the $15.5 million spent could have paid for all the supplies and services of San Diego Fire-Rescue.
* In San Jose, the $1.9 million spent on litigation could have funded 28 full time positions in the fire department's emergency response unit.

In Fiscal Year 2008, these cities paid even more to deal with lawsuits, spending a total of $109.1 million in litigation, $62.6 million in verdicts and settlements, and $46.6 million in outside counsel. Again, this money could have been better spent on budget items:

* In Anaheim, the $2.4 million spent on litigation could have covered the operating costs for the Workforce Development Division whose programs are designed to match employer needs with qualified local job seekers.
* In Bakersfield, the $1.6 million could have more than paid for the realignment on Auburn Street west of Morning Drive to tie into the new location of the Auburn Street/Morning Drive intersection.
* In Fresno, the $3.3 million could have paid for the City's After School Recreation / Educational Programs, which include Literacy and Employment Readiness (BEST Program), Therapeutic Recreation, Academic Game Plan, Community Science, Fresno Connect, and the Reduce Substance Abuse Educational initiative.
* In Los Angeles, the $71.8 million could have paid the starting base salary for 1,271 police officers. The Los Angeles Police Department is currently trying to save the city $50-100 million.
* In Oakland, the $7.9 million could have completely funded the Department of Human Services.
* In Sacramento, the $3.3 million spent could have paid the salaries of 60 new police officers.
* In San Diego, the $17 million could have paid the salaries of 282 firefighters.
* In San Jose, the $1.7 million spent on litigation could have nearly funded the entire Office of the Mayor.

The CALA report goes on to give us a breakdown of the costs Counties have had to pay for litigation as well, and the services that could have been paid for out of the tens of millions of dollars lost. Included in those numbers is the $100.7 million spent on litigation in Los Angeles County, money that would have paid for almost all of the Public Library General Fund.

So listen, if you want to sue Sierra Madre, then just check what little conscience you have at the door and go at it. It is your right, and who are we to stand in your way? But I promise you one thing, you will not be treated gently here. As far as I am concerned, unless you have a damned good reason for doing so, then you are nothing but a cancer on this community.

51 comments:

  1. People are always looking for opportunities to line their pockets and as long as you have hungry lawyers about and challenging economic times,you can expect the abuse to continue.We can only hope enough concerned taxpayers can bring sufficient pressure on their corrupt representative to bring some relief.Needless to say,I am not overly hopeful.Thanks,Sir Eric,for the update...the nightmare continues.

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  2. Any city that is sued and is found not at fault should sue the litigant and their attorney for malicious prosecution and legal fees.
    In Sierra Madre that would stop the absurd lawsuits by the POA and other scumbags such as Cap Source and Dorn Platz.

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  3. How about doing away with attorney contingency rules?
    How much would that cut down lawsuits? I would guess at least 75%.

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  4. Sir Eric, can we get those facts for Sierra Madre?
    What's our bill?

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  5. So many people and companies just look upon small city
    governments like ours as cash cows. Places to go to get
    their mitts on taxpayer money. What a terrible thing to do
    to the taxpayers and citizens of places like ours.

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  6. Sierra Madre is not only threatened and sued by lawsuits from private citizens and city workers, but legal action has also been threatened by an elected council member. On March 30, 2007 Sandra J Lavin and the city clerk received a letter from Kaufman Downing LLP and signed by Steven J. Reyes, Attorney. Mr. Reyes was Council Member Joseph Mosca’s attorney during the recall process. Below is a direct quote from the letter dated March 30, 2007.

    “Should your office refuse to declare the proposed recall petition delivered to Ms. Shollenburger untimely and require that the recall proponents begin their process again, we are prepared to seek all legal remedies available.”

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  7. Wow! Isn't that just like Joe? Is the the first time a City Councilmember threatened to sue Sierra Madre while still on the Council?

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  8. 9:26, I don't know if it's the first time, but I do know that sitting members of the city council in 2007 were sued by former mayor/town bully Glenn Lambdin. He took Kurt Zimmerman and Don Watts to court over the wording on the ballot for Yes on Measure V. (I think they forgot to cross a t or dot an i, something like that).
    Beth Buck sued Don Watts to prevent him from voting on the One Carter property issue.
    Mosca did threaten the city with law suit over the recall that the residents called against him.
    Mosca and all the DIRTS are DISEASES, they are VIRUS's, CANCERS to our city of Sierra Madre.

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  9. Strange that our dirt pals, people who claim to love Sierra Madre more than everybody else, call their lawyers the quickest. Methinks their love for this town is only activated when there's a chance to get hold of some easy money.

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  10. New film shorts up! From 11/10/09

    Neuroblast Films

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  11. 10:10. Lambdin didn't sue Zimmerman or Watts. However, the Sierra Madre Residents for Responsible Development, which Zimmerman, the Dunns and Watts created, had to pay to defend the lawsuit.

    In a nutshell and with lots of outside funding, Lambdin sued to have the ballot argument in favor of Measure V struck from the ballot The Court rejected most of his ridiculous arguments, but did make one or two pretty insubstantial changes to the ballot. Notwithstanding his disastrous showing in Court, Lambdin falsely declared that he had been victorious. To this day, he has never disclosed who paid his legal fees.

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  12. If memory serves me correctly, Labmdin's attorney worked for the same legal firm that was involved with the No on V PAC. The group taht received $170,000 from the BIA and CAR and almost nothing from the residents of Sierra Madre. Lambdin had no legal fees. He couldn't have afforded an attorney...he doesn't have a pot to p1$$ in.

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  13. I wonder if Joe even knows how unpopular he is. He must live in his little circle of DIC pals and think all the flattery is true. The man in the bubble.

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  14. Or, 11:46, he knows how many people feel about him, and uses that to get energy.
    Like a lot of the developers we've had in town, he might get excited by the struggle.

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  15. Very important story about the 2005 US Supreme Court Decision in "Kelo vs. New London, CT."

    http://www.democracynow.org/2009/11/13/eminent

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  16. Speaking of important stories, did anybody hear about the San Jacinto city council?
    All but 1 indicted.

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  17. That one not indicted must have been the Councilcritter the others froze out. Kind of like Chris Miller-Fisher.

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  18. Or George Mauer during the Carter decision.
    Good old George. "It will be a black day for Sierra Madre if we go into an agreement with Greg Galletly."

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  19. STOP THE LAWSUITS: Thank you for the info. It shows you the depth of Joe's lack of character and how much of a scum he is. Beyond disgusting. And he plays the game of the victim like too many politicians and public people. We cannot let him continue and people like him and must be made public. Thanks Sir Eric for allowing this fabulous site to keep the truth part of the public news....

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  20. Oh My God!!!

    I just watched the Democracy Now piece on Imminent Domain that Anon 1:45 suggested.

    I hope that everyone takes the 12 minutes to watch the story, especially Sir Eric and Neuroblast. Not only will the story sound frighteningly familiar to everyone, but the implications should be an overwhelming reason for continued vigilance.

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  21. Anon II...

    Good ol' George? The same George Mauer that was a secret Dirt all along and had his retirement party at the Congregational Church with his friends Rob Stockly, Tonja Torres, Bart Doyle and Greg Galletly? The same George Mauer that has an award named after him that has been given to a Dirt every year since it was created, by a Dirt Council?

    I don't understand. Why is it so important to spend time rewriting history for the sake of George Mauer? Should we be expecting him to endorse a candidate? A Dirt in Disguise candidate? Or is "Good ol' George going to throw his hat in the ring for the next election?

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  22. "Cities don't know what they're doing. They don't know how to engage in risky real estate deals."

    How poetic. YES....Everyone should watch that video clip.

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  23. watch out, my odds are that either George, Rob Stockley, Glenn Lambin, Bart Doyle or one of the other former dirt Mayors or Planning Dudes will decide to run for Council and outspend a legit decent honest candidate - a few are hell bent on turning Sierra Madre into a wasteland of overdevelopment and condos - John and Joe are delusionally fixated on a "google search legacy" for themselves and resume padding for the next gig

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  24. They outspent everyone on Measure V and what did it get them? A couple years of rent on the sour grapes ranch.

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  25. The upcoming candidates are anybody's guess. Far as I can tell it's all rumors so far. If people care, they have to prepare to put in some money and time to educate the less involved residents, and there are a lot of them..
    And shop at Taylors, y'all.

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  26. 2:37, I never figured George Mauer for a successful double agent type. He was the only council member to vote no on Carter, and 2:09 is right about the black day stuff. But you're saying it was all a set up? Very complicated conspiracy.

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  27. Anon 3:30 Welcome to Sierra Madre. Maybe in 30 years you'll know as much about this city and its characters as the rest of us old timers.

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  28. Well, I'll be an advocate for the fact that City's often do wrong and the only possible recourse for a citizen or citizens' groups is in court. And because Cities have all the presumptions in their favor, they often prevail when there is a question of doubt--it doesn't mean they didn't screw up, it means that the court is not going to do anything about it. When you think of all the things the City of Sierra Madre has done stupidly in the past, like repealing the Tree Ordinance, trying to eviscerate CEQA review for historic structures, etc. it's a miracle they don't get sued more often. The I-97-1 fiasco cost the city $500,000 ($300,000 for the Friends of Sierra Madre's lawyer who did prevail --and no it was not a contingency fee so forget that--and $200,000 for the City's own attorneys).
    And how about the people who had been GROSSLY overcharged on their water bill? Should they have just sat by and let the City go?

    My bet is that Cities that are sued by their own citizens (not the developers whose projects they may have refused) are probably guilty of over-reaching and should have done something to avoid the problem in the first place. So, sorry, Sir Eric, I don't feel one bit sorry for these cities. I suspect they've done something to push an ordinary citizen to the brink so that they have no choice but to pay for a lawyer to represent them. Most cases against cities are not likely to produce a contingency type recovery so this isn't pie in the sky.

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  29. Cities need a broader defination. Those employed by the City; ie. Administrators, Workers, Firemen, Police, and their advocates among others; ie. Lawyers, Unions, and Associations know their is a "Gold Mine" available if the system is gamed correctly. Disability and Discrimination are easy to set up and it will be the City that pays. Usually it isn't the City that commits the damage its the "fraternity" of those who understand how to work it to their monitary advantage. Why else would a can of dogfood put into one employee's chili by another employee result in a million dollar lawsuit?

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  30. Dr. Staccato: Any opinion on the 10 lawsuits initiated by the POA? It is a more current concern.

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  31. I assume all know that "disability pay" is granted at 66% of (not base pay but everything and the kitchen sink tossed in) and is exempted from Federal and State Income Taxes.

    Ask an employee and you will find there is a medical community out there that will assist in setting up this disability fraud.

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  32. What Sierra Madra needs is Doug Hayes back in office. He was the ONLY honest politician we had. Doug if your reading this, "Get back in the game".

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  33. 5:06 - you're starting to get boring.

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  34. To our grammatically challenged Doug Hayes fan - That would be "you're" as in "... if you are (you're) reading this."

    The proper use of "your" would be something along these lines: "Your ignorance is across the board."

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  35. Doug "giolo" Hayes?
    You got to be kidding, I hope that litle pi**ant runs again, he's got more baggage than LAX.

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  36. Doug Hayes a gigolo? I thought he was more of a house boy.

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  37. Ya' know for all the bitchin' and moanin' about Lambdin he sure did build a beautiful home at the entrance of our beloved canyon, represents very well the character of the canyon and I can just imagine the type of home he is building for himself in Hawaii, thanks Glenn!

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  38. Apparently Glenn has made quite an impression in Hawaii.

    Go to Google, type in "Mayor Glenn Lambdin + Hawaii" then click on I'm Feeling Lucky.

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  39. Omigod! That is just embarrassing.

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  40. If it's on the Internets it's gotta be true....right?

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  41. Not necessarily. There is you, as an example.

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  42. 5:06 Enough with the spam please. Neither Doug Hayes nor George Mauer was the most honest politician Sierra Madre ever had.

    Please, go back to the Dirt Cave and find something better to do with your time.

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  43. so many fires, so few firemen

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  44. There once was a fireman
    His name was Dean
    He wore rubber boots
    And his engine was clean

    Burma Shave

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  45. please send this link to your mailing list, Tattler readers:

    http://www.cheaternews.com/forums/viewtopic.php?p=2911&sid=9286dfc708707f3f03fe9224b1eb5686

    Hilarious.

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  46. Cheaters, they just never prosper...

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  47. True, 9:46, but they sure can cause a lot of misery in innocent people's lives.

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  48. WoW! This is a tough crowd!

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  49. There's a reason why Sierra Madre has been able to beat down the developers and their little helpers. We are a tough crowd.

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  50. Hey Anon 2:23, I have news for ya, we (our city officials) hired these "outsiders" and their "little helpers", to do work in our little town, that no one in town would have done.
    Shame on us for not getting involed when needed the most. Our town needs a make over starting with our scandalous city government.

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  51. Hey Anon 6:08pm, Thanks for the correction. How stupid of me. By the way, do you know how to dangle a participle?

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