Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Let's Fix Los Al! Blog: Sandi Levin Resigns As Los Alamitos City Attorney

A while ago I had the honor of bonding with a few folks over in Los Alamitos, and rather than baseball, rock music or any of the other topics I usually favor when breaking the ice with new acquaintances, here it was all about City Attorneys.

Sandi Levin, after pleading stress and a desire to do something more rewarding with her life, resigned her City Attorney position here in Sierra Madre a few years back. Soon thereafter, however, Sandi reappeared in exactly that same role in Los Alamitos. Something that baffled me at the time.

The very aware and politically astute folks in Los Al Googled about Sandi, and quickly came across our reporting here on The Tattler. Soon new friendships were forged. I was available to share my opinions with them about the true allegiances of the Colantuono & Levin law firm, and how the needs of the taxpayers are rarely a priority with this rather pricey outfit.

Now it is a few fleeting years down the road and, as Let's Fix Los Al! ably put it, after "four ugly years of litigation, recrimination, and a flood of accusations of Brown Act violations," Sandi Levin has decided it just might be the time to move on.

Here is their report:

Levin Resigns As City Attorney! - The Los Alamitos City Attorney who advised the City Council they were following the law “to a T” dropped a bombshell at last night’s City Council meeting.

Early in the meeting, just before Public Comments, she announced she would be gone no later than January 31 of the new year.

It was both a smart and gracious move on her part, a move which should help our new Council turn the page on four ugly years of  litigation, recrimination, and a flood of accusations of Brown Act Violations.

Hopefully our new Council can find someone so outstanding that they can all agree on our new City Attorney, as was the case with our current City Manager.

I found Levin to be professional, gracious, and thoughtful one on one, but I was repeatedly confounded by the legal advice she provided our Council:

Orange County Superior Court Judge Andrew Banks certainly didn’t agree with Ms. Levin’s analysis of the trash contract, ruling that Council Members Troy Edgar, Ken Stephens, and Marilyn Poe had “voted to break the law” in awarding the bid to the second highest bidder. Sadly, Levin and her firm apparently made hundreds of thousands of dollars because of that bad advice.

Levin also gave less than accurate advice regarding alleged Brown Act violations by Council Member Kusumoto while apparently giving the Council advice that led to additional Brown Act violations.

In addition, at last month’s Candidate Forum all four City Council Candidates questioned the expansive nature of the “telephone users tax reduction and modernization” Levin authored.

After the forum Dean Grose told me that he thought it was time for Levin to move on.  

The case involving a bad garbage removal contract seems to have been the main catalyst for the widespread dissatisfaction with Sandi's tenure in Los Alamitos. You can click here and read about how Sandi's carefully considered legal advice in that rather trashy affair went down in flames when it all went to Court.

There was also a huge controversy in Los Alamitos over Brown Act violations, and Sandi Levin's apparently erroneous advice figured prominently in that debate as well. You can click here and here to read about what went down there as well.

OK. So far be it from me to harsh on anyone's mellow the day before Thanksgiving, but here it is anyway. A big part of the reason why Sandi Levin is packing up her carpet bag in Los Al is that the voters there threw out the faithless City Council members who hired and supported her during her brief years of dicey legal reign. Now, in addition to getting a City Council that actually serves the needs of the people, the good citizens of Los Al are also going to get an entirely new law firm to represent them as well.

So how does all of that compare with the way things have gone in our so-called political hotbed of Sierra Madre? Colantuono & Levin has been providing our City Attorneys for over a decade, and the same narrow political oligarchy of disgruntled downtown property investors, crooked old pols, party hacks, half mad Realtors, along with the assorted jerked around cosmic debris types that support this faithless bunch, have been in political control here practically the entire time.

And despite the current RFP process for legal services, you do realize that our owned Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem will not support this change no matter how much money it saves us, right? Why would they? The needs of the taxpayers is not what plucks their darkened heartstrings.

The comparison is kind of embarrassing. If the good citizens of Los Alamitos can retake control of their City, and in a comparatively short period of time, we should be able to do that here as well.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

53 comments:

  1. Wake up, Sierra Madre. Before you lose everything.

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  2. One can only hope. How much sweat and tears and time did the good citizens of Sierra Madre spend working against the boneheaded (and wrong or illegal?) decisions of Sandy regarding the water rate letter signing and then there was the endless time spent on the definition of a unit with Scott at the Planning Commission. What a shame because I also saw them work very well with citizen groups during the revision of the Hillside Ordinance and the development of the Canyon Zone.

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  3. Sandi worked hard and long to steal Prop218 rights from the residents here when they fought the water rate increase. For that alone her firm needs to be removed from our city's affairs.

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  4. good riddens . this women's face and demeanor gave me the creeps.

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  5. We still don't know why Colantuono and Levin wedged the word "suites" into Measure ALF. A legalistic time bomb that is sure to go off some day.

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  6. Years ago a small group of citizens spoke with City Attorney Charilie Martin after a City Council meeting when he ignored the opportunity to a correct a statement regarding Hillside Ordinance issues that they knew more about. When asked why he didn't say anything, he said he only reponds when asked directly by the City Council for his advice at the public meetings. His role was not to direct the City Council to decisions but only to answer their questions towards their getting what they wanted accomplished.

    I mention this only because this is certainly not what we have seen over the years of Colantuano and Levin. It seems now that the city attorney act as the elected official running the city along with the City Manager. I believe this is a direct result of many members of the City Council not doing the work they were elected to do because they are outmatched by the real responsibility of running the city.

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    1. In my opinion this city has been managed by outside professionals for the purposes of outside interests. Colantuono and Levin seems particularly skilled in thwarting the desires of the people who live here. Los Alamitos just threw them out for that very reason.

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    2. Amen. Both of you.

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    1. I think Steve gets depressed around the holidays.

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    2. I think the deadline for the RFP submissions for city atty is in early December and then the process of winnowing thorough the apps begins. So, soon we may be able to wave bye-bye to C&L. We can even cry crocodile tears as we bid the adieu.

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    3. Hey, fine with me if Josh and Nancy vote no on different attorneys for the city. I think they are coming up for re-election soon and that is certainly something can be pointed out to the voters; that Josh and Nancy are frivolous with our tax payer dollars and also may just be a bit beholden to C&L. Dinner anyone?

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    4. They will do whatever they are told to do. One tell will be If there is another law firm that they are both particularly keen on together. That would mean we are seeing our next C&L.

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  8. Just who are the trash haulers for Sierra Madre this year?

    How could the second lowest bidder be awarded a contract?

    Did the trash hauler in question donate any money to re election coffers?

    Follow the money.

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    1. Athens has the contract; second lowest bidder can be awarded a contract if the CM and the CC determine that the lowest bidder is unable to perform or has adverse legal actions, liens, etc. It's not a slam dunk for the lowest bidder. The City can also cancel the bid if no suitable bidders respond and rebid. Donations from Athen's? Where do we start?

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    2. Obviously the voters in Los Al weren't happy about this. They just booted out the bums.

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  9. Is there light at the end of the tunnel after all?Thanks to you Crawford for exposing these cunning thieves.Los Alamitos has wisely selected representatives who have corrected their problem.Regretfully, Sierra Madre continues to flounder under a corrupt double-dealing treacherous leadership.

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  10. When will Josh and Nancy resign?

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    1. I don't think they will. The voters are going to have to evict them.

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    2. You jest,of course!

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    3. Oh no! If the FBI comes through Josh and Nancy will want to get out ahead of the unicorn stampede to leave town. And I'm going out on a limb and stating right here for all to read - including Steve the Troll and all of the Stevelettes.

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    4. That would certainly be quite a sight to see.

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    5. It would be like witnessing an exorcism.

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    6. Election is April 2014 - will the people decide to rehire the three council members that are up for reelection?

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    7. Josh and Nancy will be lucky to get 600 votes each. Two horrible council members who have left a trail of offensive garbage behind them.

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    8. Come on 12:08 - you KNOW from experience that most of our good citizens are not paying attention, and will vote for them just because....We'll have our work cut out for us exposing them for what they are. We all need to commit now to whomever will run against them, support them monetarily and with our feet, knocking on doors.

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    1. I think Steve is having a holiday crisis.

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    2. Can't we get him a care intervention?

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    3. Get Steve a double shot Irish coffee. And I don't mean shots of expresso.

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    4. I just sent him a balloon gram.

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    5. He'll brighten up next month when the Hobbit comes out. They're his people, you know.

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    6. Steve is certainly having an adventure.

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    7. Steve and the smarmy McCity attorneys.

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    8. My precious ...

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  12. 2nd lowest bidder for Sierra Madre trash service was awarded by proxy or default to Athens Services?

    In 2012 the Rosemead City council referred to Athens Services as "Politically Toxic."

    Being that so many council members of other cites who signed with Athens Services seemed to be bought and paid for, once you joined up with them you were in for life.

    The city of Rosemead had done their home work on Athens Services ahead of time and vetoed any involvement with Athens Services.

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    1. Young John Harabedian's father has some sort of executive connection with Athens perhaps a retired CEO.

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    2. So who does Rosemead have?

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  13. When is Best Buy opening on Friday Sparky?

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    1. If I were you I'd get down there and set up your tent now.

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    2. Bring some fortified wine. It gets cold at night.

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    4. Here we only use language you'd use around your mother.

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    5. mom is a sailor, I forgot.rated pg13. sorry guys

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    6. It's OK. We all have our Steve moments.

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  14. I haven't read the stopathens.org website yet, but my sources in law enforcement tell me that Robert Urteage forged the 5 checks over a period of 10 months.

    This isn't a 'youthful indescretion', but a pattern of conduct. Athens Services backed Robert Urteage's campaign donation needs for his election tot he Montebello city council.

    He also stretched out his 60 days of Caltrans service past the time frame that the court originally envisioned.

    The origin of the $12,500 check that he has at his first court appearance is also not revealed.

    Perhaps the Whittier Daily News could purchase the court transcripts and reveal them to us.

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  15. If Athens comes up for the new bidding process won't Councilman Harribedian have to recuse himself? Then if you have a two to two vote, it dies as a tie is a NO vote. Then we can have another trash hauler and maybe get a good one. Who does Arcadia use? Then if Nancy and Josh vote the way we imagine they will you can use that vote to show their hand in their reelection efforts. But, the contract may not come up again in this time frame. Who knows?

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  16. Where did that horrible Brian Lee end up?

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    1. Last I heard he was working for some city in Utah. A fate he richly deserved.

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    2. Good riddance.

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    3. He had a blog at one time, but people would stop by and express opinions that he did not approve of. So he made it that you had to have a password to read it. I don't think it is even on line anymore.

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    4. Loat in Utah with no connection to higher life forms. that pleases me. couldn't have happened to a nicer guy....

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  17. The firm is now known as Colantuono, Highsmith & Whatley -- Sandi Levin is officially out of the firm.

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