Time for a second opinion? (January 30, 2017)

Best Best & Krieger is the Town of Apple Valley city attorney, charging handsomely for handling the routine business of the municipality and then again as attorneys for the litigation it recommends, such as the current eminent domain action against Liberty Utilities. It was the main player handling the public assassination — oops — relations campaign during the run-up to pursuing eminent domain, and has already collected over $1 million of town funds for the filing of the now-delayed eminent domain litigation.

Is the fox guarding the public coffers’ henhouse? Should not our Town Council be getting a second opinion about the wisdom of pursuing a theory of eminent domain that failed miserably in Claremont, especially considering BB&K’s involvement in both cases? Shouldn’t the BB&K billing be scrutinized for common billing practices such as double attorney time, value billing, or failing to set forth tasks adequately?

As the Town Council members have little to no experience in eminent domain, shouldn’t they challenge the recommended position advanced by the attorneys they are paying, and debate the issue? Even one second opinion from learned eminent domain counsel would assist in balancing the information provided to the Council. The current situation cries out for a system of checks and balances.

As a former city councilmember and mayor who inherited horrible employment litigation on taking office, challenging legal costs was our first course of business. To the chagrin of the litigation attorneys, we settled the lawsuits. Why? Because the money of the city, in this case our Town, should be spent on the community, not padding the pockets of lawyers who may find a city an easy mark for high billing.

— Diana J. Carloni, Apple Valley, CA

Published: Daily Press, February 6, 2017

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