November 27, 2012
RE: Request of Public Records 4th REQUEST ATTORNEY FEE CHECK INVOICES
I am requesting the following information for the list of attached checks from the City of Imperial Beach:
- All Purchase Orders and Documentation enlisting the services of the City Attorney Jennifer Lyon and the Law Firm of McDougal, Love, Eckis, Boehmer, & Foley.
- Invoices and Billing information for the City Attorney Jennifer Lyon and the Law Firm of McDougal, Love, Eckis, Boehmer, & Foley.
Page 42 of The City of Imperial Beach Budget lists the Cost of Total Services for the City Attorney at $205,000. Attached are a listing of the checks issued to McDougal, Love, Eckis, Boehmer, & Foley for the services of Ms. Lyon totaling $416,548.89 for the fiscal year 2011-2012. These checks are coded to 21 different accounting codes; seven are legitimate, seven are dump accounts, and seven are accounts that are not on the budget. The City if Imperial Beach was charged $211,548.89 more than contracted, but the People have no evidence of work done by Ms. Lyon.
The City Attorney is a contract position. California Government Code Section 41804 states: The City Attorney shall receive such compensation as is allowed by the legislative body. There must be both documentation showing the request for services and invoices showing services rendered.
For the past two years the City of Imperial Beach has held Closed Session City Council Meetings with 5 – 9 items on the agenda without any description. At every Council Meeting City Attorney Jennifer Lyons has stated regarding these closed door sessions: “Nothing to report.”
The City of Imperial Beach refuses to disclose any information regarding checks issued to the City Attorney. I have made three (3) record requests for invoices to show why this money was paid. Each time the City has cited Government Code Section 6254(k), Evidence Code Section 952, & Code of Civil Procedure 2018.010 in their reasoning to refuse to release the invoices showing any use of tax payer money.
There is no State law that allows elected and appointed officials to hide expenditures from the People.
California Bar Association Rule 4-200 Fees for Legal Services states that a member shall not enter into an agreement for, charge, or collect an illegal or unconscionable fee. Ms. Lyon has violated the following:
(1) The amount of the fee in proportion to the value of the services performed: The People have no information as to why they were over-charged $211,548.89. Repeated requests for copies of invoices have been ignored by Jennifer Lyon and the Law Firm of McDougal, Love, Eckis, Boehmer, and Foley.
(5) The amount involved and the results obtained: The City is paying over twice as much as agreed, but the only results seen are the City's inability to pay for the basic needs of the community.
(10) The time and labor required: The City and Ms. Lyon has refused to provide any invoices showing time and labor utilized by Ms. Lyon or the Law Office she represents. Ms. Lyon is also Attorney for the City of Calexico and does training and presentations so it is unlikely that she has devoted the amount of time and labor required to justify her fees.
(11) The informed consent of the client to the fee: The City of Imperial Beach was not informed nor did the People consent to these additional fees. For the fiscal year 2010-2011 Financial Statements show the City of Imperial Beach claimed $242,444 in City Attorney fees, but $407,311.01 in checks was issued. This was a material misstatement of $ 164,867.01. These services were coded in nine (9) different accounts. Last year the fees were hidden in 21 different accounting codes, which demonstrates escalating abuse.
Your prompt action on this request is appreciated.