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CRESPOGRAM REPORT

FEBRUARY 18, 2013

LAWYERED UP AT LAST
WHAT HAPPENED TO ALL THOSE GOVERNANCE CONCERNS
A CRESPO-GRAM EXCLUSIVE
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Last December 15th, I wrote a story detailing how Commissioner “Ethics” Sarnoff nominated himself as the best qualified member of the City Commission to go out and find a lawyer to represent the City Commission on the legal issues having to do with the lawsuit that Commissioner Spence-Jones had filed against the Mayor for his alleged activities in conspiring with State Attorney Katherine Fernandez-Rundle and others in an effort to have her removed from office.


As is the Commissioner’s style, he attempted to go onto great legal detail as to why the City Commission needed a lawyer, and by inference, why he was the only one among them qualified to go out and find one.


Here is what he said that day.

On January 8th, I wrote another story detailing how Commissioner Sarnoff in a matter of 5 short days had managed to find a big time New York lawyer who was willing to reduce his fee from $950 to $700 an hour to come to Miami and represent the City Commission.


I called Sarnoff’s actions a sham, and I guess his fellow Commissioners agreed, because in their usual hemming and hawing way, they skirted around the issue of hiring this lawyer and Commissioner Suarez ended up nominating himself to be the next Hobbit to go out and find a lawyer.


At the January 24th Commission meeting, a lawyer was finally found who agreed to provide them with legal advice for free, and at this last Commission meeting, Mr. Mitchell Berger, of Berger Singerman, showed up with an impressive legal brief detailing the issues surrounding the different choices available to the Commission in deciding whether to agree to pay for the Mayor’s legal representation.


The brief was so well done that Commissioner Suarez waved it in the direction of City Attorney Julie Bru and told her that this was what a real legal brief looked like.


Of course the substandard legal work coming out of Bru’s office for years doesn’t really phase her, she’s in the DROP and leaving in a couple months.


First, here is a copy of that legal brief.

Here is the complete video portion of the February 14th City Commission meeting where the lelgal memo and the hiring of Jose Quinon to represent the Mayor is discussed. It lasts 20:10.

So, if you watched the first video where Sarnoff pontificates as to the reasons that the City Commission needed to go out and hire their own lawyer, you’ll remember that he talked about the need to hire a lawyer because the Commission might need some “corporate governance advice,” or “based on paragraph 23 to see if there is vicarious liability on behalf of the city,” or even if there was “collateral estoppel affect to the City of Miami,” as a consequence of the Spence-Jones lawsuit.


All very serious and important issues that Sarnoff put out as reasons why he was the best one qualified to go out and find a lawyer who could advise the Commission on those weighty issues.


Yet, when they finally found a lawyer capable and qualified to answer any and all of those potential legal questions NOT ONE SINGLE WORD, or ONE SINGLE QUESTION was directed at Mitchell Berger related to any of those weighty legal issues.  


In fact, the Memorandum of Law prepared by Mitchel Berger and Paul Figg, clearly articulate what issue they were asked to provide legal guidance on.

So much for the weighty legal concerns about “corporate governance,” “vicarious liability,” and “collateral estoppel,” that Commissioner “Ethics” bedazzled his fellow Commissioners with in December.


This whole issue, that went on for 2 months, was always about ONE single issue, and that was whether Tomas Regalado could get the City of Miami to pay for Jose Quinon to be his lawyer.


That’s it!


And now, in the video below, which is an excerpt of the last Commission meeting above, Jose Quinon tells the Commission he’s going to represent the Mayor without requesting that they agree to pay for it in advance, because he’s doing them a favor.


Now of course in the larger video Mitchell Berger cites the problems of them having to actually do their job and issue a legal finding were they to chose going on the record with a decision one way or another on whether the City from the outset should pay for Regalado’s lawyer.


But of course having slow walked the process as long as they could, none of them really wanted to be on the record about anything, so Quinon’s offer really was a favor, because it allowed them NOT to make any decision about anything.


Here’s Jose Quinon laying out what he’s going to do.

The last time that a lawyer did the Miami City Commission this kind of open ended favor it ended up costing the taxpayers almost $1 million dollars.


I addressed that very problem in my December 15th story, when I included a portion of the transcript from the June 9, 2011, City Commission meeting where City Attorney Julie Bru explained the problems with allowing city employees to receive essentially blank checks to go out and hire their own lawyers when they get sued.

Now, all the parties in this lawsuit are claiming that they will prevail, and who know what will really happen, but the failure and/or refusal of the 4 Dwarfs on the City Commission to make a decision on how the City of Miami will deal with the legal bills that are generated not only by Regalado but also by Sarnoff, Julie Bru, and who knows who else that ended up getting called as a witness, or perhaps might even become a new Co-Defendant at some time in the future, has now opened up a whole new problem of disparity in providing legal services for city employees who are sued.


While I have on many occasions in the past, and no doubt probably will in the future accuse the City Attorney of being a moron, she, like a stopped clock can on occasion be right.


This is one of those times.


What do you think will happen the next time some city employee in legal trouble shows up at a City Commission meeting and says, “ I don’t want the lawyer you chose for me!  I want the same deal that the Mayor and you people got in the Spence-Jones case?


As Julie Bru pointed out, in the Lozano case, Roy Black walked in with a legal bill for almost $1 million dollars.  How much do you think Jose Quinon’s legal bill might be if this case goes to trial, and then appeal, since he pretty much has been given card blanche?


Quinon even talked them out of having to submit periodic bills just so the city can have some sense of what his costs are along the way.


For the Commissioners to not make an effort to set some sort of controls and or guidelines about the rates that these lawyers can charge the city is absolutely irresponsible!


And here’s the best part.  Say that Regaldo gets reelected, and wins the case.  Who then among this collection of whiny cowards do you think will stand up and tell Jose Quinon that his bill is too expensive?


But then, what else would you expect from this collection of schemers who have screwed the taxpayers of Miami at every opportunity with their double-dealing, back room antics for the last 3 1/2 years!


It’s Miami, Bitches!

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