Django Stevens 4 p.m., April 16
UCAN Arguing for Stay of Litigation
In an ex parte huddling at 8:30 a.m. tomorrow (Wed. March 14) in the chambers of Superior Court judge John S. Meyer, Utility Consumers' Action Network will request that pending litigation be stayed. Whistleblowers in the organization have complained of numerous irregularities and filed suit over them, and the U.S. Attorney's office has requested financial documents. The request for a stay is curious, since UCAN's chief executive, Michael Shames, has been telling the media that he wants to get the whistleblowers and their lawyer, Mike Aguirre, in court for a complete airing of the complaints.
In the pre-meeting filing by lawyer Thomas Shpall, UCAN complains that it has "a shortage of unrestricted funds to sustain operation, uncertainty of future income, [and] restriction on existing funds." Nonetheless, it wants to pay $400,000 to UC-Irvine professor Peter Navarro so he can complete a movie bashing China. This is the heart of one of the complaints: Nucor, the steel company, arranged to pay $1 million to Navarro to make the film, but at Navarro's request agreed to run the funds through UCAN, in a maneuver the UCAN's board didn't know about. But UCAN only paid $600,000 and it wants to complete the deal. Another enigma: according to the North County Times, Shames says UCAN has $2.5 million in the bank.
Attorney Bob Ames was brought in as chief operating officer last April, the month after Shames told the staff he wanted to dissolve UCAN and fire most of the staff. Shpall's document says that Ames was brought in "to preserve UCAN's property." But staffers made a video of Ames destroying documents. UCAN says they were old documents destroyed because of a pending headquarters move. But if Ames knew Shames intended to disband the organization (and he was informed of that by employees), one wonders why he destroyed any documents — especially since he has been one of San Diego's most prominent bankruptcy attorneys.