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San Diego City Attorney Passes on Fireworks Litigation

The September 13 special session of the San Diego City Council included several routine “consent items” on the adoption agenda, including one involving a legal matter.

Item-604 concerned “authority to enter into contract for legal services with Latham & Watkins, LLP related to the fireworks litigation brought by the Coastal Environmental Rights Foundation (CERF), LLC.”

The resolution, approved by city attorney Jan Goldsmith and signed by deputy city attorney Glenn Spitzer, would authorize payment of up to $500,000 to the law firm for legal services. A supporting document showed the city has previously paid the firm $10,620,000 over the years for legal services.

Attorney and local activist Hud Collins angrily blasted the council, saying spending up to $500,000 for an outside law firm was inappropriate, considering the city's precarious finances. “The city attorney's office has adequate lawyers to handle this,” Collins said.

This prompted councilmember David Alvarez to say, “I'm concerned about [Latham & Watkins]. We have had a couple of cases where we were not successful.” Assistant city attorney Mary Jo Lanzafame responded, saying the city has used the law firm “successfully” over many years.

Put to a vote, the council voted 6-2 for continuance to the September 25 council session. Councilmembers Kevin Faulconer and Sherri Lightner voted no.

The five lawsuits brought by the Coastal Environmental Rights Foundation alleged that the city did not comply with the California Environment Quality Act when it issued permits for the La Jolla Cove Fourth of July fireworks show in 2010. That case is now on appeal after the city lost.

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The September 13 special session of the San Diego City Council included several routine “consent items” on the adoption agenda, including one involving a legal matter.

Item-604 concerned “authority to enter into contract for legal services with Latham & Watkins, LLP related to the fireworks litigation brought by the Coastal Environmental Rights Foundation (CERF), LLC.”

The resolution, approved by city attorney Jan Goldsmith and signed by deputy city attorney Glenn Spitzer, would authorize payment of up to $500,000 to the law firm for legal services. A supporting document showed the city has previously paid the firm $10,620,000 over the years for legal services.

Attorney and local activist Hud Collins angrily blasted the council, saying spending up to $500,000 for an outside law firm was inappropriate, considering the city's precarious finances. “The city attorney's office has adequate lawyers to handle this,” Collins said.

This prompted councilmember David Alvarez to say, “I'm concerned about [Latham & Watkins]. We have had a couple of cases where we were not successful.” Assistant city attorney Mary Jo Lanzafame responded, saying the city has used the law firm “successfully” over many years.

Put to a vote, the council voted 6-2 for continuance to the September 25 council session. Councilmembers Kevin Faulconer and Sherri Lightner voted no.

The five lawsuits brought by the Coastal Environmental Rights Foundation alleged that the city did not comply with the California Environment Quality Act when it issued permits for the La Jolla Cove Fourth of July fireworks show in 2010. That case is now on appeal after the city lost.

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2

If you are going to lose, better let somebody else take it on. Of course, some cities get confused about whether they won or lost.

Sept. 17, 2012

I was unable to attend City Council on Sept. 25, but I looked at the archived video today. The Council did pass the resolution, with Councilmembers Gloria and Alvarez voting no for budgetary reasons. Both thought the legal work could and should be handled in-house. City Attorney Jan Goldsmith told the Council that city attorneys could do the work, but said it's always good to have an extra pair of eyes. Rather expensive eyes, though.

Sept. 26, 2012

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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