Ian Anderson 12:38 p.m., Nov. 15
City looks to pay Menlo Park law firm an additional $100,000 to defend convention center expansion in court
The City of San Diego is beefing up its defense over the proposed expansion of the City's convention center paid for by an increased tax on hotel rooms.
On Tuesday, city councilmembers will decide whether to give Northern California law firm, Orrick, Herrington and Sutcliffe LLP, an additional $100,000 to help defend the hotel assessment in court.
If approved, the City will have taken $200,000 from the General Fund to pay for legal services since May of this year. If the City wins in court, revenues from the hotel tax will pay for court costs. But if the City loses, the costs will come from the General Fund.
The hotel tax, approved by council last October, will pay for the bulk of the $520-plus million expansion. That decision has resulted in a number of lawsuits, two of which were filed by labor unions -- those suits were dropped after a labor-agreement was signed earlier this month. But other lawsuits exist, namely a lawsuit filed by San Diegans for Open Government in May of 2012 challenging the legality of the tax. They claim the public tax was passed by a small group of hoteliers and not the people, a claim that Mayor-elect Bob Filner has echoed.
But despite the opposition, the City under the leadership of lame-duck mayor Jerry Sanders continues to forge ahead by funneling more money to outside law firms.
"Due to the number of opposing parties and the issues asserted, Orrick estimates an additional amount of $100,000 may be necessary to bring the action through the trial court judgment for a total authorization of $200,000," reads a report from City staff.
I am waiting to hear back from Bob Filner's staff and the City as to the status of the lawsuits once Filner takes office.