Tom Butt
  E-Mail Forum – 2022  
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  $300,000 on Next Week's Agenda to Litigate Against the Mayor (MINOR CORRECTION)
April 30, 2022

(Change “Downey Brand” to “Meyers Nave”).

In Item 0.1.b of the May 3, 2022, City Council Agenda, the Richmond City Council is being asked to continue throwing good money after bad by increasing the contract with Meyers nave to $300,000 to pay for litigation against me.

This $300,000 is in addition to the approximately $100,000 the City of Richmond spent investigating me for nothing, bringing the total of RPA-endorsed spending of public funds against me to at least $400,000.

Figure 1 - Former Richmond city manager Laura Snideman was fired by the City Council and paid more than $300,000 to go away. When I refused to stay silent, the RPA-led City Council majority passed two resolutions of condemnation and one of censure.

You may recall that back in 2020, the former city manager and an assistant city attorney launched an illegal investigation of me based on an unfounded complaint by a disgruntled City employee. The City Council majority, led by RPA City Council members, encouraged and supported the investigation paid for by taxpayers, hoping that it would dig up some dirt on me.

The investigation, which dragged on for over two years, came up with nothing. The former city attorney eventually and reluctantly released the results of the investigation, but, embarrassed by both the dry well and the amount of public money spent on it, tried to keep it secret by labeling it “confidential.”

Figure 2 - Former City Attorney Teresa Stricker convinced the City Council to sue me
There was, however, no basis for confidentiality, and I subsequently released the summary of the investigation in my E-FORUM. Then, in a snit, the former city attorney commenced litigation against me, again with the support and encouragement of the RPA City Council majority, in an unsuccessful attempt to force me to remove the results of the investigation from my E-FORUM archives.

The former city manager hired an expensive ($495/hour) southern California law firm, Meyers Nave to sue me, using a $10,000 contract to evade City Council approval and avoid public disclosure. As the bills mounted up, Downey Brand requested a $75,000 increase. The contract amendment was signed by then Vice-mayor Demnlus Johnson, identifying himself as “mayor.” Assistant City Attorney Heather McLaughlin., hired by former City Attorney Teresa Stricker, approved it.

But the contract was illegal, because Johnson was never authorized by the City Council to sign it, a violation of the Richmond Charter.

Item 1.1.b on the May 3, 2022, Agenda is intended to clean up the $75,000 mess and add an additional $215,000 to it to pay off $226,000 in legal bills run up by Meyers Nave. It is illegal and an ethical breach by Downey Brand to continue working and billing for services without a contract.

The RPA-led majority on the Richmond City Council has no qualms about using public funds to pursue vindictive actions against political opponents.

The current city attorney, to his credit, recognizes both the futility and the impropriety of this litigation, recommending in the 0.1.b Agenda report, “I recommend that the City Council instruct us to dismiss and abandon these legal proceedings…”

He also advised the expensive southern California lawyer, “Frankly had I been here at the time, I would never have advised the Council to pursue these matters.”