As Elk Grove's District56 litigation drags on, city attorney's former law firm gets fat fees on taxpayers back



With no end in sight to the costly litigation on the design-flaw-plagued District56 facility in Elk Grove drags along, there is one party who is benefitting - the Sacramento Capitol Mall white-shoe law firm of Kronick, Moskovitz, Tiedemann & Girard.

The firm, where city attorney Jonathan Hobbs was once a partner and has accepted gifts from after he became a civil servant, has billed taxpayers $367,402, of which $355,525 came after the facility opened for use in May 2019, for litigation expenses related to the District56 lawsuit. The information on the billing was released following a public information request.  


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The city sued contractors and subcontractors after concrete problems at the facility, which includes the aquatics center, after its Memorial Day 2019 opening. The defendants' content the defects were caused by flawed designs from Willdan, the city's largest outside contractor, and regular campaign contributor to members of the Elk Grove City Council, are the source of the problems while the city seems unwilling to hold Willdan accountable perhaps because of political pressure from the Elk Grove City Council.  

According to Transparent California's webpage on Elk Grove public employee salaries, in spite of the city's legal payroll of $1.1 million, that highly-paid department seems unwilling or unable to competently handle the litigation. Hobbs was the city's highest-paid employee in 2019 earning wages and benefits of $377,837. 

Hobbs has stated he has no ties with his former firm since becoming a city employee even as they continue to receive the majority of Elk Grove's outside legal work. He has never stated for the record if he is qualified for deferred compensation as a former partner with Kronick Moskovitz which is a common compensation practice at large law firms.  

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5 comments

D.J. Blutarsky said...

Trick question here: when was the last time the City went out to bid on contract legal services (to ensure that the taxpayer's money delivers us the best bang for the buck)? Answer: NEVER!

Come to think of it, I can't recall when Kronick's contract ever appeared on a City Council agenda for renewal or extension! It must be one of those perpetual motion machines that keeps renewing itself!

I know, they say the best justification for keeping a current contractor onboard is because of their "institutional knowlege". Problem is, what do they know that we don't....hmmm.

D.J. Blutarsky said...

...as for Willdan, well I give them credit for at least being transperant. Their regular campaign contributions to City Councilmembers and wanna-be Councilmembers is above board and out there for all to see. What's hilarious to me is seeing the value of their annual contracts and the mere pittance of chump change they pay for their YES votes! I think these Councilmembers need to hire sports agents to get better prices!

Steve L said...

DJ makes some good points here. Nice research here Dan. Glad to see someone's watching out for the taxpayers.

First of all, why does the city's legal team need to employ a separate law firm to handle our local business and legal matters?

Secondly, we pay our city attorneys over $1.1 million a year and they can't handle our legal issues in house? Someone needs to explain this to the taxpayers.

Thirdly, and most importantly, if Hobbs and his staff can't handle the workload or are not litigators, perhaps the city should find new representation. For that kind of salary and benefits package, it wouldn't be hard to hire a motivated, aggressive litigator that will handle these cases.

Lastly, why doesn't the city put out to bid to handle any overflow legal issues? This is a blatant waste of tax $$, as is assures there is no market or competition for the work established. The council needs to rectify this issue immediately! Anyone new that is elected to the council needs to see that this is done post-haste.


...And yes, I have doubts Mr. Hobbs isn't being well compensated for his referrals to Kronick et al. He needs to disclose such compensation.

Mr. Hobbs?

EGN said...

As a matter of clarification, these expenditures were requested by another party who shared the information. Everybody has the right to request information from the city or any governmental body - use that right and keep the elected and public servants accountable.
DG

Eye on Elk Grove said...

Anyone hear of the Federal anti-kickback statute?

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