Over $5.6 million spent on outside legal counsel by City of Elk Grove; outside expenditures accelerating under Hobbs

A public document shows over 10 years, the City of Elk Grove has spent $5,680,828 on outside legal counsel. The document listing the invoices were for invoiced services between January 3, 2011, and January 3, 2021.

The services over the period were provided by 20 law firms. The smallest expenditure was $124.18 for Cox, Castle & Nicholson and the largest provider was Sacramento-based Kronick Moskovitz Tiedmann and Girard for $4,687,787. See list below. 

Before he was hired as a public employee in 2016, Elk Grove City Attorney Jonathan Hobbs was a partner at the prestigious Sacramento-based firm. Prior to becoming a city employee, Hobbs was acting as the city attorney. 

When Hobbs was hired as the city attorney effective July 1, 2016, it was justified as a cost reduction effort. Before Hobbs was hired, KMTG billed Elk Grove taxpayers $3,288,925.

Of note, since Hobbs became a public employee as a City Attorney, billing for all outside counsel totaled $3,101,977, or 54-percent of the total in a four and a half year period. This suggests the city has not only accelerated expenditures for outside legal counsel, even though Hobbs has enlarged the city's legal staff.

Elk Grove City manager Jason Behrmann did not return an email request seeking comment on the outside legal expenditures. Hobbs claims he has severed ties to KMTG but has not responded to numerous citizen inquiries if he is part of a deferred compensation program, which might not necessarily be reported on his legally required statement of economic interests. 

The document request was made by David Anderson, who shared them with Elk Grove News and others. Anderson has been advocating for Big B Construction, a subcontractor on the city District56 facility. The city has sued Big B, claiming they and other subcontractors improperly laid cement, which delayed the opening and resulted in cost overruns.

Brian Erickson, co-owner of Big B, along with Anderson, have voraciously defended their workmanship. In numerous appearances during public comments at city council meetings, Erickson has pointed to documents obtained in public document requests from city engineer Jeff Werner who cited flawed designs provided to Big B. 

The lawsuit was filed in July 2019 and Big B and other defendants have attempted to deal with the city. Erickson said his company is withdrawing from mediations, saying it has been a "waste of time and resources." 

In an email statement, Erickson added a trial is "the only way to show it was the City's design that was the sole reason for all the concrete issues at the Aquatic’s Project. The City knows it, and they are scared."

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D.J. Blutarsky said...

$5.6 million plus the untold out-of-court settlements have cost the City plenty over the years! I would love to see the City's liability insurance premium rate increases during "The Fixer's" tenure. If you want quality, you have to be willing to pay for it. But I just don't see the quality here.

When the City lost over $400,000 on a flawed feasibility study contract for the water park; the Grand Jury had to intervene in several City decisions; Downtown Ford got a low bid stolen from under them; a marijauna moratorium had to be hurriedly voided due a threat of lawsuit; By-district elections happened only because of a lawsuit threat...and I'm sure the list goes way beyond my recollection.

The Fixer is part of The Family and isn't going anywhere, but thanks EGN for putting a partial price on his stay.

Steve L said...

Maybe it’s time to fire all legal staff and just have a firm on retainer. This is crazy. What exactly does our legal staff do besides pick up the phone and call for help?
Hobbs is highly compensated, he needs to handle these matters in house. If he can’t, he may need to go.

D.J. Blutarsky said...

He knows too much!

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