Solomon costs taxpayers more than $300,000

April 13, 2012

Lisa Solomon

Paso Robles city officials have already spent about $330,000 dealing with allegations of sexual and managerial misconduct by former police Chief Lisa Solomon. [Tribune]

A cost that is likely to increase as the city battles lawsuits already filed or in the works regarding Solomon’s alleged illicit acts.

Following allegations by her officers that she sexually assaulted several men, the city hired an investigator to look into the complaints. At $150 an hour, San Francisco based investigator Debra Estrin billed for 56 hours during her two and a half month investigation at a cost to the taxpayers of $8,400.

City officials have refused to release the findings of Estrin’s investigation to the media, though several of the officers who have or are working on filing lawsuits against the city said their attorneys plan to procure the report through legal avenues.

In addition to reports of sexual assaults, a handful of former and current officers claim Solomon utilized illegal traffic quotas, and falsified city crime statistics while serving as the city’s top law enforcement official.

In March, city officials agreed to pay Solomon $250,000 and not fight her bid for disability as part of  Solomon’s separation agreement. The contract also prohibits Solomon and city officials from disparaging each other.

In addition to the cost of the settlement and the investigation, the city has incurred about $71,000 in legal fees associated with the Solomon scandal. City attorney Iris Yang is with the Sacramento-based firm of Best Best & Krieger LLP, the same firm that represented the city of Bell.


131 Comments

  1. MaryMalone says:

    The LATimes published an article today which serves as a wake-up call about why it is best to take on city government corruption when it first becomes evident.

    The LATimes study showed that there was a marked increase in the attorney/legal costs for cities when a corruption scandal occurred. A large part of the costs are for reviewing records, including preparing them for requests-for-records.

    However, the good news is that sometimes some of the funds can be recovered.

    This article is a very interesting read. Linked to the main article are three accompanying spreadsheets for LA County cities:

    “LA County city attorney costs”

    “City Attorney Healthcare Benefits”

    “City Council Compensation Scorecard”

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    (http://tinyurl.com/7aunnr2)
    Corruption can leave cities with enormous legal bills
    The costs can continue years after the accused have been ousted. And in some cases, the expenses exceed the amount of city money that officials are accused of stealing or squandering in the first place.

    April 18, 2012 | By Abby Sewell and Jessica Garrison, Los Angeles Times

    In 2005, former Lynwood Mayor Paul Richards was convicted of funneling about $500,000 in city contracts to a company he secretly controlled. Two years later, five more then-current and former elected officials were charged with siphoning off hundreds of thousands of public dollars to boost their salaries and pay for personal expenses.

    But the stolen money was nothing compared with what was to come. From 2005 to 2010, the city’s annual legal costs soared, averaging $1.5 million, about 5% of the general fund budget, much of it related to the scandals. The high tab left over from the corruption leaves some residents fuming.
    “The ones that went out, the ones that did the corruption and nepotism, those are the ones that should be paying, not the city,” said Joaquin Mesinas, 43.

    While municipal corruption and mismanagement cases have led to millions of dollars being stolen from city coffers, the biggest toll is often the enormous bills from attorneys who are paid by the hour to clean up the mess, according to a Times analysis of municipal legal bills across California….

    —–In 2005, former Lynwood Mayor Paul Richards was convicted of funneling about $500,000 in city contracts to a company he secretly controlled. Two years later, five more then-current and former elected officials were charged with siphoning off hundreds of thousands of public dollars to boost their salaries and pay for personal expenses.

    But the stolen money was nothing compared with what was to come. From 2005 to 2010, the city’s annual legal costs soared, averaging $1.5 million, about 5% of the general fund budget, much of it related to the scandals. The high tab left over from the corruption leaves some residents fuming.

    “The ones that went out, the ones that did the corruption and nepotism, those are the ones that should be paying, not the city,” said Joaquin Mesinas, 43……

    …..In rare cases, cities have successfully recouped money from those involved in the corruption. But officials admit that this is a difficult process, and some cities that have tried have failed. South Gate is the exception. City. Atty. Raul Salinas said that the city actually turned its legal bills into a “profitable enterprise” in the years after former city Treasurer Albert Robles was recalled and indicted.

    Robles, ousted in 2003, was eventually convicted of plundering more than $20 million from the city treasury. After he relinquished his hold on the city, officials began filing lawsuits to recover city funds. They got $8.5 million back from a trash contractor and $3.5 million from the law firm that had worked for the city during the Robles years.

    “It’s in the long-term public interest to expose [companies] that did business with the city,” Salinas said. “We went after the [alleged] bad guys. We spent money, but we made more money than we spent. That’s a good thing.”

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