Attorney costs skyrocketing for AG mayor investigation

September 18, 2017

Arroyo Grande Mayor Jim Hill

An investigation into alleged misconduct by Arroyo Grande Mayor Jim Hill has ballooned from an originally approved expenditure of $15,000 to nearly $50,000 and that number is still climbing. [Cal Coast Times]

In March, a resident of Arroyo Grande claimed Hill had violated the Ralph M. Brown Act and that he had shared an email password with his wife. Several Arroyo Grande Council members with a history of political conflicts with Hill then voted to spend $15,000 on an investigation into the allegations, in which the South San Luis Obispo County Sanitation District agreed to pay $7,500.

However, officials provided no clear direction for the investigation. An investigator with the attorney firm of Liebert Cassidy, Whitmore reviewed more than 3,700 pages of documents from critics of Hill, many of which had nothing to do with Hill or the earlier allegations. For example, included in the documents the attorney charged to review was a poster of a missing dog.

Read entire article at Cal Coast Times.


I would like to first see the approval for the added expense and who approved it. If there isn’t an approval, then they worked without written authorization.


but it’s only taxpayer’s money and there is plenty of it and should it run short they’ll just cry about cutting services if we don’t give them more.


Exactly right, kayaknut. Taxpayer money is monopoly money to government employees, particularly politicians. No government agency will ever be run like a business as a result.

Ironic, since these people are typically the cheapest people with their own money.


When keys to the justice kingdom are held by people who think their time’s worth $500 per hour, justice belongs only to the rich, to corporations, and to government corporations — all of which can afford the tab. Too bad we have to pay for it indirectly. Maybe the bill should go to the complainer?


This bill should not be paid as the law firm is taking advantage of this situation and did go way beyond what was asked of them. The State Bar should be brought into this over-billing situation. Instead of voting Hill out why not replace the other incompetents at the next election!!!


I believe the Brown Act was passed by the lawyers in office for fellow lawyers out of office. Guess who polices the ADA law? Have you seen the IBM ad thanking their computer for being able to read all the new regulations that arrive every month?

justice counts

Did the attorney at least find the missing dog for the money, otherwise this bill seems overblown and growing for all the obvious reasons as everyone has stated.




Other people’s money in politics = Free. If we want him out of Office we will vote him out of office. In the meantime why doesn’t the council do some work for the citizens already & quit spending our money like a trophy wife.


I have not attended as many AG Council meetings as I have SSLOCSD meetings but my observation is that the AG council members all actually do their homework and come prepared for the meetings. As a result, most of their actions are pretty much unanimous and thoughtful. Unfortunately, this goes by the wayside when politics becomes involved. There are 3 on the Council who seem to hold their allegiance to others — whether it be political allies in other places or misbehaving employees in AG — above their dedication to the citizens of AG.

The bigger problem lies in Grover Beach and, especially, Oceano. The people they have sent to the SSLOCSD Board of Directors do not seem to care about preparation and oversight at all. Jim Hill is the only one there consistently doing his homework and asking hard questions. Tolerance for sloppy management and legal oversight seems to be routine for the other 2 Board members. I have no proof of outright corruption but complicity in allowing expenses to run amok and in not putting a quick end to horrible employee management actions under the recently departed administrator is rather obvious. The attitude seems to be defend friends, attack political opponents and ignore the rate-payers. Hopefully, the voters of GB & Oceano will figure out that a significant chunk of the rates they pay for sewer services is being wasted by those they elect and choose better in the future.

We have a brief reprise in that the new SSLOCSD temporary management team is good. But you have to wonder how well the majority of the SSLOCSD Board will do in locating a permanent manager in a few months. Will the overriding concern by finding someone with good political schmoozing skills or someone who actually can and will competently manage operations?


Great time to be a lawyer.


What is not said here, is that there was no prior Council approval of expenditure beyond $15,000, half of which the Sanitation District agreed to pay. At the Tuesday, September 12th Arroyo Grande City Council meeting the attorneys were unable to provide exact figures for the costs to either Arroyo Grande or the Sanitation District except to say they had incurred (unapproved by the Council) around $25,000 costs for the City of Arroyo Grande and it could be more than $25,000 for the Sanitation District. At Tuesday’s meeting the AG City Council agreed to pay the incurred, but previously unapproved amount up to $25,000.

The SSLOCSD board only approved $7,500 is also likely to ante up given their track record of legal fees averaging over $300,000 a year for the past 10 years. Legal costs have been a topic of ongoing public criticism for the past 5 years, but the Sanitation District board has turned a deaf ear.


Thieves! A complaint to the BAR should be filed. This is over-billing at it’s worst.


Gee Julie,

I would say this over-billing at its best!!!


Everyone settle down, this is just business as usual. If you want change you need to vote for it. Government by no means is self policing as they are the true crooks stealing our tax money on a regular basis.


The budget has expanded many timesr beyond what was required to establish the facts. One outstanding example is the matter settled by the City Council long before this new Investigation — when the Mayor reached out to find a new store where Albertson used to reside. The City’s counsel should have excluded it from the Investigation.


Not everyone on the Sanitation District board has turned a deaf ear. Arroyo Grande Mayor Hill has been the only member to consistently question and attempt to keep the spending of ratepayer funds from flying directly into the pockets of attorneys. He has had ZERO help from either former members Guerrero and Lucey or current members Shoals and Austin, all of whom seem perfectly happy to squander funds which would be better used at improving the plant.


Guerrero and Lucey are directly to blame for high costs associated with legal expenses. Lucey’s track record of dusting up chaos has plagued the San District and the Oceano CSD — detrimental to both districts. These ratepayer funds would have been better spent on infrastructure.