Now that the Howard Jarvis Taxpayer’s Association has weighed in on the issue of Fullerton’s 10% water tax with the suggestion of potential legal action, it seems an opportune time to consider the quality of legal support the City receives from its high-priced lawyers, Jones & Mayer.
Specifically, how can anybody explain the fact that the City Attorney Richard Jones has overlooked the obvious fact that the City of Fullerton’s in-lieu franchise fee of 10% was nothing but an illegal utility tax that was never substantiated by any objective study as required by Prop 218; and that it amounts to paying costs for alleged services that far exceed the actual cost of any services rendered to the water users, in violation of the State Constitution. Every year since he was hired in the early 90’s Attorney Jones’ bosses on the City Council approved water rates that automatically passed along this tax to the rate payers. Of course discussion of the embarrassing 10% add-on was avoided like the plague and was quickly dismissed when anybody brought it up.
Well, Friends, the answer is pretty simple: Attorney Jones wasn’t representing the interests of the people of Fullerton, he was representing the interests of the City staff and city councils who depended on that annual $2.5 million rip-off to close their General Fund budget gaps. That’s right, the General Fund that goes to pay the salaries of City employees; that goes to pay the Council’s stipends, insurance, and car allowances; that goes to pay the for the Council’s junkets to fancy hotels to attend League of Cities meetings; and that goes to pay pensions – including those gaudy six-figure pension bonanzas of Councilmembers Don Bankhead and Pat McKinley.
The reason for employing an attorney is to get sound legal advice, not to have someone tell you what you want to hear; or, even worse, not tell you what he thinks you don’t want to hear. But such is evidently not the case in Fullerton.
For Jones & Mayer placing the interests of the staff and defending the indefensible is nothing new. And the price tag for this string failures has mounted over the years. Let’s take a moment and reflect upon some of these issues. Hmm. So many to choose from. Here’s a sampling:
Good grief, this is pretty embarrassing. It’s clear that the City Attorney is more interested in harassing the citizens of Fullerton than in sticking up for their rights. And this seems like a pretty good barometer to assess the attitude of the council majority – Bankhead, Jones, and McKinley.