Dawson challenges the Riverside city council on the issue of outside legal expenses. Kevin’s perseverance pressured an audit to confirm these practices and the city was forced to put in place new policies. Below is his email set to city council…
Sent: 3/1/2016 12:56:48 P.M. Pacific Standard Time
Subj: Comments to Item 4 and a compliant to CC
I’m speaking to the issue of the audit of outside legal expenses and have some concerns.
While I spoke before in support of a further audit, to gain understanding of the full depth of the issue, I now believe we are making a mistake. There is a statue of limitations we need to consider so that persons responsible can still be held accountable.
We already know city attorney Priamos hired outside legal without charter required City Council approval and that he did so without using written contracts. He was quoted in the Press-Enterprise as saying “there were no contracts”. He responded to numerous public records requests for contracts that he had nothing condusive to the request. When he appeared before the Charter Review committee, he was asked about the “outside legal thing” and replied he had the power to do that. And then was asked, “and without a contract?”, to which he replied, “yes, and without a contract.”
I have been hearing an argument is being made that City Council had actually given approval for all this outside legal work, and that the approval happened in closed session. This is new and appears to be concocted to protect Priamos after the fact. The truth is, Priamos has had many opportunities to address this issue and never once offered up a defense that he had received City Council approval. Priamos, and others (such as the CFO, ACFO, and RPU), boldly and publically have claimed to have had the authority to hire on their own authority and without written contract.
There was repeated violations of the city charter requirement of City Council approval for hiring of outside legal services, and the requirement that all contracts are required to kept on file with the city clerk. Not using written contracts could be a violation of State Bar and Government code. Paying invoices not attached to an approved contract could be a violation of Government code and standard accounting practices.
There is already enough evidence to establish a compliant to legal authorities and you have an obligation to act on the information. You could refer the issue to the County Grand Jury, but they only have the power to review and issue a report. Since the issue involves criminal violations of law, involving considerable public funds, the complaint should go to both the District Attorney and the State Attorney General.
Please accept my comments to day to item 4 and also receive it as a formal complaint requiring action by the City Council.