City of Pensacola outside legal fees jump $318K in one year

Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward saw his legal costs increase by $318,622 this past fiscal year, according to documents released Tuesday night. Total outside legal fees paid topped $1.4 million.

The trend had been going in the opposite direction. In Fiscal Year 2015, Mayor Hayward reduced the number of law firms he used from 33 to 27 and cut the outside legal costs by $173,021.

# Firms Expenses
2014 33  $1,283,213
2015 27  $1,110,192
2016 28  $1,428,814

However, the unaudited financial reports in the City Council’s agenda packet reveal that while the number law firms used only increased by one, the legal fees jumped from $1,110,192 to $1,428,814. About 20 percent of the increase was for the three-month investigation of Fire Chief Matt Schmitt and Deputy Fire Chief Joe Glover.

The increase occurred even though Mayor Hayward has added, since FY 2014, three full-time attorneys to his staff: Lysia Bowling as City Attorney, whose annual salary is $154,980.80; Rusty Wells as special assistant to the city administrator with an annual salary of $99,486; and Maxwell Branham for the Sunshine Center and who was paid $56,992. (Note: This past summer, Branham resigned and was replaced by Matt Shaud at the same pay.)

Hayward has another attorney on his staff, Stephanie Tillery.  She worked in the Legal Department, but has since transferred to the Finance Department. Her pay is  $94,993.

 


Who saw their legal fees increase the most over the past three years?  Beggs & Lane, who has seen its billings double; Steinmeyer Fiveash LLP, a Tallahassee firm that deals with environmental and property matters; and Gray Robinson PA, a Florida firm with offices around the state that handles pension plan compliance.

Beggs & Lane
2014  $267,837.31
2015  $220,107.68
2015  $540,613.00
Steinmeyer Fiveash LLP
2014  $-
2015  $-
2015  $157,551.02
Gray Robinson PA
2014  $30,070.74
2015  $55,437.23
2015  $123,140.43

 

The firms that have lost the most business with the City Pensacola since FY 2014 are Plauche Maselli Parkerson LLP, a New Orleans firm that handled utility litigation; Allen Norton & Blue, a Tallahassee firm that handles collective bargaining and employee matters; and Lewis Longman & Walker PA, a Tallahassee firm that handled environmental matters.

 

Plauche Maselli Parkerson LLP
2014 147,947.77
2015 52,052.23
2015 16,877.21
Allen Norton & Blue PA
2014 187,351.31
2015 73,202.65
2015 101,757.72
Lewis Longman & Walker PA
2014 135,479.82
2015 91,452.71
2015 18,202.10

 


Here are the numbers by year and by firm:

 

Attorney Name/Firm 2014 2015 2016
Allen Norton & Blue PA 187,351.31 73,202.65 101,757.72
Beggs & Lane 267,837.31 220,107.68 540,613.00
Boundrant Mixon & Elmore LLP 32,837.31 62,367.36 1,657.50
Bryant Miller Olive PA 7,950.91 54,279.04 83,284.64
Clark Partington Hart Larry 8,360.07 0.00 0.00
Coastal Association Law Group 3,917.36 0.00 0.00
Colleen Cleary Ortiz PA 1,942.50 0.00 4,331.00
Davidson & Hiers PA 625.00 0.00 0.00
Edwards Wildman Palmer LLP 11,291.42 0.00 0.00
Galloway Johnson Tompkins Burr and Smith 0.00 0.00 5,080.00
Gray Robinson PA 30,070.74 55,437.23 123,140.43
Gunster Yoakley & Stewart PA 23,996.41 30,972.47 3,402.00
Hammons Longoria Whittaker PA 7,671.69 408.90 0.00
Harrison Sale McLoy & Jackson 287.50 0.00 0.00
J Nevin Shaffer JR Pa 0.00 0.00 450.00
Jolly & Peterson PA 45,790.23 15,655.55 17,382.11
Law Offices of William I Gault 2,812.50 62.50 0.00
Lewis Longman & Walker PA 135,479.82 91,452.71 18,202.10
Locke Lord LLP 0.00 6,397.61 3,587.50
Locklin & Saba PA 3,000.00 0.00 0.00
McCarter & English LLP 51,676.03 144,979.46 144,947.09
McDonald Fleming Moorhead 10,445.25 120.00 0.00
McGuire Woods LLP 9,501.00 0.00 0.00
Messer Caparello PA 15,126.03 2,065.00 0.00
Messer Law Firm PA 168,175.30 75,000.00 0.00
Miller Balis & O’Neil PC 12,630.43 0.00 0.00
Nabors Giblin & Nickerson PA 1,541.78 548.21 617.12
Philip A Bates PA 2,596.50 445.20 482.70
Plauche Maselli Parkerson LLP 147,947.77 52,052.23 16,877.21
Quintairos Prieto Wood & Boyer PA 30,156.77 36,332.05 34,046.70
Ray, Jr Louis F 18,009.00 23,801.75 24,969.00
Roderic G Magie PA 50,482.65 51,347.05 51,853.00
Rumberger Kirk & Caldwell PA 34,294.81 0.00 0.00
Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis LLP 3,240.58 21,313.12 4,228.17
Shell Fleming Davis Menge 0.00 0.00 400.00
Sergent, Stanley H 0.00 800.00 0.00
Smith & Associates of Tallahassee PA 0.00 0.00 6,954.42
Smith & Sauer PA 0.00 0.00 330.00
Spero, Donald J 0.00 0.00 1,573.44
Steinmeyer Fiveash LLP 0.00 0.00 157,551.02
The Hammons Law Firm PA 0.00 12,580.55 1,348.19
Wells William D, Jr DBA 49,500.00 0.00 0.00
Wilson Harrell & Farrington PA 74,718.95 149,758.39 79,747.59
Total 1,451,387.84 1,185,191.71 1,428,814.40
Less City Atty Jim Messer 168,175.30 75,000.00 0.00
Net Total 1,283,212.54 1,110,191.71 1,428,814.40

This has been an issue since June 2014 when Councilwoman Sherri Myers produced documents at an agenda review outlining Mayor Hayward had spent over $2 million with 40 law firms from November 2012-April 2014.  Mayor Hayward conceded to allowing CFO Dick Barker give the City Council the city’s legal expenditures on a quarterly and annual basis.

The transparency and accountability did have an effect on reducing outside legal cost the following year, but the fees have crept back up this past year.

 

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4 thoughts on “City of Pensacola outside legal fees jump $318K in one year

  1. This is to be expected of an administration that, when faced with violating its own ordinances, chooses to say, “screw’m – let them take us to court”. The hubris of a mayor who is nearly exclusively advised by the members of the legal community. Sadly, he’ll probably get out of office without ever having to answer for his misdeeds.

  2. I was recently looking at the City of Miami’s Charter and Municipal Code. This section in that city’s code jumped out at me and seems relevant to this blog post. Our code should probably say at least much the same.

    Sec. 2-111. – Supervision and control of attorneys employed by city.
    (a) All attorneys at law retained or employed by the city, regardless of the nature or kind of service performed or the title or designation under which they render legal service for the city, are hereby placed under the direct supervision and control of the law department.
    (b) The mayor may engage special counsel for the specific purpose of providing advice to the mayor and his office. The compensation and funding for such engagement shall be subject to the advice and consent, and approval of the city commission. Any subsequent special counsel vacancy shall be filled in this manner and subject to the advice and consent, and approval of the city commission.

  3. Also, the crazy thing is he has been paying the wrong law firm obviously. He has paid Ed Flemings firm only $10K in 2014, $120 in 2015 and $0 dollars in 2016. This is hilarious because. ED FLEMING HAS KICKED THE MAYOR’S ARSE IN CASES AND NOW THE MAYOR IS GOING TO HAVE TO PAY FLEMING’S LEGAL FEES ANYWAY BECAUSE HE LOST THE CASES AGAINST HIM. Maybe he should have hired Ed Fleming first and he wouldn’t be in so much litigation. Priceless, LOL!

  4. Rick,

    It would be interesting to see how Beggs & Lane have spent on “co-counsel” agreements that include Bob K? $540,000 last year and over a million for the last 3 years is a great opportunity to provide “co-counsel” fees to the Mayor’s “pro bono” advisor. I bet if you make that specific request, they will fight you vigorously.

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