City outside legal fees set new record

Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward used fewer outside law firms from Oct. 1-Dec. 31, 2017, but the firms were paid more than any previous first quarter since the mayor began giving the Pensacola City Council a schedule of legal fees.

Outside legal fees dipped in quarter that ended  in December 2015 but have doubled since then–going from $171,949 to $352,192.

The legal fees are higher despite the city no longer is incurring fees because of lawsuits regarding the ECUA wells at the airport, Pitts Slip lease and Bayview Park Cross. The mayor’s  appeal concerning the allocation of local option gas taxes has also been settled. The city is  no longer negotiating contracts with the airlines.

Mayor Hayward does not notify the council when he hires an outside law firm or explains why the firm was hired. The Schedule of Legal Fees only gives minimal information about the nature of the services provided.

Allen Norton Blue is handling the lawsuits filed by the former fire chiefs, which could explain the 213-percent jump in the firm’s billings. We believe GrayRobinson is handling the Bruce Beach lawsuit but that firm’s fees went down.

Two new firms were used during the first quarter–Carlton Fields $3,300 for “Environmental and Real Estate” and Wooden Law Firm $26,005 for “Land Development Matters.”

 

 

2014 2015 2016 2017
Allen Norton Blue  $   10,349.78  $   15,063.95  $   16,509.68  $   50,868.46
Beggs & Lane  $   23,418.52  $   40,792.60  $   68,945.00  $   68,590.29
Bryant Miller Olive PA  $                –  $   20,494.22  $  37,800.00  $   54,323.98
Carlton Fields Jorden Burt  $                –  $                –  $                –  $     3,300.06
Gray Robinson  $   10,080.00  $   21,096.37  $   10,924.71  $     6,705.00
Jolly & Peterson  $        370.50  $     1,506.80  $     3,668.69  $   19,763.40
Quintairos Prieto Wood & Boyer  $     4,031.73  $   10,109.51  $     8,469.44  $     8,607.00
Roderic G. Magie  $   12,433.00  $   11,152.43  $     8,850.01  $     8,074.89
Steinmeyer Fiveash  $                –  $                –  $   24,546.18  $     3,247.03
Wilson Harrell & Farrington  $   99,257.93  $   28,449.00  $ 117,016.13  $ 102,707.42
Wooden Law Firm  $                –  $                –  $                –  $  26,005.00
Bondurant Mixon & Elmore  $   36,273.18  $                –  $                –  $                –
Gunster Yoakley & Stewart  $          18.87  $                –  $        693.00  $                –
Hammons, Longoria, Whittaker  $        408.90  $                –  $                –  $                –
Lewis Longman & Walker  $   13,835.63  $     5,616.76  $                –  $                –
McCarter & English  $   19,553.74  $     9,989.70  $     8,305.70  $                –
Messer Caparello  $     2,065.00  $                –  $                –  $                –
Nabors Giblin & Mickerson  $        215.96  $        157.42  $                –  $                –
Philip A. Bates  $          65.20  $        150.00  $        260.40  $                –
Louis F. Ray Jr.  $     3,697.50  $     4,060.00  $     5,075.00  $                –
The Hammons Law Firm  $     3,227.40  $        275.50  $                –  $                –
J Nevon Shaffer Jr  $                –  $        450.00  $                –  $                –
Plauche Maselli Parkerson  $                –  $     2,185.00  $   14,732.79  $                –
Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis  $                –  $          70.00  $        105.00  $                –
Smith & Sauer  $                –  $        330.00  $                –  $                –
Colleen Cleary Ortiz  $                –  $                –  $     1,635.00  $                –
Galloway Johnson Tompkins Burr  $                –  $                –  $     5,495.00  $                –
Donald J. Spero  $                –  $                –  $     2,687.50  $                –
 $ 239,302.84  $ 171,949.26  $ 335,719.23  $ 352,192.53
Messer – City Attorney  $   37,500.00  $                –  $                –  $                –
 $ 276,802.84  $ 171,949.26  $ 335,719.23  $ 352,192.53
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5 thoughts on “City outside legal fees set new record

  1. Sherri

    I remember when Lysia Bowling was confirmed, you where very focused on the validity of her malpractice insurance. Have you or the Council even discussed the potential malpractice in her notoriously bad “legal opinions” that the Mayor has relied upon and led to losing litigation. Let alone her numerous refusal to the City Council’s requests for information and legal reports as to the Mayor’s operations?

  2. I have tried on numerous occasions to get a transparency in legal fees ordinance passed that would give the council more control over the Mayor’s hiring of outside legal council. All attempts have failed. So, ultimately, the council is to blame. I lay this problem at their feet.

  3. The Mayor and Lysia Bowling are both incompetent when it comes to legal matters. They can’t even handle the most mundane and simple of leases without losing a lawsuit. The City Council should sue Lysia Bowling for legal malpractice given the long history of poor legal opinions that turned out to be wrong and costly in losing litigation.

  4. At any time, the City Council can adopt an ordinance limiting the Mayor’s current authority to enter into contracts to include for outside legal services. As example, the ordinance could grant the City Attorney a limited authority to retain outside legal services so long as she provides timely notification to the Mayor and City Council. In fact, when the current City Attorney was hired, she told Council members that the outside legal contract problem was out of control and it would be her top priority to fix it which she has not. Further, the ordinance could provide that contracts for outsider legal services beyond a certain amount could be approved by the City Council upon request by the City Attorney. The practical effect of such a proposed ordinance would be to put this legal issue in the hands of the City Attorney where it belongs. I believe that there are at least a veto-proof majority of Council members who would support such a common sense approach. An alternate idea would be for the City Council to put a charter amendment on the November ballot providing that the governing body of the city would hire and fire the city’s three charter officers the City Attorney, City Clerk and City Administrator. That would solve the outside legal services issue because the City Attorney would not be able to contract for such services without approval of the City Council.

  5. Wow!!! How many pieces of playground equipment, sidewalks, paving or police officers could these wasted fees buy instead of being used to protect Ashton from himself and his incompetent administration? What a waste.

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