EAST BAY CITIZEN. EVERYWHERE SINCE 2009

Monday, February 25, 2013

San Leandro Mayor Pushes For Dropping Long-Time Attorney Firm Meyers Nave

Man on an island: Mayor Stephen Cassidy, left.
PHOTO/Natalia Aldana
SAN LEANDRO | The San Leandro City Council looked over a legal services analysis report last Tuesday that reviewed the financial costs and drafted options to either stay or not stay with the city’s long term contract with the Meyers Nave, firm that supplies San Leandro with their city attorney.

The discussion during Tuesday’s night council meeting ended with entire council voicing strong support for Meyers Nave, except Mayor Stephen Cassidy who preferred a deeper look at going in-house or putting a bid out for competing firms to offer their own contracts. No vote was made during this discussion item.

“I would look beyond option one. We are not the main consumer of legal services here, we should be talking to the department heads,” said Cassidy. “I think there is a benefit for in-house because we don’t have to worry about the result of a fee or charge, we lose that under the current model,” and “I think it is a mistake if we are to look at this contract and not put it out for a bid.”

Cassidy’s push for an examination at other options was accompanied by no other other reason than financial or the convenience of having an in-house attorney stationed in city hall. But it is rumored, albeit without solid evidence, that perhaps going in-house would provide Cassidy with more oversight and influence. The belief likely stems from critics over the first two years of his term, who describe Cassidy as relentlessly uncompromising. The rest of the council appreciated Meyers Nave’s institutional knowledge because of their two and a half decade relationship with the city.

The founder of Meyers Nave, Steven Meyers, was an in-house attorney for San Leandro in 1985 but after being lured by other city’s for his professional help he went private and established a contract with San Leandro. Because of Meyers Nave’s long term institutional knowledge the city has retained the contract. In the meantime, Meyers Nave expanded their reach to 23 cities, including many in the East Bay, providing a city attorney or other legal services.

A sticking point during Tuesday’s discussion was the payment method between the city and Meyers Nave. Currently the city operates with Meyers Nave on a retainer, plus additional services rate, rather than an hourly rate, also known as a market-based fee. Chris Zapata, San Leandro's city manager, told The Citizen that Meyers Nave is not happy with the current payment method because they claim they are working more than what they are paid for within the retainer. Currently the rate is at $28,000 a month.

Also, Zapata said that the convenience of having an in-house city attorney isn't a major issue because Meyers Nave is available by phone every day of the week.

Currently, a contract with Meyers Nave is cheaper than going in-house. The projected sum of Meyers Nave’s contract for this year is at $950,000, although may be subjected to higher cost depending on what litigation the city may become embroiled in, compared to an in-house cost at $1.2 million.

But this is the second consecutive mayor that Meyers Nave’s relationship with San Leandro was questioned, whether for financial or personal reasons.

Cassidy's predessor, Tony Santos, said he would have tried to drop the contract with Meyers Nave. “I planned on making it public,” said Santos, “If I had been re-elected.” According to Santos, former issues were with Jayne Williams, Meyers Nave’s city attorney for San Leandro, advising the city manager more than advising city council and making “erroneous,” statements during closed session meetings which he would not further elaborate on. Santos wanted to look at putting a bid out for competing firms to make a pitch. Santos also admitted that he had conducted his own research during his time as mayor and found that San Leandro spent less for legal services contracting with Meyers Nave than neighboring cities that were in-house.

Santos is confident his dissatisfaction with Meyers Nave is different than Cassidy’s. But Cassidy's lone opinion differing from the rest of the council has raised some suspicion.

Shane Bond is an East Bay Citizen contributor.

13 comments :

By MW:

To make just a few points in regard to the law firm of Meyers Nave's relationship with the city of San Leandro:

1. If Meyers Nave is not happy with what it is getting paid by the city of San Leandro, then San Leandro should drop Meyers Nave and instead find a law firm that will be happy to get the work.

1A. As far as MN asserting it has not been getting paid for all of the hours it has been working for San Leandro, the typical law firm shows so much "creativity" in its billing statements, that by comparison even Bernard Madoff was only a tenth rate amateur in the frauds he perpetrated. In fact, if the general public was even slightly aware of the huge amount of fraud that is standard and accepted procedure in the billing statements submitted by virtually all law firms, there would be rioting in the streets rather than people ever agreeing to pay those bills, and which are almost always extremely inflated and totally fraudulent.

So unless MN can prove that it is much more ethical than the overwhelming majority of law firms, any bills it submits should not be taken with merely a grain of salt but in fact with an entire truckload of salt.

2. If John Doe owned the only hotel in a major metropolitan area, then he could probably get away with charging virtually anything he wanted, and no matter how outrageously high, for a room. However if a few years later suddenly virtually every Tom, Dick, and Harry had built a large hotel in the area, then John Doe would be forced to drastically reduce the rates he had been charging unless he wanted his hotel to be close to empty.

Similarly, in the last few years a huge oversupply of lawyers has developed, and which has caused some of the largest law firms all over the country, and especially in the Bay area, to shrink, and in some cases even go out of business, and including in some cases major and politically connected law firms that up to a few years ago had been considered as mighty, untouchable, and invulnerable as General Motors and US Steel were considered to be back in the 1950's.

As a result, in the last few years the hourly rates law firms have been able to get away with charging have generally been dropping

In other words in any negotiations with a law firm over prices and billing, the city of San Leandro should NOW have the upper hand, and even if its bigshots are in too much of a daze to be aware of that fact.

So If Meyers Nave is unhappy with what is has been getting paid, then the highest ranking officials in San Leandro's city government should take the managing partners at MN down to the Marina and tell them to go jump in the lake.

By MW:

1. To learn more about the "standards" of many lawyers, do a web search on a lawyer by the name of David Replogle. In fact, the SF Chronicle (its website is "sfgate.com") had an article on him yesterday, and many other members of the media evidently have been running articles on him over the last few years.

However his biggest crime of all, and the reason he is now in prison, is that he did not keep his scams limited to only the Bay area. In other words, if he had limited his activities to the Bay area and also been a generous contributor to Willie Brown, John Burton, and Dianne Feinstein, he would have never been prosecuted.

2. And as far as lawyers' rates, do a web search using such terms as "Gilbert & O'Bryan," and which is a Boston area law firm that is offering a salary of only ten thousand dollars a year to lawyers, and yet it has still gotten many applications for those openings. In other words, the market for lawyers is flooded, and with many lawyers not able to get any jobs even slightly related to the legal profession, but instead being forced to take jobs for minimum wage doing such things as being warehouse boys at such places as Wal-Mart.

And for some years now a lot of big law firms have been subcontracting and farming out a lot of their work to overseas lawyers and law firms that the US law firm pays about fifteen dollars per hour. So therefore why should a local entity pay a a US law firm $200 to $700 an hour when the US law firm will be farming out the work overseas to someone who will be billing only fifteen dollars per hour.

Cassidy looking for more puppets and anyone he can control. It always has to be his way or the highway. Cassidy is an ass and loves to grandstand!! Cassidy thinks he's God!!!!!
People getting wise to him! People getting tired of him!! One term only? How's your cousin in-law Galvan fool?

In house counsel never will have the expertise in all areas that a city can get with outside counsel. Most in house attorneys do not have litigation skills and are lazy. Stick with outside counsel. You pay for what you get.

Not surprise he pushes to his friends or relatives for in house city attorney like giving city business to his cousin in-law Galvin.

By MW:

Concerning the comment of 11:46AM.

1. The nerve of him and the gall of him asserting that most in house attorneys are lazy. In fact the California State Bar, in other words the totally corrupt agency run by professional pathological liars, and which pretends to regulate California's lawyers, repeatedly insists that it holds California's lawyers to the very highest standards. And in fact it also insists that it never issues anyone a law license until he or she has first undergone and passed a very thorough background check into moral standards.

(NOTE: The totally corrupt CSB pretends it will never issue anyone a law license unless he or she has a background proving the person to be of the very highest honesty, ethics, and integrity, in other words to be a very superior person. And I want you to always remember that anytime you have any dealings with any of the thieves, embezzlers, money launderers, professional pathological liars, drunks, and drug addicts that make up the overwhelming majority of the legal profession. As I have commented before, lawyers have far and away the highest rates of alcoholism and drug addiction of any major profession.)

So obviously, and unless the CSB is actually run by a bunch of sleazy phonies, I am sure that in house lawyers are very fine, wonderful, ethical, intelligent, and hard working people, and just as most of those parasites with law licenses are.

2. However one major advantage of a government body, and such as a city or county, using an outside law firm rather than in house lawyers, is that way the government body can put on a better charade that any choreographed, scripted, and prearranged "investigations" the lawyers conduct are supposedly independent, and supposedly to be taken seriously, and rather than phony and whitewashes, and based on nothing but the standard lawyers' lies, garbage, and coverups.

To sum up, for at least a few decades now the so called legal profession, and especially in California, has actually been far more of a sleazy mafia than anything even slightly resembling a legitimate profession.

I have worked with in house lawyers and they are lazy, lack litigation skills and merely farm out city work to outside counsel who has expertise in areas like employment law which most in house attorney don't have. I worked in the public sector for over 20 years in HR so I have worked enough places to know what I am talking about. Stick with outside counsel.

actually, in my experience, Concord had the best legal staff in the East Bay-very competent group-I worked with them during my time with Contra Costa Risk Management Authority-I was impressed with thier professionalism and expertise-Tony Santos

Cassidy always has to grandstand and always over- bearing! Always seems to think he knows more than everyone else. He makes me nauseous!!
He probably knows a few lawyers, (family members?) he'd like the city to hire.
Want to save the city money cassidy? Why not give up your salary once again. Oh, the attention you might get. lol GO away, go away!
Cassidy most overbearing & self-serving mayor ever.

By MW:

In regard to Meyers Nave, today I picked up a copy of the San Leandro Times of last Thursday, February 28, 2013. On its front page there is an article regarding the fact that the city of San Leandro is considering dropping MN.

From that article, I got the strong impression that MN wants to increase the hourly rate it would be charging SL. The way those things typically work when a governmental body is debating with a law firm what would be a fair and reasonable hourly rate for the law firm to charge is that the law firm quotes an outrageously high rate, but still insists that it is giving the governmental agency a special discount from its supposedly considerably higher normal rate.

Sort of like if I went into a fast food joint and ordered a small hamburger worth only one dollar, but that the cashier then told me the bill was ten dollars, and when I complained about it, her then telling me that the normal charge for that miniscule fast food joint hamburger was twelve dollars, and that twelve dollars is supposedly what she normally charges her other customers for that supposedly wonderful hamburger, but that since she decided to be nice to me she is only charging me ten dollars for that tiny hamburger.

To sum up, I would even trust the word of Al Capone, Lucky Luciano, John Gotti, Pablo Escobar, or virtually any used car salesman far more than I would trust anything the typical lawyer says.

By MW:

To learn more about: one, the "standards" of the legel profession; and two, how much "honesty" and "truthfulness" there is in the bill from a typical lawyer or law firm, type into Yahoo the search terms "lawyers are crooks" and "Lance Winslow," and then you can read Winslow's article titled "NOT ALL LAWYERS ARE TOTAL CROOKS."

NOTE: In regard to: one, ths sleaziness of most lawyers; two, that most lawyers are thieves, bloodsuckers, and parasites who as standard practice greatly inflate their bills; and three, that lawyers themselves when they receive a bill from another lawyer assume the bill is primariy based on lies and greatly inflated hours - some of the most interesting stories I have heard in regard to the "honesty" and "ethics" of most lawyers were told to me by lawyers themselves.

In fact some yearz ago the US Dept of Justice was sued by a lot of its own junior lawyers for tons of back pay, since almost every time that Department won a case it had billed the losing party for tons of hours based on totally fraudulent timesheets in which it swore under penalty of perjury that it had paid tons of overtime to its own junior lawyers working on that case, and even though it had an unwritten rule that it almost never paid its lawyers overtime, and no matter how many hours they worked on a case.

In other words when it comes to lies and fraud, sleaze, having and creating multiple sets of books, and creating accounting numbers out of thin air, even Bernard Madoff was ony a tenth rate amateur compared to the typical law firm.

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