Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The public pays for the District's lack of legal sense.

A question has been posed by a contributor to this blog that seems to expose a rather disturbing trend in the manner in which our public servants at the Edmonds School District engage law firms. It would seem that no one at the District is capable of seeing a legal argument when one is blatantly obvious. There is no one on staff that apparently knows when a legal threshold has been crossed.

With the amount of money being spent on lawyers, and the habit of channeling business to friends, the public cannot be blamed for thinking that maybe district management has friends at these law firms. After all, when a lawyer from Rotary is struggling to keep his law practice afloat, he makes a call and his wife is hired without qualifications or meaningful experience. What are the rest of us supposed to believe about the intelligence of district management?

These are the same people that are making decisions about how best to educate our children.

From a personal perspective, I was rather surprised to see the District hire Perkins Coie to challenge my use of for non-profit, community discussions about the Edmonds School District. [Let the legal billing begin, The District wants your wool socks] If ever there was a reason to use .org, a public forum would be the perfect venue for such a domain. Hiring a high-priced law firm to mail a few threatening letters does nothing more than incur legal fees that have to be covered by the public.

Perhaps it would be a good idea to have a portion of the legal fees incurred by the District passed along to the manager that engaged the firm to mount an offensive position on the issue. Perhaps 10%? Maybe 25%? The District has developed an itchy trigger finger because they never paid for the gun or ammo and have no stake in the bloodshed the bullets may cause.

Next was the senseless defense of Gary Noble's ineligibility to run for a seat on the Board. Despite the fact that board policies were written in English and they were very easy to understand, the District's next law firm relied upon irrelevant state laws to manufacture a non-existent defense of Gary Noble. [Gary Noble should immediately resign, "Exit Items" reveal that Gary Noble must go, Shoveling smoke and talking by the hour] The State Auditor and Attorney General have both weighed in and have concluded that Gary Noble is out of compliance. The Board continues to deny the fact that Gary Noble is a squatter and needs to be ejected from his illegitimately acquired seat.

The issue will no doubt end up in a court room and will result in one simple conclusion. Unfortunately, the legal fees incurred by the District will never be covered by Gary Noble, despite the fact that his refusal to relinquish an undeserved seat is at the root of legal expenses.

The question posed was this:
When is a law firm obligated to advise their client that the facts do not support their case?

On the one hand, the law firm is made up of partners that have an expectation of maximizing income for their firm. On the other, the firm needs to adequately protect their client from incurring unnecessary charges chasing after bad policies that will only result in future losses.

Is a law firm doing its job when their client spends very little paying for lawyers? Of course. Where is the sense of justice when a law firm just spins bad decisions long enough to wear down their opponent? What happens when such cases arrive before a jury? Are members of the public so simple that lawyers can easily convince them to focus on a single dot rather than a line or a pattern?

The District will continue to bleed cash on lawyers when people that lack legal training or legal sense engage the services of lawyers to defend incredibly stupid choices. The lawyers defending the District are reminiscent of the worst sort of defense attorneys - those doing whatever is necessary to get their client off, even if their client committed the crime.


Anonymous said...

Why are you people always complaining? Just last night at the board meeting, Gary Noble asked Marla if any contamination had been found at the new ESD site, and Marla said none has been found. So there. Stop your bellyaching and grow up!

Anonymous said...

Do a public disclosure on all the fees.

Rick Jorgensen said...

Dear "Anonymous",

You raise a good point. It was gratifying to see Mr. Nobel ask if there was contamination on the site. The problem is that there is ample evidence that this is not the case as is well documented in this blog (Do a search and you will see). He had no follow up of this clear evidence. If he claims he was unaware, then quiet frankly, he is not performing his job. The facts are well known, just ignored. He just took her at her word.

The difficulty is that Ms. Miller does not respond with objective candor (I have personally been on the receiving end as have others), alters her responses to diminish facts that detract from her position and bolster facts that support her position. Here responses often require a bit of "digging" to get to the the truth.

The board has an obligation to assure that funds are wisely spent for the benefit our of kids. There has been ample opportunity for Mr. Nobel and the other board members to explore this issue. Since Ms. Miller made the decision to purchase the land (and confirmed by Director McMurray), it's in their best interest to put "lipstick on the pig" and justify their decision.

The board has the power to authorize an external committee to explore this multi-million dollar decision. We should urge them to appoint an unbiased group (with individuals above reproach or agenda) to review the decision to restore the public confidence.

It's not an issue of "growing up", it's a legitimate issue of public confidence and fiscal responsibility.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Zandberg,

It sounds like your district hires legal counsel to control losses, not to avoid litigation or develop sound policies.

Good luck and thank you for blogging.

Anonymous said...

Why is Mr. Crap-for-Brains only asking about contamination now? Wouldn't it have been a better question to ask just before buying the site?


Anonymous said...

Mr.crap for brains should not even be warming a chair.

Anonymous said...

The next move is obvious, a street rally at the next board meeting. Bring your kids, grammas, grand pappys, dogs, bull horns, leaflets. The leaflets need to contain all of the things listed here on the blog.

Does someone have an old piano on wheels we can roll up to the front door at ESC? Does someone know how to play We Shall Overcome? Well I can do that! We can already smell the goat cheese on dill German rye with fresh horseradish flown in from Poland wafting from the window on the northeast corner second floor office, and someone frantically and in tears calling 911 from the southwest corner same floor.

Grass roots, that will do it baby! It has worked in this world many times for people who thought they were powerless to fight these kinds of dehumanizing animals.

Wake them up, they will love (sic) you for it!

We need a leader, how about it Rick? Start by calling a parent meeting of both Evergreen and Woodway parents, a meeting for parents from both schools at the same time, don't let their angst and concern go to waste, move quickly. There is power in numbers. Start a leaflet committee, sing a few verses of WE Shall Overcome together! Ignite change now! Don't lose a historic moment like this, the time is right and the time is now!

March on ESC!

Keep it simple, honest, and peaceful. They have no power against that. None!

Anonymous said...

I recently awoke at 5 or so in the morning with a similar question rolling around in my head. Does a lawyer (or law firm) have an ethical obligation to a client to warn the client that their continued poor (and unnecessary) behavior will result in continued (and unnecessary) legal challenges and costs? Is there an ethical or fiduciary obligation on the part of the lawyer to tell their client to stop the behavior that is creating exposure to legal suit? Do they have an ethical obligation to drop the client if the behavior continues? Or is it OK for a law firm to just let the client continue to screw up and simply rake in the fees (unnecessary profits)?

Is it OK for a law firm to make arguments of marginal validity to bolster the credibility of their client's bad behaviors? Well, in a criminal court, sure; that's how you create "a reasonable doubt" and get your client off the hook. But is that same philosophy OK for lawyers representing a school district?

Who IS their client? The "district," the board, the administration, the taxpayers, the parents? Who do they represent?

If the board or administration is their client, then who is looking after the interests of the taxpayer and the parent? When the interests of the board/administration are vastly different from those of the taxpayer/parent, what should the lawyer do?

What ethical obligations (if any) does a lawyer have in continuing to represent the Edmonds School District at this time?

Anonymous said...

So when the District loses a court battle, they are stupid beyond any reasonable doubt.

Anonymous said...

I hope the idea of a "MARCH" at a Board Meeting is an excellent idea; I believe it will, hopefully, send a message to the "Board", and a demonstration in front of the ESC would definitely bring attention to the public and passerby's. The singing of "We Shall Overcome" would send a serious message. I would welcome the opportunity to be a part of organizing such an event. Keep this going; don't let this idea "die". WE SHALL OVER COME!!!

Anonymous said...

Their ethics are only as good as their ethics. In this case it is obvious, poor ethics in the legal team, poor ethics in the board, poor ethics in the management and poor ethics in most of the media. They are all of the same ilk, all embedded with one another.Leadership with these kinds of ethics are what caused the bankrupting of this country. Give them the boot. ESD is just a microcosm of what this country has been led into, an unethical war and unethical finances all done by unethical leadership.

I say march, with placards that say;

"No Ethics in Our Board"

"No Ethics in Our Management"

"No Ethics in the Attorneys ESD Hires to Represent People With no Ethics (themselves)"

"They Are All Unethical, Give Them the Boot"

"Our Media Is Mostly Unethical as Regards ESD Board and Management"

"Is It Ethical for Unethical People to Call for the Closing of Our Schools for Financial Reasons, When They Are the Ones Bilking and Milking the System?"

"Our School Board IS Mentally and Morally Bankrupt"

"We Have Greedy Management at ESD"

"Do not Hug Unethical People"

"Your Taxes Being Used and Abused With Out Ethics By ESD"

"Unethical People Doomed Your Schools To Be Boarded Up"

"Ethical People Solve Problems They Don't Create Them"

"$100,000 to $220,000 Dollars Is To Much to Pay For People who Manage ESD With Out Ethics"

"Did you Know That You Pay A Person That May Have Little or No Ethics Over $200,000 to Run the School District Into the Ground"

"Your Schools Closed Because of Poor Ethics and Poor Choices By ESD Management and the School Board"

"How Can They Be Models of Good Ethics for Our Children When They Have None?"

"Where Are Good Ethics Around ESD?"

"Where Have All the Ethics Gone?"

"School Closed By Terrible Ethics"

"Legal Fees Keeping Your Children From the Education They Deserve"

"Respectfully Reject the No Ethics Policies of the Management and the Board"

"Management Ethics, Give Me the Money, All of It"

"High Pay for Management, Very Little Left to Educate Children"

"Close Schools For Management Wages? NO!"

"Get Rid of the Unethical Seat Warmers at ESC (Entire 2nd Floor)"

"Save Our Schools, Cut Managements Exorbitant Wage Structure"

"Lower Management Pay Equals Fairness"

"State Has Revealed That ESD Has Way To Many In Management, Dump Them"

"School Closures Due to Exorbitant Wages in Management Empowered By A Napping School Board"

"Illegal Election of Disqualified School Board Member, No Confidence, Miserable Ethics"

Anonymous said...

Any one notice that the president of Washington State University ASKED his board to reduce his pay during these tough times? He has to reduce his budget by millions, so he offered some of his salary. How novel.

Nick? Anybody? Don't get in each other's way as you stampede for the doors.

Anonymous said...

Too much eating, no stampeding.

Anonymous said...

Thank you "anonymous" for the creative protest sign ideas. I enjoyed reading them. You must have spent quite a bit of time creating your slogans!

Anonymous said...

I think the public must be a rather forgiving bunch of people or they couldn't give a rat's arse about the manner in which their children are educated.