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Oversight Committee Meeting: It may not be over, attorney conflicts and grey area of RGS.

By   /   January 25, 2013  /   Comments Off

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The Board desperately needs another attorney to represent their interests. I believe a couple of members are beginning to recognize this. Board Member David Price: “My counsel says we need to be very careful about this…[we] maybe even be fiscally responsible.” Board member: “We’re technically in violation…this is unique concern I have.”

Twentynine Palms, CA – The Oversight Board met last night.

First, on the lighter side… Chairman of the Oversight Board, John Cole, appears to be adapting well in his retirement from the City Council. He is sporting a stylish goatee. If you see someone around town that looks like the late actor Errol Flynn — that’s not an apparition.

Now for the serious stuff… At last night’s Oversight Board meeting Korina Cole (daughter-in-law of John Cole’s) was absent. Member present (physically anyway) included:   John Cole, Owin Glick, *David Price, Liz Myers, Jerry Mallos and City Manager Richard Warne.

* David Price seemed to be uncomfortable and annoyed with the presentation given by A. Patrick Munoz and RGS consultant Matt McCleary. Mr. Price expressed his concerns about the Board incurring costs and other possible legal consequences in terms of the Board’s role winding down  defunct RDA business. That seemed to be a consensus with one or two other Board members. Price is to be congratulated for his burning question put to Munoz and McCleary. Other than that, Ms. Myers asked a couple of questions as did Mr. Glick.Warne chimed in once at the beginning of the meeting.

The meeting lasted about 52 minutes. It was totally domineered, controlled and managed by by Munoz and McCleary. Most all of the meeting Munoz and McCleary attempted to proselytizing Board members that it ain’t over yet. Both Munoz and McCleary offered alternatives on how they will proceed with appeals, complaints, law suits or just piggyback and wait it out and see how other cities fair with their law suits. It appeared they may recommend this approach to the City Council / Successor Agency.

Frankly, Munoz is treading thin ice because he has no business giving legal advice to the Oversight Board. He represents the city and the 29 Palms Successor Committee (hereinafter “SC’) — made up of entirely the city council. The Successor Committee / City Council have mutual exclusive competing interests with the Oversight Board.  The Oversight Board by statute oversees the city’s RDA Bond monies and actions of the SC. Obviously Munoz is representing clients with opposing interests.

Munoz is aware of his conflicting interest. This could be an issue for the California Bar to sort out if a complaint is filed against Munoz.

McCleary appeared to have cross the line into the grey areas by his appearance of giving legal advice to the Board. It’s against the law to give legal advise without a license to practice law in the state of California. Both RGS consultant and Munoz hammered the Board trying to convince them of their positions.

Munoz seem to be in the grey area too by moving from giving legal advice to convincing the Board they will be successful in holding on to Bond monies. It is unethically for an attorney to advise a client that you will prevail in a law suit.

It’s my understanding that Munoz twice advised the Board the that the DoF (Department of Finance) sees Bond debt is a recognized covenant (legal obligation). Many moons ago this was Munoz’s first advice to the OC. Thus, he continues to advise the Board that much of the funds will not likely be required to go back to the state.

Seriously folks, the Board desperately needs another attorney to represent their interests. Cactus Thorns pointed this out earlier this year. It’s appalling that Munoz continue to collect his fees as legal counsel to the Board.

While McCleary advised the Board that “The Bond” is a contract, Munoz referred to closed meetings he wants with the city. McCleary set the date for a Board meeting in early February, and he schedule another Board meeting the latter part of February.

Munoz advised the Board that the the DoF failed to show up for a court matter (suggesting they’ll roll over). The fact is the DoF filed with the court a stipulation. Attorneys are officials of the court; they just don’t fail to show for law and motion, hearing, trials or scheduled matters.

During the entire meeting Munoz’s staccato speech pattern was non-stop. It was difficult to follow his rapid-fire style. His redundancy in repeating the same things over and over didn’t seem to fair well with a couple Board members. Munoz advised, “The way things are going it is very favorable to us.” McCleary said the DoF will not answer the question: “Is the bond a contract?” Adding “The DoF is in a very precarious position.”

Munoz advised another option is to let the DoF sue [the city] “if we don’t pay”. He added, “We are not at risk [at this time] of defaulting. Myers queried: “Where is the [Bond] money now?” Answer: It’s in the bank… .” Munoz seems to have difficulty in distinguishing his role as a legal adviser opposed to the appearance of decision maker.

Comment Agenda: Anna Ohare: “Have any [Bond] purchasers expressed concern and asked for their money back”. Munoz explained that all must be treated uniformly. If any action were taken for one, all would have to have the same results.

There were only a few audience members at the meeting. Councilwoman Cora Heiser had her binder out studying issues and taking notes. Councilman Jim Harris was also in the audience.

It’s clear who’s running the show. Outside influences making tons of money.


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About the author

Branson Hunter

(This story was posted by Cactus Thorn contributor Branson Hunter)

"The ends do not justify the means." If you use illegal mean to accomplish a legal and even desirable result, the good result does not make the bad means you used justifiable.

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