Issues over Rialto City Attorney Contract

jimmy

Jimmy Gutierrez is our current city attorney in the city of Rialto. According to reports from City Hall he has operated over the last 5 years on a $600,000 a year for his base salary. What is worse is he nickel and dimes the city for every little thing he does raising the rate we pay him every year more and more.

This year with some fresh blood in the council many contracts have come under review and put back out to bid. The thought process according to Mike Story is to make sure we are getting the best bang for our buck. The city of Rialto has made changes to many contracts saving the city and the community thousands of dollars. From the contract security services, to street sweeping and technology services the fat is being cut and the city is looking to streamline services. City attorney Jimmy Gutierrez’s contract ended in June 2013. So what do we do?

Under the guise of cutting fat city council formed a committee to look at ways of reducing attorney costs for Rialto. What the Sub committee came up with was a temporary extension of City Attorney services with Jimmy Gutierrez. This was done so that the city could develop an RFP and bid out services for Attorney costs for the city. Another task was writing Jimmy Gutierrez’s extension while reducing costs. City staff reported as well as Councilwoman Lynn Hirtz over the phone that it was difficult to get Jimmy Gutierrez to make concessions on his pay to help the city further save money. It wasn’t until right before the July 23rd Council meeting that Jimmy Gutierrez reluctantly agreed to a compensation adjustment.

Joe Baca Jr. said at the July 23rd council meeting that the communities biggest issue was with the city attorney is the cost. Is that really the greatest concern of the community? I remember most recently that Jimmy Gutierrez along with City Clerk McGee gave city council direction to ignore the fact that the Rialto residents received enough signatures to remove the toxic water deal that is already hurting Rialto residents. Or how about the Super Wal-Mart that is set to increase crime and create more business blight that our city can’t or refuses to take action on. Councilman Baca seems to miss the fact that it appears our attorney has been doing his best to rip off the community under the guise of business as usual. Jimmy Gutierrez has also been arrested in suspicion of driving under the influence and was allowed to plead no contest and avoid any real consequences. Also lets not forget Jimmy Gutierrez is also the city attorney for 3 other cites.

We had the opportunity to speak with some of the players involved in this meeting:

I reached out to City Administrator Mike Story and asked who wrote this contract? It was developed by Councilman Joe Baca Jr. & Lynn Hirtz who are the subcommittee of the council looking at the contract along with Jimmy Gutierrez. So Jimmy Gutierrez and the subcommittee wrote it? Jimmy Gutierrez prepared the contract at the direction of the subcommittee. After several attempts by the subcommittee to get Jimmy Gutierrez to make their recommended changes including a reduction in fees, the subcommittee directed me (Mike Story) to make the changes they requested.

I reached out to Lynn Hirtz and she said that she only voted for the temporary contract with Jimmy Gutierrez because she felt obligated to. Councilwoman Hirtz stated over the phone that she felt obligated to vote with Councilman Joe Baca Jr. in reference to an amendment that was brought up by Councilman O’connell. Councilman O’connell brought up a very important “what if” Jimmy Gutierrez does go over the 160 hour limit each month. So mayor Deborah Robertson made a amendment that if Jimmy Gutierrez does go over the 160 limit anything over that would have to be approved by the council PRIOR to going over the limit. So due to the fact that the subcommittee that she was a part of brought this forward Lynn Hirtz & Joe Baca Jr moved and seconded the motion. She never thought of a situation where Jimmy Gutierrez would go over the 160 hours he was allotted by the temporary extension so she wasn’t sure why it was even an issue. Lynn Hirtz said she wasn’t a fan of the extension but went along with Joe Baca Jr. who was the biggest proponent of the city attorney extension. Lynn Hirtz also commented that Jimmy Gutierrez was upset that he would no longer be able to “ITEMIZE” for extra costs the gimmick he has exploited to bump up his compensation over the years.

Shawn O’Connell said July 23rd meeting I approved the contract the way it was written was never vetted by an attorney I instructed our city attorney to spend no more than 160 hours. This contract offers no way to control his ability to charge more and put the citizens at further liability which was what I was trying to convey on July 23rd. Mayor Robertson’s motion which I voted for instructed Jimmy Gutierrez to inform Mike Story before he went over the allotted 160 hours, My fear is this isn’t the way its going to work out.

The second issue is with the time line for releasing the RFP and beginning to look for other options for our city attorney. The proposed timeline for releasing the RFP begins releasing on October 1st. Mayor Pro-tem Ed Palmer asked why were we waiting until the bitter end to release the RFP. Mayor Pro-Tem said that if we run into issues like we did with security contract where there is a bump in the road. The issues was with the original RFP release schedule it would leave us without attorney services the first 14 days of January. Joe Baca Jr. refuses to look at the fact that Jimmy Gutierrez is out as our city attorney. Councilman O’Connell & Mayor Pro-Tem Palmer want to keep us from keeping someone on as our attorney that will act as a disgruntle employee.

What was most frustrating was that even though Lynn Hirtz saw an issue with the late releasing of the RFP she voted for it out of pressure to do so by Mayor Robertson & Councilman Baca Jr. because she was on the subcommittee. When I asked her over the phone about it she said she wanted to vote with Councilman O’Connell and Mayor Pro-Tem Palmer but she felt obligated to vote with her subcommittee co-member. I asked her if she thought Jimmy Gutierrez was going to mail it in these last months and try and collect as much money as possible. She said she never thought about that but since I brought it up she was so worried I was right and she may have made a poor decision.

I spoke to Councilman O’Connell prior to posting this story. Councilman O’Connell stated that the city attorney has yet to sign this contract offering the council and COMMUNITY the unique opportunity to revisit the contract and make the appropriate changes. The ACTIONABLE item is TAB 6 on the upcoming council meeting this Augsut 27th meeting at 6 pm.

So the question is do you agree with Councilman Joe Baca Jr. is the amount of the contract the ONLY issue you have with the city attorney contract? If it is do you believe that Jimmy Gutierrez waiting until the last moment to reluctantly agree to a reduction in fees then not sign the contract after a month does that sound like someone that is willing to work on price? Why does Councilman Joe Baca Jr. appear to run to Jimmy Gutierrez’s defense at every turn? What does that relationship pay the Baca family back? Where is the value for such a vigorous defense? Councilman O’Connell is right we have a unique opportunity here.

Watch the council meeting for yourself these tab items are at the end

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W9QcQ26VvwQ

Jimmy Gutierrez can charge $225 an hour for attorney services and $75 an hour for paralegal services.

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