INGLEWOOD – The city of Inglewood and County of Los Angeles share an outside legal firm n common, Miller Barondess. It appears that Skipp Miller, who co-owns the firm, is the “go to” legal mind to represent both entities on high profile matters. It also begs the question if attorney-client privilege is being circumvented and if MB is being paid for activities that falls outside of their purview.
In Inglewood, Miller Barondess has been awarded multiple contracts for broad legal advice over cases involving Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts who is being sued by City treasurer Wanda Brown, his ex-aide Melanie McDade, and an LAPD motor officer and his wife.
Public records requests for billing related to the invoices submitted for payment have been denied citing attorney-client privilege.
Miller Barondess is representing the County on high profile cases too.
The Kobe Bryant crash photos and defending the County in a case involving deputies out of the East LA station where Sheriff Alex Villanueva isn’t named as a party to the lawsuit but is mentioned in the filing.
The County oversight commission continues to press for Villanueva to testify during their “hearing” which most attorneys would advise against because of the lawsuit still winding its way through the court.
The Civilian Oversight Commission’s sole focus is testimony from deputies willing to discuss “deputy gangs” in the department, ad nauseum, in what appears to be an attempt to taint the jury pool should the aforementioned lawsuit make its way to trial.
During the Bryant trial the first witness called on behalf of the defense was the Sheriff who was fighting to have the right to chose his own lawyer but was denied.
Miller Barondess appears to have moved up the ranks after a public fallout between the County’s previous counsel, Mark Saladino, who alleged the board was engaged in illegal activity. His case was thrown out of court in 2018, a year after Metro awarded a no-bid contract to the campaign donor of Supervisor Sheila Kuehl.
Saladino’s lawsuit alleged that supervisors violated the state’s open meetings law on multiple occasions and attempted to overstep their authority on matters like regulating county jails.
The suit also alleged that Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, in particular, had resented Saladino because the lawyer had resisted Ridley-Thomas’ attempts to use taxpayer funds to steer contracts to “unqualified law firms,” potentially violating conflict-of-interest law.udge dismisses lawsuit brought by former top attorney against L.A. County
RELATED: LA County spending $400,000 to hire 2 PR firms to guide coronavirus messaging
Despite the board approving a contract to rebuild the Men’s Central Jail, they scrapped those plans at the cost of $30 million to taxpayers.
Related: LA County supervisors scrap $1.7 billion contract to replace jail: ‘It’s time to do the right thing’
The board of supervisors continues to overstep its authority by placing a ballot measure before voters to give them the authority to remove an elected Sheriff which according to social media, voters will overwhelmingly reject Nov. 8. One of the major mouthpieces on the matter is Holly Mitchell, who Ridley-Thomas led around during election season to ensure he maintained leverage over the seat.
The County also continues to delay release of records related to invoicing of Miller Barondess on these lawsuits as the documents would delineate what he’s billing for and possibly overlapping information at his clients behest.
Is Ridley-Thomas still being briefed on sensitive matters?
When Miller scoffed at $1.8 million in attorney fees a judge awarded LA Alliance related to a lawsuit about the homeless issue, although the County wasn’t involved, the judge told Skipp to “produce his check”for comparison.
“Just put on the table your contract with the county, along with all of your associates,” Carter said, before telling the L.A. Alliance lawyers that he was “happy to accept” the $1.8 million figure.LA’s Settlement Deal in Homelessness Lawsuit Being Appealed
If separate lawyers are handling these matters there would be no ability to leverage influence over infringing upon attorney-client privilege and using information obtained to share, perhaps, with “pro bono” attorney’s conducting hearings on behalf of the board of commissioners. Similar to allegations made by Saldino; overstepping authority and alleged illegal activity.
It’s highly unlikely that Mark Ridley-Thomas isn’t still heavily involved in governmental matters behind the scenes, as his trusted confidants continue to land consulting gigs that he’s attached to.
RIdley-Thomas’ right hand Karly Katona just landed at Trifiletti Consulting who has a $20 million contract with Inglewood related to the Inglewood Transit Connector despite the project being barely 30% funded. A large chunk of the money already received was from Metro who has pledged $300 million from Measure R funds.
Mayor Butts went out of his way to praise Ridley-Thomas during the Aug. 23 regular city council meeting for his work on Metro and securing a new housing development across from the Fairview Heights stop on the still not opened Crenshaw/LAX rail line.
He also continues to have a firm grip on the LA council as his close confidants (Harris-Dawson and Bonin) are fighting against having a Black woman being given voting authority over Ridley-Thomas’ seat. Harris-Dawson is a regular speaker at the Los Angeles African-American Women’s Public Policy Institute (LAAAWPPI) which trains women for leadership roles but appears to be delaying the process with the hopes Ridley-Thomas is acquitted in November.
The more you peel back the layers of this mess Mark Ridley-Thomas has made in LA County, it’s no wonder the 21 count federal indictment he’s attached to refers to him as an “economic danger”.
It appears the consulting and legal contracts are sources of “kickbacks” for those steering the funds the consultants way and Villanueva presents a problem with his ability to independently investigate fraud, waste, and abuse.
How many half finished projects are lying around LA County despite money being earmarked for them? Homelessness is at the top of the list, followed by the Crenshaw/LAX line and street improvements to Centinela Blvd. in Inglewood.
Affluent members of the “Black Beverly Hills” trifecta are rightfully angry about a dangerous intersection at Slauson and LaBrea and on cue Mitchell is ready to award a contract to consultants to “study” the problem.
Am I the only one who can recall Villanueva asking Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon to work together to weed out corruption?
Gascon denied that request presumably because the people he would be investigating are the same people who endorsed him for office.
Let us start with that pesky little truth that much of the attorney work that we are paying for is because James Butts was in our car when he ran a red light, and that James Butts lacked the wisdom to not hire a woman he was dating and then gave her raise after raise while expecting her to accommodate his emotional and physical desires. Yep His bad behavior has become our big bills.
Transparency and access to truthful information are exceedingly important.
Unfortunately that would make James Butts look less like the super Hero he wants us to imagine he is and more like his true self interest self.
Everyone should read Bad City the Paul Pringle book to get better clarification as to how interconnected, spiderwebbed or knotted necklace like our tax dollars, supposed public servants and the developers are intertwined!!
On the EyeWittness Inglewood Facebook someone suggested we learn more about Dr Richard I Fine. The quickest read is at Medical Kidnap.com where you will discover how interconnected and influential the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors can impact court cases, the judges decisions, and the attorneys who represent various city and county boards are!!!!
Indeed there needs to be a separation of these entities and attorneys should not be so intertwined or tangled together.
It is always troubling when city/county contracted consultants continue to reappear in different firms then show up as city county employees and vice versa.
We should expect and receive transparency and truth on every level about each of invoice we are expected to pay.