Twin Rivers board to vote on contract with law firm

Published: Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 3B

Twin Rivers Unified School District trustees will vote tonight on a contract with a new law firm and whether to spend $200,000 for a forensic audit of billings from its outgoing law firm.

The 7:30 p.m. board meeting was moved to Grant Joint Union High School cafeteria, 1400 Grand Ave., as part of an effort to bring meetings into the community.

Several Twin Rivers trustees called for the audit after questioning the $2.7 million in legal fees the district has paid to Timothy M. Cary and Associates this year. Four new board members were elected in June in a race in which lawyers fees were a major concern raised by community members.

Among the largest payments to Cary's firm were $782,000 in June and $553,000 in July. Tonight's board agenda calls for approving payments of $36,000 for September and $41,000 for October. Cary's billings often include several months of work.

"We have always served at the pleasure of the board and responded to their request to provide counsel on legal cases and challenges facing the district," Cary said Wednesday in a statement provided by a spokesman.

Twin Rivers hired MGK Risk and Insurance Services Inc. to search for a forensic auditor. MGK's Michael Keeley is recommending the board hire Knapp, Peterson & Clarke to perform the audit, which could cost as much as $145,000 for a full analysis and more than $200,000 for a full forensic audit, according to the board agenda.

"I'm looking forward to the results of the audit so we can move forward," said Trustee Michael Baker.

However, not all board members agree.

"I don't see the wisdom of spending over $200,000 to another law firm that can only provide an opinion," said Trustee Linda Fowler. "This is like Monday morning quarterbacking. I think it's hypocritical of this board to spend this much money that should go into the classrooms knowing that the district is facing deficit spending."

Board members will also vote tonight on a contract with Fagen, Friedman and Fulfrost, a firm trustees voted 4-3 to hire as the district's new general counsel at an Oct. 31 special board meeting. Trustees John Dexter, Cortez Quinn, Baker and Bob Bastian voted in favor of Fagen, Friedman and Fulfrost.

That decision reversed a 4-3 vote that came days earlier that called for the district to hire another law firm, Meyers Nave. Trustee Bastian said he had mistakenly voted for Meyers Nave when he had intended to support Fagen, Friedman and Fulfrost, which prompted the second vote.

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Read more articles by Melody Gutierrez

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