Scoop: The Union’s FOI lawsuit cost our schools about $17,000 to defend — legal fees will come from district’s general fund

The Union’s Freedom of Information Act lawsuit has cost our schools about $17,000 to defend, and the money will come out of the Nevada Joint Union High School District’s general operating budget to pay for it, Sierra Foothills Report has learned.

We calculated the legal tab from our own FOI request, and Karen Suenram, assistant superintendent of business services at NJUSHD, confirmed that the fees will come out of the district’s general coffers.

“Hi Jeff – You are correct,” Suenram said in an email. “The expense is currently close to $17,000. The District’s insurance does not cover this type of legal expense. The money will come from the District’s general operating budget. – Karen.”

Earlier this month, Sierra Foothills Report sent a public records request to the Nevada Joint Union High School District to find out what The Union’s recent FOI lawsuit against the District cost our schools — at a time of tight school budgets and cutbacks.

The Union lost the suit, as previously reported. We felt the FOI suit was misguided, because there was no “smoking gun” documents in the termination of Superintendent Marianne Cartan’s contract, just an honest professional disagreement about performance. It happens.

A judge agreed with the District’s position.

The incident cast a light on The Union’s lack of sourcing in its beat reporting more than anything else. Now the financial consequences — a $17,000 legal bill for our schools — are surfacing.

Our FOI request turned up the legal tab in detailed invoices: one for $14,790.76 in June and other for $2,100.46 in May for a grand total of $16,891.

We suspect our own FOI request will add some cost to the total as well and apologize for that. (We’ll match our cost with a donation to a high-school fundraiser, we told Suenram).

Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo, from Fresno, who handled the FOI case, are billing at the rate of $175 an hour — a reasonable enough rate. The case sucked up almost 100 hours in legal time. We’re not surprised.

Examples include a $43.75 bill for a telephone call to The Union’s City Editor regarding The Union’s petition for writ of mandate. The district also paid $43.75 for the law firm to “read and review The Union’s article re: filing of petition for preemptory writ against the district.”

Case research gobbled up most of the time.

A detailed invoice an introductory letter to Sierra Foothills Report totaling 21 pages can be read here:
Pelline Response to Public Records Act Request-1

CABPRO’s Agenda 21 speaker in GV: “Don’t be so nice. This is war.”

“Rosa Koire, a self-proclaimed liberal and author of ‘Behind the Green Mask: U.N. Agenda 21,’ told scores of people at the Grass Valley Veterans Hall Tuesday that development efforts billed as ‘sustainable’ or ‘smart growth’ are just the tip of an iceberg designed to strip rural communities of their property rights and turn them into dense urban centers,” The Union is reporting.

“Koire further told the crowd to become proactive, attend government meetings and speak out against Agenda 21-related matters during the open-topic comment portions of such public gatherings.

“Dominate your government meetings,” Koire said at the three-hour lecture put on by the California Association of Business, Property and Resource Owners, or CABPRO.

“You are going to go and talk to your elected officials and if they blow you off, you are going to target them for removal,” Koire told the crowd about voting uncooperative representatives out of office.

“If a nonprofit supports the kind of sustainability development or receives funding from Agenda 21-related organizations, cease supporting them, she said. Koire implicated the Sierra Business Council and Nevada City’s Sustainability Team as such organizations.

“She also requested that those who attended Tuesday’s meeting copy fliers she supplied and leave them on doorsteps.

“’Have compassion,’ Koire said. ‘People don’t get it right away … Have patience.’

“However, that statement was followed with the advice — ‘Don’t be so nice,” she said. “This is war.’

The rest of the article is here.

Bear River Mills update

From the county’s Friday memo:

“County and Grass Valley city staff met on Wednesday in a very positive and productive working session to further discuss the Bear River Mills General Plan amendment and Zone Change project. As you’ll recall from previous ‘Friday Memo’ updates on October 21st and November 10th of this year, County and City staff have initiated a review of the General Plan and Zoning Ordinance designations in the area surrounding the old Bear River Mills site to accommodate the County’s Corporation Yard project and future development patterns desired by the City of Grass Valley.

“The most recent meeting, attended by Tom Last, City Planner and Dan Holler, CAO from the City, Laura Matteson, Steve DeCamp, Brian Foss, Tyler Barrington and myself, revealed the City’s desire to expand the study area boundaries beyond that originally envisioned by County staff. The County and City agreed that next steps will include a collaboration on a joint City/County letter to potentially involved property owner’s to help assess their level of interest and future development preferences. The results of this survey and a neighborhood meeting will help define the ultimate project boundaries. If expansion of the study area boundaries proves to be appropriate, some minor amendments to the work program and timeline distributed to you in the November 10th Thursday Memo may be warranted.”