Two public comments stood out at Tuesday’s city council meeting, one by Alex Mollkoy, the other by Gary Creagle. Both were critical of the city’s legal counsel, neither was justified.

Mollkoy expressed anger at the fact that alleged city litigation against Dylan Snow, lessee of the city’s Equestrian Center, could not be confirmed. Mollkoy’s repeated questions to Mayor Washburn as to the status of this longstanding allegation were contradictory and unsatisfactory. At the end of his lengthy and heated interrogatory, the mayor both affirmed and denied such litigation. Now even I am curious to know what’s going on with this mysterious confrontation. Chalk it up to another example of Katzenjammer broken pre-election promises of open government. This has nothing to do with the city’s legal counsel. It’s vintage Katzenjammer.

Creagle’s lengthy comments were also critical of Fillmore’s legal counsel, complaining the city was not protected against the Ownes & Miner contract, and associated agreements. However, the court has stated that these agreements were not tainted by fraud, misrepresentation, or any sort of unethical conduct on behalf of the city or its legal counsel. The agreements were perfectly lawful, though the State of California later changed the law following complaints from City of Commerce, etc. after the fact.

I personally recall the extensive scrutiny this offer was provided after being received. A study of the proposals took months to complete. I was present at those council meetings.

Contrary to many of these unfair complaints, Owens & Miner has always maintained a busy office in Fillmore. When I last visited that office I witnessed approximately 12 employees busy at their computers. I also took photos of the operation.

Again, the court found the transaction to be perfectly legitimate, without taint of legal or ethical impropriety of any kind. It was just a great opportunity for the City of Fillmore, and will prove to be in the future, to the probable tune of approximately $700,000 to $1 million per year, for 20 years.

New laws and regulations have severely altered the original contract, but have not eliminated it altogether. When this litigation is finally over Fillmore will be the beneficiary for many years and the other litigants will have been paid from the impound account. Our legal counsel should be congratulated, not condemned, for its work. They could not be expected to have anticipated a change in the law.

The present council majority is making a strong and unprecedented effort to replace the city’s legal firm. Since City Attorney Ted Schneider’s record on winning litigation is perfect, and his cooperation in assisting the city with its near bankrupt condition by voluntarily cutting his legal fees by 20 percent is highly commendable, the council’s motives are clearly personal. It would seem that Mayor Gayle Washburn and Councilmembers Brooks and Sipes are cooperating with our wildly unpopular City Manager Yvonne Quiring’s mysterious personal animosity against Schneider. This attempted transition comes at a particularly bad time, with the tax receipt trial about to begin. Replacing the city’s law firm after 20 years of work should not be done arbitrarily, without considerable reflection. The city will also lose all of the cooperative networking Schneider has created to assist in litigation. At best this attempt is foolish, at worst, grossly irresponsible and destructive. The city will pay heavily for this personal vendetta against Schneider in jeopardizing the outcome of on-going litigation, including the El Dorado lawsuit. But, Yvonne’s personal interests must be served. Personal friendship trumps open and responsible government.

Washburn has still not provided a reason for replacing Ted Schneider as city attorney. We have naughty children running city business; Katzenjammers all! November is the time to put in the adults.