Wednesday, January 20, 2010
MiraCosta trustees make bizarre decision to appeal to California Supreme Court to keep $1.6 million Victoria Richart settlement
Congratulations to the courageous board members George McNeil and Gloria Carranza for trying to protect both taxpayer dollars and the integrity of MiraCosta College in the wake of the
Victoria Richart scandal.
But what are the majority trustees thinking? Are they as anxious to keep tax money flowing to lawyers as they are to let Victoria Richart keep $1.6 million settlement that the Court of Appeal has ruled illegal? I'm particularly disappointed in Jacqueline Simon, who seemed for a while to care about the public good as opposed to the back room dealers. I can't help but wonder if someone intimidated her into submission.
The article below fails to tell us how much more the taxpayers will have to pay to San Diego County Office of Education--Joint Powers Authority in increased premiums due to all this. And of course, the SDCOE-JPA is funded with tax dollars, so the taxpayers pay the lawyers even when MiraCosta College doesn't.
OCEANSIDE: MiraCosta wants state's high court to review Richart decision
By PAUL SISSON
January 20, 2010
MiraCosta College trustees will ask the California Supreme Court to overturn a recent appellate court ruling that invalidates a roughly $1.6 million settlement between the board and its former superintendent and president.
Trustees voted 4-2 in a closed-session meeting Tuesday to appeal the ruling to the state's highest court, with board member William Fischer absent and trustees George McNeil and Gloria Carranza opposing the move.
The decision to appeal marks the latest chapter in a long-running legal battle over the payout that began in August 2007, when Carlsbad attorney Leon Page sued MiraCosta, alleging the settlement was an illegal gift of public funds.
A Superior Court judge initially ruled against Page, but the attorney had better success with the 4th District Court of Appeal. In a Nov. 23 ruling, that court found the settlement between the college and former president Victoria Munoz Richart was void because it exceeded the value of 18 months' salary and benefits ---- the maximum the state allows in contract buy-outs for executives of local agencies.
MiraCosta trustees and lawyers have said since then they fear Richart's legal claims against the college would be worth far more than $1.6 million if they were ever taken to civil court.
In a statement released Wednesday about the high-court appeal, board chairman Gregory Post said other local agencies are also concerned about the precedent the appellate court ruling would set, should it stand.
"The board's interest in protecting the district from further litigation and the additional expense that could result from the Appellate Court ruling continues to remain a top priority," Post's statement read.
The statement says an insurance policy with the San Diego Schools Joint Powers Authority will cover the cost of the appeal. MiraCosta officials said attorney Daniel Shinoff and his law firm, Stutz, Artiano, Shinoff and Holtz, will continue to handle the case.
The request for appeal is expected to be filed Jan. 27.
Reached Wednesday morning, Page said he was "offended" by the decision to fight the appellate decision and doesn't understand why the college would continue to fight the notion that it should regain the settlement cash.
"They could have just accepted the appellate court's decision and used it as an opportunity to negotiate a legally viable settlement agreement with Richart," Page said. "Instead, they're fighting for the right to give away the public's money, and they're using tax dollars to pay the lawyers to continue that fight."
McNeil, one of the MiraCosta trustees who opposed filing the appeal, said Wednesday that he "felt the appellate court decision was worth supporting," but understands the position of his colleagues...