Wednesday, March 31, 2010

MiraCosta College trustees and lawyers lose while taxpayers win in California Supreme Court

Gloria Carranza is the only MiraCosta trustee who smells good right now. She alone objected to giving taxpayer dollars to prolong the saga of the $1.6 million late-night settlement that MiraCosta trustees were pressured into signing. The California Supreme Court has made clear that the money was a waste: it refused to hear the case.

Why did the majority trustees want Victoria Richart to receive all that money? Will we ever know? Perhaps we will. If Richart sues, we might find out what happened behind closed doors as Richart plotted the Palmgate scandal.

I'm also wondering if perhaps Judge Moon isn't such a terrific mediator; he didn't do his clients a favor when he mediated an illegal deal for MiraCosta College.

See all MiraCosta College posts.

State Supreme Court won't hear MiraCosta appeal

Page says Richart must return most of payout
March 24, 2010

The California Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to take on MiraCosta College's challenge of an appeals court decision that invalidated its $1.6 million settlement with former college president Victoria Munoz Richart.

By declining to review the case, the court handed a victory to Carlsbad activist Leon Page, who sued MiraCosta in 2007, arguing the massive payout to Richart was an illegal gift of public funds.

MiraCosta attorney Jack Sleeth and Richart attorney Randy Winet declined to comment on the court's action Wednesday, saying they hadn't had time to review the decision and talk with their clients.

[Maura Larkins comment: Did the North County Times ask Daniel Shinoff for a comment? Apparently not. The NCT is helping Daniel Shinoff keep a low profile by erasing at least one story completely, and keeping his name out of many new stories.]

Page could not immediately be reached for comment, but said in an e-mail announcing the decision that the Supreme Court's denial is affirmation that the settlement must be undone by the Superior Court.

He said he will ask the court to order Richart to "pay back to the college everything she received in excess of 18 months of salary and health insurance --- everything in excess of the legal limit.

"We'll also ask the judge to order her to reimburse the district for the value of the legal representation provided to her at the district's expense," Page said in the email.

MiraCosta has been defending the controversial deal since it was announced in June 2007. Weeks later, Page filed his lawsuit.

A trial court sided with Richart, but Page appealed. In November, the state's Fourth District Court of Appeal agreed with him and ordered the lower court to reverse its ruling.

MiraCosta then appealed the matter to the state Supreme Court.

Richart departed in 2007 after a tumultuous two-year saga that started with her investigation of illegal sales from the college's horticulture department. Along the way, she ran afoul of MiraCosta's faculty senate, which vocally objected to her investigative methods...

OCEANSIDE: Questions linger over MiraCosta's 1.6M Richart buyout
By PAUL SISSON March 28, 2010

MiraCosta College's attorney said last week that the college must now dissolve the $1.6 million settlement it granted its former president and superintendent in 2007, but a Carlsbad activist who fought the deal said parts of the agreement should stand ---- just not the roughly $1.3 million the college overpaid in the buyout.

Leon Page, the activist who sued MiraCosta over the deal, said Friday that the college fulfilled it's agreement with its former president Victoria Munoz Richart, even if an appeals court decided later that parts of the settlement were illegal. The college appealed that ruling to the state Supreme Court, which this week declined to review the matter.

"The college did everything it said it would," Page said, adding that the settlement only called for the college to pay Richart the agreed-upon sum ---- it didn't say she had the right to keep the money.

The point is important because in December, a Richart attorney named Robert Ottilie said he believed the college would have to take back Richart's resignation if she were forced to give up her settlement.

"That would return everyone to where they were," Ottilie said at the time. He said he believed that Richart's four-year contract would run at least through 2011, and perhaps even longer, meaning the college could owe Richart hundreds of thousands of dollars in back pay.

Richart attorney Randy Winet could not be reached for comment Friday...

[Maura Larkins comment; Winet was busy in court on Friday helping Diane Crosier with her bizarre lawsuit involving Dan Puplava and the Fringe Benefits Consortium.]

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