Directors of the Idyllwild Chamber of Commerce are considering liquidating a Chamber asset, Harmony, the town monument, to pay for legal fees and costs incurred to defend the Chamber board. Directors say the lawsuits are baseless and grudge-motivated. In August, monument creator David Roy filed a lawsuit claiming unpaid fees. He subsequently refiled a nearly identical suit last month.
On Wednesday, Feb. 13, Chamber Director Peter Buhl, with support from six of the seven board members, described how the board is considering paying its legal costs. “This morning, we, as a group, decided to look into dismantling the Harmony monument and auctioning off individual pieces. This could help pay for the constant legal fees and court costs associated with it [the lawsuit] due to this new filing against the Chamber by David Roy, and his ‘shadow’ lawyer, Ken Carlson. The Chamber is discussing the steps we need to take to do so.”
Should the board take this course, money raised through auction of monument pieces would only be used to defend the Chamber in the suit, clarified Director Mimi Lamp.
“I think it is very important to reiterate that we are having to consider dismantling and auctioning the monument due to the cost of the attorney for the Chamber, not for the individuals,” Lamp noted.
Chamber President Chris Titus concurred. “The lawyer fees it [the auction] would be used for would only be for the chamber’s costs. I have and will continue to pay my own lawyer expenses.” Lamp commented about the need to raise defense funds, “All are in agreement that we need to raise money [to defend the Chamber] and it [the monument] is the only thing that the Chamber has [owns] of monetary value. The bus has very little value.”
Roy has also sued directors as individuals, since the Chamber directors’ insurance for the board lapsed under Carlson’s presidency.
Buhl added, “If an auction were to be held, it is my opinion that it would be an ethical, considerate and proper use of some of the funds to be used for some form of restitution to all who donated to the monument fund. This restitution could be in the form of a new monument to replace Harmony or some other form that would honor the donations given in the past and give the town something to again be proud of.”
Directors, both as a board and individuals, have already incurred filing and legal fees for the first lawsuit Roy filed in August 2012. Roy dismissed that suit on Jan. 23, the same day he filed a second, almost identical, lawsuit against the board and the same named directors. The claims in Roy’s second suit remain similar to those in the first. The only major difference is which Superior Court judge will hear it.
If the second lawsuit proceeds, as directors anticipate it will, they would again be forced to pay filing and legal fees. They believe these fees will continue to mount as long as Roy continues to pursue what Chamber directors say is a frivolous and maliciously motivated lawsuit — frivolous because the claims cannot be factually substantiated, and malicious because of a grudge attorney and former Chamber President Ken Carlson holds against the Chamber. In 2010, he was ousted as president and Chamber member by a previous board of directors.
Roy is suing for $1,500 for work he performed in applying a sealant to his carving prior to its July 2012 dedication. There was no signed contract between Roy and the Chamber. Roy also alleges the Chamber embezzled funds from the Chamber monument maintenance account although Chamber check records, dating from the time Carlson was Chamber president, account for all money dispersed from that account. Roy has filed the lawsuit as if representing himself without attorney. Carlson is acting as Roy’s behind-the-scene legal advisor, as court records from the first suit document.
Directors said Roy’s lawsuit is baseless and Chamber records, which Roy and Carlson were invited to inspect, would confirm all monument funds were properly disbursed and accounted for. Carlson and Roy declined the invitation to inspect Chamber records.
Directors maintain that Roy was never “hired” to apply a coating of sealant to the monument prior to its July 2012 dedication and there was no contract or agreement for him to do so. Even so, President Chris Titus said both Roy and Carlson were invited to discuss with the board how best to resolve Roy’s claim for $1,500 for work performed. Carlson and Roy declined to meet with the board.
In 2007, the Chamber commissioned the carving by Roy, paid him an agreed fee to complete it, and is the legal owner of Harmony.
The irony of the monument namesake of "Harmony" is not lost on us. I say right on Chamber – chunk it up and auction it off! It has become a monumental symbol of negativity, not the idyllic harmony of a quaint mountain town.
The lawsuits are absurd, and prove one thing: who in their right mind would ever contract that "artist" for any project! I mean, he's proven that even without a contract, he's gonna sue for services he chooses to do, without approval or written consent. No way would I ever buy a single piece of his work. Which is sad because he is obviously talented. But who needs the head case that comes with it.
"idyllic harmony of a quaint mountain town"….go back to your "Glass Menagerie" and manufacture some more illusions! Idyllwild is the poster town for dysfunctional, intolerant, and embittered souls.
As a part-timer who has considered using Idyllwild as a retirement "home base" in the near future- not so sure any longer. I find the grade-school level drama that swirls around town to be ridiculous. Idyllwild is filled with opinionated blowhards, high levels of intolerance, and and way too many "big fish" egos in a tiny, tiny pond. From business owners to chamber to property groups, water boards, & community activists, foolishness and discord seems to permeates every aspect of this community.
Chamber, please just take a chainsaw to the damn thing and chipper it down for landscape bark. And at the same time… there must be some safety and code violations going on at a certain business at town entrance- kick out that certain "artiste" and the bitter ex-chamber lawyer he rode in on.
I agree with all of the above comments; harmony indeed. At the base of all the disharmony is that disparate interests of the real estate and tourist industry (such as it is) are given free reign to determine the hill's destiny BY DEFAULT. The "WHITE ELEPHANT" FORT is but one example…and now the LIBRARY…pretty, but in name only. There is no community plan to result in a special distinctive character for downtown Idyllwild…JoAnn's is the focus! To speak out with no vested interest in the town's real estate or tourism industry is treason up here. So most just hunker down and watch the shenanigans from a safe distance. The SO CALLED LIBRARY is an example of public relations disasters. Most use it for internet access, the toilets, free child sitting service and an outdated book now and again. Having said all that, why not retire up here? Small or a bit larger, every retirement mecca seems to experience similar problems both here and abroad. Just remember, keep quiet and mind your own business. If only I could take my own advice!
You have an arts community, you should have students create the art and donate it to the town, in return they get a resume filler.
Fix date typo:
carving prior to its July 2013 dedication
Should be 2012
The Chamber doesn't own the monument. It belongs to the People of Idyllwild. The donors did not buy the monument to give to the Chamber to do as it pleases. I was one of the donors, and that's how the Chamber presented it to get my money. It also looks like they've misappropriated the Monument Fund, which they held in trust for the donors, too. Besides, they just turned down David Roy's offer to drop the lawsuit if they let him take over the care of the monument and the fund. He's the only one who's been caring for it anyway. They're wasting Chamber money on their own egos, not on promoting tourism and helping their contributing members. The Monument is about to gain national attention by Gorilla Glue, which would bring tourists to Idyllwild, and the Chamber wants to kill that, just to hurt David Roy.
Fail! Funny how this comment has the exact same language/grammar and talking points as David Roy's open letter telling "his side." Speaking of yourself in fake third person is rather pathetic.