At the last Idyllwild Water District (IWD) meeting on Oct. 16, Director David Hunt asked for an itemized bill of the legal fees.
“The legal fees seem awful high,” said Hunt. “Is there a way we can see an itemized bill for that?” The district contracts with Aleshire & Wynder, LLP for its legal services.
The newspaper submitted a public records request for the district’s legal fees from the beginning of FY 2019/20 to date. In addition, the newspaper noticed that there was a payment of $8,880 made in September payable to Aarvig & Associates, a law firm in Redlands, for HR consulting fees. The newspaper also requested the invoices pertaining to that payment.
Between June 1 and Sept. 30, 2019, the district spent more than $20,000 on legal fees. The highest being in September for a total of $8,857. The $8,880 made payable to Aarvig & Associates is in addition to the $8,857. Aleshire & Wynder, LLP charged 39.1 hours at $220 per hour for general legal services and one hour for personnel at $255 per hour.
The district’s former general manager, Michael Creighton, was undergoing consistent employee performance evaluations prior to his Sept. 25 termination. Less than two weeks before his termination, the district’s directors held a special closed session meeting regarding significant exposure to litigation (two cases).
On July 10, the district held another employee performance evaluation. This time the evaluation was of Chief Financial Officer Hosny Shouman. The report out of that meeting was that the district was going to bring in a professional to help with an employee situation.