Friday, September 16, 2005

A Little Bit of Nepotism Goes a Long Way

Breaking news on the legal front...

Can you guess how SMC's current attorneys ended up representing them? Well, Phoenix Genesis went to the truth of the matter and once again shows you, Watergate style, how to "follow the money." Unfortunately, it is our money that we are following down this sewer of litigative waste. Read on...

Joshua E. Morrison is the current attorney for Santa Monica Community College District (SMC). You can read his bio and see his photo HERE. Mr. Morrison is a legal associate for the law firm Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo (kind of sounds like the name of Italian Mob Bosses!). According to the webpage, "Mr. Morrison represents California public school districts in all aspects of general education."

In an SMC Press Release, dated Jan. 28, 1998, Robert Sammis was appointed Vice President of Human Resources. The press release reveals this enlightening bit of information:

Sammis, who started in his new position Jan. 13, is not a newcomer to SMC -- as a senior associate with his Cerritos law firm, he had done work for the college on collective bargaining, grievances and other human resources matters. His responsibilities at the law firm of Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo -- where he was employed since 1990 -- included educational law.

Wow! Mr. Morrison and Mr. Sammis worked for the same law firm? This must be a pretty popular law firm. Or is this not a coincidence? Let's dig a bit deeper into this story...

On the SMC Administation Page for Robert Sammis, we see that Mr. Sammis has risen up the SMC ranks to his current position as Vice President of Planning & Development (effective Jan. 1, 2005). The bio states: "From 1998 through 2004, he served as Vice President of Human Resources." Again, the webpage makes clear that Mr. Sammis worked for many years at the law firm involved in this current litigation:

His responsibilities at the law firm of Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo - where he had been employed from 1990 to 1998 - included educational law. Among other duties, he represented California public school employers, including community colleges, in labor, employment, personnel and civil litigation matters; served as chief negotiator in teacher and classified employee negotiations; and litigated complex matters in a variety of fields. He has also had extensive experience working with personnel commissions.

Now, what exactly were the tasks and projects Mr. Sammis worked on during his tenure as VP of Human Resources? During the last year, it appears that one of those tasks was to allegedly dip into the 2004-2005 Human Resources Budget (or ratify someone else from SMC to dip into it) to grease the pockets of his former employer Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo with work for SMC's legal matters! Well, at least it provides Mr. Morrison with employment preventing the same school where Mr. Sammis is an administrator from providing inspection and copies of public records. How convenient for them, how tragic for us.

Here's the little snippet from the June 7, 2004 SMC Board of Trustees Minutes about the consulting contract given to this law firm:


Santa Monica Community College District
ACTION - June 7, 2004



V. Legal Services

Provider: Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo
Service: Human Resources, Student Services issues
Amount: $135 to $225 per hour for attorney services;

$100 per hour for paralegal services; plus expenses
Funding Source: 2004-2005 Human Resources Budget


Well, everyone, it appears that a little bit of nepotism goes a long way into further draining our public fisc in unnecessary litigation. Given the fact that SMC's own Board Policy supports the California Public Record Act in compliance with inspection and copying of records belonging to the District and Mr. Sammis is an administrator who is a public employee of this school, is this now a conflict of interest for his former law firm to prevent and frustrate compliance with these laws and Board Policies? The longer this litigation drags out, the more money is siphoned from the Human Resources Budget and out into the hands of their lawyers. This is just another example of who is in charge of our money and where it is being misspent.

-- Des Manttari,
Phoenix Genesis

(c) 2005: Phoenix Genesis/MBS LP

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At 5:41 PM, Blogger groovegear said...

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Nice to see some decent content for a change. FYI, I log on today and see that we've got a new feature, the 'Flag blog' button, which is inconveniently located between the 'Get Your Own Blog' and 'Next Blog' buttons so that we would presumably be getting some flags on error alone (although if one happens to notice it, you can unflag a blog) But that's a trivial matter. What concerns me is this: When a person visiting a blog clicks the "Flag?" button in the Blogger Navbar, it means they believe the content of the blog may be potentially offensive or illegal. We track the number of times a blog has been flagged as objectionable and use this information to determine what action is needed. This feature allows the blogging community as a whole to identify content they deem objectionable. Ok, see the problem with this? What's "objectionable." I'm guessing there are a good deal of people that would likely deem my blog to be objectionable; and there lies the problem: what is objectionable and what is subjective. Just my 2 cents, Police Patches


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