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Cerritos Spent $184,000 on Legal Fees in December

January 24, 2022

By Brian Hews

An examination by Hews Media Group-Community News of Cerritos’ legal fees paid in December shows that the city used five different high-powered law firms and paid them a staggering total of $184,000.

The City also paid two consulting firms $40,000 in December.

The Irvine-based Rutan and Tucker was the big winner for December, paid nearly $120,000. HMG-CN cannot examine actual billings due to a California Supreme Court ruling a few years ago.

Rutan and Tucker is the firm that refused to fulfill HMG-CN’s FOIA request for Cerritos Mayor Pro Tem Chuong Vo’s texts and emails related to the Torrance Police’s text scandal, declaring that the request was too burdensome.

The next law firm, Abram and Roy, was paid $33,000 in December; Abram and Roy specialize in real estate transactions, but so does Rutan and Tucker.

The third firm to step up to the trough was Colantuono, Highsmith & Whatley, PC. Colantuono has five offices, the closest office to Cerritos is in Pasadena. Colantuono specializes in representing local governments in a number of areas similar to Abram and Rutan.

The Tustin-based firm of Hartzog and Cabrill took in $10,000 for December; Hartzog specializes in traffic engineering; maybe the city is talking about taking out the traffic islands.

Finally, Cerritos’ former law firm, Aleshire and Wynder, was paid $8,000, a far cry from the city’s new law firm, Rutan and Tucker.

Two consulting firms took in a total of $40,000, HMG-CN does not know if the firms are retained.

The City paid $30,000 to R-3 Consulting Group to talk trash; R-3 is a solid waste management consulting firm. No word if the city could have talked to its current trash hauler, CalMet, for free.

West Hollywood-based Cerrel was paid $10,000 to talk about choo-choos, specifically the West Santa Ana Light Rail project running from Artesia to Union Station.

Cerritos does not have a station along the route; years ago, current Councilman Bruce Barrows pulled the city out of the project, angering many. Now they are paying a consulting firm to provide advice.

HMG-CN has opined about how Cerritos, with its miles of green, water-guzzling grass inside its traffic islands, should switch to drought-tolerant landscaping.

Maybe the idea might take root (pun intended); Cerritos paid over $100,000 to its gardener, Brightview.

HMG-CN will occasionally examine Cerritos’ Warrant Register, if you have anything you would like us to examine, email [email protected]