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Noticeably absent from Monday’s ruling by Judge Jeffrey Barton are the names of the six former retirement trustees who City Attorney Mike Aguirre sued as part of his primary legal attack on pension benefits.
That’s because Aguirre dropped them from the case. Why? The law firm assisting his office in the lawsuit, Latham & Watkins, was representing three of those six defendants in a different pension case that is playing out in federal court.
Because the firm was hired to defend former Treasurer Mary Vattimo, former Assistant Auditor Terri Webster and former Human Resources Director Cathy Lexin in the police union’s federal lawsuit, Aguirre acknowledged that there was a possible conflict of interest that existed. It was resolved once he dropped them from the case in June, he said.
The other trustees – fingerprint examiner John Torres, firefighters union president Ron Saathoff and management analyst Sharon Wilkinson – were also dropped as a result.
The city is, however, on the hook for their legal bills. The six trustees, plus former Deputy City Manager Bruce Herring, won a judgment this spring that forced the city to pay for their legal defense in two cases Aguirre filed attacking pension benefits that were granted over the past decade. The sum of those bills in unknown, but the defendants presented the city a bill for $190,000, pending approval by Judge Linda Quinn, to cover the cost of the lawsuit seeking attorney fees.