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San Diego County has released a bit more information on the work its consultants have been performing in the Chargers’ stadium search. To date, the two businesses have billed taxpayers $109,787.75.
The two consultants — Nixon Peabody, a Los-Angeles based law firm, and Barrett Sports Groups, based in Manhattan Beach — have worked 262 hours for the county, billing an average of $418 an hour. Nixon Peabody’s attorneys billed $79,847.25, while Barrett billed $29,940.50.
voiceofsandiego.org requested and obtained the consultants’ invoices earlier this year, though they had been completely redacted. All of the information about the work the consultants performed for the county — legally required to be submitted — was blacked out. At the time, County Counsel John Sansone said the entries were privileged.
“I don’t make those things up,” Sansone said recently. “It’s standard practice when we hire outside consultants — if I’m working with them and there are legal issues involved — we simply assert the exemption.”
Two legal experts disagreed, saying the county had no basis for withholding the information from the public. We detailed the issue — and two other instances where the county ran afoul of open-government laws — in this story.
The county has now released more information on what its consultants have been doing. A Nixon Peabody attorney traveled to Washington, D.C. and New York on the county’s behalf, though the bills do not say why.
In an e-mail, Sansone explained why the county is now releasing information it recently refused to provide:
[A]fter your article came out regarding the copies of the billing statements I sent to you, I went ahead and discussed the matter with our consultants, who have been working with us on the Chargers’ Stadium matter. They gave me their OK to give you a bit more information from their hourly billings. … [W]e still needed to redact several entries. By providing you this information, we are not waiving any claims to redacting privileged information in the future. Rather, I am providing it to you because after discussions I had with the consultants, they were fine with my providing this to you.