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Legal tab to oust Fitzpatrick tops $25K

Despite resigning position with planning commission, the district is still trying to remove him.

July 02, 2012|By Joseph Serna

The Costa Mesa Sanitary District has spent more than $25,000 this year trying to oust board member Jim Fitzpatrick, according to the agency's estimates.

About $18,667 has gone to the Los Angeles-based Meyers Nave law firm, which earlier this year offered its opinion that it was likely a conflict of interest for Fitzpatrick to serve on both the sanitary district's board and the Costa Mesa Planning Commission.

Nearly $7,000 has gone to the district's contracted in-house counsel, Harper & Burns of Orange.

In February, a majority of the board voted to move forward with asking the state attorney general's office to allow the district to seek legal action against Fitzpatrick, who was elected over incumbent Arlene Schafer in 2010.

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Fitzpatrick accused his peers of targeting him because he criticized the district's trash disposal contract, which hasn't gone out for competitive bidding since World War II.

Fitzpatrick's critics, like board member Mike Schaefer, said the board's only interest in the matter is legal.

Meyers Nave, and before that Harper & Burns, had informed Fitzpatrick and district officials that his dual roles in the city was questionable because of sometimes competing interests.

Fitzpatrick has since resigned from the commission, but the district is still forging ahead with its effort to remove him, arguing he should have never simultaneously served both panels in the first place.

In May, board President Bob Ooten said Fitzpatrick forfeited his district seat when he was sworn in as a commissioner.

The board could take its case to court by the end of summer.

joseph.serna@latimes.com

Twitter: @JosephSerna

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