Attorney Chadwick Bradbury, who has a private practice in Palm Desert and worked as an in-house litigator for the San Bernardino City Attorney's Office from July 3 to Wednesday, Jan. 9, will receive a $6,000 monthly retainer and a 25-percent commission on all monies he collects for the city, according to his contract - approved by the City Council on a 6-1 vote on Dec. 17.
Bradbury, 53, of Palm Desert, began his new job as a contract employee for the city on Thursday.
City Attorney James Penman said the city has fallen behind on its collections from noncompliant property owners and that the city's bankruptcy has prompted aggressive action.
"This is money that's out there that we need to go after," Penman said.
Councilman Fred Shorett, the only council member who voted against the contract, said the contract is too lucrative and unnecessary given the resources the City Attorney's Office already has at its fingertips.
"I don't understand why we should be paying a $6,000 monthly retainer. It doesn't make any sense," Shorett said. "And a 25-percent commission is ridiculously high.
Bradbury will also be tasked with prosecuting civil enforcement actions through the court including judicial foreclosures, which will allow the city to collect on its administrative civil penalties, and receivership petitions, which will allow an appointed receiver to borrow on the equity of the noncompliant properties in order to bring them up to code.
In six months, the terms of Bradbury's contract, i.e. his monthly retainer and his commission rate, will be re-negotiated based on a performance evaluation and a cost/benefit analysis, according to the contract.
Bradbury's first order of business is to collect roughly $2.1 million in administrative civil penalties assessed from 12 properties in which liens have already been issued by the court, Penman said.
Shorett questions why Penman didn't task one of his own attorneys on staff to do the job. If a contract was necessary, Shorett questions why it didn't go out to bid.Penman said the contract, per city policy, didn't need to go out to bid because it is a service contract. He said Bradbury, as an in-house litigator for the city, settled a number of cases favorable to the city and was able to start on some of the judicial foreclosures he has resumed under his contract.
"We were very impressed with him. He did a very good job for us," Penman said.
Bradbury was one of roughly 20 applicants who responded to an ad the city placed in the Los Angeles and San Francisco Daily Journals - the state's largest legal newspapers - seeking an in-house litigator. Penman said Bradbury was selected for the job based on his more than 15 years of experience as a litigator and glowing recommendations from other attorneys and judges, not his relationship to the former Mayor.
"He was by far the stand-out applicant," Penman said. "He was head and shoulders above everybody else."
Valles said she did not reach out to any of her former colleagues in city government to lobby for her son, whom she said is a former Palm Springs firefighter who became a lawyer after injuring himself on the job and taking a disability retirement.
"I didn't do that while I was Mayor, why would I do that now? That would be stupid," Valles said Friday. "I didn't call anybody or try to influence anybody."
Penman said with Bradbury's qualifications, he would have recommended Bradbury for the contract even if he were the son of current Mayor Pat Morris.
Shorett said he is concerned about how some may view Bradbury's hiring by the city and his subsequent landing of the contract.
"I personally am very cognizant of a perceived conflict of interest, and I always think it's best to avoid even the perception of a conflict of interest or political favor," Shorett said. "Whether it is or isn't, the perception is there or could be there."
Bradbury declined to comment for this story.
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