Sep 26 2011

Another Private Deal Between City and Blair Park Proponents

PRFO attorney contracted to advise the City on Blair Park project – City waives any conflicts of interest

A second private deal (see below) has surfaced that was signed out of public view between the City Council and attorneys for Piedmont Recreational Facilities Organization (PRFO), the sports group proposing to develop Blair Park into a $6.5 million, multi-use sports facility.  The agreement was signed by City Administrator Geoff Grote more than two months ago. 

At the behest of Council member Garrett Keating, who has expressed concerns about the process, the agreement with PRFO was posted last week on the City’s website.

Despite the intense, ongoing controversy surrounding the proposed Blair Park project, the agreement was not discussed or voted on in a public City Council meeting.  If approved by the City Council in closed session, it was not reported out in open session as required by California law, known as the Brown Act.   

The law firm  put forward by PRFO,  Craigie, McCarthy, and Clow, LLP, “has represented and continues to represent PRFO and Blair Park L.L.C. in connection with the [Blair Park] project.”  Peter Craigie will be the attorney primarily responsible.  (Blair Park, LLC is an entity  created by PRFO to fund the costs constructing the Blair Park project.)

 The agreement provides that the Craigie firm will assist the Piedmont City Attorney in “reviewing and providing comment on CEQA environmental documents” for  the Blair Park project.  The agreement may provide the attorneys representing PRFO access not allowed to others, as environmental certification of the Blair Park project proposal goes forward.

Under the agreement, any conflicts of interest created by the law firm’s past or simultaneous representation of PRFO are waived by the City, “even if doing so may be deemed adverse to the interest of the City.” Although the City is not being charged for the attorney’s time, the arrangement provides PRFO access to information and staff, with communications between them protected by attorney-client privilege.

The Council’s rationale for allowing a discussion in closed session of a private attorney retainer agreement with attorneys having stated conflicts of interest has not been provided to the public as required under the Brown Act, California’s sunshine law.

Since the July 25 signing of the agreement, there has been no disclosure to the public regarding work product or activities undertaken pursuant to the agreement.

The agreement mandates that binding arbitration will be used to resolve any disagreements between the City and the Craigie, McCarthy, and Clow law firm regarding the legal services provided.  The City is required to defend its own interest and pay its own fees in any lawsuit between the City and the PRFO representative law firm. If the project is not approved, the firm is required to obtain the prior written consent of the City before providing further legal representation to PRFO.


2011-07-25 Fully Executed Dated Limited Engagement Retainer Agreement Piedmont-Craigie


2 Responses to “Another Private Deal Between City and Blair Park Proponents”

  1. This smells fishy! Does Geoff Grote have the authority to sign agreements on behalf of the City without the knowledge or approval of the City Council? If not, did the City Council agree to this, yet apparently choose to keep it secret? Thank you, Garrett, for letting us citizens of Piedmont know about this disturbing behind-the-scenes deal.

  2. thank you for your reporting. Seems like, again, everything is stacked in favor of a special interest group.

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