Lawsuit Update January 1, 2013

 Lawsuit Update and Information

2012 has been a terrible year for the City of Whittier, the City Council and the oil companies regarding the oil project and 2013 is starting out to be no better. When the year started there were only two lawsuits. As of today there are four active lawsuits and two injunctions that have been filed to stop the oil drilling. In the middle of all that Open Space Legal Defense Fund settled their lawsuits so the State could move forward with theirs.
 Here are the four active lawsuits and injunctions;
1. Mountain Recreational Conservation Authority (MRCA) - lawsuit filed February 24, 2012.

2. State Attorney General Kamala Harris (SMMC) - lawsuit filed September 28, 2012. Separate lawsuit from MRCA
3. Los AngelesCounty - lawsuit filed October 25, 2012
4. Taxpayers group Proposition A Protective Association (PAPA) - lawsuit filed December 14, 2012.
5. MRCA - mid December files injunction to stop the oil project.
6. L.A.County files injunction
Other things that have occurred in 2012;
1. L.A. County returns the City of Whittier's check for $325,000.00 for the purchase of the 7 acre well site land (June 6, 2012).
2. L.A. County finds both the City of Whittier and Esther Feldman guilty of violating the County's lobbying ordinance (August 8, 2012).
State Attorney General
Some of you may wonder why the State Attorney General is involved. If the City was successful in overriding Prop "A" by changing the land use status that would have a state wide affect. Other land throughout the state that has open space status could have there land use changed also.
Newest Lawsuit - Prop "A" Protective Association (PAPA)
A section of PAPA's lawsuit presents a huge problem for the City. One that WHOW has brought to the Councils attention many times and they have ignored. Using Prop "A" funds which are funds to be used specifically for our parks that were provided by an approximate $20.00 yearly fee that had been added to our Property Tax County wide is the problem. There are 88 Cities in the County that contributed to Prop "A". That means the City of Whittier is incorrect in there guesstimate of receiving $167 million dollars annually from oil revenue. Whittier's contribution to Prop "A" is less then one percent which means our City would only receive $167,000.00 annually, a far cry from $167 million.
Whittier continues to take money from the oil companies to pay for litigation and other oil project related expenses even though there is no drilling. The City has also put together a committee to spend money they don't have and hired a firm to manage that money they will never see. That's because the City never got the required consent from the County of Los Angeles to enter into the lease (e-mail between County and Whittier August 7, 2008). That is one of the items L.A. County is suing them for.    
Once the City looses the legal fight they will be on the hook for millions of dollars in reimbursement to the oil companies because they will want their money back. The City will probably be sued by the oil companies for potential lost of revenue resulting from the loss of the oil project. That could be in the hundreds of millions of dollars. That would cause the City of Whittier to file for Bankruptcy.
Recently the City of Mammoth Lakes ran into a similar problem by making a deal with a Developer to develop airport property. The deal never went through because of the FAA. The FAA said that the property would interfere with Federal Aviation Administration policy governing the use of the airport property for aeronautical purposes. Mammoth Lakes was sued by the developer and lost. Another case where a contract was signed before getting the proper approvals. Now the City of Mammoth Lakes files for bankruptcy because of a 43 million dollar breach-of-contract judgment against them.
Whittier could have a similar problem. One of the items Whittier is being sued for is a breach-of-contract with MRCA who sold them the land. The City has also ignored agreements they committed themselves to when they purchased the land.
Questions that need to be answered
Why does Whittier not put everything on hold until the litigation is settled? Why do they continue to get further in debt by taking more money from the oil companies? Are they hoping to show up and start drilling? Is this being pushed because the Habitat Authority loosing its funding in November 2013 which Whittier Councilman Bob Henderson has chaired since 1994? Who is this oil project really for? These are questions that need to be answered.
The oil project started in October 2006 (according to e-mails dated November 14 & 16, 2006). We have been told by the City that we need the money because of loss of car dealerships. Yet, the first car dealership Board Ford went out December 14, 2007. (WDN article December 29, 2007). Has the City been truthful on the oil project? You decide.