Even elected Beverly Hills officials are now starting to question the BH school district's exorbitant spending to fight the Purple Line extension from tunneling under BH High School. The Beverly Hills Patch reports that the district authorized a new $132,062 payment to a DC law firm currently lobbying the feds against the subway project (to BH's chagrin, the Feds just allowed the huge project to advance to final engineering and early construction). The school district, and the city of BH, are already suing Metro to divert the subway to a stop on Santa Monica Boulevard (the site of a golf course and earthquake faults, but whatever), where it wouldn't need to tunnel under the school. Now, Venable, the DC firm, is readying a federal lawsuit against the subway and thus needed money, hence the payment. "With a 4-1 vote, the board agreed to pay Venable LLP $132,062, considerably more than the firm's existing $15,000 a month lobbying contract."
BHUSD is using $117,000 in Measure E funds (for public school renovations) to pay the latest tab, using their general fund for the remainder. BHUSD prez Brian Goldberg says that's cool because Measure E was about modernizing the school and the board believes the subway will imperil that process. The $132k doesn't cover costs for a federal lawsuit, just preparation, so more money will be needed for that. There's also another lawyer being paid nearly $56,000 in Measure E funds. Last month, the board paid legal fees totaling $418,213.
Boardmember Noah Margo was the only one to vote against the $132k Venable payment (he voted against an earlier Venable contract extension too). The board, including subway-hating Lisa Korbatov, wanted the Venable vote on the consent calendar, which would've allowed a vote without discussion. Margo pulled it from the consent calendar so the matter could be discussed publicly. He told Patch he voted against the spending because "he could not recall being given information about extending Venable's contract to cover the [National Environmental Protection Act] legal challenge. He also did not remember being told the total budget allocated for Venable's work on the matter."
· BH School Board Increases Work, Pay of D.C. Firm Lobbying Against Metro [BH Patch]
· 90210's Way or the Highway [Curbed LA]