Friday, October 3, 2014

Waukegan School District 60 overpays for Outside Legal Fees with Politically Connected Law Firm, Hinshaw & Culbertson

Hinshaw enjoys a sole source verbal agreement to provide legal services with no cap of fees to represent the District in collective bargaining with the Teachers.

Hinshaw has built relationships with school districts and municipal government to create a lucrative annual revenue stream of millions of taxpayer dollars without accountability.

Disparity in hourly professional billings between certified teachers and lawyers

Waukegan's 1200 teachers are currently striking over a breakdown in negotiations that include wages, benefits and working conditions. 

On a 10 month basis, average monthly pay is $4988.20. Divided by 22 work days/month the daily rate is $226.73 or $28.34 per hour (based on 8 hours).

Hinshaw's Tom Luetkemeyer, former classmate of Water Reclamation's General Counsel Ron Hill, bills at $375 per hour on a sole source contract. 

Anthony Ficarelli is billing WPS60 at $275 per hour for the current collective bargaining negotiations with Lake County Federation of Teachers Local 504.  

Billings for the month of June, 2014 were 54.7 hours at $275 for a gross amount of $15,589.50.

For July, 2014, the hours billed were 53.6 at $275 for a gross amount of $15,276.00.

Ficarelli has no incentive to bring negotiations with the teachers to a speedy conclusion. The longer the impasse continues, the more hours he is able to bill at $275 per hour!

The WPS60 School Board has a fiduciary duty to safeguard taxpayer assets and wisely manage dollars allocated to providing quality education to 17,000 students in the district.

We urge an immediate independent audit of detailed legal bills in order to negotiate standardized fees for outside counsel in order to maximize taxpayer dollars. In addition, the current practice of verbal sole source contracts is not a proper business practice. Open bid processes will insure awarding contracts at the best rates for professional services. Scope of work should be finite that discloses up front a not to exceed billing amount.

Teachers negotiate a collective bargaining written agreement. Lawyers should be held to the same standard by the Board. 

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