Just days after threat of legal action by The Schilling Show and attorney, Matt Hardin, Charlottesville City Hall has released an un-redacted copy of attorney Tom Wolf’s contract. Wolf has been retained by the city to confiscate property belonging to Mark Brown and the Charlottesville Parking Center through an attempted manipulation of eminent domain.
Having previously hidden Wolf’s $425 per hour rate behind a false shield of “attorney-client privilege” under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act, Charlottesville City Attorney, Craig Brown, ultimately relented.
Notably, Brown released the contract to the interested parties in delayed succession, giving access first to Lisa Provence of C-ville and Chris Suarez of the Daily Progress via email at 5:20 PM on July 20. Brown did not send a copy of the requested contract to Schilling Show attorney Hardin until 5:14 PM on July 21, nearly 24 hours later.
Attorney Brown’s email cover letter to Provence and Suarez was a defensive barrage of nonsense, attempting to portray Wolf’s hitherto undisclosed rate as a relative bargain:
From: Brown, Craig
Date: Wed, Jul 20, 2016 at 5:20 PM
Subject: Engagement Letter
To: “Provence, Lisa” “Suarez, Christopher”
Cc: “Wolf, Thomas M.”
Lisa and Chris:
You both have previously requested a copy of the City’s engagement letter with LeClair Ryan for legal services related to the CPC litigation. As stated in our response to your requests, we believe that the letter is a confidential attorney-client communication. Due to the persistence of inquiries about Tom Wolf’s rate, however, and what I understand to be misinformation that has been circulated, we have decide to release an unredacted copy of the engagement letter, which is attached.
I will note that Tom’s hourly rate of $425 in this case represents a significant discount from what he normally charges. I personally know of a number of attorneys in Charlottesville who charge a considerably higher hourly rate. While I don’t know the combined hourly rate of the 3 – 4 attorneys that CPC brings to each hearing or meeting (and have no interest in knowing), I will point out that Tom’s rate for handling this complex commercial litigation is less than the hourly rate CPC proposed for someone to operate the Water Street Garage.
Brown’s subsequent email to Hardin contained none of the above hyperbole or justifications:
From: “Brown, Craig”
Date: July 21, 2016 at 5:14:13 PM EDT
To: ‘Matt Hardin’
Subject: Engagement Letter
Attached please find a copy of the engagement letter between the City of Charlottesville and LeClair Ryan.
The Schilling Show wishes to thank Attorney Matt Hardin, Megan Rhyne of the Virginia Coalition for Open Government, and Lara Dieringer of the Knight FOI Fund for their support in obtaining information that was unlawfully withheld and for working to protect citizens from lawless government bureaucrats.