The South Orange County Community College District (SOCCCD) board votes tonight on whether to pay a private lawyer $25,000 in taxpayer funds for helping negotiate what the district calls the "Mathur settlement." Why the district must settle anything with Raghu Mathur, who in January was fired/didn't have his contract renewed/was lovingly told it's time to tackle new career challenges (depending on who is doing the spinning), is unclear. Why it's paying someone other than the lawyers it already pays to handle labor matters is equally murky. What is known is the lawyer in line to get the dough has more skeletons in his closet than a college anatomy department.
He's Phillip Greer, Orange County Republican politicians' attorney of choice.
Greer, whose office is in Newport Beach, has individually represented county supervisors Janet Nguyen, Bill Campbell, Pat Bates and Chris Norby.
Many GOP movers and snakers hire Greer at the recommendation of John Lewis, who is--how did Moxley put it? Oh yes--an "oily" Republican insider from disgraced, possibly prison-bound ex-Sheriff Mike Carona's old camp.
Greer also represents county Treasurer Chriss Street, who a federal judge earlier this month ruled had breached his fiduciary duty when he attempted to build an empire instead of protecting the assets of a trust he was hired to liquidate.
Street was ordered to pay more than $7 million in damages to the End of the Road Trust.
The same Supes who had previously retained Greer later voted to strip Street of any investment powers.
In the 2007 Los Angeles Times story, "Rebuked O.C. Lawyer Keeps Busy," H.G. Reza reported on some screwy transactions between Nguyen's supervisor campaign and a trust Greer oversaw.
Nguyen was ordered to pay $5,000 in state fines for campaign finance violations.
She blamed Greer for the advice the landed her in hot water.
Reza also reported that Greer was disciplined twice in 11 years by the State Bar of California:
According to state bar records, Greer represented a Georgia firm in one lawsuit at the same time he was suing the firm in another case in 2002. The state bar investigation found that Greer's representation of both parties was a "willful violation of Rules of Professional Conduct."
In the earlier disciplinary action, Greer settled a client's personal injury lawsuit for $5,000 in 1990, withholding $1,634 to pay her medical bills. The money should have been kept in Greer's client trust account.
In 1991, the client asked Greer for the remainder of the money because her insurance had paid the bills, records show. Greer did not pay her for three years, and when he did he used a cashier's check instead of one from his client trust account. According to the state bar's findings, his trust account daily balances "consistently fell below $1,634," the amount that should have always been in the account.
Greer blamed his office manager, saying the employee had removed client files, which he discovered after closing his Long Beach office. The state bar said Greer's failure to supervise the office manager prevented him from properly representing the client.
Greer was required to take ethics courses in both cases.
Irvine Valley College (IVC) philosophy professor and tenacious SOCCCD board critic Roy Bauer is much more succinct in his summation of Greer on his Dissent the Blog:
Greer is the OC Republican mafia's consigliere. He's a total creep.
It must be noted that a precipitating event did spur some SOCCCD infighting that likely played a great role in Mathur's departure. The chancellor filed a complaint alleging he was intimidated and blackmailed by board president Don Wagner into creating a new dean position at IVC, and that the prez ordered him to hire a professor who is a longtime rival of Mathur's.
(A rival other than Bauer; you need a scorecard to keep 'em stright down there.)
Given the usual goose-stepping lockstep of the conservative Republican crusaders on the SOCCCD board, the flap was highly unusual.
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There's shouted-across-quad whispers of a power struggle between Wagner and former county GOP chairman emeritus for life uber alles "Tio" Tom Fuentes, who is said to so staunchly support Mathur, he is orchestrating a re-appointment to the chancellorship once Wagner is out of the way.
And when might that happen? Well, ol' Donny's itching to jump to the 70th Assembly District seat Chuck DeVore (R-Irvine) must abandon due to term limits.
Jeez, is it any wonder they need GOP hack lawyers to smooth everything out.
Your education tax dollars are at work, South County!