Missoula Can’t Continue to Hide Mountain Water Legal Fees, Attorney Claims
Missoula City Councilman Jesse Ramos wants to see how much a private attorney is receiving in compensation for work on the Mountain Water Condemnation lawsuit, but says he has been blocked from seeing the information by city officials. Missoula Attorney Quentin Rhoades explains.
"The Mayor, the city attorney, and apparently the private attorney who has been representing the city in that matter, have not allowed Mr. Ramos to look at the details of the attorney fees or the billing statements that have been charged to the city, even though the mayor has been asking Mr. Ramos to prove those fees," Rhoades said. "Consequently he is a little bit confused about whether that should be a secret from him and whether it should be a secret from the tax payers and his constituents."
Rhoades says he did legal research on the matter and has sent a letter to the city on Ramos' behalf. Rhoades argues that this information should be made public under the ‘right to know’ clause of the Montana Constitution and says the Montana Supreme Court has also “specifically rejected” the idea that attorney fees can be shielded under attorney-client privilege.
"It turns out that there is really no good argument that says attorney-client privilege should be applied to billing statements," Rhoades said. "I authored the letter at Jesse's request just to see if we can't get a conversation going about whether it is legitimate to pull the wool over people's eyes. The Mayor is constantly talking about transparency and if we are going to be transparent in financial matters then, I think, these attorney fees need to be reviewed by the public."
Though exact expenditures aren’t known, the amount of money spent on attorney fees in the mountain water case have exploded from an original estimate of several hundred thousand dollars, to several million dollars. KGVO news has reached out to the City Attorney for a response.