The Seattle attorney who originally represented the city of Spokane in the contentious River Park Square issue is accusing his successor of misleading council members with a failed legal strategy that's costing taxpayers millions of dollars. O. Yale Lewis stopped representing the city in 2001 after a dispute over his fees.
An attorney for the owners of River Park Square did not violate bar association rules against conflicts of interests when he represented the mall and the company that publishes The Spokesman-Review, an investigator for the Washignton State Bar Association said. Randy Beitel, the senior disciplinary counsel for the bar association, said he was dismissing the complaint by independent journalist Tim Connor against Duane Swinton, saying the attorney was following the directions of one client, Cowles Co., which own both businesses.
The company that owns The Spokesman-Review fought last year against the release of hundreds of pages of documents generated in the lead-up to the River Park Square lawsuit settlement. The confidential documents were released by city officials last week after a federal judge ordered them made public.
The IRS and a law firm for two Northwest attorneys involved in the River Park Square garage bonds have settled an investigation into the sale of bonds which were at the center of a federal securities fraud suit. The settlement closes the investigation into allegations that the two attorneys, Mike Ormsby of Spokane and David Thompson of Seattle, did not perform "due diligence" on all aspects of the mall project before the foundation they represented sold $31 million in bonds to investors as tax-exempt.
Cowles Co. development firms have paid a $6.5 million judgment, plus 12 percent interest, to satisfy a 2004 ruling obtained by the former manager of River Park Square, court documents show. The judgment was paid after the state Supreme Court denied a request in early March to hear the appeal of a Spokane County Superior Court jury award to Robert W. Robideaux and his wife, Karen, and their company RWR Management Inc., doing business as Robideaux & Co.
An outside attorney from the U.S. Justice Department will be asked to investigate whether anyone involved in the River Park Square development project broke federal corruption laws.
The River Park Square parking garage was exempt from property taxes while it was operated by a city-created agency, a Washington state appeals court panel agreed this week. A three-judge panel unanimously upheld a 2005 ruling by Whitman County Superior Court David Frazier, who said the city of Spokane didn't owe Spokane County nearly $1.8 million in back taxes on the garage from the time it was part of a contentious public-private partnership.
The Spokane City Council soon will consider making downtown parking more expensive – partly to help pay off bonds for the River Park Square parking garage. A proposal endorsed by Mayor Dennis Hession would increase parking meter rates, enforcement hours and parking tickets.
The city of Spokane apologized Monday for illegally withholding nearly 90 public documents related to a failed River Park Square parking garage deal in the 1990s. The apology was part of an out-of-court settlement approved by the City Council on Monday, in which the city agreed to pay journalist Tim Connor, Camas Magazine and its publishers $299,000 for withholding the documents.
Spokane City Council members today are expected to consider a $299,000 settlement with Tim Connor, Camas Magazine and its publishers for failure to disclose public documents related to a failed River Park Square parking garage deal in the 1990s. The council rejected a $350,000 settlement offer in August but is now poised to approve the smaller settlement, in part because attorney costs have increased the potential loss to the city.