The legal battle over the city’s failed involvement in River Park Square’s downtown parking garage returned to City Hall on Monday, one year after the city settled a trial in the matter.
The Spokane City Council voted 6-1 in favor of hiring a private attorney to appeal a judge’s ruling that dismissed one of the principal participants in the deal.
Laurel Siddoway, who worked for several years as the city’s private attorney on River Park Square, is being rehired under a contract not to exceed $100,000.
Councilman Brad Stark objected to spending more money on a case that has cost taxpayers millions of dollars in losses.
“It’s down the rabbit hole we go once more,” Stark said in an interview after the council’s vote.
He told council members the community needs to move on from the River Park Square case.
Last year, U.S. District Court Judge Edward Shea released Prudential Securities Inc. from any financial liability in a troubled $31.5 million bond sale that financed renovation and expansion of the garage under a public-private partnership with the city.
Prudential served as bond underwriter, but was let out of the case when Shea said the city had collected as much in damages from other participants in the deal as the city was entitled to collect under federal law.
Mayor Dennis Hession announced in February that he wanted to appeal Shea’s ruling, which eliminated Prudential as a litigant in the city’s effort to recover some of what it lost in the bond sale.
As part of the settlement of the case, the city repurchased the bonds at face value and then sought damages from other participants in the deal. Eventually, the city settled its case against owners of the mall – real estate affiliates of Cowles Co., which publishes The Spokesman-Review.
Council President Joe Shogan defended the decision to appeal the judge’s ruling that favored Prudential.
“I think it’s worth the effort to recover from Prudential,” Shogan said.
In other business, the council voted 6-1 in favor of a contract GEAC Public Safety of Tampa, Fla., to provide maintenance and computer support for the Fire Department’s dispatch system.
Some council members urged the department to combine its dispatch system with the Police Department, but Fire Chief Bobby Williams said that would be too costly and time consuming.
Councilman Bob Apple voted no because, he said, he wants to seek savings by combining the systems.