Monday, May 9, 2016

Documents do not reflect that CJER Solicitor James Fareri reviewed the 2014 water extraction amendment

In the March to May 2014 period, regional planning body CJER solicitor James Fareri was solely responsible for reviewing zoning ordinance amendments.   Normally, they would be reviewed by both the township solicitor and the township planning commission solicitor (Dan  Lyons).   But the CJER townships fatefully agreed to allow a slip-and-fall attorney do all amendment reviews, as reported by then Eldred Township Solicitor Mike Kaspszyk:

Eldred Solicitor Kaspszyk states that James Fareri is solely responsible for doing a comprehensive review of zoning ordinance amendments

Via a Right to Know request, Attorney Fareri's billing statements for the March 2014 and April through May 1, 2014 period were obtained.  Recall that CJER met on March 27, 2014 in anticipation of passing the draft ordinance, that the supplemental amendments including water extraction were drafted the week after this meeting, and that both the March 27 draft and the supplemental amendments were adopted on May 1.

In March, on the very day of the March 27 CJER meeting, Attorney Fareri "crammed" and reviewed the ordinances that were to be adopted that evening.  His bill for all of March for CJER was $913.50, but on March 27 he billed $217.50 for reviewing the ordinances for all four CJER townships.  Eldred Township's portion of this based on population was 9%, or $19.58.  To have Eldred Township's 265-page draft zoning ordinance reviewed comprehensively, with hundreds of changes, cost $19.58 for a lawyer who billed $145 per hour.  This means that Eldred's entire draft ordinance was reviewed in about 8 minutes and 6 seconds.

OK, we know that 4 pages of supplemental amendments were drafted after the March 27 meeting.  Let's see how much time was spent by Mr. Fareri to review said amendments, by examining his April through May 1 bill.   Hmm.  Only one billable item for Mr. Fareri.  Appearing at the May 1, 2014 CJER meeting.  Thanks for coming in - hope you didn't break a sweat.  This would indicate that .09*(0) hours were spent reviewing the water extraction amendment, or 0 hours 0 minutes and 0 seconds.

Update May 15 11:30pm: Note that on March 2nd and 3rd Mr. Fareri billed for preparing and reviewing the notice of advertisement for the March 27 meeting, but there aren't equivalent entries for the May 1 meeting - in which there were new amendments.  Who prepared the May 1 advertisement of the water extraction amendment, and who reviewed it?

Based on these invoices, it appears that Mr. Fareri, the sole solicitor to review zoning amendments, spent a couple of minutes reviewing the entire Eldred draft zoning ordinance, and no time at all reviewing the questioned Eldred water extraction amendment.  Recall CJER didn't bother to meet in April 2014, at which time CJER could have reviewed the supplemental amendments - so they didn't review them either.  Recall further that the record also does not reflect that the Monroe County Planning Commission reviewed the supplemental amendments, including the water extraction amendment.

No wonder Solicitor Fareri advised CJER members in January of 2016 to keep their mouths shut about what happened on May 1, 2014 - because CJER screwed up big time.  The puzzling thing is how on Earth he can maintain that the amendment was passed through proper procedure, while keeping a straight face.  A group of monkeys could have done an equally competent job.

Ship of Fools

Footnote:  Take note of the fact that Attorney Robert Kidwell also charged time on the April invoice.  Mr. Kidwell is representing landowner Rick Gower, another indication of the conflict of interest for Fareri and Kidwell's law firm.  You just could not make this #@)! up people.

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