Saturday, August 15, 2009

City of Sacramento takes a hard line, refuses settlement offer on Lehr v. Sac'to that county accepts

Maintaining that the city did nothing wrong, City Attorney Eileen Teichert said no to a settlement offer that would have ended the long-simmering contention between the city (and county) and the area homeless community. Teichert said "We regard this lawsuit as one of no liability by the city. We believe our handling of the property is lawful."

While the county accepted the settlement offer on Anthony Lehr, et al. vs. City of Sacramento, et al. [as it's formally known], paying $488,000 – which will fund (1) payments to homeless people who have lost property seized by the city and county police; (2) pay $100,000 to homeless-help organizations; (3) pay Merin; and (4) fund a bureaucracy to pay seized-property claims – the city will fight on, in the courts.

An order was written by a US District judge on Thursday allowing the continuance of Lehr v. Sac'to in the courts with homeless people being a recognized grouping of people for a class action.

This information comes from a Sacramento Bee article, "Sacramento County offers $488,000 in homeless lawsuit; city won't settle."

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The thinking I'm hearing out in Homeless World Sacramento is that the city attorney doesn't actually believe that the city isn't culpable for the police actions – she is just pursuing a better deal than what was offered.

Mayor Kevin Johnson has recently gone way out of his way to demonstrate support for homeless people, spending a night at a non-legal homeless encampment named Safe Ground.

The lead attorney for the homeless contingent of plaintiffs, Mark Merin, told the Bee that City Attorney Eileen Teichert "has taken a hard line. Mayor Johnson is very positive toward the homeless and I think would like to have the matter resolved, but she has gone off in another direction." But both City Attorney Teichert and a spokesperson for the mayor brush away the suggestion that they are at odds.

Speaking for the mayor, an aid, Joaquin McPeek, said something curious: "Let's put the money toward providing housing for the homeless rather than into the courts fighting this issue."

Wull, yeah. And THAT could best be achieved if the city would settle NOW.

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From the Loaves & Fishes website:
  • The press release, dated August 2, 2007, that first announced the lawsuit.
  • The suit, itself, as entered in District Court on August 1, 2007.

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