Monday, March 5, 2012 – 10:30 a.m.

The recent attempt by the city of Upland to wrest control of its ever burgeoning legal costs has fallen flat.

Bad news for a city facing mounting financial troubles.

Last Tuesday the city council began exploring, without success, the reason for its escalating legal payments to the Los Angeles-based law firm of Richards Watson and Gershon.

Signs are ever present that the city’s leadership has abdicated control to its lead attorney William Curley.

A prime example of this abandonment is the reason given to city leaders over the approximately $5 million expenditure to defend a lawsuit brought by San Bernardino County to recover a portion of the $102 million Colonies settlement.

A fee amount that would have settled Upland out of the litigation more than twice over.

Sources say legal counsel explained to city leaders that what they paid was a bargain since San Bernardino County had spent roughly $30 million in pursuing its case.

And they (city leaders) actually bought it!

It was an explanation sounding good on the surface, but nothing more.

First, San Bernardino County is pursuing not only Upland, but the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and San Bernardino Associated Governments (SANBAG).

Second, these are two agencies with extensive legal resources that have much more to lose than Upland.

Third, since San Bernardino County is the moving party and bears the burden of acquiring evidence to prove its case, it must spend more.

The justification given by Richards Watson and Gershon would appear to be self-serving and disingenuous.

But it’s the city council and city manager that fall for these half-baked excuses.

Oh, and did we forget to mention the city blowing a half million dollars unsuccessfully fighting a medical marijuana establishment.

There’s only one party laughing all the way to the bank here.

That party being the city’s lawyers.