Council president says law firm’s lapse in paying state, City of Seattle fees no cause for concern

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Edmonds City Council President Adrienne Fraley-Monillas said Monday that she isn’t concerned about reports that the city’s contracted law firm, Lighthouse Law Group, fell behind in paying both its Professional Limited Liability Corporation registration through the State of Washington and its City of Seattle business license and taxes.

In fact, she said she believes the firm is being unfairly singled out.

Lighthouse, which has had a contract with the City of Edmonds since 2011 to serve as the city attorney, is now current with both the state and the City of Seattle, My Edmonds News confirmed.

“We all make mistakes,” Fraley-Monillas said. “It’s not like he (City Attorney Jeff Taraday) was deliberately trying to mislead anybody.”

None of the other Edmonds City Councilmembers said they wanted to pursue the matter, she said. “Since they (Lighthouse) give us good service, I don’t think this is an issue that the council wants to take up,” Fraley-Monillas added.

The council president said that when she learned about reports that the firm had unpaid fees and taxes, she asked Taraday about the situation and she was told that the lapses were an administrative oversight, that they had been addressed, and that the issue would not happen again. In addition, Fraley-Monillas said that she checked with both the city’s insurance firm and the Washington State Bar Association to determine whether whether the lapses in licensing and non-payment of taxes would affect the city’s legal standing, and was assured that they would not.

Washington State Bar Association spokesman Debra Carnes told My Edmonds News that the fact that Lighthouse didn’t keep its PLLC registration current has no impact on the standing of any of the firm’s attorneys or any legal work conducted during the time that the registration lapsed.

“It’s really not our business,” Fraley-Monillas said. “This is between Lighthouse and the City of Seattle. It doesn’t have any bearing on what we do.”

“If this would have been anybody else it wouldn’t have gone to the extent that it did,” she added. “He’s being targeted by citizens.”

Lighthouse Law Group is a Professional Limited Liability Corporation (PLLC), but the firm’s registration through the Washington Secretary of State’s office had lapsed and was inactive for two years – for the years 2013 and 2014. Lighthouse on May 8, 2015 paid a total of $271 in reinstatement fees to the Secretary of State’s office to bring the account current, plus an extra $50 to expedite the filing. The filing fee for 2015 will be due to the Secretary of State on Aug. 31, 2015

In addition, the firm is now up to date – as of May 8, 2015 – on its payment for five years worth of Seattle business licenses, paying a total of $405 for the licenses, and it has also filed its business and occupation tax and square footage tax returns for the past five years. The amount the firm paid — $12,438.75 — also included interest assessed by the City of Seattle on the back taxes.

 

 

17 COMMENTS

  1. Interesting how the spin from the Council attempts to turn the City Attorney into a victim. Maybe not intentional, however I may not intend to speed or run a red light but I would certainly get fined. Sorry but this was not a minor oversight, there are at least 2 notices a PLLC gets per year (effectively 6 notices here for the actually 3 calender years since it is due by Jan 31). And how about 5 years of not paying Seattle B&O tax, this is collected 4 times a year typically (20 notices + late notices). Who is the managing partner? How is it that Lighthouse is being “singled out”? Do we have a large number of delinquent businesses in the state that people are ignoring? Who is singling them out? Why was the situation not addressed in some public way? Was it actually discussed by the whole council or was it avoided so that a vote on Confidence, Censure, sanction, or other appropriate action not be able to be motioned? Why not have our representatives on the record for what they think? We don’t need to know; the people that pay for the contract? How did the Council President become aware? And did the city just pay $50k+ for a public records request violation that coincidently seems to have been settled shortly after the renewal? If so is Lighthouse reimbursing the City? And what about businesses in our own city, every day they are not compliant is a misdemeanor.

    Title 4
    LICENSES

    4.72.070 Penalty for violation.

    Any person, as defined herein, and the officers, directors, managing agents, or partners of any corporation, firm, partnership or other organization or business violating or failing to comply with any provisions of this chapter shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, shall be punished by a fine in any sum not exceeding $250.00 or by imprisonment for a period not exceeding nine months, or both, and each day of violation shall constitute a separate offense. [Ord. 1139 § 1, 1965].

    Chapter 3.20
    BUSINESS LICENSE AND OCCUPATION TAX

    3.20.210 Penalty for violations.
    Any person violating or failing to comply with any of the provisions of this chapter or any lawful rule or regulation adopted by the city clerk pursuant thereto, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by a fine in any sum not to exceed $250.00 or by imprisonment in the city jail for a term not to exceed 90 days, or by both such fine and imprisonment. Each and every day that the violation of this chapter shall be continued is a separate offense and punishable as herein provided. [Ord. 917 § 22, 1962].

  2. For all of us citizens that have paid City of Seattle, Washington State, etc. (or any city or state) fees for operations of our businesses, it is simply unbelieveable that our city council evidently believes that only SOME people have to follow laws, rules and regulations, in my opinion. ……..There is an embossed glass light shade in the Council chambers directly above where our members sit while governing that says something along the lines of justice is FAIR. That should mean something.

    I do not get how failing to follow laws, rules or regulations for professionals for apparently a number of years (and some professions call for testing or continuing education withtheir licenses……isnt that the Bar Association???? and have these rules been followed?) is just swept under the carpet by our government. Different obligations or requirements for different people?

    WHEN does our City Attorney get back to Council Members with the answers that have been asked at Council meetings and WHERE is the public record of this. ….again, the pubic record?….. Afterall, the citizens are at the top and not at the bottom of our government. Some of our City Council do not seem to understand this, and I find that a bit confusing as I understand the citizens have a right to know what they are paying for in their government…….and what their government is doing.

    In my opinion, this all feels unusual…….”spin of the City Council”……correct me if Im wrong, feels funny

    Whats the point of having rules, regulations or laws to follow? I thought they were for all of us…….

    and we have a City Council President defending this and actually saying citizens are targeting him because they want laws followed?……Wow! …….citizens expecting our government, staff, etc. to follow the law…..and this being called targeting

    Where is that detailed Code of Ethics?…..with backup

  3. Attorneys are all about the details. It is what they do. How the City Attorney missed paying fees and taxes is astonishing. Deadlines and dates are the stock and trade of what attorneys do. Blowing a deadline is a big deal. When did Lighthouses’ contract get renewed? Were these issues part of that discussion? Did anyone even check? It is disappointing that our City attorney “blew passed” or “administratively” missed such basics. It doesn’t instill confidence at all. And it is a big deal.

    • Before the contract was renewed, Council decided to proceed with a performance evaluation of Lighthouse; that was a good decision. Voting not to proceed with an RFQ, unless it was concluded that the performance of Lighthouse has been unsatisfactory, was not a good decision. Obviously a performance review and an RFQ are not mutually exclusive. Even if the performance of Lighthouse was deemed to be highly satisfactory, the RFQ process should have been used to evaluate the financial competitiveness of their proposal. The review and the RFQ could have been proceeded with simultaneously.

      How Lighthouse passed the performance evaluation is a mystery to many. They provided the faulty legal advice that resulted in the successful $2 million lawsuit by Debi Humann. They were given the task to evaluate the Development Agreement concept and did not provide a report for 18 months!

      Now the position that city council has apparently taken on this fees issue makes it very clear that the performance standards for our city attorney have been set much too low.

  4. I wonder how Council President Fraley-Monillas determined what the Majority Position of the entire City Council is. I recall no open and transparent discussion or public decision by the City Council related to the matter.

    Justifying the City Attorney‘s conduct and accusing citizens (plural) of targeting the City Attorney is a disappointing path for the Council President to take. I do not see how such an accusation is proper. I do not see how such conduct promotes trust in and respect of City Government.

    My memory of how this was discovered is as follows. In early May of 2015, a fellow citizen and I were researching the failure of the City Attorney to create an Ordinance as directed by the Council on September 2, 2014. The Ordinance related to the City Council Committee mess. We were disappointed and frustrated that the City Council’s simple, clear direction had not been followed. I admit I was exasperated. We decided to take a quick look and make sure Lighthouse had a City of Seattle business license and a Secretary of State Corporation Registration. We were very surprised to discover what we discovered.

    I would not classify the research as targeting the City Attorney. Had the Ordinance been drafted last year per Council’s direction, I do not believe we would ever have considered checking into these items. Had we not done so, would the situation still be ongoing, yet to be discovered?

    Also, I think the above article is incorrect in the representation that Lighthouse “fell behind” in paying its City of Seattle business license and tax. My understanding is that the business license had never been obtained and that the related taxes had never been paid. To fall behind on something, I believe you have to first obtain the license and initiate the related tax payments. Words are important. I do not believe it proper to claim that something “lapsed” when the compliance was never initiated in the first place.

  5. Like anybody doesn’t notice that they haven’t paid their taxes, fees, etc. …..From my view, even very small revenue businesses go into cardiac arrest at tax time even if they are short a small amount.

    I guess Im wondering who would actually believe that this is about some kind of bad citizen targeting a government employee…..

    and now, to celebrate the founder of our town having used two bovines as citizens to become a city, at the get go.

    Can we find a legal, ethical and law abiding path for the future of our city? Isnt that what we should aspire to?……..Honesty and all of what that means……again, we learned this in grade school…….

    We learned this in grade school

    I resent it that some in our government thinks we are just plain stupid or fell off that turnip truck

  6. The continuing fuss over this side issue is amazing to me. It doesn’t effect our city. Enough please. There are more worthwhile things to spend time on.

  7. “The clearest way to show what the rule of law means to us in everyday life is to recall what has happened when there is no rule of law.”
    Dwight D. Eisenhower

    “Law is order, and good law is good order”
    Aristotle

    “Laws or ordinances unobserved, or partially attended to, had better never have been made”
    George Washington

    “A law is valuable, not because it is a law, but because there is right in it”
    Henry Ward Beacher

    “One with the law is a majority”
    Calvin Coolidge

    “The end of law is not to abolish or restrain, but to preserve and enlarge freedom. For in all the states of created beings, capable of laws, where there is no law there is no freedom”
    John Locke

    “Where the law ends, tyranny begins”
    Henry Fielding

    “No civilization would ever have been possible without a framework of stability, to provide the wherein for the flux of change. Foremost among the stabilizing factors, more enduring than customs, manners and traditions, are the legal systems that regulate our life in the world and our daily affairs with each other”
    Hannah Arendt

    etc. etc……………….”more enduring than customs, manners and tradition”…….”stabilizing factors”

    to name just a few universal reasons by a few great minds to have LAW & ORDER for ALL of us This is what being civilized means.

  8. As long as the law firm still has a license to practice law in Edmonds its really nobodys elses business they were late on there taxes big deal it happens all the time big deal they will just have to pay more not my problem I got my own taxes to pay . Really folks don’t you have better things to do than comment about somebody being late on there taxes

    • Late is one thing, delinquent is another. How is 5 years late? This is a position that approves, interprets and advises the City on it’s legal obligations and options. Is it not appropriate to expect them to maintain their own affairs correctly. This is not “Joe Blow citizen” this is a position the city pays half a million to a year for. Mor importantly is the transparency of the Council in addressing it. Yes, mistakes can be made and “forgiven” however the manner that they are addressed goes directly to many other issues our city faces.

  9. Scott I did’nt realize they were 5 years on some of there taxes what tax b and o tax, The mayor needs to have a chat with them and warn them to clean there act up, I would suggest they fire there current account get a new one and they better get caught up on there taxes

    • It goes beyond a new accountant. There is a managing partner that must sign and maintain their Corporate Charter (filed with the State) every year. The big issue is not about Lighthouse, it is how the Council attempts to cover up and not follow the code or state law while requiring other too. And the attitude that it is beneath them to answer to the citizenry. I call again for a full account of what records were not provided to Mr. Tupper and is this related to them. Was this information what cost the city 50k?

  10. I’m considering my legal alternatives into discovering the true identities of Jonathon Waxman and Jonathon Kellerman. If it is proven these fictitious posters were either city officials or related to a city official would Council President Fraley-Monillias accuse me of targeting and singling out these individuals?

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