January 7, 2013
Yesterday there was an interesting article in the CA concerning $3.2 million collected by Lawyer Ricky Wilkins from the Texas law firm of Linebarger Goggon Blair and Sampson. This sent me back to my archived files for information that I requested concerning Lawyer Wilkins and others. I actually had to file a lawsuit in 2007 to get the information. Attached is some of the information I finally received. In it you will see that just for several years, Lawyer Wilkins got $1.63 million on several pieces of city business.
This is just the latest revelation on Lawyer Wilkins. This brings to mind that in 2006 I received a report that there were 17 boxes of Beale Street documents stored in a locked closet at Robert Lipscomb’s Office of Housing and Community Development at 701 N. Main. This information was given by me to the then City Attorney, Sara Hall. She sent someone down there and in fact there were 17 boxes there. She then sent the boxes to Ricky Wilkins, (the attorney representing the City in the Beale Street case) for his review before allowing Wil Gotten and I to review the documents. When we finally got to see the documents after Wilkins went through them, we found that Beale Street and Performa Entertainment actually made money and probably owed the city money during the many years that they paid nothing.
However eventually the city paid Wilkins’ law firm more than $2.85 million between fiscal year 2005 and 2009. Most of that was related to legal work involving the city’s efforts to recover money the city claims it was owed by John Elkington’s Performa Entertainment, the firm that managed the Beale Street entertainment district.
Wilkins said a good deal of the money was used to hire outside experts to help the city make its case and to cover related expenses.
It appears that Wilkins became the poster child of excessive legal fees to outside attorneys because of his close ties to Herenton and because of $933,982 in fees he billed the city for fiscal year 2009, which also included the $35,000 a month he was being paid to represent the city in the case.
In Wilkins’ defense, he said he was told in August 2007 to turn up the heat in the Beale Street litigation. The $683,246 he billed the city in fiscal year 2008 and the $933,982 he billed the city in fiscal year 2009 indicate he did exactly that.
“The key thing now is we get back to turning Beale Street into a thing of fun and entertainment as opposed to just a source of litigation in which the only people having fun were the lawyers getting paid,” said Mayor A C Wharton. The dispute cost the city about $3 million in legal fees.
Memphis is a city whose main industry is POVERTY. We need to get out of the development business such as Bass Pro, Triangle Noir, Fairgrounds, Highland, Riverfront Development, etc. and get back to basic services such as Police Protection, Fire Protection, a fair and honest judicial system, pick up garbage and waste and dispose of it in an environmentally safe way, keep roads in good repair, monitor the health and safety of food, air and water, provide and maintain a sewage collection and treatment system and a surface water collection and handling system.