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That other lawsuit

Submitted by on 1, October 2, 2009 – 5:50 amNo Comment

Back in August, Alameda Unified and yacht merchant and local landowner John Beery reached a settlement agreement on Beery’s suit to invalidate the district’s Measure H parcel tax. The school district agreed to set up a committee to write a new tax to replace both H and the Measure A tax, with Beery and one of his representatives on board. And the judge handling the case basically put it on hold to see if this settlement thing works out, pushing this one a little closer to Kum, Ba and Yah.

But there’s still one teeny, tiny little loose end: The litigants in a second H case against the district haven’t signed on to the agreement; in fact, they offered one of their own, which the school board rejected.

Their lawyer sent out a press release about that last week, which reminded me that I needed to stop writing about Alameda Point long enough to find out what happens next. So here’s the deal:

Basically, if the litigants in the other case, George Borikas et al, don’t sign on or come to some other resolution with the district, a trial date could be set in their case. Apparently, even if Measure H disappears, they could sue to get back the money they already paid.

Borikas attorney David Brillant didn’t say what his settlement was, though he wrote in the release that it “was very specific, allows the District to keep the tax they collected thus far and brings future taxation more into conformity with the uniformity requirement as mandated by California law.”

Prior to the settlement offer being made, Brillant had said publicly that the businesses he represents would settle the case if the board decided to lower the tax owners of large commercial properties pay to the residential rate of $120 a year, from a maximum of $9,500 a year per parcel. (For the record, I don’t have any knowledge of whether this is the offer that was actually made, and I couldn’t reach Brillant for further comment on the case or his press release.)

Brillant has also said that he doesn’t expect to win this case and that he expects to appeal. In his release, he claims the district’s anticipated ballot plan – which would ask voters to repeal the district’s existing parcel tax measures and to okay a new one – is illegal.

The district’s attorney, Danielle Houck, said the district’s proposal is lawful and that the judge in the combined cases suggested the parties work together on the ballot plan even after Brillant questioned its legality in court.

Houck said Alameda Unified couldn’t agree to Brillant’s settlement proposal because it would cost the district millions of dollars it can’t afford to lose. Per Houck:

While it is true that the Borikas plaintiffs made a settlement proposal, the District could not agree to the terms proposed by the Borikas plaintiffs. The District is willing to consider any proposal that will provide adequate funding to the District, and the District hopes that through the Resolution Plan agreed upon by the District and Mr. Beery, the District can achieve that result. The District is disappointed that the Borikas plaintiffs have declined to participate in this process. During this time of fiscal crisis for public school districts across California, however, the District cannot agree to any resolution that will result in millions of dollars in lost funding to the District and which will necessitate drastic budget cuts to the programs and services which are critical to the success of our students.

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