Is That A Xerox I See In Your Pocket, Or Are You Just Glad To See Me? Part Duh.
The May 30th Tribune front page story featured a look-see on various billing charges to the Los Osos CSD by several of the law firms it has contracted with, as well as billing for the services of Wildan management for the past few months. It was given big, front-page play, including the pull quote, “For a law firm to turn the fax machine and the photocopy machine into profit centers is unethical and is an embarrassment to the profession,” said Lisa G. Lerman, professor of law at Catholic University Law School. (The California State Bar wouldn’t comment on the story but did suggest lawyers “consider 11 different points when billing a client. Those include looking at the amount of the fee compared to the value of the service performed and the time and labor required.”
The Tribune noted that the law firm of "Burke, Williams & Sorensen billed the district $1 for each page it faxed, and 20 cents for each page it copied – almost three times what copy shops such as FedEx Kinko’s charge” (There was no mention of the wages to pay a law firm employee to drive to Kinkos to Xerox the pages. Presumably that would drive the price up a considerable amount?)
Interestingly, Copy Spot here in Los Osos charges $2 a page for a long distance fax for the first page and $1 each page thereafter, so clearly the CSD, in getting billed only $1 for all the pages, is getting a bargain. The county, on the other hand, charges 10 cents a page to Xerox simple stuff such as a BoS agenda, so clearly the CSD may need to discuss that with Burke, Williams & Sorensen. That extra 10 cents a page for Xeroxing could well offset the $1 a page savings on faxes.
What the Tribune story left out, of course, is something that I’ve been curious about for a long time: How much are the various Taxpayers Watch lawsuits costing the district and how much legal cost can be directly attributed to the old board recklessly starting the sewer project just weeks before the recall , and how much is simply run-of-the-mill legal, management and general operating costs that would occur even if there were no sewer issues?.
I suspect that the amount of the first two items will turn out to be considerably higher than the Xeroxing billing at 20 cents a pop. Of course, if you focus your story on the little stuff, that lets you avoid having to put the really big stuff into a larger context.