Friday, March 24, 2017
Kabateck Unopposed for Post of LACBA President-Elect
Meyer, as 2017-18 President, Will Have Officers, Board Solidly Behind His Goals
By a MetNews Staff Writer
BRIAN S. KABATECK
No nominating petitions for Los Angeles County Bar Association leadership post were filed by Wednesday’s 5 p.m. deadline, a bar spokesperson said yesterday, meaning that the Nominating Committee’s slate—headed by president-elect candidate Brian S. Kabateck, a trial lawyer—has been elected.
Kabateck, of Kabateck Brown Kellner, LLP, is a former president of the Consumer Attorneys of California.
Tamila C. Jensen, a past president of the San Fernando Valley Bar Association, will be the new LACBA senior vice president, and Los Angeles Deputy City Attorney Philip H. Lam, a former president of the Southern California Chinese Lawyers Association and former co-president of the Lesbian and Gay Bar Association, will be vice president.
The current president-elect, Michael E. Meyer, when he takes office as president of the 18,000-member organization on July 1, will have all three of the other elected officers and virtually all of the trustees (half of whom will be hold-overs from this fiscal year) solidly in support of the fiscal-responsibility platform on which he and other reform candidates gained election last year.
Backed by the Council of Sections—formed in late 2015 to oppose policies of then-President Paul Kiesel and then-Chief Executive Officer Sally Suchil—Meyer, chairman of the Los Angeles offices of DLA Piper, last June trounced Michael K. Lindsey, a partner in Steinbrecher & Span, in the race for president-elect by a vote of 1,273 to 448. Lindsey was, at the time, LACBA’s senior vice president and treasurer.
Lindsey had been allied with Kiesel in stances which, detractors charged, minimized information available to members as to LACBA finances, diverted huge sums of money to pro bono programs at a time when LACBA was losing roughly $1 million a year, and hobbled the organization’s sections in attempting to stage programs.
Kiesel, as immediate past president, was, in accordance with LACBA bylaws, a member of this year’s Nominating Committee, as were LACBA President Margaret Stevens and Meyer, along with nine other leaders of the organization, chosen by lot. It is known that Kiesel sought to persuade committee members to thwart Meyer’s desire that Kabateck become president-elect, and instead nominate Lindsey.
That effort failed when the committee on Feb. 27 backed the president-elect’s selection, as is customary.
Although candidates opposing those selected by the Nominating Committee could have gone on a ballot, sent to the membership, by submitting 100 valid signatures on petitions—the procedure utilized last year—contested LACBA elections are a rarity, with the one held last year being the first in 25 years.
Handily elected last year were reform candidates Jensen, as LACBA vice president, and Lam, as senior vice president. This year they are switching posts.
Nine New Trustees
Incoming trustees will be Susan J. Booth, Tanya Forsheit, and Jennifer W. Leland (at large members); Kristin Adrian, Matthew W. McMurtrey, and Kevin L. Vick, (representing sections); and Firoozeh “Faye” Nia, Michael R. Sohigian, and Felix Woo (representing affiliated bar associations).
Four of them—Forsheit, Leland, Nia, and Sohigian—had not been sponsored by the council, but were apparently approved by the Nominating Committee without opposition by Meyer.
Of the hold-over trustees, four—Bradley Pauley, Ronald Brot, William L. Winslow and Edwin Summers III—were Council of Section candidates who last year overwhelmingly defeated Nominating Committee aspirants. Two hold-over trustees, John F. Hartigan and Marc L. Sallus, were given the nod by the Nominating Committee but were also endorsed by the Council of Sections, and were unopposed. Two others, Angela Reddock and Diana K. Rodgers, were not approved by the council but had no opposition (one council candidate being disqualified and another withdrawing).
Meyer is allowed under the bylaws to appoint up to three assistant vice presidents and a treasurer.
Trustee Sizes Up Where LACBA Stands
LACBA trustee William L. Winslow—elected last year on a reform slate—on Tuesday sent an email to members of the Trusts and Estates Section Executive Committee telling where the association stands, from his perspective. He is a past chair of that section. Below is a portion of that report.
Sally Suchil resigned as Executive Director in December 2016. A committee has been appointed to search for a new executive.
In January 2017 the LACBA Board of Trustees approved a balanced budget which projects $13,563,975 of income and $13,556,790 of expenses, which means $7,186 in the black.
The budget is optimistic about several items. If anything goes seriously wrong, and we have no offsetting surprises (the second part being more likely: no good surprises); we will again wind up with red ink. As it is, the mere $7,000 of black ink projected in the proposed budget is only possible because of a contract to operate a panel for court appointments of counsel in the Juvenile Courts. Our overall operations are not basically healthier. Most critically, our membership and dues decline is projected to continue! Dues are projected to be down by 3% in 2017.
We have experienced a precipitous drop in our reserves in the last four years. From a reserve of very close to $7 million in 2013 we apparently finished 2016 with a reserve of about $4.6 million, perhaps less. This cannot be laid at the door of the Great Recession.
Speaking in general terms, the Sections’ dues and program income subsidizes other LACBA programs, especially certain pro bono projects. This occurs partly through allocation of all Sections’ costs (particularly staff costs) to the Sections. Then, with this extra—compared to other activities—weighting of expenses, the overhead for LACBA as a whole, including inter alia, lease expenses, is allocated based on the various operations’ costs. Thus there is a double attribution of expenses to the Sections.
I cannot describe the process or numbers more exactly, because LACBA leadership has so far chosen not to provide to the Trustees an in-depth presentation, or course, on this important and sensitive subject. However, to summarize and simplify, the Sections generate income; so also does, for example, the Lawyer Referral Service (LRS) (though it lost money in 2016); whereas, except for some grant money or similar funds, the pro bono projects do not generate income.
One of the primary factors in the Sections’ revolt in the Fall of 2015, including the formation of the Council of Sections, followed by the nomination by petition, and election, of a “Reform Slate” in May 2016 (which bested the Nominating Committee’s choices by a 70-30 margin) was the price increases sought to be imposed by LACBA Central. Without consultation, LACBA Central imposed steep price increases, for Trusts and Estates and some other sections, moving from $0 to $50 for Brown Bag Lunches and $70 to $95 for regular lunch meetings. The first of these changes was rescinded, but LACBA charged $95 for our “Legislative Update” lunch meetings in 2015 and 2016; and it charged $99 for our most recent regular luncheon meeting at the Biltmore on March 9, 2017. I continue to protest these exorbitant charges for lunch meetings. I believe they are a form of “shooting ourselves in the foot,” especially in view of the significantly better pricing offered by our (friendly) programming competitors in the San Fernando Valley, Beverly Hills, Pasadena, etc. In its effort to staunch the red ink, the leadership has resorted to pricing practices that are now a serious drag on the performance of the sections, and on the Association as a whole.
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