Emails between D-51 Board Member Andrea Haitz and Brad Miller of Miller Farmer Law encourage Haitz to avoid RFP process

John Williams, District 51’s current in-house lawyer, graduated from G.J.H.S, served on the D-51 School Board from 2013-2020, then stepped down from the Board to serve as District 51’s in-house attorney, saving the District around $250,000/year, or about half what outside law firms were charging the District.

AnneLandmanBlog has obtained the internal emails exchanged between newly-elected School District 51 board member Andrea Haitz and attorney Brad Miller of the Miller Farmer law firm of Colorado Springs.

Almost soon as she was sworn in, Haitz started pushing to hire the Miller Farmer law firm to handle all of District 51’s legal work, which would mean firing the District’s current in-house attorney, John Williams, who currently handles most of the District’s legal work. Using Williams has provided tremendous savings to the District over using an outside law firm.

Andrea Haitz is proposing doubling District 51 ‘s legal costs by firing the District’s current in-house attorney and instead hiring an out-of-town, outside law firm

Williams knows the District inside and out, and has been saving the District lots of money

Williams graduated from Grand Junction High School, went on to become a business attorney, served on the D-51 School Board from 2013-2020, and resigned from the Board in February of 2020 to handle the District’s legal work to save the District money. An email from Superintendent Diana Sirko (at PDF page #11 of 20) says bringing the District’s legal assistance “on-site” has proven far more efficient and cost effective than using an outside law firm, which is why most school districts use in-house attorneys. Retaining legal assistance in-house would also keep the money circulating locally instead of siphoning funds out of the area, a point local attorney Stephan Schweissing made during his comments at the school board meeting on December 14.

At PDF page #3 of 20 in the emails, Brad Miller says his firm charges $225/hour. At PDF page #13 of 20, he encourages Haitz to avoid sending out RFPs (requests for proposals for legal work) to other law firms, a process that would let the District compare the cost of different law firms. PDF page #6 of 20 says all work by Miller-Farmer will be billed in 6-minute increments, and the contract — which was already signed by Brad Miller — also says the District would have to foot the bill for all travel expenses for Miller Farmer employees (since they are in Colorado Springs), including parking, rental cars, taxis, hotels, airfare, meals, etc.

At about 4:16 in the video of District 51’s December 14 School Board meeting, Superintendent Diana Sirko said that the District spent $$565,262 on legal work in 2018 using an outside law firm. The District spent $492,080 on legal work in 2019 using an outside firm, and in 2020, after the District started using John Williams as in-house counsel, the District’s cost for legal work dropped to $266,000.

Haitz gave no reason for pushing to use the out-of-town firm, and no reason for choosing this particular law firm beyond saying some people told her they wanted “change.”

  4 comments for “Emails between D-51 Board Member Andrea Haitz and Brad Miller of Miller Farmer Law encourage Haitz to avoid RFP process

  1. Of course, the puppets of the SFTC group were going to select the law firm with a background of working for right-wing school boards and ministries. Just look at what Jeffco SD did in 2013 and you will see the exact same MO. Those 2 did exactly what they were told to do by the Miller firm with Jones going along because he was told to.

  2. So, I’m going to quote at length from the Sentinel here. This story was published today, Sunday, December 19th, from a meeting held on Saturday, December 18th, at the CMU “Coffee with the Board” meeting. When the possibility of hiring new legal council, here’s what Haitz and Lema said:

    “When Colorado Springs-based Miller Farmer Law Firm was brought up by one of the approximately 25 people in attendance, both Haitz and Lema said any efforts to hire the firm have run into what Haitz called “a big pause button.”
    They said that part of the confusion surrounding how to move forward with the district’s legal services is that they were led to believe John Williams, who currently provides in-house counsel for the district, handled all legal matters.
    They also said they’re seeking more information from the district before making any decisions.
    “Just for a little bit of clarity, it wasn’t an all-or-nothing situation,” Lema said.
    “It never went out to say, ‘We’re going to scrap everything and we’re just going with these guys.’ It was for some very pointed and specific needs that I felt that we had with just that single representation of that in-house counsel. When we find out that there are local people that are handling all of the litigation, all of the really big pieces, we were like, ‘Hold on, wait a minute.’
    “There was some omission of incredibly important information, so we were moving from a point of not having all of the information.””

    All told, the new school board
    1. DOES NOT know the ‘agenda’ that Cindy Ficklin is pushing.
    2. DOES NOT UNDERSTAND what they’re supposed to be doing.
    3. DOES NOT KNOW the function John Williams, current D51 legal council, actually serves.
    4. DOES NOT KNOW what function legal council actually serves.
    5. DOES NOW KNOW that D51 legal council is a non-partisan position.
    6. DID NOT READ the legal contract put in front of them by the Colorado Springs Law firm.
    7.DOES NOT KNOW what they’re actually supposed to be doing.
    8. DOES NOT CARE about what “transparency” or ‘fiscal conservatism’ actually means.
    9. DOES NOT KNOW what their actual job, as school board members, actually is.
    10. DOES NOT BELIEVE that ultimately, the responsibility to make well-informed decisions is theirs. “We were lead to believe” is the modern day equivalent of “I didn’t inhale.” These guys are either ignorant or liars, and probably some maleficent version of both.
    If you, the tax payers, are interested, here is the email and phone number of the D51 school board. They would LOVE to hear from you regarding their decision to not read the contract in which they outsource tax money and legal services to the front range. Avoid the line at the School Board Circus and call/email today!

    The two legit members: 1. Doug Levinson 970-316-2284 doug.levinson@d51schools.org
    2. Dr. Kari “My PhD is real–not an online A Capella degree” Sholtes 970-852-4010 kari.sholtes@d51schools.org

    The board members that didn’t read the contract, or at least hoped that you wouldn’t:
    Andrea “Haitz 970-812-3225 Andrea.Haitz@d51schools.org

    Will Jones 970-986-9020 willj@d51schools.org

    Angela Lema (No cell–smart!) Angela.Lema@d51schools.org

  3. Anne, You serve one helluva valuable service to Mesa County. Now this dumb ********** is just gonna start using a private email.

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