The Beverly Hills Unified School District is doubling its spending on a Washington, D.C., law firm hired to lobby the federal government on opposition to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s under Beverly Hills High School.
Venable LLP was hired by the district in April to help persuade lawmakers to withhold federal funding for the if the MTA chooses a route that goes under BHHS. After several short-term extensions, the Venable contract was due to expire Dec. 31. At the firm’s request, the Board of Education unanimously agreed last week to extend the contract for three more months until March 31, 2012.
Venable was initially paid $7,500 a month, but its monthly retainer increased to $15,000 a month in August. District officials did not explain why the retainer doubled.
Venable executives “have had many meetings with elected officials and their staffs—particularly those from the relevant authorizing and appropriating committees—and are working hard to both educate them regarding the merits of the Santa Monica [Boulevard] location as well as secure legislative language that would achieve the school district’s objectives,” according to a Dec. 9 letter and contract sent to the board from Scott Gluck, a senior attorney at Venable.
BHUSD has paid Venable $40,899.16 thus far in four payments for work through September 2011, according to Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Alex Cherniss. He also said all payments have been made from the district’s general fund.
Recently, two Venable bills had mistakenly been paid with Measure E bond funds, but BHUSD for those payments last month.