Get Interim City Attorney Randy Risner Out of Vallejo
Get Interim City Attorney Randy Risner Out of Vallejo
Why this petition matters
For the sake of Vallejo, we cannot allow Randy Risner to be appointed our new permanent City Attorney.
Due to the City Attorney not often being in the public eye, Risner has been able to fly under the radar along with his partner in corruption, Greg Nyhoff. These two work in tandem. They must both be gone from our city if there is any chance for actual change in Vallejo.
YOU can fix this by (1) signing this petition, (2) leaving a comment stating your concerns, and (3) sharing this petition with all of your friends, family, and associates who live in Vallejo. It is not too late! We can make a difference here.
Please also consider signing our petition to oust City Manager Greg Nyhoff from his position.
On Thursday, August 20, 2020, Vallejo City Council will conduct a second (and potentially final) round of interviews to appoint the new permanent City Attorney. Our current Interim City Attorney Randy Risner is the front runner for the permanent position. This is extremely concerning as Risner is one of the worst candidates possible. He never should have been appointed Interim City Attorney and most certainly should not be appointed to the permanent position. As you will read below, Risner has been fired or forced to resign as City Attorney of at least three California cities; he has been sanctioned for fraud by a federal court; and has filed for bankruptcy twice.
Risner’s background makes it clear that he is unfit to serve as City Attorney for Vallejo
The following timeline was compiled using information and sources taken directly from Open Vallejo’s article on Risner from earlier this year:
- Pre-1997: Risner attended Sac Joaquin College of Law, a private law school that is not accredited by the American Bar Association.
1997: Risner is fired from his position as City Attorney for the central California town of Mendota.
- His firing came after he was questioned by the LA Times in relation to a probe about “questionable” municipal bonds issued by the city of Mendota. In relation to the questionable bonds, Risner was quoted as saying “We have to be creative to finance ourselves and stay afloat.”
- 2002: Risner is hired as City Attorney of Greenfield, California.
- 2003: Less than a year after he was hired as City Attorney for the town of Greenfield, Risner is fired due to “shifting political winds.”
- 2003: Risner is hired as City Attorney of the small town of Guadalupe, California.
- 2005: The Santa Maria Times reports that the City of Guadalupe had hired Risner without checking his records or investigating his work history.
- 2006: Risner resigns as City Attorney of Guadalupe “under pressure after he lost the confidence of city leaders.” Guadalupe City Council then voted unanimously to replace him.
- 2011: Risner is sanctioned by a federal court for fraud.
2012: Risner declares bankruptcy for the second time in less than a decade.
- “Among the business debts listed in his bankruptcy petition were two $25,000 claims for legal malpractice, as well as a $1,500 fee dispute. Court records reveal he owed more than $75,000 to the Internal Revenue Service and state Franchise Tax Board at the time [emphasis added].”
2018: Risner is hired as Vallejo’s Chief Assistant City Attorney.
- Risner’s annual compensation: $290,386.53
- 2020: Vallejo City Council votes unanimously to appoint Risner as Interim City Attorney after previous City Attorney Claudia Quintana resigned.
As concerned citizens, it is very troubling that someone with Risner’s background would be seriously considered for the position of City Attorney, especially after our previous City Attorney brought controversy and shame to our beloved city. City Council’s serious consideration of Risner’s candidacy when his professional history is not only suspect but demonstrates questionable character, validates The People’s concerns regarding City Council's leadership acumen.
Recent and Ongoing Issues with Risner in Vallejo and How Risner Works with Greg Nyhoff to Cover Up Corruption
As City Attorney, Risner’s main duty is to protect the City from litigation. However, as previously warned from his professional resume, Risner is ill-equipped to the task as the City of Vallejo has been embroiled in countless lawsuits and vulnerable to a range of potential litigation.
Risner has overseen the City’s mishandling of Public Records Act (PRA) requests since late April, actively suppressing free speech and access to information, and violating the Bagley-Keene and Brown Acts. After corrupt Vallejo City Manager Greg Nyhoff terminated three senior staff members in April 2020, many public records requests seeking information related to the firings came flooding in. These requests are published on Vallejo’s NextRequest site. However, under Risner’s supervision, the city has dodged and/or postponed most PRA requests related to Nyhoff and the terminated staff. Here is one example. Many were closed without responses, citing attorney-client privilege, voluminous documents, or the City is understaffed. All of which is untrue. The rest were put on production schedules stretching as far as September, and many remain unpublished and hidden from public view. It is very clear that Risner is illegally protecting Nyhoff’s corruption from being exposed to the public.
Risner has also advised City Council on potential violations of the Brown Act. Under Risner’s supervision, public comments from concerned citizens stopped being read aloud. Instead, Council Members were allotted “silent reading time” to peruse the comments. At subsequent meetings, Council has taken as little as 18.46 seconds per comment compared to the usual 3-5 minutes for in-person meetings. For example, prior to approving the extremely unpopular FY 2020-21 budget, Council took only 40 minutes to read over 130 comments. During “silent reading time,” Council Members would often log off or disappear from view. This creates issues as the Brown Act clearly states that “meetings shall provide an opportunity for members of the public to directly address the legislative body on any item of interest to the public,” yet with comments not being read aloud and Council Members often leaving during their allotted reading time, there is no way to verify if Council Members ever actually read any of the resident-submitted comments. A qualified City Attorney would have expressed the constitutional concerns regarding the suppression of public speech. However, under Risner’s supervision, Council continues to be in potential violation of the Brown Act, thereby leaving the city open to potential legal action from the public.
Risner also continues to try to get District Attorney Krishna Abrams to handle the investigation into Monterrosa’s death, threatening to sue Abrams’ office, despite this being against the wishes of Monterrosa’s family, who have requested that the CA Attorney General’s office oversee the investigation. This is a deliberate attempt by both Risner and Nyhoff to keep the investigations in Solano County under Abrams as she has never prosecuted a VPD officer for excessive force. Additionally, on August 7th, Risner’s office announced (1) a gag order on the Monterrosa family’s attorneys and (2) that the City would seek to move the trial not only out of Vallejo or Solano County but outside of the Bay Area and Sacramento to ensure an “uncompromised jury.” The evidence suggests that Risner and Nyhoff are working together to protect murderers on VPD’s payroll from suffering the consequences of their actions.
Finally, there are several conflicts of interest with Risner as well as the mishandling of outside contracts. Risner frequently utilizes an outside firm called Devaney Pate Morris & Cameron LLP (DPMC) to assist with PRA requests. On June 23, Council approved “evergreen” contracts for 10 outside law firms – these have no set term or financial cap and essentially give Risner a blank check to spend taxpayer money. Risner is a former partner of DPMC and some believe there is a chance he may still have some type of financial stake in the firm. When a PRA request was filed asking for information pertaining to a conflict of interest between DPMC and Risner, the request was conveniently closed without any type of response. Risner is corrupt and clearly working to conceal information pertaining to not only his corruption but also the corruption of his colleagues, namely City Manager Greg Nyhoff.
For Vallejo to heal, we need to cut out the cancer. Sign the petition, leave a comment, and make sure City Council doesn’t hire Risner to be our permanent City Attorney.
- Mayor Sampayan and City Council