Judge lifts stay in case over spending on water company condemnation
Wednesday, November 6th 2019
MISSOULA, Mont. — New information in our fight to track how our local government spends your money.
We’ve never been able to give you a detailed accounting of over $9 million taxpayers spent on attorney fees to take over Missoula’s privately owned water company from its former owner, the Carlyle Group. The city says it’s confidential information.
Now a Missoula County District Court judge has ruled Quentin Rhoades, a Missoula attorney representing NBC Montana in this case, can finally argue it in court.
Last year, the same judge put a hold on our case until Judge Karen Townsend ruled on attorney’s fees and the city’s claims the Carlyle Group charged too much. She did in August.
In September, attorney Quentin Rhoades filed another motion asking the judge to let our case be heard in court.
Wednesday, Judge Dusty Deschamps lifted his stay. In his order he writes, “the controversy before this Court involves a constitutional right of the public to know how its tax dollars are being spent.”
The mayor said initially he thought the bill to condemn Mountain Water would be about $400,000.
Throughout the entire condemnation process we asked for invoices, billing statements and expert witness fees paid by taxpayers to private law firms hired by the city. The city denied our requests.
Attorneys for the city and for NBC Montana will now schedule hearings and proceed with the litigation.
We will continue to work for you and let you know what happens next.