Mark Sossi, City of Brownsville Try to Stiff Firefighters
Mark Sossi is easily the most expensive City Attorney in Brownsville history, but not because of his $120,000 retainer by the City of Brownsville for legal services or his alleged $60,000 annual windfall from GBIC. The true cost of Sossi has to include botched cases lost, mishandled legal matters, step asides where other firms are called in to do his job, etc., the totality of which is measured in the hundreds of thousands.
The City of Brownsville is currently in a legal fight over a contractual "me too" provision in their negotiated contract with the firefighters. Actually, the city lost a similar fight with the Brownsville Police Officers Association in 2009, appealed the decision, were on the verge of losing that appeal when then newly hired Mark Sossi tried to strike a deal.
That deal with the police officers included raises and lump sum payments not offered the fire fighters, thus putting the city back in court. Much of the morning's oral testimony in the 445th court concerning the fact that negotiators were trying to hammer out a new collective bargaining agreement with the police officers while settling the lawsuit. The city is represented by highly paid Ricardo Navarro and Alan Ozuna, partners in a firm specializing in labor law. City Attorney Mark Sossi scowls behind them as an exhorbitant consultant and witness.
The Navarro, Ozuna skillset is not so much winning cases as working them. They benefit financially from lost cases because they will likely pinch hit for Sossi on the appeal. But they also benefit because of their connectiion with a self insurance pool the city has become infatuated with. We wrote this back on September 16:
"The website for Navarro, which includes Ozuna, lists labor and employment law, collective bargaining and civil service as among their areas of expertise. They also represent the Texas Municipal League Intergovernmental Risk Pool or TML-IRP, a self-insurance group charging an administrative fee to the city of Brownsville. A wooden TML plaque is prominently mounted in the 4th floor hearing room of the city commission building. A self-insurance group tends to resist claims, putting them into the appeal process. The two labor law specialists could find themselves in a no-lose situation if they can work for TML, but still be hired guns for the city when appeals are pursued."
So Navarro and Ozuna have no incentive to be effective in court. They win when Brownsville loses. They win when employment cases go to arbitration. They win when appeals are made regardless of the outcome. They still make their money. It appears the firefighters will also get theirs. The financial loser in all of this is the city with the slogan "On the border, by the sea".