A California appellate court on Monday blocked the sale of 11 state properties that, until this month, Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido hoped would earn him a $500,000 finders fee.
A San Francisco Superior Court judge last week ruled that the sale could go through, and it was scheduled to close Wednesday.
But the California Court of Appeals Sixth Appellate District in San Francisco ordered the sale halted until both sides in the case file arguments. This will push the issue down to the wire, given that it must be completed before Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger leaves office on Jan. 2.
Schwarzenegger backed the sale as a way to help cut the state’s massive deficit, but opponents argued it was shortsighted and ultimately would cost the state more to lease back the buildings than it would earn from selling them.
Eric Lamoureux, spokesman for the state Department of General Services, said the stay “means temporarily we can’t move forward with the sale.” But, he said, “we still hope the court will hear this issue and render a decision as soon as possible.”
A deposition by state Treasurer Bill Lockyer this month in connection with the case disclosed the fact that Pulido stood to earn the $500,000 finders fee if the sale went through.
However, after the fee was made public, Pulido said his agreement with buyers had fallen apart. A spokesman for California First, the high bidder for the properties, said there never was a deal.
Anne Marie Murphy, a lawyer with the firm of Cotchett Pitre & McCarthy, which is fighting the sale, has said Pulido’s involvement will be a part of her firm’s arguments.
Murphy said both sides must file arguments with the court by the last week of December. It’s not known how long after that the court would make its decision.
— TRACY WOOD