Former attorney who sued Cathedral City seeks to unseat Ernesto Gutierrez

CATHEDRAL CITY — David S. Koslow, who has sued the city over outsourcing the collection of fees from vehicle or municipal code citations, is one of two people challenging Ernesto Gutierrez for a four-year term to represent District 4 on the City Council.

Gutierrez was first elected to the City Council in 2018. He is currently serving a one-year rotation as mayor. His other challenger is Pastor Rick Saldivar.

“My candidacy is a podium that provides the opportunity to alert voters in Cathedral City to the unwise and even (alleged) unlawful practices engaged in by the current City Council by its outsourcing of essential governmental functions,” Koslow told Uken Report.

The case to which he is referring was dismissed, so Koslow amended it several times and is now appealing it, City Manager Charles McClendon told Uken Report.

It all started in June 2021, when Koslow said he filed a lawsuit against Data Ticket Inc. (DTI) and the city, as a private citizen and as a concerned taxpayer, asking the Superior Court for Riverside County, Palm Springs, Courthouse, to stop the city’s outsourcing to the Irvine-based for-profit debt collection company DTI.

“I did not ask for any financial award in my favor as the statutes under which I sued allow only injunctive relief,” Koslow told Uken Report.

Koslow alleges that DTI decides who will pay the fines outright, and who will be given payment plans.

DTI has enmeshed itself into the city’s vehicle and code enforcement departments so extensively that even calendar reminders to city staff of due dates for city staff actions are generated by DTI, and not by the city, Koslow claims.

“The citizens requesting appeals from their vehicle or municipal code citations make their requests to, and are contacted through, the website of CPC (DTI’s dba), and not to, or through, the city,” Koslow alleged.  “This outsourcing by the city to DTI has resulted in unauthorized – and therefore illegal — changes to the City’s Municipal Code.”

Here is a summary from the city’s legal department:

  • On June 28, 2021, Plaintiff David Koslow filed a lawsuit regarding the City’s use of Administrative Hearing Officers, from third-party Company DataTicket, to process citations for violations of the City’s Municipal Code. The initial suit was against the City, DataTicket and several City employees. In his Complaint, Koslow claimed that DataTicket was unlawfully acting as a lawyer referral service and that the City acted unlawfully when it used them to process its citations, knowing they were an illegal lawyer referral service.
  • Prior to the City responding, Koslow amended his lawsuit, by filing a First Amended Complaint, adding the California State Bar as a party. His claim against the State was that they were mandated to prosecute DataTicket for its conduct and therefore, he wanted the Court to order the State to do so.
  • The City moved to dismiss Koslow’s First Amended Complaint on the basis that his interpretation of the law was incorrect. After a hearing, the Court agreed, finding there were no facts describing how the City or its employees were liable under the law. Therefore, the Court dismissed the entire case. The other parties also moved to dismiss and were successful.
  • Koslow then amended his lawsuit again by filing a Second Amended Complaint against the City and its employees, under the same general theory and facts as he had done prior. The case was moved to a different courtroom with a different Judge. As before, the City moved to dismiss Koslow’s Second Amended Complaint on the basis that his interpretation of the law was incorrect.
  • After a hearing, the new Judge agreed, finding there were no facts to support any violation of law. Therefore, the entire case was dismissed. The DataTicket party also moved to dismiss and was successful. With respect to the State Bar, Koslow was unable to continue his case against it in the trial court system and therefore, filed a case against it in the Court of Appeals. That case is ongoing.
    Undeterred with the prior dismissals, Koslow amended the lawsuit for a third time by filing a Third Amended Complaint against the City and its employees under the same general theory and facts.
  • This time, however, he also added the City’s elected Officials, additional employees, and at one point, the City’s legal representatives. Just like the prior two times, the City moved to dismiss Koslow’s Third Amended Complaint on the basis that his interpretation of the law was incorrect. After a hearing, the Court again agreed and dismissed the entire case. The DataTicket party also moved to dismiss and was successful.
  • Still undeterred, Koslow sought permission from the Court to amend again and file a Fourth Amended Complaint. The Court denied his request, effectively ending his ability to continue his lawsuit, absent a contrary ruling from an appellate court.
  • Koslow has now filed an appeal of the Trial Court’s decision.

The lawsuit, Case No. CVPS2103087, is captioned David S. Koslow v. Data Ticket, Inc., (DTI) dba Citation Processing Center, et alia. (CPC) – including the City of Cathedral City.  The litigation is currently on appeal to the California Court of Appeal, according to Koslow.

The current City Council members individually have tied themselves politically to, and obligated the City financially to, the outcome of this appeal, Koslow claims.  And because the Court of Appeal decision against DTI and the City threatens to unravel the statewide business model of Data Ticket, and to expose the city to countless lawsuits brought by individuals whose due process rights were trampled on by the City’s outsourcing agreement with DTI, the city has enormous legal and financial exposure caused by the City Council’s obstinacy in continuing its relationship with DTI.

Koslow, 72, identified himself in nomination papers as a retired arts professional. He is also a former lawyer. David Solomon Koslow was admitted to the California Bar in December 1974 but is now resigned. He resigned from the practice of law in 1989 with disciplinary charges pending. As a result, he is ineligible to practice law in California, according to the State Bar of California.

My candidacy, Koslow said, provides me the opportunity to alert voters to the fiscal irresponsibility of the city’s current City Council.  These issues are pressing because the immediate financial futures of the City, the Nation, and the World are uncertain.  With a recession looming, with inflation pushing up the prices of food and fuel, we must prepare for the “lean years” that are already on their way.  Most assuredly, this is not the time to be raising taxes.

The current City Council is “leading us down the garden path to hell,” Koslow said.

By way of background, Koslow said he graduated from Yale University in 1971, with a B.A. cum laude with Departmental Honors in English Literature.  He graduated from New York University School of Law in 1974, with a J.D. (Juris Doctor) degree, and said he was selected, based upon his grades, to be a contributor to the New York University Annual Survey of American Law (Antitrust Law subject).

After practicing entertainment law and Constitutional law in Los Angeles for ten years, Koslow said he became an art gallery owner in L.A.  After closing his L.A. gallery in 1991, he moved to Cathedral City in 1992 where he has lived continuously.  In 1992 through 1993, he said he was employed as an art gallery sales associate with a Palm Desert gallery on El Paseo.  From 1993 through around 2015, he continued his involvement in the visual arts as a private art dealer and as an artists’ representative.  He retired in 2015.

During his earliest years as a Cathedral City resident, Koslow said he served as the Chairperson of the Public Arts Commission of the City, and as President of the Friends of the Cathedral City Library.

As the race for District 4 heats up, you will be hearing more from all the candidates.

Image Sources

  • David Koslow: Koslow