By Mark Gutglueck
Elected officials and their top staff members intent on obtaining future electioneering funding at any cost, a convicted former top county official, a loophole in state law and the willingness of elements within the private sector to bankroll public officeholders in return for favorable treatment by the government are coalescing to steer San Bernardino County into as intensive of a pay-to-play ethos as it has yet experienced. As a consequence, San Bernardino County’s taxpayers stand to suffer severely inflated costs as county and other local municipal officials are progressing toward conferring no-bid contracts potentially worth $250 million on a San Diego-based company.
Those involved comprise a cross section of the county’s current political establishment, including current Board of Supervisors Chairman Curt Hagman, former Congressman/current Supervisor Paul Cook, Supervisor Dawn Rowe and Supervisor Joe Baca, Jr., together with Rowe’s and Cook’s chiefs of staff, Matt Knox and Tim Itnyre. Another beneficiary of the highly questionable arrangement by which politicians have and are being lined up to approve inflated no-bid contracts in exchange for campaign cash or money laundered to them through an ingeniously-formulated means is the mayor of Fontana, Acquanetta Warren.
Key to this violation of the public trust that is in progress is Bill Postmus.
Postmus, the former chairman of the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors and one-time head of the county Republican Party, in 2011 was convicted on 14 felony political corruption charges that imposed on him a lifetime banishment from holding elected office within the State of California. Less than two years after his release from prison, Bill Postmus has found his way back into the thick of politics, assisting officeholders with raising funds to pay for their campaigns while simultaneously operating a company through which the political donations that are flowing to those politicians can be laundered, obscuring the sources of funding, so the elected officials who receive that money can vote to support their donors without the public catching wind of the influence peddling that is ongoing.
Postmus experienced the most meteoric political ascent in San Bernardino County history, achieving election to the board of supervisors while he was yet in his twenties. Within four years, at the age of 33, he had become both the chairman of the board of supervisors and chairman of the San Bernardino County Republican Central Committee.
After soaring to the highest echelon of county government and establishing himself as a kingmaker to whom all other politicians bowed, Postmus ignominiously plunged to earth as abruptly as he had risen. In February 2009, a little more than two years after he had successfully vied to become the county’s highest ranking tax official, county assessor, he resigned from office amidst overwhelming scandal. Within a year of his resignation, he was hit with a series of 14 political corruption charges, including bribery, conspiracy, misappropriation of public funds, public office conflict of interest, fraud, conspiracy to accept a bribe, soliciting a bribe, receiving a bribe, embezzlement by a public officer, two counts of grand theft and perjury. In 2011, he entered guilty pleas on all 14 counts.
If politics wasn’t part of William John Postmus’s nature, it was nurtured into him when he was nine years old. That year, Ronald Reagan won the presidency of the United States. The head of the Postmus household at that time was his father, William Kenneth Postmus, then a sergeant with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. To the senior Postmus, Ronald Reagan embodied everything that was right about America, the shining city on a hill with its conservative, level-headed Christian values. The 1980 election saw the vanquishing of the liberal Democrat Jimmy Carter, who in the view of his critics had allowed the Soviet Union to steal a march on the United States around the globe, had given away the Panama Canal and was paralyzed by the Iranian Islamic Guard’s seizure of 98 diplomats and both Central Intelligence Agency and Defense Intelligence Agency officers at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. Carter in the November 1980 election managed to poll a mere 49 electoral college votes to the 489 notched by the staunch Republican Reagan. In the U.S. Senate, Republicans picked up 12 seats, losing none and seized control of the nation’s upper legislative house for the fist time in 26 years. In the House of Representatives that year, the GOP made serious inroads into the overwhelming 277-to-158 majority the Democrats had previously enjoyed, picking up a net of 34 seats in the country’s lower legislative house.
That political pageant captured young Postmus’s imagination, and in the early 1990s, as a college student at Redlands University where he was earning a degree in business and management, he had involved himself in Republican politics, working on campaigns and as an intern and staff member with Assemblyman and later State Senator Jim Brulte and Assemblywoman Kathleen Honeycutt, who prided herself on her conservatism and vitriolic stand against the hand-wringing liberals in Sacramento. With Keith Olberg, Brad Mitzelfelt and Tad Honeycutt, Postmus was founder of the High Desert Young Republicans. It pleased his father to no end when in the late 1990s, young Bill Postmus set his sights on dislodging First District San Bernardino County Supervisor Kathy Davis, the one-time Mayor of Apple Valley, a Republican who had betrayed the true believers in the Conservative Movement by going to San Bernardino and immediately falling in and voting in virtual lockstep with the two Democrats on the board, Jerry Eaves and Larry Walker, and the pot-smoking liberal Republican Jon Mikels. As a 28-year-old, Postmus beefed up his resume by wangling an appointment to the Victorville Planning Commission, ultimately acceding to vice chairman of that panel. Utilizing all the means at his disposal and the solid endorsement of the Republican Party while running in a heavily Republican District, just as Ronald Reagan had done to Jimmy Carter in 1980, Postmus routed Davis, sending her into political oblivion.
Postmus gathered no moss while in office. After gaining, as a sitting supervisor, automatic appointment to the board of the San Bernardino Associated Governments, which served as the county’s transportation authority, he was honored by his colleagues with an appointment as that agency’s chairman. Similarly, after a stint as a board member of the Mojave Desert Air Quality Management District, he acceded to the chairmanship of that entity, just as he moved into the chairmanship of the Victor Valley Economic Development Authority, a joint powers authority dedicated to the civilian conversion of the former George Air Force Base into the Southern California Logistics Airport. He further served on the boards of the Victor Valley Transit Authority, the Morongo Basin Transit Authority, and the Victor Valley Wastewater Reclamation District. He participated as a board member with the National Association of Counties, where he strove to solidify his credentials as a rock-ribbed conservative by volunteering to serve in that organization’s Public Lands Steering Committee, from which perch he stridently advocate for private property rights and against liberals, conservationists and Democrats who were seeking, he said, to restrict access to public lands.
In 2004, at which point he had secured appointments as both the chairman of the board of supervisors and chairman of the Republican Party, Postmus bestrode San Bernardino County like a political colossus. That summer he traveled to the Republican National Convention in New York City where he was among no more than 250 of those thought highly enough of to be provided with special seating arrangements in close proximity to President George W. Bush during his delivery of his acceptance speech.
At that point, there was virtually no one involved in San Bernardino County politics who was not convinced that Postmus was fated for higher office. The only open question at that time seemed to be whether he would simply run for Congress or ticket punch on his way there by first seeking election to the Assembly or the California Senate and spend some time sharpening his legislative skills in Sacramento before going to Washington, D.C.
One local Republican luminary in the High Desert at that time was then-Victorville City Councilman Bob Hunter. This young man Postmus, Hunter said, was the real deal, and there could be no doubt that he would soon be a congressman, and that was selling him short. Postmus was clearly U.S. Senatorial material, and there was a possibility, Hunter said, that Postmus would not complete his first six years in that capacity before he would be called upon to take up residence in the Governor’s Mansion in Sacramento. Indeed, it was not unthinkable, Hunter said, that sometime within the coming quarter of a century Bill Postmus would be President of the United States.
All that, however, was before Postmus was caught taking bribes and selling his votes to enrich both himself and his campaign donors who had business before the county, and prior to it being widely known that his stated philosophy of fiscal conservatism and minimizing the cost of government, his pro-law enforcement stance, along with the espousing of Christian family values and his railing against abortion and liberal social mores was a cover for his homosexuality and illicit drug use. Even before he made the transition to the office of county assessor in 2007, a relatively small circle of his closest associates had come to understand that he was leading a double life. Yet his political and governmental status, the political patronage he doled out, the support network that had grown up around him, and his own forceful personality dissuaded anyone from intervening. As assessor, he could hire anyone he wanted into a decent-paying position with his office. If there was not an existing unfilled position in the assessor’s office, he had the authority to create a new one. He could put the arm on other elected officials and ask them to hire or find a place on their staffs for those friends or associates he could not hire himself. Usually those politicians wanted to stay on his good side and they complied. Though he was no longer chairman of the Republican Central Committee, he yet had considerable reach within the county party, and could influence decisions on which candidates for political office were to get party monetary support and how much. Where there was internecine competition among Republicans for a position, with just a few words he could persuade one hopeful to defer to another in an immediately upcoming race, in some cases by either vaguely or more directly hinting at the possibility of party backing and monetary support in a future race. As county assessor, he could make a determination as to the taxable valuation of property or assets or machinery that would save the owner substantial money on his tax bill, sometimes in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Those thankful individuals generally proved amenable to cutting a check for $5,000, $10,000 or more, at Postmus’s suggestion, to some Republican candidate or cause he deemed worthy.
In 2008, his increasingly erratic behavior, a byproduct of his drug use – extending to methamphetamine, cocaine, ecstasy and inhalants – was becoming more and more obvious. When partisan political activity ongoing in his office came to light, involving the use of assessor’s office facilities, employees and equipment, the district attorney’s office in January 2009 obtained search warrants for the county assessor’s headquarters as well as other premises associated with Postmus and his inner circle. Inside his condominium in Rancho Cucamonga, investigators came across methamphetamine and the paraphernalia used to consume it, including syringes, glass pipes and mini-blow torches. Shortly thereafter, in February 2009, Postmus resigned from office.
After Postmus’s departure, the board of supervisors tapped Dennis Draeger, who had previously worked for 23 years in the assessor’s office before going over to the county treasurer/tax collector’s office and rising to the second-highest position there after eleven years, to serve in the capacity of acting assessor. As Draeger settled into that assignment, he learned that Postmus had hired no fewer than thirteen of his boyfriends and political associates into high-paying positions in the county assessor’s office, despite their possessing no experience or technical expertise with regard to assessing the value or taxability of real estate or industrial assets.
For more than a year after charges were filed against him in February 2010, Postmus maintained his innocence, but then in the Spring of 2011, he pleaded guilty and turned state’s evidence, testifying before a grand jury that was looking into widespread corruption and bribery throughout the government structure.
One of the crimes Postmus pleaded guilty to – public official conflict of interest, Government Code Section 1090 – carried with it a provision that anyone convicted under that statute surrender forever the right/privilege of holding elective governmental office in the State of California. For more than six years after Postmus entered his guilty pleas, his sentence was held in abeyance while the prosecutions of those he had agreed to testify against who had been implicated in his depredations while in office played out.
For Postmus, the Government Code Section 1090 conviction was akin to a death sentence. It had effectively ended his existence as a politician, which since childhood and then into his adolescence and early manhood he had come to idealize as his calling. The looming prison sentence he would eventually face, the length and severity of which was to be determined after his cooperation with the prosecutions of the others, was bad enough, but the prospect that he would never hold office again for him was even worse. He was a man without purpose.
As the trials of most of those who had been his co-defendants or others the district attorney’s office and California Attorney General’s Office were counting on him to testify against were delayed by a seemingly interminable number of motions and appeals both to the appellate court and the California Supreme Court, Postmus foundered, alternating between periods of determined sobriety and then slipping back into the thrall of addiction. In 2013, he pulled himself together, determined once more to make his way in the political world, if not as a politician, per se, then as a political operative. He ventured to Wyoming, where he established a limited liability company, Mountain States Consulting Group. He had no real intention of actually doing business in Wyoming, but rather in California, while taking advantage of the relatively sparse reporting requirements for registered businesses in the Equality State. He started off tentatively, engaging at first in some relatively modest electioneering activity through his company. In 2014, he used it as a vehicle for successfully supporting Paul Russ, one of his longtime associates who was running for the Hesperia City Council. In 2016, he used Mountain States to assist several hopefuls in the race for the Republican Central Committee held during that year’s June Primary and he coordinated the successful Hesperia City Council candidacy of Rebekah Swanson, the wife of his longtime political associate Eric Swanson.
Mountain States Consulting was key to Postmus getting back into the political game. He understood implicitly and explicitly how the political system works, the circular pay-to-play element of control and governance where politicians take in money from those with an interest in the governmental decision-making process, use that money to get into office or stay in office and vote to approve the development projects or the contracts or the franchises of those who have donated that money. He had been caught boldly and baldly doing just that. Now as the owner of Mountain States Consulting Group, he could offer politicians a way to engage in the pay-to-play ethos without getting caught and being stigmatized with criminal convictions as he had been. Mountain States took money originating with individuals or companies with a stake in governmental decisions, laundered it through his company and then provided that money, either as legitimate political donations or payments in some other form to the politicians making those decisions. Postmus employs Mountain States Consulting Group as a cutout, insulating the recipients of the money – the politicians – from those who are providing the money. When Postmus properly executes on this mission, it protects the politicians from the perception that their votes are being purchased, which has political benefits, while serving to lessen to some extent the possibility that the politicians he is funneling money to will not be subject to enforcement action for engaging in what in the final analysis are quid pro quos, out-and-out bribes or kickbacks.
Postmus made use of the Mountain States entity in another way to further his political reach. Jeremiah Brosowske had interested himself in politics while he was a student at at Victor Valley College, where he was elected to the Associated Student Body Council and Senate, served in the post of parliamentarian and ultimately rose to the position of ASB vice president. From there, Brosowske was drawn into what has been a continual life in politics, Republican politics specifically. In 2013, Curt Hagman, the one-time Chino Hills mayor who was then in his third term in the California Assembly and therefore no longer eligible to run for reelection to California’s lower legislative house because of term limit rules in place at that time, resolved to transition to the position of Fourth District San Bernardino County supervisor. Brosowske assisted Hagman in that effort. To better position himself for the supervisorial race, Hagman orchestrated a silent coup to move then-San Bernardino County Republican Party Chairman Robert Rego out of the county party’s top spot and assume it himself. Once he had acceded to the county party chairmanship, Hagman had worked closely with the then-22-year-old Brosowske, who exhibited an uncommon enthusiasm and energetic intensity in his involvement on behalf of the party. Under Hagman’s tutelage, Brosowske was given one challenging assignment after another, which he dutifully fulfilled. Hagman proudly proclaimed that his protégé Brosowske had involved himself in 14 separate electoral efforts on behalf of Republican candidates in the 2014 election, and all 14 had won. Consequently, Hagman hired Brosowske at the age of 23 into the post of executive director of the San Bernardino County Republican Central Committee.
There was a recognition among a core group in the local GOP that Brosowske possessed the charisma, attitude, perseverant dedication and temperament the party needed in its leadership and elected officeholders to offset the increasing advantage the Democrats have been accruing over the Republicans in San Bernardino County in terms of voter registration numbers. A consensus had grown that Brosowske should be groomed for office, including supervisor, state legislature and Congress.
In 2016, with little fanfare Mountain States Consulting Group put the 25-year-old Brosowske to work by contracting with Brosowske’s company, Next Generation Holdings LLC, to engage in fundraising and political promotion efforts. This allowed Brosowske to hold body and soul together, while leaving him at liberty to pursue his political interests.
In May of 2018, Hesperia Mayor Russ Blewett died. Rather than hold an election to fill the resulting vacancy until what would have been the end of Blewett’s term later that year, the council, after elevating Councilman Bill Holland into the mayor’s position, invited residents of the city to apply for appointment to fill in the council gap. Postmus arranged to find Brosowske living quarters in Hesperia, and had him apply to serve as Blewett’s replacement. Since Postmus had been instrumental in getting two of the Hesperia City Council’s members at that time – Paul Russ and Rebekah Swanson – elected to their positions, he was able to readily convince them to support Brosowske’s appointment. With some minimal lobbying of Holland, another Republican, Postmus was able to get him to support Brosowske as well. Just like that, Brosowske, at the age 27 was the youngest member of all of the city and town councils in San Bernardino County’s 24 municipalities. Running in the November 2018 race as an incumbent council member, Brosowske, using his own electioneering savvy and the support of Postmus and the Republican Party and its donors, won that election.
In 2018, after the conclusion of the trials of the defendants Postmus had agreed in his plea arrangements with the district attorney’s office and the California Attorney General’s Office to testify against, he came before Judge Michael A. Smith for sentencing relating to the 14 political corruption charges he had been convicted on in 2011. Smith sentenced him to three years in state prison. Postmus was initially incarcerated within the state prison system, but because of so-called prison realignment codified in Assembly Bill 109 and passed by the California Legislature in 2011, he was returned to the custody of the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department. Because of the non-violent nature of Postmus’s crimes, Sheriff John McMahon released him in August 2019.
Postmus immediately picked up where he had left off. Having established himself as a successful political operative in the 2014, 2016 and 2018 election cycles, he was even more active during the 2020 election.
In recent years, government at all levels have gone on an energy efficiency kick. Emerging technologies have improved insulation methodologies for buildings, keeping them cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. Heating, ventilation and air conditioning unit design has evinced substantial improvements, such that less energy is used in heating furnaces whether they are electrically-powered or burn gas or oil. Similarly, there have been improvements to air conditioning units that allow them to operate using far less current for the same cooling effect than was achieved in older models. Improvements in light bulbs and florescent tubes provide today equal or greater luminosity than did previous generation illumination devices that used twice as much electricity. Solar panels as well as solar film can now be mounted on the roofs of buildings or south-facing walls to provide a substantial amount of the electricity used within those buildings.
San Diego-based Alliance Building Solutions has found a niche in the energy efficiency market. While it also does a modicum of work in the private sector in commercial or industrial/manufacturing settings, its specialty is catering to public agencies, utilities, schools and governments. Servicing the public sector confers upon the company an advantage it does not have when it deals with the general public and private companies.
Generally speaking and with a few exceptions, governments are required to carry out a competitive bidding process when contracting for services or the delivery of goods. From the standpoint of the governmental entity or public agency, competitive bidding offers a multitude of advantages. Among those are the opportunity it provides to scrutinize myriad options with regard to the products available, examine the level and types of service, consider the qualifications, experience and track record of those offering to provide the service as well as an opportunity to purchase the goods or services sought at the lowest available cost. While in most cases governments and public agencies at all levels are required by law to utilize a competitive bid process, that requirement is suspended in certain circumstances such as emergencies or where the urgency for the service or goods is so great that soliciting, receiving and evaluating bids would result in a delay that would harm public safety, health or well being.
One specific exception to the competitive bid requirement for public agencies and governments in California relates to energy efficiency projects. As long as a public agency or government can demonstrate that the work or service to be provided will result in improved energy efficiency or a reduction in fuel or energy use as well as show that some savings in cost will accrue to the entity contracting for the service, it need not conduct a bidding process but can simply award a contract to a provider of that service. While not conducting a competitive bidding process on energy conservation or energy efficiency projects is an option for governments and public agencies, they can, if they so choose, seek competitive bids. The process of soliciting bids is referred to in government jargon as a request for proposals.
Already in San Bernardino County, Alliance Building Solutions has gotten three multi-million dollar no-bid contracts from cities – Fontana, Rialto and Upland – to outfit their facilities with energy conservation systems and products and install alternative energy supply sources such as solar energy facilities on rooftops and carports. Word is that the County of San Bernardino over the next several years will embark on similar efforts to efficientize its energy use, reduce its energy consumption and engage in, where feasible and most useful, alternative energy production. Reportedly, county officials are prepared to spend a quarter of a billion dollars toward those goals over the coming decade.
Alliance Building Solutions’ founder and principal, Brad Chapman, has hired Postmus to serve as his company’s representative, remind county officials that they need not engage in a request for proposals, should not engage in an open bidding process and instead would do best to simply give his company the contract for the energy efficiency conversion work without subjecting it to having to compete against any other purveyors of the service.
Accordingly, Postmus has embarked on an effort to convey a substantial amount of money to a majority of the board of supervisors to gain that panel’s assent in awarding the contracts for the facility renovation/upgrading and energy conservation/production work to Alliance Building Solutions. Postmus is now concentrating his efforts on, and has made considerable progress toward, convincing Chairman of the Board of Supervisors Curt Hagman, First District Supervisor Paul Cook and Third District Supervisor Dawn Rowe that Alliance Building Solutions should be given exclusivity in modernizing county facilities with regard to their energy usage and efficiency. In addition to having Alliance Building Solutions pour hundreds of thousands of dollars into Hagman’s, Cook’s and Rowe’s campaign funds, Postmus’s strategy includes demonstrating to their respective chiefs of staff – Yekaterina Kolcheva, Tim Itnyre and Matt Knox – that there is something in this for them, as well.
Postmus is well-suited for this assignment. The county Republican Party has welcomed him back into the fold, where he has now become one of the local GOP’s most energetic fundraisers. Since Hagman, Cook and Rowe are Republicans, Postmus has long-established entrée with them. Because the other Republican currently on the board of supervisors, Second District Supervisor Janice Rutherford, is to be termed out of office after her current term ends next year, Postmus is not intensely focused on her. The remaining member of the board, Supervisor Joe Baca, Jr., is a Democrat. Postmus was involved in the effort to support Baca’s Republican opponent, Jesse Armendarez, in the 2020 race. That campaign involved some hard-hitting, indeed below-the-belt, tactics, and it is not considered advisable for Postmus to make any direct approach to Baca. Nevertheless, Baca, who was previously a member of the Rialto City Council, supported providing Alliance Building Solutions with the no-bid project it captured to provide services to his city. Chapman has reportedly stated he believes it can be safely presumed that when the time comes, Baca will join with Hagman, Cook and Rowe in supporting providing Allied Building Solutions with the series of no-bid project contracts it will seek for reducing energy consumption and enhancing energy efficiency at a number of county facilities.
Chapman is intent, as well, on capturing contracts with other municipalities or agencies in San Bernardino County and perhaps doing further work for the cities of Fontana, Rialto and Upland. On Tuesday, March 30, Postmus and Chapman met with Fontana Mayor Acquanetta Warren over dinner at Fleming’s Steakhouse at Victoria Gardens to discuss the potential for Alliance Building Solutions winning yet another no-bid contract to renovate and modernize Fontana’s other facilities. The Sentinel briefly spoke with Postmus during that meeting around 6 p.m. To inquiries about his effort on behalf of Alliance Building Solutions and what the purpose was for bringing Chapman and Warren together, Postmus maintained that lobbying the Fontana mayor to extend further contracts to Alliance Building Solutions was not the purpose of the meeting.
“I don’t know who you talked to, but obviously, you don’t have very good sources,” he said. As to why he was holding a meeting with Warren and Chapman, he said, “This is still a free country, isn’t it? I’m just having dinner with some friends. I can do that, can’t I?”
Less than two days later, beginning at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday April 1, in Redlands at the Tartan Restaurant, Postmus and his business associate, Dino DeFazio, hosted a fundraiser to benefit Curt Hagman, Paul Cook and Dawn Rowe. Postmus privately told some of his associates that the purpose for the affair was to get enough checks flowing into the three supervisors’ coffers that they would sign off on a non-competitive bid contract with Alliance Building Solutions.
Among the more than fifty people present at the soiree were Postmus, DeFazio, Chapman, Hagman, Cook, Rowe, San Bernardino County Republican Central Committee Chairman Phil Cothran, Sr., Fontana City Councilman Phil Cothran, Jr., Adelanto Mayor Gabriel Reyes, Adelanto City Manager Jesse Flores, Former Fontana City Councilman Jesse Armendarez, Developer Bruno Mancinelli, along with Cook’s chief of staff Tim Itnyre and Rowe’s chief of staff Matt Knox.
Asked if he considered it to be a good idea to be on the receiving end of a fundraising effort by Postmus, Hagman said, simply, “I’ve known Bill for 20 years.” Pressed about the propriety of accepting money from Alliance Building Solutions to be passed through to him by Postmus while Postmus is angling to have the board of supervisors dispense with a competitive bid process that would redound to the benefit of Alliance Building Solutions and potentially to the detriment of the county’s taxpayers, Hagman, somewhat improbably, claimed he was not familiar with Alliance Building Solutions or what it was. Told that it was a company that engaged in building upgrades to achieve energy conservation, Hagman said of such projects, “We haven’t done any of those for several years. We don’t have any of those going on right now, although we should in the future. We need new buildings, too.”
When the Sentinel sought to refocus the discussion on Chapman’s effort to utilize the loophole in state law to obtain a no-bid contract for his company, Hagman seized on the consideration that such no-bid contracts are legal.
“I’m familiar with that from when I was in the legislature,” he said.
The Sentinel asked Supervisor Cook whether he had any misgivings about associating with Postmus and being on the receiving end of money being funneled to him through Postmus and Mountain States Consulting Group that originated with Alliance Building Solutions while that company is seeking to influence the board to give it a no-bid contract with the county. Cook addressed the first element of the question, saying he did not think Postmus’s past actions should be held against him now that he has served his time in prison, and he said that Postmus should not be banned from participating in public affairs.
“We’ve all made a mistake or two in our lives,” Cook said. “He went through the process and now he’s picked himself up. If you look at him, you can see he is doing well. He’s active and involved now. I think that’s a good thing.”
As to being provided money by individuals who are trying to influence his vote, Cook said, “This is politics, and in the world of politics, you have to spend money. If you can go out and get the money to do that and go home at night and sleep, then you have something.”
As for what Alliance Building Solutions is selling, Cook said what they have might be worth buying.
“I think you have took at that,” he said. “Everyone is looking at solar [energy]. You are going to see more and more of that on rooftops.”
When the Sentinel tried to draw Cook into a discussion about whether it would be proper for the county to utilize a no-bid process in contracting for renovations to its facilities to enhance energy efficiency, he, like Hagman, deflected the question by saying he was in the legislature when the provision for suspending the competitive bidding process on such projects was considered and passed.
Later, the Sentinel in writing sought to engage with Hagman, Cook and Rowe with regard to the propriety of their association with Postmus in a political fundraising context, given his legal history and demonstrated propensity for illegally linking the giving and taking of money to votes made in an official governmental capacity. In separate emails to each of the supervisors, the Sentinel noted that Postmus has set up a money laundering network and was now engaged in filtering money into each of their campaign accounts, including money that had originated with Brad Chapman and/or Alliance Building Solutions. After referencing Postmus’s assurance to Chapman that he would deliver each of their votes in support of giving Alliance Building Solutions a non-competitive contract on energy use reduction and energy efficientizing projects to be pursued by the county, the Sentinel asked each of the supervisors if, in order to dispel the suggestion that a majority of the board of supervisors is seeking to confer an unfair and monopolistic no-bid contract upon Alliance Building Solutions, he or she would be willing to now commit that when the county gets around to undertaking the energy conservation/energy efficiency improvements/renovations to county facilities, that it will do so through an open competitive bid process.
In the emails, the Sentinel asked each of the supervisors point blank if he or she would dismiss any suggestion that the money that is being provided to each of their campaign funds, either by Mr. Chapman and his company or anyone else, coming to each of them directly or through Postmus or any other entity, would influence his or her vote.
The Sentinel asked each of the supervisors for a compelling denial of the suggestion that each of them individually and collectively were participating in a pay-to-play environment in which those who have an active interest in the decision-making process of local government and in particular San Bernardino County government, by providing its elected officials with money, achieve favorable outcomes in that decision-making process significantly more often and to a greater degree than do those who do not provide money to the county’s elected decision-makers.
The Sentinel asked each of the supervisors if he or she would be willing to return or refund all of the money provided to him or her by Chapman, Alliance Building Solutions or any money which had come from Postmus or his company or companies.
Neither Hagman nor Cook nor Rowe responded to those emails by press time.
The Sentinel asked Chapman if he was familiar with Postmus’s legal history and if Postmus had provided him with an assurance that he could obtain the no-bid contract with the county. The Sentinel asked Chapman if he would be willing to compete for the county contract. Chapman did not respond to those questions.
While reliable statistics on precisely what amount of savings can be had from conducting a competitive bid process are slim, a haphazard/random analysis of construction and services bids made in responses to requests for proposals put out by San Bernardino County shows a substantial variance between high and low bids on projects. In some cases examined by the Sentinel, high bids were more than 40 percent higher than the lowest bid. The typical spread between low and high bids on the smattering of publicly contracted projects examined by the Sentinel fell in the 15 percent to 20 percent range.
According to a dated study by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, conducting a competitive process will drive costs down by 6.5 percent.
Extrapolating on those figures and assuming San Bernardino County will indeed earmark $250 million to upgrade energy efficiency at its facilities, the county likely stands a risk of overpaying for that work by $16.25 million to $50 million if it does not conduct a competitive bid process for the awarding of those contracts.
By Mark Gutglueck