Group Seeking Wholesale Recall Of Nine Elected San Bernardino Officials

(May 3) SAN BERNARDINO—A recently formed group of self-styled political reformers has taken aim at the mayor, city council and city attorney in San Bernardino, targeting all nine for recall.
In recent months, San Bernardino has filed for bankruptcy protection, even as it continues to run a $46 million deficit.
On Tuesday, a coalition of business owners and residents calling themselves San Bernardino Residents for Responsible Government began serving the officials with notices of intent to recall.
The group is led by Scott Beard, a local realtor and San Bernardino resident. Beard said the recall effort is being uniformly pursued against all sitting council members as well as the mayor and the city attorney despite the relatively brief tenures of two of the members of the city council, the sharp political differences between some of those targeted for recall and his own previous support of some of the council members.
“This is about doing what is right for our community and the current council is incapable of doing that,” Beard said.
The city officials have failed collectively and individually in serving the city, Beard said, and for that reason all were being targeted. He said all seven council members had fallen short of the standard his group believes officials in their capacity should achieve, even considering that councilmen Robert Jenkins and John Valdivia have been on the council less than two years.  Jenkins, who was elevated to the council in a special election held in July 2011, and Valdivia, who was elected in November 2011, both share in the responsibility for the city’s dreadful state, Beard said.
Beard acknowledged having supported councilwoman Wendy McCammack in the past, though he said reports that he was currently supporting her in her mayoral bid were erroneous. “Wendy and I have been neighbors and friends for a long time and I did support her but that was prior to the dysfunction we have seen over the last six months. None of them can work together and they all need to be removed from office,” Beard said.
As to the well publicized political rivalry that has long existed between mayor Patrick Morris, a Democrat, and city attorney James Penman, a Republican, who vied against each other for mayor in 2005 and 2009, Beard said their differences over various matters are irrelevant to the pertinent issue of the city’s continued decline.
“That is something between the mayor and the city attorney,” Beard said. “We are a non-partisan group trying to save the city from destruction perpetrated on it by these city officials in each of their capacities.” He said that Penman, as city attorney, needed to be held to account for his failures. “He is absolutely responsible,” Beard said. “He is the only city official who has been in office for over two decades. How can you not include him?” Morris is being targeted for recall as well, though he has indicated he will not seek reelection later this year and will leave office next spring.
“To deal with this we have to remove everyone who is responsible, so symbolically we have to serve them all,” Beard said.
Whether the group will pursue Morris as spiritedly as the others who will remain in office past next year is another question, Beard indicated. “I can tell you we won’t waste our resources where they are not needed,” he said.
Beard responded to charges that he is ill-suited to be leading a political reform movement, given his place near the center of a raging governmental corruption scandal in the late 1990s. The San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office and the U.S. Attorney heavily focused on a 15-year, $26 million lease approved in a controversial 3-2 vote on  June 23, 1997 by then-supervisors Jerry Eaves, Jon Mikels and Kathy Davis for the former Kmart building in Rialto owned by SHL Associates Ltd., a partnership of Beard, former county chief administrative officer Harry Mays and Lance Goodwin of New York. The building was converted for use by the county’s behavioral services department. The deal was promoted by then-county chief administrative officer, James Hlawek, who had been Harry Mays protégé. Subsequently, Eaves, Mays and Hlawek were indicted by a federal grand jury in connection with bribery and kickback schemes pertaining to several county contracting arrangments. Mays and Hlawek were convicted on federal charges. Eaves eluded being convicted on federal charges after similar charges were filed against him in state court. He eventually pleaded guilty and resigned from office. In his confession to federal prosecutors, Hlawek said that Mays provided him with a briefcase stuffed with about $60,000 in cash as a payoff for securing the county K-Mart building lease with SHL.
Beard, who was a longtime Eaves supporter, this week told the Sentinel that the rehashing of Hlawek’s accusations was an illegitimate attempt to discredit the recall effort. “I was investigated by every law enforcement agency in Southern California, including the FBI,” Beard said. “I was never charged with a single thing. I still own the building and the county is still my tenant. That is a cheap shot that has no merit.”
San Bernardino Residents for Responsible Government will not pursue a recall of city clerk Gigi Hanna and treasurer David Kennedy, the city’s other elected officials, Beard said, because they were not culpable for the city’s condition.
Beard said his group has collected enough donations to see the recall petition gathering process through “within the statutory time line” required to put the recall questions before voters next November, at which point councilwoman Virginia Marquez, Fred Shorett and Robert Jenkins must stand for reelection in their wards and an election for mayor is scheduled as well. Petitioners must gather the signatures of 15 percent of registered voters to recall Morris and Penman and 25 percent of the voters in the ward of each of the council members to qualify the recall question for the ballot against the officeholders

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