Colton Sends Signals That Suspended City Manager Won’t Be Coming Back

(July 24)  COLTON–There were unmistakeable signals this week that suspended Colton City Manager Stephen Compton will not be retruning to the city any time soon, if at all.
Compton was placed on paid administrative leave June 5. City officials have been tight-lipped about the substance of that investigation,though the Sentinel has learned the action taken against Compton came about as a result of his having exceeded his authority by micromanaging the operations in the public works department.
To guide the city during Compton’s absence, the city council designated police chief Steve Ward to serve as acting city manager. More than a month-and-a-half later, Ward  grew wary that police department oversight was being neglected and he begged off to return to his actual duties.
While Ward’s departure from City Hall was interpreted by some as sign of Compton’s imminent return, that soon was shown not to be the case.
Rather, the Sentinel has learned, the city council has made arrangments with the municipalities department heads to rotate into position of city manager through to perhaps the middle of October. These managerial assignments will run for two weeks each. First into the rotation is fire chief Tim McHargue, who has supplanted Ward. In August, public works director Amer Jakher will relieve McHague. At mid-month August , electric utility director David Kolk will oversee city operations. At the end of August, development services director Mark Tomich will become temporary top administrator. On September 12 or thereabouts, Tomich will be succeeded by community services director Bill Smith. At that point Ward will be asked again to step up.
At that point, it is anticipated that the city council will have made a decision on whether Compton is going to return or whether the city will seek his permanent replacement.
Compton, a former assistant city manager in Ridgecrest and the one-time finance director for Omnitrans, had 32 years in various municipal government assignments before he was lured in March 3013 from his then-position as the accounting manager for the city of Fountain Valley to serve as Colton city manager.
Though as city manager he was permitted to dictate operational policy as arrived at by the city council to the city’s department heads, he was limited to delegating the actual operational authority to those below him.
In late May, the city council became concerned that  Compton may have bypassed the public works director in approving payments relating to six public works contracts in an amount totaling $81,851. those contracts were entered into without Compton conferring with the public works department beforehand.
While it was anticipated that the city attorney’s office would have completed its review of the matter and would have provided a conclusion to the city council by this point, there has been no word on that outcome or conclusion.
Of the  $81,851 in unauthorized spending Compton is believed to have been engaged in, the Sentinel has identified four recipients of $75,000 of that total.
Beginning in August 2013, Compton retained for $25,000 the services of Imperial Beach-based Government Staffing Services to perform a long term financial modeling project. In October 2013 Compton retained on the city’s behalf the services of Fullerton-based Revenue & Cost Specialists, Ltd. at a cost of $12,000 for a development impact report. In March 2014 Compton retained the services of Lancaster-based Passantino Anderson Communications LLC at a cost of $25,000 for work on the Colton and Grand Terrace Wastewater Project. Compton also retained in March the Carlsbad-based firm of BW Research Partnership at a cost of $13,000 to work on the Colton and Grand Terrace Wastewater Project.
Without giving indication of what the city attorney’s report indicates or even if it has been completed, the city council gave notice of the rotation plan. They said tapping existing staff members to fill in will save the city the expense  of hiring a caretaker city administrator.

Out As City Manager, Dunn Weighing Embarking On a Political Career

(July 17) Stephen Dunn, who recently retired as Upland city manager, is contemplating a run for city council.
Dunn has approaching three decades professional municipal experience, having worked in the finance departments in Buena Park and Fontana before he was hired to serve as Upland’s finance director in 2001. He served a short stint as interim city manager between the departure of Michael Milhiser and the hiring of Robb Quincey in the spring of 2005.  In January 2011,  City Hall was imploding in the midst of the scandal that had beset mayor John Pomierski, who was then under intense scrutiny by the FBI and would be indicted in March of that year. At that point, the city council placed Quincey on administrative leave as a consequence of the fallout surrounding the Pomierski situation and tapped Dunn to serve as interim city manager again. Four months later, the council fired Quincey and chose Dunn as his permanent replacement the following month.
Despite his promotion to city manager, Dunn continued to serve in the capacity of finance director. This left him acutely sensitive to the city’s precarious financial circumstance. As an example to city staff, Dunn accepted a salary and benefit package that was close to $200,000 less than what had been provided to Quincey.
In short order, Dunn embarked on a series of reforms at City Hall, cutting 27 staff positions, including four department heads. This represented an aggressive start on reining in runaway expenses plaguing the city’s operation. Nevertheless, this understandably engendered resentment and bitterness among some of those personnel who had been terminated, and spread alarm among some of the staff that remained employed. A whispering and anonymous letter writing and emailing campaign targeting Dunn ensued in which his managerial decisions and even elements of his personal life were viciously criticized.
Dunn weathered that challenge but tension inevitably set in among the city’s top managerial echelon as well as on the city council over the next two-and-a-half years as the city struggled with continuing financial challenges. City Hall was yet beset with holdovers from the Pomierski era and financial commitments made to the city’s various employees unions during the Pomierski/Quincey managerial tenure fell under increasing scrutiny, furthering divisions among both civic leaders and citizens. On occasion, Dunn in public uttered criticisms of certain council members. By mid-spring of this year, Dunn had grown exasperated with the council’s lack of willingness to sign onto several revenue enhancement options he had outlined. Reports of harsh words between Dunn and some members of the council behind closed doors reached the public. Shortly thereafter, Dunn’s departure was arranged with the signing of a separation agreement which provided him with one-year’s salary following his departure at the conclusion of the 2013-14 fiscal year on June 30.
Dunn on Wednesday of this week told the Sentinel he has not yet taken out candidacy papers to run for city council but that he is “seriously” contemplating a run for office.
“I’m undecided, but I am definitely leaning in favor of running,” he said.
He said he had no misgivings about making the transition from being what is supposed to be a non-political government functionary to a political entity. “Toward the end, as city manager I was becoming a political figure anyway,” he said. “As city manager I was not as successful as I wanted to be. As a member of the city council, I will know how to play that game to do what is best for the city.”
Dunn said, “Upland is a beautiful community. It has wonderful citizens. In city government, everyone has their own political agenda. I want the city to be everything people think it is. We need to get back to that. The right priorities have to be set by the city council.
“The city has a lot of issues and I know them pretty well,” Dunn continued. “Basically, I experienced a lot of frustration as city manager. As a member of the city council, I think I will be able to bring things to the table. I’d do what is in the best interest of the community. I love the city’s employees, but hard decisions have to be made.”
To start off with, Dunn said, he would devote attention to “the city’s infrastructure, the basics, streets, sidewalks, public safety.”
Mayor Ray Musser, who was vacationing in North Carolina when he was reached by the Sentinel this week, said of Dunn’s potential candidacy, “I would rather not comment. As mayor, who must work with whoever gets elected in November, I think it would be inappropriate for me to   make a statement about candidates in the upcoming election.”
Of  Brandt’s decision not to seek reelection, Musser said, “I will miss him very much. Brendan was a stabilizing presence on the council. He could be relied upon for making wise statements. I have  nothing but the highest respect for his leadership. He  brought us through some difficult financial times. He is leaving now that the city has turned that situation around and he feels  comfortable turning it over to someone else.”

Prelim For Meth Dealing Prof To Come Next Month

(July 14)  It appears that the much-delayed preliminary hearing for Dr. Stephen Kinzey will begin on August 18, 2014, a full year after the court had scheduled the proceeding to be held.
Kinzey, a tenured professor of kinesiology at Cal State San Bernardino, garnered national and international attention when he was indicted along with ten others and charged with being the kingpin in a methamphetamine manufacturing and distribution network.
Last summer, the proceedings against Kinzey and the remaining defendants in the case had already been continued for two years after the matter became public with a series of arrests in August 2011. Further delays in the case, including the vacating of the most recently scheduled preliminary hearing which was to have begun on June 2, 2014, means that Kinzey’s case, which invited comparisons to the Sony Pictures Television production Breaking Bad, will not go to trial until at least three years after his arrest.
Breaking Bad, which originally aired on the American Movie Classics network for five seasons from January 20, 2008 to September 29, 2013, was a fictional depiction of a struggling high school chemistry teacher who with the aid of a former student produces and sells methamphetamine.
Kinzey, now 48, was charged with drug dealing, running a street gang and possessing illegal firearms. Holly Vandergrift Robinson, his live-in girlfriend and a former Cal State San Bernardino student, is accused of helping him run a handful of meth dealing operations in what law enforcement officials saw as a small-time enterprise that was on the verge of expanding. According to investigators and prosecutors, quantities of methamphetamine, believed to be in the pound to kilogram range, would be provided to drug dealers from the home that Kinzey and Robinson shared in a quiet and relatively upscale neighborhood in Highland.
Kinzey, who had a PH.D in kinesiology, obtained his doctorate from the University of Toledo, and previously earned his masters at Indiana State and his bachelor’s degree at Wayne State. He began teaching at the University of Mississippi in 1995 and transferred into the California State University system in 2001 and eventually became the chairman of the San Bernardino campus’s kinesiology department’s curriculum committee. Kinzey was considered a serious academic who had performed research into ergonomics and the health effects of videogame playing on children. He also had an interest, bordering on an obsession, with motorcycling and motorcycle clubs. A Harley-Davidson owner, Kinzey joined a local chapter of the Boozefighters Motorcycle Club while he was a professor in Mississippi in 1997.
Subsequently, after coming to California, Kinzey intensified his biker club associations. It is unknown whether Kinzey landing in San Bernardino County, the birthplace of three of what are referred to as outlaw biker gangs – the Hells Angels, the Vagos and the Devils Diciples – was calculation or coincidence.
After his relocation from Mississippi, Kinzey started two local motorcycle clubs in Southern California while he was teaching at San Bernardino State. Curiously, his status with each of the clubs he founded eroded and it appears he was invited to leave or was forced out of both.
In time, Kinzey moved on to form a new chapter of the Devils Diciples, a biker gang that originated in Fontana in 1967 but which now has its national headquarters in Detroit. Kinzey formed a San Bernardino Mountain chapter of the club and until his arrest was actively promoting the affiliation, selling Devil’s Diciples shirts, helmets and rider paraphernalia from a website.
Prosecutors have suggested a nexus between Kinzey’s alleged drug manufacturing activity and his ties with the Devil’s Diciples and possibly other motorcycle enthusiasts. Those suggestions have been vague, though, and little in the way of concrete information with regard to those associations has been provided.
A total of eleven defendants were arrested in the matter involving Kinzey: Kinzey, Robinson, Jeremy Disney, Eric Cortez, Edward Freer, Chelsea Marie Johnson, Hans Preszler, Elaine Flores, Wendi Lee Witherell, Christopher Allen Rikerd, and Stephenie Danielle Padilla.
In relatively short order, seven of those charged with Kinzey pleaded guilty to elements of the criminal case brought against them. Witherell pleaded guilty September 2011 to reduced charges. Flores, Padilla, Johnson, and Cortez all pleaded guilty in October 2011 to reduced charges. Freer and Rikerd pleaded guilty to reduced charges in November 2011.
Preszler, who along with Kinzey, Robinson and Disney maintained his innocence for 22 months after the arrests, in June 2013 pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiracy to commit a crime.
Kinzey, represented by attorney James Glick, along with Robinson and Disney, represented respectively by attorney Stephen Sweigart and Ann Cunningham, continue to fight the charges. They were present in the courtroom of Judge Steven Malone on May 29 for a pre-preliminary proceeding when the combined preliminary hearing for all three scheduled for June 2 was moved to August 18, with another pre-preliminary hearing set for August 14. All three have waived their right to a preliminary hearing within ten court days of their arrest but have not agreed to any delays beyond October 17, 2014.
Unanswered questions at this point run to whether the alleged drug ring Kinzey headed had a connection to a wider network paralleling the national structure of the Devil’s Diciples or if the conspiracy prosecutors say Kinzey headed was endemic to a handful of small scale local operators and users.
When the preliminary hearing gets under way, the public is likely to get a glimpse of several sophisticated and here-to-now sensitive and/or secret methods of investigation now being utilized against suspected and actual domestic narcotic rings.
A preliminary hearing, also known as an evidentiary hearing, is a proceeding that takes place after a criminal complaint has been filed by the prosecution in which the judge hearing the matter is to make a determination whether there is enough evidence to warrant having the matter proceed to trial. While sufficient evidence to convict need not be demonstrated, enough evidence to satisfy the judge that there is probable cause to conclude that a crime was committed and those charged are responsible must be aired in open court. All evidence and witnesses brought forth are subject to examination by counsel for the defense, making it likely that more than a cursory vetting of the evidence will occur and that prosecutors, to some degree, will be locked in on the case they will need to present to a jury.
What is known is that the Kinzey ring was the focus of a joint task force that involved the FBI, the San Bernardino Police Department and the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department. There is at present some mystery as to how the investigation into the Kinzey ring evolved, that is, whether investigators worked the case from the top down or ground up. A ground up investigation would have involved local investigators coming across indications of drug activity, potentially drug dealing at the street level, and tracing that activity up the ladder, ultimately reaching Kinzey. A top down investigation would have entailed an investigation that began with Kinzey as the target, most likely based upon his Devil’s Diciples affiliation.
Federal authorities and other law enforcement agencies have been striving, for some time, to make drug trafficking cases against the Devil’s Diciples. Federal Prosecutors in 2009 charged the club’s national president, Jeff Garvin “Fat Dog” Smith and 17 other Diciples members with drug trafficking, but then dropped the case six months later. In July 2012, 41 members and associates of the Devils Diciples, including Fat Dog Smith and national vice president Paul Anthony Darrah, were indicted on a variety of criminal charges, including racketeering, drug trafficking, illegal firearms offenses, obstruction of justice, illegal gambling, and other federal offenses. Eighteen of the defendants, including Smith and Darrah, were charged with violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act.
Kinzey was the target of an investigation that involved intense surveillance which tracked his movements and saw his communications, both telephonic and via the internet, closely monitored.
As the president of the local chapter of the Devil’s Diciples, Kinzey administered a website that was utilized to promote the club. In his representation of the group, Kinzey was known by the moniker “Skinz.” Undercover agents analyzed the postings to and from the website Kinzey controlled and took particular interest in purchases made, ostensibly for Devil’s Diciples t-shirts and other regalia, utilizing the website or e-Bay, with law enforcement officials seeking to determine if the sales masked or signaled drug buys or pick-ups.
Agents also shadowed Kinzey during his occasional meetings with Devil’s Diciples members when those confabs took place in public, including ones that took place at Chad’s Place, a bar in Big Bear frequented by bikers of all stripes.
Investigators obtained warrants to listen in to conversations or overlook text messages involving the ring’s members. Several of those communications piqued officers’ attention, giving them leads on his suspected network of drug distributors. For example, one text message sent to a suspected distributer read: “Bring whatever cabbage u got for my soup cuz ingredients are low.”
Despite the net of surveillance that had been stretched around Kinzey toward the end of the investigation, he eluded it when the task force made its move and served arrest and search warrants on the accused and their places of residence. When police descended on Kinzey’s upscale East Highlands Ranch Spanish-style home, they nabbed Robinson, and found a pound of methampetamine, loaded handguns and rifles and Kinzey’s biker leathers, but Kinzey was not there and he did not return. Instead, after an all points bulletin went out for his arrest in which it was reported that he was to be considered armed and dangerous, Kinzey days later came forward with his lawyer and $300,000 in bond money, which was posted without him being booked, photographed or fingerprinted. It was not until he turned up for his arraignment where he pleaded not guilty that he was subjected to the formalities of arrest, and then was immediately set loose.
Of peripheral interest is just how far beyond the confines of the motorcycle club and the circle of eleven people indicted the drug manufacturing and distribution activity extended. One indication was that Kinzey was not the “cook,” i.e., the chemist who manufactured the drugs, but rather the first link in the chain between the lab and the eventual end users who bought it at the street level. At least for a time, investigators were intent on determining the relationship between Kinsey and Denver Cooley, the owner of Monumental Bronze & Granite in San Bernardino and also the pastor of the Roadhouse Biker Church in San Bernardino.
Investigators at one time pursued a theory that the Roadhouse Biker Church was being used as a front in illicit activity by the Devil’s Diciples and other motorcycle clubs. That theory did not pan out, however, and no action against Cooley or his church was ever taken.
In an exclusive interview with the Sentinel last year, Cooley stated that his ministry was a sincere one that had nothing to do with drug manufacturing or drug dealing. “We are all bikers and what you might call misfits, but we also happen to be Jesus Freaks and I don’t know anything about this Kinzey guy or what he was involved in,” Cooley said. “I never knew him. I never met him. People are made in the spiritual image of God, but we are all marred by an attitude of disobedience against God called sin.”

Preliminary Hearing For Former Upland City Manager Set For September 10

(July 15)  The preliminary hearing for former Upland City Manager Robb Quincey will be held on September 10, Judge Bridgid McCann ruled this week.
Quincey in October 2012 was charged with embezzlement/falsification by a public officer, conflict of interest with regard to a public contract, and perjury. He pleaded not guilty to those charges at his arraignment before Judge Cara Hutson in December 2012.
The case against Quincey in some measure grew out of the circumstances surrounding former Upland Mayor John Pomierski, who was himself indicted in 2011 and in 2012 convicted of public corruption charges. Pomierski was instrumental in hiring Quincey as city manager and maintaining him in that position for more than five years. Seven months after FBI agents served search warrants at Upland City Hall, at Pomierski’s home and business office and at the offices of several of Pomierski’s business associates in June 2010 and one month after a significant public revelation in December 2010 of the questionable activity and violations of the public trust that had taken place during Pomierski’s ten year tenure in office, the Upland City Council in January 2011 suspended Quincey and placed him on paid administrative leave. Four months later, two months after Pomierski’s indictment, Quincey was terminated.
Quincey had a bachelor of arts degree in public administration and political science from the University of Minnesota, a master of public administration degree from the University of South Dakota and a doctorate in public administration with an emphasis in economics and organizational development from the University of La Verne. He completed post-doctorate education at Harvard University, Stanford University and the University of California at Berkeley. He served as the president of the board for Monte Vista Water District for more than 13 years and was the chief executive officer for the Inland Empire Utilities Agency. He was in his fifth year as the city manager in Hesperia when he was handpicked by Pomierski in March 2005 to succeed Upland’s previous city manager, Mike Milhiser, whom Pomierski together with his then-supporters on the council forced into resigning. Quincey was hired on April 4, 2005 and given a five-year contract with an annual salary of $195,000 and a guaranteed pay raise each January 1 equivalent to the highest percentage afforded any other Upland city executive management employee. Over the five-year span of that contract he was given a series of salary and benefit enhancements such that by January 2011 he was  receiving a base salary and add-ons of $368,529 with benefits of $92,096, for a total annual compensation of $460,625, making him among the highest paid city managers in the state.
Additionally, Quincey was granted extraordinary autonomy and authority as city manager, including what was referred to as a super-bonus, that is, job security in the form of protection from termination on a simple majority 3-2 vote of the council. Rather, to fire Quincey, four votes were required of the council. He was also given the liberty of authorizing payments to city vendors, creditors, or claimants of up to $25,000 per year without first obtaining council authorization.
This last perquisite of his office would contribute to his downfall.
On July 27, 2008 Quincey and his former fiancé, Jennifer Stelzer, became embroiled in a heated argument at Quincey’s Upland home, terminating with Stelzer driving off as Quincey pounded on the hood of her car and kicked her side door panel. Quincey then sent Stelzer three insulting and profanity-laced text messages via their cell phones. The Upland police were summoned and detective Craig Sipple under the supervision of then-sergeant John Moore generated an eight-page police report pertaining to what had transpired. Moore signed off on the report, in which it was recommended that the matter be reviewed by the district attorney’s office for possible prosecution. Quincey contacted Stelzer and persuaded her not to press charges and then sought to have then-police chief Steve Adams intervene in the matter.
Consequently, the eight-page report Sipple originally authored was reduced to six pages and Sipple and Moore’s recommendation that the matter be referred to the district attorney’s office was changed to state that the case was given “Exceptional Clearance. Stelzer does not desire prosecution.” The redrafted six-page version of the report was buried in an inactive police department file that prevented it from being open to public scrutiny. Moore, however, retained a copy of the original eight-page report.
When Moore later applied for one of two open lieutenant posts with the department and was passed over, he retained the services of attorney Dieter Dammeier of the law firm Lackie Dammeier McGill & Ethir to represent him. Dammeier, in his discussions with Adams and Quincey, maintained his client had been bypassed for promotion because of his involvement in the Quincey domestic disturbance investigation and threatened to make a public issue of the matter and release the report. In response, Quincey and Adams upped the number of captain positions with the department from two to three, promoted a lieutenant into that new spot, thereby creating another lieutenant vacancy, into which Moore was promoted. Dammeier presented the city with a $57,816 bill for his efforts on behalf of Moore. To keep the matter quiet and from coming to the attention of the city council and the public, Quincey used his maximum $25,000 annual discretionary spending authority as city manager to pay Dammeier’s firm in two $25,000 installments, one in the midst of the 2009-10 fiscal year on January 25, 2010, and another shortly after the initiation of the 2010-11 fiscal year on August 23, 2010.
According to former Upland City Attorney Bill Curley, Quincey persuaded then-assistant finance director Ruby Carrillo, with whom Quincey was intimately involved, to miscode one of those checks to make it appear that the payment had been made for another police department-related matter the city was negotiating with the police, union, specifically payment to officers for the time they spent just before their daily assignments donning their uniforms and the time after their shifts ended doffing their uniforms.
In June 2010, FBI and IRS agents served search warrants at Upland City Hall as well as at Pomierski’s home and the homes and offices of Pomierski’s appointee to the Upland Housing Appeals Board, John Hennes, and of Pomierski associates Jason Crebs and Anthony Sanchez. As FBI agents were carrying out that search inside City Hall, Quincey had an impromptu conference with Curley, who was then the city attorney, outside City Hall. Quincey related to Curley the circumstance with regard to the domestic disturbance incident involving Stelzer, the Sipple/Moore report relating to it and the action taken by Quincey and Adams to create a third captain position within the police department to open a lieutenant’s slot for Moore. A  panicked Quincey expressed his concern that documents relating to the irregular activity regarding Moore’s promotion might be obtained by the FBI and he inquired of Curley what could be done to head off that eventuality. To Quincey’s chagrin, Curley informed the city manager that he was not at liberty to interfere in any way with the ongoing law enforcement investigation or to assert any kind of privilege over the documents that were at the root of Quincey’s anxiety. Rather, Curley told a now-mortified Quincey, as an officer of the court who had been provided with information relevant to an ongoing criminal investigation, he was duty bound to inform the FBI of what Quincey had just related to him.
Over the next nine months, events would overtake Pomierski, Quincey, Adams, Hennes, Crebs and Sanchez. Shortly after the raid on City Hall, Curley passed along the information he had received from Quincey to the FBI. The FBI then requested from City Hall and the police department a number of documents, memos and emails it had not obtained during the raid. In December 2010, Adams went out on stress leave, never to return to his post as active police chief. In January 2011, the city council put Quincey on paid administrative leave. Later that month, Crebs and Sanchez were indicted by a federal grand jury for their involvement in an extortion and bribery plot involving what was at that point an unidentified city of Upland official. The last week of February 2011, Pomierski resigned as mayor. On March 2, 2011, he and Hennes were indicted by a federal grand jury and charged with involvement in a bribery and extortion conspiracy whereby they were alleged to have shaken down individuals and businesses with project and permit approvals pending at City Hall. In May 2011, Quincey was fired by the city council. In September 2011, Adams officially retired as police chief, ending his ten-month extended stress leave. By 2012, Pomierski, Hennes, Crebs and Sanchez all pleaded guilty to charges pertaining to the bribery and extortion conspiracy federal prosecutors had alleged against them and were sentenced to time in federal prison. As part of their pleas, all agreed to cooperate with the FBI in its ongoing investigation of illegal activity at Upland City Hall.
In December 2011, Quincey complicated things for himself when he filed a wrongful termination claim against the city. His civil attorney, Joseph Wohrle, moved to have the matter heard by an arbitrator in closed session rather than in open court. The pursuit of the claim and those hearings provided the city with the opportunity to take Quincey’s deposition, that is, to question him under oath. That deposition was provided to investigators.  Quincey’s case for wrongful termination was heard by arbitrator Sam Cianchetti, who in a decision handed down July 17, 2012 upheld the council’s termination of Quincey as justified and rejected in total his pursuit of $7.8 million in damages. Cianchetti dismissed  Quincey’s and Wohrle’s contention that the firing was without cause, that the city council breached the terms of his contract, and that Ray Musser, who succeeded Pomierski as mayor, and councilman Ken Willis defamed him and maliciously and wrongfully characterized his performance in comments they made to the press at that time. Cianchetti further determined as “unfounded” the contention that Musser, Willis, Curley, city councilman Gino Filippi and city treasurer Dan Morgan made statements to the press which painted Quincey in a “false light” or  ruined Quincey’s reputation and damaged his future earning potential.
On October 19, 2012 Quincey was arrested by investigators from the district attorney’s bureau of investigation and booked at West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga on felony charges including unlawful misappropriation of public money, gaining personal benefit from an official contract, and giving false testimony under oath.
The complaint filed with the court by Paul Garcia, an investigator with the district attorney’s office, states that with regard to the first count, “On or about January 12, 2010, the crime of public officer crime, in violation of Penal Code Section  424, a felony, was committed by Robin Dale Quincey, who being a person described in Penal Code Section 424 charged with the receipt, safekeeping, transfer, and distribution of public moneys, did willfully in a manner not incidental and minimal without authority of law, appropriate the same, and a portion thereof, to personal use and the use of another.”
Garcia, in describing the second count, wrote, “On or about January 12, 2010, the crime of conflict of interest, in violation of Government Code Sections 1090 and 1097, a felony, was committed by Robin Dale Quincey, who did, while city manager for city of Upland, California, knowingly and willfully become financially interested in a contract made by him in his official capacity, and by a body and board of which the defendant was a member.”
Both January 12, 2010 incidents appear to pertain to Quincey’s preparation of the first $25,000 payment to the law firm of Lackie Dammeier McGill & Ethir to satisfy a portion of the $57,816 bill presented to the city for the firm’s efforts on behalf of Moore.
With regard to the third count, Garcia stated, “On or about June 7, 2012, the crime of perjury under oath, in violation of Penal Code Section 118, a felony, was committed by Robin Dale Quincey, who being a person, having taken an oath that he would testify, declare, depose, and certify truly before a competent tribunal, officer, and person, in a case in which such an oath may by law be administered, to wit, binding arbitration, did contrary to such oath state as true a material matter which he knew to be false, to wit that on January 11, 2010, defendant informed the city council for the city of Upland, California that Quincey ‘was going to be resolving a personnel matter related to John Moore.’”
Quincey stands accused of testifying falsely to the effect that he had informed the council of his intent to make the $25,000 payment. Four of the five members of the city council in January 2010 – Musser, Willis and councilman Brendan Brandt and former councilman Tom Thomas – have all said they were not told of the settlement arrangement with Moore or the payment to the law firm representing him.
This week, at a pre-preliminary conference on Tuesday July 15 before Judge McCann in West Valley Superior Court in Rancho Cucamonga, the preliminary hearing on the case which had previously been scheduled for July 21 was vacated and rescheduled for September 10.
Judge McCann told deputy district attorney Reza Sadeghi and defense attorneys Michael Zweibck and Michael Nasatir that she would entertain no further continuances of the preliminary hearing. A preliminary hearing, also known as an evidentiary hearing, entails the prosecution previewing an outline of the criminal case in which the judge hearing the matter is called upon to make a determination whether there is enough evidence to warrant having the matter proceed to trial. Though sufficient evidence to convict need not be demonstrated, enough evidence to satisfy the judge that there is probable cause to conclude that a crime was committed and the individual charged is responsible must be aired in open court. All evidence and witnesses brought forth are subject to examination by counsel for the defense. Moreover, this presentation of evidence locks the prosecutors in, to some degree, on the case they will need to present to a jury.
Potential witnesses to be called during the preliminary hearing include, the Sentinel is informed, Pomierski, former council members Tom Thomas and Ken Willis, current mayor Ray Musser and councilman Brendan Brandt, former police chief Adams, police department lieutenant John Moore, former assistant finance director Ruby Carrillo, other city staff members who were in place during Pomierski’s tenure as mayor, and attorney Dieter Dammeier.
At issue in the case against Quincey is Lackie Dammeier McGill & Ethir  $57,816 billing to the city and Quincey’s efforts to satisfy it. Lackie Dammeier McGill & Ethir represents the union for Upland police officers, the Upland Police Officers Association, of which Moore is a member. It is uncommon for an adversary in a legal dispute, either a defendant or plaintiff, to pay the other side’s attorney fees short of an outcome in the case involving those adversaries or a ruling by the court. City officials and investigators have suggested that the circumstance involving Quincey’s use of his expenditure authority to make payment of public funds to the Lackie Dammeier McGill & Ethir firm touched on extortion or blackmail, given that Quincey had an interest in keeping the Moore matter and his oversight of the Stelzer domestic disturbance incident report from coming to light.
Dieter Dammeier, who carried out the negotiations with Quincey and Adams regarding Moore’s eventual promotion to lieutenant, dismissed any suggestion that he or his firm had blackmailed Quincey.
A settlement payment to an opposing attorney, Dammeier said, “is very standard with civil rights retaliation lawsuits. In any litigation, the losing defendant would have to pay the fees of the opposite party. In this case, John Moore should not have had to pay the fees because he was the one wronged by Robb Quincey. If we had litigated this to trial the city would have paid fees many times what we collected.”
Dammeier said a defendant’s ability to collect attorney fees in a civil rights action is covered under Section 1988 of the U.S. Code.
Information that came out during the arbitration process over Quincey’s claim indicated that Carrillo, the assistant finance director, was responsible for miscoding one of the $25,000 checks to make it appear that it had been written to the firm to cover negotiations with regard to the “don and doff” issue rather than the Moore matter. Carrillo and Quincey had a personal relationship, city officials allege. Carrillo left the city of her own volition two months after Quincey was placed on paid administrative leave in early 2011.
It is believed that Adams and Moore may be able to shed light on the Stelzer report matter.
Thomas, Willis, Musser and Brandt have indicated that there were matters relating to the operation of the city that were given approval solely on the strength of Pomierski’s direction or signature on a city document without the full council being consulted or having voted. To the extent that pattern of conduct is relevant to the accusation that Quincey authorized payment to the Lackie Dammeier McGill & Ethir firm without council approval, their testimony at the preliminary hearing may be sought.
Quincey’s attorney, Charles Michael Zweiback, previously told the Sentinel, Quincey “denies all of the allegations relating to the criminal charges filed by the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office on October 19, 2012. Mr. Quincey did not misuse public funds and has been the victim of a completely misguided investigation. Mr. Quincey is innocent of all the charges. He looks forward to his day in court when he can present his case and answer these meritless allegations. A full airing of facts will demonstrate that Mr. Quincey acted appropriately at all times in his role as city manager.”

Metrolink To Cut Mid-Day & Late Night Runs To SB

(July 16)  San Bernardino County’s transportation agency’s balking at the Southern California Regional Rail Authority’s request for a nearly nine percent increase in funding has resulted in the scheduled reduction of Metrolink service to and from San Bernardino.
Metrolink offers a commuter rail service that runs to and from Union Station in downtown Los Angeles from and to San Bernardino with stops at 27 destinations along the route.
The San Bernardino Associated Governments, known by its acronym SANBAG, is the transportation agency for San Bernardino County. Its governing board consists of a representative from each of the county’s 24 cities as well as all five of the members of the county board of supervisors. SANBAG  is one of five agencies that provides funding for Metrolink service.
Tim Watkins, the public spokesman for SANBAG, told the Sentinel, “Increases in the Metrolink budget for FY 2014/15 translated to a requested increase of 8.8% in SANBAG’s contribution.  As a result of significant demands on resources available to SANBAG to pay for transit operations and maintenance, the board of directors lowered SANBAG’s share to a 3% increase rather than the higher amount requested.  Concurrently, SANBAG asked Metrolink to find ways to streamline costs to manage services within the allocation provided.  Metrolink has chosen to cut service along the San Bernardino line rather than cut in other areas, like administration.”
The Southern California Regional Rail Authority elected to remove two mid-day and two late-night trains from Metrolink’s schedule. Thus, Train 310, which leaves L.A.’s Union Station at 12:20 p.m. and arrives in San Bernardino at 1:50 p.m., and Train 327, which leaves San Bernardino at 2 p.m. and arrives at Union Station at 3:35 p.m. will no longer run. Furthermore, the two latest running excursions, Train 338, which leaves Union Station at 11 p.m. and arrives in San Bernardino at 12:30 a.m., and Train 339, which leaves San Bernardino at 9:05 p.m. and arrives at Union Station at 10:40 p.m. will no longer run. As a consequence, Train 336, which departs from Union Station at 9:30 p.m., will be the last Metrolink train leaving Los Angeles Monday through Friday.  Those missing Train 336 would still have the option of using late running bus line back to San Bernardino County.
Watkins told the Sentinel “We are aware that the San Bernardino line is currently experiencing a decline in ridership, especially in the areas of the mid-day and late-night service and these are the areas targeted for reductions.  Cutting trains with low ridership will help reduce future subsidy demands from Metrolink to SANBAG, and assist SANBAG in managing its limited operations and maintenance resources to the greatest extent possible.  These funds are distributed between Metrolink and Omnitrans primarily for the metro valley area, and increasing budget demands from each entity must be balanced with available resources.”
The schedule changes will go into effect on October 1 and will save the Southern California Regional Rail Authority somewhere in the neighborhood of $600,000 through the current budget cycle.
While SANBAG, which provided $11.5 million toward Metrolink in 2013-14,  did come up with 3 percent more to venture toward operations, it was simply unable to come up with the full sum requested. The Southern California Regional Rail Authority requested 13.5 percent more from Metro in Los Angeles County, 8.5 percent from Orange County, 14 percent from Riverside County and 7.3 percent from Ventura County. All of those entities complied.
The San Bernardino-to-L.A. Metrolink line is the most heavily used route of the system, with 12,000 boardings per day. There are seven Metrolink routes through six counties, spanning 512 miles.

Needles Gets No Slack From Sheriff On 2014-15 Contract But Cuts Deal With Fire Department

(July 15)  The city of Needles, which ranks among the three most economically challenged of San Bernardino County’s 24 municipalities, was cut some slack by the county with regard to its expenditures for basic services in the 2014-15 budget.
Needles contracts with both the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department and the San Bernardino County Fire Department for law enforcement and fire protection service, respectively.
Fourteen of the county’s cities contract with the sheriff’s department for police service. This year, the sheriff’s department upped the price of that service, the department said, primarily due to changes in workers’ compensation, retirement, and liability costs. At its last meeting in June, the county board of supervisors signed off on a collective $5,915,693 increase to the contracts of the thirteen county cities other than needles that contract with the sheriff’s department – Twentynine Palms, Yucca Valley, Big Bear, Yucaipa, Highland, Loma Linda, Grand Terrace, Apple Valley, Hesperia, Victorville, Adelanto, Rancho Cucamonga and Chino Hills. Whereas in 2013-14 those 13 cities paid a total of $113,268,794 for law enforcement service,  in 2014-15 those 13 cities will pay $119,184,487.
At that point, Needles had not finalized its budget and so its 2014-15 contract with the sheriff’s department was not brought forth.
Any speculation that the county would subsidize Needles law enforcement operations was foreclosed when at the July 8 board of supervisors meeting the Needles/sheriff’s department budget was given final approval. Like all of the other contract cities, Needles saw the amount of money it will pay for law enforcement service increased.
Whereas in 2013-14, Needles contract with the sheriff’s department was for $1,896,998, in 2014-15, the city will pay $1,997,847 for the same level of service.
The contract amendment, which reflects the new salary and benefit rates for safety and general employee classifications as well as updated supplies and equipment costs for 2014-15, was approved by the Needles City Council on June 24, 2014.
For many deputies, Needles is considered a plum assignment because duties there include patrolling the Colorado River and Lake Havasu, tasks which are often carried out in boats or on jet skis.
In his negotiations with the county fire department, Needles City Manager Rick Daniels was able to soften County Fire Chief Mark Hartwig and battalion chief Tom Marshall into lowering the earlier proposed increase the county had was seeking with regard to the Needles fire protection service contract.
In 2013-14, Needles  shelled out $606,026 for fire service. The county proposed earlier this year upping that amount to $675,000. Upon the city council’s approval of the general fund budget on June 24, the county had reduced that demand to $623,565. That represents a relatively minuscule 2.6 percent increase from fiscal year 2013-14.
According to Marshall, the county will absorb several equipment-related expenses that will directly enhance the public safety element of Needles. Those expenditures include $2,200 toward two new gas monitors; $7,000 for high pressure air bags; $10,000 for eight new radio sets; more than $5,000 worth or repairs and upgrades to the department’s Engine 31, the main engine at the Needles station.

Lawyers: Garcia In The Clear On Transition From Board To OMSD Job

(July 16)  Ontario-Montclair School District officials and the district’s legal counsel have dismissed accusations of a violation of California’s revolving door policy growing out of Steve Garcia’s recent resignation from the school board just prior to his having been hired into an administrative position with the district.
In May, Garcia, whose full name is Julian Steven Garcia, abruptly resigned as a member of the school board. Shortly thereafter, he was hired as a director II with the district, which carries with it a total compensation package, including salary and benefits, of slightly more than $250,000 annually.
Prior to getting the position with Ontario-Montclair, Garcia had been serving in the capacity of assistant principal of instruction with the El Monte Union High School District. He was first elected to the Ontario-Montclair school board in 2001. His resignation from the school board was done quietly and his hiring occurred without fanfare, leaving many of his former constituents in the dark as to the reduction of the school board to four members. Because of the timing of his resignation, his former board colleagues were not empowered to make an appointment to fill the void his leaving has created and there was not time to put the matter to a vote in the June primary election. The position will be filled with an election corresponding to the November general election.
Upon learning of Garcia’s departure as board member and his hiring into the director II position, some residents within the district questioned whether Garcia and the district had run afoul of California’s so-called “Revolving Door Policy,” a provision of the Political Reform Act which is embodied in the California Government Code and intended to prohibit elected officials from using their status as public officials to personally profit. Those questioning Garcia’s action referenced the state’s “one year ban” and said it was illegal for him to be hired by the district for a full year after he was no longer a member of the board.
District officials, however, insisted that the resignation and hiring were above board and that the series of moves leading to Garcia’s hiring had been cleared by legal counsel.
James Scot Yarnell, a senior partner with the Sacramento-based law firm of Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo, represents the district. He told the Sentinel that the revolving door policy is contained in “Government Code section 87406.3 of the Political Reform Act, which applies to local elected officials. The Political Reform Act restricts the post-governmental activities of certain officials who leave local government service.  Such restrictions include a ‘one-year ban’ under specifically defined circumstances.  The purpose of the ‘one-year ban’ is to prevent situations where a former official is paid by a client to appear before and influence decisions of the official’s former agency for the client’s benefit. “
Yarnell, in his written communication to the Sentinel, continued, “The Political Reform Act provides in pertinent part, ‘A local elected official . . . shall not, for a period of one year after leaving that office . . . act as agent or attorney for, or otherwise represent, for compensation, any other person, by making any formal or informal appearance before . . . that local government agency . . . for the purpose of influencing administrative or legislative action, or influencing any action or proceeding…’  Section 87406.3 does not disqualify or prohibit a former public official from employment by the agency.  Rather, the ‘one-year ban’ prohibits a former local elected official from ‘lobbying’ their former agency on behalf of any other person for compensation. [2 Cal. Code Regs. § 18746.3(b)(4).]  The district employed Mr. Garcia after he resigned from his elected office.  Mr. Garcia is not employed to represent any other person.  Rather, he is employed by the district for the sole purpose of representing the interests of Ontario-Montclair School District.”
Board member Sam Crowe, an attorney himself, told the Sentinel, “You apparently have been advised that this appointment was illegal. Your advice is incorrect.  Prior to the appointment, Mr. Hammond [i.e., Ontario-Montclair School District Superintendent James Hammond] received an opinion from our counsel James Scot Yarnell clearly stating that a board member was not precluded from seeking employment with the district. He would be required however, to resign prior to the appointment.”
Crowe said Garcia had long been seeking employment closer to home. “He was waking up at 5 a.m. to get to work on time and was often not getting home until almost 9 at night.”
Crowe, who had long served with Garcia on the board in the 32-school 22,800 student siatrict  and 32 school, said he was eminently qualified for the job he was hired into. “This position came available a while ago and he competed for it along with everyone else,” Crowe said. “He went through the normal application process and ended up with the highest score.  I believe the position is comparable to the position he had at El Monte High School. His travel time was greatly reduced.”
Garcia has a bachelor’s degree in history from Cal Poly Pomona and a second bachelor’s degree in political science from Cal State University Los Angeles. He received a master’s degree in public administration/urban management from Cal State University Fullerton and a second degree in school counseling from the University of La Verne.
Jay Wierenga, the communications director with the California Fair Political Practices Commission in Sacramento, told the Sentinel that “according to some of our folks in the legal department… generally speaking, the revolving door regulations are aimed more at preventing public officials from so-called ‘cashing-in’ in the private sector.  Other aspects involve not representing your new agency/entity before your previous one.  There is not a prohibition from going to work with the entity you previously represented as an elected official.”

Army Releases EIR On Ft. Irwin Airfield

(July 17)  FORT IRWIN—In its environmental impact statement on a proposal to construct a landing strip capable of accommodating C-17 cargo planes at Fort Irwin National Training in the Mojave Desert north of Barstow, the U.S. Army maintains adequate mitigation of adverse impacts would be carried out.
“Measures would be implemented to ensure that adverse environmental impacts of construction and operation of the preferred alternative would be avoided or minimized,” the executive summary of the environmental impact report states. “These measures would be incorporated into the final design, implemented by the construction contractor and/or operations contractor (if used), and included in the contract documents.”
According to the Army, “The purpose of the proposed action is to construct a C-17 capable flight landing strip with adequate maximum-on-ground parking, length, and associated infrastructure to support the objectives of Joint Forcible Entry training. This special use facility would support airfield seizures and lodgement expansion training.”
The summary continues, “The proposed action is needed to satisfy identified training needs and to allow maximum flexibility to provide realistic training scenarios. Training requirements for the National Training Center are described in the Department of the Army Combat Training Center Master Plan. The installation does not have facilities to accommodate joint airfield and drop zone training. Although the National Training Center has potentially more usable drop zones than any other installation in the U.S., airborne units and air mobile brigade combat teams (BCTs) have to train for these missions at the Joint Readiness Training Center in Fort Polk, Louisiana. However, Fort Polk lacks the capability to integrate joint airfield and drop zone training with heavy BCTs for lodgment expansion training. The lack of an airfield at Fort Irwin with associated training infrastructure limits the scope of realistic training scenarios that can be designed at the NTC.”
The size of the air strip and its surrounding area to be impacted by the development is quantified as 445 acres in the report. Work on the project is to begin this year and the strip is to be fully operational in 2015.
The airfield would be capable of landing both C-130 and C-17 aircraft. It could also be used by Army and Marine Corps helicopters. The Army anticipates up to four training sessions at the facility per year.  Aircraft take-off and landing would be made by roughly 10 to12 C-130 and C-17s per training exercise.
While the environmental impact report acknowledges some alteration of the terrain, it asserts there will be “no impact” on flora and fauna, including any endangered species.
The report listed the plants and animals observed to be living on or near the project site, including rare and threatened or endangered species. Plants growing in the area of the project included wire lettuce, false wooly daisy, turpentine broom, Mojave aster, goldenhead, Indian ricegrass, frost mat, Cooper’s dogweed, bursage, cheesebush, devil’s lettuce, freckled milkvetch, allscale, spinescale, saltbush, red brome, Booth’s suncup, yellow cups, brown-eyed primrose, Fremont pincushion, rattlesnake weed, brittle spineflower, spiny herb, forget-me-not. coyote melon, tansy mustard, Nevada tea, desert five-spot, flatcrown buckwheat, desert trumpet, redstem stork’s bill, Texas stork’s bill, desert poppy. broad-flowered gilia,. sticky snakeweed. Pima ratany. lilac sunbonnet, creosote bush, desert alyssum, desert calico, Arizona lupine, desert lupine, water jacket, desert dandelion, whitestem blazingstar, purple mat, hole-in-the-sand plant, roundleaf oxytheca, notch-leaved phacelia. distant phacelia, desert chicory, bag bush, Russian thistle, desert senna, Mediterranean grass and desert mallow.
Animals and insects observed at or near the project site included the Arizona blister beetle, coachwhip, harvestor ant, plant bug, desert swallowtail, cliff swallow, desert horned lizard, long-nosed snake, desert cottontail, darkling beetle, common side-blotched lizard, painted lady, grasshopper, antelope ground squirrel, dragonfly, bee, Bell’s sparrow, burro, bee flies, zebra-tailed lizard, western shovel-nosed snake, western whiptail lizard, common raven, sidewinder, horned lark, long-nosed leopard lizard, tarantula hawk, white-lined sphinx moth, black-tailed jackrabbit, desert cottontail, kangaroo rats, pocket mice and field mice, desert woodrat, Botta’s pocket gopher, kit fox, grey fox, coyote, bobcat, and mountain lion, ground squirrel, whitetailed antelope squirrel,  black-throated sparrow, rock wren, roadrunner, yellow-rumped warbler, Hutton’s vireo, cliff swallow, ruby-crowned kinglet and white-crowned sparrow, red-tailed hawk, northern harrier, golden eagle and prairie falcon, burrowing owl and barn owl, desert iguana, chuckwalla, gopher snake, western patch-nosed snake, blind snake, and ground snake.
The report noted threatened or special status species in the area, though it maintained they would not be harmed by the project. Those plants were the Lane Mountain milk vetch, the Mojhave Fishhook cactus, Clokey’s cryptanthe, mariposa lily and the desert cymopterus. The endangered fauna are the desert tortoise, the golden eagle, loggerhead snake and the Mohave ground squirrel.
A letter addressed to various Indian tribal and reservation officials states that there are a total of eight archaeological sites and 84 isolated finds located within the project area and immediately outside of it. The report said these sites are not in the direct construction zone of the project.
The report states that there will be some soil erosion and dust generated as well as usage of water and the generation of noise during the construction phase, and that the operation of fixed and rotary wing aircraft will result in winds that will stir up dust once operations at the facility begin.
The 278-page report can be viewed at
Public comments with regard to the project can be submitted to John Baker, Fort Irwin Director of Public Works, Environmental Division, Building 602, P.O. Box 105085, Fort Irwin, CA 92310-5085.

George Cooley And His Son

By Mark Gutglueck
(July 17) George Cooley and his son, George Mills Cooley, were two county supervisors who held office during the first half century of San Bernardino County’s existence.
George Cooley, the elder, was born in the Village of Eythorn, County of Kent, England, on December 21, 1831. Orphaned at a very young age, he was adopted by a wealthy English gentleman. While the promise of a substantial inheritance was dangled before the lad, who anticipated that one day he would share in his benefactor’s  estate, ultimately he  received no inheritance whatsoever. George Cooley then approached a prominent ship owner and “bound” himself as a sailor. He completed his apprenticeship honorably and put in his time at sea. While still a young man, he set about seeking his fortune in the New World and sailed on the American ship “Camillus of New York” from England to New Orleans. Sailing with him was a young woman from Charlton, Kent County, Ellen Toputt, who had been born on July 14, 1834. They were wed at sea on May 19, 1853, with the ship’s commander, Charles R. Day, performing the ceremony while the ship was eleven miles north of Monte Christo Island in the West Indies.
After arriving in New Orleans, the newlyweds traveled up the Mississippi by steamer to Keokuk, Iowa and then overland to Salt Lake City, having been converted to the Mormon faith.  They settled in Keokuk for almost four years and their first child, Geogre Mills Cooley, was born on December 23, 1855 while they were in Salt Lake City.
George and Ellen Cooley grew disenchanted with Brigham Young’s dictates and the Mormon Church in general. With their year-old son, they enlisted in a party of other English immigrant families disaffected from the Mormon Church who departed the Utah territory for California. They arrived in San Bernardino on May 11, 1857. The Cooleys made a permanent settlement on an extensive farm about four miles south of San Bernardino on land then called Indian Knolls but now known as Cooley Ranch.
Cooley worked this land as a farmer, becoming exceptionally successful through hard work and perseverance.
George Cooley was elected as San Bernardino County’s Third District supervisor  in 1882, taking office on January 8, 1883. On August 6, 1884, the county was re-divided from three districts to five and his district was reconfigured as the Fourth District. He was reelected in a special election held on November 18, 1884 and reelected again in 1886, holding office until January 5 1891. He was elected chairman of the board and served in that capacity from September 7, 1885 until January 5, 1891.
George Cooley took great pride in the construction of what was then the Hall of Records and the county courthouse. He devoted himself especially to the judicious and economically sensible utilization of public funds in those buildings’ construction, establishing himself as conscientious  steward of the public trust.
Retiring from political life, George Cooley devoted the remainder of his days to the operation of his ranch, where he died on April 2, 1916, at the age of 85. He and Mrs. Cooley had sixteen children, of whom nine survived. him: George M., Frank L., Norman H., Charles C., E.M., Scott, Mrs. L. Thomasson, Mrs. Rose Chapline and Mrs. Helen Clyde. Also surviving him were 35 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren. His only other relative in America was his brother John Cooley, of Oakland. By coincidence, the two brothers died within fifteen minutes of each other.
Two years after George Cooley left the board of supervisors, San Bernardino County as it was then underwent a significant change when Riverside County was formed, in so doing relieving San Bernardino County of 7,303 square miles of its southernmost land mass.  Despite that change, San Bernardino County remained the largest county in the country at 20,105 square miles, larger than New Jersey, Delaware, Connecticut and Rhode Island, combined.
In 1896, George Cooley’s oldest son, George Mills Cooley, was elected Fifth District supervisor.
George Mills Cooley was born on December 23, 1855 in Salt Lake City. When he was only one-and-a-half years old, on May 11, 1857, he departed with his parents from the Utah Territory in an ox-drawn wagon train of ten other families.
Sometime after his family’s arrival in San Bernardino  on May 11, 1857, his father established what would eventually become the Cooley Ranch on the south bank of the Santa Ana River in what is now Colton.
George grew up in a beautiful ranch home. By the time he reached manhood he had been educated by his father, studying at home.
One of his first independent acts as a young man was to rent with another enterprising youth of the area, Alfred Hunt, a thousand acres between San Bernardino and Redlands. They worked that property and with his share of the proceeds from that venture, George Mills Cooley took courses at Heald’s Business College in San Francisco. After college he entered the service of Ruffen and Bray’s Hardware Store in San Bernardino. He worked there  from 1875 until 1885, eventually becoming the manager of that establishment. In 1885 he bought the firm which, to this day, is known as the Cooley Hardware Company. Historically, it is the oldest store in San Bernardino, having been originally established in 1854. With nothing but his skill and untarnished credit, Cooley expanded the store, which became one of the largest and most thoroughly stocked hardware stores in the state. In 1890 he competed with twenty-nine other pipe dealers in the western states to sell the city of San Bernardino a large quantity of pipe required for the city’s water system. His bid was accepted for the entire contract as it was from $4,000 to $14,000 lower than the competing bids.  George M. Cooley also engaged in real estate development and erected six dwellings on the two acres he then owned at the corner of Sixth and D streets.
Cooley’s wife was the former Sarah Bessant, daughter of Isaac and Mary Ann Bessant, an English family who were with the same wagon train from Utah as were George and his parents in 1857. George and Sarah had three sons and a daughter, Dora, who became the wife of Ernest Martin, a former San Bernardino Postmaster.
After his election to the board of supervisors in 1896, he took office on January 4, 1897 and served until January 8, 1901. He was succeeded by John Clark of San Bernardino
Cooley’s most important and lasting contribution to the development of San Bernardino came though his quarter-century fight for equitable freight rates, and particularly against the back-haul charge which had given Los Angeles a cheaper rate on transcontinental shipments than San Bernardino. George Mills Cooley was the chairman of the Interior Counties Freight Rate Bureau and vice president of the Intermediate Rate Association, a national organization. He represented the state of California on this body and the executive officers continually sought his advice on freight rate questions. The elimination of back-haul freight charges was largely due to his long campaign, and this victory at once opened the way for San Bernardino to assume a position as a shipping center, a distinction it maintains until today. He had much to do with the establishment of various large enterprises in San Bernardino. He took an active part in civic affairs and figured in the management of a number of community organizations and companies.
Following his four-year term as county supervisor, George M. Cooley returned to the full-time management of his hardware store in the company of his brother, Frank L. Cooley, as vice-president. Three sons, Allan Grover Cooley, George Damon Cooley and Marshall Brooks Cooley, managed various departments.
In addition to his commercial interests, George Mills Cooley was a student of, and authority on, farming and agriculture. He derived some of his greatest pleasure in growing plants, a particular hobby having been potatoes. Like Luther Burbank, he was attracted into the fascinating field of developing and propagating new species and had some notable results to his credit. His trial grounds and the scene of his practical efforts as a grower was a sixty-four acre farm in the vicinity of Perris Hill between San Bernardino and Highland in what is now Del Rosa. On this ranch was an extensive orange grove, as well as groves of apricots, peach and olive trees, all under a high state of cultivation and with an ingenious irrigation system.
George M. Cooley was plagued by ill health toward the end of his life and he outlived his father by only seven years, dying on October 22, 1923. On that day, he was found on his ranch among the plants and trees he had long cultivated and cherished. He was survived by his wife, his daughter and three sons, two sisters and four brothers, E.M., Charles, Frank and Norman Cooley.