Board On Tuesday To Blankly Accede SBC’s Myriad Conflicts

In a backhanded fashion, the county board of supervisors is scheduled next week to make an unmeaning acknowledgment of the degree to which local governmental officials have entangled themselves in conflicts of interest.
At their meeting on Tuesday, board members will approve new conflict of interest codes for the recently formed Allegiance STEAM Academy, the Ontario International Airport Authority and the San Bernardino County Grand Jury. Board members will also approve amended conflict of interest codes for the Adelanto School District, the Bear Valley Basin Groundwater Sustainability Agency, the Etiwanda School District, the Hesperia Recreation and Park District, the Inland Empire Health Plan and Omnitrans.
In a report/recommendation prepared this week by San Bernardino County’s top in-house lawyer, Michelle Blakemore, for review by the board of supervisors next week, it is noted “State law requires all public agencies to adopt a conflict of interest code. The conflict of interest code of each agency identifies those positions that are required to disclose financial interests annually on the Form 700. The board of supervisors is also the code reviewing body for local government agencies, other than cities, located entirely within the geographical jurisdiction of the county.”
A Form 700 is a state document upon which elected and other relatively high-ranking governmental officials are obliged to make a list of their holdings, income, investments, and financial interests, which then provides members of the public and other agencies of the government the means to monitor whether in their official capacities these officials have engaged in any action, activities or votes which might enrich themselves or impact their own financial wellbeing.
By the action to be taken next Tuesday, in which the onus for making the financial interest disclosure is imposed upon the officials affiliated with the various agencies and governmental entities by subjecting them to the Form 700 formality and the terms of the conflict of interest codes, the board will absolve itself, essentially, of having to monitor those officials and the responsibility of holding them accountable, an enormous task.
It is not insignificant that Allegiance STEAM Academy, the Ontario International Airport Authority and the San Bernardino County Grand Jury were explicitly mentioned in Blakemore’s report.
Allegiance STEAM is the follow-on charter school creation to Oxford Preparatory Academy, which was sponsored by the Chino Valley Unified School District and consistently between 2010 and 2016 was the highest academically performing school in San Bernardino County. It imploded last year, however, after its founder, Sue Roche, was demonstrated to have engaged in a series of conflicts of interest and embezzlements between January 2013 and June 2016 in which she vectored $4.2 million in management fees passed to Oxford by the school district to a company she owned. Many of those involved in the creation of Allegiance STEAM Academy were associated with Roche and Oxford Preparatory Academy. The Chino Valley Unified School District last year acceded to the chartering of Allegiance STEAM, despite a finding that many of the issues that plagued Oxford were being recreated with Allegiance STEAM’s operational formula.
The Ontario International Airport Authority is likewise beset with conflict of interest issues, the most pointed one of which pertains to the intent of the board controlling the authority to begin selling off what some board members deem to be surplus property at the periphery of the airport footprint. While certain outside interests, in particular investors and speculators from Orange County and Asia, favor the airport authority selling that property to them so it can be developed, the airport’s former chief executive officer, Kelly Fredericks, was opposed to those plans. Fredericks believed that having the airport authority retain that property to accommodate future expansion of the aerodrome was in the long term interest of the community, and he resisted selling the property to turn a fast buck to provide an immediate infusion of cash to the airport and the airport authority. There have been suggestions that the airport board is being unduly influenced by those speculators and developers who are lavishly spreading money around, making hefty campaign contributions to the airport authority’s board members and other politicians, and merging their investment activity with local officials or their family members. Last summer, Fredericks was forced out as the airport’s chief executive officer.
Deputy District Attorney Michael Dauber is the grand jury’s advisor. An employee and supporter of District Attorney Michael Ramos, Dauber, it is alleged, has sought to prevent the grand jury from treading into areas that Ramos would prefer remain unexplored. These sensitive topics include accusations of neglect, misfeasance and malfeasance by employees, supervisors and both midlevel and senior managers in the county’s Child and Family Services Department relating to reports of and evidence that children monitored by the department were being abused by their biological or foster parents; allegations that county jail inmates against their will were being narcotized with psychotropic drugs used as behavior modification agents; allegations that Ramos curtailed his office’s prosecution of figures within the Mexican Mafia coupled with a report that Ramos had been paid cash by a courier employed by that criminal organization; and reports that Ramos moved to quell an investigation and prosecution of a company, Bail Hotline Bail Bonds, which was alleged to have engaged in an illegal tactic known as bail capping within San Bernardino County’s jail system. In the initial stages of that investigation, information was turned up to suggest that certain defendants, particularly ones who are Bail Hotline clients, received more favorable bail recommendations from the district attorney’s office than other defendants charged with the same crimes who exhibited no more and in some cases less flight risk. Accounts hold that Ramos endeavored to shut down investigations that were problematic for him personally and politically, or which represented the possibility that they would lead to the documentation of overt acts or omissions by county employees that carried with them liability implications for San Bernardino County.
Ramos has complete autonomy in assigning and promoting the prosecutors in his office, including Dauber
-Mark Gutglueck.

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