Hesperia City Councilman Bill Holland has begun to seriously rethink the move he made last July to engineer the appointment of Jeremiah Brosowske to the city council.
With Republican politics, and notably, a particular brand of Republican politics, having grown dominant in Hesperia, Holland’s calculation was he would be solidifying his position as one of the pillars of the community by installing Brosowke onto the council following the death of Mayor Russ Blewett last May. But now that it turns out the new generation of the Grand Old Party’s leadership has different ideas about how things should be run and wants to ease him out the door, Holland is talking counter-revolution.
Last summer, things were different. Holland’s almost blind loyalty to a narrow definition of what is good Republicanism led him to go along with a plan hatched by then-incumbent Councilman Paul Russ to arrange for Jeremiah Brosowske’s elevation to the council.
Brosowske had what a circle of Republicans believed were impeccable GOP credentials.
Homegrown in the Victor Valley, Brosowske graduated from Granite Hills High School in Apple Valley and he enrolled at Victor Valley College, where he was elected to the Associated Student Body Council and Senate, serving in the post of parliamentarian and ultimately rising to the position of ASB vice president. He became thoroughly involved in campus politics at Victor Valley College, including serving as a member of the budget committee and facilities committee. In addition, he served as the student representative on the Victor Valley College Measure JJ Oversight Committee, which was chartered to monitor the expenditure of $297.5 million in general obligation bonds to upgrade, expand, and construct school facilities passed by more than fifty-five percent of Victor Valley’s voters in November 2008.
From there, Brosowske was drawn into what has been a continual life in politics, Republican politics specifically. He became involved in a number of election or reelection campaigns. In 2013, Curt Hagman, who had served on the Chino Hills City Council as both a council member and mayor before garnering election to the California Assembly in 2008, was nearing the end of his allotted six years in the Assembly based on the term limit regulations in place at that time. He 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 outright, better positioning himself to make a run for San Bernardino County Fourth District supervisor in 2014. Once he had acceded to the county party chairmanship, Hagman had repeated contact 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, gaining Hagman’s confidence.
Consequently, Hagman hired Brosowske at the age of 23 into the post of executive director of the San Bernardino County Republican Central Committee. Brosowske, who was referred to by San Bernardino County party loyalists as “a young man with a plan,” sought to demonstrate his value to the party by pushing to staff party headquarters from 9-to-5 on weekdays and to bring in party volunteers to man the office on weekends. He involved himself in eight campaigns for Republican candidates. Hagman credited Brosowske with guiding all eight of those candidates to victory.
While he was in that executive director position in 2016, Brosowske made a political move on his own behalf, seeking election to the Republican Central Committee, upon which there are eight allotted slots representing the First Supervisorial District, eight allotted slots representing the county’s Second District, nine allotted slots representing the county’s Third District, five allotted slots representing the county’s Fourth District and three representing the county’s Fifth District. The county’s First District encompasses a major portion of the county’s desert region. Eleven people ran in that election, including then-Hesperia councilmen Eric Schmidt and Paul Russ, Hesperia Unified School District Board Member Eric Swanson and his wife, Rebekah Swanson. Though Brosowske had considerable experience by that point functioning in political circles, he had little in the way of name recognition among the electorate and he finished eleventh in the race.
Unfazed by his temporary setback at the hands of Republican voters, Brosowske remained loyal to the party. Hagman, as San Bernardino County’s Fourth District Supervisor, offered Brosowske a position with his office as an analyst. Brosowske, who had managed Paul Russ’s successful 2014 campaign for Hesperia City Council, remained active in promoting Republican candidates in local races, including that of Rebekah Swanson for Hesperia City Council in the 2016 race.
Despite Brosowske’s inability to vault electorally into a position on 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 office holders to offset the increasing gap favoring the Democrats over the Republicans in San Bernardino County in terms of voter registration numbers. Among the Republican Party’s current crop of office holders including Hagman, a consensus had grown that Brosowske should be groomed for higher office, including supervisor, state legislature and Congress.
It was in 2016 that Mountain States Consulting Group emerged onto the San Bernardino County political scene. Without fanfare, the company put the 25-year-old Brosowske to work by contracting with Brosowske’s company, Next Generation Holdings LLC, securing for him his ability to support himself, while leaving him at liberty to pursue his political interests.
Eleven months ago, in May 2018, Hesperia Mayor Russ Blewett died. Rather than hold an election to fill the resulting vacancy or simply leaving the position unfilled until the November election when Blewett’s term was due to expire, 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.
Brosowske, along with Brigit Bennington, Victoria Dove, Russell Harris, Linda Holder, Robert Nelson, Anthony Rhoades, Veronica Rios and Chester Watts, applied for the council position. The competition was a ruse, as the outcome was predetermined. The fix was in. Brosowske was going to be the new councilman any way it shook out. After making a show of considering the applicants and interviewing all of them except Watts, who was infirm and could not attend, during a specially-scheduled meeting on the evening of July 11 the council voted 3-to-1, with Paul Russ, Bill Holland and Rebekah Swanson prevailing and councilman Larry Bird dissenting, to appoint Brosowske.
Holland, a former law enforcement officer, has a reputation for being somewhat intellectually challenged, slow on the uptake, vulnerable to manipulation by those who flatter him and making a show of embracing those espousing so-called conservative values whether that sentiment is sincere or not. He has a demonstrated history of making wishful interpretations.
The degree to which Holland understood the nature of Brosowske’s relationship to Bill Postmus, Mountain States Consulting Groups’ principal, is unclear.
Postmus, like Brosowske, was the political boy wonder of his day. Having associated himself in the early 1990s when he was then in his early twenties with the likes of then-California Assembly Republican Leader/later California Senate Republican Leader Jim Brulte and Assemblywoman Kathleen Honeycutt, Postmus founded with Brad Mitzelfelt and Keith Olberg the High Desert Young Republicans. In 2000 while running as a conservative Christian-and-family-values Republican, Postmus was elected First District Supervisor, representing all of San Bernardino County’s desert communities. At the age of 29, he was the third youngest supervisor to ever serve in San Bernardino County throughout its then-147-year history.
Postmus continued to make a mercurial rise in political and governmental status and stature following his election as supervisor. In 2002, Paul Biane, a slightly older member of Postmus’s generation, was elected supervisor in the county’s Second District. Biane was like Postmus a Republican, and the two quickly formed a firm political alliance.
2004 was a watershed year for Postmus. In addition to being reelected as supervisor, he was chosen from among his peers to serve as chairman of the board of supervisors and was also elevated, as a member of the San Bernardino County Republican Central Committee to be its chairman. Simultaneously, Biane had likewise been elevated to vice chairman of the board of supervisors and the San Bernardino County Republican Central Committee. By virtue of his electoral office and the accumulation of seniority, rank and primacy pursuant to the offices he held combined with his political alliances, Postmus at that point bestrode San Bernardino County like a political colossus. In the summer of 2004 then-President George Bush invited Postmus to be among the select group of Republican Party members sharing the stage with him as he gave his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention. As San Bernardino County’s GOP leader, Postmus adhered to a hardcore pro-law enforcement and national defense Republican line, touting fiscal and social conservatism, bemoaning the corrosive influence of liberalism and assailing Democrats at every turn.
In 2005, Postmus in tandem with Biane, orchestrated a power play to consolidate their power, inducing the central committee’s members to assent to surrendering to the central committee’s executive board the power to act, through a majority vote of its members, with the full authority of the central committee. Postmus and Biane then installed as members of the executive board both of themselves and, with a single exception, individuals who were employed by them as members of their county board of supervisors staffs. They thereafter had a complete lock on the San Bernardino County Republican Party apparatus and control of how local party money would be spent, rendering themselves virtual kingmakers.
In 2006, Postmus while he was still in seeming command of San Bernardino County’s political and governmental reins, spent slightly more than $4 million, which still stands as a record for the most money ever spent on a San Bernardino County electoral campaign, in a successful effort to replace the incumbent county assessor, Don Williamson. As assessor, Postmus had become the primary taxing authority in the county, with the discretion to cut landowners and business owners a break on the amount of property and asset taxes they are to pay on their land and equipment/vehicles/factories, by reducing the assessed valuations on that land and assets. For such favors, those large landowners and business owners provided him and candidates he designated with political contributions in return.
Before departing as supervisor to become assessor, Postmus prevailed upon his board colleagues to appoint Brad Mitzelfelt, his chief of staff and one of his closest political associates over the years, to serve out the remaining two years of his term as supervisor.
Less than two years into his term as assessor, there ensued a succession of revelations about Postmus that would dash forever his political prospects. The conservative persona he had exhibited publicly was in actuality diametric to every aspect of his private self. A severely drug addicted homosexual who wantonly engaged in a so-called P & P, or Party and Play, lifestyle, Postmus would on a daily basis troll specialty internet sites for men he had never before met interested in hooking up for one night stands in which they would engage in dawn-to-dusk methamphetamine-fueled sodomy marathons. Postmus’s methamphetamine use was prodigious, involving converting it into a liquefied form and using a syringe to inject it. He also had an affinity for amyl nitrate, as well as huffing, that is, engaging in the inhalation of chemical vapors from such sources as industrial solvents, paint thinner, gasoline, felt-tip markers, nail polish remover, glue, spray paint, aerosol sprays and nitrites, all for their euphoric effect these afforded. Top ranking county officials knew of Postmus’s drug use by his last year as supervisor, but had kept quiet about it, at least in part because of the tremendous authority and power he wielded over them.
Ultimately, after Postmus’s secrets were revealed and it became known that he had hired into high-paying assessor’s office positions no fewer than 13 of his political associates and/or one-time boyfriends who had no experience or expertise in the real estate industry nor skills with regard to property appraisal or taxing policy, he resigned from office. He was criminally prosecuted, pleading guilty to 14 felony public corruption charges. No fewer than eight of his political associates were likewise arrested and charged with various crimes relating to the abuse of the governmental system and violations of public trust growing out of their activities in conjunction with Postmus. Four of those were convicted.
Among the 14 felony political corruption charges Postmus pleaded guilty to were conflict of interest while holding public office, which carried with it his being banned for life from holding political office in California. The sentencing on those charges was postponed while Postmus cooperated with prosecutors in testifying against several of those with whom he had been involved in his depredations. As the trial for several of those was delayed for more than five years, Postmus remained free. Meanwhile, he longed to get back into the political game, but because of his conviction on the political conflict of interest while in office charge, he was unable to do so directly. Instead, he made his way back into politics indirectly, through associations with politicians who were in office or hopefuls intent on gaining election. To them, Postmus would serve as an advisor and spearhead their fundraising efforts, using his knowledge of how those who have a dog in the hunt when it comes to government regulations or government decisions relating to permitting projects or granting licenses are willing to pay money to influence votes. He used Mountain States as a laundering mechanism for them, taking money in from individuals or business entities that anticipated having to get government approval for this or that down the road, and then passing the money along to the office holders running for reelection or challengers seeking office, with the secret proviso that the recipients would take official action while in office that would meet with the original donors’ expectations. At the same time, Postmus involved himself in greasing the skids for speculators and investors looking to get involved in the nascent marijuana industry that was about to launch into the financial stratosphere based upon the 2016 passage of Proposition 64, the California’s Adult Use of Marijuana Act. Postmus embraced the marijuana culture despite the consideration that it was absolutely antithetical to the conservative Christian family values he had propounded when he was an office holder. The money to be realized by jumping on the cannabis bandwagon and the opportunity that money provided to promote the candidates he was working with outran any such moral principles.
After Blewett’s Death, when Russ approached him and Councilwoman Rebekah Swanson with a plan to ensure that Brosowske would get the appointment, Holland, who had been put into the mayor’s post, went along.
On the day when Bennington, Dove, Harris, Holder, Nelson, Rhoades, Rios, Brosowske and Watts were to come before the council for interviews, it was arranged that Brosowske’s interview would be scheduled toward the end of the session. Former Hesperia Mayor and Councilman Bill Jensen, a Russ, Holland and Swanson ally, was present during those interviews, which were conducted such that any of the candidates who had yet to be interviewed were excluded from the room, a precaution ostensibly taken to prevent the candidates from seizing an advantage by either plagiarizing from the competition or using the heads-up to formulate an articulate or eloquent response. After listening to the questions, Jensen then left the council chambers and went out to report to Brosowske the questions being asked, giving him an opportunity to formulate what would sound like contemplative responses to each of those questions. Armed with that advantage, Brosowske came in and knocked ‘em dead, acquitting himself admirably, and providing Holland, Russ and Swanson with cover to do what they were going to do in any event, which was to appoint the 27-year-old to the council.
The appointment conferred on Brosowske the advantage of incumbency, which he used to his advantage in the upcoming November 2018 election, in which the seats to which Holland, Russ and Blewett had been elected or reelected in 2014 were to be contested. 2018 would be the first year in its history that Hesperia would hold district as opposed to citywide elections. As chance – or arrangement – would have it, Holland resides in District 2, which had its council seat up for election that year; Russ is a resident in District 3, which by chance or purpose had its council position up for election in 2018; and Brosowske is a resident of District 4, where a third city council contest was set for 2018. When their campaigns kicked off in July, just after Brosowske’s appointment to the council, the three endorsed each other. As November approached, however, some form of contretemps developed between Brosowske and Holland, and Brosowske withdrew his endorsement. Ultimately, Brosowske and Holland prevailed in their contests, each gaining a berth on the council for four more years. However, Russ, who considered himself to be an ally to both Brosowske and Holland, was turned out of office in the same election. Also in November, Postmus, after more than a seven-year delay, was at last sentenced, garnering a three-year term in state prison. Gone with him was Mountain States Consulting Group, and its ability to serve as a laundering agent for the money flooding into the coffers of local politicians from what many considered to be questionable sources, such as the cannabis industry. Indeed, Brosowske, despite his longtime association with the Republican Party, during the campaign had made clear that he was not opposed to Hesperia participating in the now-materializing marijuana bonanza, and taking part in the revenue stream taxing sales of the substance will produce.
After the election, no rapprochement between Holland and Brosowske took place. In fact, their differences widened. Then, last month, an effort to recall Holland from office materialized. Without citing exactly how it was that he knew, Holland said that Browsowke was behind the effort to remove him from office.
This week Holland doubled down on that assertion, simultaneously representing himself as being on the side of righteousness and virtue, law and order and all that is decent in Hesperia and the world; Browsowske, he said, is a disciple of the devil’s weed and the moral decay cannabis represents. It was true, Holland conceded, that he had been lured into allowing the distribution of medical marijuana in Hesperia, but that was only done out of compassion and with the approval of Blewett, whom Holland practically deified.
With Blewett now ascended into heaven, Holland said, those left on earth must come to terms with the fact that marijuana has its roots in hell. He was deceived, Holland said, when “a series of folks got up and talked about how necessary it was, how meaningful it was to their health and wellbeing. And there was an older couple who got up and spoke about having to drive in the night some fifty or sixty miles to obtain the medical cannabis. I’m a retired law enforcement officer of 31 years. At that point I was staunchly against. But like Mayor Blewett, my mind was changed, and we allowed cannabis deliveries.”
Holland sized up the degree to which the cannabis underworld, which he said includes its political consiglieri Brosowske, has wrapped its tentacles around Hesperia. “I believe there is six locations currently that distribute, and yet I’ve heard from the mayor as well as others in the education field that cannabis at school sites in rampant,” Holland said. “We’ve had several incidents of folks in the application process being bad actors and committing both administrative and criminal violations during the process. It was even an election issue. So, this has gone back and forth, and I met with a gentleman and his wife just before council who asked if there was any possibility of additional licenses coming from the city. I said the only reason that I approved the first and only license type was because I believed then it was medically necessary. However, that is not what is being requested. It’s not what is being pushed for, to be frank.”
It’s a battle of good vs. evil, between those who are virtuous such as himself against those of Brosowske’s ilk, a battle of those who want to ruin their lives and those of others with marijuana and those who will fight it, between those who uphold the law and those who break the law, Holland said. “That’s what this is about,” he said. “I was just served for recall. You might ask why do I make that comment now. I said about a month-and-a-half ago that my fellow council member Jeremiah Brosowske was behind it and I didn’t get proof of that until a couple weeks ago when Jeremiah said in a bar, bragged to several folks, one of which is a person I know well, that not only is he behind the recall, which is contradictory to what he said in that public setting, he has put $20,000 of his own money toward the recall and he’s here to bring the cannabis industry to the City of Hesperia in a big way, in every way possible.”
Holland said he is now Hesperia’s last hope in keeping the city from being consumed by the scourge of dope, and he characterized the fight against his recall as a crusade to prevent infidels like Brosowske from defiling the Holy Land of Hesperia. Divine guidance had led him to say what was true before and he is speaking with the authority of the Gospel now and in league with everything that is good and right about Hesperia, Holland said. “If I remember correctly, that is exactly what I said that night, that this is cannabis-driven, cannabis-related,” Holland said about the move to get him out of office. “I can tell you now: the proof’s in the pudding, folks. I only had that information second-hand. But the gentleman who sat and listened to Jeremiah, who by the way was actually bought a drink by Jeremiah, has written an affidavit to such. He can’t be here tonight, but at a future meeting will read the same.”
Holland’s critics and political opponents have long characterized him as being in the pocket of the development industry, and that he has put the interests of land speculators, contractors, builders and financiers above those of Hesperia’s residents, who have to commute using streets that are overburdened by traffic during rush hour or begin those commutes at the wee hours of the morning to avoid them. Holland, however, set aside any such suggestions, insisting that those who would profit by the sale of marijuana are the true greedy destroyers of the community, seeking to pump poison into the lungs of the populace for thirty pieces of silver, not he or the development community. .
“When an industry believes they [sic] can control a city by controlling the council – and by controlling the city means they control how the city functions – you’ve got a big problem,” Holland said. “You’ve got a council member who during that bragging talked about bringing in his own city manager. There’s no mistaking that our current city manager is also a retired law enforcement officer, as is the assistant city manager. And the cannabis industry views us as a threat. If I’m not mistaken, Mr. Brosowske also claims some if not healthy earnings from the industry in consultation with many of his corporations or subcorps. So, in any event, I will tell you now, officially my position has changed on the cannabis delivery and all cannabis businesses, and from this moment forward I will be a resounding ‘no.’ And in fact, it might just be high time to bring the delivery service issue back before the council, at a future date.”
For the first two years Larry Bird was on the city council, Holland had little use for him, largely because he considered Bird to have been an obstructionist when it came to dealing with developmental issues, particularly Bird’s resistance to increases in the density of residential development. Holland’s political persona as a creature of the building industry consistently left him sharply at odds with Bird and his support network. Last year, when Russ and others were pushing for Brosowke’s inclusion on the council because of the perception that he would be a rubberstamp for the building industry, Holland followed suit. Bird provided the lone vote against elevating Brosowske to the council. At this point, however, Holland finds himself in league with Bird, who through the traditional rotation that takes place in Hesperia, is now the mayor.
“The mayor has termed this really a battle for the soul of Hesperia, not to put too fine a point on it,” Holland said. “You now have a young man who has finagled his way onto the council, fooled a lot of people, but now the light’s shown on him, and it’s going to get bright.”
Noting that Larry Nava, who was one of the candidates who ran against him in the November 2018 election and whom Brosowske has now befriended, served the recall papers on him, Holland said it is clear who the forces lining up against him are.
“This recall petition is simply a battle to change the quorum on this council as was bragged about in a public setting by Mr. Browsowski,” Holland said. “It is strictly geared to allow the cannabis industry to come full force into this city and create what it has already created in Adelanto. If that’s what you wish, then I’d say get behind this, but if not, the choice seems fairly simple. But I challenge you, Mr. Brosowske, to tell me, or tell the audience or tell the public that what I’ve said is untrue.”
Brosowske responded, “I definitely will. It seems like personal insult after personal insult. Mr. Holland’s claims are a little bit unfounded. Number one, I’m not trying to fire our city manager and I think we’ve had dialogue on that. Number two is I’ll make a commitment right here, right now, if Mr. Holland is recalled, during two years I will not make a vote on any cannabis items, because Mr. Holland wants to continuously make this about attacking me, attacking me, attacking me. This isn’t about attacking me. This is Mr. Holland’s personal issue with a developer. An item has been added to the agenda about apartment sizing and him [sic] and this developer went back and forth, back and forth. I have a relationship with that developer, but no different from other electeds who have a good relationship with that developer. So I think it’s unfounded to come up here and say ‘Cannabis. The city’s going to go up in smoke. The soul of the city [will be lost] without me being here.’ I think that’s a politician in a narcissistic way making a comment to make it about themselves [sic]. Cannabis is not my number one issue. I obviously campaigned on that and said I’d be for that, but number one, I think we have to look at how we develop the city, how do we bring the city forward. I think water rights are an important thing that on the council we’ve worked on, trying to get more water rights for the city. I’m not going to sit here and demonize the cannabis industry, though. Some cities in California, a lot of cities, have gotten on board with that. So, I’m not going to go to conferences and say negative things about that. And number two, to say, ‘A bar. You’re in a bar sitting.’ I mean, Bill, I just don’t understand how it’s always a personal attack on me.”
“Jeremiah, do you deny the comments?” Holland asked.
“I never said the comments,” Brosowske said.
“You deny the comments,” Holland said, skeptically.
“Have I put twenty grand toward your recall?” Brosowski asked, rhetorically. “I mean, go look. I advocate you go look for that paper trail, if I put twenty grand in to recall you. I would think a council member would maybe reach out to me and say ‘I want to see. Did you say “Hey, did you say ‘X, Y and Z’?” Instead it’s always this show of ‘Poor me,’ on this dais, and I don’t get that. I mean, if you have issues with me, reach out to me, have a conversation with me. Don’t take it to the dais and continuously whine and complain. I grew up in a household that you didn’t whine and complain. You went out there and you did things. And that’s what I continue to do. I don’t bring up my issues or my frustrations. I go out into the community and I reach out to residents. I go door-to-door in my district still, even after the election’s over, to hear peoples’ concerns. Do I think there’s a divide between City Hall and some of the average residents? Yeah, but I don’t blame that on the city manager. I blame that just as much on the council. You have to go out there and hear peoples’ concerns. And that’s not just Hesperia. I think that’s every government. So, I hope we can kind of work together and not just continuously throw jabs at me. ‘Oh, I heard from such and such. And I heard from such and such.’ I mean, it’s no big secret we haven’t gotten along for a long time, but that was with you doing your theatrics on the dais. ‘Oh I must pull my endorsement from…’ I mean, it’s not me throwing jabs at you in a public setting, so that’s what I’m disappointed in. I would think that the city is a business. I would hope that we could keep all this drama behind the scenes. Realize the city is a business, and we want people to come to Hesperia and businesses to come here. So, again, I hope the council would be mature enough to not continuously say this is all about the cannabis industry.”
Brosowske continued, “Like I said, I’ll commit to a year, maybe two years, if somebody wants to hold me to a year, if Mr. Holland is recalled, of not voting for any cannabis item, because if he’s recalled, that’s not what it’s about. It’s not me running the recall, and you can even ask the proponents of the recall if I’m behind it. I’m not. But I most certainly am going to get behind a candidate if you are so recalled, and I may give money out of my campaign committee to that candidate, because you have continuously blasted me again and again and again instead of trying to work with me. Now, Mr. Bird, on the contrary, has come to me several times and said ‘Hey, what do you think about this?’ or tried to find commonality. And I just wish you could do the same thing.”
Recently, Brosowske spoke with the Sentinel. During that exchange he offered some insight on how it is that he has embraced the cannabis industry, in seeming defiance of conservative elements of the GOP.
Brosowske said that marijuana represents a new arena of entrepreneurship in California, and those who do not recognize that and adjust to it will be passed by. He said that despite his strong identification as a Republican, “I’ve always been a libertarian.”
Hesperia City Councilman Bill Holland has begun to seriously rethink the move he made last July to engineer the appointment of Jeremiah Brosowske to the city council.