WVWD Hands Brosowske Quarter Of A Million Dollars Annual Sinecure

In a move widely perceived within San Bernardino County’s political and governmental circles as an egregious act of blatant cronyism, the West Valley Water District in Rialto earlier this month conferred upon Hesperia City Councilman Jeremiah Brosowske a job that will provide him with a quarter of a million dollars in total annual compensation.
Brosowske, the 28-year-old wunderkind of San Bernardino County politics, was hired to serve as West Valley’s assistant general manager at an annual salary of  $189,592 augmented by $62,500 in benefits. Brosowske has no experience, no training, holds no certificates or licenses, and possesses no expertise in water operations.
Even among the county’s crop of current and former elected officials, a culture in which the provision of payoffs, kickbacks and backroom accommodations which commonly involve multiple layers of quid pro quos wherein some of those elected officials are provided with employment by another governmental entity in exchange for the governmental entity or agency they represent extending employment to other elected officials, amazement was expressed at the audacity of advancing Brosowske into a position with a pay grade and responsibility level which so excessively exceeds his qualification and skill level.
Word spread immediately that Brosowke’s hiring into the post represented a tangible payoff in exchange for a vote or votes Brosowske has made or is now expected to make in his position and capacity as a council member in Hesperia.
In the face of the firestorm of controversy engendered by Brosowske’s hiring, those responsible for the action, including General Manager Clarence Mansell, current Assistant General Manager Ricardo Pacheco, Human Resources and Risk Manager Deborah Martinez, Board of Directors President Michael Taylor and board members Clifford Young, Don Olinger, Kyle Crowther and Greg Young have hunkered down into a crouch and are not fielding public or press inquiries into the matter. Twenty-three calls/messages from the Sentinel to the various officials with the district at their district office phone numbers or outside private or business lines this week went unanswered and unreturned. In particular, Mansell was unwilling to specify what skills or ability Brosowske possessed which justified his hiring.
Of issue in the controversy is that the position Brosowske was given is an essentially do-nothing job. His assignment as assistant general manager is vague under the terms of his employment agreement and, with the leave of the general manager, he is free to come and go as he chooses. Though the employment agreement references “certain services,” nowhere in the contract are those services or his duties specified or explained.
“[The] District desires to engage the services of Mr. Brosowske as an assistant general manager of the district,” the agreement states. “Mr. Brosowske represents and warrants that he has the skill and ability to serve as assistant general manager and wishes to accept such employment. Mr. Brosowske shall render certain services to [the] district as assistant general manager. Mr. Brosowske shall be an assistant general manager of the district and shall report to the general manager and perform such duties and services as shall be necessary and advisable to manage and conduct the business of the district, subject at all times to all applicable law(s) and board decisions, as well as the consent, approval and direction of the board. Mr. Brosowske will devote his full time and attention to the performance of his duties and to district business affairs. Mr. Brosowske shall report to the general manager and district’s offices for work under one of the district’s approved work schedules and at such other times as may be necessary to discharge his duties, except when away on district business, or as otherwise excused such as vacations and holidays. Notwithstanding the foregoing, Mr. Brosowske agrees that he will report to work when necessary to district’s operations, regardless of regularly scheduled hours to the extent such attendance is reasonably possible. Mr. Brosowske may devote a reasonable amount of time to professional water district and community related activities, so long as the time devoted to these other activities does not interfere with the performance of his duties to the district. Participation at those professional and other organizational activities will be subject to review and approval by the general manager. This agreement shall in no way be interpreted as prohibiting Mr. Brosowske from making passive personal investments and/or attending to such other personal business affairs, provided that such personal investments and/or private business affairs in no way interferes and/or conflicts with his duties and responsibilities as assistant general manager and/or the needs and best interests of the district.”
The agreement specifies a six-month probationary period for Brosowske, who is designated at “at-will” employee. If he is terminated with cause cited, he will be provided no severance stipend. If terminated without cause cited, he is entitled to a severance stipend equal to three to six months salary.  The agreement calls for the district supplying Brosowske with a cell phone, laptop computer, iPad, either a district vehicle or $600 per month vehicle allowance, holiday and vacation pay, sick leave, life insurance, medical coverage, dental coverage, vision coverage, travel expenses, and educational and/or tuition reimbursement up to $5,000 annually.
Attempts by the Sentinel to get West Valley General Manager Clarence Mansell to clarify what Brosowske’s approved “district work schedule” consists of or what services Brosowkse is to perform were met with no response.
According to an individual highly knowledgeable about district operations, Mansell was ordered by the board to hire Brosowske along with Logan Olds, the former general manager of the Victor Valley Wastewater Reclamation Authority. Olds recently left his longheld post with the Victor Valley Wastewater Reclamation Authority. Olds was hired into an assistant general manager position with West Valley as well, at a somewhat higher salary level than Brosowske of $210,000. There has been no controversy over Olds’ hiring, as he has the education, training, certification, licensing and experience that relates to a water district’s operations that would seem to justify his assumption of that position. The hiring of Olds and Brosowske, the one-time district insider told the Sentinel, was orchestrated by business and development interests that are heavily active in both the Victor Valley and Rialto/Lytle Creek areas, and are major donors to the campaigns of politicians in those areas. The generosity of those business owners toward politicians and public officials has gone beyond political donations to them, the one-time official said. Thus, several of those politicians, which include a majority of the West Valley board and Brosowske, are “owned” by those interests. The arrangements made by those interests in convincing the West Valley officials to provide the West Valley assistant general manager’s job to Brosowske, he said, was a means of solidifying the hold on Brosowske.
Mansell was not in favor of hiring Brosowske, but had no choice, the former official said. “There were probably 17 other prospects for that position, all with real, hands on experience in water operations or financial management,” he said. “Clarence would have rather hired any of them before hiring this kid. This wasn’t a decision made on the merits. Hiring Logan [Olds] and him [Brosowske] were a package deal.”
While the West Valley Water District has a “Transparency” page on its website, the page does not provide access to the board members’ campaign disclosure documents to allow their campaign donors to be instantly checked against the campaign donors of elected officials elsewhere, including those in the Victor Valley. The page provides the facility to download and print a public records request application, but the district requires that the application be submitted in writing through traditional physical rather than electronic mail.
Brosowske told the Sentinel that he anticipates his function will essentially relate to public relations with the district.
“My job at West Valley Water District will mostly be overseeing external affairs and customer service,” he said.
His talent is such that the district will be getting what it is paying for, he said, and the district was fortunate to land him rather than the other way around. “I had many employment opportunities and chose this one because of its location and ability to grow in the water industry,” he said. “I currently serve as a member of the Hesperia Water Board in a term that coincides with my council seat.”
He was not just given the job, Brosowske insisted, and his broad area of expertise in public affairs was what appealed to the district. “I was put through an extremely difficult interview process.” Brosowske said. “As you already know, I was a policy advisor to Supervisor Curt Hagman. I helped Supervisor Hagman craft water and development policy. I was the executive director to the San Bernardino County Republican Party. I oversaw all operations of the party with the media and operations. As you noted, I have working relationships across San Bernardino County. However, my relationships with West Valley Water District Board Members has been extremely limited. This interview process was extremely difficult and included a personal interview and a board closed session.”
Brosowske stood assertions that he had gotten the job solely on the basis of his political position and political connections on their head, saying. “If I did not hold any elected office this likely would not be a news story. Unfortunately people with political agendas chose to attack every aspect of my life, including how I make my living. It’s unfortunate that people would use my employment as a way to attack myself or board members of the West Valley Water District.”
Brosowske grew up in Apple Valley and attended 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. After being thoroughly involved in campus politics at Victor Valley College, 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 2014, he was hired at the age of 23 by then-County Republican Party Chairman Kurt Hagman into the post of executive director of the San Bernardino County Republican Central Committee. He continued working on campaigns, including his own unsuccessful run in 2016 for a position on the Republican Central Committee.
Bill Postmus thereafter took Brosowske under his wing and sought to vicariously relive his political heyday through the younger man.
Postmus, himself a boy wonder of San Bernardino County Republican politics who in 2000 at the age of 28 was the fourth youngest person in county history to be elected to the board of supervisors and in 2004 acceded to the dual positions of chairman of the board of supervisors and chairman of the San Bernardino County Republican Central Committee, went on to be elected as county assessor in 2006 before his political career exploded in scandal. Despite his fall from grace, Postmus was able pull a multitude of strings and last summer the Postmus Cabal succeeded in having the Hesperia City Council appoint Brosowske to fill out the remaining time on Russ Blewett’s term on the city council following Blewett’s death in May 2018. Again, with Postmus’ guidance, Brosowske managed to be elected outright to the Hesperia City Council in November. Later that month, Postmus was sentenced to three years in state prison based on 14 felony convictions on a host of political corruption charges, including bribery, solicitation of bribery, conflict-of-interest, public conflict-of-interest, misappropriation of public funds and criminal misuse and misdirection of public funds. He remains incarcerated. A major portion of Postmus’ formula for political success was his recognition that individuals and business interests whose fortunes could be impacted by political decisions are willing to spend substantial amounts of money to influence the political decision making process. Postmus was very effective in having those individuals and interests had money over to him, dressed up, usually, in the form of political contributions. Using the political war chest at his disposal, Postmus while he was in office promoted his own candidacies and also used the money at his disposal and his fundraising ability to become a virtual kingmaker.
Brosowske’s acceptance of the West Valley assistant general manager’s position is making a substantial cross section of San Bernardino County politicians nervous because of the way it is focusing public attention on elected officials with one governmental entity holding employment with another governmental entity, including a number of cases in which they have parlayed their holding of elected position into obtaining a government job. This so-called double-dipping, critics say, creates a circumstance in which those officials are reluctant to hold the line on public employee raises and employment benefits, as the approval of such raises and increased benefits in the jurisdictions where they have authority can and does redound to the raising of pay and the increasing of benefits in the jurisdictions where they are employed, what can be categorized as either an indirect or direct conflict of interest. Public conflicts of interest are felonies in California. Within San Bernardino County, in 21 of its 24 municipalities – the  cities of Chino Hills, Ontario, Rancho Cucamonga, Fontana, Rialto, Colton, San Bernardino, Loma Linda, Grand Terrace, Redlands, Big Bear Lake, Highland, Yucaipa, Twentynine Palms, Needles, Barstow, Victorville and Hesperia and the towns of Apple Valley and Yucca Valley – there is at least one member of the city council or the mayor who is a public employee or public pension recipient. In addition, several of the cities have council members or mayors whose spouses work for a public agency or public entity.
-Mark Gutglueck

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