Board Of Supervisors Unable To Reach Consensus On Hiring New Fire Chief

Following a build up that was widely interpreted as an indication that the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors had agreed on who would serve in the capacity of county fire chief over the next several years, the board took no action in that regard this week.
What was represented as a special meeting of the board was held on Tuesday, not in the county’s normal venue for public meetings, the Robert Covington Chambers  on the ground floor of the county administration building, but rather on the fifth floor in the Magda Lawson Conference Room, beyond the earshot of the public. The advertised purpose of the meeting was the hiring of a fire chief to replace former County Fire Chief Mark Hartwig, who departed on March 15 to become the fire chief of Santa Barbara County.  Since Hartwig’s departure,   Don Trapp  has filled in as the interim chief.
There has been considerable negative publicity relating to the county fire department, stemming from the county’s imposition of never-before-charged $154 annual assessments on the property owners of 94 percent of the county territory, intended to defray the cost of providing fire protection service.  One of Hartwig’s last accomplishments as chief was to put that comprehensive assessment zone in place.
Supervisors Janice Rutherford and Robert Lovingood are opposed to the assessment regime. Supervisors Josie Gonzales, Curt Hagman and Dawn Rowe favor it.    No decision on finding Hartwig’s replacement was reached on Tuesday, and no announcement relating to the ground covered in the meeting was made, which is perhaps a signal that an increasingly bitter divide on the board over the assessment issue is escalating.

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