Postmus Filtering Bribe Money To County Supervisors To Establish A Commercial Cannabis Monopoly For The Cartel He Represents

By Mark Gutglueck
oooIn the sweepstakes between rival racketeers seeking to obtain a vice grip on San Bernardino County’s potential half billion dollar a year marijuana market, the cartel being represented by former Supervisor Bill Postmus is succeeding in squeezing out its far less politically sophisticated competition.
In recent months, Postmus and others within the political network he has set up to carry out political money laundering have succeeded in plying a host of politicians in San Bernardino County functioning primarily at the municipal level with a sufficient amount of money to get permits and licenses for the companies he and his associates represent or own in those cities. Simultaneously, Postmus has manipulated circumstances to induce San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon to carry out operations aimed at crippling marijuana industry operators who are competing against the “establishment” or “franchised” marijuana businesses that are kicking back to the county’s politicians.
Postmus has now stepped up his efforts on behalf of that part of the cannabis industry which recognizes that in the current milieu cutting governmental officials in on the vast profits that are to be reaped from making marijuana available to the masses is crucial to the establishment of dominance of the lucrative marijuana market.
In the most recent development, the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors has appropriated $10.4 million for code enforcement in the county’s 2021-2022 Fiscal Year Budget, the lion’s share of which is earmarked for the sheriff’s department to conduct further raids against unlicensed marijuana cultivation operations that are not affiliated with the entrepreneurs who have been and are yet paying off the politicians who have voted to provide them with the licensing and permits that allow for the growing, distribution, wholesale and retail sale of marijuana, along with its refinement or alteration into edible form or both healing and intoxicative salves and ointments.
In this way, with the cooperation of the highest ranking elements of county government, Postmus appears to be clearing the deck to allow a consortium of a relatively small number of cannabis-related companies to seize control over San Bernardino County’s marijuana market for the foreseeable future. With the competition soon to be out of the way from having been driven into a state of financial unsustainability by the sheriff’s department’s constant destruction of its product and inability to move its product to market, Postmus and the companies which so far have obtained operating permission with five of the county’s 24 incorporated municipalities are next poised to have the board of supervisors end its ban on marijuana in the 18,899-square mile expanse of the county’s unincorporated territory. This will give the cartel to be represented by Postmus and his various associates, including Dino DeFazio and Jeremiah Brosowske, a virtual monopoly.
Actively or passively, directly or indirectly involved in the effort to create a class of enfranchised marijuana operations are Board of Supervisors Chairman/Fourth District Supervisor Curt Hagman, First District Supervisor Paul Cook, Second District Supervisor Janice Rutherford, Third District Supervisor Dawn Rowe, Fifth District Supervisor Joe Baca, Jr., County Sheriff John McMahon, County Chief Executive Officer Leonard Hernandez, County Chief Financial Officer Matthew Erickson, County Counsel Michelle Blakemore and Chief Assistant County Counsel Penny Alexander-Kelley.
From 1907 until 1996, the use, possession, sale, cultivation, distribution or refinement of marijuana was strictly illegal in California. In 1996, the passage of Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use of Marijuana Act, by California’s voters made the sale and use of marijuana for medical purposes legal in the state, pursuant to the user having a medical prescription for it. Nevertheless, San Bernardino County and all 24 of its municipalities steadfastly refused to allow medical marijuana dispensaries to operate within their jurisdictions, until Needles in 2012 became the lone exception. Illicit dispensaries, nevertheless proliferated at locations that were too numerous to accurately count. In 2015, the political leadership in Adelanto as it was then composed sought to redress that city’s misfiring economic engine by moving to make marijuana cultivation to supply the state’s dispensaries legal. The passage of the Adult Use of Marijuana Act in 2016, allowing those over the age of 21 to partake of the drug for its intoxicative effect, spurred the cities of San Bernardino, Barstow, Adelanto and Needles to seek to cash in on the sale of the drug by allowing, variously or in combination the retail sale of the plant, the cultivation of the plant, the refinement of marijuana into edible or palliative products and in the case of Hesperia, the distribution of the drug. The remaining 19 San Bernardino County municipalities and the county itself are yet resisting allowing marijuana to be commercially available, although at least nine county cities are tolerating the sale of CBD oil, a palliative derived from marijuana oil.
Since 1999, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department has been participating in and receiving federal money for the Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program. Even in the aftermath of the voters’ 2016 passage of the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, Sheriff John McMahon, with the consent of the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors, has applied for and continues to receive those grants, which he has used to offset some, though not all, of his department’s costs in going after marijuana cultivators. At present, the department is using $151,000 obtained through a Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program grant to offset the sheriff’s department’s costs in the anti-marijuana crusade. Marijuana remains classified by the federal government as a Schedule 1 Narcotic, considered in the same class as heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine.
Bill Postmus, who was convicted in 2011 of fourteen felony counts of soliciting and receiving bribes, fraud, conflict of interest, misappropriation of public funds and perjury relating to his actions while he was serving as the chairman of the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors and as chairman of the San Bernardino County Republican Party and later as San Bernardino County Assessor, is no longer able to hold public office in California. Having learned the pitfalls of bribetaking and other forms of graft and corruption, Postmus has created a Wyoming-based corporation, Mountain States Consulting Group, which he wields as a political money laundering operation. By doing consulting work on behalf of those with business before the county, Postmus through Mountain States accepts money from those customers and then funnels, delivers by means of a back door or through someone else or some other entity funds to the politicians controlling local government, including members of the board of supervisors. That money is intended to influence the votes of those politicians.
Postmus, who is closely affiliated with John Dino DeFazio, an Apple Valley landowner and developer. He is also an associate of Jeremiah Brosowske, the former executive director of the Republican Central Committee, whom Postmus helped establish as a Hesperia city council member in 2018. Some of Mountain States’ major clients are well-financed cannabis industry heads who have obtained permits and licenses to operate in Adelanto, San Bernardino and Needles. In both Adelanto and San Bernardino, several of the operations obtained those permits by bribing elected city officials, such as former Adelanto Mayor Rich Kerr, former Adelanto City Councilman Jermaine Wright and current San Bernardino Mayor John Valdivia. Postmus has begun filtering money from the set of cannabis entrepreneurs Mountain States represents county officials to grease the way for his clients to take command of a major share of the marijuana and cannabis-based product market in San Bernardino County.
Postmus has had, the Sentinel has learned, either or both public and private meetings with Supervisors Curt Hagman, Paul Cook and Dawn Rowe. These meetings have in major measure revolved around money, primarily money that Postmus is able to dig up for them. As a fundraiser, Postmus has begun funneling tens of thousands of dollars originating both from the cannabis industry and elsewhere to Hagman, Cook and Rowe for use in their future election campaigns. Simultaneously, he has put together a timetable by which the county will move to allow “established reliable growers” who have already obtained clearance to operate in Needles, Adelanto and San Bernardino to set up operations in the unincorporated portions of the county as well as within the twelve other municipalities in San Bernardino County other than Needles and Adelanto for which the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department provides contract law enforcement service.
Meanwhile hundreds of unlicensed and unpermited marijuana cultivation operations have sprouted up all over the Mojave Desert, the San Bernardino and San Gabriel Mountains and other remote reaches of the county. The plants grown at most, but certainly not all, of those operations that are of moderate size and intensity are successfully harvested at the end of their optimum growing cycle by those who planted them. Other illicit cultivators have proven even more daring, growing marijuana out in the open or in greenhouses or in makeshift tents, literal plantations of the weed, in a significant number of cases more than 10,000 plants at a time. While early on in this cycle of bold efforts at raising that many plants successful harvesting occurred, it is estimated that at present, after the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department has intensified its lookout for and actions against such massive farms, fewer than 30 percent of those are able to remain in place long enough to be harvested by the growers.
Those operations in many cases involved minor, medium, larger and in some cases quite substantial environmental, health, safety and social hazards. Large scale use of pesticides and herbicides presented a host of problems, including directly poisoning nearby residents who in some cases breathed in those chemicals or experienced skin contact with airborne particles, not to mention the contamination of local water sources and wells. In addition, the operators of the farms in many cases took drastic measures to ward off poachers and those who might interfere with them, which included conspicuously arming themselves and sometimes intimidating neighbors or anyone who approached the cultivation sites, along with establishing booby traps and potentially deadly devices at the periphery of the property in question, including bear traps or coyote traps capable of injuring a person who happened upon them to the point of needing to have a leg, foot, arm or hand amputated. In at least some cases, those engaged in these unpermited and unlicensed agricultural operations utilized explosive devices and mines as barriers.
With illicit or unlicensed marijuana farms mushrooming all over the county and particularly in the Mojave Desert, the region’s residents over the last couple of years have called upon the sheriff’s department to act. While the department had been a continuous recipient of the Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program grants for some two decades at that point, the sheer volume of marijuana being produced at innumerable cultivation sites presented a challenge, such that in relatively short order the federal funds were consumed by the cost of the sheriff’s department’s operations. As late as October of last year, sheriff’s department personnel were disappointing a number of county residents in both the desert and mountain areas who were alerting the department to the illicit operations within close proximity to their property, bordering their property or in some cases intruding onto their property.
Requests, indeed demands, by mountain and desert residents that the sheriff’s department abate the illicit operations were commonly met with responses that held the department’s hands were tied, and that the Adult Use of Marijuana Act prevented the department from responding to the burgeoning number of complaints.
In January 2021, as if Sheriff John McMahon was making good on a New Year’s resolution he had made, his department became far more aggressive in locating and uprooting unlicensed marijuana plantations.
On January 6, 2021, the sheriff’s Marijuana Enforcement Team served a search warrant in the 2600 block of Parkdale Road in Adelanto, where it found, seized and ultimately destroyed 19,998 still-growing marijuana plants along with 186 pounds of partially-cured harvested marijuana.
On January 27, the task force located and seized another 1,903 marijuana plants and 306.5 pounds of harvested marijuana in Lucerne Valley and Johnson Valley.
On February 2, that team descended upon a massive unlicensed marijuana cultivation operation on property in El Mirage, some 12.5 miles northwest of Adelanto, where it found greenhouses in which 18,884 plants were growing, all of which were confiscated and destroyed.
On April 16 and 17, sheriff’s department operations carried out at Emerald Street and Pine Springs Avenue; Two Mile Road and Copper Mountain Road; Mesa Drive and Morongo Road; Nandina Street and Lupine Avenue; Rodgers Lane and Alfalfa Avenue; Canyon Road and Sunny Sands Drive; Sunny Sands Drive and Meldora Avenue; and within the 70300 block of Giant Rock Road, all in and around Twentynine Palms resulted in the location and destruction of 10,400 marijuana plants weighing more than six tons.
Thirteen days later, on April 29, sheriff’s personnel returned to the Emerald Street and Pine Springs Avenue cultivation site, and went to four others located in the Twentynine Palms and Desert Heights environs, including one in the 73500 block of Two Mile Road, a property at the intersection of Dunlap Road and Canyon Road, another property proximate to Dunlap Road and Canyon Road, and a site at the corner of Redhill Road and Bermuda Avenue, pulling up more than 2,300 marijuana plants in less than seven hours.
During operations in the greater Twentynine Palms area, Desert Heights and Landers on May 5 and May 7, raids were carried out on marijuana cultivation facilities on property near Sespe Street and Alta Avenue in Landers; Covela Avenue and Napa Road in Landers; property adjacent to Napa Road and Alta Avenue in Landers; at Covela Avenue and Sespe Street in Landers; at another site close to Covela Avenue and Sespe Street in Landers; at a site proximate to Kelsey Boulevard and Presswood Drive in Landers; on property at Kachina Drive and Shoshone Valley Road in Desert Heights and at a facility located on property in the 1200 block of Sunrise Avenue in Desert Heights. Those raids led to the seizure of 4,400 marijuana plants and over eight tons of uncured marijuana
On May 13, the sheriff’s department’s Marijuana Enforcement Team along with personnel from the San Bernardino County Agricultural and Weights and Measures Department and the county code enforcement division converged on an outdoor cultivation site in the 35700 block of Granite Road in Lucerne Valley, where the operators had previously maintained that the farm was one for the cultivation of hemp to be used for the manufacturing of rope, cloth, paper and other materials. The 40-acre site hosted 199 greenhouses in which 76,118 plants. All of those bushes, personnel from the County Agricultural and Weights and Measures Department determined through field tests, possessed THC content at levels that would eliminate their official governmental status as hemp under any conditions. THC is the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. The entire crop was destroyed.
On May 20, the marijuana enforcement team and a member of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife served five search warrants at various locations in the Twentynine Palms area, including the 86200 block of Twentynine Palms Highway; at Monte Vista Drive and Waylyn; in the 25500 block of El Encanto; at Taco Road and Mojave; and at Bullion Mountain and Mesa Road. Deputies and detectives seized 3,901 marijuana plants and 652 pounds of processed marijuana.
On May 27, the sheriff’s department’s marijuana enforcement team served multiple search warrants at locations in Lucerne Valley, including one within the 33200 block of Haynes Road, a location in the 33500 block of Haynes Road, another in the 15900 block of Verdugo Road and a property in the 33300 block of Desert Lane, where 6,429 marijuana plants and five pounds of processed marijuana were seized, together with guns.
Unknown or unrecognized by the general public was that Sheriff McMahon’s newfound resolve corresponded with the overtures then being made by Mountain States Consulting Group to San Bernardino County’s political establishment to allow the “enfranchised” marijuana entrepreneurs who have shown generosity to the county’s politicians the opportunity to expand their operations from San Bernardino, Adelanto and Needles to the county’s unincorporated areas.
Crassly or delicately, subtly or unsubtly, directly or indirectly, implicitly or explicitly, Postmus’s message to the members of the board of supervisors was essentially this: Bow to the new order and end your blanket opposition to the commercialization of marijuana in the county, since eventually and inevitably, that change is going to come. If you do so, and if you abide by an arrangement that ensures that the companies I represent get in on the ground floor of the county’s marijuanification and its competitors are locked out, I will make it monetarily worth your while. I can assure you that as Mountain States Consulting Group’s clients capture a near monopoly on the San Bernardino marijuana market, so too will you profit.
Reportedly, Postmus has proposed a timetable to Board of Supervisors Chairman Curt Hagman and County Chief Executive Officer Leonard Hernandez that calls for initiating a transition to eventual full legalization of the cultivation, harvesting, processing, warehousing, distribution and sale of marijuana and its alteration into cannabis-based derivatives, chemicals and products to include the manufacturing and sale thereof within the county’s unincorporated areas by 2022. That proposed transition is to come after the companies Mountain States Consulting Group is now representing have fully established the cannabis-based and marijuana-based businesses they now have in place or are currently setting up. After those enterprises have become fully operational and profitable, they will have the capital to expand their operations into the unincorporated areas of the county, and cover Postmus’s commitments to bankroll Hagman’s, Cook’s and Rowe’s political and personal agendas into the future. IOUs worth in practical terms no less than several million dollars are to be divvied up and placed into each of those politicians’ campaign funds or, through creative means that Postmus is able to devise, into their personal bank accounts. In the last several months, Postmus has been coordinating fundraising efforts on behalf of Hagman, Cook and Rowe, garnering from Mountain States Consulting Group’s clients as well as other Republican Party donors actual donations and commitments of several hundred thousand dollars. Postmus’s fundraising effort on behalf of Supervisor Janice Rutherford, the other Republican on the board of supervisors in addition to Hagman, Cook and Rowe, has been less spirited than for the others largely because Rutherford is scheduled in late 2022, because of term limits, to leave the board of supervisors. At that point, her position as one of the county’s key decision-makers will end, making her of virtually no use to Postmus and Mountain States Consulting Group’s clients who have substantial financial interests intertwined with county policy decisions current and future. Still, Postmus has an interest in remaining on Rutherford’s good side, and he stands ready to assist her in her fundraising effort if she decides to initiate a campaign for county assessor in 2022.
Postmus is interested in influencing the other member of the board of supervisors, Joe Baca, Jr., the only Democrat on the board. Baca’s political affiliation presents a complication for Postmus, who at one point, before he was felled by scandal, was the chairman of the San Bernardino County Republican Party, proving himself in that role to be that entity’s most efficient fundraiser historically. Utilizing Mountain States Consulting Group or other cutouts, including those related to the Republican Party, to deliver money to Baca is out of the question because Baca cannot afford to be seen taking money from the Republican Party or Republicans in general, and Postmus cannot compromise his continuing affiliation with the Republican Party by providing financial assistance to an up-and-coming Democrat. Postmus is currently casting about for some means by which he can network with a chain of individuals, agents, shell companies, agencies or organizations to pass money along to Baca in a way that cannot be detected by outsiders but such that Baca knows the origin of the money.
There are Republicans in San Bernardino County, including some in the same political orbit as Hagman, Cook and Rowe, who have questioned the wisdom of the party and individual politicians such as Hagman, Cook and Rowe associating with Postmus, given his criminal history. The scandal that enveloped Postmus involved political corruption of a breathtaking scope ultimately costing the county at least $168 million in legal settlements and another $6.5 million in attorney’s fees. In his 2011 guilty pleas, Postmus acknowledged that he had sought and received bribes in return for votes that profited those who had bribed him or made campaign contributions to him, that he made decisions and took actions while he was a supervisor in which he had a conflict of interest, that he misappropriated public funds to an illegal use, that he engaged in fraud as well as the misuse of public property and governmental authority and that he perjured himself and falsified documents in an effort to keep his illegal activity from being discovered. Few of those who have misgivings over the GOP’s current crop of the county’s top officeholders such as Hagman, Cook and Rowe associating with Postmus have had the courage to speak up about their concerns in this regard. There is a determined belief among Hagman, Cook, Rowe and their respective chiefs of staff – Yekaterina Kolcheva, Timothy Itnyre and Matt Knox – as well as the political teams that surround them and their supporters that they can perpetuate their collective hold on the political power they now possess by casting their lot with Postmus and his superior fundraising ability and electioneering machinery. Collectively, the calculation is that Postmus’s fundraising activity on their behalves will remain largely hidden, that the vast majority of the public in San Bernardino County has long forgotten the misdeeds Postmus involved himself in and that if any flap does develop, the money that Postmus and his team will provide them with can be used to pay for electioneering and positive public relations efforts that will more than offset whatever negative publicity the Postmus association might entail.
Two months ago, when the Sentinel asked Supervisor Cook if he thought it was a good idea to be utilizing Postmus as a fundraiser, given his history and Mountain States Consulting Group’s current association with entities that were seeking favorable treatment from the county with regard to their various proposals and projects, Cook shrugged and said, “That’s politics.”
Indeed, casual observers and more experienced ones alike have naively missed the full implication of the services that Postmus is able to offer politicians. Having been convicted of multiple levels of corruption, bribery, graft and violations of the public trust as a consequence of his time in office, Postmus is acutely conscious of which missteps he took and how it was that he was caught. Because of his political conflict of interest conviction, he is banned for life from holding elected office in California again. He has a determination to remain in the political game, however, and toward that end he created Mountain States Consulting Group. A Wyoming-based limited liability company, it is subject to fewer and less-exacting reporting requirements than California corporations.
Those individuals or entities looking to influence politicians, elected officials and governmental staff members who directly ply those in the decision-making loop with money run the risk of being charged with bribing public officials. Those public officials who take money from individuals or corporations who have a financial interest in the decisions those public officials make run the risk of being charged with accepting bribes. Mountain States Consulting Group, by serving in an intermediary role between the donor and the politician, can prevent the politician from being accused of favoring a campaign donor with his or her votes. Such favoritism toward campaign donors is not illegal, but can come across as unseemly, and thereby represent political risk down the road. Mountain States can eliminate this politically problematic appearance.
More significantly, Mountain States Consulting Group exists as a tool to essentially legalize bribery. In California, elected officials are not prohibited from voting on matters that impact their campaign donors but they are strictly prohibited from receiving remuneration from, or being employed by, any individual or entity with a financial stake in the votes they make as elected officials. Postmus has designed, and has used, Mountain States Consulting Group to actually employ public officials directly or indirectly. This allows the public official to report the income received as an employee of Mountain States Consulting Group, thereby complying with income reporting requirements mandated by state law. This can occur without the official having to report that Mountain States Consulting Group is the recipient of money from the individual or entity favored by that official’s action or vote. The loose and vague reporting and disclosure requirements that Mountain States Consulting Group functions under as a consequence of being a Wyoming Limited Liability Company is of some consequence in this regard.
It is of further note that Postmus has a special and highly favorable relationship with Sheriff John McMahon.
Postmus was first arrested and charged in 2009 with criminal activity relating to his actions while he was serving as county assessor in 2007, 2008 and 2009. In 2010, he was criminally charged with a string of interrelated offenses that occurred while he was county supervisor in 2004, 2005 and 2006. After initially maintaining his innocence in the face of all of those charges, Postmus in 2011 entered guilty pleas to all 14 felony charges against him. His sentencing was deferred while the criminal cases against others alleged to have been involved with him in his crimes wended their way through the prosecutorial and judicial process, and the court had an opportunity to determine if he made good on a key element in his plea arrangement, which was to cooperate with prosecutors, including testifying against his alleged co-conspirators before a grand jury and at trial. In November 2018, with all of those cases, prosecutions and trials having concluded, Postmus came before San Bernardino County Superior Court Judge Michael A. Smith, before whom he had entered his guilty pleas in 2011.
Judge Smith sentenced Postmus to three years in state prison. Though the prosecution wanted Postmus incarcerated at once, Judge Smith granted him 15 days to get his affairs in order, requiring that he report to the courthouse at 8:30 a.m. on November 30, 2018. Postmus did so, and was whisked away into confinement at that time.
By mid-December 2018, Postmus was housed at North Kern State Prison, a medium-security all-male prison facility located in Delano, which in addition to serving as the place of detention to close to 1,600 permanent or mainline inmates, also serves as a reception center for incoming inmates who are not destined to remain there for the entirety of their sentences but rather be sent to another prison to serve their sentences.
Postmus’s confinement coincided with California’s effort at prison realignment, which made him eligible for being transferred back to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s criminal detention facilities to serve his sentence. Based upon the the nonviolent nature of his crimes, his presumed lack of further criminal involvement, his behavior while incarcerated and his psychological evaluation, he was indeed sent back in the spring of 2019 to San Bernardino County to serve out the remainder of his sentence.
Under the policies that normally attend the incarceration of those convicted under California law, inmates must serve at least half of their sentence before becoming eligible for parole. Depending upon credits they get for good behavior and the recommendation of prison officials who have evaluated their progress toward rehabilitation, they can be released as early as half way through their sentence, pursuant to the determination of the California Division of Adult Parole Operations and the California Parole Board, or any time after serving more than half of their sentences. Thus, Postmus, whose prison sentence was to run to November 30, 2021, was eligible for release, at the earliest, on May 30, 2020.
As the spring of 2019 progressed to summer, a number of politicians in San Bernardino County were gearing up for the 2020 election season. Absent from the political playing field was Mountain States Consulting Group, since its principal was incarcerated and out of commission.
In July 2019, Sheriff McMahon, himself a central part of the political establishment in San Bernardino County, in a highly unusual move arranged to release Postmus from custody 22 months prior to his then-scheduled release date, after having served fewer than eight of the 36 months of his sentence, and more than nine months prior to the half-way point in his sentence, which under normal circumstances would have been the earliest Postmus could have been released.
Postmus was released, conditional upon his wearing an ankle monitor, traveling no further than 50 miles from his registered place of residence, maintaining a curfew, reporting regularly to his parole officer and being subject to random drug screening. Postmus moved in, on a temporary basis, with this sister in Wrightwood. Almost immediately, he reinitiated Mountain States Consulting Group’s operations, and he was active and a key player in a multitude of political races in San Bernardino County in both the March 2020 and November 2020 primary and general elections.
On May 18 at a workshop pertaining to the county’s proposed 2021-2022 Budget, the board of supervisors telegraphed their intention to put $10.4 million into the spending plan for the upcoming year to address bothersome land use and code enforcement issues in the county’s unincorporated areas, a large number of which consist of unlicensed marijuana farms. Some of the money is to go toward other code enforcement efforts as well as ensuring compliance with the county’s ordinance pertaining to short-term rental units.
Sources close to Postmus say that the board of supervisors’ move to fund more sheriff’s department efforts against unlicensed marijuana cultivators was a signal that its members are agreeable to the timetable he has worked out with Board of Supervisors Chairman Curt Hagman and County Chief Executive Officer Leonard Hernandez to provide the marijuana-related businesses that are Mountain States’ clients with the limited number of permits the county will issue when it undertakes to legalize marijuana-related commercial activity less than two years hence. The arrangements Postmus is pursuing in getting his clients permits to operate at the county level will ultimately give those entities an inside track in establishing cannabis-related businesses in the eleven other county municipalities besides Adelanto, Hesperia and Needles where the sheriff’s department fills the role of police department, Postmus believes, those being Chino Hills, Rancho Cucamonga, Grand Terrace, Loma Linda, Highland, Big Bear Lake, Yucaipa, Yucca Valley, Twentynine Palms, Apple Valley and Victorville.
The Sentinel’s efforts to obtain statements from Hagman, Cook, Rutherford, Rowe, Baca, McMahon, Hernandez, County Chief Financial Officer Matthew Erickson, County Counsel Michelle Blakemore and Chief Assistant County Counsel Penny Alexander-Kelley were unsuccessful.
The Sentinel’s phone calls to Blakemore and Alexander-Kelley to find out the degree to which Hagman and Hernandez have shared with them the timetable for permitting the sale of marijuana in San Bernardino County were intercepted by a secretary in the county counsel’s office. Initially, the secretary said that Blakemore would “not be the best person” to discuss marijuana-related issues, suggesting that such questions be routed to the attorney specially assigned to the county’s cannabis policy. She did not identify that attorney or make clear whether that attorney was a member of the office of county counsel or an outside attorney retained by the county. Upon determining she was speaking with a newspaper reporter, the secretary indicated that the county’s attorneys are not permitted to speak to the public.


Leave a Reply