Redlands Turns To Gallagher As Graft Inferences Hasten Foster’s Departure As City Councilman

The Redlands City Council is poised to replace outgoing Councilman Paul Foster with former Councilman Mick Gallagher.
If, indeed, the council follows through with elevating Gallagher to the council, then Gallagher’s political career will bookend that of the man he is replacing. Foster came onto the Redlands City Council in 2010, just as Gallagher was leaving.
In September, Foster announced he would leave the city council as of the first council meeting in January 2022 and move to Camino Island in Washington State.
Gradually with a greater degree of intensity from the time he was elected to the city council Foster has become a virtual functionary on behalf of the development industry, such that in recent years Redlands has been filled with reports that he is on the take, receiving bribes from developmental interests in exchange for his votes in favor of those interests’ development projects, a large number of which have not been favored by a vocal element of the community. There is a perception, as well, that Foster has served as a “zerk,” that being an instrument that has distributed political grease – money – to his council colleagues originating with those developers to induce them to join with him in approving those developers’ projects. It has widely been suggested that Foster’s departure is a well-timed one, meant to remove him from California entirely to end the scrutiny of his relationships with various developmental interests in Redlands and avoid revelations that will implicate him and other Redlands city officials in graft.
The council has wrestled in the meantime with how it will replace Foster upon his January 3, 2022 departure. In November, the divided council gravitated to having Mayor Paul Barich and Mayor Pro Tem Eddie Tejeda approach the five former council members who live in what is now Redlands’ District 5 to determine if any of them are interested in serving out the remainder of Foster’s term, which is to conclude in December 2022 following an election to determine who will serve as the District 5 council person until December 2026.
The decision on Foster’s replacement carries with it a certain political implication, since the appointment will confer upon the recipient an advantage going into the November 2022 election if that individual chooses to seek election. Statistically, incumbents fare better in elections than challengers.
According to a staff report accompanying Tuesday night’s council meeting, “At the December 7, 2021 city council meeting, Mayor Barich and Mayor Pro Tem Tejeda reported on their Council District 5 outreach efforts to contact former city council members residing in District 5. Based on the information gathered during phone interviews, it was recommended by Mayor Barich and Mayor Pro Tem Tejeda that the city council appoint former Council Member Mick Gallagher to fill the upcoming vacancy in Council District 5. Further, to promote transparency in the appointment process, it was suggested that the council interview the former council member at the next council meeting of December 21, 2021.”
Indeed, Gallagher was on hand for Tuesday night’s meeting, and he responded to questions put to him by the council members.
Councilwoman Jenna Guzman-Lowery, perhaps in reference to the rumors swirling about her and the rest of the council relating to the graftfest and payola ring led by Foster, with a nervous laugh referenced surveys of residents and constituents that detected “the lack of faith in our government. So, I think moments like this offer us an opportunity to really demonstrate that we are listening, and that we would like to include people in that process.”
She inquired of Gallagher what qualities he believed a council member should embody.
“Integrity and being open,” Gallagher said.
Throughout his comments and responses to the council, Gallagher carefully avoided any mention of development in the city.
To Tejeda’s question as to his future political ambition, Gallagher said, “I’m here to serve the City of Redlands. I have no intentions of – and I give you my word that I will not – run for reelection.”
Mayor Paul Barich said, “We need someone who is experienced. This is not on-the-job training.”
Bypassed in the appointment process was Ryan Johnson, who vied against Foster in the 2018 election in the city’s District 5 contest.
There was no suggestion by any member of the council of considering anyone else for the position, although during public comment, Dennis Bell suggested that before the council makes its appointment, it solicit applications for the post “to see what kind of applicant pool the city has. You might be surprised.”
The council did not comply with Bell’s suggestion.
In accordance with what was placed on the agenda for that evening, at the conclusion of the item, staff was given direction to agendize the appointment of Gallagher as Foster’s successor for the January 18, 2022 city council meeting.
-Mark Gutglueck

Leave a Reply