Republican Turncoat Wants GT Council Berth

The woman Republicans are seeking to bounce off their county central committee for her efforts in support of Democrats is now seeking appointment to the Grand Terrace City Council.
The city council in San Bernardino County’s smallest geographical city normally entails five members. Sylvia Robles, who had been on the council since 2012, previously intended to remain in that post until the end of her current term in December. As she and her husband are now retired, they intended to move to a coastal city to live out their golden years. They would effectuate that shift, Robles figured sometime in 2025. An opportunity to sell their Grand Terrace home and net enough money in doing so to be able to get into what she described as a “very nice” residence in San Clemente earlier this year. To not let that chance get away, she and her husband sold their place in Grand Terrace, obligating her to resign before she had intended.
The four-man strength city council’s effort to fill the vacancy with former City Councilman Jim Miller failed last month when Miller, for health considerations, declined the offer. He council opened the field up for applicants.
Those applying include Ken Stewart, a public health professional; Ronald Perez, a grant manager for Colton Joint Unified School District; Vincent Jared Rasso, an organizer with Campaign for College Opportunity; and Michelle Sabino, a speech therapist.
Sabino has two other claims to fame or claims to political prominence. She is a member of the San Bernardino County Republican Central Committee and is a primary functionary within the Inland Empire Business Alliance Political Action Committee.
According to a good number of her colleagues within the central committee, however, there is a pointed conflict between those two latter roles. Moreover, that she is seeking a berth on the city council in Grand Terrace, a city contiguous to San Bernardino, where she and the Inland Empire business alliance Political Action Committee are involved in promoting Democrats, is too much for them to take. They want to make sure that an opportunity for her to hold office in Grand Terrace is foreclosed to her and see to it that she is booted out of the Republican Central Committee as well.
By law under the California Elections code, local offices are nonpartisan in nature. It is only state and federal contests where candidates are identified by party in California. Nevertheless, in San Bernardino County, party affiliation is a key consideration in any competition for elective office. While California is a decidedly Democrat stronghold, with state and federal officeholders outnumbering Republicans by a supermajority margin of two-to one from the Oregon border to the north to the Mexican border to the south and from the boundaries with Nevada and Arizona to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west, San Bernardino County is one of the last bastions of the GOP in the Golden State. Despite Democrats having eclipsed Republicans in San Bernardino County in terms of the number of registered voters fifteen years ago, Republicans still hold the upper hand in the 20,105-square mile county, with nearly equal numbers of state and federal legislators from both parties, sixteen of the county’s 24 municipalities having more Republicans on their respective councils than Democrats and four of the five members of the county board of supervisors being Republicans.
That Sabino is registered as a Republican is of no little consequence. And she is, or claims to be, a passionate Republican. Not only is she a member of the county central committee, she was elevated to the position of Third District representative on the cental committee’s executive board by Republican Central Committee Chairman Phil Cothran, Sr.
For the last two months, however, Republican stalwarts in the central committee have gunning for her to be removed from the executive board and ousted from committee as well.  Sabino’s political activities extend to being a board member of the Inland Empire Business Alliance Political Action Committee. In that organization, she is playing a role – a major one it is said – in ascertaining whom the political action committee will support in the upcoming November election.
While the Inland Empire Business Alliance Political Action Committee has in the past established a pattern of endorsing more Republicans than Democrats, it has on occasion endorsed Democrats and provided them with money. In some cases, the perception is that those Democrats would have lost if it had not been for the generosity of the Inland empire Business Alliance and its political action committee arm.
Most recently, in the March 5 primary race, the Inland Empire Business Alliance Political Action Committee came across with support for two Republicans – Ovi Popescu and Rhodes “Dusty” Rigsby – in their electoral efforts for the Loma Linda City Council. They were successful.
Still, the Inland Empire Business Alliance is supporting a handful Democrats. One of those Democrats is Kim Knaus, who is vying for the city council in San Bernardino in the Fifth Ward.
Running against Knaus is Henry Nickel, a Republican. Knaus and Nickel were the top vote-getters on March 5 and will now go head-to-head in November.
Making things particularly awkward is the consideration that Nickel is not only a Republican, he is a member of the San Bernardino County Republican Central Committee.
In her role with the Inland Empire Business Alliance and its political action committee, Sabino is active in determining which candidates for local office the organization is going to support, securing money for those candidates and then either conveying it to them directly or using it to run independent expenditure activity to support their candidacies,
The research Sabino does for the Inland Empire Business Alliance in determining which candidates it should support includes interviewing the candidates. Despite the consideration that both Sabino and Nickel are members of the Republican Central Committee and that they have been attending monthly meetings of that organization together for the last two years, Sabino did not arrange an interview with Nickel.
“I would have been more than willing to be considered by the Inland Empire Business Alliance for an endorsement and any support it would offer to my campaign,” Nickel told the Sentinel. He said he was disappointed that Sabino did not reach out to him.
Nickel added, “It also appears Council Candidate Kim Knaus’ funds are being used to pay for the services of San Bernardino County GOP Treasurer and former Chairman Robert Rego’s company, Parkview Business Services, as Knaus’ campaign treasurer.  San Bernardino County GOP bylaws are clear that members of the central committee are subject to removal if advocating for the election of candidates opposing SBCGOP-endorsed candidates.  If members of the SBCGOP are in fact advocating for any of my opponents in the 5th Ward City Council race, they are subject to removal from the San Bernardino County Central Committee.”
An effort is now under way to have Cothran rescind his appointment of Sabino as the third District board member Simultaneously, a coalition of Republican Central Committee members is determined to extend an invitation to Sabino to leave the committee altogether. Some want to make an effort to ensure she is not appointed to the Grand Terrace City Council, which has traditionally been a vanguard of Republicanism.
Republicans are bound by the 11th Commandment which prohibits speaking ill of a fellow Republican.
Sabino has spurned efforts by the Sentinel to have her respond to explain why she is assisting a Democrat in a run against a Republican and charges that she is a Democrat wolf in Republican sheep’s clothing, a turncoat, a traitor, a RINO, a phony, a pretender, an imposter, a Democrat-Lover and someone who is generally unworthy of wearing the mantle of Ronald Reagan, Barry Goldwater, Earl Warren, Dwight Eisenhower, Robert Taft, Robert LaFolette, Teddy Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.
Local Democrats say they are doing nothing different with Sabino than what Republicans have been doing for years, which has consisted of a strategy of insinuating agents provocateur and disrupters within the ranks of the county Democratic Party.
-Mark Gutglueck

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