Teaming With Salvation Army, Troop 114 and Pack 24 Scout For Food

For several years the Boy Scouts of America have teamed up with the San Bernardino Salvation Army Corps to help feed the hungry. On Saturday November 7, 124 Scouts and 63 scout leaders put in over 400 volunteer hours in front of nine Stater Bros. Markets; where they asked customers to help out with a list of food items. Those that could give were pleased to do so. Bob Garza from San Bernardino was one of those giving people. Bob said that “he was in a position to help out and that not everyone was.”

Major Steve Ball of the San Bernardino Salvation Army Corps said that “the timing of this food drive is perfect, supplying additional food for our holiday programs.” About 7000 pounds of food were collected. Enough to provide food boxes for 350 families. In these past few years, the “Scouting for Food” program had made a significant difference in the amount of food that was provided for those in need.

At the Stater Bros. Market on 40th St. in San Bernardino, Austin Fields of Troop 114 handed out a list showing desired nonperishable items. The items on the shopping list included: green beans, corn/vegetables, peaches, cranberries/fruit, beans and rice (1 lbs. bags), soups and stews, and pumpkin pie filling.

Scouting for Food kicks off the holiday season for the Salvation Army. Starting around Thanksgiving, the Salvation Bell Ringers will be out in front of many stores with the traditional Salvation Army kettles. Funds from these kettles go towards this year’s Christmas programs. The cooks at the Salvation Army Corps kitchens are starting preparation of the two major holiday meals served on Thanksgiving and Christmas days. A list of volunteers is being created to keep track of those who wish to volunteer this season. On a side note, it should be known that the San Bernardino Salvation Army Corps provides meals 360 days a year, not only to those in the shelter, but to anyone that shows up during dinner time.

There are several volunteer opportunities available including bell ringers, giving tree program, toy & food distribution, food preparation, and food service.

If you or your organization (i.e. church, school, social club, workplace, etc.) wish to donate goods, money, time, or if you are in need of assistance; contact the San Bernardino Salvation Army Corps located at 746 W. Fifth St., San Bernardino, CA or call 909-881-1336.

County Doubles Contract For Mechanical Work

The county this week doubled from $1.5 million to $3 million its contract with Norco-based D. Burke Mechanical Corporation for the provision of mechanical contracting services at county facilities.

On March 1, 2011 the board of supervisors awarded three individual one year job order contracts for general construction services, paint and carpet services, and mechanical services.

Thirty-seven projects have been issued to contractors thus far under the 2011 job order contracts. Eighteen of the projects were issued to the mechanical contractor, D. Burke Mechanical Corporation, for a total value of approximately $1.3 million spent under that contract to date.

With the mechanical services contract nearing its available limit, several yet outstanding mechanical jobs could be delayed if an increase of the contract allowance for D. Burke is not made.

According to Carl R. Alban, the county’s director of architecture and engineering, much of that work involves improvements mandated on the county by the Air Quality Management District (AQMD).

“AQMD has mandated several boiler retro-fit projects which could be delayed, even though they are approved and funded either through the capital improvements project budget, incentive funds available from the AQMD, or the county’s Energy Efficiency Partnership Program,” Alban said. “The delay in completing these projects could result in the AQMD issuing noncompliance notices or fines to the county.”

Alban told the board before its November 15 vote that “Approval of this item will increase the not-to-exceed maximum mechanical job order contract amount to $3,000,000, enabling the current mechanical services contractor to complete several important projects mandated by Air Quality Management District Rule 1146. This rule requires the reduction of nitrogen dioxide emissions and applies to two boilers at the West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga and one boiler at the Government Center Central Plant in San Bernardino.”

Hesperia Mayor Predicts Measure’s Failure Will Erode Safety

Measure F, the parcel tax initiative sponsored by the county fire union that would have imposed a $100 per year parcel tax on property in Hesperia, was overwhelmingly defeated in the balloting on November 8.

Hesperia residents voted more than four-to-one against the measure, with 81 percent against it and 19 percent in favor. Because the money to be generated by the tax was to be restricted to specific uses, it required a two thirds majority to pass.

Proponents of Measure F said the money would be used to maintain service levels, particularly paramedic coverage, functioning from the city’s fire engines.

In the aftermath of the measure’s failure, Hesperia mayor Mike Leonard, a former firefighter with the city before the department was merged with the county and later a firefighter with the county before he retired, said firefighting and safety service in Hesperia would now suffer.

“We’re going to have a meeting with the chief and see what he suggests,” Leonard said of the city council. “We want to see what the fire department suggests that we can do. I don’t know if we will discuss it publicly or in closed session. It will probably come during our meeting next month. I want to wait to see what they might have to suggest, but one way or the other what it is going to come down to is eliminating nine positions. It could be one guy off each engine or shutting down a station and parking one fire engine. There could be other things they have in mind, but I don’t know what.

“Either way you go, there is a safety issue,” Leonard continued. “If we cut engines, there will be a longer response time to at least some parts of the city and if you reduce firefighters on the trucks, there will be an equal concern about firefighter safety.”

Leonard defended the effort to seek passage of a measure that was dedicated to providing funding for the fire department instead of seeking an extension of a recently discontinued half cent sales tax override, the money from which could have been distributed by the council as it saw fit. That measure could have been passed on a simple majority of fifty percent plus one vote.

“If we would have put the sales tax on the ballot and it passed, that money would have gone into the city’s general fund. This council would have used it for public safety, but two or four years from now the council could change and a new council could spend that revenue anyway they want to. I know that when we said the money would go for public safety we had to get two thirds. But if we did it differently, there is no guarantee in further years that the money would be used for public safety. If new members were voted onto the council and they wanted to use that money for roads, then it would be sent over for roads and we would be where we are now, having to lay off firefighters. There would have been no guarantee.”

Leonard said the public sentiment had changed to the point where citizens are not cooperating with city officials.

“I don’t know what the problem is,” Leonard said. “People don’t trust government anymore. I don’t know where we are going to go from here. There are for sure going to be cuts and it will be up to the county fire chief and his staff to make safety suggestions and the council will act on one of them. That’s life. It is what it is.”

Al Vogler, the husband of former mayor and councilwoman Rita Vogler, was a major advocate against the parcel tax.

He called the measure “deceptive,” saying that it was designed to increase the pay for firefighters rather than to enhance safety.

“Had the tax passed, it would have meant an approximate $100 per year new tax to all Hesperia property owners,” Vogler said. “When the tax was originally proposed by the Hesperia city council, taxpayers were led to believe that the measure would be for $5.5 million. Instead, when the measure was written, it morphed into a $13.6 million deception. Three members of the Hesperia city council voted to place the measure on the ballot at a cost of over $150,000. All three are firefighter union-backed politicians and two of them signed a “no new taxes” pledge in 2010. It didn’t take long for the pledge to be violated and voters quickly realized that it was the “no new taxes” council members who were pushing for passage of the measure.”

Vogler criticized the firefighters union president, Brett Henry, for statements in mailers to Hesperia residents to the effect that 1,500 Hesperians had recently been evacuated during a fire. “This event never happened but was rather a scare tactic by the union,” Vogler asserted.

Moreover, Vogler claimed, the failure of Measure F is a harbinger of political change.

“The Measure F campaign result sent a shock wave to the status quo arrangement between the fire union and the county board of supervisors,” Vogler said. “The union has for years financed political campaigns for candidates who, should they win the election, were then expected to vote favorably for items which benefitted the fire union and their employees. We believe that candidates for election in 2012 have already been selected by the union. However, when the union gives campaign funding to candidates who are already in disfavor with the voters, the backlash from the pro-Measure F campaign will result in an election loss for some of the candidates.”

Supervisors Make First Move To Cut Their Own “Overly Generous” Benefits

In an apparent response to the grand jury’s characterization of San Bernardino County supervisors’ benefits as “overly generous,” supervisors this week took a step toward reducing by 20 percent the $121,000 a year in health, retirement and other benefits they receive in addition to their $151,971 salaries.

The cut was not actually made, but the board of supervisors directed staff to draft an ordinance to that effect which will come back for their consideration in January or February 2012.

The proposal to make the reduction was floated by supervisor Janice Rutherford, who said she wanted to end “all county pickups of supervisor retirement contributions, county retirement medical trust fund contributions, county salary savings plans matches and supplemental contributions, county paid life insurance and variable group universal life insurance, long term disability insurance, medical expense flexible spending account matches, and portable communication device allowances.”

Rutherford said “Eliminating these benefits would reduce the total annual compensation that is available to board members by almost 20 percent ($54,000), to approximately $219,000. Implementation of the proposed ordinance would place supervisors’ compensation at a level comparable with the total compensation for supervisors in Riverside, Orange, and San Diego counties.

Rutherford said the reductions would serve the purpose of having the supervisors “lead by example” as county executive officer Greg Devereaux pushes county employee unions to accept reductions in the benefit packages provided to their members.

County, Court Settle Suit Over Access For Disabled

A lawsuit against the county of San Bernardino, San Bernardino Superior Court and Superior Court executive officer Stephen Nash that claimed the county’s courthouses are inaccessible to the disabled has been settled with an agreement by the county and the court to pay $831,000 in damages and attorneys’ fees and undertake to make improvements to accommodate the handicapped.

Though San Bernardino County and the Superior Court officials “denied and continue to deny the allegations and claims in the actions,” they agreed to make changes that would enable those with physical disabilities to better utilize entrances, emergency exits, witness stands, jury boxes and other courthouse facilities.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Riverside in 2006 by lawyers for the Disability Rights Legal Center in Los Angeles, propounded that the courthouses’ inaccessibility to people with ambulatory problems which extended to the parking lots, walkways, hallways, stairways, elevators, courtrooms, restrooms and other areas was a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act

The problems were alleged to exist at the courthouses in Rancho Cucamonga, Victorville, Needles, Barstow, Big Bear, Fontana, Chino, Joshua Tree, the San Bernardino Criminal Court, its annex, and San Bernardino Civil Court, and in the Juvenile Delinquency and Juvenile Dependency courts.

The case was being heard by U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips in Riverside. An effort to mediate a settlement was undertaken, involving U.S. District Court Judge George H. King as a settlement officer. As part of the mediation, the county surveyed conditions at the 13 court sites and assessed the challenges those facilities presented to the handicapped. Short of going to trial, the county agreed to pay $80,000 in damages to the four surviving plaintiffs in the case – Ruthee Goldkorn, John Lonberg, Kimberly Wilder and Alfred Chichester – as well as to the estate of Michael Flippin, another plaintiff who died before the suit was settled. In addition the county and court agreed to pay another $690,000 in attorneys’ fees and costs and put up $61,000 to oversee the efforts to render the courthouses accessible.

The cost of the settlement will go well beyond the $831,000 settlement, as the county and courts have agreed to remediation plans for all 13 courthouses. According to the language of the settlement, “The individual remediation plans describe structural and programmatic steps that will be taken to ensure that the class is able to access the facilities and programs, services and activities in the subject courthouses. The terms of each remediation plan are site-specific and vary from courthouse to courthouse.”

Those improvements are to be completed within five years.

County Renews Contract With Corruption Figure’s Lobbying Firm

San Bernardino County this week renewed its contract with the controversial Sacramento-based lobbying firm Platinum Advisors, extending the arrangement for the firm to provide legislative advocacy for three years.

Platinum Advisors, which counts among its employees former state assemblyman Brett Granlund, will be paid $655,200 for its work for the county from January 1, 2012 through December 31, 2014. The contract carries with it two one-year options to extend the contract at an annual cost of $218,400.

San Bernardino County has contracted with Platinum Advisors, which was founded by and is still led by Darius Anderson, for legislative advocacy at the state level since 2003. It is Granlund’s association with the firm that has led to adverse publicity over the county’s ongoing relationship with the company.

In 2007, Los Angeles-based attorney Leonard Gumport at the county’s behest investigated the county’s acquisition of the Adelanto jail, making a finding that Granlund and Platinum Advisors, violated the terms of the county’s contract with Platinum by engaging in a conflict of interest and failing to give the county prior written notification of Platinum’s clients. One of those clients was Maranatha Corrections LLC, which is owned by Terry Moreland. Platinum, through Granlund, solicited the county to enter into a $43 million lease and option to purchase the Maranatha Prison in Adelanto, which was owned by Maranatha Corrections/Moreland.

According to Gumport, who had been hired to look into several instances of alleged corruption of county government, neither Platinum nor Granlund informed the county that they were representing the sellers, and the county entered into the purchase agreement without knowing about or being informed of a mold condition at the facility that resulted in additional costs of several million dollars to the county. That sale took place even though an “as is” appraisal reflecting the actual current value of the jail had not been completed, such that Platinum and Granlund had failed to protect the county’s interests.

In January 2005, when the board of supervisors voted to approve the lease and option to purchase the facility, the board had not been informed that Granlund and Platinum had advised and represented Maranatha in marketing the jail to county representatives, including then-county sheriff Gary Penrod, county real estate director David Slaughter and then county administrative officer Mark Uffer.

Granlund had previously involved himself in a questionable purchase of county property that allegedly benefited one of his close political associates, Jim Foster, who was at that time the chief of staff to then-supervisor Dennis Hansberger.

In 2001, after San Bernardino County barred its officials from directly purchasing county land or doing so through an intermediary, Foster did just that, using Granlund as his agent. Foster had become interested in a four-tenths of an acre residentially zoned parcel with mountain and valley views located adjacent to Wabash Avenue and Sunset Drive in Redlands, which the county had acquired in 1981. According to county records, Foster made an inquiry about a potential auction of the property in an e-mail exchange with a county property agent in 2001. After the property was put up for bid but not widely advertised, Foster used his authority as Hansberger’s chief of staff to instruct the property agent to again put it up for auction.

In 2001, at Foster’s direction, Granlund and his wife, Lonni, together with Louis and Amy Curti, purchased the property at that auction. In 2002, Foster and his wife, Linda, purchased the Granlunds’ portion of the property for $10,000. In 2004, the Fosters and Curtis sold the property to George Saunders and Donald R. Paulson for $100,000, netting Foster a profit of somewhere near $40,000.

In 2005, when the matter became public, Foster was suspended from his post as Hansberger’s chief of staff and later was forced to resign after acknowledging he had violated county policy. No charges were filed against Granlund, though Foster maintained that Granlund had knowingly cooperated with him in the scheme to obtain the property.

Current county chief executive officer Greg Devereaux and the county’s deputy legislative director Josh Candelaria did not dwell on the controversies that had beset Granlund and Platinum Advisors in the past in recommending to the board of supervisors this week that they extend the contract with the lobbying firm for another three years.

“The county of San Bernardino utilizes advocacy services at both the federal and state levels to advance the county’s legislative agenda,” Devereaux and Candelaria wrote in a report. “Approval of this item will approve a contract with Platinum Advisors for three years. County Policy 11-05 requires board of supervisors approval for services in excess of $100,000. On September 14, 2011, a request for proposals was released, advertised through the county’s purchasing website and circulated to numerous state advocacy and public affairs firms. The request for proposals process garnered responses from Platinum Advisors, Chabot Strategies, LLC, and Forte, LLP. An interagency evaluation committee, which included representatives from the county of San Bernardino, San Bernardino Association of Governments, and Riverside County, evaluated the responses and recommends this contract based on the expertise demonstrated by the incumbent in the proposal.”

Devereaux and Candelaria continued, “Founded in 1998, Platinum Advisors is a full service government affairs firm that has experience in lobbying the California Legislature and executive branch. Since 2003, the county has received policy and fiscal benefits from the legislative advocacy services provided by Platinum Advisors in Sacramento. More specifically, Platinum Advisors was instrumental in advocating for a county-sponsored bill that waived over a million dollars in fines and penalties imposed by the State Department of Water Resources. Additionally, Platinum was active in defeating a burdensome airport land use commission bill that would have eroded local authority and cost the county approximately $400,000. New and persisting issues before the State Legislature this year, including realignment, healthcare and pension reform, decreasing revenues, aging infrastructure and high unemployment remain high priority issues for the county of San Bernardino. Dedicated and effective representation with state administration, agencies, departments and associations is critical to ensure the county’s legislative agenda is advanced.”

Devereaux and Candelaria concluded, “In coordination with the county administrative office, Platinum Advisors will assist the county in developing and implementing an effective state advocacy strategy to increase funding opportunities and influence state law and policies as they relate to county priorities, programs and operations.”

The county of San Bernardino in 2010 ranked seventh among the 12 largest California counties in annual state lobbying expenditures. The $240,000 paid to Platinum Advisors was exceed by Los Angeles County, with $1,021,956 in legislative advocacy costs; Riverside County, with $384,011 in legislative lobbying costs; Orange County, with $321,143 in legislative advocacy costs; San Diego County, which pays $311,927 for lawmaker lobbying in Sacramento; Alameda County, which shells out $279,166 for legislative advocacy; and San Francisco County, which pays $270,000 for lobbying state legislators. Among the state’s larger counties that paid less than San Bernardino County for lobbying service in 2010 were Contra Costa County, which spent $220,000 for state lobbying efforts on its behalf, as did Ventura County, which paid $186,665 for the same service; Sacramento County, which paid $152,157; San Mateo County, which budgeted $147,500; and Santa Clara County, which pays its state lobbyist $127,336 per year.

County spokesperson David Wert told the Sentinel “You are free to characterize Platinum Advisors as controversial, but that is not the county’s opinion. Brett Granlund may be a controversial figure but that does not make Platinum Advisors a controversial firm.”

With regard to the county’s purchase of the Adelanto jail, Wert said, “If anything questionable occurred, it was that he [Granlund] should have told the county he was working for Maranatha in representing them on the sale. Any controversy about that died out five or six years ago.”

And there is a firewall between Granlund and the county at Platinum advisors, Wert suggested. “Brett Granlund is not one of the people at Platinum Advisors who represent the county,” he said.

CPUC To Make CH Line Review

Even after several 200-foot high electrical transmission towers have been erected in the utility corridor that runs through Chino Hills, the California Public Utilities Commission last week signaled a willingness to reconsider its 2009 decision to approve the placement of the so-called Tehachapi Power Line through the heart of that upscale community.

In seeking to meet state-mandated renewable energy goals, Edison undertook the Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Project, which is intended to generate at least 1,500 megawatts of power from new windmills to be erected within a 50-square mile windfield in the Tehachapi area, one that is to be three times the size of any existing wind farm in the United States.

To convey that power to the urbanized population centers of Los Angeles and Orange counties, Southern California Edison is utilizing its existing power corridors and easements, including a long-existing but less intensely used corridor through Chino Hills.

Chino Hills, where homes typically list in the $400,000 range even in the currently down real estate market, is the most densely populated area through which the transmission lines will span. Chino Hills residents, convinced the power lines represent a negative impact on both their quality of life and property values, resisted the imposition of the corridor. But despite the expenditure of $2.4 million by the city in that legal, lobbying and procedural effort, the project has been allowed to proceed. In September, the city redoubled its effort, despite a string of recent legal and procedural setbacks that seemingly provided Edison with the clearance to begin erecting the towers.

Even as the towers were going up, city officials and other legislative and professional advocates importuned the California Public Utilities Commission, which has shed three of the members who voted to give the project go-ahead more than two years ago, to revisit that decision. A special effort was made with the chairman of the commission, John Peevey, whom Chino Hills officials invited to town to actually look at the towers and their overbearing proximity to the city’s residential neighborhoods.

On October 19, the commission ordered a temporary halt to the project over an issue unrelated to the city’s protests when Peevey noted during his tour of the city that Edison had not included red lights on the towers to ensure their visibility to low-flying aircraft. That temporary halt was set to conclude upon Edison showing that it had made provision to install red lights on the towers and orange marker balls on the lines.

The city then followed up on October 31 with an application for a rehearing and motion for partial stay of the 2009 decision.

In response, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) extended the tower construction stay and directed Southern California Edison to offer an alternative route for the transmission line through or around Chino Hills within 60 days.

In a public statement, Peevey said the commission had asked Edison to produce by January 10 a study relating to the feasibility and costs of an alternative route.

Peevey specifically mentioned the possibility of a route along an existing utility corridor through Chino Hills State Park, which city officials had previously proposed but which the CPUC and Edison had rejected. Peevey further noted four other potential mitigation measures that would make the line’s presence less imposing, including undergrounding the lines, utilizing other routes through the city or the state park, usage of the existing right-of-way with more and shorter towers, and lessening the impact of the line by other means.

“I have visited Chino Hills and seen the construction first-hand,” Peevey said. “The California Public Utilities Commission has heard from Chino Hills residents who are unhappy with the transmission towers running through their city in extremely close proximity to homes.”

In the presence of Chino Hills officials when he was touring the city in October, Peevey said that being able to actually see the 200-foot towers had given him a new perspective.

The last-ditch effort to prevent the city from being saddled with the towers also included lobbying of CPUC officials by state Assemblyman Kurt Hagman, a former Chino Hills mayor and state Senator Bob Huff.

The CPUC’s stay of the towers’ construction and the request for alternatives was the first real inroad the city has achieved in resisting Edison’s imposition of the project on the community, despite the expenditure of $2.4 million in that effort.

Previously, City Hall and Hagman requested that officials in Sacramento do something to deliver them from the burden of the transmission lines traversing their community, including the proposal to reroute a span of the power transmission line through Chino Hills State Park. After that concept was shot down and the public utilities commission approved the line in most respects as Edison proposed it, Hagman introduced legislation, AB 2662, a bill that would have prohibited an electrical corporation from constructing substantially larger transmission towers in an easement intended for smaller transmission towers when the easement runs through an occupied residential area. That bill died at the committee stage.

The city of Chino Hills then sued Edison last year, claiming the company had “overburdened” the easements. That effort failed when West Valley Superior Court Judge Keith D. Davis ruled the California Public Utilities Commission has exclusive jurisdiction regarding the route used by Edison and that the matter fell entirely out of the Superior Court’s purview. After Davis threw the suit out, Chino Hills appealed Davis’s ruling to the 4th District Court of Appeal, asserting the city has the right to have the case heard by a jury because the Public Utilities Commission did not employ a standard set of guidelines in approving the placement of the Tehachapi line project, allowing the imperative of completing the transmission line to facilitate the wind power project to take precedence over policy and safety and aesthetic guidelines, which should have been considered and adhered to as part of the approval process.

But on September 12, a three-member panel of the 4th District Court of Appeal consisting of associate justices Betty Richli, Carol Dodrington and Jeff King turned back the challenge and affirmed Davis’ 2010 Superior Court decision, ruling that the California Public Utilities Commission has exclusive jurisdiction over property rights issues between the city and Edison.

In the light of that string of setbacks for the city, Mike Fleager, Chino Hills city manager, said that the CPUC’s action in staying the construction and calling for Edison to revisit its siting scheme for the towers through Chino Hills is the most promising development yet.

“We think it is very significant that the PUC is taking the time to review the existing approved project and requiring Edison to review previously submitted alternative routes and other options such as undergrounding and erecting more but shorter poles,” Fleager said. “We are looking forward to those determinations until such time as it is resolved, especially given the city’s request, while Edison has the project on hold to come into compliance with the FAA requirements for the lights on the towers and orange balls on the wires, to further stay the project to examine our concerns.”

Of major consideration, Fleager said, was the height of the towers. He said that one of the proposed alternatives entailed shorter poles in larger numbers that would maintain the line at the same height above the ground, he said, “to keep the wires taught so they don’t sag. With the towers, the wires dip in the middle.”

Maintaining the wires at a given height is an issue because of the need to keep the surrounding electrical field well above residences or areas that will be inhabited by people. Studies done in Scandinavia related to the proximity of high tension electrical lines and their accompanying electromagnetic fields to the populace showed a correlation to elevated levels of blood cancer and leukemia in school children.

Fleager said it was not yet determined who would bear the cost of moving the already erected towers.

“One of things that I assume will come out of this is the cost and the timing associated with any alternatives,” Fleager said. “The PUC wants to understand the impacts on cost to Edison and delays this will mean. That is part of the analysis. We don’t know where that is going to go, but we are looking forward to the results of Edison’s study.”

Residents Call On Upland Council To Reject Quincey Claim

At the November 14 Upland city council meeting, two city residents encouraged the city council to remain resolute in the face of a wrongful termination claim filed by former city manager Robb Quincey.

Quincey was city manager in Upland for slightly more than six years, having been handpicked by former mayor John Pomierski to oversee the city’s operations in March 2005. Quincey’s authority became synonymous with Pomierski’s rule. As Pomierski dominated the city politically by virtue of an iron clad ruling coalition consisting of himself and council members Brendan Brandt and Ken Willis along with former councilman Tom Thomas, Quincey became the vicar of Pomierski’s policy.

Pursuant to the terms of Quincey’s contract with the city, which were in essence dictated by Pomierski, the city manager was given unprecedented autonomy at City Hall, including the authority to fire at will all of the city’s department heads. Moreover, at Pomierski’s bidding, Quincey was given a so-called super-bonus, that is, job security in the form of protection from being fired himself on a simple majority 3-2 vote of the city council. Thus, to remove Quincey as city manager, it was required that at least four of the city’s five council members had to vote to terminate him. To further ensure Quincey’s loyalty to him and his regime, Pomierski conferred upon his city manager a salary and benefit package that not only topped the compensation offered city managers throughout San Bernardino County but dwarfed the pay of all but a select handful of city managers throughout the state. On top of his base salary of $368,529 per year, Quincey was provided with benefits totaling $92,096 for a total annual compensation package of $460,625.

But just as Pomierski’s ascension to the top of the political heap had paved the way for Quincey’s managerial preeminence in Upland, Pomierski’s ignominious fall brought Quincey crashing to earth.

For years there had been whispers about town that Pomierski was on the take. Ever so briefly indications that something was amiss would loom into passing focus and then evaporate, such as fleeting and then quickly hushed accusations that the mayor was shaking down individuals with business before the city, or that his construction business was generating more money than could logically be explained by his actual work load and schedule, or that there was something untoward about the consulting work he was doing for local landowners. But those ephemeral suspicions always seemed to fade and no one in town, other than the lone perpetual political outsider on the city council, Ray Musser, was willing to stand up against the imperious authority of City Hall, or challenge the wisdom, respectability and honor of Mssrs. Brandt, Thomas, Willis, Pomierski or Quincey.

Then, in June 2010, a team of 40 FBI and IRS agents armed with search warrants descended on Upland City Hall, Pomierski’s home in which his construction business was based, and several other homes and businesses of Pomierski’s political and business associates. In the wake of those searches, concrete information pertaining to questionable activity at City Hall surfaced. By January 2011, Pomierski’s grip on Upland’s scepter had loosened and his hold over the coalition that had empowered him had been undone to the point that when his fellow council members moved to place Quincey on paid administrative leave, he could only effetely go along with the vote. Toward the end of February, informed no doubt by his lawyer about what was in store for him in the coming days, Pomierski resigned as mayor, a little more than ten years after he had assumed that office. The following week, on March 2, Pomierski and his appointee to the city’s building appeals board, John Hennes, were indicted by a federal grand jury, charged with conspiracy, bribery and extortion in connection with allegations that they had used Pomierski’s authority as a city official in Upland to coerce businesses with permits pending before the city to provide them with money, disguised as consulting fees, to ensure their permits were granted. In May, two months after Pomierski’s indictment, the city council voted to terminate Quincey.

On November 1 Quincey filed a claim against the city for unlimited damages in connection with his firing, which according to his attorney unfairly and unjustifiably deprived him of pay and benefits due him under his contract, as well as for the damage to his reputation he suffered when Musser, who had been elevated to succeed Pomierski as mayor, and Willis defamed him with comments that appeared in the local press expressly made “to vex, injure and annoy” him.

At the November 14 meeting, two individuals, Hal Tanner, who was formerly employed as a chief deputy warden with the state of California, and Dave Stevens, a former Upland city councilman, addressed the council with regard to Quincey and his claim, The council had already been too generous with Quincey, Tanner said. “I was a political appointee,” Tanner said. “I never in my career saw a contract that generous or where the employee was exposed to the kind of accommodation that Mr. Quincey enjoyed. Whatever Mr. Quincey may have done was made possible because of the actions of our council. Yet, Mr. Quincey may be rewarded again in his litigation against Upland. This is made possible by the council’s negligence.”

Stevens told the council it should not even consider paying Quincey what he is seeking.

“I don’t think we should settle with him, even if settling is cheaper,” Stevens said. “There is a principle involved here. He knew it was wrong to accept nearly half a million a year in pay and benefits. He’s already got more money from Upland than he deserves. Let’s go into battle with him. He was wrong for the city and so was the former mayor.”