Archive for November, 2009

PressEnterprise Editorial: Budget duty


10:00 PM PST on Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Press-Enterprise

Riverside County’s growing budget shortfall requires strict fiscal discipline, regardless of political pressure. Supervisors will not only need to maintain this year’s cost-cutting steps, but add new ones to avert financial peril in coming years. And every county department will have to contribute to the savings.

The county’s budget workshop last week painted a grim picture of county finances. The county cut programs, positions and pay, and still needed $50.6 million in reserves to balance the budget — essentially creating an ongoing deficit.

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DailyBulletin: Claremont renews its eminent domain power

Wes Woods II, Staff Writer
Created: 11/29/2009 11:42:16 PM PST

CLAREMONT – The City Council has approved an extension of its eminent domain powers on nonresidential property.

The city’s Redevelopment Agency in November 1997 amended its redevelopment plan to reinstate eminent domain authority on nonresidential property.

The authority was set to expire in December.

In order to extend the authority for an additional 12 years, the agency had to amend its redevelopment plan.

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iePolitics: San Bernardino County: Is delay of county counsel departure a misstake?


News comes to iePolitics this weekend that the expected and highly anticipated departure of County Counsel Ruth Stringer has been placed on a delay track pending the hiring of a new county administrative officer to replace Mark Uffer.

Uffer was recently dismissed by a 3-2 majority vote of the board of supervisors.

Over the past several months, Stringer’s status has risen to that of embattled in a backdrop of growing discontent among county supervisors, over her conduct related to closed session and attorney-client privilege matters.

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By Dan Walters
Published: Sunday, Nov. 29, 2009 – 12:00 am | Page 3A

Just days before Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and legislators finalized a water package, including an $11.1 billion bond issue, state Treasurer Bill Lockyer warned them not to do it.

California is already deeply in debt, Lockyer warned, has huge budget deficits and can’t afford another big bond issue.

“The days of blithely heaping more and more debt burden on the general fund are over – at least they should be,” Lockyer said.

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PressEnterprise Editorial: Prison stumble

10:00 PM PST on Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Press-Enterprise

Federal judges and state officials should recognize that dumping more inmates into jampacked county jails is not an acceptable way to ease the state’s prison crowding. Requiring counties to pick up the burden of the state’s prison neglect would provide the illusion of progress, not a practical solution.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s latest proposal for cutting the number of inmates in state prisons rests heavily on local jails, however. California this month handed federal judges a proposal that would trim the state prison population by more than 42,000 by 2011. But nearly 14,000 of that total would come from shifting state inmates to local jails.

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11:31 PM PST on Saturday, November 28, 2009

Sacramento Bureau

SACRAMENTO – Inland developer Stephen Russell Holgate spent well into the six figures to propel the legislative aspirations of San Jacinto Councilman Jim Ayres, according to Riverside County prosecutors. But why would he?

Land-use decisions have long been the turf of city councils and county boards of supervisors. The Legislature includes 120 people. Ayres, if his 2006 Assembly campaign had been successful, would have been just another member of a heavily outnumbered Republican minority.

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Sun Editorial: District switch a bad move

Posted: 11/28/2009 07:54:41 PM PST

We like and respect Assemblyman Bill Emmerson of Redlands. We have endorsed him in past elections and think he does a good job in the Legislature – to the extent anyone does in that dysfunctional body.

But we’re not so high on his becoming state Sen. Bill Emmerson of Hemet.

Call us old-fashioned – even Bob Stern of the Los Angeles-based Center for Governmental Studies would – but we still think representatives of the people should come from among the people they represent.

Read the rest of this entry »

By Liz Hazelton
Last updated at 4:57 PM on 27th November 2009

British banks were teetering on the brink of a fresh meltdown today after it emerged they had invested heavily in crisis-hit Dubai.

An $80billion debt default in the emirate has already reawakened the spectre of a global ‘double dip’ – that the first shoots of recovery could be wiped out by a second wave of recession.

But the level of exposure that the crippled British banking sector faces is now under renewed scrutiny.

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By Stuart Leavenworth, Editorial page editor
Published: Sunday, Nov. 29, 2009 – 12:00 am | Page 6E

If California’s Democratic Party had a motto right now, it would probably be, “No drama.”

The party doesn’t like surprises. It doesn’t tolerate family fights. Its preference is to anoint candidates who can breeze through the primary carrying lots of money into the runoff.

That’s one big reason the Democratic Party is so … boring.

Any week now, Jerry Brown will officially announce his candidacy for governor. At that point, the Democratic race will be over. Brown has so much Read the rest of this entry »


November 27, 2009

by Publius

Have you heard the one about the pimp, prostitute, politician and the community organizer? Well, thanks to San Diego private investigator Derrick Roach, Californians are not laughing at what is turning into a political nightmare for California Attorney General Jerry Brown and ACORN.

On Tuesday, November 24, Attorney General Brown appeared on KABC’s “Peter Tilden Show” after it was revealed that some 20,000 documents had been thrown into a National City dumpster by ACORN employees.

Read the rest of this entry »

A spokesman for the governor says the matter is related to a paperwork discrepancy and has nothing to do with the payment of taxes.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger

November 28, 2009

Reporting from Sacramento – The Internal Revenue Service has filed a federal tax lien against Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for nearly $80,000, public records show.

The lien was filed May 11 at the Los Angeles County recorder’s office for $79,064, according to a record in an electronic database that includes lien filings. The Read the rest of this entry »

VVDailyPress: State faces $20.7 billion deficit, again


Local legislators share cost-cutting solutions


SACRAMENTO • Four months after closing a $26 billion budget shortfall, California lawmakers are faced with a n o t h e r $20.7 billion budget gap through 2011 — and tens of billions o f d o l l a rs more until r e v e n u e rebounds in 2014, according to a recent report by the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s office.

“Our problem is, rather than making the hard decisions 18 months ago, w e keep putting it off and so it only makes it that much more difficult,” said Sen. George Runner, R-Lancaster. “Hopefully we’ll just get a plain, old reality check because we’re running out of options.”

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PressEnterprise Editorial: Recall farce

09:35 PM PST on Friday, November 27, 2009

The Press-Enterprise

The failure of the effort to recall Assemblyman Anthony Adams, R-Hesperia, is good news for California government. The state needs legislators who can cooperate to address pressing needs. There was no public benefit in misusing the recall process to impose an even greater ideological rigidity on an already polarized Legislature.

Adams was under fire because of his vote in favor of a February budget package that raised $12.5 billion in temporary taxes in an effort to close a $40 billion deficit.

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Sun Editorial: Proposed fixes come up short

Posted: 11/27/2009 08:20:06 PM PST

In the flurry of commissions and committees trying to figure out how to fix our broken state, California Forward once seemed the most promising. Its high-level, bipartisan leadership placed it above the fray that plays out in dysfunctional Sacramento. We hoped its work would eliminate the need for riskier steps, like the constitutional convention advocated by another prominent group, Repair California.

The remedies California Forward has proposed so far fall short of that hope – although that probably says more about the magnitude of the problem than the organization’s hard work. It’s pitching two initiatives for the November 2010 ballot. One would improve the way the Legislature operates. The other tries to address the needs of local governments, but it is flawed.

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Sun: Local city ranked 13th safest in United States

Chino Hills Logo

Staff Report
Posted: 11/27/2009 05:46:15 PM PST

Several local cities were listed on the 2009 City Crime Rate Rankings, a new survey of national crime statistics released recently.

Chino Hills was ranked as San Bernardino County’s safest city and the 13th safest place in the country, according to a Publishing house CQ Press release that came out Monday.

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Sun: Patton officials, officers weigh in on staff reduction

Melissa Pinion-Whitt, Staff Writer
Posted: 11/27/2009 02:49:11 PM PST

HIGHLAND – There’s a conflict behind the razor wire, chainlink fences and towering iron gates of Patton State Hospital. Some say it’s a long-standing power struggle between the state and union corrections officers.

Others say it’s a byproduct of the troubled financial times.

But whatever the issue is, Patton officials say one thing is certain: Security is not in jeopardy due to the reduction of more than a dozen corrections officers at the facility for the criminally insane.

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Sun: San Bernardino business group might oppose new county center

San Bernardino Seal

Andrew Edwards, Staff Writer
Posted: 11/26/2009 05:43:09 PM PST

SAN BERNARDINO – Some members of the business community may be gearing up to oppose the possible construction of a new government center on land currently occupied by Carousel Mall.

The San Bernardino Area Chamber of Commerce has created a committee to consider whether a new government center, or as some call it, a Taj Mahal, is a good idea. The Chamber may a take an official position in December or after the new year.

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LATimes: Californians to decide on open primary amendment

Californians to decide on open primary amendment

The Top Two Primaries Act would require that candidates run in a single primary open to all registered voters, with the top two vote-getters meeting in a runoff.

By Jean Merl

November 27, 2009

Last spring, two seasoned politicians squared off over a rare open congressional seat. Democrats Judy Chu, then a member of the state Board of Equalization, and state Sen. Gil Cedillo placed first and second, respectively, in a widely watched special primary election in the San Gabriel Valley-area district.

Chu advanced to the July runoff with 32.6% of the vote, but not Cedillo, even though he finished ahead of 10 other candidates by winning 23.2%. The runoff slots went to the top vote-getter from each party with a candidate on the ballot, giving Chu a cakewalk over a Republican and a Libertarian in the strongly Democratic district.

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SacBee: State pay panel says it erred

By Jim Sanders
Published: Thursday, Nov. 26, 2009 – 12:00 am | Page 3A

For mud-on-your face goofups in California government, this was a whopper.

Grist for a “Wanna Get Away” commercial, perhaps, involving the hot-button issue of pensions for top elected officials.

The final chapter was written this week by the California Citizens Compensation Commission after a flurry of ‘what do we do now?’ talks.

Read the rest of this entry »

Of 120 California lawmakers 73 get failing grade
November 27, 2009 8:50 AM

SACRAMENTO • Assemblyman Steve Knight and Sen. George Runner are among the highest performing legislators when it comes to lessening taxpayer burdens, according to a new legislative report card by a taxpayer advocate group.

The Victor Valley’s other two representatives — Assemblyman Anthony Adams and Sen. Roy Ashburn — still earned some of top grades of all state lawmakers, with their votes supporting $12.5 billion in tax hikes shrinking their final scores.

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RivPE: Warrants implicate man with few ties to San Jacinto

10:00 PM PST on Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Press-Enterprise

Of the nine defendants named in the San Jacinto political corruption indictment, Byron Jerry Ellison Sr. appears to have the fewest ties to the city — a part-time resident whose home is in Garden Grove. He also has an address in Montana.

But according to affidavits and the 155-count indictment, Ellison, 70, is suspected in 139 counts — 43 felonies and 96 misdemeanors.

Arraignment was postponed to Dec. 4 for Ellison, a retired California Highway Patrol sergeant and onetime investigator for the California secretary of state’s voter fraud investigation unit.

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10:00 PM PST on Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Press-Enterprise

Special Section: San Jacinto Corruption Probe

Caught in the middle of a sweeping corruption probe involving two of its founders, the San Jacinto Chamber of Commerce has moved to reduce the daily role of Executive Director Nancy Ayres.

On Nov. 12, Riverside County prosecutors indicted Ayres and eight others, including a developer who helped found the chamber. Authorities said they conspired to launder hundreds of thousands of dollars and conceal campaign contributions.

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Melissa Pinion-Whitt, Staff Writer
Posted: 11/26/2009 06:13:52 AM PST

ADELANTO – The new faces coming to the sheriff’s Adelanto station aren’t new to law enforcement. In fact, they aren’t even new to the High Desert.

Thirty-five patrol deputies, detectives and other employees from the Victor Valley sheriff’s station about nine miles away will be coming to Adelanto under a plan that will save the city more than $400,000 per year.

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SacBee: CalPERS reportedly severing ties with investment adviser BlackRock


By Jim Wasserman
Published: Thursday, Nov. 26, 2009 – 12:00 am | Page 6B

CalPERS, shaken by heavy losses in a New York apartment deal recommended by investment adviser BlackRock Inc., is leaning toward severing ties with the firm, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

The California Public Employees’ Retirement System declined comment on the report, which was based on an anonymous source. The pension fund giant acknowledged, however, that it is reviewing the performance of all its real estate managers, “given the current economic environment and new leadership in our investment office.”

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Bill Emmerson

10:00 PM PST on Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Sacramento Bureau

SACRAMENTO – Assemblyman Bill Emmerson’s decision to run for a Riverside County state Senate seat already is forcing him to confront a thicket of residency issues.

Emmerson, a longtime Redlands resident, reregistered to vote in Hemet earlier this month. He will continue to represent his San Bernardino County-based Assembly seat, even though Hemet is not in the district.

In addition, Emmerson is leasing the Hemet house from a political donor and longtime friend. The situation means he has to prove the rent is fair-market value to comply with campaign-finance rules.

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SBSun: Penman reveals $5K settlement with FPPC


Andrew Edwards, Staff Writer
Posted: 11/25/2009 03:14:31 PM PST

SAN BERNARDINO – City Attorney James F. Penman said Wednesday that he has agreed to pay a $5,000 settlement to the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission over a free membership he accepted at Arrowhead Country Club.

“I didn’t think I violated the law, but the FPPC feels differently … I have to respect their decisions,” Penman said, emphasizing that his settlement is not an admission of any criminal wrongdoing.

Penman said the commission staffers concluded that he did not report the full value of his honorary club membership in 2005 and 2006.

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James Rufus Koren, Staff Writer
Posted: 11/25/2009 03:01:28 PM PST

Election officials say the campaign to recall Assemblyman Anthony Adams did not gather enough valid signatures to move forward, but recall backers said Wednesday they will go to court if necessary to validate more signatures.

Recall campaign manager Tim Whitacre said honest mistakes led to many signatures from valid, registered voters being flagged as invalid by the San Bernardino County Registrar of Voters. He said county Registrar Kari Verjil’s office didn’t do anything wrong, but that the office followed the letter rather than the spirit of state election law.

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InlandPolitics: Will this affidavit sink Don Kurth’s Assembly campaign?

Senor Blogger
November 25, 2009

Rancho Cucamonga Mayor Don Kurth is a candidate running for the Republican Party nomination for the 63rd Assembly District. District incumbent Bill Emmerson is leaving due to term limits.

Kurth has spoken about his colorful past in overcoming an addiction to drugs and narcotics, as well as homelessness and a custodial jail sentence.

As he has moved on from his problems he encountered years ago, one incident stands out that the media may seek to address as the campaign moves forward.

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RivPE: Highland City Council bans marijuana dispensaries

10:00 PM PST on Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Press-Enterprise

HIGHLAND – The City Council voted Tuesday night to turn Highland’s moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries into a permanent ban.

Approval came on a 4-0 vote, with Councilman John Timmer absent.

The decision came eight months after the council first imposed a moratorium on the dispensaries and four months before the moratorium was due to expire.

The Highland City Council is one of a growing number of governments to ban dispensaries on either a temporary or permanent basis. Among the others are San Bernardino, Yucaipa, Loma Linda and San Bernardino County. The Calimesa City Council is scheduled to consider extending its ban on Monday.

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SBSun OpEd: Rebuild trust to move county forward

Neil Derry

Supervisor Neil Derry
Posted: 11/24/2009 06:31:32 PM PST

Given the embarrassing history of corruption and scandal in San Bernardino County, it is understandable that some might be concerned by the recent dismissal of the county administrative officer.

The carousel of scandal and ineptitude plaguing our county government creates doubt, skepticism and cynicism.

Instead of allowing these concerns to go unanswered, I wanted to address my constituents.

Well before I took office, I was aware of the tensions that existed between many of our employees and the leadership of the county. Over this past year it has become apparent that the morale of San Bernardino County employees is extremely poor. Our employees, the men and women who provide services to this county, do not trust those who lead them. Worse, they don’t believe much of anything we say.

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SBSun: Recall try was a loser all along

Assemblyman Adams

Posted: 11/23/2009 09:37:29 PM PST

How nice it was to see the recall attempt against Assemblyman Anthony Adams flop.

We were against the recall for any number of reasons, as we editorialized in April when the effort was announced.

Recall should be reserved for cases of corruption, malfeasance or other criminal activity, in our opinion, not a reaction to a vote cast.

That’s especially true when the recall effort, if successful, would result in a recall election just a few months before the targeted officeholder is up for re-election, which was the case here. The whole thing would have wasted about $900,000 for a special election even though Republican voters will have a chance to oust Adams, R-Claremont, should they choose to, in the June primary.

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SBSun: Money a big factor for ballot initiative process

James Rufus Koren, Staff Writer
Posted: 11/24/2009 02:33:17 PM PST

Got $200 and a postage stamp?

Then you, too, can try your hand at being a California lawmaker.

Since 1911, Californians have been able to write and pass laws by going directly to the ballot box instead of through the state Legislature. The ballot initiative process takes months and, for the successful few, loads of money, but politicians, political observers and even unsuccessful amateur lawmakers see it as a necessity, even if many proposed laws seem harebrained.

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Senor Blogger
November 25, 2009

Shocking. Another day, another editorial in the Press Enterprise blasting the constitutional rights of politically-charged defendants Bill Postmus and Jim Erwin.

In a wholly-unsubstantiated editorial the PE criticizes former county official Jim Erwin and former county elected official Bill Postmus for exercising the rights granted them by the legal system.

The PE called a perfectly acceptable court motion by Jim Erwin an “assault” on that legal system, and praised the ruling’s outcome that resulted in a setback for Erwin.

Read the rest of this entry »


By Dale Kasler
Published: Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2009 – 12:00 am | Page 16A

A CalPERS board member paid $67,000 to settle a civil fraud lawsuit tied to a political corruption probe in a Los Angeles suburb.

Louis F. Moret, appointed to a four-year term on the Cal-PERS board in February 2008, was sued by the city of South Gate after testifying in a criminal trial about his role in steering city contracts to preferred bidders. Four men were given prison sentences, including a powerful city treasurer whom Moret considered a protégé.

Moret, who was a $12,000-a-month city consultant, wasn’t charged with a crime. A prosecutor was quoted later as saying the evidence against him was too weak.

CalPERS spokesman Brad Pacheco said the pension fund wasn’t aware of the civil settlement until an inquiry by The Bee this week. The settlement was finalized last December.

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10:00 PM PST on Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Press-Enterprise

Hope of a swift rebound to Riverside County’s dour budget situation has faded, and officials are now predicting furloughs past this fiscal year amid even more dire financial projections that have the county potentially insolvent by 2012 under some scenarios.

“We’ll do the best that we can to minimize the loss of jobs,” 3rd District Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Stone said. “But there are going to be some job losses in this county.”

County Administrator Bill Luna and Finance Director Paul McDonnell told supervisors the county must make changes to its current fiscal year 2009-10 budget to account for a $20 million loss in revenue. The dip will be filled by reserve money in the county’s general fund, under a plan presented to the supervisors.

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SacBee: Claws come out after Maldonado’s selection

By Jim Sanders
Published: Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2009 – 12:00 am | Page 16A

Now the infighting begins.

Democrats fired back only minutes after Republican state Sen. Abel Maldonado was appointed Tuesday by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to fill the vacant office of lieutenant governor.

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg questioned the cost: Wouldn’t California be better served spending $2 million to defray college tuition rather than for a special election to fill Maldonado’s Senate seat should lawmakers confirm him?

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RivPE: Mayor says Highland is in ‘good financial shape’

10:00 PM PST on Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Press-Enterprise

HIGHLAND – This city is in good financial shape and figures to see new development and the start of construction on two major bridges in the year ahead, Highland Mayor Penny Lilburn told business leaders Tuesday.

Lilburn delivered the annual state of the community address to about 150 members of the Highland Area Chamber of Commerce at the San Manuel Village/Hampton Inn & Suites.

“There are few cities in California that are in as good a position as the city of Highland … fiscally, politically and with the future build-out opportunities that we are going to provide,” Lilburn said.

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iePolitics: Time to Remove Registrar of Voters Kari Verjil

According to reports on KFI 640’s John and Ken show, it turns out San Bernardino County Kari Verjil’s invalid signature figures are not quite accurate.  As Mike Schroeder, coordinator for the recall effort has said all along, signature gatherers registered unregistered voters at the same time the petitions were signed, which is legal.  According to reports, Verjil negated those signatures.

I am told that recall coordinators have begun an audit of the rejected signatures.  Of the first 40 rejected signatures reviewed, 25 have in fact been determined to have been valid after all.  This is a disgrace.  Once again, one of our county officials has made our county look like its run by a bunch of incompetent hicks.

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Additional information has been given to regarding accusations at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center (ARMC).

It seems that in addition to the state investigation mentioned a few days ago, there are up to three additional investigations going on at ARMC.

Most know that ARMC was former County Administrative Officer Mark Uffer’s “baby.”  It was untouchable.  If an employee suggested there was anything unsavory going on there, they got the axe.  I learned that one personally.

Now Uffer is gone.  And employees, including doctors, are coming out of the woodwork to tell what they know.  Expect to see this turn into one of the worst scandals this county has ever witnessed.  Although the Board of Supervisors dismissed Mark Uffer “without cause,” we will learn just how much cause there might have been.

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Andrew Edwards, Staff Writer
Posted: 11/23/2009 06:12:16 PM PST

SAN BERNARDINO – Unless something changes, Susan Hulse will soon become a city resident.

And she’s not happy about it.

Hulse lives in one of six unincorporated county islands that are slated to be absorbed into San Bernardino’s territory.

Local officials who recently decided in favor of the annexations say bringing the unincorporated land within city limits will make government services more efficient. Officials point to state law designed to accelerate annexations as the source of their authority to decide that Hulse and her neighbors should become San Bernardino residents.

But Hulse believes that authorities have made an end run around the process that would allow her and her neighbors a right to protest the annexation, a process that could lead to a vote on whether or not they join San Bernardino.

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10:00 PM PST on Monday, November 23, 2009

The Press-Enterprise

San Jacinto Vice Mayor John R. Mansperger isn’t afraid to roll up his sleeves and jump into a community project or open his business to firefighters who need a place to train.

City residents call Mansperger, 41, hardworking and a man whose political career has involved advocating for senior citizen housing and improving public safety.

He is also one of nine defendants named in a 155-count indictment that claims four members of the City Council voted favorably for developers in return for either gifts or illegal campaign contributions.

Mansperger was named in 136 counts, including 40 felonies.

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SBSun: Adams recall supporters say fight not over

James Rufus Koren, Staff Writer
Posted: 11/23/2009 05:32:55 PM PST

Election officials said last week that a recall drive against Assemblyman Anthony Adams did not gather enough signatures to move forward, but recall backers said Monday they believe something odd or possibly fraudulent might be to blame.

County election officials say everything was done by the book, but recall proponents say the number of valid signatures reported by the San Bernardino County registrar’s office don’t jibe.

“It’s not over, certainly,” said Mike Schroeder, a former California Republican Party chairman and a key Adams recall proponent.

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RivPE: Mayor vows to remain, get city’s work done

STUBBLEFIELD: The official says he will finish the last year of his final term.

11:10 PM PST on Monday, November 23, 2009

The Press-Enterprise

San Jacinto Mayor Dale Stubblefield says he intends to stay in office and fight the political corruption charges he faces, insisting that development decisions made by the City Council he sits on were appropriate.

When he ran for re-election in 2006, Stubblefield called for responsible growth in the city. The city’s general plan was adopted during his first term, and three major commercial developments were approved, including a Walmart Supercenter.

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RivPE: Multiple SB signature problems in Adams recall

PE Politics
on November 23, 2009 2:36 PM

There was no single reason why San Bernardino County’s elections office rejected almost two-thirds of the signatures turned in to qualify a ballot measure to recall Inland Assemblyman Anthony Adams, according to a breakdown from the county elections office.

The bulk of Adams’ 59th Assembly District is in San Bernardino County. Recall supporters there submitted the signatures of 44,590 alleged voters, out of 58,384 turned in district-wide.

Friday, though, a random sample projected that only 15,558 of the San Bernardino County signatures were valid. That doomed the entire effort.

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SacBee: Governor turns to a Senate ally

By Dan Smith and Jim Sanders
Published: Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2009 – 12:00 am | Page 1A

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, risking a confirmation fight, announced Monday that he will appoint Republican state Sen. Abel Maldonado to fill the vacant lieutenant governor’s job.

Schwarzenegger unveiled his pick during a taping of the “Jay Leno Show.”

“He is a terrific, loyal man that has worked very hard in public service,” Schwarzenegger said. “But he’s also into bipartisanship and post-partisanship, so he can also cross the aisle.”

Maldonado, 42, of Santa Maria, has been one of the Republican governor’s few GOP allies in the Legislature. He provided a key vote this year to help push through tax increases and a budget plan over the objections of most Republican lawmakers.

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SacBee: State’s debt burden climbs higher

California Seal

By Kevin Yamamura
Published: Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2009 – 12:00 am | Page 1A

Before the economy went bust, California voters authorized multibillion-dollar charges on the state’s infrastructure credit card.

They approved generational investments in roads, schools and levees, as well as hospitals and stem-cell research. At the time, fiscal experts projected that California at most would have to spend roughly 6 percent of its annual budget on payments.

But after an economic collapse, estimates now show that debt service could consume as much as 10 percent of the annual general fund budget by 2014-15 – an “unprecedented” ratio, according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office.

The latest debt warning comes weeks after lawmakers and Schwarzenegger placed a new $11.1 billion water bond on next November’s ballot. Backers of the measure say the state desperately needs a water system overhaul.

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iePolitics Commentary: Local newspapers display arrogance, Part 2

The ink wasn’t even dry on the this evenings earlier commentary, when hot out of the Riverside Press Enterprise editorial board comes another gem titled Enough evasion.

Last time I heard, the United States Constitution and Bill of Rights just might lead one to believe that citizens of this great country were entitled to due process under the law and the right to be judged by a jury of their peers.

Not the editorial board of a local newspaper.

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RivPE Editorial: Enough evasion

10:00 PM PST on Monday, November 23, 2009

The Press-Enterprise

Jim Erwin’s legal assault on the San Bernardino County district attorney showcased all the worst aspects of the county’s political atmosphere: a failure to accept any personal responsibility, a ready willingness to blame others and an ethical standard set to the lowest common denominator.

And the county has to change those attitudes in order to put embarrassing high-level scandals behind it. County government needs people who realize that public service requires a higher standard of behavior than merely being no worse than anyone else.

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In a long and expansive news article on the collapse of the San Bernardino County Republican Party that appeared this past Sunday in the San Bernardino Sun, one quotable source is none other than Drew Mercy, longtime political consigliere to the husband-and-wife team of GOP State Senator George Runner and Assembly member Sharon Runner.

The Runners have occupied legislative seats in San Bernardino County’s High Desert region for nearly a decade. Sharon Runner first won election in 2002, and George Runner entered San Bernardino County as a state senator in 2004.

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iePolitics Commentary: Local newspapers display arrogance

Over the last few days we have been treated to two editorials from the local newspapers. Both pieces were in response to the firing of former San Bernardino County Administrative Office Mark Uffer by the Board of Supervisors.

The Sun newspaper column is titled “How new will direction be?” and in the Press Enterprise it’s “Why the ouster?

After reading these two gems I wanted to propose disbanding all governmental bodies across the nation and replace them with editorial boards. Not really, but the thought crossed my mind for a fraction of a second.

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NYTimes: Wave of Debt Payments Facing U.S. Government


Payback Time

Published: November 22, 2009

WASHINGTON — The United States government is financing its more than trillion-dollar-a-year borrowing with i.o.u.’s on terms that seem too good to be true.

But that happy situation, aided by ultralow interest rates, may not last much longer.

Treasury officials now face a trifecta of headaches: a mountain of new debt, a balloon of short-term borrowings that come due in the months ahead, and interest rates that are sure to climb back to normal as soon as the Federal Reserve decides that the emergency has passed.

Even as Treasury officials are racing to lock in today’s low rates by exchanging short-term borrowings for long-term bonds, the government faces a payment shock similar to those that sent legions of overstretched homeowners into default on their mortgages.

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Senor Blogger
November 23, 2009

In a story yesterday in the San Bernardino Sun newspaper, the new chair of the San Bernardino County Republican Party, Robert Rego, blames the party’s serious woes on, who else? Bill Postmus.

Now everyone knows that Bill Postmus, who served as chair of the county party from 2004-2007, is currently facing legal challenges, and earlier this year battled a damaging drugs addiction. Ouch!

Although Postmus maintains his innocence, his name nonetheless has become synonymous with political trouble.

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The Associated Press
Monday, November 23, 2009; 2:33 PM

COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford faces ethics charges he broke state laws more than three dozen times by violating rules on airplane travel and campaign money, according to details of the allegations released Monday.

The civil charges, which carry a maximum $74,000 in fines, stem from a three-month investigation by the state ethics commission and could be pivotal in a push by some lawmakers to remove him from office. The state attorney general is deciding whether the governor would face any criminal charges.

The allegations include 18 instances in which Sanford is accused of improperly buying first- and business-class airline tickets, violating state law requiring lowest-cost travel; nine times of improperly using state-owned aircraft for travel to political and personal events, including a stop at a discount hair salon; and 10 times he improperly reimbursed himself with campaign cash.

Sanford’s attorneys and spokesman did not immediately respond to messages left seeking comment.

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The Sentinel: $65,000 more for DA Probe (Update 1)

mike ramos2

The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors this week voted to dramatically increase the depth and intensity of a sexual harassment investigation the county is carrying out against district attorney Michael Ramos.

Since he was sworn in as district attorney in 2003 following his electoral victory the previous year, Ramos has garnered a reputation for profligate womanizing, in large measure by enjoying the company of several women employed in various capacities in his office, from evidence technicians to deputy prosecutors.

Because of the authority of his position and the power he embodied, Ramos was extended a degree of protection and insulation from wide public exposure of these dalliances.

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LATimes: California budget’s going to be dreadful

California Flag


Until long-term structural issues are fixed, there is no way legislators can produce an honest spending plan so the state lives within its means.
By George Skelton

Capitol Journal

November 22, 2009 | 8:32 p.m.

From Sacramento

The Capitol’s budget oracle projects $20.7 billion in new red ink for the next 19 months. Here’s my projection: More punting, “kicking the can down the alley” and numbers-rigging.

Hope we’re both wrong. Hope there’s an economic miracle or political heroism, which would require sacrifice to the demagogues. But, based on history and facts, that’s too much to hope for.

Here’s how nonpartisan Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor gently put it last week in calculating the latest general fund deficit: “Addressing this large shortfall will require painful choices, on top of the difficult choices the Legislature made earlier this year.”

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SacBee: Brown stances define issues, make waves

jerry brown

By Jack Chang
Published: Monday, Nov. 23, 2009 – 12:00 am | Page 1A
Last Modified: Monday, Nov. 23, 2009 – 6:22 am

As the undeclared Democratic front-runner in the governor’s race, Jerry Brown keeps a low profile and stays mum on divisive issues, saying he’ll talk more if and when he actually runs.

As California’s attorney general, however, the 71-year-old former governor is winning headlines nationwide for protecting taxpayers from unscrupulous banks and green-lighting deep salary cuts for legislators.

That dual role has fueled criticism that Brown is using his day job for partisan gain, a charge he has vehemently denied.

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RivPE: Pork indulgence

10:00 PM PST on Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Press-Enterprise

The $11.14 billion water bond the Legislature passed this month offers further proof that legislators live in an alternate reality, disconnected from the rest of the state. California faces years of daunting budget crises, yet legislators see nothing wrong with adding to the state’s already substantial public debt just to fund political pork.

Risking vital improvements to the state’s water system to pay for politicians’ pet projects is reckless nonsense, particularly given the state’s economic distress. Legislators should junk the pork and refocus the bond on projects necessary to ensure a reliable water supply for California.

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10:41 PM PST on Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Press-Enterprise

It took three times on the ballot for Steve Di Memmo to get elected to the San Jacinto City Council, and now, after almost a year in the post, some are calling him the last man standing.

The city’s four other councilmen have been indicted in a sweeping corruption probe. Di Memmo says they should resign in the best interest of the city.

The Nov. 12 corruption indictment accuses the four councilmen and five others of laundering tens of thousands of dollars in campaign money as well as tax fraud, bribery, perjury and filing false government documents.

Di Memmo won’t comment on specifics of the allegations but he issued a statement the day after the indictments were issued:

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Riverside County Seal

11:07 PM PST on Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Press-Enterprise

Holding off on new vehicles, buying used furniture and using video conferencing to cut down on mileage will help Riverside County save an estimated $37 million this year.

That’s according to a new report headed before the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.

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SBSun Editorial: Back to battling gaping deficit

Posted: 11/22/2009 07:01:44 PM PST

Now, just a few months after the Legislature and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger agreed on yet another budget revision, the Legislative Analyst’s Office tells us that we’re in the hole once again – to the tune of $21 billion over 18 months.

Will the red ink never stop drowning us? Well, no, it won’t, not until our leaders – and we voters – get realistic about balancing revenues and expenses.

Until some happy future day when the citizen commission just formed redraws legislative districts so that more pragmatic moderates of both major parties can get elected, we can’t look to members of the Legislature to get together on this and talk turkey.

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iePolitics: A bright new day, a golden opportunity

The big news last week in San Bernardino County was the sacking of Mark Uffer, the county’s top administrator. After serving five years, a majority of the board said that enough is enough.

In just this past year alone, this blog has extensively outlined reasons why Mr. Uffer had to go. His dithering over budget errors, his unfocused and unprincipled interactions with elected officials and their staffs, and his inability to inspire confidence among many county workers led the board to this decision.

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iePolitics: District Attorney case against Miller unwinding

Susan Vaccaro
November 22, 2009

The case filed by San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael Ramos against Grand Terrace City Councilman Jim Miller is already half-way down the proverbial drain.

After being paraded out in front of a District Attorney orchestrated media arrest on a single felony charge of conflict of interest, the prosecution is now desperate to salvage something from the case.

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The Sentinel: Uffer Era Draws to a Close


Uffer Era Ends on a 3-2 Vote

Mark Uffer’s five-year tenure as the county’s top administrative officer drew to a close this week with a 3-2 vote of the board of supervisors.

The sacking of Uffer, who was named interim county administrative officer in March 2004 and then given the official title as CAO in September 2004, was not done for cause, the county board members said. Rather, the three supervisors who favored having him take his leave said it was simply a matter of their changing management and policy imperatives rendering him out of step with their collective marching orders that sealed Uffer’s fate.

“The board felt it was necessary to move in a different direction at this time.” said board of supervisors chairman Gary Ovitt, who joined with supervisors Brad Mitzelfelt and Neil Derry in approving the motion to terminate Uffer.

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10:51 PM PST on Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Press-Enterprise

Two of the developers at the center of a corruption investigation in San Jacinto funneled more than $190,000 into the campaign accounts of Councilman Jim Ayres, prosecutors contend.

At the same time, Ayres repeatedly voted to approve projects favorable to the two businessmen, according to court documents and a review of city records.

He didn’t abstain from voting on the developers’ projects until a month after authorities first searched his home as part of their investigation.

It’s illegal for elected officials to vote on matters in which they have a financial stake. Votes benefiting major contributors, while not always improper, often raise questions about perceived conflicts of interest.

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SBSun: San Bernardino County GOP works to recapture its mojo

James Rufus Koren, Staff Writer
Posted: 11/21/2009 07:25:11 AM PST

Five years ago, Republicans reigned in San Bernardino County.

In 2004, the local GOP raised more than $350,000, supported candidates in 16 city council races and held a sizeable lead over Democrats in voter registration.

Over the past two years, however, Democrats have seized the majority of registered voters as the local party was wracked with instability and scandal.

“Our party is hurt,” said Robert Rego, who took over as chairman of the San Bernardino County Republican Party in August. “We’ve gone through a lot of trials and tribulations.”

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SBSun Editorial: How new will direction be?


SB County

Posted: 11/21/2009 08:15:22 PM PST

Attention, San Bernardino County residents: Get ready for your county government to go in a new direction.

Given the scandals and tribulations of the past decade-plus, it’s hard to argue against a new direction – any new direction – for county government.

After the Board of Supervisors dismissed County Administrative Officer Mark Uffer on Tuesday, Supervisors Neil Derry and Gary Ovitt invoked the need for a different direction.

We await word on what direction it will be, hoping supervisors will articulate it for the public and for the new CAO they hire.

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Only one person who wants to be governor is talking about the budget, and few are listening.

By Cathleen Decker

November 22, 2009

In the new movie “2012,” whose video trailers were bombarding television airwaves last week, the world as we know it gives way three years hence under a siege of floods, eruptions, undulating continents and earthquakes. In other words, it’s not much different from what is happening in California, fiscally speaking, except that the state will be lucky to hang on that long.

To recap: the state’s chief budget analyst reported last week that California faces a $21-billion deficit through the next fiscal year. For the two budget years after that, deficits will total $44 billion more, the analyst said. Those are not updates on the budget deficits that California twice faced earlier this year; these are new projections. We are getting to the point when, if you take a long nap, you’re at risk of missing the next dire pronouncement.

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iePolitics: S.B. Supervisor Derry holds successful fundraiser event

It seems San Bernardino County Third District Supervisor Neil Derry held a succesful political fundraiser event in Redlands last Wednesday evening. This was Derry’s first event since taking office last December.

By all reports the packed house will net the supervisor six figures.

The only reason I write on this today is that it doesn’t appear the event suffered any impact from attempts by Derry’s colleague, Fifth District Supervisor Josie Gonzales, to cut off Derry’s fundraising.

Particularly from local developers.

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SBSun: County supervisors plan meeting on filling top county post

Discussion planned December 1

Joe Nelson, Staff Writer
Posted: 11/18/2009 09:50:40 PM PST

Board of Supervisors Chairman Gary Ovitt will call for a closed-door meeting Dec. 1 to discuss the selection process for a new San Bernardino County chief administrative officer, his top aide said Wednesday.

“It’s important that it not only be a process but a process that everyone feels they can be a part of,” said Mark Kirk, Ovitt’s chief of staff.

Ovitt declined to comment for this report.

In a closed-door meeting Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors voted 3-2, with Paul Biane and Josie Gonzales opposing, to fire County Administrative Officer Mark Uffer.

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Susan Vaccaro
November 18, 2009

The Board of Supervisors approved an increase in the contract with the law firm of Curiale Hirschfield Kraemer yesterday. The amount was increased from $75,000 to $140,000.

What is the contract for you ask? To pay for an investigation into misconduct of San Bernardino County District Attorney Mike Ramos.

This time it’s Ramos’ zipper that has the county paying out six figures to attorneys to investigate him, his office, their conduct. A complaint made by one of Ramos’ ex-mistresses from inside his department is on its way to costing taxpayers even more down the road, when a settlement is reached with the victim.

That’s right, victim!

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SBSun: County dismisses top manager

Supervisors seek ‘a different direction’
Joe Nelson, Staff Writer
Posted: 11/17/2009 07:50:25 PM PST

In an abrupt move, the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unexpectedly fired County Administrative Officer Mark Uffer.

The firing is “without cause,” meaning Uffer was not accused of wrongdoing and is entitled to a full severance package.

“It took me totally by surprise. I had no idea this was coming,” Uffer said in a telephone interview Tuesday. “It’s certainly a disappointment when you know you’ve given the best you can give and that doesn’t seem to be good enough.”

In a closed session, the board voted 3-2 to remove Uffer from his appointed post. Supervisors Paul Biane and Josie Gonzales voted against the action.

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iePolitics: Leadership has returned to the Fifth Floor

The other day I wrote just a little bit about a conversation I had with Mark Kirk, Chairman Gary Ovitt’s Chief of Staff, almost a year ago about the Supervisor Ovitt’s hope to restore integrity and ethics to San Bernardino County governance. Those hopes and plans were derailed by a gang of three, Mike Ramos, Mark Uffer and Ruth Stringer, in an effort to maintain chaos on the Fifth Floor so to cover up their own misdeeds and the misdeeds of their supporters.

This calendar year has been a year of frustration for many, both on the inside and on the outside looking in.   Instead of the promise of a re-commitment to transparency, reform and progress, the Board of Supervisors has been stagnant at best and more often described as emasculated due to the threats of an out-of-control District Attorney who has been aided and abetted by a disloyal County Administrative Officer and County Counsel who put their own political interests ahead of the people they serve.

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Mike Ramos

District Attorney Michael Ramos

Senor Blogger
November 16, 2009

The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors is set to increase the contract with the law firm conducting the investigation into allegations of misconduct by District Attorney Michael Ramos.

Consent Calendar Item #41 on tomorrow’s Board of Supervisors agenda will approve an appropriation for a revised contract with the Santa Monica based law firm of Curiale Hirschfield and Kraemer, increasing the amount to $140,000.00. Any contract for outside legal services exceeding $100,000 must be approved by the board. The pending action means the investigation costs have or is expected to exceed the board approval threshold.

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Michael Kane
November 16, 2009

Rumors abound that change is coming soon to San Bernardino County Government.

It’s beginning to look like the Board of Supervisors may have had enough of the dysfunction and ineptitude at the highest levels of the “management corp.”

Ever since someone posted DISMISSAL/DISCIPLINE/RELEASE OF PUBLIC EMPLOYEE(S) on the Supervisors Board agenda for the Tuesday meeting, the Fifth Floor denizens have been scratching their heads (and laughing) about the unlucky (but deserving) public officials who will be leaving public service soon.

Most speculation centers around the obvious two choices viewed as the most deserving of unemployment.  I refer, of course, to County Administrative Officer Mark “the Real Deal” Uffer and Ruth “The Never Ending Vacation Accrual Plan” Stringer, neither of whom would be missed by co-workers, the county workforce, or the general public.

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On Tuesday, at least three of the five of you are expected to darn near make history in this county. It’s been a long time in the making. And there is a good reason for that, it being a long time in the making, that is. Her name is Ruth Stringer, your trusted legal counsel.

The change you will be making should have been made long ago. Had it been done a year ago, likely most of you would have had a less tumultuous year, even if you don’t know it. Let’s just say “subterfuge” has been a key term for the past year.

And Ruth Stringer has been a key player in this subterfuge. Think of the grief she has caused some of you.

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iePolitics: Honesty and Integrity

Anti Corruption Unit
November 14, 2009

Looking at the recent information that has come to light involving our District Attorney, it is rather clear, the evidence is in, he has been less than honest regarding his affairs and his own Fair Political Practices Commission issues.

It is now hard to argue that all of Ramos’s rhetoric about the rumors and allegations of his conduct being baseless tabloid rumors, were in fact nothing but lies.

Call it a little lie, or a big one, it is still a lie. Ramos did not lie to one of his subordinates, or someone in the privacy of his office, he did so in the press more than once.

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The state’s nonpartisan campaign watchdog is investigating San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael Ramos for failing to report a $10,000 campaign payment to his wife in 2008.

“We will investigate the allegation,” said Roman Porter, spokesman of the Fair Political Practices Commission, which has the ability to fine officials up to $5,000 per reporting violation.

Last week Ramos filed an amended Form 700 income disclosure document covering 2008, nine months after he filed the original form on Feb. 9. He added a $10,000 payment for the position of “campaign administrative assistant.”

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The simply answer is “Yes.” Mike is right. There is a very big difference between the violations charged against Mike Ramos and those against Jim Erwin.

Jim Erwin committed no crime. His original filing was the lawful and correct filing. His amended filing, which was done at the urging of Mike Ramos through Dave Ellis, was the incorrect way to report the watch and trip from Jeff Burum.

Jim was given the Rolex and trip as a “thank you” from Jeff for Jim’s help in negotiating the Colonies settlement. The $15,000 plus or minus value of the gift was far less than the value of the services Jim provided. Remember, Jim Brulte had a success fee arrangement with Colonies, where if a settlement was obtained through his efforts he would receive $250,000 for his services, and he was less involved than Jim. The arrangement expired a year earlier to the final settlement.

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iePolitics: Is “Renaissance Rialto” a boondoggle for taxpayers? (Update 1)

Rialto Seal

The article carried in yesterday’s Sun and published on this blog titled “Officials rework Renaissance Rialto”, addresses the move to renegotiate the agreement for the “Renaissance Rialto” project for the redevelopment of the Rialto Airport and adjacent areas. The agreement is between the City of Rialto and Lewis-Hillwood Rialto Company, LLC. The city has basically agreed to spend all of its Redevelopment Agency money to aid an influential wealthy developer and campaign contributor.

The price, a cool $10.9 million.

The developer apparently wants to unwind the current purchase agreement, which has the group committed to millions of dollars in investment. The angle is to get the value of the real estate as close to zero as possible.

That’s right, a big fat zero.

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Joe Nelson, Staff Writer
Created: 11/12/2009 05:31:16 PM PST

The Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) has launched an investigation into San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael A. Ramos for failing to report a $10,000 payment to his wife for working on his political campaign.

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mike ramos2

10:00 PM PST on Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Press-Enterprise

The California Fair Political Practices Commission has decided to investigate a complaint about San Bernardino County District Attorney Mike Ramos’ failure to disclose income in a state financial disclosure form.

Letters to Ramos and the person who filed the complaint, whose name was not released, were sent out Tuesday, said Roman Porter, executive director of the state watchdog agency.

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iePolitics Commentary: San Bernardino County: The Uffer Legacy, Part 2

bad legal advice

Michael Kane
November 12, 2009

RUTH STRINGER: Counselor from Hell

Who or what is “evil” or “venal” is obviously a matter of personal opinion. So let’s look at the dictionary definitions and set a yardstick to measure some of our more important appointed public officials:

EVIL. (Defined): morally wrong or bad; immoral due to actual or imputed bad conduct or character; the wicked or immoral part of someone or something; anything causing injury or harm.

VENAL. (Defined): willing to sell one’s influence; bribable, corruptible.

Now let’s look at some of those high-level County officials and see how they measure up to the challenge to demonstrate integrity, act honestly, perform competently and truly serve the public interest to the exclusion of their own.

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iePolitics Commentary: We owe thanks to District Attorney Mike Ramos

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Since I started blogging about 3.5 years ago, I have often lamented the fact that so many of the readers, even some members of the blog pen, and much of the public seem to have little knowledge regarding the rights, responsibilities and significance of the Constitution of the United States.  I know a large percentage of those involved with this blog are younger than I and I often wonder if perhaps changes in school curriculum have something to do with it. It seems we have a generation or two with little or no concept as to the significance of our constitution or the importance of maintaining the rights it grants us.

When I attended junior high in order to graduate from the eighth grade we had  to write out the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States verbatim from memory, discuss all seven Articles, and detail what powers/rights each of the 26 Amendments granted us (yes, there were only 26 then).  We also had to learn basic legal terminology and understand the significance of court cases ranging from Marbury v. Madison to Dred Scott v. Sanford and Plessy v. Ferguson, Gideon v. Wainwright Miranda v. Arizona.

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Josie Gonzales

Senor Blogger
November 10, 2009

Supervisor Josie Gonzales the bookkeeper! Sounds kind of amusing.

Not to the California Fair Political Practices Commission.

Gonzales acting as her own campaign committee treasurer received a warning letter issued by the state’s political watchdog on October 14, 2009, for failing to list payments to sub-vendors of more than $500 on her campaign disclosure statements in 2004.

Maybe Gonzales should hook-up with District Attorney Mike Ramos on proper disclosure.