Andrew Edwards, Staff Writer
Posted: 10/10/2010 03:29:03 PM PDT

SAN BERNARDINO – Financial disclosures reveal some of donors funding this election season’s campaigns against Measure C are taking the same sides as they did during the 2009 mayoral race between Pat Morris and James F. Penman.

Measure C would amend the City Charter to let the City Council and mayor appoint the city attorney, city clerk and city treasurer. As in the 2009 and previous mayoral race, Morris and Penman are on the opposite sides of this campaign.

One donor, Chaparral Motorsports Vice President James E. Damron said his opinion is that Measure C is about charter reform, not the specific personalities of Morris and Penman.

“I think it’s the right thing to do and get the city back on track,” Damron said. “I’ve been here since 1948 and the city hasn’t gotten better in the last 20 years.”

In Damron’s view, putting elected administrators under the council’s authority is a good thing. Measure C opponents would say the opposite, as their preference is to have a city attorney who is independent from the council by virtue of election.

“We believe that the public deserves a right to vote,” said Bob Blough, general manager of the San Bernardino Public Employees Association, which is opposing Measure C.

“It took a long time to get the right to vote and to take it away doesn’t make much sense,” Blough continued.

Thus far, the Yes on C contingent is leading the money race. Campaign finance disclosures show the referendum’s supporters have collected $32,000 in cash contributions. By comparison, the No on C group has $13,000 and a smaller pool of donors.

The pro-C group has a variety of donors from the East Valley’s political and business scenes, some of whom have previously supported Morris’ political efforts.

Besides Damron, who gave $2,500 in support of the measure, other Morris supporters who also contributed to Measure C include San Bernardino International Airport Authority chairman Don Rogers ($5,000), Redlands-based law firm Mirau, Edwards, Cannon Lewin & Tooke ($5,000) and East Valley Water District board member Kip Sturgeon ($500).

Additionally, Morris’ own political committee is the largest single donor to “Taxpayers to Fix San Bernardino,” which is the formal name of the Yes on C group. Morris’ committee gave $9,000 to the pro-Measure C campaign.

The anti-C cohort has two contributors, the San Bernardino Public Employees Association ($10,000) and San Bernardino City Professional Firefighters ($3,000). Both unions gave money to Penman in 2009.

The numbers that will matter the most, however, are the votes that will be tallied after polls close on the evening of Nov. 2.

A look at the last decade of San Bernardino politics shows that while city voters have twice chosen Morris over Penman as mayor, they also desired to retain their ability to elect their city attorney the last time that issue was on the ballot.

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