09:02 PM PDT on Friday, October 15, 2010

The Press-Enterprise

San Bernardino Police Chief Keith Kilmer says the city attorney threatened him during a contentious meeting with other city officials last week.

The meeting, held in the mayor’s conference room at City Hall with various department heads and members of the city attorney’s office, erupted in argument when City Attorney Jim Penman and City Manager Charles McNeely could not agree what the subject of the meeting was to be.

In a four-page memo to the city manager obtained by The Press-Enterprise, the police chief described Penman as “very direct and hostile” about discussing “numerous matters pending with his office.”

Near the end of the meeting, Kilmer wrote, Penman walked toward the door of the room “saying that he was not done fighting.

“He looked toward me as I walked toward the exit,” Kilmer wrote, “and he said something like ‘I suggest if you want to continue to fight we go across the parking lot and do it.’ I was shocked at what I thought I heard and asked, ‘Mr. City Attorney, did you just challenge me to a fight?’ ”

Kilmer alleges that Penman then walked up “within inches of my face” and continued the discussion. Penman walked away moments later.

In a telephone interview Friday night, Penman said he has not seen Kilmer’s memorandum, but he considers it a political smear aimed at promoting Measure C on the Nov. 2 ballot. If that measure passes, the city attorney would be an appointed rather than an elected position.

He denied threatening the police chief.

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