Jason Abbott, Staff Writer
Thursday, March 3, 2011 – 01:44 p.m.
With the unveiling of the federal indictment against ex-Upland Mayor J.P. Pomierski and his business partner now public, many county residents are absolutely stunned to see the alleged criminal activity apparently undertaken by senior elected public servants in Upland, the community known as the City of Gracious Living. Although this blog highlighted Pomierski’s graft as early as last June, many – including Pomierski’s allies on the Upland City Council – refused to believe the accusations against J.P., the self-proclaimed “King of Upland.’
One name, however, kept surfacing in the anonymous gossip mills and was spread among rumor-mongers: The name of respected West End businessman Jeff Burum, who certain parties and blogs were destined to paint as having some level of involvement in a criminal conspiracy involving the federal investigation into Upland municipal government. Of course, Mr. Burum has never held elective office nor served on any city or Upland government commissions, those facts failed to dissuade speculation from those trying to discredit the businessman and /or his business interests.
Far from being complicit in any illegal scheme, Burum was, in fact, quite possibly a victim of those who authorities say abused their official positions. One of Burum’s businesses is the upscale and highly popular restaurant Second Avenue Saloon, of which he is an investor. Take a look at the actual indictment we posted. More specifically, look at the activity described Overt Act Numbers 27 and 28: “On January 28, 2010, during a meeting with defendant HENNES and one of the owners of “Business A” defendant POMIERSKI stated that: he had spoken to other city officials about the owner’s application for a permit; he would obtain from the city a copy of the security plan from another business to assist with the preparation of the new permit application; he would try to expedite the approval process and would speak with the city council when it came time for the vote; and he did not want anyone knowing that he and the owner had met in person. ACT 28: On January 28, 2010, defendant POMIERSKI telephoned an Upland city official and requested a copy of the security plan from another business.”
It is suggested in the indictment that “Business A’ refers to the Chronic Cantina, a nightclub in Upland near its border with Montclair. It is highly likely that the “security plan’ Mayor Pomierski accessed from city officials was that of Burum’s dining establishment in the city’s bustling downtown. In other words, Mayor J.P. Pomierski was pilfering plans and designs from another business to assist one of Burum’s competitors whom Pomierski is accused of extorting. Yes, this means Jeff Burum was completely unaware of Pomierski’s actions and Jeff himself was another possible victim of Pomierski’s illegal activity.
While the victims of Pomierski’s graft and malfeasance will soon have their day in court (both criminally and civilly) where they will hold the bad actors accountable, it is time for those who have made a cottage industry of ridiculous and unfounded speculation regarding Burum to take a couple steps backward and re-assess their position. Unfounded rumors, vicious innuendo, and finger-pointing won’t solve the serious ethical problems that always seem to pervade San Bernardino County’s political culture.
It’s time for people to stop jumping to conclusions. Speculators who have no clue as to the real facts got it all wrong on this issue as it pertains to Jeff Burum.
Today’s development obviously raises another important question: What else have people incorrectly assumed about Jeff Burum?