Supervisor now facing charges
Josh Dulaney, Staff Writer
Posted: 04/26/2011 10:33:08 PM PDT

Supervisor Neil Derry, who faces felony charges for allegedly laundering a campaign contribution, is a former U.S. Marine and Desert Storm veteran who first charged into public office by taking nearly 70 percent of the vote in the 2001 race for San Bernardino’s 4th Ward City Council seat.

Derry, a former planning commissioner, defeated former mayor and dominant political figure W.R. “Bob” Holcomb, as well as political newcomer James Kincade for the city’s open 4th Ward seat.

Having the endorsements of the firefighter and police unions, Derry ran on a platform of improved retirement benefits for public safety employees, the phasing out of the city’s 8 percent utility tax and the end of political infighting in San Bernardino’s City Hall.

In 2008, when he ran against incumbent Dennis Hansberger for the county’s 3rd District supervisor seat, Derry promised to make public safety a top priority.

He also pledged to improve public accountability from the Board of Supervisors, at the time citing abuse of county credit cards, the board’s $500 monthly health care stipend and the indiscriminate use of campaign dollars.

His government-reform platform included the proposal of an ethics commission – an independent body designed to investigate allegations of corruption.

When Derry defeated Hansberger, he left behind a San Bernardino council dealing with budget cuts, the arrest of a youth center supervisor on suspicion of child molestation and cops’ vote of no confidence in the police chief.

He joined a Board of Supervisors already enmeshed in investigations involving allegations of political malfeasance in the Assessor’s Office.

In 2009, Derry accepted the resignation of his chief of staff and former Assistant Assessor Jim Erwin, after the top aide was arrested on suspicion of failing to report gifts he received from a Rancho Cucamonga developer.

In 2010, the Board of Supervisors approved Derry’s so-called Sunshine Ordinance, which seeks to give wider public access to official government records.

The main provisions of the ordinance include the preservation of audio and video recordings of all Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission meetings as well as more accessibility to public records online.

But the 10-page ordinance was somewhat watered down from an earlier 60-page version.

It did not include his proposed ethics commission, or a ban on the county citing a legal argument known as “deliberative process,” which essentially gives the county the means to withhold certain records from the public.

Some government watchdogs criticized the ordinance, saying it didn’t have any real teeth, such as enforcement provisions.

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