By Mike Cruz Staff Writer
Posted: 04/28/2011 06:55:28 PM PDT
SAN BERNARDINO – While Bob Page repeatedly advised county departments not to give any special favors to a Fifth District campaign contributor’s development in Bloomington, he was named in nearly 100 emails as he checked on status updates as the project traversed the building permit process, according to Superior Court testimony.
Julie Rynerson Rock, now the retired head of the San Bernardino County Land Use Services Department, testified Thursday in San Bernardino Superior Court in the trial for two Los Angeles-area businessmen that construction projects are commonly politically charged and developers often go to the Board of Supervisors for help when issues arise.
Rynerson Rock said she believed Page, the former chief of staff for Fifth District Supervisor Josie Gonzales, was doing his job in 2007 and 2008 when he assisted a delay-plagued development from Arshak and Vartan Kouladjian, who had contributed $35,000 to Gonzales over a three-year period, through the permit process.
The project had faced significant hurdles toward getting its occupancy permit, and Page always prefaced conversations and emails about the project with ensuring the Kouladjians did not get any special treatment, said Rynerson Rock.
“I thought he was doing his job basically,” Rynerson Rock said. “Like every other inquiry that came into his boss’s office.”
The offices of county supervisors often check the status of developments in their districts, the Land Use Services head said. But she couldn’t specifically name any other projects where Page had as much involvement.
The Kouladjians, through Pasadena-based AVH Holdings, applied for a three-phase development that faced numerous delays and had trouble getting county approvals.
“We were just not getting anywhere,” Rynerson Rock testified. “It seemed like it went on forever.”
Prosecutors have charged the Kouladjians with three felony counts, alleging that they bribed and attempted to bribe Page in 2007 and 2008 for his help. They are represented by lawyers Mark Geragos and Philip Cohen.
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