10:00 PM PDT on Monday, August 15, 2011

Staff Writer

San Bernardino City Attorney Jim Penman unsuccessfully fought a proposal to take $197,000 out of his department’s budget Monday by claiming that council members were using the tactic to obstruct investigations against them.

The Finance Department sought the money to pay outside attorneys who handled a growing number of lawsuits against the city in the 2010-11 fiscal year.

The issue was where the money would come from. Both proposals would have taken it out of the account bankrolled by administrative civil penalties, but one would have required the money to be repaid out of Penman’s approximate $3.5 million 2011-12 budget. Penman was already on the hook for $450,000 loaned to his office last year to be repaid in 2011-12.

“This is negligence on the part of the City Council,” Penman said.

Penman said council members are trying to reduce his budget and force him to lay off city attorney employees whom he says are investigating council members he declines to identify. “You don’t want our office investigating political corruption,” he said.

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