Sunday, September 4, 2011 – 11:50 a.m.

Will more than a quarter-million dollars buy an endorsement?

That’s the big question coming up this week. Whether or not there’s an answer remains to be seen.

Sources tell the board of directors of the San Bernardino County Safety Employees’ Benefit Association (SEBA) will be meeting at Casino Morongo for its annual two day conference.

The big topic for discussion is the race for third district supervisor between incumbent Neil Derry and challenger James Ramos.

Ramos is the chairman of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians.

A group that has been a heavy contributor to the union’s political action committee and children’s charity fund.

Sources indicate that internal pressure is building within the union’s board to endorse Ramos because of the more than $250,000 the tribe has committed to the union over the past few years.

Donations spearheaded by Ramos.

The even bigger question circulating is whether or not the donated funds were a down payment on the union’s future support of Ramos.

Derry’s continuous strong support of public safety may not be enough to counter the tribe’s sway over the union. Even though SEBA spent $400,000 helping Derry defeat former Supervisor Dennis Hansberger in 2008.

The union also faces the possible unilateral imposition of a contract by county supervisors in March 2012. The potential of forced cuts on SEBA members comes after the union members failed to agree to accept a union developed concession package earlier this year.

Under the union’s past practice Derry should get the nod. But for a group that has seemingly lost its way, anything’s possible.

Stay tuned….