By Neil Nisperos Staff Writer
Created: 09/16/2011 03:44:42 PM PDT

Amid accusations of behind-the-scenes dealings, the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors on Friday approved a redistricting plan that keeps mountain communities split into two districts and moves Barstow into the same district as Redlands.

Supervisors adopted the new political boundaries on a 3-2 vote. First District Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt and 3rd District Supervisor Neil Derry dissented.

During the meeting, Derry charged that Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Josie Gonzales’ chief of staff, Dan Flores, tried to cut a deal with his office.

Derry’s chief of staff, George Watson, later described the deal as keeping the west end of Highland in Derry’s district if Derry could get mountain residents to back off from the position that they all be in his district.

An angry Gonzales told Derry at the meeting, “Excuse me sir, I need to tell you, you need to stop, because if you do not, I will go public and I will tell the deal you tried to cut with my office. I refuse dirty laundry. I don’t do anybody’s laundry.”

“Which deal was that Madame Chair? I’d like to hear it,” Derry said.

Gonzales defended her staff but did not comment further.

“I have a hard-working, honest, dedicated staff, and I will put my staff up against anyone,” Gonzales said. “Their resilience and trustworthiness is exemplary and I will not stand and put up with such slanderous talk.”

After the meeting Derry and Watson denied the allegation of a deal from their end. Gonzales also denied the allegation of a deal from her end.

With the new district boundaries, Mitzelfelt loses Barstow to Derry’s district, and Derry loses a number of mountain communities to 2nd District Supervisor Janice Rutherford.

Before the vote, a number of residents from the mountains and Barstow urged the board to reconsider.

Residents from Barstow and the San Bernardino Mountains said the maps divide each’s communities of interest.

“Barstow opposes the proposed maps because it does not respect the communities of interest it shares with the adjacent cities of Dagget, Hinkley, Newberry Springs and Yermo,” said Barstow Mayor Joe Gomez.

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