San Bernardino City Councilman Fred Shorett wants to know whether City Attorney Jim Penman has improperly assisted vendors in winning contracts. (FRANK BELLINO/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)

BY BRIAN ROKOS
STAFF WRITER
brokos@pe.com

Published: 02 November 2011 08:19 PM

San Bernardino City Councilman Fred Shorett on Wednesday said he wants state and federal authorities to investigate actions by City Attorney Jim Penman, including whether Penman has improperly assisted vendors in winning contracts and what Shorett called “abuse of power.”

Council members Rikke Van Johnson and Virginia Marquez also spoke at a City Hall news conference. Shorett said he would ask the entire council to direct the city to seek investigations by the state Department of Justice, state attorney general’s office and the FBI.

“This is about putting an end to the blatant abuse of power by Jim Penman,” said Shorett, a supporter of David McKenna, Penman’s challenger in the Nov. 8 election. “This is about ending the pay-to-play system that I believe has been established by Mr. Penman. He has made it clear to do business in San Bernardino, you will contribute to his campaigns or you may suffer some investigation or some other form of punishment. Today, we declare enough is enough.”

Shorett also is seeking an investigation into:

Penman’s use of his eight investigators, who Shorett said threaten and intimidate anyone who disagrees with Penman.

Any link between Councilwoman Wendy McCammack, former interim Public Works Director Randy Kuettle and the Matich Corp.

Whether Penman properly uses administrative civil penalties to force code compliance.

Penman said he didn’t know what was said at the news conference and didn’t care. He added that the three council members who spoke have been members or alternate members of the two boards overseeing San Bernardino International Airport, where the operations are being investigated by the FBI.

“Their concern is the current investigations and the city attorney investigations regarding similar activities at City Hall,” Penman said, declining to elaborate. “It’s not surprising the Wednesday before the election that they would hold a news conference and say they are going to refer whatever to whomever.”

At the news conference, Shorett noted that McCammack had sent Kuettle a text message encouraging him to make the city fire him when he was planning to resign this spring.

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