Josh Dulaney, The (San Bernardino County) Sun
Posted: 11/07/2011 11:33:29 PM PST

SAN BERNARDINO – Fifth Ward Councilman Chas Kelley blasted Public Works Director Nadeem Majaj at the City Council meeting Monday night for what Kelley described as the smearing of a prominent asphalt contractor’s reputation.

The issue arose last week after published reports of an Oct. 5 meeting at which Majaj says City Attorney James F. Penman intimidated him when asking questions about a police report involving allegations that Majaj’s predecessor showed favoritism to Matich Corp., a longtime asphalt producer in the region and a contributor to Penman’s campaigns.

Majaj said in a phone interview that he had “stopped the flow of millions of dollars of a local powerful contractor,” it was reported last week.

Kelley used part of his public announcements time on Monday to express outrage over the matter.

“Given the enormous contribution of the Matich family to the welfare of San Bernardino, I was therefore very disappointed to see a department head of this city use his position to smear their reputation in our local newspapers,” Kelley said.

Penman faces David McKenna in the city attorney election Tuesday. Kelley is running against Larry A. Lee.

“We owe the Matich family a public apology,” Kelley said. “This unhealthy and obsessive hatred of San Bernardino’s city attorney is causing some to act in a manner that harms our entire community.”

Majaj said he believes Penman was retaliating against him for canceling a lucrative contract with Matich Corp.

Penman has said that he has recused himself from contracts involving Matich Corp. during his campaigns.

“I’ve always conflicted off on matters involving the Matich family except for a period from July 2005 through October 2010 during which I did not receive any donations….” Penman said at Monday’s council meeting.

And as he did when the issue erupted last week, Penman placed the blame on Mayor Pat Morris for a leaked memo in which Majaj told Penman he was “especially concerned by your outward threats and the anger you displayed toward me during this meeting,” and that he did not feel safe conducting business with the City Attorney’s Office.

Kelley said he was “ashamed by the actions of this administration in leaking classified city documents” to the media.

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