“James Ramos (at Right) is disingenuous,” Derry (at Left) said. “He falsely accuses me of being a felon, he falsely accuses me of not being a businessman when I have a decade of private sector experience, he falsely claims to be a successful businessman when his two coffee shops have closed (laying off those minimum wage employees) and his two ‘restaurants’ are empty, and he has never produced a jobs plan of any type.

By Guy McCarthy
September 18, 2012

Opponents in the campaign for Third District, which includes Redlands and Loma Linda, continued sparring this week over the use of eminent domain as a way to deal with underwater mortgages in San Bernardino County.

The county, the city of Ontario and the city of Fontana recently formed a Homeownership Protection Program joint powers authority to look at proposals to address this issue.

Incumbent Neil Derry says he is open to exploring whether eminent domain can be used to protect vulnerable homeowners.

Challenger James Ramos announced in August he is opposed to its use by the county joint powers authority. As a leader of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, he did not oppose the use of eminent domain when the city of Highland needed land to make street improvements to cope with increased traffic from his tribe’s casino.

“The way I understand it this would be a tool used to condemn a mortgage, not a physical home or residence,” Derry told Redlands-Loma Linda Patch last week.

“But it’s ironic the former chairman of the San Manuel tribe says he is opposed to exploring the use of eminent domain in an effort to protect under-water home owners, because he was not opposed to it when it benefited his casino,” Derry said.

Ramos did not respond to messages seeking comment, but he said through his spokesman Andre Levesque:

“Neil Derry is trying to compare Apples and Oranges. Apparently he doesn’t understand the issue yet he is the driving force behind a government program that would seize private property from homeowners. Voters should be frightened.”

Derry read Levesque’s remarks and reponded within an hour of their publication Tuesday Sept. 18.

“His spokesman is lying,” Derry said. “This is not about taking physical property, which James Ramos is ok with.

“The concept is about taking the mortgage from predatory lenders and negotiating with the existing property owners so they can keep their homes,” Derry said.

“It’s clear Mr. Ramos’ spokesman does not understand what the county joint powers authority is looking at,” Derry said. “That or he’s lying, because he’s saying something that is absolutely untrue. He’s either mistaken or he’s lying.”

Levesque, alerted to Derry’s remarks, steered his response from eminent domain to small businesses and jobs.

“Voters should be concerned with Neil’s support of such a gross expansion of government authority that uses eminent domain for something it was never intended for,” Levesque said. “This proposal doesn’t grow the county’s small businesses or create one job and that is what the voters want to get San Bernardino County back on track. James is the best person to address the county’s needs that’s why they should voter for James in the upcoming election.”

Derry responded at length, accusing his opponent of being less than sincere:

“Here again, Mr. Ramos and his spokesman are misstating my position and the facts. I have only supported the analysis of this proposal, not its implementation. I have a BA in Political Science and have serious concerns about the Constitutionality of this proposal, but I am not going to willy-nilly oppose it like my misinformed opponent.

“If there is an opportunity to help homeowners KEEP their houses, I am willing to consider the option,” Derry said. “Apparently, Mr. Ramos does not care about the thousands of homeowners in our County that are partly victims of predatory lending practices.

To read entire story, click here.