Friday, November 30, 2012 – 08:30 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, November 30, 2012 – 09:40 a.m.
Last Tuesday’s events at a regular meeting of the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors was the first opportunity to shed light on a glaring issue facing county leaders, newly-elected Third District Supervisor James C. Ramos, and voters.
The issue being Ramos’ ability to effectively serve his constituents in an on-going capacity.
Ramos, who doesn’t formally assume his duties until December 3, pretty much stepped in it last Tuesday when he inserted himself into a public hearing over an appeal of a county planning commission decision to approve a proposed radio broadcast tower site owned by Spanish-language radio company Lazer Broadcasting.
A proceeding where county supervisors act as hearing officers in an quasi-judicial proceeding.
The aforementioned appeal in question was denied by county supervisors on a 4-0 vote.
However, there are three glaring issues emerging for Ramos from this escapade.
First, the lawyer representing opponents of the radio tower, Redlands-based attorney John Mirau, submitted an unsigned letter purportedly authored by Ramos. The letter says Ramos is opposed to the tower in its current location and asked his future colleagues to continue the hearing until he takes office.
First, according to Ramos, he had nothing to do with the letter, which calls Mirau’s credibility onto the carpet. Secondly, Ramos told Chair Josie Gonzales, in a telephone call during the hearing, that he in fact did oppose the project, in its current proposed location, and requested the hearing be continued.
The issue here? Ramos’ statement to Gonzales indicates he had prejudged the project prior to the hearing, and thus conflicted himself on the matter. Ramos’ incoming chief of staff, Phil Paule, who was present at the hearing, reportedly looked like a deer in the headlights, when the matter erupted.
To view the letter, click here: Phony Ramos Letter
Another issue here? According to Lazer Broadcasting’s Internet website, Ramos’ Tribe, the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, contracts for advertising with Lazer Broadcasting, and in addition the Tribe also advertises with Lazer competitor Liberman Broadcasting.
The matter now exposes the need for the San Manuel’s to publicly disclose a list of its outstanding contracts, in order for taxpayers to evaluate Ramos’ conflicts. In addition, the situation places a tremendous burden on the county, Ramos’ staff, and even Ramos himself, to avoid legal trouble.
And lastly, Mirau is aligned with Redlands political interests, who backed Ramos’ election campaign. This fiasco, especially when taking the phony letter into account, appears to be a case of Ramos’ backers taking liberty’s and attempting to run him.
The question here for Ramos? Is this how it’s going to be going forward? In other words, who will be in-charge? Ramos or the Redlands political crowd?
Ramos could have run for State Assembly, State Senate, U.S. Congress, U.S. Senate, or even moved to Riverside County and ran for the Board of Supervisors there, without any problems at all. Instead Ramos chose the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors.
The one and only governmental body incompatible with his Tribal membership and his material financial conflicts of interest.
The 12 contracts between the county and the San Manuel’s, which include the Tribe paying the county $3 million per year for non-competitively bid services, is another issue.