San Bernardino POA Billboard

A billboard featuring members of the City Council is visible at the intersection of Highland Avenue and E Street in San Bernardino on Tuesday. The San Bernardino Police Officers Association PAC sponsored the billboard. (Gabriel Luis Acosta/Staff Photographer)

Ryan Hagen, Staff Writer
Posted: 04/30/2013 06:15:26 PM PDT

SAN BERNARDINO — The police union has put up a billboard at a busy intersection congratulating Mayor Pat Morris and four council members, but those elected officials don’t take it as a compliment – or the truth.

That’s because the full-size billboard on Highland Avenue and E Street reads “Congratulations! You’ve made San Bernardino the worst-run city in America!” and shows the name and picture of those who’ve opposed the San Bernardino Police Officers Association on recent votes that union officers say made the city less safe.

“It’s pretty clear that those folks that are up there are not concerned with public safety,” said union President Steve Turner. “I think the main part of that determination that made us one of the worst-run cities is the violent crime index … and these are the council persons that have basically not supported public safety. ”

Turner said he mainly opposed two votes: one asking the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department to calculate how much the city would need to pay to have deputies police the city instead of the San Bernardino Police Department – a report that was shelved when it turned out outsourcing would be more expensive – and one imposing a contract that cuts take-home pay by reducing benefits.

Both of those votes were for the good of the city and were necessary because of the city’s bankruptcy filing, say those targeted by the billboard.

“I’m not against police and fire, and I’m not against public safety, but I have a responsibility to the citizens of San Bernardino,” said Councilman Fred Shorett. “With the bankruptcy and Charter Section 186, those are the only options we had. ”

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