Tuesday, July 16, 2013 – 11:00 a.m.

Is there a problem?

It would sure appear that way!

Everyone, including the voters, was warned long before the November 2012 election.

San Bernardino County Third District Supervisor James Ramos seems to be failing to show at various scheduled public and closed session board meetings.

In particular, Ramos is failing to show at meetings of the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors, Inland Valley Development Agency (IVDA and San Bernardino International Airport Authority (SBIAA).

A common thread in pretty much each instance?

A closed or public session agenda item involving the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, or a decision impacting Tribal financial holdings.

Ramos, who’s been in office for seven and one-half months, seems to be tacitly acknowledging he has a problem. After all, actions speak louder than words, and Ramos’ actions are telling.

Official minutes, and posted videos, of public meetings support this contention.

It’s likely Ramos has now realized he has a legal problem with California Government Code 1090. The law governing conflicts of interest for public officials. There’s two categories of conflicts under the law. Those being “remote” financial interest, and “material” financial conflicts of interest.

The possibility of an elected official having remote financial interest in a government action raises minimal concern, and is a common occurrence in local government business. Usually a recusal or abstention from voting solves the conflict. The second more serious “material” financial conflict, is usually a death blow to a career, if it occurs. Under California case law, merely abstaining or recusing (walking out or not showing) from an official vote, because of an elected official’s material financial conflict of interest, is insufficient. Mainly because that official has the ability to influence their colleagues on the matter to be taken up.

In the instant case, Ramos is a profit-sharing/owner member of the local Native American Indian Tribe. For example, is any non-competitvely bid service contract between the county and the Tribal Government, less costly than if the Tribal Government had to provide the same identical service itself? Is a discussion related to the sale of a piece of property, near Tribal-owned land at the San Bernardino International Airport, a material financial conflict of interest for Ramos?

It’s time that questions are asked. It’s also time for Ramos to acknowledge he has a legal problem here, that has caused his absenses.

It’s also highly-commendable that Ramos was able to successfully secure a seat on the county board. But any other office would not have posed the current legal questions.

Don’t hold your breath for any complaint to the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC), District Attorney, or Attorney General. There’s too high a probability the San Bernardno County District Attorney, a Ramos ally, would somehow try and run interference.

I would however expect a civil Government Code 1090 lawsuit against Ramos and the County.

It was only a matter of time.