San Bernardino Seal

By Ryan Hagen, The Sun
Posted: 01/07/14, 8:36 PM PST |

SAN BERNARDINO >> The City Council has voted to go ahead with a study that will include a recommendation on whether to outsource fire services, despite the revelation of a letter from Cal Fire to the councilman behind the proposal saying the agency wasn’t interested and denying his claim of $12 million in potential savings.

Cal Fire, along with the county fire department, was one of two agencies considered most likely to provide fire services for what Councilman Fred Shorett said he “understand(s)” to be $8 million to $12 million in savings. Shorett later said he had gotten that estimate from a Cal Fire official.

Not so, Cal Fire Director Ken Pimlott said in a letter dated Nov. 1 and sent to Shorett, with copies also sent to the city attorney, city manager and remaining council members — all of whom say they never got it.

“In a recent San Bernardino County Sun newspaper article, you alleged that contracting with CAL FIRE would provide a ‘12 million dollar savings’ to the city,” Pimlott wrote. “After reading the article, I am compelled to set the record straight. CAL FIRE has not provided any cost estimates for service or potential savings to your city. In fact, local CAL FIRE leadership has plainly stated that our Department is unlikely to participate in a request for proposal process should the City Council vote to initiate one.”

To opponents of any potential outsourcing — including Councilmen Robert Jenkins and John Valdivia — Shorett’s continued advocacy of seeking information about outsourcing after the letter was sent smacks of a cover-up.

“It’s an egregious falsification,” Valdivia said. “He knew very well that we have this evidence. Now we’re talking about, who in the mailbag office, who destroyed the letter?”

Cal Fire spokeswoman Janet Upton says individually packaged letters were sent by courier — probably Nov. 4, the business day after Nov. 1 — to City Manager Allen Parker and the seven elected officials listed on the letter, with an address of City Hall for all of them.

The council administrative supervisor, Cheryl Weeks, said Tuesday morning that she hadn’t found any letters.

“I have searched all of the Council Office files and our mail logs and we do not have any record of ever receiving any correspondence from CalFire,” Weeks wrote in an email to the city attorney’s office, responding to a public records request put in by Jenkins.

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