The Sentinel

By Mark Gutglueck
Posted on December 5, 2014

(December 3) San Bernardino Mayor Carey Davis will be without a chief of staff as of January 1, pursuant to a vote of the San Bernardino City Council on Monday.

The council voted 5-2 against renewing the city’s contract with the consulting firm MICA-PR to serve in the capacity of chief of staff. MICA-PR is owned and managed by Michael McKinney, such that McKinney for the past eight months, since shortly after Davis assumed office in March, has been the de facto chief of staff.

Only council members Rikke Van Johnson and Virginia Marquez, the two members of the council remaining strongly aligned with Davis, voted to extend MICA-PR’s contract. The city’s contract with MICA-PR, at an annual rate of $125,000, ran until December 31, with two one-year extension options.

Davis’s reliance on McKinney for guidance thus far in his tenure as mayor has created some difficulty for Davis, who has enjoyed reasonably good relations with the rest of the council otherwise.

McKinney is not an uncontroversial figure. Through MICA-PR, he was involved, along with entrepreneur Scott Beard, in a 2013 effort to recall the entirety of the San Bernardino City Council and city attorney James Penman. That effort failed to qualify recall questions against then-mayor Pat Morris, Johnson, Marquez, councilman Fred Shorett, and then-councilmen Robert Jenkins and Chas Kelley, but did get adequate valid signatures on petitions to force recall questions against councilwoman Wendy McCammack and councilman John Valdivia, as well as Penman. The committee that sponsored the recall, San Bernardino Residents for Responsible Government, founded by Beard and directed by McKinney, raised and spent over $154,000, much of it put up by Beard, on the recall. The recall question against Valdivia failed but McCammack and Penman were removed from office.
Despite being recalled in the November 2013 municipal election. McCammack placed first among ten candidates vying for mayor that year. Davis finished second. With no single candidate garnering a majority of the vote, a runoff was held. McKinney served as Davis’ political consultant during that campaign. Davis defeated McCammack in the runoff election, which was held in February.

The affable Davis, an accountant, was a political neophyte unacquainted with the rough-and-tumble of politics, holding office or the bare-knuckled nature nor the subtleties of governance. He turned to McKinney, who had been largely responsible for his successful campaign, for guidance. Originally McKinney was brought in, under the guise of MICA-PR, on a purchase order that does not require a council vote and subsequently was given the contract through December 31, which the Council supported on a 4-1 vote with 2 absences. In agreeing to the contract, the council signed on to the rather uncommon arrangement of hiring his firm in the capacity of chief of staff.

McKinney, whose affiliation with Beard is no secret, ruffled feathers from the outset. In the first several months he was in office, Davis enjoyed a honeymoon with the new council, which included newcomers Henry Nickel, Benito Barrios and Jim Mulvihill. Indeed, Davis, who leads the council but is not empowered to vote, headed a coalition that numbered Mulvihill, Shorett, Johnson and Marquez as firm and fast members on practically all issues and Nickel and Barrios on a majority of issues.

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