SBCO

Wednesday, February 11, 2015 – 09:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, February 11, 2015 – 03:00 p.m.

It’s safe to say last week wasn’t a good week for San Bernardino County Government.

For a county whose main mission is to sweep problems and dirty laundry under the rug in order to keep it from the public eye, medication is probably in order.

The first bit of bad news involved Michael Lipsitz, a now former Field Representative for Board of Supervisors Chairman James Ramos. The Sheriff’s Department accused the former aide of smuggling drugs to an inmate fire crew worker at the Glen Helen Rehabilitation Center – North facility.

What made the whole incident ridiculous, was how it was handled.

Ramos, Lipsitz’s employer, crawled under a rock. Then out of left field comes Sheriff-Coroner, John McMahon, who via a press release, attempted to cover for the supervisor.

It’s really no secret that Ramos couldn’t talk his way out of a paper bag. So is any of this really surprising? But should we expect anything else from a politician, who’s alleged public outreach consists entirely of social media.

There’s a back story to this debacle. We’ll just have to wait for it to leak out.

Then there was new developments in the federal criminal civil rights investigation into misconduct at the county jail facilities, in particular, the West Valley Detention Center. We would normally use the term alleged misconduct. But officers have already been either fired or suspended.

The number of inmates making allegations is approaching fifty. That number will almost likely include individuals who were victims of absolutely nothing. But the door is open, and they’re going to walk through it for a hefty payday.

New filings, in five related federal civil rights cases, brought by current and former inmates, who allege they were tortured by deputies, indicate a Federal Grand Jury has been impaneled, and is currently taking testimony in Riverside.

It would, at least, appear the U.S. Attorney has developed enough information to actually present to a Grand Jury. It’s not a good sign.

When this whole situation initially broke, McMahon was blaming the entire ordeal on a few “bad apples”. He further said his agency was on top of the situation, when the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) came knocking at the door.

But that was during campaign season. Now that McMahon has secured election to a four-year term, he’s been as quiet as a church mouse.

One thing is for certain here. The alleged conduct apparently involves more than a few bad apples.

How far up the chain did official know about the shenanigans? We’ll know very soon.

It will also be interesting to find out who knew what, and when?

The Sheriff and District Attorney ran a joint reelection campaign. So the District Attorney overseeing any investigation into the Sheriff’s operation is laughable at best. It’s common knowledge the two officials are socially thick as thieves. The whole relationship stinks of conflict of interest.

It should be noted that the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s are doing their own stand-a-lone investigation.

No “Joint Task Force” here!

Expect an indictment in the next six weeks, or so, depending on how frequently the Grand Jury meets.

The bigger question here is how many millions of taxpayer dollars will go to clean up this mess?