San Bernardino Seal

By Ryan Hagen, The Sun
Posted: 09/30/15 – 9:03 PM PDT |

SAN BERNARDINO >> Arguably the only person with direct knowledge of much of the city’s complex redevelopment process won’t show up to work today, after nine sometimes-controversial years at City Hall.

Jim Morris, who was chief of staff when his father, Pat Morris, was mayor, had been working as a consultant on the dissolution of the city redevelopment agency, but his contract ended Sept. 30 after a new one was vetoed by Mayor Carey Davis.

Davis’ veto came after midnight of the City Council meeting that began Sept. 21, after much of the city’s leadership — City Manager Allen Parker, City Attorney Gary Saenz and consultants, as well as Assemblywoman Cheryl Brown — said Morris was invaluable.

Meanwhile, three of the seven council members — Benito Barrios, John Valdivia and Henry Nickel — said Morris had been a harmful presence. That meant a 4-3 majority supported continuing Morris’ $110-an-hour consultant work, but — in a rare move — Davis vetoed the contract.

At the meeting, Davis said he was concerned by the delay in completing redevelopment tasks, particularly a long-range property management plan that was projected to be finished in April but instead was presented to the council five months later.

Invoices billed as redevelopment work appeared to be other types of city work, including a review of a request for proposals to run the city’s animal shelter, Davis said.

“If we’re paying for performance, it’s clear that maybe some of the delay was because concentration was taken from the (redevelopment agency) to city items,” Davis said.

Even before the vote, council members said it illustrated the city’s still-fractious politics.

That only sharpened afterward.

“The mayor and three of my colleagues basically said ‘we don’t care what you (administrators) want,” Councilman Fred Shorett said. “ ‘We’re going to flip you off, and Jim’s gone.’ It’s all politically driven — it’s political and it’s personal.”

Shorett attributed the split to a feud between Davis and Parker, the city manager whom the mayor has tried to fire.

To an extent, it was personal, said one of Morris’ opponents, Valdivia.

“The legacy of Jim Morris’ father does impact me; it’s personal,” Valdivia said. “I don’t like the perception that there’s a dynasty.”

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