San Bernardino Seal

IE Business Daily
By Inland Empire Business Daily
September 26, 2015

September 21st’s San Bernardino City Council meeting was illustrative of the continuing divide developing at city hall.

Among the many items considered by the city council in a nearly 10 hour meeting were raising sewer rates, San Bernardino’s financially broke Workforce Investment Board, and other controversies. From reading the local newspaper, you would think the meeting was lacking in anything of note, save for a brief post on Facebook from one council member regarding a weapon a friend of his had for sale.

But near the end of the meeting, a very interesting political tussle ensued over a consulting contract for the city’s successor agency. The Successor Agency is responsible for the divestment of former redevelopment properties still controlled by the city. Jim Morris, former Chief of Staff for former Mayor and father Pat Morris, had been retained by the city for 15 months as a consultant to the successor agency. Morris, an attorney by trade, has no real estate training, but had been involved with redevelopment projects as the former Mayor’s Chief of Staff.

Clearly the massive success of the city’s redevelopment projects qualifies Morris for this position. Of course, this previous statement is a joke, as the redevelopment agency successfully bungled nearly a half-billion dollars of assets for over a decade. Outside of the Hub Project on Hospitality (which predates the Morris regime) the former redevelopment agency of San Bernardino has a dismal track record over this period of time.

When Governor Jerry Brown dissolved redevelopment agencies, he could have used San Bernardino as a classic example of waste and cronyism. Favored developers received sweetheart deals while those without connections at city hall had their projects blocked. The only success that can be touted by the Morris regime and its heavy-ham-handedness is the new In-N-Out relocated from 2nd Street to 5th Street.

The city’s action since redevelopment agencies were dissolved four years ago was to file suit against the State of California. Of course, anything created by the State Legislature can be dissolved by the same, and anyone with any public policy background should have known that. So instead of working diligently to dispose of the assets and allowing private sector investment to return those properties to use, the city has dragged its feet in an obvious effort to maintain control of those assets even after they have been sold. Is there any wonder why San Bernardino’s economy remains a black hole when other cities are witnessing modest economic growth?

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