San Bernardino Seal

By Ryan Hagen, The Sun
Posted: 08/25/16 – 10:35 PM PDT |

SAN BERNARDINO >> James Penman and Tim Prince don’t agree on much, but they agree that changing the city charter is a bad idea and they represent groups that both submitted ballot arguments against the charter change proposal.

But their arguments aren’t the same, leaving City Clerk Gigi Hanna to decide which one would be sent to voters.

She did it by flipping a coin while vacationing in Oregon.

And that’s where the agreement ends.

Penman, the former city attorney, sent Hanna an email Thursday objecting to the “clandestine” coin toss, saying she should have selected the argument signed by himself and other current and former elected officials.

“You have chosen to print an opposition argument with little or no substance, one signed by citizens whom we assume are well-intended but who, unfortunately are not as well informed as to how the repeal of our current, pro-public city charter and its replacement by a voter unfriendly substitute, will impact San Bernardino City governance,” Penman wrote. “Just as disturbing is the fact that you purportedly made your decision based on a ‘coin toss,’ held without any notice or public announcement beforehand.”

In a follow-up email, Penman said that in his interpretation of the law his group’s argument should be put on the ballot.

“Failure to do so could result in a subsequent invalidation of the election outcome, in our opinion,” Penman wrote, with “could” in bold and italics.

A new version of the charter — in essence, a constitution that structures the city’s government and limits what officials may do — will be on the ballot Nov. 8, after a citizen committee determined that the existing charter contributed to the city’s problems and spent nearly two years writing a new one.

Prince, an attorney and longtime critic of Penman who ran to replace him as city attorney, shot back at the criticism of his argument.

“That’s typical banter from a really disastrous city attorney that took over this city at its top as an All America City, as a city that had a bright future and through his personality, flaws and defects literally ran us into the ground and wouldn’t let go his clutches until we were gasping for our very life in bankruptcy court,” Prince said. “And he still thinks he’s the answer.”
Penman said he wasn’t surprised Prince felt that way.

To read expanded article, click here.