Grand Terrace Councilwoman Bea Cortes, who has become a figure of some controversy in recent months, this week filed for and was granted a restraining order against one of her constituents. The incident that precipitated the filing grew out of an apparent misunderstanding on the councilwoman’s part or otherwise her belief that a citizen’s disapproval of the way in which she has conducted herself in office constituted a threat to her safety and well being.
The Sentinel has learned that on June 1, Cortes was seated at the bar at JB’s Bar and Grill. That evening, seated across the bar was another Grand Terrace resident, Kay Moore, who resides with her husband, Steve, in the 23000 block of Westwood Avenue. Kay Moore, who was familiar with who Cortes was and her position with the city, remarked upon Cortes’ presence to another patron. Moore made further note of her disagreement with Cortes’ politics.
Over the din of the tavern, Cortes could not hear exactly what Kay Moore had said but understood from Moore’s gesticulations and the glances that were cast her way that Moore had been talking about her. Cortes then approached Moore and asked her what she had said. Moore frankly responded that she was less than impressed with Cortes’ comportment in office and that she had a less than favorable impression of her. Shortly thereafter, Moore and her husband left JB’s.
According to Steve Moore, they were informed that Cortes had grown upset over the exchange the councilwoman had with his wife. On June 3, the Moore’s returned to JB’s. When Kay Moore encountered Cortes in the rest room, there was another tart exchange between the two women. On June 8, Kay Moore was served with papers, requiring her to be present in court the following morning to answer Cortes’ request from the court for a restraining order against her.
Kay Moore appeared at 8:30 a.m. on June 9 in the courtroom of Judge John Pacheco. The restraining order, based upon Cortes’ filing, was granted, effective June 9 through June 30. Since being elected to the Grand Terrace City Council in 2002, Cortes has had limited notoriety that did not emanate too far beyond the city of less than 13,000 population where she is an elected official. Over the last year, however, her reputation has expanded beyond the confines of Grand Terrace as she has become both a fixture and a symbol in unfolding revelations of the corruption of public officials in San Bernardino County.
Cortes has been publicly identified as being in a personal relationship with district attorney Mike Ramos, who filed felony conflict of interest charges against former Grand Terrace City Councilman Jim Miller based upon allegations that Miller voted to approve city payments to his wife’s newspaper, the Grand Terrace City News, for the publication of legal notices. It has since been revealed that Cortes and former Grand Terrace assistant city manager Steve Berry had reported to the district attorney’s office the situation regarding Miller. Cortes did so despite her own embroilment in a situation nearly indistinguishable from Miller’s.
Cortes, like Miller, had voted as a member of the council to approve payments made to her employer, Terra Loma Real Estate, for services, including property management, that company had rendered to the city of Grand Terrace. Ramos, who has been romantically and politically linked to Cortes, has acknowledged that his office opened an investigation into her conflict of interest involving Terra Loma.
To date, however, no charges have been filed against Cortes. Miller, who has pleaded not guilty to the charge filed against him and is set to go to trial on the matter in August, has resigned from the city council. Cortes is up for reelection in November.