Written by Administrator
July 10th, 2010 at 11:06 pm

It doesn’t seem to matter if we are discussing Jeff Burum, the Lewis Family, or any other of a number of successful, wealthy businessmen in our community, they are all “corrupt.” I don’t mean that they are really, truly corrupt, but they are “corrupt” in the minds of the less successful. The common thought seems to be that if one has money, then one has no integrity. Our community doesn’t allow for making an “honest” hundred million or so. Hard work, sacrifice, intellect, college education, and just plain good old-fashioned luck can all be damned. If one is successful, then one must be a crook.

I’m sure there is a term for this mentality, but with our current corruption scandal, that mentality has become very frustrating. Otherwise intelligent people seem to be more interested in finding blame than finding truth. The fact that so many have bought into Batman and Robin’s conspiracy theory is proof that logic and critical thinking have given way to hysteria and enjoyment in the fact that someone with power may be taken out, not for wrongdoing, but because they have power and wealth. I suppose the weak hope to bask in the demise of the powerful.

The current Colonies conspiracy theory is a perfect example. Other than Ramos’ hacks, I have yet to hear of a single attorney, who actually took the time to examine all of the documents available and compare them with the elements of the crimes being alleged, state they feel a crime took place. When one looks at how many things had to occur perfectly in order for this “crime of the century” to be a crime, it is simply not possible. So many who comment on these cases are doing so with emotion rather than accurate information and logic.

Am I saying that I believe there was no corruption involved in the Colonies situation? No, I am not. I absolutely believe there was corruption. But notice, I referred to the “Colonies situation,” not the “Colonies Settlement.” And there is a difference—a very big difference.

What prompted this posting was an interaction I had yesterday with another county employee. I knew before I ever called her that she had messed up. I also knew to have all my ducks in a row before I made the call. And that I did. When I finally got a hold of her, she was quick to put the blame on me and she copped a bit of an attitude. I knew I was right and I asked her to check something on her computer. That something could not have been changed without me finding out about it. Well she did, and then she had a 180-degree change in attitude.

I know the system inside and out and was able to get my situation resolved in minutes. But the average citizen does not. Instead of admitting mistakes, so often government workers (not just San Bernardino County) cover up, attempt to assign blame to the citizens they are supposed to be serving, and plant their feet firmly into the ground, refusing to admit error or correct the situation. Sometimes it is line staff, but it usually gets worse as one tries to go up the chain of command. And it is always about power and control.

We see this phenomena in the Transitional Assistance Department (TAD) frequently where former welfare clients are hired. The best case workers in the world are those who were once clients and remember the emotions and problems they had being on welfare and trying to deal with the system. The worst case workers in the world are those who were once clients and now look at their new positions as positions of power and a way to improve their low self-esteem by terrorizing their clients. You all have both kinds in every office and you all know who they are.

But we see it in every other government office as well. For example, have you ever had a code enforcement officer come out to your house? Some will bend over backwards to help you resolve your situation while others only want a way to punish you. They want you to know they are in control of your future and can make your life miserable. Animal Control and restaurant inspectors are the same way as is the Department of Motor Vehicles, the Social Security Administration and a host of agencies at the municipal, county, state and federal levels. Customer service is a lost concept on many government workers, and those of us who believe in it, pay for their sins.

Colonies Partners would have never had to sue and would not have been given a dime had county employees done their jobs. I don’t mean the Board of Supervisors. I mean the employees in Building and Safety, Flood Control, Planning, County Counsel, or whatever other departments were involved in this debacle. I bet if it were investigated, one would find one or more employees who wanted to show who was boss. I suspect they put up every roadblock conceivable, took their sweet time doing it, and dared anyone to knock that giant chip off of their shoulder. Does this sound like any middle or upper management types you have in your department? We all know the county is full of them.

That brings me to the last two of my points. When the Burums and Lewises of the world donate to political campaigns and otherwise involve themselves in politics, they generally are not buying illegal favors. What they are buying is the attention of elected officials. It is that attention of say, the chairman of the board of supervisors, that gets things done.

Have you ever had someone from the board of supervisors contact you about something you are working on? Does that not get your attention? You make sure you get it done right, don’t you? And timely?

And, this is where most of the problem is at. It is a small percentage of employees who are not doing their jobs, management that allows their favorites to get away with it, and a county administrative officer and board of supervisors who just don’t care because it is only affecting average citizens and not their campaign contributors.

We point out cases of malfeasance in county government every week on this blog. Much of it could be easily corrected by the county administrative officer and/or board of supervisors but it is instead ignored. The public defender, Arrowhead Regional Medical Center, the Transitional Assistance Department, the Department of Children’s Services, Human Resources, County Counsel, and many others are rampant with problems that may not result in $102 million settlements individually, but then again they may. And no one cares because it is the taxpayers who will ultimately foot the bill, not our elected and appointed officials.

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