Joe Nelson, Staff Writer
Created: 08/23/2011 09:53:25 PM PDT

A policy prohibiting the naming of San Bernardino County buildings after elected officials until they’ve been retired from the political arena for at least three years was approved unanimously Tuesday by the Board of Supervisors.

The policy, introduced by Supervisor Janice Rutherford, is aimed at preventing politicians from using taxpayer money to advance their legacies. It comes amid recent controversy surrounding public buildings named after officials clouded in controversy.

Rutherford said it was a combination of constituent concern and her own observations that prompted her to propose the policy.

“During my (supervisorial) campaign, when I was knocking on people’s doors, someone asked me to promise that I wouldn’t have so much as a bus bench named after myself,” she said.

The new county policy provides that taxpayer-funded buildings not be named after an elected official at the local, state or federal level who is serving in office at the time the facility is named. It also mandates that the official be out of office at least three years before a building is named after him or her.

In addition, the policy prohibits county buildings from being named after the county supervisor in whose district the building sits, but the building can list the names of all the supervisors on the board at the time the facility is named.

Also, a background investigation will now be required of any person, family or organization for which a county facility is proposed to be named after.

Some of Rutherford’s proposals fall in line with those of Board Chairwoman Josie Gonzales, who in May proposed several government reforms, including prohibiting board members from using discretionary money to promote their names.

“As county supervisors, we should allocate taxpayer dollars to projects, programs and services that directly benefit and support our residents,” Gonzales said in a statement Tuesday. “Supervisor Rutherford’s policy enables us to move forward in a manner that is not self-serving.”

The board also agreed to delve further into a proposal prohibiting supervisors’ names from being attached to third- party functions funded in whole or in part by the county.

Rutherford also proposed Tuesday that the county adopt campaign-contribution limits for its elected officials similar to the limits established for state legislators, and that the state Fair Political Practices Commission enforce those limits.

For years, San Bernardino County’s elected officials have been reluctant to place a cap on campaign contributions, despite repeated recommendations from the Grand Jury.

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