Raised Eyebrow Emoticon

Wednesday, October 15, 2014 – 10:00 a.m.

Little ole Redlands, California is becoming the hot bed of local politics this cycle.

The simmering, by a handful, over Former San Bernardino County Third District Supervisor Neil Derry vying for one of three seats up for election on the Redlands City Council is taking the spotlight. One has to admit the contest is more interesting than the sleepy 31st Congresssional District race.

Yes, two independent expenditures opposing Derry are in full swing. One by a group calling itself Redlands Residents Against Corruption, Opposing Neil Derry for City Council 2014, has amassed some $30,000 to spend at will. The other committee, the California Homeowners Association PAC, has raised about $35,000.

So far, the Redlands committe has mailed two hit pieces on Derry, the so-called Homeowners PAC has dropped one. Two of the three arrived on the same day, Tuesday. The “Derry’s corrupt” and “Don’t bring San Bernardino’s baggage to our community” are the themes of the day.

Blaming Derry for San Bernardino’s woes would seem to be the most consistent message. I guess the fact Derry left the city council in 2008 is an unimportant detail to omit. For those needing help with the math, that’s six years ago.

Then there’s Derry’s brush with campaign finance laws. The “Derry’s a convicted crook” theme seems to miss the fact his charge was dismissed a year later and expunged. His probation was terminated 24 months early. But then again, it’s only a pesky fine print issue. That’s if people aren’t really paying attention.

But in Redlands, unlike many other local cities, voters pay attention to everything!

The city’s local newspaper, Redlands Daily Facts, has been doing a surprisingly competent job at ferreting out just who all these concerned people really are.

The latest story covered the California Homeowners Association PAC activity. It’s very entertaining reading.

One has to wonder if those involved wanted the curtain up on their gig so soon.

The PAC really isn’t operated by the California Homeowners Association. The real California Homeowners Association, is a non-political, non-profit, located in Upland. The organization provides resources to HOA’s.

On the other hand, the PAC committee is operated by Gilliard Blanning Associates. The campaign advisor to Third District Supervisor James Ramos.

It’s perfectly legal for anyone to open a PAC using a crafty name. But usually one doesn’t use the trade name of another entity.

Anyways, this California Homeowner’s Association PAC may as well be called RAMOSPAC, since the committee received dough from Ramos and his family and other San Manuel Tribal Members.

Why use a PAC operated out of Willis, CA? Why not just give to the Redlands PAC? After all, is it really worth Ramos’ effort to try and hide behind another name, especially in today’s electronic disclosure age.

An outside developer, Reggie King, kicking in $40,000 between both committees is also interesting.

Is King Maker Ramos now out to decide who sits on what city council’s? I’m sure Redlands voters really love the first-term County Supervisor inserting himself in their politics.

The Redlands PAC also provides some interesting fodder for comsumption.

Two small core groups of people have trickled in some cash there.

The first is a few folks from the failed local Centennial Bank, who apparently feel that after plundering the bank and costing some of its wealthy depositors millions of dollars, that they now know what’s best for the city.

Here’s a new political slogan: “Sorry we lost your money, but trust us. We really, really, really do know what’s best for the city.”

The other small contingent donated because of Derry’s involvment in forcing out the ex-county counsel for San Bernardino County.

You can’t make this stuff up!

It’s tough to dispute that Derry built a lot of good will in Redlands during his time on the Board of Supervisors. He was always there and visible. Even with the beating he took at the hands of Ramos in 2012, he still garnered 9,600 votes in the city.

Derry’s a campaigner, the other six on the ballot apparently are not. His campaign material has been in the mailboxes of all voters for five weeks now. Derry and his volunteers have been walking precincts for over a month.

With three seats up for grabs, and seven candidates on the ballot, Derry stands pretty good odds.

One way or another, we’ll know in 20 days what voters, not a handful of grudgeholders, think.