October 11, 2011 Leave a comment
Today, I had the privilege of visiting my former Rotary Club, the original Rotary Club of San Bernardino at the Arrowhead Country Club. As they do in all elections, the Club held a candidates forum for the City Attorney’s Office. The press attended this forum, so you should be able to read about it in tomorrow’s Press-Enterprise and Sun. Again, Josh Dulaney from the Sun live blogged it on Twitter. The Press-Enterprise reporter was much more careful, and spent a long time after the meeting doing follow-up reporting.
It is too bad that more of the public did not attend this forum, because it had a different tone from the first forum that I attended. This forum featured a better performance by the City Attorney, Jim Penman (and he did pretty well in the first one). This was a much worse forum for the challenger, David L. McKenna.
The format was similar with opening and closing statements of three minutes. The questions were on the role of the City Attorney’s Office, how to deal with the rising costs of litigation in the City, the role of the City Attorney at the San Bernardino International Airport, and the most pressing issue facing the City of San Bernardino.
The biggest shock was that David L. McKenna said that he didn’t know much about the San Bernardino International Airport except that it was an airport. He said he didn’t think that corruption was an issue in the City of San Bernardino, that it was just the City Attorney scaring the public. He said that he didn’t know if he was recruited, but that 4th Ward Council Member Fred Shorrett first contacted him to run for the office. He said that he did not need the job, as he spent half his time practicing law and half his time playing tennis and being a grandfather. He again challenged the City Attorney’s misdemeanor caseload, accusing the City Attorney of overstating the caseload by a factor of ten. He said he would get rid of one of the two prosecuting City Attorneys for that reason. McKenna tried to paint himself as the anti-Penman, that he would be cooperative, calm and professional.
As for the City Attorney, it was a different audience, and he usually knows his audience. He pulled his punches a little more than he did on the televised forum. Jim Penman brought up David McKenna’s dismissal as Public Defender and resignation as San Bernardino County Supervisor and the fact that he was a carpetbagger. Jim Penman named corruption as the number one issue facing the City. He repeated his overarching campaign theme of being the “elected watchdog” not the “political lapdog” of the Council majority. He stressed the City Attorney’s role in enforcing the Political Reform Act. Jim Penman discussed his previous actions that resulted in the prosecution of the Gang of Four, and the resignation of Jason Desjardins, though Desjardins’ name was not specifically mentioned, and turning over facts to the San Bernardino Grand Jury and the FBI. City Attorney Penman reiterated that the City Attorney’s Office is currently investigating four allegations of Council Members being involved in political corruption.
The important thing about politics, particularly local politics, is highlighting the differences between the candidates. The difference between the candidates was on full display at this forum, and local voters should have enough information to make an informed choice.
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