The Results of the 1995 San Bernardino City Municipal Primary: City Attorney Election

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

I have been researching the history of the City Attorney’s Office in San Bernardino.  In the past, I have written a post which touches a little about the history of the City Attorney’s Office in San Bernardino, but I haven’t published a full history of the office.

In my series about past election results, I included data from past elections that was available from the San Bernardino Registrar of Voters.  I wrote “online sources say that City Attorney Penman beat Stan Tomlinson by a 3 to 1 margin in 1995.” Yesterday, pursuant to a California Public Records Act Request, I received a copy of the results of the 1995 election.  3 to one would be by 75 percent, but it was not quite 75 percent.

I have created a database of the City Attorney elections from 1907 to present, but other than the winners, and in some case the candidates, and in the rare case actual results, it is most complete from 1987 to present. I  have added all the counts together in one data set.  If there is a blank, I don’t have data.

Race (San Bernardino City Attorney) Candidates (Winner in Bold) Name as shown in records, where available Votes Percentage
19870307 Primary Municipal Election James Frank “Jim” Penman
Ralph H. Prince
19910305 Primary Municipal Election James Frank “Jim” Penman
19951107 Primary Municipal Election Jim Penman 9305 72.82
Stan Tomlinson 3472 27.17
No Vote Recorded 1116 Not included
19991102 Primary Municipal Election James Frank “Jim” Penman
20031104 Primary Municipal Election Jim Penman 7,999 96.11
Write-In 324 3.89
20071106 Primary Municipal Election James Frank “Jim” Penman 7,001 51.46
Marianne Milligan 6,557 48.2
Write-In 47 0.35
20111108 Primary Municipal Election James Frank “Jim” Penman 6,447 51.72
David L. McKenna 6,019                       48.28
No Vote Recorded 489  Not included

The information you obtain at this blog is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading or commenting on this blog. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.

A: 300 E. State St., Suite 517
Redlands, CA 92373-5235
T: (909) 296-6708

Where is David McKenna For San Bernardino City Attorney 2011’s Money Coming From?

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law.

Schedule A of David L. McKenna’s California FPPC Form 460, filed September 29, 2011, discloses the names of contributors who have made $100 or more in contributions this year.

Date Rec’d Name and City Occupation/Employer if Ind. This Period YTD
7/11/2011 Chuck Terell Retired 500 500
8/5/2011 Roxanne Williams, Grand Terrace Teacher 200 200
8/11/2011 Brian Robbins, Rancho Santa Fe Attorney 500 500
8/12/2011 William Simon, SB Retired 200 300
8/12/2011 William Simon, SB Retired 100 300
8/13/2011 Darren Robbins, San Diego Attorney 1000 1000
8/15/2011 Jim Robbins, SB Retired 500 500
8/15/2011 Fazle Quadri, Redlands Attorney 1000 1000
8/18/2011 Bruce Phillpott, Pasadena Retired 1000 1000
9/6/2011 Brickley Construction, SB 500 500
9/8/2011 Timothy Prince, SB Attorney 100 100
9/8/2011 Crown Printers, SB 200 200
9/8/2011 Larry Lee, SB Retired 200 200
9/8/2011 James Smith Retired 200 200
9/8/2011 Construction and More, SB 300 300
9/8/2011 Sabbah and Mackoul, Riverside 500 500
9/8/2011 Virginia Marquez Retired 500 500
9/9/2011 Thomas Brickley, SB Self-Emp, Brickley Construction 500 500
SubTotal: 8000

That is 17 donors since attorney Bill Simon gave two contributions. The Form 460 Schedule A states that if the donor is an individual, enter occupation and employer.  The employer is only listed on Thomas Brickley’s individual contribution, otherwise, otherwise the internet was used to fill-in the background of the donors.  For context, David McKenna’s fundraiser was on September 8, 2011 at the San Bernardino Hilton.

In the former and current public employees column, Chuck Terrell is the former Superintendent of Schools for the San Bernardino Unified School District.  Larry Lee is currently running for the City of San Bernardino 5th Ward Council.  Tim Prince is a San Bernardino attorney, the son of former City Attorney Ralph Prince, and former San Bernardino Mayoral candidate.  Virginia Marquez, though listed as retired, is the San Bernardino 1st Ward Council Member.   Fazle Quadri, a lawyer, was an alternate on the South Coast Air Quality Management District Board at the same time in the early 1980s as David McKenna.  Roxanne Williams is a teacher in the San Bernardino Unified School District.  Bruce Phillpott is the retired City of Pasadena chief of police.

Jim Robbins is listed in the San Bernardino Area Chamber of Commerce member directory as the contact for “Liers Corp.” He is listed as the agent for service of process for Lier Corporation in the California Secretary of State website, at the same address as on David McKenna’s Form 460.  He is also listed as the agent for service of process for the dissolved California corporation Lier Music Oceanside, and the merged out Lier Radio and Music Company.  He is also listed as the agent for service of process for DR Investors LLC, a California Limited Liability Company.  According to the San Bernardino Historical and Pioneer Society, Jim Robbins bought Lier’s  Music Store in San Bernardino in 1977, and it closed in 1998 when the City’s Redevelopment Agency purchased the property.  Brian Robbins is the co-founder and managing partner of Robbins Umeda LLP, a San Diego shareholder rights litigation firm.  Darren Robbins is a founding partner of Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP, a San Diego based securities law firm.

Crown Printers is the fictitious business name of Shorett Printing Inc.  They are a printing company located in San Bernardino.   “Construction and More” is a fictitious business name of its sole proprietor, Cheab Hassib Elaawar.  The company has a Class B contractor’s license.  Brickley Construction, Inc.dba Brickley Enviromental has done business with the City of San Bernardino in the past, according to their website. Sabbah & Mackoul is the law firm with which David McKenna is currently working.

In addition to the $8,000 in contributions of $100 or more, David McKenna received $792 in contributions from January 1, 2011 to September 24, 2011.  That is eight other contributions of $99.  Judging from the names involved, David McKenna’s contributors are friends, colleagues and a few Jim Penman opponents thrown in for good measure.

The information you obtain at this blog is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading or commenting on this blog. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.

Address : 300 E. State St. Suite 517

                  Redlands CA 92373-5235
Telephone: (909) 708-6055

What Will Happen if David McKenna Defeats Jim Penman for City Attorney?

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law.

First, a little history to explain how we arrived at the November 8, 2011 City Attorney election.  The first elected San Bernardino City Attorney was elected in 1907.  Ralph E. Swing,  later California State Senator and namesake of Swing Auditorium, was the first elected City Attorney, but before he was elected, he was already the appointed City Attorney.  Even though the 1905 Charter took effect in 1905, the first City Attorney election was not held until April 1907:

Sec. 13 . . . The present trustees of the third and fifth wards shall hold office during their present term, and shall act as members of the common council from said third and fifth wards until the second Monday of May, 1907. The city marshal, city attorney, city clerk, treasurer, assessor, police judge and recorder shall also continue to hold office and act as such under this charter, until said second Monday of May, 1907.

Sec. 14. There shall be elected at a general municipal election to be held on the second Monday of April, 1907, and every fourth year thereafter, two members of the common council, one each from the third and fifth wards, who shall be elected by the qualified electors of their respective wards; a mayor, city attorney, city clerk and police judge.  Charter of the City of San Bernardino, 1905

That’s why the Council races for Third and Fifth Wards are held together with the City Attorney, City Clerk, and City Treasurer elections.  When the Sixth and Seventh Wards were added, they were added to the City Attorney, City Clerk, City Treasurer, Third Ward and Fifth Ward elections.  The Mayor was originally elected every two years, but the Charter was subsequently amended.

Since the first City Attorney election 104 years ago, there have been less than ten occupants of the office.  Seven men, Ralph E. Swing (one term), Charles Allison (one term), William Guthrie (four terms), Fred A. Wilson (one term)  Howard Reginald Griffin (four terms), Waldo Willhoft (one term), William A. Flory (one term) were  the elected City Attorney for the first 52 years.   For the next 52 years, there have been two: Ralph H. Prince  (1959 to 1987 (seven terms)) and James F. Penman (1987 to present (six terms)).  Since 1959, there has only been one transition, that of Ralph Prince to Jim Penman.

The minutes of the Mayor and Common Council meeting of May 11, 1987 give a hint of the change over from Ralph Prince to Jim Penman:

TRANSITION PLAN FOR CITY ATTORNEY’S OFFICE  – CONTINUED FROM MAY 11, 1987 [which is probably a misprint]

This is the time and place continued to for discussion on a Transition Plan for the City Attorney’s Office, to insure that there will be a smooth transition to the new elected City Attorney.

City Attorney Prince stated that he and Mr. Penman had met and worked out an agreement which would permit Mr. Penman to act as Counsel to the City Attorney in order that he could be present at Closed Session.

City Attorney Prince explained to the Council why he had not prepared a transition plan in writing.

City Attorney Elect Penman stated he was happy about being able to go into Closed Sessions, and that he had found a replacement for the Administrative Operations Supervisor.  He will have Dolores Delgado as Executive Secretary and Margaret Scroggin As [sic] Administrative Operations Supervisor.

. . .City Attorney Elect Penman answered questions regarding his progress on the General Plan case stating that he had met with Deputy City Attorney  Cynthia Grace on Tuesday, and that he was trying to get up to speed.  He presented concerns about the wording in the Interim Ordinance where the legal description of the boundaries are given.

The Council stressed the importance of two priorities: The General Plan Lawsuit; and the agreement for the new, uncompleted downtown hotel located on “E” Street between Second and Court Streets.

City Attorney Elect Penman was encouraged to meet with former Sr. Assistant City Attorney Briggs to discuss the hotel agreement.

Mr. Penman state that he had 80 cases remaining from his private practice that he must reassign within the next three weeks.

City Attorney Prince stated that presently there are 26 open cases in the City Attorney’s Office and they are all assigned out to attorneys in the office and outside counsel.

City Attorney Elect Penman explained to the Council why it would have been better if he and Mr. Prince had started the transition sooner.

City Attorney Elect Penman spoke regarding employee changes in the City Attorney’s Office.

It was the general consensus of the Council [that] the transition is as efficient as possible, based on the circumstances.

You can sense from the minutes that there was tension in the transition from Ralph H. Prince to Jim Penman.  What would happen if David McKenna, today’s challenger defeats James F. Penman, today’s incumbent?

The City Attorney’s staff is not within the City of San Bernardino’s Civil Service system.  They serve at the pleasure of the City Attorney. That means that upon an regime change,  the new City Attorney can fire everyone on staff and hand-pick his own staff.   New appointments are contingent upon approval by the Mayor and Common Council.  I was hired as a Deputy City Attorney about a month after the Valente Duran letter, which was a low point of Jim Penman/Council relations.  However, there was no opposition to my appointment.

At the very least, I would expect Mr. McKenna to replace the Senior Assistant City Attorneys and the Administrative Operations Supervisor and Executive Secretary.   1987 holds some lessons, as I believe then-Deputy City Attorney John Wilson made the transition from Ralph Prince to Jim Penman.  Other than that, it is my understanding that there were no long-term hold-overs between the two administrations.  I think as a matter of practicality, it would be difficult to fire and hire the entire staff all at once.  Common decency would require the lower level staff a chance to find new jobs or the chance to interview for their jobs.  However, the law does not require the new City Attorney to keep the existing staff, unless the dismissals were against public policy.

In the first debate, David McKenna said he would get rid of the City Attorney investigators, and have larger case-loads for in-house City Attorneys, hinted that there were too many secretaries,  try some cases himself, and still send some cases to outside-counsel.   He said at the second debate that the City could do with one Deputy City Attorney prosecuting code enforcement versus two.   He, like Marianne Milligan before him, suggests that an era of good feelings would follow.   However, there were disputes between the City Attorney and the Mayor before Jim Penman became City Attorney.  If David McKenna were to win, and ally himself with Mayor Patrick Morris, I would expect the previously pro-Penman forces to at least be cool towards David McKenna.

You can read my post which explains my current position on who will likely win the 2011 San Bernardino City Attorney’s Election.

The information you obtain at this blog is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading or commenting on this blog. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.

Address : 300 E. State St., Suite 517
                     Redlands, CA 92373
Telephone: (909) 296-6708