Caveats for Local Political Campaign Facebook Pages

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law.

I am not a great fan of Facebook because of privacy concerns, but there are plenty of people who like Facebook and other social media outlets such as Twitter.  As time goes on, reaching the Facebook demographic is another tool for local political candidates to use to reach voters and supporters.  Here are some caveats for Local Poltical Campaign Facebook Pages based upon what I have seen in the San Bernardino City elections to be held on November 8, 2011.

1. If you are going to have a Facebook page, make sure your grammar and spelling are correct.  Social media makes connections easy, whether it is done from a personal computer or a mobile device like a phone.  That does not mean that you can ignore grammar and spelling.  The worst is when using a mobile application, a candidate uses text speak, or even worse, some dialect of leet.  The worst are the candidates for Member of the San Bernardino City Unified School District Board who cannot write grammatically correct sentences.

2. Have separate personal pages and campaign pages.  You should not use the personal account for campaigning and vice versa.  Sometimes, your real life friends or family will say something stupid  that should not appear in public.  You will be unfairly judged for the actions of those around you.

3. Anything you say on Facebook can and will be used against you.  Employ the “New York Times Rule” for all postings.  Once again, the ease of posting can relax a candidates’ inhibitions, and they can say something that is not appropriate for the campaign.

4. Consider restricting the dialogue on the site between you, your supporters and voters.  If you do not control your message, your supporters can hijack your page for their own ends, or worse, you can be drawn into debates with your opponents’ supporters, trolls, gadflies, and opposition researchers.  The benefit of Facebook is its interactivity, but that interactivity can be a double-edged sword and end up hurting you.

5. If you are going to have a Facebook page for your campaign, make it open to the public.  Especially people who have no other web presence, it is counter intuitive to require a potential voter to become a fan or friend you in order for them to see basic campaign information.

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

New Campaign Literature from City Attorney James F. Penman and Challenger David McKenna

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

At the City Attorney forum at the Rotary Club of San Bernardino both candidates handed out literature, including a door hanger (front, back) from City Attorney Jim Penman, and a campaign mailer (page 1, page 2, page 3, and page 4) from challenger David McKenna.

The front of City Attorney Jim Penman’s door hanger is similar to his earlier mailers.  It has the same picture of his granddaughter featured on his first mailer.  It has the same picture of Jim and Judi Penman from the second mailer.  It has the same picture of his son and daughter-in-law and grandchildren featured on his 2009 Mayoral website.  It has the same pictures of City Attorney Penman as a firefighter and as Executive Director of the Home of Neighborly Service featured in earlier campaigns.  The back is a detailed exposition of the watchdog campaign theme with new information.  It reads:

Vote Nov. 8th for City Attorney

Jim Penman

ACCOUNTABLE TO

YOU, THE VOTERS;

–NOT TO THE POLITICIANS!

  • Last year under Penman’s leadership, the City won 18 lawsuits, lost only 2 and settled 8 on terms favorable to the city.  (201o)
  • Last year City Attorney Investigators collected over $1 million in Civil Penalties, mostly from Banks and Mortgage Companies and brought 256 slum properties into compliance with City Codes.  (2009-2010)
  • The City Attorney’s Office is currently investigating four allegations of Council Members being involved in political corruption. (2011)
  • One Council Member has already resigned as a result of the investigations. (Feb. 2011)
  • Other elected officials have retaliated by trying to remove the City Attorney Investigators’ arrest and citation powers from the San Bernardino Municipal Code.  (on-going)
  • Penman exposed bribery and racketeering activities of four San Bernardino City Council Members (1995) – Jim pursued them for ten years, until they pled guilty.  (2005)
  • Over the last 13 years, three Council Members have resigned while under investigation by Penman’s Office.  (1998-2011)

KEEP PENMAN, THE VOTERS’ CITY ATTORNEY!

To Contact Jim Penman Call (909) 882-8986 or email: friendsofpenman@yahoo.com

On the front page, David McKenna’s campaign flier has a quote next to a picture of David McKenna: “The City Attorney should be your defender . . . not a politician.”  “As Your City Attorney, I pledge to get rid of the dirty politics and focus only on protecting the interests.  The second page has a quote from the recently retired San Bernardino Police Chief Keith Kilmer, who fought with City Attorney Penman.  “David McKenna is a superior attorney with the highest ethical standards.[“]  “His experience and integrity will serve the city well as our next City Attorney.”  The second page has his resume, and the third page has his campaign platform.  The back page has a quote from Senior Pastor Ray Turner of the Temple Missionary Baptist Church which says “San Bernardino needs David McKenna.  He will put an end to the political in-fighting and unify our city government.”

The back page gives contact information for challenger David McKenna.  The phone number is listed as (909) 264-9021, his email as David@votemckenna.com.  It also has a website and a Facebook page.  At the date of this writing, his Facebook wall is only open to people who friend him.

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

Why We Try To Keep Partisan Politics Out of These Postings

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law.

In the run-up to the Iraq war in 2003, factions in the City of San Bernardino wished to debate the merits and demerits of such an invasion.  City Attorney Jim Penman wrote a piece called Why We Try To Keep Partisan Politics Out of City Council Meetings, which to this day [Update: As of the writing of the post. It was removed after Jim Penman was recalled] is on the City Attorney’s official website.  By partisan, the City Attorney was referring to Republicans and Democrats national politics versus nonpartisan local California offices.

Here, in the nonpartisan elected world of the City of San Bernardino, there are hyper-partisans of a different kind.  Not in the sense they are acting in the interest of national political parties, but they are ruling by faction versus determining issues facing the City of San Bernardino on a case-by-case basis.  President George Washington, in his Farewell Address in 1796, warned of the evils of factions:

 Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party, generally.

This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but, in those of the popular form, it is seen in its greatest rankness, and is truly their worst enemy.

The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty.

Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind, (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight,) the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.

It serves always to distract the Public Councils, and enfeeble the Public Administration. It agitates the Community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms; kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection.

I have been accused by supporters of the City Attorney of being a  secret David L. McKenna supporter, and a staunch Pat Morris supporter and former appointed official felt the need to write to me and say that City Attorney Jim Penman was terrible and had to go.  I think it is a testimony to my neutrality is that both sides think I support the other.  As a local small businessman, I am independent and neutral, because I have to work with all sides in the City, no matter who is in power.

All of these people have failed basic reading comprehension because these posts have a neutral viewpoint that is based on facts, not hyperpartisan posturing.  If the reader wants that kind of us-versus-them, if you’re not with us, you’re against us tribalism, there are plenty of local blogs that fill that need to reinforce existing prejudices.  That reader can blather on in the comments sections of the local papers and the Facebook page echo chambers of the various local factions.

The analysis found here is a continuation of my years of public service, from my time as an attorney at Legal Aid Society of San Bernardino, to my time in the trenches as a Deputy City Attorney for the City of San Bernardino, to my years as Assistant City Attorney for the City of Redlands.  The San Bernardino Sun is virtually ignoring the City Clerk’s race, even though the Clerk is an important government function.  The local press has abandoned any pretense of investigative journalism, and has turned to using Twitter and distilled news into 140 characters or less.  These posts are for people who do not have sufficient information to make basic political choices and those interested in going beyond 140 characters or less. We, as a community and as a community service, must fill the void that is left in the digital age, and we have tools to do so that did not exist even fifteen years ago.

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

The San Bernardino City Attorney Forum At The Rotary Club of San Bernardino October 11, 2011

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

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.

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

Where are David McKenna For San Bernardino City Attorney 2011’s Nonmonetary Contributions Coming From?

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law.

Schedule C of David L. McKenna’s California FPPC Form 460, filed September 29, 2011, and signed by David McKenna acting as his own treasurer, discloses the names of contributors who have made $100 or more in nonmonetary contributions this year through September 24, 2011

Date Rec’d Name and City Occupation/Employer if Ind. Description This Period YTD
7/15/2011 Tom Brickley Construction Rent for HQ 600 600
7/15/2011 Osvaldo Garcia, SB Dentist Rent for HQ 600 600
7/15/2011 Doug Debois, SB Insurance Agent Rent for HQ 600 600
7/15/2011 Jack Katzman, SB Property Manager Rent for HQ 600 600
9/2/2011 Power Pac Voter Fund, SF  Field Coordinator 2500 2500
SubTotal: 4900

The largest nonmonetary contribution is from the Power Pac Voter Fund.  Who is PowerPAC?  According to their website, powerpac.org,  “PowerPAC is a nonprofit advocacy and political organization. PowerPAC was organized to champion democracy and social justice in states and communities across the country.”  They have been involved in San Bernardino politics before: they supported Carolyn Tilman, Rikke Van Johnson and Rachel Clark in 2007.

Their focus in San Bernardino, according to their website:

In San Bernardino and Orange Counties PowerPAC seeks to support emerging community based coalitions aimed at increasing voter participation and turnout among emerging populations such as Latinos and Asians. Using community identified social justice issues of such as: immigrant rights, equity in educational access and affordable housing PowerPAC seeks to support community activists and community based organizations to strengthen coalitions to build non-partisan voting bases that can advocate for improved policy. In San Bernardino, for example, PowerPAC has campaigned with community groups to build non-partisan voter growth and engagement with the San Bernardino Social Justice Coalition (SBSJ).

In the rapidly growing Latino community, this especially means working with new and young voters. The California Latino voting age population is remarkably young. PowerPAC’s aim to support this emerging population in California by supporting community groups who seek to build voter consciousness and empowerment on issues that they have self identified as important to them – such as education in the form of the passage of the California Dream Act, healthcare and lack of coverage for the millions of uninsured, and the current housing crisis in its dual faces of lack of affordable housing and predatory lending. As the Latino population continues to surge and more Latinos come of age, PowerPAC aims to work with community groups and activists to establish a base of socially and civically empowered Latinos voting in their own best interest for themselves and their neighborhoods in California.

Presumably, the field coordinator provided to David McKenna will be responsible for voter persuasion, get out the vote (GOTV) efforts, and distribution of campaign materials.

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

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

Re-Elect San Bernardino City Attorney Jim Penman 2011 Mailer Number Two

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

The second mailer from the Jim Penman for City Attorney 2011 campaign has arrived, quick on the heels of the first mailer.  This mailer is in color and is four pages long.  Here is page 1, page 2, page 3, and Page 4.

This mailer continues the themes of City Attorney Jim Penman’s election campaign.  On  the front, the mailer again emphasizes the theme  “The People’s Watchdog.”   To emphasize the point, an aggressive dog breed is draped in the American flag, and there are some clip-art animal paw prints.  Below the motto, is a graphic, in the style of a campaign sign, “City Attorney Jim Penman Integrity You Can Trust!”

The second and third pages are very busy.  Page 2 is headlined “Our Voice For Accountability.”  The main text of Page 2 reads:

City Attorney Jim Penman is dedicated to protecting the citizens of San
Bernardino and holding city leaders accountable.
The voters’ decision to reject Measure “O” and serving as the People’s
Watchdog made Jim unpopular with some politicians at City Hall. But
Jim answers TO YOU, the voters, not those politicians.

  • PROTECTING YOUR RIGHT TO VOTE

When politicians tried to take away our right to vote on city offices
last year, Jim Penman stopped them by leading the campaign to
defeat Measure C.

  •  STOPPING CORRUPTION

When city officials attempted to use their positions for personal
financial gain, Jim Penman took action. One Councilman was
forced to resign in February 2011 and others are still under
investigation.

  •  CLEANING UP BLIGHT

When slumlords ignored community concerns about blight, Jim
Penman took action. He forced them to clean up 256 slum
properties. and generated $1 million dollars in new revenues for
the city taxpayer, imposing penalties on the absentee landlords.

  •  FIGHTING CRIME

Jim wrote the city’s tough new moratorium against parolee housing
and he moved swiftly to shut down the notorious “Hudson Rave
Club” to keep drugs away from our youth.

Page 2 also has quotes from former Judge Craig Kamansky.  “I’ve known Jim Penman for many years and I have the highest regard for his integrity, his professionalism and his commitment to the community.”  Page 2 of the second mailer also repeats the quote from the first mailer from San Bernardino Police Officers Association President Steve Turner.  Above Steve Turner’s quote is a graphic stating “VOTE NO ON MEASURE C STOP CORRUPTION” with the legend “Nov. 2010 ballot measure rejected by voters by more than 60%.”

Below the Steve Turner quote is a picture of the City Attorney with a man in a jacket that says “POLICE.”

Page 3 is similar to Page 2 in design, though slightly less busy.  Its theme is “A Lifetime of Dedication” focusing on City Attorney Jim Penman’s experience.

  • MILITARY

United States Army Reserve. Member of American Legion Post 777.

  •  LAW ENFORCEMENT

As a Prosecutor, Jim has earned state-wide recognition for his
effectiveness in using injunctions and crime sweeps to crack down
on street gangs.

  •  EDUCATION

Jim served two terms as President of the Cal State San Bernardino
Alumni Association, and was A.S.B. President while an
undergraduate.

  • FIREFIGHTER

Jim worked his way through college at
Cal State San Bernardino as a Firefighter
with the Muscoy Fire Protection District.

  • Community

Jim is a long-time member of the
Kiwanis Club of San Bernardino, Elks
Lodge #836, President of the Shamrock
Club of San Bernardino and a member
of the Lutheran Church of Our Savior.
He formerly served as the Resident
Executive Director for the Home of
Neighborly Service for twelve years.

An oval to the lower left hand corner of page 3 has a quote from former Mayor Evlyn Wilcox “San Bernardino taxpayers just couldn’t ask for a better champion than City Attorney Jim Penman.  He is always there for us.  There is a picture of Jim and Judi Penman in the upper right corner of page three.  Its caption says “Jim and his wife Judi are lifelong residents of San Bernardino.”  Page 3 also lists a website of www.JimPenmanSBCityAttorney.com, but as of this post, it goes to a blank GoDaddy page.  The mailer also lists the same email as last time, friendsofpenman@yahoo.com.  The lower right hand corner of page 3 is a box that states “Re-Elect Our City Attorney Jim Penman.”

Page 4 of the mailer’s theme is “Independent Leadership . . . Integrity You Can Trust.”

It has a picture of City Attorney Jim Penman on the phone with the legend “Jim Penman, Our City Attorney” with the same contact information as in the first mailer.   Below that it says “Amelia Sanchez Lopez for City Clerk” with contact information.

In short, this mailer is an overview of City Attorney James F. Penman’s themes for this election.  It reemphasizes the “People’s Watchdog” theme of mailer number one, adds in biographical information, brings up the theme of accountability and fighting corruption again, and asks for support for City Clerk candidate Amelia Sanchez-Lopez.

Based on the FPPC Form 460 disclosures, expect slate mailers supporting City Attorney Penman and additional mailers as the election and early voting approaches.

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

The First Re-Elect Jim Penman Mailer In the 2011 San Bernardino City Attorney’s Election

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

The first mailer from the Jim Penman for City Attorney 2011 campaign was mailed last week.   Here is the front and the back.

This mailer focuses on the themes of City Attorney Penman’s reelection campaign.  On  the front, the mailer emphasizes the overarching theme of the campaign “THE PEOPLE’S WATCHDOG AT CITY HALL.”   The front features the pictures of five supporters and a quote from Steve Turner, the President of the San Bernardino Police Officers Association.  Counterclockwise, the supporters include City Clerk candidate and Planning Commissioner Amelia Sanchez-Lopez; Joe Solis and Mary Solis who are listed as “Verdemont Community Leader;” Victorville attorney and former Judge Stanley Hodge ; and finally small business owner and former San Bernardino Area Chamber of Commerce President Jack Hill.  The quote from the San Bernardino Police Officers Association President Steve Turner says “San Bernardino Police Officers proudly support City Attorney Penman.  He is an effective partner with Law Enforcement in working to combat crime.”   The front also gives contact information: “To contact Jim call (909) 882-8986 or email: friendsofpenman@yahoo.com

The back of the mailer has in large yellow block letters on a black background “San Bernardino Residents Speak Out: “Thank You Jim Penman!”  This side of the mailer has photographs of other supporters and family members: Again, it leads off with Verdemont Community Leaders Joe Solis and Mary Solis and their children; Oscar Gonzalez and Evelyn Wilson from the 2nd Ward; 4th Ward supporters Jim Smolders and Cathy Smothers and Kathy Toy and John Toy; San Bernardino firefighter and 4th Ward resident Nathan Lopez; City Fine Arts Commissioner and 7th Ward Resident Donna Howard, and a picture of City Attorney Penman with his granddaughter, a resident of the 1st Ward.

City Attorney Jim Penman’s mailer shows a range of ethnic, age and geographical diversity.  He has identified residents of the voting wards, the 4th, 5th, and 7th Wards.  He also pictures residents of the 1st, and 2nd Wards.  If any of the people pictured live in the 3rd Ward or 6th Ward, they are not mentioned.  Neither is a particular hotbed of support for City Attorney Penman, but no doubt he has supporters in those wards.

The quotes on the front further support the themes of City Attorney Jim Penman’s reelection campaign: City Clerk candidate Amelia Sanchez-Lopez says “Our community can count on Jim Penman to stand with us.  He isn’t afraid to speak out against dishonest politicians.”  This touches on City Attorney Penman’s theme of being a City Hall watchdog and fighting corruption within San Bernardino City Hall.  Attorney Stanley Hodge says “As San Bernardino’s Independent City Attorney, Jim Penman wrote the City’s moratorium against parolee housing and took swift action to close the controversial Hudson Theater, ending the teen drug activity at that location.”  This illustrates the campaign of using the tools available to the City Attorney to fight crime.  This is important for the City Attorney’s campaign to note because the San Bernardino City Attorney’s Office does not prosecute state crime misdemeanors like some other City Attorney’s Offices.  Joe and Mary Solis touch on the theme of responsiveness and the theme of the people’s watchdog at City Hall: “Jim is very responsive to the concerns of our neighborhoods.  We couldn’t ask for a stronger champion as City Attorney.  He helped us stop several group homes in the fifth ward.”  Former Chamber President Jack Hill praises the City Attorney’s track record: “Jim has always been there to support our community.  He’s truly dedicated to making San Bernardino a batter place for all of us.”

In all, this is the first mailer you would expect from the campaign.  The City Attorney has featured newer supporters, has emphasized his support from local public safety by featuring the quote from the San Bernardino Police Officers Association and the picture of Firefighter Nathan Lopez, features recent accomplishments like the Hudson Theater injunction, and is very positive.

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

Contact Information for City of San Bernardino Candidates Election 2011

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

[Updated October 18, 2011]

The City of San Bernardino’s municipal election in November 2011  is very important to the people of San Bernardino.  Traditionally, there has not been a lot of quality information, and as local news-gathering diminishes, I thought, as a public service, I could provide a list of contact information.  I was frustrated a few years ago in a “Pick 4” election for a school board.  I knew two of my votes, but rather than undervote, or randomly vote, I tried to find information about the other people running for office.  It was very difficult to do.  In our online age, that should no longer be an issue.  In that spirit, here is the contact information that I have so far as of October 18, 2011 for the November 8, 2011 election.  I am including the contested races.  The phone numbers and email are from the public internet, usually the campaign website or the public Facebook Info Page.   If any candidate wants any of this information changed, updated or removed, I will do so upon contact by the campaign.  Once again, the order is the same as on the San Bernardino Registrar of Voters Candidate list :

City of San Bernardino Third Ward

Tobin Brinker:  Website, Facebook. As of the morning of October 7 2011, there is no phone number on the official campaign website,  Email.

John Valdivia:  WebsiteFacebook,  Phone number: (877) 825–3270, Email.

City of San Bernardino Fifth Ward

Chas Kelley: Friends of Chas Kelley sent a letter with a magnet.  The magnet says, among other things, “Visit Chas on Facebook,” but I’m still unable to find a Facebook profile for Council Member Kelley as of October 7, 2011.  The magnet also gives a Phone Number: (909) 648-3506 and an Email.

Larry A. Lee:  Website, FacebookEmail.

City of San Bernardino Seventh Ward

Wendy McCammack does not appear to have an online campaign presence at this time.  I was unable to locate an email address nor a phone number as of October 18, 2011

Jim Mulvihill: Facebook,  Phone Number (from public Facebook Page): 909-886-1333, Email.

City of San Bernardino City Clerk

Georgeann “Gigi” Hanna  FacebookWebsite, Phone Number from Public Facebook Page: 909-709-2019, Email.

Peggi Hazlett:  Facebook, as of October 6, 2011, no other information.

Esther Jimenez:  Facebook, Email.

Amelia Sanchez-Lopez:  WebsiteFacebook, Phone number (from Jim Penman’s mailer #2) (909) 882-7085,  Email.

William A. Valle: Website,  Facebook, Phone Number from Public Facebook Page: (909) 486-5636, Email.

City Attorney

David L. McKenna:  Website, Facebook, Phone Number from Campaign Flier and Campaign Website: (909) 264-9021, Email.

James F. “Jim” Penman: Website (as of 10/18/2011, not yet functional, but mentioned in second mailer), Phone Number from Mailers: (909) 882-8986, Email.

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