A Tale of Two Downtowns, or What Really Ails San Bernardino

An article by Steve Desrochers, San Bernardino Police Officers Association Board Member and PAC Chair.

The economic status of our community will continue to languish in bankruptcy court (now entering its third year), until our civic leaders are able to negotiate, compile and present a “plan of adjustment” to the judge. So far, there has been very little progress to speak of. Only an agreement between the city and CalPERS has been penned.

Reportedly, the next largest “creditor” had reached a “win-win” agreement with the city that was voted on and approved by members of the San Bernardino Police Officers Association, but fell apart after what can only be described as “buyer’s remorse,” at City Hall.

The break-down was not about a misunderstanding. Pure and simple, it was the very definition of “bad faith” negotiating, in my opinion. The employee groups of the city continue to be the focus of attention, with the politicians demonstrating their desire to balance their bankruptcy on the backs of the employees. Mathematically that is impossible, but they seem to think it can be done.

This is the very reason why Measure Q must fail in November. Continue reading

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Measure Q Threatens Safety in San Bernardino

The following is a statement from San Bernardino Police Officers Association president Steve Turner:

After careful deliberation and review, the San Bernardino Police Officers Association has decided to oppose Measure Q in the November Election.

Our organization took time to study both sides of the argument and have concluded that passage of Measure Q will be dangerous to our community.

This measure will have a negative impact on the effectiveness of your police department. It will accelerate the continued loss of our trained and experienced police officers to other agencies, which will allow crime to flourish.

Since declaring bankruptcy, the City of San Bernardino has lost over 100 officers. The state continues to release criminals and Mayor Carey Davis continues to follow the plan of his predecessor by inviting homeless individuals to our city with a new homeless center and the expansion of the Waterman Gardens.

Just as irresponsible is the hiring of new administrators, at a cost of more than $500,000 following the hiring of an Assistant City Manager and Economic Development Czar at a cost of $226,000 each. They use the bankruptcy as a reason for massive cuts, while wasting taxpayer money to give six figure pay days to bureaucrats, lawyers, and consultants at City Hall.

Your safety has never been more threatened and this is why we must take a stand against those who would focus on anything other than to provide for your safety.

Join your San Bernardino Police Officers in opposing this dangerous measure. Vote No on Measure Q.

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San Bernardino Police Officers Association Opposes Measure Q

The San Bernardino Police Officers Association has taken its time to thoroughly review Measure Q. Doing our due diligence and considering the arguments for and against this initiative, we believe Measure Q presents a serious threat to the safety of San Bernardino’s residents.

Therefore the SBPOA opposes the passage of Measure Q.

Measure Q will cut the police department, cause the City to lose more police officers, and result in higher crime.

SBPOA FB Banners v2-1

Instead of pursuing serious charter reform, the only thing Mayor Carey Davis and his team are attempting to do with Measure Q is to cut the pay of police officers so they can continue to pay the salaries of overpaid bureaucrats and consultants at City Hall. Carey Davis should be ashamed of himself.

The San Bernardino Police Officers Association asks voters to stand with us and vote No on Measure Q.

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City of San Bernardino Fails to Reach Agreement with Police Officers Association

The following is a statement from San Bernardino Police Officers Association president Steve Turner:

SBPOA_jpeg

It is with great regret that I must announce that although the City and the POA had reached an agreement on a new contract, this week the agreement fell apart when the City disclosed that it interpreted the basic terms of the deal contrary to the POA’s understanding.

This contract would have brought much needed stability to the San Bernardino Police Department, attracted and retained quality officers, and been a major first step to reduce crime throughout our city.  Sadly the City at the last minute chose to turn its back on what would have been an historic agreement.

The agreement that had been reached through the bankruptcy mediation process was a win-win for both San Bernardino and its Police Officers.  It addressed many concerns of both parties.  It would have given the City greater ability to control costs while at the same time better investing in its Police Department to prevent and reduce crime.

San Bernardino’s Police Officers overwhelmingly approved this contract and had been patiently waiting for the City to implement the terms that were agreed upon.

Unfortunately, the City informed us that they would interpret the terms of the agreement that was reached with us in good faith at the bargaining table in a way that was completely unacceptable.

While we had hoped that new leadership at City Hall had brought a new day to our city, we now know that isn’t true.  Though many of the names at City Hall have changed in the last year, the same failed business practices that led San Bernardino into bankruptcy remain in place.

Mayor Carey Davis has failed to provide the fresh new leadership he promised in his campaign.  San Bernardino continues to be the city that never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity.

While the failure of the City to acknowledge the meaning of the terms consistent with the agreed upon language is a loss for both the City and San Bernardino’s police officers, the ones who will suffer most from this ongoing lack of leadership at City Hall are the residents of this city.

They will continue to suffer from rising crime, lack of jobs, and the effects of bankruptcy while Mayor Davis and his team do nothing to make residents safer or attract job-creating business to San Bernardino.

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City Attorney Allowing Charter Committee to Meet Despite Charter Violations

San Bernardino City Attorney Gary Saenz is allowing the Charter Reform Committee (AKA the Volunteer Citizen-Based Charter Committee) to meet today despite the violations of Charter Section 51 by the Mayor and the City Council.

Gary Saenz being sworn in as San Bernardino City Attorney.

City Attorney Gary Saenz has blessed the meeting of the Charter Committee despite clear violations of the San Bernardino City Charter by the Mayor and City Council.

As we wrote yesterday, the appointment of the members of the Charter Committee by Mayor Carey Davis and the City Council failed to comply with Section 51 of the San Bernardino City Charter which governs the appointments of members to committees.

Without commenting on why he is ignoring the violation of the City Charter, City Attorney Gary Saenz has given his blessing to a meeting of this improperly formed committee.

On top of that another violation of Charter Section 51 has taken place today.

Mayor Carey Davis has appointed Gloria Harrison to the Charter Committee in place of Dan Carlone without consent of the San Bernardino City Council.

While we are pleased that Mayor Davis has now recognized the glaring omission of women and Latinos from the membership of Charter Committee, it still does not excuse the leadership San Bernardino from the actions they have taken in direct violation of the City Charter.

If Section 51 is such an incredible burden to making policy in San Bernardino, then the Mayor and City Council should properly appoint the members of the Charter Committee at their next meeting and instruct the Committee to immediately review the appointment process laid out in Section 51.

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Charter Reform Committee Violates the City Charter

San Bernardino’s newly appointed Charter Reform Committee (now being called the Volunteer-Citizen Based Charter Committee) appears to have a big problem on its hands.

As currently established, the Committee clearly violates Section 51 of the San Bernardino City Charter.

Charter Section 51 reads as follows:

The Mayor, with the consent and approval of the Common Council, shall appoint all officers, and all members of joint powers authorities, committees, and commissions, regardless of whether they are local, county, regional, state or otherwise, except those appointments made by the City Manager or by elected officials pursuant to this Charter, and except any other appointments for which this Charter expressly provides otherwise, and shall fill all vacancies in an elective office not otherwise provided for in this Charter…

The key take away here is this:

The Mayor, with the consent and approval of the Common Council, shall appoint…all members…of committees,…regardless of whether they are local, county, regional, statewide or otherwise…except any other appointments for which this Charter expressly provides otherwise.”

The Charter Committee is clearly a local committee where the appointment of its membership is not expressly laid out in the City Charter, therefore its total membership must be appointed by Mayor Carey Davis with a vote of consent on each appointment from the members of the San Bernardino City Council.

That’s not how the nine members of the Charter Committee were appointed.

The City Council approved the creation of this Committee, but Mayor Carey Davis did not appoint its nine members.

Davis appointed two members and each of the seven City Councilmembers appointed one member to the Committee.

Under Charter Section 51 however, the seven committee members appointed by individual members of the City Council must actually be appointed by the Mayor with a vote of consent by the City Council as a whole.

The Mayor did not appoint these seven members and the entire City Council did not approve the appointment of each individual with a vote of ratification.

Similarly, while Carey Davis did appoint two members to the Charter Reform Committee, neither of  his appointments were approved by a vote of the City Council as a whole as required by Section 51.

Since the appointment of the members to this Volunteer Citizen-Based Charter Committee does not comply with the specific letter of the San Bernardino City Charter Section 51, the meeting of the Committee tomorrow would be in violation of the City Charter.

To comply with the City Charter, any and all meetings of the Charter Committee should be postponed until Mayor Davis formally appoints the members of the Committee and the City Council gives its vote of consent.  This  will procedurally rectify the existing issues of the Charter Committee.

Additionally, had Charter Section 51 been followed as required, it would have enabled the Mayor and City Council to realize the lack of diversity in the in the Charter Committee’s membership.

The makeup of the Charter Committee completely excludes the participation of women and Latinos – although women make up more than half of San Bernardino’s population and Latinos account for 60% of our city’s residents, according to the U.S. Census.

Perhaps by going back and complying with Charter Section 51 to make appointments to this body, the Mayor and City Council can correct this glaring matter of discrimination.

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Mayor Carey Davis Faces First Ethical Test

When Carey Davis was running for Mayor he often spoke about the importance of transparency at San Bernardino City Hall.  Many believed him and gave Mr. Davis their vote.

Carey Davis, failed Mayor Pat Morris' chosen successor, is going into a runoff election for Mayor of San Bernardino.

San Bernardino Mayor Carey Davis has a chance to show the city whether or not he truly believes in transparency.

Others were skeptical, figuring it was just more meaningless words from a politician chasing after an elected office.

Monday’s City Council meeting looks to tell us which group of voters was right.

On the City Council’s agenda is Item 5E.

Item 5E is a consent calendar item to award a no-bid contract to MICA-PR for “Mayor’s Chief of Staff Services.”

Who’s MICA-PR you might ask?  It’s a lobbying/ public relations/political consulting firm run by one Michael W. McKinney.

MICA-PR ran Carey Davis’ campaign for mayor and also served as the campaign consultant to the two local special interest funded political action committees, Residents for a Better San Bernardino and  San Bernardino Residents for Responsible Government.

Residents for a Better San Bernardino coordinated its efforts with Carey Davis’ campaign to ensure his election as mayor.

San Bernardino Residents for Responsible Government ran the recall campaigns in San Bernardino, while also receiving financial support from Residents for a Better San Bernardino.

Public records show MICA-PR was paid $55,091.17 from the three entities.  

  • Residents for a Better San Bernardino paid MICA-PR $22,746.98.
  • San Bernardino Residents for Responsible Government paid MICA-PR $7,993.9 –  and still owed the company $4,493.78 according to it’s last campaign filing.  
  • The Carey Davis for Mayor campaign paid MICA-PR $24,350.26 – and according to his last campaign filing, Carey Davis’ campaign still owed MICA-PR $5,124.95.

(All filings available for online public inspection at this link)

There are many issues that need to be addressed by the City Council and answered by Mr. McKinney when this contract comes up on Monday night.

1.    Why is this contract with MICA-PR on the Consent Calendar? 

A contract with the Mayor’s campaign consultant, especially one who has financially benefited from the recent electoral changes in the City of San Bernardino, is a topic worthy of a thorough public discussion and vetting.

Placing this item on the Consent Calendar seems shady at best. Regardless it is a far cry from the transparency Carey Davis assured voters would be a hallmark of his administration.

2.   Why is this contract being made with a private corporation and not with an individual?    Continue reading

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Inaccurate Comparisons of Detroit and San Bernardino Continue

On Friday the bankrupt City of Detroit unveiled a plan to cut the current pension benefits being paid to its already retired workers.

Detroit

Detroit (Photo credit: Ann Millspaugh)

Many immediately seized on this news, believing that what’s happening in Detroit will also happen to bankrupt California cities like San Bernardino.

The Sacramento Bee  reported the following:

In a case with significant implications for public pensions in California, the bankrupt city of Detroit proposed slashing retirement benefits by up to 34 percent in a plan unveiled Friday.

The city, which is $18 billion in debt, would cut pensions 10 percent for retired police officers and firefighters, and 34 percent for other municipal retirees as it tries to resolve the largest municipal bankruptcy in American history. Unsecured creditors would receive about 20 percent recovery, in the form of new securities issued by the city.

Detroit’s plan is being closely watched in California, where two cities are trying to exit bankruptcy and other cities are facing financial stress over rising pension costs. The city of San Bernardino has hinted that it might try to reduce its $24 million-a-year bill to CalPERS, although it hasn’t yet filed a reorganization plan. Last fall the city of Stockton proposed a bankruptcy plan that leaves pensions untouched but restructures much of its bond debt.

However, equating the different pension systems of the two bankrupt cities is the proverbial apples to oranges  comparison and could lead many to the wrong conclusion.

As we previously reported, there are significant differences between the Detroit’s municipal pension system and the state pension system that San Bernardino belongs to.

CalPERS noted this in the Sacramento Bee article.

“…officials with CalPERS said California pensions have additional legal protections not available to workers in Detroit. Notably, California public pensions are protected by state law and the state constitution, according to lawyers for CalPERS.”

So if you are worried or excited about what’s going on in Detroit, don’t fret or celebrate just yet.

There are significant differences between the pension systems for each city and the laws that govern them, and the federal bankruptcy court takes that all into account in these cases – just as it did in Vallejo and Stockton where pensions were not changed.

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Statement by Steve Turner, President of the San Bernardino Police Officers Association

The San Bernardino Police Officers Association congratulates Mayor-Elect Carey Davis, Councilmember-Elect Henry Nickel and Councilmember Fred Shorett on their victories in Tuesday’s elections.

There are many crucial issues facing our city – bankruptcy, unemployment, and rising crime.  For San Bernardino to become economically stable and for jobs to come here, we all agree that we must make our city a safer place for everyone who lives or works here.

If we are going to turn this city around then we must have an intense focus on preventing and reducing violent crime, burglaries, prostitution, and pan-handling that is eroding San Bernardino’s quality of life.

We stand ready to work with the city’s leaders to accomplish these goals vital to the safety of San Bernardino’s residents and our city’s economic turnaround.

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State Pension Fund Has Best Year Since 1997

Hold on to those petitions to gut police and fire pensions, Mayor Morris. The California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) just had its best year since Bill Clinton was President.

English: Official White House photo of Preside...

California’s pension fund has best year since Bill Clinton was president(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Los Angeles Times reports the CalPERS pension fund earned an amazing 16.2% return on its investments in 2013:

The California Public Employees’ Retirement System, which provides benefits to about 1.7 million state and local government workers, retirees and their dependents, said its total investments were worth $282.6 billion as of Friday, the highest ever.

Better known as CalPERS, the country’s biggest public pension fund was especially helped by the stock market’s best year since 1997. Among its holdings, publicly traded shares did best; bonds and commodities did the worst.

The results for 2013 capped a wild ride for the agency over the last 11 years. The fund was especially hard hit during the Great Recession of 2007-09. In 2008, amid the depths of the worst global economic slowdown in half a century, the fund lost 27.8% of its value.

Since then, it has climbed back. In 2011, the fund’s increase in value was a mere 1.1%. For 2012, the rate of investment growth was up to 13.3%. By early 2013, the total value of the fund officially surpassed its pre-recession high.

CalPERS’ overall rate of return for 2013 was more than twice the 7.5% minimum that the fund’s board has said it needs to meet current and future obligations to retirees.

This is great news for cities like San Bernardino because higher investment earnings generated by CalPERS equates to lower pension contributions for cities.

Pension hypocrites like outgoing Mayor Pat Morris will most likely try to minimize this news as it undermines his effort to decimate the CalPERS pension system.

But as the LA Times article also states:

“This definitely takes some of the wind out of the sails of critics,” said Steve Maviglio, a spokesman for Californians for Retirement Security, a coalition of 1.6 million government workers and retirees. CalPERS’ new report makes it “hard to make the case that the sky is falling with returns like that.”

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