At the last San Bernardino City Council Meeting on Tuesday, September 7th, City Attorney Jim Penman, gave a vivid and detailed explanation of his department’s duties including pistol packing detectives and code enforcement employees and how they are used. Nevermind that these same functions are done by the police department and established Code Enforcement Departments. This was done in his position as legal council to the council. I highlight that because Penman addressed the council as private citizen later in the meeting under the public comment section. I believe there would be a savings to the city if these double functions were removed from his department.
I wrote in my editorial last week that Penman had made a mistake in suing Pastor Raymond Turner because Turner was one of God’s anointed servants. During yesterday’s public comment section of the council meeting, Bishop Phillip Powell of San Bernardino Christian Center, had a prepared statement read on behalf of the Inland Empire African American Clergy. Apparently the pastors had met earlier and expressed their displeasure over the lawsuit filed against their brother of the cloth, Ray Turner.
The statement delivered to the mayor and council is as follows: “Honorable Mayor Morris, and City Council I am here today representing the clergy of the African American community. We have discussed the recent action of our City Attorney to bring Rev. Turner and the others to court because they believe appointing the City Attorney, the City Clerk, and the Treasurer will save valuable dollars by appointing them to carry out the functions of their offices. By suing to take the wording out of the voter's guide sends a very chilling and disturbing message. We have a right to our opinion and Mr. Penman is trying to intimidate Rev. Turner and others who support Charter Amendment C. We don't believe his actions are the sentiment of the council but would like you to consider passing the following motion.
‘The action of the City Attorney to sue Pastor Ray Turner of Temple Missionary Baptist Church and the others does not reflect the position of the San Bernardino City Council to deny the citizens and the Black community to worship and openly express their differences with the city council.’
Black ministers are requesting this symbolic motion to show the council is not in agreement with the action taken by Penman toward the church community. His intimidation toward the church, first Rev. David Rhone of First Nazarene Church and now Pastor Turner is sending a hostile message to our churches. We don't want to think the City Council would be a party to such action. We recognize he has the right to take such action but your vote will reassure us that you do not share that same sentiment. Thank you for your consideration of this request.”
Penman of course responded and stated that he was not suing Pastor Turner, City Clerk Rachel Clark, City Treasurer David Kennedy or anyone else who signed ballot Measure C to have his position become an appointed one. By the way, Penman has added Cheryl Brown, publisher of Black Voice News and president of the local NAACP, to the lawsuit because she signed the rebuttal to refute his argument. Penman said he was suing because there will be no savings to the taxpayers if his position was appointed. I am sure one of the first things the council would do is eliminate the duplicate services of code enforcement and police from the department, thus a savings.
Now while Penman’s action toward Pastor Turner and now Publisher Brown was meant for intimidation and evil, God has used it for good by enbolding the African American community to rev-up the entire community to vote in favor of Measure C in November at the polls. The clergy is not intimidated and for sure the Black Press and NAACP are not. All of these organizations were born out of the worst conditions of racial tension this country could generate. Blacks were lifted off of their knees while praying because they were not allowed to pray at the altar of the White churches they attended. Richard Allen said never again will my people be humiliated and not allowed to pray in God’s house because of the color of their skin, thus the Black churches were born in America. The NAACP was born out of the struggle for equality in an America where non equality was and is the practice. The Black Press was born out of the need “To Plead our Own Cause” because others could not tell our story.
Our churches have been bombed, our NAACP leaders murdered and our publications under-funded but we still survive.
What I concluded from the meeting after listening to Penman was the old adage used by lawyers that describe a person who represents himself "has a fool for a client." I am not saying he is a fool but he did say he had his own detectives and code enforcement staff. He said he did not sue Turner but Turner is named in the lawsuit. He did say that he is representing himself in court because the unions are not funding his efforts. He is not against religious institutions in the city but he has taken action against Pastor David Rhone formerly of the First Nazarene Church and now Pastor Ray Turner of Temple Missionary Baptist Church. If he is not anti-religion, I don’t know what is, maybe it’s the lawyer or maybe it’s the client.