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Penman: Shifting Gears and Tossing the Hot Potato

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It appears as though Mr. Jim Penman, our San Bernardino City Attorney from Mississippi, has decided to change his strategy in changing the city charter.

He was quick to point out Monday that he had gotten his marching orders from the mayor and council several years ago when the proposal to change was initially defeated.

However, when I contacted the City Clerk’s office Monday prior to the council meeting they had no record in the minutes of the city council or record that the mayor made such a request. However, when he announced his proposal just a few weeks ago at the swearing-in ceremony for new council members everybody was surprised including the mayor.

I believe Mr. Penman decided to shift the spotlight to the mayor because hidden in the city charter section 55 paragraph (d) it states “he can give his advice or opinion in writing when requested to do so in writing by the Mayor or Common Council”.

Without that written request Penman is operating out of his authority. He has been giving speeches and interviews to everyone who would listen except the Black and Hispanic press. He has yet to appear before any Black organization as he did before the Kiwanis club downtown.

Another one of his latest tactics is to split up the issue into several sections because the NAACP and MALDF (Mexican American Legal Defense Fund) said they would take him to court if necessary to stop the disenfranchisement of their voting people. So Monday Penman introduced the city administrator/ manager proposal to the council.

Penman was quick to point out that it was his intention all along to have the council vote on the proposal prior to taking it to the voters. He even went so far as to have copies available to the general public. Penman could see that the council had split right down racial lines on this issue.

I want to thank Esther Estrada, First Ward Councilwoman, Gordon McGinnis, Third Ward Councilman, Rikke Van Johnson, Sixth Ward Councilman and Mayor Judith Valles for sticking to their opposition of Penman’s proposal.

I hope it is clear to Penman and his secret committee that what he is doing will eventually come out just like the 911 information. The public has a right to know and participate in the formation of any process or information that is as important as the city charter.

Mr. Penman has said the change is necessary because there is much division and corruption in the city government. If there is corruption why doesn’t he do something about it instead of talking about it? He is the city’s top cop. Mr. Penman please take your evidence of corruption to court so the city can be cleaned up.

Mr. Penman you say the current system breeds tension and divisiveness from council members. From where I stand and what I see, you create more division than any of the council members. Maybe you have too much time on your hands and your position should be part-time like the treasurer. Maybe the mayor, with the approval of the city council, should appoint your position. Yes that sounds good to me.

Hey mayor and city council why don’t you appoint a secret committee to prepare a charter change committee to spring that on the public as soon as possible. I know some people who said they would like to serve on such a committee. I also know some attorneys who have expressed some interest in the appointment if it was done that way instead of raising money and having to run for the office.

These are top-notch lawyers. This way they could still keep their private practices. We would save the city some money. Plus they would bring professionalism to the position at the council meetings, unlike the outburst by Penman at Mr. Timothy Prince. Mr. Penman’s outburst was an embarrassment to the city and not a good example for our youth.

As someone said in a conversation to me Tuesday, “you know Hardy there was a person who picked up a hurt snake one time and nursed it back to health. When the snake turned and bit the person the person said why did you bite me? The snake said it’s my nature I’m a snake... after all he is from Mississippi.”

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