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Don’t fall for the Rope-A-Dope of Penman and his Cronies

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When Muhammad Ali was in his prime he developed a couple of boxing phrases to describe his fighting style and they are remembered today.

One was the “Rope-A-Dope” and the other was the “Ali-shuffle.” The Rope-A-Dope was used when he wanted his opponent to think he was almost knocked out and his opponent would come in closer for the kill.

While watching the San Bernardino City Council meeting last week, city attorney Jim Penman and his secret committee members were employing the Rope-A-Dope strategy on Mayor Judith Valles and the city council. It became clear to me that it did not work on councilmembers Esther Estrada, Gordan McGinnis and Rikke Van Johnson.

They have seen this style of fighting many times from well meaning leaders who claim this or that would be good for their people and they should therefore lend their support. Penman was saying trust me, “riiiight.” As Estrada stated the hurried process to adopt without public review is starting out wrong. I agree. Whenever your elected leadership does not understand what they are voting on, where does that leave the public? In the dark. The Congress is now saying we should have asked more questions about the war before approving the request of the president. The president said “trust me this will reduce the threat of terrorism and rid Iraq of Weapons of Mass Destruction.”

The city council is correct in asking questions and the mayor should have vetoed action taken by four members of the council. Maybe the mayor was intrigued with the thought of sharing the responsibility or maybe the mayor wants this type of arrangement during her administration but it is not good for the citizens of San Bernardino.

For your information, the city of Riverside is currently trying to get more power for the mayor’s position and the city council is trying to fire the city manager. It is strange that the Riverside city council is citing the same reasons for firing the city manager that the city council in San Bernardino is using to create a city manager position. Rudolph (Rudy) Giulliani, former mayor of New York, during his testimony before the 911 Commission last week said the people always want their elected officials to be in charge. That is why they elect them.

Penman, Cliff Cummings, an automotive businessman in the city, and Larry Quiel, of the sign company in the city, are trying to inform the mayor that this city manager position will free her up to do important things like kiss babies, cut ribbons, and travel to out of state places to seek companies to move to this professionally run city. This manager position will remove her from any controversial political issues that can develop from time to time.

They also believe, and convinced others, that this new layer of management would not diminish the mayor’s responsibility in governing the city. If you believe this then ask Mayor Ron Loveridge of Riverside what happened when Tyisha Miller, a Black teenager was shot and killed by four White police officers. The mayor was not able to even talk to the police chief without the manager’s permission yet they picketed in front of his office for over two years because he is in the elected position of authority.

Another thing that is clear to me is the committee Penman has been referring to consists of businessmen that are not Black or Latino. I asked Chuck McVay, owner of Freeway Lincoln-Mercury in San Bernardino, the largest Black owned business in the city if he had been consulted about the charter change and he said no. I asked Bobby Ray Henderson, owner of Bobby Ray’s Barbeque, one of the oldest businesses in San Bernardino, if anyone had asked him about changes in the charter and he said no. I asked the clergy of the Black Community, if anyone had asked them about the need to change the city charter and they said no. I sent a request to Mr. Penman to have a meeting with him so I could gather the proper information to share with our readers and as of this day Mr. Penman has not wanted to meet.

Yet, Mr. Penman continues to meet with the White community about this charter change and then present it to the council and mayor as though it will be good for the city and us. Let us not fall for this rope-a-dope approach. It will not be good for the city but only those individuals who think they have lost power due to the increase of racial voting patterns in the city. So get off the rope and register to vote in November.

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