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Against City Charter changes

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The hot potato of voting at large in San Bernardino’s ward system has been taken off of the stove to cool down or until the fire burns out.

City Attorney Jim Penman has decided the fire was too hot as it was brought to a boil by the NAACP and MALDF, stating they would file lawsuits if Penman continued with his effort to disenfranchise the Black and Latino voters in the city. Penman told The Black Voice News editorial staff that he was pulling that part of his city charter changes off of the agenda at this time. He later repeated the same at a community meeting held at St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church, stating the issue was too controversial.

The ward system was proposed by Penman during a swearing in ceremony for newly elected officials back in April. Penman also told The Black Voice News that the attorneys who were assisting him in drafting the charter have since pulled back. One of them was a judge who after the heat was applied, cited conflict of interest to continue in an advisory role.

I think it was because eventually they would be flushed out from hiding and become co-conspirators in a sham to minimize the minority voters in the city of San Bernardino. However, since the charter will not be placed on this November’s ballot, as every good cook knows, food taken off the stove and placed in the refrigerator can be reheated for another day. So beware that it will be served up again when they think your appetite is less likely to reject it.

However, they have cooked up another dish for you to feast on and that is called a Charter Amendment for a strong city manager coming this November. This is a city manager position you will not get to vote on but it will have all the power you think will be in your mayor.

Penman is confused about this issue because he told a St. Paul AME group that he was unsure as to how he will vote on his own measure. He also told them that he would prefer the current strong mayor form of government if he was mayor. There is one thing Penman and I agree on, if I was mayor I would want the strong CEO type of mayor position. I would want it to be clear to the voters who is responsible and who they can hold accountable for their welfare and service.

This way, there is no passing the buck at election time as to who is responsible. Now Penman is the author of the change and is the one who convinced the city council the issue should go before the voters. He is also the one who spoke before the downtown Kiwanis Club’s heavily White members, and told the daily papers that this is the best thing for the city. Now he is not sure if he is going to vote in favor of his own proposal. I think the city council should pull back their support until they are sure it will benefit the citizens and not suit their personal needs.

We have a mayor who appears to not like controversy, and a city administrator who cannot take action because his job duties do not show up in the city charter. Maybe we should ask the mayor to step down or not seek reelection, or remove the current city administrator (Frank Wilson) and get the mayor someone who will carry out her directives. Now he can accept the $170,000.00 salary, but finds it impossible to tell an employee to not wear see through blouses to work because it is against the city dress code. We don’t need a city charter change, but a change in management.

Back in March, Penman said the prior charter changes were motivated by hidden agendas of certain people advocating the changes, then he turns around and puts together a secret committee of two attorneys -- one of them a judge that does not want to be identified -- and proposes changes of the same nature. This current city manager change is motivated by a carefully conceived piece meal approach to obtain their full attempt to manage the city without interference of Black and Hispanic citizens and their elected representatives.

Now I am one who believes in good management practices. I went to specialized management schools at UCLA, USC, Johnston College at the University of Redlands and San Bernardino Valley College studying good management practices and spent 25 years in Human Resources at Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, supervising a staff, writing and implementing personnel policies, so I know that what you are proposing will not ensure potholes getting filled in every section of the city, as Penman told the people of St. Paul AME.

In his proposed changes on May 18, 2004 he states in section 52 that the mayor shall have the “general” supervision of the city manager, acting city manager, chief of police, chief of fire department, and all elected officials except the city council.

In section 100 he states “the City Manager shall be responsible for the administration of ALL City departments except the office of the mayor, city attorney, city clerk, city treasurers, water department, the free public library and the civil service system.” This means the police and fire department are under the IMMEDIATE supervision of the city manager.

In addition, in section 101 (I) it requires the city manager to confer with the city attorney more than the mayor who is in the position that can hire or fire. Now who do you think will have the power at city hall? It will be the city manager and the city attorney.

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