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City Attorney Jim Penman Gone Wild

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Hardy L. BrownI’m sure you have heard the phrase “Girls Gone Wild” as used with the uncensored out of control college students on break from school where anything goes.

Well to borrow the phrase and apply it to San Bernardino City Attorney Jim Penman’s behavior after the last council meeting for the past two weeks in my opinion is appropriate.

Penman was upset because he was left out of an investigation that involved a sex offender at a local church where the city has a youth program. The inquiry was given from Mayor Pat Morris to city manager Charles McNeely and to the police chief Keith Kilmer for proper investigation. The police reported out their findings to the council and public that everything was appropriate with all public agencies required to know of the offender.

The thing that has sent Penman into orbit is he was not notified by anyone and Chief Kilmer told Penman there was no need for notification while McNeely told Penman the buck stops at his office. This is the first time Penman has been rebuked in public by a chief of police and a city manager.

Penman lit out the very next day to pass out flyers to members of the church, the charter school parents at the church, and all the youth who attend the city’s Operation Phoenix recreation programs that a sex offender was loose at the church. This was not true because the offender was no longer employed plus everyone in authority had knowledge of the person which had no contact with children. If that was not enough, Penman heard that the parents of the charter school were holding a meeting. Penman went to the meeting uninvited took over the meeting by telling the parents he is the city attorney and he can attend any meeting in this city without being invited (to paraphrase his statement). This was after they told him to leave. Penman did not leave until one of the male parents told him I will remove him with bodily force. The next day Judith Penman, Penman’s wife, came to the school to apologize on behalf of her husband’s actions. Since Judith Penman is on the local school board with some authority over charter schools, the parents feared retaliation from her. In addition to all of that, one of Penman’s staff investigators told the pastor of the church, not knowing he was the pastor, Penman is going to have him investigated.

Now if this sounds bizarre, it is not. I spoke with the pastor and could not believe what he was telling me. The story sounded like members of Hitler’s army were operating here in San Bernardino. When you also take into account the fact that Penman led the council into taking an ultimatum vote for the church not to allow members of his church, with past criminal sex records, to attend church on Sundays, it has sent shockwaves throughout the community. The city pays the church approximately $300 dollars a month to operate the Phoenix Program according to the pastor. Penman’s actions remind me of the Girls Gone Wild video where they become drunk off of freedom by doing whatever they think they have a right to do. In Penman’s case he had never been told to “butt out” of these kinds of issues unless a legal question comes up. I want to commend the city manager for standing up to manage the affairs of the city and the chief of police for saying investigating these types of crimes is his duty and responsibility. By the way, the chief did a very professional investigation based on the report he gave to the council. The matter should have concluded at that point but Penman and Councilmember Wendy McCammack would not let it rest until a vote was taken. Now the faith based community is in an uproar over Penman’s actions and they should be. Penman is behaving like a spoiled brat who cannot have his way. It is now time for the citizens to either recall him from office or change the charter to have the position of city attorney appointed. Either way, the current city attorney has gone wild.

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