After watching the first meeting of the city council after the election on November 8th, it is clear there will be those seeking revenge on behalf of some of the winners. This is the way of politics in America, like it or not, even on the local level. And, based on the attitude of Wendy McCammack toward the city manager and Jim Penman’s statements on the new council, it is clear the new staff will face a rocky road from them.
I have it from a reliable source that San Bernardino City Manager, Charles McNeely, might be leaving his post at the beginning of the year. McNeely, the city’s first African American top administrator, has brought openness with a management style that gave objective business recommendations to the council for public policy based on researching the issue.
McNeely has also integrated the workforce from top to bottom to reflect the diversity of the community that resides within. He has taken personal insults from some elected officials, who were re-elected, while making presentations to the city council at council meetings. From my observation, some of the attitudes from some council members and city attorney have bordered on disrespect for the city manager and other department heads hired to manage the city. One thing these council members have in common is that they are all supported by the police and firefighter associations who will control the council members in March with the addition of John Valdivia.
The question you might ask is why would he leave? It is clear to me that after the elections, the council will take on a 4th member that will not agree with the direction being offered by McNeely. This new council also might become problematic to the new chief of police Robert Handy. In my opinion, the last police chief left or was pushed out by the association, some council members, and an argumentative city attorney, who has not changed his approach to being the city’s legal council. Penman warned the council at its last meeting, if his budget request to pay and hire outside legal firms to handle cases were not honored by the current members, in March it would be.
It is a fight that I am certain any sane person, McNeely included, would not want to engage in everyday and tarnish a good reputation of public service to many communities. I will hate to see anyone pushed out of a job but it is a double whammy loss to the Black citizens of the community. The other fallout could be the people he brought to the city could exit as well thus creating more uncertainty in the direction of a city in need of stable leadership.
This is politics and the citizens of San Bernardino that did not vote can only blame themselves for not being more involved with the election. The city is in need of a community police force and firefighters that pay taxes. I was watching an old western movie the other day titled “The Return of Daniel Boone,” starring Wild Bill Elliott. The town was reeling from some citizens that took property from homeowners. During the auction of one property, the auctioneer said, “every good citizen pay their taxes and those who do not, are well, not good citizens.” Well those citizens who work in the city but pay no taxes like the police and firefighters are good citizens to other communities but not to San Bernardino.
We will watch and see what the real political fallout will be. It is my hope that they will focus on governing and moving the city forward.
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