An Interview with Mayoral Candidate Karmel Roe

San Bernardino City Bankruptcy is pleased to bring you the 4th in our interview series with the candidates running for Mayor of San Bernardino this November.

Karmel Roe

Karmel Roe, candidate for Mayor of San Bernardino.

Mayoral candidate Karmel Roe.  Ms. Roe shared with us her thoughts on the condition of San Bernardino, drawing specific attention to the rampant homelessness throughout our city.

DON’T FORGET! The San Bernardino Police Officers Association is hosting a mayoral candidates forum at Cal State San Bernardino on September 14th at 6pm.  The public is invited to attend as well as submit questions to the candidates through this website.

And now our interview with mayoral candidate Karmel Roe.

What do you believe the top priority of the City of San Bernardino should be?

THE TOP PRIORITY of the City of San Bernardino should be its BURGEONING HOMELESS POPULATION! This is the root of our growing financial insolvency at city hall and in the business community.

If you are elected mayor, the City of San Bernardino will exit bankruptcy during your term in office. What policies need to be changed or implemented to ensure that a financial crisis like this does not happen to our City again?

The City of San Bernardino has filed for bankruptcy, which is in a state of holding, pending a resolution to be made on August 28, 2013. What this means is the city has not yet been declared insolvent.  (Editor’s note:  Ms. Roe returned her responses to us prior to the 28th, however due to our publishing schedule her interview was published after the court hearing on that date).

The city did not follow proper accounting practices or the laws for transferring property from the redevelopment agency after Governor Brown ordered them closed throughout the state. The State Controller, John Chiang, has demanded the city return $528,884,966 in former redevelopment agency assets out of which $420,512,906 is unaccounted for.

The assets reviewed for return include, but are not limited to, real and personal property, cash funds, accounts receivable, deeds of trusts and mortgages, contract rights, and any rights to payments of any kind from any source. As your mayor, I will hire and work very closely with an outside auditing firm to audit and locate all city assets and finances.

I have been in a frontline position, battling against the banking industry’s mortgage fraud on the American people. I am one of the few people who have successfully held at bay a major bank in America by defeating them in court from taking my family’s home due to mortgage banking fraud.

For the past seven years, I have acted as my own attorney. I am currently enrolled in law school. As part of acting in pro per in my legal proceeding, I have been given access to the federal government’s court website Pacer.

I downloaded and read each and every transcript, along with many filed documents on San Bernardino’s bankruptcy. It is my conclusion, after reading the pre-pendency and post-pendency plans, that the city’s leadership does not have a solution to its finances and has no plan. Their only solution to their financial needs is fees, fines, and heavy-handed code enforcement actions, which is contrary to attracting new businesses and exasperating to existing businesses.

City business has been conducted behind closed doors; therefore, there has not been any public input on any of these crucial matters and hence the recall. I believe there is only one solution to this city’s financial problems: NEW LEADERSHIP fused with PUBLIC PARTICIPATION and a COMPLETE OUTSIDE AUDIT OF ALL CITY FINANCES, ASSETS, AND DEPARTMENTS!

It is my firm belief that until the upcoming election has occurred and new leadership takes place and an audit is conducted that the federal government should put a freeze on spending and delay judgment on San Bernardino until the truth of the city’s financial state has come to light through auditing.

The current leadership is failing miserably, has no plans to change their way of doing business, has mismanaged the city’s funds for years, has comingled and transferred funds from all departments and agencies, thereby not using funds as directed, driven businesses out of town, and single-handedly taken out our police force.

Furthermore, there is no public input, city business is conducted behind closed doors, while the safety of the community is being jeopardized—criminals and homeless have free rein over the city.

As your mayor, my first order of action will be to have all city finances, assets, and departments audited by an outside auditing firm, allowing us to know what we have and what we have to work with.

The auditors’ findings will be made public at each stage. We as a city need to pay our bills, rebuild our city’s credit rating, strengthen our police force, rebuild our city’s image, and give our business owners a reason to go to work in the morning.

The documents filed by the city with the courts show that the city is given an abundant amount of money yearly from various resources. I believe that if these resources were managed properly, our city would be pulled out of insolvency.

San Bernardino’s resources should not only sustain San Bernardino, but also prosper San Bernardino! Funds should be directed toward their intended use. Look around, judge the city on your own, has our community’s resources been spent as directed to prosper the community and make our streets safe?

In addition to the City’s financial problems, San Bernardino has an extremely high number of jobless residents. What do you believe the City should be doing to help residents find employment and bring jobs to San Bernardino?

Every effort by our leaders to save the city financially is contrary to sound business.

Existing businesses are being code-enforced to do tens-of-thousands of dollars in upgrades, putting many older businesses, out of business. New businesses are discouraged by costly city start up requirements that can run from $30,000 and up.

Business owners are frustrated because they feel the attitude of city hall is to extract unnecessary cost from them to make up for the short fall in the city’s finances.

Additionally, behind closed doors, city hall has yoked the community with hefty retirement funds, put oppressive fees and fines on businesses, and instituted heavy-handed code enforcement policies. A property owner can be accruing a code- enforcement fine from $100 to $1,000 a day without even knowing it!

The AAA on Sixth and “D” Street is moving out of downtown to Highland and Boulder. I do not think that city hall even knows this. If the city wants to keep its existing jobs and businesses and fill its boarded up buildings, we need to offer good customer service and hire a liaison to work with existing and new businesses.

If the city wants older businesses to do expensive upgrades, they need to offer low- interest, long-term loans. We need to extend our hand to help new businesses through the city’s process and to work with city officials to find ways to mitigate some of these costly start up requirements.

Businesses should not feel penalized for doing business in our city. These policies and attitudes are discouraging to new and existing businesses. As your mayor, I will make customer service a top priority. There are programs out there that provide cities with resources to teach their employees good customer relations. I would like all department heads and staff to go through these programs, as well as, the mayor and council.

Most of the city’s main source of funds—sales tax from car dealers and retailers— has dried up and property tax collection is low. Few new businesses have been added to our city. The business district is anemic with large numbers of boarded up buildings.

The recent heavy-handed closures of our marijuana clinics have added 35 more buildings to these numbers. The voters of California voted these businesses legal. Like all startup businesses, the clinics incurred a lot of expenses to go into business, including the costly requirements of the city and city licensing fees. In a recent court decision, a judge in Riverside issued a decree, stating that cities had a right to choose to license the clinics or not.

Since the City of San Bernardino had already issued business licenses to these clinics, the law required that an injunction by the court be issued, not a swat team raid! Most of these clinics complied with all of the city’s requirements. They employ 100s of people, pay tens of thousands of dollars in retail sales taxes, and the regulation of them keeps the selling of drugs out of neighborhoods and in a proper business environment.

Public safety is also a major concern in San Bernardino. Unfortunately, both the San Bernardino Fire and Police Departments have been hit hard with cuts and loss of staff. What types of public safety complaints are you hearing from the voters?

I have been visiting businesses in the downtown area and they are beside themselves with the city’s deterioration and growing homeless population. The homeless and prostitutes are a 24/7 problem.

All day long businesses watch from their windows as the homeless urinate and relieve themselves openly. Prostitutes also openly conduct their dirty business. Businesses, including mine, are being robbed and victimized regularly and the police do not respond—they are not able to respond!

I understand that because of budget cuts, there are only between six and eleven police officers working daily to police all our city of 200,000 or more. Apparently, this is why our city attorney advised the community to “Lock your doors and load your guns!”

I have learned the hard way to lock my door; but I hope I don’t have to load a gun!

What do you think San Bernardino should be doing to improve safety for its residents and families?

The homeless are under every bush and living in every park and channel. The policy of turning our backs on the indigent is erroneous. The City of San Bernardino has closed group homes to the point that they are basically band.

The thought behind this was that these types of people would leave and the image of San Bernardino would improve, attracting quality residents and businesses. This thinking has backfired on us. These people did not leave, they became homeless.

The current situation with homelessness in America began during the Reagan administration. Policies were passed under the guise of not holding people against their will in institutions, freeing many people onto the streets that had never been on their own and did not know how to be on their own. Many of these people require medication. On the streets, you do not take your medication. These policies relieved the government of the responsibility of taking care of societies’ needy.

No one wants to start a business in an area where their customers have to go through a group of homeless and prostitutes to get through the front door! No one wants to move into a neighborhood where the homeless live homelessly! No one wants to go to a park full of homeless and brown grass! No one wants to go through a group of homeless to get into a library.

The homeless are very good at surviving on the streets and that’s why they thrive—that’s why they have taken over our streets! This environment that has been created by bad government policies affects everyone’s public safety and everyone’s morale.

I am a real estate and a mortgage broker. I have operated my own firm in downtown San Bernardino since 2003. I manage multiple rental housing units. As a property manager, I work with many different types of housing programs. I understand that people do not want certain types of group homes in their neighborhood.

As your mayor, I will find appropriate housing for every person living in the City of San Bernardino. It will be my number one priority. I would like to open this conversation up for public input. I will propose that some of our vacant buildings downtown be used to house the homeless.

I want to take the homeless out of our streets and neighborhood parks and put them in the view of city hall, under the watchful eye of our leaders! I want to provide toilets for all!

I will create a world-renown, structured environment downtown for the homeless with opportunities and help, according to each person’s individual needs. The homeless will not be loitering in our parks, streets, and neighborhoods.

This will increase public safety, uplift the morale of the community, and change the entire image of San Bernardino from its negative image to a positive image, making our city inviting to new businesses and prospective homebuyers. This change alone will prosper our city, filling the city’s coffers.

When the city is prosperous, it will not have a problem paying for more police officers, meeting its obligations to its retirement funds, and loaning money to existing businesses to do expensive upgrades to enhance our town.

Our neighborhoods are being brought down by our court system. I have processed 100’s of evictions through our court system. This system is one of the major contributors, adding to illegal drugs being sold in our neighborhoods. Most often people who cannot pay their rent are on drugs and causing problems in their neighborhood.

Common signs and problems are trafficking, blight, and trash. A landlord is required to go through what often turns into a lengthy and costly court process that can last from three to six months, resulting in loss of rents in the 1,000s of dollars. This adds to the cycle of foreclosures and blight.

As your mayor, I will work with the courts to make this process work in a more expeditious manner and look forward to working with our police force on solutions to the growing drug problem in our community.

Staying with the issue of public safety, in 2006 the voters approved a 10-year tax by passing Measure Z. Many residents and city employees are questioning whether Measure Z funds are being used as demanded by the voters when they also approved Measure YY, directing the Mayor and City Council to use this tax revenue to enhance public safety.

Do you believe the funds are being used in accordance with the voters intend?

Many residents and city employees are questioning whether the 2006 voter approved 10-year tax, known as Measure Z, are being used to enhance public safety as directed by Measure YY.

As your mayor, I will immediately hire outside auditors to audit all of the city’s assets, finances, and every department. I will specifically request that these funds be located and for the auditors to determine how the money was used. Their findings will be made public.

I am going to turn city hall into an open book, closing the chapter on behind closed doors!

Is there anything else you would like to say to our readers?

For the City of San Bernardino to crawl out of its financial hole, it will have to attract new businesses and new residents. To do this the image of the City of San Bernardino must be changed.

The government polices that have led to a community that does not take care for its homeless is a sin in the sight of God. It is a communal sin—a sin that the community bears as a whole—everyone is susceptible to becoming victimized by it!

I am sponsoring a movement—a citywide walk-a-thon—September 18th through the 25th to bless every person and property located inside the City of San Bernardino and to ask for God’s forgiveness, mercy, and help. I have been soliciting churches and community organizations to participate. I would like to invite the Police Officer’s Association to JOIN US by walking our neighborhoods with us and blessing every person and property. To learn more about the walk-a-thon movement, please visit my website and blog your commitment to walk with us: www.yourmayor4prayer.com

I want to thank the San Bernardino Police Officers Association for sponsoring this online interview for the mayoral candidates. I am having a food extravaganza fundraiser on September 6th from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at 1177 N. Baseline.

I am inviting on duty police officers to stop by for a free meal! I would like to invite everyone else, the cost is $25 and $40 a plate; for complete details visit my website. I appreciate the opportunity to have an open dialog with the public and our police officers.

I look forward to working with all of our community and police force as your mayor 4 prayer!

End of Interview