Much at Stake in San Bernardino City Elections

An editorial by Steve Desrochers, chairman of the San Bernardino Police Officers Association Political Action Committee.

When you think of all that is at stake in this election, does it keep you up at night? It should, but for most people, the answer is no.

English: San Bernardino, Ca

Future of San Bernardino hinges on the outcome of this election (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

That is primarily because, I think the voters are numb.

We have been hit so hard and so frequently with bad news about the City, the behavior of the leadership and the constant negative force of state programs (elimination of the Economic Development Agencies and AB 109, for example), that many just turn away when the topic turns to San Bernardino.

Others don’t believe that their single vote can account for the vast amount of change needed to make a difference.

When you consider that in 2005, about 25,848 cast a vote in the Mayoral election. In 2009 mayor’s race, as the recession was just winding up, that number dropped to around 14,930.

I’m thinking that we should see resurgence in the number of voters this year, but will that materialize?

Every voter should make every attempt to get to the polls this November. It is critically important.

We are a bankrupt community, with a huge leadership deficit.

Mayor Morris is walking away from the mess he engineered and probably won’t lose any sleep over it.

Narcissistically, he has blamed every other possible group (the council, the unions, the City Attorney, the Charter, etc.) for his own legacy and will enjoy his golden years, likely in some other community. Any other community.

I say that’s fine. Let him go. Let the past go and let’s start the recovery.

Technically, we have 10 candidates who wish to replace Mayor Morris. I believe that field is actually much smaller.

If you eliminate those with no fresh ideas, no plan for the future and no (apparent) talent whatsoever, the field thins.

If you eliminate those who side with the Mayor’s philosophies of not paying attention to the level of safety that our families and businesses require, or wish to beat a dead horse (pensions), the field thins.

How do we make San Bernardino a “destination” point for investment and development dollars?

What is the plan for our next great achievement, like Hospitality lane?

Who is going to be the candidate to focus on these (and other) issues that will make a positive impact in our community?

Who can bring a (large) measure of cohesiveness to the dais?

Who will stand above the other 9 candidates?

Each one of us must come up with an answer to those questions AND commit to voting for the “one” who best represents where San Bernardino NEEDS to be. We need a plethora of jobs for our residents, which will only be made possible by demanding a clean, safe community as the foundation.

We can eliminate much of the debt that is going to be restructured through expansion of our economic base, but which candidates are talking about moving the City in this direction?

I’ve only heard a couple NOT mention it. Carey Davis, who is the only mayoral candidate to covet the Mayor’s endorsement, and Matthew Korner.

Both Davis and Korner were two of the handful of candidates that refused to participate in this website’s online interview series.

Mr. Korner also ducked the mayoral candidates forum at Cal State San Bernardino hosted by the San Bernardino Police Officers Association.

These candidates have been silent on the “future” and only wish to keep you looking back.

They are dangerous for our future and should not get your vote.

The crème is beginning to rise to the top.

The next Mayor will start our community down a new path.

But, in order to choose the right direction, he or she will need the support of a council that will not fight new “outside the box” approaches.

We want our leadership to address the issues as they come up, put it to bed and move on to the next one. There will be no room for “grandstanding.”

I agree with the San Bernardino Police Officers’ Association decision in the council races this year, and I hope you will carefully look at these races with the same fine focus as you might for Mayor.

Over in the first ward, Casey Dailey is seeking election against the incumbent.

Virginia Marquez has been lackluster as a councilperson with regard to a number of issues, including your safety. At council meetings, you can always count on Ms. Marquez to seek “clarification” on one issue or another, then follow up with a vote in support of the Mayor and Fred Shorett, as she did with the EDA debacle in March 2011.

Casey Dailey is a young and energetic personality who has years of public policy, city management, finance and urban planning experience.

He believes that City Hall must be reformed by allowing a professional City Manager to be in charge of the day-to-day operations of the City. The City manager will draw direction from the Council. 7 voices, 7 opinions, 7 groups of strength rather than 1. Who thinks we don’t need this?

Addressing the issues of the 3rd Ward, where John Valdivia was sworn into office only 90 days prior to the declaration of “Fiscal Emergency,” I have joined with John on more than one occasion for walks through his ward and have personally witnessed scores of voters who declare their satisfaction with the job Mr. Valdivia has done.

He is focused and accessible, polite and knowledgeable. John has been performing as a stellar replacement to his predecessor. He has made public issue of the concerns of his constituency. He has found large amounts of “missing funds” that had been overlooked by his peers prior to declaring bankruptcy.

John Valdivia is exactly the right person to help pull the council together and lead the City into a bright future.

As a community, we will have to deal with fines, fees and penalties that may be levied upon us as a result of the “shell game” that was played when the State eliminated local EDA’s.

To quote City Attorney Jim Penman, “This nonprofit idea may be one of the more creative ones,” he said, “but even if it isn’t money laundering, it has the appearance of money laundering, and even if it’s not a shell game, it has the appearance of a shell game, and I don’t think the city is going to get away with it.” He was right.

One councilperson disagreed with Mr. Penman’s opinion. Councilman Fred Shorett challenged the voters when he said “…if you can’t trust the people that are going to be appointed to these boards, then you can speak loudly at the ballot box.”

I think we should accept that challenge by electing Anthony Jones, to replace Mr. Shorett in the 4th Ward.

Fred Shorett has been nothing short of a disaster for the 4th Ward and for the safety of the public. He has supported the Mayor’s failed philosophies that drove our city into bankruptcy and is planning to impact your safety even more.

Many of the homes in the 4th ward run along the mountainside from the Highland city limits to Highway 18 and points west of there.

Shorett wants to dismantle your fire protection services in favor of contracting with San Bernardino County fire, which currently has 3 fire stations to protect this Ward. Check it out at sbcfire.org. One Fire Station is located in Devore, one is in Muscoy and the 3rd is down by the 10 freeway. Is that a good plan? Will that help you sleep at night? Will that safeguard your investments?

Most of us are not independently wealthy, and none of us can afford to keep throwing tax dollars away behind decisions that just don’t make sense. Fred Shorett clearly needs to go.

Anthony Jones will step onto the Council dais with fresh ideas and a willingness for consensus. 

He will safeguard his constituents in the 4th Ward and will make decisions that improve the entire City.

Anthony believes in revamping City policies that keep new businesses from establishing a base in our community. He wants to cut wasteful spending on unnecessary ventures and begin to focus on the core. He knows that by partnering with community organizations, such as local colleges and the Chamber of Commerce, better ideas will come forward and great successes will result.  He wants to market local resources that will accelerate growth and bring jobs back.

Anthony Jones believes that keeping our public safety system fully equipped with the necessary manpower and resources needed, will present a strong foundation to our recovery and will bring investment and development dollars into our General Fund.

I strongly support big changes in the 1st and 4th Wards.

It is imperative that Casey Dailey and Anthony Jones be elected to city council.

I feel that John Valdivia’s recall should be soundly defeated in the 3rd Ward.

You can follow Steve Desrochers on Twitter @stweebie