City of San Bernardino Bankruptcy

    In 2011 (before the bankruptcy) I wrote this:

    In the run-up to the Iraq war in 2003, factions in the City of San Bernardino wished to debate the merits and demerits of such an invasion.  City Attorney Jim Penman wrote a piece called Why We Try To Keep Partisan Politics Out of City Council Meetings, which to this day is on the City Attorney’s official website.  By partisan, the City Attorney was referring to Republicans and Democrats national politics versus nonpartisan local California offices.

    . . .
    I have been accused by supporters of the City Attorney of being a  secret David L. McKenna supporter, and a staunch Pat Morris supporter and former appointed official felt the need to write to me and say that City Attorney Jim Penman was terrible and had to go.  I think it is a testimony to my neutrality is that both sides think I support the other.  As a local small businessman, I am independent and neutral, because I have to work with all sides in the City, no matter who is in power.

    As the new election season dominates, with the San Bernardino Primary Municipal Election scheduled for November 5, 2013, and another possible election during or after, here is a little about this blog.

    This information is provided as a public service.  There is very little, even in the two local dailies, about San Bernardino politics.  I stay neutral.  I try to treat everyone equally, however, I try to inject some realism.  Some candidates are not going to be elected.  I try not merely aggregate other sources; instead, I try to add value or commentary.  I do not have the time to be in the news gathering business. I am not a journalist.

    As far as contact from candidates, elected officials and campaigns, I do not solicit the contact.  When I am given campaign information, I link to it or publish it. It helps if the campaign or candidate tells me that they want something published, because my legal training makes me hesitant to publish something without being told to do so.

    As to the focus of this blog: it’s called San Bernardino Politics, and I have commented on matters outside of the City of San Bernardino and San Bernardino Unified School District. Since the bankruptcy, I have mostly written on electoral politics rather than day-to-day governance of the City.

    As far as comments, I am not sure anyone has ever commented here.  All comments are moderated. You need to use your real name.

    How (un)popular is this site?  Yesterday, as has been typical of this week, there were 93 page views, 24 phrases being searched, 3 views from Twitter (I have 19 followers), and 4 clicks on links.  I would estimate that there are maybe 35 discrete viewers or so per day right now. Closer to the election, it will probably be double that.

    The record for views was 1881, which is much more than my law blog has ever seen in a day, and it was the day after the November 2012 election.  When I’m not writing new content, there are about 40 views a day of archive materials.

    Last night I was interviewed on Australian radio (ABC) regarding the Detroit bankruptcy.  Here is a link directly to the podcast of  the program, which aired last night California time, but Friday afternoon Australia on RN Drive.  I was interviewed by host Julian Morrow.

    I was interviewed by RAI-TV in Italy regarding the causes of San Bernardino’s bankruptcy, but I never received a link to that broadcast, if it was indeed broadcast.

    Google has a funny way of sending seemingly unrelated searches to this site.  I received two queries today, probably from the same person:

    is california judge derek johnson a democrat or republican 1
    california judge derek johnson republican or democrat

    The reason is because of this post, because people have some kind of primal need to blame the bankruptcy of the City of San Bernardino on one of the national political parties. Of course in the case of the City of San Bernardino, “if you need someone to blame, throw a rock in the air, you’ll hit someone guilty.”

    To blame partisan politics for the comments of an Orange County Superior Court Judge seem silly, as well.  In California, judicial elections are non-partisan, like other local races.  With the Top Two Primary System, arguably everything but presidential primaries are non-partisan, or at least post-partisan.

    There appears to be a need to collectively punish a political party for statements made by one Judge, who has already been publicly admonished by the California Commission on Judicial Performance.  Because California has judicial elections,a contender may run against the judge, and the people will ultimately decide whether the judge is fit for the bench.

    The key problem with partisanship is it is a devolution in to tribalism not different than the petty tit-for-tat found with street gangs or the endless war in Afghanistan.  As I mentioned before, this is what President George Washington had to warn about in his Farewell Address:

     Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party, generally.

    This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but, in those of the popular form, it is seen in its greatest rankness, and is truly their worst enemy.

    The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty.

    Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind, (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight,) the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.

    It serves always to distract the Public Councils, and enfeeble the Public Administration. It agitates the Community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms; kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection

    Hopefully, California can move past a system where your party affiliation means that your vote on issues is automatically in line with the dictates of national interests, and Californians can work together to fix the problems that face all Californians.  Once we heal our state and local governments, we can again serve as a model to the rest of the country.

    Is it too early to handicap the November 2013 City of San Bernardino Municipal Elections?  Considering the bankruptcy and the whispers of disincorporation, perhaps.  But let’s not let that stop a first look, with no handicapping.

    When we last left the City of San Bernardino Municipal Elections in 2012 (because of the General Election for City Clerk), we had Georgeann “Gigi” Hanna winning a four year term as City Clerk, James F. “Jim” Penman winning a seventh term, Wendy McCammack winning a fourth term in the Seventh Ward, Chas Kelley re-elected to the Fifth Ward, Rikke Van Johnson re-elected to the Sixth Ward, and John Valdivia elected to his first term in the Third Ward, as well as David Kennedy re-elected as City Treasurer.
    What positions are open in November 2013 in the City of San Bernardino Primary Municipal Election?


    First Ward Council

    Second Ward Council

    Fourth Ward Council


    As always, there may be a charter amendment initiative consolidated onto the primary election ballot.

    Here is a screenshot of the City of San Bernardino’s website today, advertising training from SBETA, which states, in part,

    Is your organization carrying dead weight?

    These days, you can’t afford to.


    No Photoshop involved, just a screen capture using Adobe Acrobat converting the homepage today as a PDF.

    “ATTENTION SAN BERNARDINO RESIDENTS IMPORTANT CITY BANKRUPTCY INFORMATION” reads the first page of a mailer from the San Bernardino Police Officers Association and the San Bernardino City Professional Firefighters.

    Read  more here.