Minutes from September 16, 2014 Gary Saenz, SB City Attorney

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Open Board of Directors Meeting

San Bernardino Community College District

114 S. Del Rosa Drive

San Bernardino, CA   92408




Present: Deborah Barmack, Carole Beswick, Tom Brickley, Ann Bryan, Bill Easley, Ron Freemont, Ron Griffin, Dick Hart, Scott Hofferber, Fran Inman, Matthew Isaac, Mark Kaenel, Lowell King, Bill Lemann, John Mirau, Tom Nightingale, Steve PonTell, Bev Powell, Brian Reider, Susan Rice, Paul Shimoff, Steve von Rajcs, Phil Waller and Ray Wolfe.   


Announcements1) On Wednesday, September 17, 2014Assemblyman Freddie Rodriguez will hold an informational workshop and freeway discussion with local elected representatives, Caltrans, SANBAG, CHP and AAA from 10:30a.m. -11:30 a.m. at the Ontario Police Dept. Community Room.  Details are on the IA web site. 2) The Randall Lewis Series will host Celeste Cantu discussing the new Water Bond and the Delta ecosystem on Thursday, September 25, 2014 from 5:30p.m.-6:30p.m. at the CE-Cert building at UCR.  Details are on the IA web site.  3) The meeting on September 23 will be held at the new San Bernardino Court facility on 2nd St.  We will be given a tour of the facility (7:00am-7:30am) and Assoc. Justice Miller will speak with the group (7:30am-8:30am).  More information and parking instruction will be sent to the membership.  4) A reminder that the standing meeting for Executive Committee members with Mayor Davis is Friday, September 19, 2014.  5) A reception celebrating the new School of Public Policy at UCR will be held on October 22, 2014. 6) Susan Rice has accepted the co-chair position on the Education Committee.   


M/S/P:  Minutes from September 9, 2014. 


Paul Shimoff introduces Gary Saenz, City Attorney, City of San Bernardino.


Gary Saenz has been in office since November 2013.  He has stayed true to his campaign promise of changing the culture of the City Attorney’s office away from politicizing issues.  He has made clear to the Mayor, City Council and the public that the City Attorney’s office is not a policy making department.  Their office must provide legal advice in a manner that avoids the appearance that advice is based on political alignment or partisanship so as not to undermine trust with the public and city officials.


The primary concern is the cities bankruptcy filing.  San Bernardino has huge challenges with limited resources. Mediation with confidential results are occurring with major creditors and have been largely successful.  Recently an agreement was reached with CalPERS, one of the city’s largest creditors’.  The bankruptcy has greatly benefited the city in part as all legal action against the city has been stayed, giving it some breathing room to make financial changes. 


New efficiencies and spending cuts have been established and the city has made significant progress.   He hopes that the city emerges from bankruptcy in the spring of 2015.  Further cuts and an approved Plan of Adjustment are needed.


Future changes will occur if Measure Q (city charter reform of section 186) is passed.  

Currently police and firefighter salaries consume nearly two thirds of the city budget due to this charter section.  Section 186 mandates salaries align with the average salaries of 10 similarly sized cities.  These cities however have per capita incomes that do not reflect the economic profile of San Bernardino.  A bankrupt city cannot sustain such levels of compensation. 


A receivership program for the 4-500 re-development properties is being reviewed and will go to a court hearing on October 4, 2014.  The city would be interested in the re-habilitation of single family homes that are brought into code compliance and can then be sold.  If approved the city plans to execute the program in large numbers.


 There are some 20-30 “pot shops” in San Bernardino.  These shops are unwanted and considered a blight on the city. Shutting down a business requires civil enforcement, including protected legal proceedings, and often the police.   The City Attorney has worked diligently and has now successfully enlisted the County District Attorney to assist on cracking down on these illegal shops.  The City of San Bernardino has extremely limited resources but now with the cooperation of the County devoting time, resources and strategies there is real hope for the situation to be remedied.    


There is a new level of communication and combined vision that the Mayor, City Council and the City Attorney share and they are all working together.       


A Q & A period followed.

The meeting adjourned at 8:28 a.m.