A special meeting of the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors will take place tomorrow, Nov. 21, at the County Government Center in San Bernardino. The meeting is necessary to approve a deal reached by the County and the San Bernardino County Public Attorneys Association (SBCPAA), the union that represents deputy district attorneys and public defenders, before Supervisor-elect Curt Hagman takes office.
The cost to taxpayers of the new agreement is just shy of $4 million. About $2 million of the increase will come from Discretionary General Funding over a three-year period.
Sources say that as soon as the results of General Election were in and showed that Hagman won, the SBCPAA expressed an interest in coming to an agreement before could Hagman take his seat. According to the agenda item, the two sides were unable to reach an agreement after almost a year of negotiations, including mediation with a third party. However, just eight days after the election, they were able to agree on terms of a new contract.
The next regular meeting is scheduled for Dec. 2, 2014, the day after current Supervisor Gary Ovitt officially retires and Supervisor-elect Hagman replaces him. Ovitt and County Executive Officer, Greg Devereaux, supported Hagman’s opponent, Gloria Negrete-McLeod, who was funded mostly by big labor. Hagman had little union support.
Devereaux attempted to undermine Hagman’s campaign by encouraging parties with projects before the Board to support Negrete-McLeod. He also oversees Human Resources, which is responsible for negotiating county collective bargaining agreements.
Negrete-McLeod lost to Hagman by more than four percentage points despite outspending him three-to-one in a heavily Democratic district. Negrete-McLeod is a Democrat while Hagman is chairman of the San Bernardino Republican Party.
Devereaux and SBCPAA have been at odds since 2013 when the Board of Supervisors, at the urging of Devereaux, imposed benefit cuts. SBCPAA contributed heavily to elect Negrete-McLeod, including sending out four hit pieces attacking Hagman’s family, in hopes of gaining a vote in their favor on the Board of Supervisors. Now that the SBCPAA and Devereaux appear to believe they have a common enemy in Hagman, they reached an accord.
Of particular interest is that after the June primary where Deputy District Attorney Grover Merritt attempted to unseat his boss, District Attorney Mike Ramos, the SBCPAA replaced many members of its governing board with Merritt supporters. Merritt received much of his campaign funding from the friends and family of supporters of the Colonies Four—Jeff Burum, Jim Erwin, Paul Biane and Mark Kirk. His campaign consultant was Chris Jones, a consultant used often by county corruption figures, and most recently, by SBCPAA in their attack against Hagman.
Colonies Four corruption figure Mark Kirk served as Ovitt’s chief of staff until an investigation was initiated into his activities surrounding the $102 million Colonies scandal. He then went to work for Devereaux. Kirk was ultimately indicted for a list of felonies, including accepting a bribe for securing Ovitt’s vote for the settlement.
Ovitt’s name appeared throughout the indictment documents but he was one of several key players who was not indicted. Devereaux was also under scrutiny by the District Attorney for a separate matter relating to Colonies Partners Dan Richards and Ray Crebs.
Tomorrow’s meeting takes place at 10 a.m. in the Board’s chambers on the first floor of the County Government Center. There is no indication on the County’s website that the meeting will be broadcast live like regular meetings. The Board of Supervisors is expected to approve the contract.