County of San Bernardino Ethics Amendment, Measure S (November 2008)
Measure S was about whether a new county charter amendment (Amendment #39) should be added to the San Bernardino County Charter dealing with an ethics code for staff members of county elected officers.
The question on the ballot:
|MEASURE S: "County Charter Amendment #39 - PROPOSED COUNTY CHARTER AMENDMENT NUMBER THIRTY-NINE TO ESTABLISH A HIGHER STANDARD OF ETHICS FOR STAFF MEMBERS OF COUNTY ELECTED OFFICERS. Shall the Charter of the County of San Bernardino be amended to establish a higher standard of ethics for staff members of County elected officers?"|
- Requires all Board of Supervisors staff members, all elected department heads, and the staff members of elected department heads at the level of assistant department head or its equivalent to undergo the same degree of ethics training required of members of the Board of Supervisors.
- Require staff members of the Board of Supervisors to be employed via contracts approved by a four-fifths majority of the Board of Supervisors.
- Allow the Board of Supervisors to terminate staff members of the Board of Supervisors by a four-fifths vote of the Board of Supervisors.
- Provide for minimum qualifications of Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST) certification for the Undersheriff and being an attorney in good standing with the State Bar of California for the Assistant District Attorney.
- Require the three elected County department heads (Assessor, Treasurer-Tax Collector, and the Auditor/Controller-Recorder, County Clerk) to establish minimum qualifications for their unclassified staff members, who are not represented by an employees’ union and serve at the will of the elected County department head, and require those minimum standards be approved by the Board of Supervisors.
The amendment was proposed after scandal involving staff members in the office of county assessor Bill Postmus. Postmus is currently being investigated by the district attorney. San Bernardino Board of Supervisors Chairman Paul Biane pushed for the proposal after a grand jury investigation led to the arrest of a top aide of Assessor Bill Postmus.
In May 2004, San Bernardino County Grand Jury suggested that there should be public oversight in the hiring of staff members. A majority of Board of Supervisors staff members in 2008 were employed via contracts approved by the Board of Supervisors during public meetings. In August 2007, the San Bernardino County Grand Jury again expressed concern about the qualifications of the assistants to elected department heads.
In June 2008, the San Bernardino County grand jury concluded that Assessor Postmus had filled top positions in the assessor's office with political allies who lacked the necessary experience for the job.
Political corruption issues in the assessor's office, according to the Grand Jury, included:
- Some of the assessor's staff used the county email system during work hours to participate in partisan politics and help organize election campaigns.
- Severance pay given to a departing employee was excessive and highlighted possible abuses of the county's education reimbursement benefit.
- Authorities arrested Assistant Assessor Adam Aleman on six felony charges that included destroying and falsifying evidence in an attempt to mislead the grand jury. Aleman has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
- In July 2008, Postmus left office on a 10-week medical leave. During his leave, reports surfaced alleging that Postmus has abused drugs in the past and has been in rehabilitation at least twice.
- Text of Measure S
- San Bernardino County local ballot measure election results for November 4, 2008
- Report to San Bernardino Board of Supervisors regarding Measure S
- Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
- San Bernardino County Ethics Measure on tomorrow's ballot, November 3, 2008
- Voters to get voice on ethics issue