By Tommy Purvis
Few who have followed the political career of embattled San Bernardino County Board Supervisor Neil Derry could be surprised when he recently went all ethnocentric on Jason Ramos. The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians tribal Chairman is, after all, the first challenger and likely opponent for next year’s re-election in the 3rd District. A press release assault from Derry’s staff called Ramos a “Leona Helmsley-style politician” and demanded that the “casino boss” make his tax records public. Derry also threw in some red meat to his Tea Party supporters and questioned the validity of the campaign due to the Native American status of the candidate.
Not only did the media outreach break a hiatus that Derry began after criminal charges were filed against him last month, it also ignored the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924. The legislation allows Ramos to run for elected office despite his dual citizenship status. It appears that the first term supervisor was to busy to go on a fact finding mission with the two felony charges and the misdemeanor that are hanging over his head for alleged campaign-money laundering. In question is an unreported campaign contribution of $5,000 from the business account of Arnold Stubblefield-Highland Town Shops to the Inland Empire Political Action Committee. It seems the deal was brokered in the back of a non-filled smoke room in a San Bernardino Coco’s restaurant.
It appears the dime was dropped on Derry by former San Bernardino County Assessor and Supervisor Bill Postmus. The shamed politician who also served as the chairman of the Republican Central Committee has been cooperating with investigators from the state Attorney General’s office. Postmus has been charged with multiple felonies for accepting kickbacks, misusing public funds and possession of drugs. Derry campaigned his way into office with the promise of ethics reform and transparency (his page on the county website actually includes a tab labeled “Transparency in Government.”) for the corruption-plagued Board of Supervisors. He even posted receipts from restaurant meals on his website (He appears to like breakfast for dinner.).
Those who cherish the impending demise of Derry can recall the time when he was a member of the San Bernardino City Council and opposed social programs in the Police Department’s Operation Phoenix, or when he was the deciding vote not to fund $10,000 for a crisis hot line for gay and lesbian teens because old white constituents in his ward would not understand, or the hasty decision he made after he became Supervisor to hire hate group organizer Joseph Turner as a special relations guru. The victory will do absolutely nothing to loosen the iron clad grip the San Bernardino County Sheriff Department has on IE politics. The San Bernardino County Safety Employees’ Benefit Association has used a powerful political action committee to fund campaigns for politicians that later become cop blotter fodder.
SEBA-PAC contributed $406,000 of the $712,000 the Derry campaign raised last election. The board of directors has told both Derry and Ramos that the political action committee is split on a decision for next year’s race. Ramos and the union both maintain that the $175,000 donated from the San Manuel Mission Indians to SEBA since 2008 will not play into any decisions. Sure it won’t.