The Sentinel: Controversy Over Rowe Hiring Political Hit Man With Taxpayer Money

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dawn rove official

San Bernardino County – January 1, 2019

Recently appointed Third District Supervisor Dawn Rowe has stepped into controversy by loading her staff with a core of staff members political operatives who are widely perceived as having a primary function of tending to her election when she runs as the incumbent next year.

Of note is that at least three of her board colleagues and perhaps all four have encouraged and supported her in indulging her political ambition and the utilization of public money in perpetuating her hold on office.

Rowe’s bold use of her authority in office comes a decade after the demise of a former board member, Bill Postmus, who soared to the heights of political power in San Bernardino County, only to come crashing to earth, and was charged with and ultimately convicted of 14 felony counts of political corruption. The case against Postmus, which involved bribery, conspiracy, public conflict of interest and misappropriation of public funds, originated with an investigation which focused upon issues and crimes similar to the specter that has now descended over Rowe involving political patronage and the hiring of friends, supporters, associates and cronies into government positions who then involved themselves in political activity on the public dime.

Amid a multitude of similarities, one distinction between Postmus and Rowe consists of the consideration that Postmus’ misuse of his hiring authority while in the position of an elected official came as a consequence of his having been thrice elected to county office, while Rowe’s wielding of her power of employment is taking place prior to her having faced the Third District’s electorate, as she is progressing toward and gearing up to do just that for the first time in the 2020 election.

One similarity that Rowe has with Postmus in particular is the fashion in which both husbanded favor with the county’s Republican political establishment as a key to fulfilling their own ambition. In the case of Postmus, he was in the 1990s, a founding member, with a handful of others slew of others including Brad Mitzelfelt, Keith Olberg, Tad Honeycutt and Anthony Adams, the High Desert Young Republicans, all of whom were acolytes of then-Republican Assembly and later Republican California Senate Leader Jim Brulte. Rowe, who was elected to the Yucca Valley Town Council in her maiden foray into politics, was mentored by Chad Mayes and Paul Cook, Republicans both who in turn served as mayor of Yucca Valley before they moved into higher political office, to the Assembly in the case of Mayes and both the Assembly and Congress in Cook’s circumstance.

Indeed, it was Rowe’s GOP bona fides that achieved for her the appointment as Third District supervisor in December.

On November 6 of last year, James Ramos, who was elected Third District supervisor in 2012 and reelected to the post in 2016, cruised to victory over San Bernardino City Councilman Henry Nickel in the race for Assembly in California’s 40th District, which includes all or part of Rancho Cucamonga, San Bernardino Highland, Redlands and Loma Linda. Prior to his election to the board of supervisors, Ramos was the elected leader of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians Tribal Council. In defeating the Republican Nickel, he became the first Native American to be elected to the California Assembly. A Democrat, he had expressed his wish to his board colleagues before resigning as supervisor that he wanted his deputy chief of staff, Chris Carrillo, to replace him as Third District supervisor. Of the four remaining board members, however, only one – Josie Gonzales – was a Democrat. The other three – Robert Lovingood, Curt Hagman and Janice Rutherford. Since the 1960s, San Bernardino County has been dominated politically by the Republican Party. Even though the number of registered Democratic voters eclipsed the number of registered Republican voters in San Bernardino County in 2009, for a decade the Party of Lincoln has maintained control in San Bernardino County by virtue of stronger Republican voter turnout and greater Republican success at getting independent, unaligned, and more obscure party voters to support their candidates than the Democrats, such that San Bernardino County remains one of the last bastions of the GOP in the increasingly heavily Democratic Golden State. In 17 of the county’s 24 municipalities, 17 have city or town councils where Republicans outnumber Democrats.

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