Friday, July 31, 2009
Something is not right here. The more the Council tries to look like the "good guys" the more they don't. The Mayor needs to tell the citizens what files were removed, after all they don't belong to her. They belong to us.
The whole bunch of them need to be investigated by the State or the Federal Government. Until then none of this will be resolved. Anyone trust D.A. Ramos. Not me.
Ask for an out of county investigation then throw the whole bunch of them out. Anyone that thinks Berry was terminated because his "leadership" is in question or that "The decision by the council is not intended to reflect on Steve Berry's integrity or skills Ferre said" is fooling themselves Then in the next sentence Mayor Ferre states "The council. however, feels that under the circumstances, it is impossible for Steve to provide the leadership of staff and the city necessary to continue as acting city manager".
Having Steve thrown out of city hall by the cops seems to be a reflection on his integrity to me. So which is it.
This may be small town politics, but it is still politics. Politicians don't do anything unless it in some way benefits them. I would say there are some members of the council that are really worried about what has not been discovered yet.
I believe we have not heard the last out of Steve Berry.
News of Note from Around the Largest County in the Lower 48 StatesFriday, July 31, 2009A Fortunado Publication in conjunction with Countywide News Service10808 Foothill Blvd. Suite 160-446 Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91730
Berry’s Tenure Draws to an End
..... report that the previous day Berry had locked himself and the city information technologies specialist inside City Hall. It was suggested that such a move had been intended as part of an effort to gain inappropriate access to city files.
The above information was a glimpse in to what may be the latest criminal act or attempt by Steve Berry.
If the City Information Technologies Specialist was locked in to City Hall with out his permission or under some sort of threat or duress that is possible Unlawful Detainment or Kidnapping. If the Information Technologies Specialist freely participated in Steve Berry's attempt to gain access to city files for inappropriate purposes then there is a criminal conspiracy of some sort, again dealing with records tampering, or manipulation.
The question now is: Have there been criminal charges made against Steve Berry for this last desperate crime wave against the City of Grand Terrace and all its citizens and possibly the City Information Technologies Specialist? The probability that the County has the ability to do the electronic forensics necessary to discover what Berry and the Information Technologies Specialists were up to is unlikely and thus the FBI and perhaps the NSA need to secure the data hard drives and records to complete a full recovery of the events of the Lock In..
The citizens should have the right to know what was attempted. Just like we are allowed the right to know of Attempted Crimes in other places in the city. Steve Berry should not be protected from the public being informed of his actions or attempted actions.
This blog warned the City Council of their error in not taking his keys away from him weeks ago, and showing him the door when it was clear he was on his way out. Their lack of foresight is frightening, given all the evidence and his own statements of admission of falsification of records and at a minimum allowing a convict to defraud the city with or without his cooperation and participation in that fraud.
This will not be over until Steve Berry is arrested and tried right along side of Tom Schwab his mentor and protector. Steve Berry still holds all the cards, he just lost his job... not his power over City Council Members, and Staff and key residents and business owners in GT. He and Tom Schwab have accumulated a lot of "negotiation" chips, and Berry clearly isn't worried about calling in Debts and Favors in order to "Punish" people he feels have done him wrong.
The problems of the Schwab/Berry era are not over in any way. More is yet to be discovered.
This may not be a problem, but there is a problem of mixed masters. He has a duty to the voters of San Jacinto. This will cause him to be in demand and available to provide those assumed duties to his fullest ability. One has to question if he can effectively serve as the Grand Terrace Finance Director and Acting City Manager of Grand Terrace, and the City Treasurer of San Jacinto and commute between the three hats and two places.
This appointment by the City Council is telling on their judgement and perhaps tells us more about them than the person appointed.
We also have to ask what was the controversy in San Jacinto. What of the GT Controversies overlap with his time employed here in GT. What actions should he have taken but did not and at who's direction.
Tom Schwab's time on the City Computers with the IT Person should be fully investigated and the disks investigated for errased files and a trail for what files he has been viewing in the past 4 months.
Friday, July 31, 2009
A Fortunado Publication in conjunction with Countywide News Service
10808 Foothill Blvd. Suite 160-446 Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91730
Berry’s Tenure Draws to an End
Acting city manager Steve Berry’s tenure with the city of Grand Terrace came to an ignominious conclusion Tuesday night when he was escorted from City Hall by a member of the sheriff’s department while the city council in closed session resolved to terminate him.
That decision was made without the participation of councilman Jim Miller, who in recent weeks was identified as the subject of a complaint advanced by Berry pertaining to votes Miller had made on agendized consent calendar items that ratified check registers which included payments made to the Grand Terrace City News.
The City News is owned by Miller’s wife, Margaret. It was revealed in court documents released earlier this month that Berry’s statements to the district attorney’s office were instrumental in the district attorney’s office’s filing of criminal conflict of interest charges against Jim Miller.
Scores of Grand Terrace residents, many of whom expressed outrage at the district attorney’s action, flooded the council chambers in anticipation of an advertised hearing with regard to the termination of the assistant city manager on that evening’s city council agenda.
Berry, though he had been serving in the capacity of acting city manager for 13 months in the aftermath of former city manager Tom Schwab’s medical leave, was never hired to fill the role of city manager. Rather, he remained, until earlier this week, in the capacity of assistant city manager, albeit one who had been elevated to the role of acting as the city’s top administrator. The city council earlier this year had declared its intention to undertake a statewide recruitment drive to fill the city manager’s slot, and invited both Berry and Schwab to apply after a controversy had broken out about which of the two was best suited to lead city staff. Schwab withdrew as a candidate in late May. Last month, however, after a series of press exposés regarding Berry and his comportment as assistant city manager - including his implication in an alleged embezzlement and his moonlighting for a developer in neighboring Loma Linda - the city council announced that it would no longer consider Berry as a candidate for the post of permanent city manager.
It was in the immediate aftermath of that action that Miller was arrested and charged by the district attorney’s office. In conjunction with that arrest, the district attorney’s office released materials relating to the investigation of Miller, including statements by Berry that he had considered the city’s purchase of ads that ran in the City News to be a conflict of interest implicating Miller and his wife from the first time those ads had been purchased, roughly six months after Margaret Miller had purchased the newspaper in 2006. Moreover, those documents demonstrated that Berry had worked in tandem with city attorney John Harper in raising the issue last year. The documents suggested that Berry was instrumental in kindling the district attorney’s office’s interest in the matter, which was brought to the district attorney’s office’s attention by an “anonymous” and “confidential” informant. That complaint, however, was augmented with supporting materials that originated from Berry’s office.
Subsequent to the filing of the criminal charges against Miller and in reaction to the release of those documents, other information surfaced that suggested the portrait of Miller’s action provided to the district attorney’s office’s investigators was, if not inaccurate, incomplete.
Specifically, it turned out some of those ads which Berry had so vehemently insisted represented a conflict of interest had been purchased on the city’s behalf by Berry himself.
Furthermore, in close-knit Grand Terrace, it was universally recognized that Margaret Miller had purchased the newspaper in 2006 and that her husband was a member of the city council, beginning in 2004. This cast doubt on the veracity of the suggestion contained in the investigative report that city attorney Harper did not know of the circumstance relating to the ads and their relationship to the Millers until August 2008. And in another blow to the case put together against Jim Miller, former city manager Tom Schwab went on record as saying that the city attorney had examined the circumstance early on - in 2006 - and concluded that the city’s purchase of the ads from the City News was kosher.
An examination of the record shows that Miller never made a vote to direct the city to purchase the ads from his wife’s newspaper, but rather had cast votes to approve the city’s check warrants after those purchases were made on the authority of city officials below the rank of the city council. Those votes came on the city council’s various consent calendars. A consent calendar consists of a number of routine housekeeping items pertaining to the city’s operations. All items on the consent calendar are deemed, and certified by city staff and the city attorney, to be “routine and non-controversial.” Thus, questions have emerged about the accountability or lack thereof on the part of the city attorney and city management in allowing the items to have been placed on the consent calendar at all or without some notation of the relationship between Miller and his wife.
Questions of this sort appeared to be weighing heavily upon many of the community’s members who turned up at the July 28 city council meeting. Many wore red, white and blue lapel pins that were meant as a sign of support for Miller and his wife.
Those who spoke before the council that evening sounded two basic themes - defense of or at least an understanding or empathy for Jim Miller’s predicament and a scathing condemnation of Steve Berry.
Cynthia Bidney said she was “concerned for the reputation” of the community in the wake of Berry’s handling of municipal affairs. “Steve Berry is a liability to this city, yourselves and the citizens of Grand Terrace. He has dug up dirt and thrown mud. My experience in dealing with Steve is he his argumentative and caustic.”
He had threatened her and her family, Bidney said, when she had sought to petition the city for redress. And Berry, she said, was capable of political skullduggery that would potentially compromise each member of the city council. “It is obvious Jim Miller was set up,” she said. “What more does he have on each one of you?” She said Berry was “calculating and vindictive. He is a master at dividing our citizens for selfish gain.”
Bernardo Sandoval likened the regime at Grand Terrace City Hall to an Iron Curtain or Third World dictatorship. In such countries, Sandoval said, “You are not allowed to speak freely. The rule of law is used to dictate to people what they can or cannot say, to keep those who are in control in power. Steve Berry, this is not Russia.”
Sandoval continued. “I don’t understand the reports coming in of people afraid to speak, city council members intimated to speak against him. You don’t have to be an attorney to understand the injustice being done here. He is using the rule of law to keep people boxed in to intimidate his foes. Activists are afraid of getting their funding cut off. Our city does not deserve this.”
Patricia Farley told the council, “Whoever asked the DA to prosecute Jim Miller did not have concern for protecting the rights of the citizens in this community. It was purely vindictive. That cannot be tolerated. The people in the district attorney’s office allowed themselves to be part of this.”
Farley continued, chastising the council. “After what you know to be facts, why is Mr. Berry allowed to step into City Hall? You should have had a special meeting to stop him. Decent people will not be willing to serve on the city council when they are framed like this.”
Though the council agenda had indicated the consideration of the assistant city manager’s termination would be held in open session, the council adjourned into a closed session that lasted less than an hour. Miller did not participate in that session. Upon returning to the council dais, Mayor Maryetta Ferré announced the council had reached a consensus. “This decision is not intended to reflect on Steve Berry’s integrity or service,” she said, but added that “it is impossible for Steve to provide the leadership of staff to continue as city manager.”
A vote to that effect was then taken, resulting in a unanimous 4-0 decision that was noteworthy from the standpoint that it included the support of councilwoman Bea Cortes, who hitherto had been an impassioned Berry supporter.
That reversal on Cortes’ part was perhaps explicable in the face of the tremendous outpouring of antipathy toward Berry that evening but also as a consequence of a report that the previous day Berry had locked himself and the city information technologies specialist inside City Hall. It was suggested that such a move had been intended as part of an effort to gain inappropriate access to city files.
The council did not indicate whether that incident had any impact on its decision.
An effort to approach Berry to get his reaction and his version of events was thwarted when, as the city council had yet to announce its decision, Berry was escorted from City Hall by sheriff’s department personnel.
The council also voted, after its vote to terminate Berry, to name city finance director Bernie Simon as his replacement as acting city manager.
Note the report of Crimes and Arrests of City Officials is not on this list for some reason?
VANDALISM (GRAFFITI) FELONY OVER $5,000- 11700 BLOCK MT VERNON AV Grand Terrace PD, CA 7/30/2009 04:46 PM
POSSESSION OF MARIJUANA - 22700 BLOCK BARTON RD Grand Terrace PD, CA 7/27/2009 03:30 PM
VANDALISM LESS THAN $1,000 - 22200 BLOCK DOVE ST Grand Terrace PD, CA 7/27/2009 10:34 AM
MISC NARCOTIC MISD - BARTON RD / I 215 FW S Grand Terrace PD, CA 7/26/2009 12:48 AM
DUI-ALCOHOL, DRUGS (OVER .08%) - DE BERRY ST / MT VERNON AV Grand Terrace PD, CA 7/25/2009 11:17 AM
RESIDENTIAL-UNKNOWN TIME, ATTEMPT - 22400 BLOCK DE SOTO ST Grand Terrace PD, CA 7/24/2009 11:40 AM
COMMERCIAL-DAY, ENTRY BY FORCE - 22700 BLOCK BARTON RD Grand Terrace PD, CA 7/24/2009 11:14 AM
RESIDENTIAL-DAY, ENTRY NO FORCE - 22000 BLOCK RENE LN Grand Terrace PD, CA 7/24/2009 10:50 AM
VANDALISM LESS THAN $1,000 - 11700 BLOCK MT VERNON AV Grand Terrace PD, CA 7/24/2009 09:09 AM
RESIDENTIAL-UNKNOWN TIME, ENTRY NO FORCE - 12400 BLOCK RECHE CANYON RD San Bernardino County Sheriff, CA 7/24/2009 08:17 AM
GRAND THEFT OTHER (FROM BOAT,YARD) - BARTON RD / MT VERNON AV Grand Terrace PD, CA 7/23/2009 04:24 PM
GTA - AUTO - 12000 BLOCK PRESTON ST Grand Terrace PD, CA 7/22/2009 05:39 AM
DISTURBING THE PEACE - BARTON RD / MT VERNON AV Grand Terrace PD, CA 7/21/2009 10:50 PM
ILLEGAL ENTRY TO DWELLING - 22400 BLOCK BARTON RD Grand Terrace PD, CA 7/21/2009 03:30 PM
VANDALISM (GRAFFITI) MISD UNDER $5,000 - 21500 BLOCK MAIN ST Grand Terrace PD, CA 7/21/2009 09:40 AM
RESIDENTIAL-NIGHT, ENTRY NO FORCE - 12400 BLOCK VIVIENDA AV Grand Terrace PD, CA 7/21/2009 07:22 AM
VANDALISM LESS THAN $1,000 - 11700 BLOCK MT VERNON AV Grand Terrace PD, CA 7/20/2009 04:12 PM
FROM BUILDING (OFFICE, SCHOOL) - 22000 BLOCK BARTON RD Grand Terrace PD, CA 7/20/2009 01:18 PM
FRAUD BY FALSE PRETENSE - 12100 BLOCK MT VERNON AV Grand Terrace PD, CA 7/20/2009 12:00 PM
COMMERCIAL-NIGHT, ENTRY BY FORCE - 22400 BLOCK BARTON RD Grand Terrace PD, CA 7/20/2009 03:20 AM
OTHER, YARD, RESIDENCE, ETC - 11200 BLOCK ANDERSON ST Loma Linda PD, CA 7/19/2009 07:14 PM
WEAPON LAWS, FELONY - LA CADENA DR / LITTON AV Grand Terrace PD, CA 7/18/2009 11:00 PM
FRAUD BY FALSE PRETENSE - 22700 BLOCK VAN BUREN ST Grand Terrace PD, CA 7/17/2009 03:51 PM
LOST OR STOLEN PLATE - 22500 BLOCK THRUSH ST Grand Terrace PD, CA 7/17/2009 02:32 PM
RESIDENTIAL-DAY, ENTRY NO FORCE - 12200 BLOCK PASCAL AV Grand Terrace PD, CA 7/17/2009 11:16 AM
PETTY THEFT UNDER $50 - 12600 BLOCK MICHIGAN AV Grand Terrace PD, CA 7/16/2009 09:15 AM
UNDER THE INFLUENCE - 22100 BLOCK NEWPORT AV Grand Terrace PD, CA 7/16/2009 12:31 AM
VANDALISM (GRAFFITI) FELONY OVER $5,000 - 11700 BLOCK MT VERNON AV Grand Terrace PD, CA 7/15/2009 07:50 PM
RESIDENTIAL-DAY, ENTRY BY FORCE - 22000 BLOCK TANAGER ST Grand Terrace PD, CA 7/15/2009 04:48 PM
GRAND THEFT OTHER (FROM BOAT,YARD) - 22700 BLOCK BARTON RD Grand Terrace PD, CA 7/14/2009 12:03 PM
GRAND THEFT OTHER (FROM BOAT,YARD) - 24600 BLOCK STEWART ST Loma Linda PD, CA 7/14/2009 08:50 AM
FRAUD, IDENTITY THEFT - 11700 BLOCK MT VERNON AV Grand Terrace PD, CA 7/13/2009 03:22 PM
BAD CHECK OFFENSE - 22700 BLOCK PALM AV Grand Terrace PD, CA 7/13/2009 12:56 PM
MURDER/HOMICIDE - 22100 BLOCK NEWPORT AVE Grand Terrace PD, CA 7/13/2009 09:06 AM
POSS OF CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE - S RECHE CANYON RD N / E WASHINGTON ST S Grand Terrace PD, CA 7/12/2009 03:27 AM
RESIDENTIAL-UNKNOWN TIME, ENTRY BY FORCE - 12300 BLOCK WHISTLER ST Grand Terrace PD, CA 7/11/2009 11:50 PM
211R/ATT ROBBERY, OTHER ROBBERY - 22600 BLOCK PICO ST Grand Terrace PD, CA 7/11/2009 08:46 PM
VANDALISM LESS THAN $1,000 - 22200 BLOCK MCCLARREN ST Grand Terrace PD, CA 7/11/2009 03:06 PM
DUI-ALCOHOL, DRUGS (MISD) - BARTON RD / PRESTON ST Grand Terrace PD, CA 7/11/2009 11:02 AM
Vandalism 090022694 2700 BLOCK S ERIN WAY San Bernardino PD, CA 7/11/2009 11:01 AM
POSSESSION OF MARIJUANA - PRESTON ST / VICTORIA ST Grand Terrace PD, CA 7/9/2009 08:09 PM
FRAUD, IDENTITY THEFT - 12100 BLOCK MT VERNON AV Grand Terrace PD, CA 7/9/2009 05:00 PM
FRAUD BY FALSE PRETENSE - 22600 BLOCK TANAGER ST Grand Terrace PD, CA 7/8/2009 02:03 PM
ASSAULT-SIMPLE, HANDS, FIST, FEET - 22000 BLOCK BARTON RD Grand Terrace PD, CA 7/7/2009 11:41 PM
At some point the Berry "window tinting scam and falsification of public documents" came to the attention of Tom Schwab. I would guess from a finance department head. Who else would be looking at the records everyday. It would have to be from a past department head. Since it should be public record any head of the finance department would have access to these records unless they were removed by the Sheriff's Office, Mr. Schwab or Mr. Berry. I would surmise that the outgoing department head would relay this information to the new incoming department head. Removed or not the books have to balance. If they were removed what is the explanation for where that money is.
Schwab has this information. What should he do? Knowing the relationship between Mr. Harper and Mr. Schwab is a vital point here. I would say Mr. Schwab contacted Mr. Harper right away. More than likely Harper advised Schwab to report it to the Sheriff's Office, ask for an investigation and then request, as spokesperson for the victim, the people of the City of Grand Terrace, tell them that no action is required. Evidenced as the last sentence of the last page of the Sheriff's report
Here comes one of the missing puzzle pieces. The one person that has been all too quiet on all of this is City Attorney John Harper. No interviews from the press or comments in public. He has never had a problem making comments before. Mr. Harper, as an Officer of the Court, has a fiduciary responsibility to report a crime he has knowledge of to the D.A. regardless of what Schwab did. He also has the same responsibility to report it to the City Council. Mr. Harper, I don't believe, would not report it to the Council. He had to.
I would suggest to the press that they interview former and present Council Members and find out what they knew and when they knew it. Ask the question outright. "Were you being truthful when you denied any knowledge of the Berry investigation? "Would you ask for a State or Federal investigation? I think we all know the answer to the second question. This is why I have a real problem with those that were on the council at the time and at present stating that they knew nothing about the investigation on Berry. It is impossible for them not to. If Harper did not inform them then he should be fired and charges brought against him with the Ca. Bar and the Attorney General for Conspiracy and Obstruction of Justice.
What it appears is that Berry tried to use what he knows about members of the Council and what has transpired in violation of the law with their full knowledge and consent to retain his job. In exchange the Council offered him criminal prosecution. The meeting of like minds.
For one thing, that is public record, the council at one time received the Public Employees Retirement System, either paid for by the city or partly paid for by the City. This was discontinued for some time. For some reason it was re-instated by Berry and Council members Garcia and Cortes were given a 15 year credit into P.E.R.S. by Berry and paid for by the City. Why and how many thousands of dollars did that take. What was Berry promised for this.
Today in Mrs. Miller's paper there were signed letters of support for Mr. and Mrs. Miller. I agree with all of them. What I do not understand is the front page story by Cindy Rhodes reporting the firing of Steve Berry. Here is the quote "Some believe Berry's exit will put an end to the scrutiny and scandal that has dogged the quaint, quiet town of 12,500 people in the last few months". Who is "some" Please name them. I would garner a bet there are "some" that still don't want any "scrutiny". All the more reason to name the "some" and subject them to "some" "scrutiny".
If you open a can labeled "Worms" don't be shocked when the contents are actually "Worms". They got into that can somehow.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
With the DA Ramos under suspicion for collusion and corruption of sorts it may be best to make this a State or Federal Issue.
What was the nature of the Criminal Activity being reported, or was there a coordination effort being orchestrated to get maximum effect when the council man was arrested?
This blog has been a proponent for the Sheriff Department to make available crime reports or the Arrest Logs and the Service Call Logs within the city. This has multiple purposes for an informed citizen is a good citizen. We need to know what crimes are being reported, so we can be better informed neighborhood watchers. We also should keep track on who is being arrested, and the courts allow us the ability to follow up on the case IF it reaches the COURT. Why is this important. Well in dictatorships, arrests are made and used as a means of intimidation even if the person is later released, the intimidation has taken place.
Given the past evidence of manipulation of the Sheriff's Department the Citizens of Grand Terrace should be able to have the Phone Records for all calls from GT and know the crimes reported and arrests made.
The current City Council and their Mantra of High Real Estate Property is only protected by hiding crime reports and arrests is in part the cause of their Persistent Ignorance and the Limitation of Information to citizens that the Schwab/Berry dictatorship took root and festered in the community so long.
PE News on July 29, 2009 3:10 PM
The Grand Terrace City Council on Tuesday fired embattled Acting City Manager Steve Berry and replaced him with the city's finance director.
The 4-0 council vote to fire Berry followed a closed session that lasted more than an hour. Councilman Jim Miller abstained.
Following Tuesday night's closed session, Grand Terrace Mayor Maryetta Ferre read a brief statement, but would not elaborate.
"The decision by the council is not intended to reflect on Steve Berry's integrity or skills," she said. "The council feels, however, that under the current circumstances it is impossible for Steve to provide the leadership of staff and the city necessary to continue as city manager."
The council has been on damage control after recent revelations that the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department investigated allegations in 2002 accusing Berry, then the assistant city manager, of embezzlement and fraud in connection with the tinting of windows at city buildings by a jail work release inmate.
—Darrell R. Santschi dsantschi@PE.com
There are two problems with that: First of all the Job Announcement says one requirement is to have 5 years experience in either the City Manager or Assistant City Manager Position in a City. He has not had that experience or title.
Clearly neither did Tom Schwab or Steve Berry when they were hired by the City Council. In addition, Bernie Simon will have to prove his own integrity as he did work under Schwab and did not wave flags about improper use of funds. He has been a loyal bookkeeper to the City Manager, not a loyal bookkeeper to the Citizens or as a check on the City Management.
Some one should investigate why he came back to GT, for a similar job. The Commute is not an easy one.
The Valley Chronicle - Hemet and San Jacinto,CA,USA There was a contest in San Jacinto for city treasurer. Bernie Simon, who was fired as the city's finance director earlier in the year, ...
Candidates are Bernie Simon, the Grand Terrace finance director, and
Alonso Ledezma, a broker and owner of San Jacinto Realty. The post is largely ceremonial, although during Potts' tenure he sometimes filled in at community events to represent the city.
Simon, 52, left San Jacinto in December after seven years as the city's finance director. He was hired for the same job in Grand Terrace, where he used to work. He has lived in the San Jacinto Valley since 1991.
He sees the treasurer role as to "watch dog the city's investments and make sure we are doing the things that are legal." He said his familiarity with city finances, the government code and investment regulations qualify him for the post.
No, in this case I suggest that the City Manager should be like a Mark Uffer who comes in and takes a full audit and finds flaws in prior practices and procedures and cleans up organizations so they run more efficiently and offer better services to the citizens.
Clearly the Job Announcement was an attempt to Narrow the Applicant Pool to Schwab and Berry. The good thing is people have applied. Let's hope among them is a reformer not a conformer, as we don't need more of the same.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Stephen Wall, Staff Writer
Posted: 07/29/2009 04:12:22 PM PDT
GRAND TERRACE - Steve Berry's eight-year run in city government came to an abrupt end Tuesday night.
The City Council voted 4-0, with Councilman Jim Miller abstaining, to dismiss Berry from the post he held since former City Manager Tom Schwab was hospitalized with a brain injury last summer.
In a subsequent move, the council laid off Berry as assistant city manager, his position before becoming acting city manager. The council eliminated the assistant city manager job from the budget in June for financial reasons.
"I have no regrets," Berry, 46, said Wednesday. "I am very proud of what we accomplished in the last eight years in the city."
Finance Director Bernie Simon was named acting city manager until a permanent city manager is selected in the fall.
"This decision by the council is not intended to reflect on Steve Berry's integrity or skills," according to the motion passed by the council and read by Mayor Maryetta Ferre before the vote.
"The council, however, feels that under the current circumstances, it is impossible for Steve to provide the leadership of staff and the city necessary to continue as acting city manager."
A series of events over the past few months led to Berry's downfall.
He made no secret of his desire to become the permanent city manager, even after Schwab told the council he wanted his job back when he recovered. Many old-timers came out in support of Schwab, who ultimately decided to retire last month.
Berry was also suspected of embezzling city funds in a window-tinting scandal involving a county work release inmate in 2003, according to sheriff's records. The allegations against Berry were covered up by Schwab, who didn't push for criminal charges or discipline Berry because he wanted to save the city embarrassment.
(Blog Notes: Schwab didn’t not push, he said don’t send the case to the DA’s Office and that is Obstruction of a Criminal Investigation and Justice. Schwab’s action involved the Sheriff Investigator and countless others in a cover up after the fact.)
Two weeks ago, council members decided they would not consider Berry for the permanent city manager job.
The next day, district attorney investigators arrested Miller on a felony conflict-of-interest charge. Miller is accused of voting to spend thousands of dollars on advertising with his wife's newspaper.
Berry had a feud with Miller's wife, Margie Miller, who was upset with his decision to stop the city from running legal ads in her publication last year.
Berry wanted the district attorney to accelerate the investigation of Jim Miller, hoping that charges would be filed before the council could take action against him in response to the window-tinting allegations.
"I think that was the last straw," Councilman Walt Stanckiewitz said Wednesday.
Simon, meanwhile, said he is considering applying for the permanent city manager job. The 53-year-old San Jacinto resident is in his second stint with the city. He was finance director from 1994 to 2000, left for the same position with the city of San Jacinto for six years and came back to Grand Terrace in September.
"I think it's a wonderful community," Simon said of Grand Terrace. "I'm willing to do whatever it takes to get us to the next point. The council needs to find a city manager that can bring this community back together."
- email@example.com (909) 386-3916
Residents back embattled councilman
Stephen Wall, Staff Writer
Posted: 07/29/2009 05:29:05 PM PDT
GRAND TERRACE - More than 160 people packed the Council Chamber on Tuesday night to support embattled Councilman Jim Miller.
Miller is accused of voting on $18,000 worth of advertising contracts that benefited a weekly newspaper owned by his wife. He is scheduled to be arraigned Sept. 30 on a felony conflict-of-interest charge.
If convicted, he faces up to three years in prison and could no longer hold public office.
Several residents said they were stunned by Miller's July 15 arrest and vowed to stick with him and his wife, Margie, through trying times.
"We love and respect them and admire their integrity," said resident Frances Carter. "It is tearing their lives apart. It was a mistake and they are willing to make it right."
Jim Miller is an active member of several service clubs that raise money for charity. He also helped victims of a fire that gutted an apartment building on De Berry Street in 2007, said Roy Nix, a former councilman.
"When I heard about the allegations, I was shocked," said longtime resident Terri Lee Robb. "They are the antithesis of everything I know about the man."
Other residents said Miller was targeted by former acting City Manager Steve Berry, who pushed the district attorney to investigate Miller's votes. Berry, who declined to discuss the Miller situation, was removed from his position by the council Tuesday night.
Some criticized the manner in which Miller was arrested at his home and taken to jail.
"He was treated worse than a common criminal," said Gene Carlstrom, who served on the council from 1988 to 1996.
After residents expressed their support, Miller made his first public remarks since his arrest.
"It's been a very difficult time for me and my family," he said. "I am very, very humbled by all of the people that have come out tonight in support of us. I love every one of you."
Miller apologized to the council, city employees, residents and his wife for what happened.
"It's been horrible. I wouldn't wish it on anybody. We will continue to fight. With your support, we hope to (prevail)," he said.
The standing-room-only crowd then erupted in applause and gave Miller a standing ovation, prompting him to flash the thumbs-up sign.
- firstname.lastname@example.org, (909) 386-3916
Just because Schwab was able to get away with under the table deals doesn't it follow reason that the rest of the council should be allow to do the same.
Maybe Berry won't get money to keep his month shut. Wonder if the mayor will give Berry a chair and a private party at the senior center at a cost to the City.
People were too busy being upset with Berry, to see what has been going on for years.
Oh well, it is a start in doing a little cleaning.
We will never hear the truth from the members of council that have been there way too long.
Schwab and Berry ran the City and the three members (Ferre, Cortes, Garcia) of the Council acted as co-conspirators. Bea Cortes could not render a vote to put her out, if she was on fire, without the guidance of Schwab or Berry, evidenced by her abstention on her vote on Berry on the 14TH.
A few years ago Cortes was taken to task for her ineptitude by a citizen of Grand Terrace in an editorial published in the San Bernardino Sun. The author of the scathing article gave Ms. Cortes a parting shot by saying she is 64 years of age. At the next Council meeting Council woman Cortes, instead of answering the charges railed against her, indignantly defended the age charge by stating " I am not 64, I am 58" I remember Councilman Hilkey laughing so hard the tears came to his eyes.
The long time members of the Council have allowed violation after violation of State RDA laws with their full consent and knowledge. Citizens presented evidence across the podium to the council and were ignored or "Duly Noted", and then never addressed.
I hope they have a through vetting of the applicants, their judgment so far has been less than stellar and in more than a few instances it has been border line, if not over the line, of bribery and malfeasance.
It has been well documented on this site over the years and in the last few weeks. I have watched citizens of Grand Terrace maligned, verbally assaulted by friends of Ferre and the council for doing nothing more than telling the truth. We shall see if any of the Council have learned anything from this ordeal they created with Schwab and Berry. I think not.
The ball now is in Berry's court and I expect him to reply through the courts. Less we forget, Berry has friends in high places by his own admission. His past conduct should indicate that he will call upon these "Friends in High Places" and will act with a vengeance against those who have offended him.
It took APRIL, MAY, JUNE, and Miller's Arrest in JULY to come to this conclusion in Late JULY? Perfect example of Persistent Willful Ignorance or worse amongst the City Council and its Advisor the City Attorney.
Being the Council of the City that was the victim of Steve Berry's alleged crimes do you think they could resolve to file an official complaint to the DA's Office for further investigation and charges? Oh that would take courage, and ethics to protect the citizens of Grand Terrace from criminal activity within the City Hall.
You keeping the heat on "high" I'm sure helped this much-needed firing along.
I am so pleased ...
Thank you for all you have done to bring about this happy conclusion for the citizens of Grand Terrace.
Wow! The city finally grew a couple!
I did not get home until late on Tuesday. I read in your report. Thanks for update. Wonder how selection of new C.M. is going? Not due for report until middle of August as I remember. Also saw mention of McConnel.
As it was said in the Council Chamber, many citizens have risked harassment and ridicule and personal attacks to bring attention to the problems in the City Management, and that effort had been in ignored by the council for either reasons of a pervasive lack of interest, concern, or desire to know the whole truth and just to rely on the Staff Recommendation of the Hour, or worse and evidence supports the conclusion that the City Council is all or in part functioning under the duress of coercion played out by Schwab the Master and Berry his Student.
The "Regular Press" failed to do the investigative reporting needed to serve Grand Terrace, and only the Blogs kept the Citizens Concerns and Discoveries viable and On the Public Record in a access able record.
Thanks to all the folks that contribute to this blog... The work is not done... It is funny how what you say in the city council Meeting when you identify yourself and give your address it is disregarded, but put it on the blog run by GrandPa and it becomes an issue of who is Grandpa... and how dare it be said on the blog... Well, to the Council Members and Critics of the Blog. If you were paying attention at Council Meetings this blog would not have been a community need.
The clean up will be as dirty as the past few months. It can only be done efficiently if done in front of a Judge and not behind closed doors.
The Council has not yet learned the difference between the words "May be Behind Closed Doors" and "Must be Behind Closed Doors". 90 percent of what goes on "Behind Closed Doors" could be or May Be done in the Full View of the Public. It is their choice and their reason for making that choice should be fully investigated and yes removed.
To: Date: Wednesday, July 29, 2009, 8:28 AM
Grand Terrace fires acting city manager
By PE News on July 28, 2009 10:36 PM
The Grand Terrace City Council on Tuesday fired embattled Acting CityManager Steve Berry and replaced him with the city's finance director.
The 4-0 council vote to fire Berry followed a closed session that lasted more than an hour. Councilman Jim Miller abstained.
Following Tuesday night's closed session, Grand Terrace Mayor Maryetta Ferre read a brief statement, but would not elaborate. "The decision by the council is not intended to reflect on Steve Berry's integrity or skills," she said. "The council feels, however, that under the current circumstances it is impossible for Steve to provide the leadership of staff and the city necessary to continue as city manager."The council has been on damage control after recent revelations that the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department investigated allegations in 2002 accusing Berry, then the assistant city manager, of embezzlement and fraud in connection with the tinting of windows at city buildings by a jail work release inmate.
—Darrell R. Santschi http://us.mc331.mail.yahoo.com/mc/compose?to=dsantschi@PE.com
and related charges after the fact.
It is now time for the City Council to Direct the Sheriff Office to review the Embezzlement and Falsification Charges, and any additional charges that would result from the admitted cover up and obstruction of justice by Tom Schwab related to that case. Advance that case to the DA's Office and have appropriate warrants and charges filed against Steve Berry and Tom Schwab and their cohorts.
In addition the actions of Coercion by Steve Berry against Jim Miller should also be evaluated as possible criminal activity and charged appropriately.
Conspiracy or collaboration and collusion within the City Staff or City Council for any of the above crimes should be disclosed and charged appropriately.
A full audit of the Credit Card and Medical Expense accounts should be ordered as an investigation as these lump sum payments may hide additional Embezzlement.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Posted: 07/28/2009 08:58:41 PM PDT
In closed session, the Grand Terrace City Council voted to terminate Steve Berry's employment as acting city manager. The vote was 4-0, with Jim Miller abstaining from the vote for legal reasons.
The council also voted to name city finance director Bernie Simon as the new acting city manager until a permanent one is selected in the fall.
In a read statement, Mayor Maryetta Ferre stated that the council's decision "is not intended to reflect on Steve Berry's integrity or skills."
Citizen Report: Steve Berry was escorted out of city hall by the sheriff.
NOTE: the blog has not made any such representations...
Many other Citizens spoke directly to the person identified for inflating the issue to a criminal charge and arrest as being Acting City Manager Steve Berry and apparently his supporter Council Member Bea Cortes. Recount that Berry threatened to take such an action. We heard public statement that calls to the Sheriff's Department came from City Hall on the day of Miller's Arrest. Clearly the Investigation did not start in earnest until Steve Berry was feeling he was about to lose the job as City Manager, and even possibly Assistant City Manager as a result of the disclosure of the Embezzlement and Falsification of Public Records Case that was disclosed in April of 2009. Years after the event, the cover up persisted until the SBCS printed the story.
So here you have it... One Council Member Set Up, and attempted Corrosion yet the framers are free as birds to this day. As one speaker said, if Jim Miller is guilty each and every person there in the Council is at risk for the very same charges in some way.
Dictators seldom end their rule without a big mess. Here in Grand Terrace we are learning that the Dictatorship of Schwab, and his Mini Me Dictator Berry have proven to provide a BIG MESS, and no doubt there is more to discover.
Here is it once again... The Issues and Comments and Opinions in this blog are those of people who have addressed them in front of the council at one time or another and were dismissed or the issue was allowed to die in the air of the Council Chamber. The Blog acts as a repository for the evidence and support documents of those issues.
Yes, there are further exchanges of ideas on those topics. Your welcome to contribute as well. As a matter of fact the Blog has had Steve Berry as an early contributor, until he was told not to communicate or even READ the Blog.
GrandPaTerrace is the clerk who posts other peoples contributions and the reader and clipper of news related to Grand Terrace.
How does this match an anonymous complaint to the DA's Office... well if an anonymous complaint to the DA's Office works wonders then more of our council and city staff would have been arrested, booked, and hauled into court. The Miller situation is entirely different. A case that could have been resolved by a negotiation and ruling on a point of order was inflated not by an anonymous tip a year a go, but by the actions of Steve Berry and his minions, when it looked like he was not going to be the subject of a Coronation as City Manager.
So Jeff, if there is an open contract with the city... then put in a bid. The suggestion that you get favored for being in GT is a restraint of trade and is exactly the type of question Jim Miller Asked and was not answered in Aug 2008. He asked and was not answered why a contractor was not allowed or considered qualified to bid on the flooring contract at the Senior Housing. The answer was the company was from "High Grove". He dared to press the point and asked to have a clear understanding and legal opinion if this was a proper exclusion of a potential bidder.
Immediately after that challenge of Steve Berry's authority the "City Attorney" wrote a letter to Jim Miller saying there "COULD be A CONFLICT" and with in a few weeks the "Anonymous" report came into the DA's Office. Follow the dots.... Then when it was clear Miller supported not having Steve Berry as City Manager... and all the other information came out on Steve and the Embezzlement Case Pending... as it has not yet been filed by the DA's Office. Berry in PUBLIC threatened the Millers... print that story and I'll have the DA's Office Charge Jim with Conflict of Interest. Enough Dots and you have a straight line...
It is not relevant how or who brought the question of conflict of interest to the DA's Office, it is of importance how the mater was inflated and by who, and who tried to use the case or issue as a means of extorting an action from the Council Member or his wife.
Perhaps you miss the point of the blog. Perhaps you get it now. These issues in the past would have been spoken in the Council Meetings and then swept under the rug never to be resolved or dealt with. There is so much under the rugs in Grand Terrace City Hall, it is a miracle that no one trips on the BUMPS and LUMPS. The slow burn of this blog has been that the issues remain in public view, and the actors find it difficult to exit the stage of their ill play.
Monday, July 27, 2009
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Total Budget: $ 18 million
Eliminated assistant city manager position, eliminated travel and training costs, elimintated city memberships, eliminated the city's medical reimbursement plan, froze stepped pay increases.
Total cuts equaled $600,000
The city did not implement furloughs.
The city's General Fund will borrow about $150,000 from its Redevelopment Agency.
Friday, July 24, 2009
DAY 11 Steve Berry has not Been Charged
for Embezzelment and Falsification of Records,
Consider the Layoff of the Assistant City Manger Pursuant to Rule IX of the Rules and Regulations for the Administration of Personnel Matters in the Interest of Economy as a result of Prior City Council Action Abolishing the Assistant City Manager Position.
Steve Berry's last acceptable way to balance the budget was to eliminate his job and he was at the hope gambling that he'd be hired as City Manager over Tom Schwab... He made this bold offer before the Sun and Press had picked up your coverage of the Embezzlement Story. Well this is the final act in the End of the Position of Assistant City Manager, it has no bearing to the Job Performance of the current Assistant City Manger Steve Berry.
9.) Closed Session:
A. Pursuant to Government Code Section 54957.(b)(1) to Consider the Appointment of Acting City Manager Pursuant to GTMC Section 2.08.030...
Perhaps Berry has taken an extended leave... and they need a replacement for him. They already voted to rid the city of both Schwab and Berry. It is also possible as an attempt to re-instate Berry. If the above passes he can not be the Acting City Manager because an Acting City Manager has to be an employee of the City .... IF the Above is passed he will be no longer an employee.
The Muni Code...
2.08.030 Absence or disability.
The assistant city manager shall serve as manager pro tempore during any temporary absence or disability of the city manager. In the event there is no assistant city manager, the city manager, by filing a written notice with the city clerk, shall designate a qualified city employee to exercise the powers and perform the duties of city manager during his temporary absence or disability. In the event the city manager's absence or disability extends over a two-month period, the city council may, after a two-month period, appoint an acting city manager.
(Ord. 4 § 3, 1978)
A. The city manager shall receive such compensation as the city council from time to time determines.
B. In addition, the city manager shall be reimbursed for all actual and necessary expenses incurred by him in the performance of his official duties.
C. On termination of employment of the city manager by reason of involuntary removal from service other than for wilful misconduct in office, the city manager shall receive cash severance pay in a lump sum equal to one month's pay following his termination date, such pay to be computed at the highest salary received by the city manager during his service with the city. Involuntary removal from service shall include reduction in pay not applicable to all employees of the city.
(Ord. 4 § 4, 1978)
So if the above is passed the City Council could designate the City Clerk as the Acting City Manager as of the effective date of the Termination or Layoff of the Assistant City Manager.
More Review From Readers
The cut and paste from govt code looks like they are simply giving the job the Berry.
Small medical bills EAP, Employee Assistance Program
Large medical reimbursements seem suspect. Should be part of regular payroll. Benefits paid as part of schedule of benefits. Are some employees RDA and RDA is reimbursing city general fund?
The city clerk would be a bad choice I can read in the last pages Leroy Saenz blacked out ss# and phone #. You should ask for redacted information and just hold to the light.
Page 21, $1250 paid for Schwab retirement party to sheriff's dept. It is not accepted practice to use city funds as a gift. Someone can volunteer to organize retirement party and collect a fee.
Never should city funds advance or pay for this.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
IF Tom Schwabs reply was "that's a good way to get fired".
Steve Berry knowingly allowed Jim Miller to be entrapped by a conflict of interest in collusion with Tom Schwab. Until for some reason he needed to strong arm Jim Miller and was in the seat of power.
Looking back at the time, Jim Miller was asking for clarifications on contracts and expenditures that still have not been presented in detail to the Council or the public. Then the ultimate threat to Steve Berry's stay in power and out of jail came and he played his trump card. Threatening the Millers with Conflict of Interest Charges, if they published the story about the Investigation of him on Embezzlement and Falsification of Records.
You can see the same thing starting to happen with Walt. His intro on the City Web Page is all about his Deli. He is taking big medical reimbursements already figured out how to get money out of being a Council Member. Are any of the Credit Card Expences payment for charges for lunch or staff food from Pasta Italia?
Yeah put it on the credit card it won't show up on the voucher where or who was paid. Push it at the council meeting as not documented and get Walt to vote on it and he is trapped.
Thems and Thems that have supported their actions should all face a Full Investigation and Judge.
Check Voucher Approved Monthly Includes Payments to Employer of Bea Cortes.
Check the Voucher Approved Monthly Includes Payments to Water Company that Mayor Ferre's husband is a Board Member of. In addition every home owner in GT has shares or interest in the Water Company. Are any of the Council Members Renters?
Check Voucher Payments for All News Papers along with the Miller's Paper. Were other Vendors used or paid to help cover illegal activity?
Check Voucher Pays for Credit Card Charges that are not Detailed as to the Vendor Paid with the Credit card. Are their any hidden payments to Businesses or Employers of City Workers or City Management or City Council Members?
Check the Contract for the Management of the GT Rental House managed by Terra Loma are the City's interest being maximized by Council Woman Bea Cortes's Employer? Remember this is the house the RDA paid more than the asking price for it after Terra Loma became the negotiator for the owner friend of Tom Schwab then City Manager.
Check the Medical Reimbursement Charges made quarterly to many of the Staff and Council Members. This seems to be an area where costs and payments are increasing particularly for the City Council. Perhaps they should have to release a physical to prove their health prior to the election.
Check the accountability for tools and equipment purchased monthly. Is there a theft problem of city equipment and tools?
Why was the flooring contract for the Senior Center not open to all bidders?
Why were Boy Scouts invited to a Closed Party for the City Council and Friends where alcohol was served, and meal was provided by the Criminal Chefs from Glen Helen Correctional Facility. Was this part of the contract negotiations with the Sheriff's Department? Or a relationship binder between agencies that were party to a criminal cover up?
Then there are Votes for Development Projects for people who contribute to your campaign or favored city activity the Historical Society... or the Party Planners for the City.
Check the Part Time Employment of City Planner with a company the City Then Pays for Services.
Check the money trail and contract or agreement to the sale of Public Property to City Employees, including cars and homes.
These are just a few of the things in City of Grand Terrace that need to be reviewed and are hidden under the rugs of city hall. The investigation may go back as far as 30 years on the web of relationships of Council Members and City Management and the Realtor Old Guard of Grand Terrace.
OH and Check the Case of Embezzlement and Falsification of Records charges against Steve Berry and Write the Documents and get the Indictment. In addition investigate and charge anyone who aided and abetted in the cover up, and squashing of those charges for conspiracy to obstruct justice. Add the charge of extortion to Steve Berry's case as he tried to extort a favorable action by intimidation of a Council Members wife.
These are only a few things the DA's Office should take a strong hard look at. IF not the DA, then the Grand Jury or the FBI or AG 's Office. HELP GRAND TERRACE CLEAN OUT FROM UNDER THE RUG... the house will not smell clean if the stench stays under the rug.
22795 Barton Road
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
The answer is YES... the Real Question is WHEN..... 7 Days Steve Berry has not been charged after complaints were made to DA's Office..
Perhaps the DA is going to charge more than just Steve Berry in the original crime and the cover up... WE CAN HOPE...
Below is a Citizens way of bringing this to the PUBLIC ATTENTION of the Council and Law Enforcement, so they have to at least be seen to have received the information and then not take action on it. That could be stretched to a criminal act after the fact by an aggressive Prosecutor from some legal authority.
The City Council no doubt fears a law suit for early termination. Most employerrs facing a simiular situation would simply give the employee a end of contract termination date and pay him to stay away from work untill that time runs out. They would see that the continued presence of the employee being terminated will be problematic for any number of reasons. However, our City Council may be under the same level of threats that Berry used against the Millers, we don't know that but we have the past behavior to support that logical conclusion.
Many Emails have asked how to get the Steve Berry case advanced to the DA's Office and have it go to the Court of Law? Well it has taken several nights of sleeping on it. The reports you have been sending in by letter and email have not moved an action so perhaps the following will move it along into the courts.
Print a copy of the 25 Pages of the Report by Investigating Officer Det Robert Morris, on the Berry/Schwab Crime and the News Papers which include Schwab's admission that He squashed the Investigation, should have fired Berry and was responsible for not bringing it to the attention of the City Council or the District Attorneys office. Have a Copy and hand it to the Sheriff on Duty, and each Council member, at the Council Meeting and say.
Sir, I am a Citizen of Grand Terrace and I am submitting portions of the Investgator report of Detective Robert Morris on Case No 120201105 where in several apparent crimes were sufficiently documented for advancement for an indictment,. The First Crime is Embezzlement and Falsification of Records. Mr Berry has admitted publicly to the Falsification of Records and at a minimum should be arrested and brought to trial for this.
I here by submit to you Sheriff the request to arrest for the Crimes of Embezzlement and Falsification of Records and Extortion for Steve Berry, and Obstruction of Justice and Conspiracy for Tom Schwab and the Sheriff's Officer Dective Morris. Others may be included with additional investigation.
Steve Berry and Tom Schwab and initiate a full investigation of Sheriff in the organized criminal conspiracy that seems to be rooted in the City Hall of Grand Terrace. The investigation may result in additional charges. However, these above charges should be filed and the Justice due to the Citizens and these men if found "Not Guilty" should *said with a bit of sarcasm) not be delayed.
To the Council. due to the nature of the alligations being directly related to the city's financial managment and operations it would seem that Mr. Berry would not be left in the situation he could commit or be accused of commiting more crimes as his employment winds down.
Why take this action?
As Mr. Schwab has pointed out, the position of Assistant City Manager can be reinstated as easily as it was eliminated.
Since Berry is keeping the job of City Manager until another is hired for the position what guarantee do we have that he won't be given the opportunity to remain as Assistant City Manager under the guise that a new manager will need some assistance. Isn't there something that the citizens could do to get him out NOW before he does more damage.
Who would have suspected Grand Terrace harbored such dark secrets?
A high-ranking official once accused of embezzling city funds?
A boss who swept the matter under the rug, never telling the council?
A councilman voting repeatedly to buy city ads in his wife's newspaper?
The sordid mess all came spilling out of long-secret investigations while the former city manager and his one-time protégé competed bitterly for a job.
Neither will now get the job, and the smoldering wreckage left behind will have to be extinguished by a council rocked by a felony conflict-of-interest charge against one of its members.
Start with the matter of former city manager Tom Schwab, who was sidelined by a health problem in June 2008, and Steve Berry, his ex-protege who took over while Schwab was ill.
As the men battled for the city manager post, someone leaked a November 2002 investigation of alleged embezzlement by Berry while he supervised a work-release inmate.
The inmate, according to the report, was in business with a former Grand Terrace city employee. Berry signed off on time sheets that showed the inmate working when he wasn't.
When a judge sentences an inmate to work instead of jail, he's supposed to actually do the work to pay his debt to society. Berry's work-release inmate had five buddies helping him. I don't think the judge would approve.
If Berry wanted the man to work different hours, all he had to do was inform the Glen Helen Work-Release Program. "They can change the schedule at their own will, but they need to notify us," said Sgt. Larry Jarvis, who trains work-release supervisors.
The inmate got a no-bid job to tint the City Hall windows. The investigation says he took tools and supplies the city paid for.
Schwab told me he now wishes he hadn't swept the case under the rug. He should have fired Berry and let the DA prosecute. And he should have informed the council.
I asked prosecutor John Goritz if the case can be revived, since there's no statute of limitations on embezzlement of public funds. He couldn't comment.
The most disturbing thing in the report was that the inmate worked after hours in the city child care center alone with a woman city employee who wasn't told he was a work-release inmate.
The woman told the investigator the man talked all the time and made her nervous.
I looked up his court records. The charge was domestic violence, plea-bargained down to assault.
As for Councilman Jim Miller, accused of voting on $18,000 worth of city advertising in his wife's paper, he didn't return my call.
But he told the DA's investigator he called the city attorney before his wife bought the newspaper and its building, "because I thought there would be a conflict."
The city attorney assured him "as long as it's her sole and separate property there shouldn't be a problem," Miller is quoted as saying.
City Attorney John Harper said Miller never asked him about a conflict of interest; he consulted him only about whether the ban on council members buying real estate in the city barred his wife from a purchase.
I asked Fair Political Practices Commission spokesman Roman Porter and Bob Stern of the Center for Governmental Studies whose responsibility it is to make sure elected officials understand conflict-of-interest laws.
Both said it's the elected official's.
Reach Cassie MacDuff at 951-368-9470 or cmacduff@PE.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Council Member Walt Stanckiewitz
As a small business owner operating La Pasta Italia in Grand Terrace for nearly 20 years, I have always been concerned about the bottom line. This year, 2009, will be a fiscally challenging year for the City. The economy is darkening; revenues are decreasing; and the State is taking one third of our Redevelopment Funds. I will do my best to maintain our focus on what is in the best interest of our residents while striving to maintain a balanced budget and not cut essential services.I welcome your ideas and input. Stop by La Pasta Italia, call me at (909) 430-2245, or email me at Walt@cityofgrandterrace.org regarding issues facing the City of Grand Terrace.
Gramps Suggests that Walt Demand that his City Web Site does not refer to this La Pasta Italia Business. Walt may also want to check on how much business the City has done with Pasta Italia including the payment for Lunches of Steve Berry and Bea Cortes that he may have voted to approve payment or reimbursement for.
Monday, July 20, 2009
So, who should run for City Council. Some one who is a renter, works out of the city or is a stay at home parent, who has a spouse who works outside of Grand Terrace.
Perhaps a concerned reader will advance this apparent conflict of interest to the DA's Office. They have received reports on Steve Berry's Embezzlement and Falsification of Public Document Investigation that was Squashed by Tom Schwab and have not yet taken action.
More on the whine on the wine.
Apparently the Private Grand Terrace 30 Year Gala that had 110 people attending at City Expense was catered by Inmates of Glen Hellen, and service was provided by Boy Scout Troop 40 of Perris. Steve Berry was championed as being a great party planner. Perhaps this is where the Surplus Wine came from that Berry re-purposed some how. (Either he paid for it or Bea Cortes some how had the authority to take back her "Donation" and give or sell it to Steve Berry either transaction is questionable as neither the city or Bea Cortes have a license to sell wine.
Steve Berry involved minors in a party where alcohol was served. This is a violation of the Boy Scout Rules and is questionable use of child labor. It may in some people's view also be an act of contributing to the debasement of the moral character of minors.
There are photographic records of the Gala. It would be of interest to see if any scouts are handling wine or wine glasses full or empty. It would also be of interest to see if the parents of the scouts knew they would be exposed to adults consuming alcohol at an exclusive party. Who were the 110 people who were invited to the costly party that the Citizens of Grand Terrace were excluded from? The arrangements for the catering may also be a violation as the County Sheriff Department Contracts with the City, was this a "Favor" or "Payback"?
Many people have asked the Blog where in the world is Bea Cortes, as many have not been able to contact her and have been told she is out of town...
Berry said he was told to bring up the idea that the news paper adds were a conflict of interest resulted in a subtle threat " that is how you get fired", made by Schwab.
Schwab was the reason that Berry did not bring the matter to the attention to The City Council the Council Man, The News Paper and the Public or the DA's Office. He just went along with the Schwab Decision. Then the City Attorney wrote a letter saying there "Might" be a conflict of interest. Then the Next letter has Berry saying "There IS a Conflict of Interest".
Who appointed him Legal Council or Judge? The DA's office doesn't decide it is a crime either it can only offer an OPINION or Charges, A JUDGE and JURY makes the determination. Berry's statements indicate his continued arrogance and inflated ego.
Schwab saw the writing on the wall. He was now in the situation of having to speak on the record and be held accountable for his actions in Grand Terrace. It is the beginning of a case he nor Berry and possibly the entire City Council can come out unscathed. He hurried up and retired and took hush money not to disclose what he knows.
Now only a Court Order or Judge in a trial can open the Pandora's box of Tom Schwab's memory and account of GT's History. So as painful as a trial will be, it may be the best thing for GT... we need to find the bones and skeletons so we can bury them once and for all.
The Council leaving Berry in the Office until the New Person is Hired is a problem as he can continue to hide evidence or shred it or walk of with who knows what? Neither Steve Berry or Tom Schwab have been Charged or Investigated by the DA's Office for Criminal Activity they have either admitted to or been accused of. WHY IS THIS?
Arraignment date set for GT councilman facing conflict of interest charge
By Stacia Glenn
Posted: 07/20/2009 12:45:28 PM PDT
Grand Terrace Councilman Jim Miller is scheduled to be arraigned on conflict of interest charges Sept. 30.
The 61-year-old councilman - who was placed on administrative leave as the county's real-estate services manager following his July 15 arrest - faces a single count for voting on $18,000 worth of advertising contracts given to his wife's weekly newspaper.
Prosecutor John Goritz said the votes on consent calendar items took place over a two-year span. Miller faces up to three years in state prison if convicted.
He has not commented on the charges.
Note to the reporter:
Read the DA Investigation the Council member Miller has been open and frank about the all the events related to these charges. He has not hidden, or asked any favor or pressured an outcome in relation to this or any city issue.
Schwab who covered up this potential scandal in 2003 said “He wanted to avoid embarrassment to the city. We have never had even a hint of scandal in the history of Grand Terrace. To have our assistant city manager charged with falsifying documents and embezzlement would have embarrassed the city. I basically asked the Sherriff’s Department not to pursue it. I should have fired him, but he seemed genuinely remorseful and pleaded with me for a second chance.” Many employees remembered the incident and the day that Berry groveled for his job. The sobs could even be heard down stairs,” said one employee.Schwab’s admission he made an “error in judgment” in not bringing this incident to the attention of the city council has raised the question why bring it up now. Berry believes It is an attempt to assassinate his character. The battle between Tom Schwab and Steve Berry over the City Manager position has been over since May 26, 2009 when Schwab took a retirement package of $177,000 and was no longer interested in battling with Berry. When asked who would provide this damaging information against Steve Berry? Schwab replied “The list is long and distinguished and I have found Steve severely lacks a sense of ethics and integrity.”
In the Investigators report he added he was motivated by the fact there was an election underway and he did not want to have a scandal to effect that.
Steve Berry’s tenure as acting city manager will end with the close of the city’s recruitment process for a permanent city manager later this year, the Grand Terrace
On a motion by councilman Walt Stanckiewitz, seconded by councilman Jim Miller, the council voted to retain Berry as acting city manager until the recruitment process is completed. Stankiewitz’ motion, however, contained language indicating that it was in the city’s best interest for the recruitment to be conducted only from among “outside candidates,” meaning Berry’s application for the city manager’s spot will not be considered.
The council made its decision during the course of a nearly three-hour closed session that followed the public portion of the July 14 meeting.
Several city residents and business owners weighed in with regard to the advisability of keeping Berry as the city’s top administrator.
Berry has been the center of controversy in Grand Terrace for more than four months.
Hired as assistant city manager in 2001 by then-city manager Tom Schwab, Berry has been serving in the role of acting city manager since when Schwab was felled by a subdural hematoma. Schwab was on medical leave for six months but was brought back in December to serve in a limited capacity as a consultant to the city in the preparation of the 2009-10 budget As Schwab’s health returned, he showed increasing interest in returning to the position of city manager. Berry, however, had found favor, at least temporarily, with three of the council’s members and appeared to be edging Schwab out in the competition to assume the role as the city’s permanent city manager.
A series of press exposés pertaining to Berry’s comportment while in the capacity of assistant city manager were published throughout the late winter and spring. That adverse publicity, however, appearing in the relatively limited venue of the Sentinel, was characterized by Berry as “falling dramatically short of the standards of responsible journalism” and did not appear to be sufficient to sway the three-fifths majority favoring Berry over Schwab. In early June, Schwab was persuaded to retire as a city employee, taking with him a $177,000 retirement bonus in addition to his pension.
Schwab also withdrew as an applicant in the statewide search for candidates the city had initiated as part of a recruitment drive to fill the permanent city manager’s position.
The once cordial relations between the two men had been compromised by that point and on June 30, the San Bernardino Sun, the largest circulating newspaper in the county, reiterated one of the earlier exposés that ran in the Sentinel on May 1, a report pertaining to an alleged embezzlement Berry had engaged in in 2002 in conjunction with John Carranza, a probation department work release inmate who overbilled the city for tools and material used to tint windows at City Hall and who subsequently tinted the windows on Berry’s personal vehicle. The newspaper article was based upon a sheriff’s department report completed in 2003, which indicated that Berry had engaged in embezzlement and the falsification of public documents. The Sun article further featured a sharp exchange of accusations between Berry and Schwab in which Schwab said he should have fired Berry at the time and Berry railed against Schwab for dwelling on a seven year-old issue that he claimed had long before been resolved.
In the aftermath of the Sun article, the Grand Terrace City News, the largest circulating newspaper in Grand Terrace and one that had historically been very supportive of Berry, followed up with an article referencing the alleged embezzlement. That was followed by another article, this time in the Riverside Press Enterprise, which publicized the embezzlement investigation involving Berry.
The city council scheduled a closed session evaluation of Berry’s performance as city manager at the end of its July 14 meeting.
During public comment that night several residents and business operators from Grand Terrace weighed in with their perspectives on the city manager controversy.
Their comments ranged from ones that supported Berry to stern indications that he should either resign or be fired.
Julie Beebe lambasted Berry’s action as “childish” and “inappropriate.” She charged Berry with “bullying” city employees and local businessmen.
“What you should have done is man up to what happened, and take responsibility for poor judgment,” Beebe said. “You do not deserve to work for our fine city.”
Beebe then asked the city council to “please take the right action and rid our city of this unethical individual.”
Joanne Johnson said, “I can only describe my feeling as overwhelming sadness.”
Johnson said that “good intentions go awry” and that the community should endeavor to not make a “snap judgment” and “try to see both or all sides of any situation.”
Dennis Kidd, who is active in the Friends of Blue Mountain, said, “Steve Berry is doing a good job as city manager.” He credited Berry with “contact[ing] the Riverside Land Conservancy on how we can get state or federal funding to buy land. All this turmoil at City Hall is not good.”
Kidd said that as far as the efforts of Friends of Blue Mountain to obtain a park have progressed, there were setbacks when former planning director Gary Koontz departed and the group had to reorientate Berry with regard to their efforts. “If you replace Steve, we will have to start over at square one with a new person,” Kidd said.
Jerry Rivera sounded a somewhat ambiguous note, telling Berry “I think you are a great guy” but then questioning whether he had been loyal to Schwab and, by extension, to the city.
“I don’t want this to turn into a circus,” Rivera said.
Virginia Harford insisted that Berry had been wrongfully maligned. “He didn’t do anything wrong,” she said. “She suggested that the community conduct “a funeral for Steve Berry’s reputation” and that the city then hire him as full time city manager and “put him on probation for a couple of years. There’s not one of you who hasn’t made a mistake in the past,” she said.
Planning Commissioner Doug Wilson was far less charitable in his assessment of Berry.
“Tonight you have a serious task in closed session,” Wilson said. “I urge you to stand up for yourselves and end this tragedy. You deserve better. Every one of you has suffered from the misdeeds of one person. We are the laughing stock of San Bernardino County.”
“What kind of opportunist moonlights, falsifies documents, takes another man’s job and methodically pursues salary increases on one hand, while balancing a budget on termination and reduced services on the other?” Wilson continued. “Grand Terrace businesses operate in fear of retribution. City employees are subject to a similar burden of fear. Why and for how long?”
Wilson went on to say that “Some council members have endured lousy treatment for asking tough questions. Some have had a change of heart. Where innocent faith has been misplaced before, let’s hope the attraction of sound management ethics wins over the temporary sparkle of recreational activities.”
Wilson then appealed to mayor Maryetta Ferré, telling her “You have way too much class, experience and intelligence to put up with this. You are the presiding officer of the city of Grand Terrace. You direct council business, maintain order, enforce rules, execute documents and you can remove dissidents from the council chambers.
“A few months ago the city council and planning commission received ethics training from the city attorney,” Wilson said. “We were told to avoid conflicts of interest and be honest in our dealings. Failure carried a severe penalty. We were told to withdraw from decision making if there was any question of integrity. No payment from other entities while employed by the city. No activities incompatible with our city position.
Common sense like regular hours, getting along with others, credit for our own deeds. No lying, no stealing, no bullying were things we learned in kindergarten.”
Irene Michaelis took exception with Berry’s efforts to shame the local press for having written about his activity.
“The newspapers do not have to take directions from you about what to write,” she said.
She further charged that Berry was protecting some of his friends from code enforcement action.
Jeffrey McConnell said that the evening was turning into “pile on Steve Berry night.”
He praised Berry as an “energetic” public servant who “brings good things to the city.”
In “doing that much you have to step on toes either intentionally or unintentionally,” McConnell said. “You can’t please everybody all the time. In this small community the overlap is intense. There is conflict of interest that abounds. Most of it is unintentional.”
McConnell said that there are “so few doers,”
San Bernardino County Sentinel
Investigators from the San Bernardino County district attorney’s public integrity unit on Wednesday arrested Grand Terrace City Councilman Jim Miller at his home on a warrant issued by Judge Annemarie Pace.
The warrant cited a felony conflict of interest, pursuant to Government Code Section 1090, which prohibits an elected official from participating in a vote in which he or she has a financial interest.
According to deputy district attorney John Goritz, over the last two years councilman Miller repeatedly voted for city expenditures that benefitted the Grand Terrace City News, a newspaper owned and operated, the district attorney’s office alleges, by Miller and his wife.
Miller, an employee in San Bernardino County’s real estate services department, has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of a personnel investigation.
Miller was booked at the Central Detention Center in San Bernardino. He was released Wednesday afternoon after posting bail of $25,000.
The Sentinel has learned that both former city manager Tom Schwab and current acting city manager Steve Berry, when he was formerly serving in the capacity of assistant city manager, had taken out legal ads in the Grand Terrace City News on the city’s behalf beginning in 2006, within nine months after Marge Miller, Jim Miller’s wife, purchased the newspaper along with its sister publications, the Loma Linda City News and the Colton City News.
Prior to Marge Miller’s purchase of those newspapers, the Grand Terrace City News had published legal ads for the city of Grand Terrace. In early 2006, the city of Grand Terrace was using the San Bernardino Sun to publish most of its legal ads. After Marge Miller purchased the Grand Terrace City News, she increased its circulation substantially, elevating it to the most widely distributed newspaper in Grand Terrace.
According to statements made by Schwab, who was then city manager, the decision to publish the city’s legal notices in the Grand Terrace City News was made after a determination that the rates for doing so were less than those for publishing in the Sun.
Miller was notified by Grand Terrace city attorney John Harper in August 2008 that there was a potential legal conflict inherent in his votes that ratified the city’s payments to his wife’s newspaper. The Grand Terrace City News ceased publication of those city legal notices immediately thereafter.
An examination of the wording in Harper’s letter to Miller indicates that there had been no previous recommendation to the councilman from the city attorney’s office with regard to the potential conflict inherent in the sale of the newspaper ads.
The council’s votes with regard to the ratification of the city’s payments to the Grand Terrace City News were made pursuant to the approval of the city’s consent calendar. The consent calendar consists of multiple routine housekeeping items certified by city staff as “noncontroversial” in nature. These multiple issues contained in the consent calendar are not voted on individually, but are listed together and approved in one single vote during the course of each meeting.
Now acting city manager Steve Berry, when interviewed by district attorney’s office investigator Robert Ransdell on April 24 of this year, said that in December 2006, when he was then serving in the capacity of assistant city manager and learned that Schwab was going to reinitiate purchasing ads from the Grand Terrace City News, he “thought it was not a good idea because of the conflict of interest issue.”
Nowhere in the court documents filed in connection with the case against Jim Miller is an explanation of how or why the multiple approvals of the payments to his wife’s newspaper, which the assistant city manager considered to represent a conflict of interest, were presented to the whole city council as “noncontroversial.”
Records show that Berry, along with Schwab and city clerk Brenda Mesa, requested and approved city advertisements that appeared in the Grand Terrace City News.
Ownership and registration documents pertaining to the Grand Terrace City News and its parent organization, City News Group, indicate that Marge Miller is the sole owner of the newspaper and its controlling corporation. Miller made full disclosure of his wife’s ownership of the newspaper on the California Form 700s he and all public officials are required to fill out.
The cost of the ads purchased by the city over a period of less than two years totals $18,000.
On May 8 of this year Jim Miller was interviewed by Ransdell. During the course of that interview, Miller explained that in the same time frame that his wife had purchased the newspaper, she had also purchased a property adjoining Grand Terrace City Hall in which the newspaper office was located. “As a director of the redevelopment agency,” Miller said, “Tom Schwab advised me to contact the city attorney because he was concerned that the sale of the building to my wife could represent a conflict of interest.” All property in Grand Terrace is in a redevelopment project area. “I made a call, to our city attorney [John Harper] because I wanted to know if there would be a conflict of interest with me as a councilman and her having a building there and having a newspaper business in it. The city attorney researched it and came back and said, no, as long as it’s her sole and separate property there shouldn’t be a problem,”
(Reading Caution: Miller is not saying he was the Director of the Revelopment Agency, he is identifying which hat Schwab was wearing when the question was raised about a possible conflict.)
Accordingly, Miller said, “I really didn’t think anything ... about the City News and approving the contracts, or approving the vouchers, or doing anything was a real issue because it was between my wife, the company and the city.”
A letter from acting city manager Steve Berry dated September 11, 2008 contained in the court documents filed in conjunction with Miller’s arrest states “Due to conflict issues related to both the Political Reform Act, and, more significantly, the Government Code Section 1090 contracting prohibition, I have made the decision to cease any advertising in the City News.”
The documents filed by the district attorney’s office with the court give no indication that city attorney Harper was interviewed by investigators in conjunction with the case constructed against Miller.
According to the complaint filed against Miller, he “while a member of the Grand Terrace City Council, knowingly and willingly, [became] financially interested in a contract made by him in his official capacity, and by a body and board of which he was a member.”
San Bernardino County Sentinel
Friday, July 17, 2009
SBC Sentinel Now has a Blogspot... http://sbcsentinel.blogspot.com/2009/05/tom-schwab-throws-in-towel.html
The SBC Sentinel has kindly sent a pdf file of July 17, 2009 issue, if you would like a copy sent via email contact email@example.com or the above blog has a link to the SBCSentinel. We should all be informed about the city and county.
BIG BEAR VALLEY Had the Following:
Grand Terrace city councilman arrested
Posted on 2009 July 16 by BBVM
PDF: Read prosecutors’ news release on the arrest of Grand Terrace Councilman Jim Miller
PDF: Read the criminal complaint against Grand Terrace Councilman Jim Miller
PDF: Read a city letter to Councilman Jim Miller about alleged conflict of interest
PDF: Read court documents in the case against Grand Terrace Councilman Jim Miller
Grand Terrace City Councilman Jim Miller was arrested Wednesday and charged with felony conflict of interest stemming from his votes to place the city’s legal advertisements in his wife’s community newspaper.
His wife, Grand Terrace City News publisher Margie Miller, posted his $25,000 bail and he was released from the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Central Detention Center shortly after 2 p.m.
Jim Miller did not acknowledge reporters’ questions as he left the jail, and his wife declined to comment. Jim Miller did not return a phone message left on his cell phone.
The arrest came just hours after Jim Miller attended a Tuesday night City Council meeting and voted on the fate of embattled Acting City Manager Steve Berry, who was accused by the Sheriff’s Department seven years ago of embezzlement and fraud in connection with the tinting of windows at city buildings by a jail work release inmate.
“How did this perfect little quaint, quiet city turn into a cesspool?” Grand Terrace Councilman Walt Stanckiewitz said by phone Wednesday. “Why is this going on? I’m at the end of my rope with it.”Stanckiewitz said he does not expect the council to press for a resignation from Jim Miller, who has served since 2004 and would face re-election in 2012. “If it is a legal matter, that will need to be resolved” before Jim Miller’s status on the council is addressed, Stanckiewitz said. “I think that’s how our justice system works.”
Prosecutor John Goritz said Jim Miller can keep his council seat while the case against him proceeds.
State law prohibits anyone convicted of conflict of interest charges from holding public office in California. The provision does not apply to those charged but not yet convicted, Goritz said.
Jim Miller faces a prison sentence of 16 months to three years if convicted.
The 61-year-old councilman has been placed on paid administrative leave from his job as a real estate services manager for San Bernardino County, said David Wert, a county spokesman. He said the county did so because the alleged offense is a felony and involves public malfeasance.
Miller will be allowed to return to work if county personnel officials determine the arrest has no connection to his work for the county, Wert said.
The charges stem from payments the city made to the Grand Terrace City News, said Goritz, of the Public Integrity Unit in the San Bernardino County district attorney’s office.
From Oct. 26, 2006, through Aug. 12, 2008, Goritz said, Jim Miller voted to approve routine items on the council’s consent calendar authorizing payments to the newspaper for legal advertising. Goritz said the payments amounted to about $18,000.
Goritz said it is the act of voting on matters that could potentially generate financial benefit, not the dollar amount, that makes the offense a felony.
Margie Miller said last week that Grand Terrace City News was running legal ads for the city when she bought the publication in 2006.
She continued the practice until Berry sent Jim Miller a letter on Sept. 11, 2008, stating that he considered the practice a conflict of interest with Jim Miller serving as a councilman and had ordered city staff members to stop advertising in the newspaper
Margie Miller said her staff was still receiving requests from the city to run ads, but stopped accepting them as soon as she received the letter.
In a statement filed by investigators to support the criminal complaint, Jim Miller was quoted as saying he did not think he had a conflict of interest because he did not own any part of his wife’s business. In a financial disclosure statement filed Sept. 7, 2007, he stated that he owned less than 10 percent of the business’ total worth.
Grand Terrace City Attorney John Harper said Wednesday that Jim Miller had contended until Tuesday that he had no personal interest in the newspaper.
“He said both indirectly and directly to me on many occasions that it is his belief that his wife owns the newspaper and that it is her separate property,” Harper said.
Jim Miller told an investigator during a May 8 interview that “I didn’t think I was doing anything wrong up to that time,” referring to the time when the city informed him of the conflict. He said he had checked with Harper before his wife bought City News to determine if the purchase would pose a problem.
The investigator wrote that Jim Miller told him “the city attorney researched it and he came back and said, ‘No, as long as it’s her sole and separate property there shouldn’t be a problem.’ “
Jim Miller told the investigator the city dealt directly with his wife when doing business with the newspaper, according to the report.
“I really didn’t think anything … about the City News and the approving the contracts, or approving the vouchers, or doing anything was a real issue because it was between my wife, the company and the city,” Jim Miller said, according to the report.
He told the investigator that he had not received conflict of interest training from the city and that he believed someone there would tell him if he was committing a violation. He later told the investigator that he now recognizes the problem.
“I essentially voted on approving payments to my wife’s business,” he told the investigator.
Harper said he did not know until August, a month before the practice was stopped, that Jim Miller was approving payments to his wife’s newspaper for legal advertising.
The city attorney said he wouldn’t have suspected a conflict existed “unless they disclose it to me. In fact, even today I don’t know what the ownership interest is.”
Harper said he was alerted to a potential conflict in August 2008, when Jim Miller referred at a council meeting to “my wife’s newspaper.” ( NOT BERRY BRINGING IT TO HIS ATTENTION)
Harper said he wrote a letter to Jim Miller outlining the legal ramifications of state conflict of interest and political reform laws. He said he did not address the potential City News conflict because he did not have enough facts.
Jim Miller’s arrest came the morning after he and other council members took part in a lengthy closed-door discussion of Acting City Manager Berry’s fate in a performance evaluation that was to include a discussion of allegations against Berry that recently came to light. A recently disclosed sheriff’s report, written in 2003, accused Berry of wrongdoing in connection with the tinting of windows at several city buildings by a county jail work-release inmate.
After the private council session, Jim Miller voted with three other council members to allow Berry to continue as acting city manager until a permanent manager is hired, as early as next month.
The council decided not to consider Berry for the permanent job.
Some say that the leak of a sheriff’s report alleging misconduct by Berry was connected to Berry’s move to end the city’s advertising in the paper. Margie Miller denied that she and her husband had anything to do with making the sheriff’s report about Berry public.
Berry said last week that he received an anonymous letter accusing Margie Miller of leaking the sheriff’s report to the media. (This does not fit the time line of events.)
Stanckiewitz said he believes the complaint to the district attorney about Jim Miller was made by a fellow council member, but he would not say who. He said he believes it was an attempt to discredit Jim Miller before the council could decide Berry’s fate, but came too late. (The only voting to retain Mr. Berry was Bea Cortes)
Staff writers Paul LaRocco and Leslie Parrilla contributed to this report.
Reach Darrell R. Santschi at 951-368-9484 or dsantschi@PE.com
GrandPaTerrace, on July 17th, 2009 at 11:51 Said:
Steve Berry Remains Uncharged Day 3
Many of the readers have informed the DA’s Office of the Felony Embezzlement and Falsification of Public Records Investigation against Grand Terrace City Manager Steve Berry. Read a portion of the report available here. This is only 25 pages of a report that exceeds 100 pages.
The DA’s Office has been informed of the Cover Up and have been requested to Expand the Investigation to include the Cover up and failure to report to the City Council by Staff that were aware of the problem at the time it was being transacted.
THE DA’s OFFICE has not FILED CHARGES against Steve Berry for 2 days after receipt of a complaint. We will keep count on how long it takes to get action on this much greater transgression.
Read the Documents..
You can down load 25 pages of the 150 page Investigation Report about Steve Berry’s Transgressions. Note he has admitted to the events, just not the criminality of the acts.
If the above link stops working, I can email it to you just send a request toGrandTerraceNews@yahoo.com…
NOTE we are not related to Grand Terrace City News… Or the Millers and our first contact with the story was a copy of the SBC Sentinel…