SAN BERNARDINO —
In the wake of the county corruption scandal, the San Bernardino County
Board of Supervisors last year passed an ethics ordinance, giving the board
power to remove elected county officials guilty of misconduct.
Sheriff Gary Penrod and Assessor Don Williamson promptly filed lawsuits
against the ordinance, racking up $41,000 in legal fees.
On Tuesday, the board agreed to pony up another $25,000 for sheriff's
Penrod and Williamson argue the ordinance keeps them and other elected
officials under the thumb of the Board of Supervisors, when they are
directly accountable to the voters.
"Actually, it's kind of a conflict of interest with the board vs. the DA,
sheriff and assessor because we are state constitutional officers,"
Williamson said, whose office was given $25,000 for its suit. "They don't
have the authority over us as they have for other department heads."
Board Chairman Dennis Hansberger argues that the county charter already
gives the supervisors authority to fire an elected official.
"It is required by the Constitution that constitutional officers are
supervised by the Board of Supervisors," Hansberger said.
The new ordinance would require the board to only fire someone for
"There ought to be a process and there ought to be a cause," Hansberger
said. "We wanted to make sure (a firing) wasn't arbitrary and capricious."