On Friday, December 18, 2020, San Bernardino County Superior Court Judge David Cohn approved a motion by The Red Brennan Group to intervene in a lawsuit targeting Measure K, a local government reform effort passed by voters in the November election. Approved by a “supermajority” of over 66% of county voters the initiative set total compensation for an elected supervisor to $60,000 per year. This figure reflects the median household income of county residents. The measure also limits an elected supervisor to one, four-year term.
Once the election results were certified, the County Board of Supervisors contracted with an outside law firm to sue the County’s own Clerk of the Board. Symbolically, this lawsuit is the Board’s way of suing their own citizens over Measure K. The initial motion requested a Temporary Restraining Order directed at the Clerk that would prohibit any effort to implement the law.
The Office of County Counsel is responsible to defend both the Clerk of the Board and vigorously defend the law on behalf of SBC voters. However, as demonstrated both in court filings and in open court discussion, County Counsel refuses to undertake either responsibility. The result is that an initiative approved by over 66% of county voters would be ignored by the very same elected officials sworn to protect the voters’ interests.
In response, The Red Brennan Group and the Inland Oversight Committee filed motions to intervene in the case. Attorneys for The Red Brennan Group, a local non-profit dedicated to “Big-Hearted Communities and Small Government,” filed a motion to defend the interests of the initiative’s proponent, a local small business owner.
Friday’s hearing started in Judge Cohn’s court and ended in front of Judge Donald Alvarez. Judge Cohn, in accordance with settled law, approved The Red Brennan Group’s motion to intervene. The group’s attorney followed this approval with an immediate request to “paper” Judge Cohn. This is a legal procedure where a party that “…believes that he or she cannot have a fair and impartial trial or hearing before the judge” is allowed to shift the case to a different judge.
After moving to the new venue, Judge Alvarez delayed further rulings on the case and scheduled a hearing for the 28th of January.