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Top candidate for San Bernardino city manager post says no

Councilmember Calvin and ally, council candidate Treasure Ortiz complicit in information leak

Investigation reveals closed session information was leaked and San Bernardino likely to face a multi-million dollar judgement due to their actions that violated the Brown Act and cost City Manager candidate his job in the City of Salinas

An independent investigation commissioned by the City of San Bernardino found that Councilwoman Kimberly Calvin leaked confidential information regarding the city’s search for a new city manager last year to critical allies of hers including now council candidate Treasure Ortiz, (who faces off against long-time and experienced council candidate Jim Penman in the fall election). These leaks disrupted the hiring process and cost the candidate his job.

During its April 17 meeting, the council voted 4-3 to begin censure proceedings against Calvin, who was defeated in March in her bid for a second four-year term. Despite the support of Ortiz and other allies, she was defeated in her primary and is scheduled to leave the office at the end of this year.

The censure of an elected official is a public reprimand that does not include a fine or suspension. Calvin will not be required to leave office before her term expires in December.

The investigation was conducted by JL Group, LLC, a law firm in Laguna Niguel. It found evidence of misconduct by Calvin that included “violations of policy, law and fiduciary duty.”

According to the report findings, Calvin leaked closed-session information regarding Steve Carrigan, who was, at the time, the city manager of Salinas. Carrigan emerged as a top candidate last year to replace Rob Field, who resigned as San Bernardino’s city manager in January 2023.

Carrigan withdrew his name from consideration after his candidacy was made public, but Salinas fired him anyway.

In his lawsuit, Carrigan charges that several San Bernardino officials leaked information about his interest in the city manager’s job who used various forums to make the information broadly available to the public, including social media posts, radio interviews and leaks to selected news sources, to prevent him from being hired.

According to the report, Carrigan, who maintains that those leaks cost him his job in Salinas, is seeking more than $2 million in damages.

“Credible evidence unveiled during the investigation leads to the conclusion that Calvin intentionally divulged closed-session information to numerous individuals such as Ortiz, whom she is known to associate with in public and at her place of work,” the report states. “The individuals did not participate in the closed session meetings and had no right to obtain or distribute the information.”

Calvin was the only council member who declined to participate in the investigation, and the report concluded that her actions “strategically mobilized members of the community against [Carrigan’s] potential employment.”

Calvin did not return calls seeking further comment.

The 18-page report also accuses Treasure Ortiz, a Calvin ally who will face James Penman this November to fill San Bernardino’s seventh ward seat, of helping to leak closed-session information, which has led to legal liability for the city. According to the report, Ortiz was part of an “organized” effort to undercut Carrigan’s selection via social media and a podcast in which she said the top candidate for city manager was “sabotaged“ by a particular council member.

The report’s finding could be a significant setback for a city that went bankrupt in 2012 and is trying to rebuild its downtown, specifically the 47-acre site that used to be home to the Carousel Mall.

San Bernardino is also trying to become more business-friendly. Still, businesses might balk at coming to a city where information from closed-door meetings gets leaked to the public maliciously.

“What council member Calvin did is a black eye on the city,” councilmember Theodore Sanchez said. “The censure, if it happens, will signal that the city does not condone what she did and that a majority of the council does not believe we should do business that way.

“But it will not completely erase the black eye.”

JL Group’s report makes a solid case that Calvin leaked confidential information from closed-door council sessions, Sanchez said.

“We hired a highly skilled investigative team that looked at all of the evidence and concluded that she did it, and I believe they got it right,” Sanchez said. “I came to the same conclusion that our outside investigative team did, that Councilwoman Calvin did what she was accused of doing.

“The details are in the report for anyone who wants to read them.”

While the city has many attributes, San Bernardino is not a good place to do business in many ways, said Alan Stanly, who owns the seven-story Enterprise Building at 320 N. E St.

Stanly bought the downtown building seven years ago for $2 million. He had a deal to buy the Harris Building, a former department store and downtown landmark, but the deal fell apart because the city could not provide enough parking. When the deal fell apart, il Corte Iglais, a Spanish mall conglomerate donated the Harris building to the city.

The Harris Building, which has been vacant for 25 years, is next door to the 47-acre Carousel Mall property, which is vacant.

“They ought to be able to find space for parking,” Stanly said. “We couldn’t resolve that, and I was patching potholes in on my downtown parking structures because my tenants complained, but the city wouldn’t help me.”

Stanly said the city manager job search scandal is unlikely to enhance San Bernardino’s reputation with the business community.

“When I came here, the city had just declared bankruptcy,” Stanly said of the 2012 Chapter 9 filing. “Things are a lot better now. Downtown has a lot of potential, and the city has good resources. It’s also the county seat, and that helps if you’re trying to attract businesses.”

Still, Stanly said there could be some fallout from the JL Group report, which describes a hyper-political selection process filled with backstabbing and chicanery.

“I would hate to see any of this blowback on the current city manager, [Interim/Charles Montoya]. I think he’s doing an excellent job, and I wouldn’t want to see anything bad happen to him.”

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One comment

  1. Correction: We had a deal with the owner of the Harris Building, il Corte Iglais, a Spanish mall conglomerate. We had the building in escrow over 15 months. We backed out because the city could not come through on parking. Thereafter, the owner donated the building to the city.

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