Rowe, Rowe, Rowe Your Boat…Uh Oh!…Oh No!…It’s Capsizing!

Rowe, Rowe, Rowe Your Boat…Uh Oh!…Oh No!…It’s Capsizing!

The Republican controlled San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors is rowing as fast as it can in an all-out effort to keep wrongly appointed Third District Supervisor Dawn Rowe in office and on the ballot as an incumbent in the coming election.

The Board earned the fury of many constituents when it blatantly violated the Brown Act and appointed Rowe to the position when the Third District seat was vacated by James Ramos subsequent to his election to the State Assembly in November 2018. 

Board supervisors made the appointment with perceived impunity and mistakenly believed any outcry of resistance would burn brightly for a moment before public attention would turn to other things and the passion against Rowe’s appointment would dissipate. From then on, Rowe and her supporters assumed she would be free to enjoy a political future on the Board. She could then run as an incumbent in the coming election, having gleaned the benefits of a full year’s experience on the job, gaining recognition in the community, garnering free media coverage of her actions as supervisor and then, sail to victory at the polls this year. They were fooled. 

Rowe, a Republican was appointed by the Board to replace Ramos, a Democrat, despite his having been elected to the Board in November 2012 with 65 percent of the vote in a largely Democratic district. The way Rowe was appointed was not only a violation of the Brown Act, it clearly thwarted the will of the electorate in San Bernardino County’s Third District. 

A community-based organization, I.E. United, filed suit against San Bernardino County for its action and in September 2019 a Superior Court judge ruled the Board had indeed violated the Brown Act in its appointment of Rowe; and ordered the appointment be rescinded. 

As expected, the county appealed and in the interim, requested the order to remove Rowe from office be stayed. The stay was initially granted; however last week an Appellate Court judge reversed that ruling. Yet, the Board believes it is still in control of this issue. During the next scheduled Board meeting on Tuesday, January 28 it plans to decide whether to rescind Rowe’s appointment or appeal the case to the California Supreme Court. 

The Plaintiffs, I.E. United, not surprisingly see things differently. They believe last week’s ruling means Rowe is no longer a county supervisor and the county no longer has the authority to make the appointment.  That prerogative, I.E. United believes, now falls to the Governor Newsom. 

Under California law San Bernardino County officials had only a 30-day window to make the appointment to replace Ramos and since it has squandered away more than 30 days trying to manipulate and hold on to the seat for Rowe—that authority should now rest with the governor.

San Bernardino County Republicans appear to be following the playbook of the “Joker” in charge at the White House—first manipulate, cheat, do whatever you have to do to get your way and when a legal challenge is filed, do whatever you can to keep the case tied up in the courts while you continue having it your way—stalling for more time until you can figure out your next unscrupulous move.  

Well, San Bernardino is not Washington, D.C. and California is not a “Red” state. While America is changing demographically, San Bernardino has already transitioned. The people of this county are tuned in and ready to advocate for fairness in the electoral process whether at the polls or by proxy appointment and local Republicans see the handwriting on the wall. 

Since the Board and I.E. United are interpreting last week’s Appellate Court ruling through different prisms, the question now seems to be whether the governor will take the ball and act? Will he break the stalemate and move forward with an appointment?  

Meanwhile, taxpayers are being forced to foot the bill for the Board’s political folly. Following in the footsteps of the president these people appear to have no conscience about squandering public money for their own political gains. 

Of course, this is just my opinion. I’m keeping it real.

S.E. Williams

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