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S.B. County to Release Disputed Reports

Supervisors agree to support issuing details of two inquiries into controversial property purchases, one of which they had withheld.

April 19, 2006|Ashley Powers | Times Staff Writer

In the face of mounting public criticism, San Bernardino County supervisors agreed Tuesday to support releasing a pair of investigatory reports on controversial property purchases -- including one they had recently voted to keep confidential.

Supervisor Paul Biane announced at the board's meeting that he backed releasing the two internal reports, one on a land deal by a supervisor's top aide and another that looked at the county's purchase last year of an Adelanto jail for $31 million.

He said the board would vote on releasing both reports, with the names of lower-level employees redacted, after the district attorney's office closed an investigation into the land deal.

"Everything we do here should be open to the public at some point in time," he said.

Biane's colleagues at the meeting quickly agreed. Board Chairman Bill Postmus, who was absent, issued a statement saying, "The best form of government is open and transparent."

The move marks a reversal for the board, which voted 4 to 1 in January to block the release of the jail report that Supervisor Dennis Hansberger had sought to make public.

The board majority argued that releasing the report, prepared by outside counsel Leonard Gumport, would violate the privacy of employees interviewed and the board's attorney-client privilege.

The investigation, in part, examined whether county lobbyist and former GOP Assemblyman Brett Granlund unduly swayed county officials to buy the private Adelanto jail while he was working for its owner.

County prosecutors this month concluded that although talks to buy the Adelanto jail were questionable, no crime was committed by Granlund or negotiators for former jail owner Terry Moreland and his companies.

Prosecutors are still examining the other report involving a land deal in which Hansberger's top aide, Jim Foster, was accused of using Granlund as an intermediary to purchase surplus county land.

Foster resigned in September, and supervisors recently barred county employees from bidding on surplus land without obtaining a waiver from the board.

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