By Caleb Gasteiger |Staff Writer|
A politically charged billboard, funded by the police unions of San Bernardino, located off Highland Avenue and E Street, raises questions and throws accusations at some San Bernardino politicians.
The billboard was deemed so political that the owner of the building, Tim Mullen, said he had to contact the company who owns the billboard and ask that it be removed.
“I was totally disappointed,” said Mullen to The San Bernardino Sun on the placement of the billboard, “I don’t want any negative political messages on my building.”
The five people who are being called out on the billboard are Mayor Pat Morris and Council members Wendy McCammack, Fred Shorett, Virginia Marquez, Rikke Van Johnson
This billboard comes after a vote bridging a $45.8 million deficit that is currently looming over San Bernardino.
This means that because three quarters from the general fund goes to public safety, benefits were cut for all seven of the employee unions, according to The San Bernardino Sun.
“It’s pretty clear that those folks that are up there are not concerned with public safety,” said union President Steve Turner.
“I think the main part of that determination that made us one of the worst-run cities is the violent crime index … and these are the council persons that have basically not supported public safety,” Turner told The San Bernardino Sun.
When asked if he thought the action taken by the police unions was warranted, CSUSB student Justin Layton said, “Definitely not, especially because it is coming out of the tax payer’s pocket.”
However, when asked what words came to mind when Layton thought of San Bernardino he replied, “Poverty and crime.”
John Williams and Tyrone Brown, two San Bernardino residents who live near the billboard, said they believe, “The money that they wasted on that billboard, they could be giving back to people on that street.”
The billboard is now in a location that is farther down Highland Avenue, closer to Medical Center Drive.
Its new placement makes it more difficult to see and ended up in a less populated area.
In relation to the issue, San Bernardino police denied all responsibility of the sign.
“We didn’t put it up,” said one officer located near the sign’s original location.
Union officials did not agree to have the sign moved and said they believe that City Attorney James F. Penman, who stated at a Monday’s city council meeting that the sign would be moved, is backing McCammack for the next mayoral election.
“As far as I’m concerned, he had something to do with the sign being moved,” said Steve Turner, president of the Police Officers Association.
I don’t have proof of that, I just believe based on the chronology of events, for him to make that comment without talking to us, it’s suspicious,” Turner commented.