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Kimberly Calvin listens to a staff report at the Wednesday, March 6, 2024, San Bernardino City Council meeting.  (Photo by David Allen, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)
Kimberly Calvin listens to a staff report at the Wednesday, March 6, 2024, San Bernardino City Council meeting. (Photo by David Allen, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

A newly released report blames San Bernardino City Councilmember Kimberly Calvin for leaks stemming from the city manager recruitment process.

The city released the Tuesday night, April 16, in advance of a meeting tonight where the council is expected to discuss whether to censure Calvin.

“The weight of credible evidence unveiled during the investigation leads to the conclusion that Calvin intentionally divulged closed-session information to numerous individuals who she is known to associate with in public and at her place of work,” an of the 18-page report reads in part.

According to the report, prepared by Laguna Niguel-based JL Group LLC, a “preponderance of credible evidence overwhelmingly points to Calvin as the originator of the closed-session leaks,” mostly concerning San Bernardino’s search for a new city manager in late 2023.

Calvin declined to comment on the report on Wednesday afternoon, noting that she would comment at a later date.

A former candidate for city manager, Steve Carrigan, is laying the foundation for legal action against San Bernardino in a claim that city officials leaked his participation in the recruitment process to his former employer, costing him his job.

The newly released report sheds more light on the council’s decision to discuss whether to censure Calvin. A previous report indicated the discussion was prompted by Calvin’s “alleged misconduct involving violations of policy, law and fiduciary duty” but did not get into specifics.

The council is expected to take up the matter during its meeting beginning at 5 p.m. Wednesday. A censure is a public reprimand that does not come with a fine or suspension attached.

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According to the report released Tuesday, the trouble started when the city began searching for someone to replace former City Manager Rob Field, who resigned in January 2023.

According to the report, the City Council interviewed four candidates via Zoom in August.

“However, some council members expressed concerns that (a candidate) seemed ‘coached’ before his second interview, as he addressed previously mentioned shortcomings which were only discussed in a closed session meeting,” the report reads in part.

Despite those concerns, that candidate emerged as the favorite among the council by a 5-3 vote.

But “Councilmember (Ben) Reynoso sensed sabotage when a list of ‘demands’ presented by (a second candidate), including a surprisingly high financial figure, raised concerns even amongst his supporters,” the report reads in part.

The council made job offers to two finalists, with one candidate receiving a higher contract offer.

The candidate who received the higher offer, however, withdrew and cited a leak regarding his candidacy for the job, though the claim could not be substantiated, according to the report.

“Councilmember Calvin conveyed to the (council) that she had spoken to (the top candidate) and attributed his withdrawal to (outside communication), hinting at a possible leak,” the report reads. “She, along with Councilmember (Damon) Alexander, advocated for an investigation, though this particular leak couldn’t be verified.”

The other candidate — apparently former Salinas City Manager Steve Carrigan — was enthusiastic about his job offer and the council voted 5-3 to proceed with him instead, with Calvin, Alexander and Reynoso dissenting, according to the report.

At that point, Calvin’s “proteges” in the community began sharing private information on social media platforms and with news outlets, the report said.

According to the report, Calvin’s alleged decision to use surrogates may have been due to her “involvement in another investigation,” possibly the one that led to a personnel investigation the city released in December. That report looked into allegations that she violated city rules and created an “uncomfortable” work environment at San Bernardino City Hall.

According to the investigation, an Aug. 25 article in another news outlet was “part of an organized effort to impede the selection of (Carrigan)” as city manager.

The report linked Treasure Ortiz, a candidate for the 7th Ward seat in the November election, to that “organized effort” as well, noting she said on an unnamed podcast on Aug. 27 she could “confirm” Carrigan was the city manager candidate the board majority favored but that “there was a far better candidate that was pushed out.”

Someone using an alias — whom the report alleges without explanation is a San Bernardino resident — sent “a demeaning email” to the city of Salinas, Carrigan’s employer at the time, revealing him as a candidate for the San Bernardino city manager position. Someone using the same alias then allegedly posted to a Facebook group “moderated by three people associated with Kim Calvin. Most notable being Witness (Treasure) Ortiz,” the report said, urging San Bernardino residents to attend the council’s Aug. 28 closed session meeting to demand action after the “most qualified candidate had been sabotaged.”

That’s exactly what happened — residents spoke out against the city manager selection process, both at the Aug. 28 meeting and again at the Sept. 6 meeting.

Carrigan withdrew his name from consideration in late September. But the . In November, he filed a claim against the city — traditionally the first step in a process that could lead to a lawsuit — alleging that leaks by San Bernardino City Council members cost him both the Salinas job and another in Pacific Grove. He’s seeking $2.2 million in damages.

Ortiz led the field for the Ward 7 city council seat in the March 5 primary, and this November, will face former city attorney Jim Penman in a runoff.

At a Feb. 7 candidate forum attended by Calvin and Ortiz, according to the city’s investigation, Calvin reportedly spoke about personnel discussions made during closed session, which are supposed to remain private under California’s public meeting law, the .

“I asked that we step back and reevaluate at least four times, in closed session and before the public,” the report quotes Calvin as saying.

She and Ortiz reportedly discussed the first city manager candidate, who had dropped out, the report reads in part.

“He was sabotaged. They went to his job and told him he was an applicant,” the report quotes Ortiz as saying. “He was never even told that he was going to be a candidate.”

On Wednesday afternoon, Ortiz denied the allegations made in the report.

“As I stated to the city investigator that I met with in (December 2023), Councilwoman Calvin has never divulged closed session information to me; which was conveniently left out of the ‘selected released portion’ of this investigation,” Ortiz wrote in an email.

Ortiz wrote that she was “astounded to see that the city has falsified their report and established fake timelines to lie to the community and bring me into this as well as making sure that my name is the only one publicly disclosed.”

At its April 10 meeting, the San Bernardino council voted to refer the leak to the county District Attorney’s Office and the civil grand jury.

Calvin’s time on the council is almost over. She didn’t collect enough signatures in time appear on the March 5 ballot and ran as a write-in candidate. She lost, as did Reynoso and Alexander, in the 5th and 7th wards, respectively.

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