Ex-San Bernardino County supervisor defends spending on projects, disputes funding left for his successor

10:00 PM PST on Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Press-Enterprise

Former San Bernardino County Supervisor Dennis Hansberger's final spending of county funds all went toward needed improvements in the 3rd District, he said Wednesday, a day after his successor stripped those projects of funding.

At his final Board of Supervisors meeting Nov. 18, Hansberger introduced and received board approval to spend about $2.7 million of his district's discretionary funds. Board policy gives each supervisor a certain amount of money per year to spend on projects in his or her district.

Hansberger spent his money on six projects, including landscape improvements at a senior center in Mentone, a new traffic signal in the Big Bear Lake area and an international film festival in Big Bear Lake.

The list included $910,520 to purchase a water company in Cedar Glen -- a project that has been mired for years in state bureaucracy and is needed to jump-start rebuilding after the mountain community was virtually wiped out by the Old Fire of 2003.

"There's nothing in there that's any kind of special favors," Hansberger said. "These are just projects that address various needs in the district."

Some of the funds had accumulated for several years, he said.

At Tuesday's board meeting, Supervisor Neil Derry, who defeated longtime incumbent Hansberger in June after a contentious campaign, claimed that Hansberger had spent the money to keep it out of his hands.

Derry said the projects were worthy but that Hansberger's action had left him with only $800,000 to spend.

Hansberger disputed that amount, saying he had left Derry with $1.9 million.

"He had plenty of money to do the things he wanted to do," Hansberger said.

The former supervisor declined to comment on Derry's reasons for rescinding the funds.

"He's in office now," he said. "He gets to do what he wants to do. The people he needs to answer to are his constituents, not me."

No comments: