This past Thursday Service Employees International Union Local 721 held a news conference and protest in front of the San Bernardino County Government Center in San Bernardino, Calif. Protesters called for the termination of the county’s chief of human resources, Andrew Lamberto, and chief executive officer, Greg Devereaux, saying that the county’s leaders should lead by example and there should be zero tolerance for those that break the law and those that cover up lawlessness.
“Here we are again, telling our leadership how to behave. I have one thing to say . . . Board of Supervisors . . . Do Your Job! Give the employees of San Bernardino County someone they can respect and look up to,” said retired Ontario teacher Judy Jacobs.
Lamberto was arrested in March of this year for soliciting for prostitution an undercover law enforcement officer. Lamberto properly reported the arrest and subsequent conviction to Devereaux. Devereaux, in turn, decided to cover up the information rather than inform the members of the county’s board of supervisors. Lamberto not only serves as human resources director, but also as an executive administrator who acts and speaks on behalf of the board of supervisors.
SEIU Local 721 members spoke out first at the regularly scheduled board of supervisors meeting this past Tuesday. Their complaints fell on deaf ears. At that point, both Lamberto and Devereaux remained employed with the county. Devereaux was forced by the board to issue a public apology but no other discipline for Devereaux was mentioned.
At Thursday’s protest SEIU Local 721 members, along with community leaders and candidates, expressed their outrage at the board’s handling of the situation. “There are so many facets of prostitution that affect families and children–the family and children of those arrested for prostitution and those that solicit.” said Kesha McGee a member of the Inland Congregations United for Change.
“I stand here in horror knowing the actions of the Chief Executive Officer of San Bernardino Greg Devereaux’s decision not to immediately inform the county elected leaders and the citizens of San Bernardino regarding his Human Resource Director Andrew Lamberto’s arrest and guilty plea to agreeing to engage in prostitution. The Human Resource Director should be held to the highest level of conduct, as that person must lead by example. I am tired of our County leaders not acting in the best interest of the residents of San Bernardino County,” McGee concluded.
Paul Chabot, who is running for Congressional District 21, has been a volunteer with the county for 20 years. He sees a wider view of what such corruption means to the county. “We must work on repairing the long damaged reputation of our County in order to elevate our potential and competitive ability with neighboring counties. I call upon the County HR Director to resign. He cannot lead effectively with his recent conviction. That’s not to say he won’t find redemption in another position, but definitely not in his current capacity leading the county HR Department.”
San Bernardino County Public Information Officer David Wert had a different opinion about the purpose of the event, according to a quote in an article in The Sun written by reporter Joe Nelson where he referred to the scandal as “old news.” A local blog, iePolitics.com, outed Lamberto and Devereaux two weeks earlier.
“Today’s event had nothing to do with outrage. It had nothing to do with who might have done something wrong. Today’s protest was strictly about money,” said Wert. “It was strictly about SEIU capitalizing on something to try to get more money from the taxpayers. They were using an unfortunate incident as bargaining leverage.”
Speakers at the rally reminded attendees that when Devereaux was appointed to his position, he promised to end cronyism and corruption in county government. They say his simple public apology was not enough.