Councilman Bob Botts closely tied to Developer Partner
Rezoning Scandal : Councilman Bob Botts closely tied to Developer Partner
9/5/13 – .Almost daily, more and more ugly details emerge about the highly controversial Housing Element rezoning issue. In this article we will take a closer look at Developer Jeffrey Burum, who is currently under indictment in the largest bribery scandal ever to hit San Bernardino County. Our focus will also be directed at Councilman Bob Botts and his close ties to a key player in this ongoing saga. So fasten your seat belts as we follow the money and connect the dots.
BENEFICIARY OF REZONING : “DIVERSIFIED PACIFIC OPPORTUNITY FUND”
Benefiting from the Council’s recent rezoning decision is primarily one entity : Rancho Cucamonga developer Diversified Pacific Opportunity Fund , LLC.
Its chairman and founder is Jeffrey S. Burum (source) . The Diversified Pacific Opportunity Fund lists as one of its projects the 800 acre Rancho San Gorgonio project located South of I-10 in Banning.
Within the boundaries of the proposed Rancho San Gorgonio project lies the 60.35 acre parcel that Banning just rezoned to Very High Density Residential – VHDR (view developer brochure). It was supposed to be only 26 acres.
The owner of record of the 60 acre parcel is a “Banning Land Fund, LLC” with an address identical to that of Diversified Pacific Opportunity Fund in Rancho Cucamonga. Even though LLCs doing business in California are required to register with the California Secretary of State, there is no record of a “Banning Land Fund, LLC”.
Some Banning residents have suggested that Diversified Pacific founder Jeff Burum has a “bad reputation”. This, however, may be the understatement of the Century.
Burum is a key figure in San Bernardino County’s largest bribery scandal on record. It involved a fraudulent litigation settlement of $ 102 million, paid by the County of San Bernardino to one of Burum’s many companies, Colonies Partners.
Here is a KCAL 9 news clip – (video begins after a 30 sec. commercial)
In May 2011 Burum was indicted for conspiracy and charged with 9 counts of bribing a public official ( PC Sec. 165) and 15 counts of aiding a legislator to receive a bribe ( PC Sec. 86 ). The full indictment can be found by clicking here. Burum is currently free on $ 500,000 bail, but is restricted from leaving the State and had to surrender his passport. The case is ongoing.
The following video shows Jeffrey Burum ( last of 4) in shackles and handcuffs at his arraignment:
2011 : FEDERAL AGENTS RAID OFFICES OF DIVERSIFIED PACIFIC
In September of 2011 the Rancho Cucamonga offices of Diversified Pacific were raided by FBI and IRS agents. All affidavits in support of the search warrants remain under seal. The raid was connected to Burum’s involvement in both Diversified Pacific and Colonies Partners. Burum’s residence was also searched.
DIVERSIFIED PACIFIC PARTNER RUSS BOGH – A LIFETIME FRIEND OF BOB BOTTS
Beaumont resident Russ Bogh is a former member of the California State Assembly and was a candidate for State Senate in 2010, when he lost to Bill Emmerson. Bogh’s 2010 “Statement of Economic Interest” shows Bogh having an investment in the Diversified Pacific Opportunity Fund, (view Bogh Form 700 snap shot and full doc). Russ Bogh could not be reached for comment.
The Boghs are lifetime family friends of Bob Botts. Russ once stated to this author that Bob Botts used to change his diapers when he was a baby.
Russ endorsed Bob Botts when he ran for Banning City Council, while his father, Allen Bogh, was a member of the 2010 Committee to re-elect Bob Botts along with Russ’ mother, Lynn Bogh-Baldi.
With this said, there can be little doubt that the Boghs and the Botts are “joined at the hip” !
BOB BOTTS AVOIDS VOTING ON THE REZONING ISSUE
It is interesting to note that Councilman Bob Botts did not vote on the rezoning issue. Botts said he had scheduled surgery on his right hand at the time of the critical meeting. However, since the beginning of time, Banning City Council meetings are held on 2nd and 4th Tuesday of each month. Why would Botts schedule his elective surgery on the day of the most controversial vote in years ?
One possible answer would be, that if Botts did not vote on the issue, he would not have to explain his personal ties to the Boghs nor be obligated to point out that Russ was invested in the property that was to be rezoned. After all, the Council did not have a real choice
anyway and Botts’ vote was not needed for the measure to pass. All Botts needed to do was to work behind the scenes and “engineer” the year long delay. Botts is up for re-election next year, so what better way to avoid a political controversy than to not participate in the actual decision ? As the old saying goes : “There are no coincidences in politics”.
REZONING “EMERGENCY” AND A MILLION DOLLAR LOOPHOLE FAVORING THE DEVELOPER
Not since 2007 has Staff found it necessary to address the State mandated Housing Element rezoning. They waited until it turned into an “emergency” that needed to be dealt with immediately. No doubt, the owners benefited immensely, to the tune of an estimated one million dollars in increased property value.
Then, after the rezoning passed a few weeks ago, the Banning Informer broke the story of the City rezoning 60 acres instead of 26 (story). As one would expect, City Staff offers no explanation for the situation, which – if not caught- would have more than doubled the number of apartments allowed. It would have also created additional benefits to the owners worth another one or two million dollars. To close the loophole, a revised resolution will be introduced at the next City Council meeting on September 10 @ 5 PM.
At a very minimum, all this points to gross negligence, i.e. incompetence on the part of City manager Andy Takata and his seemingly clueless staff member, Development Director Zai Abu Bakar. Alternatively, in light of the bribery charges against the developer in San Bernardino, one can’t help but wonder if similar payoffs have since spilled over into Banning.
RED FLAG : BOB BOTTS PRAISES STAFF FOR A JOB WELL DONE
Now that we know that Bob Botts has a personal friendship with a partner in the development, the following video is a dead giveaway that Botts has ulterior motives.
Listen to Botts actually blaming the public for the 7 year delay – and praising staff for a job well done “in a timely fashion”! Who is this guy kidding ? Knowing what side of the fence Botts is on, his pathetic rant actually makes sense :
So here we have a Developer who has been indicted for bribing San Bernardino County officials, yet we are supposed to believe that no bribery ever occurred in Banning. Really???
Come to find out, this Developer’s partner happens to be a lifelong family friend of one of Banning’s dirtiest politicians, Councilman Bob Botts, who – you guessed it – fails to explain this relationship to the public.
Then we have a City Staff that conveniently delays a State mandated rezoning for 7 years, so the Council has a gun to their head and must rezone. That same Staff then creates a multi million dollar loophole in the developers favor, when they rezone 60 acres instead of 26 in such a way, that not even real estate professionals catch it right away.
With all this in mind, is there anyone left who believes that the game is not rigged in Banning ?
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