A San Bernardino Appellate Court judge ruled on Wednesday, Jan. 8, that the appointment of Dawn Rowe by the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors was a violation of the Brown Act, upholding Superior Court Judge Janet Frangie’s September ruling.
The Appellate Court also issued a writ effectively removing Rowe from office for the duration of the county’s appeal.
Rowe is not acting in an official capacity as "out of respect for the court's decision," confirmed to the Redlands Community News, David Wert, San Bernardino County spokesman.
The decision is in response to a lawsuit filed in January 2019 by I.E. United, a political advocacy group spearheaded by Michael Gomez Daly, In the lawsuit, Daly alleges the board broke the law when they appointed Rowe as Supervisor in December 2018.
“We are happy that the courts again have sided with transparency and the rule of law. For too long have we allowed local elected officials to do their work and forget they are accountable to us, their constituents,” said Daly in a press release. “I.E. United is here to continue to fight for an accountable Inland Empire.”
The lawsuit also alleges that the board met privately and held a secret ballot when to reduce the number of applicants from 48 to 13 and eventually five, selecting applicants aligned to the Republican Party.
The ruling could give California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, the opportunity to appoint a supervisor for the Third District.
Rowe’s name appears in the list of five candidates for Third District supervisor race in the March 3 primary election. Rowe is listed as incumbent in the ballot but is not seeking re-election because she was appointed by a Republican-majority board.
Rowe did not respond to request for comments. David Wert, spokesman for the San Bernardino County, said the Court Appeal “has not ruled on the merits of IE United’s case” and instead “it simply lifted the stay on Judge Frangie’s order it had granted in November.”
“The county believes a stay on the order should be in place while the Court of Appeals continues to examine the case, so, at the moment, the county is examining its legal options, including appealing the lifting of the stay to the state Supreme Court,” said Wert.
The county’s goals in this matter are “preserving the right of the people through their County Charter to have locally appointed representation in the event of a vacancy, ensuring representation for the more than 400,000 people who live in the Third District, and ensuring the county’s ability to conduct the public’s business by having a full five-member Board of Supervisors,” continued Wert.
Rowe said her occupation is San Bernardino County Supervisor 3rd District, so does the ballot. Technically, that is false, said I.E. United.