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Drama over city hall renovation project continues

Barbara Whitehorn, the former finance director of the city of San Bernardino is alleging she was fired by the city manager after raising concerns about the potential cost to renovate the old city hall building.

Whitehorn addressed councilmembers during the public comment portion of the May 15th city council meeting. “I am no longer in the employ of the city of San Bernardino.”

She went on to explain that earlier that day, City Manager Charles Montoya had “threatened” her and then terminated her without cause.

Whitehorn alleges that the costs to retrofit the old city hall building have ballooned from $80 million to about $120 million. The building has sat empty since late 2016 after being vacated over concerns that it could collapse during a big earthquake.

Two days after her appearance before the council, the city released a statement in response to Whitehorn’s remarks. The statement also said discussion of the city hall project was postponed from that night’s council agenda because there was not enough time to consider the matter and hear from the public.

“The remodeling of our City Hall is a complicated project with complicated financing, and many details,” said San Bernardino Public Information Officer Jeff Kraus. “Council meeting rules require the adjournment of the meeting by 10:00 pm, and under certain circumstances, by 10:30 pm. It was determined that there was not enough time for the Council and members of the public to view the presentation, hear public comment, ask questions, and fully deliberate the issue in the time remaining.”

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