By: Ana Corpus, 8/24/2006
The race for sheriff is heating up after allegations swirl that Sheriff Mack Wimbish demoted a longtime employee J.R. Rodriguez for endorsing Wimbish’s opponent for sheriff.
J.R. Rodriguez has worked for the Sheriff’s Department since 1979. Up until Wednesday Rodriguez was the Supervisor of Cal-Met a narcotics enforcement unit. Now he’s learned he’s being transferred.
Monday, Rodriguez along with the Kern County Law Enforcement Association, endorsed Donny Youngblood for Sheriff. Tuesday, Rodriguez says the decision to transfer him was made and Wednesday he was told about it.
Rodriguez told us he’s devastated and said quote “I have obtained legal representation from Silver and Hadden, my attorney is Ken Yuwiler and I’m exploring my legal options.”
Sheriff candidate Donny Youngblood thinks the timing is too much of a coincidence.
Youngblood says, “It’s very surprising that this would occur two days after J.R. stood up with the union.”
Sheriff Mack Wimbish did not speak with Eyewitness News on camera, but over the phone he said J.R. Rodriguez’s move has nothing to do with politics. Sheriff Wimbish would not elaborate on why Rodriguez was transferred. Rodriguez said he was told it was for “career development”. Youngblood doesn’t think the explanation makes sense.
“If this is for career development for a guy that has one or two years left before he retires, it doesn’t make logical sense or common sense” says Youngblood.
Sheriff Wimbish pointed out that former sheriff candidates Chevy Garza and Larry Studer both work for the department and have not been re-assigned duties. Still, there are questions as to the motive behind the move.
Youngblood say, “If it’s political retribution, is it meant to influence other employees not to get involved in the campaign? Is it designed not to get other unions not to get involved in the campaign?”