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Michael Bononi consulted by Press related to employment dispute with San Bernadino public official

Uffer a no-go in Needles
Hospital's board can't agree on deal
Joe Nelson, Staff Writer Created: 09/13/2010 06:56:13 PM PDT

Former San Bernardino County Administrative Officer Mark Uffer said Monday he will not be working at the Colorado River Medical Center in Needles as its chief executive officer after all.
On Friday, the hospital's board of directors, for a second time, could not reach a majority vote on Uffer's proposed employment contract, voting 3-3, Uffer said.

Uffer said he proposed a month-to-month employment contract at $160 an hour, or $20,500 a month, plus $1,500 a month for additional expenses. The hospital would have been authorized to terminate him on a 24-hour notice.

"I'm not going to work for them. They wanted to look around and see if they could get a cheaper deal. I wish them luck," Uffer said.

Now, Uffer said he's going to focus his attention on his civil lawsuit against the county. He alleges the county fired him in November for cooperating with state and local prosecutors in a corruption probe.

"I'm going to focus all my efforts on exposing their corrupt and unsavory behavior," said Uffer, 57, of Highland.

The first hospital contract Uffer had proposed, which also resulted in a 3-3 vote by the hospital board, called for Uffer to work for minimum wage from Sept. 1 through Nov. 30. Then, Uffer would be paid $29,500 by the hospital in December, $28,500 in January and $26,500 in February. In addition, Uffer would receive on Jan. 1 a $45,000 sign-on incentive.

That proposal came under scrutiny, and Uffer faced allegations of padding his income and benefits.

Michael Bononi, a Los Angeles attorney who specializes in employment contract law, said it appeared as though that contract proposal could be a potential breach of Uffer's contract with the county.

Supervisor Neil Derry said that under Uffer's severance package, any income he received within a year of his termination would be deducted from the money he was receiving from the county.

He questioned Uffer's initial employment proposal to Colorado River Medical Center.

"It was clearly an intent to violate his own contract with us and the taxpayers," Derry said.

Uffer categorically denied those allegations, and said everything he has done has been on the up and up.

He said the county is now requesting information from him about his income from public administration classes he has taught at Cal State San Bernardino for the last two years.

Uffer's employment agreement with the county was bound by ordinance, not contract. It stipulated that his severance compensation "shall be reduced by any salary or benefits earned from other sources by the (County Administrative Officer) during the severance compensation time period."

"It says nothing about me having to report to the county. Nobody from the county has ever asked me if I were working," Uffer said. "I have totally abided by my agreements with the county, and I have not disparaged any of them in public."

County spokesman David Wert said in a statement Monday that Uffer has a legal obligation to reduce the severance money from the county by any new income derived from other employment.

"Mark Uffer has not reported any income to the county since leaving the county's employment," Wert said. "Unfortunately, the county has had to resort to asking for all records of income received by Mark Uffer since leaving the county's employment as part of the discovery process in Mark Uffer's lawsuit against the county, so that his severance can be adjusted accordingly."

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