Since former Chief of Staff Matthew Brown was terminated from the City of San Bernardino on June 1, 2020, more heinous claims against Mayor John Valdivia continue to surface.

Brown, who was retaliated against by Valdivia for declining to provide false written statements and write fake poor work evaluations in the cases involving former City employees Mirna Cisneros and Karen Cervantes – who filed a claim against Valdivia for sexual harassment and hostile work environment, began working as the Mayor’s Chief of Staff in August 2019. 

San Bernardino Mayor John Valdivia (left) speaks with Chief of Staff Matt Brown (right) prior to a meeting of the city council Wednesday evening Feb. 19, 2020 in San Bernardino. (Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

In a new 10-page claim, Brown said he was “stunned” in regard to being asked to falsify written statements and work performance evaluations because he knew the harassment claims made by Cisneros and Cervantes were valid.

When my client made the ethical decision to decline Mayor John Valdivia’s direction to provide false written statements and write fake poor work evaluations to use against Cisneros and Cervantes’ claims, Valdivia further harassed and created a hostile work environment. Valdivia’s harassment included an assortment of screaming, threatening employees with termination, humiliation, and belittling employees in front of other staff and colleagues,

-Attorney Tristian Pelayes

If Brown had agreed to engage in the falsification of statements, poor work evaluations, and documents, he would have been required to testify under oath and perjure himself in a deposition, which would result in violations of federal, state, and local laws.

The claim states that Valdivia was verbally abusive and generated a hostile work environment for all of his support staff, which was said to have impacted employees’ physical and mental health. 

Other findings in the claim state Valdivia required his support staff to work on projects focused on the re-election of his inner council circle, which included Juan Figueroa and Bessine Richard. Valdivia told support staff to use their vacation time to work on the candidates’ campaigns that he was endorsing.

When Brown initiated a conversation with Valdivia over the poor use of the support staff’s time and how he was uncomfortable with the assigned re-election campaign projects, Valdivia further retaliated. 

In June 2020, the City of San Bernardino eliminated a $10.3 million budget deficit, along with eliminating Brown’s chief of staff position, which was communicated to the public as a budget cut in response to COVID-19.

Based on Valdivia’s retaliatory history against staff who do not support his personal agendas, inappropriate conduct, and illegal activity, it is clear that Brown was yet another victim of this.

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