Gilbert Mayor Steve Berman has been in the center of various controversies:
DONATED TRUCK: Last month, Berman accepted two years’ use of a Ford pickup truck donated by the San Tan Ford dealership in Gilbert. Critics see it as potential conflict of interest and unethical. Berman views it as a savings to taxpayers, who would otherwise be footing the bill for a town-paid vehicle.
IMMIGRATION: Berman has staunchly supported a proposed policy to turn over all illegal immigrants caught violating the law in Gilbert to federal authorities for deportation. Immigration activists have been highly critical of the mayor’s views. Berman initially reached out to activists but last month said he was done talking with them because they “burned” him.
COUNTY ISLAND FIRE SERVICE: The mayor has been the No. 1 defender of the town’s policy of not responding to fires and emergencies on county islands in the Gilbert area. Berman and the town have been characterized as heartless. Berman has said it’s a matter of liability concerns and not spending taxpayer dollars for non-residents.
ACTIVIST REFERENDUMS: Two key members of an East Valley activist group, Valley Business Owners (and Concerned Citizens), have recently filed referendum efforts to overturn annexations in Gilbert, zoning for a shopping center, and an incentive agreement to reimburse a developer the cost of building roads. Last year, a referendum effort targeted a water ordinance. The group has also been critical of the mayor’s campaign support from developers.
PRISON PICTURE: A picture of Berman in prison stripes was distributed at last year’s Constitution Fair in a campaign to repeal an ordinance against wasting water. Steve Johnson and a few other members of the Legislative District 22 Republican Party came up with the flier.
RATINGS: Results of a Heads of Households survey released in January showed that of 600 respondents, only nine said they did not agree with the decisions of the mayor.
MONKEY BUSINESS: A Web site poking fun at the mayor and Town Council became a sounding board last fall for residents and county islanders venting their political frustrations. The site, goodbyeberman.com,was set up by the wife of Steve Johnson, first vice chairman of the District 22 Republican Party. Berman has called the site “childish.”
Johnson e-mail excerpt
“Imagine the Mayor of Gilbert’s house was on fire. Imagine all of Gilbert’s firemen were off duty or on-strike. Imagine the Mesa fire department showing up and deciding to just stand and watch it burn. Imagine how red-faced and angry the Mayor would be. He would be righteously angry, wouldn’t he? Do unto others, Mr. Mayor. This is the results of the greedy, arrogant and imperialistic policies of Mayor Steven Berman ...”
Berman e-mail excerpt
“Don’t puff up and threaten me behind my back like you do so often, take me on, BE A MAN. Who am I kidding? Steve Johnson, you have never achieved anything of significance in life, you are a loser, just like your mother said you were going to be, content to hide in the shadows of politics, crawl out when someone’s back is turned, throw a rock, and then retreat.”