An "alarming sequence of events" surrounding County Assessor Bill Postmus is forcing the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors to hire an outside law firm to look into his possible removal.


Although board members didn't explicitly say Postmus should be ousted, the law firm is expected to present several choices including impeachment or recall. Civil action also could figure into the equation, according to Board of Supervisors Chairman Gary Ovitt.


The board voted to hold a meeting on  March 3 for the law firm to present its findings.


"I see this simply as our reponsibility," said First District Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt, who added that the county charter mandates the board of supervisors address the issue.


According to Ovitt, who presided over the meeting in board chambers on Thursday afternoon, "This alarming sequence of events" led the board to its decision:


• In April of 2008, search warrants were served at the county assessor's office. Several computers were seized by the district attorney's office.


• In June of 2008, Adam Aleman, then the assistant county assessor, was arrested and charged with six felony counts related to destroying public records. After making bail, which was set at $150,000, the 25-year-old Aleman was released. Aleman resigned the next month.


• Also in June of 2008, the San Bernardino County grand jury released an a report that expressed concerns over cronyism and possible misuse of funds in the county assessor's office.


• In July of  2008, the Daily Press reported that Postmus allegedly had used illegal drugs.


• On January 6, Postmus admitted to past substance abuse during public comment period at a Board of Supervisors meeting.


• On January 15, Postmus was arrested and charged with methamphetamine possession and drug paraphernalia possession.


In responding to a public comment made earlier in the meeting, several board members said that they were surprised by Postmus' apparent decline.


"He's changed," said Second District Supervisor Paul Biane, who called Postmus "a friend and colleague." "He's a different man. He's a different politician."


Mitzelfelt, who previously served as Postmus' chief of staff when Postmus was a county supervisor, said, "There was no knowledge" of Postmus' more recent behavior.


Fifth District Supervisor Josie Gonzales called the board's move necessary but "painful, uncomfortable, embarrassing and a bit redundant."


Several people who spoke during the public comment period immediately before the board of supervisors meeting chastised the board for not acting sooner.


"Postmus is only the tip of the iceberg of corruption in San Bernardino County," said Apple Valley resident E.T. Snell, who dressed in a colorful clown costume for the event. "Postmus' political machine has been established over the past decade."


Al Vogler, husband of Hesperia City Councilwoman Rita Vogler, also was critical.


"Your current attempts to rein in Postmus is not laudable," Vogler said. "You could have done it years ago."


Allen Bartleman, a San Bernardino attorney, said that a recall of Postmus would be a more effective path to take than impeachment. Impeachment and removal of an elected official could be contended in court, he said.


But Bartleman was definitely in favor of  removing Postmus as assessor.


"Let's get rid of this embarrassment to the county," Bartleman said.