Five before Midnight

This site is dedicated to the continuous oversight of the Riverside(CA)Police Department, which was formerly overseen by the state attorney general. This blog will hopefully play that role being free of City Hall's micromanagement.
"The horror of that moment," the King went on, "I shall never, never forget." "You will though," the Queen said, "if you don't make a memorandum of it." --Lewis Carroll

Contact: fivebeforemidnight@yahoo.com

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Location: RiverCity, Inland Empire

Saturday, September 23, 2006

The lips are moving

How quickly they forget.

The promises of yesterday have become the memory slips of today. It appears that the elected officials in Riverside have already forgotten their promises to remain committed to the continued reform of the Riverside Police Department. Maybe they forgot what these promises entailed the day after they had voted 7-0, to keep them.

If a collective lapse of memory is truly what is involved in this situation, then never fear. Here is a written record of which elected official made which promise at that workshop. After all, each city council meeting is recorded with both audio and visual equipment by the city. CDs of the meeting can be "burned" and purchased, and then be put in written form. Thank goodness for technology! You can access your own CD copy of the March 28 workshop(item #8) at the city clerk's office at Riverside City Hall for under $2.00.

Call this a refresher course.

The meeting opened with comments from former AG consultant Joe Brann on how much progress the police department had made during the five years it spent under the stipulated judgment. Then elected official after elected official spoke up praising the department but also themselves and their leadership as the "new council" which was of course, so much better than the preceding ones.

They once again offered the department and its police chief, Russ Leach the moon.

Councilman Frank Schiavone said,

"I think the chief knows this is a new council and it's "ask and you shall receive"; there is nothing that the chief has asked for from this department that he has not received. "

That might have been true then. But what about now? Six months after that statement has been made. After all, what ever happened to those 120 video recorders which were promised last Christmas? What has changed in the last six months?

Anyway, what was promised at that workshop, was the following.

That Brann would be contracted by the city to conduct quarterly audits for an undetermined period of time. That the Strategic Plan would continue to be implemented as well as many of the 22 components in the stipulated judgment. Reports of both would be provided regularly to the council and public. That either the Governmental Affairs or the Public Safety Committees or even both of them would be taking up issues involving the continued reform of the police department and that either or both would provide the public with a "forum" for expressing its concerns and views about the process.

Alas, what was delivered, was nothing. What was intended to be delivered is most likely a lot less than had been promised that day. How many meetings have been held by either the Governmental Affairs or Public Safety committees to address issues pertaining to the department's implementation of the Strategic Plan?

None.

After the city council praised the department and themselves, not necessarily in that order, they moved on to what the workshop was actually about.

City Manager Brad Hudson praised the department's police officers as "wonderful and how in all his experiences he had never encountered a "more talented group of folks, top to bottom". Of course, this is coming from a person whose department's more alleged recent actions have led to the city being sued by two unions which represent that "talented group of folks, top to bottom". Apparently, the unions representing this "talented group" are not even entitled to due process during their labor negotiations and has to sue to get back to the bargaining table.

So is Hudson a man of actions, or simply words? Whatever he is, he continued on with his speech, at first hinting at his great master plan.

"I think to ensure that we continue down that path, that I have to spend some time with Joe Brann and have some discussions with him continuing on with us a bit further down this road."

Hudson continues onward in his comments by discussing a proposal to issue regular progress reports to the city council.

"And then we will report back here on a quarterly basis to council with a lot of detailed information on what is going on in the department, how we are relating in the community, the kind of policing we are doing and also at the same time, get additional input from the community on things we might think about doing that would better our public safety work in the field."

Now that sounds like a plan, but what exactly has happened to it in the past six months? How many quarterly reports has the department or city issued during those six months?

None.

When a California Public Records Act request was submitted to the department asking for information on the progress made by the police department since March 28, the following written response was issued:

"To date, consultant is still considering
the proposal from the City Manager's office"


So the buck was passed from the city and the police department to the "consultant" on why there had not been any progress reports rather than either entity assuming any responsibility for this continued oversight themselves in the meantime. However, this written response does show that it was intended that Brann be integrally involved in the creation of these quarterly reports, because after all, their apparent release seems contingent on him signing a contract with the city, according to that response. It is necessary to remember this, because it is clear that the city will at one point in this episode argue the opposite position on a date to be announced.

Brad Hudson made it clear what the plan was supposed to be when he made this suggestion to the city council on March 28 as shown below:

"I think that perhaps you could make a motion to let the city manager to retain outside expertise to assist in implementing the Strategic Plan and to report back to the city council quarterly"

Okay, that is what Hudson promised then. Has a contract been delivered? No, but then is Hudson batting a 1000 in getting contracts signed lately? No.

Councilman Art Gage speaks next, praising the police department and its employees:

"I have never been so impressed with a group of individuals in my life. But frankly, I mean, the quality of the captains and the lieutenants and the chief. And then the guys out in the field, the officers out on the street. They are quality individuals."

Well, that is very interesting to hear from an elected official, because after all, they are Hudson's direct employers. By the way, the captains, the lieutenants and those "quality individuals" not only do not have contracts ensuring them salaries and benefits that are also of "quality" but they are currently in litigation against the city including Gage and other members of the city council. So, once again, words do not translate into meaningful actions.

Schiavone at some point laid it out on the table(in his usual "let's get to it" style which is not a bad quality), in terms of his strong belief that the city council had to take the leadership role in this process.

"In concept I agree with the oversight, but by simply directing the city manager, I think that takes it out of the council's hands which ultimately has the responsibility."

There is not much to disagree with there. Leach runs the department. Hudson is Leach's employer and Hudson reports directly to his employers on the city council But have his employers taken that initiative since that meeting to fulfill its responsibility?

No.

Has the city council taken the initiative to be leaders in terms of ensuring that the same officers from top to bottom that they have praised so effusively receive healthy labor contracts?

Apparently not.

Schiavone continued in his speech by asking that the committee he chairs, Governmental Affairs, be the mechanism in which to discuss issues pertaining to the department's policies. He also intended to use his committee as a forum for public input on the process. He added that he favored a "transparent" process. Oh, don't we all with city government?

"So I would like to see just a slight modification where the city manager and chief can make recommendations to Governmental Affairs, the public can participate and then it can come to the full council for debate."

Councilman Dom Betro responds to Schiavone's proposal.

" I'm not sure if this belongs in Public Safety Committee and/or I'm not sure what you mean by, I had assumed that it was going to be brought to the council on a quarterly basis."

So a territorial disagreement has begun between the two councilmen. Still, it was nice to see that there was some interest by council members to bring it to their committees for further discussion. It would have been nicer still to see it translated into meaningful action.

Brad Hudson interrupts that discussion to throw more compliments Brann's way.

"I think the thinking was that Joe[Brann] is already engaged in the oversight capacity, recently engaged with the Attorney General's office, I think he is familiar with the operations with each plan and with a lot of the issues and that it would be a reasonable plan to have him continue in a similar capacity at the direction of council."

Schiavone's interest is obviously piqued by Hudson's pronouncement and he makes a proclamation.

"Let me stop you right there, if that is where it is headed, then I will support it right now. I didn't know that was an option."

Hudson answers him.

"Yes, that was the intent."

Mayor Ron Loveridge closes out the discussion, with his usual words of how (insert council action) is a moment of historic proportions never duplicated before or since.

"This is not business as usual. This is a statement of going ahead of going forward. The commitments made are very explicit, and I think particularly the way we are going to frame the kind of accountability is well taken..."

But does the city government's recent memory lapses of the promises it made to the city's residents mean that it's business as usual? None of the promises made so enthusiastically at the workshop last March has come to fruition. Not one of them.

So what has changed from the past, which everyone has put so neatly behind them?

Initial enthusiasm, followed by apathy and disinterest are patterns that have been seen in past city councils, when it has come to issues pertaining to the police department. This shift in attitudes and what it lead to is one of the reasons why the stipulated judgment was signed in the first place.

Now that it is dissolved, this old pattern albeit with new faces involved, has returned. Also, the pattern involving labor negotiations has shifted away from how it stood while the agency was under the stipulated judgment. Civil litigation was filed by police labor unions numerous times in the 1990s and so it is already again in the 21st century, only months after the dissolution of the judgment, which also appears to be a byproduct from a shift in behaviors of those at City Hall towards the bargaining process.

Despite Loveridge's insistence that this is not "business as usual", it appears that his words may not match what is reality.

But if you repeat history, you will repeat its mistakes as well.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Mark McFall said...

Mary,

I log on here for occasional comic relief when time permits. However, you do understand that few others do as evidenced by the sparse comments posted here, don't you?

Aside from your few fellow police haters, nobody is paying any attention to what you are saying or writing, particularly those in authority -- those who you would have listen to your biased and endless ramblings -- and change things the way you would want them to be.

Gadflies historically get little, if any, traction -- and you are no exception.

Mark McFall

Tuesday, September 26, 2006 5:19:00 PM  
Blogger Five Before Midnight said...

The following comment was submitted by a "Mark McFall". It has been approved for publishing but has not shown up on site yet due to problems with blogger.

Mary,

I log on here for occasional comic relief when time permits. However, you do understand that few others do as evidenced by the sparse comments posted here, don't you?

Aside from your fellow police haters, nobody is paying any attention to what you are saying or writing, particularly those in authority--those who you would have listen to your biased and endless ramblings--and change things the way you would want them to be.

Gadflies historically get little, if any, traction--and you are no exception.

Mark McFall

Tuesday, September 26, 2006 5:51:00 PM  
Blogger Sandalou said...

Feeling put upon are you Mr McFall? On the contrary, all the great events in American history have been precipitated by Americans who refuse to accept the status quo. Like those who attended the Boston Tea Party. Like Rosa Parks.

Bullies like yourself count on intimidation to silence your critics. You may have noticed, it's not working anymore. Mary could quit blogging tomorrow but a very large number of people are aware of what's going on in Riverside. Some of us are very far away and don't even know Mary.

But even if she did stop tomorrow the sickness in the Riverside force is much too deep to be hidden. Riverside is almost constantly in the news nationwide for this or that incident of brutality or out and out murder. That's not going to change until someone roots out all your cancerous officers. Or they all retire like yourself. No, that won't work because the city goes out of it's way to recruit the bottom of the barrel by offering substandard wages. Guess that they are getting what they pay for.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006 9:41:00 PM  
Blogger Five Before Midnight said...

Hi Mark,

I was wondering if I would see you again and here you are. It is nice to see you again. I hope retirement is treating you well and I thank you for sharing some of that time on my site.

It is nice to see that you are still very concerned about the agency you once worked for even after you took your retirement last year.

I am also pleased that you are finding your comic relief through my blog. I'm aware that it is not perhaps the comic relief that you are probably used to, but you do have to find your humor where you can get it. Humor is a window into a person's soul and it does provide more of an insight into yours so thank you for sharing your taste in humor here.

Gadflies? Thank you for the compliment, Mark. I haven't been called one of those in a while. From what I hear, you were a gadfly of sorts back in the day. Thanks for passing along your insight on the experience.

Take care,

Wednesday, September 27, 2006 3:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Mark McFall said...

Ordinarily I would reply to "Sandalou's" hateful, false and ignorant comments, but what would be the point?

I would not attempt to change his/her/its mind, as that clearly could not be done and would be a waste of time. Likewise for attempts to enlighten; closed and biased minds can not be informed.

It would also be a waste of time to try to change the thinking of anyone who could possibly be influenced by such drivel. Rational and informed people are not influenced by that junk and do not need counterpoints.

And lastly, persons who hide behind the cowardly mask of anonymity lack credibility and are unworthy of any serious response.

Mary, of course I am still concerned about the fine agency that I spent so many years dedicating myself to, and the overwhelming number of fine officers there who continue on. (Why shouldn't I be?)

Those would be the officers who continue to put their lives and careers on the line every day and night as they go into harm's way for total strangers, in spite of the constant harangue from the handful of local cop-haters.

I see you have changed tactics, or at least added to your repertoire, in an effort to portray the role of a more rational and balanced self-appointed "activist." You are now supposedly concerned about police officers' longevity, weight, physical fitness, and compensation. Please . . .

After so many years of getting little or no traction with nothing but hateful attacks -- and being unable to influence the decision makers -- perhaps you believe that your new "balanced" persona will finally gain you some of that long-sought influence.

Of course, that would necessitate people being completely fooled by the "new" Mary and forgetting all those years of hate-driven attacks. We shall see if they are.

Oh, by the way, what are the qualifications to be a self-appointed community "activist / agitator?" You did say that you would answer this question, but somehow let that slip. That wasn't an intentional oversight, was it?

It also appears that lacking the ability to influence and persuade decision makers, you have now resorted to pestering them with Public Records Act requests to get their attention and try to get them to see things your way (whatever that is). The unfortunate part about that tactic is that they have real jobs, requiring their full time and attention to do them properly. All you have created is annoying distractions.

You, on the other hand, are driven by the motives that you have so clearly demonstrated over the years, and obviously have endless time to pursue them.

No, there are no racial or gender boogeymen hiding around every corner at the RPD. No, it is not "five before midnight" -- not now, and not before March 2006. And no, you are not a Mahatma Gandhi.

Mark McFall

Sunday, October 08, 2006 2:46:00 PM  

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