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

Friday, October 06, 2006

The "red" menace

Another day, another California Public Records Request issued to the police department for information about the composition and operation of its Audit and Compliance Panel, which exists to directly oversee the day to day implementation of various objectives of the Strategic Plan. This panel, formerly known as the Attorney General Task Force, consists of one lieutenant, two sergeants and several administrative assistants.

It had apparently been in the shop undergoing "reorganization" for a period of time but is up and running, having given a presentation at the last Chief's Advisory Board meeting.

The police department will also be presenting its first "quarterly" report on its progress in implementing the Strategic Plan. Councilman Dom Betro said that the process passed through a 7 to 0 motion by the city council last March 28, had experienced a "delay".

No, actually the process had come to a grinding halt after the city council developed a form of collective amnesia and moved on to its favorite topic, redevelopment and using its favorite toy, Eminent Domain on the downtown area to prepare it for gentrification. What happened is what Attorney General Bill Lockyer warned could happen time after time, even though the city officials reassured him that it would not, and in fact promised him that it would not happen again last March. Well, it did. The bottom line is that the invested parties simply failed to step to the plate and if pressure had not been put on them, they probably never would have given the Strategic Plan a second thought at least for a while. Which just goes to show that the faces may change but some built in dynamics just do not change overnight or even within five years.

Many community members approached or contacted me after I had been speaking on this issue at city council, in confusion because they had assumed that the city council had followed through on its action plan passed last March. They had no idea that nothing much had happened at all, on the city's side of the equation.

The pressure placed on city officials has had a rebounding effect.

Betro obviously was not a very happy man earlier this week. He showed up at a public meeting and lectured people, demanding to know why they were not down at city council protesting the law suit filed against the CPRC and the city government by the RPOA. That was immediately after venting his wrath at those who had spoken at the city council meeting on Oct. 6 when the RPOA showed up. I was the only such person in the room.

I was not treated like this through an indirect attack by elected officials when I spoke in support of the SEIU for the right to the same bargaining process. Nor was I treated like this when I spoke in support of any other city employees including those who have experienced racial discrimination, harassment and retaliation in the workplace that some Black employees had referred to as a "plantation". In the past, I had spoken in support of refuse workers who were worried about losing jobs which were in danger of being reduced when the city increased the use of its automatic garbage collection trucks. I've also supported the members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers in the past, and have had discussions with them after they spoke on the downside of deregulating public utilities.

But they aren't "those people".

What set off his pique were apparently statements I had made at the meeting that showed my doubt that the city council had gotten all the components of its promises from the workshop back on track. But rather than really addressing people's concerns with factual information and not information that I already know is probably not true, he chose instead to use a diversionary tactic that coming from him, surprised me.

Suddenly, I was a blind supporter of "those" people who were suing the CPRC, meaning the RPOA, simply because I had defended a process that I feel was not held to the high standard it should have been in labor negotiations involving all the city's unions. It was akin to "red baiting" and frankly, funny given my history with "those" people. The allegiances of this city's elected officials to its law enforcement officers twist and turn so much it is difficult to keep up with whether those officers are "friends" or "foes" to which elected officials at any given time. Which definition is in place usually depends on the season, especially in an election year and this behavior just adds a layer to the dysfunctional interactions in Riverside that contributed to the conditions leading up to the stipulated judgment in 2001.

I call it the "greatest officers" vs "those people" dynamic meaning that depending on the situation, these officers were lauded and at other times, labeled as "those people" by elected officials including times when the department was suffering from the neglect by the city which led to it eventually being found to have violated both the state's constitution and state law.

But this is the present and this dynamic still exists.

After all, it's highly unlikely that Betro would air his grievances against "those people" at a meeting with the Chamber of Commerce or the Downtown Partnership, or the lunch crowd at the Mission Inn. He would never demand them to do something he himself would never do. That is reserved for people in a different crowd, preferably one where the majority are people of color. In fact at these other gatherings that he or other elected officials attend, perhaps "those people" might be in attendance as the "finest police officers in the country."

But, fast forward to when Betro wants the homeless population pushed out of downtown or Fairmont Park again, who do you think he's going to go to, to do this work? Especially with the accelerated "Renaissance" on the horizon and as the Rev. Clarke Prescott said so well at the last city council meeting, no room in it for homeless people?

"Those people" but they won't be called that I'm sure.

What if another city council member wants his picture taken with a police officer while giving him or her an award, then again, "those people" become "the finest police officers in the country." A few hours later, he could be on the phone complaining to the police chief about "those people". It is enough to make one's head spin. How do these elected officials and some of their followers keep this straight in their heads?

Given that after the honeymoon period of the stipulated judgment's dissolution, the "finest officers in the country" became "those people" during the summer's labor pains at the negotiation tables. Given that during this same difficult period, the city stalled its actions to follow the guidelines of its implementation of the Strategic Plan. One might ask if these two processes were related, and if the city was so upset at "those people" that it no longer believed it had to prioritize the continued reform process of the police department.

Tit for tat.

If so, then there really is no difference between this city council and that in former years. In past years, the city and "those people" had waged battles, with the police chief either a participant or caught in the middle, like the police chief is now. By the time these battles had ended, neither side had won. The communities who were supposed to be served by both paid the costs as the department slid into a decline, only a threatened law suit by the state's highest law enforcement agency could halt.

I might be critical enough to be labeled "anti-police" a few times a week, which is as much a given as the sun coming up in the morning, and I have actually been criticized by some of the same people for criticizing "those people" when they are currently labeled "the finest police officers in the country" too much including by elected officials. But their flip-flop attitude towards them is just nuts.

What do you make of a person who hugs police officers in support of their contact negotiations at one meeting and then tsk tsks in agreement to criticism of them for those actions the next, when in a different crowd? What about someone who runs for office claiming to be "pro-law enforcement" but then dictates that "the best officers in the country" should be paid as much as "the best officers in the Inland Empire" knowing very little about the reality of recruiting and hiring law enforcement officers in the very competitive Southern California market? After all, neither the "best officers in the world" or "those people" will be spending the majority of the time in their communities.

But let's get back to "those people" in their role as the "red" menace, which is a very strange dynamic especially for the "police hater".

You support the organization of "those people" on one issue and disagree with them on about 999,999 others, and you are still a blind supporter of the menace of "those people" when that support conflicts with an elected official's political agenda(given that Betro's up for election next year). Of all the dysfunctional dynamics governing interactions between the vested parties in the Strategic Plan process, this is the one that I least understand. The city's feud with the RPOA that has spilled outside the negotiation room, and has resulted in everyone who's not on with the city or in support of City Manager Brad Hudson's negotiation tactics being painted with the "red" brush.

In the meantime, I'm going to prepare my testimony for my appearance before the city's Committee on Un-Riverside Activities, until I'm called and keep my local history manuals close to my side for reference.


No one had read the law suit in question yet, because it could not be found, but that situation has been remedied. The law suit, Ryan Wilson v the City of Riverside, Riverside[sic]Community Review Commission (RIC456429) which has hit the shelves of the Riverside County Superior Court. A review of this new publication will be coming up shortly including an explanation of why this law suit could wind up fighting some of the battles for the CPRC on different issues including a very important one.

The city filed a motion not to stipulate to the assignment of Commissioner Joan Burgess to hear the case. For those of you with good memories, Burgess was the presiding judge in the trial involving Officer Roger Sutton's racial discrimination, harassment and retaliation. Obviously, the city still feels the sting of that loss and has given her the boot.

One suggestion, all the parties should immediately stipulate that the Summer Lane shooting happened on Dec. 6, 2004, not Sept. 6, 2004.

Go here and follow the instructions to get to the civil court then enter in the case number.

Here is the CPRA letter:


10/5/2006


Public Records Act Request
Oct. 5, 2006


Dear Chief Leach,

Pursuant to my rights under the California Public Records Act (Government Code Section 6250 et seq.), I ask to obtain a copy of the following, which I understand to be held by your agency:

Information from the Personnel and Training Division which shall include the following:

1) All new training programs implemented since March 28, 2006

2) Composition of the Audit and Compliance Panel since its "reorganization" this spring.

3) Job responsibilities of each member, sworn and civilian on the Audit and Compliance Panel

4) Schedule of presentations by the Audit and Compliance Panel since March 28, 2006 both inside and outside of the department.

5) Goals and objectives of the Audit and Compliance Panel in terms of implementing the Strategic Plan and the required components of the Stipulated Judgment.
a) six month goals
b) 12 month goals
c) 18 months goals

6) Qualifications and process for assigning officers to the Audit and Compliance Panel

This point of inquiry arose from comments allegedly made by one of the assigned sergeants at a recent meeting about having to choose between being on the Audit and Compliance Panel and working as a graveyard supervisor which struck my interest in this process.

I ask for a determination on this request within 10 days of your receipt of it, and an even prompter reply if you can make that determination without having to review the record[s] in question. If you determine that any or all or the information qualifies for an exemption from disclosure, I ask you to note whether, as is normally the case under the Act, the exemption is discretionary, and if so whether it is necessary in this case to exercise your discretion to withhold the information. If you determine that some but not all of the information is exempt from disclosure and that you intend to withhold it, I ask that you redact it for the time being and make the rest available as requested. In any event, please provide a signed notification citing the legal authorities on which you rely if you determine that any or all of the information is exempt and will not be disclosed.

If I can provide any clarification that will help expedite your attention to my request, please contact m. I ask that you notify me of any duplication costs exceeding $0 before you duplicate the records so that I may decide which records I want copied.

Thank you for your time and attention to this matter.

Sincerely,


CC: City Manager Brad Hudson
City Council and Mayor Ron Loveridge

Time received by Riverside Police Department: Oct. 5, 2006 at 3:09 p.m.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Mark McFall said...

10/6/06 - Mary, I see that not only did you not have the gumption to post my comments of 10/4/06 (below), you removed "Sandalou's" ridiculous blather (to spare her embarrassment?) Interesting . . .

In case they got lost in cyberspace, I will send them again:

10/4/06 - 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

Friday, October 06, 2006 11:23:00 PM  
Blogger Five Before Midnight said...

Hello Mark,

It’s good to see you again. I hope retirement is treating you well. I see you are in need of good humor and came here to do some reading and responding. That is good. You don’t seem to be your usual cheerful, acerbic self. I hope you left here feeling in better spirits than you arrived. Humor is not just a mirror to the soul, it’s good for it so if you need to come here for a good laugh, then that's good too. Mahatma Gandhi would certainly understand.

10/6/06 - Mary, I see that not only did you not have the gumption to post my comments of 10/4/06 (below), you removed "Sandalou's" ridiculous blather (to spare her embarrassment?) Interesting . . .

In case they got lost in cyberspace, I will send them again:



Actually, there were no comments made, since "Sandalou" wrote her comments that appeared in the cache. But the recent changes imposed on Blogger by its owner, Google, have caused problems including with the comments and unfortunately, those blogs which utilize their newer Beta premium service get first priority when problems arise. Thanks for being thoughtful and reposting them. If you have been to my site, then you have seen that your comments have been posted. Twice.

10/4/06 - 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.


I love that word, gumption. It hasn't been in style in a long while, but it's a good word.

Mark, this must be an ordinary set of circumstances because you did respond to Sandalou's post. Twice. Ergo, there must be a point to doing so, which you made very clearly in your post.

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?)

No reason. There’s not really any reason to become defensive about it either. But you chose to leave that agency, for your own reasons. If you cared as much about what the agency is becoming as you apparently did about what it was, maybe you might still be there, leading the reform process as a supervisor, but you're not. You're gone.

Maybe there was a "new" RPD coming along and you did not like that. Maybe you just got tired.

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.

Yes, but to you anyone who criticizes the police is a “cop hater” or a “police hater”. Feel free to reclaim both of those terms. I simply borrowed them. There is no middle ground with you and others of your mindset. Either you are 100% for everything police officers do without question or you are 100% against them.

The problem with that attitude, that though understandable in some circumstances, it wound up being very destructive to the department, to its employees, the community and even to the majority of the officers who embraced it. It also in part, led to the $22 million expenditure imposed on the city and five years of what you would likely(and maybe have) call an "annoying distraction" to hard working individuals with real jobs. If the department had been functioning as it should have been and had not been found to be in violation of both state law and the state constitution by the state's highest law enforcement agency, all of that could have been avoided.

Money that was finally spent addressing deficiencies which had been in existence for decades and had been ignored. But the interesting thing I’ve noticed, is that there are police officers who understand that there’s an alternative to the “all or nothing” belief system and they are not afraid to venture out and have dialogue with those that your mindset called “them”. Hopefully, they are the wave of the future. They need to be, or the arduous reform process they engaged in along with their co-producers was simply a costly exercise to possibly be revisited in a future generation, both financially and through considerable time expenditures.

Also, the problem with those who are not "cop haters" but are still "them" as you call them, is that most of them tend to only defend the police officers as long as they are there when they need them. If they are not there, or they are late in arriving(due largely to staffing shortages in a growing city) these same people will complain about those "lazy cops spending all their time in the donut shops". Then there are individuals including politicians who praise the police department and its officers at public meetings or award dinners and complain about them in other venues. I have seen my share of both, including one this week.

Why do those people act in this fashion, Mark? Maybe you should visit their Web sites or otherwise contact them and set them straight as well. I mean, if you are so concerned about your former agency of employment because I'm simply as you said, one gadfly who has no traction. Your activism would probably be more suited towards those larger groups with much more influence.

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.


Rest assured, I’m the same “police hater” as you call it that I was yesterday. If I were to adopt your philosophy than I could say that officers who have thanked me for supporting a process were not sincere, had ulterior motives and have changed tactics because they have failed to gain “traction” with decision makers through other means. So you are very right and it is good advice to take a closer look at everyone's actions. Indeed, we shall see when it comes to people’s intentions. However, your attitude also has helped answer some questions I have long had about why there was such a big disconnect between police officers and the communities they served, in terms of the defense mechanisms shown by many police officers. Thank you for providing that insight, Mark.

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?

Haven’t you been listing the qualifications in your comments?

Here’s a hint that I will pass along from one “gadfly” to another. Usually, when someone you don’t really know, who may or may not be who they claim to be, comes out of the blue to castigate you, making statements like you are not accomplishing any change, no one is listening, you are really this, not that, you are a gadfly who has failed to gain traction, it actually serves as a good indication that something positive is taking place especially if this individual makes these statements over and over. Call it a “barometric check” if you will and you are a pretty fine and useful barometer, so keep it up. It indicates a mild warming, compared to other tactics used by individuals like Dom Betro, but a warming nonetheless. Every statement that you post here to berate and discourage me is actually giving me positive signs that change is occurring and that of course, individuals like yourself exist who want to still fight that change. But those individuals might be losing "traction" themselves, or else it is very unlikely that you would be posting here.

When it comes to avoiding questions intentionally or otherwise, I’m still waiting for answers to a few including the one about the department's decision to assign you to investigate Officer Roger Sutton's complaint about racism, even though a potential conflict existed.

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.

So requesting public information from a public agency that is funded by the city’s general fund, is akin to “pestering” and creating “annoying distractions”. Well, thankfully there are individuals in the city who are responding to these requests who do not believe the way that you do Mark. And news flash, Mark, responding to CPRA requests in a public agency is usually done by that agency’s public information officer and this responsibility is usually included in the job description. That is one duty that they are paid to perform.

If your attitude on the CPRA and other laws set up to increase governmental transparency was prevalent in the department pre-1999 and indeed it was, then it's no wonder it experienced the problems that it did. In fact the department often failed to respond to CPRA requests that other individuals filed, but then again, they usually tossed citizen complaints submitted by city residents in the trash too, which it turned out is in violation of state law. Why, because like you, I’m sure these individuals considered the filing of citizen complaints as required by PC 832.5 to also be “pestering” and creating an “annoying distraction”. I’m sure individuals like Jose Martinez whose complaint was initially ignored by the department before the whole city found out about his experience in the lake, would disagree with that. Fortunately, so did the State Attorney General’s office.

Oh, and the department's handling of that incident also contributed to the more than $550,000 paid out to Martinez and his attorneys by the city. Just one in a long line of expensive law suits this city and its residents faced.

If there are officers like yourself who served in middle-management positions or higher who believed that the public's interest in a public agency was akin to being "pestering" or creating "annoying distractions", then it is no wonder the state attorney general's office imposed a consent decree on this agency, and it is no wonder that many of the decision makers in the department before that process was initiated are now like yourself, retired.

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.


I’m glad to hear that Mark, because weren’t you among those who claimed that reverse racism and sexism influenced the promotional system and penalized White male officers, hurting their chances of getting promoted, in general and more specifically in your case? Now, you are saying that there’s no racial or gender “boogeymen" in the RPD. Interesting.

Hmm. Maybe you’re a different Mark McFall.

And no, I’m certainly not Gandhi but then I never claimed to be. I just like his quotes, and seeing how they play out even today. After all which phase are you currently in? Oh yes, the humor phase as you explained to me using your own words. You appear to be an interesting, very passionate if sometimes annoying person, but the one thing that you are above all, is very educational and thus your insights are very helpful to this process.

As for being "Mark McFall" and not an anonymous person, that's only because I believe that you are probably speaking the truth about that, not because I really even know who you are. It's not like we ever met or anything.

Take care of your self Mark and hope to "see" you soon,

Monday, October 09, 2006 11:51:00 AM  
Anonymous Mark McFall said...

Mary, it is too difficult and exasperating to have a rational dialog with someone who has such an ax to grind. And, equipped with such fragmentary (historical and otherwise) information, does not hesitate to leap to such grandiose conclusions, all the while engaging in pompous, self-righteous, amateur psychoanalysis; another field for which you are unqualified.

As to the fragmentary informantion, it must be very frustrating for you to be so uninformed (e.g., the sergeants' discrimination case). So, just a smidgen of information (or misinformation, as the case may be) is all you need and you're off to another whopper of a conclusion to blather about.

My favorites are your always-anonymous "sources," second-hand and all. Very reliable and convincing . . .

One good thing about being a complainer / critic is that you don't have to have your facts straight as no accountability ever comes back (e.g., bogus complaints); so there's no harm in serial mudslinging, right?

As to word-twisting and spinning, you could have been on the Clinton "is" spin team. That you do well.

When someone steps up to so aggressively insert themselves into the civic discourse on the important matters of our local government, then that person should have some training or experience to lend credence to their input if they expect to be taken seriously and have influence. Your frustration is that you do not. It takes more than just an "interest," available time, and the First Amendment right to squawk (see Gadfly).

Hence my question for you. But instead of proudly showing your credentials to gain some credibility, you repeatedly deflect, ask me questions about historical events which pique your curiosity, then launch into your amateur psychoanalysis, ad hominem attacks, and word-spinning.

We agree then, you are not a Gandhi, despite the inference at the header of your web site. Although, you could well be the Cindy Sheehan of Riverside. As such, influence is something that will continue to elude you.

Have a nice life . . .

Wednesday, October 11, 2006 3:06:00 AM  

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