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


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Location: RiverCity, Inland Empire

Friday, November 30, 2007

City Hall Blues: Decorum and diversions

What are these, rain drops? Indeed they are. Rain has returned after a long absence to the Inland Empire.

"Matty told Hatty about a thing she saw.
Had two big horns and a wooly jaw."

---Domingo Samudio, "Wooly Bully"

Next week's city council could be one of the shortest ones in recent history. Why? Because there are no discussion items on the agenda. So maybe those antsy behavioral mannerisms that we've all become so familiar with from the elected officials forced to sit through meetings that can be as long as several hours will be absent and a spark in the eyes and a spring in the spirit of those on the dais will be seen instead. And out there, several restaurants will be singing.

Who will sit longest in their seats? Who will leave to conduct tete a tete with other dais mates during the meeting? Which elected official will accuse which audience member of flipping him the birdie? That of course remains to be seen as soon as the curtain rises at the next city council meeting.

Several city council members will also be attending their last meetings holding their current elected position. Perhaps that's why the meeting will probably be completed in record-setting times so that people can then go off and hold soirees for each other.

One consent calendar item is to issue a declaration of the recent city elections. It will be interesting to see how the vote will go on that item.

Oh wait, no, there's that public utilities discussion item being held at 3 p.m. on increases in electric rates. Why it's being held then, is not clear. But perhaps the mercurial city council's hoping the third time will be the charm on this issue.

Of course, the neighboring county has its own problem with its local governments.

Former Colton councilman, Donald Sanders owes $66,775 and the city's government wants him to pay up.


"The judgment is still owed to us, and we're going to try to collect on it," City Manager Daryl Parrish said of Wednesday's hearing in Riverside to sort out Donald Sanders' Chapter 13 bankruptcy obligations.

In 2004, a civil lawsuit filed by the city resulted in Sanders being ordered to pay Colton $66,775 for his role in a scheme to erect billboards during the late 1990s. In 2005, a federal judge sentenced Sanders to 17 days behind bars after Sanders admitted taking $40,000 in bribes.

Attorney David Lozano, who represents Sanders, did not return two calls seeking comment.

Since July 2006, the city has been garnishing 25 percent of Sanders' wages, resulting in payments of about $750 every two weeks, said Riverside-based attorney Franklin Adams, who represents Colton in the bankruptcy case.

In his proposed bankruptcy plan, Sanders would repay all of his creditors a total of $50,277.80 at the rate of $837.13 per month for five years.

The Press Enterprise Editorial Board had a lot to say about that.


And so the court should. Allowing an elected official who abused his office and the public's trust to escape punishment for his actions would be a gross miscarriage of justice. Sanders hung a "for sale" sign on his council office and left an indelible stain on the city's government. Even bankruptcy should not remove the public debt he owes for his corruption.

Yes, the city did decide last year not to collect the $95,770 owed by ex-Councilman James Grimsby, another player in the bribery scandal. Sanders argued last year the city should also give him leniency.

But going after Grimsby made no financial sense, as the effort would have cost the city more than it could have collected. Unlike Grimsby, Sanders has a steady income and other assets that give him the capacity and obligation to repay the city.

The court should not let Sanders evade his obligation to repay the city for his crime. Bankruptcy law's power to erase debt should not extend to canceling debts to society.

More letters about the nasty group of city residents who complain at city council meetings and the ongoing saga of DHL which has been the focus of discussion on several days in the Readers' Forum in the Press Enterprise. Oh those unpleasant rabble rousers. If you speak out, read the letter and decide what category you fit into. I can't make up my mind actually since I don't really yell and I'm poor at sarcasm, but I do have a confession to make. I did chastise a city councilman or two for leaving his seat while I was speaking for just before during the past meeting.

Actually, I believe I chided at several councilmen who left while I was speaking on two separate issues and neither of them were actually using the restroom. Public comment and the consent calendar had just started after a break in the meeting taken after the discussion calendar had been completed, which gave the elected officials plenty of time for bathroom breaks if they needed them.

One councilman left to have an impromptu discussion with another councilman and a city employee in the middle of the meeting while public comment was being taken and they all returned back to their seats at about the same time after they had finished their business whatever it was. People viewing the meetings on television may not be aware of this but it's not uncommon for two or three individuals on the dais to do so and most often, it's during public testimony rather than their own discussions. And if you have elected officials and/or city staff members have conferences outside of the dais during a meeting, it kind of defeats the purpose of having public meetings in the first place as meetings are a very important mechanism to receive public input. Though it's never been a favorite mechanism according to the BASS quartet which has kind of dissolved in the wake of Election 2007.

When it's your own elected official, it is offensive behavior in a different way. You get up there and speak to an individual who's paid a fairly good salary to be your elected representative. He or she leaves and the mayor's already started the time clock on your speaking so you don't have the luxury to wait until your own elected representative comes back. Why support that kind of behavior with an election year on the horizon filled with candidates who are more than willing to listen to what their constituents have to say at meetings and time their "bathroom" breaks accordingly. That's what happened this election cycle with the voters in four wards.

We kind of have had a lot of turnover this time around, haven't we?

Many candidates decided they liked the incumbents fine, but in the case of two of them, more people decided they liked the challengers better so as a result, two out of the three city council members who ran for reelection are now out looking for other pursuits. Some say the newcomers sounded more passionate on the issues and their plans. Some said they were more attentive and not just those who were obvious supporters of them. Some voters were upset at the buffer put up between their city government and its constituents.

Whatever it was they did, several newer candidates got the lionshare of the votes in two races which sent a pretty potent message through the electorate.

If city council members are going to pull items off the consent calendar for further discussion, then they should remain in their seats to listen to the public. If they need to consult with each other or a city staff member during the meeting, then the mayor should call for a break in the meeting for them to do so or they should have done it outside the meeting to clarify the pertinant issues awaiting them before they sit down and discuss them in a meeting.

The city councilman who had left had sponsored the item at Governmental Affairs Committee which he also chairs and he sponsored the report that came back to the city council meeting. He also jointly pulled the item that was before him and chose to leave only while the public was commenting on it. That's not appropriate behavior, especially considering the special responsibility he holds by both sponsoring the item in two layers of government then pulling it for discussion.

Councilman Andrew Melendrez who also pulled the same item remained in his seat and was attentive at all times during its discussion. Apparently, he wasn't invited to the meeting off the dais but he's good at listening to the public. It's too bad Charter Communications viewers can't see how good he's at doing so. Frankly, I spend more time talking issues over with him than any other councilman. It's too bad several others on the dais can't look to him as an example of how to act while sitting on it.

Then when I spoke on another consent calendar item ironically addressing meeting decorum, Councilman Dom Betro rolled his eyes about 30 seconds into my speech, stood up and stomped out of the building in a huff for parts unknown. But then he's done that quite a bit lately in different venues so it wasn't me. It was him and his decision to behave this way once again.

He certainly wasn't going to the bathroom unless it was in a different building some place else because it was kind of hard for anyone actually attending the meeting in person to miss his stormy exit. His behavior was curt and rude but since the camera doesn't show the dais and the activities going on there while city residents are speaking, most of the people watching the meeting from home do not have any idea how elected officials behave on the dais until they attend a meeting. I've seen his supporters back him or pretend they don't know what's going on when he's much more abusive and rude than that, so I'm not really fazed to see a letter writer back a councilman only knowing part of the story of what happened. But supporting that behavior is what probably proved most detrimental to Betro's chances of victory in this past election cycle.

The irony is that my own councilman has praised my demeanor at the dais while I speak, but even so, those at the dais don't really treat you respectfully unless you agree with them. What I've learned to do is when I address them to either look at Melendrez or the mayor, because they are the ones who do pay attention to what people are saying.

Leaving the room while the public was speaking on an item that concerns them which he himself sponsored is very disrespectful to those individuals. It isn't going to change my mind on the fact that if a city council member or members is going to sponsor an item that comes up for discussion, they should be able to sit and listen to public comment on that item even with people who disagree with them. That's part and parcel of what leadership is all about, listening to things that you often would rather not hear. Who said that being an elected official was easy?

The lone exceptions who don't exhibit this behavior are Mayor Ron Loveridge and Melendrez who have yet to make facial expressions, sigh, groan, grunt, flip through papers, read reports, play with the palm pilot or leave to take phone calls while people are speaking. They manage to sit, pay attention to speakers and I have yet to see them call a speaker a "liar", air a city resident's personal business or any other such behavior. Neither have ordered the city attorney to write "civility" letters, neither have ordered police officers to expel elderly women.

Though the mayor did prohibit Riverside Police Administrators Association president, Lt. Darryl Hurt from speaking on an issue during public comment at a meeting in the summer of 2006 which was inappropriate on Loveridge's part.

Here's another thing to remember. When your elected official asks you to write letters to the newspaper on his or her behalf, it would be more effective and more accurate if those who agree to do so would research these incidents first and Charter Communications only shows you one side of the dais at a time. As listed below, there is a way to remedy that.

As for the behavior on the dais, it might be an interesting study in contrasts if individuals videotaped the city council members at city council meetings rather than the public speakers during discussion of items on the agenda or during public comment time and then included these videos on an internet site so that visitors could check out for themselves the behaviors of those on the dais alongside the behavior of city residents that is shown on Charter Communications broadcasts.

A couple meetings posted online which present a picture of what's going on the dais and it's pretty assured that the eyerolling, muttering, side conversations, paper flipping, groaning and all assorted behaviors would probably be greatly reduced during a relatively short period of time.

I did receive a couple of phone calls for clarification after this past meeting that the next time I mention that a city council member had left the dais while someone is speaking, I should name that councilman in the future because as has already been pointed out, there's no view of the dais while a city resident is speaking from your television set at home. More people have asked me to explain what's been going on the dais, because occasionally there's glimpses of sour expressions and rolling eyes that do travel across the air waves.

I've received much support from city residents for going to the meetings and speaking out even when I haven't felt like it. When I miss a week, I definitely hear about it! I've had women embrace me in stores and people stop me all the time to discuss concerns and issues. Going to city council meetings is a great ice breaker to discuss the issues which impact this city, its infrastructure, its future. It's also a way to encourage city residents to get more involved with what's going on in Riverside in general and City Hall in particular. People really should get more involved even if it's in small ways or by testing the waters with their toes a little bit at a time.

Speaking of law suits associated with fatal officer-involved shootings in the wake of the $395,000 settlement in the Summer Lane case, the law suit filed in U.S. District Court by the family of Lee Deante Brown is on the agenda of next week's city council meeting under closed session items.

"I know she was in there."

That is what former Bolingbrook Police Department Sgt. Drew Peterson's step-brother allegedly told his neighbor according to the Chicago Tribune.

Walter Martineck told him that the unidentified relative of Peterson who had helped him transport a blue plastic barrel to his SUV had been paid to do so and was trying to get rid of the money.


In an interview, Martineck expanded on a prior Tribune report detailing the relative's alleged activities the night Stacy Peterson disappeared. Martineck said he was at home Oct. 28 watching the World Series. "He called me and said, 'I gotta talk to you,'" Martineck said. "It was late, around 10 o'clock. I remember it was the 7th inning. I told him, 'OK, come to the garage door.'"

Moments later, the relative walked up the driveway and into the garage, he said.

"He was real frantic," Martineck said. "I could tell he'd been drinking a little. He put his hands on my shoulders and says, 'You can't tell no one. I know she was in there,'" Martineck said.

When Martineck asked his friend what he was talking about, the relative said he had met Drew Peterson at a local coffee shop, he said. Then Drew Peterson said he had to go, but before leaving, Peterson allegedly told the relative to wait there and gave him a cell phone with instructions not to answer it, he said. The relative waited for some time, and when the phone rang, it showed the name "Stacy" on the caller ID, Martineck said the relative told him.

The relative said when Drew Peterson returned, the two men went to the Petersons' home and removed a large plastic tote that was covered and sealed, Martineck said.

As he spoke, the relative became more and more distraught, Martineck said.

"He goes, 'I know she was in there,'" Martineck said. "I asked him how he knew that, and he said, 'Because it was warm,'" Martineck said.

Take a lie detector test, is what the family of Stacey Peterson are asking her husband, Drew, to do in the wake of revelations about the blue plastic barrel, according to Fox News.


Cassandra Cales, Stacy Peterson's sister, wants Drew to take a lie detector test about his knowledge of a blue barrel or container that she said she saw in their garage two days before Stacy disappeared.

"He says there was no barrel," Cales said. "There was a barrel; I saw it with my own eyes. I'll take a lie detector test. I feel Drew should take a lie detector test also."

"There never was a drum," said Joel Brodsky, Drew Peterson's attorney. "The whole thing seems like a never-ending rumor that started with comments that Stacy's sister made."

However, so far a neighbor witnessed Peterson and another man carry and place a blue plastic barrel in his SUV. The person who allegedly assisted him was apparently his step-brother who two days later tried to kill himself.

Also, there were traces of blue plastic found in Peterson's SUV.

Peterson called in sick the day Peterson was allegedly last seen. In August, Stacey Peterson had allegedly told a minister that her husband told her he had killed his third wife, Kathleen Savio, and made it look like an accident. The minister withheld the information in part because of concerns Peterson had expressed about going to the police.

Apparently, Stacey never shared her concerns with her family according to the Chicago Sun-Times.


For Savio's family, Stacy Peterson's reported conversation with a clergyman was nothing short of astounding.

"Wow, what a bombshell," said Anna Doman, one of Savio's sisters.

In March 2004, Savio, 40, was found dead in an empty bathtub in her Bolingbrook home. The death was initially ruled an accidental drowning. But now that Stacy Peterson has gone missing for a month, investigators are taking another look at Savio's death.

For Savio's family, desperate to know the truth about Kathleen, Stacy's reported words to the clergyman are both uplifting and troubling. Marcia Savio, Kathleen's stepmother, wonders how long Stacy Peterson might have lived with her secret.

"I don't like the fact that she knew something and didn't come forward, but I also feel sorry for her because she was in fear," Savio said Thursday.

"Every kit in the freezer represents a woman or child who has been raped and put their faith in the system."

--- Gail Abarbanel, founder of the Rape Treatment Center at Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center.

The Los Angeles Police Department needs $9.3 million to test DNA evidence in hundreds of rape cases, according to the Los Angeles Times.


The problem is not unique to Los Angeles. Forensic DNA testing facilities nationwide have been swamped by demands, not only from regular investigators but also from "cold hit" squads seeking breaks in long-dormant cases and from convicts with innocence claims. According to U.S. Justice Department statistics, more than 500,000 unsolved crimes, including 169,000 rapes, have DNA evidence that has gone untested.

In Los Angeles County, the backlog has occasionally caused trial dates to be canceled, frustrated detectives and delayed justice for victims and their families. More seriously, an evidence kit that went untested for months left a rapist free to assault another woman and a teenager.

Of the nearly $10 million that is needed for the testing, the department has received a little bit more than $500,000 according to the news article.

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Thursday, November 29, 2007

TGIF: Good morning, good day and good night

Two milestones tomorrow.

The Good Morning America show will be doing weather spots at the Mission Inn Hotel and "Five Before Midnight" will hit its 500th post since its creation in April 2005. Some rain is predicted to fall across the Inland Empire this weekend due to some subtropical moisture being kicked up from south, but the forecast for the winter is still on the dry side, due to the pervasive La Nina weather pattern.

Columnist Dan Bernstein of the Press Enterprise summed up this hectic week including the final count of Election 2007 fairly well.


Wednesday, the Registrar of Voters concluded (again) that Councilman Dom Betro and Ex-Mayor Terry Frizzel lost their elections. But neither emitted the slightest peep in the way of a gracious concession, suggesting yet another Riverside tradition may be born. Betro and The Frizz might be remembered as the proud parents of the post-election "Festival of Lawsuits."

If that's the case as some say it might be in Ward One, it wouldn't be surprising. After all, the voters were intimidated, fearful, easily fooled, manipulated and stupid according to some of the comments I've heard or read about those who voted for the winning candidate, Mike Gardner. I guess some people have a dim view of the people in Ward One even if they think they know what's best for it and them.

Not much better was last Tuesday's rushed Governmental Affairs Committee meeting which had two items on changing the election process being decided by its members including one who was contesting his loss in the election at the time the meeting was conducted. Was that a conflict of interest? Perhaps, but often it appears when our elected officials get really emotional about the prospect of the "team" on the dais being replaced by those who may or may not play, they don't know what those three words mean. Still, it was interesting if not surprising that the committee did not substitute another city council member on for these two agenda items.

Committee chair Frank Schiavone is now the most senior council member with the departure of Ed Adkison who's served since his first election in 1999. But he's also running for a county seat next spring and is facing the prospect that his two top allies on the city council will be gone and he'll be left with Ward Seven Councilman Steve Adams, who's not exactly the strongest link in what was BASS and neophyte and "team player" William "Rusty" Bailey from Ward Three who's stepping into a situation he probably had not anticipated.

Bailey's first question he might have to answer, besides the obvious one about whether or not he's independent, is will he realize that City Manager Brad Hudson is now his employee and not the other way around as it was when both of them worked for the Riverside County Economic Development Agency. Will he hit the ground running?

The microscope he operates under won't be much less intense than the one Gardner faces, in light of a ward that's more divided than Bailey's is but actually not much more so.

Still, people voted for the candidates they wished to vote for, whether it was Councilman Dom Betro, Gardner or any of the others. It's folly to think that one group of voters supporting one candidate is necessarily smarter than those who support the others. But in the wake of potential litigation challenging the election, ballots and votes, there is still uncertainty in the air.

Still, the Press Enterprise Editorial Board has implored the losing candidates to throw in the towel.


Candidates might argue that the long wait for results or ballots that showed up late in the count justify additional challenges. But the fundamental motive is not ensuring the integrity of the election process. Only the losing candidates raise such issues; victory has a way of erasing politicians' concerns about irregularities.

Losing by a handful of votes is disappointing, but protracted fighting over the outcome would undermine public trust in city elections for self-serving reasons. A successful democracy depends on candidates accepting the voters' say, in victory and defeat.

Council candidates often mention a desire to serve the public. But the people who really put the public good first know when to make a graceful exit.

What will happen next? We'll all have to wait and see.

Some letters in the Press Enterprise opposing the $395,000 settlement that Riverside paid out on the officer-involved shooting death of Summer Lane are here including one by former police detective, Granville Kelley, who is the only person in Riverside who both wants to join the Community Police Review Commission and dismantle it at the same time.

I agree with both of them. The city should have never settled this law suit and instead should have taken this case to trial in the U.S. District Court in front of a jury. It's really the only fair thing to do in this situation. But most often, cases settle before they get to trial for a variety of reasons depending on the case and the circumstances of the families who do sue including how much of the litigative process they can go through.

Still, in light of the surfacing of that video that the CPRC apparently never received, we could all see what the end result of that trial would be and the jury's verdict at its end.

And then the city could begin opening up its wallet (or that of its insurance carrier) in earnest. The city's legal team anticipated that and paid out early.

Then again, there's another way to look at the situation. One wrongful death law suit closed, only five more to go.

Speaking of the CPRC, the latest draft of the public report on the Lee Deante Brown shooting is in circulation. It includes eight policy recommendations for the police department to implement in the future in hopes of avoiding a similar shooting. They range from painting tasers yellow so officers can better differentiate between them and guns, to using better techniques to swab items of evidence for DNA samples.

As for the shooting investigations of Douglas Steven Cloud and Joseph Darnell Hill, they won't even resume being conducted by the CPRC, until early next year. It turns out that what the city manager's office said it was going to do involving officer-involved death investigations during several meetings in December 2006 and January 2007 is what it essentially did. Shut them down for at least one year.

Since the Riverside Police Officers' Association isn't complaining loudly as one of its representatives did at a Measure II forum in October 2004 about how long the investigations are taking when one complaint investigation reached a year in length, one would assume that it's very likely that both shootings have already been adjudicated by the department and city.

What is past is prologue as this isn't exactly an untraveled road in the city's history.

Someone told me a story about an elected official who was asked to recommend a local very active city resident for a civic award. This individual allegedly asked if this person had donated into his political campaign and was told no this person had not. So this councilman said then he wouldn't recommend this person for an award. If this is true, is there anything left in this city that's not for sale? Are there any elected officials who are not for sale? One would hope so.

How much money do you have to donate to a political campaign to be recommended by an elected official for an award? Silly, to think that other qualifications aren't what are looked at during the selection process. But then, it's not the only civic award that the selection process is totally confusing and in need of serious reform as one award presentation in the latter half of 2006 showed.

If you lived in Ward One and were an absentee voter, did you receive a phone call from supporters of Betro's campaign telling you that they knew you voted absentee and then asking you who you voted for before the election date? Some people wondered about this and how the callers knew that they had voted absentee. Candidates do run pre-election polls and it's your right to reveal only information of your choice. Still, it's a bit unnerving to be told by one side's supporters how you are voting but all polls are optional.

The governor of California is coming to Riverside, a city located in one of the foreclosure capitols of the nation.


His visit to the Riverside office of the Fair Housing Council of Riverside County comes as interest rates on thousands of adjustable-rate mortgages for Inland homes are scheduled to increase by as much as a third in 2008.

Under the governor's agreement with Countrywide Financial Corp., Litton Loan Servicing, GMAC Mortgage and HomeEq Servicing, the companies will keep rates as they are for homeowners who live on the property, are current on their payments and cannot afford higher rates.

The two-county region has been hit hard by the slowdown in the state's housing market.

From July through September, there were 31,661 foreclosure-related filings in Riverside and San Bernardino counties. That equals one filing for every 43 households, compared to a national average of one filing for every 196 households.

By the way, the agenda item that was going to go after banks for not up keeping property they seized through foreclosures did pass at the city council level, but was pulled off the consent calendar for some discussion by Councilman Andy Melendrez. It's funny that the emphasis is on putting pressure on banks and lending institutions yet the text of the proposed ordinance actually doesn't even mention the words, "banks" or "lending institutions". Want to bet that it gets enforced primarily against non-lending institutions, say families who might own homes? After all, why go after the banks when they'll just sue you and tie you up in court for years with expensive litigation? Most homeowners can't afford the same type of legal counsel as lending institutions already have within reach.

The beating of a biracial man in Milwaukee, Wisconsin has led to three former officers being sentenced by a judge including one to 17 years in state prison, according to the Associated Press.


A judge also sentenced Jon Bartlett, 36, to three years supervision and ordered him to pay $16,365 in restitution.

Bartlett was convicted with two other former officers of taking part in the beating of Frank Jude Jr. outside a housewarming party in October 2004.

The other two former officers, Daniel Masarik, 27, and Andrew Spengler, 28, were scheduled to be sentenced later Thursday.

A federal jury determined in July that the three violated Jude's civil rights and conspired to assault him while acting as officers. Officer Ryan Packard was acquitted of federal charges.

An officer in Austin was fired for fatally shooting a man during a pursuit according to the American Statesmen.

The man was shot in the back by Sgt. Michael Williams while lying face down on the ground, according to a report submitted by the police department.


Acevedo said in the disciplinary memo that Olsen repeatedly demonstrated poor judgment, showed a lack of common sense and failed to follow his training in the moments before the June 3 shooting, including not waiting for backup to investigate whether Kevin Brown had a gun outside Chester's nightclub on East 12th Street.
He said it was conceivable that the first shot that struck Brown, hitting him in the back, may have been within Police Department policy but that Brown did not pose an immediate threat after he fell to the ground.

"The totality of the circumstances do not justify or support a reasonable belief that an ordinary or prudent officer would act or think in a similar way that Sergeant Olsen did," Acevedo said in the memo. "Consequently, when Sergeant Olsen made the decision to shoot at Mr. Brown after he was wounded and lying face down on the ground, that use of deadly force was not justifiable."

In an interview Wednesday night, Olsen defended his actions and said, "I am very disappointed that this chief who came in and said he was going to support his officers ... went back on that. If I can't defend myself when I feel a deadly threat from a man who has a gun, what do officers have to do? Do they have to wait to see a gun or be shot at? If that's the case, we'll be at a lot of police funerals."

Olsen's attorney, Jason Nassour, said his client has filed an appeal to the city's civil service commission, which must have a hearing and issue a ruling within 30 days. If the commission does not give him his job back, Olsen will appeal to a state district judge, Nassour said.

"The chief is a coward," Nassour said. He accused Acevedo of "trying to be liked instead of respected by the public."

Winston-Salem is going to institute a review of the police department's investigative practices according to Yes! Weekly.


The vote happened two days before embattled police Chief Pat Norris announced her retirement at the end of June 2008. Norris, who was appointed in 2004, was criticized by the city manager's office earlier this year for missteps in an internal investigation of the department. She is the city's first black police chief and the second woman to hold the top post.

The Winston-Salem Police Department has been under fire for its investigative practices ever since Darryl Hunt had his conviction for the rape and murder of Debra Sykes overturned in 2004 on the strength of DNA evidence.

Three years ago, the Winston-Salem Journal ran a series that cast doubt on another case - a near-fatal beating in 1995 of 33-year-old Jill Marker. Kalvin Michael Smith was convicted of assault in 1997 and has been in prison ever since. He has maintained his innocence for 10 years, and his case attracted the attention of law students in Duke University's Innocence Project.

Smith's appeals have been gaining momentum, but Assistant City Manager Derwick Paige said the review by Risk Management Associates has been brewing since Hunt's conviction was overturned.

"The timing is along the same one as Jill Marker," Paige said. "But this actually came out of the Debra Sykes investigation. We started working on it in December and January. It just took this long to get going."

Chicago has a new police chief for its police department according to the Chicago Tribune.


Daley introduced J.P. "Jody" Weis, the special agent in charge of the Philadelphia FBI office, at a news conference where he touted both the veteran agent's previous role in the Chicago FBI office and his work as an internal investigations supervisor who policed fellow agents' conduct.

Daley said Weis will bring a "new perspective" to the department. It is the first time in more than 40 years that the city will have a police superintendent chosen from outside its own ranks, and it comes on the heels of Daley naming a Los Angeles attorney to the agency that handles citizen complaints about police.

Daley, while emphasizing that only "a few or some" officers had abused their trust, said the department can't do its job unless residents "believe that every interaction they have with our officers will be safe and respectful."

Anyone who heads that scandal-plagued police department definitely has his work cut out for him.

More out of Bolingbrook, as the Chicago Sun Times reveals that Stacey Peterson told a minister that her husband Drew killed his third wife and told her he had done so, making it look like an accident. Kathleen Savio, the third wife, was reburied after her body was exhumed several weeks ago, for use for further investigation into what was initially ruled an accidental drowning death by bath tub in 2004.

How much did Stacey know, is a question that has been asked. For the first time, there might have been an answer.


A source close to the investigation tells Sneed the 23-year-old, who had been pregnant and living with Peterson when Savio was found dead in an empty bathtub in 2004, also told two other people close to her about her husband's statements regarding Savio's demise.

On Sunday, Oct. 28, the day Stacy disappeared, she told Peterson she was leaving him and issued this ultimatum: She was going to begin divorce proceedings, and she wanted him out of the house by Wednesday, according to the source.

The source believes it was the day of Stacy's ultimatum that her life may have ended. Stacy had told friends recently that if she disappeared, it wouldn't be her doing.

It is believed that investigators are focusing on the Cal-Sag channel to look for what they believe will be Stacey's body. More information has emerged on the final day she was reported seen by her husband.


The source offered this timeline for the day Stacy issued her ultimatum:

At 5 p.m. on Oct. 28, Peterson, a Bolingbrook cop, called in to take the day off.

At 7 p.m., Peterson met his stepbrother, Tom Morphey, at a local Starbucks and discussed "the problems he was having with Stacy and how to dispose of the problem," the source said.

Peterson reportedly excused himself and left Morphey in the coffee shop with Peterson's cell phone, which he told Morphey NOT to answer if it rang. The phone did ring after Peterson's departure, and the name "Stacy" appeared on the caller ID.

The source tells Sneed the call was made near the home of her friend Scott Rossetto, a man Stacy was communicating with via cell phone text messages.

The source believes this was an attempt by Peterson to place the focus of the police investigation on Stacy's friend.

Later that evening, Morphey was again summoned by Peterson -- only this time to his home, where he was reportedly asked to help Peterson remove a plastic blue barrel, which he described to police as feeling warm, and load it into a sport-utility vehicle, sources said.

The next day, Stacy was reported missing and one day later, Morphey apparently attempted suicide. While being treated at Edward Hospital in Naperville, Morphey was visited by Peterson on Oct. 30, the source said.

Peterson's attorney, Joel Brodsky, claimed Morphey's story makes no sense and described him as a man with psychological issues.

"There never was a blue barrel; there never was any carrying objects out," Brodsky said.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Election 2007: Gardner and Adams in the recount

After the recount was finished, it placed Mike Gardner seven votes ahead of incumbent, Dom Betro of Ward one and Councilman Steve Adams about 16 votes ahead of challenger and former mayor, Terry Frizzel in Ward Seven.

It's not clear what will happen next as Betro has suspended the signature check and Frizzel had decided not to do one. Whether any law suits will be filed by either party challenging the results remain to be seen.


Neither Betro nor Frizzel conceded Wednesday.

Both candidates -- Betro in a statement and Frizzel in an interview -- said there had been many problems with the election and recount process and they needed to decide their next step.

"I'm going to talk to people to see if they're satisfied," said Frizzel, a former mayor and councilwoman for Ward 7.

Betro's statement said in part: "The recount process revealed issues, such as newly discovered ballots, disallowance of numerous challenged votes, and questionable registrations and ballots, that raise concerns about the validity of this election. I will be evaluating these issues and decide what further action, if any, is warranted."

While the ballots were still being fussed over and counted at the Riverside County Voters' Registrar, the city council decorum policy came up for discussion at the city council meeting because in an action that rocked the audience to its foundation, Councilwoman Nancy Hart pulled the agenda item off of the consent calendar.


The City Council on Tuesday voted for the new procedure, 5-2. Those supporting the rule said it would bring efficiency to council meetings and maintain civility.

"Everyone has the right to address the council," City Attorney Greg Priamos said of the new rule. "It's a matter of individuals acting with a certain level of courtesy."

Details must still be worked out but those who want to speak at a council meeting would have to fill out a form before the meeting or during a recess. Requests won't be accepted during meetings to avoid disrupting them, the meeting rules say.

Most large cities and governmental agencies require the public to fill out forms to speak, Mayor Ron Loveridge said.

The use of a speaker-card system and clarified decorum policies will improve conversation at the meetings, Loveridge said. The new procedure will also eliminate people lining up against the wall to address the council because individuals will be called by name, he said.

Councilmen Art Gage and Andy Melendrez voted against the item, citing that the language used in the ordinance was too restrictive. They wanted the city to be flexible in accepting the cards.

But Priamos said the ordinance allows the meeting's presiding officer to call for a recess to collect speaker cards.

"The intent is to be permissive rather than exclusive," Loveridge said.

But this action is still restrictive against those who listen to comments being made and decide they want to contribute their comments as well, but can't because it's unlikely that the mayor will call a recess during the handling of public comment or an agenda item. People should be able to still submit speaker cards to the city clerk or other designated representative while public comments are still being taken.

Also, there needs to be careful handling of any speaker cards so that cards involving different agenda items don't get mixed up with one another or lost, if a person who intended to speak during public comment instead gets their card misplaced into a collection involving a public comment on a discussion item. Sometimes that happens at city meetings where a card system is utilized.

As usual however, actions spoke louder than words as the votes showed. However, the measure didn't pass 5-2 as stated because only six council members actually voted on the item because the seventh member, Dom Betro, had rolled his eyes during the audience comment period and had stormed out of the chambers. Consequently, unless he phoned his vote in, he didn't participate in that process so the official vote should stand, 4 to 2.

People spoke on the issue to no avail, because its passage was considered a done deal, hence its inclusion on the consent calendar. Melendrez and Gage had both cast nay votes against the item while it was still on the consent calendar and whatever they heard during the discussion didn't convince them to change their minds or their votes. The timing was such that it's clear that it was pulled off of a shelf and dusted off after an eight month period of apparent hibernation after being passed at a March 20 Governmental Affairs Committee meeting.

But what the vote showed, is that the support for these changes to public participation are not as strongly supported as they had been before the election. Hart pulling the item and Melendrez casting a negative vote showed that this council is unsure what its new members think about this contentious issue. It remains to be seen what will happen next.

But for all this talk about decorum, by city council members who roll eyes, rustle papers, talk amongst themselves, grunt, sigh or groan, that is if they can even remain in their seats, the moment which showed a complete lack of decorum happened in 2006 when one of the councilmen who was mayor pro tem ordered the removal of a woman in her late seventies who had come to city council from Woodcrest where she lived, after a city-owned pipe had broken and flooded her property, causing damage.

And why did the mayor pro tem order a police officer to remove her? Because she had exceeded the three-minute speaking limit. The mayor pro tem could have asked a staff member to help her with her problem, instead he called upon a city employee to remove her. The very embarrassed police officer did, carefully pulling her by her sweater without a single city council member challenging the mayor pro tem.

At the time, Chief Russ Leach was unhappy about his police officers being used as bouncers by the city council when they were there to provide security during the meeting. Security from an elderly woman, who was seeking redress for property damage caused by city property?

As for showing a lack of decorum, it doesn't get much better or worse than that.

Some comments I made at the CPRC meeting got me in trouble. I had said that one of the questions asked me by communities members who are considering filing complaints to the CPRC is the racial composition of the nine-member panel. How many Black people? How many Latinos? How many Asian-Americans?

There's not much questions out there about how many Whites are on the commission or on most bodies because the assumption is often that Whites are probably the majority of the members on these bodies and even the assumption among many that this is how it should be.

The truth is from a statistic approach is that the CPRC is less ethnically and racially diverse than the Riverside Police Department. Whereas the police department is about 72% White in terms of the demographic information provided by the city, the CPRC is about 77% White, with one Black man and one Latina. The police department has put efforts into its recruitment and hiring from a more diverse pool.

One commissioner, Chani Beeman, who is a White lesbian by identification, pointed out that there were more forms of diversity than just by race and to focus on one and ignore the others has an effect of negating other forms of diversity. That's true and point well taken and I should have phrased my statement better. I was addressing ethnic and racial diversity because those are the questions that were asked by members of communities including those which are predominantly populated by Black and Latino families.

I'm a White woman and I didn't speak on the issue of gender diversity because although that's a concern raised, it's not to the level in the communities that I spend the most time talking about the complaint system to that ethnicity and race are. As a woman, I'm a minority in a sense not related just to numbers, but even if I am penalized as such by my gender, I still have other privileges and one of the strongest when it comes to society is still, White privilege. White privilege for one thing allows the commissioners to respond in the way that several of them chose to do so.

Commissioner John Brandriff raised the excellent point that the commissioners could be objective and they should pick the most qualified ones. But often that's the first thing said by White individuals when they hear comments about racial diversity and their comments often leave men and women of color thinking, is this person doing what he criticizes by equating "objective" and most qualified with race, meaning with Whites?

When you have discussions with many men and women of color on this issue, they often express that when people make the statements, "we don't look at race. We just pick the most qualified" and then all the people that are picked are White and/or male and/or straight or belonged to what Commissioner Jim Ward called "majorities", that the assumption is that White equals most qualified and most objective and that seems to be something taken for granted as the truth.

I had a conversation with a male Latino officer who had listened when Adams had given this speech at a city council meeting in October 2006 about not looking at race or religion but the most qualified and he laughed ruefully, shaking his head after the fact. At the time, the White officers present had applauded Adams' words but the Latinos had not. There were no Black male officers and no female officers of any race even present.

Also, the "low numbers" issue arose with the lack of ethnic and racial diversity on the commission but first of all the public can't respond to commissioner comments and one three-minute comment would not do the serious issues involved with the current appointment process any justice.

It's interesting to see the discussion come down not to the issues I raised but to avoid addressing them. Instead of watching White commissioners get defensive, it would have been nice to see them actually hear what Commissioner Jim Ward, the only African-American, was telling them and say, okay what can we do to address these issues? How can we look at things a bit differently and be open to perspectives by others when it comes to race and racism? How can we listen to what Ward said about looking as closely at the complainant's perspective as the commission does the officer's or how the discussions on the commission often come down to racial lines?

Some of the others nod their heads at what he says, then they disagree. Then they demonstrate to him how right he was about the point he just made through their own actions. Not out of malice, but because when you're a member of the majority race, your perspective tends to be more narrowed to perspectives from your own race because it's allowed to be. Whites don't have to learn about other races in the same way that people of color have to learn about Whites.

When it comes to activism among different classifications of "minorities" involving police reform and criminal justice system issues, often it's men and women of color who lead the way in the organized movements.

When it comes to straight women working on police issues, women of color are the most organized and doing the most work, because it impacts them much more so than White women. Even when it comes to many organizations involving gays, lesbians and/or transgenders, again it's men and women of color who lead the way when it comes to activism centered on police issues, because race is still a major factor that's intertwined with gender and/or sexual orientation.

After all, where do police officers spend the majority of their time? In White communities? In Black communities? In Latino communities? In interracial communities where most of the residents are Black and/or Latino?

What racial groups are represented disproportionately in traffic and/or stop and frisk stops? Whether you are reading through one of the Riverside Police Department's traffic stop studies, one from San Jose or the stop and frisk study from New York City, the answers will be similar.

Which neighborhoods feel like they are protected and served? Which feel like they are policed, often so that the White neighborhoods are protected and served?

Why this is so isn't the only issue or issues here. The fact that it is so is also important. Most of the people who serve on the commission will run into police officers at social events or even family events rather than being pulled over or having family members pulled over and asked if they are on probation or parole, told to put their hands on the steering wheel, told to get out of the car and sit on the curb, told to get out of the car to be handcuffed and searched or put in a squad car only to be released when the police officer is finished with the stop. Men and women of color are more likely to be treated this way, even if they are elected officials, prosecutors, judges or even law enforcement officers.

In fact in Los Angeles, Oakland and Providence, Rhode Island as well as other medium to large law enforcement agencies, Black officers have been shot to death by White officers who look at them and see a profile, not another police officer.

A Riverside Police Department officer who is a White man testified in 2005 at the trial involving Officer Roger Sutton's racial discrimination, harassment and retaliation law suit. He had a biracial teen aged son because his wife is Black. In his testimony, he spoke of allowing his son to wear cornrows to a certain age. After his son was in his mid-teens, he didn't allow him to do so anymore, the response he gave when Sutton's attorney under cross-examination asked him a question. The officer didn't really explain why but after listening to other portions of his testimony when he spoke not as a father but as a Riverside Police Department field training officer, it became more clear why.

Cornrows worn by a Black man could mean he was a felon or parolee released from a stint in prison to an officer stopping a vehicle to do a pretext stop on its driver and any passengers. That's what officers were taught in the police department even though this officer and others haven't called it racial profiling. I don't believe this officer meant it to be, but his testimony more for what it didn't clearly state rather than what it did, proved to be one of the pivotal moments of the trial and I think struck a chord with the jury. It provided a picture of the police department and how Black men were handled by the police department during the era covered in Sutton's law suit. What it meant when the father of a biracial son collided with what a field training officer taught was for that time period, on trial.

The commissioners will be more likely to have friends, family members or co-workers even who are police officers who will have complaints filed against them, than to be in the position where they will have family members or friends, or neighbors who may file complaints against the city's police officers.

Ward explained that it wasn't enough to have a racially diverse commission unless they were treated as equal and he's right. He's not the only commissioner of color to express that often the commission feels like a good 'ol White men's club, where race is disregarded as often as it becomes a dividing line. That's been said in the past.

What was telling happened when Ward was telling the commissioners about how being a racial minority was not the same thing as being a racial majority on the CPRC and while several were nodding their heads in apparent agreement or understanding, an example of what he was talking about played itself out at the same time.

Pearcy soon after made a rebuttal to Ward's comments about race on the commission but by doing so proved Ward's point for him. He made a comment about how he and Beeman both served on a panel put together by the city to pick the executive manager several months ago. Beeman agreed with Pearcy on one thing that he said about Martinelli being an excellent candidate. But what was forgotten in the exchange by Pearcy is that Ward had also served on the same panel but was apparently overlooked or even forgotten. I noticed that Ward had gone unmentioned as being a panel member that interviewed Martinelli and other candidates and I imagine Ward did too. A White commissioner serves on a hiring panel with both another White commissioner and a Black commissioner and only mentions the one who's White.

That's a dynamic that is often brought up by men and women of color who have been in similar situations, rendered invisible in the presence of White colleagues who share the same experience and see each other as sharing it, but not the person of color who also did.

Tell him one thing. Show him another. That's a dynamic that's seen quite a bit on the commission.

Speaking of the CPRC, its long-time administrative support person, Phoebe Sherron is on medical leave. She's been an awesome presence and hard-worker for the commission since it was created in 2000. Here's hoping her recuperation goes well.

Riverside County District Attorney Rod Pacheco refuses to move his office citing security concerns according to the Press Enterprise.


County Executive Officer Larry Parrish had recommended that the Board of Supervisors delay construction of the 260,000-square-foot building and parking garage in the wake of diminishing growth in property-tax revenues and the possibility of a recession.

The supervisors did not act on Parrish's recommendation. They referred the matter to a subcommittee of two supervisors, law enforcement representatives, architects and facilities managers.

In a letter to the board, Parrish said construction of the district attorney's building could significantly delay other projects such as medical clinics, an animal shelter and the second-phase of a regional hub jail.

The new jail, expected to cost county taxpayers $300 million, is a top priority for county supervisors and law enforcement officials, including Pacheco.
The district attorney's office needs a new building, Supervisor Bob Buster said, adding that he would prefer that Pacheco be given the right building in the long run. Buster said Pacheco should keep the Riverside Centre site as an interim option until the county's economic future looks brighter.

What's interesting in this article is how the county's attitude with development of infrastructure projects in its jurisdiction conflicts with the attitude of elected officials and city management in Riverside who just keep spending, spending and spending more, knowing full well that leaner times are on the horizon.

Columnist Dan Bernstein of the Press Enterprise has a field day with the intrigue surrounding the new building.


Naturally, the county has a backup plan: Open a temporary DA shelter in a downtown office building two blocks from the Hall O' Justice. Not gonna do it, says RoPac. Vengeful crooks could pick off prosecutors as they walked to and from court.

Actually, prosecutors already walk to and from court. Sometimes, they even dine in restaurants! So do jurors, witnesses and judges. But no doubt about it, two blocks is a haul. Yes, we have a crisis. Solutions, too:

Hire Blackwater to protect deputy DAs. (Then hire the National Guard to protect everyone else from Blackwater.)

Convert courtrooms to prosecutors' offices; make the judges walk two blocks.

Put a DA Wing in new "hub" jail. Ferry prosecutors to court in buses with bars on the windows. Bars in the aisle, too.

Build Rod Mahal with cost-saving "tent-city jail" technology. (Unlike inmates in Arizona's Maricopa County, pink slippers and underwear for prosecutors would be optional.)

Issue prosecutors Groucho Glasses and lapel buttons: "Kiss Me. I'm A Public Defender!"

In Pittsburgh where the department has struggled with decisions by its management to promote officers with domestic violence histories, another officer has agreed to receive counseling in relation to an incident where he assaulted his wife and joked his son, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.


Detective[Brad] Walker, 41, stood before District Judge James Hanley for no more than a minute before committing to the program and signing the paperwork. The district attorney's staff had offered him the arrangement before the judge ever called his case for a preliminary hearing.

Prosecutors could not specify how many counseling sessions he will have to attend, but they said anger management programs typically last for weeks.
Detective Walker is scheduled to appear again in court Jan. 8. His performance in the anger management program will be reviewed then.

He's been assigned to desk duty until the internal investigation by the department is completed, although the director of the Citizen Police Review Board believed that he was prohibited from even working as a police officer in that capacity.

In Bolingbrook, investigators into the disappearance of Stacey Peterson, 23, have said that her body might be contained inside the blue barrel according to CBS-News. Her disappearance was recently classified as a possible homicide, with her husband, former Sgt. Drew Peterson being viewed as a possible suspect.


Illinois State Police told searchers looking for a former police officer's missing wife to look for a blue plastic barrel large enough to fit the petite woman's body, one of the searchers said.

One neighbor says he helped Peterson haul a large barrel that was warm to the touch in the Petersons' SUV, reports CBS' The Early Show.

Police also told members of Texas EquuSearch, which assisted law enforcement, family and friends in the search for Stacy Peterson, to focus on areas of water in their search for the barrel, Tim Miller, founder and director of the private group, said Tuesday.

"They actually even gave me a picture of what we might be looking for," Miller told The Associated Press. "It was certainly large enough to put her body in, she only weighed about a hundred pounds."

Illinois State Police did not immediately return repeated messages from The Associated Press Tuesday evening.

Even more shocking, a man said he might have unknowingly carried the bin containing the body according to the Chicago Tribune.


After allegedly helping Drew Peterson haul a large container that was warm to the touch from a bedroom, a male relative of the former Bolingbrook police sergeant told a friend Oct. 28 that he was afraid he had just helped Peterson dispose of the body of his wife, Stacy Peterson, a source close to the investigation said.

The relative was so distraught that he was hospitalized two days later after an apparent suicide attempt, two sources close to the case said. The relative's name is being withheld by the Tribune; he has not been charged with a crime nor named as a suspect.

According to the article, the unnamed relative was with Peterson at a coffee shop and then ordered not to answer a cell phone given to him by Peterson if it rang. While Peterson was gone, it rang and "Stacey" came up on caller ID. Phone records had shown that a phone call had been made from Stacey's cell phone on 9 p.m. the last day she was reported being seen by Peterson. That was during the time period that this relative allegedly possessed the phone he was not allowed to answer.

Later Peterson came back and asked the relative to come back to the house with him where both men carried a blue rectangular plastic container about four feet long out to Peterson's SUV. Then the relative went home and called up another relative, saying the following words.


"I think I just helped Drew dispose of Stacey".

The box felt warm when he touched it, its weight was approximately 120 pounds. Two days later, the relative was rushed to the hospital after attempting to commit suicide.

Some of the terms used in searches.

"corruption is a way of life in the philippines"


"five before midnight"

"tasers death petition"

"voluntary manslaughter"

"city elections"

"kelsy metzler riverside police california"

"judge jeffrey white"

"police officers wife site"

"how do sexual harassment impact a unit"

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Election 2007: Decided by whom?

UPDATE: Mike Gardner and Steve Adams win the recount votes.

Read more about it here.

Maxine Frost has died at the age of 76. She served 40 years on the Riverside Unified School District Board, beginning back when the district became the first in the nation to voluntarily desegregate.


“Maxine’s cause was education and kids,” said Riverside Mayor Ron Loveridge, whose first social dinner as a newcomer to Riverside in 1965 was at the Frost home. “She gave her life to that. That’s the way she was.”

I didn't meet her until I attended my first school board meeting in January 1998 to speak in support of a proposal to name the new high school in Orangecrest after Martin Luther King, jr. The auditorium at the Palm Adult School was packed, with Whites sitting on one side and African-Americans sitting on the other in the first week of January, 1998.

Most Whites there spoke against naming the school after King, jr. including several who fretted about their kids not getting into Ivy League schools if it was believed that they were attending a "Black school" and when they finished speaking, the White side of the auditorium would stand up, applaud and sit down again like a wave. When a Black person or an occasional White person spoke in favor of King, the same thing happened on that side. The New York Times took a picture of all of us in the auditorium lit brightly by a spotlight put up by CNN, which aired the meeting live. Riverside usually doesn't get this kind of treatment unless there's controversy and more often than not, it involves race. This was no exception and we bring it upon ourselves.

People were so appalled at the naked racism that was displayed in the Press Enterprise's series "Through the Prism" which addressed race and racism in 1996 through inviting people to write in on various issues surrounding race. Word was, the newspaper hoped to win a Pulitzer Prize but what it and the city saw instead, shocked them into taking some sort of action by initiating the study circles program on race relations which was sponsored by the Office of Neighborhoods and the Community Relations Division.

Interestingly enough, one of the letters in the Prism series was written by a former lieutenant, Ron Orrantia, who's Latino. His letter was written before he and two other men of color who were sergeants at the time filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Their actions were pivotal at the time and would be felt later on as well, particularly with Orrantia and then Sgt. Alex Tortes. But that was later. Not long before Orrantia was allegedly pushed to retire by members of the department's management as one of what was called, "Jerry's Kids".

But it wasn't the police department's turn to be put on display until about a year after the King controversy.

My mother called me up, asking me why I was quoted in the New York Times and I explained what had happened. I had been talking to Maxine about what had happened, when a photographer from that publication took our photograph. She appeared undaunted by all the fanfare surrounding the most recent foray by Riverside into the national news arena and she spoke very well at that meeting as the new school became Martin Luther King, jr. High School. And while I might not be up to snuff as a public speaker today, at least I don't throw up afterward anymore. But few people in positions of power held a candle to her that evening.

On that same night, a long-time minister named Rev. Johnny Harris in the Eastside passed, Congressman Sonny Bono was missing on a skiing holiday and a school was born.

Maxine stepped down this year and was replaced by Tom Hunt in this past election. He's got pretty big shoes to fill.

The arduous recount continues in the Ward One and Ward Seven races in front of candidates, attorneys and other observers.


Registrar Barbara Dunmore said Ward 1 Councilman Dom Betro’s representatives asked that the recount in his contest be finished today.

"We’re doing everything in our power to accommodate that request,” she said.

At the end of the day, the ballots were recounted in Ward One but more steps will be taken in the face of what's likely to happen next. Apparently, if Mike Gardner indeed wins the election, Betro may file a law suit through his attorney challenging the results. It's no surprise to learn that this election may be tied up indefinitely by civil litigation if you've watched how Betro has handled the daunting prospect that he may have been voted out of office.


In Ward 1, incumbent Dom Betro has asked that the signatures on the envelopes of all 2,586 absentee ballots in his race be compared with the signatures the registrar has on record to make sure they match. This is in case he decides to file a lawsuit challenging the election results, Betro said.

Because the ballots can no longer be matched to the envelopes, it won’t change the outcome, Riverside County Registrar of Voters Barbara Dunmore said. That means the city must wait until the signature checking is done to learn who won the Ward 1 race.

Before the recount, sales and marketing executive Mike Gardner was the apparent winner over Betro by seven votes. Gardner said Tuesday he believes he is ahead by six votes.

They say it tells a lot about a person by how they handle the losses in their lives, the setbacks because naturally, these things hurt and sting when they happen. It's something everyone struggles with to varying degrees and how to lose gracefully in competitions might be among the most important lessons most people learn. It's an area that Betro obviously needs to work at. Hasn't he ever lost like the rest of us? But then people in the Betro camp seemed so shocked that he did lose, even stating online that those who voted for Gardner were frightened and intimidated at the time. They seem to think that anyone who didn't vote for their candidate was out of their mind instead of just doing what Betro's supporters did, which was vote for their guy. Only Betro voters were portrayed as people of reason, which means of course that there are at this time, slightly more unreasonable people in Ward One than reasonable ones.

But it's apparently "unreasonable" voters that the city council wants to protect the city from by pushing for city-wide runoff elections, preferably those that are mailin only.

There's certainly an interesting contrast in study between him and Ward Three Councilman Art Gage, the designated "villain" of the dais. Gage has done quite a bit to earn that title especially in regards to his decision to push for eminent domain of a bunch of houses in his ward to further the development of office space by one of the city council's most popular campaign donors, Doug Jacobs, not to mention his foibles against the Community Police Review Commission. He also lost his election pretty early on and didn't have to wait for the conclusion of an arduous vote count and recount so his situation was easier in many ways.

That aside, he hasn't stomped out of city council meetings and rolled his eyes at people he doesn't like who are saying things he probably doesn't agree with. He's not rude to people. He's lost and if he's upset about it, he's not putting it out on display in public, or confusing being voted into office with being entitled to hold that office as long as he wants no matter what the voters say. He hasn't yelled at anyone for asking questions or disagreeing with him and has never been rude to me but has been polite even in disagreement. To his credit, his successor, William "Rusty" Bailey has quietly allowed him to finish out his term.

I probably never would vote for him for several reasons but he's conducted himself the past couple of weeks since his loss as if he's still an elected official with a job to do until he's replaced by the candidate who defeated him. Ward Three might have lost confidence in him but his focus seems to be on finishing his term and moving on with his life. Ward Three's election won't end up tied up in litigation for a judge to decide unlike what might happen in Ward One. But Gage is the "bad" guy and he exits gracefully, when most villains wouldn't. It's not part of the script.

Betro's situation was much different. Less than 10 votes separated him and Gardner through the majority of the initial counting process. That apparently didn't change with the recount as of yet. The ward split wide in half during this election and it wasn't fear or intimidation that made people vote the way that they did. And it wasn't just "two issues". It was a clash between wanting the city to maintain its identity as a medium-sized enclave with a down-home feel and those who wanted a more urbanized look and feel and wanted it yesterday and have acted accordingly. It was also about how people felt about a city that was trying to mirror a county and treat those who elect representatives to office accordingly. It was actually about a lot of things that matter to people in this city, including where it's going from where it's been. But if the elected leadership hasn't figured out what's been going on in the electorate the past couple of years, another opportunity will arise during the next election cycle in 2009 when the voters will issue grades again.

What would be an interesting exercise in close elections would be to see a winner and a narrow loser have to share the title of council representative and reach all decisions and votes through consensus about how best to serve their ward. No ego that runs for an office in a process that often attracts egos would survive that but it would be an interesting way to resolve the issue of having wards that are split almost in half.

Gardner is no savior. He's simply the guy who got the most votes. Twice. And it's up to his ward residents to keep his feet to the fire. I would, if he was my councilman. But he doesn't seem prone to snap at people, charge out of public forums and verbally assault people in public who don't agree with him. Still, it didn't seem that Betro was capable of that when he swept into office four years ago but until someone is in a position of both authority and power, it often can't be predicted how they will act and how they will handle that responsibility.

However, Betro wears his heart and his angst on his sleeve and it's much more visible, which has caused him problems that his handlers should have addressed ages ago. When an ethics complaint was filed against him allegedly for telling activist Kevin Dawson that he'd better pray he didn't get elected, Betro's close supporters didn't challenge that it happened, they simply defended Betro's behavior. What's wrong with that picture?

So Betro's upset with the way the election has gone. Fair enough, but is it enough to tie it up in litigation for an indeterminate amount of time? I guess time will tell if the city does indeed go down this road.

Given that Election 2007 has been a difficult event for many people, I wasn't really all that offended when Betro shook his head at me about 15 seconds into my speech on item #18 which was on city council decorum and then stomped off in a huff. I'm used to it. He's never been particularly nice to me. He seems to be mostly nice to the individuals who he depends upon, as someone told me yesterday after his stormy exit.

Having received the brunt of his anger and pique in front of a large group of people at a public meeting that both of us knew simply for questioning something that he had said, I've seen that part of him. At the time, he had told people that the city was finalizing a contract with an independent contractor and awaiting only the paperwork when in fact, there had been no contract negotiation talks going on for several months because of the city manager's office apparent disinterest in the process or maybe problems with its level of experience as already evidenced through its labor negotiations with the city's bargaining units. It was the city council's job including Betro's to hold the city manager's feet to the fire to do what it had ordered him to do, rather than run interference for its employee when the public starts asking what's going on. It took a while for that to happen for one city council to properly direct its errant employee to get a job done and in the meantime, one of the city's department's that it has invested a fortune in went by the wayside like some forgotten toy.

There's just something fundamentally wrong with that and with trying to say that the opposite is happening. It's dishonest and unfair to the public who trust that a job will be done and it's dishonest and unfair to the individual on the other end of the bargaining table who's trying to practice good faith in the process. It's just not right but I was respectful about it and what I said. I really expected him to be as well.

I didn't deserve his tantrum and his attack, but that didn't matter. It didn't matter that he had basically come to a group of his most ardent supporters, criticized them for not speaking out against one of the city's labor unions and then left the meeting without any regard for them. At the time, I had supported much of what he did but not everything. I had not criticized him or attacked him as he did me. I simply had challenged something he said to a group of people who supported him that I knew not to be true. But that didn't matter. He tore into me verbally because I had questioned him and because I had spoke in support of the city's unions right to due process at the negotiation table. His closest supporters had looked at me, with something akin to sorrow in their eyes but they backed him, proving to me that trying to hold governments accountable and getting involved in political campaigns purportedly to do just that, don't mix well. Maybe they're more used to this behavior from their guy than we who aren't members of that group know.

However, the same union that was "bad" in September 2006 because it was suing the CPRC (when it wasn't) donated an amount of money into Betro's campaign that was almost unprecedented. In fact, it financed nearly 10% of his entire campaign coffer by election's end. That's a considerable contribution. The turnaround from lecturing people angrily for not criticizing this union to taking quite a big chunk of its PAC donations didn't seem to faze many people either but if you really want someone to win office because you believe he's the best person or for other reasons, I imagine you overlook a lot of things.

But if Betro's piques of temper in public including several that surprisingly made it through the insulation of the pro-Betro Press Enterprise news section may have impacted the vote in that ward, that wouldn't be surprising. Something his closest supporters should have anticipated instead of telling him it was in the bag.

Ward Seven most definitely won't be finished with its recount today. What's interesting is for all this talk about anomalies and problems in the voting process, all of that concern by this city's elected officials including those on the Governmental Affairs Committee meeting seemed to be aimed solely at the Ward One election and not the other three. Why not problems in Wards Three, Five and Seven? Surely, if an election process is flawed, then every contest overseen by that process would experience problems impacting all the candidates in each race. If it's flawed, it needs to be addressed from that angle, not because several elected officials are unhappy with the results of one election.

But all the fuss was about Ward One, by people who had endorsed Betro and who probably didn't endorse the woman who almost unseated Councilman Steve Adams, which was former mayor, Terry Frizzel. So it's very selective where this concern about election process lies. Very selective indeed.

The Press Enterprise might not provide much indication of it, but the Governmental Affairs meeting was actually well attended for a mid-day session and even video-recorded, despite an objection by Councilman Dom Betro when he saw the camera held by Kevin Dawson from Save-Riverside.

The committee delayed a decision on election changes at the end of the meeting, after a stirring speech by outgoing Councilman Ed Adksion.

But before that, there was the issue of whether or not the meeting could be taped by a member of the public.

"Is approval needed," Betro asked City Attorney Gregory Priamos.

Was he kidding? Surely, Priamos gives city council members a workshop on the Brown Act. I mean, they're required to know the law that they are supposed to adhere to, right?

Priamos said that as long as it was not disruptive, filming could be done and the meeting began on that note. The three elected officials including committee chair, Frank Schiavone looked surprised to see about 10 city residents show up and speak on the issue. It looked like some of them have heard from other individuals on a plan to have the top two vote-getting candidates because first they rushed the process on a Governmental Affairs Committee agenda after a holiday weekend, then they spoke of slowing it down to allow plenty of opportunities for public input. Then they wanted to do a survey but wouldn't say who would be chosen to survey.

It's hard not to remember one allegedly city-wide survey of past years which yielded a majority of its responses from a single zip code from Ward Four.

There was actually mention of a workshop involving the city council and even public hearings. However, the report stated that if an initiative to amend the charter was placed on the ballot, it would be in March next year, which with even more holidays coming upon us, doesn't leave much time to collect public input.

Not so, Schiavone wearing a pretty impressive maroon tie roared. The election dates would be changed! He didn't seem to be as thrilled to enter into some sort of dialogue with the Riverside County Voters' Registrar which the city could be divorcing. Not surprising considering he was running for a county seat on the board of supervisors next year and probably wanted to pick his county appearances and actions wisely. A good political strategy is paramount after all, which puts active elected officials in a bit of a pickle when they are serving one term of office while at the same time, running for a higher elected position. Just ask Adams.

At any rate, Schiavone did most of the talking from his end of the table. City staff on hand included Priamos, Asst. City Attorney Susan Wilson, Asst. City Manager Tom DeSantis and his palm pilot and City Clerk Colleen Nichols. They spoke when asked to do so.

Ed Adkison gave one of those perfect lame-duck speeches that put it all there. Betro responded by discussing the diversity of his campaign donation portfolio. There wasn't much he could say at a meeting he probably should have excused himself from sitting in due to a conflict of interest. And besides he didn't like some of the comments made by people who attended. "Odd balls" who "spewed" whatever came to their mind.

Schiavone once told me that I behaved myself much better at the podium or in meetings than others that he didn't mention. But you know what? It doesn't matter because everybody who disagrees with them gets treated pretty much the same way through a litany of facial gestures, groans, sighs, shuffling of papers and as of late, getting up and walking out. People who have seen me at meetings are amazed when I tell them how the city council has reacted. The cameras of Charter Communications don't show the other side of the dais when people speak.

Maybe it's time to videotape the city council's behavior and then show it to people the next time it tries to give itself a pay raise.

So Betro spoke of the diversity of his campaign porfolio and given that each development firm is broken down into multiple donors including "individuals" who are president or vice-presidents of these firms, that still counts them as individuals.

It was Gardner, who was elected by special interests narrowed to downtown. I found that interesting. I mean, downtown's got the lionshare of Betro's attention and supposedly, they're crowding around the other guy?

That's also interesting considering that about 10% of Betro's $200,000 came from a single donor, a local labor union, and that at least 20 donors represented development firms from Beverly Hills, Fontana, Tustin and Thousand Oaks among other places including several who have visited this site in the past couple of days. Some of these firms dumped quite a bit of change in his campaign and those of others, especially Adams and they aren't Riverside businesses nor are they Riverside individuals.

Betro attributed Gardner's support to consisting only of some folks downtown which is interesting because the two major downtown organizations, DANA and the Downtown Neighborhood Partnership are strongly in Betro's camp and some say they exert the most power and influence downtown. Also the Greater Chamber of Commerce staunchly supported Betro and it's a big player downtown as is Mission Inn owner Duane Roberts who well, you know. Gardner's support actually was fairly widespread even if he didn't raise as much money. His donations were much smaller in size and far fewer of them were development firms from out of town including those which have gained land on which to build them from property owners who were pushed to sell their properties under threat of eminent domain by the city's redevelopment agency or if they weren't in a designated zone, by the City Council itself.

Governmental Affairs never disappoints when it comes to drama and this time was no different. Schiavone threw out some interesting strawmen about conspiracies being implied. Sometimes it seems they get too defensive. It's like Robert Redford said in All the President's Men said, "they volunteered that he was innocent when nobody asked, was he guilty."

Betro cried that elected officials should not be abused. I agree. Neither should members of the public be so treated by elected officials that their tax dollars pay to employ. And I was, even though I had done nothing to deserve it. But I'm not the only person who initially supported him that was treated that way, when disagreement on an issue or an event arose.

I guess Adkison's speech on why the rush on these twin agenda items made some impact because it's going back to the newly sworn in city council.

But you know what? The truth is in the pudding and that's what happened here. When asked what cities used a similar city-wide election process, Stockton was invoked.

And why did Stockton adopt such a process? It adopted it because the current city council was upset with one of its members and essentialy wanted him or her off the dais. This was, they must have thought, one way to accomplish that. So our city is basically jumping on the wagon of something done by a city that pushed through an election change that was instituted to clear the dais of minority dissent.

I'm amazed that someone actually told that story. But then again, Governmental Affairs is known for its drama and its revelations. That was a good one on the grading scale.

At Yahoo, Riverside, California came up as one of the most popular places to search for foreclosures. About 2,507 of them listed at the site.

According to the Press Enterprise, there is a probe being sought into the San Bernardino election.


Rick Avila, who came in third Nov. 6 for the Ward 5 San Bernardino City Council seat, said he believes there were some discrepancies in the election and is seeking a recount.

But he said the cost of about $8,100 a day is prohibitive. By comparison, Riverside County is charging about $400 a day for a recount in the Ward 7 Riverside City Council race.

"I want to know why it costs 2,025 percent more than Riverside," Avila said. "Is that a deterrent?"

San Bernardino County spokesman David Wert said the estimate provided to Avila is based on a full hand recount. The charges reflect the county's costs and vary according to what kind of recount is requested, he said.

In Riverside County, candidates who request a recount are charged about $400 a day for the four members of the recount board. San Bernardino County charges for the registrar, assistant registrar and three election technicians' time as well.

The Metropolitan News-Enterprise wrote an interesting article about about a recent decision on Pitchess Motions by the California State Supreme Court. A Pitchess motion is filed by a civil or criminal attorney to petition the court for a in camera hearing to determine if information about citizen complaints can be released from peace officers' records and if so, to what extent.


Justice Carol Corrigan, writing for the Supreme Court, agreed.

“We adopt the rule formulated by the Court of Appeal for this narrow factual situation,” she said. “When complainant information has been ordered disclosed to counsel who, when later representing a different defendant, succeeds under Pitchess in discovering the same complainant information relating to the same officer, counsel may then refer to the derivative information uncovered as part of the earlier follow-up investigation.”

Noting that the protective order was designed to ensure that disclosure of confidential information be limited to the proceeding in which the disclosure was ordered, she said:

“Once a subsequent defendant obtains that same information under a valid Pitchess order, there is little justification for precluding review of derivative information…

“This approach is consistent with the purpose of the Pitchess scheme to balance the police officer’s privacy interest in his or her personnel records with the criminal defendant’s interest in obtaining all pertinent information.”

Corrigan was joined in her opinion by Chief Justice Ronald M. George and Justices Joyce L. Kennard, Kathryn Mickle Werdegar, and Ming W. Chin.

Justices Carlos Moreno and Marvin R. Baxter filed separate concurring opinions.

Baxter said that he saw no reason to distinguish between direct and derivative “use.”

“Otherwise,” he said, “counsel could win Pitchess disclosure against an officer in one case, obtain derivative information as a result, then invade the hapless officer’s confidential file again and again… simply by bringing an infinite number of subsequent Pitchess motions, using the previously obtained information to demonstrate the need for new disclosure.”

Arguing from a standpoint of judicial efficiency, Moreno said that Sec. 1045 allows defendants Pitchess discovery in any court proceeding, and that making the same Pitchess determination repeatedly would force attorneys and judges to “reinvent the wheel” with each new request regarding the same officer.

Deputy Public Defender Matthew Braner, the defendant’s appellate counsel, said his client was “pretty happy” with the decision, and said that the court had made a very cumbersome process less so.

Deputy San Diego City Attorney David M. Stotland said that his office had wished for a different outcome. Nevertheless, he said, the decision codified what public defenders have been doing in the last few years, and he noted that the position adopted by the court was the same position that the Los Angeles County Public Defender’s Office had advocated as amicus curiae.

Other documents on this case and its implications are below.

Text from Chambers v San Diego County Superior Court decision.

Chambers May 4, 2006 appellate decision

League of California Cities amicus curiae brief

Minneapolis has settled a law suit for $4.5 million filed by one of its police officers after he had been shot by a fellow officer, according to Minnesota Public Radio.


Early on the morning of Feb. 25, 2003, Duy Ngo was working undercover in the central neighborhood in south Minneapolis.

He was sitting in a car when a man approached and shot him in the chest through the car's windshield. Luckily, Ngo was wearing a bulletproof vest. He called in the shooting and tried to give chase, but was winded and stopped to catch his breath.

As he lay in an alley, officer Charles Storlie approached him. Police accounts say Ngo was holding a gun and that Storlie called out to Ngo before he shot him with a submachine gun. But, other accounts say Ngo was easily identifiable as an officer and was waving his arms.

Minneapolis City Council President Barb Johnson says the Ngo incident underscores the fact that sometimes police officers have to make split-second, life or death decisions.

"By approving this agreement ... we hope to close this chapter -- recognizing that for these two officers, life will never be the same."
- City Council President Barb Johnson"I just want us to reflect on the fact that the men and women of the Minneapolis Police Department put themselves in harm's way to defend us. Unfortunately, sometimes these life and death situations end in the worst possible way," said Johnson. "By approving this agreement today, which I'm going to recommend, we hope to close this chapter -- recognizing that for these two officers, life will never be the same."

The shooting left Ngo with a mangled left arm and damage to his groin. He still works part time for the Minneapolis Police Department.

"We were pleased the city council approved the settlement that was worked out through U.S. magistrate Judge Boylan in St. Paul," said Ngo's attorney Bob Bennett. "We had met earlier with representatives from the city, both the city attorney and council president Barbara Johnson."

In Bolingbrook, former Sgt. Drew Peterson is hailing the decision of the FBI to join in the search for his missing wife, Stacey, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

In Chicago, a man who spent years in prison for a rape he didn't commit is now suing the city and its police department according to the Chicago Tribune.


In the suit, Marlon Pendleton alleged that detectives mishandled the police lineup procedure and that a lab analyst prepared an incomplete report claiming DNA evidence was insufficient to test.

Independent experts determined that the DNA was sufficient for valid testing and the test was completed. The evidence from that test freed Pendleton late last year.

"What this lawsuit is about is yet another example of a miscarriage of justice produced by egregious failures on the part of the Chicago Police Department," said Locke Bowman, one of Pendleton's attorneys and legal director of the MacArthur Justice Center at the Northwestern University School.

Orange County Sheriff Mike Carona's wife, Deborah, wants out of the federal corruption case.

(excerpt, Belo Blog)

Deborah Carona, 56, wants a federal judge to order prosecutors to specify actions that led to the charge, according to a motion filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Ken Julian said his office will oppose the motion during a Dec. 17 hearing.

Defense attorney David Wiechert said in court documents that he plans to file a series of motions challenging the claim against Deborah Carona.

"Given the dearth of allegations against the sheriff's wife, the government's intentions in joining her in this indictment are abundantly clear get to the sheriff by getting to his family," Wiechert wrote.

Visitors to this site have included the following. They are late because "Black Friday" and its unprecedented internet traffic, or what's known as cyber shopping, blew out quite a few servers on the stat counter Web site.

City of Riverside

County of Riverside

Lewis Operating Corp. (which is a development firm and campaign donor)

Press Enterprise

Belo Enterprises

Partners HealthCare System

University of Connecticut

Naval Command Control & Ocean Surveillance Center

University of Vermont

VTR Banda Ancha S.A. (Chile)

Wells Fargo Bank


Oxford University

Danish Network for Research and Education

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