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

Monday, July 28, 2008

Election 2009: Using the same system?

It took place after the pivotal city council meeting on July 22 but the Press Enterprise Editorial Board did finally recommend to just say no to any plans to change the current election structure in Riverside. Like many people, the board seemed to believe that any such changes would simply be self-serving to politicians already in power who want to stay there.


But electing council members by plurality also benefits incumbents, who no longer have to hit that pesky 50 percent-plus mark. Complaints about long campaigns sound more like political self-interest than any voter concern. Voters, in fact, approved the June-November schedule in 2006. And for decades Riverside residents have handled runoffs without befuddlement.

Yes, the other cities in Riverside County elect council members by plurality. But by that logic, Riverside should also go to a five-person city council. A more apt comparison is San Bernardino, which like Riverside is the largest city in its county. And like Riverside, San Bernardino is a charter city with seven council districts and a citywide mayor -- and a city that holds runoff elections.

The council held off on the election plan after 17 residents spoke against the change last week. But this plan does not require more thought; it just needs junking.

But will it be junked? It's on its way back to committee, this time the rather stacked Mayor's Nomination and Screening Committee which includes the three city council members from Governmental Affairs Committee who pushed this proposal to save the city's residents from their own confusion and ignorance. Hopefully of course before next year's election cycle because it had been rushed to city council to be passed to make an August deadline to be placed on this November's ballot. But the "Incumbent Protection Act" (as Councilman Chris MacArthur aptly called it) failed to muster much if any support among city residents and in the process, other elected officials. So much so that even those who promoted it as the "let the voters decide" measure backed off quickly when they saw the writing on the walls including their walls. It's just as well because it's not likely this proposal if on the ballot would have passed the muster of the city's voters.

It was principled for the city council members who pushed this agenda to back down when they realized it didn't have support even though one of them, Steve Adams who represents the seventh ward said he supported taking it to committee simply to educate the people of the city about why this is so important for them. But it seems that it was the people who showed up at the July 22 city council meeting who provided the education for the city council and many residents also seem well aware of exactly who this measure is most important for.

And like the board said, the Governmental Affairs Committee should have directed city staff to conduct "research" that was more representative of the different election structures which were being used by cities much closer to Riverside's population than those used in its carefully constructed sampling of Riverside County cities.

Why indeed were cities like San Bernardino omitted, a city that politically speaking, is structured very much like Riverside? The only explanation for omitting information on these other cities would be that it was omitted by the committee because it couldn't tailor it to its argument in support of plurality in elections. Why instead was Riverside comparing itself to more modestly populated cities with five elected ward representatives and mayors that were appointed by their city councils, i.e. Moreno Valley, Palm Springs, Norco, Indio and Corona (which may elect its own mayor)? You can look up these cities and others and some times they'll explain their election system, but generally for example, if you see a mayor and an even numbered city council, then most likely, the mayor is appointed by that body rather than by the voters at large.

Does anyone remember the city council or any of its committees ever explaining during a public meeting that the cities that it chose to compare itself to in order to promote plurality elections bore more resemblance to each other than any of them did with Riverside? Did anyone remember the explanation as to why the Governmental Affairs Committee chose to do it this way? If you don't, that's because the committee didn't provide any. Yet if the elected officials were really concerned about presenting an objective portrait of the election process then one would think they would have done so. But then the end result of that kind of even handed disclosure might have been that plurality elections are better suited for smaller cities and towns with more simplistic infrastructure when it comes to elected governments and not for larger cities like Riverside with systems in place that are a bit more complex.

The omission of this important information from the Governmental Affairs Committee's "research" does beg the question of whether or not this was really an objective look at the pros and cons of plurality vs runoffs for elections or whether it was actually simply a push for plurality elections for whatever reason. And it seemed that city residents could name what a couple of those reasons actually were.

As for low voter turnout, it means that in the interest of democracy, we as a city and as voters need to work harder to address voting issues which lower turnout (and Councilwoman Nancy Hart and others have raised some of these reasons) and try to encourage a more positive trend in ways that don't involve manipulation of the voting process. That might be a better topic for any city council committee to address than any other proposal to change the current system and that might be a much better use of any ad hoc committee that's created as well.

So currently, the election schedule for Election 2009 stands as it did in 2007 with an early preliminary mailin election in June and any final rounds to be held later in the autumn. It's anticipated that all four incumbents who are up (and this is the mayor and council members in even numbered wards) plan to run again though formal announcements for several individuals still have to be made. Some fundraisers are already being held this month to get the ball rolling in fundraising for what could be a very long election season.

Speaking of the city council, it's on sabbatical until Aug. 13, but on that date will be the presentation by the blue ribbon panel appointed by the city council to research and release recommendations on the upcoming downtown library and museum expansion projects. It's important to attend this meeting and participate in the process including the discussion. At this point, the panel, the Board of Library Trustees, the Metropolitan Museum Board and many city residents and several advocacy organizations support keeping the two projects separate. As you remember, City Manager Brad Hudson supported keeping them together as one project under the banner of Riverside Renaissance. His words brought hundreds of city residents to meetings and there were initially elected representatives who weren't impressed by these public showings. Hopefully, they and their colleagues are a bit more impressed by the public's continued involvement since. Now it's up to the city council to make the decision on what to do next.

The blue ribbon panel approved these guiding principles on June 10 before it heard public comment on June 18. The blue ribbon task force site is here.

More information at Renew the Library.

If you can't attend the meeting, you should contact the mayor and city council to provide your input on the projects and the process.

Mayor Ron Loveridge:

Phone number: 826-5551


City Council:

Phone number: 826-5991


Holding public meetings, will be the Riverside Transit Agency to discuss more route changes including the elimination of Rte. 36 and modifications made to other bus routes.

The Riverside meeting will be the last one held on Aug. 13 at 6pm at the RTA headquarters on Third Street. If you can't attend, you can provide input through email and by phone until Aug. 13 through calling 1-800-800-7821 or emailing at

RTA Web site

If you heard loud noises in Moreno Valley, it was just explosives training at March Air Field.

Two Black officers in the New York City Police Department tried to report a supervisor who used racial slurs, but a Black chief who heard their complaints didn't care about the use of the slurs.

(excerpt, New York Daily News)

Assistant Chief Gerald Nelson went ballistic after Officer Shelron Smikle made a June 10 report to the Internal Affairs Bureau charging that a black sergeant at the 83rd Precinct dropped the N-bomb on him.

Two days later, Nelson, the commander of Patrol Borough Brooklyn North, ordered Smikle, 28, and his partner, Blanch O'Neal, 38, to his office, they told the Daily News in an interview.

"'We have friends in IAB, and you're full of s--t!'" Nelson screamed, according to Smikle and O'Neal. "So what, he [the sergeant] called you a n----r? If you can't handle it, resign!'"

Smikle, who was born on the Caribbean island of Jamaica, said he also complained that the sergeant told him "to go back to [his] country" and referred to him as a "dollar van driver."

"So what, he said that to you?" Nelson allegedly responded.

"'Get the f--k out of my office! It doesn't matter if this conversation is being recorded. I'm not saying anything wrong.'"

Ever seen the scene in Crash when Ryan Phillipe's character reports Matt Dillon's character to his supervisor?

Police Chief Magazine writes this interesting article on police officers and steroid abuse. There's a lot of good information and below are the list of effects that steroid use has on people both physiologically and mentally. During the past few years, this issue has received much more attention because there's been numerous scandals involving selling steroids and using them within several law enforcement agencies. This has led to an increased motivation by those and other agencies for conducting random testing.


General Medical Effects of Use:

Anabolic steroids can cause temporary or permanent medical problems. Some known medical problems associated with AAS use follow:

Decreased sperm production

Abscess at the site of injection

Increased or even severe acne

Increased blood pressure

Increased “bad” (LDL) and lower “good” (HDL) cholesterol, with attendant increased risk of heart attack

Thickening of the wall of the heart (especially in the left ventricle)

Increased or decreased sex drive (libido)

Increased appetite

Liver disease, especially with AASs taken orally (infrequent)

Death from several causes, including suicide, atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries leading to heart attacks or strokes), and cardiac complications

HIV and similar risk issues associated with the sharing of needles or the use of nonsterile needles
Researchers still do not know a great deal about the long-term dangers of AAS use in individuals, but the evidence of potential dangers has been steadily increasing with new scientific publications in recent years. For example, one study of older champion power lifters (most or all of whom had likely used AASs) found that their death rate was almost five times as great as that of a comparison group of men of the same age in the general population. The reasons for death in the older power lifters included both medical problems such as heart disease and psychiatric problems such as suicide.5

Psychological Effects:

Users of AASs can experience psychiatric symptoms during use, abuse, or withdrawal. Symptoms differ depending on the drug’s absence or presence in the body. Symptoms tend to correlate with the size of the weekly dose and can worsen with long-term use. Importantly, the psychiatric symptoms are idiosyncratic; some men taking a given dose of AASs may show no psychiatric effects at all, whereas a few men taking an identical dose might show extreme effects.6 The reasons for this variability are not known, but it is clear that reactions to AASs cannot be predicted on the basis of an individual’s baseline personality. In other words, even if a man has a mildmannered, gentle personality when not taking AASs, there is still a risk that he might develop a sudden personality change and become uncharacteristically aggressive and violent while taking AASs.7

Symptoms Associated with Use or Abuse:

Mania or hypomania (high energy levels associated with increased self-confidence, increased activity, impaired judgment, and reckless behavior)

Psychosis—loss of touch with reality (for example, paranoia or delusions of grandeur; infrequent)

Personality changes
Symptoms Associated with Withdrawal:

Long-term AAS abusers can develop symptoms of dependence and withdrawal on discontinuation.

Withdrawal sometimes leads to severe depression and thoughts of suicide, in addition to medical effects, especially in individuals who have taken AASs for months or years.

Many steroid abusers including those in law enforcement also use Human Growth Hormone which produces even more serious side effects in its users. If you're using either of them or both, you're just endangering your health, one of the most important things that you have.

Aug. 5 is National Night Out. There will be different events in different neighborhoods in Rivereside commemorating this event.

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