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

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Just another one of those Mondays

****UPDATE**** CPRC trying to figure out if it's supposed to investigate the death of Martin Gaspar Pablo. More to come.

"There is one safeguard known generally to the wise, which is an advantage and security to all, but especially to democracies as against despots. What is it? Distrust."


"Democracy is the recurrent suspicion that more than half of the people are right more than half of the time."

---E.B. White

"Democracy is a device that ensures we shall be governed no better than we deserve."

----George Bernard Shaw

Mayor Ron Loveridge of Riverside might not want to hear this, but five Starbucks stores including one in Riverside will close their doors in the Inland Empire. Loveridge seemed to equate economic success with the number of Starbucks within the city limits, but just recently the coffee company decided to close 600 of its outlets in the United States.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Keny Mejia, a shift supervisor at the Riverside store, said company officials notified employees of the closure about a week ago. She said all of the 20 or so people who work at the Canyon Springs Parkway location -- all but one work part-time -- are being offered positions at other area Starbucks.

"We don't know where yet," Mejia said. "We just know we'll all have homes. They were really good about it."

Anna Kim-Williams, a spokeswoman for Starbucks, said by phone Saturday that although the company is trying to place employees of closed stores in other coffeehouses, there are not enough openings for all displaced workers. Starbucks will give severance payments to those it cannot transfer, she said.

Kim-Williams said she did not know whether employees of the other four Inland locations would be transferred. She also did not know why so many of the soon-to-be-closed California stores are in the Inland area. The next list of closures will be announced in August, she said.

Loveridge as you remembered, spoke about how successful Riverside was based in part on how many businesses it attracted including the illustrious Starbucks. He's planning to toss in his hat for the next year, against unnamed opponents. If elections are changed into a system which favors plurality, then he would definitely be the odds-on favorite. As you know, the recommendation that the Governmental Affairs Committee made last week to send to the city council was to put an initiative on the ballot no later than this autumn to change the current system. The city council is expected to discuss this item at its next meeting on July 22. Just don't be surprised if there's not a whole lot of discussion by anyone on the dais on this issue. Is there ever really much of a discussion on any issue anymore?

If it gets on the ballot, who will be paying for advertisement of the argument in favor of the initiative? Will it be the city residents? Who will pay for the arguments against the initiative? Will it be city residents? Will people be in the position of paying both for the argument against and that in favor of the initiative? The problem with arguing about democracy is that you're assuming that all parties within it are equal and that's not the case especially for those who do foot the bill for covering both sides of the issue.

Some people hope that councilmen like Ward One's Michael Gardner and Andrew Melendrez from Ward Two might hesitate to cast a vote in favor of putting something on the ballot to change the system and that might be so. But on a lot of issues, this city council is as much a 7-0 entity as its predecessors and no one knows just how much lobbying is taking place behind the scenes and behind closed doors at City Hall, given how high the stakes are for individuals who may be pushing this particular issue at this point in time. What's unfortunate is that we have individuals running for political office who apparently are so concerned that they might not be able to capture the majority of the vote, meaning 50% and above that they have to try to set up circumstances where they can get in with much less of a percentage and that's not exactly democracy at work, is it? It's democracy at play.

After all, if they were concerned as private citizens that the current election system doesn't favor them, they can always go out and do what individual citizens do and that's collect signatures from the populace to put a measure on the ballot. And then if it's a really great initiative that speaks on an issue many people care about it, you can sit and wait to see if you get hit with a SLAPP suit by the city which serves as a useful barometer to just how much of an impact on the political fabric your initiative may have.

And it's when elected officials opt to use their insistance that it's all about democracy as a shield against criticism that you have to wonder. Actions that truly reflect a concern for democracy in government need no defensive use of sound bytes in response.

So if you have some free time and aren't out on vacation somewhere, drop by the city council meeting a week from tomorrow. It's too bad that the city council is deciding such an important issue during the summer months when so many residents are on vacation or even out of town but that's usually how things work this time of year.

At the very least, you'll probably be guaranteed a good show and it'll be free entertainment at least, whereas live theater is a rarity in the City of the Arts and the movie theater prices are getting up into the stratosphere given how dismal popcorn futures look right now. One warning, straight up. If you're playing the city council drinking game, do not, I repeat do not pick the word "democracy" as the word in which to drown a shot glass every time you hear it. Especially if you plan to drive home after the city council drinking party has adjourned. Otherwise, designate a driver to get you safely home.

Maybe fiddling with the election system will become an annual event. Who knows, maybe we will wind up voting away city elections altogether because some incumbent will decide that he or she can't pull off a plurality win and wants to create a brand new system on our dollar. After all, the majority of voters passed the current system which has been personified as being next to evil and their voices and votes aren't being respected or valued in the interest of democracy. That's because this isn't exactly about democracy, though that should be more and more clear the more and more times elected officials invoke the "D" word.

It's also coincidentally or not, the first meeting where the city will activate its card system. Many cities use it successfully and hopefully Riverside will too and there won't be any stories about submitted cards being "lost" because the one holding the cards dislikes the speaker or disagrees with him or her. Perhaps a solution to that is opening up a hotline for those who submit cards to the city council and then are told when it's time to speak that these cards weren't received.

It's unfortunate to have to raise these concerns but when you're dealing with city officials who make personal attacks from the dais against city residents including calling or inferring that they are liars or have no class, it's difficult to really believe that this card system will work in a fair and equitable manner. Hopefully, time will make it clear that this isn't the case.

You can call your city council member at 826-5991 to talk about the proposed ballot initiative (and if it's not a done deal by the 22th, I'll be shocked) or email them at the links on this page. It won't do much good if their minds are made up but at least you can have your comments on the record. Even though if you disagree with them, the elected representatives most likely will leave those people who do out of their response "stats" that they announce at the meeting to defend their own positions. If you agree with their position, you count. If you don't, you don't. So that's why it's important to speak out on the issues at public meetings so you can be counted even if your elected representative doesn't count the voices that disagree with him or her.

Here is another point of view on the issue. And here is a letter in response. But at the end of the day, what happens, happens. Though what George Bernard Shaw said at the top of the posting is also always very true.

If you haven't read the report that went to Governmental Affairs Committee, here it is. And if you don't believe it's all about plurality, read the minutes of that meeting or better yet, request the audio recording of the July 9 meeting from the city council office on the seventh floor at City Hall. It should be available on CD for a nominal fee.

The Community Police Review Commission has not announced whether or not it's scheduled a meeting where it will be briefed on the July 11 death of Martin Gaspar Pablo who died at a hospital after being detained by police officers on Bluffwood Street in Canyon Crest. Hopefully that and the announcement of the launching of its own investigation into the incident will be forthcoming.

Still, given that this isn't exactly the strongest bunch of commissioners currently serving, it remains to be seen whether any of them will speak up on the issue of the Pablo case emphasizing the necessity under the city's charter to launch an investigation into the incident where a 38-year-old man was handcuffed as a suspected burgular, then evaluated as someone under medical distressed, thenhe was someone who remained handcuffed while in apparent medical distress until the EMTs arrived from American Medical Response and the city's own fire department. Pablo was taken to a hospital where he died about an hour later. So many questions, next to no answers so far.

Interestingly enough, the manager of AMR serves on the commission. That's Peter Hubbard and it will be interesting to see how the commission handles the conflict of interest situation which will arise if it investigates and is evaluating the statements provided by AMR employees as witnesses. It's not exactly appropriate to have their boss sitting on the commission and evaluating their actions and words from a nonemployment related perspective. Especially if the city gets sued in relation to this incident by any family members of Pablo. If that happens, more than likely AMR will be included in the lawsuit as well.

The CPRC has investigated another incustody death that didn't involve a fatal shooting. That was the death of Terry Rabb in 2005 and the public report is here. But it remains to be seen what will happen in this case.

The second meeting to discuss the Eastside Neighborhood Plan will take place this Thursday, July 17 at 6-8p.m. at Longfellow Elementary School. More information is provided here.

Metrolink is back on track to build its new commuter line through the Inland Empire.

Just after taking office, new Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens said no chauffeur or security detail for her.

(excerpt, ABC-7)

"I feel like Orange County is a very safe place to live and work," said Sheriff Hutchens. "And just like any other citizen, I feel comfortable moving around the county without a security detail."

In L.A. County, Sheriff Lee Baca has a sergeant drive him to public appearances, giving him time to do work in the car while having extra protection.
Hutchens says it makes sense for Baca, since he has to cover a much larger area than she does.

"It would be a luxury to be able to get some of that work done in the car, but for me, I don't think it justifies having a person who could be doing a job someplace else, and we are short on personnel in areas, so I'd rather not do that," said Sheriff Hutchens.

Her actions contrast greatly with those of her predecessor.

But the editorial board of the Orange County Register which once called her "an affirmative action" appointment is hammering on the new sheriff over her plans to tighten up the issuance of concealed weapon permits.


Mr. Carona left behind a dreadful legacy as sheriff. But one area where his policies were sound involved concealed-carry permits. Yes, he granted permits to some political associates and campaign donors. But he also approved more permits than almost any sheriff in the state, according to the Times report. Some sheriffs take a broad view, and others take a narrow view. As with all discretionary government policies, one's freedom is dependent on the subjective views of the government authority. It's an unfair and unfree situation. In some places, "may issue" rules mean that virtually no one gets a permit, and in other places, such as Orange County until recently, it means that residents had a better chance of getting one.

Ironically, Ms. Hutchens wants to revoke permits because of issues of potential favoritism. That's an understandable reaction given the allegations surrounding Mr. Carona. But it's Ms. Hutchens' view of gun rights that can lead to favoritism. With may-issue, the sheriff has subjective control over the decision, leaving open to question how evenly "demonstrated need" is applied. And, whether friends, colleagues and other law enforcement officials known to the department are more likely to get the permits, while, say, a woman fearing for her life because of a stalker, or a small-business owner, may not.

We're confident that Ms. Hutchens will take the county forward in reforming the Sheriff's Department, but we're disappointed that one of her first policies is a step backward for individual freedom.

The ongoing controversy between the citizen review board in New York City and the police department it oversees continues. Such is the way with civilian review almost anywhere.

Seattle's paying out a hundred grand on an excessive force incident.

(excerpt, King5)

A young woman sued the city, saying an officer kicked her legs out from under her during an arrest and sent her face-first to the ground.

Before Brittany Beaulieu's first run in with the law, she was working in marketing and excited about the next phase of her life.

Her encounter with Seattle Police left her face swollen, her cheekbone broken in three places.

"She was seriously injured, she was emotionally injured," said Allen Ressler, Beaulieu's attorney.

More information about the settlement and other incidents involving Seattle's police departments is here. As you know Riverside is no stranger to settlements having paid out $395,000 on the Summer Marie Lane shooting case and $800,000 on the Douglas Steven Cloud shooting. The city's also in the process of settling the lawsuit filed in the Lee Deante Brown shooting and just met in closed session on July 8 to discuss the lawsuits filed in connection with the death of Terry Rabb.

A deputy tased his own wife and is now facing criminal charges.

(excerpt, Tampa Tribune)

About 6:15 p.m. Sunday, Carlos Thomas Tanner, who had been drinking, got into an altercation with his wife of 12 years, Kristine, a sheriff’s office news release states. He pushed her onto a bed, then took a Taser from his Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office duty belt and used the weapon on her stomach, causing Taser burns.

Then he set aside the Taser and got his service pistol – a silver semiautomatic gun – from underneath the mattress, according to the release. He placed the gun against his wife’s temple for about 10 seconds, the release states.

His wife went to a friend’s home, and law enforcement was contacted. She did not need to go to a hospital, sheriff’s spokeswoman Debbie Carter said.

A police chief is suspended for five days and a civilian advisory board will be created. So are the actions taken by Lake City in the wake of the discovery of offensive emails in the workplace.

(excerpt, Lake City Journal)

"In the complaint Mr. Davis alleges Lake City Police Chief Steven Burch sent an e-mail to him, which he found offensive and racially discriminatory," Payne wrote in his report. "The e-mail linked the reader to a web site which advised it could locate old school photographs. It requested certain biographical information which, when inserted, prompted a screen indicating a photograph or photographs have been found and directs the user to click on a button to see the photographs. When this link is clicked, a photograph of three monkeys appears with an arrow pointing to one, accompanied by the language 'We think the one in the middle is You!!'"

Payne noted, the "policy states each individual user of the system is responsible for the information they put into the system and inappropriate use subjects the offender to discipline."

Chief Burch received that E-mail from Madison Police Chief Rick Davis, who wrote "I found the neatest site for finding old school photos. Check this out!" An investigation by Payne showed that Chief Burch did not visit the site, but assumed it could be useful for law enforcement activities.

Payne's report said, "I think it is important to note the original e-mail from Rick Davis to Chief Burch was in the same general format of previous correspondence concerning the police chief association business. It contained both the shoulder patch insignia of the Madison Police Department and the seal of the FBI Academy, which Mr. Davis apparently attended at some point.

The summer addition of the NACOLE Review is out! NACOLE is the national organization of civilian oversight bodies. Included is coverage of the selection of the commissioners serving in Cincinnati's form of oversight, the possibility of civilian oversight in Puerto Rico and the views of presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama on "policing the police".

Mt. Rubidoux in Riverside is apparently going up in flames again.

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