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

Thursday, July 10, 2008

People, places and things

Press Enterprise Columnist Dan Bernstein addressed many issues in his most recent article but takes a parting shot at Riverside County District Attorney Rod Pacheco.


RivCo might actually have a lawman who's more like Gary Cooper than Quick Draw McGraw. But will Sheriff Stan Sniff, who quietly forged a peace pact with Soboba Indians, get a chance to see if it works? Or will Quick Draw Pacheco once again conclude he can't "sit idly by"?

MayorLuv says he wants to meet with Quick Draw. If memory serves, UCR Prof. Loveridge long ago taught Pacheco political science. I wonder how the prof graded him in "works and plays well with others."

Cathedral City went to court on its gang injunction.

The Riverside County Public Defender's office under Gary Windom's watch even as there's several investigations of its operations including a county grand jury investigation that have been going on.

Riverside County has its new CEO. It's former head of finance, Bill Luna. The man who had the votes. The praise for him was ample from different corners of the county.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Supervisor John Tavaglione said the board views Luna as a "financial budget genius. He has a different style than Larry (Parrish), most definitely. We all agree he will be hands-on but also will let his managers do what they need to do and prosper as they have."

Sheriff Stanley Sniff said Luna is a well-known entity and regarded throughout county departments as being "smart as a whip and fiscally astute."

Luna's sound fiscal judgment will be important as the county embarks upon a jail expansion program expected to cost taxpayers upward of $400 million, Sniff said.

"The decision was an outstanding one for this time where the county is at and the economic conditions," Sniff said.

Retiring executive officer Parrish said Luna is a "straight shooter, fair and honest. He knows this county. He knows this office and he's been on this team and a major player for four or five years now."

And as for Riverside City Manager Brad Hudson? He'll be staying a while longer in Riverside.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Councilman William "Rusty" Bailey said the council is not planning to give Hudson a raise at this time because of the struggling economy, but council members made it clear how much they appreciate his work.

The council and Hudson met in closed session Tuesday for a review of Hudson's performance.

"I've committed to the council that we'll finish the Renaissance together," Hudson said.

Riverside Renaissance is a $1.8 billion program of public improvements. When the council approved it in fall 2006, it was billed as a five-year program at less than half that cost.

Councilman Frank Schiavone said the council wants Hudson to stay because he gets along well with the council and Renaissance is improving residents' quality of life.

"It really is the best of times," Schiavone said, and Hudson is a big reason for that.

Best of times? No, more like some of the more difficult times in recent years as the country struggles to avoid a recession and faces the collapse of the housing market.

With one out of every 100 homes going into foreclosure, higher unemployment rate, threats of eminent domain used against small business owners, school districts being hit hard by budget cuts and other situations. Emulating Pangloss is not the answer here.

With employment positions in the city frozen? O-kay. Here's a hint. If that's going to be part of any 2009 candidate's campaign speech, they might want to think about either addressing this situation or being a bit quiet about the city being so well off financially that it can't fill many of its positions (so much so in the police department that the city council received a warning about the consequences of that at a recent audit) and some of its community programs have been suspended indefinitely.

Talk about living inside a glass tower. Not that elected officials are needed who are too cynical, but they should at least be firmly footed in reality where the people they govern and represent are.

Fontana Police Department is doing an investigation to find out if any one working there lit illegal fireworks on city property.

A commenter on that blog called it a "very stupid witch hunt". He or she had a few other things to say.

The interview of ex-Marine Jermaine Nelson about the killings of four Iraqi prisoners in Fallujah was played at his preliminary hearing. He is one of three men being charged in relations to those killings with another one being a former Riverside Police Department officer.

(excerpt, Los Angeles Times)

Sgt. Jermaine Nelson, in a tape-recorded interview with a Naval Criminal Investigative Service agent, said he and Sgt. Ryan Weemer were ordered by Sgt. Jose Nazario to kill the prisoners as the Marines swept through a neighborhood in Fallouja in late 2004.

Several minutes of the tape were played at the hearing for Weemer, who faces murder and dereliction of duty charges. Nelson faces similar charges, and Nazario faces manslaughter charges in federal court in Riverside.

Nelson told the investigator that Nazario told him, "I'm not doing all this [expletive] by myself. You're doing one and Weemer is doing one."

Nelson said that he watched in shock as Nazario shot a kneeling prisoner at point-blank range: "He hit the dude in the forehead, the dude went down and there was blood . . . all over his [Nazario's] boots."

Weemer then used his service pistol to shoot one of the prisoners, Nelson said. "He shot him and the dude was on the ground and rolling and [Weemer] was shooting, shooting, shooting, shooting, shooting."

The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors not so far removed from its own embarrassing scandals is pondering how to remove elected officials who do wrong.

In Orange County, former Sheriff Mike Carona and his lawyers had their subpoenas quashed by a federal judge for his corruption case.

A Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department deputy who crashed his car while onduty is now facing charges of drunk driving.

People in Eugene who witnessed the arrest of a protester by officers said those officers should be prosecuted for assault.

(excerpt, Eugene Register-Guard)

Eugene residents Josh Schlossberg, Samantha Chirillo and Amy Pincus Merwin announced Wednesday that they had filed a formal criminal complaint alleging that police Sgt. Bill Solesbee and officer Jud Warden assaulted Van Ornum on May 30 near Kesey Square.

Brian Michaels, a Eugene attorney representing the three residents, said he hopes the complaint spurs investigators toscrutinize the actions of Solesbee and Warden.

“These police officers need to be held accountable,” Michaels said during a news conference held at City Hall to announce the complaint’s filing. “We’re hoping this keeps the light shining on these officers … for assaulting and nearly killing” Van Ornum.

Force Science News published part one on law enforcement and suicide. Part two is out and addresses how to address suicide in law enforcement but it's available online yet.

(excerpt, part two)

"There's no doubt that law enforcement is a tough profession," says
Dr. Bill Lewinski, the behavioral scientist who heads the Force
Science Research Center at Minnesota State University-Mankato, "The
stuff you run into can emotionally bury you unless you take care of

Suicide, the most emphatic form of self-destruction, is one potential
outcome, as "The Pain Behind the Badge" makes clear. In a typical
year, an estimated 400 of the 870,000 LEOs in the U.S. take their own
lives. But many more are committing what the legendary psychiatrist
Karl Menninger called "suicide by inches," Lewinski points out.

"This refers to more gradual behaviors of self-destruction, like
excessive spending in an effort to buy happiness, excessive drinking
or compulsive adultery as means of escape, addictively overworking at
the cost of relationships with spouse and kids.

"For a relatively few officers, these patterns may eventually
culminate in suicide, but for a great many more such behavior
dramatically erodes the quality of life as it's being lived. They
experience a kind of suicide of the soul that long-range can be as
devastating as pulling the trigger."

One of the people applying for a job on Seattle's civilian review board was a police officer fired for misconduct.

(excerpt, Seattle Press-Intelligencer)

Powers had eight years on the police department, but he was fired for
several violations while on and off duty, including providing cocaine
to his girlfriend, interfering with a domestic violence investigation
and giving his girlfriends rides home in his patrol car. He was also
investigated by the FBI, although no criminal charges were filed. His
termination was upheld in 2006 after he appealed to the Public Safety
Civil Service Commission.

He didn't get the position.

In Springfield, Massachusetts, the city government is saying, hey what's up with civilian review.

(excerpt, The Republican)

The board, by mayoral order, is responsible for reviewing citizen complaints against the Police Department and serving as a link with the community at large.

Sarno said he continues to have the "utmost confidence" in Jordan continuing the coordinator's duties as part of her job, as well as confidence in the review committee.

Jordan said the board has been meeting regularly since April, and will receive training from the Police Department next week.

"I'd like to point out that this board is newly created - not just for this administration but for the city," Jordan said in a prepared statement. "We are setting the groundwork and I have no intention of moving hastily simply to satisfy the timeline of others."

"It is true that the demands placed on a chief of staff are many, however, I feel confident in my ability to include the (Community Complaint Review Board) among my list of responsibilities," Jordan said.

It's an often told story. Residents want civilian oversight. City doesn't. Residents push. Cities acquiesce and march out the weakest form of oversight they can get away with. Move on to the next city.

Santa Ana Councilman Carlos Bustamante experiences some serious fallout after he was overheard making sexist comments after the appointment of Sandra Hutchens as the new Orange County sheriff. Bustamante had been serving on two of the governor's panels including one addressing civil rights. That one if you can believe it, is the state's fair employment and housing commission. After reading about what Bustamante was spouting in public, the governor's office withdrew its nomination for that commission rather than face a crushing loss in the State Senate in the wake of the sexist comments.

The political firestorm began not too long ago and politicians everywhere spoke out about it.

(excerpt, Los Angeles Times)

After the Orange County Board of Supervisors appointed Sandra Hutchens over Santa Ana Police Chief Paul Walters as the county's sheriff on June 10, Bustamante joked to a blogger: "I kept telling the chief [Walters]: 'Maybe we should get you some implants. Or a water bra.' "

The comment was reported in the Los Angeles Times. Bustamante denied making the remark but the account was confirmed by the blogger, Matt Cunningham, editor of the OC Blog, which looks at Orange County politics and government.

"When these remarks were brought to our attention, it seriously undermined any consideration he would've gotten," said state Sen. Alex Padilla (D- Pacoima), a member of the Senate Rules Committee, which weighs appointments. "Not only were the remarks extremely insensitive in my opinion, but in a year when we came within a hair of nominating the first woman presidential candidate of a political party, to hear that not only this kind of thinking still exists but that someone would say it publicly is unconscionable."

The comment also outraged political bloggers who, following its publication, began a letter-writing campaign to state senators in an effort to block his appointment, and to the County of Orange, where he works, about whether the remark violated workplace codes of conduct.

"When he's making these kind of remarks, how in the world could they put Mr. Bustamante into a body where he's handling these kind of complaints?" said Art Pedroza, the founder and editor of the political blog Orange Juice. "Part of their work involves civil rights and complaints about this kind of behavior."

More on Bustamante here.

The blogger of Red Country Orange Coast stated that yes, Bustamante did make the implants and water bra comment to me.


I have no idea why Carlos denied making the remark. I don't think the remark itself was that big a deal, but lying about making it was wrong. If Carlos had owned up to it and apologized, this whole thing might well have turned out differently.

The extent to which this impacts his re-election is questionable. Absent any future repercussions at the County of Orange where Carlos works, this is a one-day story that will be largely forgotten by Santa Ana voters come November. Unless the issue is communicated to voters in the mail by an opponent or hostile IE committee, won't really matter. Voters can only act on information they have.

Orange Juice Blog which has been doing a lot of writing on this controversy posted on the twin resignations. This blogger believed that far from being an insignificant gaffe, Bustamante's comments might indeed hurt his reelection chances.


Kudos to Cunningham for verifying the remarks that got Bustamante in trouble and to Chris Prevatt, over at the Liberal OC, for his follow-up posts about the remarks.

Berthelsen also quoted yours truly in his article:

“When he’s making these kind of remarks, how in the world could they put Mr. Bustamante into a body where he’s handling these kind of complaints?” said Art Pedroza, the founder and editor of the political blog Orange Juice. “Part of their work involves civil rights and complaints about this kind of behavior.”

Now more than ever the Democratic Party of Orange County needs to find someone to run against Bustamante for Ward 3 on the Santa Ana City Council. He is not just a lame duck - he has been mortally wounded. I fully expect this story to hit the AP wire today.

Bustamante’s resignation also takes Schwarzenegger off the hook. He was going to be embarrassed when the Senate Rules Committee voted against Bustamante, which they were going to. And it is likely that Schwarzenegger’s own sexist comments of the past would have seen print again. Now he can avoid the issue altogether.

The New York City Police Department officer who killed a man in a fit of rage and then fled the scene escaped grand jury charges.

Not exactly newsworthy so it must be a slow news day.

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