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

Saturday, August 09, 2008

A summer sabbatical ends and a political season begins

There was a huge turnout on Saturday night at The Grove Church in Orangecrest, Riverside for the Gospel Komedy Slamm event honoring Rev. Jerry Louder with comedy, music and magical illusions. It was a night of laughter for a man who's been battling colon cancer for several months. The event was also a fundraiser for Louder who has already had two surgeries and is doing chemotherapy but is having problems with his medical insurance.

Attending from City Hall were Mayor Ron Loveridge and Ward Five Councilman Chris MacArthur (who's been at many events around town) to watch several comedians and a singing trio of men spoofing musical acts adding Christian lyrics to famous songs. It was a lot of fun for all.

A lot of people in Riverside are anticipating the Aug. 12 city council meeting when the blue ribbon panel which submitted a report on the proposed expansion and renovation of the downtown library and museum is set to present it to the city officials. The meeting might actually be more than an hour long and thus, it might tax the endurance of elected officials to sit in their chairs for most of an evening if a lot of people turn out to witness the discussion of these future projects and speak out on them. What would help greatly is if the city could contract with food vendors to put up their stands outside the city council chambers and sell coffee, tea and snack food to drink and eat during the intermissions.

The case of former Riverside Police Department officer Laura Digiorgio has ended, as her motion for a new trial in the Rancho Cucamonga courthouse was denied and she was sentenced to five years formal probation with a laundry list of extensive terms as well as four months in jail or sheriff's work detail beginning on Aug. 29 and a restitution fine of at least $33,000.

She was arrested in December 2006 on allegations of workman's compensation fraud. DiGiorgio also filed a federal lawsuit against the city earlier this year.

Don't defend DHL is the message sent in an opinion piece in the Press Enterprise by a city resident who's probably one in a large group who hasn't slept in the past few years. She describes what each night is like for her living under the flight path of the DHL Express freight planes.


Starting Monday night before bed, set your alarm clock for 1:30 a.m. instead of your normal time. Once it goes off, stay awake for about five minutes and reset your alarm to 2 a.m. You should hope that you can go back to sleep, because normally I cannot once I've been awakened by the loud noise.

Stay awake again for five minutes and reset your alarm for 2:30 a.m. Are you wide awake yet?

It's now time to rest your alarm to 3 a.m. Again, make sure to stay up for five minutes and reset your alarm to 3:30 a.m. You'll be luck if you're not still awake at 4 a.m.

Imagine how you would do at your job after a night like this. It is absolutely hard to function at 3 p.m. Your main wish all day is to get a full night's sleep. It's even worse when you have little ones or teenagers to deal with when you get home.

Now, you get off work and do your normal duties like fixing dinner, doing any chores, spending quality time with family and trying to relax from an extremely long day.

Repeat this schedule for two weeks -- being woken up in the wee hours three to four, and sometimes five, nights each week.

After four years of this, sometimes my body automatically wakes up in anticipation of the noise.

The issue's been pretty quiet even if the planes haven't been since the posturing by the Riverside City Council to issue an empty threat at DHL by threatening to sue them. Empty because DHL wasn't violating its contract and was probably befuddled when the city that courted it at one time now condemned it. All of the members of the March Joint Powers Commission save one voted to change the zoning to make it possible for these early morning flights to be heard regularly over the southern part of Riverside. But given that DHL Express has taken a $900 million loss in the past year for its domestic operations, it's not clear how much longer the company will be using March Air Field as one of its major hubs.

Speaking of the air field, trained falcons are used to keep birds away from the aircraft.

A multitude of candidates will greet Temecula's election in November. A much better showing than in some years past. But apparently the controversy and intrigue which has surrounded the city's government during the past year hasn't scared potential politicians off.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

The pool of candidates is guaranteed to surpass the 2006 field, which was the smallest since Temecula became a city in 1989. Two years ago, incumbents Jeff Comerchero, Maryann Edwards and Ron Roberts beat out Stewart, the sole challenger.

Doc Laine, an Old Town shop owner and a critic of the council incumbents, said he prefers a small group of challengers so the vote against Naggar and Washington is not split.

"I'd really like two serious challengers," he said. "People have got to get behind somebody."
The field of challengers as of Friday morning did not impress Old Town businessman and current council backer Ed Dool, who worries about whether quality candidates will come forward in the future as incumbents retire.

"I don't really believe there's a contender (this year)," said Dool, a 2001 council candidate.

The situation involving the scandal-plagued San Bernardino County's Assessor's office took a huge step towards getting worse. One of the supervisors wants William Postmus to respond to these allegations of illegal drug use or resign.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

"Assessor Postmus has no comment on either the story that was published today in an area newspaper and he has no comment on Chair Paul Biane's statement that was issued today," said Ted Lehrer, the assessor's spokesman.

Postmus, 37, started a 10-week medical leave July 23 for an undisclosed ailment.

Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt, who was Postmus' chief of staff when he was a supervisor, said Biane's demand is premature.

"I don't know if he's (Postmus) even in communication with anyone in the county," Mitzelfelt said. "Illegal drug use is a serious charge."

Neither Biane nor his spokesman could be reached to elaborate on the statement, which was released after 5 p.m.

Grand Terrace rocked during its first market night unlike Riverside which can't even host one. Its next one will be hosted Aug. 18 at 5-8 p.m. Riverside's? Not on the horizon as of yet.

In Orange County, a video surfaced that asked the question, did a sheriff deputy use excessive force? The man who was hit with the baton by the deputy in the video was acquitted at a jury trial of resisting arrest and has filed a $10 million civil suit against the county.

(excerpt, Orange County Register)

A police car suddenly pulls up onto Caminito Tasquillo. Sheriff's deputy Jason Perez jumps out, running toward the mother and son. He tackles them as they are locked in a tight embrace.

Nancy Turner gets on her feet, and watches Perez repeatedly punch her son.

Karen Butler, a stay-at-home mom who also lived in the complex, walks out with her husband to watch the commotion. At the time, she thought Celli was a criminal.

"I had to rationalize that Gabriel did something bad, that he asked for it,'' Butler said, talking about the incident more than two years later. "I mean, why would the cops do this? There had to be something I didn't know. But I found out later, there was nothing. Gabriel had done nothing wrong."

There's civilian oversight in Key West, Florida and that city's citizen review board found that a police officer used excessive force during an incident.

In what can only be described as shocking news, a study found that Sacramento Police Department officers stop African-Americans and Latinos at twice the rate as they do White motorists.

(excerpt, Sacramento Bee)

The report, released to the city's Community Racial Profiling Commission late Thursday, also said black and Latino motorists were asked to get out of their vehicles at a higher rate than Asian and white drivers.

Black and Latino motorists, however, were no more likely to be cited than drivers of other races.

Latino drivers "were patted down at a significantly higher rate than would be expected," the report states.

The report will be posted on the city's Web site at 9 a.m. today and presented to the City Council on Tuesday. Three community meetings have been scheduled next week to address the findings.

"I'm not convinced we have the trust and respect of the entire community," Police Chief Rick Braziel said in an interview.

"It's real simple," the chief said earlier, during a meeting with the commission at police headquarters. "We, as an organization, we're very, very concerned about these numbers. We have some issues we need to work on."

New Orleans' independent police monitor is almost in place. It's a lessor version than similar systems in Denver and Los Angeles County but experts said it's a start.

(excerpt, Times-Picayune)

While the office will not have the power to sanction New Orleans Police Department officers or force Superintendent Warren Riley to reopen investigations, the monitor will have access to files and NOPD data, as well as a mandate to regularly inform the public about the Police Department's actions.

Instead of investigating individual complaints of police misconduct, which are investigated by the NOPD's Public Integrity Bureau, the monitor will take the long view, looking at patterns and trends of particular kinds of complaints, for example, or identifying gaps in training that could lead to a spate of similar incidents.

"It will give that agency the ability to monitor and promote a more effective police department, " said Rafael Goyeneche, president of the Metropolitan Crime Commission.

In other cities where a monitor's office has been created, the position provides a bully pulpit for outside criticism of the police department -- criticism that police leaders often consider, proponents said.

"There are many positive signs that the changes we advocated and that they implemented are working to lower the dollar amounts of (legal) judgments and settlements against the department, as well as improving community relations, " said Merrick Bobb, the special counsel in Los Angeles County who monitors the county Sheriff's Department.

However, not getting an auditor is Fresno. The mayor who wants one couldn't even get a quorum of city council members to appear at the meeting. But when you consider the politics in Fresno's City Hall, this development's not surprising.

This information was forwarded by Barbara Attard who works as the independent police monitor in San Jose and who was dismayed at the chain of events.

Police officers at Chicago's police department were accused of having sex at the field station and demanding free Starbucks coffee along with a host of other serious misconduct. At the end of the investigation, four officers were fired and two suspended.

In New York City, elected officials and community members are asking for an independent prosecutor to investigate police misconduct cases in the wake of a recent upsurge of videos showing up on the internet depicting police officers assaulting people.

The city of San Diego is suing one of its canine officers who left his dog in his squad car to die of heat exposure.

The $2 million lawsuit in connection with the racial discrimination lawsuit filed by Black officers in Minneapolis didn't go through the city council.

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