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, September 28, 2008

Canary in the Mine: the city government's response to both

"We get up early to beat the crowds. 2008 DNC"

---so states this cute tee-shirt created, distributed and now sold by the Denver Police Department's police union. To think how close Denver came to a federal consent decree. No need to wonder why anymore.

"Nothing is inevitable. The future is not written in stone!"


"When it comes to the future, there are three kinds of people: those who let it happen, those who make it happen, and those who wonder what happened."

---John M. Richardson, jr.

"But I was thinking of a way To multiply by ten, And always, in the answer, get The question back again. "

---Lewis Carroll

"The city manager cannot allow city employees or activities to impede any criminal investigation."

---Riverside Asst. City Manager Tom DeSantis to Press Enterprise about presumably the CPRC, and probably one of the most unintentionally funny comments ever.

Don't pave over history.

That's the message sent in an opinion piece written in the Press Enterprise about the decision of the city to wipe out what's less of Chinatown and allow developer and local campaign contributor Doug Jacobs to erect a medical building on top of it. The Chinese-American community in Riverside and other supporters have been working hard against the erasure of their history in the city, attending lots of meetings, speaking out and holding public forums.


Someday, I hope to see on the site a historically accurate building housing a Chinese-American museum. The original brick and wooden buildings would be ideal as models for museum buildings.

The geographic features are symbolic of the racism of the time, when the Chinese were relegated to unwanted land (they were burned out of the downtown area) and "hidden" from view.

The site is not just a vacant dirt lot but an important connection to Riverside's cultural and social past.

Many in Riverside worked with and socialized with the Chinese community, building important relationships. One of the most significant friendships that Chinese-Americans had was with former Riverside Mayor Bill Evans.

I believe it is these relationships that helped pave the way for Riverside to become one of the first communities in California and the nation to integrate its schools.

So I hope the Riverside community keeps the site as is until something can be built that reminds and educates us about our past -- when two cultures met and joined to build a better Riverside.

Still, the Land Use Committee chaired by Ward Three Councilman Rusty Bailey voted to deny the appeal filed by those involved in the effort to preserve the history of Chinatown and opted to support Jacobs' medical building. Let's hope at least that especially in the light of some of the committee's members' comments at this meeting that Jacobs' medical complex includes a very much needed fixture in Riverside: Ever elusive Urgent Care clinics that operates outside of the Monday through Friday, 9-5 schedule and doctors who are general practitioners who can treat patients who might ordinarily fill emergency rooms at hospitals. But given that Jacobs' expertise is in developing office space, that's not a given by any means. What is a given is that Jacobs' money will show up on campaign disclosure lists for political candidates next year as it usually does.

If you thought it was bad enough that the bank wanted to foreclose on your house, your city government might want to do so too.

In 18 years, only two incumbent politicians have lost reelection bids in Temecula. Still there are newcomers willing to take them on. But history may be about to change. That's what some new upstarts to the political applecart are hoping.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Nonetheless, challengers Al Abbott, Rita Hernandez and James "Stew" Stewart are optimistic about winning a seat as they take on Mayor Mike Naggar and Councilman Chuck Washington on Nov. 4.

"I feel once I get my message across, I should have a chance," said Hernandez, who is making her first run for public office.

Stewart, a former candidate for U.S. Senate and governor who ran for council in 2006, said scores of people have asked him to run again.

Naggar and Washington, who have been on the council since 1999 and 2003, respectively, feel confident voters will give them four more years.

"I'd like to think we run this city in a very professional manner," said Washington, a former Murrieta councilman.

What may also work is if any aspiring governmental leaders would just pick up stakes and come on down to Riverside where voters have thrown out two incumbent politicians just in the last election held in 2007. Despite attempts made by several incumbents to change the election process making it more difficult for grass-roots newcomers, if you want to be a politician then this might be your market. And it's not like carpet baggers as they're called haven't run in Riverside before and even won elections. One of them, even sampled the populace in two wards before getting enough signatures (which is no more than 30 needed) to run in one of them. All he did when failing miserably in his first choice, was to pick up stakes and move into another ward where he was successful.

In fact, some of the power brokers who try to build majorities in the dais through the election process are perfectly fine with people moving into other wards just to run for election. They'll shop city-wide (and even outside of it) for prospective talking heads to run for political office if they can't find anyone to their liking inside the prospective ward. What adds to the interest are attempts by city officials to make runoffs for city council seats "at large", attempts which haven't proceeded past the discussion stage.

And based on the recent behavior of several of the incumbents who are up next year, this upcoming election cycle is looking very good for new prospects although there might already be some local competition here. In Ward Four for example, the fact that incumbent Frank Schiavone averaged about 38% of the vote in precincts in this ward during his ill-fated bid to be Riverside County's newest supervisor has some potential challengers salivating already with the filing deadline some five months away. Among those considering to run for the Ward Four spot are several former city employees from the public safety branch.

People have said that Schiavone's telling people he's not running. Don't believe it without looking at similar situations in the past elections and remember, his position on the recent vote to increase the sewer rates. This is often used a strategy by incumbents to flush out any potentially strong opposition candidates and Schiavone's astute enough to avoid the pitfall faced by his former colleagues Dom Betro and Art Gage over the electric rates controversy.

Ward Six residents are reacting to Councilwoman Nancy Hart's decision to say "me too" to this opinion piece published in the Press Enterprise. An old fishing buddy of the incumbent who shopped for Hart to run against incumbent Terry Thompson almost eight years ago is considering whether or not to run against her.

By far the most popular of the three city council incumbents is actually Ward Two councilman Andrew Melendrez who could face opposition as well in the next election. He'll be difficult to beat but then again, the same thing was said about former Ward One Councilman Dom Betro in Election 2007. Will Ruben Rasso reemerge again? It's possible given that another strong candidate had to decide against running for the seat in Ward Two due to health issues.

But as for Temecula, this comes as it's proposing changes to "Old Temecula" and that's caused quite a stir which could mean that all bets are off when it comes to using old precedents to predict the outcome of these elections.

People have asked me what they can do to help with the situation with the Community Police Review Commission in the face of massive manipulation by several political forces in this city including what appears to be the entire seventh floor of City Hall. Due to the daily traffic to this site from IP addresses, that discussion unfortunately can't take place here. What you will find here is up to date information on what is happening with this evolving situation which actually has been in the works for several years now. You will learn who the players are, why they are involved and what the future likely will hold as Riverside moves into another pivotal election cycle in early 2009.

You'll learn why this isn't the first time in Riverside's recent history that political forces in City Hall have clamped down on even the weakest form of civilian oversight. And unfortunately, you'll learn some reasons why the city and police department have had difficulty past and present when it comes to addressing misconduct in its own ranks which makes the presence of an active form of independent civilian oversight very important. And why on the city's side, this has to do with civil litigation and risk management concerns, historically as well as in the present.

You will also learn about some of the very real burgeoning crises which serve as the foundation of why this is taking place, now as we approach October 2008. And you will learn why and how now, past is most certainly prologue.

All you need to keep in mind is this. When a canary's ailing, somewhere so is a mine. In the world of civilian review, that's usually how it works. In the cities where civilian oversight mechanisms have faced the most challenges, it's often the law enforcement agencies which merit another look.

Speaking of the "mine", here's an update on the current supervisory vacancies in the police department which have been impacting the department for at least nine months now. Not that you've been hearing much in public about them. Not from city government. Not from the city manager's office and not from the police department's management or labor union leadership. Especially compared to what's been said about restricting civilian oversight over incustody deaths by many of these same parties through words and/or actions.


Deputy chief position, after the retirement of David Dominguez

Lieutenant position, after the retirement of Paul Villaneuva

sergeant position after the retirement of Randy Eggleston

sergeant position after the promotion of Leon Phillips

Sergeant position after the retirement of Kevin Stanton

Sergeant position after the reassignment of Lisa Williams to a newly created position

An unknown number of law enforcement officer positions which may be as high as 19 (but could be fewer), mostly involving a quantity of the 45 positions created through vote by the city council.


Lieutenant position after the retirement of Ken Carpenter, filled by Phillips

Sergeant position after the sudden retirement of Terry Meyer filled by Det. Dan Warren

Eight police officer positions, vacated due to terminations, failure to pass probation, resignations and retirements.


Sergeant position after Don Tauli postponed his planned retirement by at least six months


A detective position that may have been recently vacated through retirement. According to a long-standing MOU involving detectives, these positions are usually readily refilled unlike the situation with the Riverside Police Officers' Association's Supervisory Unit, which are the sergeants.

Partially restored overtime

Sexual Assault and Child Abuse detective

As noted in earlier postings, it seems like the city manager's office's directive to place restrictions on the Community Police Review Commission's ability to adhere to its charter-mandated responsibility to investigate incustody deaths has attracted more public comments from the city council and mayor through comments at meetings or comments and articles in the Press Enterprise than has the situation involving the staffing levels inside the police department including at the supervisory level.

Here's some comparison between the two topics involving the city government.

Public comments on the vacancies so far consist of the following.

Mayor Ron Loveridge: Although a proponent for increasing the number of officers several years ago, has not commented in a public meeting nor did he respond to email on this issue.

Councilman Mike Gardner: None in public meetings, though he did express some concern in conversation.

Councilman Andrew Melendrez: Expressed concern through conversation and made a comment at a public meeting.

Councilman Rusty Bailey: Hasn't said anything in a public meeting and did not respond to email on this issue.

Councilman Frank Schiavone: Hasn't said anything in a public meeting, but did respond to email by stating that a lieutenant position was filled on July 1 through promotion.

Councilman Chris MacArthur: Hasn't said anything in a public meeting but expressed some concern in conversation. Did not respond to email on this issue.

Councilwoman Nancy Hart: Hasn't said anything in a public meeting. Grimaces and shakes her head when it's brought up and did not respond to an email on this issue.

Councilman Steve Adams: For all his reminiscing about being a Riverside Police Department officer as if it were yesterday, hasn't said anything in a public meeting and did not respond to email on this issue.

Then there's the history or lack thereof concerning comments on restricting the CPRC's ability to investigate incustody deaths by elected officials.

Mayor Ron Loveridge: Hasn't said anything publicly yet on the issue.

Councilman Mike Gardner: Issued public comments to examine issue but seemed to defer to city manager as long as its openly stated by the city council.

Councilman Andrew Melendrez: Wanted to take the issue to public safety committee at earlier meeting

Councilman Rusty Bailey: Hasn't commented publicly on issue

Councilman Frank Schiavone: Numerous comments supporting restrictions and an opinion piece, not to mention exhibiting his ahem, letter writing skills.

Councilman Chris MacArthur: Wants to discuss issue. Body language of legislative aide at CPRC meeting showed that individual might back restrictions.

Councilwoman Nancy Hart: Signed "me too" on opinion piece supporting restrictions

Councilman Steve Adams: Cosigned opinion piece supporting restrictions


Councilman Mike Gardner:

"I think we started on a somewhat negative path again and we need to pull it back."

---Press Enterprise article, early September

"It makes sense to me for council to say publicly whether the city manager's directive is council policy or if council would like them to do something different."

---Press Enterprise, Sept. 25

Councilman Frank Schiavone:

"The recent behavior has dictated a little more intervention"

---Press Enterprise, Sept. 25, a fitting comment considering many of his voters have said the same thing only with "intervention" meaning going to the polls next year in Ward Four.

Councilman Chris MacArthur:

"I like going through and hearing arguments."

---Press Enterprise, Sept. 25. It's too bad that thanks to Schiavone, he might never get the chance to engage in this democratic process that comes with an accountable and transparent government. "Letting the people decide" only pertains to certain hand-picked situations after all.

The police labor union has stated in the Press Enterprise that it agrees with City Manager Brad Hudson's directive but hasn't publicly commented on the staffing issues in the police department including the freezes. Hopefully, the rumors about it being shut out of talks with City Hall and the police department's management recently aren't true.

Hudson has instituted the directive through throwing out memos but not responding directly to the CPRC's concerns and questions. His assistant, Tom DeSantis said in June that the police department was "fully staffed".

The police department's management hasn't commented on either issue except to say that the department's staffing levels are greater than ever before due to its "restructuring".

Quotes about the department's staffing levels:

Alas, there aren't any, not at the moment anyway!

Anyway, this is only the beginning of the latest saga impacting the CPRC. Much, much more to come in the future, most assuredly. After all, does the sun rise and set?

Presidential candidate Ralph Nader came to Riverside's Fairmount Park. Unlike Republican candidate Sen. John McCain, you didn't have to pay hundreds of dollars per plate at some exclusive event to hear him. Several dozen turned out to listen to him and his platform if he's elected president which admittedly is a long shot.

It turns out that the invasion of Rialto by fire ants was worse than previously reported. Apparently, it's an all-out battle over turf in Southern California.

The exodus from the Press Enterprise continues. As rumored last week, one of Riverside's city government writers, Amanda Strindberg is gone. If the heavily rumored sale of the newspaper to Singleton Syndicate actually takes place, who will be left to be pared down by the king of buyouts and layoffs in print journalism?

Controversy arises over a tee-shirt being distributed by the Denver Police Protective Association. There are several things in life that are fairly consistent. Death, taxes, sun rises, sun sets and bone-headed decisions about tee-shirts, tattoos and hair cuts made by some police labor unions. Not all of them because many of them are smarter than this, but clearly some of them.

The police association's response to the Wall St. Journal.

(excerpt, Wall Street Journal)

“Nothing really happened,” Martin Vigil, president of the Denver Police Protective Association, told Washington Wire. “It wasn’t the event that the anti-government groups anticipated, and the T-shirts are a satirical comment on that, given to officers after the event as a ‘thank you’ for a perfect convention.”

Is this "free speech"? Yes, and it's definitely better that if you have police officers who believe that caricatures of themselves welding batons and "beating crowds" is a joke, that they're up front about it. And it's probably for very useful for civil rights attorneys to know that the officers in Denver's police department think beating people is a joke especially when the latest round of litigation filed in relation to the most recent DNC goes to trial. That's if the city's risk management division in the wake of the flood of these tee-shirts being distributed and worn doesn't just decide to cut its losses and settle them.

Coming attractions:

"If you don't do what they want, they'll take a lie about you and make it true."

Hiding in Plain Sight: Sex, Lies and Audiotape

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