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, September 06, 2008

The heat wave arrives!

"I am under investigation after I reported Lawrence. It was a shock to me."

---San Bernardino Police Department whistleblower Sgt. Mike Desrochers who was probably lucky he wasn't shot accidently by his supervisor after coming forward like former officer Stephen Peach.

The heat wave is arriving just when you thought summer was being put to rest. But some people including meterologists say that September can be one of the hottest months.

City Hall is trying to stay cool.

Another assistant city manager leaves Riverside's City Hall on the heels of another one, Michael Beck. This time, it's head of finance, Paul Sundeen who prefers golf instead and you can't really blame him for that. His boss, Brad Hudson plans to recruit for this position rather than hand it off to a department head to serve as an interim indefinitely as he allegedly did with Belinda Graham who is said to be stepping in for Beck though no formal announcement has been made. She did win the speculation pool for the position over Public Work Director Siobhan Foster.

Two assistants from City Hall's top floor penthouse suite departing around the same time, very interesting indeed. But Sundeen will be staying on until the end of this (calendar, not fiscal) year.

And with the budget being the way that it's been, with staffing cuts, freezes and increased utility and related service rates almost across the board, that leaves a lot of fun to be had by his replacement who will fit well on a staff that's addressing the downtown office wars, the seizure of the CPRC and its apparent assignment to be under what sounds a lot like a conservatorship of sorts by Priamos' office which will hold its purse strings. And if you didn't think that was exciting enough, next year begins the contract negotiation processes for some of the city's labor unions including the Riverside Police Officers' Association.

Not to mention what is sure to be a scintellating election season ahead.

Speaking of the budget, it wasn't easy to wrestle this year's preliminary budget out of the hands of both Hudson's office and City Attorney Gregory Priamos' (who these days seems to serve as the public information officer for Hudson when it comes to getting information about tasks left to Hudson's office) hands but Executive Manager Kevin Rogan was nice enough to provide a copy earlier this week after a CPRC ad hoc meeting. Otherwise, the public would have to wait until mid-September for administrative analyst, Mario Lara to put this very public information about how the public's money is spent online with the rest of the preliminary budget.

There will be more analysis and discussion of the actual budget for the CPRC this year but first some comparison statistics drawn from different budget reports online here.

The numbers in parentheses are budgets adjusted after subtracting figures for general fund changes which is the only way to get budget figures not to conflict with similarly designated figures within the same reports. If the organizational structure of the figures below is confusing, that's because it is. The actual budgets themselves aren't that difficult to figure out but the organizing that the city manager's offices have done past and present isn't standardized.

The most fascinating fiscal years are 2006(07) and 2007(08). These are the two fiscal years which were done under Hudson's office. Witness the huge differences between "Approved" and "Projected" in comparison to "Actual" expenditures. While the CPRC's actual budget might fluctuate to a degree due to "professional expenses" because a sizable portion of this funding is spent on its own investigations of complaints (which very rarely happens) and officer-involved deaths (back when it could actually do them).


(on some of these, what's the parentheses is what's being counted)

2005/2006: $324,484

2006/07: $317,242 ($284,833)

2007/08: $373,367 ($334,392)


2006/07: $332,515


2006/07: $319,017


2003(04): $262,231

2004/05: $200,404 (Budgeted: $280,934)

2005/06: $256,848 $294,883( $256,848)

2006/07: $284,833


2007/08: $334,992

$230,975 ($192,600)

$100,000 approved for "professional" with $18,293 being spent (this is the investigative funding source)
$149,536 approved for salaries

2008(09): $253,751 ($226,733)

While examining line item budgets for the city manager's office, some interesting line items appeared which will be the discussion for future postings.

The power plays between the Riverside County District Attorney's office and the Riverside County Superior Court judges continue. Now, currently in the sights of District Attorney Rod Pacheco is is Judge Thomas H.Cahraman.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Assistant District Attorney Chuck Hughes said Cahraman has abused his judiciary discretion and appears more concerned with the feelings of those committing crimes rather than those who are victims of crimes.

Cahraman, who was appointed to the bench in 2001 after more than 20 years as an attorney, said he could not discuss individual cases, but noted that it's common for one side or the other to be unhappy with a decision he makes.

"I listen to both sides and apply the facts to the law," he said.

Over the past several weeks, Cahraman has granted several defense requests to reduce felony crimes to misdemeanors, including one that involved the death of a 10-month-old Corona baby. He also granted probation to a Perris man -- charged with a felony -- whose 8-month-old son died after he crashed while holding the child in his lap while riding an ATV.

"He misplaces his compassion," Hughes said. "He seems to feel sympathy for criminals rather than their victims, to the point where he apologizes as he sentences them."

Presiding Judge Richard Fields declined to comment on specific cases, but defended Cahraman, calling him someone with tremendous integrity who carefully weighs all sides of a case before making a decision.

"He works very hard to do the right thing," Fields said. "He takes time to look over all the issues and is thorough. He takes his job very seriously."

Assistant Public Defender Robert Willey suggested the criticism has little to do with legal arguments, but rather a way of placing pressure on the judiciary.

"It appears more of an exercise of political pressure than anything else," he said.

What's confusing about this article is that its author claimed this was the first time the D.A.'s office criticized a standing judge. Not so. Earlier judges who were criticized including former judge, Robert Spitzer and (for now) current judges Helios Hernanez and Gary Tranbarger who it papered and who is now in civil court.

The battle over the courts in Riverside is sure to continue in upcoming months. Who will win, the judges or the D.A.? It won't be the public, that's for sure but then the public's not winning the downtown office wars and it hasn't been consulted on the seizure of the CPRC by City Hall and this is only a pattern that can be rectified by one thing, election time.

In Lake Elsinore, one of its elected officials spent campaign funds on rental cars.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Buckley says 60 percent of the driving he did was for political, campaign and government-related travel, but he does not have documentation to support his claim.

The rental charges are on Buckley's campaign disclosure forms.

Using campaign funds to pay for rental expenses for government or political travel is allowed by the state Political Reform Act. Using the funds for personal car expenses is barred.

Several of Buckley's fellow council members and at least one resident raised questions about Buckley's use of campaign funds in recent months.

"My first reaction was, I didn't think it was legal," Lake Elsinore Mayor Pro Tem Genie Kelley said. "It didn't strike me as being a real appropriate use of campaign money."

Day two, after the no confidence vote by the San Bernardino Police Officers' Association against Chief Michael Billdt and now the politicians want to talk.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Morris called the 135-to-43 vote in favor of a resolution of no confidence "a sampling of the general viewpoint of those in attendance, really kind of a snapshot at a moment in time." He said he hopes it can be resolved through discussion.

"Nonetheless, it indicates that there are concerns among the rank and file, and I want to tell you that this chief of police, the city manager and I are committed to working to address those issues," he said.

That is a shift from Morris' earlier position on charges by current and former police officers over the past two years that Billdt abuses department disciplinary procedures to chastise critics, bolster his supporters and advance his own interests. Until now, Morris and Billdt have dismissed the accusations as complaints of a few malcontents.

The police union board formally presented a statement of broader discontent at a City Council meeting Tuesday.

On Friday, Billdt cited letters between him and union President Rich Lawhead about investigation and reporting standards when officers use force as evidence that he has addressed the concerns.

But union attorney Dieter Dammeier said officers' concerns extend well beyond two or three policy decisions.

"The (San Bernardino Police Officers Association) has tried time and time and time again to get him to treat the officers the same across the board," he said.

It's been an interesting year for no confidence votes by law enforcement labor unions. Colton got the ball rolling not too long ago, now San Bernardino. Which agency and which chief (or city manager) is next? They should on a raffle and people could guess who, when, where and why like they do when trying to predict when a baby will be born, its gender and how much it weighs or they can pick the person who's closest like they do when you have to guess the number of jelly beans in a jar.

The winner should be awarded a nice door prize.

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