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

Friday, October 24, 2008

The ethics code and complaint process finally makes it to city council

The Riverside City Council will finally be discussing the annual review of the ethics code and complaint process sent to it by the Governmental Affairs Committee. This meeting will take place on Tuesday, Oct. 28 at 6:30 p.m. at the city council chambers at City Hall. This is the agenda and this is the report. It was originally scheduled for an earlier meeting but was postponed.

One of the recommendations being forwarded from the Governmental Affairs Committee meeting on Sept. 12 is that all complaints involving elected officials will be submitted to the Mayor's Nomination and Screening Committee. This is in accordance with the process stated in the resolution and in this document about the process of filing complaints on the city's Web site. However, only one ethics complaint that's been filed against an elected official had actually followed this process that's been so clearly outlined by the city so there shouldn't be any confusion. At least two other complaints against elected officials were forwarded instead to City Attorney Gregory Priamos who sent out letters to the complainants essentially tossing their complaints out without the Mayor's Nomination and Screening Committee ever laying eyes on them. The resolution for the code of ethics allows Priamos to serve as a "resource" but what the Mayor's Nomination and Screening Committee did instead was turn him into an arbiter.

The committee also recommended that it conduct its annual reviews every September instead of its previous practice of scheduling them haphazardly throughout the year.

The ethics code and complaint process as watered down as it's become has attracted a lot of attention and brought people to the Governmental Affairs meeting to speak on its implementation by the city council at two meetings in September. This year, there had to be two meetings on the issue because the Governmental Affairs Committee neglected to follow policy and procedure again outlined in the resolution and invite the mayor and the chairs of all the boards and commissions to offer input on the process. After the first meeting, Mayor Ron Loveridge told several attendees that he had never been notified let alone received an invite to the meeting to review the process. Initially he said that the situation would be remedied next year but apparently he changed his mind because the do-over was scheduled fairly quickly after he became aware of what had happened.

In closed session at the same meeting, the city council will be reviewing another workman's compensation case involving a police officer, this time Det. Darren Woolley.

The Old Riverside Foundation is also suing the city in Riverside County Superior Court so the city council will be discussing or hearing about legal options in closed session.

A new award named after the renowned former police chief, Bill Howe.

The elected officials in Riverside are suffering pangs of remorse for letting the Regency Tower get away to Riverside County. Towergate resulted after the redevelopment agency helped get the developer his land to build office space and provide parking, hopefully for downtown employees and visitors and to bring in new customers. Of course, this never happened, not in an economy where it really couldn't come to fruition in the midst of a recession. The developer wanted to make money on his investment so he sold his building to Riverside County who will use it to house District Attorney Rod Pacheco's new headquarters. This purchase by the county was approved 4-0 by the board of supervisors earlier this week. Supervisor John Tavaglione explained that the office space most likely wouldn't be leased out for the next couple of years for private use given the current economic crisis.

Still several elected officials mused about the fate of the tower which they believed to be part of the adage, if you build it, they will come. In better economic times, maybe but now?

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

"In hindsight, it probably should have said in the ... (development agreement) that it shouldn't be sold to a public agency," City Councilman Frank Schiavone said this week.

Former council member Dom Betro said he had hoped that 10 stories of prime "Class A" office space would have given downtown a big economic boost by attracting a flock of new professionals supporting restaurants, stores and other city initiatives, such as a renovated Fox Theatre.

But now the 10-story building will shift government employees already downtown and put on the market lower-quality office spaces that the district attorney will vacate, Betro said.

Schiavone and Councilman Mike Gardner said they will never let it happen again.

Campaign signs are the source of conflict between a councilwoman in Hemet and a former supporter of hers while the mayor in Perris is getting the most support.

Corona's candidates are spending much less money than usual.

The San Bernardino City Council had voted to approve a plan to have two police practices experts review the beleaguered police department but will it work?

(excerpt, San Bernardino Sun)

Estrada made her views public at Monday's City Council meeting. In an interview the following day, she repeated her concerns that Gaines and Scialdone may not be given enough scope to completely assess how the Police Department may need to be improved.

"The whole point of having Frank Scialdone go in there was to do an unbiased review and look into everything without being filtered," Estrada said Tuesday.

The proposed contract would use $24,500 in city money, Estrada said. That amount is $500 below the threshold that would require the council to vote on the contract.

Estrada said that as presently conceived, the possible contract that would let Gaines and Scialdone have an insider's view of the Police Department would assign a police liaison and also focus the probe on three issues.

Those issues are the department's use-of-force reporting policy, the length of time it takes to complete internal-affairs investigations and what factors are used to determine whether officers accused of wrongdoing are investigated by the Police Department or outside agencies.

The police union has cited those issues as major points of concern. Monday, Morris said that zeroing in on those matters could allow Gaines and Scialdone to get to the bottom of labor-management problems in the department.

The deal "is one that addresses the three central issues that were raised by the (police union)," Morris said.

A Fort Worth Police Department officer was fired for breaking his girlfriend's nose.

(excerpt, Star-Telegram)

According to the letter detailing the reasons for Flores’ termination, Flores and his girlfriend, a sergeant with the Police Department, began arguing while drinking at the Horseman Nightclub on the night of Aug. 3.

Flores drove himself and his girlfriend to her complex, where he parked the car and grabbed her by the face, telling her to look at him.

She pulled away. The two got out of the car and a physical altercation ensued after Flores took her keys, license and cellphone and refused to give them back. When she tried to take the items, Flores pushed her back. She then hit him in the chest in an attempt to get her items back and he pushed her to the ground, injuring her knees and elbows.

The letter states that during the altercation, Flores punched his girlfriend in the nose and head area and threw her into a brick wall and metal railing. He then shoved her into her apartment and bedroom before retrieving his children and going to his own apartment.

Not surprisingly, this officer had served a lengthy suspension just five years ago for similar misconduct and that was only the second example of prior discipline he received while working as a police officer.

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