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


My Photo
Location: RiverCity, Inland Empire

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Canary in the Mine: The players and their parts

I receive questions regularly from readers about the latest situation involving the Community Police Review Commission and specifically whether or not their elected officials support it or oppose it especially since this city's coming up on an election year with the council seats in even-numbered wards and the mayor's seat up for grabs. The best way to find out for yourself the answers to your questions is to talk with elected officials. That's true of any civic issue that is of concern.

Here's some contact information from the city's Web site to help you.

Riverside City Council

phone number: (951)826-5991

email addresses:

Mike Gardner:

Andrew Melendrez:

Rusty Bailey:

Frank Schiavone:

Chris MacArthur:

Nancy Hart:

Steve Adams:

If you're not sure who is your elected representative, the "city council" link provides you with the means at the bottom of the page to sort that out.

Also, this city has an elected mayor who also has contact information.

Riverside City Mayor Ron Loveridge

phone: (951) 826-5551


But since very little discussion about the CPRC by elected officials takes place out in the open or in a public forum these days, it's kind of a guessing game to determine who thinks what about the beleaguered panel at any given time. It's almost like some of them don't want the city residents to know what they're thinking let alone what they're doing. The following analysis is as good as any, until the city council members and the mayor are ready to take a step into the public spotlight and actually engage in a public forum that's not one-sided at best.

There are three current categories of positions held by the elected officials on Brad Hudson's directive (hence onward called the Hudson directive) and there are different elected officials included within those categories. They are listed below.

Those who support Brad Hudson's directive, no questions asked:

Mayor Ron Loveridge: Loveridge authored a letter that was never released to the public in its entirety dictating to the commissioners on the CPRC that they had to follow the directive. The letter which was also signed by Mayor Pro Tem Rusty Bailey was sent in response to an oral directive passed by the majority of commissioners asking the mayor and city council to provide some sort of response to the Hudson directive. Loveridge's feelings about civilian review have evolved over time but not really progressed, surprising considering his political science background. Back in 1999, he viewed it as a "symbolic gesture" but in the spring of 2004, he did something he's hardly ever done as mayor and that's threatened to veto the GASS quartet if it backed then quartet member and councilman, Art Gage's motion to defund the CPRC by up to 95%. He also backed Measure II publicly by endorsing the measure.

But it's not clear whether he's supporting the restrictions on the CPRC's independent investigations of officer-involved deaths or he's just supporting Hudson because well, he's Hudson.

Rusty Bailey: Bailey's name has appeared at least twice in connection with supporting the Hudson directive. First in a letter cosigned by Loveridge that was sent to the commission without a copy being provided to the public even though it was most likely written on the city's letterhead. The second, through an 11th hour phone call made at 3:30 p.m. to CPRC Chair Brian Pearcy on Wednesday, Nov. 19 a scant two hours before the public portion of the monthly meeting began. He told Pearcy during this phone call that he was affirming the directive. What's intriguing about Bailey is that his responses so far has been under his hat as mayor pro tem and not as a councilman.

Frank Schiavone: He supported the Hudson directive through writing an op-ed piece with two other council members that was published in the Press Enterprise in September. This might provide some clues to the origin of a directive by a high-ranking city employee who as one elected official, said was equivalent to a wind up toy that you point in the direction that you want it to go. Schiavone's been heavily backed by the Riverside Police Officers' Association during at least two of his election runs at the city council level and his recent unsuccessful foray into county government.

Steve Adams: Adams, a retired Riverside Police Department officer's never been shy about his disdain for the CPRC and to date, is the only elected official to complain about the commission's independent investigations into officer-involved deaths. He did this at a Public Safety Committee meeting in January 2007 and insinuated that even the CPRC investigators would be arrested for obstruction if they were at the crime scene (which by the way, has never happened as no investigation was initiated the day an incident happened).


City Manager Brad Hudson: On his own accord or more likely through having his strings pulled by some of his direct employers, Hudson shut down the initiation of independent investigations into officer-involved deaths by the CPRC for the next several months, even possibly over a year. He issued a written ban threatening the CPRC that if it did initiate investigations, then City Attorney Gregory Priamos would withhold its spending money. Doing this left Hudson in his office issuing memos (or more likely Hudson telling his assistant city manager to issue memos) and put Priamos in the hot seat for criticism, which was a pretty brilliant move.

It's not the first time that Hudson and Asst. City Manager Tom DeSantis tried to put the breaks on investigations having suspended two officer-involved investigations being done by the CPRC while they were in mid-stream during 2007. At no time were these city employees or any of the elected officials issuing them directives able to provide compelling evidence why it was necessary to do so in 2007 or now, in 2008. Nor has any city employee or elected official ever been able to cite either a police investigation compromised by a CPRC investigation or investigator nor has it cited any prior history of complaints against the CPRC about this happening.

City Attorney Gregory Priamos: Although placed front and center in this controversy for a while by Hudson's actions, Priamos has supported the directive and is the agent being used to keep the CPRC from initiating any independent investigations through being appointed the holder of the CPRC's budget funding that can be allotted out or denied depending on how Priamos sees fit. Some say he's not very happy with being in the hot seat for the Hudson directive while Hudson remains in the background. And less happy with being challenged on his own turf by an ACLU attorney as happened while he was out of town.

CPRC Executive Manager Kevin Rogan: Whether it's just following the orders of his direct employer, Hudson, Rogan has refused to follow any orders issued by vote from the CPRC. When a commissioner asked him if he would have to take the issue up with Hudson or DeSantis, Rogan said at a recent meeting that it wouldn't have to go that far because he agreed with the directive anyway. As a retired captain at the Pomona Police Department who once fielded a job offer as a litigator for one of the top police defense law firms in Southern California (albeit one currently experiencing internal strife), it's probably a given that he would support it regardless especially if he said that publicly. At any rate, he's probably the only noncommissioner who's presented his position on the Hudson directive in a public forum so far.

Still, his comments especially in light of the turmoil surrounding the "resignation" of his predecessor only two years ago, it's hard not to believe that part of it's about remaining employed. The bottom line? If Hudson and DeSantis pull the strings and he doesn't dance their dance, he's most likely out of a job. Faster than most heads can spin. And if they did that, they'd probably freeze that position citing low sales tax revenue.

However, this situation illustrates a concern raised by community members if not city employees which is how can a commission like the CPRC have a management employee set up to serve two masters when it's so clear he has only one? The answer is, it cant.


Peter Hubbard: His automatic support of the Hudson directive is really easy to understand because Hubbard is a manager and franchise owner of America Medical Response in this region, the ambulance company currently enjoying a lucrative contract with the city in general, and the public safety division ( which is under Hudson and DeSantis ) in particular. If he says the wrong thing, would it endanger his business relationship with the city? Possibly and even if it didn't, Hubbard's not inclined to disagree with anything the city or police department does in any situation. In fact, he's so hostile to public comment, he tried to push an agenda item to reduce it from five to three minutes per person. Alas, he attends so few meetings that he missed both the meetings where it was to have appeared on the agenda so it got pulled both times. But not before former commissioner, Gloria Huerta delivered a brilliant speech opposing it.

How a de facto city employee was able to get on the commission despite a huge conflict of interest is merely a symptom of the political football that this commission has remained since being voted in the city charter in November 2004. It's not even really a question except in a rhetorical sense.

Sheri Corral: Although not a frequent attendee at meetings in the past year, Corral has come down in favor of following the directive at the meetings she has attended since it was issued especially since she was elected vice-chair of the commission. In the past year, Corral has taken a 180 degree turn stunning many community members and even criticized fellow commissioner and Riverside Community College District employee, Chani Beeman in a letter last summer to Councilman Frank Schiavone. Putting Chani in a similar position that she herself was in not too long ago. She's smart, passionate on the issues and a good thinker but she also clearly knows what side her bread is buttered on, being a police officer in Riverside where she has to work with police officers from two agencies who may be unhappy with her involvement with the CPRC.

Kenneth Rotker: Rotker has been a staunch supporter of the directive mostly because he said he's accountable mainly to those who appointed him to the commission, a comment that raised eye brows on the commission. His comments seem to be largely based on the fear that if the commission initiates independent investigations in the face of the directive, it will be committing "insubordination" (a comment that seemed to get a here, here response from Councilman Chris MacArthur's legislative aide who was in the audience). Rotker was very displeased with the direction that the commission's ad hoc committee (which was created by Chair Brian Pearcy to come up with recommended guidelines for investigating incustody deaths) was taking and took his displeasure back to the main commission leading a vote to dissolve the committee altogether.

However, Rotker expressed disappointment in the dismissive response the city council gave the CPRC via Bailey to its letter authored by its chair. He added that he had expected better from the city council.


The Riverside Police Officers' Association: Like many other police associations and unions from coast to coast, this organization has a history of opposition to civilian oversight, the CPRC and has made that clear since the CPRC's formation. Earlier in the CPRC's history, they financially backed through their Political Action Committee candidates for city council who opposed civilian review including current members, Schiavone and Adams who just happen to be two of the elected officials who signed on to the op-ed article. Lately, it's been either sitting on the sidelines keeping out of the affair or sitting back on the sidelines letting other people do its work for it. Politically astute move whatever the reason turns out to be.

On the fence:

City Council:

Andrew Melendrez: Melendrez historically has been supportive of the CPRC during his tenure on the city council. Unlike several of his colleagues ( Bailey coming to mind), he took his campaign promises and put them into action after being elected. While chairing the Public Safety Committee, he received regular reports on the CPRC. However on the issue of the directive, he's been more tentative. He is one of only two elected officials who currently want to host a public dialogue on the issue between elected officials and city residents. He was unaware that Bailey had called Pearcy on the city council's behalf until after it had been done.

Chris MacArthur: MacArthur took no strong stance either way on the CPRC while running for office but has been watching the events surrounding it since he took office. His legislative aide probably has the highest attendance of all the legislative aides working for sitting council members. Not all the body language coming off of MacArthur's aide has been all that positive, but MacArthur has discussed the CPRC with other council members including those who are highly supported of it. He's not publicly declared himself either way.

Nancy Hart: While it's true, she co-authored the op-ed piece with Schiavone and Adams supporting among other things the restrictions on the CPRC, she's been known to change her mind on an issue fairly abruptly and the CPRC is no exception. She's come out in support of it on several occasions, including her endorsement of Measure II and also her support of one commissioner, Sheri Corral when she was targeted for possible removal out the back door through the introduction of a proposal to take a more broadly defined issue to a subcommittee for further discussion. She's participated in discussions involving the CPRC at the Public Safety Committee meetings and once made some comments expressing concern about retaliation against complaint filers at one of those committee meetings, which shocked at least one other committee member.

Yet now by authoring the op-ed piece, she's come out on the opposite side of the issue. Many people who read the op-ed article were fairly shocked when they discovered that her name was attached to it.

Some say she merely attaches herself on to what the last elected official said, but Hart's got some depth to her and when allowed to have some space to think issues over, her views often become more nuanced. Her body language shows that she's not as firmly in Hudson's case on the directive as the others who were involved with the op-ed article. In fact, for all anyone knows her support might be more a political move in anticipation of a difficult reelection bid next year than anything else. If that's true, then any static surrounding that should dissolve as the city moves further into its next election cycle.


Brian Pearcy: Pearcy, the commission's chair, has been all over the place on this issue. First he promotes the creation of an ad hoc committee to create recommended guidelines for investigating officer-involved deaths, then in the face of the directive, he contacts the commission while in transit out of the country to continue its work but when push comes to shove, he joins with other commissioners to disband the committee. He has voted in support of several key moves to initiate investigations involving officer-involved deaths including the vote taken to initiate three of them at the Nov. 19 meeting. But at any given meeting, it's difficult to see what side of the discussion he's going to come down on.

Linda Soubirous: Though she's been a proponent of the directive, she showed a shift in her voting at the Nov. 19 meeting when she asked questions which indicated she viewed the fatal incidents involving Carlos Quinonez, Sr., Fernando Luis Sanchez and Marlon Oliver Acevedo as falling under the purview of the CPRC for investigation than the earlier death of Martin Gasbar Pablo. She voted to support the initiation of independent investigations into the three most recent incustody deaths.

Art Santore: Santore's been a proponent of the Hudson directive, but the refusal of the city council to open a dialogue led him to push for the motion to initiate independent investigations into the three most recent incustody deaths. He said he was doing it largely to force the ball back into the city council's court to see whether or not it would continue to be dismissive towards the CPRC or respond to it.

Not automatically supporting the Hudson directive

City Council:

Mike Gardner: Gardner's the only one on the dais with prior experience on the CPRC including the three years that he chaired it. He along with Melendrez are the only two elected officials who support a public dialogue between elected officials and the city's residents. Gardner is vocal in his belief that the past status quo of how independent investigations were initiated and conducted created no harmful or problematic situations and says he has yet to be presented with any evidence to conclude otherwise. He's interested in bringing the issues pertaining to the CPRC's investigations of onduty deaths to the Public Safety Committee which he sits on. He said that he'd spoken to Bailey in passing asking him if he read Pearcy's letter and Bailey had said he was still digesting it. Then Bailey made the phone call on behalf of the city council and Gardner like Melendrez was unaware that Bailey was doing this until after the fact.


Chani Beeman: She has been very vocal on challenging the city employees who have placed the restrictions contained in the Hudson directive on the CPRC to the point where one councilman sent her and Commissioner John Brandriff letters stating that they could be removed from their seats on the commission. She's initiated motions or tried to do so involving initiating independent investigations into the last four incustody deaths, all of which have taken place since July 10, 2008.

John Brandriff: Brandriff has also been vocal at challenging the city manager and city attorney on the restrictions placed on the commissions that are contained in the Hudson directive and has paid the price for his candid speech. Since receiving the letter, he's not been as active but has said that medical reasons kept him from attending a couple of meetings. Since he's been back, he's been equally vocal on the issue.

James Ward: Ward is probably the most staunch proponent on the CPRC who's concerned about the commission's ability to initiate independent investigations in an effective and timely manner. Some times, he gets more support from his colleagues on the commission than at other times. But other commissioners on the panel have taken to marginalizing him even more than usual during the past several months.

And so, these are the cast of characters, not in one of Shakespere's plays but something almost as interesting and certainly equally as dramatic. The latest chapter of angst, intrigue, politics, alliance building, alliance dismantling and power plays in the ongoing saga, As the Commission Crumbles, All My Commissioners, The Young and the Puppeted, Days of Our Micromanagement and One Commission to Dismantle all rolled into one.

***Organ Music***

To be continued...

The Chief of Mental Health in Los Angeles County said he hoped to rely less on law enforcement officers to handle mentally ill people who can't go to overcrowded hospitals.

(excerpt, Los Angeles Times)

Marvin J. Southard, called before the Board of Supervisors after news reports highlighted the problem, told the board he is in talks with county health officials to find better options.

"This issue is really an issue of indigent care at the county hospitals," Southard told Supervisor Mike Antonovich during questioning. "We contract with private hospitals to provide indigent care, but there are some patients only county hospitals will accept."

Mental health workers have increasingly turned to law enforcement officials to handle emergency calls because hospitals are required by law to take emergency mental health patients transported by police. If a county mental health worker brings people in for treatment, facilities are not compelled to accept them.

As of last month, there were 2,562 beds available for mental health patients in Los Angeles County, records show, and only about 200 of them were at county hospitals, which are required to admit poor and uninsured patients.

According to department records, mental health staff responded to 10,003 calls this year, down 20% from 12,722 calls last year. The increased police response to mental health emergencies was first reported this month in the Los Angeles Daily Journal.

Critics of the current emergency response system for the mentally ill, including law enforcement officers, said Southard's response Tuesday amounted to a continuation of the status quo. They faulted county supervisors for not demanding a more immediate fix.

A political watchdog testified in the federal corruption trial of former Orange County Sheriff Mike Carona.

(excerpt, Los Angeles Times)

Shirley Grindle, a former aeronautics engineer who has devoted her retirement to enforcing county campaign rules, said she sat down with Carona in her living room in Orange on Jan. 13, 1997, after he called and asked for a meeting. She still has her calendar from that year, and it was displayed on courtroom monitors for everyone to see.

"I explained to Mr. Carona that he should be aware of and suspicious of [certain] contributions, particularly those that came in from numerous employees from the same company. . . . He should question them or have his treasurer question them," Grindle said. "I explained to him this is a serious violation."

Grindle was one of six witnesses to take the stand Wednesday in the trial of Carona and his former mistress Debra Hoffman, who are charged with trading the powers of the sheriff's office for their own profit. One of the allegations against Carona is that he knew Newport Beach millionaire Don Haidl laundered at least $30,000 during his first campaign by reimbursing check-writing contributors with cash.

Three Houston Police Department officers were taken out of patrol to be investigated for an assault against an NFL player's father.

(excerpt, Houston Chronicle)

Houston Police Chief Harold Hurtt released a statement, saying, "We take allegations such as these very seriously and will conduct a thorough investigation into the matter and be transparent in our findings, whatever the conclusion."

Marvin Driver's relatives said they were pleased with the decision to reassign the officers.

"Harold Hurtt has done the right thing," Michael Driver said outside the home where his father was arrested.

Police have not commented on the allegations, noting that the HPD Internal Affairs Division is conducting an investigation.

None of the accused officers has a sustained complaint on his permanent record.

All three are members of the Houston Police Officers Union and are eager to return to work, union President Gary Blankinship said.

"I've been told that this thing is being expedited," he said of the ongoing investigation. "And we support the officers 100 percent."

Labels: , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home

Newer›  ‹Older