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, December 26, 2008

Is the current city council part of an "era of change"?

“The interview of Officer Goodrich was so replete with leading questions and ‘questions’ which misstated prior testimony of Officer Goodrich that it raised questions in the minds of the panel members as to what was actually the subject officer’s version of the occurrence (as opposed to the interviewer’s version).”

----Las Vegas Citizens Review Board on an internal investigation similar to what civilian oversight mechanisms have said in Boston, Riverside and other places.

Riverside Police Department Officer Felix Medina and other officers in the Riverside Police Officers' Association helped out the family that got its Christmas presents stolen in the spirit of the holiday and community policing.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

A burglar had forced open the window of one of the daughter's rooms, ransacked every room including the kitchen and took about $10,000 worth of goods including their television, computer and all of their Christmas presents, said Lt. Chuck Griffitts.

"It was just like the world coming to an end. We felt violated. It was terrible," said Robert Tamayo, who works in Hacienda Heights as a ground worker.

He said his 8-year-old daughter was not able to open her Hannah Montana guitar and none of the girls could open the clothes their parents bought and wrapped for them.

Medina, who has been on the police force for about 10 years, took a report of the burglary and tried to console the family by telling them how he felt 11 years ago when his home was burglarized.

"I told them everything I had felt, how I had been in their same shoes."

One of the Riverside County Superior Court judges has moved up to the state level for most of next year.

If Riverside says bye bye to Greyhound who will be responsible? Former Councilman Dom Betro rears his head to point fingers again as if he's been the champion of Greyhound all along which is interesting to hear. But at least he took a trip on it and does seem to understand the real demographics of its ridership while the majority of the city council seems to think that all Greyhound passengers are criminals, hoodlums and felons. While he makes some good and interesting points, he rewrites his own role on the dais as if he's some champion of public participation when he was the one who led the motion on July 12, 2005 to take away the public's right to pull items from the consent calendar. Yes, Betro led the motion to eliminate those rights, the same rights that people rightfully believe now should be restored. And he sounds like he's running for office again. If so, I guess we'll find out soon enough which office it is.

It's interesting how history can be rewritten after such a short period of time. This hasn't been the first nor will it be the last time an elected official past or present has done so on the Greyhound issue. So you can't really blame Betro if he gets nipped by the same bug that has affected some of his former dais mates as well. But Betro was one of the most promising elected officials in Riverside's recent history, who just didn't quiet live up to that promise and wasn't reelected, an outcome made somewhat inevitable by his emotional outbursts which some of us have experienced firsthand. Face it, if his vision was what everyone in Ward One (and not just the downtown which is only a portion of a sizable district) wanted, he would be voting on issues instead of writing opinion pieces every time he senses that his successor, Mike Gardner's vulnerable.

But what's interesting is even in his letters and opinion pieces, Betro restricts his vision of worthwhile topics to tackle by focusing on the downtown area. He doesn't write hundreds of words about the Northside. He doesn't write hundreds of words about the Wood Street area.

Just downtown. So he hasn't learned much from his election loss.

At any rate, he presents his argument to the readers of the Press Enterprise.


Problems encountered along the way included city management's fear that placing Greyhound near the Metrolink station would alienate funding relationships with the Riverside County Transportation Commission. Some City Council members just didn't agree that this was the right location for Greyhound.

This created a stalemate, allowing staff members to continue to drag their feet on relocating the bus depot by coming up with unacceptable alternatives such as moving Greyhound to the north side or out to city property near Interstate 215.

The city is losing Greyhound service because at this critical time, there is a lack of leadership and competence in city government when it comes to dealing with downtown issues.

We see this when Brown Act compliance gets stretched, eminent domain is abused, city funds are wasted, a whole class of city residents is discriminated against and a progressive approach to improving transportation strategies -- downtown and in the rest of Riverside -- is sacrificed.

Eminent Domain get abused? Come again, Mr. Betro? Some of your campaign donors who benefited from the use of eminent domain downtown might be shocked at that statement.

Didn't the predominantly minority small business owners including the family who owned the Kawa Market on the Wood Streets constitute a class that was getting discriminated against during his reign on the dais? And didn't they have their lands handed off to White developers?

Still, Betro raises some interesting if after the fact points but once again, his ego gets in the way.

This blog discusses the legacy of Betro and other former city council members in contrast with what the author believes has transpired with the newer ones this last year. This person considers themselves an insider of sorts and there's still enough of the older council left that it's still almost an insider's paradise even with the ouster of Betro. This is in large part because the current city council has handed off most of its responsibility and certainly the more transparent part of its job to the city manager's office and the more insulated a government is when it comes to handling its business, the more reliance people have on "insiders" to find out even the most basic information on the operations of their own government. That's one reason why except perhaps for a quick consent calendar vote, most of the people in this city probably don't know where the decision making happens.

But since 99.99999% of Riversiders either aren't insiders or don't trust them much, it remains to be seen whether this analysis will prove useful in determining who will win the upcoming elections next year.

This blogger is very impressed with at least two of the new politicians on the city council, praising two of them but taking a harsher view of the third one.

And that's where the most interesting observations were made. Those provided of Ward Three Councilman Rusty Bailey. It's not just Bailey's critics that think there's a difference between him as a candidate and him as a councilman. Many of his campaign supporters are asking that question as well. There's a lot of Bailey that is still unknown after one year spent in office.

(excerpt, Inside Riverside)

However, Bailey the candidate and Bailey the Councilman are very different individuals. Bailey who promised to bring strong leadership to the Riverside City Council has done no such thing. Instead he has shown himself extremely adverse to risk, he has failed to bring any innovation or new thinking to City Hall, and behind the scenes he is known to be extremely petty. It is also said that Bailey had to give up his teaching gig at Riverside Poly because he could not handle the rigors of both jobs.

The worst thing that is coming out about Rusty Bailey is that he is developing a reputation as one who rewards his supporters and donors while taking steps to punish those who opposed him or supported Gage's re-election. Earlier this year Bailey returned a contribution from the Riverside Police Officers Association. Rumor has it that Bailey thought their $5000 donation was too small. He has let them know he was going to make the PD pay for backing Gage, possibly in negotiations for their next contract, possibly in layoff of Riverside Police Officers should the recession continue past June 2009.

If he's going to stick it to the police union out of some sort of revenge plot as sworn in this passage of this blog, its author is right, that this will be obviously fairly soon if this is indeed the case. But laying off public safety officers will not help him down the line if he truly wants to be mayor of this city. And it's possible that the city council could just hand over labor negotiations to the city manager's office and we all know how well that turned out during the summer of labor negotiations for at least five of the city's bargaining units in 2006.

His observations of Councilmen Mike Gardner and Chris MacArthur contain valid points, but his or her portrait of the overall dynamic of the city council is overly optimistic. Because the lack of discussion and debate on city council issues doesn't mean that meetings are more peaceful or even that a governmental body is more in harmony. What it can show is that city leaders may not be nearly as engaged in this process as they should be.

Does that mean arguments, stomping off the dais, personal attacks and going back to elected officials calling each other "liars" outside of each other's earshot? This behavior isn't necessary and it's not the obligatory contrast to the dynamic mentioned above.

Those holding minority views on issues might believe that until they have "the votes" or "the votes" change, that they have to remain quiet on issues on the dais. Those claiming to hold majority views might actually be expressing a collective view on issues that isn't necessarily accurate because there's a lack of public discourse on certain issues by the city council as a whole.

The paragraph about the newly refined Councilman Steve Adams, is interesting considering how individuals have said that Adams was allegedly going around telling people how he and another councilman have made joint efforts to shut down public participation from those "critics" that they and now, Inside Riverside have derided. But if there's any conduct problems, they can't be attributed to the new members, it's just a question about whether or not there's enough leadership from the new sector to effectively rein in some of the boisterous attitudes as they are called of two of the more senior members. If they can't do it, perhaps Election 2009 might just create some newly kinder, gentler people on the dais.

But is it a more transparent city council like this blogger stated? Is this really the Era of Change?

The answers are no to the first question as both the back room deal involving Greyhound and the mishandling of the Community Police Review Commission provide ample evidence to a more pessimistic view of the transparency factor of this ruling class.

As for it being the Era of Change, it's too soon to answer that question. What will prove to be interesting is whether it answers itself or not during the upcoming political campaign wars of 2009 coming to a venue near you.

Riverside placed third on Yahoo's list of the worst housing markets in the country, behind Los
Angeles and Stockton.

The projected change in 2009 off the current median price will be a nearly 24% drop in value.

More bus stations are being built in Riverside County if not Greyhound stations. The Riverside hub will stay in its current location downtown rather than be moving to the Marketplace area while faux crime magnet Greyhound Bus Lines gets evicted next month.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

"This does more good for public transit than any other thing we could do," said Bob Buster, a county supervisor who serves on both the bus board and transportation commission.

By supporting bus service at a time when the sluggish economy is making life hard for many workers, Buster said the county can convince people to use more public transit.

"This is a big part of all that integrated transportation network we see in the future," Buster said. "It is fast, it is cost-effective for the price and it is very flexible."

Buster said as public transit becomes a larger priority for Riverside County, the transportation commission should follow suit.

"(The transportation commission) can no longer view bus as a subordinate part of the overall transportation network," he said.

Part of building the new transit centers is an attempt to sync bus service with Metrolink commuter trains.

But not all the planned centers are poised to help easily connect bus centers with commuter train service. Stanley said officials chose to keep the Riverside center at its location on Fairmount Boulevard, adjacent to the Greyhound station that's slated to shutter its doors next month.

Officials had hoped to move Riverside's downtown bus depot closer to the Metrolink station off Vine Street, but Stanley said money might be better spent refurbishing the existing location.

"That reduces the cost to $3.5 million," Stanley told bus board members.

Inland Empire Weekly takes on Riverside's new "rent the cops" ordinance.

The New York City Police Department unveils its new alarm service for calls involving mentally ill individuals.

(excerpt, Newsday)

Under terms of the month-old initiative, a 911 dispatcher handling a
"triggering incident" -- anything from a "shots fired" call to an
assault in progress -- checks the address to see if it has been the
scene of three previous incidents involving an emotionally disturbed
person in the preceding 365 days, according to an internal NYPD order.

If so, the dispatcher tells responding officers about the previous
incidents and sends to the scene an ambulance and the Emergency
Service Unit, whose officers are best-trained to deal with the
mentally ill.

A police patrol supervisor, who is usually armed with a portable
Taser, is also sent to the scene.

The program is designed to strengthen what observers and critics have
typically seen as a police shortcoming. Two deadly confrontations in
November 2007, including one involving the man with the bottle, plus a
recent case in which a naked man fell to his death after he was jolted
with a Taser, illustrate the challenges police face in such

The NYPD is also working with mental health officials to identify
locations, such as group homes, that house the mentally ill, according
to Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne, the NYPD's top spokesman.

"You don't want to leave it to an officer -- hopefully the police
officer on duty is one who happens to remember who lives there,"
Browne says. "It's better if we know in advance about these

A police officer in North Las Vegas has been charged with onduty misconduct involving stopping women in vehicles and asking them for dates and sexual favors.

(excerpt, Las Vegas Sun)

A department spokesman says 40-year-old James Vernon Clayton was arrested Tuesday after a five-month investigation of claims by five adult women from Las Vegas and North Las Vegas.

Clayton is charged with misconduct by a public officer and oppression under color of office, felonies, and misdemeanor indecent exposure.

None of the women reported being physically harmed or sexually assaulted, although documents show that one alleged that Clayton exposed himself and tried to touch her.

Also in Las Vegas, the citizen review board is critical of how that department conducts internal investigations.

(excerpt, Las Vegas Sun)

Dick’s complaint became an investigation of a police investigation — a review board investigating the police who investigate police misconduct complaints. And this, beyond the fact an internal affairs investigation was allegedly so shabby, is the real story. It’s a sign, perhaps, the review board is evolving.

For only the second time in the board’s nearly eight-year history, internal affairs detectives were subpoenaed to testify before a hearing panel to explain their interview techniques. This was a real departure for the board, which has historically focused its investigations on the citizen’s accusation, the actual incident, rather than on Metro’s handling of the subsequent internal affairs investigation. This was a real departure for a board that can almost always be counted on to agree with the findings of internal affairs detectives.

Concerns about the way internal affairs investigations were being handled have been building for months, Citizens Review Board Executive Director Andrea Beckman said. Dick’s case was just the straw that broke the camel’s back.

But beyond these concerns, there’s something more significant: a board that is empowered enough, or bold enough, to investigate Metro’s investigators. And this change is a little harder to tease out.

The Police Commission has confirmed that the Department will be
submitting its response to the report (on the LAPD's racial profiling) at the Police Commission
meeting on January 13, 2009 meeting at 9:30 a.m. (at Parker Center,
150 N. Los Angeles St.).

The Police Commission is considering taking the unusual step of
agendizing community leaders and groups to speak on this issue. We
*must* get a considerable turnout or the Commission will not see this
as an issue it needs to take seriously. Also, we would like to turn
out affected community members who can share their stories.

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