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

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Riverside City Hall: Comments and commentary

"You've got to look at the larger picture."

---Riverside City Attorney Gregory Priamos' answer to most everything.

Yvette Pierre, the community relations director in Riverside was laid off by the city last week as was the police department's public information officer Steven Frasher and two other employees from the general services division and the fire department. In an article by the Press Enterprise which was released during that time, Asst. City Manager Tom DeSantis told the publication that only one employee had been laid off that week.

Unfortunately, it's more than likely that there will be more layoffs to come in future months with the next round likely to begin in January as the city reaches the midpoint of its current fiscal year.

What hasn't been explained by the city manager's office or Mayor Ron Loveridge (whose office oversees Yvette's position), is what staff will be allocated to the Human Relations Commission now that it has no director in place and will not have one for the foreseeable future.

Loveridge did say here that all departments had to make spending cuts in his response to the termination of Pierre. On Tuesday, the city council and mayor will be voting to recommend take spending cuts when it comes to reducing their own salaries, a practice being adopted by other city governments in light of the current budget crisis. The proposal to "review" the salaries of elected officials will take place at a public hearing in January.

If you recall, HRC lost its staffing the first time around while housed under the city manager's office after it wrote that letter to City Manager Brad Hudson asking him for the racial and ethnic breakdown of employees at City Hall in the wake of the departures of a number of Black and Latino management level employees at City Hall. Hudson didn't respond at least not in writing but he did soon after reduce their two full-time employees to two part-time employees. Soon after the HRC was moved to the umbrella of Loveridge's office which as can be seen, didn't quite put it out of reach of Hudson's office.

Yvette at least is doing well under the circumstances and is treating a very difficult situation with a positive attitude. But getting laid off before the holidays is even more difficult so keep her and the other laid off city employees in your thoughts even if the city manager's office apparently can't keep track of exactly how many employees it's laying off at any given time. At least one city council member repeated DeSantis' calculated figure at a community meeting which isn't surprising considering one of the biggest jokes among those who try to keep up with the political antics at City Hall is that the city council is accountable to the city manager.

There's some hilarious if appalling stories going around about the micromanagement being done by city government and city employees' involving the Community Police Review Commission including just how involved some of this city's elected officials truly are, that it's a shame that some of those who have told them don't seek careers in late night television.

What's not as funny is what's happening to the city's form of police oversight on the eve of the 10th anniversary of the fatal officer-involved shooting that brought its inception. What's interesting is that new organizations are forming through out the city and the CPRC is on of the central points of concern. There's been a lot of discussions about what's been going on throughout the city with the commission during the past six months.

Some individuals were shocked when City Attorney Gregory Priamos said during one intense moment of the latest episode of As the CPRC Twists (in the wind) that before the commercial break (or lights out), Executive Manager Kevin Rogan answered to the city manager's office according to the city's charter and ordinances. That was in response to a question asked by Commissioner Jim Ward who had survived another round of being chastised by assorted commissioners led by Chair Brian Pearcy, about who the executive manager answered to, meaning the commission or the city manager. Pearcy, however was struck silent for a solid minute by Ward's revelation that the letter that Pearcy had authored to the city council on behalf of the commission regarding the Hudson directive was the "real" Brian Pearcy, which the commission didn't see very often.

A nice remark made to and about a man who had insulted him only minutes before by treating him like a five-year-old.

It's pretty obvious that this was the case involving the executive manager but to hear Priamos say it (alas, sans the proper organ music) has still elicited some interesting comments from people who've been avid followers of the city's greatest soap opera. If the commission believed its executive manager was there to serve it, they were mistaken and for sure, they know that's the case by now. And that's the way it shall be.

At least until the commissioners sign the paychecks. Of course it can't even write its own checks since Priamos has been designated keeper of the commission's allowance. And if it's naughty, the purse strings get pulled. A wrist slap of the dollar sign kind.

While on the topic of the beleagured CPRC, the discussion on the upcoming Ward Four election in Riverside continues as both the pro and anti forces show up to present their arguments on whether Councilman Frank Schiavone should be reelected to a third term or not.

The first topic for discussion is DHL-Gate, that unfortunate travesty that residents of Southern Riverside were forced to put up with for years being called "crazy" and "gadflies" by assorted individuals before their voices were heard.

Here are two different ways to look at this issue of Schiavone and DHL-Gate.

(excerpt, Inland Empire Craigslist)

For anyone that isn't aware, Mr. Schaivone brought us DHL, and wants to add even more night-time overflights.

He is a real-estate developer, and what has he done to help Ward 4?

He has only helped line the pockets of his developer buddies, and March JPA.

Oh, and he is generally an arrogant, mean man.

We need some change here in Ward 4. Schaivone's re-election is not a
no-brainer. He's on the outs.

Here's someone who disagrees with the above assertion.

The March JPA brought us DHL. Yes, Schiavone is a member - he's also the one that has fought tirelessly to remedy that situation once it was learned that certain facts were misrepresented to March JPA.

You said: "and wants to add even more night-time overflights" - I'm pretty sure this is an out and out lie considering how hard Schiavone fought to STOP the disturbing night flights!

You said: "He is a real-estate developer, and what has he done to help Ward 4?" - Schiavone is a custom home builder not a developer. He builds one home for a customer that wants that one home built. Big difference there buddy. What has he done? Since you live in Ward 4 - look around you! He's done plenty and I'm sure it will be spelled out here over time.

You said: "Oh, and he is generally an arrogant, mean man." - Well, this just sounds like sour grapes. Besides, even if this is true, which I have no idea whether it is or not, what difference does that make on whether he's an effective leader or not?

You said: "We need some change here in Ward 4" - Do we? Really? By all means spell it out. What needs to be "changed"? Seems to me you are just using the new hip buzz word because it worked for Obama.

Actually, your entire post appears to be a sound bite for a campaign platform. Interesting.

The filing deadline for city council elections is still several months away so if anyone else wants to jump into the ring, you still have some time to prepare. So everyone who's putting a sound byte out there (and it's interesting how the above commenter associates "sound bytes" with campaigns), should go and fill out their papers and run for political office.

Riverside's city land use committee conducted a meeting to discuss the future of Fairmount Park which is being renovated after Election 2007 brought out a new awareness among city government that public participation might win them votes. The 17.7 acres of public park land that was swapped in order to open it up for developers was placed back under the protection of state law or it will be if approved by the majority of the city council at one of its future meetings. Does it mean the land won't be developed in the future? Of course not, but it makes it a bit harder for the city to do so. But stay vigilant, because putting the CPRC in the charter gave it about a year reprieve from interference before certain factions at City Hall renewed their feeding frenzy over the panel where they'd left off.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

The effect would be to force the city to replace the acreage with the same amount of similar property if it develops Fairmount for uses that are not strictly park uses, said Kristi Smith, supervising deputy city attorney.

If the full council approves the item, the view into Fairmount Park is less likely to be blocked by buildings, said Councilman Mike Gardner, whose ward includes the park.

"This makes it a little more difficult for the council to do something that I see as a mistake," he said.

Gardner last year defeated former Councilman Dom Betro in part over park issues.

Lt. Gov. John Garamendi and Riverside Councilman Andrew Melendrez urged the Parkview Hospital nurses union to keep fighting for their contract.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Nurses held signs saying: "We love Parkview" and "Respect Nurses." They chanted, "Yes, we can," a phrase made popular during President-elect Barack Obama's campaign.

During his brief speech at Hunt Park, Garamendi said everyone knows the economy is tough and now is not the time to seek large wage increases.

Nonetheless, he said Parkview nurses have the right to organize and get a contract.

No one from the hospital administration could be reached to comment.

After the rally, union spokeswoman Laureen Lazarovici said hospital officials canceled a contract negotiation meeting that had been set for Thursday.

The meeting was rescheduled for 9 a.m. Tuesday.

The elderly residents of Plymouth Tower are going to be looking for another place to live because the senior version of affordable housing for those on fixed incomes is closing its doors with its eviction date on Feb. 15.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

The news, announced at a meeting Dec. 1, has shaken the tower "family," as residents call themselves.

"There was a lot of crying," said administrator Ray Lau. "It was heart-wrenching. Some got angry. Some walked out."

Studies suggest a link between "transfer trauma" and a higher incidence of death and depression among nursing home residents who are abruptly discharged.

However, Lau said the long advance notice and solicitous efforts to resettle residents have eased the shock and reduced the trauma.

Lau and social worker/activities director Edoardo Estrada are scrambling to relocate residents at facilities with the same rates and to find jobs for the staff.

McBride is 101.

"I don't want to leave," said the tiny woman who still wears earrings every day. "This is a sad situation. This is a good, homey place."

The Riverside County Public Defender's office conducted a study on the trials and stated in a report that juries agreed with the defendant more often than in previous years. The office attributed this to issues with the Riverside County District Attorney's office overcharging defendants.

And so goes the latest round in the ongoing war that's broken out between the two county agencies but the study provided interesting food for thought.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

The defender's office review of 574 felony trials over the two-year period shows guilty-as-charged verdicts on cases handled by its office fell from 53.2 percent in 2006 to 46.9 percent in 2007.

For 392 misdemeanor trials over the two years, the guilty-on-all counts category went from 49.7 percent in 2006 to 41.8 percent in 2007.

The 2007 results from the analysis shows "Fifty-three percent of the time, the community says after trial that a felony case was overcharged," said Assistant Public Defender Robert Willey, referring to jurors' decisions.

"On misdemeanors, the community rejects the filing decision on almost 60 percent of the cases," he said.

A leading prosecutor cast doubt on the effort.

"You can create statistics by your own measure and declare victory in any situation," Assistant District Attorney Chuck Hughes said in a telephone interview. The study "concocts" statistics from a few hundred cases "while ignoring many thousands of cases" that pass through the system, Hughes said.

The D.A.'s office disputes the findings and has stated in previous years that its conviction rate at trial is over 90%. It's not clear whether or not this office has also conducted a study.

This letter was published in the Press Enterprise about the Los Angeles Police Department sergeant who filed a $5 million claim against Riverside. The discussions taking place in this city this past week or so have been considerable.

(excerpt, Readers Views)

Your article about the $5 million lawsuit against the city of Riverside is another timely message about why Barack Obama's election victory is such an important milestone to those who have felt repressed simply because of their skin color ("Officer files claim against city," Dec. 7).

How many times must a black man be treated so harshly without apology by the police because he is perceived as not belonging in a particular place?

Despite Obama's major achievement for African-Americans, we see clearly by this incident how far we have yet to be enlightened and transformed before we live in a truly colorblind society that provides freedom for all.

I hope this lawsuit results in justice for this Los Angeles Police Department sergeant. But I hope that it will also serve as a training aid for the Riverside Police Department.



Comments about the article continue in several articles published in the Press Enterprise this week and also here. They mirror comments being heard all over the city this past week.

(excerpt, Craigslist)

10 years later very little has changed with the RPD. The culture is still the same. The state needs to come back in, clean things up, and stick around for a while to make sure the PD doesn't relapse. Of course it would help if the City would allow the CPRC to do its job

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

barbiemacs, you posted that "This is too incredible to believe"

Ask any black man living in Riverside, if this type of treatment by RPD officers is possible. You will be hearing many stories that are too incredible to believe.

So, are the officers of RPD any more out of control than any other major city in the US?

I have a good way for the citizens of our city to judge for themselves if this is the case or not. Unfortunately, it will require the cooperation of the courts, judges and DA's office, so I can't see it happening.

However, if there was a published figure of the monetary amount that is paid out by our city each year, a record kept, which gave us a breakdown of the costs our city incurred to defend civil actions which are filed as a result of police activity and the amount that is awarded to the plaintiff in each action (if any) then we could compare those figures with cities of similar size and draw our conclusions from there.

This would require all information and settlement amounts to remain public and there could be no gag orders or settlement deals made with the stipulation that the records are sealed.

Lets face it, if the police investigation of themselves, determines there was no wrong on the part of the police, then we shouldn't have million dollar awards going to the plaintiff/victims in these cases either.
If we do, then something is just not right.

Holy cow. Five Million Dollars? Wouldn't an equally embarrasing apology or community service for the officer be more appropriate? Five million dollars because a guy had to sit in his flowerbed "in his gardening clothes". If a white man, Mexican or Asian was sitting on the wall and the same thing happened you would never hear about it. They would have probably laughed it off and thanked the officer for trying to protect the property. Why is that racial profiling? How did an honest cop get a 1.3 Million Dollar house? My son is a cop and he sure can't afford one. I suspect this isn't poor Wayne's first suit. So the officer held a taser on him, which he didn't fire, but somehow 'roughed him up'? This is CRAP. I hope the judge charges him with bringing frivolus lawsuits.

RPD sent a report to his employer. What's that about? Sounds like an attempt to get the officer in trouble with the LAPD in order to get the heat off of them (RPD) rather than just provide the officer an apology! This is crazy!

City employees in Colton's public works division have filed a petition for an investigation in the city's labor practices.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

The letter was signed by 21 of the 25 employees in the streets and parks divisions that Roque oversees and circulated last week to his supervisor, City Manager Daryl Parrish and the City Council.

Parrish said Thursday that he had received a copy of a letter signed by numerous employees in the Public Works Department stating that they have issues with and concerns about Roque.

"Understanding that there are always two sides to a story and all employees have rights, I have spoken to our interim public works director and have asked our human resources director to look into the matter," Parrish said.

Calls and messages left on Roque's cell phone seeking comment were not returned.

Lupe Celaya has worked for the Colton street department three years and said he has seen Roque verbally abuse employees.

Celaya said the final straw was an alleged incident in which Roque took city workers and a weekend laborer to one of his rental properties in town to paint over graffiti.

"We want him removed from his position. If it means termination, so be it," Celaya said. "If it means moving him to another department, fine. Morale is down, production is's not a good thing."

The New York City Police Department is defending its internal investigation of allegations of serious misconduct against Michael Mineo who was allegedly sodomized by officers in a subway station. Three officers were just indicted on criminal charges by a grand jury stemming from that incident.

(excerpt, New York Times)

A day before Brooklyn prosecutors unsealed the indictments against three police officers, Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said on Monday in an interview on NY1 that the department’s internal investigators had helped build a criminal case for prosecutors.

“If it wasn’t for Internal Affairs,” Mr. Kelly said, “there’d be no case here.”

On Tuesday, Paul J. Browne, the department’s chief spokesman, issued a statement after Charles J. Hynes, the Brooklyn district attorney, announced the multicount indictment charging one officer with brutalizing the tattoo worker, Michael Mineo, and two others with trying to cover it up.

“Contrary to some critics, the N.Y.P.D. Internal Affairs Bureau, after locating two witnesses in close proximity to the incident who said they did not see the alleged sodomy, continued its aggressive investigation of the allegations,” Mr. Browne said, without naming the critics. “I.A.B. located and interviewed additional witnesses, reviewed hours of videotape, secured officers’ lockers and retained equipment for DNA and other testing, documented officers’ whereabouts, located MetroCard swipe records and identified users in the search for additional witnesses.”

But the reason why the NYPD has to come out and defend its investigation is because earlier this year when this incident was first reported, it refused to put its officers on administrative leave and issued statements to the media essentially saying it didn't happen and branded Mineo as a liar using those aforementioned two witnesses as its "proof".

Police departments often have to issue statements like this when they come to conclusions about allegations before the investigations been started and make them public.

Columbia, South Carolina is creating a civil rights panel for its state police.

(excerpt, The State)

“We don’t want to put law enforcement in a position that they will not adequately do their job for fear of prosecution,” Wilkins told The State this week. “But at the same time, we certainly don’t want those (officers) to overstep their boundaries and take it to the next level and violate someone’s civil rights.”

Wilkins, who became South Carolina’s top federal prosecutor in June, said he created the four-attorney task force about two months ago in the wake of allegations of excessive force by state Highway Patrol troopers.

Two troopers were indicted this year on federal civil rights charges, though a Greenville jury acquitted Steve Garren. The other indicted trooper, John Sawyer, is awaiting trial.

Wilkins said the task force, headed by First Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin McDonald, has reviewed “a little over” 10 alleged excessive force cases. Some cases are still under review; others, including the one involving Charles Green, have been closed, he said.

“We really felt we needed a formalized system in place,” Wilkins said. “It’s a work in progress; we take our cases very, very seriously.”

Wilkins declined to discuss specifics of the cases under review.

There's a job opening in Eugene, Oregon.

Police Auditor
City of Eugene, OR
(Population: 153,690)

Salary $86,715 to $108,056. Oregon's 2nd largest city, Eugene is an
attractive community with quality schools, a beautiful environment, a
temperate climate and a diverse, dynamic culture. The Police Auditor was
established in 2005 and reports to the City Council, and is responsible
for receiving and classifying complaints, monitoring or participating in
internal investigations, and preparing reports on complaints trends and
police practices.

The Police Auditor promotes organizational changes to improve police
services and community relations by identifying, analyzing and making
recommendations regarding complaint investigation process and policies,
practices and training. Requires a JD from an accredited university and
5 years of progressively responsible experience overseeing
administrative investigations and performing program development,
analysis, and complex professional staff support, preferably in the
public sector. Interested candidates should apply immediately for the
position and can find additional information at
<http://www.alliance resourceconsulti>
www.allianceresourc econsulting. com
<http://www.alliance resourceconsulti> .

The position is open until filled. Questions may be directed to Eric
Middleton at (562) 901-0769, or emiddleton@alliance

The unwritten job description includes the willingness to be micromanaged by political forces in Eugene which rival those in Riverside. Despite this, at least 33 people applied for the position. The city's hoping to attract more applicants but maybe news about its reputation has slipped out.

A Los Angeles Police Department officer has been accused of jury tampering.

(excerpt, Los Angeles Times)

A Los Angeles County district attorney's spokeswoman said the office is considering criminal charges against Officer Dominick Fuentes, who had testified in the trial a day before he allegedly spoke to the jurors.

The alternate jurors complained to a judge earlier this year that Fuentes had approached them in the hallway of a downtown Los Angeles courthouse and told them that evidence showed the defendant was clearly guilty, according to court records.

One of the jurors said Fuentes held up a hand while discussing the defendant's past crimes and said, "Do you see the number of fingers I have? He's done many more times than that."

The defendant's criminal history was never introduced as evidence in the trial.

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