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, May 31, 2008

Election 2008: Message to Democrats, vote Republican

Two weeks ago, a car filled with young adults crashed into a palm tree and so far has left three of them alive, three dead.

One of those who was killed, John Dylan Masgula, 18, was a creative writing student at the University of California, Riverside and his family lacks the funds to bury him.

One of the survivors, Sarah Knight, 20, is recovering and her parents, Cary and Risa Knight are owners of the Upper Crust, a restaurant located on the downtown pedestrian mall. Their daughter worked there along with Masgula. The Knights always have kind words for their customers, many of whom are regulars at their sandwich shop and it's always a pleasure to eat there. So if you pass by there, think about dropping by and give them some words of support during a very difficult and painful time.

More properties have been acquired by Riverside's Redevelopment Agency through Eminent Domain threats, proving that when dreams clash, the ones that are realized belong to those with the most power.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

When the City Council, acting as the agency board, approved the eminent domain suits against the Garners in 2006, the justification was that their properties were blighted -- the Merrill property held boarded-up buildings and the garage was run-down -- or not being used to their full potential in the case of the parking lot.

"We're happy we were able to come to terms with the family," Assistant City Manager Michael Beck said. "We're enthusiastic about the parcels playing a more vital role in the city's economy."

But Carlsbad resident Sarah Garner, whose family owned the land, said they accepted less money than the land was worth to avoid going to trial.

"We feel like we were taken advantage of, to say the least," she said.

The whole affair was disappointing because the family had plans for each parcel, Garner said, and the lawsuits put an end to those plans.

While there are tax advantages to having property acquired by eminent domain, Garner said, it will be almost impossible to reinvest the proceeds in parcels that have as much potential as the parcels they were forced to sell.

The Redevelopment Agency demolished the buildings on Merrill and put in a parking lot.

So, it seems that the parking lot wasn't the issue, it was who got to own the parking lot. So is the history of eminent domain and threatened eminent domain in Riverside against local businesses.

The Riverside Office of Neighborhoods and the Riverside Neighborhood Partnership held their annual conference for city residents at California Baptist University. Several hundred people participated in workshops addressing everything from how to conduct a neighborhood meeting, to co-producers in public safety on seeking neighborhood assets and building from them.

Several city council members including Ward Five's Chris MacArthur and Ward Six's Nancy Hart were seen milling about and sitting in on workshops.

MacArthur spent several minutes greeting city residents from Area Four which included portions of Wards Four and Ward Five including Casa Blanca, Arlington, Arlington Heights and Ramona. He said though he realized portions of it were in Councilman Frank Schiavone's ward, he also had constituents who lived in the area and people's ears perked up when he handed out his cell phone number for anyone to give him a call, adding that he was the kind of elected official who wanted to sit in people's living rooms or stand on their driveways and talk with them.

What's always stimulating are the discussions which take place in between the seminars including at lunch which is included in the event. It's amazing to listen to how many people attending were frustrated at how the city council was conducting its business, how they were discouraging public comment and people felt excluded from the process. If this sentiment is a common one across the city, then next year, Election 2009, is going to be a very interesting one and could continue a trend first seen in Election 2007.

One real treat was the return of Pedro Payne who holds a doctorate degree and is now working and conducting research at the Robert Presley Justice Center for Crime and Justice Studies at UCR. If you remember, Payne was a city employee who held positions both as the director of community relations and executive manager of the Community Police Review Commission. A valued employee with the communities of Riverside if not with those who employed him. Although he's clearly in a better place now, how he was treated serves as a reminder of how important it is to value the "assets" who work for the city as well.

Mayor Ron Loveridge gave a keynote address at the conference, but I missed it. What was waiting on my answering machine was a paid political message that he had done for Councilman Frank Schiavone who is running for District One supervisor for Riverside County. What was both interesting and problematic was that Loveridge began his message by saying that he and all Democrats were voting for Schiavone and he urged those he was addressing to do the same.

Okay, sounds cut and dry but as has been the case about everything in Election 2008, nothing's never that easy. What Loveridge doesn't really address is that he's turning what is supposed to be a nonpartisan race into one between a Democrat and a Republican because why else would be telling people through a canned phone message to join him and all Democrats in voting for a particular candidate. Most often, when they do that, it's to support a fellow Democrat and since most local elections are nonpartisan, some regional organizations representing the Democratic Party opt out of endorsing as an entity in different cities.

Only the other thing Loveridge doesn't tell you is that Schiavone isn't the Democrat, Incumbent Bob Buster is and Schiavone is in fact, a Republican.

In a city where Democrats who have supported Republican candidates or worked on their campaigns have had their loyalty to the Democratic Party questioned including during Election 2007, it's highly unlikely that any large segment of members of the Democratic Party would be pushing to endorse or encourage their members to support a Republican candidate. In fact, locally some members of the Democratic Party complained that they were unfairly treated for working on or supporting the candidacies of those who identified as members of the Republican Party or another political party who were running in a nonpartisan process.

Even though local elections are considered to be nonpartisan, the members of the Democratic Party were expected to support the campaigns of Democratic candidates and were viewed with suspicion if they supported, campaigned for or voted for Republican candidates. There were even rumors of loyalty oaths being required for signature though these accounts weren't confirmed.

Yet now, a prominent Democrat politician is urging for his fellow crew mates to vote Republican in a nonpartisan election that breaks those boundaries when a major political party or two decides to get involved. These are indeed strange times, with politics making strange bed fellows.

In fact, except for Loveridge and possibly Councilman Chris MacArthur, those on the dais who have endorsed Schiavone versus those who have endorsed Buster have divided themselves along political party lines. The only question mark is Ward Three Councilman Rusty Bailey who's a "declined to state" and has endorsed Schiavone. But then some political watchers have designated Loveridge a Democrat in name only.

So Loveridge's call to the masses from inside the Democratic Party to vote for a Republican candidate is the latest chapter in this election which has taken some interesting and even bizarre twists and turns. With two days left to go, there's certainly more to come.

Here's a statement from a brochure from the Schiavone camp which I found crumpled while crossing the street. I haven't received his mailers in several weeks but had heard all about them. Yes, it's the one with the ambiguous photographs of unidentified individuals, someone said possibly Riverside County employees, which has been attributed by proximity to the text below.

"Bob Buster has given millions of dollars in benefits to illegal immigrants. And you paid for it."

It's not clear whether or not the men depicted in the photographs are supposed to represent county workers who aren't mentioned anywhere in the text above nor are they the ones being addressed in that statement. It's not clear whether or not the men depicted in the photographs are supposed to depict undocumented immigrants either and if they are, then did the individuals taking their photographs ask them or did they use actors? At any rate, the use of these photographs with no attribution and no explanation of what these men represent is problematic in many different ways that obviously were above the notice of whomever in Schiavone's campaign put it together especially since it's clear from at least the top photograph that the men didn't pose for the picture to be used specifically in a politician's campaign. Isn't it nice to have your picture taken unknowingly and then have it appear in a political campaign perhaps in a negative way?

And they all appear to be Latino at least in the top photo which was placed right next to the text about Buster giving benefits to "illegal immigrants".

What's also problematic too and racist, is that in the image is a faintly depicted image of a map of Mexico including its border portion which is helpfully labeled, "Mexico". This makes it clear that Schiavone's campaign is trying to tie in illegal immigration to Mexico and Mexicans as also depicted by the picture of the "wall". Maybe Schiavone and his campaign team aren't aware of this but not all undocumented immigrants are from Mexico and not even all of those which are Latino are from Mexico. Many undocumented immigrants come from countries all around the world including those in Europe, especially from what used to be the Soviet Union and its satellite nations under communism.

But then to portray an accurate portrait of undocumented immigration would not fulfill the inflammatory intent that has been present when all undocumented immigration can be associated with Mexicans which virtually all the negative sentiment is. So you have a political campaign (and his isn't the only one) that's not playing on the truth, it's playing on emotions.

But it's ironic given what the Schiavone campaign said about the appearance of a dark-skinned man in another brochure associated with undocumented immigration, that the presense of the two on the same brochure had nothing to do with each other. It's hard to believe that this time, they don't. It is however, very disappointing. Some Latinos in conversation have complained about the campaigns being launched in both sides, feeling that both campaigns have pretty much viewed them as necessary losses. And given that they're the fastest growing demographic of voters in the county, it's disappointing that this has happened.

Then there's this statement,

"Meanwhile, Buster received a vote of NO CONFIDENCE from our Riverside Sheriffs because of his soft on drug policies."

Actually, no that is not quite true as the reality is much more complicated than what is being portrayed in one sound byte. But then someone should remind Schiavone that the vast majority of people who use WIC programs are actually citizens of the United States and if he wants to abolish WIC, he should just come out, say that and include it in his campaign platform.

But the statement on the RSA's no confidence vote four years ago is confusing. Maybe that's why there's no source attribution for this campaign statement in the mailer. The reasons why the Riverside Sheriffs' Association issued a no confidence vote in June 2004 were related to his vote on labor issues that the union supported and the vote was a culmination of other issues. His position on the labor issues triggered the challenge in the 2004 supervisor's race by Linda Soubirous who was fronted by the RSA and other police associations.

Then maybe in the next two days, there will be a bunch of backed up mailers and phone messages from Riverside city employees talking about how Schiavone plans to handle trivial issues including traffic, the housing crisis, the allotment of law enforcement resource in unincorporated areas versus contract cities and other issues that people are actually talking about rather than focusing on the issue they're not.

Inside Riverside, the blog about the politics of Riverside County hasn't been active since the appointment of Sheriff Stan Sniff last year, but right now there's a discussion on Schiavone and DHL here.


I believe that Frank Schiavone was doing the right thing by voting to allow DHL to pull night flights out of March. In a time where our fellow citizens are losing their jobs at an alarming pace. Frank Schiavone and his fellow members had the foresight to see that by allowing DHL to operate at night more product will be moved, and thus allowing for the emolyment of citizens to fill the new night positions.

As far as the noise factor, only a fool would move next to an airport and cry about the noise coming from it. That makes as much sense as moving next to a missile test site and later cry about the sounds of explosions.

In Norco, the city manager is telling the city government that the city's broke and its reserves are depleted, which no doubt will impact further budget discussions.

The Riverside Sheriffs' Association has announced that it wants its own members and members of the public to stay away from Soboba Indian Casino, calling it too dangerous after citing that six people have been killed in recent weeks.

All six by its own deputies, in shootouts on the reservation which is a lot especially considering that the contract which authorized the Sheriff's Department to serve as a police agency there expired last July.

(excerpt, Los Angeles Times)

Due to recent violence against Riverside County deputy sheriffs and a concern that the situation remains unstable for [union] members as well as the general public, the Riverside County Sheriff's Association is recommending that its members and the general public avoid the Soboba Casino for their off-duty leisurely activities," the alert said, before listing nine other Indian casinos to patronize.

Tribal Council member Rose Salgado said the tribe didn't want to bring the public into the controversy.

"The recent tragic events were unrelated to the casino and had no impact on the safety or welfare of either casino patrons or employees. In fact, the casino parking lot was used as the command center for the Riverside County Sheriff's Department and the media during both incidents," she said in a statement. "It is not productive to have an outside agency such as the Riverside County Sheriff's Association hinder the process of mediation between the tribe, the United States Department of Justice, and the Riverside County Sheriff's Department -- an agency that they are supposed to be helping, not alienating."

Riverside Supervisor Jeff Stone out on the campaign trail demanded new leadership on the tribal counsel which responded with these words.


"We have continued to ask for a government-to-government relationship, for them to be sensitive to our customs and traditions, and recognize and respect the tribe's sovereignty," she said. "We realize . . . that we have a long road ahead of us to educate elected officials and the communities of the intricate and dynamic functions of tribal government."

Repairing San Berdoo is on the mind of one local columnist.

In Columbia, Missouri, an important vote that could decide the vote of civilian review in that city is set for June 26.

In related news, the city is confounded by a report on racial profiling released by a consultant it hired.

Among the data found, was the fact that White complainants were 10 times more likely to have their complaints sustained for misconduct than were Black complainants.

(excerpt, Columbia Tribune)

During the committee’s two-hour meeting last night, the most heated debate once again centered around a report of complaints filed with Columbia police between 2005 and 2007. The report found that out of 130 complaints, officers’ actions were deemed "improper" in 30 percent of complaints filed by whites compared to 3.2 percent of complaints filed by blacks.

Committee member and statistics expert Jeff Milyo presented an analysis of the report that differed from a May 1 presentation given by Tracy Greever-Rice, associate director of the University of Missouri’s Office of Social and Economic Data Analysis. Greever-Rice told the committee she couldn’t do any statistical analysis on the data and it was hard to draw conclusions from the report because of a lack of information.

Although some committee members said they think the information proves police treat minorities differently than whites, Milyo said that’s not a fair conclusion without taking into account why disparities in the data exist.

Milyo, an MU professor who specializes in dealing with disparity data in political economics, said disparities are expected by race in data of traffic stops and complaints, but that doesn’t mean police are racist.

"You can’t just look at disparities and make inferences about treatment," Milyo said. "You have to question whether they are the product of underlying social conditions in general or are they the product of something else."

Two officers from the Philadelphia Police Department who are being investigated for alleging beating a man hard enough to break his jaw, are also under investigation for an earlier incident, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.


Earlier this week, the two officers, both five-year veterans, were criminally charged with assault and related offenses for an unrelated case in August 2007 in which they caught a 37-year-old man painting graffiti and then allegedly severely beat him when he tried to flee. Ramsey has suspended the officers without pay with intent to fire.

That case prompted the commissioner to review their personnel records, which showed the June 2007 complaint filed by the teen's mother, who said her son was struck repeatedly.

Ramsey's order to reopen the case comes after the televised police assault May 5 of three suspects, which led to the firings of four officers and disciplinary actions against four others in a move that has rocked the department. Ramsey has said that use of excessive force will not be tolerated.

"We want to make sure that we did not miss anything and make sure that there is not a pattern of behavior," Chief Inspector Anthony DiLacqua, recently appointed to oversee internal investigations, said of the new investigation ordered.

In the meantime, the man whose jaw was broken by these two officers wants an apology.

A woman is killed and a police officer who lied about the circumstances of her killing gets his wrist slapped.

Former Atlanta Police Department Officer Arthur Testler was sentenced by a judge to 4 1/2 years in prison for his role in the coverup of the murder of Kathryn Johnston, 92, by a group of narcotics officers, most of which have also faced criminal charges.

(excerpt, WTOP)

McKenney asked Johnson for the minimum one-year prison sentence, and called relatives and one of Tesler's neighbors to vouch for his character and ask the judge to allow him to return soon to his wife and four children, ages 10 months to 13 years.

The shackled Tesler blinked back tears as his wife, Kelli, expressed their remorse for the tragedy and described her husband as a good man and "a dad who has to regularly beat up monsters in the closet before bedtime."

The prosecutor, Kellie S. Hill, asked the judge to sentence Tesler to the maximum of five years in prison "to do what is just for Ms. Johnston."

Hill said Tesler could have told the truth at any time.

"For those monsters that he can't fight for his children, he can blame himself," she said.

Here's a job opening for the chief investigator of the Office of Citizen Complaints in San Francisco.

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Thursday, May 29, 2008

TGIF: Bits and pieces, here and there

The discussion of the Nov. 8, 2006 fatal officer-involved shooting of Douglas Steven Cloud was postponed by the Community Police Review Commission again. About 563 days have passed since the shooting took place and the CPRC is still preparing to certify its facts, which is stage 2 of its own process. Family members of Cloud have been attending the meeting, addressing the CPRC's review of the shooting. But there's not really effective communication in informing the relatives of individuals whose deaths fall under the purview of the CPRC as of yet.

At any rate, the commission was barely at quorum with an acting chair. This is not a body that's heading in a better direction.

The city council meeting this week is even briefer than usual. Is it to give Riverside's elected officials time to recover from last week's grueling marathon meeting? No, actually it's because there's some county elections next week and given that everyone on the dais is endorsing one side of the District One race, civic business has been sidelined so that they can celebrate or mourn the election results.

One of the darlings of closed sessions, Jon Lonsburg, is back. Every time you see a wheel chair ramp or one being constructed, think of him and his litigation against the city in federal court. While the city officials and their direct employees might boast about how many times they've beat him in court, the wheelchair ramps are being built or rebuilt later than they should of, including several hundred ordered by a federal judge after Lonsbury "lost" his last lawsuit.

More wheelchair ramps are to be added.

Also, contained in the consent calendar in the early afternoon session is this item on the transfer of over $4 million being used for the relocation of Marcy Library from one city account to another.

With many independent bookstores going under due to the proliferation of big chain outlets, here's another one to support.

Romantically Inclined

3830 La Sierra Ave.


An off-duty Los Angeles Police Department officer pulled a knife and then a gun while having a tirade inside a restaurant. The officer was arrested not long after he kicked a man's food out of his hands and the pulled a gun and pointed it at his head.

A Bell Police Department officer was arrested on charges of sexually assaulting a woman onduty.

Once a week, the New York City Police Department conducts a "
involving officers who are being administratively investigated. These hearings where evidence is heard are open to the public though the decision making processes are not.

(excerpt, New York Times)

The trial room is where the New York City police punish — or exonerate — their own, and, as the disciplinary arm of a paramilitary organization, it answers to its own set of rules.

There is no jury box, because there is no jury, and while there is a judge, the judge does not have the final say; that power belongs to the police commissioner. The Fifth Amendment does not apply. The Police Department patrol guide is the rule of law, and there is no prospect of jail time; instead, officers can be fired.

It is here where seven police officers involved in the Sean Bell shooting case could find themselves fighting for their jobs. Four of the officers, including three who were acquitted in a criminal trial, were charged with “discharging their firearms outside of departmental guidelines,” while the others were faulted for their supervision or their processing of the shooting scene.

The Police Department puts one of its own on trial at least once a week, on average, and opens the proceedings to the public. “And after the trial, the trial record is available,” said the department’s chief spokesman, Paul J. Browne.

But critics say that parts of the process are not transparent.

“The process of decision-making is so opaque, and takes place outside of the public’s view, that people don’t have confidence that justice is being served,” said Dick Dadey, executive director of Citizens Union, a watchdog group that has called for reforms in the prosecution of police misconduct.

Still, the process in New York City is worlds away from that in many other cities in other states such as California where nothing is open to the public except a complaint form. And in some places like Riverside, even when the laws governing the confidentiality of police personnel records allows for the release of statistical records, the city attorney's office denies the public this information. That shows how confident that office is and those who direct its operation are in the performance of the officers in the police department or at least that's the perception that such actions or rather inaction sends to the public.

The Community Police Review Commission traditionally released statistical data from its process through its monthly and annual reports available online or through hard copies. However, the commission has recently resumed its monthly reports after a bit of a dry spell. As you know, the operations of the commission have not thrived since the arrival of current City Manager Brad Hudson and his assistant, Tom DeSantis. In fact, the performance of these individuals in overlooking the CPRC is somewhat below that of prior city management teams.

In related rooms, the game of musical offices for the CPRC is apparently over. Recently, it moved back to its original haunt, the front section on the left hand side of the sixth floor of City Hall.

A man who was tased by police officers in Northern California died soon after.

More and more law enforcement agency recruiters are seeking out law school graduates to hire as officers.

A former Cambridge employee who worked as the head of the Police Review and Advisory Board was awarded $4.5 million by a jury after she alleged that the city had retaliated against her for filing a discrimination lawsuit against it.

(excerpt, Boston Globe)

Malvina Monteiro lost her job in September 2003 as executive director of the city's Police Review and Advisory Board, a civilian oversight group. The city had recently informed her of its intention to fire her, so she resigned from the job.

"It is really gratifying for me," Monteiro said in a telephone interview. "I am deeply humbled the jury understood my experience."

The total amount, once legal fees and statutory interest are factored in, could climb to $6 million or more, said Monteiro's lawyer, Ellen Zucker. She said the amount shows how incensed the jury was by the retaliation.

"As a lawyer, I view Malvina as my hero," Zucker said. "It takes someone with that kind of integrity and grit to stand up and, in this case, take on City Hall."

The jury on Friday found the city's five-year retaliation effort so egregious in nature that the payout includes $3.5 million in punitive damages. Awarding punitive damages is rare in Massachusetts, and high amounts are usually about $2 million for employment law cases, said David Yas, editor in chief of Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly.

Critical Mass, a group of activists who are bicyclists will be protesting the acquittal of three New York City Police Department officers involved in the Sean Bell shooting during the Friday evening commute in Manhattan.

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Election 2008: Night, night for DHL?

Will DHL be ending its fly-by-nights at March Air Field? That's the buzz that's been going around since it was announced thousands of miles away from ground zero for sleepless nights, in Germany that DHL might be handing off much of its domestic haul to rival, UPS.

However, so far UPS has denied that it will be handling freight that normally is flown out from March, in the wee hours of the morning, six flights nightly during six days each week. Still, reaction already has shown that the residents of four neighborhoods in Riverside who've been trying to sleep for several years now are hopeful that their nightmare might be ending soon.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Riverside County Supervisor Bob Buster, a member of the March Joint Powers Commission, said there would be a "day of rejoicing" if DHL pulls its operations out of March.

Since the regional distribution hub opened in October 2005, Riverside-area neighborhoods have been plagued by early morning noise from DHL airplanes leaving March.

Buster was the only commissioner to oppose a zoning change that paved the way for DHL. At the time, he cited unanswered questions about the noise impacts.

Orangecrest homeowner Theresa Birkett said she was elated by the announcement. Birkett is among several-hundred area residents opposed to the project because of nighttime noise.

Birkett said she and her neighbors have talked about moving away from their neighborhood, but the permanent departure of DHL could change their minds.

"This would make me totally happy. It would make a lot of people totally happy," she said.

Many of these residents showed up in force at the city council chambers and listened to a song and dance, first by power point and later by speeches about a resolution and the city's position that it would file litigation against DHL if necessary. However, it's unlikely that the city has any grounds to do so. Not that it told any of the people who packed the city council chambers last night. The devil is of course in the details.

After hearing the news that DHL has asked UPS to handle its domestic freight, it spread across the city.

Press Enterprise Columnist Dan Bernstein provides his take on the DHL, GlobalPort and March JPC triangle here.


The March Joint Powerless Commission just can't seem to mute DHL, the wee-hours growler that just can't seem to make money.

When you have base reuse that treats civilians like base refuse, nerves will fray.

So it was Tuesday that a horde of zombies poured into the Riverside Council Chambers and collectively shrieked, "We haven't slept for years!"


The council was only trying to call election-eve attention to a problem that has existed since 2005 when thousands of Riversiders were sold a BOG (bill of goods) about DHL flight paths.

The City Council was so steamed it voted to threaten to sue Yellow Bellow if it tries to expand without muting the noise.

All this may have been orchestrated to boost the fortunes of Councilman Frank Schiavone, who chairs the Joint Powerless Commission and yearns to unseat RivCo Supe Bob Buster on Tuesday. Darned zombies stole the headlines.

It was interesting watching the perfectly staged production at City Hall on Tuesday night, right down to handpicking nine speakers from the crowd to lay the foundation of support for the resolution and the two men who approached it. Well, almost all the speakers. One woman snatched some extra seconds from Mayor Ron Loveridge (who's also got reelection ambitions) and said that it was three years late, receiving the loudest applause of the evening.

This latest news could generate the loudest applause of all and it has nothing to do with opportunistic politicians, incompetent commissions, duplicitous airport management companies, sleepless residents and the DHL, which refused to be what it never has been, but simple economics.

Some statistics:

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Contract with UPS: 10 years, $1 billion

Jobs lost: 1,500-1,800

Projected revenue losses for U.S. operations(2008): $1.3 billion ($900 million in 2007)

The fate of the seven March Air Field based DHL night flights: Unknown

As stated earlier, the restaurant at City Hall apparently has opened, but few people visited it Tuesday evening. Two who sat at tables there were Capt. Mark Boyer and Lt. Bob Williams from the Riverside Police Department waiting until the city council wrapped up the DHL issue so they could vote on the consent calendar. Boyer and Williams were there prepared to answer any questions that the city council members might have about a grant for the department's investigation division and it seemed like a good investment.

The council approved it, albeit much later in the evening than would have happened in recent weeks.

Two California State Polytechnic University in Pomona professors explained why voters should reject both Prop. 98 and 99. The two ballot initiatives address the issue of the use of eminent domain in the wake of the Kelo decision, but the consensus of the two professors is that the residents deserve better.

An analysis of the advertisements for both propositions is here.

The recent outbreak of police misconduct incidents in Philadelphia which has led to at about 18 officers being under investigation or in some cases facing criminal charges has led to questions being asked nationwide on whether it's possible to fire police officers any longer.

Washington, D.C.'s own police department was just required to take over a dozen of its fired and reinstated officers back just in the past month, after losing in arbitration and civil court.

(excerpt, Philadelphia Inquirer)

The appeals process over police discipline in Philadelphia and someother U.S. cities tends to favor censured officers, criminologists andcivil-rights lawyers say.The police unions often have more experienced labor lawyers than citylaw departments, they say. Witnesses and evidence dry up as theappeals drag on for years.

And arbitrators who judge the cases oftentry "to split the baby," in the words of one criminologist.

"In a termination case, that means the officer's usually coming back to the department," said criminologist Sam Walker of the University ofNebraska, who studies police accountability. "That is a seriousnational problem."

That includes inside the Riverside Police Department which fired three officers in 2005 who had them contested in the arbitration process. Two of three of them who were fired were reinstated and the city council voted first to appeal and then several weeks later to reinstate those two. The third officer's firing was upheld by the arbitrator and that individual remained fired.

It's hard to take the arbitration process in California seriously after the firing and reinstatement of former (or current?) Det. Al Kennedy. Kennedy if you recall, was fired by Chief Russ Leach for having sex with a woman whose rape case he was investigating. Appalling behavior, even from the standing of the arbitrator who gave Kennedy his job back, minus several years of back pay.

When the behavior alleged by Kennedy was sustained, his supervising captain recommended that Kennedy receive a reprimand, while the deputy chief at the time recommended a suspension. Leach fired him, the decision that was ultimately overturned. Of course, this sends the message that if you engage in sexual misconduct including in a division where that type of behavior and its revelation can have a devastating impact on the integrity of that unit, it doesn't matter because if someone tries to fire you for it, you can get a retirement instead.

Never mind if those that work in the Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Division should know even better perhaps of how inappropriate this conduct is and how it can impact the ability of rape victims to view the Riverside Police Department as an agency they can access for assistance as crime victims. And if you're a woman and it happens to you, then rather than hold the officer accountable, the department or city will paint you as the villainess especially if you file a lawsuit against it. At least until it settles the lawsuit and pays you money without accepting any responsibility.

This woman was painted in a negative way, she did file a law suit in federal court and the city ultimately settled with her for a sum of money. The city government and city manager's office continue to tell the communities how independent the police chief is, how he's the one running the police department. Yet, he did the right thing with Kennedy and where did his support come from?

Not from the city government.

In Riverside, the police chief has three main responsibilities. Those three major responsibilities which are often cited are to hire, promote and discipline including firing. How many of three powers does the police chief have in this city? Does he enjoy any of these powers or a combination of any of them?

What was learned from the March 2007 rally about concerns voiced that the city manager's office was involving itself in promotional decisions at the management level? Not much really, just a lot of concern and a lot of questions. Many more of them being fueled by news that two lieutenants have filed a claim against the city alleging that politics is playing a role in the position that both applied for.

Hopefully, these questions will be answered at trial in the future, through the testimonies of all the parties involved.

Not that a police chief should have absolute power and there needs to be checks and balances, but the problem with the arbitration system that's been often cited is that most of those who make decisions on cases are more familiar with the operations of private corporations not public agencies and tend to apply the same standards from the former to the latter. At any rate, there was one statistic released a while back stating that about 85% of all cases submitted to arbitration had their departments' actions and decisions overturned.

But back to Kennedy's case.

The city made a lot of noise of how important it was to appeal this reinstatement, but according to court documents, the city asked its appeal to be dismissed by the appellate court in August 2006.


Because the city settled the case with Kennedy on July 21, 2006. It probably paid him off with a retirement which meant that the city settled lawsuits filed by both Kennedy and the woman to put this distasteful chapter behind it. Because sexual misconduct inside a law enforcement agency, even inside the investigative division that's set up to investigate rape and other sexual assault crimes probably doesn't matter much in the end. For all the public knows, it might not matter at all. Especially if there was anyone in the command staff that thought it could be addressed through a written reprimand. It kind of makes you wonder.

Even a three year suspension doesn't cut it. And it's not really fair to those in the Sexual Assault Division and others in the department who act professionally and don't look at women they are supposed to be helping as objects to use for sexual gratification and don't get paid off.

Speaking of the Riverside Police Department, it's hired five women from the academy and one of them graduated second in her class. That's exciting and it's a great example of recruiting, but before anyone can start jumping up and down, you have to factor in the department's deplorable retention rate for women. Why it's been that way in the police department is a mystery given how insulated police culture is in most agencies, although the problems aren't unique to law enforcement in general. It's not clear if the Riverside Police Department has specific problems with how it deals with its female officers or other female employees and volunteers.

It's "old guard" to reject women, to say they are "too slow", they don't "meet standards" (unless that's true) and it's sexist to say as a gender, they are these things or that you don't want to work with female officers or they can never be as good as their male counterparts. The Riverside Police Department has some outstanding female officers. And I hear some explanations from the department's management and others that you can't count female officers who drop off early on in the process as part of the department's retention rate for women.

Bull shit.

Of course you can and you should if you are truly interested in finding out if there are any problems at any level of the police department involving the retention of women. Even the female (and male) officers who drop out early on have cost the city and thus its residents considerable dollars. Perhaps it might help to treat each individual as an investment, not an entity to weed out (which has been made clear through some references in public meetings to the department's pre-academy program).

You look at every single level that officers go through (and in this department, there's quite a few of them, including phases put in to increase retention rates in other phases of an officer's development into a Riverside Police Department officer. Other law enforcement departments do these things and some of them do implement steps to address these issues.

You do these things as soon as female officers are as much a priority as male officers in a police department. And as soon as this happens, the thing that need to be done to determine what their working environment is and how to improve it will be done as a matter of course. To be the "best of the best" (an oft-heard slogan), you have to treat your female officers as well as your male officers as if they are the best of the best.

The department has shown the country what it can do when it puts its mind to launching innovative training (such as the crisis mental health training which was presented to the Community Police Review Commission yesterday) to address community issues in policing so it would be useful to see some of this energy being directed towards addressing the department's poor retention rate of its female officers.

What's with the Community Police Review Commission these days? For two meetings straight, they've had no chair or vice-chair to run the meeting. Next in line, John Brandriff is a good acting chair, but between the officers not being able to make meetings and meetings barely making quorum lately there are some problems that need to be addressed for a commission that has been limping along for two years now.

And by the way, how many meetings has Commissioner Peter Hubbard missed lately? I'm beginning to forget what he even looks like.

The battle over civilian review in Galveston Texas has begun after the Galveston Municipal Police Association has launched its bid to investigate a council member.

(excerpt, Galveston Daily News)

The association will publicize whatever it finds, Bertolino said.

“If Tarris Woods is going to be a rogue council member and anti-police, it wouldn’t take a whole lot to do a recall election,” Bertolino said.

Woods won his District 1 seat in the May 10 election with 99 votes to challenger Deborah Conrad’s 78 votes.

Under city code, 10 percent of District 1 voters would have to sign a petition requesting a recall before such a measure could be put on the ballot.

But Woods is immune from recall for 90 days after taking office.

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Monday, May 26, 2008

DHL and the two other shells in the game

"Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain"

----L. Frank Baum

"Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."

---Lewis Carroll

"Stop the DHL Nightmare

---Sign held by city resident

"There is only one thing worse than making a mistake and that's not recognizing a mistake and going back and trying to fix it. You can't un-ring the bell. It's already rung."

---Ward Four Councilman and supervisor candidate, Frank Schiavone

"It's a weak resolution that needs to be toughened up. There is the issue of continuing to do business with Global Port, who they freely admit tricked them."

----Riverside County Supervisor Bob Buster to Press Enterprise

"The ban on night flights that the city of Riverside seeks in the guise of a "noise abatement and mitigation regulation" is illegal, and also would result in a breach of the Operating Agreement between DHL and the MIPAA."

---Letter written by Robert Alexander, vice president for Aviation/Commercial Transportation for DHL Express

"No one was bamboozled."

---Catherine Barrett-Fischer, Citizens Alliance for Riverside's Economics and Environment about GlobalPort and the March JPC.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Riverside City Hall City Council Chambers

A packed city council chambers greeted the city council in response to the decision by two members of the March Joint Powers Commission who also happen to be two of Riverside's elected officials to put a resolution on the agenda forbidding DHL from expanding its operations and entering into an agreement with Polar Air Express. What it turned into was tears, frustration and begging for relief from the six days a week of early morning flights over the southern portion of Riverside. While the city council's focus was on the Polar Air Express expansion, the city's residents said, what about DHL's current night flights?

There will be further analysis of what happened at this meeting, but suffice it to say, a lot of people haven't slept well in several years in the neighborhoods of Orangecrest, Canyon Crest, Alessandro Heights and Mission Grove which sit under DHL's flight paths. For most of the past few years, their pleas for relief fell on inattentive ears and they were called a wide assortment of names by assorted individuals. The city council proposed a resolution and made some noise about threatening DHL with litigation. Many of the residents of these neighborhoods wanted the city council to go even further and not only ban DHL's early morning flights but to kick the noisy planes out of Dodge. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200.

But what some people didn't know is that the resolution that was being pushed by two elected officials was essentially a toothless tiger. There was a lot of noise, a lot of saber rattling but what about those sleepless nights?

Deputy City Manager Michael Beck presented a power point on studies done including placing sound measuring devices inside and outside people's homes and individuals who spoke talked about the impact of the incessant noise on people's immune systems and their children's learning abilities. But when it came down to picking out the 800 pound gorilla in the room, the city led them to the wrong one.

How differently it all began.

Once these same elected officials joined the commission in not only bringing DHL to Riverside County on a rolled out red carpet, but in voting for these early morning flights, the die was cast. What these individuals weren't told is that the city can't sue DHL. The contract which was signed between DHL and the other involved parties was held up to by DHL, because it's a freight delivery company and it flies during the night and like many freight companies, it relies on older aircraft including reconverted DC-9s that are too old for most commercial airlines and nearly obsolete but have an extended life carrying air freight. And older aircraft make louder noises as many were made before improved technology and sound-reduction guidelines were implemented. Something any trained pilot should know. Something the March JAC which consists mainly of politicians, didn't know or didn't care to know. At least not then.

Still, no one acted like they did know these things and if they did, they didn't really care at least not several years ago when the complaints started piling up and last year, when it became clear that DHL wasn't reapiing in the big bucks that had been anticipated. City residents who knew what was coming even when the "experts" they trusted apparently didn't, were proven right even though that was the last thing they wanted. And what these residents had seen in their future came true and then some.

Did the March JPC really expect that it would be a fleet of newer, quieter jets (as if they were such a thing) would be used that would glide through the air, barely audible to those sleeping below? It's hard to believe that the members entrusted by the public to serve on this important commission were really as naive as not to know what the outcome would be if they were the winners in the four way courtship between DHL and its three suitors, from Ontario, San Bernardino and March Air Field. The March JPA played hard and it played to win to reel in the big fish called DHL.

While this latest chapter in the DHL saga or what some call DHL-Gate, some of us sat and watched the meeting on the televisions inside the newly opened restaurant at City Hall and we talked about the chronology of this whole sorry episode from beginning to its current chapter. One individual who had followed this saga since it begun said the only action the city could take that would lead to any viable improvement would be to have GlobalPort condemned. The consensus was that a lawsuit couldn't even be filed, this individual said. It didn't even matter that if anyone had breached the contract, the Riverside elected officials were pushing for the breach of it, not DHL. The law suit couldn't be filed, period.

That didn't matter because the elected officials of Riverside managed to do something very well. They managed to shift the focus of anger and frustration of city residents impacted by the early morning flights away from where it belonged which was GlobalPort and the March JPC, and focused it like a finely honed laser at DHL. The one party which really didn't try to pretend to be anything but what it is in the midst of those who tried to woo it for exactly what it was. It's like DHL's a shark and the March JPC including those from Riverside tried to say that it could live on a vegetarian and then seem shocked when it ate meat after all.

DHL is a corporation, doing what they all do which is to maximize its profits and minimize its costs. Of course, it's pretty clear now that DHL hasn't done that well, scoring a $900 million deficit fairly early on in its service. And if it hadn't hemorrhaged so badly with its finances as revealed earlier this year, perhaps this resolution would have at least been postponed. You can't blame it for being confused at having the red carpet rolled out for it, its decision to pick Riverside celebrated and then to have this all yanked away from it. Maybe it feels like it fell down the rabbit hole in the past year or so.

And indeed it did.

But if now the city officials who along with other members of the March JPC brought this down on the residents are trying to make right, even admitting that the once rung, the bell can't be unrung, what they did was only part of what caused upset. It's what they called the city residents who complained about the noise to come, the noise when it did come that was what made what was to these people a nightmare even more frustrating. Do even those from the Greater Chamber of Commerce who show up at these events and walk up to the podium almost like windup dolls know what it was like to have to beg the city council for being sleep at night (literally of course, not figuratively)? The Chamber raises good points, but are its members denied a good night's sleep? One resident said that she could call anyone six to ten times in the early morning hours so that people could know what her nights were like.

The least the members of the March JPC can do is apologize and that might be a start. And it's a great start to admit you've erred and to start again. As long as you do it without your fingers crossed beind your back. You can't blame at least some of those in the audience probably more than would admit it, for being skeptical. As one person put it, fool me once shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. There's a real need and want to feel hope, but there's a past history to consider as well, hence the reason to be wary. It's the elected officials who have to gain the trust, not the other way around.

What the residents of this city have experienced is years of being patted on the head, patronized, insulted, ignored, called names and told to close their windows or wear ear plugs for the rest of their lives. But it wasn't DHL that told them these things. It was the March JPC and its staff including a legal counsel. It was done by the same people who are championing for their cause now. An election looms and as one resident said, if you get rid of the night flights, you have my vote. If you don't, we'll have to make some other form of arrangement.

Now years later, they finally get a public hearing, albeit just before a critical election for one of the city officials sponsoring the resolution and you have city residents who haven't slept in years, their children wake up during the night and many have experienced illnesses, constant fatigue and have been exposed to pollutants including remnants of air fuel dropping on their vehicles. Several of them begged and pleaded to the city council for redress and relief and it should have never, ever come to that. Others said, it's a start but three years late and not nearly enough.

Heads were nodding when people at the podium reminded their would-be saviors of this fact.

Even as a start, it's not worth much unless there's follow through and will there be after the June 3 election? That remains to be seen especially since there's not much in that resolution that may actually be able to be enforced in regards perhaps not to preventing future added flights, but in terms of addressing the current ones that are keeping people up all night.

Whatever happens, what all these people will have to do is remain vigilant. Keep calling, keep emailing, keep writing letters, speaking out and attending meetings. Embrace your gadfly, it's not the four-letter word that elected officials often make it out to be.

But do so realizing too that it's not just DHL which needs to be held accountable, it's GlobalPort and the March JPA/C including the members on Riverside's city council. Because if this isn't done and since the city most likely has no legal leg to stand on when suing DHL, these crowds of people will probably be returning as they have been for several years now even before they could feel welcome.

There was a lot of talk about how this was not a last minute decision to pass this resolution and they're probably right, but as one woman said, the promises to take action before which arose out of other city council meetings including those the public can't be privy to, resulted in little to no action at all. What makes this time any different, at least one person asked.

What indeed?

I came early as the crowd swirled around the chambers to the outside. Every seat was filled and a row of chairs was placed outside, but it was too windy to stay outside long. A representative of DHL Express came up to me and provided me with a letter representing the company's position. Children fidgeted in their chairs waving pictures of smiley faces before DHL (boo, hiss as the designated villain) and frowny faces, afterward. Most of those in the audience which seemed divided on whether the resolution is enough even to start with, seemed to know a bait and switch when they saw one but most seemed too tired at this point to care.

What the city council voted 6-0 with Ward Five Councilman Chris MacArthur abstaining was to turn that frown upside down. It remains to be seen whether there's anything of substance or any reason to believe that it can stay there.

One Riverside councilman, Mike Gardner's been reading Inland Empire Craigslist and responded to a post about trees that had been previously posted. The author of that post presented Gardner's response here along with his response to Gardner's words and it was nice of him to share that discourse.

The discussions about what was once called the City of the Trees, are always very interesting to follow and if you have any questions about the histories of the city's trees, Marjorie Von Pohle is a very good resource for information.

A doctor is reaching out to children in the Eastside in Riverside in hopes of encouraging some of them to become doctors.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

This month, the doctor started giving new laptop computers to 17 elementary, junior high and high school students. It was their prize for competing with their peers to pen essays or produce art that answered one question Valenzuela had set for them: Why do you value a college education?

"I'm not trying to save the world," Valenzuela -- who is known as "Dr. V." to his friends and patients -- said. "But if I can help prevent three or four kids from dropping out of high school, then that's good enough for me."

On May 14, he appeared at an Eastside school, Emerson Elementary, to give away the first six computers, new Dell laptops.

Before the contest's winners were announced, Valenzuela said at back-to-back assemblies that it was important for students to start thinking about studying hard and to dream big. Otherwise, as he put it bluntly, they might end up "flipping hamburgers" for the rest of their lives.

"I'm thankful," said Michael Bauby, 9, a fourth-grader at Emerson, who was awarded one of the computers and had used his grandmother's to do his homework.

Molly Siharath, mother of winner Michelle Sengdara, an 11-year-old in the fifth grade, said the only computer in her household was an old one that had been donated.

"I think it's amazing because it really helps families who don't have much," Siharath said.

"I'm happy because I never won anything like this before," said Michelle, who wants to become a doctor.

Geographically, only Longfellow Elementary School is in the Eastside. Both University Heights Middle School and John W. North High School are located in the University neighborhood. But the city's own maps have been known to expand the neighborhood's boundaries which is how it received funding to construct the University Village in the 1990s. To satisfy the qualifications for the funding, the Eastside's eastern boundary was moved from Chicago to Canyoncrest Avenue.

An elder from the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians has asked people show respect for the individuals who were shot to death by Riverside County Sheriff's Department deputies in response to one letter writer who wrote a letter stating "spare us the pictures of the crying Indians".


I can only assume that the writer believes that the relatives, by association, also are guilty of engaging the sheriffs in the gun battle. We should be thankful that no sheriff deputies or other innocent tribal members were injured.

Your headline, "Make tribe pay," begs the question: Pay for what? The tribe and its elected representatives, the Soboba Tribal Council, offered to assist the Sheriff's Department and were turned away at gunpoint.

Neither the general membership nor the Tribal Council is responsible for the actions of individual tribal members, and to think or imply that they are somehow remotely responsible is absurd.

I take issue with Larmer's comment about the tribe taking responsibility for its violent member. The general membership of Soboba has already enacted sanctions for tribal members who threaten the peace of the reservation or violate the tribal gun usage ordinances by forfeiting their monthly per-capita payments.

However, this action can't be taken until the tribal ordinance is violated. This is called due process, which is a right that is guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

The director of the Chamber of Commerce in Colton is suing the city joining five other lawsuits against the city, which probably hosts the most interesting political infighting in the entire Inland Empire.

Hemet faces some tough budget choices. Nine layoffs and many frozen positions.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

The positions proposed for layoffs include: an administrative assistant from the Police Department; a senior librarian and three part-time library assistants; a facility services aide at the Simpson Center; a building technician; a street superintendent; and a purchasing assistant.

City Manager Len Wood, who gave the presentation of the proposed budget to the City Council on Tuesday, said Hemet's budget reflects the declining national, state and local economies. The council vote on the budget is expected June 10.

"Severe is the best way to describe the city of Hemet financial condition," wrote Wood in a budget note. "Astonishingly, once our economic woes began, they quickly intensified."

Highway construction projects are now anticipated to cost tens of millions more dollars than anticipated. Seems like this could be a crucial issue in the county supervisor campaign to interrupt the mudslinging and mailer whipping that's been going on in recent weeks. Especially if Ward Four Councilman Frank Schiavone of Riverside plans to bring something similar to Riverside Renaissance to the county if he gets elected. He's planning to do this without the golden goose who's remaining in Riverside for many years, according to those who hired him.

Which are just the comments you want to hear if you're a city manager angling for a pay raise in fiscally trying times. Is that what lies in store for Riverside?

Eight men and one woman are vying for the coveted position of running the Orange County Sheriff's Department, many of them promising renovation plans for the troubled agency, according to the Los Angeles Times. But before anyone can put their plans into action, they have to get hired by the Board of Supervisors in the county first. And then there will be the disturbing issues arising in both the department's corrections and sworn division that have spilled into the spotlight shared by the resignation of former Sheriff Mike Carona who has been indicted on federal corruption charges and is facing trial.

Three are favored by those watching the process including Santa Ana Police Department Chief Paul Walters, but if past history is any indication, he's probably angling for a pay raise at his own department as he was when he put himself in top contention to become the Riverside Police Department's new chief during its last selection process in 2000. So that leaves Jack Anderson, the current interim sheriff and Los Angeles Sheriff's Department Commander Ralph Martin and being an interim doesn't necessarily put a candidate in a strong position to fill a permanent position.

The Inland Empire has one representative in the contest and that's San Bernardino County Undersheriff Richard Beemer.

The board of supervisors have decided to hold a marathon session to make the decision on who to appoint as soon as possible.

Here are the candidates.

Chief William Bratton who heads the Los Angeles Police Department has been quiet lately but has quashed rumors that he had planned a trip to London.

Bratton's memo provided by the Los Angeles Times

There have been several recent news articles indicating that I have been approached and accepted a position to act as an advisor to the new Mayor of London, Boris Johnson.

I have had no conversations with Mr. Johnson, I have not spoken with any members of his administration and I have not been approached to act as an advisor as it relates to matters of crime reduction.

As a law enforcement executive I am often asked to share my thoughts and opinions on reducing crime and making communities safer. I have long supported the “Broken Windows” theory of policing that by focusing on minor crimes, more serious offenses can be prevented.

In the past I have provided advice to former Mayor Ken Livingston and have consulted for both the city of London and the national government. I would certainly be willing to do so, if asked, for the new Mayor in my official capacity as Chief of the Los Angeles Police Department.

The Galveston County Daily News stated that in order to restore trust by the public in that city's police department, a civilian review board is needed.

The article outlines the history of the department's problems. Here is some of that hisory.


Here’s how your tax dollars have been at work ...

May 2008: Texas Rangers are investigating the disappearance of about $18,000 in cash and drugs from the GPD property room. The District Attorney was forced to drop 16 cases because of the loss of evidence.

May 2008: Moses Mitchell, a young black man riding his bike home from work, is jailed overnight for an unpaid ticket for an unregistered bicycle. Many saw the incident as one more example of racial profiling run amok.

April 2008: Capt. Phillip Morris is named interim police chief after the sudden resignation of Chief Kenneth Mack, who took over the post in May 2005. The Daily News has requested documents regarding Mack’s unexplained resignation, but we’re still fighting to get everything we asked for. Neither Mack nor city manager Steve LeBlanc will answer questions.

March 2008: After a riot breaks out following a seawall spring-break rap concert, many residents cry foul. The exact same thing happened last year. When the newspaper complained that police should have planned better, LeBlanc defended his troops, saying the riot had occurred after a careful plan. This failed to reassure some people.

Jan. 2008: Two GPD officers are fined and given suspensions for horsing around in the new county law-enforcement center. The two men fired a pellet gun indoors, setting off a sprinkler system that did $170,000 in damage to the spanking new facility.

Oct. 2007: A GPD officer files suit against the city, claiming she had been subjected to retaliation and sexual discrimination after complaining about a racy Christmas party skit from the previous year.

Aug. 2007: Galveston City Council announces a budget showing a whopping increase of 7 percent. The biggest increase went to Galveston policemen, whose pay increased $1.7 million in the budget year. Civilian employees not represented by the politically powerful police union got a 3 percent raise

The Monrovia Police Department is publicizing its frustration with its contract negotiations. If you live there, look for some billboard advertisements to be coming telling you all about it.

Two more Philadelphia Police Department officers are charged with excessive force this time in connection with the beating of a graffitti artist and falsification of records to provide themselves with alibis. This latest incident comes on the heels of a controversial video-taped incident involving police officers striking and kicking three Black men after a traffic pursuit.

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Sunday, May 25, 2008

Election 2008: What year is it really?

Alas, some of us are clearly no longer on the mailing lists to receive campaign brochures and mailers from the campaign of current Riverside Councilman Frank Schiavone for Riverside County supervisor. Maybe to save several bucks, the people sending out these latest installments in Election 2008, Riverside County style have clipped a few names off of their mailing lists.

But that doesn't matter because people have still been talking about what they've been seeing in the mail during the past week or so from the Schiavone camp so those who aren't on the mailing list for the latest episodes from that side of the county's latest reality show can still catch the action updates.

Just when you thought that non-issue of undocumented immigration (because if it were an issue, these candidates would make their positions well known outside an election year) had finally been laid to rest and the candidates would finally talk about among other things how they plan to replace the county's aging infrastructure in terms of how it will handle the higher volume of cars and trucks that will hit one of the fastest growing counties in the states. Perhaps, the candidates would finally start talking about how to address the other issues such as the future of March Air Field. And that's just for starters.

In the 2004 campaign, one of the silliest claims made by a losing candidate for one of the district seats was that the county's residents had to be protected from individuals on welfare getting plastic surgery as if there were large numbers of individuals on welfare getting face lifts and breast implants. Perhaps, the intention was to bar welfare recipients and their family members from other plastic surgeries to treat conditions like cleft palate and harelip or to repair tissue damage from burns, but it was difficult to tell from the campaigning. Since the candidate who included this on the political platform was a candidate pretty much put up and fronted by the Riverside Sheriffs' Association following its "no confidence" vote against Buster's vote on a salary and benefits package, most of the campaigning besides the strange foray into welfare and plastic surgery involved law enforcement issues. But more on the resurgence in mentioning that "no confidence" vote later.

Mercifully, Schiavone at least isn't borrowing this campaign strategy from the past individual who used it and is currently endorsing his current campaign, but the direction his campaign has taken on the latest round of mailers is just as bizarre.

His two targets of choice are undocumented immigrants allegedly exploiting social services and the needle exchange program for those addicted to drugs. Then there's some reference to comments that Buster made about marijuana, which brings back memories of past presidential campaigns. What's so fascinating is that his material on both of these issues is fairly old, if the citations included in it and other available information is what was actually used and would have been more timely campaign issues during the 2004 election rather than this latest one. And this posting isn't about the positions to take on these respective issues because that's up for each person to ultimately decide, it's about how they have been used and reused and in some cases reinvented for the purpose of political campaigns. It's about the twists and turns that campaigns can take as their contestants compete for high stakes prizes, this time a political seat on the county's dais.

What struck me as interesting right off the bat was Schiavone's assertion that Buster was pushing for Riverside County to be a designated sanctuary for undocumented immigrants. I was shocked. I mean, I have never heard of any attempts or even mention of turning Riverside County into a sanctuary, at least not for undocumented immigrants. Now, there's been such talk about turning the county into a sanctuary for the sand loving lizard.

This little guy here and his friends.

But it's news to me as to why alleged attempts by Buster to force Riverside County to become a sanctuary not for endangered animal species but for undocumented immigrants as stated on one mailer have just come to light given the dearth of information that can be found searching the internet on that issue and his alleged attempts. It kind of reminds me of something that's common in political campaigns, which is otherwise known in debating circles as the "strawman" argument. That's when you create your opponent's own argument which is different than what is raised by your opponent and then focus your argument on refuting that argument. And this particular strawman is wearing neon with the whole sanctuary deal that's apparently flared up all of a sudden during an election year.

Here, that argument is that there's this big drive to turn Riverside County into a sanctuary county, which if there was, you figure there would be a lot of published information about it, who proposed it, who discussed it and how any votes taken on the issue went down, what the end result was this time around and what plans there were for the next time. But that's just it, there really doesn't seem to be much history on the issue of establishing or not establishing sanctuary for undocumented immigrants, hence again, it becomes the perfect strawman argument, not used to educate the public on the issues but to misstate, misinterpret and to inflame those who will be voting in the District One election.

Both sides have engaged in this tactic to varying extents in their mailers, taped phone messages and radio advertisements but the latest mailer by Schiavone that's circulating is the most virulent yet. Its sole objective is clearly to try to inflame a lot of voters into forgetting that there's been no real definitive platform put out by Schiavone and it's not to vote for him, it's not really a cry to vote against Buster, but it's a call to vote against undocumented immigrants who as far as I know, aren't running for the District One seat. And if that not going to deliver on its own, then there's always inflaming voters by getting them not to vote for Schiavone and not really against Buster but people addicted to drugs through the resurrection of the Ghost of Politics Past, the failed needle exchange program and they don't appear to be running for the district seat either.

What's interesting from a political standpoint is why there's all this complaining about undocumented immigrants receiving county resources right now. Schiavone's been fairly quiet at least at city council meetings on this issue and backed a candidate for the Ward Five city council position last year who was being attacked by her competitor for allegedly promoting a policy for accepting identification cards from undocumented immigrants at the credit union.

And what did many of her supporters say in Donna Doty-Michalka's defense? That immigration is a federal issue rather than a local one. End of story from everyone except perhaps the Chris MacArthur campaign, at least until the District One election.

Schiavone's only publicly known comments on the issue of undocumented immigration that are accessible come through statements he made at a city council meeting on July 22, 2003 where he along Loveridge voiced their support for the issuance of identification cards from the Mexican consulate. More details about the agenda item which was withdrawn are in this report. His argument from a security perspective was interesting, but now somehow his campaign is denying that he even supported the ID card at all, rejecting his original reasoning as documented in the Los Angeles Times article dated July 23, 2003 which wasn't completely out of thin air. But he must believe that his statements put him at political risk in 2008.

It's pretty sad when you have to take a fairly thought out and in some cases, at least an argument that's based on something and toss it out because you believe it might hurt you politically. It's like disowning a part of yourself which is why when faced with the actual act of doing so, most average people can't stomach being political candidates and prefer to be at the polls or on the sidelines. Because politics and being a politician is about reinvention and if you're confident about who you are and what stand for, that's a line you can't cross. But it's a line that politics practically shove you across, especially during political campaigns.

Schiavone's statements to me several years ago about specifically not wanting to deny children access to social services as one reason he voted against Proposition 187, to not punish them and so they could go back to Mexico and take what they learned about the American political system to work towards changing the system in Mexico was very interesting, clearly evolving from some serious introspection but either he wasn't telling me the truth or he has changed his mind since then which is his prerogative. I had walked away from that earlier discussion surprised but impressed with what he said because it was different than the opinions expressed from others of his political stripes, but that was then and this is clearly now. With all the saber rattling about every stereotype regarding undocumented immigrants that can be dragged out, it's clear that such views if he really ever believed them are considered a serious liability now.

But since Schiavone has designated himself as someone who says "enough is enough" in terms of the county providing social services to undocumented immigrant, isn't it a bit surprising that not much has been heard from him on these issues until now? You would think that someone this adamant would have spoken up before an election year. But this isn't an issue that's been discussed much on the dais by the city's elected officials and if it's discussed off of it, the public hasn't had much access to those conversations.

The thing that makes me curious too is that even though a very small percentage of undocumented immigrants actually access public services because doing so creates risk of exposure and deportation, that there's so much focus on this issue to the exclusion of almost every other issue impacting the county that many voters really wish the candidates would start talking about in terms of where they stand, how they view these issues or problems and what they would do.

And if either Buster and Schiavone are steamed about undocumented immigration, why do they focus on a minuscule number and not the far larger population of them who work in their respective fields of agricultural farming and home construction? Why hasn't there been as much outcry over the use of undocumented immigrants as a cheap labor source, where pay is minimal, conditions including living conditions often abysmal, no benefits, no health care and any taxes or social security benefits paid out as required by law, remaining in federal and state coffers never to be refunded or reimbursed to them?

Both Buster and Schiavone must be familiar with the realities of undocumented labor in their respected professions yet there's complete silence on the labor issues. So why isn't there any complaints about that? Even as Professional Roofing Magazine addressed the issue of the use of undocumented immigrants as roofers by building contractors, there's been silence from at least one building contractor on that issue that's greatly impacting the industry that employs him and where he employs others. Even the practices of competitors in his industry impacts his company.

One can only guess at what the reasons for this relative silence about labor practices in both industries from individuals who apparently have both taken on the role of placing this issue on the top of their lists as a county concern. Even though the funny thing, most of the county's voters are talking about the housing crisis, the role of development, the future of March Air Field (which is admittedly a very sensitive topic for at least one of the candidates) and how the county's agencies address the situation involving parolees and registered sex offenders. And you have one candidate talking about what happened five years ago, when most of the voters are living in 2008.

Except for Schiavone designating himself the role of singlehandedly combating DHL because apparently the rest of the city council is just window dressing, the same corporation that he had embraced when he wasn't running for election, not much has been said or stated about any of these issues. Even the law enforcement employees from Riverside city and county who are stumping for Schiavone don't talk about much in terms of public safety except for undocumented immigrants or as they call them (and it's the only thing all parties on this issue can agree on), "illegal aliens".

Then there are allegations that Buster is promoting drug addition, because of comments he made about the needle exchange program (and it's exchanging needles, not handing them out, a common misperception and misrepresentation) that came before the county board of supervisors five years ago.

When it comes to needle programs, whether you support them or not (and I don't really have a position on this issue), here's some more information of why they've been proposed and implemented in different cities and counties. Their intent was to reduce the infection rates of diseases that are contracted through the reuse or sharing of contaminated needles from one person to a next. These diseases include AIDS/HIV, Hepatitis B and C. Another goal of most of those programs is to provide resources to drug addicts who utilize it for rehabilitation which some programs do but others don't. Most of the issues that arise are cost, effectiveness and whether this increases or decreases drug addiction or endorses it. The discussion has gone back and forth in many cities and counties and Riverside County's no different but this controversy took place again five years ago. Not much has been said about it lately certainly not in the city of Riverside and it's not like Schiavone has been leading any charge against such a program himself.

Here are just a few resources on this issue.

Needle exchange articles

Riverside County rejects needle exchange program. In this article, Buster suggests a pilot program to test its effectiveness when the issue came up for a vote in 2003. The needle exchange program item (by Inland AIDs Agency) was rejected by the board of supervisors, 3 to 2.

How many infections can be attributed to needles by percentages in Riverside County (May 13, 2003):

AIDs/HIV: 23%

Hepatitis B: 4%

Hepatitis C: 60%

1998 National Institute of Health/HHS study and position paper on programs and HIV infection rate.

It might be useful to read these links and other links and resources rather than to rely on information provided on a political mailer especially since that information has little to do with the issue and more with something else, especially considering the alleged marijuana reference by Buster that was thrown in the mix. Despite what one candidate is stating, this issue's not received much focus in this area so there's not been much factual information circulating or being presented to county residents.

It's not that the needle exchange issue's not a serious one whether you're supportive of the idea of it or against it, it's why it's being resurrected five years after the board's narrow decision not to adopt even a pilot needle exchange program. It's being resurrected to make personal attacks at a candidate as being "pro-drugs" because that's an inflammatory and kind of vague statement to throw out there but useful during an election campaign. Perhaps because there's nothing recent worth talking about and the issues impacting the county now never seemed to be worth talking about.

There was also some rhetoric about the "drug war" on one mailer, again not an issue that Schiavone has waxed on much at the city level.

This is a complex issue that goes beyond cities and counties even though that's where the battlegrounds have been, but it's difficult to fight a war let alone win it when you're fighting on both sides.

And there's an excellent article written by a former Drug Enforcement Agency agent who was assigned to fight the drug war as it's called in the "golden triangle" in South-East Asia. He and his other agents had worked very hard to find a particular drug kingpin and he was calling his supervisors to ask if they would bust him and his operation. What did his supervisors say? No, he could not. Why? Because the kingpin might have been a drug dealer whose drugs were impacting the lives of many people in a bad way, but he was also a CIA operative and therefore despite the damage he caused, hands off and just let him keep running his drug operation. But then again, it's not like the CIA and DEA are actually friends and that agents in the DEA have never expressed concern that their lives are endangered by the CIA's policies. They can't be friends, because they are clearly fighting on opposite sides of the same war. Because the United States did the same thing by financially supporting a well-known drug dealer and governmental leader for years in Panama. Until he became what's called a "blow back" and is now sitting in a prison in the United States after a military operation that killed hundred to thousands of people in Panama.

And then there's one former police chief's examination of the drug war. I don't agree with him on legalization, but he raises interesting points on how well the current strategies have worked so far and provides an alternative proposal. Which is a lot more than Schiavone has done with this serious issue that impacts this country which he feels is suitable to mention only to slam his opponant.

But forgetting all the international intrigue which is a major reason why this is not a winnable war, it's kind of interesting to see an issue that was raised five years, dragged back out, put on a mailer and then have the author or sponsor of that mailer complain that he's the object of mudslinging. Schiavone is politically very savvy but one thing he does when you mention a political issue that he's uncomfortable with or that you disagree with him on especially publicly is make personal attacks. And that's called mudslinging. After all, he doesn't just restrict it to his political rivals.

That's unfortunate, but it is what it is. What the candidates should be focusing on, instead of trying to drag out every bit of political "dirt" they can on each other to put on mailers that most voters really toss away in the trash the moment they reach their saturation level on how much drivel they can process, is to talk about roads, traffic, infrastructure, development, housing issues, annexation issues, the future of March Air Field, the future of utilities including the ever more difficult challenge of accessing adequate quantities of both electricity and water, or other wise subjects which are actually issues.

They should be trying to convince voters why it's important to vote for them not why it's important to vote against the other guy or if that fails, some third-party standin.

This is more critical for Schiavone than Buster because Schiavone has no resume as a county supervisor, so he's more of a question mark and his stint as a city council member doesn't change that because that's Class A and the county is bumping up to the next minor league division.

But things get more interesting as more and more old news is dusted free of its cob webs and all of a sudden becomes so critical.

Another event that's pretty old but was used to make it seem more recent is the well-known "no confidence" vote issued not by the Riverside County Sheriff's Department but the Riverside Sheriff's Association, its major labor union which actually issued the vote in 2003. A "no confidence" vote is usually aimed not at elected officials but at either the chief or sheriff of a law enforcement agency. It's not uncommon in the Riverside County Sheriff's Department. For a while, it seemed even more common in the Riverside Police Department.

What's not clear and what needs to be explained is whether or not the association has submitted that older "no confidence" vote in for a more current one. You think they would have done so and issued a former release to the District One voters so there's no misunderstanding of when this "no confidence" vote actually took place. Because it didn't just seem like it was quite a while ago, it actually was.

But that's what is so interesting about the mailers from both Buster and Schiavone is how quiet all the factions of the Sheriff's Department have been at least in terms of what's been showing up in mail boxes and being issued by the auto dialer in Massachusetts to telephone numbers across the district. Buster's main quote from the Sheriff's Department comes from former Sheriff Cois Byrd who is endorsing him. Most of what has been said or stated about Schiavone from law enforcement has been not from the Riverside County Sheriff's Department but the Riverside Police Department.

Instead of current Sheriff Stan Sniff doing regular radio advertisements, it's been Riverside Police Department Chief Russ Leach who through his membership in the California Association of Police Chiefs is endorsing Schiavone. Instead of taped telephone messages from even members of the RSA, there's been messages from current and former members of the police department's upper management. Even though the RSA is putting its funding in Schiavone's campaign as they did Community Police Review Commission member and former candidate Linda Soubirous, there's not the same amount of noise that county residents heard from them during the supervisor election in 2004.

Another thing that's striking on one of the mailers is how Schiavone apparently single-handed led the charge for preventing rolling blackouts from hitting Riverside. This episode all began when he and other city council members voted to increase electric rates by the creation of a multi-tier payment plan that charged a higher rate based on the amount of electricity used. Then when the city residents revolted during a critical election year for three city council candidates, the city council voted to lower the rates, which the Press Enterprise's editorial board didn't approve of because it felt that it left a gap in the city's funding of new utility stations to meet the growing demand of electricity anticipated in the next couple of years while the city's and region's population continues to rapidly grow.

If you want to revisit a hilarious rendition of what Dan Bernstein of the Press Enterprise called "Shocked Revolted", here it is where elected officials on the dais all tried to make sure that the audience knew that they alone were each the saviors of the day, in one of the most noted examples of political pandering in recent memory. And that record may stand until at least this Tuesday.

An interesting presentation on why the campaign strategies using mailers and phone messages should be taken with a grain of salt. Most people don't give them much weight precisely they are one-sided and about 90% of the time, it's not about why you should vote for them, it's why you shouldn't vote for the opponant and that's really not what voters want to know before they go to the polls.

The irony is that it's an "against Schiavone" contingent that might get him elected to the supervisor position as many voters in Ward Four have said that they plan to vote for him because they're not pleased with him remaining on the city council. That's kind of a strange voting strategy indeed, but it seems to be one that's growing in popularity. But that's not surprising considering that many voters in the ward that Schiavone doesn't see fit to represent for the full term he was elected to serve, feel a little bit abandoned, something that several individuals interested in running for the seat in 2009 are already taking advantage of.

And why not?

After all, two incumbents on the city council were kicked off last year by voters and one was reelected by a handful of votes, it wouldn't be at all surprising if round two of the fever that struck voters last time out reemerges in Election 2009.

The Press Enterprise Editorial Board weighs in on Attorney General Jerry Brown's recent ruling on disclosing the names of law enforcement officers involved in onduty shootings.

Though the ruling appeared aimed at the Riverside County Sheriff's Department, the Riverside Police Department soon after named the three officers involved in two recent officer-involved shootings after having Brown's opinion vetted by the City Attorney's office.

K&N Engineering, one of the largest companies based in Riverside lost one of its buildings to a major fire.

Fortunately, none of the company's workers were injured and none will be affected by the fire which caused severe damage to one of the complexes buildings on Industry Row which sits along Iowa Street.

It's not the free-for-all reelection that the recall election for the governor's seat saw a few years ago, but Colton's Mayor Kelly Chastain still has to face four rivals during her recall election on June 3.

Officer-involved shootings have risen sharply in Charlotte, North Carolina.

In Memory

" The tranquillity of mind comes to me, as it does to anyone similarly situated, from the firm belief that right is allied with might and the weak peoples of the world will not be shackled in slavery. "

---from his last letter written in 1944 in a P.O.W. camp

Dr. John Wister Haines, M.D. (May 12, 1912-Oct. 24, 1944 on the Arisan Maru)

Brother, son, uncle, friend.

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