Five before Midnight

This site is dedicated to the continuous oversight of the Riverside(CA)Police Department, which was formerly overseen by the state attorney general. This blog will hopefully play that role being free of City Hall's micromanagement.
"The horror of that moment," the King went on, "I shall never, never forget." "You will though," the Queen said, "if you don't make a memorandum of it." --Lewis Carroll


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Location: RiverCity, Inland Empire

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Drops in the bucket here and there

***Attention, you might have problems viewing this blog over the weekend because of a failure involving the stat log which unfortunately also impacts the blog's ability to be loaded with computers using IE 6.o and possibly 7.0. It's still possible to load the blog in Firefox***

It's been downright chilly these past couple of days but the real weather is coming back by the weekend so it's time to throw those parkas and boots off.

Heating up in Pasadena is the news that current Riverside Asst. City Manager Michael Beck is a top candidate for the city manager position there, but he's already running into some opposition from city residents who are following what he's done and what the city manager's office have done in Riverside .

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Beck's strength is economic development, which may clash with a consensus in favor of preserving historic buildings and a rising sentiment that recent rapid growth threatens the old city's charm and character, Bob Kneisel, who is active in Pasadena preservation circles, said Thursday.

Kneisel lived in Riverside from 1972 to 1982 and served on the board of the Old Riverside Foundation, a preservation group, for 17 years.

Two other Pasadena preservationists, Marsha Rood and Christle Balvin, confirmed that they and others share Kneisel's concerns.

Beck said in an e-mail that in all cases, he acts to implement City Council policy.

"I can assure you I have been supportive of the preservation and the adaptive re-use of historic structures," he said. "I have been active with the Fox Theatre rehabilitation and committed to the preservation community that we would hire a historic monitoring consultant to ensure the restoration followed the Secretary of Interior standards."

But Riverside city residents and preservationists out in Pasadena have watched as one historic building after another in Riverside has been targeted for demolition. Out with the old and in with the new seems to be City Hall's motto and the 'Hall tells Beck what to do ultimately because he works for them, a point that Councilman Mike Gardner made clear in the article. But given that historic buildings are also treasured in Pasadena, those who want to preserve that heritage are now feeling a bit of apprehension. They fear that bulldozer alerts will come to locations near them, in a city well known for its historic buildings and one that's taken great pains to preserve and restore them. There are over 1,000 buildings including in the National Registry that are within the city's borders.

Hopefully, Pasadena's City Hall will have a meet and greet between the city's residents and the top finalists for the top administrative position so that the candidates can answer the questions.

Old Pasadena

Old Pasadena, Then and Now an online tour of its historic buildings

Planning Department's coverage of historic buildings

Will he stay or will he go? Beck has some issues to be sure but it'd be a shame to lose an employee from the city manager's office who can actually go out and interface with city residents from all neighborhoods without packing a pistol. Which means for one thing, no reading in the newspaper about 911 phone calls being made by terrified individuals alleging that a city employee is brandishing a gun in an argument.

Beck's very courteous and friendly to people he talks to as well and takes the time to explain things which is an important attribute of any city employee. He's aware that he's the public servant for city residents whose taxes pay his salary and not the other way around.

There's a lively discussion on the issue of building a medical building on what was once Chinatown taking place here. There's been a lot of organizing on this issue by the city's Chinese-American community surrounding the planned development of the historical site by developer and frequent campaign contributor, Doug Jacobs.

George Wong and Wong Way provides some information from an excellent Web site about the history of Asian-Americans in Riverside.

August is the month of hot days and holidays so not much is going on in terms of meetings during the first two weeks of the month. Things should pick up again in September after Labor Day, when you can put your white shoes back in the closet and pick up your meeting agendas.

Still, here are some dates for events and meetings in Riverside and nearby areas:

Aug. 5 between 6-10 p.m. kicks off National Night Out. University Neighborhood Association will be holding their event on this date at Islander Pool on Blaine Street.

Jurupa Valley event

Canyon Creek HOA event

Aug 6 at 5:30 p.m at City Hall is the planning commission meeting where the Valencia Hills cul-de-sac in the University neighborhood will be evaluated. The University Neighborhood Association has been following this issue.

Aug. 12 at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall where the blue ribbon panel for the expansion and renovation of the downtown library and museum will be presenting their recommendations to the city council. Public comment is encouraged on this issue at least from this blogger and hopefully, the city government as well.

Aug. 13 at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall is the Community Police Review Commission special meeting where it will discuss its investigations into several officer-involved deaths including Douglas Steven Cloud. Its investigation into the death of Joseph Darnell Hill may be on the agenda but the CPRC voted to send its new investigator, Ray Martinelli out to take another look at it due to the rather sparse report submitted by the Baker Street Group investigator. It's not been announced whether or not there will be further discussion of the ongoing situation involving the city attorney's office blocking the CPRC from investigating the death of Martin Gaspar Pablo.

Aug. 16 The 30 day extention granted by the planning commission for the impact study on old Chinatown is up.

Sept. 3 at 3:00 p.m. at City Hall is the Governmental Affairs Committee's attempts to evaluate the pretty much diluted ethics code and complaint process. The entertainment value alone makes this meeting worthwhile to attend. If there's any way to weaken this process any further, the Governmental Affairs Committee will be bringing it to the city council on Sept. 16.

Corona's homeless shelter might be closing its doors according to the Press Enterprise.


"We are living hand-to-mouth, and right now is day to day for us," said Pastor John "Buddy" Suitor, president of the shelter's board. "With the economy we are in now, charitable giving around the nation is at a super low. Even the grant money is drying up."

On a budget of about $1,000 a day, the shelter offers 50 emergency beds and 50 transitional living beds for its nine-month program that helps people save enough money to afford to live on their own. On average, the organization provides shelter, food, clothing and support services for about 70 people a day.

"We've struggled in the past, but we are on the brink of having to close it," Suitor said. "Never before have we had to inform our staff or the public that we might close."

Because the shelters in Riverside are filled to capacity, many homeless people who would have been referred to the Corona shelter may have no place to go.

A panel of judges in Orange County's superior Court have again upheld the decision to allow civil, family and other noncriminal courts to continue on with their legal proceedings without being shut down for the purposes of hearing criminal trials. For the past several years, the criminal court system in Riverside County has been severely backlogged with felony and misdemeanor trials to the point where cases have been dismissed by judges and civil trials are being conducted in abandoned school buildings.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

The Orange County judges said Riverside County jurists' stance that "the work done by the family, probate, traffic, small claims and juvenile courts was of great importance to the community and that depriving the community of these remaining judicial services would be highly detrimental to its citizens ... is a valid and relevant consideration."

The ruling upholds two misdemeanor case dismissals made by Riverside County Superior Court Judge Gary Tranbarger on Jan. 26, 2007.

One defendant was charged with unlawful dumping, the other with vandalism. Both cases had reached the final possible day to either be heard or dismissed because of Sixth Amendment guarantees of a speedy trial.

During a late Friday afternoon session, Tranbarger said all available criminal and civil trial courts were already in use across the county.

The judge refused prosecutors' requests to take the unusual step of sending the cases to courts that don't normally hear criminal trials -- family law, probate and traffic court among them.

"In a county severely overburdened by criminal cases, which has already abandoned traditional civil trials in deference to the policy of criminal case was a proper exercise of discretion for the trial court to refuse to divert its remaining judicial resources to try the two misdemeanor cases," the Orange County judges wrote.

John Vineyard may have lost his run at a judicial position on the bench during the past election, but now he's a court commissioner and he's hoping to be a judge some day.

What does the future hold for Soboba Band of Luiseno Indians and the Riverside County Sheriff's Department? The two sides should negotiate not engage in power plays according to the Editorial Board of the Press Enterprise.

The Los Angeles Times Editorial Board stated that Inglewood must step to the plate and address recent officer-involved shootings in its city.

Part 4 of an interesting and informative series of articles on how law enforcement interacts with mentally ill people is filled with information. Some of the behavioral and cognitive conditions covered in this article include Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder, Epilepsy and Dementia.

Part 1 addresses symptoms of mental illness and strategies.

Part 2 addresses mood disorders including anxiety as well as mental illnesses including Schizophrenia.

Part 3 addresses personality traits and disorders and people who are intoxicated.

The mayor of Berwyn Heights had his home raided by SWAT officers who killed his two dogs.

(excerpt, Washington Post)

"My government blew through my doors and killed my dogs," Calvo said. "They thought we were drug dealers, and we were treated as such. I don't think they really ever considered that we weren't."

Calvo described a chaotic scene, in which he -- wearing only underwear and socks -- and his mother-in-law were handcuffed and interrogated for hours. They were surrounded by the dogs' carcasses and pools of the dogs' blood, Calvo said.

Spokesmen for the Sheriff's Office and Prince George's police expressed regret yesterday that the mayor's dogs were killed. But they defended the way the raid was carried out, saying it was proper for a case involving such a large amount of drugs.

Sgt. Mario Ellis, a Sheriff's Office spokesman, said the deputies who entered Calvo's home "apparently felt threatened" by the dogs.

"We're not in the habit of going to homes and shooting peoples' dogs," Ellis said. "If we were, there would be a lot more dead dogs around the county."

A police officer from New Lebanon, Ohio was fired after an onduty shooting but his firing was recommended by the police chief some days before the shooting happened.

The son of a deputy in Florida impersonated him.

A study done up in Canada found that batons are more dangerous than tasers.

(excerpt, National Post)

The Canadian Police Research Centre report examines 562 cases where Calgary police used Tasers, pepper spray, batons, weapon-free control techniques and vascular neck restraints -- "choke holds" -- on people resisting arrest.

The 14-page study found that Tasers "scored high" in safety for both suspects and officers in Calgary, a city of over 1 million. Though it was used in nearly half of all cases involving suspects resisting arrest, only 1% ended up hospitalized, and 87% sustained either minor injuries or no injuries at all, according to the report.

Batons, on the other hand -- used in only 6% of force-involved arrests -- caused the greatest rate of serious injury. Fewer than 39% of subjects were uninjured. More than 3% were hospitalized, and nearly 26% required outpatient treatment.

"The commonly held belief . . ." that Tasers carry "a significant risk of injury or death . . . is not supported by the data," said the report, researched by Dr. Christine Hall, an epidemiologist based in Victoria and Calgary use-of-force expert Staff Sgt. Chris Butler. The report says the stun guns are "less injurious than either the baton or empty-hand physical control."

A quiz for police officers on whether or not they fit stereotypes.

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Aftershocks and afterthoughts

"It is a very unfortunate set of circumstances. It is one of ours. We are desperately trying to unravel what happened."

---said one high-ranking LAPD official who requested anonymity about an incident where an LAPD officer who was off-duty was shot and injured by Long Beach Police Department officers.

Riverside and the rest of the Inland Empire are moving on after the 5.4 earthquake struck Southern California leaving rattled nerves and some minor damage in its wake which includes numerous aftershocks.

City Hall's still struggling not with quakes but with temperamental elevators. Gone are the rather curious golden boxes with mirror lined walls and in their place are bland metal crates which have been running with fits and starts when they've been running at all. The latest problem has to do with unexplained breakdowns in the elevators' pulley systems. When Otis, the company that did the renovation installed the pulleys which are integral to the system, about 10 out of 12 of them failed within several months for no apparent known reason. These failures have people mystified including the suits at Otis because apparently, these pulley systems haven't failed in elevators elsewhere around the country. But at any rate, the company and the city decided to repair all three elevators by reinstalling the pulley systems.

One bright spot is that the city's not paying for the repairs and replacements because Otis is footing the bill even as it's trying to find out what's going wrong with the new elevators. So the sewer fund is safe for now.

Does the Riverside Police Department provide sexual harassment training for its field training officers? If you're a member of the public, you're not allowed to know if the individuals staffing these critical positions for one of the police department's most important programs have received this training and when. Even though it's the tax dollars of residents who pay for any training, who pay the employees receiving such training and any tax dollars paid out in civil litigation and/or settlements or verdicts in relation to sexual harassment in any of the department's divisions or programs, the residents aren't allowed to know whether or not this training is being done and whether or not it's timely.

The civilian and sworn supervising and management employees have been receiving their sexual harassment training under Assembly Bill 1825 since at least 2007 but the department is more reticent on what's going on with the field training officers stating that it's shielded by two state laws.

What does A.B. 1825 require?

Here are its provisions.


The basic provisions of California's AB 1825:

50 or More Employees. AB 1825 applies only to organizations that regularly employ 50 or more employees or regularly "receive the services of" 50 or more persons. (Independent contractors and temps are included in the 50+ number.)

Two Hours of Training Every Two Years. The deadline for the first round of AB 1825 training was December 31, 2005. Thereafter, employers must provide two hours of sexual harassment training to each supervisory employee, every two years.

New Hires and Promotions. New supervisory employees must be trained within six months of their assumption of a supervisory position, and thereafter, every two years.

High Quality Training Required. The training mandated by California's AB 1825 must be of a high quality, conducted via "classroom or other effective interactive training" and must include the following topics:

Information and practical guidance regarding federal and state statutory laws about sexual harassment.

Information about the correction of sexual harassment and the remedies available to victims of sexual harassment.

Practical examples aimed at instructing supervisors in the prevention of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation.

Failure to Comply Opens the Door to Harassment Lawsuits. A claim that an employer failed to provide AB 1825-mandated sexual harassment training does not automatically result in the liability of an employer for harassment. Plaintiffs will argue, however, that the failure to meet the new training mandates is evidence of an employer's failure to take all reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment.

In translation, that means that if an employee or employees sue for sexual harassment and the training isn't being done, then the city might as well hand its checkbook over to a trial jury to fill in the dollars and cents amount for a payout.

Text of A.B. 1825

Plans for the new power plants in Riverside have been put on hold by a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge which has required that further studies on environmental impact to the region be done. The city's objective was to build these plants (with money coming in part from the rate hikes that were voted into place, rescinded and then restored in some sense) so that there won't be any rolling blackouts in Riverside beginning next year.

One of San Bernardino County Assessor Bill Postmus' employees plead not guilty to felony charges which include allegations that he destroyed public records.

San Bernardino Police Department officers went to the house of Ward Two Councilman Dennis Baxter after a woman made allegations of battery against him. No arrests were made.

Meanwhile, the union from that police department voted against making over $1 million in concessions to help balance the city's budget.

The tribal leadership of Soboba reservation has responded to Riverside County Sheriff Stan Sniff's comments about bringing the feds in to close the casino down.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

"If he wants to pay that money -- taxpayers' money -- to arrest somebody that stands up for their rights, are they going to arrest everybody that stands up for their rights?" Salgado asked while seated in a brown leather chair in the tribe's meeting room before a bank of cameras and microphones.

Sniff drew Salgado's ire when he announced Tuesday at the Riverside County Board of Supervisors meeting that he had asked the federal government to close the tribe's casino. Sniff said the tribe's policy of delaying deputies when they arrive at the guard shack on the reservation puts tribal members and Soboba Casino employees and patrons at risk.

Sniff's criticism came just weeks after the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians and the Sheriff's Department signed a memorandum agreeing to work cooperatively in the wake of two officer-involved shootings.

The shootings left three tribal members dead in May.

Despite the memorandum, the two sides still disagree about federal law and how much access it gives deputies to the reservation.

Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens has announced that she's recalling over 400 special badges given out by her predecessor Mike Carona, according to the Los Angeles Times.


"I will lose some who are in it for the badge," she said. "Hopefully, I will keep the ones who do a lot for us."

The new sheriff revealed her plans on the same day she took further steps to distance herself from indicted former Sheriff Michael S. Carona. She named people from outside the department to her executive staff and released a draft copy of a new policy governing the issuance of concealed weapons permits. Carona had issued the permits to about 1,100 people, several of them political supporters.

"This is a momentous day for the Orange County Sheriff's Department. This is another sign we are moving into the future of the Orange County Sheriff's Department and not looking back," she told reporters as she introduced her top management at a news conference in Santa Ana.

Hutchens named retired Los Angeles County sheriff's Division Chief John Scott as undersheriff and retired Los Angeles Police Department Deputy Chief Mike Hillmann as one of her four assistant sheriffs.

Scott, 60, retired in 2005 after 36 years with the L.A. County Sheriff's Department. He most recently served as division chief overseeing its jails, the largest local jail system in the nation.

That experience will be critical in Orange County, where the jail system was the focus of a scathing district attorney's report that found some deputies at Theo Lacy Jail -- the county's largest -- napped, watched television and exchanged text messages as an inmate was beaten to death by other inmates.

An off-duty Los Angeles Police Department officer was shot and wounded by onduty Long Beach Police Department officers after he allegedly brandished a gun in their presence. The officer who is the son of an LAPD lieutenant was arrested on charges.

(excerpt, Los Angeles Times)

Few details were released Wednesday as both Long Beach and Los Angeles police started investigations. As Long Beach detectives continued their investigation -- which included obtaining a search warrant for Geggie's home -- investigators from the LAPD's internal affairs group launched a personnel inquiry into Geggie. The Los Angeles County district attorney's office also dispatched staff to conduct an independent investigation, which is common in cases involving police shootings.

Long Beach police said they responded about 12:30 a.m. to a 911 call reporting a man brandishing a firearm and walking the street near Termino Avenue and 4rth Street, close to the city's tony Belmont Heights area.

Officers found Geggie, who matched the description provided by the caller, on the 200 block of Mira Mar Avenue and confronted him, said Long Beach Police spokesperson Sgt. Dina Zapalski. Geggie tried to flee, Zapalski said, but the officers quickly caught up to him and ordered him to drop the shotgun he was holding.

"He refused and that is when the officer-involved shooting occurred," she said.

Los Angeles County is paying out $3.3 million in claim and lawsuit settlements including $850,000 for a case connected with the Sheriff's Department.

The St. Louis Police Department chief has finally resigned after a lot of political turmoil which put him in the hot seat. Another police chief in Iowa is trying to get his job back with the Creston Police Department.

The Police Benevolent Association who represents officers in the New York City Police Department said that the officer caught on videotape rushing up to a cyclist at a rally and shoving him to the ground was just doing his job. Not surprising, others disagreed.

(excerpt, New York Daily News)

"This officer observed the reckless actions of a specific individual weaving in and out of traffic and creating a hazardous condition for the public and took action," Policemen's Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch said in a statement.

But that version was quickly dismissed by Mayor Bloomberg, who said the videotaped attack appeared "totally over the top and inappropriate."

Officer Patrick Pogan, 22, of the Midtown South Precinct, has been stripped of his gun and badge and banished to desk duty since the stunning video of the incident surfaced on YouTube.

Internal Affairs investigators are probing the incident, which occurred Friday during a Critical Mass bike ride through Times Square.

"I have no explanation," said Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly. "I can't explain why it happened."

If this incident wasn't enough to try Kelly's patience, another video surfaced on television which showed an officer beating a man with his baton. Police said the man was drunk and hit the officer.

(excerpt, New York Daily News)

Cephus' attorney Steven Orlow told the station that his client did not have any liquor, was not intoxicated, did not strike the officers and should not have been arrested.

"I would never strike an officer," the station quoted Cephus, a former truck driver, as saying. "Why should I get beat up? Why should anybody get beat up?"

Channel 4 said the officer wielding the baton, Maurice Harrington, 31, had been stripped of his gun and badge and placed on desk duty while the incident was investigated.

"Without question the force utilized to effectuate that arrest was far beyond anything that was justified," Orlow told the station.

And then proving the third time's the charm, yet another video has surfaced of police officers hitting a handcuffed man with a baton. The officer even took a call on his cell phone for over a minute then went back to beating the man. What he didn't know is that a surveillance camera caught the incident on tape.

(excerpt, New York Daily News)

"He takes a cell phone break, then turns back to tuning up the [suspect]. He did it while the building security camera was rolling," a source said.

London and his partner stopped Walter Harvin, 28, as he tried to enter the DeHostos Apartment on W. 93rd St., where Harvin's mother lives, about 1:15 a.m.

"I told him don't close it because I don't have the keys," said Harvin, a vet who was discharged in 2004 for posttraumatic stress disorder.

"As I walked into the elevator he grabbed my arm. That's when I pushed him," Harvin said. "I was on the floor and he kept beating me with the stick. He sprayed me with Mace. While I was on the floor, he handcuffed me. I don't remember too much about it."

Security video from the building showed London beating Harvin after he was cuffed and on the ground, a source said.

"You are not supposed to beat a man once he is cuffed, but the video shows the [suspect] down on the ground, cuffed. They even stand him up in the corner and beat him with the [baton] some more," said a police source familiar with the security video.

When truth and video collide, an article written by the New York Times, also discusses what happened with hundreds of arrests made during the 2004 Republican National Convention which was hosted by that city. They had to be tossed because video taped evidence contradicted police reports or cast serious doubts on their credibility.


At the New York Public Library, a small group holding a banner against one of the stone lions was arrested and charged with blocking traffic in the middle of 42nd Street, although video showed they were on the steps, and nowhere near the street.

In another case at the library, a police officer testified that he and three other officers had to carry one protester, Dennis Kyne, by his hands and feet down the library steps. Videotape showed that Mr. Kyne walked down the steps under his own power, and that the officer who testified against him had no role in his arrest. The charges were dismissed; the Manhattan district attorney’s office declined to bring perjury charges against the officer who gave the testimony.

Dozens of complaints were sworn by police officers who said they had witnessed people violating the law on Fulton Street and near Union Square, but later admitted under oath that their only involvement was to process the arrests, and that they had not actually seen the disorderly conduct that was charged.

An assistant to District Attorney Robert M. Morgenthau wrote to the Police Department to stress the importance of officers’ not swearing to things they had not seen for themselves. The prosecutors said the confusion surrounding mass arrests made it hard to bring perjury charges.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Shake, bake, rattle and roll

"The most interesting thing to us is that this is the first one we've had in a populated area for a long time. People have forgotten what an earthquake feels like. We should look at this as an earthquake drill for the big one that will come one day."

----Dr. Kate Hutton, Caltech seismologist

"I feel the earth move under my feet."

----Carole King

It happened again, because the shake and bake state of California never disappoints. And sure enough, Southern California was hit by a 5.4 earthquake centered near Chino Hills at about 11:42 a.m. I was standing in a grassy meridian, waiting to cross the street and the earth started rolling. I looked around to make sure nothing big would fall and hit the ground. Having been knocked off of my feet during the 1992 Big Bear quake, I've learned it's just not best to let the earthquake do that work for you! The shaking stops and then you get back up because if you live in the golden state, earthquakes are just a part of life. And for the most part, the strong ones don't come around often unless you live near Cape Mendocino where three Teutonic plates meet and occasionally bump into each other. But when they do come, they definitely leave their mark which is all the more reason to try and be prepared.

CNN was updating information on the earthquake on a television at a nearby restaurant and everyone was eating and talking about their experiences. The people who were driving in cars at the time looked befuddled because most of the time, the movement of your vehicle and the shock absorbence of four tires prevent people inside them from feeling moderate shaking. Other people were walking, standing or inside stores when it happened. This is what often happens when one of the many faults which spider beneath the ground unseen wakes up and makes its presence known. The quake arose from a system which produced the Whitter-Narrows earthquake and its aftershock about 20 years ago. Its faults branch into Los Angeles in one direction and Lake Elsinore in another.

Since then, there's been the 1992 quakes in Landers (7.4) and Big Bear (6.4) which caused damage throughout the Inland Empire including the desert communities and the 1994 earthquake in Northridge (at 6.7). The last strong earthquake was the Hector Mine quake of 1999 which was 7.1.

Northern California's not been spared either with the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake(7.1) and a sequence of three earthquakes ranging from 6.6 to 7.1 in Humboldt County in 1992. The largest one hit when the majority of the population of a town called Ferndale were attending or participating in an annual parade.

The talking heads on the news chased around every brick that fell off of a building, broken sprinkler systems and every broken plate, while warning everyone that there was a 5% chance until noon today that the earthquake was a harbinger of things to come, namely a larger earthquake and we're all so doomed. Still, if it's from the Whittier-Narrows area, it wouldn't be surprising to see an earthquake in the 4 to 5 range within seven days but 5.4 preshocks aren't very common unless they trigger a similar sized earthquake on a neighboring fault line in what's called a regional earthquake sequence.

Improved home construction and to a lesser extent building construction has greatly cut down the loss of life, injuries and building damage compared to what happens in many other countries. Most of the buildings which collapsed in the Northridge earthquake including portions of an apartment complex were found to have been built in a substandard fashion or not to code. Many newer buildings survive even fairly strong earthquakes although if you have a masonry chimney, it's best not to get too attached to it. And the same overpass on the I-5 keeps crashing down about every 25 years, having been lost to the Northridge quake as well as the 1971 Sylmar quake.

Belo blog reported from different cities in Riverside County about damage and perceptions of the quake.

Residents from the Inland Empire commenting here and here.

Earthquake preparedness and survival tips including an earthquake kit list which is important because after a major quake, you're pretty much on your own in term of supplies for at least three days. Some folks forgot to save water during a couple of these larger quakes and lived on wine for the meantime and it's during these times that people really think about how important water is and how much of it they really use for different things. If you have a water heater, bolt it to the wall because it will prevent damage and injury during an earthquake and they can be a good source of water if you follow some precautions first.

Other surprising sources of water

What to do about utilities, such as gas, water and electric power. Know where all your shut off valves are located ahead of time. Learn how to properly turn off your gas valve and keep a proper size wrench nearby where it can be located. Only turn off the gas if you smell it and/or hear it leaking in the building. Do not use anything flammable such as candles, lighters or matches for illumination and don't use light switches to turn on electric lights, appliances or use the telephone or start your car if the gas is nearby or you think it might be leaking. If you turn off your gas line, do not under any circumstances turn it back on yourself or you risk fire or being blown up especially if there's damage to the gas lines. A trained gas company employee must do it for you and clear your gas system to make sure it's cleared out and not damaged. Expect to wait days or weeks for a return to service as the gas company's personnel is spending its time getting the system back up again. Do not turn off the main gas valve if it's the source of the gas smell or sound but evacuate the area.

There's been some discussion about the powers of the city attorney's office according to the city's charter and they're listed here under one of the provisions of the charter. There's mention of the city attorney appearing for and representing the city, employees and elected officials in various proceedings. He or she can do the same for "boards" upon request. And there doesn't appear to be any charter provision forbidding the commission from discussing independent legal counsel on its agenda. Priamos through his actions is simply demonstrating why independent counsel for the CPRC is so very important, perhaps without realizing it.

The Community Police Review Commission hasn't announced whether it's going to place the Martin Gaspar Pablo incident on the agenda of its next meeting or whether it's been suitably intimidated by what City Attorney Gregory Priamos to take a code of silence itself on this matter. The relationship between Priamos, his staff and the commission has been one with many twists and turns given that the interaction of the City Attorney's office with the CPRC hasn't been consistent in how it's been done or played out through the years. So one conclusion that can be reached is that given that Priamos is a direct employee of the city council dependent on its approval to keep his job that this is where is direction is coming from. Another can be reached if you read the mission statement of the City Attorney's office here which includes the provision about not putting the city at undue risk. And that might be more important now than ever if the city's multiple settlements in connection with lawsuits filed in relation to officer-involved deaths puts its standing with the entity that pays the bulk of the money out in jeopardy. That would make it even more imperative to avoid any future such lawsuits.

There's no mention of the city attorney's role when it comes to the boards and commissions on this page either. There's mention that the city's legal counsel doesn't prosecute crimes outside the scope of city laws including the municipal code.

History of the City Attorney's office in Riverside

Habitat for Humanity has built its first "green" house in Riverside. It has many innovative features which could lead to huge savings in utilities bills.

Press Enterprise Columnist Dan Bernstein gives a play by play of his helicopter ride over Riverside with Chief Russ Leach and pilot, Jim Vanderhoof while Cassie MacDuff thinks that San Bernardino County Assessor Bill Postmus should just answer questions instead of going on medical leave.

Menifee, the newest city suffers growing pains.

Not long after the Riverside County Sheriff's Department and the tribal council of Soboba Band of Luiseno Indians broke bread in public, the sheriff recommended shutting the casino down.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Tribal Chairman Robert Salgado said the deputies needed tribal permission to enter the reservation for anything other than 911 calls and hot pursuits; Sheriff Stanley Sniff said his deputies needed no such permission.

That difference of opinion has reached a breaking point, with Sniff announcing this morning that he is requesting the federal government shut down the casino. Sniff said he sent a letter Monday to the National Indian Gaming Commission, formally requesting the federal regulatory agency close Soboba Casino near San Jacinto.

Sniff announced the letter this morning at the Riverside County Board of Supervisors' meeting.

Sniff also has asked the FBI to review two officer-involved shootings that left three tribal members dead on the reservation in May.

Tuesday afternoon, the Tribal Council issued an email statement through spokesman Mike Hile:

"We are very disappointed with the comments made by Sheriff Sniff. After efforts were made by both parties in the mediation agreement through the Justice Department, we emphasized 'communication.'

Hemet's faced with the decision to go to the voters to approve a utility tax to balance the city's budget. Wonder what the voters will think about that one.

The death of a man tasered nine times by law enforcement officers in Louisiana is heading to the grand jury.

(excerpt, CNN)

Baron "Scooter" Pikes, a 21-year-old sawmill worker, had tried to run from police in Winnfield, Louisiana, when they tried to arrest him on an outstanding warrant for cocaine possession.

But a coroner's report found Pikes had been handcuffed and on the ground when first hit with the Taser and might have been dead before the last two shocks from the 50,000-volt device were delivered.

"I know there are strong feelings on both sides of this matter," Winn Parish District Attorney Christopher Nevils said in a written statement. "But my obligation and that of the grand jury is to objectively sort through the facts and make a decision that is in the best interests of justice."

Nevils' announcement follows a Louisiana State Police investigation into Pikes' death.

Investigators delivered the results of that probe to the district attorney's office last week, and the grand jury will convene August 12, he said. The results of the state police investigation remain sealed.

A quadriplegic man who was beaten by Chicago Police Department officers in 2006 has filed a civil rights law suit. The lawsuit filed in federal court alleges that officers beat, shoved and kicked Daniel Casares until he was unconscious.

(excerpt, Chicago Sun-Times)

"Once they pulled me out of the car, I fell straight to the floor -- I was handicapped," Casares said.

Casares, a quadriplegic since 2002, was sitting in the passenger seat of a car that had been pulled over by police officers, according to a release from attorney Blake Horwitz. The officers approached the vehicle with guns drawn, yelling at Casares to get out of car.

"They pretty much pulled me out and started kicking me and punching me," he said. "I was scared for my life."

Despite Casares' pleas that he was severely disabled, the officers forcibly dragged him out of the car and beat him unconscious, the suit claims.

"It is very difficult to understand why a paralyzed man would be beaten by a Chicago officer -- except to explain it as wanton brutality," Horwitz said in the release.

More reviews are being done of an officer-involved shooting in Charlotte, North Carolina but they will all be conducted inhouse.

Misconduct investigations in New Orleans have led to two officers being fired.

(excerpt, Times-Picayune)

Officer Ashley Terry -- accused by witnesses at the Treme Community Center last week of brandishing her gun while yelling profanities at a woman in the carpool line -- was dismissed after supervisors concluded she'd violated multiple New Orleans Police Department standards, including moral conduct, courtesy, following instructions and exhibiting a firearm only with proper justification, Riley said.

Also dismissed was officer Donyell Sanchell, who allegedly led Crescent City Connection police on a chase this month, ending with Sanchell slapping a bridge officer near the 1st District police station.

The department concluded that Sanchell drove recklessly, committed a hit-and-run when he bumped the bridge officer with his truck, committed a simple battery and hadn't met the NOPD's professionalism standards, Riley said.

The Washington Post Editorial Board wrote about the perils of driving while brown particularly in Maricopa County in Arizona.


Sheriff Joe likes to refer to his blatantly unconstitutional campaign of harassment as "crime suppression sweeps." These "sweeps" have been denounced not only by Latino groups, which consider them overtly racist, but also by the mayor of Phoenix, who has asked the Justice Department to investigate, and by Gov. Janet Napolitano, who has withdrawn state funding from the sheriff's office.

The sheriff loves describing himself as a tough guy and delights in humiliating prisoners by, among other things, making them wear pink underwear and swelter in open-air camps. He has gotten away with it -- even won reelection -- thanks to his colorful public persona and an electorate rattled by the demographic changes caused by immigration, legal and illegal. He denies allegations of racial profiling even as his deputies practice something that looks awfully like it. It's high time for federal authorities, or courts, to step in to halt what has become a travesty of justice in Arizona.

A tape of a 911 phone call which brought Inglewood Police Department officers to the wrong residence cast doubts on the department's version of the tragic incident which left a man dead.

Did a law enforcement agency in New York lose some guns? An audit seems to state so.

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Monday, July 28, 2008

Canary in the Mine: Setting precedent or breaking it?

***Update 5.4 earthquake hits Chino Hills at 11:42 a.m.****

Belo Blog has a lot of regional damage updates here.

Did you feel it?

Statistics about where the quake was felt by zip code.

More people have been asking questions about what's going on with the still unexplained death of Martin Gaspar Pablo, 38, who was the subject of a phone call for police assistance after he was allegedly pounding on the back door of one of the houses on Bluffwood Street in Canyon Crest. As came to light last week, the Community Police Review Commission was told by City Attorney Gregory Priamos that it was not to launch its own independent and parallel investigation into the Pablo incident until the city has determined through the coroner's report that it was able to do so. If it chose to act on its own, then the commission would be in violation of the city charter Section 810(d) and thus subject to a misdemeanor charge. This charge carries a maximum penalty of $1,000 fine and/or a six month jail sentence.

Some of the commissioners questioned this. Others blinked. But it's likely that the commission will have a second chance to determine what its response will be as it's likely that the issue will come up again at a future meeting. That is if the city manager's office and the city attorney's office even allow it to be included on a future meeting agenda, given that no item can be placed on the agenda without their approval.

It's the first time in its history that the CPRC has ever been "warned" of such a consequence by someone who theoretically could serve both as its advisory legal counsel and its prosecutor. If that wouldn't be enough of a conflict of interest to give anyone a headache, a visualization of Priamos balancing all his clients in this case like so many balls to juggle and not drop should.

So everyone is holding their breath waiting for the coroner's report which may or may not shed light on how Pablo died. It most likely will list a cause of death but it may or may not reach a conclusion on whether or not the actions of the officers who detained and handcuffed him played a role in his death.

If you've been following the CPRC and officer-involved death investigations for seven years, there's nothing really mysterious about what's going on on that end. The department's been very circumspect in releasing its preliminary information in most cases. Even at its initial briefings on officer-involved deaths before the CPRC, the department representatives speak briefly using terse sentences and don't answer questions from anyone before leaving almost as quickly as they arrived.

Having followed the procedure for about 12 officer-involved deaths which were all investigated by the CPRC since the first one, Vaseuth Phaisouphanh occurred in the summer of 2001, what's happening now on the department's end is pretty close to what's happened in other case with one major difference.

The one thing that is so unusual about this incident is that the City Attorney's office has pressured (through an implied threat or warning of criminal charges) the CPRC to not initiate an investigation and to not send out its own investigator to interview witnesses and gather information. That is the difference between this case and the others at this point in time in the process. The role of the city attorney's office in determining whether or not the CPRC can fulfill its charter responsibility and which deaths it can investigate and which it can't is a new one with no reason provided by City Hall for this sudden change in protocol. The same attorney who represents the city's interests and protects them when it's sued by an outside party including relatives of an individual who's died in police custody. Why this is suddenly so important or at least more important than just several months ago will be the topic of a future posting. What development in the past six months has put a different spin on how deaths involving the Riverside Police Department are handled? Here's a hint. Home, life, limb and transport. What do these things have in common? What do they all require?

What role does the coroner's report play in all this now as opposed to then? It depends on who is talking at any given moment.

As an individual pointed out to me, the coroner's report shouldn't be intended or treated like it's the focus of an investigation done by the CPRC. Instead, the actions of the officers involving the individual before he or she died should be what's examined. If the coroner's report is inconclusive in that regard, then what's left are statements by both the officers and the civilian witnesses. The city attorney's devotion to the coroner's report is a relatively recent development for reasons which will be outlined below.

The protocol for the autopsy is the same as it's usually done in officer-involved deaths involving Riverside Police Department officers, except in this case the department's management asked the Riverside County Sheriff-Coroner's office to expedite the procedure. What's usually released initially are the preliminary results (which have probably been released to the police department by now) which are usually the autopsy protocol completed by the medical examiner minus any toxicological tests and closer examination of pathological tissue samples taken from any relevant organs that are being investigated for cause of death. In cases like these where cause of death is not immediately apparent, this second step is a very common one, but it often delays the final coroner's report for up to six weeks or longer.

This process was what was used in the October 2005 incustody death of Terry Rabb. Rabb like Pablo was a man in his thirties who was not White and who was in medical distress before the officers arrived onscene after being dispatched out on a 911 call. In fact, in Rabb's case the call itself was for medical assistance. He had gone into severe hypoglycemic shock, was unaware of what was happening around him and he had acted out in ways that frightened his friends who were witnesses. Police were sent out and two arrived just as paramedics arrived to address with what one of them called "hypoglycemic unawareness". Friends of Rabb alleged that one of the officers had said that Rabb was on crack cocaine or PCP, neither of which appeared in his toxicology results. Apparently, these allegations were never investigated by the Officer-Involved Death Investigative Team, which was conducting a criminal probe for the Riverside County District Attorney's office.

Rabb, by everyone's accounts, was clearly in an altered state and unable to understand let alone obey commands issued by the officers. He was put in an attempted carotid restraint, with the officer on his back and his face pushed into the sofa cushions while he struggled. After officers and one paramedic handcuffed him, he was seated on the floor, with his back resting against the sofa when he went into cardiac arrest. He never recovered but died at the hospital from a heart attack and with a blood glucose level that was extremely low.

Even before the autopsy was performed on Rabb, a department representative said that diabetes killed Rabb and the actions by the officers had nothing to do with it in a Oct. 4, 2005 article by the Press Enterprise. By then, the CPRC had already sent out Investigator Butch Warnberg from the Baker Street Group to interview witnesses including Rabb's friends. The department briefed the CPRC on the initial information on the Rabb investigation as was customary for this process on Oct. 12, 2005, at least five weeks before it had even received the final coroner's report on Rabb.

Priamos never said anything publicly or at any CPRC meeting back then that it was a charter violation for the commission to investigate the Rabb case at all or even before the coroner's report had been completed. He never warned them of any consequences like fines and jail sentences. And one would think after he made comments at the meeting last week that as the author of the charter text he would understand its intent better than any other attorney, he would have been calling the commissioners aside and admonishing them not to launch the investigation into Rabb. But there was apparently nothing, just silence from his camp.

In fact, Priamos had just begun attending the meetings around that point in time thanks to controversy that was emerging during discussions on the CPRC's investigation and review of the Summer Marie Lane shooting case. In fact, his public involvement in the CPRC had been minimal until later that year. He had been invited to attend a workshop specifically for him in 2004 and declined stating he couldn't discuss issues with commissioners in a public setting. Oh how things have changed on that front! Since he attends every meeting now and was quite vocal at the July 23 meeting, it's hard to remember back when he was pretty much invisible when it came to the CPRC's operations at least in the public sphere.

But then the discussions on the Lane case played to a full house as representatives from the department's management, the Internal Affairs Division and a host of other city employees began sitting in and watching quietly as the commission discussed the content of its public report on Lane.

Rabb didn't play to nearly as full of a house as even Priamos was content to merely send one of his staff members, a deputy city attorney named Susan Wilson to monitor the proceedings of that case. She answered a question now and then and that was pretty much it. She never warned the CPRC members that they were in violation of the charter for investigating the Rabb case nor did she warn them that they could be looking at a fine and/or jail time in return. And one would think if Priamos felt it to be such a pressing priority, then he would have at least shown up at a meeting and certainly would have warned them as its legal counsel of the peril they were putting themselves into by investigating Rabb's death.

When the coroner's report came back on Rabb, it included the list of illnesses that Rabb had as the causes of his death but when it came to defining the role of the officers if any in that death, the coroner's report was much less conclusive. The department had kept the preliminary results of the autopsy to themselves, just like it had kept the toxicology results (which it had also expedited) for Lee Deante Brown in that fatal shooting case under wraps. Like Rabb, Brown was assumed to be under the influence of an illegal drug. But as it turned out, the toxicology on Brown like Rabb showed small quantities of THC from marijuana. What Brown was under the influence of, was something called paranoid Schizophrenia. Like Rabb, he had no capability at the moment in time that he encountered police officers of being able to understand verbal commands let alone respond to them. It was criminal behavior by Brown that initially drew the attention of the police officers through 911 calls by residents in the Eastside but his behavior wasn't that unusual for an individual experiencing a psychotic episode.

If you listen to the audio recording taken from one of the officer's digital recorder of his interaction with Brown before and up to the fatal shooting, you'll hear the officer issuing commands, the same words over and over while Brown is yelling about God, the devil and Aztec gods and he's calling for his daughter by her name. The officer's voice gets increasingly high pitched, its tempo faster. Then there's taser discharge sounds, followed by the arrival of a second officer and then before you can see it coming even as you know something's coming, two popping sounds which were bullets from one of the officer's guns.

The statements in the Rabb case didn't come with audio. The only officer to turn on his recorder (which wasn't required under the current policy) turned it on only after Rabb went into cardiac arrest and his friends began to turn their anger and fear towards the officers. The only statements were in interviews with the OID Team, from both officers.

Not much is known about Pablo, or what caused his medical distress and his death. If he has family, none of them has stepped forward publicly as is often the case. Much has been made by some individuals of his meager criminal record in Riverside County Superior Court and there's been speculation that he's everything from a drug addict to a would-be rapist. Why? Because if he had a contact with the police where he died soon afterward then he must be a criminal. There of course can't be any other reason why their paths might have crossed in such a way.

However, in this case, the department clearly stated in its public information release that it was determined by officers that Pablo wasn't committing a crime as much as that he was in medical distress. Like Rabb, he remained handcuffed for a while after he was first restrained but unlike in the case of Rabb, it's not known yet exactly how he was restrained and handcuffed. But then it wasn't as if the attempted carotid restraint used on Rabb to restrain him didn't come out into public view until a while later.

Another complicating factor in this case is how it's been handled by the police department since it happened. What kind of investigations has the department initiated into the incident? Did it launch an administrative probe or is it also conducting a criminal investigation to be reviewed by the Riverside County District Attorney's office?

The CPRC's investigator relies both on his or her own work product as well as that from the department's criminal investigation which it does and then forwards to the D.A.'s office. Included in the latter, are often voluntary statements by both the officers involved in the incident and any officers who were witnesses. Any statements given by officers to the Officer-Involved Death investigation team are voluntary and in the vast majority of cases, officers do provide those statements. The transcripts and recordings of these statements are included in the casebook that is provided to the CPRC investigator to use in his own investigation. If you access the criminal case book for the Douglas Steven Cloud (after it's been redacted), you will find these transcripts of officers' statements.

It's not clear whether or not a D.A. review will be conducted in the Pablo incident and if that hasn't been done, then all that's left is the administrative investigation which pursuant to state laws is done in secret. Any interviews by police officers for this investigation are often compelled meaning that they aren't voluntary and that officers must answer all questions by the administrative investigators or face termination. However, if they do give compelled statements because they have to answer the questions, any information disclosed as responses to questions can't be used against them in any criminal investigation or other proceeding. They are informed of this through the Lybarger admonition. But if compelled statements for an administrative probe are the only statements, then the only place that they could be examined by commissioners if they are able to independently investigate the Pablo case is behind closed doors. Which by its very nature doesn't exactly foster the belief that this is a transparent process and instead promotes the belief and suspicion that there is something to hide.

To be continued...

Who will manage the Fox Theater? This firm.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

The city is spending up to $30 million to renovate the 1,600-seat Fox, which dates to 1929. Officials plan to open it in September 2009, Graham said.

While the city hasn't yet signed an agreement with Stein/Malone, the deal points the council approved call for:

a three-year contract, expiring June 30, 2011, with the option to extend it twice, one year each time, at the discretion of the city manager.

the city to receive any money remaining from ticket sales after all expenses are covered. If ticket sales for an event don't cover expenses, the city must make up the shortfall.

the city to pay Stein/Malone $325,000 for fiscal year 2008-09 -- $125,000 for pre-opening marketing plus a $200,000 management fee. Stein/Malone will receive an annual $200,000 management fee in the following two years. The city must put up another $300,000 each year for performers' booking fees.

The city is planning meetings with community arts groups to seek their ideas as it develops a policy for their use of the Fox, Graham said.

If the Riverside Transit Agency thought that its preliminary decision to eliminate its route to Banning and Yucaipa was going to go down easy, the crowd of people who showed up at the hearing in protest have proven them wrong, During a time when gas prices are hitting both record highs and hitting commuters' pockets, the RTA is cutting bus services in outlying cities in Riverside County.

Still it remains to be seen whether or not this route can be saved.

Inglewood's city government is considering having another law enforcement agency investigate three recent officer-involved shootings in its city. This outside agency would be the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. This decision comes in the midst of protests by city residents and possible investigations by other outside agencies at the federal and state level. One officer was involved in at least two of the shooting cases.

(excerpt, Los Angeles Times)

"We are interested in continuing our dialogue with the city and potentially assisting with an independent review of the incidents," said Michael Gennaco, chief attorney for the Office of Independent Review. "We are going to look at policies, protocols and procedures regarding their investigative practices and the way the department responds to and learns from these events."

The Office of Independent Review was created by the county Board of Supervisors and consists of six attorneys with backgrounds in criminal and civil rights matters. The office is given wide latitude to investigate allegations of police misconduct and to come up with its own conclusions and recommendations.

Earlier today at a news conference at Inglewood City Hall, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles) called for a federal investigation into the police shootings.

"I don't trust any police department to investigate itself," Waters said. "We must take all necessary steps to determine why there has been an unusual number of shootings (by police) in the city of Inglewood in such a short amount of time."

Waters circulated a letter she sent to U.S. Atty. Gen. Michael Mukasey requesting a federal investigation into allegations of misconduct by police to "determine whether there is a pattern and practice of discriminatory conduct or violations of federal civil rights or federal criminal law."

Inglewood Police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks did not attend the news conference, but Waters said that Seabrooks called her late Sunday and that the chief "fully supports an investigation."

The state's Legislative Black Caucus has called for California Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown to investigate last week's fatal police shooting of postal worker Kevin Wicks, 38.

Shocked in New York City is the police department after a video tape emerged on YouTube which showed one of the city's police officers rushing up to a bicyclist and slamming him on the ground with his shoulder.

The video tape is available at the above link and shows the incident which took placed about 24 seconds into it. Then it shows the cyclist trying to get up after he's fallen and the officer tackling him.

(excerpt, New York Daily News)

Officer Patrick Pogan, 22, of the Midtown South Precinct, was bounced to desk duty soon after the video of Friday's incident in Times Square appeared on YouTube.

"The video is bad - what can you say?" a police source said. The damning video not only revealed an out-of-the-blue attack but also seems to show Pogan lied about the incident in court papers.

Pogan was one of two cops at Seventh Ave. and 46th St. monitoring a Critical Mass bike rally when a swarm of cyclists rode by ringing their bells about 9:35 p.m. Without warning, Pogan, a former high school football offensive lineman, appears to single out one cyclist, jog toward the sidewalk and then slam his shoulder into the biker.

The impact sent Christopher Long, 29, crashing to the pavement in front of shocked onlookers.

"All of a sudden the cop picked this kid out and bodychecked him," said cyclist Craig Radhuber, 54, who was riding about 3 feet to the right of Long. "I couldn't believe what was going on."

When Long tried to get up, Pogan and his partner tackled him to the ground and tried to handcuff him, witnesses said. Long "was startled and shaken, and the officers were being really violent," said witness Bill DiPaola, director of Time's Up! an environmental group that supports Critical Mass.

And to make it worse, the video tape apparently didn't back up the officer's own statements about the incident which resulted in the cyclist's arrest on attempted assault, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct charges. But according to the video, the cyclist was merely riding his bicycle by before the officer clearly looks at him, rushes up and slams him. Then after arresting him, he writes his report on the incident. But apparently, didn't know that someone was there with a camcorder.


In court documents, Pogan said he saw Long weaving in and out of lanes and obstructing traffic before he ordered the cyclist to stop. The cop claimed Long deliberately drove his bike into him, sending both of them falling to the ground. Pogan claimed to have suffered cuts from the impact.

The video clearly shows Long trying to dodge Pogan, who appears to have remained upright the entire time.

Long, a grocer at the Union Square Green Market, has been described as an Army veteran and mild-mannered environmental activist. "He is a very well-meaning guy," said his boss, Morse Pitts, 56.

A law enforcement source said the charges against Long would likely "go away" and another source predicted Pogan would be fired.

It took five years but the decision by an appellate court on a death penalty case should surprise no one. The higher court upheld the murder conviction but overturned the death sentence in a capital murder case where former Riverside County Superior Court judge, Vilia Sherman kicked a Black juror off of the panel after other jurors alerted her that he was going to cast the sole vote against the death penalty.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

With the penalty phase overturned on state issues only, there is no appeal to other courts, said Deputy Attorney General Alana Cohen Butler.

The ruling opens the possibility that the penalty phase of Wilson's case will be retried.

The Riverside County district attorney's office planned to review the decision and "pursue the legal options open to us," spokeswoman Ingrid Wyatt said Monday.

Judges noted the dismissed panelist was the only black juror in the trial of Wilson, who also is black.

The juror, John Holland, had voted to convict Wilson of murder and initially voted for the death penalty, but then said he had changed his mind. That made him the only juror holding out for recommending a life sentence.

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Election 2009: Using the same system?

It took place after the pivotal city council meeting on July 22 but the Press Enterprise Editorial Board did finally recommend to just say no to any plans to change the current election structure in Riverside. Like many people, the board seemed to believe that any such changes would simply be self-serving to politicians already in power who want to stay there.


But electing council members by plurality also benefits incumbents, who no longer have to hit that pesky 50 percent-plus mark. Complaints about long campaigns sound more like political self-interest than any voter concern. Voters, in fact, approved the June-November schedule in 2006. And for decades Riverside residents have handled runoffs without befuddlement.

Yes, the other cities in Riverside County elect council members by plurality. But by that logic, Riverside should also go to a five-person city council. A more apt comparison is San Bernardino, which like Riverside is the largest city in its county. And like Riverside, San Bernardino is a charter city with seven council districts and a citywide mayor -- and a city that holds runoff elections.

The council held off on the election plan after 17 residents spoke against the change last week. But this plan does not require more thought; it just needs junking.

But will it be junked? It's on its way back to committee, this time the rather stacked Mayor's Nomination and Screening Committee which includes the three city council members from Governmental Affairs Committee who pushed this proposal to save the city's residents from their own confusion and ignorance. Hopefully of course before next year's election cycle because it had been rushed to city council to be passed to make an August deadline to be placed on this November's ballot. But the "Incumbent Protection Act" (as Councilman Chris MacArthur aptly called it) failed to muster much if any support among city residents and in the process, other elected officials. So much so that even those who promoted it as the "let the voters decide" measure backed off quickly when they saw the writing on the walls including their walls. It's just as well because it's not likely this proposal if on the ballot would have passed the muster of the city's voters.

It was principled for the city council members who pushed this agenda to back down when they realized it didn't have support even though one of them, Steve Adams who represents the seventh ward said he supported taking it to committee simply to educate the people of the city about why this is so important for them. But it seems that it was the people who showed up at the July 22 city council meeting who provided the education for the city council and many residents also seem well aware of exactly who this measure is most important for.

And like the board said, the Governmental Affairs Committee should have directed city staff to conduct "research" that was more representative of the different election structures which were being used by cities much closer to Riverside's population than those used in its carefully constructed sampling of Riverside County cities.

Why indeed were cities like San Bernardino omitted, a city that politically speaking, is structured very much like Riverside? The only explanation for omitting information on these other cities would be that it was omitted by the committee because it couldn't tailor it to its argument in support of plurality in elections. Why instead was Riverside comparing itself to more modestly populated cities with five elected ward representatives and mayors that were appointed by their city councils, i.e. Moreno Valley, Palm Springs, Norco, Indio and Corona (which may elect its own mayor)? You can look up these cities and others and some times they'll explain their election system, but generally for example, if you see a mayor and an even numbered city council, then most likely, the mayor is appointed by that body rather than by the voters at large.

Does anyone remember the city council or any of its committees ever explaining during a public meeting that the cities that it chose to compare itself to in order to promote plurality elections bore more resemblance to each other than any of them did with Riverside? Did anyone remember the explanation as to why the Governmental Affairs Committee chose to do it this way? If you don't, that's because the committee didn't provide any. Yet if the elected officials were really concerned about presenting an objective portrait of the election process then one would think they would have done so. But then the end result of that kind of even handed disclosure might have been that plurality elections are better suited for smaller cities and towns with more simplistic infrastructure when it comes to elected governments and not for larger cities like Riverside with systems in place that are a bit more complex.

The omission of this important information from the Governmental Affairs Committee's "research" does beg the question of whether or not this was really an objective look at the pros and cons of plurality vs runoffs for elections or whether it was actually simply a push for plurality elections for whatever reason. And it seemed that city residents could name what a couple of those reasons actually were.

As for low voter turnout, it means that in the interest of democracy, we as a city and as voters need to work harder to address voting issues which lower turnout (and Councilwoman Nancy Hart and others have raised some of these reasons) and try to encourage a more positive trend in ways that don't involve manipulation of the voting process. That might be a better topic for any city council committee to address than any other proposal to change the current system and that might be a much better use of any ad hoc committee that's created as well.

So currently, the election schedule for Election 2009 stands as it did in 2007 with an early preliminary mailin election in June and any final rounds to be held later in the autumn. It's anticipated that all four incumbents who are up (and this is the mayor and council members in even numbered wards) plan to run again though formal announcements for several individuals still have to be made. Some fundraisers are already being held this month to get the ball rolling in fundraising for what could be a very long election season.

Speaking of the city council, it's on sabbatical until Aug. 13, but on that date will be the presentation by the blue ribbon panel appointed by the city council to research and release recommendations on the upcoming downtown library and museum expansion projects. It's important to attend this meeting and participate in the process including the discussion. At this point, the panel, the Board of Library Trustees, the Metropolitan Museum Board and many city residents and several advocacy organizations support keeping the two projects separate. As you remember, City Manager Brad Hudson supported keeping them together as one project under the banner of Riverside Renaissance. His words brought hundreds of city residents to meetings and there were initially elected representatives who weren't impressed by these public showings. Hopefully, they and their colleagues are a bit more impressed by the public's continued involvement since. Now it's up to the city council to make the decision on what to do next.

The blue ribbon panel approved these guiding principles on June 10 before it heard public comment on June 18. The blue ribbon task force site is here.

More information at Renew the Library.

If you can't attend the meeting, you should contact the mayor and city council to provide your input on the projects and the process.

Mayor Ron Loveridge:

Phone number: 826-5551


City Council:

Phone number: 826-5991


Holding public meetings, will be the Riverside Transit Agency to discuss more route changes including the elimination of Rte. 36 and modifications made to other bus routes.

The Riverside meeting will be the last one held on Aug. 13 at 6pm at the RTA headquarters on Third Street. If you can't attend, you can provide input through email and by phone until Aug. 13 through calling 1-800-800-7821 or emailing at

RTA Web site

If you heard loud noises in Moreno Valley, it was just explosives training at March Air Field.

Two Black officers in the New York City Police Department tried to report a supervisor who used racial slurs, but a Black chief who heard their complaints didn't care about the use of the slurs.

(excerpt, New York Daily News)

Assistant Chief Gerald Nelson went ballistic after Officer Shelron Smikle made a June 10 report to the Internal Affairs Bureau charging that a black sergeant at the 83rd Precinct dropped the N-bomb on him.

Two days later, Nelson, the commander of Patrol Borough Brooklyn North, ordered Smikle, 28, and his partner, Blanch O'Neal, 38, to his office, they told the Daily News in an interview.

"'We have friends in IAB, and you're full of s--t!'" Nelson screamed, according to Smikle and O'Neal. "So what, he [the sergeant] called you a n----r? If you can't handle it, resign!'"

Smikle, who was born on the Caribbean island of Jamaica, said he also complained that the sergeant told him "to go back to [his] country" and referred to him as a "dollar van driver."

"So what, he said that to you?" Nelson allegedly responded.

"'Get the f--k out of my office! It doesn't matter if this conversation is being recorded. I'm not saying anything wrong.'"

Ever seen the scene in Crash when Ryan Phillipe's character reports Matt Dillon's character to his supervisor?

Police Chief Magazine writes this interesting article on police officers and steroid abuse. There's a lot of good information and below are the list of effects that steroid use has on people both physiologically and mentally. During the past few years, this issue has received much more attention because there's been numerous scandals involving selling steroids and using them within several law enforcement agencies. This has led to an increased motivation by those and other agencies for conducting random testing.


General Medical Effects of Use:

Anabolic steroids can cause temporary or permanent medical problems. Some known medical problems associated with AAS use follow:

Decreased sperm production

Abscess at the site of injection

Increased or even severe acne

Increased blood pressure

Increased “bad” (LDL) and lower “good” (HDL) cholesterol, with attendant increased risk of heart attack

Thickening of the wall of the heart (especially in the left ventricle)

Increased or decreased sex drive (libido)

Increased appetite

Liver disease, especially with AASs taken orally (infrequent)

Death from several causes, including suicide, atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries leading to heart attacks or strokes), and cardiac complications

HIV and similar risk issues associated with the sharing of needles or the use of nonsterile needles
Researchers still do not know a great deal about the long-term dangers of AAS use in individuals, but the evidence of potential dangers has been steadily increasing with new scientific publications in recent years. For example, one study of older champion power lifters (most or all of whom had likely used AASs) found that their death rate was almost five times as great as that of a comparison group of men of the same age in the general population. The reasons for death in the older power lifters included both medical problems such as heart disease and psychiatric problems such as suicide.5

Psychological Effects:

Users of AASs can experience psychiatric symptoms during use, abuse, or withdrawal. Symptoms differ depending on the drug’s absence or presence in the body. Symptoms tend to correlate with the size of the weekly dose and can worsen with long-term use. Importantly, the psychiatric symptoms are idiosyncratic; some men taking a given dose of AASs may show no psychiatric effects at all, whereas a few men taking an identical dose might show extreme effects.6 The reasons for this variability are not known, but it is clear that reactions to AASs cannot be predicted on the basis of an individual’s baseline personality. In other words, even if a man has a mildmannered, gentle personality when not taking AASs, there is still a risk that he might develop a sudden personality change and become uncharacteristically aggressive and violent while taking AASs.7

Symptoms Associated with Use or Abuse:

Mania or hypomania (high energy levels associated with increased self-confidence, increased activity, impaired judgment, and reckless behavior)

Psychosis—loss of touch with reality (for example, paranoia or delusions of grandeur; infrequent)

Personality changes
Symptoms Associated with Withdrawal:

Long-term AAS abusers can develop symptoms of dependence and withdrawal on discontinuation.

Withdrawal sometimes leads to severe depression and thoughts of suicide, in addition to medical effects, especially in individuals who have taken AASs for months or years.

Many steroid abusers including those in law enforcement also use Human Growth Hormone which produces even more serious side effects in its users. If you're using either of them or both, you're just endangering your health, one of the most important things that you have.

Aug. 5 is National Night Out. There will be different events in different neighborhoods in Rivereside commemorating this event.

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Saturday, July 26, 2008

Election 2009: Who's staffing the police department?

If you've wanted to check out Siberia, this is the time to go. It's in the path of a total solar eclipse that will be the first of its kind in two years. Remember if you do go, do not directly look at the solar eclipse so you don't injury your retinas.

The words spoken by Riverside City Attorney Gregory Priamos to the Community Police Review Commission continue to be the topic of discussion with people that I encountered since the July 23 CPRC meeting. As has been stated in this article, the CPRC was told by Priamos that if it initiated an investigation into the July 11 death of Martin Gaspar Pablo, 38, then it could face criminal charges for allegedly violating the city charter's section 810 (d). Priamos' position on this incident contrasted sharply with his relative silence on the CPRC's initiation of its investigation into the incustody death of Terry Rabb in 2005. As a direct employee of the city council, perhaps his marching orders have changed since 2005. The direction of the CPRC as operated by the city manager's office clearly has.

Several commissioners disagreed strongly with Priamos' interpretation, including John Brandriff and Chani Beeman. Brandriff brought up the issue of whether the CPRC should consider retaining its own legal counsel to provide it with advice. Priamos countered by saying that if the CPRC hired its own attorney, it would be in violation of the city charter which carried with it the implication that this could carry criminal penalties as well. Only four years ago, Priamos refused to participate in a workshop sponsored by the CPRC to discuss issues with him because he felt it would violate confidentiality. However, that hasn't stopped him from personally attending or sending a subordinate employee to attend CPRC meetings on a regular basis beginning in 2006 to provide legal counsel. So what changed? His marching orders, because otherwise his regular appearance at CPRC meetings now would be in contradiction to his earlier response that he could not discuss anything with them in a public meeting.

The city attorney like the city manager and city clerk is a direct employee of the city council. He or she is hired by them and he or she can be fired by them as well as former City Manager George Carvalho found out several years ago. All the direct employees including the city attorney undergo periodic evaluations by the city council both on their performance during a frame of time and to decide whether or not they should remain employed as "at will" employees.

In an environment where even asking questions about the actions of officers is akin to indicting them for misconduct in some circles (including some where people complain about slow response time to their calls for service), that's not an easy task to address issues which arise that are of concern. The problem with that attitude is that it was very prevalent during the 1990s and as history would state now, that's when the city was led down the path to its consent decree with the state not to mention other outside investigations of the department conducted by the county grand jury and the U.S. Justice Department.

Some of the unfortunate trends including leadership styles by the city government which existed then are reemerging now and many people saw that take place in a city council meeting in June, when the city council was being presented with a quarterly audit of the department's performance in implementing the Strategic Plan by its hired consultant on police practices. Some people shake their heads at all this and ask themselves what is Riverside doing except traveling down the road towards another consent decree? Hasn't this city learned from its mistakes?

A couple of people this past week asked me about the nine minute response time to the Pablo incident. If it were a burglary in process, why so long? What happened between 2:17 p.m. when the 911 call was made and 2:26 p.m. when officers reported arriving at the scene? Where were they?

That question might be more complicated to answer than some might think and is dependent on different factors, the least of which is that they're at the donut shop which is a response I hear from time to time when people complain about response times especially in some areas of the city.

It's not known publicly who actually made the 911 call. Was it an occupant in the house where Pablo was hitting the back door? Was it a neighbor who was watching him pounding on a door of house nearby? If that's the case, did the neighbor believe the house was occupied or not? How exactly was the call dispatched to officers? These are questions which weren't answered by the department's press release nor were they answered by the brief Press Enterprise article which was largely based on that release. Whether or not the department's current staffing issues played a role in that response time isn't clear but the discussions brought to mind quickly events which had played out regarding these critical issues and potential problems in recent months. What's been playing out at city council and City Hall the past few months especially should be considered when examining this situation.

The reality is too that the incident happened in Canyon Crest which is in the eastern neighborhood policing center, which is quite a large area covering Canyoncrest, Sycamore Canyon, Canyon Springs, Mission Grove, Orangecrest as well as the Eastside and University neighborhood areas. Its main transit arteries are Alessandro Blvd, Chicago and Central, all streets which are popular routes not just for traveling within the city but between Riverside and other cities as well.

The department also has three main patrol shifts, A, B and C watches. If you've read the criminal case book for the Douglas Steven Cloud officer-involved shooting case, you will notice the inclusion of two patrol logs from both B and C watches the day the shooting happened. If you read those logs, you will notice that for the entire ENPC (as is the case with the other three as well) that there is usually a half dozen squad vehicles or less and the majority of those squad vehicles will be one-officer cars. There may be some two-officer vehicles and most of these will be field training officer teams. So you might have seven patrol officers covering the entire ENPC during portions of each watch. And some of these officers were working voluntary over time to fill in for those who were absent for various reasons, information that is also recorded on patrol log sheets.

Portions of shifts is mentioned here because during parts of the day and night, patrol shifts overlap and there are more patrol officers and vehicles out in the field during what's usually the busiest period of the day. But at 2:17 p.m. on July 11, there was only the B shift or the day shift, because the officers on the C shift or swing-shift (which in the Cloud case was listed as 3 p.m.- 1 a.m.) would not have even congregated at roll call yet.

There's been no further information as to why officers took nine minutes to respond to the burglary call but it's more likely than not that the factors which have plagued the department in the area of its patrol staffing played a significant role. One of the long-time complaints from residents who live in areas of the city like Orangecrest, Mission Grove and Sycamore Canyon has been response times which only several years ago averaged 10-11 minutes on some shifts. It's not clear whether actions such as widening the often gridlocked Alessandro Blvd which is the main thoroughfare to these areas from other neighborhoods in the ENPC which are towards the north. Having watched squad cars literally burn rubber navigating at high speeds around the traffic on Alessandro, it's not looking promising in terms of whether it will be easier or harder to navigate through Riverside's streets especially when considering future population (and vehicle) growth including through annexations.

The person who would be in the best position to address this issue is City Manager Brad Hudson or his assistant city manager, Tom DeSantis. After all at the same audit, DeSantis assured the city council after it had received some daunting news from consultant Joe Brann on the staffing issue that the department was fully staffed and trained. He even cited an officer to supervisor in the range of about 4.3 to 1 which was much different than the figures cited by Brann, which were closer to about 6 to 1. Brann had warned the city council in pretty clear terms that problems were brewing that needed immediate attention. DeSantis who was filling in the big chair for his boss was caught off guard and had fired back his own statistics which were different.

When faced with these rather disparate figures, I submitted a public records request to ask for backup material for both of these assertions. I received very little in the way of substance from my request to the city manager's office except a letter from the city attorney's office giving me the city's Web site address and telling me to look up the most recent budget.

As for the figures cited for the department, I received a copy of Brann's power point presentation which didn't even include any information about the officer to supervisor ratio at all. Though that was somewhat more illuminating than the letter I received from Priamos' office on my request for the annual budget for the CPRC. His letter stated to check out the city's Web site and look the information up in the 2008-09 budget report. The only problem is that the information on the CPRC (out of full-time personnel staffing information) isn't actually there. Whereas the city manager's office used to provide separate budget breakdowns for all its divisions, now it only produces one for the entire department. Which means that if you want to know what the CPRC's annual operating budget is, you won't find it here and apparently, the city manager can't answer its own records request and the city attorney's office doesn't know where the accurate information is recorded.

Everybody in this city has a right to that information and everybody in this city should be given the correct copy of the document which truly serves as its source. This is an agency which the city residents pay for and thus the information that pertains to its capabilities to do its job should be made available to the public. But the only conclusion which can be drawn to receiving documents that don't include the information you requested is that these individuals either don't want people to know what's going on or even worse, they have no clue what's going on.

For example, the department clearly documents how many shifts include lieutenant watch commanders and which ones do not. Every patrol log for every shift includes information on the officer to supervisor ratio. This information is used to calculate the mean averages for both officer to supervisor ratios and the percentage of shifts which utilize lieutenant vs sergeant watch commanders. This work is performed and these reports are disseminated through the department's audit and compliance panel.

I know, because when I made a similar request during the period of the stipulated judgment imposed by former State Attorney General Bill Lockyer's office, I received copies of these documents with this statistical information. They were very helpful in tracking the trends of the department's implementation of these two very important reforms in the stipulated judgment. The department's transparency on its implementation of these two reforms was a very positive thing and a sign of being committed to accountability to the city's residents. But contrast what was then with what is now and the fact appears to be that the department's not nearly as open with this still-very-important statistical information during a time when it needs to be. And if the department is citing officer to supervisor ratios, where are these figures coming from? Why is there so much discrepancy in the accounts of officer to supervisor ratios? Are they increasing or decreasing at this point in time? Does anyone know for sure?

What's interesting is that the department also said there were no documents responsive to the number of frozen civilian positions and sworn positions from officer to lieutenant. This, in the midst of an announced city-wide hiring and promotional freeze due to the budget crisis. Wouldn't any city department track the positions that aren't to be filled when vacated?

But here's some words from the document that the department did release.

"These are some of the critical factors that contributed to the problems the organization experienced prior to the advent of the stipulated judgment. Those factors must be addressed and can only be prevented and corrected through ongoing attention to the reforms previously implemented and the objectives addressed in the Strategic Plan."

Which is all rather unfortunate because the city's proven that it doesn't appear to have really learned anything from the mistakes of its predecessors in the 1990s if it's letting the staffing ratios slide as some have said. But that's okay if only in the sense that there will provide plenty of opportunity to hammer out and debate these issues during next year's city council election and each candidate for elected office will have a chance to share their views on them during the long campaign process.

Speaking of the Cloud case book, it's currently offline while it's being redacted by the Community Police Review Commission office to remove autopsy photographs and personal contact information for civilian witnesses. There will be explanations for the redacted portions when it's back online.

One Riverside resident believes that when it comes to the Fox Plaza project, the downtown can have it all.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

I believe we can have it all, a real historic district, a vital, thriving downtown, a growing fine arts community and a Fox Plaza that is satisfactory to nearly everyone involved.

The solution is in redesigning the Fox Plaza in terraces, with each of the first three stories getting smaller, while adding a seventh or eighth story in a tower design toward the corner of Market and Sixth streets.

Ideally, the resultant mixed-use facility would feature two prime dining areas.

The first one would use all or most of the façade of the Stalder Building across from the Fox Theatre, in a "Roaring '20s" motif.

The other, with indoor and outdoor dining, would look over the roof of the Loring Building toward the Mission Inn, and could be a destination-type of restaurant, such as BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse or Outback Steakhouse.

This would maintain the crucial sightline between the Mission Inn and the Fox Theatre, preserve the key element of the Stalder Building, and provide additional areas of interest for people coming to the Festival of Lights, Dickens Festival and other downtown events.

How are people identified as gang members to be served under an injunction? That question yields different answers from people when asked about the impact of the gang injunctions filed in Riverside and Cathedral City by the Riverside County District Attorney's office.

Capt. Edward Harvey of the Riverside County Sheriff's Department will head the Cabazon Station. There's been quite a bit of infrastructure reorganization at the department now headed by Sheriff Stan Sniff and this is the latest move.

Is Ontario International Airport passenger friendly?

Running for elected office in the small city of Cudahy, which is near Los Angeles, can earn you threats, vandalism and molotov cocktails thrown your way.

(excerpt, Los Angeles Times)

The incident marked the sixth time since the 2007 election that he had been the target of vandalism, Garcia said. His truck has been hit with paint four times in the last 20 months, according to police reports. Two weeks ago, someone threw a brick through his living room window.

Although he has no way to prove it, Garcia said he is convinced the incidents are related to his council candidacy. He is a 34-year Cudahy resident who was never a victim of vandalism until he ran for the council, Garcia said.

"I feel, obviously, I'm under serious attack," said Garcia, 39, who is an inspector with the Long Beach Engineering Department. "Somebody wants to not have me be part of the next election.

"I've lived in this city for 34 years," Garcia said. "But since I ran for City Council, all of a sudden I'm under mysterious attack."

A Los Angeles County arson investigator confirmed that the fire bombing had occurred but declined to comment further.

Their campaign Web site is here. It adds that if you have any information of the crimes against the two candidates, you're to contact Maywood Police Department, which is the agency from which Cudahy contracts its police services.

Maywood and its department at the moment is under federal, state and local investigation for corruption and serious misconduct involving at least a third of its sworn division. Many of these officers who were hired by Maywood were fired, failed to pass probation or were even arrest and/or prosecuted for crimes on and off duty. Not surprisingly, many of these officers quickly got into trouble in their new positions. Amazingly enough, the first two replacement chiefs appointed by the city council to lead the department had criminal records. They were Richard Lyons and Al Hutchings. Hutchings had actually been fired from Maywood Police Department for sexual misconduct caught on a surveillance camera.

Hutchings was ousted from his position after the State Attorney General's office through Louis Verdugo threatened to sue Maywood for violations of state laws which require background checks for police chiefs. Hutchings was replaced by another police chief who apparently is doing much better than his predecessors.

Like others, I took the city's much publicized MetroFi free service out for a test drive. Most of the trial times the signal was fairly strong and the network connected but you have to keep trying a few times for the free service. There's also another MetroFi service that you have to pay either by the day or the week to use.

However, a problem emerged with logging in to AT&T's free service. Setting up an account wasn't a problem but logging back into it produced multiple invalid information error messages that the account doesn't exist. And after three failed attempts to log in (using the proper login information), the free account gets locked, whether it's temporarily or permanently it doesn't state. It does refer you to a "help" desk link but if you click there, it simply states that this service isn't available. So you're kind of left locked out of this free service.

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