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

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

People, places and things

Save Chinatown

The Riverside City Council will be discussing the proposal to approve the construction of developer and campaign contributor Doug Jacobs' medical office building. Although the vote is probably sewn up given that it was approved by the Land Use Committee, people active in this campaign to preserve some of the site's history will be showing up to the meeting to speak up and speak out anyway as they have in various forums and meetings for months now.

The plan to allow Jacobs to move forward was approved by Chair Rusty Bailey and members, Frank Schiavone and Chris MacArthur of the Land Use Committee and all they have to do is pick up at least one other vote on the city council to push it through. Council Members Steve Adams and Nancy Hart are pretty safe bets for providing those necessary votes. As has been stated here and said in different places, any decision that needs to be made on an agenda item is most likely made before it gets to the public meeting.

Date: Tuesday, Oct. 7

Time: 6:30 p.m.

Place: City Council Chambers, City Hall

Hopefully, one thing that will evolve from this process is greater activism in the city government election process next year.

The Riverside Police Department's dispatchers coached 911 callers to perform CPR on individuals, according to a press release. Commenting, was the manager of the Communications Division, Sgt. Lisa Williams.

This article provides advice to law enforcement officers and police dispatchers on how to improve what was called, a "love-hate relationship" between the two. There's also an interesting discussion about this article.

Press Enterprise
Columnist Dan Bernstein is analyzing the audit of the process used for election voting in Riverside County. And guess who just walked in the door? A blast from the past.


Two weeks ago, following another Save R Vote salvo, the supes backed an audit of RivCo's election process. Who should conduct the audit? The supes weighed in.

Roy Wilson: "I think we need to ... get an independent source that's acceptable to Save R Vote as well as to the county board."

Jeff Stone: "We'll have to come up with some fair way so tha t... the Save R Vote organization and the Registrar feel comfortable that this third party is unbiased ..."

John Tavaglione: "I really think this is such a critical issue we should focus on the Big 4 (accounting/audit firms). They have services in place that do things like this ..."

And Bill Luna, the new county exec officer: "I think what we need (is) to enter into a RFQ from reputable firms that will give us a fair and unbiased review."

But here's what Luna's pitching now: "The executive director of Save R Vote provided a list of firms that were both acceptable and unacceptable to that group. However, I am recommending a firm that was not on either list."

Luna wants the supes to hire (for $165K) Best Best & Krieger and enlist the Riverside law firm's Public Policy and Ethics Compliance Group headed by the (ex) Handsome DA!

That being former Riverside County District Attorney Grover C. Trask, who ruled that office for a couple of decades before taking the BB&K job.

Riverside County CEO Bill Luna had this to say about Trask, who was so good at his job, there was no need (and besides no time) for a competitive bidding process.


Grover Trask, writes Luna, "is a highly credible individual who is intimately familiar with the electoral process, and who has unquestioned integrity."

Save R Vote's Tom Courbat dismisses Trask as "a good old boy."

Oh, but the county is filled with those and some say, people from Riverside City wanted to be like the county and people from the county wanted to be like part of the city and so forth. Luna stressed that the situation is again, too immediate and too urgent to go through the competitive bidding process. Familiar words on different fronts.

The election watchdogs respond.

Press Enterprise Columnist Cassie MacDuff takes on lessons learned from the recent Metrolink crash.


Other surprises emerged in the wake of the tragedy: for example, that Metrolink engineers don't work for Metrolink.

The commuter rail has outsourced most of its operations, including driving trains and maintaining tracks, since it began service 16 years ago.

Outsourcing was done in the name of efficiency and cost-saving, as well as quickly launching a service with experienced workers. Amtrak was the first contractor. Now, a multinational conglomerate does it.

But cheaper is not always better, as Metrolink's board of directors has bitterly learned.

Competitive bidding on contracts should ensure agencies the best bang for the buck, said Metrolink board member and San Bernardino Mayor Pat Morris. But "it may compromise some essential oversight."

Metrolink will add a backup engineer on as many trains as it can. Where the money will come from isn't yet known.

It may also take over pre-employment background checks of engineers.

And Metrolink may add cameras in train cabs to monitor crews -- a good idea since engineers could easily chat and distract each other.

A lot of students at John W. North High School in Riverside being tested for TB after a student there became sick with the disease. For the people who test positive for the bacteria, there will be antibiotics for at least six months.

The Press Enterprise is supporting a mixture of incumbents and newcomers in the Lake Elsinore City Council election.

Federal prosecutors want to nix some statements made by former Orange County Sheriff Mike Carona, calling them "hearsay". The trial on corruption charges will be starting by the end of next month.

(excerpt, Orange County Register)

Jury selection for the trial, which will be heard before U.S. District Court Judge Andrew J. Guilford, is scheduled to begin Friday. The estimated seven-week trial is slated to begin Oct. 28.

Carona will be tried alongside Debra Hoffman, a Newport Beach attorney who has been described by prosecutors as his longtime mistress. She is charged with conspiracy, public corruption and bankruptcy fraud.

His wife, Deborah Carona, has also been charged in the case, but will be tried separately.

In Monday's filing, Assistant United States Attorney Ken Julian asked the judge to toss out portions of secretly recorded conversations between Carona and former Assistant Sheriff Don Haidl – who had pleaded guilty to tax evasion charges and agreed to tape the conversations.

Carona's defense attorneys had unsuccessfully fought to keep the conversations out of the case. The talks, which occurred in July and August 2007, include statements that prosecutors say reveal the ex-sheriff admitted to getting cash and gifts.

But prosecutors now want parts of these conversations stricken from the case. The filing, written by Assistant United States Attorney Ken Julian, asks a judge to remove Carona's "self-serving, exculpatory statements"
in the conversations, characterizing the remarks as "inadmissible hearsay."

A Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department deputy has been fired and will be prosecuted on attempted murder charges after assaulting his wife and another man.

(excerpt, Orange County Register)

Police believe Robert Avery McClain, 34, assaulted his wife and another man, whose name the department would not release. Police would not comment on reports that McClain suspected the male victim of having an affair with his wife.

Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy Aura Sierra said McClain's employment with the department has been terminated. McClain was hired in November 2007 and assigned to the department's custody division, Sierra said.

Irvine police Lt. Rick Handfield said Tuesday that there were puncture marks near the victim's groin, but stressed that "any characterization of an attempted castration is way exaggerated."

The deputy was arrested Monday on suspicion of attempted murder, aggravated assault and domestic violence.

Maintenance staff arriving at a leasing office in the 1000 block of Payton called police at 7:15 a.m. Monday after finding a man injured and bleeding, Handfield said. The victim, who had been cut with a sharp instrument, was taken to a hospital.

Irvine police soon learned that McClain's wife had driven herself to another hospital, telling staff that she had been assaulted as well. She also told Irvine officers and the hospital staff that the other assault victim was an acquaintance of hers, and claimed that McClain was the assailant, Handfield said.

The officers who tased a mentally ill man standing on a roof made a mistake, said New York City Police Department Commissioner Raymond Kelly.

(excerpt, New York Daily News)

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly defended the NYPD's Emergency Service cops as the nation's best-trained for dealing with troubled people.

"Last year we handled 87,000 calls to address emotionally disturbed people and obviously the vast majority of them went well," Kelly said.

"But we are human beings. Sometimes we make mistakes. Reporters even make mistakes, people on Wall Street make mistakes. So sometimes mistakes are made," Kelly said.

All 440 members of the elite ESU squad have been ordered to get an eight-hour refresher course on how to deal with mentally unstable people after psychiatric patient Inman Morales died last week. The first retraining started yesterday.

The ESU squad already goes under what Kelly considered the most intensive training in dealing with mentally ill people in the United States. Two of them including a lieutenant have been placed on desk duty for violating procedures.

The refresher training for all 400 members of the squad was to begin today. But will the training also address why these officers used a less lethal device as essentially a lethal one, given that the policies and procedures of the NYPD like in other agencies that use tasers stated that they were not to be used in situations where individuals might fall and either die or hurt themselves unless absolutely necessary.

Was a retired New York Police Department detective a medical guinea pig?

A Gathering of Cultures

Saturday, October 11, 2008, 11 – 5 pm
Free Admission Downtown Riverside in White Park (3936 Chestnut Street)

Explore and learn about different cultures! The 10th Annual Family Village Festival, a free community event for all ages, will be held on Saturday, October 11, 2008 from 11:00 – 5:00 pm in Downtown Riverside in front of the Riverside Metropolitan Museum

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Monday, September 29, 2008

City council takes a bye for the week

The Inland Empire commemorates National Banned Books Week. Hopefully, the Riverside Public Library branches are participating in this important event.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Against this backdrop, Banned Books Week stokes a debate about free access to books and materials in other formats at public libraries and schools, and whether such access should be unfettered or restricted.

"All great literature should move us, and make us feel, and cause us to think," Dian J. Pizurie, an English teacher at Notre Dame High School in Riverside, said in an e-mail reacting to "The Kite Runner" case. "This is the reason that literature is banned and burned in countries taken over by extremist governments. Literature allows us to experience other people's joy, sorrow, shame, struggles, and triumphs. And the best part is we get to go through these emotions without having to be imprisoned, beaten, betrayed, or even raped ourselves."

For Georgiev-Roop, the Banned Books display strikes a personal chord.

"This is very simply the First Amendment: that in a democratic society we have the freedom to read whatever we choose. The reason we read is we want to know something, and it is our right to know," said Georgiev-Roop, who emigrated from communist Bulgaria in the 1960s. Censorship pervaded her native country, and she remembers how her parents once obtained a copy off a clandestine press of the banned "Dr. Zhivago" by Boris Pasternak.

What wasn't included in the article was the mysterious disappearance from the downtown library of the local alternative newspaper, Inland Empire Weekly which disappeared from the newspaper racks during the summer of 2007 not long after publishing two controversial articles about the Riverside city government like this one and that one.

After some protest, the periodical reemerged from the parallel dimension and returned to the shelves. At least for now.

No city council meeting this week because it's the fifth Tuesday of the month so a holiday is called. If you haven't been to a city council meeting, you should check it out when meetings do resume on Oct. 7. The ever changing governmental body has changed the rules in the past few years to restrict the public's ability to comment and to pull items from the usually-packed consent calendar. In addition, two city council members apparently have made an agreement between themselves to attack speakers so as to discourage them from coming back if these two individuals don't like their comments. This pervasive rumor is actually pretty believable, because you don't even need to told which two elected officials on the dais would do such a thing.

Attend one meeting and it shouldn't be too difficult to figure out which two entered into that somewhat unholy alliance against democracy and transparency in government if that's what happened. Attend a meeting, try to guess which ones and see if you're correct!

It's funny to see grownups act that way because given that most of the items on the agenda have been decided upon already, there's not much work that's really done in a public forum these days. But it's still important to attend or watch meetings on television or on stream web to keep up with what is going on in your elected city government. And if some of the current cast of elected officials don't act exactly thrilled to see you there (and some of them are that transparent), it's still important to attend and to speak out on issues that are important to you both as a resident and as a voter. And if you're eligible to vote and aren't registered to do so, then get registered!

If you are a resident of the even numbered wards in Riverside, then next year, your ward's council seat comes up for election. If you are a resident of Riverside, you can also vote in the mayor's race which is city-wide. The city is still safe for grass-roots campaigns for city government after an attempt by the Governmental Affairs Committee to try to fool the city's voters into instituting plurality and at-large (during runoffs) "reforms" to the election process failed to do just that and was voted down by the city council earlier this year.

In addition, there are elected officials at the city council meetings who do act like mature adults and don't make spectacles of themselves within the relatively brief time span of council meetings. What they do through their own conduct and demeanor is provide an even greater contrast on the dais between what professionalism looks like and what it doesn't look like.

This opinion article written in response to the protests of the fatal officer-involved shooting of Fernando Luis Sanchez is interesting, in that it's already taking a preemptive and defensive stance pertaining to that shooting when no litigation involving it has even been filed. But the article's also interesting in part because its author attorney John Porter along with his colleague Art Cunningham is and has been Riverside's attorney of choice when it comes to defending itself against lawsuits filed against it in relation to its police department. Porter states in his article that he defends officers but what he actually defends are the cities who hire him and that's not really the same thing at all. What his article does do is point out the complex and tangled relationships between different parties of interest and legal representation in civil litigation involving the city.

Just like the legal interests of the Community Police Review Commission may collide with those of the city, so can those of officers collide with those of the city as well. So even though they are afforded legal defense counsel in this litigation, the potential for conflict of interest is as pronounced as it is for the CPRC. The same potentially applies between the city residents and the city's risk management division.

Because when the city settles lawsuit after lawsuit involving the police department, is it for the best interest of the public? the officers involved? the city? What do you think? Whose interests is the city and its attorneys like Porter really defending? The city's risk management division of course, which is apparently sitting idly while the department is being impacted with serious issues in relation to the budget crisis. That is what he was hired and paid by the city to do, to minimize the city's exposure and often payouts on civil liability. The officers and city are having their legal representation paid for by the public who's very low on the list of priorities held by the city and its attorneys like Porter because if the officers' actions that the city and Porter are defending that are putting the public at risk, then it's clear who Porter is representing.

The officers have their legal defenses paid while under indemnity of the city but take a back seat to the city in determining the course of action that the city's attorney will take, as any decision making by the city government might take place in closed sessions as it's not uncommon to see these forms of lawsuits on city council meeting agendas. One day, Porter representing the city could be championing an officer's action like he did in this article, yet the next day he could be advising the city to pay out a settlement in a lawsuit involving that officer. The officer which Porter has chosen to champion in his article (and himself as the officer's defender) was involved in one of the few cases that even go to trial. That was one reason why he used that individual as his example.

After all, did Porter write about another lawsuit that went to trial in 1999 involving other police officers where the jury decided on a verdict of $715,000? Did he write about cases which were settled in 2001 for $790,000 and $550,000? Did he write about Tyisha Miller and the settlement of that lawsuit for $3 million? Did he write about any of a number of lawsuits that could have contributed to the multitude of outside investigations the department faced in the final years of the 20th Century?

Porter's main focus has largely been lawsuits alleging excessive force including one where a former police officer was sued for assaulting a couple at their home. The couple's attorney filed a Pitchess motion and discovered 12 complaints involving excessive force alone in a five-year period. That officer's final days with the department were marked at some point by Judge William Bailey, Sr. (father of Rusty Bailey) dismissing a case against a man where this officer was the sole witness of the crime of resisting arrest for lack of evidence, because he said he couldn't believe the officer said about anything at that point after listening to him testifying. The remaining two defendants in the trial were acquitted of resisting arrest and battery by a jury and a lawsuit later filed by them was settled by the city.

In fact, the officer was actually scheduled to start a federal civil trial and a Riverside County Superior Court civil trial the same day at one point.

The officer retired four months later after Bailey's comments with a medical disability and a lot of questions.

Porter probably won't be writing opinion piece about his role in representing the city in any of the four to five lawsuits involving that former police officer any time soon. But then he wasn't really representing the officer anyway, but the city.

Porter's been involved in wrongful deaths as well, perhaps including the cases that the city's recently settled for $1.5 million in recent months. Perhaps he was involved in the case where the family of the individual shot were promised by the city that changes would be made in the hiring and training of police officers, not to mention that the critical incidents themselves would be used in training scenarios as examples of what not to do as was the case with Cloud.

It's interesting that Porter chose the case he did involving a shotgun from years ago and not cases like Lee Deante Brown, Douglas Steven Cloud and Summer Marie Lane, cases where the city paid huge sums of money perhaps from the general fund (being self-insured) to make them go away.

Not that Porter doesn't raise some important points in his opinion piece, because officer safety is very important but is that what Porter is really concerned about when he's representing the city's interests? Are the city's interests in these cases always compatible with officer safety? Are they always compatible with the safety of the community? What standard is the city's interests nearly always compatible with?

What Porter also fails to say that there are cases where the officers' actions may be such that they even put themselves at risk and that his job is to protect the city's liability even if it's both the officers' and public's expense. And when it comes to public safety, officer safety or city safety, which one really is it?

So while Porter's article was interesting, it provided an opportunity to further examine exactly what his role is and how it really pertains to what he's written about and the complexities between risk management, officer safety, community safety and legal representation which inevitably can only partner with one of the above.

The Development Committee will be meeting at City Hall on Thursday, Oct. 2 at 2:30 p.m. to discuss whether or not to help developer and campaign donor, Mark Rubin out with his big plans for a big office building. The reality is if City Manager Brad Hudson okays the deal, the city council will fall nicely in line. After all, they gave Hudson the keys to all of the city's interdepartmental borrowing, what's some offices?

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Belinda Graham, interim assistant city manager, said the price for the land is still under negotiation.

The proposal was scheduled to go before the three-member City Council Development Committee on Sept. 18 but the meeting was postponed.

Rubin said that he foresees some type of financial institution on the ground floor, with attorneys' offices in the rest of the building.

"I've had some discussion with law firms, but nothing in writing," Rubin said.

The building would include either one or two levels of subterranean parking and a multistory parking structure immediately south of the building, Rubin said. The project would include parking for at least 500 cars.

Rubin said he would like to start construction in summer 2009 and said the project's estimated cost is between $50 million and $60 million.

The future of ethics training in scandal-ridden San Bernardino County may ultimately be determined by the voters.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Measure S would require training for supervisors staff and top staff members of elected department heads, Wert said.

It would mandate that all supervisors staff be employed under contract. Under existing county requirements, contracts of $50,000 or more must be approved by the board. Most board employees already work under contract, county officials said.

Measure S also grants the board the ability to fire a supervisor's staff member on a four-fifths vote. Presently, three of five supervisors can approve cancellation of a contract but a board member could then rehire the terminated staffer as a regular employee, Wert said.

"Measure S solves this potential loophole," he said in an email message.

The Press Enterprise Editorial Board supports the two incumbents running for reelection in Temecula, albeit with some reservations.

At an election forum in Lake Elsinore, what would the focus be but the lake.

How will the House of Representatives vote to reject a $700 billion bailout package impact the Inland Empire?

The reaction to that vote and the resultant nosedive of nearly 800 points taken by the Dow was mixed.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

The potential economic and political consequences of their votes loomed large: The nation's financial institutions are in turmoil, and all of the area's House members are up for re-election.

Ultimately, the region's delegation split on the House plan, which was defeated on a 228 to 205 vote.

Reps. Darrell Issa, R-Vista, and Joe Baca, D-Rialto, helped vote the plan down.

Four area Republicans voted yes: Ken Calvert, of Corona; David Dreier, of San Dimas; Jerry Lewis, of Redlands; and Mary Bono Mack, of Palm Springs.

Late Monday, some Southern California lawmakers headed home for the scheduled recess. Others remained in Washington, pledging to keep pushing for an accord when Congress reconvenes, possibly as early as Thursday.

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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Canary in the Mine: the city government's response to both

"We get up early to beat the crowds. 2008 DNC"

---so states this cute tee-shirt created, distributed and now sold by the Denver Police Department's police union. To think how close Denver came to a federal consent decree. No need to wonder why anymore.

"Nothing is inevitable. The future is not written in stone!"


"When it comes to the future, there are three kinds of people: those who let it happen, those who make it happen, and those who wonder what happened."

---John M. Richardson, jr.

"But I was thinking of a way To multiply by ten, And always, in the answer, get The question back again. "

---Lewis Carroll

"The city manager cannot allow city employees or activities to impede any criminal investigation."

---Riverside Asst. City Manager Tom DeSantis to Press Enterprise about presumably the CPRC, and probably one of the most unintentionally funny comments ever.

Don't pave over history.

That's the message sent in an opinion piece written in the Press Enterprise about the decision of the city to wipe out what's less of Chinatown and allow developer and local campaign contributor Doug Jacobs to erect a medical building on top of it. The Chinese-American community in Riverside and other supporters have been working hard against the erasure of their history in the city, attending lots of meetings, speaking out and holding public forums.


Someday, I hope to see on the site a historically accurate building housing a Chinese-American museum. The original brick and wooden buildings would be ideal as models for museum buildings.

The geographic features are symbolic of the racism of the time, when the Chinese were relegated to unwanted land (they were burned out of the downtown area) and "hidden" from view.

The site is not just a vacant dirt lot but an important connection to Riverside's cultural and social past.

Many in Riverside worked with and socialized with the Chinese community, building important relationships. One of the most significant friendships that Chinese-Americans had was with former Riverside Mayor Bill Evans.

I believe it is these relationships that helped pave the way for Riverside to become one of the first communities in California and the nation to integrate its schools.

So I hope the Riverside community keeps the site as is until something can be built that reminds and educates us about our past -- when two cultures met and joined to build a better Riverside.

Still, the Land Use Committee chaired by Ward Three Councilman Rusty Bailey voted to deny the appeal filed by those involved in the effort to preserve the history of Chinatown and opted to support Jacobs' medical building. Let's hope at least that especially in the light of some of the committee's members' comments at this meeting that Jacobs' medical complex includes a very much needed fixture in Riverside: Ever elusive Urgent Care clinics that operates outside of the Monday through Friday, 9-5 schedule and doctors who are general practitioners who can treat patients who might ordinarily fill emergency rooms at hospitals. But given that Jacobs' expertise is in developing office space, that's not a given by any means. What is a given is that Jacobs' money will show up on campaign disclosure lists for political candidates next year as it usually does.

If you thought it was bad enough that the bank wanted to foreclose on your house, your city government might want to do so too.

In 18 years, only two incumbent politicians have lost reelection bids in Temecula. Still there are newcomers willing to take them on. But history may be about to change. That's what some new upstarts to the political applecart are hoping.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Nonetheless, challengers Al Abbott, Rita Hernandez and James "Stew" Stewart are optimistic about winning a seat as they take on Mayor Mike Naggar and Councilman Chuck Washington on Nov. 4.

"I feel once I get my message across, I should have a chance," said Hernandez, who is making her first run for public office.

Stewart, a former candidate for U.S. Senate and governor who ran for council in 2006, said scores of people have asked him to run again.

Naggar and Washington, who have been on the council since 1999 and 2003, respectively, feel confident voters will give them four more years.

"I'd like to think we run this city in a very professional manner," said Washington, a former Murrieta councilman.

What may also work is if any aspiring governmental leaders would just pick up stakes and come on down to Riverside where voters have thrown out two incumbent politicians just in the last election held in 2007. Despite attempts made by several incumbents to change the election process making it more difficult for grass-roots newcomers, if you want to be a politician then this might be your market. And it's not like carpet baggers as they're called haven't run in Riverside before and even won elections. One of them, even sampled the populace in two wards before getting enough signatures (which is no more than 30 needed) to run in one of them. All he did when failing miserably in his first choice, was to pick up stakes and move into another ward where he was successful.

In fact, some of the power brokers who try to build majorities in the dais through the election process are perfectly fine with people moving into other wards just to run for election. They'll shop city-wide (and even outside of it) for prospective talking heads to run for political office if they can't find anyone to their liking inside the prospective ward. What adds to the interest are attempts by city officials to make runoffs for city council seats "at large", attempts which haven't proceeded past the discussion stage.

And based on the recent behavior of several of the incumbents who are up next year, this upcoming election cycle is looking very good for new prospects although there might already be some local competition here. In Ward Four for example, the fact that incumbent Frank Schiavone averaged about 38% of the vote in precincts in this ward during his ill-fated bid to be Riverside County's newest supervisor has some potential challengers salivating already with the filing deadline some five months away. Among those considering to run for the Ward Four spot are several former city employees from the public safety branch.

People have said that Schiavone's telling people he's not running. Don't believe it without looking at similar situations in the past elections and remember, his position on the recent vote to increase the sewer rates. This is often used a strategy by incumbents to flush out any potentially strong opposition candidates and Schiavone's astute enough to avoid the pitfall faced by his former colleagues Dom Betro and Art Gage over the electric rates controversy.

Ward Six residents are reacting to Councilwoman Nancy Hart's decision to say "me too" to this opinion piece published in the Press Enterprise. An old fishing buddy of the incumbent who shopped for Hart to run against incumbent Terry Thompson almost eight years ago is considering whether or not to run against her.

By far the most popular of the three city council incumbents is actually Ward Two councilman Andrew Melendrez who could face opposition as well in the next election. He'll be difficult to beat but then again, the same thing was said about former Ward One Councilman Dom Betro in Election 2007. Will Ruben Rasso reemerge again? It's possible given that another strong candidate had to decide against running for the seat in Ward Two due to health issues.

But as for Temecula, this comes as it's proposing changes to "Old Temecula" and that's caused quite a stir which could mean that all bets are off when it comes to using old precedents to predict the outcome of these elections.

People have asked me what they can do to help with the situation with the Community Police Review Commission in the face of massive manipulation by several political forces in this city including what appears to be the entire seventh floor of City Hall. Due to the daily traffic to this site from IP addresses, that discussion unfortunately can't take place here. What you will find here is up to date information on what is happening with this evolving situation which actually has been in the works for several years now. You will learn who the players are, why they are involved and what the future likely will hold as Riverside moves into another pivotal election cycle in early 2009.

You'll learn why this isn't the first time in Riverside's recent history that political forces in City Hall have clamped down on even the weakest form of civilian oversight. And unfortunately, you'll learn some reasons why the city and police department have had difficulty past and present when it comes to addressing misconduct in its own ranks which makes the presence of an active form of independent civilian oversight very important. And why on the city's side, this has to do with civil litigation and risk management concerns, historically as well as in the present.

You will also learn about some of the very real burgeoning crises which serve as the foundation of why this is taking place, now as we approach October 2008. And you will learn why and how now, past is most certainly prologue.

All you need to keep in mind is this. When a canary's ailing, somewhere so is a mine. In the world of civilian review, that's usually how it works. In the cities where civilian oversight mechanisms have faced the most challenges, it's often the law enforcement agencies which merit another look.

Speaking of the "mine", here's an update on the current supervisory vacancies in the police department which have been impacting the department for at least nine months now. Not that you've been hearing much in public about them. Not from city government. Not from the city manager's office and not from the police department's management or labor union leadership. Especially compared to what's been said about restricting civilian oversight over incustody deaths by many of these same parties through words and/or actions.


Deputy chief position, after the retirement of David Dominguez

Lieutenant position, after the retirement of Paul Villaneuva

sergeant position after the retirement of Randy Eggleston

sergeant position after the promotion of Leon Phillips

Sergeant position after the retirement of Kevin Stanton

Sergeant position after the reassignment of Lisa Williams to a newly created position

An unknown number of law enforcement officer positions which may be as high as 19 (but could be fewer), mostly involving a quantity of the 45 positions created through vote by the city council.


Lieutenant position after the retirement of Ken Carpenter, filled by Phillips

Sergeant position after the sudden retirement of Terry Meyer filled by Det. Dan Warren

Eight police officer positions, vacated due to terminations, failure to pass probation, resignations and retirements.


Sergeant position after Don Tauli postponed his planned retirement by at least six months


A detective position that may have been recently vacated through retirement. According to a long-standing MOU involving detectives, these positions are usually readily refilled unlike the situation with the Riverside Police Officers' Association's Supervisory Unit, which are the sergeants.

Partially restored overtime

Sexual Assault and Child Abuse detective

As noted in earlier postings, it seems like the city manager's office's directive to place restrictions on the Community Police Review Commission's ability to adhere to its charter-mandated responsibility to investigate incustody deaths has attracted more public comments from the city council and mayor through comments at meetings or comments and articles in the Press Enterprise than has the situation involving the staffing levels inside the police department including at the supervisory level.

Here's some comparison between the two topics involving the city government.

Public comments on the vacancies so far consist of the following.

Mayor Ron Loveridge: Although a proponent for increasing the number of officers several years ago, has not commented in a public meeting nor did he respond to email on this issue.

Councilman Mike Gardner: None in public meetings, though he did express some concern in conversation.

Councilman Andrew Melendrez: Expressed concern through conversation and made a comment at a public meeting.

Councilman Rusty Bailey: Hasn't said anything in a public meeting and did not respond to email on this issue.

Councilman Frank Schiavone: Hasn't said anything in a public meeting, but did respond to email by stating that a lieutenant position was filled on July 1 through promotion.

Councilman Chris MacArthur: Hasn't said anything in a public meeting but expressed some concern in conversation. Did not respond to email on this issue.

Councilwoman Nancy Hart: Hasn't said anything in a public meeting. Grimaces and shakes her head when it's brought up and did not respond to an email on this issue.

Councilman Steve Adams: For all his reminiscing about being a Riverside Police Department officer as if it were yesterday, hasn't said anything in a public meeting and did not respond to email on this issue.

Then there's the history or lack thereof concerning comments on restricting the CPRC's ability to investigate incustody deaths by elected officials.

Mayor Ron Loveridge: Hasn't said anything publicly yet on the issue.

Councilman Mike Gardner: Issued public comments to examine issue but seemed to defer to city manager as long as its openly stated by the city council.

Councilman Andrew Melendrez: Wanted to take the issue to public safety committee at earlier meeting

Councilman Rusty Bailey: Hasn't commented publicly on issue

Councilman Frank Schiavone: Numerous comments supporting restrictions and an opinion piece, not to mention exhibiting his ahem, letter writing skills.

Councilman Chris MacArthur: Wants to discuss issue. Body language of legislative aide at CPRC meeting showed that individual might back restrictions.

Councilwoman Nancy Hart: Signed "me too" on opinion piece supporting restrictions

Councilman Steve Adams: Cosigned opinion piece supporting restrictions


Councilman Mike Gardner:

"I think we started on a somewhat negative path again and we need to pull it back."

---Press Enterprise article, early September

"It makes sense to me for council to say publicly whether the city manager's directive is council policy or if council would like them to do something different."

---Press Enterprise, Sept. 25

Councilman Frank Schiavone:

"The recent behavior has dictated a little more intervention"

---Press Enterprise, Sept. 25, a fitting comment considering many of his voters have said the same thing only with "intervention" meaning going to the polls next year in Ward Four.

Councilman Chris MacArthur:

"I like going through and hearing arguments."

---Press Enterprise, Sept. 25. It's too bad that thanks to Schiavone, he might never get the chance to engage in this democratic process that comes with an accountable and transparent government. "Letting the people decide" only pertains to certain hand-picked situations after all.

The police labor union has stated in the Press Enterprise that it agrees with City Manager Brad Hudson's directive but hasn't publicly commented on the staffing issues in the police department including the freezes. Hopefully, the rumors about it being shut out of talks with City Hall and the police department's management recently aren't true.

Hudson has instituted the directive through throwing out memos but not responding directly to the CPRC's concerns and questions. His assistant, Tom DeSantis said in June that the police department was "fully staffed".

The police department's management hasn't commented on either issue except to say that the department's staffing levels are greater than ever before due to its "restructuring".

Quotes about the department's staffing levels:

Alas, there aren't any, not at the moment anyway!

Anyway, this is only the beginning of the latest saga impacting the CPRC. Much, much more to come in the future, most assuredly. After all, does the sun rise and set?

Presidential candidate Ralph Nader came to Riverside's Fairmount Park. Unlike Republican candidate Sen. John McCain, you didn't have to pay hundreds of dollars per plate at some exclusive event to hear him. Several dozen turned out to listen to him and his platform if he's elected president which admittedly is a long shot.

It turns out that the invasion of Rialto by fire ants was worse than previously reported. Apparently, it's an all-out battle over turf in Southern California.

The exodus from the Press Enterprise continues. As rumored last week, one of Riverside's city government writers, Amanda Strindberg is gone. If the heavily rumored sale of the newspaper to Singleton Syndicate actually takes place, who will be left to be pared down by the king of buyouts and layoffs in print journalism?

Controversy arises over a tee-shirt being distributed by the Denver Police Protective Association. There are several things in life that are fairly consistent. Death, taxes, sun rises, sun sets and bone-headed decisions about tee-shirts, tattoos and hair cuts made by some police labor unions. Not all of them because many of them are smarter than this, but clearly some of them.

The police association's response to the Wall St. Journal.

(excerpt, Wall Street Journal)

“Nothing really happened,” Martin Vigil, president of the Denver Police Protective Association, told Washington Wire. “It wasn’t the event that the anti-government groups anticipated, and the T-shirts are a satirical comment on that, given to officers after the event as a ‘thank you’ for a perfect convention.”

Is this "free speech"? Yes, and it's definitely better that if you have police officers who believe that caricatures of themselves welding batons and "beating crowds" is a joke, that they're up front about it. And it's probably for very useful for civil rights attorneys to know that the officers in Denver's police department think beating people is a joke especially when the latest round of litigation filed in relation to the most recent DNC goes to trial. That's if the city's risk management division in the wake of the flood of these tee-shirts being distributed and worn doesn't just decide to cut its losses and settle them.

Coming attractions:

"If you don't do what they want, they'll take a lie about you and make it true."

Hiding in Plain Sight: Sex, Lies and Audiotape

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Friday, September 26, 2008

Are two of the city council's direct employees at odds?

This is one of the funniest blog postings I've read in a long time but it's hard to fully appreciate it unless you too, have had a Tamias carnivorus hanging off of your finger by its teeth.

That's a chipmunk.

Not the Chip 'n Dale Disney duo and not Alvin and his bodies either, though if you're sitting in the emergency room waiting to get treated, every chipmunk in the cinema Hall of Fame will have his or her name invoked at least once. Not to worry, it's nothing about half a dozen shots won't fix.

Riverside will be increasing the maintenance of the lakes at Fairmount Park which it spent millions drudging last year. It had begun the process by hosting a luncheon for city officials and dignitaries as the hoses sucked up and spewed a medley of mud, silt and assorted debris not too far away. Some said this scene also had a metaphoric overtone, but at any rate after some months, the dirt, silt and assorted debris were but a memory.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

"It's like a fish bowl," said Randy McDaniel, a project manager with the city's parks and recreation department. "If the water is stagnant it gets moldy, but if you have an aeration device, it will stay cleaner and healthier for the fish."

Lamiell said it's evident the fish are thriving in their newly cleaned home by their frequent leaps out of the water. For years, Lamiell stayed away from the park.

"There was no point in coming down," he said. "The water was filthy and the park was filthy. It's wasn't a place to come with family."

But now Lamiell, 25, frequently enjoys his day off fishing with his dad at the park. Not only is the water cleaner, but so is the rest of the park, he said.

One of the most interesting topics that has come up lately is what's up with the rumors of dissent between City Manager Brad Hudson and City Attorney Gregory Priamos. Its hard to believe that it could really be true that the two male direct employees of the city council might be at odds with each other because on the dais, they look like they get along. Except that Priamos hasn't been seen on the dais or several other meetings he attends as often in recent weeks.

The reason provided for this alleged collision between the two men? Priamos is allegedly upset at having to serve as the public figure to sell an agenda set by Hudson while Hudson sits in the background and hits his department heads and commission members with memos, in lieu of conversation and definitely lieu of having to issue any public statements about his recent activities. While it's definitely true that Hudson has been busy enough commenting on the recent departures of two out of three of his assistant managers, that does leave him with several minutes here and there to comment on the recent slew of memos leaving his office including one aimed at the Community Police Review Commission.

One potential difficulty that could arise is that the more memos that Hudson tosses out in lieu of speaking out and up on his own actions, the more he needs someone else to do that work. And more and more, it does appear that it's fallen on Priamos' lap. You'd think that if Hudson couldn't speak up for himself and his minion, Tom DeSantis couldn't speak for Hudson, then what about public information officer, Austin Carter?

Instead, it looks more and more like Priamos has been selected to fill that bill, which has the unfortunate consequence of making him a convenient target for criticism as well while those pulling his strings are conveniently spared from the public even knowing what they are up to, let alone issuing public statements.

How does that fit in with the city's organizational pecking order? Not as much between the city government and both Hudson and Priamos, but between Hudson and Priamos?

This recent trend with assigning Priamos to write letters for Hudson was very noticeable when I submitted two separate California Public Records Act requests to Hudson's office, one asking about the operational budget of the Community Police Review Commission, the other about the factual evidence to back DeSantis' claim that the department was "fully staffed" with an average officer to supervisor staffing ratio of about 4.2 to 1 (which conflicted with the department's own ratio of about 6.1 to 1). DeSantis, sitting in the big chair, had offered this as a defense of criticism by a consultant hired by his office to do audits on the city's police department.

As stated, the interesting thing was that Hudson didn't respond to the public records request in writing or otherwise, but Priamos did. It seemed interesting but what else to chalk it up to except that it is possible Hudson had added another public information officer to his department in Priamos. The appropriate response for a request for information within the city manager's office would have been from the city manager's office with perhaps Priamos reviewing the letter to make sure it was within the boundaries of the CPRA. But instead Priamos actually did the letter writing for the city manager.

The information provided by Priamos in both requests was actually incorrect. To the request about the CPRC budget, Priamos provided instructions to check out the city budget's link on its Web site. However, there was no actual information about the CPRC's budget on that link until just recently when it was added by Administrative Analyst Mario Lara who allegedly advised the CPRC (which at one point was completely unsure how to distribute to the public copies of its own budget or whether it even could) in August that it wouldn't be available to the public until the middle of September and only it would be provided online. No explanation provided as to why information that could have easily been included with the budget report in July had to be added in September but if there had been one, then would it have been left to Priamos?

To the second request, Priamos provided the same direction yet the information cited by DeSantis was not included either. But then a responsive letter written by Chief Russ Leach about the department's work product used to determine its cited figure for the staffing figures pointed me to a power point presentation which didn't even include this information. The responses to all three CPRA requests did make me wonder if any of these people read the documents or have read the documents at all to ensure that the requested information is even included in their content.

That took place during the contentious second round of the Governmental Affairs Committee's attempt to actually perform an annual review of the city's ethics code and complaint system that complied with the written resolution defining the application of the ethics code. But even though the committee chair was supposed to invite Mayor Ron Loveridge and the chairs of the city's boards and commissions to participate, apparently no one received their personal invite. Mayor Ron Loveridge found out about it after round one ended and said that he had not received any notice to attend the meeting. Initially, Loveridge said this oversight would be remedied the next year, but given that the committee met again a week later, it's probably a given that Loveridge changed his mind about that.

There was one moment during the second rendition of Governmental Affairs which stood out and that was when Priamos was pushed to admit publicly that he had drafted the letters rejecting at least one ethics complaint that had been filed and it hadn't gone to the Mayor's Nomination and Screening Committee which by ordinance is where it should have gone. While the council members were talking, Priamos sat there with this look on this face that almost looked like he was wondering if he was about to be the fall guy in this situation. But did he make the decision to bypass the Mayor's Nomination and Screening Committee on his own or was he acting on the instructions of his employers on the dais?

It's been Priamos that has been hit in the Press Enterprise for the recent controversy surrounding the barely there Community Police Review Commission including whether it should or should not have its own attorney, with the Press Enterprise Editorial Board stating yes and three city council members saying no. What was kind of funny about the latter argument is how the article's authors said that the Press Enterprise writers were uninformed when it was the triplets who were unable to distinguish between the charter-mandated CPRC and the non-charter-mandated Law Enforcement Police Advisory Committee.

But at any rate, while Priamos does deserve some criticism for his actions, the bulk of it belongs to the City Council which is directing both employees to place restrictions on the CPRC in a manner that seems somewhat less than open? The city council directs the city employees to do its agenda and then when that agenda gets criticized, it lets its employees take the heat for the city council's own decisions. This is not a example of what good leadership is all about, but then are there any good leaders on the dais? I guess we'll find out during next year's election cycle.

Unfortunately for Priamos, Hudson apparently utilizes the same strategy. Although occasionally he places DeSantis in that role as well as Hudson's allegedly assured people that when DeSantis goes too far, he pulls him back.

So is there really conflict and is it at the point where both men should be handed boxing gloves so they can settle it? And if so, would it be a violation of the Brown Act if it didn't take place in a public forum?

It's really not clear enough whether any such feud exists but the idea of it has attracted a lot of interest in recent weeks and people are waiting to see what happens next to either refute the rumors or strengthen them.

Granted, Priamos hasn't been as visible at the city council meetings or the meetings of the Community Police Review Commission meeting in the last couple of weeks but there could be a multitude of reasons for that. And if Priamos felt a bit piqued at having to bear the brunt of the criticism most of which should really be aimed elsewhere, you couldn't really blame him for that.

The Riverside Transit Authority is planning to cut back on the hours of the downtown green line trolley. If you are concerned about this, public hearings will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 22 between 12:30-5:30 p.m. on the seventh floor at City Hall. Each public hearing will be one hour long.

Lake Elsinore has laid off nine employees due to budget cuts.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Layoffs officially begin Wednesday, though some of the employees may opt to take paid administrative leave effective immediately, city officials said.

Layoffs officially begin Wednesday at Lake Elsinore City Hall, though some employees may opt to take paid administrative leave.

"It is a dark day," said city code enforcement officer Scott Burns, who was not laid off. "No matter if you are staying or leaving."

The nine employees represent the human toll of the city's budget crisis, which the Lake Elsinore City Council temporarily stayed Tuesday by approving a $2.1 million budget cut and revising its five-year economic forecast. The city's economic decline was the primary culprit of the budget shortfall.

The other cause was a $759,000 budget miscalculation of the city's contract with the Riverside County Sheriff's Department. The Sheriff's Department reassigned five people, including a deputy and a school resource officer, to correct the error. The reassignment will not affect the number of officers patrolling the streets, said Riverside County sheriff's Capt. Joe Cleary, who serves as Lake Elsinore's police chief.

In addition to layoffs, remaining city employees will take one furlough day a month until June 30, 2009.

A candidate for a spot on the Hemet Unified School District board has been placed on administrative leave.

Coming back soon to the Inland Empire, the Santa Anas. How long will they stay this year?

But here's a bright spot, the Inland Empire has a place in line for assistance funds for the housing crisis. Then again, this region wouldn't be vying for them if it weren't so high on the foreclosure list.

What's left of the Press Enterprise staff won some journalism awards. If you want to learn more about what's been going on at this newspaper and all the buyouts of employees there by Belo Enterprises, read this site.

Four years ago, a medical miracle.

Mr. Cool Dude died yesterday. (Jan. 26, 1925-Sept. 26, 2008)

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

The CPRC and City Hall: By invitation only

Fire ants running loose in Rialto. No one knows where they came from and how they got to setting up homesteads in the Inland Empire. No telling where they might pop up next.

Lots of people interested in what was happening at the latest meeting of the Community Police Review Commission which attracted a reporter, a photographer and Columnist Dan Bernstein from the Press Enterprise. The city council chambers were packed during much of the five-hour meeting and many stayed to watch what took place. What a difference a few weeks and several poorly planned unilateral decisions make.

But the only voices that matter are those which don't include the city residents and they belong to the city council members, City Manager Brad Hudson, City Attorney Gregory Priamos and to a lessor extent, the leadership of the Riverside Police Officers' Association. The only thing, is that even though these individuals either were elected to represent the people who voted the CPRC into the city's charter in 2004 and/or they're being paid by the city residents including those who voted for Measure II, very few of these individuals have actually appeared at a public meeting and expressed their opinions on the issue. Why? Because it's so much easier to pull the strings behind the scenes than face up to the public about endorsing major changes that affect the operation of a voter-sanctioned panel that was placed in the city's charter to protect it from pretty much from the same people who are tampering with it now. And that's how politicians and employees in this city at the top and apparently at its bottom do their business as is becoming more and more apparent. Plus, it prevents the same city officials and direct employees from having to address the city's increasingly precarious financial situation, the budget crisis and the departure of two high-ranking employees from the city manager's office including its chief financial officer.

Witness the handling of the city's ethics code and complaint process, where the city stated that all complaints involving elected officials were to be heard and resolved by the Mayor's Nomination and Screening Committee. Instead, they were handed off to the City Attorney's office essentially to dispose of on technicalities. At least two complaints filed against city council members including one who served on the Mayor's Nomination and Screening Committee were treated in this fashion by a city employee whose designated role in the ordinance was as a "resource", not as an arbiter.

Was the decision to do so made in a public forum? Actually no, the decision to make the Mayor's Nomination and Screening Committee was sold in a public forum. What went behind closed doors was obviously much different and the Governmental Affairs Committee during both take one and take two of its annual review of the process was taken to task in public on this situation and several of its members capitulated, leaving Priamos holding the bag. And the reason why there was even a "take two" of the annual review of the ethics process? Because the Governmental Affairs Committee neglected to follow another edict in the ordinance which required that it invites Mayor Ron Loveridge and the chairs of the city's boards and commissions to this review and it apparently neglected to do so. Loveridge said in open company after the first round of these meetings had ended that he never even received an invitation by the committee's chair to attend the meeting.

But where does much of this take place?

Behind closed doors, with even those doors having been billed to the city's residents.

Even though they hadn't told their constituents about their views let alone their actions (at least not the voting ones as you can't be sure the same treatment was given to the paying ones), in this article it's pretty clear that their disdain for the commission at least on the part of one councilman goes way beyond its handling of incustody deaths. Of course, he might have been more credible if he understood the difference between the charter-mandated commission and the non-charter-mandated Law Enforcement Policy Advisory Committee which was the body under attack during the era which preceded the $22 million consent decree against the city to reform its floundering police department which was at the time, violating the state constitution and state law just by operating.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Some City Council members have publicly expressed their views supporting the change. The police union has also proclaimed its support of the directive.

Councilman Frank Schiavone said Thursday that the city's intention is clear and does not need to be reviewed. The discord erupted, he said, when the commission went against the advice of the city attorney in beginning the Pablo investigation.

"The recent behavior has dictated a little more intervention," he said.

Councilman Chris MacArthur said he expects to vote in the next few weeks on guidelines for the commission and that the public will have an opportunity to speak. The next City Council meeting is scheduled for Oct. 7.

"I like going through and hearing arguments," he said.

Councilman Mike Gardner previously served on the commission and said there are different interpretations of the ordinance and that a council vote would clarify that.

"It makes sense to me for council to say publicly whether the city manager's directive is council policy or if council would like them to do something different," he said.

You have to be impressed at the views expressed directly or indirectly by all these individuals and the passion that they have over this particular issue, considering the other equally or more pressing issues which have been pretty much ignored. Why? Because these no-brainer issues are for some reason much more difficult to achieve in this city at the moment so it's certainly easier to pick up an issue that hasn't been an issue and try to use it to make yourself look like you're on top of things. Of course, it's really difficult to achieve any progress on some of the critical issues facing this city including the police department when you don't really give a damn about them enough to hold public discussions or even comment publicly on them.

And this latest escapade at City Hall concerning what it seems to think is an immediate crisis has a rather interesting cast of characters.

You have to be impressed by a police union which has said apparently in semi-public that it has endorsed an action by Hudson to restrict the CPRC's investigations of officer-involved deaths. This is of course a lot more than it has said publicly about the restrictions on hiring new officers and promoting new sergeants to fill vacant positions, to the consternation of quite a few of its members including those totally frustrated with the lack of progress in this area given that it impacts many more officers than does the new directive. Yes, apparently it will talk about how it agrees with Hudson on restricting the commission, but it won't say anything about up to 19 frozen officer positions and 5-6 supervisory vacancies that Hudson and the police chief won't even discuss with it apparently not lately. This announcement about supporting Hudson's directive on the CPRC may make the unhappy members forget about the staffing issues for a few days but probably not much longer than that before it goes back to wondering why the leadership is aligning itself with Hudson's office.

You have to be impressed by a city manager who instead of speaking with the commission he's about to censor, instead notifies them through a written directive which is his only way of communicating with them and a city council which condones that. Not to mention an executive manager who appears mostly to be an extension of the city manager's office but you can't blame an employee for wanting to remain an employee whose hours are restricted by his pension even as the city claimed it was hiring someone full-time to fill that position.

You have to be impressed by a city council whose members rather than discuss these issues in public sessions so that their constituents can weigh in on the discussions and the decision making, write opinion pieces and then say, there's no discussion to be had with the public including the voters in their own wards. The only one who even mentioned allowing the public to weigh in was Councilman Chris MacArthur who did so in passing as if it were something he might consider. But considering the body language shown by his legislative aide at the recent CPRC meeting, probably not very seriously.

It's interesting the conversations that have taken place, not at City Hall, not at the police department, not in the city council chambers but out in the neighborhoods and communities, restaurants, stores, movie theaters and other places about what's going on with the CPRC and by extension the department that it oversees. And as Councilman Frank Schiavone, the "intervention" taking place after the city changed the rules without informing its commission and then penalized it for doing what it had been doing the past eight years without a vocal complaint from any of the above parties. It's interesting getting emails from people on mailing lists who read about what's going on in Riverside and wonder what kind of city it is, that it makes such critical decisions and leaves its constituents completely out of them. But what's really inspiring is hearing how many people who don't usually vote and aren't even registered plan to do so in time for next year's municipal election in the second, fourth and sixth city wards as well as the mayor's position.

Schiavone has made it pretty clear at this point exactly who he represents and it's not the public or even his ward's residents the majority who voted for Measure II in 2004 and the majority which voted for his rival in the recent county supervisor election. Mention Schiavone's name in Orangecrest and Mission Grove and any neighborhood located under the fluctuating path of DHL airplanes during the past several years and it's clear that they don't want him to stay in office.

But it's clear that these and other constituents don't matter through his dismissive comments against even hosting a public discussion of actions instituted by the city manager's office. Obviously for him, "the will of the people" is simply a sound byte to use when trying to promote one of his own issues even in cases where it's abundantly clear that this "will" disagrees with his proposal. And when he says "intervention" to the media, he's probably not going to be talking about rumors that he's been rebuking commissioners through letters when he's not pleased with what they say to the media or at public meetings just as one former commissioner alleged that he had been treated through phone calls and a letter from the city attorney's office.

From a blogging perspective, on one hand this is pretty exciting to write about especially before the next election cycle and it's kind of interesting if a bit dismaying to watch the same entities make the same mistakes after spending tens of millions of city residents' dollars and not just walk but run to head down the same beaten path the city traveled through only about a decade ago.

But screwing up and having to spend tens of millions to fix its mistakes before starting the cycle all over again is just Riverside's version of Groundhog Day. And the only role the public has to play in situations like this under the current administration is to serve as the audience to this repetitive dynamic that reminds people more of a residual haunting repeating itself than responsible and transparent governmental leadership.

Still, given the endless information that is coming in much faster than it can be written here, it's been very fascinating watching all this play out, first in the shadows then more and more in the light of day. It's about time it reached the public spotlight now just as it did a decade ago.

Not to mention that the latest chain of events has fostered some interesting talk about the election process next year as well, given that four spots on the dais are up for grabs. More discussions of grass-roots candidates especially in light of the failure of three city council members to place an initiative to "reform" the election process on the November ballot. And then there's the other election next autumn with candidates already being fielded to take on another incumbent who went in his term last year as a lion then turned into a lamb who as one individual said recently, "we're not all that impressed with because he hasn't even done anything". And the anti-incumbent sentiment expressed by this body of voters is much stronger historically than even that shown in recent city elections.

More surely to come in this situation and of course, you'll be reading about it here including Elections 2009.

In addition, in a few weeks, there will be a new blog which will more specifically address complaints filed involving police misconduct and will provide information from and on other organizations who have agreed to receive them in lieu of the CPRC. The guidelines, the categories of misconduct which they are focusing on and their contact information will be presented at this new site coming up.

What's a "political emergency hire" and are they required to undergo background checks?

To be continued...

If this is what happened, what it might show is that while the well-known Maywood Police Department is an equal opportunity provider of "second chances", Riverside's direction in that regard is more towards nepotism and "second chances".

This report card has been given out on the Riverside County Superior Court system and spanking is done all around. Meaning that the author had harsh words for both the Riverside County District Attorney's office and the judges themselves.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Huffman's report says District Attorney Rod Pacheco's "vigorous charging policy" -- the standards his office uses to decide whether to file a criminal case -- results in more cases filed than judges are available to handle.

Some criminal cases linger through constitutional deadlines and have to be dismissed after the last possible day for trial has passed, a so-called "last day" dismissal.

There have been at least 116 such dismissals since January 2007, with 105 this year. Virtually all dismissed felony cases are re-filed.

Pacheco "takes the view that it is the court's responsibility to provide judges and courtrooms to try every charge in every case," and refuses to consider congestion in his filing decisions, the report says.

"We don't control how many crimes are committed," Assistant District Attorney Chuck Hughes said in a telephone interview. "It is not for us to say, 'Well, we have reached our quota, so we are not going to file any more charges because the courts feel crowded.' "

Judges used to do everything possible to avoid last-day dismissals, to the expense of the rest of the criminal justice system, the report says, but now don't hesitate to dismiss last-day cases when the system is overwhelmed.

The change in policy "shifts the responsibility for the exercise of discretion in criminal charging to the district attorney -- where it belongs. It is not yet clear how he will respond," the report says.

The Press Enterprise Editorial Board stated move that new University of California, Riverside medical school forward and not let the state's budget crisis get in its way.


A new medical school at UCR would turn out more physicians for California, and increase the likelihood those doctors would practice locally. A new medical school would also lead research on local health issues, and help attract high-tech industry and high-wage jobs to the region.

And UCR could accomplish this for a modest public investment. The university wants $100 million in state funding over the next 12 years to cover startup costs. While that may seem difficult with a $15.2 billion state budget deficit, UCR would not need all that money at once. And even $100 million is not onerous for a state with a general fund budget of $104 billion.

California needs to be careful about how it spends public money, given the many demands on state coffers. But the state's economic slump will eventually go away, while the need for more doctors will not. And delay is not a reasonable strategy for meeting that long-term challenge.

Even as Riverside hosts Deaf Awareness Week, the teachers at the California School for the Death are protesting their salaries and contract negotiations.

Inland Empire Weekly reporter David Silva
writes about his neighborhood drug dealer in Riverside and how in a neighborhood of foreclosures, the dealer's fixing up and improving his home.

Silva details one exchange between him and officers, the mayor and even Chief Russ Leach about trying to find the house on the city's map.


Early last month, I finally learned the answer to this nagging question: It wasn’t that the police didn’t want to bust up the drug house next door. They just couldn’t find it.

“According to my computer,” said the officer who took my sixth (and, I swear to God, last) complaint, “the street address you gave me doesn’t exist in Riverside.”

“Well, that’s odd,” I said. “I’m looking right out my front window and there it is.”

“Are you sure?”

“Oh yeah, it’s right there. Maybe you should check again.”

He did, and again declared the address didn’t exist. Back and forth we went, with me insisting the street address of the drug house next door to me existed, and the officer insisting that it didn’t. Finally:

“Found it!” he said, sounding well pleased. “OK, we’re on it. The Police Department takes these calls very seriously.”

After three years, six complaints, a meeting with the mayor’s aide and a conference call with a councilman and the city’s top cop, the Riverside Police Department’s crack narcotics unit finally located my neighbor’s house on a map.

More problems out of the Orange County Sheriff's Department with one of its civilian employees being charged with soliciting someone to commit a violent crime.

(excerpt, Los Angeles Times)

Lissa Marie Domanic, 42, was working as an office specialist and 911 call taker when she allegedly asked someone to assault an Orange County jail inmate, said Jim Amormino, a sheriff's spokesman. She also used department computers to access confidential records that she forwarded to unauthorized people, Amormino said.

A grand jury indicted Domanic on the felony charges earlier this week, and she is awaiting arraignment in Orange County Superior Court. Domanic, who worked for the sheriff's department for about 19 months, has been placed on administrative leave pending a disciplinary review, Amormino said.

"We do a thorough background investigation, and nothing came up in her background," Amormino said. "Sometimes people are able to conceal things they are involved in."

Under investigation, are two New York City Police Department officers who tased a mentally disturbed man who then fell to his death. One representative of the department said that the incident appeared to violate departmental policy. That being a prohibition against tasing people who are high enough above the ground that if they fall, it causes death or great bodily injury to them. The man was about 10 feet off the ground but when he lost his muscular control while being tased, he fell off of a roof onto his head.

(excerpt, New York Daily News)

Browne said police regulations "specifically state that 'when possible, the CED should not be used … in situations where the subject may fall from an elevated surface.'" Morales, 35, fell 10 feet and landed headfirst on the pavement. He was declared dead at Kings County Hospital. "It just wasn't a smart move. When you Taser someone, they drop like a stone. No muscle control. Under regular circumstances, the (suspect) could have jumped himself and been OK," a police source said.

More information here.

This official statement was released by the NYPD.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Canary in the Mine: And so it begins...

"If I see your underwear, you're going to jail. Pull your pants up, and leave them up for the rest of the night. I'll get warrants. I got all ya'll's names."

---Former Aiken County Sheriff's Department deputy, Jeffrey Nation who was later fired and then arrested for assaulting a man during an incident caught on videotape.

"I don't know why the deputy decided he wanted to stop him, other than he had baggy pants. That's not against the law. We're not going to treat by the way they look."

---Aiken County Sheriff Michael Hunt, Nation's former boss

The barely there Community Police Review Commission held another meeting to a packed room in the city council chambers with a very busy agenda, stocked with items on four of the five officer-involved death cases. Many of the commissioners were quiet including several who had previously been rather outspoken. Why they are being quiet now will be discussed further in a future posting but suffice to say, the seventh floor antics have continued onward and unabated, the difference being that they are spilling out into the public arena. Apparently, the recent op-ed piece was only the beginning, a Rosetta stone so to speak for what lies ahead. It's certainly a template to use to analyze any future hijinks from inside City Hall involving the police commission. City Hall takes an action and what helps locate its source is to go back and read what's in writing.

But before and in the middle of all that, there were some briefings by the long-absent police department on several incustody deaths. If you recall, the agency had taken a sabbatical from delivering briefings on officer-involved deaths until it delivered its briefing on the Carlos Quinonez, Sr. shooting case two weeks ago.

Two representatives from the police department briefed the commission on two of its ongoing officer-involved death investigations, that of Martin Gaspar Pablo, 38, and Fernando Luis Sanchez, 30. The Pablo briefing by the department comes over 2 1/2 months after the July 11 incident. Previously, the department had apparently ignored two invitations by CPRC Chair Brian Pearcy to appear before the commission to give a briefing. After City Manager Brad Hudson told the department to appear at these briefings, the department finally broke its silence to provide a briefing on the Sept. 1 fatal officer-involved shooting of Carlos Quinonez, Sr. The department did just that two weeks ago, although instead of Leach conducting the briefing as he had promised at several meetings he had attended, Asst. Chief John DeLaRosa provided the information.

Leach and DeLaRosa were out of town this and Deputy Chief Pete Esquivel was with the mayor receiving an award during Deaf Awareness Week, so Capt. Mark Boyer delivered one briefing and Lt. Mike Perea who's assigned with the personnel division did another.

According to the police department's account provided by Perea, there was no version of events for the death of Pablo. The autopsy ruling determined that Pablo died of natural causes and the department had nothing else to say. The CPRC's investigator Ray Martinelli determined that according to the witnesses he interviewed, there was no use of force involved in the detention.

The police department's press release on Pablo's death is here.

In the case of Sanchez, Boyer who heads the Investigations Division delivered a briefing on the events surrounding that shooting. On Sept. 12, an unidentified police officer saw a man next to a car parked in a gas station that he recognized. He pulled his squad car in the gas station and approached the vehicle to talk to the individuals about gang involvement. One individual said that one of the passengers was in the market. Sanchez walked out, went into the car to sit and then left the car. The officer approached to do a pat down search and while the officer was grabbing one arm, Sanchez fled. The officer radioed that he was in a foot pursuit and chased Sanchez, telling him to stop running. He said Sanchez reached into a pocket and he asked him if he had a gun and Sanchez said he threw it out.

They struggled, fell on the ground and while struggling, the officer said he felt a gun in Sanchez' pocket. So he disengaged and shot two rounds with his weapon. A witness 10-15 feet away said he or she heard the officer yell commands after a pursuit. This person said he or she saw the struggle on the ground, then the officer get on top and then turned his or her head, only hearing the shots fired.

The police department's press release on the Sanchez shooting is here.

After the briefing, several questions were asked and answered as Boyer seemed a little less reticent than his predecessors. Then Commissioner Chani Beeman tried to make a motion that the commission initiate an independent investigation into the Sanchez shooting, only to have Pearcy interrupt her and tell her that there was nothing addressing this on the agenda. Deputy City Attorney Susan Wilson (substituting for a missing-in-action City Attorney Gregory Priamos) said that the Brown Act prohibited any such motion and that it would have to be placed on the agenda of the next meeting.

Yet interestingly enough during the discussion of an agenda item which simply stated that the CPRC's ad hoc committee on developing protocol to use in officer-involved death investigations would provide an update of its activities to the full commission, Wilson said that a motion to dissolve the committee could be voted upon during that meeting and wouldn't have to wait until a future meeting to be scheduled. And thus with a 5 to 3 vote led by Commissioner Ken Rotker, that committee was dissolved while an approving legislative aide for one of the city councilmen looked on.

He said that if the committee wasn't dissolved, it would be an act of insubordination for it to continue to meet because the city council clearly agreed in toto with the op-ed opinion piece written by three of them because it had a chance to respond and the remainder of the body chose not to do so. People thought they had Rotker pegged as an intelligent, balanced individual, but during this process, he showed that he too seems to know which side his bread is buttered on.

The only thing you can say about Wilson not including the fact that she wore out a path in the floor during her many trips from her seat to the podium, is that she's obviously aware that her boss, Priamos, needs four votes to keep his job because her dual and conflicting applications of the same state sunshine law under two different agenda items made that fairly clear.

What was even more interesting was seeing the progression of Pearcy on this issue, given that he was the one who proposed the creation of this ad hoc committee in the first place. Even after City Manager Brad Hudson issued his directive preventing the CPRC from initiating investigations essentially without the blessing of his office, Priamos' office and the police department, Pearcy phoned the commission while on vacation and urged the committee to continue its work. However, when the die was cast, Pearcy joined in on the majority's decision to eliminate the committee, proving that once again, he's flip-flopped on an issue in a short period of time. It's not the first time he has done so and it's not the first time, his supposed strong leadership skills have flagged in the face of a little pressure. Not from the community of course, but most likely, City Hall.

In the past, the commission's staff had initiated the investigation rather than having it done through commisson vote, but Executive Manager Kevin Rogan's made it clear that he knows what side of the bread his butter's on when he agreed with Hudson on his directive, a directive backed by at least three city council members. And judging by the body language of Councilman Chris MacArthur's legislative aide, possibly at least four elected officials or more.

Much more to come on the CPRC and the latest actions taken against it by City Hall as it develops because there's a lot going on, in a body which was quietly tucked away in the corner of City Hall business but in the next few months, may develop into a major election issue.

Speaking of elections, the following took place at the latest blink-and-you'll-miss-it city council meetings.

The Riverside City Council voted to approve a modified plan to raise sewer rates. The body voted 5-1 to approve the higher rates with Councilman Frank Schiavone dissenting because he believed the future of the economy was too uncertain to impose rate hikes.

Obviously, Schiavone doesn't want to face a revisit of the fiasco that took place during 2006-07 where the city council voted to raise electricity rates,then changed its mind during the election year and then changed its mind again after election season was over. A repeat of this situation would not bode well for Schiavone who most likely is planning another reelection bid for his seat next year.

Councilman Rusty Bailey was absent when the vote took place.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

The vote was 5-1. Councilman Frank Schiavone dissented, saying it was the wrong time to carry out such an aggressive plan given the uncertainty in the economy. Councilman William "Rusty" Bailey was absent.

In response to concerns expressed primarily by the business community, the city changed its original proposal by reducing the rate and fee hikes slightly and pushing back the date when they take effect.

Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce President Cindy Roth said the business group is fine with the altered plan.

The last time the city raised sewer rates was January 1993, and the last time it raised its connection fee was April 1991.

Fasten your seats because this roller coaster ride has already begun! And between this issue, the CPRC and issues including the impact of the city's budget, it's going to be quite an interesting process ahead.

More information on the officers, Dan Warren and Jayson Wood who were recently promoted by Leach is here. They were both promoted in order to fill a sergeant vacancy created when Sgt. Terry Meyer retired unexpectedly with a permanent shoulder injury. Warren was promoted to fill Meyer's spot and since a current MOU involving the detectives requires their vacancies to be filled, Wood was promoted into Warren's old spot. Their assignments haven't been announced but it's probable that Warren will be assigned to the patrol division as a supervisor.

Voting on the installation of a civilian oversight mechanism in their city will be the residents of Fort Myers, Florida.

(excerpt, The News-Press)

The Lee County Supervisor of Elections validated 2,565 signatures of registered Fort Myers voters; 2,508 were needed to place the matter on the ballot.

"They put their lives on the line every day, and they deserve the support of the public," Howard Simon, ACLU of Florida director, said of the police.

If the proposed city charter amendment receives more than the 50 percent of the vote it needs to pass, City Council will be required to form a seven-member police review board.
Six would be elected by individual wards, and the chairman would be elected at large.

The panel would operate on an annual approved budget, appoint an independent attorney and have subpoena powers.

The board would be able to review policies of the Police Department, conduct independent investigations of police misconduct and make recommendations to the city manager and police chief, who must give written responses within 30 days.

The measure will go on the ballot in the next city election, in November 2009, said Sharon Harrington, Lee County supervisor of elections.

A captain in the New Orleans Police Department who had been fired is now back to work.

What is Garrity? The former head of the national organization of internal affairs investigators presents his analysis.

If you have seen the video taken of the behavior of Aiken County Sheriff's Department Deputy Jeffrey Nation who was arrested for assault after his squad car's video camera depicted him lunging for the throat of a man he had detained. In his report, Nation had written that the man had headbutted him but according to the video which in its entirety is over six minutes long, that never happened. The longer video recording is here which includes what happened up to and after Nation went for the man's throat.

This link includes a portion of the controversial video and also newly discovered conversations that Nation had with the man inside the squad car after arresting him for disorderly conduct.

(excerpt, WRDW)

Nation seems to know this incident (hitting in the throat) might need an explanation.

"I'm going to ask you to go ahead and do a one-page," says Nation. "Yes, because it's going to become an issue."

As the ride continues, so does the taunting.

"You sure didn't look like you could handle your own when I took you down on the ground," says Nation.

"Don't be talking about the Presidential Election because you don't know jack about it dude," adds Nation. "You need to get a life dude. You need to get a real job."

"The bottom line is, he's wrong," says Sheriff Hunt.

After viewing the video, you might ask, did Nation have a pattern of bad behavior before this televised incident? The answer appears to be yes because this was Nation's third documented incident of police misconduct as it turns out.

(excerpt, WRDW)

The first problem came back in 2004 when Deputy Nation was suspended for 3 days because of excessive use of force.

The second problem came on Saturday, September 6th when Lawrence Ingram was trying to kill himself and called for help from EMS and the Sheriff's Office. Turns out Deputy Nation went to the call to help EMS and Ingram says he was anything but helpful to him; and he has the wounds to prove it.

If you look at Lawrence Ingram's head, he has stitches in one spot and staples in another. He was distraught and tried to kill himself, so he called for help. Some of the help came from EMS and from fired Deputy Jeffrey Nation.

"When I came out the door with a knife in my hand, he was standing there and I went to go down and said, I'm going to go ahead and get it over with," says Lawrence. "Then, that's when he hit me in the chin with the flashlight, started beating me all in my head."

Four days later, staples in Ingram's head.

"A man like that don't need to be in any kind of police," says Ingram.

In New York City, officers tased a mentally ill naked man who was perched over 10 feet off the ground. He fell and later died from his injuries.

(excerpt, New York Daily News)

Inman Morales, brandishing a light bulb, plunged 10 feet and landed headfirst on the pavement outside his Bedford-Stuyvesant apartment building. He was declared dead at Kings County Hospital.

"When they Tasered him, he froze and pitched forward. He fell on his head," said witness Ernestine Croom, 40. "They didn't put out a mattress or a net or anything."

Morales hit the ground while an air bag was being brought to the site, police sources said.

More information on the incident here.

Did a man really get charged with battery of a police officer after flatulating while being booked for another criminal offense?

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