Five before Midnight

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


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Location: RiverCity, Inland Empire

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Is the city council hoping, out of sight out of mind for Greyhound?

"We're not eliminating mass transit."

---Riverside Councilman Steve Adams who once offered to taxi disenfranchised passengers to the San Bernardino bus terminal and then promptly forgot about it.

The Inland Empire shakes again. So did Riverside City Hall during a meeting about the situation involving Greyhound's ouster from the city scheduled for later this month.

Dozens of frustrated Riverside residents showed up at the Transportation Committee meeting to listen to what sounded like a done deal, that being that Greyhound was forced to pack up and leave the city limits. After all, news about the backroom settlement with Greyhound only reached the public's ears a week or so ago after Development Director Belinda Graham was forced to release some embarrassing information about how the city finalized a $625,000 settlement to buy out the lease of Greyhound in Eminent Domain without a single city council member allegedly knowing let alone proving such a settlement. Whether they were truly interested in improved transparency or image rehabilitation, the Governmental Affairs Committee passed some sort of recommendation on Jan. 6 to come up with a process to announce settlements of controversial Eminent Domain cases to the public. Every other backroom deal that takes place involving settling lawsuits will apparently still be able to continue. How reassuring.

Unfortunately, it was clear off the bat that the elected officials were offering up alternative forms of transportation that actually were not viable options rather than talking about finding alternative sites. One of them mentioned that the Riverside Transit Agency offered bus service to both Colton and San Bernardino Greyhound Bus Stations but actually, the RTA line that services at least the latter route doesn't operate on weekends or holidays. One offered up dial-a-ride apparently unaware that it only operates for locations in Western Riverside County.

Another said passengers should just take a cab to Colton or San Bernardino, but neglected to mention that not only would passengers most likely be paying higher cab fares than the money spent on bus tickets (with one councilman saying later that it might take $25 to take cab to San Bernardino to buy a $19 bus ticket to Victorville), but a previous discussion on the city's taxi cab services as they are mentioned the problem of not having agreements for two-way cab services between different counties.

It's clear that the city council members need to do some homework on alternate transit resources before recommending them as alternatives to using Greyhound within Riverside's boundaries. For the chair of the Transportation to be the least informed person at the meeting, is just inexcusable.

There was a lot of speculation and talk about whether or not Greyhound would be relocated but few in the audience believed what was being said, by the committee members. Ward One Councilman Mike Gardner had substituted in for Chris MacArthur while Ward Two Councilman Andrew Melendrez wasn't allowed to say much but apparently was allowed to prepare a motion to table the discussion for 90 days even though he owned property within 500 feet of where Greyhound will be housed until its Jan. 31 eviction date. Most of the permanent Greyhound employees have already vacated the station including the manager. All that's left are temporary employees who know their days are numbered.

Is the 90 days in hopes that the emotions surrounding this issue will fade with time and people will get used to not having Greyhound in Riverside including the 80,000 disenfranchised passengers? Is that what the Transportation Committee is hoping? That's what it looked like but during an election year, it's doubtful that this will happen.

Some individuals offered up a tract of land for a transit hub in Highgrove, including one man who brought a map. Others offered up other areas including the oft-mentioned transit hub near the Metrolink station near Market Place but the city council didn't seem to pay much attention.

"We thought we had hit pay dirt with three new leaders," Yolanda Garland told the committee, but added it was same old thing, with the city government advocating its power to the city manager.

"We the people have not given the city manager the authority to make secret deals," Garland said.

City Manager Brad Hudson, the most staunch opponant of Greyhound probably because an elected official or two is instructing him to be one bristled at Garland's comment as well as one she made about him still having a driver's license and a city-owned car but that like many people, he might need public transit when he was older.

Chair Steve Adams struggled to keep his cool several times as he told individuals to either "wait until their turn" when there was no one raising their hands at that point or telling them their time was up. Adams was well known at this point for claiming at an earlier city council meeting that Greyhound wanted to leave Riverside. Greyhound's legal counsel, Peter Flanders, who had driven up from Downtown Los Angeles after being dispatched by the company's corporate headquarters in Dallas, Texas said that statement was a misconception. Greyhound wanted to be in Riverside but was gunshy after investing hundreds of thousands of dollars in its conditional use permit only to be denied, feeling no doubt like Charlie Brown did after Lucy Van Pelt pulled the football away just before his foot could kick it.

It didn't take too long for someone in the audience to actually compare Adams to Maria Antoinette's "let them eat cake" statement (which she never actually made but that's another discussion) in his cavalier attitude towards alternate transportation in general and Greyhound in particular. The fact that it didn't take long surprised view in attendance.

Future meetings on Greyhound:

Commission on Disabilities

Monday, Jan. 12 at 6 p.m. at City Hall in Riverside

Public Forum

Thursday, Jan. 15 at 6:30 p.m. at the Women's Club at 10th and Brockton in Riverside

Press Enterprise Columnist Dan Bernstein explained the relationship between the city council and the city manager's office when discussing the latest scoop on Greyhound.


Brad Hudson's poodles are sniffing the Greyhound! After months of doing nothing, then slipping the hound $625K to be on the next bus out of town, a City Council committee will talk today about Greyhound's future in Riverside. Tonight, the League of Women Voters and a neighborhood group host a similar exchange. "Get The Facts" trumpets their flier. Facts?

Well, the council supposedly calls the shots but an employee, City Manager Hudson, drives the bus. His hapless pocket poodles (Mayor Poodle included) roll right over. Hud didn't even think it important to tell his poodles about the $625K Greyhound payoff.

Fear-mongering about crime aside, some people rely heavily on this bus service. Even Councilman Frank Schiavone told me people who need the hound most are folks City Hall hears from least.

Now that talk has again turned to Greyhound's future in the city, what does Hud say? "I hope we condition them properly."

Me, too! Require security, decent lighting and that the place be kept up. And require Hudson to spend an hour every six months greeting bus passengers. He'll be fine. He's packin', remember?

(Apologies for offending any real poodles.)

A city resident says that the city council should be more tranparent with its business deals involving Greyhound. She also challenged Hudson and several elected officials' tendancies to label the passengers of Greyhound as busing while criminal when many are elderly, students, military, disabled and/or poor families.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

I mean I'm glad if we see more openness, but it seems only logical that the city should have been more upfront before now. Instead, we only recently learned that it will pay Greyhound $625,000 to buy out the remaining 15 years on the bus firm's lease downtown ("Bus station lease to end," Dec. 16).

For the council and the residents to be advised only after a legally binding agreement was reached, and then only on a demand-to-know basis, is appalling.

I am sure the Greyhound deal is not the first such behind-closed-doors arrangement. The city manager should be ashamed.

Sure, the buses could bring parolees and homeless to the city, but they also have the unique ability to transport those who have no other method available: the aged and disabled. One day we may all need such transportation services.

In Memphis, there will be a new committee to review the citizen complaint process in that city's police department.

(excerpt, WMC)

Afterwards, Memphis City Councilwoman Janis Fullilove called for an internal audit of the Citizen Complaint process.

"I'm pleasantly surprised, I have to say," Fullilove said at a Council committee meeting Tuesday.

The audit found the Memphis Police Department is in full compliance with the Citizen Complaint process, but it is lacking in one major area

First, it says, the department does have adequate independent investigations of complaints. It also has checks and balances to ensure proper procedures are followed, and an adequate process in place to handle officers with multiple complaints.

But, the audit reveals, the Civilian Law Enforcement Review Board lacks power.

"It can't make any decisions regarding action or inaction that has been taken against police officers," Fullilove said.

The prosecutors deliver their rebuttals during closing arguments in the federal corruption trial of former Orange County Sheriff Mike Carona.

(excerpt, Los Angeles Times)

Assistant U.S. Atty. Brett Sagel told the 11-man, one-woman panel that Carona implicates himself in the secretly recorded tapes as he talks with Haidl at the Bayside Restaurant in Newport Beach about a federal grand jury investigation into the sheriff's administration.

To underscore his argument, Sagel played several portions of the tapes of the late-night meeting between Carona and Haidl that was arranged through intermediaries because Carona thought federal investigators might be tapping his phones. Haidl had brought a fake subpoena attachment with him, to help convince Carona to open up.Sagel pointed out that Carona never got up and left the table or told Haidl he "didn't have a clue" what he was talking about, instead sticking around more than three hours as the two men allegedly went over how to cover up a stream of cash and gifts from Haidl, including monthly payments of $1,000.

Haidl: "As long as our stories are straight, I'm OK, as long as I know there's no trail anywhere."

Carona: "No trail anywhere. . . . Period."

Haidl: "OK."

Carona: "Period. Period. In fact, not even close to being a trail."

Sagel picked up when the tape stopped: "You have been here since October. You've seen and heard the evidence and testimony. You've listened to the tapes. There is a trail. Period. The evidence. The testimony. The tapes. What you've seen and heard since October is the trail. Period."

The role the auditor will play is the main focus of questions being asked about civilian oversight in Eugene.

(excerpt, Eugene Register-Guard)

The beginning of police oversight in Eugene has been controversial. Disputes about access to information arose last year between the former police chief and the auditor and review board. The police officers’ union also has disagreed with the auditor and the city.

Bettman, one of the chief proponents of the city’s fledgling police oversight system, offered the proposals in November, hoping the council would approve them before year end.

But Piercy and the council majority decided that residents needed more time to analyze and discuss the ideas before they are sent to the council for approval. She appointed the committee to do that.

The 15-member committee, including Piercy, is to present its recommendations to the council by March 11.

“It is my hope they will move forward recommendations in a timely manner for council consideration and adoption,” Piercy said. “And in the meantime, the auditor and the civilian review board will continue to work in cooperation with the police to ensure our oversight system is effective and accountable to the public.”

A series of power plays out of City Hall have made the road towards civilian oversight in this city very rocky.

Baltimore has put a gag order on releasing any names of officers involved in the death or injury of city residents.

(excerpt, Baltimore Sun)

The decision is prompting criticism from several Baltimore leaders, who said withholding officers' names will only endanger an already tenuous relationship between the police and the community. Baltimore police shot 21 people last year, 13 of them fatally - the same number killed by police in 2007, when 31 people were shot. Those numbers are up from 2006, when 15 were shot and five killed.

"If we're ever going to get to a point where the community trusts the police, we need to have some transparency and full disclosure about what's happening," said state Sen. Lisa A. Gladden, a West Baltimore Democrat who is a public defender.

The Police Department is asking residents to become more engaged in their neighborhoods and to work with police to solve crimes and overcome a "Stop Snitching" culture. Marvin L. "Doc" Cheatham Sr., president of the Baltimore chapter of the NAACP, said he wouldn't want police to give out information that endangers officers, but he said the new policy "doesn't help" improve community relations.

"We've got to find more and better ways to bring the community and police together," he said. "This may not sit too well with many of us."

Did the Minneapolis Police Department try to destroy evidence?

Oscar Grant who was shot while lying on the ground by a BART Police Department officer in Oakland was laid to rest. Over 1,000 people attended his funeral, one week after he was shot and killed.

(excerpt, San Jose Mercury News)

Coleman urged the crowd to "show the world how we believers handle stuff like this, and
lift up this family."

So set the mood for most of the services, which squarely focused on the life of 22-year-old Grant, and not on his violent shooting death on the Fruitvale BART platform, early Jan. 1.

Grant had long been a member of the church on Ruus Road, and pastors spoke warmly about the man whom they'd known since he was a young boy.

"I met Oscar when he was young — 6, 7, 8 years old," Deacon Eugene Carter said during the service. Oscar always knew so much for a young person. It seemed like he knew as much as some adults. ."‚."‚. He would ask adult questions."

Grant had shown leadership skills as part of the church's Royal Ambassadors program, Carter said, which made the deacon think that one
day the boy would become a pastor himself.

From a young age, Grant enjoyed fishing, baseball, chess and dominoes, Carter said.

"Whatever you knew how to do, Oscar already knew how to do it," he said.

Even as mainstream news networks have pretty much ignored the news story because there's been a record breaking number of celebrities filing for divorces and separations this past week, the cable stations have been picking up the slack.

The shots heard around the world. The impact of video technology and how there's no longer any dark alleys.

(excerpt, San Jose Mercury News)

Meanwhile, numerous videos posted on Web sites such as YouTube and Facebook have attracted tens of thousands of viewers, many of whom have voiced their opinions about the actions of BART officers involved in the case.

"It's a very different world," said KTVU news director Ed Chapuis, noting how traditional and new media technologies continue to mingle.

Chapuis said KTVU paid for the exclusive rights to video footage of the shooting, but he did not disclose the sum. "We thought, in this case, it was a rare and important piece of footage," he said.

Like others in the local media, Chapuis and his staff

wrestled with the ethics of airing video footage of a man being killed.

"We didn't take it lightly. We met and debated the merits (of running it)," he said. "Ultimately, we decided to go with it because it's rare that you have something that captures a moment that has come under such heavy questioning — something that helps you get at the truth of a story. ... And while it is certainly disturbing, it's not gruesome, bloody or graphic."

Tom Rosenstiel, director for the Project for Excellence in Journalism, said compelling video imagery can often help a local news story "leapfrog into national conversation." He cited the Rodney King case as a prime example.

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