Five before Midnight

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


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Location: RiverCity, Inland Empire

Saturday, January 03, 2009

The RPD today? No comment until Election 2009

“There is no question that we have seen a sea change in police-community relations since Rudy Giuliani’s administration. There’s also no question that we have light years to go before we can say that the problems have been resolved.”

----New York City Councilman James Sanders, jr.

"In general, bad culture tends to get transmitted from generation to generation. So I'm hopeful in that sense that reforms become rooted and passed on."

---State Treasurer Bill Lockyer, to Press Enterprise

"We don't want the economy to take us backwards. We have to manage through that."

---Riverside Police Department Chief Russ Leach, to Press Enterprise

***crickets chirping***

----Riverside City Council on the 10th anniversary of the Tyisha Miller shooting, to Press Enterprise.

I wrote a lot of this and posted it last week as a response to the 10th anniversary of the fatal officer-involved shooting of Tyisha Miller. But added more to it when examining comments made by the former State Attorney General Bill Lockyer, about the three partners of effective policing and the implementation of police reforms much like those outlined in the stipulated judgment that formerly existed between the state of California and Riverside.

These are the communities, the police department and City Hall. These three partners are included in the five-year Strategic Plan as well.

All must do their part and fill their important roles for reform efforts to result in improved and lasting change. In the Tyisha Miller coverage by the Press Enterprise, there were comments provided on what's happened past and present in the city and police department by community leaders and police department representatives. What was absent from the coverage was a single comment from anyone at City Hall including the eight elected officials who represent the people of this city. Except for comments Mayor Ron Loveridge made at the event commemorating the anniversary last week at Kansas Avenue SDA Church, there still hasn't been anything coming from the dais in a public forum. Although there's reason to suspect concerning Loveridge's choice of venues to discuss the shooting that he might view it as an issue being only of concern to Black city residents rather than the city as a whole. If that's true, he couldn't be more mistaken.

It's not expected that there will be any comments in public by the civic leaders in this city unless these issues emerge as concerns and questions on the campaign trails of the four elected officials running for reelection this year. Since Election 2009 has already gotten off to a start, that could be fairly soon.

Why did none of the elected officials comment on the status of the police department, a decade after Miller?

Because none of them felt that the issue pertained to them or they had anything to do with or to say about anything that was in the past. They couldn't be more wrong about that. If they were truly schooled in civic leadership, they would know that to be the case. It's problematic that they don't seem to get it even after $22 million spent and a five-year consent decree process. At least their predecessors learned from their mistakes.

Has anything changed in 10 years in the RPD?

That was a question that was asked by the Press Enterprise when it did its retrospective on the past anniversary. It was asked in the wake of the city's consent decree with the state which dissolved nearly three years ago. And it's been asked since, here and in other venues.

That question was a major thrust of the series of articles and the article about it was pretty comprehensive. Is it true that what's past is prologue? Or have things really changed inside the law enforcement agency that was thrust in the international spotlight within hours of the shooting? The views tend to be pessimistic and some of them surprised me because some of these people say the opposite in public and it's interesting how the community leaders and police management personnel in the department tend to be more optimistic about the department than the few community members who were interviewed.

It's always been difficult watching community leaders privately fret about what's going on with the police department (and I seem to be a popular venue for that type of venting) who publicly say everything is great because concern about reputations in this city including at City Hall supersedes the truth of what's going on around us. And it amplifies the distance which exists between some of these leaders and the communities they speak for, in terms of perceptions about law enforcement and the police department. It will be great if some of them step up to the podium on these issues that have caused great ongoing concern in the police department because there's a need for that.

That's not that surprising if you've been talking to residents from one end to the other about their feelings about the police department, one which quite a few feel has come a long way, but has stalled in recent years due in large part to having a thoroughly disengaged city government (which it just put on blast by not participating in the Press Enterprise articles by choice). Their refusal to do this as civic leaders especially in these difficult times should be grounds for those up for reelection next year not being reelected and recall elections being called for everyone else. It is just so profoundly disrespectful to the city residents and the department by the city council and mayor to behave in such a fashion. It's really inexcusable but it's also known as pattern and practice and it's one that unfortunately has been seen before in Riverside.

The silence from these leaders who hold the public trust deserves no less than public accountability and asking those running for office next year including Mayor Ron Loveridge who was in office during that era, why they kept their lips zipped on one of the city's most critical episodes of its history, is worthy fodder material for some serious questions on the campaign trail.

Drastic? Perhaps but the city residents incurred a $22 million tab on the reforms implemented in the department due in large part because of gross neglect by the city government and its direct employees in the 1990s leading up to the Miller shooting. This is some of the best money ever spent by the city. There's no doubt about that but it should always be remembered that the city spent this money under duress, under force of litigation and that it had to be pretty much dragged kicking and screaming to do so to make any sort of investment at all. And what the current government has shown publicly since then is that it is not willing to do any more than the same predecessors that some current elected officials have criticized for the actions taken in the 1990s and even earlier except perhaps follow in their footsteps and make the same mistakes themselves.

There's really no words to say just how ashamed of themselves our elected officials should be for their silence which merely reflects the same attitudes which led to the police department's decline in the years before Miller was killed. If they are ignorant about the issues impacting the police department, they should just say so but there's still room to express concern and interest even if they don't have all the information. This city's police department is worth this struggle and the best effort, its employees are definitely worth that and so are the city residents.

Maybe they see the loss of a young Black woman who's not a campaign donor, who's not a wealthy developer, who can't help them climb the political ladder as being inconsequential. Maybe the police department's a toy they've grown tired of looking at because there's no marquee signs nearby with their names in the starring roles of some Riverside Renaissance project. After all, the consent decree didn't include marquee signs for elected officials but rather scoldings in a report released in some circles by Lockyer which apparently wasn't flattering about or towards the then city government and its direct employees of that time period.

The message that they don't care is what they are sending through their collective silence and their silence on the issue has increased the chances that a similar tragic episode could happen again in the future. And of all the issues in Riverside that have impacted its present and future and its elections, none completely transformed the faces of City Hall from its direct employees to those elected officials sitting in the dais like the shots fired that were heard around the world in the early morning of Dec. 28, 1998. And it did most of this inside two election cycles.

Take a look.

Former City Manager John Holmes and Former City Attorney Stan Yamamoto were gone by 2001. Apparently Lockyer wasn't impressed with either one.

In 1999, you saw the departure of Ward Five Councilman Alex Clifford and in 2001, away went Ward Four Councilwoman Maureen Kane through an election defeat.

In 2003, Chuck Beaty, Joy Defanbaugh and Laura Pearson stepped down. Many of them were defeated by candidates financially backed by the Riverside Police Officers' Association which opposed votes taken by council members in favor of the stipulated judgment and the installation of civilian oversight in Riverside. Ward One Councilman Dom Betro was the only candidate to win before 2005 who had not been endorsed by the police union. Did that play a role in today's city council's apathy towards the department's continued reform?

The RPOA today doesn't seem to share that apathy at all, even as it has to decide whether or not to support these candidates during this round of elections even as its efforts to elect candidates it endorses to the city council hasn't been as effective as years past. It would be interesting to compare and contrast its performance records during city elections before 2005 with the 2005 and 2007 elections because there's probably lessons to be learned there about the shifting dynamics of this city and what they mean for the continued progression of the police department during some of the most challenging years in recent memory.

A lot of people (and it's usually the same people) were interviewed for this story on the police department 1o years after Miller's death, and many raised good points. The most notable aspect of it was that it was the Press Enterprise's first honest look at how the department's staffing levels and lack of racial and gender diversity among its employees could create what Mary Figueroa called a "perfect storm" for another tragic shooting and its aftermath which interesting enough was a term used by one of the four officers who shot and killed Miller. Some communities in Riverside are certainly broiling with anger that's still fairly below the radar at the moment. But then that's how the years and months preceding Miller played out. Quite a few of the hot button issues and incidents that are "blowing over" are just stacking up into another pile of kindling. That's what had happened in the 1980s and the 1990s, preceding the Miller incident.

As noted earlier, not one elected official at City Hall participated in this series of news articles, which again shows a major dysfunction still remains in the city government's relationship with the police department and the community. This dynamic was one of those criticized by former State Attorney General Bill Lockyer in his lawsuit filed against the city in 2001 which ultimately led to the stipulated judgment. People reading the article should contact their elected officials and ask them for a response on the police department 10 years ago and in the present especially considering the warning bells raised by individuals in the article, with as diverse perspectives as Figueroa, consultant and monitor Joe Brann and Riverside Police Officers' Association President Chris Lanzillo.

One major issue raised by all three of these individuals was the current staffing situation with vacancies for funded positions in both the civilian and sworn divisions, from rank and file, to supervisory to civilian support staff. Vacancies which will only grow as attrition leads to retirements, firings, failures to make probation and resignations including eight officer vacancies which emerged this past autumn. Talk to a different individual and you'll get different statistics on everything from the department's current number of officer vacancies, current averages for officers assigned to patrol shifts to the officer to supervisor ratios on patrol shifts. None of which can be backed by anything in writing, because all the records kept on these issues are for "personal use" only by various members of the department's management.

That needs to change. There needs to be much more transparency to city residents on these issues as this current economic downturn or meltdown as it's been called by various individuals continues until at least late next year (and probably longer than that in the housing market-dependent Inland Empire). In fact, there should have been a public dialogue or workshop on these issues but the city council is so disengaged and apparently disinterested in these issues to not be quoted for these news stories because they believed that this is all ancient history that has nothing to do with them. If they can't or won't comment on a news story, then it's unlikely they will bring any of the issues that are as relevant on Dec. 28, 2008 as they were on Dec. 28, 1998 to any discussion forum.

The city council should sponsor a workshop either through the city council as a whole or through the Public Safety Committee to bring these issues for reporting and discussion. Participants should include city council, the city manager's office, the police management, the personnel and training captain and representatives from the Riverside Police Officers' Association, the Riverside Police Administrators' Association and the SEIU General Unit.

One major issue which should be addressed through this process is the role of community policing both under the strategic plan and any further blue print for its progression produced by the department after December 2009. Chief Russ Leach's statements about creating such a plan is encouraging but needs to involve a lot of the city's residents and not just the usual suspects to provide input on that process. This should also include the futures of community programs which were suspended indefinitely during the budget crisis including the citizens' academy as well as current equipment and technology inventories.

There should be some of blue print plan to what the department will be doing in regarding to the staffing levels of civilian and sworn positions as well as expenditures on equipment, technology and training during the economic downturn along with strategies and some sort of time line for how and when the department will address and correct any deficiencies in these areas. There should of course be no deficiencies allowed in areas of training and equipment and only the minimal effects on levels in staffing civilian and sworn positions.

This committee or the full city council through a workshop process needs to do similar discussion and examination of issues involving any reduction in funding for officer and civilian employee training including but not limited to tactics and use of force. These issues are all very critical and they need to be treated as such. So far, they have not been by the elected leadership, certainly not in public which is the only access to information that the vast majority of city residents enjoy.

Another issue raised is the lack of racial and gender diversity in the police department where the percentage of Black officers is lower than it was in 1998 and the percentage of female officers makes slow climbs and then makes even more dramatic declines over and over again during the past 10 years. Brann's idea of having the department take a look at its poor retention rate for officers of color is a good one and should be implemented. The department's already assigned its audit and compliance panel to do an audit on the department's high attrition and poor retention rates for its female officers. But both of these examinations need to be removed from the insulation of the police department and brought to its outside for a further look.

Several years ago, the Riverside County Sheriff's Department put together what it called a "recruitment, retention and diversity" panel which focused mostly on racial issues in recruitment, hiring and retention with gender secondary but the department appointed different community leaders to participate in meetings to deliberate these issues and issue recommendations through a written report to be reviewed and then implemented by the Sheriff's Department.

The police department needs to do something similar for men of color and women. It's fairly probable that there could be some serious issues uncovered during any audit particularly involving female officers especially considering the city's rush to settle litigation filed by a female probationary officer who was fired on the first day she showed up for a field training assignment. The minute record and document trail on that lawsuit raised red flags as it should.

The panel could mirror that of the Mayor's Use of Force Panel created after the Miller shooting which issued a written list of recommendations in a rather comprehensive report to the city council. The fact is, until the department at the very least starts reaching out to the communities it hopes to recruit from, not just for brief conversations but for involvement in a comprehensive process, these retention rates haven't a prayer of improving any time soon. Exit interviews should be conducted for any and all officers particularly those who are men of color and female who left, resigned, failed to make probation, were terminated or took an injury or stress retirement in the past five years. In addition, exit interviews should be given to men of color and particularly women who passed or failed to complete the field training program as well as to all officers who fail to pass probation while employed by the police department. These exit interviews should be conducted in a manner which protects officers from retaliation including blackballing for any information they report during their interviews.

The Human Resources Board recently stepped up to the plate on several of these issues including asking to receive a report from the police department on its audit involving female officers. Human Resources Director Rhonda Strout and Administrative Analyst Jeremy Hammond didn't look too thrilled at this development. But then this city department has its own problematic history when it comes to hiring decisions at City Hall and the police department including issues going back to the 1990s including but not limited to, problems with nepotistic hirings, problems with ensuring the integrity of urine samples for drug testing and the rather liberal hiring processes involving the city's two public safety departments which were so problematic one decade ago.

Examination of hiring practices involving new and lateral officers including the assurance and insurance that there are no short cuts taken during this process for any openings that are filled, including cuts in funding involving background investigations, psychological testing and the personnel connected with these procedures. Examination should be done of any hiring of any relative of any city employee and elected official of both the city and county to ensure that the city's provisions against nepotism in hiring are strictly adhered to in practice. No background investigations including polygraphs are to be expedited for any reason including in cases involving the rehiring or reinstatement of previous employees including those reinstated in arbitration or through the state court system.

There needs to be an examination of the department's promotional practices at its highest levels in light of the enlightening and embarrassing situation that erupted at a city council meeting in March 2006 involving the allegedly illegal conversion of management positions in the department to serving "at will" until the process was halted by a lot of protest and a belated ruling issued by City Attorney Gregory Priamos. In light of the recent claim for damages and lawsuit filed by two police lieutenants, there needs to be further examination of inappropriate interference by other city employees and/or elected officials in the department's promotional processes. The allegations the two lieutenants raised are very serious and should be addressed.

An examination of the Internal Affairs Division's and police management's handling and investigations of complaints and internal investigations in light of a huge backlog which rivals that of the criminal and civil trials in the Riverside County Superior Court system. The backlog on complaints is to the point that the average time it takes complaints from intake to just being received by the CPRC for its own review process, is well over 100-200 days or higher. This greatly exceeds the 30-60 day guidelines set for category one and two allegations, in departmental policy #4.12. Some people blame this on the CPRC because it's external and easy but actually, it appears that it's the investigations which aren't under the scope of the commission's jurisdiction which may be where the true problem lies. Everything else likely gets backed up behind those investigations, much like the civil trials in the county courts get backed by ill-advised policy making and implementation and a shortage of judicial officers in the criminal courts.

The department temporarily transferred Lt. Mike Cook into that division to help offset the backlog but also transferred out Sgt. Duane May to work in the Traffic Bureau and it's not clear whether that fifth sergeant spot was filled or left vacant. On top of that, the division moved from its more geographically isolated digs on Central Avenue near the Riverside Plaza to the downtown bus terminal putting the investigative division in closer proximity to police officers. Not a good or even informed move on the city's part even to save a little bit of cash. In fact, it just goes to show how out of touch the city manager's office is with police operations and how unwilling the city council is to ensure that its direct employees are properly educated or informed.

These investigations must remain in compliance with the state constitution, the peace officer bill of rights, Governmental Code 3304(d) and Penal Code 832.5, all things they weren't before the stipulated judgment was signed by the city and the state. All efforts must be made to ensure that this process is in accordance to the same laws it allegedly violated before the reforms were implemented involving its operation and staffing. The strategy of creating some sort of group or task force to both tackle the complaint and investigation backlog as well as create strategies to both reduce it and to ensure more streamlined handling of its investigations in the future might be a useful tool for addressing this serious issue.

Perhaps the Public Safety Committee or even the CPRC could serve as a venue for the discussions of the process of bringing this division back online in completing thorough, objective and timely investigations in accordance with these provisions in state law.

The audits of the complaint form access and process which were conducted at least four times annually under the consent decree with the state should be continued.

Produce an annual statistic report on complaints and internal investigations handled by the Internal Affairs Division. This includes information on types of allegations, findings and discipline allotted on cases where allegations are sustained. This information was provided to the Human Relations Commission on a quarterly basis between 2000-2002 before being suspended allegedly for format changes.

Written requests to the department have elicited responses that the city is forbidden under PC 832.7 from releasing this information which is not the truth. The law clearly states an exception for statistical data and leaves that discretion up to the department or in this case, the city attorney. So if the city refuses to provide this information it is by choice not because state law prohibits them from releasing it at all. What the city needs to do is stop stating erroneous information on its CPRA requests and simply state that it chooses not to provide the statistical information because it finds it embarrassing or it believes transparency is abhorrent. Which is probably closer to the truth than its current excuse.

On one occasion, it stated that the information wasn't kept and if that were true, then it wouldn't be collecting this data annually and reporting it to the State Department of Justice as required by state law. And if that were the case, then once again, there would be problems with the department's administrative complaint and investigation process.

Statistical reports could also be released on general information on the department's continued implementation of its Early Warning System implemented under the consent decree.

The department needs to stop jerking city residents around about the much delayed release of a traffic pretext stop study report which was originally financed by the city's general fund in August 2005 and was supposed to be released to the Human Relations Commission and the public in March 2006. If it's not available for public consumption and review, the department needs to provide a detailed, thorough and timely explanation as to what has happened to it and why the three year delay on its release.

Reexamination of the department's audio recording policy, to include recording all professional contacts between field officers and supervisors with members of the public. In the past, these recordings when done have been valuable in helping to determine whether misconduct allegations were true or false so they've proven to be of great value. There should be an auditing process in place to randomly sort and listen to recordings that are not used in evidence in a citizen complaint, internal investigation or any investigation involving an officer-involved death, to among other reasons find incidents which can be useful training scenarios for officers. The department should retain all audio recordings for a period of at least two to five years even as the city has either reduced or is in the process of reducing that period of time to only six months.

The police management, the audit and compliance bureau and all four NPC commanders are to report at least semiannually to the city council at one of its regular evening sessions on progress implementing the strategic plan. The bureau should present an audit of its own operations in implementing this plan as well as the provisions of the stipulated judgment that are still in effect per a vote taken by the city council at a March 2006 workshop. The NPC commanders should report on their MAP strategies for policing in their respective areas as well as trends noted in those areas including crime statistics.

What might be useful is if one of the city council reports could include an explanation and perhaps a hypothetical demonstrating of how the critical incident review process works. It might be useful to provide an update on the department's newly implemented mental health intervention training and mobile team. The department has been reporting at least annually to the Public Safety Committee.

There should also be at least one public forum on the plan's implementation in at least each NPC per year. This past year, there were three total public community forums. The general one held at Cal Baptist University and forums held in the Central and West NPCs. A forum planned for November to be held in Orangecrest in the East NPC was canceled and has not been rescheduled as of yet. Now that it's 2009 and the holiday season has passed, hopefully an announcement of a scheduled meeting in that NPC will be forthcoming.

It was good news that after promising it would do so for nearly three years, the police department finally equipped all of its squad cars with digital cameras. Brann is right in his assessment that it took longer than it should have, because it should have been done earlier. What happened was the following.

The state consent decree with Lockyer's office required that the city purchase 10 digital video cameras and install them in squad cars by 2003. Then the city was required under the decree to research the purchase of 25 additional recorders to the best of its ability by March 2006. However, between 2003 and the autumn of 2005, it was revealed that the city had only purchased three additional recording devices. This didn't look good on the city's end on the eve of the dissolution of the stipulated judgment and so the city council voted to allocate $500,000 from the general fund to purchase enough recorders to outfit the entire squad car fleet. Then the delays began.

Not that the excuses why they weren't purchased over the next several years weren't very imaginative from both City Manager Brad Hudson and Asst. City Manager Tom DeSantis but the recorders were not produced until the autumn of 2008.

To be continued...

A couple observers look back at what was 2008 in other arenas.

Inland Empire Weekly walks down memory lane of the year past.


The year has been a disastrous one for newspapers, and the P-E, Bulletin and Sun didn’t escape the overall bloodletting. The P-E cut 150 employees loose in September and October through buyouts and layoffs. The less forthcoming MediaNews Group, which owns the Sun and the Daily Bulletin, let go of an unspecified number of staffers—the L.A. Weekly described what’s happened at the papers as “a slow-motion implosion of hiring freezes, budget cuts, positions eliminated through attrition, firings and layoffs.” MediaGroup owner Dean Singleton recently hinted at eventually outsourcing reporting jobs oversees.

Here at the IE Weekly, we’re both cursed and blessed with having very little fat to trim and have thus far escaped the fates of so many in the industry. Which isn’t to say that we’re gloating over any of this, or that the other papers were in need of trimming. Make no mistake: The cuts at the P-E, Bulletin and Sun were a perfectly horrible development for the journalism community and for the citizens of the IE overall.

To our brothers and sisters no longer with us, you’ll be sorely missed.

Inside Riverside has its top five political winners list for Riverside County.


2. Riverside County Supervisor Bob Buster

The idea of Bob Buster ever winning a crushing election victory is such an enigma that Supervisor Buster himself probably thought the election results were an aberration. During Buster's three decades in politics his election wins have only been by a handful of votes. But in June, Bob Buster beat challenger Riverside City Councilman Frank Schiavone 68% to 32%.

Buster, fearing what many believed was his most serious challenge ever, raised tons of money for developers with business before the Board of Supervisors before the housing market tanked, had a well organized campaign, and attacked without mercy sometimes with little regard for the facts.

Still it gave Buster what he always wanted: a legitimate landslide. Maybe now he'll finally fulfill his decades old campaign promise of stopping the bulldozers. But wait that would also stop the campaign funds he needs from the developers he claims to hate.

4. The Riverside Sheriffs Association

The union representing the deputies of the Riverside County Sheriff's Department still remains one of the most powerful political entities in Riverside County. In 2008 RSA threw its political muscle into the Palm Desert City Council campaign, infusing a great deal of cash to keep former Riverside County Undersheriff Neil Lingle off the City Council.

Rumor has it the RSA never directly attacked Lingle, instead the RSA campaign is said to have focused on the positives of the Councilmembers Dick Kelly , Robert Spiegel, and Cindy Finerty. The overall power of the Riverside Sheriffs' Association's endorsement in a well-funded and smartly-ran campaign is frankly amazing, and will probably draw more candidates to them seeking their friendship and support, and of course access to that political action money RSA's still got stashed away.

The RSA's preemptive strike against Lingle may prove to be brilliant as Lingle will have a much more difficult time running for County Supervisor or County Sheriff in 2010 after this defeat. It also sends a powerful message to the Riverside County Board of Supervisors: don't even think of balancing the budget on the backs of Riverside County's Deputy Sheriff's or you may find yourself in a fight you are not ready to take on. Just ask Neil Lingle, Bob Doyle, Tom Mullen, and Jim Venable about that.

Temecula's city council nearly always agrees in its votes on issues. Which city council does not? And is one always better than the other?

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Unanimous votes are the norm in Temecula, to the point where no one can recall the last time there was a split vote.

"The goal is to make everyone happy," said Councilman Jeff Comerchero, an 11-year council veteran.

"That's a good thing. It's a goal and it's a culture. It's not just the council."

"Basically, we act like grown-ups," said Mayor Maryann Edwards, who has been on the council since 2005.

And what about Riverside?


Riverside City Councilman Frank Schiavone said the backgrounds of the council's seven members lead to differences of opinion and the occasional split vote.

"While we all have differences on certain issues, mutual respect allows us to come to consensus," he said.

Developers in Riverside County got a holiday present. A temporary fee delay.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

"We want to prime the pump every way we can," Supervisor Marion Ashley said. "This is just one of many things that may help bring the economy back over time."

With the credit crunch, some builders might be ready to move forward but can't receive the financing to pay fees upfront, Ashley said. Every little bit helps, he said.

The measure, which will last for two years, is the latest in a yearlong effort to revamp how the building industry interacts with county government.

But with the Inland region's economy, which thrived during the housing boom, in the midst of recession, changing fees is not likely to have a large-scale, immediate effect, experts said.

"It's helpful in that it reduces the upfront cash requirements to fund the project, which in some cases has made a difference to the builders as far as their ability to start a project," said Mark Knorringa, chief executive officer of the Building Industry Association's Riverside County chapter.

"It's helpful in a small way."

Supervisor Bob Buster said he isn't sold on the changes. He said the fees are an important revenue stream. Delaying when they are paid will have an effect on improvements, he said.

"I frankly think it is just a knee-jerk reaction," Buster said.

But the area school districts face more budget cuts.

The Press Enterprise Editorial Board warned Banning residents to pay more attention to that city's handling of a feud on the city council rather than the feud itself. But sometimes it's often difficult to know where one ends and the other begins.


Just why taxpayers should be out $13,000 because two elected officials cannot get along was not clear. The city has better uses for public money. And no elected official should be surprised that political disputes become heated and personal at times.

That fact does not excuse egregious behavior. But the City Council should be in charge of policing its members' actions. Letting the city manager authorize investigations of the people who hired him blurs lines of authority. And that practice tangles the city manager in council politics, which can damage city government.

Nor can Banning keep the findings confidential. This is not a personnel matter, but a report covering an elected official's actions in a public meeting, paid for by public funds. Hiding the details deprives residents of insights into council behavior.

Releasing the report would let voters make their own judgments. Otherwise, the episode will raise questions about city government competence, rather than putting accusations to rest.

Dan Bernstein of the Press Enterprise made his predictions for the new year.


Riverside's Fox Theater will reopen with a re-enactment of the breathtaking sleight-of-hand illusion that saw the City Council secretly slip Greyhound $625K while pretending to be above board and honest.

Town Hall Forum on Racial Profiling within the L.A.P.D.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009
6:30 p.m.
Bethel A.M.E. Church
7900 South Western Avenue Los Angeles
Free to the public

The ACLU/SC has recently published a report concluding that African
Americans and Hispanics are over-stopped, over-frisked, over-searched
and over-arrested by the Los Angeles Police Department.

JoIn us for a discussion about next steps and what you can do to
support your community.

Co-sponsored by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of
Greater Los Angeles and Community Call to Action & Accountability.

Flyer at
http://sclclosangel wp-content/ uploads/2008/ 12/racialprofili ngflyer.pdf

Sponsored by ACLU of Southern California

Conflicting opinions about the current status of the New York City Police Department.

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