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

Monday, February 02, 2009

Quotas and questions and is City Hall stripping boards and commissions of investigative power?

"What behavior was taking place, I don't know. We've just come to the conclusion that he was definitely not a suspect."

---Michelle Van Der Linden, a spokeswoman for the Chino Police Department after officers shot and killed an innocent bystander.

The Human Resources Board in Riverside found out today that its power to launch investigations into employment matters no longer exists because it was erased by the city council from the municipal ordinance governing the board over three years ago and none of them were ever notified about it.

This happened courtesy of an ordinance change that apparently took effect in 2006, which was clearly an attempt to water down the board's powers to obtain information about what's going on in the city of Riverside's labor force and to strip it of its investigative powers. It was done not long after City Manager Brad Hudson was installed by the city council to his current position. And now, Chair Erin House plans to research exactly what happened and when.

The Board also found out that the language that replaced what was once Section D of the municipal ordinance now stated that the board had to report to the city manager to the city council.

One board member upon hearing this news had the following to say:

"May I ask a question? Why am I here?"

No one really had much of an answer to that. Vice Chair Ellie Bennett asked why if the board members were appointed by the city council that they were reporting to the city manager. Another member said that several other components of the same ordinance stated that the board did still report in some instances to the city council. Another member called this situation, a "conflict of interest".

Still another had a more succinct response when asked if they intended to report to Hudson's office.

"I don't," he said, "I'll change that. I won't."

Uh oh, once the city council gets wind of that, this board member might receive a letter scolding him from city council members and even be subjected to several hours of reprogramming through special "ethics training" by Priamos as happened to one member of the Community Police Review Commission.

The issue arose in an interesting way when the board was discussing a letter it was drafting to the city council to ask for clarification on why its attempts to get statistics on lawsuits filed by city employees against the city and/or city departments from the Human Resources Department at a meeting in December 2008 were halted by both Hudson and City Attorney Gregory Priamos according to a progress report given by Human Relations Director Rhonda Strout given at the board's January meeting. The reason given indirectly by both employees through their conduit, Strout was that these requests fell outside the purvue of the board's purpose.

The board strongly disagreed.

The letter was to ask the city council to intervene and help them get the statistical information that its direct employees have denied them, which incidentally, is a public record. But the city council remains pretty unresponsive to requests in writing from the city's boards and commissions for "clarification" after two direct employees of the city, Hudson and Priamos, place restrictions on their actions out of the blue.

Just look at what happened when what's becoming a pattern and practice of micromanagement by the dynamic duo first hit the Community Police Review Commission which is now on a collision course with the Governmental Affairs Committee which might try to launch the first blow to force the commission (which has fairly strong investigative powers for officer-involved deaths which are backed by the city's charter) into a template of a model of civilian oversight with much more limited abilities to investigate officer-involved deaths. Essentially watering down the city's charter without taking it to the city's voters.

It's possible that the Human Resources Board might also have its day of reckoning with the Governmental Affairs Committee as well now that this body is entrusted to micromanage boards and commissions on behalf of the entire city council. At least one Human Resources Board member believes that is where they are heading.

Although the ability of the Human Resources Board to launch investigations may have been targeted by City Hall through the ordinance change that took effect in 2006, another provision of the ordinance actually could pick up the slack and provide the board with that same ability to investigate but shhhh, don't tell the Hudson and Priamos duo that! So actually the investigative power may be intact. But if so, watch for another ordinance amendment to wipe out any trace of it to appear before the compliant city council in a venue near you.

The letter drafted by Chair Erin House was extensively revised and will be rewritten by House to bring back to the board's next meeting in March. It will then be submitted to the city council and the board hoped, not just "received and filed" but that it would receive a response. One can dream.

But on the bright side, there were actually some employment statistics which the board was allowed to read and review.

The Human Resources Board also heard a presentation on grievances and separations involving city employees by Employee Relations Officer Steve Espinoza. In the report, the complaints were broken down into formal grievances (done in relation to MOUs) and complaints (which involve other alleged problems).

Two fairly large city departments Public Works and Public Utilities led the pack. Public Works had 12 grievances and 12 complaints while Public Utilities had 10 grievances and 10 complaints. Deputy Human Resources Director said that these employees comprised about 7% of the total employees in these departments.

The police department ranked third with five grievances and two complaints. Four of the grievances filed were involving employees represented by the Riverside Police Officers' Association.

Some smaller departments like the museum department had 12 employees but two complaints filed. Bennett said that these figures were statistically high. One would look at it and say, "that's a terrible department."

But Bennett also said she was disturbed to learn that some of the city's larger departments had zero complaints. She worried that this could mean that employees were too intimidated by management or supervisors to file complaints.

"That is very worrisome," she said, "I would have that department head in my office."

The police department had notable increases in grievances and complaints and increased rates of discipline allotted out according to statistics in that same report, the highest of any city department. Espinoza attributed it to high turnover among the civilian division's positions including the dispatch unit and with cadets. One board member asked if the number of complaints sprung from an aggressive police union. That question wasn't really answered.

The board will be receiving these statistics from the Human Resources Department bimonthly.

Layoff Watch: A male senior librarian who operated the business/circulation desk was laid off. The city is looking to see if it can transfer him to another position. However, there are unconfirmed reports that other employees may have been laid off including men and women of color.

Lawsuit watch: A high profile case that the city attorney not too long ago said had no merit might be in the process of getting settled. Is that why certain quarters have gone silent? Will the public ever know what's really going on?

If so, it's getting to be that so many lawsuits filed against the city settle not too long after Priamos issues his statement that the claim or lawsuit is "frivolous" or "without merit" that he should really carry a sign that states the following during his speeches:

"Either the city council or city manager told me to say this."

It was hard to find out that the Human Resources Board was having a meeting at all at first. The agenda wasn't posted as of the day of the meeting at the front of City Hall in the glass meeting agenda box. A representative of the Human Resources Department said it had been posted one week earlier (because it was done by then) and during the week, it might have been inadvertently removed. It was reinstalled by the time the meeting started at City Hall.

The city council in Riverside will be interviewing applicants for vacancies on the Board of Utilities at 11:00 a.m. and the Community Police Review Commission at 1:45p.m. When filled, these new board and commission members will be sworn in by March 1. Interviews will be conducted and then elected officials will vote by paper ballots to select the winners.

The council report is here.

The applicants for the CPRC are vying for a Ward Four vacancy that resulted when Linda Soubirous resigned.

The candidates are as follows:

Robert B. Slawsby

Robert Garafalo

David V. Baker

Allison R. Merrihew

More controversy erupted after U.S. Border Patrol agents working the Riverside office made allegations that their supervisors ordered them to meet quotas in their arrests or face discipline. This revelation came in the wake of increased raids by agents assigned to the same office. The Border Patrol Agency denied it but critics including those who are agents said that a quota system could encourage the detention of Latinos who are legal residents and citizens if pressured to reach quotas, agents stop people on the basis of racial identity.

(excerpt, Los Angeles Times)

"The Border Patrol has never had a quota system and is not expected to operate on quotas," said Agent Richard Velez, an agency spokesman. "Right now these allegations are under investigation. We will soon find out what happened."

The issue surfaced last week when some of the office's nine agents told their union representative that they were ordered to make 150 arrests in January or risk having their job schedules rearranged, said Lombardo Amaya, president of Local 2554 of the National Border Patrol Council, which represents the Riverside office.

"Quotas are unfair," Amaya said. "You cannot tell my members that they need to generate this number of apprehensions and if they don't, they don't get their days off or they get their shift changed. I have received complaints from almost the entire office."On Monday, Amaya met with Jeffrey Calhoon, chief patrol agent for the El Centro Sector, which oversees Riverside, to discuss the situation.

Calhoon "said he did not impose any quota and that quotas were against policy," Amaya said.

"He said the 150 was a goal, not a quota, and that there was a miscommunication. He said he would conduct an investigation and we as a union will wait for the outcome."

The United States Border Patrol Agency said that the Riverside office is the only one in the country which targeted day laborers. And activists in Riverside County said that they might file a lawsuit against the Agency and the Riverside Police Department. A press conference is being scheduled for sometime Thursday and a march and protest at Riverside City Hall on Friday, Feb. 6 at 10 a.m.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

The Border Patrol doesn't permit quotas that involve threats of punishment, said Agent Richard Velez, a spokesman for the agency's El Centro sector, which includes the Riverside office. Velez acknowledged that the Riverside office has a "goal" of 150 arrests a month, but he said it doesn't violate agency rules because agents are not punished for failing to reach those goals. The agency is investigating whether threats were made for not meeting targets, Velez said.

Quotas cause agents to spend their time pumping up numbers rather than targeting the most dangerous illegal immigrants, said Rich Pierce, national executive vice president for the border patrol agents union.

"You want to dedicate resources to quality arrests: criminal aliens, smugglers, maybe narcotics interdiction," he said.

Lombardo Amaya, president of Local 2554 of the union, insisted there are quotas.

"I have seven, eight, nine agents in Riverside telling me they were mandated a quota" and told they would be punished if they didn't meet the target, said Amaya, who Monday morning met with El Centro sector chief Jeffrey Calhoon.

One person who might be filing papers with the Riverside City Clerk's office to run against Ward Two Councilman Andrew Melendrez during Election 2009 is Ahmad Smith.

More information is available on Smith at his Web site here. He joins Garth Newberry in that contest if both turn their paperwork in on time.

News is coming out of Ward Six that resident Larry Allen is considering a run for office. Allen's a local businessman who serves on Chief Russ Leach's advisory board and was flirting with the idea of running about a year ago because he was frustrated by what's been going on at City Hall.

Since then he'd been considering whether or not to run in recent discussions and for a while, it wasn't clear whether he was going to take the plunge. It seemed that he was back to thinking seriously about throwing his hat in the ring for the seat currently being held by Councilwoman Nancy Hart and then wavered again. But given that he's been indecisive about running, it's likely that he'll keep everyone quessing and no one will know for sure until the filing deadline.

Right now, he's the Ward Six wild card but if he ran, he'd be a very formidable candidate against Hart.

Riverside County is preparing to lay 250 of its employees off.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

About 150 to 200 county employees -- roughly 1 percent of the county payroll -- could lose their jobs in fiscal 2010, which begins in July.

Riverside County supervisors are scheduled to hear Luna's midyear budget report today and vote on the layoff plans and other recommendations.

Luna's office anticipates a continued economic downslide and tens of millions of dollars in losses in property and sales tax revenue. The report addresses a projected $60 million in budget shortfalls this year and an estimated $90 million budget gap next fiscal year, said county Chief Financial Officer Paul McDonnell. The county also stands to lose crucial funding from the state, which is floundering to fill its own $40 billion budget deficit.

"Am I overjoyed by this report? No. It's grim. It's sobering," said Supervisor Marion Ashley, adding that he fully supports its recommendations. "This will bring our fiscal situation under control."

The cuts to the county's roughly 20,000-strong workforce would not include hundreds of expected resignations and retirements.

The public safety departments also face cuts.


County staff has been meeting with the sheriff's office and other public safety departments to help them make the needed cuts for next year, McDonnell said.

Those departments -- which include the district attorney, the public defender and the sheriff -- cannot be exempt from budget cuts because public-protection services receive more county funds than any other area, according to the report. If they remain exempt, all other departments would have to cut their county funding by two-thirds to balance the budget, the report says.

"It is grim and it appears to be getting worse. And it's very important that everyone realize just how bad it is," Smith said of the county's budget outlook.

"Everyone has to understand that this is not going to be an easy solution, and it very well might be that there are some programs that have gotten broad support that are just going to have to be cut," he said.

This post on Inland Empire's Craigslist lists streets in Riverside which increased their speed limits upon a vote by the city council. What's ironic about these zone increases is that for many of these streets particularly Alessandro Blvd, the speeds on these streets are actually slowing down due to increased traffic congestion within the city limits even with street widening.

As for Central Avenue, in the areas mentioned in the report, construction has been going on in the center dividers and the sidewalk, resulting in work vehicles often being parked in the street lanes.

Market and Magnolia are parking lots during portions of the day and Brockton's only a little bit better. RTA bus lines which travel down Market/Magnolia and Alessandro/Central are routinely late at arriving at their time stops on their respective routes, according to passengers who use those lines.

Given the number of speed traps on some of these streets, it's puzzling too that the city is opting to (fiscally speaking only) reduce an important source of revenue for its coffers during an economic downturn. But then a recent article had alleged that law enforcement officers in some cities were more aggressively citing people so that more fines could refill the coffers of their cities depleted by difficult economic times.

More interesting comments in relation to the Press Enterprise article on the imploding Riverside County District Attorney's office.


The PE needs to get input from all the local police agencies in the county regarding this issue. They do most of the leg work and spend a lot of time and resources to get these cases to the D A.

I personally know numerous DA's and their is a serious problem in the Riv. Co. DA's office. I can tell folks over their are afraid to make a decision for fear of upsetting Pacheco. I enjoyed working with DA's when they were prosecuting one of my arrests, but it looks like things have changed. [!]

Overworked and underprepared prosecutors lead to big mistakes and convictions overturned on appeal. A 29 % losing percentage sucks. It sounds like it is a good time to be a criminal defense attorney in Riverside.

The wife of a former Canyonlake councilman was released from jail after posting $400,000 bail.

Chino Police Department officers shot the wrong guy.

(excerpt, Los Angeles Times)

Daniel Baledran of Rubidoux was ruled out as a suspect late Monday afternoon based on the statements of witnesses and officers, said Michelle Van Der Linden, a spokeswoman for the Chino Police Department.

Baledran died at the scene late Sunday after he was shot by officers responding to a report of an armed robbery at a Papa John's pizza shop on Central Avenue.

Several rounds were fired between police and two suspects, who were hospitalized with critical injuries, according to police. A Chino police officer also suffered gunshot wounds but was in stable condition Monday, officials said.

More on the fatal officer-involved shooting of Daniel Baledran,21.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Chino police responded to a 10:13 p.m. call about an armed robbery and were engaged by suspects at the scene. Two suspects and an officer were wounded and police believed Baledran to be a third suspect when they shot at him, Chino police spokeswoman Michelle Van Der Linden said.

It was later determined that he was not involved in the robbery following interviews with witnesses and officers at the scene, Van Der Linden said.

"This is a tragic event that is still under investigation," Chino Police Chief Stan Stewart said in a statement. "Our deepest sympathy goes out to the Baledran family during this difficult time."

Writers' Week takes place at UCR this week.

Also at UCR:


Join UCR Students in a Coordinated Statewide Demonstration Tomorrow Tuesday February 2 at 1PM at the UCR Bell Tower Marchers gather at the Bell Tower (central campus), March downtown along University Ave. to police station (on Orange) protesting murder of Annette Garcia by Riverside Sheriff on Jan. 23rd

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