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

Friday, March 20, 2009

A temporary stay, a little movement and a lot of sadness

"He (Pacheco) could have been a great DA. He could have been the best ... Rod wants to be so hard on crime, but his policies have the exact opposite effect."

----Riverside County Superior Court Judge Edward Webster, who's retiring in December and thus can afford to be candid.

"It is very unique and unusual to be in this position. This is not something I expected to do in my career at all."

---Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan who was appointed several weeks ago, on a day which saw three police officers shot and killed and another remaining on life support.

A Riverside County Superior Court judge granted a temporary injunction for the Save Our Chinatown Committee which will prevent construction from taking place on the Chinatown site until at least the end of June. It offers a temporary stay but presiding judge, Sharon Waters warned them it won't be a long one.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

"Boy, are we relieved and happy," said committee member Jean Wong, who attended the court hearing in downtown Riverside.

The committee sued the city of Riverside in November over its approval of Jacobs' project, and the Riverside County Office of Education over its agreement to sell 2.3 acres, including the Chinatown site, to Jacobs for $2.8 million. The entire project site is 4.2 acres.

The suit says both entities violated the California Environmental Quality Act, which covers historic resources, and says the education office violated other state laws.

The Chinatown site, across from Riverside Community Hospital, is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. It also is a city and county landmark and a state point of historical interest.

The injunction issued by Riverside County Superior Court Judge Sharon Waters prevents any work on the project site until at least June 29, when she is scheduled to conduct a trial of the case.

The Riverside Police Department has officially announced to the Press Enterprise its actions of moving the North Neighborhood Policing Center to the downtown bus terminal. The police department will move more personnel and equipment into the Greyhound ticket office in July when Greyhound will probably be gone if not from the city's limits, then from the downtown.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

"Clearly there's a need to have more of a presence in this part of the city," said Lt. Vic Williams, the north area commander.

Officers covering the north end of the city have been based out of the Police Department's station near Lincoln and Adams streets. The station on Orange Street in downtown is mostly for department administration.

Now, bicycle officers and officers in problem-oriented policing will work out of the building, which sits next to the much-maligned bus depot, Williams said. Internal affairs investigators also have moved into the building. The divisions have entrances on opposite sides of the building.

Officers in patrol cars will continue to work out of the Lincoln station.

Janice Penner, executive director of the Riverside Downtown Partnership, is looking forward to having more officers out on bicycles and three-wheeled scooters.

"Now, it's very easy for the officers to jump on them and be more visible downtown," she said. "It's a more friendly presence."

Once again Greyhound has been demonized, the Riverside Transit Agency has been let off the hook for not creating more safe conditions in the area of the terminal space which serves its buses and as for Greyhound? It's most likely that the city council will announce that it failed to relocate it in June.

After the votes have been cast in the city council election of course. Don't need a crystal ball for that. This type of passive-aggressive approach shown by the leadership has been a tactic used successfully in the past. The sad thing is that besides branding poor people, the elderly and disabled individuals as criminal populations, the city has aided and abetting in the further marginalization of their city residents during one of the most difficult economic situations in recent memory.

On a related note, it was interesting having a city council member push for the "clarification" of an ordinance on a Friday afternoon's agenda complete with online report and then on Tuesday afternoon at the 11th hour before a city council, pushing forward another written proposal concerning "clarifications" of that ordinance only in a different way. This came on the aftermath of several city council members who are currently up for reelection receiving a literal onslaught of emails criticizing various components of the agenda item including language involving the number of days for garage sales and language involving estate sales. The people who sent those emails should remember to be thankful that it's March 2009 and not March 2010, meaning that it's an odd-numbered year when municipal elections take place and not an even-numbered year when they don't. Witness the back and forth changes involving the controversial raising of election rates through multiple tier rates. It passed during an even numbered year, was revoked during an odd-numbered year and was pretty much brought back a little more mildly in an even-numbered year.

So yes, election years are very good times for dealing with responsive elected officials. But still in this odd-numbered election year, the relocation of two divisions of the police department struggled.

But at least the new substation is getting some signage inside of the building. It took nearly two months after the Internal Affairs Division moved into the recently vacated administrative offices for the fire department before the city had installed signage so that people would know there was a police facility present in the terminal space. People apparently confused the undefined police division as part of the Greyhound Bus Station. Other problems both inside and outside of the facility also needed to be addressed.

Not to mention two divisions, the Internal Affairs and NPC having to give up digs which at least in the case of I.A. were cozier elsewhere.

In the case of the Internal Affairs Division, it brought along with its move an apparent backlog of investigations including but not exclusively personnel complaints. It became enough of a problem that the department temporarily transferred Lt. Mike Cook from the Office of the Chief at the Orange Street Station to the Internal Affairs Division last autumn before it moved out of leased office space in a building near the Riverside Plaza. Whether that helped with the backlog or not remains to be seen but complaint investigations take on average about 100-200 days just to reach the Community Police Review Commission. As they have for about five years now.

Some people said that there was a sudden revelation that all this money from the police department's budget was being spent leasing space that should be spent elsewhere during fiscally tight times but it's just as hard to believe that any such revelation would have hit suddenly as it is to buy the same story regarding the sudden realization about investigative protocols involving the CPRC. Some expressed the very real concern about a lack of geographic separation between the Internal Affairs Division and the NPC which deploys and staffs field officers.

Are the field officers there to create a visible presence to deter criminal conduct that is taking place or to as some say, serve as bodyguards for individuals including sworn officers working in the Internal Affairs Division? It doesn't appear that either the Internal Affairs Division or the NPC division were exactly thrilled about the sudden relocation. You can't really blame them because the city certainly didn't adequately prepare ahead of time to relocate the Internal Affairs Division and representatives from the General Services Division had said they only had two weeks notice in December that the lease on the office space housing the Internal Affairs Division was expiring which left them ill-prepared to facilitate the relocation.

The NPC moved into a facility that was somewhat more prepared for its arrival but even though the news article took care to say (because someone in the police department took great care to tell it) that both divisions instruct their respective employees to use separate entrances. In reality though, the space is so small that it's hard to believe the two divisions aren't literally sitting on top of one another. So much for geographic separation.

But before police divisions with employees are moved for relocation, City Manager Brad Hudson and Chief Russ Leach should be sure that the facilities are such that these divisions can move into them and not have the process of doing so interfere with doing their work. It's a bit difficult to believe that the matter of getting appropriate signage for the new police space in the downtown could be such a difficult task as it appeared to be for Hudson and his staff.

This would seem like obvious to most people as shown clearly in situations outside of what happened with the relocation of these police divisions to the downtown terminal space.

However, if it's so obvious, it clearly was lost on Hudson and his personnel encharged with facilitating a seamless move of portions of a vital city department from one place to the next because instead of this smooth transition, they turned it into a bumpy process.

A frustrated Riverside County Superior Court judge vents to Press Enterprise Columnist Dan Bernstein about the sad state of the criminal court system, once again backlogged to the point where cases have to be dismissed. Webster has entered into the club of judges who have become more candid in public about their feelings because he's set to retire soon.

He talked about cases where defendants offered to plead guilty. The prosecutors from the Riverside County District Attorney's office vetoed the plea and then took the case to trial and lost either on charges or on enhancements or both.


"You know," Webster said from the bench, "it's sad because you almost want the case to go to trial because you wonder, given the track history of the district attorney's office that maybe you'll have another not guilty verdict, but what the hell, that's okay."

Webster took a break. When he returned, he apologized. But he was just getting started. When he took over the criminal calendar on Jan. 1, Webster asked judges to tell him what was happening in their courtrooms.

"Let me just read you some of the e-mails I've gotten," he said in open court.

One defendant "offered to plead guilty to 15 years." The DA said no. Case went to trial. "All the gang allegations were found not to be true. Now, his maximum exposure (to prison) is seven to eight years."

"To be fair," said Webster, when I talked to him later, "the DA still convicts people." But? "There are an incredible number of not guilty, hung jury and (guilty of a) lesser crime verdicts. It's unprecedented in my career (that includes 10 years as a RivCo prosecutor)."

More e-mails, read from on high:
"From Judge Luebs, he tried a case recently, two-week gang case. Jury comes back not guilty." "

Judge Downing tries People vs. Smith. In that misdemeanor case... the 40-year-old defendant (was accused of grabbing) his 16-year-old daughter's ponytail and knocked her down as she was yelling profanities at him. I (Judge Downing) told the DA in advance that no jury would convict and he should offer disturbing the peace. DA refused, it went to (a 4-day) trial, defendant was found not guilty."

The conclusion of Downing's e-mail wasn't read from the bench: "The (deputy) DA -- a nice guy -- told me that 'his hands were tied' and he couldn't dispo(se) the case for an infraction."

Webster, who plans to retire in December, says he has the "highest regard" for prosecutors who appear in his court.

"Most are people of good faith. They're young and want to do the right thing."
But? "I honestly believe the DA (Rod Pacheco) has major problems in this county. People are scared of him. Judges don't agree on much, but there's virtually a 100 percent consensus that problems in the DA's office have gotten worse since Grover Trask left office."

The 2008 trial stats compiled by RivCo Judge Gary Tranbarger show the DA won guilty-as-charged verdicts in 39.4 percent of 668 felony trials, and 45.5 percent of 290 misdemeanor trials. The rest ended in mixed verdicts (guilty and not guilty), hung juries, not guilty or dismissal.

Which shows a bigger drop in the conviction rate than the statistics cited in a recent Press Enterprise article about how the District Attorney's office had lost about 20% of its prosecutors including many of its most experienced ones in the last two years.

Like other judges before him, Webster's been castigated by the D.A.'s office for comments that he made but as of yet, doesn't appear to be next on the list to be boycotted or "papered" by every prosecutor in that office for his candor and for being forced to like his predecessor Judge Gary Tranbarger

Like any article written about Pacheco, this one's elicited a lot of comments.


The best part is that it's DA's in that office that are cooperating with the media for an ouster. Please do your part this next election year. The DA's are already being railroaded into a forced early endorsement of this man...during contract negotiations.

Pacheco doesn't care what Superior Court judges think of him. He doesn't care what you, or any other journalist thinks of him. He doesn't care what other district attorneys throughout the state think of him. He doesn't even care what all the other members of his office really think of him.

He cares about one thing. And one thing only. Getting re-elected. And, one day moving on to "higher" office.

To reach his goal he only needs to convince (i.e., fool) the public -- the voting public -- into believing that he is a "crime fighter" who will take on anyone who gets in his way.

He needs to be exposed for what he truly is --A self-righteous, shameless self-promoter, who doesn't give a hoot about anyone but himself.

Great job Dan in looking very carefully at who Pacheco truly is, and how he putting his own agenda ahead of the well-being of the citizens of Riverside County.

Question: So why is Rod Pacheco still in office? This is a fine example of the "Tail Wagging the Dog". If our Superior Court Judges are speaking out. Imagine what is being said behind closed doors in the Assistant D.A. offices.

Good Job, Dan

The article in the Press Enterprise about Riverside County District Attorney Rod Pacheco's pushing the deadline to file an annual budget has also elicited some interesting responses.


Now now - let's not be too hard on Rodney.

For all we know, Tobler, Hung, Necochea, Hightower, Dunn, Glaudini and the rest of his whatever-it-takes-to-get-a-false-conviction squad are extorting him for more pay and perks for following his prosecutorial policy directives.

How many more documented cases of prosecutorial misconduct, Brady violations, and witness tampering do we need before the Justice Department steps up to the plate and lowers the boom?

Pacheco's arrogance is reprehensible. It is obvious that it will be up to the Board of Supervisors to rein in Pacheco's blatant disregard for the financial well-being of this County. The question is, do they have the political guts to stand up to Pacheco's overbearing tactics?

This from a man who while working as the GOP assembly leader said,"It takes a good prosecutor to win their case, but a great prosecutor to put an innocent man in prison." He then teaches this to his staff as a d.a., causing deputy d.a.'s Tobler, Hung and Necochea to commit prosecutorial misconduct during jury trials. He takes no responsibilty for the court back log. He takes no responsiblilty to balance his budget on time. He wastes tax payer dollars appealing frivolous cases and $5 dollar fines for d.a.'s being late to court. A D.A. with integrity can get better conviction rates than one who has difficulty distinguishing the good guys from the bad guys. Everyone has to follow the rules and nobody is above the law. He has made his own rules for to long.

Press Enterprise
Columnist Dan Bernstein gives his $0.2 about this situation. Pacheco or "Cuddles" as Bernstein calls him is a favorite topic for the well-known columnist.

But in that same column, Bernstein also analyzes the lawsuit filed by Councilman Frank Schiavone challenging rival, Paul Davis' campaign statement.


When I asked Frank Schiavone if he was running scared, he said, "Don't interpolate like that." Hmm.

But the Riverside councilman, coming off a failed race for county supe, is running for re-election against an unknown. And challenging the guy's ballot statement.

Should Paul Davis be allowed to list his former jobs as RivCo deputy sheriff and Riverside police officer -- even though he didn't complete probation in either gig?

No way, says Schiavone. Davis should list both jobs as probationary. So Schiavone took him to court. However it turns out, Schiavone will probably continue to blast away at Davis for "washing out" and not being able to hold a job. Fair game. But court? Over this?

New teachers, at least in Riverside, are on probation for two years. But they're still teachers. If a rookie cop gave me a ticket, I bet I couldn't go to court and argue it was a just meaningless, probationary ticket. A cop's a cop.

I think Schiavone, a seasoned campaigner, is a tad nervous (DHL is gone but some constituents may not have forgotten). Which means he'll run hard, and a two-month campaign may seem much longer than, say, any probationary period.

But then it's clear that according to Schiavone's argument presented by his attorney and Moreno Valley Mayor Richard Stewart, only police officers who aren't on probation are "real" police officers. As stated, that excludes at least three former Riverside Police Department officers, Jose Nazario, Paul Bugar and Daniel Hotard because none of these three passed their probational period when they were employed by the department.

There is no statement from the police department at least not through official channels on whether it or its employees consider probational officers and trainees to be "real" police officers pursuant to the definition offered up by PC 830.1.

Only "real" police officers are exempt from jury duty.

As you might be aware, in some counties including Los Angeles, individuals employed as active peace officers are exempt from doing jury duty if they qualify under a series of penal codes including PC830.1. So if this definition only applies to "real" police officers, meaning those who have completed probation, then do those who currently are on probation have to report to jury duty? Because if one of the reasons that law enforcement officers are exempt from serving jury duty is to reduce the burden their absence has on delivering public safety, it seems that would include probational officers as well.

Were former Riverside Police Department Officers Paul Bugar and Daniel Hotard treated like as not being "real" officers?

I had a discussion about my posting which addressed the issue of whether former probationary officers, Jose Nazario, Paul Bugar and Daniel Hotard were "real" police officers. This issue arose in light of the argument raised by Schiavone mentioned above and it appears that applying that same argument (which is based on an interpretation of PC 830.1) would strongly indicate that none of these officers would be able to say that they ever worked in law enforcement as officers.

Interestingly enough, in the case of Bugar and Hotard, they were treated in many ways the same as the other officers involved in the fatal shooting of Tyisha Miller who were nonprobationary. Even though they could have been fired "for cause" the day after the shooting, they were afforded the treatment of being placed on administrative leave that was given to Officers Mike Alagna and Wayne Stewart who were nonprobationary officers. All four of them were fired the same date by then chief, Jerry Carroll. The only difference at that point is that even though all four officers were fired at one time, Bugar and Hotard couldn't contest their firing by accessing the arbitration system that eventually reinstated Stewart, Alagna and Sgt. Gregory Preece, who had supervised the four officers the early morning hours when the Miller shooting happened.

But probationary officers do many of the same duties and fulfill many of the same responsibilities as their nonprobationary counterparts. And they face many of the same risks by taking that role. So who's to say whether they are "real" officers or not?

The state penal codes pertaining to peace officers including the aforementioned PC 830.1 are listed here.

An internet creep, called Proxy Dude (for the assortment of foreign IPs he uses from Germany, Denmark, Austria, Netherlands and China and one actually owned by an adult internet services site) who once sent me a nasty email calling me a "bitter cunt" has been checking in from the Czech Republic and other places, but he's just borrowing those IP addresses, he's not actually there.

The most common ISPs visiting this site:


Only IP Address



Road Runner

Will voters in Moreno Valley be allowed to elect the mayor? Right now, they can't.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

The City Council will discuss on Tuesday the issue of whether to put a measure on the ballot asking voters if they want to elect the mayor. Councilwoman Bonnie Flickinger and Councilman Jesse Molina requested a discussion of the issue.

Currently, residents do not directly elect the mayor. They elect council members from five districts, and the council picks one of its own members to serve as mayor for a one-year term.

The council discussed a similar ballot measure last year. Councilmen Richard Stewart, Frank West and Charles White voted it down, saying they didn't think it was a priority during the economic downturn.

But West and White lost their seats in last November's election, reopening the door for the proposal.

The city has grown enough that it needs an elected mayor, and residents want a leader, said Moreno Valley Unified school board trustee Victoria Baca.

"I think we need to have a change of direction of the city," she said.

All the political antics taking place involving Canyonlake's city council were addressed by Press Enterprise Columnist Carl Love.


When former Councilman Frank Kessler pleaded guilty last month to embezzlement in connection with misusing his city-issued credit card. He and his wife, Suzanne, were accused of using the card to pay for $6,239 of charges made on a Hawaii cruise, including $3,000 for alcoholic drinks and casino tokens. It's apparently easy to be a high roller at the public's expense.

Not to be outdone, City Councilman Martin Gibson this month used his business, Pepe's Mexican Restaurant, to host "Seduction: The Exotic Men of Magic."

Unfortunately, I suppose your typical politician would steer clear of such an event. Not in Canyon Lake, where an undercover deputy from the sheriff's department confirmed that performers "simulated sex acts, displayed their buttocks and touched and fondled patrons and themselves."

This is why most public officials just stick to mundane stuff such as fixing potholes. Anything sexier can only lead to trouble.

A state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control rep quickly shut down the not-so-subtle seduction, and Gibson is being fined $100 by his own city. The ABC also is investigating a complaint of lewd conduct at the performance. His fellow council members may publicly reprimand Gibson. Gee, I wonder why.

This is quite the turn of events for Canyon Lake, a city of more than 11,000 previously best known for its gated status and its pristine lake. Incorporated in 1990, controversy used to be as alien to Canyon Lake as a stripper performing in a church. Only with Canyon Lake's sexier-than-thou politics can one get away with such an analogy.

The chief of staff for San Bernardino Supervisor Neil Derry posted bail on his corruptions charges case.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Erwin, 46, said he believes the San Bernardino County district attorney's office targeted him because he and his boss did not support the district attorney's request to be exempted from possible furloughs for county employees.

Erwin said he offered his resignation to Derry Thursday, but Derry declined to accept it. Erwin, who posted bail and was released from jail in San Bernardino on Thursday night, said his offense should have been addressed by the state Fair Political Practices Commission rather than with criminal charges.

"I'm going to take whatever consequences come my way but I'm not going to be railroaded, steamrollered by something like this," he said.

Neither Derry nor officials with the district attorney's office could be reached immediately for comment.

Erwin was charged with eight felony counts of perjury and two felony counts of offering false or forged documents. Prosecutors accuse him of lying about gifts he received from land developer Jeff Burum, managing partner of Colonies Partners.

The charges allege that Erwin provided false reports about the gifts, including a Rolex watch and prostitution services.

The former spokesman for former county assessor Bill Postmus said that more severe action needed to be taken.

And the Press Enterprise Editorial Board just stated, bye bye Jim Erwin.


Every day that Erwin remains on Derry's staff further erodes the supervisor's credibility as an ethical reformer. Derry won office last year on a platform of high ethical standards. Hiring Erwin, a county insider with a checkered past, as chief of staff seemed a dubious choice for a supervisor touting stronger ethics. Now retaining Erwin is just indefensible.

Of course, anyone familiar with Erwin's history would already know that ethical nuance is not his strength. Postmus hired Erwin, who lacked the legal qualifications for the job, then 10 months later handed him a severance package the county grand jury last year termed "excessive." And Erwin, as head of the sheriff's deputies union, carried on a romantic relationship with the county's human resources director in 2004 -- while the two were negotiating a new union contract worth millions of dollars.

Erwin exemplifies the ethical sloppiness that has characterized San Bernardino County politics for years. If the county wants to end its reputation for slipshod morality and self-serving graft, then Erwin must go.

There are many good people who work for the county. Those workers -- and county residents, too -- deserve better than to have Postmus, Erwin and their ilk as the face of county government.

Press Enterprise Columnist Cassie MacDuff has a question for President Barack Obama: Why did you skip the Inland Empire?


The White House press office sent out a release Wednesday citing statistics "that illustrate the impact of the economic crisis ... in California."

Unemployment at 10.1 percent.

Housing prices down 27.4 percent.

Third-highest in the nation for seriously delinquent mortgages.

Well, try Inland statistics:

Unemployment at 11.8 percent.

Property values down 47.2 percent in San Bernardino County; 41.5 percent in Riverside County.

Mortgage defaults at a historically high level in RivCo and rising in SBCo.

The IE even has a nicer airport where Air Force One could have landed: Ontario has plenty of runway space since losing a third of its flights last year. (Like JetBlue, Obama landed at Long Beach instead.)

Yet for Obama's first visit since becoming president, the White House chose upscale Costa Mesa instead of blue-collar San Bernardino or job-poor Riverside.

In Oakland, four police officers were shot and killed by a man who was the subject of a traffic stop and then later fled to another location. Three of the officers were sergeants. Two were motor officers who stopped the man, Lowell Mixon (who had a no-bail warrant) and were shot when he left the car. Two others were SWAT officers who responded to reports that Dixon was inside a building and were shot by Mixon as they entered. Dixon was shot and killed by other SWAT officers.

Oakland's community leaders pleaded for calm in a city that has experienced much violence and high tension between the community and the police department.

Below are the four officers and their pages at the Officer Down Memorial Web site.

Officer John Hege (on life support until decision made about organ donation)

Sgt. Daniel Sakai

Sgt. Ervin Romans

Sgt. Mark Dunakin

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