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, March 23, 2009

Two local politicans and their peanut galleries take the internet stage

I had an interesting experience on the elevator or actually getting off of it at Riverside City Hall with one of the council members' legislative aides. We hadn't said anything in the elevator but I had gotten off at the sixth floor to pick up a copy of the agenda at the Community Police Review Commission. Right when I left the elevator, I heard this derisive laughter behind me, turned around and as the doors started to close, heard this person say "I knew it." This individual hadn't been talking on the phone with anyone on the elevator and it had been fairly quiet. It kind of surprised me but I guess I should be happy for this individual that they seemed pleased in some way to have predicted that I, a supporter of the CPRC including in this aide's presence at various meetings got off on the same floor which houses the commission. I thought it a bit silly, but then over the years I've received many such interesting responses from different people for supporting the CPRC.

One of the city councilmen who opposes it even said he admired me for my diligence at sticking up for it even though in his words, he called it a lost cause and that "we" would never prevail. Which is pretty ironic considering the supporters of the CPRC have never really lost a battle yet. Some of them have just been more lengthy than others but they've all been won.

I've had unidentified individuals including one who labeled himself "Serpico" call me the CPRC's "number one cheerleader" and that my "arrogance" regarding the commission would no longer be tolerated. The only thing that "Serpico" seemed to hate more than the CPRC was Riverside Police Department Officer Roger Sutton which as it turned out was a clue to figuring out where he was coming from emotionally. "Serpico" (the fake one not the real one) threatened to sue me until I explained to this unidentifed individual that he would have to use his real name to file the lawsuit and not crib the name of one of the profession's most famous whistleblowers on corruption inside law enforcement.

This aide is no fan of the CPRC (which makes them right at home at the 'Hall) even though the council member they represent is more along the lines of being wishy washy on formulating any opinion on the CPRC. At first this person's conduct startled me but to each his own. And it was kind of funny because I don't mind being identified even in a derisive sense as a supporter of the CPRC. I've been one since it first was created in 2000. If that's an action worthy of derision from the city council via one of its legislative aides, then that's a commentary on the city council more than anything else. And it speaks to the role of the city council in the latest round of dilution involving the CPRC including the latest episode involving the changes to investigative protocol of officer-involved deaths last year.

The city council's certainly has shown in many different ways, most passively, a couple ways aggressively that it's no supporter of the CPRC even though the majority of the voters in this city not to mention every voting precinct passed Meaure II which put the CPRC in the city's charter in a sense to protect it from the city council. And what did the city council do in response? It waited for the stipulated judgment with the state to expire in 2006 and then not long after that launched a campaign which continues to this day which demonstrated exactly why the commission needed protection from the city council and by extension, its direct employees and some of its indirect ones. Some city council members took great care to explain that the S.S. Hudson doesn't steer itself, but that like all ships, there's someone at the helm.

And it's pretty well known that the city council as a body in terms of how it chooses to represent itself or who it chooses to speak on its behalf regarding the CPRC. And the aides themselves are merely an extension of the attitudes and wills of those who hire them. When one acts in a derisively manner, they are simply acting on behalf not of themselves but of that particular elected official.

The Riverside City Council is conducting what else, a public meeting this Tuesday, March 24 at both 3p.m. and 5:30 p.m. at City Hall. The agenda is fairly brief especially during the evening session. Some presentations, a medium sized consent calendar and the usual "receive and file" items somewhat inaccurately referred to as the "discussion" calendar.

This ordinance "clarification" involving the regulations for estate and garage sales comes back for its second reading and vote. Not much else going on and this is one of those meetings where the evening session could clock in at barely over an hour. So if you attend, don't sneeze because you might miss most of the meeting. At first glance at the agenda, there doesn't appear to be any items that incumbent electeds can use to stump their own reelection campaign bids but you just never know. If the urge to do so is there, almost any item will do.

A civilian review board in Connecticut struggles to perform its function pretty similar to what's happening with a similar board in Riverside.


The PCRC, a civilian review board, is intended to assure that citizens' complaints regarding officers' conduct are heard in a timely fashion. The committee is also charged with developing programs that foster diversity and enhance community relations.

That charge appears to have never been met, as the committee devolved predominantly into a complaints department.

Wayne Vendetto, who has served the city well in several capacities over the years, had been chairman of the PCRC for about 20 years. That was the committee's first problem. (We'll get back to that. I was disappointed when Vendetto, with whom my every encounter becomes an enjoyable 15-minute chat and debate, didn't get back to me on this one.)

Vendetto's chairmanship was a problem because no one was supposed to occupy the position for longer than a year. The committee's rules dictate an annual election on the first Tuesday of December, at which time a new chairman is to be named.

As many people are aware, the CPRC in Riverside is also suffering from the micromanagement of the fifth and seventh floors of City Hall.

But in spite of that, the commission is also holding a meeting at City Hall on Wednesday, March 25 at 5:30 p.m. The agenda includes many items including continued discussion on the officer-involved death of Joseph Darnell Hill. The latest work product on that case is here.

How the item is listed on the agenda makes no sense to the average person who reads it because all that's listed is a list of Roman numerals which document different stages of the very convoluted (and maybe deliberately so) rather than simply explaining briefly exactly what the commission's doing in the process of writing its public report. But then City Manager Brad Hudson and his staff aren't interested in making a commission that is user friendly or even understandable by the public.

The commission will also be working on beginning the process of drafting its long overdue annual report which it's required to provide in some format for the mayor and city council on an annual basis but it's not been good at fulfilling this charter responsibility lately. Hence, this time out there will be an annual report covering both 2007 and 2008. But then again, the CPRC hasn't had a full-time executive director/manager since the "resignation" of Pedro Payne in December 2006.

Incidentally, the annual report is supposed to be well, annual but that hasn't worked out very well for the CPRC lately. You see when you have people micromanaging it who have very little understanding of it let alone its charter bound responsibilities, these things have a tendency to happen. Introduce competency and good intentions into the mix and they tend not to happen. It's pretty clear which of the two the case may be.

One item that didn't make it on the agenda? The suggestion to place an item discussing the role of the CPRC manager. Golly, who would have ever predicted that would happen? Oooh those micromanagement chains are tight but it's a gilded cage so several commissioners including those leading it actually don't see the bars.

There's an item on addressing the process of drafting public reports as if they haven't been watered down since the responsibility to do this has shifted from the commissioners to the CPRC manager. Notice the pamphlet being drafted in the Hill case? The commission several years ago would have been very dismayed if they knew that's what it has come down to when issuing public reports.

Unintentional comic relief has been provided by the inclusion of items approving several amended changes to the commission's bylaws and policies and procedures. Some of them make sense but the one recommending that commissioners make an effort to schedule and attend community meetings just makes you roll your eyes. When's the last time, the current chair and vice-chair have attended a community meeting? Vice-Chair Peter Hubbard never has and Chair Sheri Corral hasn't since she found out that Chief Russ Leach expressed his desire to bounce her off the commission during a deposition he gave to then Riverside Police Officers' Association attorney, Michael Lackie. What's apparently going on with that firm which is one of the most successful of its kind in Southern California is an interesting story.

Not the least is that the former Riverside County Public Defender's office attorney who kept Riverside Police Department Officer Daniel Floyd (very well known in Casa Blanca) on the witness stand under cross-examination for a criminal case involving a woman several years ago, is now handling criminal cases for Lackie& Dammeier & McGill.

But at any rate, I would think that the prospect of having to go to a community meeting especially in certain neighborhoods would require the issuance of smelling salts to cure the vapors attacks that some of these commissioners would experience at the thought of the two words together, "community meeting".

One wonders why the CPRC is getting so much attention from the city when it's another city department that needs at least some of that attention judging from the items appearing recently on Craigslist politics' forum about Ward Four City Council candidate Paul Davis. The latest comments is that he's a nepotism hire or what was called the "N" word in its title which I guess was supposed to be having readers guessing when he used a racial slur. But "N" in this case didn't refer to the slur but as stated, nepotism. I guess after attempts to *prove* through explanation that he altered his performance evaluation from the Riverside County Sheriff's Department failed to hold up, the contingent moved on towards insinuations that family connections got him the job.

Since most everyone is clueless to what this means, I guess it kind of implies what corner those allegatations are coming from, doesn't it?

It's hard to know which candidate is leading on the issues impacting Ward Four and the city as a whole but Davis is at least presenting his views on the issues through his Web site and at different meetings around the city, whereas his competitor, Councilman Frank Schiavone has filed a lawsuit. Why? Because he's hired the Brian Floyd political consulting firm out of Banning which some say specializes on mudslinging candidates before they can get out of the gate to even campaign.

But some forums are coming up including several listed on this blog so hopefully, there will be more presentation of views on the issues at those events. Because that's what this election should be about, the issues.

More comments on the ongoing lawsuit filed by Councilman Frank Schiavone against Riverside City Clerk Colleen Nichol that will go back for another hearing in Riverside County Superior Court on March 26. Schiavone's backers might be hanging out and making insinuations about candidate Paul Davis' law enforcement experience on Craigslist but clearly aren't hanging out at

Although it's hard not to be grateful in one respect about all that information provided that's very educational and informative on not only what police performance evaluations are all about but also how to apparently alter one after the fact. Now the average Californian will never actually see a police performance evaluation because it's a confidential document so this general information provided by those who appear to be experts in both defining and explaining evaluations forms and in altering them is very useful for the general uninformed population indeed.

Still, the comments threads are a different ballpark altogether.

(excerpts, Press Enterprise)

Kudos to Paul Davis on the disclosure of his employment history and his position on many issues on his website. Schiavone looks desperate and shouldn't be wasting our tax dollars on frivolous litigation.

Doubtful means maybe"?????LOL!!! What an optimistic chap.Sorry, but Davis is not being honest here.He's playing the law and order card---the one that gets DA's elcted to the bench.Strike those references from his resume and let's see what else he has to offer.

Not to mention here.

(excerpts, Press Enterprise)

If Davis turns out to be as big a loser as Frank, the 4th Ward is in real trouble .Not a good time for Frank to be losing his City paycheck. The developin' business ain't doin' so good these days.

I think Schiavone should also be forced to include his true former "professions" on his campaign materials. There's plenty of open room (right next to 'developer') for "crook" and "grafter."

Welcome to San Bernardino County's Rogue Gallery of Corrupt Politicians. It's hard to remember when this county hasn't been a den of corruption and going back far doesn't really help much.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

"I have got to say, when people call me up about San Bernardino County, whether it is about judges or law enforcement or those in elected government, it is not at all surprising to hear people talk about corruption," said Terry Francke, general counsel to Californians Aware, an open-government advocacy group.

"Maybe it is unfair. Maybe the reality is much milder than the perception," he said, noting that the county has "a reputation to not just live down but positively correct."

Some observers say the latest arrests show few things have changed from the 1990s, when one former county administrator went to prison and others were prosecuted on bribery charges.

"These scandals are all the same except by different people," said Hardy Brown, co-publisher of the Black Voice News and longtime observer of county politics. "Therefore, like Sonny and Cher said in their song, 'The Beat Goes On.' "

County spokesman David Wert said the county has instituted more ethics training, put new ethics measures before voters and placed a host of information on the Internet to boost transparency.

"Unfortunately, as has been the case in the past, there will be those who look at (the recent arrests) and claim the county hasn't made any strides," Wert said.

"It is impossible to control the behavior of people," he said. "What is important is the county has a mechanism and as many safeguards in place as possible to prevent and detect unethical and or illegal behavior."

More comments on this article involving Riverside County District Attorney Rod Pacheco's failure to submit a budget. Or at least one that's not an increase from the previous year during a time when county departments have been asked to take a 10% cut.


Way to go Pacheco! You tell those supervisors who is really boss in Riverside County. They got no business telling you to cut your budget like they do every other department head. Your budget is special - your department is special. So just go on and give those sups the middle finger. You are setting a fine example of how law abiding citizens should operate. If you don't like the rules, just don't abide by them!

Make no mistake . . . this is NOT about public safety, or the DA's budget needing a "thoughtful, thorough" analysis. This is about arrogance, pure and simple. Every other department managed to get their budget in on time -- everyone but our DA, Pacheco. Apparently, the rules don't apply to him, only to everyone else. As an ELECTED official, he is arrogant,fiscally irresponsible, and a poor example to RivCo citizens. I only hope that the Board of Supervisors will hold him to the same standards as other departments. It is time for Cuddles to get with the program!

No other department heads got extentions. They all submitted their budgets on time. Stone bent over backwards for Pacheco because his kid works for him.

In Des Moines, after the acquittal of a couple assaulted by police,a probe of that controversial incident was initiated.

(excerpt, Des Moines Register)

There are a lot of good police officers out there. In this case, though, it seemed like there was a lot of arrogance," said Michael Berry, an alternate juror who was excused from deliberations but decided to attend Thursday's verdict.

"I just hope this sends a clear message from the good citizens of this community: This kind of behavior will not be tolerated."

Department officials, meanwhile, confirmed that an internal investigation into the Sept. 13 incident will move forward. Maj. James O'Donnell said officials plan to use the couple's trial testimony as part of the investigation.

Internal affairs investigators said the probe has been stalled by the couple's lack of cooperation.

Police struck the 25-year-old Bonds with batons 14 times in the head, back, arms and legs with after they pulled over a vehicle driven by Evans, 21, near Southridge Mall shortly after midnight on Sept. 13. Officers John Mailender and Mersed Dautovic said that Evans refused to cooperate and that Bonds threatened their safety.

Jurors rejected the police claim that Bonds swatted an officer's hand to protect his girlfriend from pepper spray. They said they were also troubled by the level of violence that followed.

Interesting article in the Chicago Sun-Times about bloggers on police misconduct and the harassment they face.

The State of California reexamines its parole system in the wake of the shooting deaths of four Oakland Police Department officers.

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