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, April 11, 2009

City Council Exclusive: Actual discussion items on the discussion calendar

The Riverside City Council is actually meeting again and unlike most meetings, this one has a rather hefty discussion calendar which is actually quite unusual for its meetings where there might be one or two "receive and file" reports passed off as discussion items and heaps of business on the untouchable consent calendar. Untouchable because city residents have been banned from pulling items from it since the city council voted to approve that ban on July 12, 2005. Also untouchable, because the current city council rarely pulls items for discussion themselves. A rare exception took place last week when Councilman Andrew Melendrez pulled an item that was a pet project of Councilman Steve Adams.

You could have heard a pin drop from the dais but an interesting discussion including a question and answer period followed the item being pulled.

This upcoming meeting has at least one item possibly two out of the three listed which will actually be discussed and not "received and filed" but still, you just never know.

You have the dual items involving the Community Police Review Commission's investigative protocol and the proposed multi-modal transit center on the agenda. These items came out of meetings held last week involving the Governmental Affairs Committee and the Transportation Committee respectively. One of the topics discussed involving the transit center was the future of Greyhound Bus Lines in Riverside. The bus company is set to vacate on June 30 and possibly leave Riverside. That disenfranchises those who took 82,000 trips last year but looks like it would make both the city government and its primary sponsorship, the Greater Chamber of Commerce very happy. Happy enough perhaps to throw a block party in downtown on July 1.

But for "those people" meaning the categorization of those who are poor, elderly, and/or disabled and probably do not belong to the Chamber or serve on the city council, it will be a sad day indeed.

The report on the CPRC states that Governmental Affairs Committee Chair Frank Schiavone referred it to the city council but if you read this article in the Press Enterprise, it's pretty clear that this wasn't the original intention of at least two members of that committee. The intention instead was to essentially "kill" the issue in committee so that it would never go to the full city council where it would be fully discussed at a meeting especially one that's televised and watched by many city residents who can't attend. At the Governmental Affairs Committee meeting, Councilman Andrew Melendrez was the minority voice (in more ways than one) who tried to push it to the city council but he met opposition from Schiavone and Councilman Steve Adams.

Melendrez has been criticized in the past and rightly so for being too tentative and acting like a junior councilman on the eve of his likely reelection but there's been a couple times lately when he's taken a lone stand against the rest of the city council including the issue involving the Towing Services franchise fees. People may agree or disagree on what was the right vote, but what was glaring in the discussion (as it is often with discussion items) was the lack of substantive questions representing the point of view of people outside those that city government spends most of its time catering towards. Melendrez can usually be counted on for asking good questions on issues that come before the city council.

Another city councilman, Mike Gardner expressed concern about the CPRC issue not going to the full council and was going to recommend it as an item to be scheduled for discussion at a future meeting during the April 14 city council meeting. Instead, because of Gardner and Melendrez, the CPRC was placed on the agenda for discussion at that meeting. It's fortunate that the city had one member on the Governmental Affairs Committee (and a substitute at that!) and one other city council member who ensured that this would be, potentially bucking the tide of the rest of the city council and the mayor (who was contacted by Gardner on this issue).

The real story behind the latest situation involving the CPRC is actually just beginning to unfold and some of it is evidenced by who's donating to whose campaign among the players involved in this drama. That's one reason why it's so wonderful that state law requires political candidates including incumbents to report donations above $99 (over the year) on their statements. The other things that's wonderful is when political candidates post their endorsement lists on their campaign Web sites (a list of which is included at this post's bottom).

Follow the Money with the CPRC--coming soon.

The Group's Jennifer Vaughn-Blakely wrote this letter defending the CPRC.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Protect police panel

It is a shame that the Riverside City Council's Governmental Affairs Committee doesn't get it that the residents depend on the council to carry out voter-approved charter amendments ("Council panel declines to act," April 9).

Councilman Andy Melendrez gets it. As the article says, the Community Police Review Commission in 2002 started its practice of sending an investigator to a scene within days of a shooting.

Melendrez expressed concern about community confidence if city officials change a longstanding practice. We need a public discussion by the entire council.



Thank you, Jennifer. She chairs the Group which meets the first and third Thursdays of most every month (except summer months) at the Coffee Depot on Mission Avenue and Vine. You have to get up bright and early because the meetings start at 7 a.m. and end at about 8:30 a.m. There's usually a guest speaker from the city or county and then community event reporting. Quite a few city employees attend from departments including Park, Recreation and Community Services, Police, Fire and Development. City residents as well as leaders and members of community organizations and non-profits also attend these meetings.

I've been perusing the "endorsement" lists at some of these campaign Web sites hosted by candidates in the Riverside City Council races.

Upon reading the endorsement list on Schiavone's site, it's interesting how the term, "Police Officers" is included on that list. What exactly does that mean? Does it mean the police unions of which there are two in this police department? Does it mean every officer in the department? Is it intentionally ambiguous in terms of what it does mean?

In contrast Melendrez specifies on his Web site that he was endorsed by one police association, not police officers as a whole. The two are not necessarily the same thing including in a police department with two labor associations representing its sworn employees.

The Riverside Police Officers' Association has endorsed Schiavone but it's questionable whether that process went as smoothly as some of the Schiavone supporters are claiming on Craigslist. The Riverside Police Administrators' Association had taken a neutral position on this election and Lt. Bob Williams had said that there would be no endorsement of candidates. If you recall, the RPAA's experience with putting together a PAC and doing endorsements during Election 2007 was a bit bumpy, culminating in a lawsuit filed by two lieutenants including previous president, Lt. Darryl Hurt alleging harassment and intimidation against them because among other things, the PAC didn't back at least one incumbent candidate, Adams.

If the RPAA endorsed Schiavone, that could potentially cause problems for the association because of the fact that several of its members have included Schiavone as a defendant in their lawsuit. But then again, they might not want to go through the experience of endorsing a candidate who's challenging an incumbent again and potentially face repercussions for that decision. That's one reason why staying on the sidelines might be a prudent move.

However, it's not clear if that is still the case in terms of the RPAA sitting on the sidelines.

It's ironic to read something like a blanket term of "police officers" because the first I ever heard about candidate, Paul Davis was through conversations with some of the department's police officers including members of both the RPOA and the RPAA. Not to mention that there's at least one officer listed on Davis' endorsement list who sits on the RPOA board. A pretty cool one actually as it turns out. Did he vote in the PAC endorsement process for Ward Four and if so, wouldn't be vote for a candidate he endorsed individually? The claim by an anonymous Schiavone backer on Craiglist is that the vote was unanimous.

It's interesting to note that sometime during the past month or so, there apparently was a slew of resignations from the RPOA's PAC including two of its chairs, Sgt. Christian Dinco (who was the long-time secretary) and Sgt. Pat McCarthy. Another former PAC chair and board member resigned not too long before that. Was this fallout from the endorsement process? And if so, what part of it? Endorsement processes can be quite difficult and even tricky to navigate if there are differences of opinions including going into it. A lot of people outside the process who haven't done it don't realize that it's not an easy task. But if you've been through an endorsement process with a lot of conflict, you can recognize the outcome when it happens some place else.
And it's difficult to develop an appreciation for the process unless you've done it yourself.

It's interesting to note that the RPOA deviated from its previous support of retired Riverside County Sheriff's Department deputy, Ruben Rasso for Ward Two's council seat and opted to go with incumbent, Councilman Andrew Melendrez, according to his endorsement list. But Melendrez is looking a lot more solid this time around as an incumbent and the choice to endorse him is actually a politically astute one.

It will be great when this election is over, if only to stop having to read comments like this posted at Craigslist:

"Blah Blah Blah and you still make no sense. By the way, how are those AA meetings working out for you."

Yes, this individual who's stated that he's backing Schiavone just sounds like he has a tremendous amount of class, but this was the individual who on my blog in 2006 said I had "too many DUIs". He also tried to make a reference in another posting to a particular city neighborhood as my place of residence, I guess to try to scare me that he might know where I live and then show up? He's not batting a thousand on neighborhoods so far that he's listed as where I live in his attempt to scare me into not blogging anymore.

But this person and others like him targeted Davis first by posting comments that he was a "washed out trainee", that he had "altered" or "doctored" his performance evaluation from the Riverside County Sheriff's Department, that he threatened the RPOA with a lawsuit over his Riverside Police Department personnel file, that he hid his personnel file. What's interesting is that now that they're harassing me and treating me in a similar fashion for blogging about this election, they're claiming they have no horse in this race. It's a little late for that.

It's amazing how there are seven city council candidates including three incumbents running and the only people engaging in this online harassment are those backing Schiavone including several who if you read their earlier postings at that site divulge intimate information about the political activities of the Schiavone campaign.

But if they're online writing untrue information about me to attempt to discourage and intimidate me from blogging about the city including this election, it probably means that their earlier target Davis had a lot of untrue information posted about himself as well. Comments like the above don't exactly speak to the veracity of the Schiavone supporters who post there. But then if you read back on my blog during the District One county supervisor race that included Schiavone and took place last year around this time, you'll see that these kinds of harassing comments were just as prevalent during that election cycle as they have been during this one.

For those who sent emails including through Craigslist that were supportive of my blogging and me, thank you.

The city managers at Riverside's City Hall have nixed pay raises but they make so much money annually, it hardly matters.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

"Looking at the national and local economy, our revenues are down like everyone else," City Manager Brad Hudson said by phone.

Hudson won't receive a 2 percent raise scheduled for July 1, and neither will assistant city managers, department heads, first-line supervisors or employees who handle personnel information, said Assistant City Manager Tom DeSantis in an e-mail.

They also won't get step increases, which are roughly 5 percent a year for the first few years to reward longevity on the job, Hudson said.

Managers started the discussion with department heads about deferring raises, he said. "We took that to the full management group."

"It was really unanimous," Hudson said. "They said, 'We're not going to see times like this again.' "

Corona's police department expands its citizens' academy while Riverside's remains shut down for the past several years due to budget cuts.

Riverside County Sheriff Stan Sniff is facing some heat for his use of retired employees.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Job assignments under the TAP program are typically not supposed to last longer than six months. But three of the TAP employees are still in the program 1 ½ years later, making $52 to $60 per hour, while also receiving public employee retirement benefits. The fourth returned to work for the department full-time.

At a time when departments are slashing budgets, some county employees and officials wonder whether closer scrutiny should be given to certain TAP positions, particularly those filled by retirees.

"The only thing we'd like you to consider before reducing other county employees ... is to look at TAP employees, especially those that are double dipping," Eric Nevins, a supervising investigator with the Riverside County district attorney's office, said at last Tuesday's Board of Supervisors meeting.

Nevins said particular attention ought to be paid to retirees working in the public safety arena under TAP.

Nevins declined to elaborate when reached later by phone, saying that he had received flak for speaking out.

In recent interviews, Sniff defended his use of the three retirees. Each has unique skills and knowledge, Sniff said.

"Shame on us," he said, for not using them.

Press Enterprise Dan Bernstein's column on what exactly a D.A. investigator does attracted lots of interesting comments from people who seem always eager to discuss the Riverside County District Attorney's office.


You won't find d.a. investigators from Orange, Los Angeles, San Diego or Ventura counties conducting patrol. But then those counties don't have over 1,200 cases waiting to go to trial. I guess he needs more money to expand his investigator's patrol duties at the cost of the sheriffs losing patrol cars. Sheriff's deputies and police officers are the true first responders and essential to public safety, not d.a. investigators. I see a comment below that deputy d.a.'s are teaching at a law school. Do they have Huang and Necochea teaching ethics, how to conduct Brady violations and prosecutorial misconduct. I think they should be attending some training themselves.

Dan, The taxpayers should hire you to do a complete audit of Pacheco's empire, from top-to-bottom. The waste of taxpayer dollars that you discover will be shocking. First, ask Pacheco for his "organizational chart." Then ask him what "core" prosecutor function each person on that chart performs, especially his so-called "Executive Division," made up of political cronies? The CEO probably has the guts and brains to dissect Pacheco's operation, but he is beholden to the Board of Supervisors. The Board is frightened of Pacheco. And each memeber wants his political support when they are up for re-election. Therefore, they won't scrutinize Pacheco's bloated regime to ensure that taxpayer dollars are not being wasted. So, like so many other scandals that have been uncovered by the press, it's up to you and your First Amendment sword (and shield) to come to the rescue of our taxpaying citizens.

Dan, I hear the da investigators filed a grievance against rod and his chief investigator vern horst. Since the grievance has been filed I hear vern and rod retaliated by forcing investigators to work in these task forces and other areas they have no desire to nor the experience. You might want to ask for any memos stating such. I also hear rod and vern are creating new pomotions for investigators when the county is hurting for revenues.

Mr. Bernstein: as someone who has friends in the DA's office, I have been told the investigators who are "on patrol" are part of tasks forces where the sheriff's and local police share patrol duties with the DA's for things like gang supression. I also have law enforcement friends in San Berdardino who say that they wish the county supported law enforcement there the way our county does here. No offense to SB, but I will take pro-law enforcement Riv Co any day. Perhaps we should move you to East San Berdoo and then you can tell us if you prefer more or less peace officers on the street, regardless of what agency they come from.

The Press Enterprise Editorial Board again scolds San Bernardino County on its ethics problems.

The election season in Riverside is heading into its third month, with ballots being mailed out to registered voters in three wards by May 4. Ballots are due at their destination by June 2 so they need to be mailed out in plenty of time to allow them to reach there so that your vote can be counted in the final tally.

The following list includes political candidates, both incumbents and challengers who have Web sites including more information about them and their campaigns.

Campaign Web sites

Ward Two:

Andrew Melendrez

Ahmad Smith

Ruben Rasso

Ward Four:

Frank Schiavone

Paul Davis

Ward Six:

Bill Scherer

Riverside Bargaining units endorsing in this election:

Riverside Firefighters' Association



Will the Los Angeles Police Department change its lights and sirens policy?

(excerpt, Los Angeles Times)

Then there's "Code 2 1/2 ," an off-the-books practice of racing to a call without lights or sirens to warn other drivers. It's the street cops' way to work around strict Los Angeles Police Department rules that limit when they can drive Code 3.

The unsanctioned response has been responsible for some of the worst officer-involved traffic collisions, costing the city more than $11 million since 2006. In light of the problems, Chief William J. Bratton wants to give officers more latitude on using their lights and sirens.Bratton's proposal to rewrite the Code 3 policy has rankled some members of the City Council, who fear that the new rules would give too much discretion to eager, adrenaline-fueled rank-and-file officers and could give rise to chaos on Los Angeles' streets.

This week, the council took the unexpected and unusual step of asserting its authority over the LAPD, forcing the department to put its new policy on hold pending a review by the council.The rising debate underscores the delicate balance police departments must strike between quickly getting officers to crime scenes and the potential danger that rushing to a call poses to others. This week, a woman was killed and a man was badly injured when their car collided with a La Habra police officer, who was Code 3 en route to a call.

A retired officer who worked in New York City killed another officer and himself.

When U.S. citizens get deported by ICE. It happens more often than people think. Pedro Guzman who was mentally disabled and deported last year didn't return home for several months as his family frantically searched for him.

The 100 Movies to See Before You Die
is a pretty interesting list of films that are classics and others, which are...interesting. Perusual, there are some glaring omissions.

195,530 words done.

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