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 25, 2009

Election 2009: The battle of the campaign mailers and is one city union experiencing buyers' remorse?

I read this posting on Craigslist labeling Ward Four city council candidate, Paul Davis a "loser" because the entire Riverside City Council is endorsing his opponent. This guy earlier wrote about such political-worthy topics as harassing women and asking how my A.A. meetings were going, not to mention posting the neighborhood where he thought I lived in. Other unidentified people stumping for Councilman Frank Schiavone tried to distance themselves from this guy claiming he didn't endorse either candidate but it's clear from his posts, that he does. He's apparently endorsing the incumbents in every election. They're so privileged to have Mr. "O" in their corner.

But anyway, this anonymous individual of sorts does address an issue that has come up in many an election and that is about what it means when a political incumbent is endorsed by the rest of the city council. He reads the blanket endorsements of Riverside City Hall towards the incumbents running for office, one way.


Why is the Riverside City Council not endorsing Paul Davis ?
Because the man is a loser, a drop out wannabe councilman, who's only interest is to seek more money/pension, and to not serve the best interests of the citizens of Riverside.

Councilman Mike Gardner
Councilman Andy Melendrez
Councilman Rusty Bailey
Councilman Frank Schiavone
Councilman Chris MacArthur
Councilwoman Nancy Hart
Councilman Steve Adams all endorse Councilman Frank Schiavone for Riverside City Council Re-Election

Speaking of a higher paycheck and pension, this anonymous individual doesn't mention at all that his candidate, Schiavone opted to run for county supervisor against Bob Buster in the middle of his current city council term, which if successful would have yielded him both a higher paycheck and a higher pension (if he completed more than one term in office). Why is it that this unnamed individual lobs such an accusation at Davis while keeping quiet about Schiavone's unsuccessful run for "higher" office last year?

But deciding mid-term that you want to enter into greener pastures doesn't necessarily mean an incumbent won't win reelection. Just ask Councilman Steve Adams who ran for state assembly while still serving as a city councilman but failed to make it past the primaries. He ran for reelection and did win, albeit by scarcely more than a dozen votes. Hopefully, he has decided that being a city council person is a very important job worthy of having people fill that position that intend to give it their entire political focus during the full term of office. A city council position really deserves no less than that.

There's a lot that can be said and written about what it means when politicians decide to run for other political offices while still serving their terms in office and there's quite a few opinions about it, but it's silly to say that someone's after a pension from an elected office while they're running for their first term. Okay, it makes more sense to launch that accusation when they're running for reelection, because it takes at least five years served for any pension to kick in.

But the whole political syndrome of seeking greener pastures is fodder for another posting. What's interesting about this individual's latest rant is that apparently he subscribes to the belief system that being endorsed by an entire city body makes the incumbent the better candidate by itself. Now this might very well be the case, but more often it appears that blanket endorsements like this one make a louder statement about the legislative body itself than the individual incumbent that it endorses.

Many people don't approve of elected officials making endorsements in city council races at all. They think that their elected representative should be an independent, should be someone who remains outside of the elective process apart from their representative ward. That they should be open and flexible enough to work with anyone elected by their own ward constituents to represent them on the dais. By engaging in the endorsing of incumbents, city council members and the mayor send the rather loud message that they are all members of an exclusive country club which closes ranks against and membership to outsiders. They also send the loud message that city council members are simply city-wide rather than ward representative.

It's not surprising to see long-time elected officials engage in this conduct but it's disappointing to see the newer electeds do this considering that when they first ran, they were the "outsiders" which the city council and mayor essentially endorsed against, by endorsing the incumbents who ran against them.

These blanket endorsements essentially advertise the fact that the City Council and thus City Hall is a "good 'ol boys" club which will favor its individuals that are in office against any potential challengers that the ward's voters just might like better. This was evident in Election 2007 when then City Councilman Dom Betro was favored by most of his dais mates, but lost to challenger, Mike Gardner who won by about six votes and then two years later, began endorsing his dais mates.

But then what did Gardner and newly elected city councilmen Rusty Bailey and Chris MacArthur do? They turned around and adopted the same practice only two years later.

Waging Wars through Mailers

Since Election 2009 has begun, something's been missing and that's the whirlwind of campaign brochures and fliers that come into mail boxes advocating for the respective candidates in an election race. The best thing to do with them is to collect them into a stack, in chronological order and then when the election's over, staple them together and then you'll have in book form, the entire story of Election 2009.

The elections in Ward Two and Ward Six seem to be quiet this time around. Any anticipated matchup between incumbent, Andrew Melendrez and perpetual challenger, Ruben Rasso so far hasn't lived up to prior election years. That's not likely to change in the weeks ahead and it's likely that Rasso and the other challenger, Ahmad Smith will siphon votes off of one another leading to Melendrez' election to a second council term.

Interestingly enough, there's not been many mailers sent out during this election but there's still about a month to go. Still, the number of mailers pale in comparison to the virtual blizzard of mailers sent out by both candidates in the District One county supervisor race last year. But there's some interesting ones being circulated in the fourth ward.

Both fliers are pamphlet style and they both show their candidates in the foreground with the familiar architectural features of City Hall in the background. Both use the image of the American flag as a prominent feature. On the Schiavone political advertisement, it's included in his portrait shot and on Davis' brochure, it's merged into the fabric of the City Hall building. If you look at most campaign mailers even those at the municipal level, you will see the American flag as a prominent motif within them.

Schiavone's also includes the statue of Ysmael Villegas that's located at the War Memorial outside of City Hall. This is probably included to remind voters of Schiavone's military service, another common theme that appears in campaign fliers during different periods of American history.

Each campaign mailer has a slogan on it. Schiavone's is in bold red across the City Hall building and states, "PROVEN LEADERSHIP for tough times" with the first two words in capital letters. The "tough times" is a reference to the economic crisis and recessions impacting the Inland Empire as well as the country. And incumbents have to try to sell themselves as part of a status quo that's working, whether it really is or not. Incumbents are also at a tremendous advantage because they can take group action as part of their membership of a legislative body and use it to sell themselves as acting individually. Challengers of course being outside of that legislative body can't do that.

But what elicited a raised brow in particular among the list of Schiavone's accomplishments was his claim that he led the repeal of the controversial public utility rate increase that sent shock waves (no pun intended) through electric bills all throughout the city. What's not said is that in order to "repeal" a rate, the legislative body has to vote to approve it in the first place. And what happened is pretty much this. The city council voted to approve the controversial tiered rate increase structure during a nonelection year, then voted to repeal it in 2007 when three city council members were up for reelection blaming the public utilities department in the process. It didn't help matters much as two out of three of these incumbents failed to keep their jobs. Then, after Election 2007 was done, a modified electric rate was approved by the city council and there's still a wide swath of opinions on whether the new rates are "fair rates" or not.

Davis' slogan reads that "It's time for CHANGE at City Hall." and also lists three traits, "Accountability, Accessibility, Integrity". And this is where the advantage of being a challenger comes to play is that they can portray themselves as outsiders looking in at a closed system which isn't working and presenting themselves as the instrument of change. What remains to be decided at the polls or the mailin vote boxes is whether or not voters. That's the critical test of whether this message is an effective one to send to voters or not.

Police, Fire and Baseball, oh my!

Photographs are always an important part of campaign mailers and common denominators in many campaign mailers are police, fire, children and baseball stadiums. All four of these are symbols often used in promoting the candidate as being law abiding, down to earth and accessible all at once.

What's interesting about the photographs of the police officers in both campaign mailers is that they're both fairly similar with the candidate standing with an officer next to a squad car as if in conversation with the officer's back turned to the camera. But then that carries into the subject area of endorsements by law enforcement officers and/or police associations. Often these endorsements when gained are noted prominently along with those by fire fighters and/or firefighter associations on campaign literature. That's the case with Schiavone's mailer as his states that he has been endorsed by the Riverside Firefighters' Association, the Riverside Police Officers' Association (thought that might be subject to change if recent rumors are true) and the Riverside Police Administrators' Association.

On Schiavone's endorsement list, he mentions being endorsed by "Riverside's Police Officers" and "Riverside's Firefighters", rather than their respective associations and unions which is where the endorsements actually came from. The two entities aren't necessarily the same thing and there are police officers who have endorsed Davis for example who are included in his endorsement list and there's a photograph of at least one who serves on the Board of Directors with the RPOA on the campaign mailer. So it's not that cut and dry and sentiment in the police department tends to be more divided between the two candidates among those who are paying attention at all, given that PAC endorsements come down to votes taken involving rather small committees from the union's leadership including its board.

And the RFA tends to endorse incumbents in city council races, rarely stepping outside that rule while the RPAA actually endorsed a candidate being sued by two of its members including its former president.

Further on the endorsement lists are the designations, "community leaders" (which Schiavone uses to describe miscellaneous campaign contributors and "supporter" which is chosen by Davis. It's ironic that included on Davis' list are at least half a dozen Riverside Police Department officers as individual endorsers.

What's interesting is that included in the list of "community leaders" on Schiavone's mailer are developers like Mark Rubin who aren't even from Riverside, city or county. And then there are individuals who are so much community leaders, they're listed twice on the endorsement list.

The Press Enterprise profiles Ward Four city council candidates, Paul Davis and Councilman Frank Schiavone.

Andulka Park finally opens after years of waiting.

Riverside County has readjusted its projection of its annual budget and it's not pretty. Over 1,000 positions might be cut including over 500 in its Sheriff's Department. But how much of it is real and how much of it is management negotiation tactics with the three labor unions remains to be seen in the weeks ahead.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

John Hall, spokesman for the district attorney's office, said Pacheco did not propose the 110 layoffs to Luna and is working on a budget that will not include layoffs.

Michael Hestrin, president of the Deputy District Attorneys Association, one of the unions currently negotiating with the county, said he is concerned about the proposed budget.

"You cannot cut that much from the DA's office without decimating it," he said. "That's going to include a lot of people in court that are going to be gone, and that's people's cases that aren't going to be heard."

Sheriff Stanley Sniff proposed about 575 layoffs and cuts to the department totaling about $75 million, according to the proposed budget.

Calls for comment to Undersheriff Valerie Hill and to the Riverside Sheriffs' Association were not returned Friday.

Tracie Morales, spokeswoman for the Service Employees International Union, which is also negotiating with the county, said the union is worried the proposed budget will gut core county services and wants to work with the county to make the most prudent cuts.

Luna says in his report that some cuts, in particular to the Sheriff's department, are "extreme" and layoffs "unprecedented."

"The depth of those cuts raises serious questions as to whether a public safety emergency would result," he writes in the proposed budget.

He adds that he will give department heads broad latitude to make needed adjustments if the county's budget situation worsens.

Buster said he hopes budget hearings and union negotiations will take harsh "meat-cleaver" cuts off the table. The county could potentially declare a fiscal emergency, if need be, to empower supervisors to override other elected officials' budget decisions and potentially even some union agreements.

"This is not something the county is going to bounce back from," he said of next year's budget situation. "This is a complete restructuring of the county under a whole different and much lower tax base for the long term."

Press Enterprise Columnist Dan Bernstein outlines the latest smackdown between Riverside County District Attorney Rod Pacheco and a local judge. The speculation has been that Pacheco filed a motion to remove Judge Paul Zellerbach off of a case involving Pacheco's ex-campaign treasurer because he believes that Zellerbach will be running against him in his next election.


Zellerbach supposedly told the deputies that he used to supervise Deputy DA Pacheco and had to "kick his butt" because the future DA "cherry-picked" easy trials.

The motion notes Zellerbach addressed the deputies even as a jury was set to return a murder-trial verdict. Court records show the proceedings -- Zellerbach presiding -- were to have begun at 1:30 p.m., but didn't start until 1:50 p.m. Judge Z-bach, where are you?

If you know your Zellerbachian history, you'll recall hizzoner was at a 2004 Angels-Red Sox game when a murder-trial verdict came in. He refused to allow another judge to take the verdict, so everyone, including the victim's family, had to return to court the next day. The state Commission on Judicial Performance wasn't amused, and publicly "admonished" him. In legal terms, it's déjÀ vu all over again.

Even as he zinged Zeller, Cuddles courted supporters with a "Campaign Kick-off" invite listing scads of backers. But not the deputy DAs! Not to worry. The deputies finally endorsed the boss.

The way I hear it, Pacheco met with the deputies and said he deserved their support. Then he gave them a little analogy: If a deputy DA thought he or she deserved a promotion, would they want their application to sit on a table? Or would they want that promotion right away? (Get it?)

They endorsed him 61 percent to 39 percent. OK, not a ringing endorsement. (The Handsome ex-DA supposedly polled much better in his day.) But a win's a win.

Riverside County's sheriff's department has more bilingual deputies than its counterpart in San Bernardino.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

In 2003, 1.5 percent of deputies in the Riverside County Sheriff's Department were bilingual. Today that number is 12.5 percent.

In San Bernardino County, 10.6 percent of deputies were bilingual in 2003. Today it is 8.4 percent.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau's 2007 American Community Survey, 33 percent of residents in Riverside and San Bernardino counties spoke Spanish at home.

Hispanic leaders say it is vital for law enforcement officers to have language skills other than English.

"How can people access services if personnel don't have a knowledge of the language and knowledge of the culture?" said the Rev. Patricio Guillen, executive director of the San Bernardino-based Librería del Pueblo, an immigrant-assistance group.

Officials with both sheriff's departments said they recognize the importance of recruiting deputies who reflect the makeup of the communities. To that end, the departments try to place ads on Web sites and in publications that they think will attract a diverse crop of candidates. They also target colleges and military bases.

Both departments also offer extra compensation to deputies who are bilingual. In Riverside County, it ranges from 50 cents to $1 per hour. In San Bernardino County, it's an extra $50 per pay period. Deputies must take language proficiency tests before they qualify for the extra pay.

Should March Air Reserve Base end its relationship with trouble-plagued Globalport? The Press Enterprise Editorial board states yes it should.


The EPA's action stemmed from the developer's mishandling of jet fuel at the base. March Global Port's fueling facility lacked the proper permits and the Riverside County fire chief shut it down as a public hazard in 2006. The developer paid more than $100,000 in fines last year to settle a criminal case over the fuel operation.

But that episode was hardly the first to arouse public suspicion. The developer withheld information showing that cargo flights would pass over nearby neighborhoods until after a crucial 2004 public hearing deciding the project's fate. A noise study showing that the flights would wake as many as 5 percent of the people living along the flight paths also did not surface until after the hearing. And March Global Port's estimate of $47.5 million in JPA revenues from the DHL project turned out be $16.5 million too high.

March Global Port called these "honest mistakes," but it's a bad sign when the best defense is incompetence. Granted, the public officials at the JPA also failed to exercise proper oversight of the project, which had a lot of political power behind it. Yet that failing hardly excuses the developer of responsibility.

March field's location and large aviation capacity are a prize asset. An airport can spur jobs and commerce, bringing a vital economic boost to the Inland area. But the region could waste those advantages by depending on a developer whose record inspires no public trust whatever.

When Labor Pains and Election 2009 Collide:

Could contentious contract negotiations with one of the city's unions behind closed doors be putting one of its political endorsements in danger? Dudes, he and the Penguin just handed the totally gutted CPRC to you on a platter. But contract negotiations are particularly arduous this time around given the economic conditions in Riverside (despite the so-called $45 million reserve that's always touted), just getting started.

Could be...

Beware of the so-called Swine flu with the first cases possibly reported in Riverside County if tests conducted on people infected in Corona, Temecula, Palm Springs and the Coachilla Valley are positive for the newly mutated virus which combines DNA strands from earlier flu viruses found in three different species.

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