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

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Ethics and ethos

The feedback on the candidate forums sponsored by the Group and Latino Network has been interesting, including comments made by both Ward Four candidates expressing views on the Community Police Review Commission currently under the micromanagement thumb of the dynamic duo of City Manager Brad Hudson (though his adjutant, Tom DeSantis) and City Attorney Gregory Priamos as well as some of the denizens of the CPRC itself.

A public forum is scheduled to be hosted on the latest situation involving the CPRC that will be held on May 2. More information on that forum will be provided at the bottom of this posting and in the days and weeks to come.

But some people have been asking about the series of secret meetings that involved a special ad hoc committee concocted by DeSantis that were conducted behind closed doors presumably at City Hall although who knows?

The ad hoc committee was created based on a recommendation issued by the Governmental Affairs Committee in early February. This committee which is chaired by Councilman Frank Schiavone and includes as members, Steve Adams and Andrew Melendrez (substituting in for Rusty Bailey on this issue) had said that they would encourage the process to be transparent for city residents. Apparently, they didn't mean it. Because just last week, the city published an agenda for the April 8 Governmental Affairs Committee meeting not long after canceling the April 1 meeting and scheduling the next one in May. Then it decided that it was going to meet this Wednesday without providing much notice. If you go online to the city's site, there's a link to a report on the meeting agenda by DeSantis which includes a recommendation from what's essentially a "shadow" committee.

At the candidates forum held at the Stratton Center, Schiavone tried to make it appear that the protests against Hudson's directive to change the protocol on the investigations of officer-involved deaths to "several individuals" with a "political agenda" at the voters forum on April 4 but it has concerned a lot of people including residents in his own ward. He didn't say anything about why the Governmental Affairs Committee had told an audience filled with people that the ad hoc committee process would be transparent and then turned around and didn't inform the public when these meetings took place let alone allowed the public at large to participate in discussions involving a commission which about 60% of the city's voters put in the charter in November 2004. And of course, what's been going on lately including the Governmental Affairs Committee shell game involving the ad hoc committee is a major reason why so many people voted to put it in a place where they hoped that it would avoid political manipulation by elected officials and their direct employees.

Talking to people in this city about the CPRC including those in the fourth ward, it's pretty clear that people do have a clue what the city has been doing with it. And in other wards as well. After all, Measure II passed in every precinct in every ward and made a strong showing in the fourth ward.

The Riverside Police Officers' Association has made some changes in its board of directors, according to its Web site. It has a new comptroller, David Riedeman who replaced Officer Scott Borngrebe and a new secretary, Officer Cameron Farrand who replaced Sgt. Christian Dinco. Dinco had also served as the Political Action Committee chair along with Sgt. Pat McCarthy. But McCarthy apparently resigned his position and now there's no replacement listed for Dinco in the board of director listings for the PAC chair position. What's been going on with the RPOA involving the endorsement process for political candidates in the city council races has been interesting, especially the accounts coming out of the selection process for the Ward Four contest. Hopefully, it was a worthwhile experience for them.

Some of the board's members are supporters of candidate, Paul Davis. Others are long-time supporters of Schiavone who's been endorsed in most of the elections he's competed in by the RPOA's PAC including last year when he ran for county supervisor against District One incumbent, Bob Buster. That's why an initial account of the decision to endorse Schiavone coming down to an unanimous vote (as alleged by the anonymous commenter at Craigslist) was a bit perplexing if the full board and/or PAC were involved in the process. And then there are accounts that at least initially the vote between the two candidates was much closer than an unanimous tally one way.

But the interview and endorsement process involving political candidates can be arduous and challenging to say the least, something many people don't know until they are involved in the process themselves. There are parts of it which are interesting and almost entertaining or fun but coming to a consensus even through a vote can be quite difficult if the endorsement body is diverse in its composition. And it's a bit of a responsibility to have to come to the right decision for the entire membership that you represent. That can be quite a burden, in some situations.

Here is one account of the endorsement process involving the fourth ward council race where the claim was that the vote for Schiavone was unanimous.

(excerpt, Craigslist)

A few weeks ago, Davis while seeking the endorsement of the Riverside Police Officers Association agreed to waive the confidentiality of his file to allow the directors of the RPOA to review his service record. After granting this waiver and interviewing with the RPOA, the Association unanimously voted to support Frank Schiavone for re-election.

We are left to wonder what the Riverside Police Officers on the RPOA Board saw in the file that made them all decide to go against Davis, even after they had already contributed to his campaign. Sadly, the voters may never know since Davis had his attorney send them a letter rescinding his confidentiality waiver and threatening to sue any of them that reveal what they read in the file.

One board member said that the record was given back to Davis after the interview process was done and this individual appeared perplexed at what all the fuss was about. Other accounts were that the vote was originally less than unanimously in favor of Schiavone but that the final vote was unanimous among those who were present to vote. Much emphasis had been made at Craigslist about the vote for Schiavone by the board which one person theorized was done due to something in Davis' personnel file that turned the board members off. However, if at some point it was any kind of split vote, maybe the emphasis shouldn't be only placed on one candidate but both of them as to why they attracted supporters and didn't attract others. If individuals in the board did support Davis over Schiavone, whether through official vote or not, why was that the case?

McCarthy who apparently is still not a huge fan of the CPRC is now assigned as an investigator in the department's internal affairs division. The CPRC apparently was one of the issues addressed by candidates when posed questions by RPOA PAC members during their interviews, which isn't really surprising.

No more word yet on whether the Riverside Police Administrators' Association is reconsidering its decision to stay on the sidelines of this latest round of elections. The RPAA had endorsed candidates in the 2007 city council elections but didn't endorse Adams who apparently wasn't a bit happy about that. Not long after that a grievance and then a federal lawsuit was filed by two lieutenants including the former RPAA president, Darryl Hurt. The case which is being litigated now alleged that threats were made against these two lieutenants that they and an unnamed third lieutenant would face retaliation including at the promotional level by individuals who according to the lawsuit, included Adams and Schiavone. The lawsuit also alleged that Hudson and DeSantis had tried to obtain a list of members of the RPAA who voted in support of a lawsuit filed against the city in 2006 and then told Hurt and the other lieutenant, Tim Bacon to "be careful".

The SEIU city employees' units have held a candidates forum but have not announced their endorsements yet.

This case would be a very interesting jury trial but that's not likely to happen as it's much more likely that at some point, not right away naturally because there's plenty of pencil whipping to be done first, the city will settle quietly with the plaintiffs.

What will a Riverside County Superior Court judge decide in the case involving environmental impact reports surrounding the Fox Theater project?

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Susan Brandt-Hawley, the attorney retained by the foundation, said the environmental impact report approved in June for Fox Plaza didn't seriously consider feasible alternatives, as state law requires.

The foundation has urged the project to include the "adaptive re-use" of at least some of the eight historic buildings that MetroPacific wants to demolish, in particular the Stalder Building at the northeast corner of Market and Mission Inn.

The report concluded that the alternatives considered wouldn't accomplish project objectives to the same extent as the project itself. But that doesn't make them undoable, Brandt-Hawley said, and if the court upholds such a finding as appropriate it would make a mockery of the environmental review process because such a finding could apply to all alternatives.

"EIRs shouldn't be an exercise in futility," she said.

Michelle Ouellette, an attorney hired by the city, argued that the EIR was adequate and did comply with the law.

It looked at six alternatives to the MetroPacific project, she said, and provided extensive analysis of each one.

Ouellette also argued that the foundation didn't follow proper legal procedures in the case, in part by failing to serve a summons on the city, giving the judge grounds to toss the case out.

Throughout hearings last year before the Cultural Heritage Board, Planning Commission and City Council, Fox Plaza pitted residents and business owners who believe it would spark a more dynamic downtown scene against residents who believe it would destroy too many historic buildings and would be too massive.

Will an ethics commission be coming? Where? If your first guest is San Bernardino County (and the reasons why are obvious)then you're right.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Creation of the commission, an issue Derry raised in the campaign, will be the top task for his new chief of staff, George Watson, who begins the job April 27, he said.

The ability to investigate and fine elected officials and top-level staff is crucial, said Derry, who is working with Supervisor Paul Biane on the proposal.

Biane could not be reached for comment.

Past efforts have concentrated on ethics training and rules for county staff, but most of the ethical violations were committed by elected officials and political appointees, Derry said.

"I think if something had been in place five years ago, we would have avoided what took place at the assessor's office because we would have had an extra set of eyes," Derry said.

Like those in Los Angeles and San Diego, the county's ethics panel would include appointed members and a staff that can investigate and, if appropriate, fine elected officials for campaign finance or ethical violations, Derry said.

Creating an ethics commission to oversee a county chock full of ethics scandals is probably not a bad idea. But here's a caveat. Just look at the city of Riverside and how quickly the city council managed to neuter the ethics code and complaint process and it might make you think that a commission will only work when it's not the fox guarding the hen house.

An Orange County Sheriff's Department deputy has been arrested on suspicion of child molestation in Murrieta.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Wilbert Dale Garcia, 49, was arrested about 4 p.m. near Washington Avenue and Nutmeg Street, the Riverside County Sheriff's Department said in a statement.

Garcia, a 19-year law enforcement veteran, was arrested following a traffic stop, said Riverside County sheriff's Investigator Matt Diaz.
Story continues below

Garcia was taken to the Southwest Detention Center in French Valley, where he was held Saturday on $250,000 bail.

He is scheduled to be in court Tuesday.

Sweeps of arrests of prostitutes by numerous police agencies in Riverside County. It would be great if they would do similar sweeps on the customers. The ones who pay for sex rather than those who sell it to survive or because they've been thrown out of their homes or have histories of domestic violence, physical abuse or child molestation. But it's interesting how society treats men who buy sex as part of its fabric in a way, as if it's almost a right of these men to do so yet it throws the women in jail.

And the contrast between how society treats male pimps versus female "madams" is very interesting. All the "madams" have names like "Mayflower Madam", the "D.C" Madame", "The Spitzer-Gate Madam" and a former schoolmate (before she got expelled), the "Hollywood Madam" whose sister, ironically, was selected salutatorian of her graduation class.

Sweeps usually result in sex workers simply moving into other locations after they get out of jail or are released from being cited because that's the way they survive. And it confuses the hell out of the poor johns (who generally don't seem to be seen as criminals) who stop every woman on the street asking for a "date" or where they can find one. Even pulling in driveways in front of them or nearby parking lots and asking them more than once when these women are just trying to go about their daily business.

Reports of women including young girls in Riverside including the Eastside being harassed by these men who are frantically wondering where their "dates" are including near a local elementary school.

The Press Enterprise Editorial Board is all for the public release of the investigative report done on former San Bernardino County Assessor Bill Postmus.


The county district attorney's office wants the document to remain secret during its investigation to avoid prejudicing any possible criminal trials in the case. But given the widespread publicity about Postmus and his actions, any possible bias in the case has already happened. One more report is hardly likely to skew the scales of justice.

Besides, the attorney's report is not a criminal investigation, but a look at whether Postmus' conduct merited his removal from office. And county taxpayers have spent $110,000 so far for this study about a high-profile elected official. Certainly those factors entitle them to know what the lawyer discovered.

Nor can the board conceal the report without creating public suspicion. All the supervisors have either political or personal ties to Postmus, so withholding the document could easily look like a cover-up. And supervisors in 2006 released similar reports by an attorney on a county jail purchase and a questionable land deal -- but only after generating public skepticism by withholding the documents for months.

The board should not repeat that mistake, particularly with a high-profile scandal. The Postmus mess has already tarnished the county's credibility. Supervisors should not further erode civic trust with needless secrecy.

Press Enterprise Columnist Cassie MacDuff writes about the departure of Gottschalks.

Upcoming Meetings:

Monday, April 6 at 4p.m.: The Human Resources Board meets at City Hall to discuss issues pertaining to the city's work force. The most exciting thing on the agenda is the discussion of a letter that Chair Erin House (who was recently reelected) to the City Council asking for direction after its request for further statistical information on law suits filed by city employees was vetoed by both City Manager Brad Hudson and City Attorney Gregory Priamos. If this sounds like deja vu, don't feel bad, because while this is the first time this board has experienced this situation, it mirrors a similar one faced by the CPRC last autumn. One can already predict with confidence and without a crystal ball that the board will receive a letter from whoever is mayor (or if Ron Loveridge is on the road traveling or at UCR teaching, the mayor pro tem)at the time that the report has been "received, reviewed and filed" just like the CPRC did.

Tuesday, April 7 at 4pm and 6:30 p.m.: Riverside City Council/Redevelopment Agency meets to discuss or more accurately not discuss numerous agenda items including the stimulus money coming from federal agencies including the Department of Justice COPS. This meeting will take place in the chambers at City Hall.

April 8 at 3pm: The Governmental Affairs Committee meets to try to give "policy direction" to some unnamed entity about the investigative protocol of the CPRC. That public report is promoting the recommendations of an ad hoc committee created by Asst. City Manager Tom DeSantis and was chaired by Asst. Police Chief John DeLaRosa(standing in for Chief Russ Leach) that met entirely in secret behind closed doors with the public being none the wiser for it. All this information was provided to the committee members by CPRC Manager Kevin Rogan who of course has his hefty paycheck (for about 20-30 hours a week) signed by the city manager's office which issued the directive to essentially shut down the CPRC's investigations of Officer-Involved Deaths.

This was done after the Governmental Affairs Committee insisted that it wanted a transparent discussion by community members on this issue. That was not what took place with this ad hoc committee process.

This committee is chaired by Councilman Frank Schiavone and includes as its members, Steve Adams and Rusty Bailey. Adams and Schiavone don't like the CPRC much and Bailey's loyal to the councilman who helped get him elected. This meeting will take place in the Mayor's Ceremonial Room at City Hall.

April 9 at 1 pm: The Riverside City Council Transportation Committee meets on the seventh floor of City Hall to discuss the Greyhound issue. This public report provides more information on what will be discussed. This committee is chaired by Councilman Steve Adams and includes Chris MacArthur and Andrew Melendrez as its members.

One meeting that won't take place:

Wednesday, April 8 at 4pm and 5:30 pm: The CPRC was to hold its case review and "special" meetings before the meeting was canceled by Chair Sheri Corral. It was the second CPRC meeting in a row to be canceled. While it's true that policies and procedures restrict the parameter of agenda items that can be discussed during a "special" meeting, Corral's excuse for canceling the meeting which was that the commission was caught up on all of its business is very problematic considering how far behind it's been on almost all of its business. Enough to merit a week's worth of "special" meetings to catch up. Most people watching the CPRC anticipate that this year will see a reduced schedule by the CPRC. After all, the commissioners on a set date began phoning into their designator to receive their next list of instructions to carry out. Kind of like the board and commissions' version of that darn Conficker worm.

Upcoming Forum:

Saturday, May 2, 2009 noon - 2:00 p.m.



Discussion Theme "What's going on with the CPRC?" You are invited to take part and have Your say about the future of this vital Commission

May 4 at 7pm: League of Women Voters, Candidate Forum, La Sierra Public Library

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