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

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Election 2009: Doug Jacobs, no; Global Port, yes!

The Riverside Human Relations Commission, one of the city's boards and commissions not currently being micromanaged by City Hal met last night and decided it would investigate allegations of racial profiling by the U.S. Border Patrol.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

The move came after Assistant Police Chief John DeLaRosa told the commission that police officers sometimes call one of the two agencies when they believe a suspect may be an illegal immigrant. DeLaRosa said such queries occur even during stops for minor traffic infractions.

DeLaRosa declined to say what prompts officers to call federal authorities. He denied that police single out Latinos.

Commissioner Gilberto Esquivel said he was frustrated by what he called DeLaRosa's vague answers. Police should not be calling immigration authorities, he said.

"That is a federal issue," Esquivel said. "It has nothing to do with local law enforcement."

DeLaRosa said police have been calling immigration authorities for the three decades that he has been with Riverside police.

But Jennaya Dulap, of Romoland, who runs Rapid Response Network, a hotline that monitors immigration-related actions in the Inland area, said that in the past several months there has been a spike in calls from Riverside residents who report cooperation between police and immigration authorities.

It's interesting to see the commission take on an active role on an issue given that for the past few years, it's been operating below nearly everyone's radar including those at City Hall. Not that this commission hasn't had its share of travails. Several years ago, it was staffed by a director and two staff members. However, its decision to write a letter to City Manager Brad Hudson questioning him about the ethnic and racial breakdown of City Hall's management employees may have been an ill-fated one. It never received any response to that letter, at least not a written one but it did wind up losing two staff members before being transferred from the city manager's office to that of Mayor Ron Loveridge.

It didn't fare much better there even with a new director who tried to accomplish many things. Instead, she was one of the first full-time employees to be laid off due to budget cuts. It will be interesting to see what the Human Relations Commission does with its investigation into this issue because it's been a while since it's operated in this capacity. At least it can perform this function unlike the Community Police Review Commission which has pretty much been gutted of the ability to any of its charter-mandated responsibilities. In fact, since the new leadership came in, it's hardly met in public at all. It will only meet once this month. And don't be surprised if you see very little public action or meetings from this commission until autumn.

It only exists at this point in some form because the city charter states that it has to exist.

An interesting mailer has been sent out by the Paul Davis camp as part of his bid to win the Ward Four city council seat from incumbent Frank Schiavone. It tells "the truth about DHL" according to its title on the front page which shows that text next to a picture of the yellow Boing 767 aircraft.

The second page has in bold print, "But Frank Schiavone brought DHL to Riverside" and then alongside a picture of him has the story about his voting record on the issue of bringing DHL to Riverside including while he served as chair of the March Joint Powers Commission. Schiavone defended his votes by claiming that despite receiving the information ahead of time (much as he does as an elected official), he didn't know what was going on including the use of the much older and nosier aircraft known as the DC-9. DHL wound up flying a batch of DC-9 flights every morning beginning around 3 a.m. over the Orangecrest and Mission Grove neighborhoods.

"We need leaders who can predict the consequences of their own actions," The Press Enterprise stated in an editorial on Aug. 17, 2007.

People in these neighborhoods complained for several years of the large amount of noise and pollution generated by the night flights as they were called. They were called "gadflies" and treated like nuisances and pests, kind of like how critics of governmental actions are treated on Craigslist by some of Schiavone's current supporters. That same kind of dismissive attitude that reads loud and clear: Go away or we'll call you ugly names and otherwise discourage you.

In fact, it's amazing how much the antics at Craigslist by Schiavone supporters matches that attitude of contempt that was shown to the very exhausted residents of several neighborhoods which lay under DHL's flight path. But then as always happens, election years start to emerge on the horizon and the first one, was the Riverside County Supervisor District One race in 2008, which featured incumbent Bob Buster (who voted with Schiavone except for one pivotal vote on night flights) and challenger, Schiavone who apparently wasn't quite as interested in remaining on the city council as he is today because if he had been, he wouldn't have run for another "higher" political office mid-term. He lost but there was a lot of impressive saber rattling from his camp which switched from insulting these tired residents towards championing their causes including threatening with the city council resolution to sue DHL Express for breaching its contract at the same time certain elected officials were pushing the company to do just that seemingly more to save their political careers than out of any belated altruism.

But the nadir of what became DHL-Gate was the manipulation of the process by the use of falsified flight maps, purportedly by March Global Port which horribly misled the MJAC or so it said when DHL showed up and Global Port got caught using a fake flight map which made it appear there wouldn't be much nightly noise pollution when in actuality, the planes were flying right over people's houses. Of course we all know all the nightly noise and window rattling that these families were hearing wasn't really there. It was all in their heads. They were viewed as being mentally unstable because they were critics of what the politicians wanted and dared to speak up about it. Again, go to Craigslist and you'll see posting after posting of Schiavone supporters calling people mentally unstable or making jokes in the form of political attacks of that vein. Again, nothing that's exactly new. Is that actually an established pattern and practice to use such personal attacks against people they don't like as a tool?

Anyway, the big bad Global Port had lots of politicians on the MJPC pointing fingers of it along with those belonging to other electeds who pointed fingers mostly because they were told to do so by people who might have just presented information to them that was as bogus as Global Port's flight map.

Okay, so let's say Global Port is the villain here and deserves a boo, or a hiss each time the name is invoked. Let's say they misled and lied and cheated the poor innocent members of the MJAC except apparently one of them. What would your reaction be if you were a politician trying to do right by your constituents including the ones wearing ear plugs and buying sound-proof windows to sleep at night and you said you were lied to by an organization? Wouldn't you kind of like, say adios to March Global Port and its partners and say something akin to fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. That's a quote that Schiavone used during the episode involving developer (and campaign contributor) Doug Jacobs and his "excavation" of the Chinatown site.

And it's a great quote and if Schiavone's use of it was appropriate in the case of the Jacobs, why isn't being adopted for the even more compelling case involving March Global Port?

But apply it to Global Port and you think that Schiavone and other politicians on MJAC or politicians in general would want to distance themselves from this organization and its members.
But if that's the case, then why was Schiavone accepting campaign donations from several of its partners up to the date of the current election?

Why did he take donations from Jacques S. Yeager, Sr. and Aaron Knox (who expanded his share of March Global Port by buying out another member? Why is the postage that paid for this mailer and others like it being paid for by TMG Communications (as listed under the postage symbol) which has as its president one of the Global Port's partner and co-managers as shown in this recently released press release addressing past problems with fuel storage?

Why is Schiavone still taking campaign donations from people he should instead be showing the door? Why indeed? It's disappointing that he accepted these donations and campaign services from members of Global Port, an organization that was prosecuted and fined over $100,000 for improper storage. The latest news is that Global Port missed appealing its debarrment by the Environmental Protection Agency.

This campaign donation information is available online at this site or at the City Clerk's office if you want to read it yourself. But it's interesting that when Schiavone was faced with what he claimed not to know about the duplicity of Jacobs' actions, he donated the $250 donation that he had received from the developer to the Save Our Chinatown Committee, a very sporting gesture on his part. Why hasn't he done like with the contributions he received from March Global Port's partners and co-managers and donated them to preserving a clean and safe environment for future generations?

Or perhaps use those donations to reimburse members of his ward for money spent on ear plugs, "white noise" machines and sound-proof windows?

The decision to try to bring commerce into the airport which used to be a military base before being downsized by the federal government some time ago isn't a bad one. The region needs jobs and dollars coming in since it became adversely impacted by the downsizing of military operations in the region, but it needed to be done with both eyes open at all time fully researching all documentation on the issues along with prospective vendors including air freight companies and it needed to be done responsibly. That clearly didn't happen and there's been no real good excuse offered why.

It's still a head shaker that anyone could including Schiavone and his lawyer of choice for his lawsuit against the city clerk's office, Mayor Richard Stewart be totally in the dark about the possibility of any freight company not engaging in night flights and any night flights not disturbing city residents. And it wasn't Schiavone or the Riverside City Council or any of them that eliminated the night flights. As it turned out, DHL's expansion into domestic delivery wasn't economically feasible and the company lost nearly $1 billion. That's why the nights are silent now along with the fight waged by a bunch of people written off as crazy gadflies against them.

But that's what many people in this city are asking themselves is why do city officials keep close financial and political ties with people and organizations they do business with including those who engage in misconduct like Global Port did, or was certainly pointed out as doing so by more than one elected official during the DHL flight map debacle. They wonder when news like this comes to light or that involving the Bradley Estates what else is going on that they don't know about.

Press Enterprise
Columnist Dan Bernstein comments on the Fox Theater while Cassie MacDuff takes on the woes of San Bernardino.

San Bernardino County Supervisor Neil Derry and his staffmembers will halt the Blackberry communicados.

The preliminary hearing of BART Police Department Officer Johannes Mehserle continued with his partner's testimony.

(excerpt, San Francisco Chronicle)

"When I looked at Officer Mehserle, his forehead was extremely sweaty, his face was flushed and his eyes were big," Officer Jon Woffinden testified at Mehserle's preliminary hearing on a murder charge. "He didn't say anything. ... I told him that he needed to take a walk."

Woffinden's testimony came at the end of a first day of appearances by defense witnesses in a hearing that has been dominated by video footage of the shooting. The defense hopes the officer's account will bolster its argument that Mehserle meant to stun 22-year-old Oscar Grant with a Taser when he fired his pistol on the platform of Oakland's Fruitvale Station.

Grant's family members did not see it that way. Mehserle's reaction, far from supporting the Taser defense, damages it, an attorney for the family said.

"If Mehserle had made a mistake, the first thing he would have done is told his partner, 'I made a mistake.' " said the attorney, John Burris. The officer's silence during the exchange, Burris said, "speaks volumes."

Documents inside Oakland Police Department suggested that a beating of a man by officers was covered up and that the officer responsible is now in charge of the department's Internal Affairs Division.

(excerpt, San Francisco Chronicle)

A month after his arrest, Amaro died of pneumonia brought on by broken ribs and a punctured lung. Suddenly, police homicide investigators did find witnesses to back Amaro's story, and at least one officer acknowledged that police had inflicted blows that night.

Police officials even ultimately concluded that their own criminal probe had been compromised by the "blatant" interference of the lieutenant who oversaw Amaro's arrest.

Until recently, however, Amaro's family never knew about any of it. Police shelved the case quietly, handing out a 10-day suspension to the lieutenant.

Eight years after Amaro's death, that lieutenant, Ed Poulson, was promoted to captain and put in charge of police internal affairs. Only then did new allegations surrounding Amaro's death come to light, prompting the FBI to open an investigation and Amaro's family to file a $10 million civil rights lawsuit.

Investigative documents in the case, obtained by The Chronicle, raise questions about not only what happened during Amaro's arrest, but also whether officials in the Police Department and Alameda County district attorney's office short-circuited the criminal probe of what occurred that night.

The autopsy done on the partial skeletal remains of a body found near the Des Plaines River in Illinois yielded little information about the person's identity or a cause of death.

San Bernardino turns 199.

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