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, June 14, 2009

Election 2009: Mayor Ron Loveridge kicks off his 'hike with the mayor' events

UPDATE***** The fate of the Los Angeles Police Department's federal consent decree remains unclear at this point in time.

In one of those grand mysteries which plague Riverside from time to time especially under the rule of City Manager Brad Hudson is where has all the money gone?

This time it's allocated funding for all those improvements that were to be done on the downtown library, museum and that add-on, the municipal auditorium. Columnist Dan Bernstein of the Press Enterprise tries to get to the bottom of it.

(excerpt, )

The city never actually had the $7.4 million in hand, but had hoped to bag it by selling off "surplus" property in Colton. But the flat real estate market has persuaded the city to hang onto its 193 acres of Pellissier Ranch.

"Another setback," lamented Judith Auth, Riverside's ex-librarian and key advocate of a new Main Library. But she's not exactly shocked. "I had my doubts the ranch would be sold as anticipated four years ago."

Now what? Auth: "I know the city manager finds the money to do what he wants to do."
Yes, Brad Hudson's a resourceful guy. But does he want to find money for a new library since his first (discredited) proposal called for a mini-expansion of the existing book bunker? Auth, who has questioned whether Hudson's latest proposal (new library!) was just so much "snake oil," doesn't know.

Mike Gardner seems equally clueless. And he's the councilman who represents downtown!
"The city's contribution (for a library, etc.) will have to come from another source." Yes? Yes? "I don't have another one in mind." Oh.

Gardner's not just talking about that disappearing Colton $7.4 million. He's talking about $25 million -- the total the city has committed to this auditorium-muzeem-library trifecta. Nobody knows where this money will come from!

It's not like the city council's not been down this road before with Hudson. They give him an order or money to spend and he drags his feet or tries to spend less than what he gave them on getting less. The entire city council should have some clue where this money is coming from after making all these promises to dozens of concerned individuals who showed up advocating for improving both the downtown library and museum. But then if they do know what's going on and where the money went and what's being spent where when it comes to public facilities, why then are they acting so clueless? Watching them run interference for their city manager or his underling so many times is just uncomfortable to watch and became incremently so with the December 2008 pay hikes in that office which took place despite an economic situation which outgoing(and already gone) Councilman Frank Schiavone called a "global meltdown".

Well, the economy couldn't have been melting down that much if raises were given to Hudson, City Attorney Gregory Priamos and most department heads even as people were laid off or positions were frozen in those respective city departments. And did Schiavone recuse himelf from voting on a renewal of the contract plus a 16% raise for Police Chief Russ Leach or had Leach already moved out of his house by then?

Conversations still taking place about whether or not Leach will ever be allowed to be an autonomous police chief even with a "reconfiguration" of the city council or will be continue to have himself and his agency be micromanaged by a cast of characters. After all, he and at least one of his management employees worked on Schiavone's ill-fated county supervisor campaign in 2008 by reporting radio announcements voicing their endorsements for him, with Leach giving his as an "individual" member of the state chiefs' association which has its own PAC already.

But if a police department has been as incoming Ward Four Councilman Paul Davis says, has been micromanaged by City Hall, is there anyway to undo that course or any willingness on the dais to stir the department back in the direction where it needs to go to continue its reform processes? That's a pressing question. And then there's the whole mess involving the similar micromanagement of the Community Police Review Commission by City Hall.

But with Councilman Frank Schiavone on his way out, who will be left to steer the S.S. Hudson on an appropriate path on this issue which represents the wishes of city residents? That's something which remains to be seen. And where will this money come from? Ultimately, like that spent on the Riverside Renaissance? Out of the pockets of this generation's children and grand-children. After all, if you try to get $2.1 billion worth of improvements done in five yearsww, do you think it actually costs that much when you're dealing with bonds?

Walk with the mayor is the latest thing coming out of soon-to-be-up-for-recoronation Mayor Ron Loveridge in Riverside. People can join him as he hikes up Mt. Rubidoux, that is if they can find places to park their cars. But other locations have been scheduled as well for these hour-long walks. Looks like the second chapter of Election 2009 has just gotten started.

The City Council and Redevelopment Agency will meet again on Tuesday June 16 at City Hall for sessions at both 3 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

This public hearing will be held on the adoption of the Eastside Long-Range Plan which has been in the works for a while. Problem is, allegations rose pretty early on that most of the decision making and voting participation was actually being done by city employees and not residents of the Eastside themselves.

The Youth Council will be giving its annual report as well.

In breaking news, Riverside's City Hall has realized that it lacks parking spaces for the newly adorned Fox Theater downtown.

This squirmish between the old and new guards has been doing on for quite some time but it allows former City Councilman Dom Betro to keep his name in the public's memories, something which is critical to do when you're planning to run for political office again, which no doubt Betro is.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Last October, Gardner said that downtown, "there is more parking than there is demand. But not where people want it."

Dom Betro, who was ousted from his Ward 1 council seat by Gardner in 2007, said the city's purchase was a mistake.

He said that when the city acquired the Fox Theatre in 2005, it was his thought to strike a deal with the owners of a private parking structure directly across Mission Inn Avenue for theater patron parking.

"It would be cost effective and an environmentally friendly use," Betro said this week. "You need people downtown. You don't need more cars."

He said the notion that people are unwilling to walk more than a block or two to get to their destination is "an old archaic way of thinking."

"It's a suburban view of how you create parking options downtown," he said.

With construction costs thrown in, Betro said each parking space in the proposed Fox parking structure will cost about $25,000.

"That's outrageous," he said.

Gardner said the problem with the parking lot across the street is that the city would not have controlled availability for Fox patrons.

Grand Terrace's city manager is planning to balance his budget by eliminating an assistant city manager's position. Can you imagine if City Manager Brad Hudson did that? But instead, Hudson's eliminating and freezing positions while already having given his own assistant city managers and department heads raises of 13% or higher.

A member of the SEIU chapter representing many Riverside County employees wrote that it's time for a line to be drawn in the sand between those who have to make sacrifices including budget cuts and the two unions which are getting money including the Riverside Sheriff's Association and the organization that represents Riverside County District Attorney's office employees.

(Excerpt, Press Enterprise)

The Riverside County Board of Supervisors needs to draw a line in the sand. If supervisors are asking one union to take a 5.5 percent pay cut, unpaid furlough days, a reduction in health benefits, plus lose all but two hours of sick time per month, they have no business allowing pay raises and benefit increases in the Riverside County Sheriff's Department ("Plan digs deep to fund DA, sheriff's budgets," June 10).

They have no business letting the district attorney continue to increase his budget. And they have no business threatening Service Employees International Union members with layoffs when they do not address all of the unions in the county.

Supervisor Jeff Stone is willing to risk county-funded services except for those provided by the sheriff and the district attorney.

When your children attend school this fall with children who could not get immunized, and your elderly relatives cannot get care or services, and your foreclosed neighbor's pool fills your yard with West Nile-bearing mosquitoes, remember that Stone made sure the Riverside County sheriff's staff got pay raises -- and that 1,000 workers from other departments may have been let go to pay for them.

When more houses enter foreclosure because of fired county staff, be sure to thank him. And at election time, make sure you join the Riverside Sheriffs' Association in voting for him, because that's how it got to keep its pay raises while so many others lost their jobs, benefits and homes, and you lost access to services.

Undersheriff Valerie Hill is wrong to describe that as "equitable." Equitable would be all of the unions being asked to share the load. Tuesday's meeting was about one union taking all of the financial load off the county for the benefit of the sheriff's association.

How many private sector folks are getting pay raises in businesses with multimillion-dollar deficits? We are giving pay raises to some of the sheriff's staff while laying off providers of vital health and protective services. It's criminal.

Way to go Riverside County Board of Supervisors. Show the sheriff and district attorney who is in charge!

Residents of Edison, New Jersey want that city's police department to probe allegations that an officer is using racial slurs.

(excerpt, Star-Ledger)

Amarinder Cheema and Karan Bhandri, both 24-year-old Rutgers graduate students, died in the July wreck. Edison police officer Joseph Kenney dragged the driver, Kapil Goel, from the burning vehicle. Goel is awaiting trial on charges of aggravated manslaughter in what police call a drunken-driving accident.

Kenney claimed Sgt. Alex Glinsky stood by as he rescued the driver. Kenney said Glinsky refused to help because "there's dirty (expletive) Indians in the car, and I'm not going in there."

The township charged Kenney with insubordination, claiming he confronted Glinsky the next day and berated him in front of other officers, violating department policy.

But at a disciplinary hearing last week, Edison Police Director Brian Collier threw out the case against Kenney because the complaint was not filed within the proper time window.

The family of a teenager shot to death by Mesa Police Department officers received a $3 million settlement from the city.

(excerpt, East Valley Tribune)

The settlement marks the end of legal wrangling in federal court involving the high-profile case in which Madrigal’s family, supporters and activists staged annual protests in front of the Mesa Police Department.

But the boy’s father, still raw with emotion, said there still is no closure in his son’s death.

“Nothing is settled because there is always going to be the pain caused by the Mesa Police Department, a pain that we feel in our hearts every day,” Mario Madrigal Sr. told the Tribune on Wednesday.

The settlement stemmed from the fatal shooting of Madrigal Jr. on Aug. 25, 2003, when officers were called to the home at 513 S. Johnson to intervene as the boy was holding a kitchen knife and threatening suicide after drinking beer.

After police shot him with a Taser, three officers shot the boy 10 times as he was falling from the Taser shock in the doorway of the kitchen, according to Ray Slomski, the attorney who represented the Madrigal family, which contended the shooting was unnecessary.

Proposed changes to Miami's civilian review board have struck some opposition.

(excerpt, Miami Herald)

The Civilian Investigative Panel, created eight years ago to soothe citizen concerns after several questionable police involved shootings, reviews complaints against officers and makes recommendations on police policies.

But now Miami commissioners are weighing cutting the panel in size, from 13 to 9, and handpicking five of the appointees from their respective districts. The mayor would pick two others.

Community activists said they fear the changes would undercut the panel's autonomy and undermine the very reason it was created. Yet supporters say the changes are intended to create diversity on the board.

''Obviously there's more need for diversification, but we need to figure out the best way to do it, without compromising the independence aspect,'' said City Manager Pete Hernandez.

Instead of having the panel interview and propose new members to the commission for approval, each commissioner would appoint a member from their district from those who apply.

Some undercover New York City Police Department detectives discovered their worst enemy: Surveillance video cameras.

Who pays for the meals of public officials when they meet? You do.

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