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

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Mayors and micromanagement.

Current attorney and Moreno Valley Mayor Richard Stewart and his law partner are moving their digs to Riverside.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

The Geller & Stewart law firm is leasing office space at Raceway Ford, the firm's largest client, the mayor said.

"This is saving us a lot of money," Stewart said by phone. "We're trying to survive the times."

The move, which took place a couple of weeks ago, is expected to be temporary because Raceway Ford could move to Moreno Valley, he said.

Because of the law firm's lease, the mayor said he would not be involved if the City Council decides to help the auto dealership relocate from its location on Sycamore Canyon Boulevard, just inside the Riverside line.

It's not the first time the law firm has used Riverside office space. The firm once leased space in a Riverside office building to meet clients and take depositions, Stewart said.

One of the law firm's highest profiled clients was former Riverside City Councilman Frank Schiavone who sued the city clerk over the campaign statement written by soon-to-be councilman, Paul Davis. Stewart and Schiavone also served as representatives on the March Joint Powers Commission which got itself involved in that whole DHL mess, because first it brought DHL in including night flights, then it was "shocked" to discover the misleading and downright bogus flight path maps submitted by GlobalPort and then after much chastisment and hand wringing by politicians especially those who faced one or say two election cycles, they all continued to hang out together and swap money around in the form of campaign donations, from partners in an organization that they had pretty much called a bunch of liars and fraud perpetrators.

This puzzling arrangement and camaraderie was one of the elements that made Election 2009 in the fourth ward a head scratcher and also entertaining as hell to follow once the nausea which this kind of behavior would naturally elicit began to fade a bit. It also probably didn't help Schiavone's reelection chances.

Election 2009: Mayor's coronation or election?

The Mayor's race has already got people speculating about who's going to face off against Mayor Ron Loveridge who's been mayor for like ever over what's going to amount to a fairly abbreviated term. Loveridge of course wants the big prize so he can try to become president of this League of Cities organization which is supposed to be some kind of big deal. Everyone pretty much thinks that Election 2009 (part deux) will be the inevitable coronation of the current mayor. Just hand him the tiara and the scepter already, some circles have said. But what's an election without a little competition and some circles say that former Councilman Art Gage (with the aid of some revisionism in his history as a council member) has already declared his intentions to take on Loveridge. There's other candidates who are weighing their options to run for mayor but most of the serious contenders like Dom Betro, Ed Adkison, Mary Figueroa and gasp, Frank Schiavone (unless he opts for another attempt to be a county supervisor in three years) are waiting until the next Mayor's election in 2012.

None of these individuals have declared their intent to run in 2012 but these are the names being floated around as potential and very viable contenders at the moment. But 2012 isn't quite here yet so we need to focus on the upcoming mayor's race which will be decided at the polls in November and hopefully some viable contenders will jump into the ring, declare their intent to run and launch thrilling campaigns.

The salary isn't bad especially considering this position has very little overt power, though there's often a lot of politicking going on behind the scenes particularly being done by Loveridge so being the mayor of Riverside is like being an iceberg. Only about 10% of the job is visible from the surface.

No more news on whether there was a slight thawing in the police department of a captain's position that had been frozen as a deputy chief position over a year ago. A persistent rumor was that this position was going to be filled as was the resultant vacancy in the lieutenant's rank but not anything lower than that. The other rumor about promotions is that there's a bunch of detective positions which are needed to be filled because they were apparently frozen, despite the existence of a fairly old MOU between the detectives and management in the department to fill those vacancies when they occur. However, does that same MOU exist between the detectives and the city management? That's what's a bit confusing because at this point, that's the "management" which allegedly is running the department right now and one would think it was their MOU to abide by but other unions like the SEIU have said they have lists of attempts or outright violations of their own MOUs so maybe next time the city hires a city manager, it should look for one that fully understands these issues better than the current guard.

So if these higher positions were going to be filled through promotions, which one person said was a "done deal", it will be interesting to see if that actually is what happens or whether they quietly get dropped. If anyone has any ideas about that and would like to share them, the email address is in the header of this site's home page.

If that's so, that's one reason why you have active lawsuits by officers alleging that the promotional process is being used to keep officers who are active in at least one labor association loyal to the elected officials who are serving on the dais and why elected officials can apparently go running around and saying support me or you won't get promoted (as allegedly said by Councilman Steve Adams) or stay away from those "troublemakers" if you want to get promoted (as allegedly said by Schiavone). Schiavone's case wasn't greatly assisted by the timing of the announcement of the lawsuit filed by Lts. Darryl Hurt and Tim Bacon with revelations that he had been sending threatening letters to two members of the micro-managed-until-the-last-drop-is-squeezed-out-of-it Community Police Review Commission members in an attempt to censor their comments about city employees.

In the halls of power at Riverside County, the board of supervisors and other elected officials have opted for the 10% salary cuts.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Supervisors Roy Wilson and Marion Ashley requested and were granted 10 percent pay reductions last week. They encouraged other elected officials to do the same.

Supervisor John Tavaglione, who was traveling last week on county business, announced Tuesday he would join them. Supervisors Jeff Stone and Bob Buster followed suit.

"We need to set the example for our employees in these very difficult times," Tavaglione said. "I think our board should be unanimous in that regard."

Supervisors will each see a cut of about $14,300 to their annual $143,000 salaries. The cuts would last at least one year and could be renewed based on the county's financial position.

County Executive Officer Bill Luna next week plans to propose that managers take similar cuts to their pay and benefits, according to a county news release.

Auditor-Controller Robert Byrd, Treasurer-Tax Collector Don Kent and Assessor-County Clerk-Recorder Larry Ward have also requested cuts.


This is an interesting development. Will any other county politicians join them? Here are several others who could join the salary cuts out of solidarity and the betting line odds that they actually would.

Sheriff Stan Sniff: 50 to 1

District Attorney Rod Pacheco: 1,0000 to 1

In Riverside, the city council froze their salaries but didn't take cuts. Most of the department heads were given generous salary hikes last December.

The LAPD at a crossroads

A U.S. District Judge has delayed his decision to end the federal consent decree between the U.S. Justice Department and the city of Los Angeles. This indecision has led to a wide disparity of opinions being released on the situation. As you can recall, the LAPD has been under federal consent decree by the Department of Justice since June 2001. The decree was supposed to expire after five years but the presiding judge over the decree nixed the dissolution because key reforms had not been carried out and others hadn't been in place for the requisite two-year period after implementation. A lot of yelling and gnashing of teeth resulted from the three additional years imposed on the LAPD but now it appears that the period may be extended even longer. After the tumultuous history of the LAPD including a series of failed reformed processes including the much ballyhooed Christopher Commission in the early 1990s, it's probable that the judge wants to be absolutely sure the department is heading in the best possible direction before he puts his stamp of approval on it.

(excerpt, Los Angeles Times)

In a lengthy morning hearing, Feess acknowledged that the LAPD had come a long way, but he refused to go along with the plan. He expressed doubt about doing away with the current decree and putting in place a new agreement that, he said, was too vague. The proposal, he said, left his authority over the department uncertain and did not make clear whether outside groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union would continue to have a say in the unresolved issues. Feess gave the attorneys a week to submit written responses to his concerns.

Attorneys for the ACLU of Southern California criticized the transition agreement, saying that it inadequately addressed unfinished reforms. They asked Feess to keep the consent decree in place.

When asked by Feess for his comments, federal monitor Michael Cherkasky said he believed that the push to end the decree stemmed from the negative "symbolic nature" of the agreement. The idea of continuing the consent decree, he said, has pushed the LAPD to a "psychological breaking point." That idea seemed to hold little sway with Feess. "I don't know there is anything anyone can say about that," Feess said.

Police Chief William J. Bratton has made no secret of his desire to be done with decree, saying that the continued oversight hurts officers' morale.

After the hearing, Bratton reiterated that idea. "It is time to move on," he said.

Independent Monitor's final report in its own words.

ACLU: Extend the consent decree

(excerpt, Los Angeles Times)

It isn't only the ACLU that has raised these concerns. A report released last week by Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government -- commissioned by the LAPD itself -- noted "a troubling pattern" in officer behavior from 2004 to 2008 in which "African Americans, and to a lesser extent Hispanics, are subjects of the use of ... force out of proportion to their share of involuntary contacts with the LAPD." The Harvard study, while observing that views of the LAPD are generally more positive now than they were three years ago, also noted a "worrying trend" that less than half the African Americans and Latinos polled believe that the LAPD treats all racial and ethnic groups fairly.

The department also lags in other key areas covered by the decree that are essential to ensuring real and lasting reform. For example, in a February report, Michael Cherkasky, the court-appointed independent monitor who oversees the LAPD's compliance with the decree, expressed "continu[ing] ... concerns regarding supervisory oversight" of gang units. The same report found that supervisors are not consistently meeting the requirement that they evaluate every case in which a person is arrested for interference with or assault on an officer, charges that are warning flags for police abuse. If there's a shortfall in these areas on the eve of the court's decision, when the department is on its best behavior, what will happen if the court ends its oversight?

An extension of the decree for an additional three years shouldn't burden the department. Cherkasky actively reviews only those areas in which the department remains noncompliant -- so the department gets credit for the advances it has made. And although the court-appointed monitor should remain involved, the primary responsibility for overseeing compliance could be moved from Cherkasky to the LAPD's inspector general, the civilian investigator who will have to act in concert with the Police Commission as the watchdog for the LAPD when the department is ready to operate without court oversight.

The LAPD has made commendable progress under the decree, but the community must not be exposed to any risk that could undermine that progress. The consent decree represents the most effective device for accomplishing police reform that Los Angeles has ever had. We're getting close, but for this historically troubled agency, close is not good enough. This time, Los Angeles needs to see police reform all the way through.

Los Angeles Times Editorial Board: Lift the consent decree


When the decree was first agreed to, it was intended to remain in place for five years. Initially, the department moved slowly to embrace it, and completing its requirements took longer than expected. Still, it was not designed to be permanent, and it is not desirable for anyone but the handsomely paid federal monitor to have a judge remain as the LAPD's overseer. Rather, the job belongs to the city's Police Commission, which has long labored to play that role to its fullest.

The most important of the many commissions to study the modern LAPD -- the Christopher Commission, which examined it in the aftermath of the King beating -- recommended the structural changes in city government that brought the department more firmly under civilian control. Among other things, it proposed a term limit for the police chief and the creation of an inspector general for the Police Commission, as well as improved systems for tracking complaints against officers. The decree came later and helped push along some of those efforts. But in one sense the decree inhibits the full expression of the Christopher Commission recommendations: As long as the decree is the last word in LAPD reform, the Police Commission cannot be. Eventually, it must return to its role as the final arbiter of LAPD policy.

Since being assigned oversight of the LAPD in 2000, Judge Feess has performed his role admirably. Now he should turn the department back over to its Police Commission. Thus fully empowered again, the commission should then commit itself to ensuring that the gains of the last nine years are not squandered.

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