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

Monday, June 08, 2009

The passing of an activist, gadfly and friend

When I first met Yolanda, we were sitting next to each other at a city council meeting some years ago. It wasn't the most thrilling of city council meetings so we chatted in the middle of it and after about 20 minutes of sharing information about the issues which drove us to be active and to come to these meetings, she gave me a business card with her name surrounded by lovely roses. I didn't know much about her and how actively she had been involved in the city, how intertwined her life was in the fabric of Riverside, both past and present. I would learn all that later on as I got to know her as a fellow activist, a gadfly, an ally and a friend.

She would come to city council meetings with speeches that she had prepared ahead of time and practiced several times at least to make sure she would complete the entire speech before the last second tolled on the allotted time given by the city council. If the time limit was five minutes for speaking, she would have it timed to the final punctuation mark and when the city council in its move towards limiting public input reduced the speaking time to three minutes, Yolanda adapted and still was able to complete all her speeches in the required time. Her speeches were great writing, but even better delivery. She peppered her beliefs on serious issues from growth control, to eminent domain, to the Community Police Review Commission to free speech and many, many more with a dry wit and great humor, because she understand that not only was humor an integral part of a well-lived life, but it's also killed giants and brought them to their knees. And Yolanda did that many times. People loved listening to Yolanda's speeches. I don't know if she even knew how much they looked forward with anticipation as she walked up tot he podium each time, even as the elected officials blanched when they saw her approach. They had good reason to do so but that was more of a reflection on some of them than on Yolanda, except that she had a way of forcing people to look at the truth.

Yolanda lived in La Sierra, nestled in the seventh ward that is now represented by a city councilman she called "SADAM" after his email address. Adams would sit on the dais as an elected official and say she was a liar and had no class, remarks that always wound up bouncing back on him because Yolanda had many supporters in Riverside. During one meeting, she and three other city residents were ejected from the city council meetings by police officers who are intended to serve as public safety but too often were used by elected officials as their own personal bouncers. Yet in this case, the police officers wouldn't arrest Yolanda or the other three people and not one detective in the Riverside Police Department would launch an investigation against them after one of the city council's direct employees apparently called up all of them all over town demanding that they do so. She was one of the people who spoke up about the use of police officers in the capacity of being used as bouncers by several city council members and she was very supportive of the police in the city.

We didn't always agree on issues and argued passionately a time or two, but Yolanda never left a discussion with anything but a kind word in departure and a phrase along the lines of, hope to see you again. A group of us women who attended city council meetings used to meet afterward whether they ran quickly or ran late either at Art's Bar and Grill for Taco Tuesday night or at CoCo's for their great broccoli soup and freshly baked bread. Most of the waitresses knew Yolanda because she was a regular there and these gatherings of the gadflies were always memorable, humorous, informative and a lot of fun. A chance to kick back and relax after spending an evening spitting in the wind at a city council meeting and having elected officials call you "liars", "racist", say you had "no class" or "no ethics" simply because they don't want you to exercise your right to free expression and redressing your government in the Constitution unless you're there to flatter them. It was wonderful to be surrounded by that kind of energy that Yolanda and these other woman have, in one place.

She would often call and ask questions about different issues and talk about information that he had received and sent out emails regularly which showed her sense of humor and a spiritual side that she didn't show at meetings. She worked tirelessly on political campaigns of those people she believed in and they were always the better for it.

In her final months, she came out and spoke tirelessly on the CPRC.

One well-known activist wrote this about Yolanda.

Yolanda Garland will be very missed.
Relentless in her fight for open, honest governmnet in Riverside, Yolanda leaves a REAL legacy.


Another person wrote this.

I don't keep up with the City's goings on but a friend emailed me about Yolanda Garland. I have heard her speak a few times and always enjoyed her interesting way of getting her opinion across. She was one who stepped up to the plate and had her say. More than many of us who sit in the background and say nothing therefore changing nothing. For the person who made the disparaging remark about her death. "You are only to be pitied" Terry Smith

And other this.


Yolanda Garland inspired people like myself. When I started speaking out I set up a meeting at the Universalist-Unitarian Church to talk about the goings on in the City of Riverside. Yolanda attended. That's where I met her. It was her and a few others who made me aware of what was happening in Riverside and gave me the strength and the courage to move forward. Yolanda was only one of the people who started the ball rolling and pushed me along. Hundreds of people followed and the movement grew and is still growing. The whole dynamic of Riverside is changing each day. There's no such thing as "one down". I'm here to step into her place as well as many others. It's only a matter of time before things will be a lot different here. I'm proof as well as a lot of others here.

P. O.

Of course being an outspoken activist especially a female one (and Yolanda got that real well), there was quite a bit of ugliness mixed in with the good. It's just part and parcel of being active about issues like eminent domain and growth control among others in this city who back the current leadership, but lack the integrity to put their names on the hateful writing they spew. And Yolanda received her share of hateful anonymous comments on Craigslist. Apparently even her death didn't change that.

This unsigned (but not anonymous) jackass wrote this. Could you believe anybody could be so cruel? But this is and was the mentality of exactly what Yolanda fought against.


One less hater. One down seven more to go. There is something to be learned from this. The hate, anger, irreconciliable peace with everybody else, brings down those that hate. Who is next ? we will soon find out.

When it comes to hate, it's always telling when someone talks about it in someone else but then gives a perfect demonstration of it in themselves.

Like all activists in Riverside, Yolanda had her enemies and even her death hasn't silenced them as it would most people with any ounce of decency inside of them. But Yolanda took her critics well and with dignity. She laughed heartedly about being included in both the "dirty dozen" and the "filthy five", designations reserved for mostly female activists who are too mouthy. The irony is that this particular jerk once stood side by side with Yolanda carrying signs at a protest against former Councilman Dom Betro. How could anyone change so much in just two years to write a hateful statement about a former ally?

Yolanda pushed on even when she didn't feel well, even when faced with vitrol from those few who didn't like her, because she really believed in what she stood for.

Rest in Peace, Yolanda Garland. You will be very much missed.

I'll be leaving town to go revisit the doctor and get more medical tests done. Hopefully, if I have internet ability, I'll be able to keep blogging. If not, hopefully it will only be several days.

Moreno Valley is facing even more of a budget shortfall this upcoming fiscal year.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

The economic downturn is expected to take a continued toll on city revenues, with property values declining and retail sales and development plummeting. City officials estimate that revenues will decline by nearly 13 percent from the current fiscal year.

But Moreno Valley could lose an additional $2.7 million if legislators decide to borrow property tax revenue to address California's budget crisis, Financial and Administrative Services Director Steve Elam said.

Under Prop. 1A, which California voters approved in 2004, the state can borrow revenues from cities and counties but must repay them within three years.

"I've been in the public sector about 23 years, and this is definitely the most challenging budget I've ever worked on," Elam said by phone.

The City Council will hear its first presentation on the 2009-10 budget tonight.

Meanwhile, Temecula is preparing to make do with a smaller budget.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

The budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1 calls for $57.2 million in revenue and about $55 million in spending. Last summer, the council passed a $62.9 million budget, but the council had to make cuts in February to bridge a $5.15 million revenue shortfall.

Fees for city services would be largely unchanged, although the annual trash collection fee for single-family homes is slated to go up about $10 to $228.12 to reflect rising costs.

Like other Inland cities, Temecula's spending plan reflects a drop in sales and property tax revenue because of the struggling economy. Over the past 18 months, the city's revenues have fallen almost 10 percent, forcing the city to lay off part-time workers and offer early retirement to veteran staff.

Despite the tough times, City Manager Shawn Nelson has said Temecula is still able to provide the same level of services. The proposed budget does not dip into the city's reserves.

"All things considered, I think Temecula's in great shape," Mayor Maryann Edwards said Monday.

The judge sets a preliminary hearing date for the wife of a former councilman in Canyonlake.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Kessler, 58, faces 23 felony counts that stem from her use of her husband's city-issued credit card to make charges on a cruise and to a debt-collection agency. She is also accused of borrowing more than $800,000 from people under the pretense that she would pay them back from an account that did not exist, as well as writing bad checks totaling $87,000.

Frank Kessler was also charged with misusing the card, but prosecutors said it was Suzanne who made the charges.

She faces 23 years in prison if convicted of all the charges.

Suzanne Kessler, who is represented by the public defender's office, appeared briefly in court Thursday, where prosecutors and Suzanne Kessler's attorney agreed on the preliminary hearing date. She remains out of jail on her own recognizance.

A Los Angeles Police Department detective has been charged with capital murder.

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