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 30, 2009

Riverside County passes its budget and Riverside goes on another spending spree

I did have an interesting conversation with a woman at Riverside's 311 call center about the municipal wi-fi which hasn't been having a very good week, after having had months of pretty stellar service in most parts of Riverside. She reiterated that there was no guarantee built in place that it would remain working at all times, that its quality of signal would be up and down during the lifespan of the project. And there's truth to that being a part and parcel of trying out something that's relatively new. There will be ups and downs.

The only thing that I remember city officials saying about the Wi-Fi from the dais is that it would be 10 times faster than dialup and when it's working smoothly, it most definitely is a lot faster than dialup and probably DSL as well. The trick is keeping it at performing at that capacity. This means navigating through issues like high server traffic, the impact of various forms of weather on the router equipment that's sitting on the light posts to how the topography of a neighborhood and a little thing like wind can impact the routes taken by wi-fi signals from router to router and on through the network system and how many information packets might be lost along these routes.

In many areas perhaps, the Wi Fi is 10 times after than dialup but in at least one area, it's about 10 times slower. The 311 representative attributed the nearly 24/7 slow speeds in some areas as opposed to others where there's larger windows for access to increased traffic caused by kids getting out of school for the summer. In other words, in some locations, maybe you'd better check back in the autumn.

Some others areas have maintained very high speed, smooth performance except for the mystery of the crashing browsers, which is being investigated by AT&T. The downtown area for example maintains pretty good service.

During the summer months, accessibility, speed and performance of various locations through their access points will be studied and the results of these tests will be included on this blog at the bottom of the postings.


The company which is in charge of the ISP for the MetroWiFi in Riverside has contacted one of its advertisers on its free service site to see if the mystery of the crashing browsers stems from the placement of one of their advertisements on the site. Hopefully if so, the situation will be remedied soon.

As promised, there will soon be a series of postings on the history of the micromanagement of the Riverside Police Department and the Community Police Review Commission during the past few years by factions at City Hall including the city manager's office, city attorney's office and possibly done by members of the city council as well. There's some difference of opinion on when it exactly began. Did it begin before the current city management team came to town? Did it begin after the dissolution of the state consent decree? Did it began during the attempts to change the classifications of captains' positions in the police department about two to three years ago?

The next chapter of the ongoing saga of Captain, Captain, Where Thou Art Thou Captain will address one of the pivotal points in micromanagement history which took place in March 2007 when crowds of police officers and city residents gathered at city council for some showdown with City Manager Brad Hudson, Asst. City Manager Tom DeSantis, City Attorney Gregory Priam0s, Chief Russ Leach and eight talking heads on the dais. But many of those in attendance were waiting for a showdown of a different sort? Did it take place? What happened instead and how could have a missed opportunity or a quick tug on the leash of one player changed the course of history in the Riverside Police Department? And what has happened since?

What: The coup detat against the police department by City Hall

When: March 27, 2007 at 6:30 p.m.

Where: City Council Chambers, City Hall, River City

Captain is no longer a position based on merit-It is a political position and City Hall will have a great deal to do with the next selection."

---Darryl Hurt, Tim Bacon v the City of Riverside

"At-will employees fear losing their jobs so they often become 'yes men'. "

---Former Riverside Police Officers' Association President Det. Ken Tutwiler, March 27, 2007

"But I was thinking of a way To multiply by ten, And always, in the answer, get The question back again."

---Lewis Carroll

To be continued....

Crowds of people representing different advocacy groups and labor organizations organized at the Riverside County Administrative headquarters to listen to discussion about whether or not the Board of Supervisors would be able to come up with a final budget for the 2009-10 fiscal budget year set to begin on July 1. Deputies lined the doors at 10:30 a.m. and were not allowing anyone to go in the conference room.

Protests are planned by those who already see where the cuts are coming down on the backs of the mentally ill, children and the disabled. But then what else is new? One irate reader of the Press Enterprise article wrote this:


I have a swell idea. Why don't we reduce the number of County board of Supervisors by two, (the remaining 3 will have to do more with less) eliminate the current CEO (Luna)and have an open, "Balance the Budget" contest available to all current and former CEO's and CPA's. The one with the winning balanced budget plan will receive an offer of employment and an opportunity to further reduce the budget in years to come with financial incentives attached.

This County could do so much more with so much less by lopping off the excess fat in ALL departments and only retaining the hard working, public comes first minded individuals who already do the majority of the work anyhow.

By the end of the day, the board of supervisors did pass a budget but not without some controversy.

Riverside's business dealings into bringing more parking downtown has led to more losses than gains, most recently the failed efforts to hold onto the Regency Towers. So now not long after it started buying more foreclosed homes, the city is trying to buy four more downtown buildings in order to help secure itself more parking. Will it work any better than the wheeling, dealings and trades involving the Regency Tower? We will all have to wait and see.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

The $4.2 million agreement to buy one-quarter of a city block should be on the City Council's July 15 agenda, according to Councilman Mike Gardner, whose ward includes downtown.

The site is 66 by 157 feet, prime real estate for the Fox Plaza, a proposed combination of shops, a hotel, restaurants and residences that would front on Market Street between Mission Inn Avenue and Fifth Street, he said.

The city is eager to retain its footprint on 32 spaces in back of four adjoining structures that stretch from BioKorium Day Spa & Salon at 3615 Main St. to Delights & Invites at 3653 Main St. They're situated between Mission Inn Avenue and Sixth Street on the pedestrian mall.

The quartet of historic buildings, which boasts 30,400 square feet of floor space, dates from the late 19th century to the 1920s. The oldest once housed the Glenwood stables for the Mission Inn's horses and later became a post office. It now houses the BioKorium, but the upstairs is vacant.

Gardner said that the rents of tenants -- which also include the Flowerloft, Simple Simon's eatery, Magnolia's gifts and Don Carlos' hair salon -- would remain the same.

One wonders if the city's really after the parking place or the chance to play landlord to these lucrative businesses currently housed in these buildings. For now, the city has said that it will keep their rents stable but how long will that last?

A former assistant assessor in San Bernardino County plead out to four felony charges and will testify against other people who worked in former Assessor Bill Postmus' office as the county probe into the activities and misdeeds of that office continues.

(excerpt, Belo Blog)

Aleman promised to testify against former assessor's officials Jim Erwin, Rex Gutierrez and others related to prosecutors' investigation into the county assessor's office, Judge John Martin said this morning while reviewing the plea agreement.

Adam Aleman, who last appeared in San Bernardino County Superior Court earlier this month, returned this morning for a hearing.

Aleman was arrested last year on six felony counts of destroying public documents and providing false information to a grand jury. A Jan. 7 date was set for Aleman's sentencing, but that date could be delayed if the investigation is not resolved by then, Martin said.

Spokane, Washington finally gets its police ombudsman but not without controversy.

(excerpt, Center for Justice Advocates and Attorneys)

Two hours later, Burns had the council’s approval for the post on the condition that he accept a creative severance package that Danek said he’d put together with the help of Assistant City Attorney Mike Piccolo. The proposal is that rather than be offered a lump sum payment if the city decides not to renew his Ombudsman contract after three years, Burns will be offered nearly $17,000 in moving expenses and another city job for which he is qualified. The job would be his for at least two years following onto his three year term as Ombudsman.

Danek said he thought, based on his conversations with Burns, that he would accept the offer. The City Administrator also admitted to being somewhat embarrassed by the timing of Burns’s new demand and said the city would accept it as a lesson learned for future such hirings. Again, whether the creative proposal is enough to persuade Burns to accept the position is now up to Burns.

That would have been enough of a meeting for one night except the people who’d come to testify against Burns’s appointment had other ideas. Whether those ideas would be shared with the council was up to Council President Joe Shogan who, from the start, tried to limit the discussion to the narrow issue of whether or not Burns should be approved for the position.

“All we’re considering right now in this resolution is whether or not to appoint Timothy Burns as the Ombudsman, that’s all were talking about,” Shogan announced. If people wanted to talk about the creation of the ombudsman and the powers given the office in the ombudsman ordinance, he said, they would invited to make those remarks at the end of the council meeting during the general open forum, “because all we’re addressing right now is whether we’re appointing Timothy Burns to this office.”

A fundraiser held for a political candidate in San Diego ended with guests being pepper sprayed by deputies and the hostess being arrested.

(excerpt, San Diego Union-Tribune)

Deputies first went to the Cardiff home on Rubenstein Avenue at 9 p.m. to issue a warning after a neighbor called and complained about the loud party, sheriff's Sgt. Chuck Yancey said.

He said deputies returned later when the party hadn't quieted down, and one deputy asked for Barman's date of birth so he could file paperwork alerting the city to the noise complaints.

Sheriff's officials said Barman refused to give the deputy the information, and that's when things got out of control. A crowd of about 30 to 50 partygoers surrounded Barman when he tried to arrest her, and they were able to separate her from the deputy, Yancey said.

Pepper spray was dispersed on the crowd, and the deputies were able to reach her again. At one point, a person refused to let go of Barman's leg so the deputy could take her away. Barman also allegedly punched the deputy, Yancey said.

Barman said she would issue a statement today but had nothing further to say yesterday.

A statement from Busby's office said a man shouted an “obscenity-laced tirade” from a wooded area as Busby spoke to the guests. It said about 25 mostly middle-aged guests – a lower estimate than the deputies' – were “quietly chatting” when a deputy arrived and asked to speak to the homeowner.

Busby said she was outside the house at the time of the incident and saw some of it unfold.

“When the homeowner asked the deputy sheriff why he needed her date of birth, the deputy reacted by restraining the homeowner,” said Busby's statement. “Alarmed guests pleaded with the deputy to let the 60-year-old homeowner go and stop hurting her. She had recently had shoulder surgery and was clearly in pain. His response was to spray the women with pepper spray which caused confusion and outrage.”

A second woman was also taken into custody during the melee. She was cited and released.

Georgia passed a law to mandate taser training for its law enforcement officers but never funded it.

(excerpt, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

The head of Georgia’s police training center says the state training would last at least eight hours longer and cover more than Taser’s lessons, including if and when officers should use stun guns on certain people such as pregnant women. Taser officials say they train police to use the weapons safely but leave it up to them to write policies on when and on whom they should be used.

At the same time, an increasing number of Atlanta area law enforcement agencies are equipping their officers with Tasers and adopting widely differing policies on when to use them. Some policies are stringent while others are less so.

“It would be best to have our own state training on that and to develop some sort of standardized policy with a recommendation of when to use a Taser and when not to,” said Frank Rotondo, executive director of the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police.

Wi-Fi Report:

Downtown near County Administrative Headquarters on Lemon Street.

Distance from AP: 10 ft

Signal: Excellent

Connects: Yes

Internet: Yes

Speed: Medium to good

Crashed browser pages: Yes

Email sent: Yes in about 2-3 seconds

Canyon Crest Town Center just outside of Starbucks

Distance from AP: 100? ft

Signal: Good (four bars)

Connects: Yes

Internet: Yes but dropped off after 30 minutes

Speed: Medium to good

Crashed browser pages: Yes

Email sent: Yes in about 2-3 seconds though email provider pages had to be refreshed several times before being successfully loaded.

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