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

Friday, July 24, 2009

Another wave of layoffs, a network crashes, what does the future hold for Riverside?

**** Riverside Wi Fi upgrade update: Vista computers can't access the system! More to come! ****

According to 311, if you have a Vista computer and try to access Riverside Wi Fi, you're out of luck unless you jump through some hoops to upgrade your wireless card. Actually wireless cards because it's not really the wireless card that's the problem, it's having the most current operating system Microsoft offers and the only one that is pre-installed in most computers. Something you would think any attempt to upgrade a system would have had in mind beforehand.

To be continued...

Riverside waits the news of how much money the state gets from its coffers. Tens of millions of dollars from several sources including property tax revenue are expected to be seized by Sacramento to balance its own budget. This hits Riverside in the wake of seven more employee layoffs and more of at least part-time employees anticipated in the days and months ahead. Hard hit was the city's museum department.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Museum Director Ennette Morton noted that museum hours and programs will not change, despite the reduced budget.

"My directive and what we're here to do is maintain programs and services to the public," she said.

But Vince Moses, who retired as museum director in 2006, said the continued cuts make it harder for the organization to fulfill its cultural mission and properly care for the artifacts in its collection.

"(In terms of) intrinsic, historical and scientific value, they're irreplaceable," he said. "The museum's holdings are in many ways much more significant than the general public or certainly, I think, City Hall understands."

Moses said he is worried that the cuts signal dwindling city support that could end in the museum closing its doors.

Gardner said he believes such concerns are unfounded and he would "vigorously oppose" such a move.

Younglove said he still finds it ironic that Riverside officials talk about the city's support for arts and culture, but then they cut a department that is symbolic of those.

"It'd be more honest to say they're indifferent to that sort of thing," he said.

The City of Arts and Cultures, a catchy title that City Hall (representing the City of Catchy Logos and Titles) is still trying to fine tune (though it might be temporarily distracted by its attempts to rename Main Street) is supposed to show the city's support for well, arts and cultures. Which makes the unkindest cuts towards the museum's budget ironic indeed.

Especially considering the libraries, another source of arts and culture, are probably next on the chopping block.

Of course, an interesting discussion about this at the newspaper's Web site.


In response to "Living in Riverside": I agree the SEIU should not have recommended the general unit vote in favor of the 2% pay increase -- all California municipalities are struggling -- one of the arguments that they used was that the city has a $42 million dollar surplus and that Siobhan Foster took a 13% pay increase. Hello! Somethings out of whack here. My fiance was one of the Public Works employees layed off. Our lives have been drastically affected. The Human Resources Administrator Rhonda Strout told him "if the general unit hadn't voted in the 2% pay increase we wouldn't be sitting here right now." She should have just stuck her thumbs in her ears and wagged her fingers at him. Basically, a "take that!" mentality from the City Manager and his stooges to hard-working dedicated employees. Your loss Riverside!

"...see how we(I) can make difficult decisions. Isn't that what I told you voters we(I) could do if you voted me in? See we(I) can do it, because Staff(management) told me it was so and it was needed. They assured me that our debt was to high and we couldn't possibly balance our budget. Our reserves our gone because it was spent,and we didn't invest wisely. But Staff assured us that it wasn't our fault it was the economy." - Council Members

I wonder if after the lay offs and the budget have been passed, and the council is resting on their chamber chairs, thinking "We saved the World" they will be notified by Staff, that similar to the 1996-1997 budget year crises when hundreds of employees were layed off (not retired by choice) Sorry, "Oops we made a mistake, we miss-calculated there was plenty of money to go around. Well at least we got rid of the un-desirables!"

The museum employee and others recently layed off can thank the SEIU. While other City bargaining units and management agreed to not take the annual COLA increase, the SEIU wouldnot agree; they all got a 2% increase July 1. The heads of the local SEIU should hold their heads in shame! More layoffs will come to SEIU employees if they don't agree to a reduction in pay.

Speaking of the "undesirables", men and women of color were overrepresented among those laid off in 1996-97.

And if it's true that Siobhan Foster got a 13% raise (and she was eligible for up to a 15% raise based on the recertification of pay raise ceilings for management employees done last December), while her own employees were being laid off, then City Hall should rethink its priorities during this budget crisis. What would be really interesting would be if the city manager and perhaps his direct employees and some of these directors laying off employees would say, gee maybe since I've got employees losing jobs, I could perhaps take a pay cut from a salary of $150,000 or $200,000 so in light of the budget crisis. Instead, they actually go through the process of raising their ceilings for raises even after news of at least a $14 million shortfall than anticipated earlier in the 2008-09 fiscal budget year. The same month that several city employees including from the Mayor's office and the police department were handed their pink slips. Not to mention the dozens of part-time employees including library pages who were laid off before that. But then when it comes to the part-time employees, they're not really talked about as much or at all, like they never existed. Though it's kind of hard to pretend that the libraries never had pages but City Hall really tries.

Not the right message to send from department heads to their employees, is it? In the environment of broken dreams and struggles to find new jobs, raising maximum salary ceilings shouldn't have even been included in the vernacular of discussing the present when the future was so uncertain except that it included revenue reductions and budget cuts. It's just disrespectful.

Another interesting thing about the new maximum ceiling for raises is that if all the employees got their raises, the police chief at $277, 176 would be making more than his boss, the city manager who would earn a more measly $275,004. How often does that happen?

But it's so interesting that why salaries are being frozen, employees laid off and departments like museums and libraries being cut to ribbons that City Hall one month after it realized it was more in the hole (about $14 million at that time) budget revenue wise than it thought, decided it just had to increase salary raise ceilings for a number of its employees including those in management from what it had instituted in January 2008.

Many states and the League of Cities are planning to sue the state over the planned monies seizures. Will Riverside join the list of plaintiffs? Considering that Riverside is currently suing quite a few cities in Southern California already on different issues, it wouldn't be surprising. But who will pay the legal fees if both the cities and state are going broke?

Stay tuned.

An interesting turn of events in the case of the latest settlement paid out on a lawsuit filed involving the Riverside Police Department which was reported in this article by the Press Enterprise. This account has been provided by an anonymous individual on the newspaper's Web site's comment section.


Truth is the reporting party called RPD back saying the officer had detained the right person. It's in the dispatch log! The officer would be negligent if he didn't inform the jail that she may have drugs on her. The RSO jail did the strip search, not the RPD officer. 5 years later the civil deposition found the original reporting party was Smith's boyfriend. The travisty is that the officer was the victim of this setup and that Riverside Tax Dollars paid out for this crap. The case was originally thrown out of federal court. The liberal 9th Curcuit Court sent it back down and the case where millions were requested, settled for $36,000 as it was cheeper than legal fees. Too bad the Press Enterprise doesn't care enough about facts to do ANY research.

Then "Shockwave" who's used an assortment of names on "blogs" responds:


2bme,,thanks for setting this incident straight!! And it makes me sick that the p.e. fails to completely and accurately inform the citizens of what's really happening in our community. They hand feed these police haters, many who blog, crap and slanted reporting, and I honestly feel it's intentional. Now a good, honest cop like this officer, has to deal with having his name printed in the paper like he's the dirtbag.

This from a police officer with a yen for 1970s police shows including that very special one who's been a reader of my site since 2005. But hearing or reading about police officers who say an officer is good doesn't necessarily mean a lot because you never, ever hear them say an officer is bad even one that's been charged with sexually assaulting women or committed any form of misconduct and until they are able to do so, any comments about "good" officers have to be taken with a grain of salt unfortunately.

Because after all, in cases where bad officers were caught red handed, you always hear and read other officers who worked with them and even those from other agencies saying how great they are, but never how bad they are even when they are caught doing serious misconduct. But it's not entirely fair to pick on "Shockwave" here because in some way, he is an exception to the rule to an extent having criticized two police officers, maybe three in the past. But if they compliment their brethren that get into trouble, it makes you wonder why they're so quiet about the officers who don't commit misconduct. They never get defended nearly as much as the naughty ones.

There was the Riverside Police Department officer convicted of robbing post office facilities some years back who was praised as a good officer and person by numerous people including officers and even a city councilwoman who went to the same church that he did.

Not many officers said publicly that former Officer Adam Brown, now a convicted child molester doing 300 years plus in federal prison was a "bad" officer. At the time, the only comment made by the then president of the Riverside Police Officers' Association is that he didn't know him very well even though the union had filed a lawsuit on partly his behalf against the city over the implementation of a police department policy. But how many comments were made beyond that?


It's not likely Brown had any real support in the agency but the silence is still interesting. Maybe they're not allowed to say anything because if they do, they might face ostracism from their own levels or from those above them because those in higher management don't want to any negative opinions revealed. After all disclosure and transparency are not strong points in any law enforcement agency and the Riverside Police Department is no exception certainly not post-consent decree. Maybe they criticize them as being bad as water cooler talk amongst themselves. Most of the public just believes it's the blue code of silence rearing its head once again.

Sometimes the praise of officers might die down as it did in the case of former officer Jose Nazario who tried to get rehired and failed allegedly because of some new revelation that popped out about his past. So when many of us hear officers compliment another as a "good" officer, it's difficult to gauge exactly what that means because all of them are allegedly "good" even the ones sitting in prison.

Having been thrown out on the eve of trial, maybe there were other reasons that the city might have for paying out on a case that you'd think it would try its luck with in front of a jury given that if what this individual said is true, it was tossed out of court on a lessor evidential standard (most likely under the motion of summary judgment or something similar). After all, the standard for allowing a case to proceed to trial both civil and criminal has to be lower than the standard of evidential proof at trial in order for the system to work at all.

But what would come out at trial might be the truth either way in favor of the plaintiff or the defendants, and nothing scares the city more than having that unveiled in a public arena. At least from a legal standpoint, especially one that exposes any type of civil liability or risk held by the city. And perhaps the Riverside Police Department and the city itself are still smarting from the huge payout by jury in the 2005 trial involving Officer Roger Sutton's lawsuit. After all, the city took that one to trial even waiving the five-year rule because it was so sure it would prevail. We all know how that turned out.

It might not actually be about the case itself, or who's right, and who's wrong but the other untidy details that often wind up being unveiled in a public forum rather than behind closed doors. And trials are known for having information revealed on the witness stand that may not be entirely related to the case but could open up doors the city would rather leave closed. Like during the Sutton trial, when men of color in management or supervisory positions testified in depositions or at trial about things at the top level like "Jerry's Kids" and the "exclusionary rule".

The picture of Community Police Review Commissioner Peter Hubbard napping during a recent meeting received a lot of visits. It will be the first in a series on commissioner "styles", with "style" being in the spirit of what was defined by CPRC Manager Kevin Rogan when he attributed commissioner styles to not participating in discussions at public meetings or even not appearing or acting engaged in the process. Of course, that's only intended for those on the commission most loyal to City Hall and just saying that in public makes it clear that City Hall doesn't care how its commissioners appear in public or how they conduct themselves. It's too bad for the city residents but for the spayed and neutered commission, it's business as usual.

Well, since City Hall doesn't care how its commissioners behave, then it won't mind if their "styles" that they bring to the table are exhibited in this blog. In fact, it should actually be proud because this is the standard that the manager of the CPRC on up have set for the commission they oversee as well as micromanage.

Most of the community members and one former commissioner, well actually two former commissioners so far have left the meetings in the middle, unable to take it any more because the conduct is so poor by some of the commissioners. Some ask those who speak at meetings where you find the desire to do so because of the blanket disinterest or even hostility towards city residents who attend meetings.

Of course, the police officers who provide training don't fare much better, because at least at the last meeting, one commissioner, the aforementioned Hubbard, fell asleep, two played with their city-issued computers and others had their backs turned and didn't seem engaged at all while the officers were offering training. Not exactly the first time either.

The Riverside Municipal Wi Fi has been down citywide for upgrades, according to a representative at the city's 311 center. The upgrades may or may not have anything to do with the city's decision to change network administration from being done by one company to another that was purchased recently by AT&T which will be used by the company to focus on wireless services. AT&T is currently the internet service provider for the city's Wi Fi system. AT&T will through this company handle network administration and hardware support services (which had been contracted to another company). People from different corners believe that the changing of operations to AT&T will be a positive development in the situation involving Wi Fi in Riverside.

There were outages in at least one of the city's neighborhood before the citywide outage. Whether that was related to the planned upgrades is not clear. Not to mention outages to servers which are connected to the access of laser fische documents associated with city council and committee reports which might be unrelated.

On the evening of July 24, the new network was launched on the city's Wi Fi albeit at a much slower loading speed for sites than usual. But the problem involving the browsers crashing when loading pages has gone away with the old network. However, five minutes just to get to email for now.

And the internet has gone about 30 seconds to load a page to about 5-10 minutes (and seems to hang when loading ads on sites) to do the same thing before the servers unceremoniously crashed just before midnight.

Hopefully just a temporary situation until the new servers get straightened out.

The recession has hit museums hard including several in Riverside County.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

The Inland counties' repositories of art, science, historic artifacts and local treasures, though their budgets are much smaller, are also feeling the pinch.

At San Bernardino County Museum in Redlands, a new wing is languishing until a thaw in state funding can pay for its promised prehistoric exhibit.

The staff of the Riverside Metropolitan Museum, recently hit by two layoffs, has shrunk to nine, about half the number of a few years ago. In an e-mail, Bill Gavitt, president of the Riverside Museum Associates, described the dismissals as "an inhumane way to treat loyal and faithful employees."

KidZone Youth Museum, a Hemet-based museum that served thousands of children throughout Riverside County, closed 1½ years ago because of financial problems.

A Riverside resident wrote this opposition to the closure of a street in the Greenbelt area by the City Council.

Name that Pedestrian Mall.

Why not just give it two names like Magnolia/Market, Chicago/Arlington, Allesandro/Central, Third/Blaine and Mission Blvd/Mission Inn Avenue/Seventh and a host of other streets with more than one name?

But after this latest naming is done, what will be next on the list?

How about name that city? It shouldn't be too hard. Yes, because after all, Riverside's one of the more common name for cities and towns across the country. Maybe it's time for something new.

Press Enterprise Columnist Dan Bernstein speaks out about City Hall's decision to do what else? Rename Main Street in Riverside. It's probably one of the last remaining streets in the city that has only one name.


How, civic whoozwhooz reason, can a city that just anointed itself a haven for innovation, and is currently pouring $10 million into a Main Street makeover, tout a "pedestrian" mall? (The fourth definition of this word in my Webster's: lacking in vitality, imagination or distinction.)

So the city prepares to walk away from its partnership with podiatry. And replace it with?

"Riverside Main Street" and "Riverside's Main Street" loom as early leading contenders for what city redevelopment official Joel Belding calls "a unique identifier for the area of Main Street between Third and Tenth streets."

Unique identifier? In terms of vitality, imagination and distinction, the distance between "pedestrian mall" and "Riverside's Main Street" is measured in millimeters.

I'm not at all convinced Main Street needs tampering, revision or enhancement. A few years back, MayorLuv tugged an outlandish top hat over his noggin and led a solemn pilgrimage to Alabama, where Riverside was triumphantly crowned an "all-America city." Is there anything more "all-America" than a city with a Main Street? (I mean besides city officials with too much time on their hands.)

I am totally convinced that clumsily grafting "Riverside" or "Riverside's" onto Main Street will induce everyone except the most fanatical boosterheads to expectorate such an indigestible mouthful.

Former San Bernardino County Assessor Bill Postmus has plead not guilty to 10 felony counts.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Postmus, 38, who faces nine felony counts and one misdemeanor, was taken into custody by sheriff's deputies after his brief appearance before Superior Court Judge Michael Dest.

Postmus posted bail at the courthouse and drove himself to West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga to be booked on the charges. He was released on $100,000 bail shortly after 2 p.m.

Postmus had been free on $11,450 bail since he was arrested on drug violations in January. The arrest warrant for the new charges set bail at $350,000.

Deputy District Attorney Lewis Cope asked Dest to keep the bail at that amount, but Dest sided with Postmus' attorney, James Knox, in setting a lower bail. Dest noted that Postmus had made all his court appearances in the six months since he was arrested and while awaiting charges.

Postmus said little in court, only responding briefly to questions by Dest.

"I am innocent of the charges and look forward to going to trial and proving my innocence," he said in an e-mail statement later. "This is nothing more than a political vendetta that, in due time, will be exposed."

The San Bernardino County District Attorney's office has expanded a corruptions probe towards land in Rancho Cucamonga.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

The announcement came a day after Supervisor Neil Derry called for an independent investigation of rumors that District Attorney Michael Ramos had been involved in improper relationships with subordinates and colleagues.

By Friday afternoon, Derry's cause appeared to have little support on the Board of Supervisors, with most of his colleagues standing behind Ramos.

Ramos said he would cooperate if the board decides to launch an investigation of him, but added that he is concerned about the timing.

"An unwarranted investigation of the district attorney may unnecessarily introduce legal issues into our current prosecutions and would interfere with our ongoing corruption investigation," Ramos said in a written statement.
Story continues below
Michael Ramos

Derry said he fully supported the district attorney's investigations but did not feel his call for an independent inquiry would harm the prosecutors' work.

"Accountability and transparency is not a one-way street," Derry said. "Apparently, some people think it is."

Is it war between the two entities in the very troubled county?

In related developments in that county, District Attorney Michael Ramos has been rumored to have been involved in inappropriate conduct with subordinates and now one county supervisor wants an independent investigation conducted of those rumors.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Derry said he is troubled by rumors that have been swirling in recent months that Ramos may have been involved in improper relationships with subordinates and colleagues, including Public Defender Doreen Boxer.

Derry said he is not suggesting the rumors are true but believes they merit investigation.

"As long as they're circulating, they create an issue where there's a lack of public trust," Derry said.

A statement issued in response by district attorney's spokeswoman Susan Mickey said: "This office is astounded."

Ramos denied the allegations as baseless.

"This has every appearance of being an effort to interfere in our continuing corruption investigation," he said in a written statement. "I will not be deterred from my legal responsibility to pursue these cases."

Public trust in government in San Bernardino County? There is no such thing. Press Enterprise Columnist Cassie MacDuff paints the larger picture of a corrupt county.

But in San Bernardino city, council members are ready to do battle including with each other over the ongoing situation with the fire department.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

The City Council is scheduled to consider the rival proposals at its Aug. 3 meeting.

Councilman Dennis Baxter said cash-strapped San Bernardino is in no position to lift the hiring freeze on the vacant positions.

"We're trying to save money," he said. "That's what this reorganization is all about. I'd be very happy, once we have the money, to fill those positions."

Councilman Chas Kelley, who also serves on the Personnel Committee, said any cost savings from the reorganization should go to hire more firefighters.

Council members have clashed repeatedly in recent months over Fire Department staffing.

In May, council members voted 4-3 to table Kelley's call to restore four-person crews on nine fire engines. Kelley, McCammack and Councilwoman Esther Estrada were on the losing side in that vote.

Meeting: Mayor's Nomination and Screening Committee meeting on Tuesday, July 28 at 2:30 p.m. to select applicants for the city council to interview for the Ward Two vacancy on the CPRC. Should be a happening event. Well it could be, if the members of this committee ever rose above the level of running through lists of applicants, asking each other if they "know" this person and then deciding whether or not to grant him an audience and interview with the full council accordingly.

Oh some day...

The list of applicants is here. Will the newest commissioner be a bonafide contender or another City Hall plant?

At 3pm the same day, the city council will be conducting a public hearing on denying two ambulance companies requests for contracts with the city on nonemergency services.

This public report provides more important information on this ongoing issue. Currently, all ambulance services are performed by American Medical Response. But the two other contenders didn't provide much information. Still, if you've ever hyperventilated over a $1300 plus ambulance bill, it's hard not to think that breaking a monopoly isn't worth at least thinking about. How much money do the EMTs actually see considering that some of them have become police officers in part due to the low pay scale and lack of opportunities to really advance at AMR.

They do give excellent service though but this issue needs some discussion and debate.

For those interested in reading a copy of the minority report submitted by Community Police Review Commission member Chani Beeman on the Joseph Darnell Hill case, go here. No copies of the majority report are available online yet and not much information has been provided to the public about a possible minority report or comments submitted by Commissioner Robert Slawsby.

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