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, July 07, 2009

July, an interim or a time of shifting dynamics?

July has gotten off to a quiet start for Riverside's City Hall as the city council meetings switched to their lighter summer schedule, which provide fewer opportunities to watch for the emerging dynamics to reveal themselves involving the current city council. There will be two opportunities to study the elected officials of Riverside in July.

Will there be attempts at majority rule bloc building as we saw in the earlier part of the decade with both the GASS and BASS quartets? Or will one city council member pull a Frank Schiavone and try to push himself as the new alpha dog? Or will city residents see something new?

It's said that incumbents are tough to defeat in elections but the last two election cycles saw three of them go down and a fourth incumbent, Steve Adams, squeak into office with barely a dozen votes while running against a candidate he greatly outspent. Currently, Nancy Hart sits as the city council's most senior member being a two-term finisher and right behind her is Adams, who is half-way through his second term but the last two elections added four new council members to the dais.

The results of the very controversial and contentious Election 2007 surprised people who followed them and no doubt campaign workers associated with some of the winning and losing candidates. At least one election result in 2009, that involving the Ward Four contest also surprised some watchers.

But Councilmen Dom Betro, Art Gage and Frank Schiavone who between them comprised two very-short lived majority quartets, all lost their elections for the same reasons. They didn't appear to remember their voting pools in their respective wards until it was time to file papers at City Hall and start running again. The losses were shocking to some people when they took place including the dual downfalls of Betro and Gage in Election 2007 but in retrospect especially as the loss of these incumbents piles up, it's not really that surprising. They became closer identified with city issues forgetting that it's members of their wards who can issue them pink slips.

Betro and Gage were both postering for a mayoral run, at least in a noteworthy issue of Inland Empire Magazine not long before voters handed them their defeats at the polls. They and their supporters apparently believed that city council was a stepping stone to being mayor of Riverside (as it worked for at least the last two) but they were first-termers who had already cast their lot with the out-of-town developers like Mark Rubin and Doug Jacobs rather than their voters. And in Betro's case, he focused most of his attention to one section of his ward, the downtown, which didn't help him when the votes were tallied and he was short by about six.

Both Betro and Gage resurfaced at the recent swearing in of the winners of Election 2009 at the city council chambers last month. And Gage is already flirting a run against perennial mayor, Ron Loveridge this November.

Councilman Rusty Bailey will have to come to terms with the loss of his mentor, Schiavone. In fact, especially at Governmental Affairs Committee, he seemed to shadown the senior councilman who helped get him into office. Will Bailey be his own independent elected with only two years until he faces reelection or will he gravitate to another council leader like Councilman Chris MacArthur who some say, might try to put himself in Schiavone's shoes as leader of the city council.

And what remains as how the most junior council member Paul Davis will fit in with some of his ambitious platform of ideas.

The changing of composition on the dais from the days of GASS and BASS to what is currently an unknown direction now should provide plenty of informative entertainment in the months ahead.

No Community Police Review Commission meeting this week but rumor is, there will still be one held later this month. Even though it's backlogged in hearing cases going back a long ways, there's still nothing to do. Or so claims its current chair. The most interesting part of any CPRC meeting isn't the meeting, it's the discussions afterward about who its participants are really working for, City Hall or the community and whether the manager is working for the commissioners or City Hall. Sit through a meeting or two, the answers are pretty obvious. And one of them, Ken Rotker once said, he answered only to the city council. That caused then-Chair Brian Pearcy to do a double take and comment on it by saying he couldn't really know what to say about that, but didn't really get much of a reaction out of most of the others.

The Riverside Transit Agency has raised bus fares to $1.50 per ride but has added two new routes.

The Riverside County Sheriff's Department's liaison program with nearby Indian tribes is still in its trial stages.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

The internal presentations are planned for each of the sheriff's patrol stations and special bureaus, even if, as was the case in Lake Elsinore, employees have no daily contact with tribes.

"We're bridging the gap from both sides," said sheriff's Lt. Ray Wood, the Tribal Liaison Unit commander. "There had been some tension, and there was a need for improvement on both sides."

As far back as 2002, Tortes said he was in touch with Stanley Sniff, then a commander within the Riverside County Sheriff's Department, about such a venture. At that time, Tortes was a city of Riverside police lieutenant.

They discussed using Tortes' background as both a member of the Torres-Martinez tribe and as a supervisor of a police program that had frequent interaction with community leaders. But it wasn't until Tortes retired and Sniff was appointed sheriff that those conversations were revived.

That was August 2008, amid the aftermath of the two high-profile fatal shootings by sheriff's deputies on the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians Reservation.

The tribe and the sheriff initially disagreed on the interpretation of Public Law 280, which allows law enforcement officers unobstructed access to sovereign reservations for criminal investigations. SWAT teams were requested for some calls.

But a series of meetings and the creation of the Tribal Liaison Unit have helped smooth relations, said Rose Salgado, Soboba's tribal secretary.

"There's been a lot of progress by the grace of God," she said.

Even in this recession, Inland Empire Counties are heaping out millions of dollars for public relations services.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

"They bring to the table perspective and experience (gained) by working for other agencies," Wert said.

The largest chunk of spending for outside public relations work went to O'Reilly Public Relations, based in downtown Riverside.

Riverside and San Bernardino counties together have paid the firm about $1.6 million since 2006, according to purchasing records. Most of that, about $1.2 million, was in Riverside County, where the firm has done a wide range of work, such as helping public agencies with crisis management, employee contract negotiations and speech writing.

One of the other top three firms was San Diego-based Cook & Schmid, which earned about $1.1 million, mostly in San Bernardino County, where it developed a fire prevention campaign and voter outreach campaigns and guides to county services.

The other firm, Long Beach-based S. Groner Associates, worked in both counties, educating people about how to properly use and dispose of paint, solvents, pesticides and common hazardous material and also promoting recycling and composting. The counties paid the firm about $600,000 in total.

Patrick O'Reilly said his firm helps officials meet an obligation to the public.

"It would be irresponsible for policymakers and top-level managers to ignore their responsibility to effectively communicate with the public," O'Reilly said. "While they may be very good at tax collection, good at finance, or good at real estate or economic development, that doesn't necessarily make them expert communicators."

But the counties aren't the only ones. The University of California is shelling out some big bucks to buy public relations for its proposed medical school.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Although the university has in-house staff who perform many of the same functions, UCR contracted Riverside-based O'Reilly Public Relations in April last year to help win Board of Regents approval for the creation of the medical school.

Regents approved the school last July, but UCR continued to pay the O'Reilly firm $20,000 a month through June, the end of the $280,000 contract.

"The stakes are so high. This seemed well worth it," said Marcia McQuern, assistant vice chancellor who oversees the school's office of strategic communications.

The contract was structured so O'Reilly's firm could be called up at any time over the 14 months, McQuern said. Monthly payments made it easier for the university to absorb the cost, she said. McQuern is former editor and publisher of The Press-Enterprise.

UCR did not seek other firms for the contract. That's because the school had hired the firm in 2007 to help deal with a bomb scare incident and "we knew of no other firm that had his particular expertise," McQuern said.

Apparently, it's a great year for O'Reilly Public Relations.

The Atlanta Police Department prepares to release its records on the murder case of Kathryn Johnston, who was killed by three of its narcotic officers during an illegal raid to the civilian review board.

But standing in its path is a lawsuit filed by the department's police union.

(excerpt, Sunday Papers)

According to the IBPO's motion for a restraining order, divulgence of such records would result in “irreparable harm” to those under investigation.

"The CRB has requested documents pertinent to a pending investigation simultaneously with investigations being conducted by internal affairs and the district attorney’s office," says IBPO attorney David Beall. "What we don't want is partial evidence in the middle of investigation to be made public which could then be used against the subject of the investigation."

Beall says doing so is analogous to allowing jury members to make information public before a trial has decided the guilt or innocence of the accused.

Cristina Beamud, executive director of the CRB, says the board is presently determining whether it will be represented by its own attorney or the city law department.

“This is all brand new and we are still working some things out,” says Beamud.

Postings by an Indiana State Trooper on his facebook page cost him his job.

(excerpt, The Indy Channel)

Christopher Pestow resigned Wednesday before Superintendent Paul Whitesell could enter a final finding and order, state police said in a news release.

Police began an investigation after discovering questionable entries on Pestow's page. They also were investigating whether he had posted any of the material while he was on duty.

Some of the entries showed Pestow with a .357 Magnum pointed at his head and drinking beer with friends. He also posted pictures of a crash involving his police cruiser and wrote that a person who resists arrest and threatens police officers would "probably end up shot."

The major investigation into a steroid scandal in Boston's Police Department led to the discipline of 11 officers.

(excerpt, The Boston Globe)

The disciplined officers, seven of whom admitted to using steroids at some point in their careers, received punishments ranging from a written reprimand to a 45-day suspension without pay. But none of the officers were fired and none will face criminal charges, Boston Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis said today.

"I am disappointed with the actions of the officers disciplined in this matter," he said during a news conference at police headquarters. "We remain steadfast in our dedication to preserving the integrity of our department by taking every measure to prevent and when necessary uncover officer misconduct."

The punishments were the culmination of an investigation that began in August 2006 soon after the FBI arrested Officer Roberto "Kiko" Pulido for trying to traffic cocaine. Pulido, a steroid user, would guard parties hosted by a convicted drug dealer at an after-hours club in Hyde Park called the "Boom Boom Room."

A Los Angeles Police Department detective committed suicide.

(excerpt, Los Angeles Times)

Susan J. Clemmer, a 19-year veteran of the LAPD assigned to the department’s Gang and Narcotics Division, entered the Santa Clarita station about 9:15 p.m. and spoke to a female deputy. The detective then placed a box of personal items on the counter and asked to speak to a different deputy, said a law enforcement source who had knowledge of the shooting but was not authorized to speak publicly. When the female deputy stepped away to find another deputy, sheriff’s staffers heard a single shot, sources said.

An official familiar with the investigation said the detective suffered a single, self-inflicted gunshot wound. No one else was injured in the incident.

It was not immediately clear what may have prompted Clemmer, 41, to kill herself. The investigation is ongoing, sheriff’s officials said.

Clemmer was a crucial witness for the defense in the infamous 1991 Rodney King beating trials.

The FBI has decided to investigate an officer-involved shooting by Inglewood Police Department.

(excerpt, Los Angeles Times)

The criminal probe, which was announced by the city in late June, is at least the third ongoing investigation into the department's use of deadly force. The FBI confirmed that it had opened the investigation, but would not discuss it.

The civil rights division of the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington is already looking into the department's patterns and practices. The Los Angeles County Office of Independent Review, which monitors the L.A. County Sheriff's Department, is also looking at the Inglewood department's training, supervision, policies and protocol at the city's request.

The department was the subject of several community protests last year after a spate of officer-involved shootings resulted in four fatalities between May and September. A Times investigation last year found that since 2003, five of 11 people shot and killed by Inglewood police were unarmed.

In a statement released June 25, Inglewood Police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks said the May 17 shooting was being investigated by the L.A. County district attorney's office as well as separate internal criminal and administrative investigations. She said her department will cooperate with all aspects of the FBI's investigation.

"We are confident the FBI review will validate facts already made public about the incident, including our initial findings that Mr. Smith was armed and pointed his handgun at officers, resulting in the fatal shooting," Seabrooks said.

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