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 21, 2009

Mad, Mad CPRC Tea Party continues

[photo: CPRC meeting at City Hall. Notice how the man on the left, Vice-Chair Peter Hubbard has decided to take a nap. For a closer look, click the photo. But don't worry about it, it's just one of the different "styles" that Manager Kevin Rogan said commissioners bring to the table. This photo will be part of a new series on commissioners' "styles".]

The table was a large one, but the three were all crowded together at one corner of it:

`No room! No room!' they cried out when they saw Alice coming.

`There's plenty of room!' said Alice indignantly, and she sat down in a large arm-chair at one end of the table.

`Have some wine,' the March Hare said in an encouraging tone.

Alice looked all round the table, but there was nothing on it but tea. `I don't see any wine,' she remarked.

`There isn't any,' said the March Hare.

`Then it wasn't very civil of you to offer it,' said Alice angrily.

`It wasn't very civil of you to sit down without being invited,' said the March Hare.

`I didn't know it was your table,' said Alice; `it's laid for a great many more than three.'

`Your hair wants cutting,' said the Hatter. He had been looking at Alice for some time with great curiosity, and this was his first speech.

`You should learn not to make personal remarks,' Alice said with some severity; `it's very rude.'

The Hatter opened his eyes very wide on hearing this; but all he said was, `Why is a raven like a writing-desk?'

`Come, we shall have some fun now!' thought Alice. `I'm glad they've begun asking riddles.--I believe I can guess that,' she added aloud.

`The Dormouse is asleep again,' said the Hatter, and he poured a little hot tea upon its nose.

The Dormouse shook its head impatiently, and said, without opening its eyes, `Of course, of course; just what I was going to remark myself.'

`Have you guessed the riddle yet?' the Hatter said, turning to Alice again.

`No, I give it up,' Alice replied: `what's the answer?'

`I haven't the slightest idea,' said the Hatter.

`Nor I,' said the March Hare.

Alice sighed wearily. `I think you might do something better with the time,' she said, `than waste it in asking riddles that have no answers.’

----Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

I guess we know who the dormouse is.

Party invitation:

Who: Community Police Review Commission

What: General meeting

Where: City Hall, River City

When: Wednesday, July 22, 2009 at 5:30 p.m. to whenever

Why: So City Hall can provide another lesson in micromanagement through the staging of another puppet show.

Dress Code: Casual attire. Packing concealed firearms (optional)

The Community Police Review Commission in Riverside met once again to hold its own tea party of sorts and almost immediately began squabbling. Commissioner poised against commissioner with loyalty to City Hall's master plan for dilution and micromanagement of the CPRC being the division line between teams, not to mention city staff against commissioner, when things got a little quiet. The audience got a good show entertainment wise, but unfortunately as the commission sinks even further into disarray with a huge helping hand from factions at City Hall, it was also painful to watch especially commissioners like Art Santore and the vice-chair, Peter Hubbard who act like children at times. Not too long ago at least Santore was among the most professionally behaved commissioners but a little power has obviously gotten into this guy's head since then. But unfortunately, the power yielded by commissioners is only as much as the factions at City Hall pulling the strings will allow it to be. As individuals like Santore will find out soon enough.

Lt. Mike Perea who said he enjoyed his stint working with the CPRC said goodbye to his stint as liaison for the police chief's office and was replaced by Lt. Gary Leach who didn't stay for the open session of the meeting. Perea's off to work in Central Investigations replacing a retiring Lt. Bob Meier. Yes retired, apparently this year it really happened. Hopefully he has a good one.

First on deck were Lt. Mike Cook who heads Internal Affairs giving his presentation on complaint policy 4.12 with support from Sgt. Brian Dailey who has spent nearly four years working in the division as an investigator and told commissioners it had taught him a lot. They weren't really shy about answering questions and provided information to a group of commissioners who had their backs turned, worked on their city-issued lap tops and in the case of Vice-Chair Peter Hubbard fell asleep. It was unfortunate that the commission had to put on display how clearly disinterested it was in receiving this type of training. But nothing to worry about, it's just a "style" thing.

Because of this lack of attention paid to this training, very few questions were asked, with only Chani Beeman and several others asking any at all. But again, it's too bad that commissioners engage in such behavior that makes it look like they're not paying attention and asking questions when guest lecturers from the police department or elsewhere take the time to appear before them. One solution to this problem is to give commissioners quizzes or tests on training they receive to determine both their levels of retention and understanding of the information that they have been given. That might solve their problem with visible apathy.

If you're interested in reading policy 4.12 in its entirety, you can read it in the "Section D" of this annual report.

What's a minority report again? Do we vote on it?

(Round three)

Watching the commission battle over the meaning of a minority report for the umpteenth time is like experiencing a root canal without anesthesia. After hours spent on two separate cases, that of Terry Rabb and Lee Deante Brown, the commissioners still have no clue of what a minority report entails and no desire to do anything but try to squelch the production of a minority report in the officer-involved death case of Joseph Darnell Hill.

They actually passed a motion to discuss and possibly vote at a future meeting on a minority report submitted by Commissioner Chani Beeman to the CPRC. Meaning that they would vote on whether the minority report would be allowed to be released to the public with the majority report. This kind of voting decision just shows the ignorance of what a minority report is all about but it's not clear yet whether the commission's ignorance is exactly that or the direction it's being steered by the Seventh Floor of City Hall. Committees don't vote on whether or not to approve minority reports. The committee or commission in this case has already voted on whether the Hill shooting is in or out of policy from the standpoint of the public information received either through investigation or review of the department's own "criminal" investigation. Because there was one dissenting vote cast by a commissioner who felt that Officer Jeffrey Adcox violated departmental policy, that opened up the avenue for the creation and inclusion of a minority report.

This is an experience that former commissioner Jim Ward could relate to very well. He actually authored two minority reports. The one that actually saw the light of day in a public report was included in this report in the Brown shooting case. However, an early minority report submitted as part of this report on Terry Rabb was successfully suppressed from public inclusion or even public distribution by the majority of the CPRC with assistance from City Attorney Gregory Priamos' then legal interpretation of what a minority report was. Ward's minority report in the Rabb case was excluded after the majority of the commission voted not to allow it, which flies in the face of both the process and the purpose of submitting minority reports for inclusion in public reports. It was the first report submitted by the CPRC or a CPRC member that was suppressed since the 2002 fatal shooting of Anastacio Munoz also resulted in a report never released to the public.

Only one copy of the "public" pamphlet which represents the majority of the commission's views on the Hill case was available to the public at the meeting and no copies were available online because the current meeting agenda and related materials was never posted online for this meeting. A situation that Manager Kevin Rogan said would be corrected in the future. But there wasn't much to read, as it was a document produced and written by Rogan and it wouldn't be surprising if he had received his own orders from his own bosses on how to draft it. It didn't read so much like a CPRC report as it did a legal defense on behalf of the officers involved in the Hill shooting if they or more importantly the city had ever been sued by relatives of Hill. Even more so, it serves as a pattern and practice of sorts that the city is apparently attempting to build through the CPRC of defending itself in future lawsuits involving allegations of wrongful death.

The most vocal opponent of the minority report process appeared to be Hubbard who had nodded off earlier in the meeting several times and had suddenly woken up to argue against discussion of a report that some of the others said they hadn't read.

Chani said that she had gone to Rogan to ask that the minority report written by herself be included in the meeting agenda but it wasn't. Rogan's explanation was that it was included in the description as part of the "public report" but then the City Hall quintet of commissioners spent the rest of the hour or so long argument trying to exorcise the minority report from that inclusion. Actually the postponement of discussion on the minority report was reasonable, but what wasn't were plans, tentative or not, to actually cast any type of vote on its inclusion, because the vote on the finding involved with the Hill shooting itself set up a situation through a dissenting vote cast by Beeman to allow her the opportunity to submit and include a minority report whether the majority of commissioners liked it or not. If they want to have a temper tantrum about it and several clearly did, that's their option to do so but it shouldn't have any bearing on the outcome of the inclusion of the minority report alongside the majority report.

A minority report or just mysterious?

But as it turned out, was there only one minority report? A mysterious written report which was not discussed at all except in passing was submitted by Commissioner Robert Slawsby, who's a former endorser of ousted Councilman Frank Schiavone and allegedly tight with political election consultant Brian Floyd. However, since both are clearly out of the picture for a while, Slawsby has the potential to go into rather interesting directions as a commissioner.

It wasn't clear whether he was submitting a minority report, a report that concurred in part, differed in part with the majority report or merely some typed up notes. That riddle won't be solved by keeping it under wraps but perhaps it will be when the report sees the light of day during a discussion.

“For citizens who think themselves puppets in the hands of their rulers, nothing is more satisfying than having rulers as puppets in their hands.”

---Pico Iyer

Watching Rogan is interesting. Whereas most city staff don't speak unless they are asked to assist in a matter or serve as a supportive means for commission members, Rogan actually seems to get some degree of satisfaction out of badgering Beeman. In one case, for making what Rogan called a negative remark about another commissioner's motives for not making a single comment in a meeting where serious decisions were being made. After all, as Rogan said clearly, commissioners are not obligated to talk or even look engaged in what's going on, because people bring different styles to the process. So if they look bored or like they're not paying attention, that's perfectly okay, even if it sends the perception to the community members that they are apathetic towards their civic responsibilities that they signed up for.

It's amazing to actually hear a city staff member actually say something like that at a board and commission meeting in defense of some rather bored behavior. Watching two grown male commissioners behave like children provided some levity to the meeting but was enough to cause two people in the audience including a former commissioner to walk out the door, saying they had enough.

But then when Commissioner Ken Rotker insinuated through a winded speech that Beeman was being manipulative with the minority report which she had actually submitted a while back, he wasn't chastised by Rogan or anyone else in the same way. This was the noise which was heard instead from that corner.

***crickets chirping***

The double standard between how commissioners Beeman and even John Brandriff are treated compared with the majority who are pretty in lockstep with City Hall is rather jarring to watch. No other executive manager or director has acted or in Rogan's case reacted in this fashion. Beeman can actually hold her own with Rogan, while Brandriff treats Rogan as if he's a small child that he has to repeat everything two or three times before his point gets across. But the double standard between when some commissioners are perceived as crossing the line or being naughty and others who engage in bad behavior are not gives pretty ample support to the publci perception that the City Manager's office micromanages the CPRC to the ground and that the CPRC manager just does what he's ordered to do because if that weren't the case, he'd be more neutral and spank both Beeman and Rotker equally rather than allow one commissioner's "bad" behavior to slide and chastise the other one.

The suggestion has been made that CPRC meetings should be videotaped to show the public some of the conduct that occurs from commissioners and city employees during these meetings. Doing so would provide the city council especially with a lot of insight on what exactly is going on during those meetings with some commissioners acting in ways that could be considered violations of the ethics code.

Good leaders must first become good servants.

---Robert Greenleaf

Part of the problem with the meetings is that the current chair and vice-chair don't seem to understand how to lead meetings including any knowledge of parliamentarian procedure or even Roberts Rules of Orders. But then that's not surprising considering that both of the current officers had abysmal attendance records until just a meeting or so before the election. And Beeman who's had nearly perfect attendance since her appointment said yesterday that she would stack her attendance against Chair Sheri Corral who attended maybe about half of the CPRC meetings last year.

The Press Enterprise did cover Beeman's minority report and apparently unlike the rest of the commission actually read it. It included the following recommendations.



Community Police Review Commissioner Chani Beeman made the following suggestions in her minority report about the 2006 police shooting of Joseph Hill. The full report is available at

Police provide a public presentation about the proper use of pretext stops.

Revise the audio-recording policy to include all officer contact.

Develop a policy for professional interpreter services for limited English-speaking witnesses to officer-involved deaths.

Re-establish and enhance commission access to independent and parallel investigations.

"Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain."

---L. Frank Baum

Speaking of the police department, Chief Russ Leach has reentered the building, but will he ever lead the department again (as some said he lost that role when the city manager steamrolled him during the "at will" standoff at City Hall), or will it be left to the group of men hiding behind the curtain in River City's own rendition of that city at the end of the yellow brick road? That remains to be seen.

The police department if you include the micromanagers at City Hall seems like a kitchen crowded with chefs. There should be one chief, good or bad, who's accountable for what goes on in the police department and that person should be dealt with accordingly depending on his record in that position. None of these men behind the curtains kind of situation including several at City Hall who if they wanted to be police officers so bad (including the employee with the Glock handgun, some say handcuffs and the Crown Victoria vehicle), they could have just gone out for those positions rather than live out their fantasies at the expense of the police department.

RPD settles another lawsuit on eve of trial

He was part of a lawsuit settlement around $55,000 as an Indio Police Department officer and not too long ago, the city of Riverside settled a lawsuit involving his role in a 2006 fatal shooting for $800,000. Now another lawsuit totaling $36,500 has been settled involving Officer David Johansen.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

On Sept. 7, 2004, Smith was riding her bicycle home after returning a CD to a friend, court records state.

Officer David Johansen had received a tip that a man was in the street waiting for a person on a bicycle to ride by and give him drugs.

When Smith rode past, Johansen stopped her for not having a light on the bike after dark.

Johansen arrested Smith after finding a misdemeanor warrant against her for violating Riverside's dog leash law in 1985, records state.

Johansen took Smith to the Robert Presley Detention Center and requested she be strip searched because he suspected she may have hidden the drugs, according to the court records.

No drugs were found.

In Johansen's written statements, he said he was waiting on a "person" to deliver the drugs.

But the Riverside police communication log stated the tipster said the bicycle rider would be male, court records state.

"You would not mistake my client for a male," Cook said.

Now here's a trivia question. How many bicycles out there even come equipped with night lights?

Riverside begins fiscal year with seven Riverside employees laid off

"(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."

---Former Museum Director, Vince Moses about the layoffs and budget reduction to his former department to the Press Enterprise.

I have to say I'm confused about this whole layoff thing. After I wrote a posting quoting a member of the SEIU General Unit saying that he had received a number of notices of intent to layoff city employees I received an email from a city council member that the nine alleged layoffs took place a while ago and of those, two chose retirement, one took a position with a higher salary, one took a lower ranked position, one "lateraled" and three were actually laid off. Okay, that's good to know, if the previous comment made by the SEIU representative had been in error. And I had already heard and blogged about those earlier layoffs through reports given by Human Resources Director Rhonda Strout to members of the Human Resources Board, something she does on a monthly basis upon the board's request for that information. But there had been rumors of another round of layoffs hitting Riverside's full-time employee roster for over a month or so. And that the museum department would be pretty hard hit by this round considering its small size. So with the email, I thought maybe the city had changed its mind and had gone another route in making its next round of budget cuts, which would be good news for city employees. But as it turned out, it really wasn't great news for some more of them.

But now I'm perplexed again because seven city employees had just been laid off during the first month of the new fiscal year which began July 1. It's perplexing in part because the layoffs especially at the museum had been rumored a lot in the past several weeks so some people might be shocked but I'm not one of them. And at some point before they were laid off, they must have been notified in writing of an intent to "lay off" or terminate their employment.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Councilman Mike Gardner said two employees in Public Works and one in the Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department were laid off about a week ago. Two Riverside Metropolitan Museum workers lost their jobs Tuesday, and two Planning Division workers were cut Wednesday.

The museum cuts came as a shock to the institution's supporters and a big hit to an already small department. The museum now has a staff of nine, about half the number it had a few years ago.

By contrast, the Public Works and Parks departments each have hundreds of employees, and Community Development, which includes the Planning Division, has about 100 workers.


Gary Ecker, a restoration specialist who worked for the museum for 25 years, said he was in the middle of working on an exhibit when he was let go Tuesday.

City management and the Service Employees International Union, which represents museum workers, have talked about the potential layoff of several curators, Ecker said, but "my job wasn't even thought about."

Now, he said, "I have no idea what (my) future plans are."

Gardner is to be commended for at least mentioning the layoffs of the part-time employees because people at City Hall never speak about part-time employees pretending they don't exist or count perhaps. Again, unless Riverside is comparing its caliber size in employee retention with Corona (where everything including part-time layoffs and full-time and part-time frozen positions is tossed in the mix). However, it's premature at this point to say the city's seen the last of layoffs in its ranks because the fiscal year has just begun and Riverside just might lose up to $35 million in its coffers to Sacramento so there's a lot of upheaval in balancing the city's own budget ahead.

Dial-a-Ride in Riverside County gets cut.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

A June study by HDR Decision Economics, commissioned in October by the board for $91,377, estimated that 350,740 trips will be taken on Dial-A-Ride this fiscal year. By 2013, Dial-A-Ride will provide 494,713 trips in Riverside County if changes to limit use are not enacted. If all the proposed policy changes are made and fewer riders are eligible, use of Dial-A-Ride could drop to 404,956 in 2013.

Among the changes proposed for Dial-A-Ride are stricter enforcement of the area served by the door-to-door service, who is eligible for a ride, and how much riders will pay.

The HDR report suggested officials offer service only within three-quarters of a mile of existing bus routes. Currently buses will pick people up beyond the federally required three-quarters-of-a-mile distance.

In the future, those living farther away would need to find their own way to a spot where they could be picked up, Riverside Transit spokesman Brad Weaver said.

In addition, analysts suggested increasing the eligibility age for Dial-A-Ride service from 60 to 65, and applying stricter rules to determine whether a disabled person qualifies. Someone with night blindness, for example, could use Dial-A-Ride when it's dark but not during the day under the proposed guidelines, Weaver said.

Reductions in service could save the bus agency $8.6 million over the next five years, analysts estimated, and drop the annual cost in fiscal year 2013-14 from $15.27 million to $12.51 million.

Weaver noted the agency has cut back hours, eliminated routes and furloughed employees in recent months. Though the fare increase affected Dial-A-Ride, cutbacks have not hit the service -- yet.

"We intend to treat it the same way we treat our fixed-route operations in terms of controlling growth," Weaver said.

Also possibly being cut is charitable spending by Riverside County which has led to a supervisor crying foul.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

The board voted 4-1 Tuesday to reduce each supervisor's annual allocation of community improvement designation funds to $500,000, about half of the usual amount. They also agreed to establish specific criteria for the use of the discretionary money, known as CID funds.

The savings will go to bolster the county's reserves for economic uncertainty. Riverside County has cut department budgets for this year and is seeking concessions from union workers. Supervisors warn that the state will likely grab tens of millions of dollars from county coffers to ease its budget woes.

Only Supervisor Jeff Stone, whose CID spending has generated controversy in the past, voted against creating criteria and making cuts to discretionary funds.

"I don't believe these funds should be held hostage to some of the decreases that we have seen in the departments," Stone said.

Wildomar will decide how it will pick its council members. Will it be through districts or citywide?

Former San Bernardino County Assessor Bill Postmus is now facing criminal charges.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Postmus is charged with nine felony offenses including drug violations, perjury and grand theft as well as one misdemeanor.

Postmus appeared in court this morning, when he and his attorney, Stephen Levine, learned of the charges.

Postmus left court without speaking to reporters but released a brief e-mail statement later in the day.

"These charges were just filed today," he wrote. "As such, I cannot yet comment on today's developments."

Levine complained that he and his client hadn't been warned of the charges in advance. At the attorney's request, a judge delayed Postmus' bail hearing and arraignment until Thursday morning.

"He's made every court appearance," Levine told San Bernardino County Superior Court Judge Michael Dest. "He's not a danger to society."

The chairman of the County Board of Supervisors reacted to the news.

(excerpt, San Bernardino Sun)

Also facing criminal charges is Moreno Valley's city manager.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Moreno Valley City Manager Robert Gutierrez has been charged with seven misdemeanor counts of harassment, unlawful computer access and identity theft related to accusations he spied on an ex-girlfriend.

The San Bernardino County District Attorney's office filed the charges this morning following a two-month investigation by the Upland Police Department, where the woman lived, Supervising District Attorney David Hidalgo said.

Gutierrez was sent a letter notifying him of the charges and an order to appear in court for a Sept. 8 arraignment in Rancho Cucamonga.

He could not be reached through a call to the city manager’s office.

And Postmus himself clashed with the District Attorney's office.

Redlands closes its budget gap and Menifee has brand new city districts.

Reknowned scholar, Henry Louis Gates was arrested at his own house, a case many called racial profiling.

(excerpt, Yahoo news)

Earl Graves Jr., CEO of the company that publishes Black Enterprise magazine, was once stopped by police during his train commute to work, dressed in a suit and tie.

"My case took place back in 1995, and here we are 14 years later dealing with the same madness," he said Tuesday. "Barack Obama being the president has meant absolutely nothing to white law enforcement officers. Zero. So I have zero confidence that (Gates' case) will lead to any change whatsoever."

The 58-year-old professor had returned from a trip to China last Thursday afternoon and found the front door of his Cambridge, Mass., home stuck shut. Gates entered the back door, forced open the front door with help from a car service driver, and was on the phone with the Harvard leasing company when a white police sergeant arrived.

Gates and the sergeant gave differing accounts of what happened next. But for many people, that doesn't matter.

They don't care that Gates was charged not with breaking and entering, but with disorderly conduct after repeatedly demanding the sergeant's name and badge number. It doesn't matter whether Gates was yelling, or accused Sgt. James Crowley of being racist, or that all charges were dropped Tuesday.

All they see is pure, naked racial profiling.

"Under any account ... all of it is totally uncalled for," said Graves.

***Riverside's municipal Wi Fi services will be down this weekend until at least Monday morning citywide while the system undergoes an upgrade.

**** Riverside's Municipal Wi Fi is back up with new login page, servers but for now, you might need more time using it because the internet's quite slow.
As expected, the change in networks from the old one to AT&T's Wayport did eliminate the crashing browser problem.

In other news, the city's laser fische (reports) servers have been up and down since Friday leading visitors to a login page instead of the copy of city reports. Currently as of 7:45 am, it's back down.

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