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

Thursday, July 30, 2009

"We're sick of your drivel" and City Hall clashes over hiring employees charged with felonies

"We're doing it all ourselves," he said. "We're doing a lot of clerical work we really shouldn't have to be doing."

---Hemet Police Chief Richard Dana who's lost a quarter of his police officers (though it will be getting four of them back) and his secretary to layoffs. His former haunt, the Riverside Police Department has fared better.

[Above: The city council chambers at Riverside's City Hall undergoing renovation, allegedly due to issues with a portion of building being up to code. Some say that the city council got tired of seeing or hearing protesters outside the back window. Some people asked why the chambers are being renovated while city employees are losing their jobs.]

Police agencies in the Inland Empire are cutting back on officers and equipment as the cities lose revenues including the Riverside Police Department which has taken some cuts in its personnel ranks in terms of positions left frozen after they've been vacated.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Civilian vacancies have also left piles of paperwork untouched at the Riverside Police Department.

Ten percent of the civilian positions are vacant, said Karen Aquino, police administrative services manager.

The vacancies mean residents wait longer to file police reports or receive a copy of one.

Each of those reports has to be entered into a computer to track crime statistics for state and federal reports. Officers also rely on the data.

Right now the department is six weeks behind on data entry, Aquino said. The department is requiring the 40 employees in the records department to work four hours of overtime every two weeks to catch up.

"If that information isn't current, when an officer is out making a stop, they might not know what kind of suspect that is," Aquino said.

Riverside police have taken other measures to cut costs. For example, the department traded a new helicopter for another, less expensive model for a savings of $750,000.

According to a report given by Human Resources Director Rhonda Strout, the vacancy rate of the police department was around 10%, with about 60 frozen positions. The article marked the police department's status on COPs funding as "pending" but city officials announced at the city council meeting on July 28 that the department wasn't receiving a dime from this revived stimulus program.

Betro Backlash

Some anonymous person tied themselves into knots over criticism about former Councilman Dom Betro's latest campaign piece.

(excerpt, Craigslist)

At least Betro is trying to keep the focus on the waste and lack of vision and to keep em honest which is a lot more than anyone can say for you. Perhaps if you'd pull your head out of your own ass (that goes for FBM and her biased, uninformed position on these topics as well), you'd see some light. Or, are you just one of the many now on the take and getting their political/financial rewards? P.S. just watch what's going to happen with the latest parking lot/Main St. purchase. Let's talk conspiracy and waste of money folks! Riverside - City of Arts and Innovation Leading Nowhere.

The relationship between city council member's push for handing land to developers who line their campaigns with money is really so obvious that even people like me who allegedly have our heads up our asses can see the "light". Besides, if you follow this person's argument, then that means the majority of voters in Ward One in 2007 had their heads well...elsewhere.

Keep them honest? Betro once told a community organization which included many individuals who backed him that the city was in the final stages of signing a contract with an independent contractor and the contractor had not only not done so, but hadn't heard from the city for over two months. Then when an offer from proof was asked from him, he had a screaming public. His quick temper would come back to haunt him during the election cycle more than once.

But then there's this comment warning people not to take this blog seriously. There's nothing wrong with that. Hopefully this blog isn't a be all, end all but a starting or continual point for city residents to become more involved in paying attention to what their local government is (or isn't) doing and that they continue to do their own research. Attending meetings when they can and reading reports on the wide variety of civic issues.

(excerpt, Craigslist)

You heard it here folks, FBM has spoken. God forbid you'd go against her/him, privately or publicly. Chicken @%&*!

Reading today you might walk away with that "you've been educated" feeling. But there's one catch, you are reading the rantings of a someone who has apparent deep rooted wounds of some sort. Rumors abound about that. But for today, please keep all of this in mind. FBM, as eloquent as she/he may be, they aren't reporting unbiased. There's a hatred there - well, duh - that will NEVER be satisfied with anything the City does. Actually, what, if anything, has been said to the positive from her/him? nothing. then why is she/he still here? Good foddar for an "award winning" blog of course. A blog that embellishes at it's author's fancy. FBM'S credibility is falling as fast as the government she/he so passionately opposes.

Hmmm, sounds like I'm not the only one who's "wounded". But hey, it's at least a long-time "fan" because they remember this blog's four Kopax Blogging Award nominations that it received several years ago, which is sweet of him or her.

Who is it? Who cares? He or she is too chicken to own their own words. At least that's not a problem here. And it's pretty disturbing that someone can write something like that and some of the worse comments I've received and think it's absolutely normal behavior. However, what's fascinating it is how the individual complains that I'm too negative about the city government yet in a later sentence, he or she later states that my credibility is falling as fast as the government I oppose.

That tells the reader that the author of this gem is someone who is defending a government that existed maybe about several years ago, but no longer does. It's ironic that this person claims that I'm negative towards city government yet he or she claims that the credibility of the government is falling. So it's very likely that it's a strong supporter of either former councilman Dom Betro and/or Frank Schiavone. Perhaps they take issue with my contention that Riverside Renaissance might just not be popular enough among city voters in at least several wards to get its most vocal proponents reelected. Not the projects themselves, especially those involving infrastructure improvement, but the lack of transparency around a process where it's difficult to trace the flow of money to fund these projects. Including capital projects where the funding source isn't even included on the paperwork handed to engineers as happened on at least one project within the past several years.

And yet another from an "innocent bystander" claiming to be from Pomona. Now there's a blast from the past! My last commenter on my blog before I shut off comments. Called me a whore or something like that after explaining why police officers in the department didn't always turn on their digital recorders. And as an "innocent bystander" said my mother's uterus was "filthy". He's toned down his language just a little bit since then and put some...distance between himself and Riverside.


I don’t live in Riverside, I could care less about the new or old local government and don’t know who Betro Schiavone or any other person in politics within Riverside. However, as an innocent bystander I will confer with the first poster that whenever you have a post – it is always bashing some politician and reflects very negatively on the city. Heck if I voted in Riverside, I would read your blog and vote for the person you are not supporting. Again, this is just as an innocent bystander because like the rest of us, we get sick of your drivel. And Mary, you have yourself a nice day!!

Hmm, that's one way to cast a vote in a municipal election. Have the other person make your selection for you. I imagine this voting strategy has worked very well in the most recent elections in our fine city.

But this guy does have tremendous stamina because he's been doing this for almost four years now. I'd say that effort might be worthy of an award itself except he may have already received one.

Press Enterprise Columnist Dan Bernstein comes up for new monikers for Riverside's downtown pedestrian mall.

He also tackles the fate of restaurants that have received funding from the city to get started in the downtown. The recent track record? Not great. Maybe spending money from the sewer fund on anything...but sewers puts a jinx on the project.


The Dump Main Street meet unpholded at Phood, the latest restaurant to occupy that snake-bit space at California Tower, the aging downtown high rise. I hope Phood breaks the chain, but it won't get the help some restaurants got from the city's restaurant assistance program (RAP). The program's now dead (RIP). What did it accomplish? Close to ZIP.

The loan program was created in 2000. Initial source of funds: $1 million from the city's sewer fund. Talk about a bad omen -- and odor -- for downtown restaurant aid.

City numbers crunchers say the agency guaranteed a $440K loan to Mario's Place (making it easier for the restaurant to move downtown). The agency got all that money back. But Toad in the Hole croaked on its $340K loan. The Downtown Supper Club gave the city indigestion by defaulting on its $150K loan.

Public dough dished out to downtown restaurants? $930K. Amount never seen again? $490K.

Care for a mint?

But then Bernstein really does hit it out of the park with an excellent column

on what Riverside's City Hall almost did involving a contract for custodial services.


Riverside's top bureaucrats, holed up in the city manager's and city attorney's offices, hadn't told the council about the felony charges against Chan Hee Yang, described as "the company's corporate president during this time period" and Bell employee (at least at the time) Andrew Kim. Both pleaded not guilty. Both evidently made their $3 million-plus bail.

Riverside "management," said Gardner, assumed it had taken care of things by: 1. contacting the state "to verify they (Bell) are current with workers' comp insurance payments" and 2. proposing to allow the year-long $272,000 contract to be canceled on a month's notice.

"Management" then slapped the contract on the consent calendar (the slam-dunk portion of the agenda) and awaited council approval. It didn't come.

Tuesday, Gardner yanked the item and the council voted to re-bid the contract. "I can't support just handing them a contract with that kind of cloud over them. If they are innocent, they can still bid and if they are low bidder they'll get the contract. I'm surprised they (city staff) didn't mention to the council there was an issue." Surprised? Come on.

Rusty Bailey: "The city attorney said they had done some due diligence, had done some research and felt comfortable (renewing the contract). That wasn't good enough for the council."

Attorney John Hobson, who represents Bell's Chan Hee Yang, declined to comment except to note a preliminary hearing is scheduled next month in LA County.

Bell will continue to provide janitorial services, mostly for the parks 'n' rec, for 120 days. Then a new contract will be awarded. Will that make it all better? I wonder.

So the city council's attorney and city manager believe it's okay, but at least the city council had the sense to pull the item placed on the "slam-dunk" section of the agenda and bring it up for discussion. Why would a city attorney and city manager remain quiet about an independent contractor's business employees being slapped with felony charges? How could they have missed this in their "research"? Why would the city council's two direct employees feel "comfortable" doing business with people facing felony charges for workman's compensation fraud? The two men charged haven't been proven guilty but criminal charges would seem to offset a low bid in a competitive process that one would assume would be involved with picking a company to do business with.

But particularly for the city attorney to okay a contract in this situation so quickly after the Bradley Estates debacle which he played some role in as legal advisor is a bit disturbing. What does that say exactly? The city council needs to lay out some parameters for contract bidding if it hasn't done so already.

Not to mention the city fired at least one of its own employees who faced similar charges in another county.

Something is wrong with this picture and if people are going to anonymously whine about being sick of "drivel" meaning people who blog or write about incidents like this disturbing one, then what exactly does that say about them? We should ask them what's so great about this type of behavior by those entrusted to do the best for the residents of this city and why their knickers get so tied in knots when behavior like that above is blogged about.

An inmate at Riverside County jail in Murrieta died after being tased.

(excerpt, Belo Blog)

When deputies arrived and contacted Nelson, he tried to run, and deputies quickly chased him down, tackled him and shocked him with a Taser, Lujan said.

Nelson was taken to Hemet Valley Medical Center and later released for booking at the Southwest Detention Center in French Valley, Lujan said. Nelson was booked into jail about 10:15 p.m. and placed in a holding cell but when he tried to harm himself early Thursday by hitting the cell door and banging his head, deputies moved him to a padded "safety" cell, Lujan said.

As deputies left the cell, Nelson became aggressive toward them and grabbed the leg of one, Lujan said. Deputies restrained him and shocked him with a Taser, Lujan said.

Nelson "became non-responsive" and first aid was administered, a sheriff's news release said. He was taken by ambulance to Rancho Springs Community Hospital in Murrieta where he was pronounced dead at 3:15 a.m.

Deputies said Nelson's behavior had been "bizarre," as if he were on drugs or had a mental problem, Lujan said. But investigators will not know if drugs were involved until they receive the results of toxicology tests.

After Riverside County Superior Court announced its reduction of services due to budgets, San Bernardino's court system announced it was doing the same thing.

Riverside Wi Fi Upgrade Update:

The network which was upgraded when it changed management to Wayport a company owned by AT&T has been back online for several days. But for the first day, the network ran as quickly as it did before the upgrade.

On Saturday, Aug. 1, AT&T was fine tuning the Wi Fi network and at least one outage occurred by that afternoon, in some of the areas of the southern part Riverside west of Alessandro. This neighborhood is currently still experiencing this outage as of 7 a.m Sunday morning, nearly 24 hours later. Other areas of Riverside are working just fine. Hopefully, the areas experiencing outages will be back online later on Sunday. If not, call the 311 center and report it and your neighborhood location.

National Night Out events:

Bobby Bonds Park, Eastside Time: Tuesday, Aug. 4, at 5-8

For more information, call (951) 351-6046

University Neighborhood Association Pot Luck Picnic Islander Pool Tuesday, Aug. 4 at 6:30 p.m.-9p.m.

Sign up here.

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