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, August 07, 2009

Before Election 2009 reaches the finish line, Election 2010 begins

"If you never have to dip into your reserves, then you don't have reserves. That's exactly what they're intended to do."

----Norco Councilman Frank Hall who just filed his papers to run for reelection.

While we are laying off city employees, the City Manager authorized spending, for what I am told is somewhere near $1,000,000 on renovating the City Council Chambers. It may have needed the work, but explain to the city employees that have been laid off that a beautification project is more important than their families."

---Former Riverside Councilman and mayoral candidate, Art Gage on his blog.

"You have to sort of take the council's word that they're not going to rob you blind."

---Riverside City Councilman Mike Gardner, on the two redevelopment proposals which are the subject of public hearings at the next city council meeting, to the Press Enterprise.

"We think the settlement was in the best interest of the city."

---Riverside Supervising Deputy City Attorney Jeb Brown after the city settles a lawsuit filed regarding the officer-involved death of Terry Rabb. Incidentally, this is the second common quote issued by the city attorney's office, after the one it always issues that the [insert name] lawsuit being filed against the city is frivolous and will be fought vigorously by the city.

It's interesting timing or maybe it just happens so much in the City of Riverside that the timing is always right for the city handing out money but the city attorney's office just announced that it paid out a $75,000 settlement in the 2005 officer-involved death of Terry Rabb. Rabb suffered from diabetes and was experiencing "hypoglycemic unawareness" from low blood glucose levels when a friend called 911. That condition, an extension of hypoglycemic shock can produce bizarre behavior mirroring a psychotic breakdown or panic attack. It happens at some point to nearly 20% of all people experiencing type-one diabetes which Rabb had and those who do experience say that it creates a strong sense of depersonalization meaning that even when they are aware something is wrong, they can't do anything about it. The paramedics made comments about the condition affecting Rabb according to documents submitted as part of the police department's criminal investigation report.

Two officers were dispatched and after restraining him including with an attempted carotid restraint, Rabb experienced a cardiac arrest while sitting with his back against the couch handcuffed by the two officers and a city paramedic, according to reports and statements given to the Officer-Involved Death investigators.

The Community Police Review Commission investigated and reviewed the death and eight commissioners voted that the officers' actions were within policy. One commissioner, Jim Ward voted that it was not and tried to submit a minority report which was suppressed by the city. The reason? City Attorney Gregory Priamos backed the contention of several commissioners that a minority report could not be submitted unless the majority of the commissioners voted to allow it.

That's not how minority reports are handled. In fact, it's the opposite of how most professional investigative and review bodies handle them which is to treat them as an extension of an earlier vote on a case rather than put them up to a vote again simply to get included. It's already acknowledged that the majority of a body doesn't agree with the author of a minority report simply by the generation of that report. But then when you have a city that's scared for some silly reason (or not) over a minority report using its city attorney as a conduit for that fear to the commission, developments like this aren't all that surprising but are to be expected. But ironically, through that fear, the city wound up giving the minority report that it didn't allow to be included in the public report much more power.

Priamos got over his apparent confusion about what a minority report was to properly explain it to the commission a year later when Ward submitted a report in the Lee Deante Brown death case and it was included in the commission's public report. Either that or he simply received different instructions on how to interpret the meaning of a minority report from someone higher on the city's food chain than himself.

The Rabb public report minus its minority report can be accessed here.

The money the city paid out is certainly not a huge amount but the settlement is the last of considerably larger ones involving a series of incustody deaths both shootings and otherwise that Riverside Police Department officers were involved in during a period which lasted about two years between 2004 and 2006. But if the city still has an insurance carrier, another settlement to add to a pile of them isn't going to make that company very happy. But go to trial? Surely, you jest! The city hardly ever takes any cases to trial after having its shirt handed back to it four years ago.

The settlements are as follows:

Douglas Steven Cloud (2006): $800,000

Summer Marie Lane (2004) $390,000

Lee Deante Brown (2006): Between $200,000-275,000

Terry Rabb (2005): $75,000

Rabb who's been called a "useless parasite" by one of the Riverside County District Attorney's office's former investigators on the Press Enterprise site (and comments like that always serve to boost the public confidence in the ability of that office to make decisions on incustody deaths) had family members that sued, with one of the major concerns by them being that the police department institute training regarding how police officers interface with the mentally and medically ill or incapacitated. The police department developed and started implementing its 30 hour crisis mental health training for officers in 2007 and it was certified by POST in June of that year.

Rabb could have been anyone who suffered from "hypoglycemic unawareness". More than a few local diabetics believed it could have been them.

The CPRC determined that the officer's actions were in violation of the department's use of force policy in the Lane case and sided with the officers in the other three. However, interestingly enough, two other cases besides Lane led to the writing of minority reports, and in fact were the only incustody cases out of all 12 investigated and reviewed by the CPRC to have included minority reports.

The CPRC is currently in the process of drafting a majority report as well as at least one minority report in its investigation and review of the Joseph Darnell Hill case. The commissioners are still stumbling over exactly what a minority report is and how it relates to the majority report, but no minority reports on officer-involved death cases have been suppressed by the commission and/or city since the Rabb case.

The CPRC no longer independently investigates officer-involved deaths in pursuant to the mandate set by the city's charter. City Manager Brad Hudson and later, a majority of the city council voted to delay its investigations by up to a year or longer (as one case nears its first year anniversary). No agency can effectively investigate any incident six months, a year or later after it's taken place.

The current status of four officer involved deaths currently in limbo in terms of CPRC investigations. These delays are brought to you courtesy of the city council (through majority vote), Hudson and City Attorney Gregory Priamos. The majority of the commissioners ensure these delays as well since you'd have to poke them with something akin to a mental cattle prod to get them to even inquire as to updates about any of these cases.

Carlos David Quinonez, Sr. (Sept. 1, 2008): 341 days

Robert Luis Sanchez, jr. (Sept. 11, 2008): 330 days

Marlon Oliver Acevedo: (Oct. 31, 2008): 280 days

Russell Franklin Hyatt: (Jan. 17, 2008): 203 days

Speaking of the CPRC, only one meeting is planned on Wednesday, Aug. 26 at 5:30 p.m.

What took 470 days? A category I complaint filed with the Riverside Police Department to reach the CPRC. (source: this report). During that month, the CPRC issued one sustained finding on an allegation for two complaints investigated with the other one being a category II complaint that took 336 days to reach the CPRC. Neither complaint was finished being processed by the city before the one year mark.

Riverside will be playing around with its redevelopment areas again.


If the merger goes forward, some residents will be watching carefully to see how the money is spent. Lenny Mercier, president of the Northside Improvement Association, said his group hopes the pooled redevelopment funds don't favor some areas over others.

Residents would like to see Main Street improved from First Street to Highway 60, and they'd welcome a grocery store in their neighborhood, he said.

While Mercier supports the city's redevelopment overall, "Not as much attention has been focused in our area," he said. "We just don't want to be left out."

Gardner said he can only answer that concern by saying he won't support lavishing improvements on some areas while others get none.

"You have to sort of take the council's word that they're not going to rob you blind," he said.

There's not a specific list of projects that would be done, Gardner said, but upgrades to the downtown library, museum and municipal auditorium likely would be included.

This agenda shows that the discussion will take place at the Redevelopment Agency meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 11 at 2 p.m. in the currently-under-renovation city council chambers at City Hall.

The second half of the hearing will take place that same day at the 6:30 p.m. session.

This report provides more information on the proposed merging of several of the city's redevelopment areas at the 2:30 p.m. hearing and this report covers the 6:30 p.m. session.

Most often, redevelopment zones are merged to facilitate the transfer of available funding that's designated for one of the zones to another for a project there.

I found this gem at the Inland Empire Craigslist which has been dominated in recent weeks by the discussion of more nationally focused issues like health care reform and privatizing the postal service. This anonymous individual seemed irked that these folks aren't paying much attention to his or her own rantings. But then again, it's difficult to compete with health care for the public's attention these days although this individual does try their best.


Wow, the outer edges of the "Inland Empire" have found this site! This used to be all about Riverside, perhaps we need our own section - I think I know of someone who seems to know Craig very well. Perhaps she can talk to the powers that be. The recent postings are a distraction from what this site is all about, FBM'S ego and self-annointed expertise on all matters concerning Riverside, and her ever sarcastic "Have a Nice Day" closing. I did get a good laugh from her "go to Hell" in lieu of her usual comment recently. I know, I know, I'm a sicko for getting a chuckle over that. I visualized a temper tantrum.

I'm sure FBM has several comments lying in wait on the drama regarding the mayorial race in November. Poor Art Gage, he doesn't stand a chance! Of course, FBM is free to "say" whatever her knotted knickers desire on her blog and here, it's just too bad we can't rule "with prejudice" on her. Dismissed. You had your one chance. No repeating the same dribble here on Craigslist.

As for "ruled with prejudice" and "dismissed", that's exactly what Ward Four voters did with this individual's city council candidate of choice just two months ago. I suspect that he or she hasn't quite gotten over the consternation and shock over that loss.

The Press Enterprise's editorial board believes the public is owed an explanation as to why Riverside contracted with a janitorial services company while its owners were being prosecuted for workman's compensation insurance fraud.


Those facts raise a series of troubling questions. Why, for example, would the city staff recommend a contract with a company facing insurance fraud charges? Some city officials apparently knew of the felony case, but did not see it as an obstacle.

And why did no one at City Hall inform the City Council about the fraud charges when asking council members to renew the contract? The council appeared blindsided by the news of a criminal case.

How come city officials apparently knew nothing about the years of unpaid corporate taxes, or the tax board's decision barring the company from doing business? Does the city usually not bother to find out if a contractor can legally operate in California?

And why would the city renew a contract, instead of sending it to bid and seeking a better deal in a year when the city froze pay, left positions vacant and made other cutbacks to save money?

Also, how does renewing a contract with a Los Angeles-based company fit with the city's focus on supporting local businesses? Is an outside outfit with legal trouble really that much better than any local company?

Such questions need answers, if Riverside hopes to avoid an erosion of public trust in city competence. Leaving Riverside residents wondering what City Hall was thinking only invites skepticism and suspicion. Maybe there is an explanation for this incident. If so, the city needs to make it public, quickly.

The simple fact is this, the city council needs to play a larger role in terms of insuring the accountability and transparency of City Hall. And it needs to pay a lot more attention to what its direct employees like its city manager are doing rather than signing away through public votes their responsibilities of doing such including when the council voted to stop approving inter department and fund financial transfers.

San Bernardino City Attorney Jim Penman has decided to run for mayor of that city again. Since city attorneys are elected in his neck of the woods, he's already an experienced politician.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

He said he was most disturbed by the City Council's decision in December to sever its graffiti removal contract with Los Padrinos Youth Services, a nonprofit group that hires recovering addicts, reformed criminals and at-risk teens.

"To cancel that program the way they did and throw those kids on the street is one of the most disgusting things the city of San Bernardino has done in the 23 years I've been city attorney," Penman said.

City Council members said they weren't satisfied with Los Padrinos' work. In the six months since the city took over the graffiti program, city crews were able to clean up twice as much, according to city records.

Jim Morris, chief of staff to the mayor, said the mayor's campaign will be about moving the city ahead by cleaning up blighted housing and graffiti.

"It's not a surprise he's running for mayor," Morris said of Penman. "He hasn't stopped running for mayor since last time."

Two other potential candidates have also taken out candidacy papers: Sir Isaac Lindsay and Rick Avila, a building contractor who also ran in 2005.

Columnist Cassie MacDuff writes about the anticipated contest here.


The build-up to the run has been rumbling for several weeks, with Penman lobbing bombs at Morris, accusing him of improperly meddling in the location of a parolee homeless shelter at an office park where Morris' daughter was going to move her gymnastics studio.

Penman has referred the matter to the Attorney General's office.

Morris called the accusation baseless and said Penman is using it as "an opportunity to make political hay."

Morris had no conflict of interest since his daughter is an independent adult. Still, he asked her to look for a different location to avoid the appearance of a conflict.

In the phone interview, Penman told me that as recently as Monday night, he wasn't going to challenge Morris. But a number of recent developments changed his mind:

The decision to spend millions of dollars to build low-income housing in the trouble-plagued Arden-Guthrie neighborhood,

The canceling of the graffiti-removal contract with Los Padrinos, which trained at-risk youth,

And the hiring of a PR consultant while police and fire positions are left vacant, Penman said.

It's been a see-saw of sorts with rumors that San Bernardino County District Attorney Mike Ramos is being investigated leading to calls for an investigation of the rumors of him being investigated and then calls not to investigate him for investigating the rumors of him being investigated (or something like that). Now it's officially been straightened out for the confused public. Ramos has admitted he has received a complaint of sexual harassment which happened to be what the so-called rumors were about. Yes, another chapter is being written in scandal-plagued San Bernardino County.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

San Bernardino County District Attorney Mike Ramos released a brief statement Friday denying the employee's allegations and suggesting that they were linked to his office's corruption probe, which has led to the arrest of five former assessor's employees.

"This most recent attack on the district attorney's office and me is part of a well-organized and well-funded effort by some of those we are investigating and prosecuting," he said.
Story continues below

Ramos said he welcomed and would cooperate with an investigation by the human resources department. He declined to elaborate.

The complaint was filed less than two weeks after Supervisor Neil Derry's called for an independent investigation of rumors that Ramos had engaged in improper relationships with subordinates and colleagues.

Derry's office was contacted by the female district attorney's employee via email on Monday, he said. He later met with her and put her in touch with county human resources Director Andrew Lamberto.

The woman, whose name was not released, told Derry that she had been involved in an affair with Ramos and that she had faced retaliation at work because of it, Derry said.

She declined a request to comment through Derry's office.

Derry said she came to him because she didn't believe her complaint would be properly investigated otherwise.

Filing to fight it out for two council seats in Norco are four candidates.

Riverside Mayoral Election kicks off in technological style

And speaking of elections this autumn, this latest article from the Press Enterprise isn't news if you've been following local politics. The filing period for Riverside's mayoral office ended Friday with only two candidates getting enough signatures and that's of course, incumbent Ron Loveridge and challenger and former councilman, Art Gage.

Here's the campaign Web sites for both mayoral candidates running in Riverside this autumn if any prospective voters want to find out more information including where they stand on the issues.

Loveridge for Mayor 2009

Gage for Mayor

Gage has even taken up blogging. Here are some links to this thoughts on the city's spending habits and the recent contract debacle involving the city's original choice in janitorial services vendors.

Election 2010 begins...

At the Riverside County level of government, several politicians are loading up their campaign war chests with money for elections next year. Included are current Riverside County Sheriff Stan Sniff and District Attorney Rod Pacheco.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Sheriff Stanley Sniff, District Attorney Rod Pacheco and Supervisor Marion Ashley each raked in well over $100,000 in contributions between January and July, according to new campaign filings.

Supervisor Jeff Stone is not up for re-election for his county position until 2012, but he is running for state Senate and faces primaries in June. He brought in almost $61,000 in donations to his supervisor campaign and more than $242,000 for his state Senate run.

Local officials often build large war chests well in advance of elections, said Bob Stern, president of the nonpartisan Center for Governmental Studies based in Los Angeles.

"Incumbents are trying to scare away challengers," said Stern, an expert who helped write the state's campaign finance law. "It's also easier to raise money at a time when no one else is raising money."

Supervisors Ashley, Roy Wilson and John Tavaglione are expected to seek re-election in June. So are Pacheco, Assessor-County Clerk-Recorder Larry Ward and Auditor-Controller Robert Byrd. Sniff and Treasurer-Tax Collector Don Kent, both appointed to their positions, are campaigning for second terms.

Frank Robles, a retired chief deputy, filed in May to run against Sniff for sheriff. Since then, he has raised more than $67,000 and spent almost $24,000, according to his filings.

Sniff, appointed to his position in 2007, has raised almost $153,000 since January and spent about $44,000. He has about $198,000 in his account, filings show.

No one has filed formally to campaign against any of the supervisors, according to the county registrar's office.

Should elected officials be allowed to text or twitter during public meetings? As communication technology continues to move forward, questions like this come to the forefront in cities like Murrieta.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

City officials find themselves grappling with questions such as should an elected official be allowed to receive a text message from the public during a government meeting and should those messages be read into public record.

Murrieta Mayor Gary Thomasian even asked his colleagues at an Aug. 4 meeting to shut off their cell phones and personal digital assistants until the city attorney could research the issue.

They said they will revisit the issue at coming meetings.

A political expert said the debate over the use of electronic devices for public comment is unprecedented territory for city governments.

"This is a fascinating issue; the public is trying to extend the public forum to the virtual world of PDAs," said Jessica Levinson, the political reform director for the Los Angeles-based Center for Governmental Studies, a local government think tank.

"There is no doubt that the scope of the public's ability to participate in the decisions of local governments, albeit virtually, will be debated and litigated in the near future," she said.

An interesting column appeared in the Los Angeles Times alleging that when the going got tough, Bratton got gone. He announced his resignation as chief to take a high-priced security job not long after a federal court judge dissolved the city's eight-year consent decree with the U.S. Justice Department.


The timing of Bratton's exit couldn't be worse. The city faces a fiscal crisis of unprecedented magnitude that will force the LAPD to do at least as much -- and perhaps more -- with far less. Hiring freezes, furloughs and budget reductions are bound to strain the department in deep and unforeseen ways, potentially threatening much of the progress that has been made over the last seven years. When the chief gave Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa his notice, he ensured that the department for which he professes such great affection will have to confront the grinding challenges ahead with a new chief and, inevitably, a new command staff. It's hard to escape the suspicion that Bratton was glad to lead the LAPD through an expansive era in which he had the vast majority of budgetary considerations his own way, but is reluctant to manage it through rough times in which simply hanging on to what's been achieved will be a triumph.

Bratton's decision may also have been influenced by City Councilman Greig Smith, who, since his ascension to the chairmanship of the council's Public Safety Committee, has demonstrated a pointlessly intrusive, almost absurd propensity to assert micromanagerial authority over the LAPD, involving himself in deployment and other issues that clearly exceed the lawmakers' competence. Bratton's impatience with this development has been obvious to associates, but handing off the problem of dealing with an overreaching council committee to a new chief won't help the LAPD one bit.

The lasting impression created by Bratton's abrupt departure is of a leader who was happy to occupy the spotlight when his department was riding high, wide and handsome, but unwilling to get his hands dirty -- and perhaps to dent his reputation -- when the going got institutionally tough.

It's not surprising to read about an ongoing power struggle between Bratton and City Hall. After all, just look at Riverside. But what's really disturbing is what also allegedly took place.


That brings us to the troubling questions raised by Bratton's new professional association with Cherkasky. The two have worked together before, back when Bratton was between public assignments, and Cherkasky -- the former head of the international security firm Kroll -- is known to be an admirer of the chief. As the head of a new security firm, Altegrity, Cherkasky plans to build a brand around Bratton, using his reputation to secure not only international advisory jobs but some of the lucrative consulting contracts that Atty. Gen. H. Eric Holder Jr.'s Justice Department probably will be putting out for bid in the coming years. It's unlikely that Bratton would have been willing to leave his top spot at the LAPD while the department still was under the federal consent decree, and it was Cherkasky, in his role as court-appointed monitor, who advised the judge to lift the decree. Cherkasky's contract with the court officially ended June 15, and it's possible that there were no discussions of the new partnership before that date. "Possible" is the operative word there. In other words, the monitor gave the court advice that helped cement Bratton's reputation as the country's leading police chief, then just weeks later the two enter into a lucrative business arrangement built on that very reputation. (The worst thing about that sequence is that it casts an unwarranted shadow on the fact that the LAPD deserved to have the decree lifted because it had complied with its terms.)

What held up the LAPD's consent decree dissolution was that on the original expiration date in 2006, there were still reforms that needed to be completed and some of those that had been, had to be in place and working for at least two years before the decree could be dissolved. A couple of reforms weren't implemented including a controversial one that required the department to conduct regular financial audits on members of its special investigative units. One of the reforms which needed to satisfy the requisite two year period was the department's Early Warning System set up to track officers who were flagged for too many complaints, investigations or other set parameters.

Whether or not the LAPD deserved to have its decree lifted may be overshadowed by at the very least perceptions over a conflict of interest between Bratton and his new partner, Charkasky.

So it seems from a business standpoint, that two individuals benefited from the lifting of the federal consent decree and now they're going to be working together. And it creates a perception that can't be helped that the LAPD may have checked out of its decree before it should have done so. A situation which should be decided on its own merit.

Where are the hurricanes? Hint: It has something to do with the return of the planet's least favorite little boy.

The DDOS attacks on Web sites continue...

More on the DDOS attacks against Twitter, Facebook and Google's Blogger site on Friday.

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