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, August 25, 2009

Layoffs, raises and the CPRC gets its own drinking game


Riverside County Supervisor Roy Wilson has died.


More Riverside City employees fired today

Library hours go down while one employee's salary rises

The Riverside Board of Library Trustees voted to approve a plan to reduce the hours that libraries will be open.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Under the new hours, every library but the Marcy branch would be open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, though the main library downtown would stay open until at least 8 p.m. Thursdays to accommodate programs.

The Marcy library would be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily but closed Sunday, and Sunday hours of noon to 5 p.m. would be offered at La Sierra branch instead of Orange Terrace, which would close that day.

The weekday changes mean most branches would open later, close earlier or both. On Friday and Saturday, hours would be 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. across the system.

Several residents asked the board to preserve later hours for some programs so the library doesn't lose visitors.

"This is the only community access room of its type in the entire community," Dawn Hassett said.

Trustees asked Hernandez to look into keeping the main library open until 9 p.m. on Thursdays.

"If you've got a clearly stated community need, you've just got to find a way to meet that need," trustee Janet Lewis said.

And the city's doing that by reducing its hours in the face of budget cuts. Last year, when the city raised the salaries of some of its department heads and other executive employees even as it faced a steep decline in revenues, did it consider that doing so might lead to other cuts? The decline in library hours comes in the wake of the firing of two technology interns while an assistant library director received a promotion and a $15,000 salary increase just the day before the interns were let go.

Last year, department heads including in one that saw its budget slashed by over 29% received fairly hefty raises and another employee tried to retire on a salary raise but since his salary was never officially posted by the city, the CALPERS organization which provides retirements for city employees refused to grant him his retirement payments based on his higher salary. So he wound up having to stick around for a while rather than retiring and the city was pushed to post its list of about 40 higher level employees including department heads and the maximum ceiling of salary raises they could receive that was released last December with sizable increments in these ceilings. The list, a public document, was provided to this blog and excerpts were posted here which led to controversy and a discussion about this list and this blog behind closed doors at City Hall. It came down to whether the raises were going to be handed out or not when in actuality, some of them had been handed out already last year.

After the layoffs involving seven employees in departments such as public works, the museum and the park and recreation department, a relative of one of the public works employees who had been fired allegedly posted her feelings about the matter at the Press Enterprise Web site and she said when her fiance was fired, Human Resources Department head, Rhonda Strout blamed the termination on the SEIU's decision to vote for a 2% increment on their salaries even though the head of Public Works, Siobhan Foster, had allegedly received a 15% salary increase at some point. Did Strout mention whether or not she received a hefty salary hike last year to any of the employees she layed off while blaming the SEIU? And did the city council review whether or not Foster received a salary increase at some point before having to lay off employees in her department?

The city needs to be more upfront about which department heads have received salary hikes in the 12 months especially those heading departments which have seen layoffs of part-time or full-time employees and freezing of positions and salaries. And if these raises were handed out, the city council needs to investigate why this was done in the face of one of the most formidable recessions in modern history which led to budget cuts in city personnel and services. And if it's true that an employee couldn't retire on a salary or "bonus" increase without being penalized by the CALPERS organization, then there needs to be an explanation provided by both Human Resources Department and the city manager's office as to why the appropriate salaries were not posted publicly until apparently after the fact.

It's not easy being "green"

Riverside approves its the first "green" McDonalds in the West though not without breaking its status quo 7-0 vote to do so. The project created some degree of controversy because it allegedly doesn't fit in with the University Avenue's general plan so the councilman whose ward includes the area in question, asked for it to be discussed.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Melendrez said he didn't think the Planning Commission had fully vetted the plans because they overlooked issues such as lights from cars in the drive-through lane shining into residents' homes.

His main issue was whether the design fit guidelines the community had developed for University Avenue, which the city has worked hard to upgrade. A few more changes could bring the project into line with the rules and avoid setting a bad precedent, he said.

"If we begin to change what we're doing now on University Avenue, we'll see the same type of buildings we've been seeing for the past 14 years," he said.

More than two-dozen residents spoke, many of them praising the Spiels for their community involvement and philanthropy. A few criticized how long it has taken to get the McDonald's plans approved, though city officials noted that the Spiels' consultant went beyond requirements to seek their approval before facing a commission vote.

Council members voting for the project said they thought the issue had gone on long enough and they don't want to turn down a chance at cutting-edge, environmentally friendly development.

"We have an opportunity that I don't think we can give up," Councilman William "Rusty" Bailey said.

The Community Police Review Commission Drinking Game

Yes, in light of recent developments in the micromanagement of the Community Police Review Commission, there will be the creation of a CPRC drinking game. The rules are, that when CPRC members or city staff engage in certain behaviors especially those reflecting a certain pattern and practice, then viewers will inibe in the drink of their choice, but will do so responsibly which means no drinking and driving or anything like that so until the meetings are televised, perhaps people should stick to more tamer beverages.

With city residents coming to meetings and leaving them in total disgust, there has to be some form of purpose to them and if it's not to perform the charter-mandated duties of the commission, then what's left is, entertainment. And speaking of the city charter, some of the most recent redefinitions of the CPRC's duties and powers under City Charter Section 810 have been pretty outrageous and will be blogged about in future postings. Hint, the redefinition of the role of the CPRC in conducting independent investigations of officer-involved deaths was apparently only the beginning.

The more common the behavior or the more entrenched the pattern, the fewer drinks taken. Here are some examples of some behaviors that will be included in the first ever CPRC Drinking Game.

Both the chair and vice-chair show up for the same meeting: 1 sip

The CPRC Chair has a side conversation with Manager Kevin Rogan while someone else is speaking: 1 sip (and it better be a small one)

The City Attorney or designee says something being discussed is outside the purview of the CPRC: 2 sips

The CPRC manager says something being discussed is outside the purview of the CPRC: 1 sip

Peter Hubbard falls asleep during a meeting: 1 sip

Peter Hubbard stays awake during an entire meeting: 7 sips

Commissioner Art Santore makes a face at the audience: 1 sip

The CPRC manager chastises Commissioner Chani Beeman: 1 sip

The City Attorney or designee chastises Beeman: 2 sips

Asst. City Manager Tom DeSantis chastises Beeman: 5 sips

Any of the above chastise any other commissioner: 10 sips

A commissioner spends the entire meeting playing with his city-bought lap top: 1 sip per commissioner

A commissioner misdefines a "minority report": 1 sip per commissioner

CPRC Manager Kevin Rogan channels his role as a retired police captain: 1 sip

CPRC Manager Kevin Rogan channels his role as a licensed attorney: 2 sips

CPRC Manager Kevin Rogan performs as a CPRC manager: 4 sips

Commissioner Brian Percy stays for an entire evening meeting: 2 sips

Either the Policies, Procedures and Bylaws or Outreach Committees conduct a meeting: 5 sips

Either the Policies, Procedures and Bylaws or Outreach Committees get disbanded by popular vote: 2 sips

Both subcommittees get disbanded in a single popular vote: 3 sips

Asst. City Manager Tom DeSantis directs a committee chair to speak during a meeting of that committee: 8 sips

Public comment gets reduced or speakers get cut off: 1 sip

The CPRC will be voting on approval of the final draft of its majority report for the Joseph Darnell Hill case which included new language for "rationale for finding" (which the CPRC left out in earlier drafts because it didn't feel it needed to provide one) and the "conclusion" which were written by Rogan but reads like something that's received the blessing of the city's risk management division.

The best section is the one where Rogan explains that the officer involved in the Hill case was only stopping Hill for a traffic violation and wasn't conducting a pretext stop but adds that even if he did, pretext stops have a "dirty" connotation but they're legal. Okay, but shouldn't that definition be saved for a public report that involves an officer who made a pretext stop, rather than first stating that the officer didn't commit one and then defending his not committing one as if he did after the fact?

It's like the report is trying to argue that the involved officer did and didn't conduct a pretext stop at the same time. The traffic stop that the officer conducted involving Hill was the third contact the officer had with Hill in less than 20 minutes including a prior stop. The officer himself said in his own statement to investigators that he didn't believe Hill's answers to his prior questions and that he chose to remain in the area in case he saw Hill engage in criminal behavior. That sounds like an officer who's considering performing a pretext stop so why not just report that if there's nothing wrong with conducting them?

Then the report goes further and said it might be misconduct if the officer claims to be conducting a traffic violation when it's really a pretext stop, which seems an ambiguous rationale at best. Because in a sense by including this provision, the report is inadvertently or not placing the involved officer in this category.

Rogan's strawman argument on pretext stops deserves its own blog posting and one will be forthcoming but the new revisions of the report started good and then got even better. So good that both the majority and the minority report will be submitted to the NACOLE mailing list for review when they're completed.

What does the promotion of the Riverside County Sheriff's Department's highest ranking gay officer say about diversity in that department?

A group behind a recall effort against a Lake Elsinore city councilman has submitted its signatures that it collected.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

The Riverside County registrar of voters must determine how many of those signatures are from valid Lake Elsinore registered voters.

Typically, anywhere from 25 to 40 percent of signatures collected in a signature-based initiative effort are invalidated, said Bob Stern, president of the Center for Governmental Studies, a Los Angeles-based political think tank. Recall proponents must hope at least 89 percent of their signatures are validated, a tall task, Stern said.

"It is going to be tough," Stern said. "It is possible, but I'd bet against it."

In Riverside County, the upcoming resignation of Supervisor Roy Wilson has people lining up to take his place.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Wilson, 74, who has represented eastern Riverside County since 1994, resigned Friday citing a sudden decline in health. He asked that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appoint Benoit, R-Bermuda Dunes, to replace him.

"I think there is a strong feeling on the board to honor his request," Supervisor Marion Ashley said Monday, adding that he thinks the board will agree today to recommend the governor appoint Benoit.

"Roy is a very thoughtful person and has great judgment. And if Roy makes this recommendation, it's something we should respect," he said.

State law empowers the governor to appoint a successor to serve the rest of the supervisor's term, which ends in 2010. In addition to Benoit, former state Sen. Jim Battin, former Assemblywoman Bonnie Garcia and former Palm Springs Police Chief Gary Jeandron have also expressed interest in Wilson's seat, county officials said.

Supervisor Bob Buster said Monday the board should not rush to support one potential gubernatorial appointee over another.

"If the board is going to make a recommendation as to who is going to fill Roy Wilson's seat, it should be done in an open fashion, giving everyone who is interested ample time to make their case," Buster said, adding: "The seat belongs to the people. We don't anoint our successors."

So who will ultimately be chosen?

It looks like the supervisors minus Bob Buster are going with Benoit.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

At Tuesday's special meeting, Wilson's wife, Aurora, asked supervisors to back Benoit as well.

"I ask on behalf of my husband that the Riverside County Board of Supervisors consider my husband's legacy," she said, holding back sobs. "Trust his recommendation."

The board voted 3-0, and Supervisor John Tavaglione said he would hand-deliver the board's letter and seek meetings with the governor and his staff.

Supervisor Bob Buster was away on county business and did not attend the special meeting, which was announced Monday.

Buster said by phone that the board should have waited at least a week to make a recommendation. That would have given other contenders time to make their case and constituents in the large desert district a chance to be heard, he said.

Buster said the board's recommendation gives Benoit a major advantage in securing the governor's nod. Incumbent status would then give Benoit an overwhelming edge in winning the seat in June, he added.

"Roy Wilson is an old desert fox," Buster said. "He showed he was a master tactician here in extending his long influence and through natural, overwhelming sympathy for his health conditions. He was able to leave a lot of other contenders in the desert dust."

But the Press Enterprise Editorial Board said a resounding no to that.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

But showing respect for Wilson by endorsing his handpicked successor does not necessarily serve the public interest. By acting in such haste, the board suggested that political connections trump public input: Supervisors allowed little time for deliberation, or for a process that would let other potential candidates make a case for themselves. The board members are well aware that installing any powerful, well-funded politician in the post now would discourage other candidates from competing in next year's election, limiting voters' options.

Giving the job to a caretaker instead -- a retired judge, perhaps, who has no political ambitions -- would let Benoit and other candidates begin their campaigns on an even political footing. The public would benefit from a competitive election, not a token referendum on an appointed incumbent.

Wilson has contributed much to Riverside County during his 15 years on the board. And Benoit has a fine record in the state Legislature. But the issue here -- a healthy democratic process -- transcends the people involved. Choosing elected officials should fall to the public, and county officials and the governor need to trust the voters to decide who will carry on Wilson's work.

With all the scandals breaking out in San Bernardino County's government, it's not surprising any discussion of creating an ethics panel has received a negative reception from its government's officials.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Supervisors engaged in little debate over the idea during the meeting, agreeing to hold more substantive discussions at another workshop. The date for that meeting has not been scheduled.

Still, some supervisors expressed reservations during and after the 2½-hour workshop, most of which was spent reviewing existing safeguards to catch unethical behavior. Supervisors also got an overview of ethics commissions in place at other jurisdictions.

"I'm not in favor of bringing in more government to exert more power over the people because we simply as elected officials are unable to control our freedom of choice, our freedom of will," said Supervisor Josie Gonzales at the end of the meeting.

Supervisor Paul Biane, who remained silent through the meeting, later issued a news release comparing the proposed ethics commission to President Barack Obama's proposal for health care reform. Biane, who had initially backed the idea, said public enthusiasm will wane as taxpayers learn about the bureaucracy it will create.

"The creation of a county ethics commission seems to be headed down that same path," he said.

Supervisor Neil Derry, who has championed the idea, accused Biane of flip-flopping and called the comparison silly. He said an ethics commission with a budget of $500,000 would represent a small expenditure.

"I think the public expects us to clean our own house, and it's obvious we haven't been very successful," he said.

The BART civilian oversight plan might be delayed by the state legislation.

(excerpt, San Jose Mercury News)

No Bay Area lawmaker is willing to champion the required amendment to the 1957 BART Act, which established the transit agency, BART Director Lynette Sweet told a group of community leaders and activist groups at a news conference.

"We have money in the budget for (the oversight plan). The only thing we don't have is someone to carry this legislation for us," Sweet said.

It will cost about $500,000 to set up the auditor's office, pay citizen board expenses and hire three people, BART has estimated.

A spokesman for Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, said Ammiano is willing to propose the amendment but may also want to strengthen the oversight plan that was approved by the BART board earlier this month. The assemblyman introduced a stronger oversight plan, AB312, which also would have created BART police civilian oversight, earlier this year. The bill was held but could be brought up again at a later date.

Ammiano's spokesman, Quintin Mecke, said the assemblyman is interested in sponsoring the amendment in the new session beginning Jan. 1 if certain conditions are met.

"We want to make sure that any oversight proposal is sufficiently vetted and that the public has a chance to see what changes.

we are discussing," he said. "We already have a meeting scheduled with BART today in Sacramento, with BART directors Carole Ward Allen and Joel Keller."

Job Opening:

Human Resources Department
2180 Milvia Street, Berkeley, CA 94704
http://www.CityofBe hr

Invites Applications for the Position of:

An Equal Opportunity Employer

$6,523.00 - $7,862.00 Monthly
$7,225.84 - $8,671.96 *Effective Monthly
*Effective wage includes: Base wage, City-paid portion of employee's
share to the California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS),
and any other applicable retirement contributions.

ISSUE DATE: 08/24/09

FINAL FILING DATE: 09/14/09 at 05:00 PM
Postmarks and Faxes are not accepted.


Under the supervision of the Police Review Commission Officer, this
at-will, benefited position will serve as an independent investigator of
citizen complaints against members of the Berkeley Police Department.
The person selected for this position will place an emphasis on
utilizing investigation and dispute resolution techniques, and improving
the relationship between the Police Department and the diverse community
it serves; interpret data and make reports for the Commission; utilize a
variety of resources to pursue complaints and investigations thoroughly
and impartially; prepare detailed reports on completed investigations;
work with considerable independence and initiative while adhering to
strict deadlines; and organize and staff Boards of Inquiry.

Experience as an investigator utilizing investigative techniques,
interviewing witnesses and drafting reports is highly desirable.



Equivalent to graduation from a four-year college with major course work
in law, public administration, or a closely related field; and two (2)
years of analytical, investigative and/or legal-related experience in a
public agency or similar setting. Legal education and/or training,
sufficient to perform the requirements of this classification is
required. Progressively responsible related experience may be
substituted for the college course work on a year-for-year basis.

Experience which has provided familiarity with law enforcement
and skill in dealing with members of various ethnic and
socio-economic groups is desirable.

Must be willing to travel to various locations within and outside the
City of Berkeley to meet the program needs and to fulfill the job
responsibilities. When driving on City business, maintenance of a valid
California driver's license and a satisfactory driving record is
required. Must be willing to conduct off-hours interviews and attend
off-hours meetings.


Knowledge of: Investigative techniques; office administration principles
and practices; and law enforcement principles, procedures and

Ability to: Interview witnesses and draft reports; multi-task, maintain
a large caseload, meet deadlines; organize and maintain accurate records
and files; interpret and explain administrative, constitutional,
criminal, and public records laws and procedures; analyze complex
problems; evaluate alternatives and reach sound conclusions within legal
and procedural constraints; establish and maintain effective working
relationships during the course of work; and prepare timely, clear,
concise and effective written reports, correspondence, Council items and
other written materials.


Applications must be received in our office no later than the closing
date (5 P.M.). Postmarks, faxes and incomplete applications will not be
accepted. All application materials will be reviewed for minimum
requirements and those possessing these requirements will advance to the
next step in the examination process, a competitive review of the
Supplemental Questionnaires to determine which applicants will advance
to the Qualifications Assessment interview that will count as 100% of
the final examination score. The assessment interview may contain
situational exercises. Successful applicants will have their names
placed on an employment eligible list that will be used to conduct final
selection interviews
and fill the position.

This classification is excluded from the competitive service and the
individual selected will serve as an "AT-WILL" employee.

Candidates under final consideration for employment with the City should
expect to undergo an employment background / reference check that may
include, but is not limited to: employment history, confirmation of
educational credentials and degrees, licenses including driver's
license, registrations, certificates, and other credentials as part of
the appointment process. Some positions, depending on the nature of the
work, also require a credit check and a review of Summary Criminal
History obtained from the State Department of Justice through Live Scan

DISCLAIMER: The provisions of this bulletin do not constitute a
contract, expressed or implied, and any provisions contained in this
bulletin may be modified or revoked without notice. Tests may consist of
any combination of written, oral or other exercises or assessment
procedures that test content. Components may include, but are not
necessarily limited to, typing, math, reading, writing and analytical
; problem solving ability; computer and software proficiency, or
any other job-related knowledge, skill, ability or qualification. The
City may, without notice, change or eliminate any particular assessment
component or combination of components as needs dictate.

Incumbents in this classification must file a Statement of Economic
Interests in accordance with State regulations.

All City employees are required to provide services as Disaster Service
Workers in the event of an emergency / disaster.

Police Review Commission Investigator Supplemental Questionnaire

* 1. Please detail your education, training, and
investigative, legislative, or legal experience that qualifies you for
this position. Include the types of organizations you have worked for or
with, your role in conducting investigations, and the types and
frequency of reports and presentations you prepared.

* 2. What is your understanding of a Police Review
Investigator' s role working with complainants, police and the community.

* Required Question

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