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

Monday, August 03, 2009

National Night Out comes to Riverside

Bobby Bonds Park in the Eastside was the setting of one of the dozens of events taking place in Riverside on Aug. 4 to commemorate National Night Out. At least a dozen similar events took place in the Neighborhood Policing Center East and another dozen in the North NPC, according to Capt. John Carpenter who oversees the policing operations in both areas. Military personnel, police, fire and both Mayor Ron Loveridge and Ward Two Councilman Andrew Melendrez dropped by to check out the exhibits during the evening event.

Both the current NPC East Commander Vic Williams and the former one, Larry Gonzalez also appeared at the event. Gonzalez said he missed serving the Eastside but enjoys his new stint as the head of the METRO/SWAT and Aviation Divisions which was represented by SWAT officers, Brett Stennett and Vicente De La Torre. Sgt. Jay Greenstein who is currently assigned to the detectives division of the NPC East for the next two years also enjoyed the event.

[Officer Byrd takes a break from performing]

[Former NPC East Commander and current head of Special Operations, Larry Gonzalez (l) and Greenstein at Bobby Bonds Park]

[K9 Officer Ray Soto, "Toughest Competitor Alive" and his partner, Carat who've worked together since the retirement of Xian.]

[Sgt. Jay Greenstein, of the East NPC talking to the partner of "Officer Byrd"]

[Community members who dropped by the event checking out a military helicopter.]

Mayor Ron Loveridge who's running for another term in Riverside wrote that Riverside needs to embrace its labels or its identity.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Among the most important messages conveyed when approved at the City Council meeting was the speed with which we must move. At City Manager Brad Hudson's request, the marketing team has already begun. The city Web site has been updated, electronic freeway signs will be emblazoned with the new slogan, and revisions are being made to city materials.

Future marketing plans include developing commercials to air on Channel 3, movie ads to play in theaters, and posters and postcards. Internet marketing outlets such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter will also play a role.

This is a call to action for our arts, business, education and civic sectors. Cross-promotional marketing with local organizations and businesses such as the Riverside Arts Council, The Mission Inn, and the Convention & Visitors Bureau will embed this new identity.

Even during the recessionary economy, perhaps especially during these trying times, Riverside must focus on creative, forward-looking goals and policies that inspire the best in all of us. Riverside is an exciting, urban, diverse and successful city characterized by the best in arts and innovation; it is time that we trumpet that message loud and clear.

What might work really well is to do the work on these areas and let those who enjoy the fruits of your efforts build your reputation for you. Creating labels is kind of like putting the cart before the horse. Before Riverside should market a brand name like "Arts and Innovation", which was its second choice behind "Arts and Culture" which led to a possible threatened lawsuit by another city, it should establish a track record of living up to that title. Business companies may be attracted by catchy logos and slogans but they'll soon enough look at a city's track record to back up those labels.

It would be better including economically speaking if Riverside's events and things like, festivals (back when it had them) could attract businesses and they would say, now this is the City of Arts and Innovation! Not okay, well you're the City of Arts and Innovation but your museum is struggling to keep its employees, your library building is getting old, your children's museum is long gone and your major cornerstone theater doesn't have a private foundation or two grounding it. You have some artistic festivals like the Thursday Arts Work but you need more, because after all, look at Coachella Valley and Indio and Temecula with their arts and cinema events that have national and even international reputations, although your annual movie festival is a good start.

As for art galleries, weren't some of those downtown in danger of the big Eminent Domain sweep several years back and artists and musicians had to band together to save them? That's the kind of spirit in your local talent that you want but not aimed against City Hall.

Beautiful murals going up but in one great irony, the talented artist was sued by the city for another form of expression and innovation in the political and public expression arenas that are steeped in the United States Constitution.

Contract Revoked!

Press Enterprise Columnist Dan Bernstein deserves credit for bringing this story to light. Nothing like putting a spotlight and some public exposure on a problematic situation of when the city attorney and city manager's offices decided to recommend renewing a contract with a company that had a serious dark cloud hanging over its head. Several city council members including Ward One Councilman Mike Gardner expressed concern about it and pulled the item from where it had been slipped on the consent calendar.

Read it and Sweep highlights some of the events that happened off and on the dais regarding the city's decision whether or not to keep doing business with a custodian firm run by two employees who had been charged with felonies in relation to workman's compensation insurance fraud.

Now City Hall has announced it's revoking that contract.


Councilman Mike Gardner said Monday the city "will sever our business relationship as quickly as possible" with Sherman Oaks-based Bell Building Maintenance Co., which the state Franchise Tax Board said did not pay corporate taxes from 2004 to 2008. Officials expect to rebid the janitorial contract.

The California Department of Insurance said in April that Chan Hee Yang, president of Bell from at least 2000 to 2005, and employee Andrew Kim were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy and fraud for allegedly underpaying insurance premiums as well as payroll, unemployment and state disability insurance taxes.

The department said the company underpaid more than $6.3 million from 1998 to 2006.

The city of Riverside hired Bell in 2005 to clean its nine community centers as well as pools and park restrooms, parks director Ralph Nuñez said, adding, "Up to date we have received quality service."

The City Council was set to renew the $272,500 contract last Tuesday when Gardner pulled the item from the agenda after learning of the fraud case.

City management staff was aware of the case, Gardner said Monday, but they probably believed it was safe to proceed with the contract because the charges are pending, and a clause allows the city to cancel the contract in 30 days. City officials said they did check to see that Bell's insurance premiums are up to date.

Not surprisingly, the article attracted some comments on the newspaper's site.


How in "heck" did this company go for five or more years not paying taxes and insurance and still get a Government contract with Riverside?Where are the audtis and monitoring that is required each year on these contracts? Obviously Mr. Hudson doesn't require a "line item budget" for everyone?

PunkassJBrewster 8 hours ago wrote:

yet another illustration of why outsourcing hurts more than it helps. Keep city jobs in the city to be done by citizens.

AmericaFirst 9 hours ago wrote:

whoozincharg....You took the words right out of my mouth, or in this case, my finger-tips.

It always ticks me off when I read about Riverside awarding a contract to an outside company.

whoozincharg 11 hours ago wrote:

We are encouraged to " SHOP RIVERSIDE ".

But it's okay for the City to hand out quarter million dollar contracts to an alledgedly corrupt firm in Sherman Oaks.

So what doesn't smell about that ??

Cheese and Crackers and the Bill

Here someone wrote about an alleged new requirement by the city to all people participating in the Downtown Thursday Art Walk that they must pay for permits to serve any kind of food, including apparently cheese and crackers, the favorite staple of artist exhibits everywhere.

Where's this money going? Please, just don't say it's the Riverside Downtown Partnership. Because unfortunately, they don't exactly have the best history of representing downtown businesses equally. Some now-gone businesses paid their tax money to the Partnership only to watch the exterior improvements they helped pay for limited to the pedestrian mall which wound up having to be ripped up just a few years later for between $10-$12 million worth of renovation which included replacing most of the infrastructure such as water pipes. And unfortunately, Main Street Riverside (or whatever it will be called) isn't the only street that has been improved externally for replacement of what lies beneath the roads including an antiquated sewer system.

Inland Empire city budgets are being hit hard by declining sales tax revenues.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

"We're not expecting a turnaround any time soon," said Paul Sundeen, chief financial officer and assistant city manager in Riverside. "We had projected that our sales tax would come in for the entire year (fiscal 2008-09) at about $43.6 million. We are now concerned it may drop to about $42.6 million, or $1 million less than was contemplated."

Riverside posted a 19 percent drop in sales taxes in the first quarter, on top of previous declines.

Overall, a chart compiled by the California State Board of Equalization shows 15 cities in Riverside County saw double-digit declines in sales and use taxes over the past year, and 10 cities in San Bernardino posted double-digit declines. Those are preliminary figures for fiscal 2008-09, which ended June 30.

As sales tax dollars shrink there are important implications because cities typically rely on that pool of money as their second- or third-largest source of revenue.

Redlands, for instance, relied on sales taxes for nearly 23 percent of overall revenue last year, behind property taxes.

Riverside County Public Defender Gary Windom receives an award.

However, the Press Enterprise Editorial Board had more words of criticism for Riverside County District Attorney Rod Pacheco over the court room debacle that's been going on for several years now despite outside intervention from an emergency task force of judges dispatched by the state's highest court.


The district attorney's case management philosophy -- a primary cause of the court logjam that state budget cuts will now exacerbate -- has long needed adjustment. In a report last year, 4th District Court of Appeal Justice Richard Huffman criticized the DA's "very restrictive policy on plea bargaining" as a central cause of the court congestion. Huffman also noted that Pacheco "does not acknowledge his responsibility to limit ... the criminal cases taken to trial to the judicial resources available within Riverside County." The county grand jury echoed those judgments in a report released in May.

Pacheco's office disagrees. Responding to Huffman's report, Assistant District Attorney Chuck Hughes said that his office can't control how many crimes are committed. He added that the courts "can't wash their hands of their obligation to provide courtrooms and judges to hear trials in our county."

But that position is law-and-order politics, not a serious approach to serving justice. Other counties manage to balance civil and criminal cases, even with challenging crime rates. And settling some cases out of court is simply efficient lawyering -- it saves taxpayers' money and often can achieve the same result as taking a case to trial.

Of course, Pacheco is not the only cause of clogged-up courts. The county has barely half the number of judges the Judicial Council recommends. Both defense lawyers and prosecutors seek too many trial postponements, and judges are too lenient in granting them -- a point the court emphasized in last week's decision.

But with the courts' hours cut, new judgeships delayed and state budget shortfalls likely for years, Pacheco holds the key to relieving court congestion in Riverside County. The district attorney needs to subdue his political instincts and begin to responsibly exercise his discretion.

San Bernardino County Supervisor Neil Derry wants to investigate the District Attorney's office that has been quite busy in that county investigating everyone else in politics it seems.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

This is the most opportune time to call for an investigation into these allegations of misconduct. Ramos and my colleagues on the Board of Supervisors would have you believe that an investigation will distract from, and impede, an ongoing investigation.

The district attorney is in the business of conducting investigations. That is his job. It would seem that the argument he and others want to make is that district attorneys can only be investigated after they are no longer in office. That is an indefensible argument.

More to the point, these investigations are being conducted by the Public Integrity Unit. Ramos is supposed to have an arm's-length relationship with this unit, ostensibly to protect the public from corrupt officials, not inoculate himself from being held accountable for his own actions.

Ultimately, the people who are saying that there is no smoke here are the very same ones that ignored the four-alarm fire that raged in the assessor's office.

Another politician gets arraigned. This time it's a councilman from Rancho Cucamonga who is pleading not guilty.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Court documents state that Gutierrez often performed political or city work while on county work time, a violation of county policy and state law. On several occasions he submitted work records that claimed he was in the assessor's office in San Bernardino all day, but cell phone records showed otherwise, prosecutors say.

Gutierrez also sought mileage reimbursement from Rancho Cucamonga for attending city functions on days when his work records claimed he was in the assessor's office, the court records show.

How much is San Bernardino County paying for a settlement in connection with a controversial shooting of a U.S. airman several years ago? About $1.5 million.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

The agreement between the county's attorneys and Elio Carrion comes just days before the two parties were to begin a civil trial in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.

If approved by the county Board of Supervisors later this month, the settlement would effectively close the book on drawn-out legal proceedings surrounding the Jan. 29, 2006, shooting that sparked national debate when it was captured on videotape off a darkened Chino street.

"The county had tremendous respect for Mr. Carrion," said Dana Alden Fox, a lead attorney representing San Bernardino County. "It was an unfortunate shooting, and we respect the fact that he worked hard to get better, got back to work and got back to his life."

Attorneys for Carrion could not be reached for comment late Tuesday.

A Boston Police Department officer was suspended for making a racial slur about Henry Louis Gates, jr. calling him a "jungle monkey".

Suspensions of police officers in the Atlanta Police Department add up in time and pay especially since there's a backlog of case hearings.

(excerpt, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Lengthy suspensions such as Longe’s are not unusual in the Atlanta Police Department. Six officers who were suspended after the notorious Kathryn Johnston shooting in 2006 remain off the job with pay even though federal and state authorities have determined five of them will not be charged with crimes, leaving the city free to pursue firing or reinstating them. (The sixth is being investigated by prosecutors on an unrelated case.)

These officers are among 26 suspended cops on a list Atlanta police recently provided to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The list, from late May, includes several officers facing serious charges including sexual assault, felony domestic battery, aggravated assault and even murder.

While the number of suspended officers represents a fraction of the APD force, it is far higher than any other large metro Atlanta department.

Seventeen of the 26 suspended officers have not been charged with crimes and have continued to earn paychecks, most working administrative duty without a badge and gun. This is at a time when high-profile crimes and a shortage of cops on Atlanta’s streets have become hot-button issues, prompting a new crime-fighting plan announced last week by Mayor Shirley Franklin and Police Chief Richard Pennington.

The cumulative amount of pay the 17 suspended officers have received — about 290 months’ worth of salary — could put at least 24 officers on the street for a year.

Job opening:


Salary Range: $80,000-$135, 000 Annually. Closing Date: When a sufficient number
Salary dependent on qualifications and experience. of qualified applicants have applied.
Apply Immediately!
The City of Miami Civilian Investigative Panel (CIP) seeks an Executive Director for the overall operation and management of the Office. The individual is appointed by and reports directly to a 13-member volunteer Panel. This is a full-time, unclassified, executive level position.

RESPONSIBILITIES: The CIP Executive Director is responsible for the organizational development and management of CIP office and staff, and coordination of the activities of the volunteer Panel. Establishes goals, policies and procedures for the CIP and ensures staff compliance. Coordinates research and analyses of police policies, procedures and activities to enhance public accountability and professionalism in the delivery of services. Writes reports for review by Board members. Researches funding opportunities to further the cause of the CIP's mission. Conducts budget forecasting and reviews. Responsible for the community relations and outreach functions for the CIP. Ensures that staff and CIP members comply with training and development requirements. Coordinates and/or hosts training conferences or workshops. Coordinates and facilitates meetings of the CIP. Responds to directives and requirements of the Panel. Meets regularly with the City Manager or his designee, police command staff, interdepartmental personnel, community organizations and citizens on matters of mutual concern. Forms alliances with national and international civilian oversight entities, law enforcement and related agencies to develop and implement policies to enhance the oversight process. Performs other duties as required.

QUALIFICATIONS: A Bachelor's degree in Business Administration, Criminology, Criminal Justice, Political Science, Education, Psychology, Public Administration or related field. Five years of management experience required in one of the listed fields. A Master's degree or a Juris Doctorate degree may substitute for the above requirements on a year for year basis; however, it shall not substitute for the required supervisory experience.

Thomas J. Rebull, Chairperson
Civilian Investigative Panel
Executive Director Recruitment
155 S. Miami Avenue, PH 1B
Miami, Fl. 33130
Information and Application may be downloaded at www.miamigov. com/cip.
The City of Miami is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate. Eligible veterans receive preference in employment in accordance with Florida State Statute 295.07. If veteran's preference is being claimed, it must be indicated on the application form, and proper documentation must be submitted with the application.

Wi Fi Upgrade Update:

There were some outages in parts of the city after the city fine tuned its Wi Fi network on Saturday afternoon causing access points in some areas to go down. AT&T's Wayport dispatched technicians today to repair several access points with network connections that went down in Canyon Crest. By nightfall, they were back in service and loading pages at a very high speed.

One thing about the Wi Fi is that even though it has problems, its technical support has always been excellent.


Riverside Neighborhood Partnership Annual Meeting and Caucuses will be held to among other things elect representatives to the Riverside Neighborhood Partnership. Just hope that you don't get elected and the city sends you a letter announcing a sudden change in the rules voiding the election.

Saturday, Oct. 24 at 9 a.m.-Noon

Stratton Community Center, Bordwell Park, Eastside

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