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, September 22, 2009

CPRC: A city commission or Survivor Island?

Survivor Island, River City Style:

Did the commission try to kick one of its own off the Island?

One town's very like another
When your head's down over your pieces, brother

It's a drag, it's a bore, it's really such a pity
To be looking at the board, not looking at the city

----"One Night in Bangkok", Chess

“Chess is played with the mind and not with the hands!”

---Renaud and Kahn

“Play the opening like a book, the middle game like
a magician, and the endgame like a machine


Act II, Scene 1

[This scene opens inside a typical cramped conference room in a municipal building where the commissioners have preceded in from off-stage led by the NARRATOR and sat down on their seats in this participatory form of experimental theater where even the audience has speaking parts.]

What: Riverside's finest theater

Where: Riverside City Hall

When: Wednesday, Sept. 23 at 5:30 p.m.

The members of the much beleaguered and overly micromanaged Community Police Review Commission met inside the cramped Fifth Floor conference room at City Hall to once again engage in theatrics in their hurry to carry out City Hall's bidding by continuing with the spaying and neutering of Riverside's form of civilian oversight over the police department. Same script, same characters playing the same roles, but some different nuances this time around.

Leslie Braden, a regular attendee at the meetings, also spoke at the Sept. 22 city council meeting and invited city council members and Mayor Ron Loveridge to attend commission meetings and see the dynamics for themselves. She mentioned CPRC Manager Kevin Rogan's constant texting that he does during the meetings. Maybe he's bored or maybe he's getting instructions for what to do or say next from his handlers.

But once again the commission put on a great show so the evening passed relatively true to form, with plenty of explosive moments and enough strategic maneuvering to keep William Shakespeare busy if he were still hanging around. Yet the overall mood of the meeting was closer to resembling one of those reality television shows, say Survivor Island. Although it doesn't involve ardent physical challenges or meetings around lit Kon Tiki torches, there's that common thread of individuals who initially began as members of a team who as their numbers winnow down wind up turning on each other. The commission isn't quite like that and there are no cash prizes but what you apparently have instead are majority and minority blocs and the former seems to be realizing that controlling the votes cast on motions resulting from agenda items isn't enough, they appear to now want to vote the dissenters off the Island as well.

It's not that the commission is performing in front of the same group of people, as Commissioner Peter Hubbard complained, it's just that most people who attend a meeting for the first time leave saying how horrible it is and that they never want to return. Even the CPRC's newest commissioner didn't stay very long, attending the meeting while sitting on the sidelines. He left about halfway through the nearly three hour session and one wonders if he'll come back even though he's yet to be sworn in to serve on the CPRC nearly a month after the city council and mayor voted to appoint him the next Ward Two commissioner and nearly seven months after former commissioner Jim Ward resigned in disgust after serving nearly two full terms on the CPRC.

In most settings, individuals serving on committees work together even if they disagree, but at this meeting, several commissioners appeared to try to push a seemingly innocuous agenda item to force several commissioners they frequently disagreed with in a position of having to resign. That's certainly how a couple of them felt when Hubbard put a vaguely worded item on the agenda which appeared to address rescheduling the meetings to an earlier time of the day. The communication of agenda items is so poorly done so that often items come up and people on the commission not to mention the audience feel like they have no idea what's actually being presented. That was the case here when some of the commissioners who would be most impacted by a decision coming out of one particular agenda item said they felt blindsided by it.

An amendment to the process which if passed, would have profoundly impacted the ability of some commissioners to participate. Even when that became clear to those proposing it, they pushed it for a while anyway.

Here's the item as it's listed on this agenda and it states the following:

Discussion and action, if any, on whether or not to change the meeting time from 4:00 p.m. to a time earlier in the day.

At the time this agenda item was introduced, any member of the public who wished to speak on it had to speak on it first before it was even properly introduced or outlined briefly by the sponsoring commissioner and then after that was explained, the commissioners spoke on it. This routine was instituted a while back with the argument that that this newer procedure mirrored how discussion items were handled by the city council. However, if you attend or watch a meeting then it becomes fairly clear that's not true. At city council meetings, a city council member, mayor or staff employee gives a brief outline or even a power point presentation on an agenda item before receiving public comment and then after that, comments from elected officials. Check out any city council meeting that airs on cable television or that is included on the city's Web site and you'll find this to be the case. The CPRC format was clearly much different than that used by the city council it claims to be emulating. They tell people who attend meetings and find that their ability to comment effectively on agenda items is severely reduced because that's how the city council does it, hoping that they don't check out the two processes and then find out how different they really are in reality.

One could have hoped that the intent of this agenda item was to expand the length of time that the commission met in closed session because there's concern that the commission is taking longer and longer to process complaints passing the 100 day mark on several occasions, both on individual complaints and on average since the installation of the new officers in March. Commissioner Brian Pearcy commented that the decision to reduce the monthly meetings by half greatly concerned him and he said if there were any outstanding complaints that the commission had to review, then they should schedule a meeting to discuss and issue an advisory finding on that complaint.

But if one would hope that the agenda item was an attempt by the commission to solve the problem of why it's taking 100+ days to process complaints, one would definitely be wrong. The agenda item actually appeared to have been intended to serve several purposes which were more fully delineated during the discussion which followed. There was some resistance on the commission to these proposed changes from the beginning and it would soon become clear why.

But Hubbard, the vice-chair who manages a company, American Medical Response, which contracts with the city manager's office continued to push forward with his insistence that holding the meetings earlier would allow more people to attend, especially if they were held at 8 or 9 a.m. in the morning and it would save the city electricity costs spent by hosting meetings at City Hall after dark. It would also allow commissioners to have time to spend doing social activities and spend time with their families and not have to sacrifice so much of their time to that.

It's no secret that Hubbard isn't fond of the increase in community members who show up for meetings. He shouldn't worry all that much because the commission's ruling majority is pretty effective at keeping most of them from coming back with its behavior including the passage of motions which restrict public participation. These are usually done with petty undertones given that Commissioner Art Santore made a negative reference about this blog (which he apparently does quite a bit at meetings in the La Sierra area) at the time he was pushing a motion to reduce public comment from five to three minutes. If the reduction of speaking time was in the interest of economizing the time spent meeting, then there's no need to mention the blog. And what good does it do to reduce public comment by two minutes, when the commission spends hours arguing including on some mundane items?

Hubbard's not exactly in a position where he can have an independent opinion. Only a truly naive person (and one city attorney) would believe that an individual who through all purposes is an independent contracting employee of the city manager's office through a public safety contract would act independently on issues pertaining to public safety including cases where employees for his company would be interviewed or provide written statements as witnesses.

If there's a recording of his two interviews that he gave the CPRC in early 2007, you should give it a listen because when asked why he wanted to serve on the CPRC, Hubbard didn't appear to know much about the commission but he did know that he missed parking in the specially designated spots for board and commission members and that leaving a 10-year stint on the Board of Public Utilities had left a "hole" in his life. He gave one of the weaker interviews of all those who applied and still mustered enough votes to get appointed because too often, that's how the appointment decisions are made. Part of that is due to the fact that the majority of council members can't or won't even really articulate what they believe are important qualities to find in commissioners and most of them also don't know much about the commission itself except that they want it to be watered down as much as possible.

A stellar reason for the city council and mayor to appoint someone like him on the CPRC completely ignoring how compromised this "independent contractor" employee of the city would be as a commissioner. Community members recognize the problem of conflict of interest even if the city council and mayor do not and a lot of people questioned how he was appointed in the first place. But then most of them are still stumbling over the reality that having the city attorney defend the city and police department from civic liability at the same time he "serves" the CPRC (whose findings can and have impacted the course of wrongful death and use of force lawsuits) constitutes a conflict of interest.

[Commissioner Ken Rotker, wearing one of the new CPRC shirts which were purchased even as Commissioner Peter Hubbard complained that the city had to pay higher electrical costs in difficult fiscal times to light City Hall for evening meetings.]

Anyway, at first it appeared that Hubbard was intent on changing the meeting time in hopes of eliminating the opportunities for city residents who regularly attended the meetings to go to future meetings. And that's how at least one commissioner took it.

Commissioner and former chair, Brian Pearcy who returned from his absence called Hubbard's proposal a "backhanded attempt" by Hubbard to get people the commission doesn't like to stop attending meeting. Moving the meetings should be "at the convenience of the public, not the commission", Pearcy added.

Commissioner and strong Hubbard ally, Ken Rotker said that any insinuation that Hubbard did this with intent to affect the attendance of the city residents was highly offensive to him. He and Commissioner Robert Slawsby agreed with Hubbard that meetings should be moved to earlier in the day so that commissioners could spend more time at night socializing and at home with their families. Other commissioners said that they all knew going into their positions that they might have to spend one night a month at an evening meeting and that had been a sacrifice they had made going into the position.

Then it became clear that some of the commissioners wouldn't be able to remain on the commission if the meetings were changed to earlier in the day. Those commissioners included Brian Pearcy, Chani Beeman and most especially John Brandriff. These employees work full-time jobs and although Beeman and Pearcy have some flexibility, Brandriff didn't even have "flex time" but he also called the commissioners pushing Hubbard's proposal on their intent right away.

John Brandriff accused the commission and city of negating a commissioner's appointment through a motion by the commission to change the meeting time.

"That's your perspective, your characterization of what would happen," Gregory Priamos said.

Priamos then of course rather cheerfully said that a commissioner in these circumstances of suddenly having the times of service change to where they could no longer participate, would have to resign and that a vacancy would have to be filled. And that's kind of when it became clear what the real intent of the item was, as is often the case. Priamos' comments at the CPRC meetings have a way of providing clarity but probably not in the way he thinks.

Beeman also said she objected to the proposal, saying it would change the composition of both the commissioners who could serve and the community members who could attend. She also said that she understood the challenges that she faced when she decided to serve and she questioned why any commissioner would be so willing to push a motion for passage that would cost another commissioner their position.

"This is an unnecessary fight to have," Beeman said.

That of course is relative, depending on who you ask. For people like Beeman who said she couldn't conceive of a commissioner performing an action or advocating an action which would force another one to resign, it seems trivial and unnecessarily divisive. But for those pushing the motion which included Hubbard, Rotker and Commissioner Art Santore, it's very important because besides their inability to attend their meetings earlier in the day weren't the only thing that Pearcy, Beeman and Brandriff had in common. They also comprise a crucial minority voting bloc in the current dynamic of the CPRC.

Throw in Slawsby when he's showing an ounce of independent thinking which granted isn't often enough but he still leads the majority bloc in that area and the current vacancy and the majority rule actually turns into a tie vote. If Brandriff and Pearcy had attended the crucial meeting on the vote on the inclusion of a minority report and had cast votes in favor of it (which Brandriff seemed intent on doing and Pearcy, possibly), then the vote would have been tied. It's probable that the issue was pushed so quickly by the majority bloc because they weren't in attendance.

The majority ruling body of the commission which consists of four members proved through its vote to eliminate all minority reports that simply exercising the power welded by a voting majority isn't enough to keep it happy. It has to stamp out any voice from the minority bloc that it could, hence the decision to ban minority reports. After doing that, it's certainly not implausible that the voting majority would choose to next search for loopholes (such as a lack of protocol in writing on meeting times) to try to rid themselves of the more troublesome commissioners who don't march lock-step to City Hall's agenda for the commission like they do. After all, check out the commissioners who wore their new city-issued, tax payer sponsored shirts and who didn't. The only three members wearing them which included Rotker, Santore and Slawsby were all in the majority voting bloc though occasionally Slawsby has an independent thought including on the issue of minority reports.

And given that few commissioners even cared that one of them might have to leave because of a motion it passed, it's not implausible to think that perhaps it was intended that way. If this issue had come up say, three years ago, no commissioner on the CPRC would have ever done anything to jeopardize another's ability to serve. And no commissioner would have ever attempted to pull the stunt that the current majority of this commission did and tried to make it sound like he or she was doing something else. Three years ago, commissioners disagreed with each other but still worked together. They didn't try to push each other into positions where they had to think about resigning and keep on doing so even when it became clear that would be the case. How truly low this commission has sunk in the past year or so. How low became clear last night, when it put on a display for those in attendance that commissioners are unable to coexist with others who disagree with them on fundamental issues to the point where they might be trying to get each other to drop off.

But as stated, a lot has changed in the past several years and very little of it for the better.

Today, they disagree and some vote just because they want to vote against another commissioner and now it's clear that there are members on there who appear intent on trying to pick each other off. But then this latest batch of commissioners has already established a history of doing as Pearcy called it at one point, "throwing the baby out with the bath water."

Pattern and Practice?

Someone tries to create a process to write policies and procedures and bylaws involving officer-involved death investigations and the majority votes to get rid of the ad hoc committee the first time and the entire (and newly reborn for five minutes) Policy, Procedure and Bylaws Committee. Then they throw in the Outreach Committee for disbandment for good measure. Then they pass a motion banning the creation of any future committees.

***They don't like a commissioner's minority report or the fact that it had gotten more media attention than the majority report. They vote to not include the minority report before voting to ban all future minority reports permanently (or at least until more enlightened commissioners get appointed).

***Hubbard and then Slawsby and Santore try to push a motion to move commission meetings earlier in the day and continue onward (most particularly Santore after Hubbard backs down) even knowing that one or more of them will have to resign. Only because those who would have to resign are on the other side. Could you imagine any of these commissioners trying to pull this action if they were the ones who couldn't make the meetings?

Brandriff who was upset at having been broadsided by a motion that might have ended his stint on the commissioner hoped he would have received more sympathy on the commission but there was little hope of that.

When asked if he would have to leave the commission in those circumstances, Brandriff responded quickly.

"Yeah, you'll force me to have to resign," Brandriff said.

Pearcy said he'd strongly object to any motion or action taken by the commission that would force a commissioner off of the panel. At least Beeman and Pearcy cared. No one else on the panel gave a damn that Brandriff might have to resign at least for a while. Hubbard claimed that he didn't know that Brandriff worked full-time but had believed he was "permanently disabled", then he kept digging his hole even deeper.

Commissioner Chani Beeman said that the changing of the time would alter the composition of both commissioners and community members at meetings. Evening meetings are the best for community members, she learned through her time on the Human Relations Commission.

"To sit here and not even care that would even prevent one of our commissioners could attend is not a conception for me"

Yes, Beeman that's what it's come down to on this panel of volunteers. Peter Hubbard didn't hear what she was saying at first but after others chimed in, he finally backed down and stopped digging his hole any deeper. Whether his handlers are happy with him remains to be seen.

"I really thought it wouldn't have that devastating an impact on any individual," Hubbard said.

But Santore picked up the mantle and began digging his own hole by insisting that he didn't want to drop the issue but that the commissioners should move meetings back two hours earlier and that employees could use their "flex time". That wouldn't help his situation, Brandriff said.

"There's no such thing as flex time on my job," Brandriff said.

There's many occupations that would be disqualified if having "flex time" or being retired became a requirement for serving on the CPRC. Most of those pushing the changes were retired or had the greatest degree of flexibility in their schedules.

At the end of the discussion item, it wasn't exactly clear whether or not the schedule will change but Hubbard did back down from his quest to change the meetings to any times when commissioners might have to resign or how this will continue to play out in the weeks and months to come.

Snapshots from a meeting

[Puppet and Puppeteer? A question many people have asked about the current status of the CPRC and its cast of players. CPRC Manager Kevin Rogan(l) and City Attorney Gregory Priamos who are the topic of a great degree of speculation contemplate discussion on changing the CPRC's meeting times.]

[Commissioner and former chair, Brian Pearcy listens in on Hubbard's motion to schedule meetings earlier in the day which could have forced the resignation of at least one commissioner and put his own position in jeopardy.]

[Polar Opposites: Commissioners Ken Rotker (l) and Chani Beeman were on opposite sides of the fence on changing the time of CPRC meetings and most everything else with one major difference being that one of them feels like they need a City Hall issued uniform and one of them is perfectly comfortable in street clothes.]

To be Continued...

Downtown Business Watch

[The downtown Fox Theater Plaza is still undergoing construction for its reopening date early next year. A lot of downtown businesses served as sacrificial lambs to promote what city officials hope will be the cornerstone of bringing more people and their plastic to downtown Riverside.]

More business owners downtown are being forced to relocate their businesses to be replaced by parking for the Fox Theater. They're not the first business owners to spend decades propping up the downtown and then being swept away because they don't fit with the vision of the Greater Chamber of Commerce, the Riverside Downtown Partnership and the Mission Inn Hotel. Hopefully, they are being more than adequately compensated in appreciation for doing business downtown when no one wanted to and hopefully it's not coming from the sewer fund.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

The City Council on Tuesday approved a relocation plan, which describes how the city will help tenants move and how much money they could receive to offset costs.

The plan estimates relocation payments to 10 businesses and four residents, and assumes tenants will be moved by the end of the year.

A 400-space parking garage with some retail space is expected to displace them. It would serve the Fox Performing Arts Center, set to open in January after a more than $30 million overhaul.

The city spent about $6.7 million buying land for the project. While there's not yet a design or cost estimate for the parking garage, Councilman Mike Gardner said similar projects cost about $20,000 per parking space, which comes to about $8 million.

Before the meeting, Brookleberry's Antiques owner Joni Skiles said she hasn't yet found a place to move her store, which is next to the Fox.

She's trying to stay positive, she said, but knows relocating will mean losing out on some out-of-town customers that come from downtown's biggest draws, such as the Mission Inn.

Public Comments

Most often during city council meetings in Riverside, the most interesting part of them is the time set aside for public comment which is pretty close to the end of the meetings since changes were imposed by the city council in 2005. If you have to take public transportation to a meeting to speak at public comment, you're out of luck because most buses run by the Riverside Transit Agency stop running by 8-8:30 p.m. But then public comment's never been a popular item on city council agendas for some elected officials. It's mainly there because of a guy with the last name, "Brown".

These were some of the public comment highlights of the Sept. 22 evening session of the city council.

Four individuals who attended the meeting spoke on the grade separation project which has begun at Magnolia Avenue near Merrill which is beginning to impact businesses on that street. Closing off Merrill to traffic at Magnolia would cause motorists to travel through a zig-zag track and about seven traffic lights.

The majority of the traffic goes up to Riverside Avenue which helps their businesses but the current plan will hurt businesses because of the diversion. The $15 million retaining wall which was to support the Staples building is no longer an issue but is still being used as an excuse.

"We're begging you to let Merrill avenue continue across Magnolia," Pat, a business owner said, begging the city council to not block off Merrill at Magnolia to right turns only.

The owner of the Lucky Greeks' restaurant also wanted the street to not be closed off at Magnolia in order to keep his business viable.

Tim Kelly, a certified public accountant who represents 14 businesses which face being shut down including his own spoke at the meeting as well.

"All these businesses have been here a significant period of time," Kelly said.

He said that closing Merrill at that point makes little sense and he and other business owners impacted by the proposed action wished that the city council could reconsider it.

Leslie Braden, sister of Joseph Darnell Hill, requested that the city council and Mayor Ron Loveridge reconsider the selection process of the Community Police Review Commission. She said that current chair, Sheri Corral is a police officer at the Riverside Community College District which she believes is a conflict of interest.

Braden's been attending meetings for the past two years while the CPRC investigated and reviewed her brother's shooting by a Riverside Police Department officer and was upset to learn that the commission had voted to ban minority reports.

Kevin Dawson of Save-Riverside spoke about the city's code of ethics and the controversial section of language that was added after he had filed his complaint. Former Councilman Dom Betro had in May 2007 used his position of power to retaliate against him for campaiging against him and Dawson had filed a complaint. Instead of it going to the Mayor's Nomination and Screen Committee as it's required to, Dawson received a letter from the city attorney's office disqualifying it because the alleged misconduct took place when Betro wasn't serving as a city council member during the incident even though there was no language in the code mandating this as a requirement. That language was later added by the Governmental Affairs Committee in July 2007 when Betro the subject of the complaint proposed a motion that would be added which was seconded by former City Councilman Frank Schiavone who had endorsed Betro during his election.

Dawson said that the majority of the city council member had been elected when the language wasn't in place and he couldn't understand why they would be upset to have that language revoked again.

The deacon from St. Catherine's church spoke on behalf of a homeless woman who had received a $1,005 citation for having a shopping court and was told to go to court in Moreno Valley even though she didn't have the transportation. The speaker and two parishners asked for legal counsel but since she has an infraction charge, she could not get legal counsel.

She was told she had to pay a $500 bail and failure to appear results in a misdemeanor. He had spoken with different city and county agencies including the Human Relations Commission and the Homeless Outreach. She might have to do community service at $8 an hour, equaling 150 hours for the citation.

Jim Martin spoke on the problems with the CPRC and how important it is. In fact, he thinks that the CPRC issue helped change the outcome of the election in Ward Four. He added that the manager of the CPRC spends most of the meeting texting or scolding commissioner Chani Beeman, the only commissioner who truly has the community interests at heart. He urges the city council to attend the meetings to see how it's working.

Hazard at the Pedestrian Mall?

If you've been to the pedestrian mall in downtown Riverside, you will notice all the construction being done as part of a $12 million overhaul of what's now called Main Street Riverside. A major change that was made was moving the two pedestrian walkways across University to one larger central one in the middle of the two of them. The problem is, many people who walk the mall don't seem to be aware that this new walkway is even there. There's a new traffic light with a walk signal and pedestrian button but it's difficult to notice, compared to the two larger traffic lights near the two original walkways.

What happens is that people gravitate towards the two original walkways and just stand there waiting for the light to change. But the light won't because the traffic lights in the pedestrian mall are activated solely through pressing the pedestrian button in the newer, middle light (which then of course takes several minutes to change) so they wind up waiting for a light to change that will never change unless someone presses the right button. So then they look both ways and cross against the traffic to get to the other side, not having any clue about the newer, middle walkway. Some people might say they deserve what's coming if they do get hit because they are in the wrong place.

But the problem is, people are creatures of habit and if they've been wearing a groove in the sidewalk crossing in the same place, it's hard to get them to change, not to mention there might be a herding action in play if they go to wait in the wrong location because other people are already there waiting. Some temporary signage designating the new walkway (which should be painted a different color as to not match the street) similar to that used for the temporary pedestrian pathways would go a long way and might save lives and people from getting

Speaking of public transportation to the surprise of no one, costs to use it will be going up primarily in this case for the seniors and/or disabled people.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Facing spiraling cost increases to Dial-A-Ride, a door-to-door service for seniors and those eligible for federal disability benefits, Riverside Transit Agency officials are proposing changes to the system. The age requirement for seniors would be raised from 60 to 65, and riders would pay a fare based on the distance of their trip, up to $9 each way.

Seniors and disabled residents would also have to schedule pickup and drop-off locations within three-quarters of a mile from existing bus routes, based on the plan. Though few places in large cities fall outside the range, some in less-developed areas might have to find rides to get inside the three-quarters-of-a-mile zone.

The changes would take effect Jan. 1, if approved by the bus agency's board.

Over the next five years the changes are expected to save the bus system nearly $10.2 million.

Sam I am (not)

This blathering appeared at Inland Empire Craigslist. One of the individuals who had a rather annoying fetish of sorts for blaming this blog for everything under the sun, usually during election cycles involving former councilman Frank Schiavone. Most of the individuals were people who were tied to the political campaign of one city council candidate including one individual who boasted about his or her posting on Craigslist to the wrong person at City Hall.

This one was kind of amusing. Basically, this individual is upset that the focus by a variety of individuals is on national issues and politics and not on their own antics of posting what they believe to be insightful comments about breasts and under garments. Tying their two favorite topics into the local political scene didn't work well but they tried very hard to engage in some serious analysis and thought about the relationship between the two topics anyway. They're hoping that someone will post on local issues so that they can start writing about under garments and breasts again. Someone should just kindly point out that they are posting to the wrong category of Craigslist.


Sam just seems too damn familiar.

Let's see - S A M

Backwards that's - M A S

Naw, it couldn't be. Could it?

Who do you know with THOSE initials?

Mary is that you posting "anonymously" again?

No, I'm not Sam and I'm not MAS either. But this person kept insisting that I was.


HA HA HA - you ARE and Craigslist posters know it! as far as the personal digs to some unknown, WRONG BABY WRONG! interestingly amusing to say the least! clue , look to the past waaaaaaay past like 4 maybe 5 years or so! why pick on an innocent when the answer is right before you? burned a few briges I guess!

Hmmm, four years ago. I like the herring (though I prefer tuna) but let's see, what was four years ago next month? Could it be?! Probably not the effigy of the 70s television icon because not enough punctuation marks for one thing. But if so, at least I know who that individual was. Sometimes it's the person that you least expect. Sometimes it's an individual you've never even met, as in this case. That's how bizarre the internet truly can be.

Sydney, Australia is a nice city filled with nice people and you really can't say enough about Australia but on Sept. 23 (which is Sept. 22 here), a mysterious dust storm struck the masses, shrouding the metropolis in an eerie orange glow and driving the elderly and children indoors.

Bringing back civilian review in New York City is the ongoing struggle.

(excerpt, Huffington Post)

The Police Department in 2008 declined to pursue discipline against officers in 33 percent of cases substantiated by the CCRB. That figure increased exponentially from just 1 percent in 2003 and 3 percent in 2004. And it came amid a falling number of substantiated cases, which dropped from 367 in 2003 to 265 last year, as the the CCRB has become more careful about forwarding only the strongest cases for discipline.

It is true that officers are generally more courteous and professional today than in years past. But that doesn't explain the Police Department's growing inaction on substantiated cases of misconduct.

When it comes to pursuing the most contentious cases, the Police Department undertook only 19 administrative trials against officers in 2008, down from 90 in 2003 and 88 in 2004.

Not following up on these serious cases undermines accountability and public trust in the system at a time when tens of thousands of New Yorkers' only interaction with the police comes when they are stopped and frisked on the street despite any wrongdoing.

It also increases the likelihood that officers who commit multiple offenses will go unpunished. Since 2003, 70 percent of all complaints were lodged against officers who already had more than one complaint. Sixty-four officers have received 10 or more complaints in that time.

Read more at:

Rally Against Hate

Dear friends,

Work is proceeding on the details of the anti-Nazi rally in Riverside on Saturday, to oppose the racist "NSM" Nazi rally the same day. Here are some of the details:

The Nazis have not yet announced where their rally will be, and will not do so until Friday, they say. So instead of letting this disorganize us, we are just going to go ahead and schedule our anti-Nazi rally for 10 am to 11 am (or a little after) on the public right-of-way right next to Riverside City Hall, at Tenth and Main Streets. It is a "Rally Against Racism," intended to counteract the Nazi message of hate, division, and scapegoating of immigrants and minorities.

There will be some music, and a number of very short speeches from representatives of various organizations, congregations, and communities.

There will definitely be media attention (the calls are coming in already), and it would certainly be a good thing if the media were able to report that our rally had two, or five, or twenty times as many people as the Nazi rally.

Please note that the entire rally will be held in the shade, a serious health concern in Riverside on the 26th of September. This is also a reason why the rally is starting at 10 am, to avoid the hottest part of the day.

The rally will be absolutely non-violent, of course, and families are invited to attend and bring their children. While we do not know where the Nazi rally will be, we can be reasonably sure that it will not be held near ours, as our location is being announced in plenty of time for them to avoid us.

While we understand that some people from various Southern California locations may demonstrate against the Nazi group near their rally, this has no connection with the broad effort at City Hall to show that Riverside rejects Nazi racism. We neither endorse nor oppose the direct confrontation some are reported to plan at the site of the Nazi rally. It is simply a different effort.

Tomorrow (Wednesday) night a list of sponsors will be provided to the local media. Please, if you wish to co-sponsor this peaceful Riverside Rally Against Racism, tell me immediately. Appropriate officials of organizations should also advise me of their organizations' endorsements. A revised endorsement list will be announced on Thursday night, and another on Friday afternoon. (We currently expect most organizational endorsers to be congregations or their social action committees, unions, political party central committees, and community organizations.)

We expect to have about 20 very short speeches (about 2 minutes each), by some clergy and by representatives of endorsing organizations. If you are available to speak, please advise me, and I will pass it on to the committee coordinating the rally.

Tomorrow, together with the initial endorsement list, we expect to announce some additional details and some other contact names and addresses.

Please pass this e-mail on to others who might be interested. Thanks! Kevin Akin, Riverside

Kevin Akin

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