Five before Midnight

This site is dedicated to the continuous oversight of the Riverside(CA)Police Department, which was formerly overseen by the state attorney general. This blog will hopefully play that role being free of City Hall's micromanagement.
"The horror of that moment," the King went on, "I shall never, never forget." "You will though," the Queen said, "if you don't make a memorandum of it." --Lewis Carroll


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Location: RiverCity, Inland Empire

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Happy Labor Day to Riverside's city employees

The mayoral election got off with a bang as the first political debate of the season pitted incumbent Ron Loveridge against challenger and former councilman, Art Gage. Of course, since it was sponsored by the Greater Chambers of Commerce in Riverside, you had to pay to watch it. If there's any similar debates that can be accessed by prospective voters for free, hopefully they'll be sponsored by organizations like the League of Women's Voters and Latino Network. in the next couple of months before the votes are tallied the first Tuesday in November.

Until then, most of Riverside had to read about it.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Loveridge and Gage squared off Wednesday for the first time at a mayoral candidates' forum at the Riverside Convention Center. About 80 people attended the event hosted by the Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce.

Gage started talking about the city's economy right away, using his opening comments to suggest that the city revive an incentive program that discounted utility bills for new businesses.

He also said the city needs to recruit big companies, and he criticized how long it took to get two recent restaurant projects approved.

"We have to become the business-friendly city," Gage said. "We are not that -- not when it takes two years to put in a restaurant."

Loveridge said city officials are bringing "a laser-like focus" to improving the economy, noting that a report due out by December will offer short- and long-term strategies to boost business in Riverside.

He said he's working with other city officials on new approaches to encourage residents to shop locally, and they're pushing the city as the place for a stop on a planned high-speed rail line.

"The next several years, economic development must be the most important goal," he said.

Not surprising, the anonymous commenters at the PE site had plenty to say about this debate and the election season is still very young!


I'm all for improving the cities economy and workforce..but if the city keeps relying on the good ol' construction/warehousing & manufacturing....we won't get very far. To keep this City moving they need to find ways to recruit money generating big business with a vision of diversity in the outlook. We can't progress with the basics (warehousing, manufacturing and construction)..they are not reliable when things take a downward we've seen.

Bring in a mixture of companies..medical/research...those provide a diversity and plethora of jobs for the city..and pay well. with those..come money, a highly skilled work force and a wall to hold the region up during a 'recession'. Breaking away from the current job base and relying on home building (which fell hard as we just seen) is the first step.

If leaders would work together instead of as numero uno and put into place the plans they say are so grand and needed and not putting off for another 30 years..things will start to work as visioned. But to reach that takes more that just blah blah blah talk used to get elected. Worry about the city, it's citizens and stick to your words is what part of it comes down to. Don't use 'economy' just for election purposes..actually do something besides talking about it..get the city moving.

CS, There is a lot more to it. Bottom line, Riverside is NOT business friendly and are very unethical.

I have read some of your other post and agree with you :-)


What a surprise. Loveridge has another report due out in December. I guess that one will be just as helpful as the mountains of reports that have accumulated in his offices for thirty years. For heaven's sake, Ron, do something for a change!

Gage - I really want to support you. Recuiting big companies that are NOT looking for minumum wage workers is paramount. It will solve most of our problems. Loosen the credit log jam, are you crazy? There is NO log jam. There are multiple offers on every decent home in the city. Just stay very focused on bringing lots and lots of medium and high paying jobs to the area and you will be a true hero of Riverside and the surrounding areas.

Some are especially critical.


Loveridge is a crook. I am a Riverside businessman and Loveridge must be getting money put in his back pocket to allow companies that win bids not to comply to the specs on the bid sheet. I brought it to his attention by email and his response was 5 words and his initials ROL.

So loveridge. I hope you rot in hell with all your other crooked buddies in your clan.

Both are too old and no new ideas. Gage might be senile if he thinks that Riverside could become like the OC Performing Arts Center.

Both are an embarassment. One slightly more than the other.

Flip a coin.

Ouch, ouch and...ouch.

A Victory for Chinatown

A ruling by a Riverside County Superior Court judge might have put an end to developer Doug Jacobs' construction of a project on that historical site. Both sides, the Save Our Chinatown Committee and developer (and campaign donor) Doug Jacobs said on the record that they "won" the decision. It remains to be seen exactly what will happen but it was a great outcome for the SOCC, even if Jacobs, the Riverside County Board of Education which sorely needs the cash (with the city fulfilling its designated role as the land dealing middleman) come up with some kind of financial understanding behind closed doors. After all, it wouldn't be the first time that's happened.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

The Save Our Chinatown Committee on Friday claimed victory in the decision, which said a pending deal to sell the Chinatown site can't be completed because the seller didn't follow the law.

Committee members said in a written statement they believe the ruling "opens the way to a possible settlement that will preserve the site."

The Tuesday ruling from Judge Sharon Waters did not stray from a tentative ruling she issued in July. It could slow or potentially derail developer Doug Jacobs' plans to put a medical building on the site.

Jacobs made a deal in 2007 to buy the 2.3-acre site from the Riverside County office of education. The city of Riverside later approved Jacob's development plans.

The committee challenged the land sale and the city's approval of the medical building. Waters' final ruling maintains the city's actions followed state environmental law, but the education office did not follow procedures for selling surplus land.

Riverside County board of education officials are disappointed with the ruling and "believe the court misapplied the relevant law to the circumstances of this case," a written statement from board President Adolfo Mediano Jr. said.

The board will review its legal options, Mediano said in the statement.

Why has the CPRC shrunk?

The Inland Empire Weekly comments briefly on the Community Police Review Commission's decision to ban minority reports and one of its main points is how the vote to attempt to eliminate dissent registered at 4-2 on a commission with nine members. It concluded that not everyone showed up and it's right concerning two out of three of the commissioners missing in action as of late.


Speaking of marginalizing itself, the commission’s 4-2 vote means that three members of the nine-member commission didn’t even show up at the meeting.

Actually, one of the missing commissioners doesn't exist at all, at least not until the latest one appointed passes his Live Scan and is sworn in to his position. But the other two, John Brandriff and Brian Pearcy have either not shown up lately for night sessions (Pearcy) or have a history of missing key votes (Brandriff). In fact, if both of them miss the same meeting, then you know something's up or something's coming up and that's a shame because they both bring a lot to the table. Both of them are more than capable at throwing questions out that the rubber stamping contingent can't answer without trying to punish them through another blanket vote stripping away some vestige of independence the commission enjoys.

It's just that one wonders if it's a question of whether or not they want to sit at the table anymore.

Rumor is, that they're tired of attending the meetings which have deteriorated under the appointment of a series of essentially commissioners with ties to City Hall (including the chair and vice-chair) who use their majority to whittle away at the CPRC's powers. Still, if you're sworn onto a commission, then you have to show up even if it's turning into an exercise in masochism. The residents of the city which they are purportedly representing deserve no less especially in these difficult times during severe micromanagement by City Hall and its puppet show. After all, judging by exit interviews performed on city residents who leave the commission's meetings in total disgust, it's not easy for them to sit through these spectacles. The least the commissioners can do is to do their part and sit there as well.

The CPRC's Newest Commissioner, Aspiring Politician?

The latest commissioner to be appointed to the CPRC, Rogelio V. Morales once ran as a candidate in the 2008 Democratic Primary for the 44th District hoping to be chosen by voters to face off against incumbent, Ken Calvert. Of course that didn't happen but here is more information about his background and his political stances on different issues. This part of his career didn't come up in his interview. As you can recall, this primary was particularly contentious with allegations of smearing all around. Of course, the candidate who made it out of that process didn't beat Calvert but came closer to unseating him than any other Democratic candidate since Calvert's been in office representing his campaign donors more than his voting constituents.

The blog, Liberal OC includes comments by visitors about the Democratic Primary candidates including Morales here.

The Other Election

Some time this year, there might be elections conducted by the Riverside Police Officers' Association to fill positions on the board, including that of the presidency currently held by Det. Chris Lanzillo who defeated the prior incumbent Det. Ken Tutwiler who had defeated the previous incumbent, Sgt. Pat McCarthy. It's difficult to remain at the helm of this contentious and somewhat splintered union these days (not surprising considering the rapid growth in the department particularly this union's membership in the past 10 years) and it's clearly very difficult to serve in this role so anyone who tries to do it deserves some credit for taking the leap and giving it a shot. And as the composition of the police department changes especially with a flood of newer and younger officers, it's become an even more difficult job to navigate through. You may not always agree with them or their views some or all of the time, but it's not an easy road, something for the new president-elect (if there's one) to keep in mind. And Labor Day in part is to salute the efforts of union leaders and their members, past and present.

Of course, it's the city officials and their department heads who probably have the day off. Many of the city's employees are out there working anyway including public safety employees and others providing the city's essential services.

But you learn by doing and just like elected officials elsewhere, sometimes what you've gotten yourself into, isn't clear until you're sitting in the hot seat. After all, just look at the Riverside City Council for a clear cut example.

An officer or two belonging to the union have dangled the possibilities that they might run for the top spot (and it's not clear at this point whether they'll face off against Lanzillo) including one who would be a blast from the past. But as for being serious about tossing their hats in the ring, it's a watch and wait proposition at the moment as is the case in many election proceedings.

Rumors of another serious issue which might come up for the vote of the union's membership are also floating around. If this rumor is true, it could change the infrastructure of the union in ways that other similar associations and protective leagues have seen but so far, not in Riverside.

Happy Labor Day Riverside

These are difficult times for the city's labor unions as another union, the SEIU General Unit which is the city's largest has discovered this year.

The union said recently that what has been written in the Press Enterprise about its operations including the controversial vote among the membership involving the 2% raise was promoted by Asst. City Manager Tom DeSantis who ran to the publication not long after being placed in charge of labor negotiations by his boss, City Manager Brad Hudson even after the botched job he allegedly did (according to at least four of the city's bargaining units) during the long hot summer of 2006.

That summer, if you recall, saw strike votes by the SEIU, lawsuits filed by the SEIU, the RPOA and the RPAA and rallies packing City Hall by all these bargaining units plus the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. Representatives of these unions said that once DeSantis left the bargaining table, contracts were more quickly signed and they also said that prior to that, the negotiations had been more arduous than during any other time in the city's recent history. Their major upset with DeSantis was his alleged tendency to put promises on the table and then when people agreed to them, he'd withdraw them. Sounds like that game that Lucy of Peanuts used to play with Charlie Brown involving a football. Was that the case? At any rate, the contract negotiation season was quickly wrapped up when he was removed from the equation.

But DeSantis is back in the process and once again naturally, there's turmoil. The SEIU allegedly told the city that it would only vote for the 2% if the city would assure them there were no layoffs. The city at the time wouldn't say yes or no. The SEIU also noticed that the despite the worsening budget picture, some of the city's department heads were getting pretty good-sized raises including one of the department heads who ironically or not is blaming the layoffs of city employees on the SEIU's increase.

Not to mention that if the SEIU voted to rescind the 2% raise, it might involve reopening its current MOU with the city which it would be understandable if there's reluctance to do that because then the city could declare open season on any other term involved in the MOU, as it's shown a history of either ignoring or going against MOU terms in the past, according to the SEIU.

One of the most recent layoffs involved a librarian who also worked as a union steward for the SEIU. More layoffs are probably coming and the SEIU will be blamed by Human Resources Director Rhonda Strout and presumably her employers in the city manager's office who she's speaking for, but when will the city including the city council begin to take serious looks at the raises allegedly given to at least several department heads including Strout last year?

For example, is it true that Public Works Director Siobhan Foster got a 15% raise even as at least two of her employees were fired as alleged by one individual? Did Police Chief Russ Leach get a raise when he signed his latest five-year contract even as officers and civilian workers in his own department face salary freezes, loss of merit raises (which is city-wide) and problems with staffing and providing city services (especially in the civilian division including timely report writing) to the public? Why aren't the issues of these raises getting any attention or eliciting any comments to the media? When DeSantis went to the Press Enterprise about the actions of the SEIU (and that's not to say it's wrong to have concerns and issues with what happened), did he mention these raises? And when they're laying off employees and blaming the 2% raise on the layoffs, do the individuals doing the blaming including apparently Strout mention about the raises that any upper level employees received including their own if that is the case?

That part's doubtful.

Some say, that the management level at City Hall has gotten a bit top-heavy since Hudson was hired by the city with some management employees allegedly left with no employees to well...manage. Any salary increases given during a time when the city management should have known the city was going to have to do more with less needs an explanation before anyone else can be blamed for getting raises.

And speaking of Leach's raise if he received one, look what's been done to his department. Although if Leach had received his maximum authorized raise, he could have been making a larger salary than his boss, Hudson. Yes, it's true, according to that list. Quite a few people who saw it were scratching their heads at that one.

The police department will be down two captains, four lieutenants and around eight sergeants by the end of the calendar year which incidently is the time that the five-year Strategic Plan instituted by the state attorney general's office will expire. And the civilian division of the department faces even more shortages as overall, the department's vacancy rate is around 10%. And that's according to figures given by Strout who may be painting a rosier picture of the city's current state of address than really exists.

According to Leach, the department was to institute a new five-year blue print to pick up where the current one leaves off but if you are at least proposing to have command staff members man watch commands to replace vacationing lieutenants and no upward movement in the department even as people at the middle level are retiring in part because of the lack of potential advancement, it's difficult to be able to exercise the vision of future and long-term planning of departmental growth and operations.

Last December, the city published a list on its site regarding the lifting of the maximum raises for about 40 key positions in the city, which ranged from a small increment to several over 15-20% from prior ceilings listed for January 2008. The document which was far from private, was apparently published due to problems with the city not doing so which led to issues arising from the retirement or rather planned retirement of a city employee last year. This employee allegedly had difficulty getting Calpers to pay him compensation for his salary because it hadn't been posted by the city. Whether that was a pattern with the city management's office or just a simple oversight isn't clear but at any rate the list got posted. It created a stir after being referred to on this blog several months ago among several city officials but it's too bad that any raises given out to any employees on that master list didn't create as much of a visible concern by the city.

And then of course in the somewhat smaller Riverside Police Administrators' Association, there's been allegations including those filed in lawsuit in U.S. District Court of retaliation against past presidents and members of its short-lived Political Action Committee.

A state bill to help keep Citrus Park in Riverside from closing stalled in Sacramento.

The Riverside Golf Club has closed its doors. It filed for bankruptcy, while owing the city over $300,000 and causing a couple who paid thousands to get married there to lose all their money.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Howsmith filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Aug. 14, according to the bankruptcy document. A Web site lists Jacklyn Smith as the president of the Riverside company founded in 1979. No one answered at the phone number listed at the same address as the Riverside Golf Club.

Wednesday, John Lee Brown and Dimitra Kelly stood outside the locked gates of the parking lot of the shuttered clubhouse and banquet hall at 1011 N. Orange St.

They'd invited 100 guests to their wedding Saturday.

"This is a tragedy," said Kelly, 40, who said they'd sunk $8,000 into the kaput celebration. "We had our rehearsal dinner there last Friday. They just faxed me the seating arrangement yesterday."

Christopher R. Barclay, a trustee for Howsmith Corporation, was on the premises Wednesday. He refused to comment and ordered a reporter to leave. Rancho Cucamonga-based Dennis Baranowski, the corporation's attorney, could not be reached.

"It's a shame it's closing," said Jerry Seinturier, 56, who remembers the golf course from the 1950s. He plays in the golf league at Bourns Inc. where he works, but learned Wednesday morning that their evening round and banquet had been canceled. The greens had withered to browns over the past two years, he said, but the price was right: $10 for walkers, $15 for riders. "I have no idea where we'll play now," Seinturier said.

For starters, they need to refund the couple the money they paid for their wedding. As it turned out, the couple will get their wedding because of people and businesses willing to help them but the city is still out hundreds of thousands of more dollars it threw at a business to entice it to either move or stay in Riverside.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Dimitra Kelly and John Lee Brown, who had planned to marry at the golf club Saturday, also are unlikely to recover the $3,000 they spent for the hall and appetizers.

But Kelly said Thursday their wedding actually may turn out better than expected, with offers of a replacement site and other kinds of help pouring in.

A local church, another golf course, even an American Legion unit were willing to host Kelly and Brown's nuptials. People have called volunteering to clean up after the wedding or call the 100 guests to tell them the new location.

The city pitched White Park as a location for the ceremony, and the couple met Gardner there Thursday afternoon to check it out.

Standing amid the flowering trees in the park, Kelly said she was surprised but grateful for the help.

"Whatever the tragedy was, it's being turned around instantly, not even 24 hours later," she said.

Later Thursday, Kelly said by phone she decided to go with Indian Hills Golf Club, which gave her a deal with some freebies and promised to be most like the venue she lost.

Moreno Valley's city manager has announced that he will resign soon but any relationship that his departure has with the filing of seven misdemeanor charges against him in San Bernardino is mere coincidence.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

"Absolutely not," Gutierrez said in a phone interview Thursday. "It's a completely personal decision so I can pursue my hobbies and interests."

He added that he wanted to avail himself of a "golden handshake" offer that would allow him to retire with credit for two extra years beyond his 32-year career.

The charges filed against Gutierrez stemmed from accusations that he harassed and spied on an ex-girlfriend who lives in Upland. Prosecutors charged Gutierrez, the city's top administrator for four years, with three counts of making harassing phone calls, two counts of unlawful computer access and fraud and two counts of identity theft related to accessing phone records.

The investigation began May 5 after Upland resident Ruby Carrillo told police that she had been receiving constant harassing phone calls over a two-month period, according to an affidavit. Prosecutors allege that Gutierrez used the woman's personal information to access her computer and obtain phone records of incoming and outgoing calls made on her home phone and cell phone, said San Bernardino County Supervising District Attorney David Hidalgo.

Gutierrez is scheduled to be arraigned at 8 a.m. Tuesday in Rancho Cucamonga.

The state takes a closer look at the scandal-ridden San Bernardino County's Assessor's office.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

State Board of Equalization spokeswoman Anita Gore declined to say if workers have found any signs of improper changes to the county assessment roll. A full report will be released no later than February, she said.

Postmus, once one of the county's most powerful political leaders, was San Bernardino County assessor from November 2006 until he resigned in February following his arrest on drug charges.

Experts from the state Board of Equalization visited the county last spring and summer and sampled part of the 2007-08 assessment roll. They also interviewed Postmus and his staff and reviewed other records, officials said.

The state Board of Equalization survey was regularly scheduled. But the agency's upcoming report will mark the first in-depth outside scrutiny of any of the thousands of property reassessments granted during Postmus' rocky 27 months as assessor.

In May, a county-commissioned investigation included unproven allegations that Postmus tried to help friends on assessment matters, such as by reducing properties' assessed values to lower their taxes. A Press-Enterprise review of county data found no notable reassessments involving some two-dozen known Postmus allies and political associates.

Come clean is what Press Enterprise Columnist Cassie MacDuff is asking but that's easier said than done for a county government embarrassed by scandal after scandal.


But unlike Aleman and Hlawek, more county officials accused of wrongdoing have blamed others for their errors or claimed to be the victims of unfair prosecutions and political vendettas.

Former Supervisor Jerry Eaves blamed clerical errors when he failed to report trips taken at the expense of county contractors. Former Assistant Assessor Jim Erwin claims he is being unfairly prosecuted for failing to report a gift and trip. Former Assessor Bill Postmus, charged with nine felonies including misuse of public resources, claims he is the target of a political vendetta.

Where's the remorse?

Another tactic is silence. That's the road being taken by the two county fire chiefs caught using a department trailer to move one's household furnishings from Running Springs to Yucaipa in July.

Fire Chief Pat Dennen could have publicly admitted to an error in judgment when he was caught helping Deputy Chief Dan Wurl use a department trailer to move his family's belongings in July.

He could have stepped forward and apologized to the public for misusing taxpayer resources. But Dennen and Wurl have zipped their lips, at least publicly.

Meanwhile, the newspaper's editorial board takes on the shenanigans in Canyon Lake.


Elections can change council majorities and city policies. That is how democracy works, and elected officials need to be comfortable with that fact. And while local issues can often induce strong passions, elected officials let such disagreements obstruct working relationships at their -- and their cities' -- peril.

The trick to politics is disagreeing without being disagreeable -- a skill the Canyon Lake council has yet to learn. A council that lets infighting distract from other public priorities poorly serves city residents. Canyon Lake's council needs to focus on the future, and not on refighting past battles.

The city council in Erie wants its new civilian review board put on ice.

(excerpt, Erie Times-News)

A majority of Erie City Council members said Wednesday that they support the idea, but the group stopped short of asking city lawyers to write a law creating a citizen police review board.

Council tabled a resolution asking the City Solicitor's Office to draft a law establishing the board after several council members asked for community input before passing the resolution.

Others said questions remain about the makeup and powers of the board and said the Solicitor's Office needs direction in crafting the law.

Councilwoman Rubye Jenkins-Husband, who sponsored the resolution calling for the board, called the move a delay tactic.

"We need to find a way to do this," Jenkins-Husband said. "We know there are problems out there. The citizens are asking for change."

The lady is a champ! Super filly Rachel Alexandra might have sealed up Horse of the Year honors in this race.

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