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 24, 2009

Mayoral candidates Ron Loveridge and Art Gage face off

***UPDATE on Neo-Nazi rally and counter rallies***

The Neo-Nazis planning to rally in Riverside against illegal immigration haven't disclosed their location yet but they plan to assemble near where day laborers congregate. Most of the day laborers regularly assemble at several businesses in Casa Blanca but there are other locations as well where they look for work. Jeff Hall the local organizer doesn't want to disclose the location to give time for people to counter-protest.

But a counter-rally has been scheduled for meeting at City Hall on Saturday, Sept. 23 at 10 a.m. where people from different churches and organizations will speak on these issues. People are encouraged to attend that one.

The League of Women Voters held its mayoral candidate forum at All Saints Episcopal Church in the Wood Streets neighborhood of Riverside and both candidates for this year's election appeared and answered questions asked by a crowd of over 30 people. The questions ranged from addressing the city's budget cuts to the development of a multi-modal transit system to whether or not the Community Police Review Board should do independent investigations of officer-involved deaths.

Both candidates provided answers which were similar in some respects and very divergent in others. It provided prospective voters with a look at both candidates before the Nov. 3 election when the votes will be tallied and a winner will be declared.

Until that date, you will always have this forum to think back on. It's not Paris but it's close.

[Mayor Ron Loveridge and former Councilman Art Gage field questions at the mayoral candidates debate held by the League of Women's Voters]

The League of Women Voters followed its usual format for debates, allowing the candidates to talk for several minutes both in opening and closing comments. In between, candidates were asked four questions selected by the organization members and then a number of questions submitted by forum attendees.

Here were some of the issues highlighted in the 90 minute public forum.

What is Mult-Modal and What does it mean for Riverside?

Both candidates were asked about the future development of the multi-modal transit center in Riverside which would include the RTA buses, Metrolink, charter buses and Greyhound Bus Lines although the accounts of exactly which forms of transportation would be included in this center and where it would be located changed as the process wove its way through in and outside the doors of City Hall over a period of years and multiple rounds of NIMBYism by downtown's major players. Greyhound Bus Lines was almost run out of the city all the way to San Bernardino as its 80,000 passengers annually, were labeled as parolees and gang members even though they were mostly seniors, the disabled, military personnel and poor families.

Loveridge kind of made vague comments about transit centers in general but called the planned transit center in Riverside an "example of good planning" and that they needed to make it happen. The only thing most of the city government seemed really motivated to do was to exorcise Greyhound from Riverside's borders and to crack jokes about giving rides to people to San Bernardino to catch Greyhound buses there. Then there was some back door (and behind closed doors) payoff to Greyhound Bus Lines that the city didn't want to initially admit had been done in closed session until a public information request on the vote had to be answered.

But now, the transit center is something that must happen according to Loveridge. Gage called it a project sidetracked by politics. He said one of the major drives of the transit center was to get it out of downtown. Neither former councilman, Dom Betro nor current councilman Andrew Melendrez wanted the transit center in the downtown area and they didn't want people to take buses or trains to downtown, according to Gage. But he said the project had been set in motion and needed to be completed with concern that the people who didn't have access to cars and who relied on public transportation would have access to downtown.

When Hell Froze Over

The Candidates and how they see the CPRC then and now

When both candidates were asked a question about the CPRC's role in conducting independent investigations of officer-involved deaths, the responses both provided were rather illuminating and in the case of one of the candidates, not exactly predictable.

Loveridge waxed nostalgic about the creation of the CPRC by a vote of the city council taken in early 2000. He said that the idea of it came out of the Mayor's Use of Force Panel but that it was not an easy recommendation to implement.

"There were some real difference among the council," Loveridge said.

He was referring to the conflicts that arose when the issue came up for discussion and later a vote, but not much has really changed since the creation of the CPRC. Council members still have conflicting feelings about the panel. In fact for a period of time, there was a majority on the city council who opposed the CPRC. One of them was Gage.

Back when Loveridge had endorsed a charter amendment which if passed would place the CPRC in the city's charter, Gage had opposed that charter initiative and in fact, had tried to push a motion to defund the CPRC by up to 80%, a motion that received only one tepid second from Councilman Steve Adams after Loveridge's alleged threat to veto any action to defund the commission scared any potential supporters of Gage's motion off. Those were the days when Loveridge took stronger stands to protect the CPRC from some of its legislative foes but those days appear to be over.

Later, Gage called it a piece of junk or trash at a city council meeting, words that led to much criticism against him.

It was said by some folks that former councilmen Frank Schiavone and Ed Adkison were unhappy with Gage's actions against the CPRC only because they believed that it led to the passage of Measure II by over 60% of the voters less than six months later and foiled their plans to eliminate the CPRC in due time through the more simpler method of annulling a resolution which could have been done at the city council level, leaving the CPRC vulnerable to extinction before it was placed in the city's charter. Schiavone in particular insisted he was a champion of the CPRC but after it became clear he had led the charge to delay and thus water down independent investigations of officer-involved deaths, his political career tanked when he couldn't be reelected to the city council. Several neighborhoods including Casa Blanca which had supported him in the past voted for Davis in part because of Schiavone's actions against the CPRC, leaving Schiavone to figure out what to do next.

Loveridge said that the current lineup of city council members had changed and he wasn't sure what rules the city council would use to establish the boundaries of the CPRC, which sounded a bit ominous given that the pattern and practice of the city council or members of it in the past few years has been to promote their agenda to weaken it from the inside by weakening its charter powers in protest of their inability to annul its existence because it's written in the city's charter. So is this a sign that more micromanagement will be heading the CPRC's way upon directive of the city council's eagerness to establish more "boundaries"?

Loveridge believed that there need to be more policy recommendations issued by the commission apparently unaware that the city manager's office and CPRC Manager Kevin Rogan had apparently tried to narrow the scope of policy review and recommendation to cover only those which were involved in a specific complaint. An action which would have been in direct conflict with both the city's charter and the commission's bylaws but then after what happened to independent investigations, that's hardly news.

At the forum, Gage said that it had been no secret that he was "never a fan of the Community Review Police Commission" but that his opinion changed when the majority of the city voted to pass Measure II to put it in the city's charter. Now he said he fully supported it but that the city's administration needed to allow it to do the work it's supposed to do under the city's charter.

"I don't think the city administration is allowing the CPRC to do what the charter says it's supposed to do," Gage said.

He said that he believed that the CPRC was being "squeezed down" by the city management and that if he were elected mayor, he would convene a group of people including representatives from the police chief, the city manager's office and the CPRC to discuss how to come to an agreement on a timeline for officer-involved death investigations.

It's interesting to see how the views of two elected officials now vying for the same elected position have twisted and turned when it comes to the very much beleaguered CPRC. Loveridge in the past took a more active role in supporting it while Gage appeared to hate it, especially when receiving endorsements and money from the Riverside Police Officers' Association's political action committee. Now, the shoe's on the other foot with Loveridge aiding and abetting the micromanagement of the CPRC by the Hudson administration that either is running the city council or being told by enough city council members to know that if he wants a good personnel evaluation, this is one of the things he must do.

Then you have Gage who's speaking out on how the city's administration has micromanaged the CPRC and kept it from functioning as it should, as voters intended it to do when they voted it and its full exercise of its powers into the city's charter. The passage of Measure II wasn't an endorsement of the CPRC. People could have supported the CPRC but not believed it needed to be put in the charter. No, actually the passage of Measure II was an endorsement of allowing the CPRC to perform its roles and responsibilities without interference from the city government or its direct employees. That's what some of the city council members who went after the CPRC to weaken its powers and thus its effectiveness never seemed to understand.

For the first half of its history, the focus was on trying to get rid of it. Now, since the city government can't do that, it's focusing on hollowing it out from the inside and it's going in a disturbing direction.

And then there are of course, the three situations posing a conflict of interest with the CPRC which need to be addressed.

1) Having city employees or employees of companies "independently contracting" with the city in public safety contracts as commissioners on the CPRC

2) Having a legal counsel that represents both the CPRC and the city and police department.

3) Having the same person run both the commission and the police department from the city manager's office.

These three conflicts of interests will be addressed further in future blog postings.

The Role of the City Council, the Mayor and Their Servants

Gage addressed the bigger issue of the role of the city manager versus that of the city council and mayor in Riverside. He cautioned that if the city council didn't instruct its city manager on what to carry out, then the city manager could wind up running the city as happened in other places like Sacramento. That is the problem in Riverside, Gage said. The administration could take over and the city government must not let that happen.

"This relationship needs to be monitored," Gage said.

The problem is, that it would be like shutting the barn door after the horses ran out. The city manager's office already does run the city including apparently the city council. They have abdicated so much of their own responsibility including financial accountability to the city manager's office, one wonders what exactly it is they do, besides blanket endorse a dozen or so consent calendar items each week and hear maybe one or two discussion items, as "receive, review and file" reports. Asking what the city council does would only partially serve as a rhetorical question these days.

Loveridge said he viewed the role of mayor as a "facilitative leader" who engages in shared governance with the city council and city manager rather than someone who tries to exercise too much power in a city council-management city like Riverside. He said that the city manager had to be seen as a partner, not a rival or a servant and that he, the mayor pro tem and the city attorney met with the city manager every Monday.

Still, Loveridge did admit he wanted to expand his powers in three specific areas. He's a politician after all.

1) Mayor should be allowed to vote to promote legislative accountability

2) Mayor should appoint city council committees

3) Mayor should appoint people to serve on the city's boards and commissions

These are three very interesting amendments to the "weak mayor" system that Riverside currently employs and as such, they will be the topics covered in future blog postings. But here's a bit of history on the concept of the mayor appointing committees, Loveridge tried to promote the Charter Review Committee in 2004 to champion a proposed ballot initiative which would give the mayor the power to appoint committee chairs. Measure FF made it on the ballot with the rest of the proposed charter amendments but it failed to pass the muster of the voters by a 15% margin.

Gage said that if the city had a history of mayors who had acted as if it were only a ceremonial position and that because the mayor is the highest ranking elected official in Riverside, the person in that position needed to behave more like a leader, someone who stood at the forefront of pressing issues faced by the city.

"The mayor needs to lead," Gage said.

And he said that the city government should run the city, not the city manager. But since most people have a pretty good idea what's going on, as mentioned, it's a case of the barn door...

[Over 30 people attended the candidates forum including Councilman Mike Gardner (rear of photo)]

What of the Economy?

In a city with an unemployment rate of about 15%, this is a major concern and questions were asked about what role the mayor would play in restoring the city to economic wholeness. Loveridge seemed to want government to play a role and Gage said no, the private sector should lead the charge and that the city needed to encourage businesses to invest in Riverside and to hire people in this city to do their work. The one thing they agreed upon up front was that the economy in Riverside was the worst since the Great Depression.

Gage said that on the campaign trail he had heard "horror story after horror story" of businesses having to jump through hoops to move or start their businesses in Riverside often having to wait several months to get approved when it should take "from a few minutes, to a few hours, to a few days" to get their plans approved.

Both candidates appeared interested in attracting mostly white-collared or high tech employees rather than blue collar but Gage emphasized attracting labor forces from outside the city like from Orange County while Loveridge said he would focus more on home grown talent rather than "outsiders".

They both discussed the impact of the state's decision to balance its own budget by seizing funds from cities and counties from property taxes and redevelopment money, possibly to the tune of $25 million from various Riverside coffers.

"It will be very unfortunate if we lose the $25 million," Gage said, but added that the residents couldn't depend solely on government money but needed to turn to the private sector. It's a good time to make Riverside more business-friendly, with property values down and more opportunities. He did say that millions of dollars had been spent on redevelopment to no avail.

"I don't see the results," Gage said, regarding that spending.

[Candidate and former councilman, Art Gage awaits his turn to speak on an issue]

Museums, Libraries and Parcel Taxes, Oh My!

One of the questions submitted by the representatives of the League of Women's Voters involved current plans to renovate or rebuild three of the downtown cultural facilities, which are the metropolitan museum, the library and the municipal auditorium.

Gage said he fully supported a new downtown library and a new museum separate from the library. He also believed that the auditorium needed to be renovated but he was leery of the imposition of another property tax on the city residents during these economically difficult times. If one were on the ballot, he wouldn't vote for it, he said and called any move to tax people "pure arrogance". He supported looking for alternate funding sources for the projects. After all, the city did dig up over $12 million to pay for the renovation and reconstruction of the downtown pedestrian mall.

Loveridge on the other hand, said he supported the recommendations of the blue ribbon panel that he and Councilman Mike Gardner appointed to research the issues after there was opposition in the community to plans by City Manager Brad Hudson to combine the two projects. Workshops were conducted to obtain public input as well as to receive further information from Hudson's office. Loveridge supported the projects but also the parcel tax though he said the timing and the amount would be "carefully considered".

"Riverside Renaissance will not be complete without a new library and museum," Loveridge said.

Still, Loveridge said that the city had always gone to the city residents for support on these facilities and needed to do that again. But will the city's voters go for it? That part remains to be seen as does the future of all three of these projects. The situations involving the libraries and the museum currently appear dismal with the museum losing half of its personnel and its national accredidation in jeopardy.

The library has also lost employees, both full and part-time in the past year or so and appears to be another micromanaged city department.

What's next?

The debate left people more informed on the candidates and it highlighted some of the issues which are germane to the people in this city. It was interesting to see Loveridge hang on to his role as City Hall's ultimate insider while Gage is running more on a populist campaign, which means he's a former insider that redefined himself as an outsider. It's an interesting dynamic that is playing out. Gage's views on issues has changed more than those held by Loveridge and it will be interesting to see how voters respond to the messages being sent by both of them and how exactly this election plays out.

Not to mention that there's another candidate in the mix, Ken Stansbury who's planning to enter the election as a write-in candidate. The election season is still quite young.

Campaign Web sites:

Art Gage for Mayor

Ron Loveridge for Mayor

Election 2009: Show Us the Money

Speaking of the mayoral election, the latest news is that Loveridge is outspending Gage 10 to 1.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Reports filed Thursday by Loveridge and former Councilman Art Gage showed that so far in 2009, Loveridge has raised almost $74,000, more than half of it in the latest reporting period, which runs from July 1 to Sept. 19.

He has spent close to $70,600, with consulting (about $19,700) and fundraisers (about $5,000) being the largest expenditures.

Gage's report showed he has raised about $6,400 and spent about $5,600, all of it in the current reporting period. After about $2,200 in filing fees, Gage's biggest expenditures were on campaign materials and fundraising.

Loveridge, 70, has been mayor since 1994. He said in a phone interview that he expects to spend more than $100,000 by the election. Four years ago, he reported spending almost $300,000.

"It is very difficult to raise money this year because of the economy," he said.

But, he said, "In terms of running for mayor and telling the story of who you are and what kind of hopes and aspirations you have for the next term, it requires a certain kind of expenditure."

Gage, 64, served one term on the council and runs an executive recruiting firm. He said his spending target is between $40,000 and $50,000.

"When I ran last time, I really felt that the spending on local races was getting way, way out of hand," Gage said by phone. "I am trying to run a grass-roots campaign with a lot of volunteers."

Grass-root campaigners have had some success at the city council level as seen by successful campaigns waged by current council members Mike Gardner and Paul Davis. Not to mention the near success of Terry Frizzel who only lost to incumbent, Steve Adams by about a dozen votes.

Because mayoral elections are city-wide, it's hard to transfer that success to winning this elected position, given how large Riverside is area-wise as well as through its rapidly expanding population. Though annexations have slowed down or been suspended because of the economy, the city's still a large place.

It's certainly not impossible for a grass-roots campaign to succeed and actually it would be a wonderful thing to see, but it's a tough test indeed to take that step to raise the bar on campaigning for the executive seat.

On the Horizon

Another member of the Community Police Review Commission is set to resign within the next few months due to change of residency. The departure of this individual may shift the balance of power slightly or moderately depending on the response of the other commissioners.

Another commissioner is set to join the body. He attended the last meeting on Sept. 23 for a brief period and then walked out. Will he want to come back after seeing firsthand the dynamics of the CPRC? Stay tuned for further developments in both of these areas of interest.

A Lawsuit Filed

Former Riverside County prosecutor Eileen Hunt has filed a lawsuit over her termination by District Attorney Rod Pacheco after she said she declined to endorse his run for the top seat.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

"Pacheco's relentless campaign against her was blatant retaliation for her refusal to endorse his candidacy for District Attorney, and also because she insisted upon full compliance with her legal and ethical obligations as an attorney," claims the lawsuit filed Tuesday by former Chief Deputy District Attorney Eileen Hunt.

Hunt, who left the office in March, declined to comment today on the lawsuit, which was filed Tuesday. She now lives in New Hampshire.

Pacheco denied the claims, and said the lawsuit will go to trial.

He said as a supervisor, Hunt was an at-will employee and he could have fired her without cause after he took office in January 2007.

"If it was a 'relentless campaign,' it doesn't make any sense," he said in a phone interview today. "We would have been able to fire her for no reason, and she wasn't. She retired."

Her lawsuit is here.

I'm not sure what's stranger, that Pacheco actually granted an interview instead of using a public relations officer for a response from his office to something that was negative or that someone actually sued him in as an employee working for him.

What's not strange is how many comments this article has already received by the newspaper at its site.


Kudos to Ms. Hunt for being one of the FEW to stand up against Mr. Pacheco. I too hope that Mike Soccio makes the decision to run against Mr. Pacheco. If Mr. Soccio does....he WILL be elected! There is a good chance there is already a criminal investigation into Mr. Pacheco and Sr. D.A. Investigator Candette Hammond. Why would Mr. Pacheco think its worth his career to protect Ms. Hammond at all cause, and call Eileen Hunt a liar. I bet there is a long list of ex-da employees who have fell victim to Mr. Pacheco's ax just for telling the truth....more specifically...not towing Rod Pacheco's line.

Question for Mr. Pacheco......does "Brady" apply to you? Oh I forgot, you tell Sue Steding when and who to apply it on! Go F.B.I. and U.S. Attorney's office!!!

CIA Rock….too bad Mr. Soccio didn’t run. Riverside County and Justice would have been better served. I hope Grover Trask is ashamed of himself, backing a tyrant like Pacheco. Wonder what Grover got out of it????? Mr. Soccio if you’re out there….Justice and the citizens of Riverside County need you. Please, for the greater good?

Tough on crime DA's are a dime a dozen. Too bad we got one who is also a petty tyrant. We need someone who is big on ethics and tough on crime. Riverside is missing half of what it takes to make a good DA's office. We are getting a 50% return on our investment

That's not true... I never had that discussion, What discussion did you have with one of the top prosecuting DA's Mike Soccio who was asked to step down after he announced his desire to run for District Attorney. Mr. Pacheco you felt betrayed, how do you think your staff is feeling now.
Riverside County District Attorney Rod Pacheco's office operates "under a pervasive climate of fear and intimidation". Are all these stories we read lies? One of Pacheco's closest friends, then Riverside County Chief Deputy District Attorney Michael Soccio, also was contemplating a run for district attorney.

Ultimately, Soccio decided not to run.

The two men have not been on speaking terms since Pacheco learned that Soccio was considering running. Observers said the friendship unraveled because Pacheco felt Soccio had betrayed him.

Trask, who had promised his endorsement to Pacheco and continues to support him, asked Soccio to retire. It was an unusual request in the district attorney's office.

Here is a prime example of how the DA's office is not fair to one of their own. What a shame!

Poor Dave Martinez. I am sure he means well as we all will take a tough on crime DA over a weak one but that has never been the issue with Pacheco. His problem is the fact that he puts his ambition before doing justice even if that means forcing out the top lawyers in his office. As a result the office is losing more cases and we are less safe. It is one thing to talk tough and another to destroy what was once one of the toughest DAs' offices in the state and create a less skillful weakened office merely so one person can push his very considerable weight around.
Pacheco has been often heard to say he will take loyalty(personal to him) over skill and talent. Being a good DA is not about personal glorification it's about doing the right thing and protecting the public.

Rabid bat bites kid in Hemet so kid has to get some painful shots so he doesn't contract a disease with a 100% fatality rate. Lesson learned, never pick up or touch a bat, dead or alive. Close all the entrances into your home at night so they can't roost and be wary of any bat flying around in the daytime.

In Daytona Beach, one police officer was charged with assaulting another.

(excerpt, Clickerorlando)

Sgt. Janet Hawkins was charged with resisting arrest with violence after allegedly grabbing a Taser gun from the other officer, who was trying to take her into custody.

Detectives said Hawkins became irate after her son was arrested for trespassing at his apartment complex. During a confrontation with police, Hawkins led arresting officers to believe she was going for her weapon.

The other officer was injured during the scuffle over the Taser gun.

A Ft. Lauderdale police officer wound up on YouTube being involved in an incident that attracted an internal investigation.

(excerpt, Sun Sentinel)

The case involving Officer Thomas Capano is yet another YouTube case, in that the physical force used by the officer came to the police department's attention because it was captured on video and posted online to YouTube. A huge crowd of about 100 people witnessed the arrest, according to the investigative file.

There are three videos from the incident. One is above, and the other two are here and here.

Capano's actions were determined to be within policy, but the department found that he violated the rule that requires officers to report use of force and send a copy to the office of Internal Affairs. The city's Citizens Police Review Board met Monday and agreed with the findings.

Read more on the jump page, and see another YouTube arrest video that sparked an investigation.

The incident occured in August 2008, and Capano was observed "using his foot to strike one of the handcuffed individuals,'' the city investigative summary describes. The individual was Guillermo Santiago, and he was being arrested by another officer, Alec LAssman.

But he tried to get up, and Capano responded by delivering "one downward strike to Mr. Santiago's torso with the bottom of his foot,'' Internal Affairs Capt. Rick Maglione summarized in a memo. That was followed by what Maglione described as a leg sweep to "cause Mr. Santiago's legs to lie flat against the ground.''

Capano wrote a supplemental report to Lassman's account, documenting that he had injured the knuckle area on his right hand. But he didn't say how he'd hurt his hand and didn't describe his physical involvement in the arrest, the department found.

A police officer fired in Madison, Connecticut files a lawsuit

(excerpt, New Haven Register)

Daniel Hedges, 48, also claims in the suit, filed Thursday in U.S. District Court, that his termination was the result of “a conspiracy as formed between the town and others.” He also alleges his firing violated several state and federal laws, including the American with Disabilities Act and the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act.

In addition to the town, the suit names the Police Department, Lt. Allen Gerard, Sgt. Trent Fox, the Board of Police Commissioners and each of the police commissioners personally as defendants.

Hedges is asking for lost pay and wages, past and future medical and psychological treatment, lost pension and $5 million in punitive damages.

Hedges’ attorney, Edmond Clark, also leveled allegations against former Town Attorney William Clendenen Jr., Lt. Robert Stimpson, Lt. Jonathan Dobbin and Detective James Daniels, although they are not named as defendants.

In the suit, Clark described the Internal Affairs investigation leading up to Hedges’ firing as a “flawed, biased and prejudiced exercise ... based upon untruths and nefarious behaviors of those who operated in concert to form a cauldron of festering deceit and abuse within the Madison Police Department.”

Two police officers fired in San Jose for covering up misconduct.

(excerpt, San Jose Mercury)

The chief's decision comes after criminal and internal affairs probes of Manion and fellow officer Patrick D'Arrigo over suspicions they failed to properly investigate a March 25, 2008, accident in which former officer Sandra Woodall smashed her speeding Cadillac into several cars, injuring a teenager. The officers didn't cite her or test her for alcohol, though she was saying she was fresh out of rehab and had been drinking.

Woodall eventually pleaded guilty to drunken driving after an investigation by the office of the state attorney general.

Manion, a 19-year veteran, in recent days has received a Notice of Intended Discipline, which officially signals the department's move to fire him, according to sources close to the department. D'Arrigo is also expected to receive his potential walking papers after 15 years on the force.

Sources said that the officers were being disciplined for "conduct unbecoming of an officer."

Neither Davis, nor Assistant Chief Daniel Katz would comment on their move to fire the officers. Now the city manager's office must sign off on Davis' decision in order to pave the way for the relatively rare termination
of veteran officers. Such firings are generally a secretive process.

And the new president of the Screen Actors' Guild shall be...

Riverside's Restaurant Week
is coming up.

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