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

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

No-shows and the aftermath of the ethics debate at City Hall

Riverside City Council made its statement in a majority vote at its meeting on Sept. 15 about maintaining language in the code that was added there by two former city council members to narrow the scope of complaints including the council member who had a complaint filed by him. So essentially, the majority of the city council voted to back a very questionable action that took place in July 2007 by the Governmental Affairs Committee.

The Press Enterprise wrote about the recent annual review of the ethics code and complaint process and naturally the article has elicited some interesting comments, particularly surrounding Councilman Steve Adams rather ardent pressing on the point that although city officials might be able to say they work 24/7, they don't have to be accountable for nearly that length of time. Some people apparently believed that he protested too far much.


What the hell is "cheering for the wrong team" supposed to mean?

Does this guy really believe that the people he's supposed to represent will be filing complaints over seeing him wave his pom-poms for the "White" sox?

Now at a professional football game I can understand his concerns,,,, especially if the "Browns" play the "Redskins"

Let's get back to reality here Steve,,,
which is, Nobody gives a damn what team you cheer for when you're in Anaheim and believe me Steve, no one thinks your an Angel either,,

City Council members voting on their own ethics and conduct codes, may as well put the fox in charge of the hen house.

"He said, "You could be at a baseball game in Anaheim ... (and) you're cheering for the wrong team. They could come down and file a complaint."

That shows you right there what they think of the citizens they represent.

Unfortunately Steve Adams is a neighbor of mine. He wants to pick and choose what
"privileges" he uses as a City Councilman..He drives down residential neighborhoods streets very very fast and has no problem sending out a RPD helicopter to circle above his neighborhood when a teenager on a street legal Enduro is test riding his bike!
He is a hippocrate and has very thin ethics as it is.

Sorry Steve, the people of the City of Riverside are your employer, and we are the one's you have to answer to. Sounds like you have something to hide, are you doing something you shouldn't be doing?

One wonders just what Steve Adams has planned for his off-duty hours that would make him so vehemently defensive.

Adams was able to throw out enough worst-case scenarios out there to scare enough votes to his side in order to pass his substitute motion. But three council members either didn't buy into it or they believed that they were elected officials from the time they woke up in the morning and had to conduct themselves in an ethical and professional fashion as elected officials outside the more clearly set perimeters of their office. Adams on the other hand claimed to be the hardest working person on the dais yet his definition of when he actually was wearing his city council hat seemed to be a bit more narrower (meaning fewer hours) than anyone else.

Mayor Ron Loveridge said he became an elected official when he woke up and took his daily walk up Mt. Rubidoux while Councilman Mike Gardner said that when he encountered people in the super market or the movies, they approached him as their elected official. Most people don't know the private lives of their politicians and are not in those sorts of social circles but identify the individuals who are elected to serve as the representatives of the office they serve.

Law enforcement officers face similar circumstances. They have private lives but they are never really off-duty having at times to act as officers when they're not on the clock and when identified as officers, people approach them and ask them questions that are based on law enforcement or discuss issues that are also based on that. Doctors often find themselves in similar situations. Once they are identified as doctors in a setting, people might come up and ask them about specific medical conditions or even for medical advice. There are quite a few professions that it seems that those who practice them are on the clock, even after they clock out for the day.

And so as already mentioned are politicians.

It was interesting to see City Attorney Gregory Priamos keep blurring the situation involving the complaint filed by Save-Riverside's Kevin Dawson in 2007. He kept referring to the difference between being a council member and a candidate. It's not relevant in Dawson's case because Betro was clearly in his councilman capacity at the time, mere feet away from giving a speech as the Ward One councilman at the Fox Theater. In fact, it's not even relevant in Betro's first complaint he received which involved his behavior during a city council meeting an even though sometimes politicians on the dais act like they're running for office, they're still serving as elected representatives first. Still, it does raise some interesting issues and at least one worrisome one which arose when Councilman Chris MacArthur who won a hotly contested (and some say mud-slinging race) for the Ward Five position two years ago. Those city council elections were much more prolonged than the current cycle was, given that four elections went into runoffs in the autumn.

The collective memories of many seem to be that the Ward Five election involved negative campaigning largely against Donna Doty-Michalka (although racist stereotyping was apparently made by one of MacArthur's campaign foot soldiers against candidate, Harry Karuni insinuating that his Middle-Eastern background made him untrustworthy) and got to the point where the Riverside Police Officers' Association which endorsed Doty-Michalka opted to write a letter challenging what it believed were false assertions against her by the MacArthur camp. Yet MacArthur during the last city council meeting actually said that revoking the "official capacity" language would make it harder for incumbents running election campaigns (which presumably he'll do in 2011) to get their message out. What does that mean exactly? How would requiring elected officials to behave ethically and professionally endanger their chances to get their message out if they were operating under those standards?

There's really nothing to worry about given the responses of the Riverside electorate certainly during the last two cycles to candidates including incumbents who voters had a hard time trusting enough to support in terms of their integrity and professionalism. Adams was right on the money in his statements at the city council meeting about that but what he neglected to mention is that he's the sole remnant of two separate guards that voters were trying to exorcise from the dais. Only a scant 13 votes separated him from joining the group of politicians that have been ousted during the past two years worth of elections. Not that it's not interesting to see him act like he won his ward in a landslide. But if he's running again, there are already a couple of candidates in the wings.

Councilman Andrew Melendrez' motion might have gone down in flames, not even coming up for a vote but he showed that he can be an effective leader of a committee when he chooses to be and he came off as not afraid to put his ethics on display. It's not a role he's embraced too much in the past but he did very well involving the ethics code and complaint issue. As stated previously, it will be very interesting to see how he fares at a Governmental Affairs Committee when Adams attends. Councilman Rusty Bailey still comes off as trying to figure out who to follow when some have said it's his West Point Academy training that should have taught him to lead. With his mentor Frank Schiavone gone, he's struggled since rather than defining a path for himself.

He's up for reelection in two years and he's looking at a tough time if a semi-formidable rival emerges given that he's burned a good chunk of his initial campaign supporters who claimed to have shopped around in that ward until they found someone they felt was perfect. But if you looked closer at his financial campaign statements, he had contributions that were pretty identical to the others on the dais who depend heavily on developer donations. As Betro and later Schiavone learned when they launched unsuccessful reelection bids, it's going to take him much more than that money (and the recession and collapse of the new housing industry has impacted contribution sizes from developers to candidates) to remain in office.

Councilwoman Nancy Hart just showed how effectively she has been at moving away from a thoughtful and self-starting politician, the sole woman on the testosterone-infused dais (as part of a gender shift that took place in the middle of the decade), to playing follow-the-leader. Usually voting alongside with the last person that's spoken on an issue. Perhaps if her elections had been more competitive, meaning that Ward Six had produced more formidable candidates to counter her lop-sided presence, she might have reined in some of her more flaky stances. She's certainly has the brains to serve on the dais, it's just that like too many women in a male-dominated profession, she hides them.

But Hart, Bailey and MacArthur for whatever reason (and people are certainly speculating enough) put their lots in with Adams buying into his doomsday scenario of council members rooting for the wrong athletic teams and then having ethics complaints filed against them which has happened how many times so far? How about zero? And by saying that, Adams pretty much showed what he thinks of this city's residents including his own constituents. But at least Gardner and Councilman Paul Davis were smart enough not to buy into it which was doubly so because the ones who did and Adams most of all, came off not as being concerned about frivolous complaints but in bringing attention to themselves in the sense that maybe there's things they don't want the voters to know. Whether that's the case or not, that's certainly the image that was sent out because history has already shown that with or without the disputed language, complaints haven't been filed about council members rooting for the wrong team, or flunking students or repossessing furniture.

Complaints have been filed regarding how city council members have performed or rather in some cases, misperformed when serving in their official capacity. And it appears that the handful of complaints that have been filed and in most cases, mishandled in ways that violated the ordinance including having the city attorney serve as the judge and jury (rather than the advisor) during a rather toothless process have got more than a couple city council members nervous.

It was certainly interesting to see how that vote turned out. It essentially separated those council members who want to say they work 24/7 but don't want that to be matched through accountability and those who can accept both as part and parcel of being an elected representative.

Human Resource Board dissed

Human Resources Board Chair Erin House said that he would call Chief Russ Leach's secretary and ask for an explanation as to why Leach pulled a no show at the Board's meeting on Sept. 14 even after his secretary had assured the board that he would be present. Leach was to present information on the department's retention of female police officers which members of the Board had expressed interest in hearing about but had to wait months and plow through a myriad of excuses just to get him put on a meeting agenda.
Usually if Leach can not attend a meeting, the department sends a designee in his place such as Asst. Chief John De La Rosa, but this time no one appeared during the entire one hour plus meeting of the board.
In recent months, the HR board has run into a series of obstacles mostly created by the city manager and city attorney's offices when they've tried to obtain public information including statistics and were told indirectly by either office or both that it was outside their purview.
Is the topic too controversial for some reason for anyone in the department including Leach to talk about it? Did the city manager's office who reputedly keeps Leach on a fairly tight leash not allow him to come? With all the cooks apparently handling the department, one would think someone could have shown up to address the Board on this important issue.

Candidate for a slap on the wrist?

Speaking of public comments, the article about the scheduled sentencing of former Riverside
County Sheriff's Department Deputy David Kushner who was convicted of two felonies of sexual assault under the color of authority and kidnapping elicited even more of them. Most of the comments are in reaction to his attorney's contention that he's an excellent candidate for probation. It could only happen to a cop, a prosecutor or...a politician.

He'll probably serve some time in some facility because the probation report recommended that he serve prison time and judges usually go by information in the probation report. But it would be surprising if he were sentenced to three years in prison, more like 6 months to a year in a county facility. The correctional officers' report still has to be submitted but that's more about what kind of facility would be the most suitable to send him to, to serve out his sentence.

Serving 16 years? It would be very, very surprising if he really had to be concerned about that.


"You couldn't ask for any better candidature for probation," Gee, kidnapping and sexual assault. Since when have these crimes qualified for probation????

Just like the Riv Sheriff Dep that was convicted for STABBING someone (attempted murder)in a bar in San Bernardino and got 6 months house arrest????

Alva Edison, you meen the DA (pacheco) that prides himself on sending his innocent fellow American citizens to prison on falsified charges????? He's the WORST criminal w/a badge out there.

Answer this one question for me Alva. Would you rather have someone spray paint the side of your house or would you rather be sent to prison on falsified charges?

There really is little difference between the abusive gang of thugs like this puke Kushner and the thugs without badges that go around terrorizing people. They all need to be put away for a long time.

Give this puke the maixmum sentence like he deserves!!

You couldn't ask for any better candidature for probation," Tuszynska said. Really now, stupid is as stupid does. Does this attorney really believe their client is a great candidate for probation, and further not a flight risk, or just hustling this sociopaths money? The jury aquitted Kushner on 15 other rape and assault charges. You can see an isolated incident of one time, but 15! Does anybody see it, this guys a serial assault rapist and a danger to the community, with some obivious borderline schizophrenia. Maybe this information wasn't allowed in court and dismissed by the jury, but the worst type of criminal is the type that hides behind the badge that is their to serve and protect. These are professionals we place our trust in.

The community should be more concerned about this type of criminal than any other. Who knows, if the sheriff brotherhood has covered for him in the past. There is a definite double standard in the system, it it was anybody else we would not see this type of miscarriage of justice. Lets not forget all 15 victims that he terrorized under the auspices of the badge. But I will tell you this, if this guy is released, he will assault and rape again, and someone may be killed next time, and this scum bag attorney and the legal system will have blood on their hands...

Cases open; Courts closed

The closure of the Riverside County Superior Courts one day a month took some people by surprise.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

The closures for the third Wednesday of the month will continue through June. Court records showed Arroyo's date was moved in August to Sept. 17, but she was unaware of that as she sat waiting Wednesday for a ride back home.

"I'll see what I can do and what my next court day is," she said. Arroyo said she would try to look up her case online.

Nearby, Jackie Villegas, 21, of San Bernardino, was keeping vigil as the clerk for the Raul's Concessions hot dog cart, planted between the Criminal Court building and the Historic Courthouse.

Business was lousy, even though two competitor carts usually parked in the neighborhood decided to take the day off.

"Business is not good, it's really slow. Usually by now, 9:30 a.m., I sell 10 cups of coffee, and I've only sold three," she said. "I've read two newspapers and I am surfing through my phone right now."

The courthouse wasn't empty. Riverside County clerks caught up on backlogged paperwork, even though trials, hearings and jury deliberations had stopped.

"I feared that some individuals did not get the word, and sure enough there were some disappointed people at the door," said Presiding Judge Thomas Cahraman. "It was a good day, though, for processing paperwork."

Following the Money

Also due for further congestion is the U.S. District Court in Riverside which is losing a judge as Stephen Larson heads off to a private practice.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Larson, 44, is the father of seven, with the oldest, at 13 years old, facing high school and college. He cited economic factors in a letter to judicial colleagues obtained by The Press-Enterprise.

"The costs associated with raising our family are increasing significantly, while our salary remains stagnant, and in terms of its purchasing power, is actually declining," Larson said in the letter. "The short of it is that I know I must place my family's interest, particularly the future of my children, ahead of my own fervent desire to remain a federal judge."

California Superior Court judges appointed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger earlier this month earn $178,789. Federal judges are paid $169,000 annually.

"That is silly. That is about what some of my law students make the minute they graduate," said Loyola Law School professor Laurie Levenson. A recent measure failed in Congress to raise the salary of federal judges to $218,000.

In this economy, it's going to be hard to find anyone who will feel much sympathy for a six-figured salary employee who feels like he or she is underpaid. Though one of the main reasons there is a judicial officer shortage in the state is because although the salary is six-figured as you can see, it's much less than the salaries many lawyers especially those from top-flight schools can earn in private practice.

Through federal stimulus money, Palm Springs Police Department will be getting five new police officers. As you know, that department is currently headed by former Riverside Police Department Deputy Chief Dave Dominguez, one of three former command staff members of the department to become police chiefs in Palm Springs, Hemet and Astoria, Oregon.

An interesting article on whether or not you have the right to flip a police officer the birdie.

(excerpt, Time)

That turned out to be police sergeant Brian Elledge, who happened to be passing in the other direction in his cruiser. Elledge whipped around and pulled Hackbart over, citing him under the state's disorderly-conduct law, which bans obscene language and gestures. And here's where the problem lies, says state American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) legal director Witold (Vic) Walczak: the middle finger and equivalent swear words are not legally obscene. In fact, courts have consistently ruled that foul language is a constitutionally protected form of expression. A famous 1971 Supreme Court case upheld the right of a young man to enter the Los Angeles County Court House wearing a jacket emblazoned with the words "F___ the Draft." (Read about how disorderly conduct is often a cop's call.)

"The law is clear that people have the constitutional right to use profanity, especially when it comes to government officials, because that is a form of political speech," Walczak says. "But despite that, we have police officers regularly misapplying the law to punish people who offend them - that's really what it comes down to." (Read a brief history of disorderly conduct.)

U.S. District Judge David Cercone ruled in March that the citation, along with the $119.75 court costs imposed by a city court, was clearly unconstitutional. The question, however, is whether the city has a pattern of tolerating this kind of constitutional violation. The ACLU says it found 188 cases from 2005 to 2007 in which people were cited under similar circumstances, despite an entry in the police department's training manual making clear that vulgar speech is not illegal.

The question was set to go to trial in Federal District Court last week, but the matter was delayed at the last moment while the two sides explored a settlement. The city's law department declined to comment on the case.

The Miami Herald Editorial Board has this message: Keep the Miami-Dade County Civilian Review Board.

A second officer from the Rocky Mount Police Department just got indicted for tampering evidence.

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