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, October 20, 2009

City Manager says RPD's Strategic Plan back on track

We interrupt our regular meeting....

Another city council meeting held in Riverside, another public service announcement issued by an elected official on a topic that seems to come out of no where. At some point, the elected official then asks a designated representative from the city manager's office to help him or her deliver his or her announcement. This has been an interesting ritual that has developed over the past few weeks, offering a treat to viewers at the meetings and at home.

A few weeks ago, Councilwoman Nancy Hart informed the public both in the audience and the viewing audience at home with assistance from Asst. City Manager Paul Sundeen as to why the Finance Committee hasn't met in nearly a year and not at all during 2009. People listening and watching left that with more questions than answers as Hart had essentially abdicated her role as chair which is to call meetings to the city manager's office. This issue has become more pressing as more and more people have been discussing it if not in the city council chambers outside of it. One member of the finance committee said that when he's tried to ask when it's going to meet, he's told by Hart that there is no meeting scheduled because there's nothing to discuss. But there is interest with at least one committee member that a meeting should be held which is reassuring to hear.

But that was then and this is now and it's time for another topic to be deemed worthy of being a vaunted public service announcement and this week, the topic involved the Riverside Police Department.

This week, the conduit for the PSA was Mayor Ron Loveridge. The topic? The Riverside Police Department's Strategic Plan, not the current one that was mandated by the state but the new one which was to replace it when it sunsets in December.

This blogging covered the alleged stalling of Strategic Plan 2 which was to have begun earlier this year, not long after Chief Russ Leach told community groups and organizations that the department would be creating and implementing a new blueprint for future development and direction in the agency to replace the first one soon set to expire. Leach said there would be plenty of opportunities for community input to the plan, essentially telling people who attended various community policing forums held across the city that it was "your plan". However, silence followed those announcements and an inquiry into the status of the plan led to information that the plan wasn't moving forward due to forces inside City Hall. This blog posting attracted quite an influx of readers from as far away as the State Treasurer's office up in Sacramento interesting when you consider who is the current treasurer right now.

But what a difference a week makes!

At the city council meeting, Mayor Ron Loveridge pulled up an email from Leach telling him that the department would be working on the strategic plan and that it would be ready to present before the city council by March 2010. His boss, City Manager Brad Hudson stepped in on Loveridge's cue to explain that the plan wasn't mandated like its predecessor but it was something they wanted to do, sounding oh so thrilled about it all just like he did after the embarrassing episode involving the city council's plan to implement the strategic plan in 2006 mercifully was resolved.

At some point the public safety committee chair and city staff would be involved and perhaps there would be some kind of public forum. Hudson always gets this strange expression on his face when he talks about any type of "community input" or "public participation" which is kind of interesting to watch. Every bite on a sour pickle?

But at any rate, this is an interesting development at City Hall which will have to be closely scrutinize in the weeks and months ahead. It's not clear whether Hudson truly embraces the strategic plan part deux or whether someone higher on the food chain than he is gave him a little nudge but the strategic plan is now moving forward, instead of running in place. It's more likely that it was the latter and that individual or individuals should be thanked because the Strategic Plan doesn't cease to be important just because former State Attorney General Bill Lockyer signs off on a mandated reform plan or because the first one is set to expire. And it's not just something the Riverside Police Department needs but is something that every law enforcement agency should have.

But the city and police department need to bring some more transparency into this important process. Here are some ways to do this.

1) Bring the issue for presentation and input to the entire public safety committee in public at City Hall not just to the chair of that committee, Chairman Chris MacArthur to be discussed behind closed doors.

2) Bring the plan back to the city council for presentation at an evening meeting with plenty of time to outline the plan, take comments and have discussion.

3) Rather than have one "public hearing" as suggested by Hudson, have meetings throughout the different neighborhoods, at least one per Neighborhood Policing Center to receive as much input from the public as possible and to reach all different groups of people.

4) The police chief personally should be coming to these public meetings as the main architect of this Strategic Plan at all its stages.

There was discussion about how the public utilities belongs to the people and well, so does the police department. It should be treated in that fashion rather than as some shiny toy that some politicians, past or present including former Councilman Frank Schiavone and their direct staff get to play with when they feel like it.

There will be much more coverage of this issue in the future because after all, another week, another opinion on whether or not there will be a strategic plan or not. Kind of like picking from daisies to determine whether someone likes you or not. It's unfortunate that City Hall has to take the more dysfunctional route towards getting on board to get something like a strategic plan done but at least it's getting done. That's the important thing and there will be regular checks done through this process to make sure that there's no backpedaling by any of the parties. Because we all know that has happened in the past too.

The Jolly Councilman

In other council business, Councilman Steve Adams left the meeting for a while and came back some time after public comment (so alas, there was no editorializing this week) in a much more jolly mood than when he left. He discussed the businesses at the Riverside City Walk in some sort of promotion drive for Shop Riverside or something like that mentioning a nail salon. He waxed about getting pedicures and well, getting waxed at this establishment. Perhaps a little bit more information than the viewing public wanted to know from its elected official. But never a dull moment at the city council meetings.

City Attorney Gregory Priamos was gone for a while too but didn't come back more jolly than he had left. There was no reportable action on any of the lawsuits on the docket during the closed session of this meeting.

Snapshot of a City Committee

Mayor’s Nomination and Screening Committee

Chair: Mayor Ron Loveridge

Members: Governmental Affairs Committee
Councilmen Andrew Melendrez, Steve Adams and Rusty Bailey

Meetings: Tuesdays as required. It has met more times this year than the Finance Committee.

(Riverside, CA) The Mayor’s Nomination and Screening Committee met at 1 pm on Oct. 20 to select applicants to interview to fill the Ward Three vacancy on the Community Police Review Commission. The mayor and city council seem to be moving much more quickly with filling the vacancy created by the resignation of CPRC Chair Sheri Corral than they did when filling the Ward Two vacancy that remained vacant for nearly six months. In fact, the current Ward Two commissioner Rogelio V. Morales has just been sworn in.

The qualifications of the applicants based on what they submitted as part of their initial applications was quite weak, partly due to the fact that five of the six applicants were submitting applications for multiple boards and commissions so they didn’t tailor their responses to the questions specifically to the CPRC. Only Deborah Wong who was one of the original applicants for CPRC in 2000 submitted any information pertaining to the CPRC.

According to the report submitted by City Clerk Colleen Nicol, there were six applicants from this ward who applied for the CPRC. They are listed below.

George Perez

He’s employed by U.C. Riverside as a store worker and purchaser and has lived in Riverside 50 years. A former member of the Community (now Human Relations) Commission

Robert M. Righter

A 10 year resident, Righter works for Home Depot and moved to Texas for a while and then came back to Riverside.

Dale Roberts

A senior analyst at JPL in Pasadena, Robert stated he had no specific experience except family members who were in law enforcement or in the military.

Tonya D. Snively

She has lived in Riverside for over 37 years and wants to be a city council member some day. She works for Tom Ford Fragrances.

Lilliam Snow

She’s lived in Riverside about one year and calls herself a “volunteer in need”

Deborah Wong

A professor at UCR who has lived in Riverside for 11 years. She is chair of the Riverside Coalition for Police Accountability. She stated when the commission was six years old, that it was at a crossroads.

Janice Bielman: A neighborhood watch captain and member of the Magnolia Area Neighborhood Alliance, she once worked for a retail mangement/loss related business.

After the usual conferring among themselves and asking each other which candidates they knew or didn't know, the committee members finally chose for intereviews, Bielman, Wong, Roberts and Perez.

The date which will be set aside for city council members and the mayor to interview the applicants for this appointment to the CPRC have not yet been announced. But it seems like the process for filling this latest vacancy is going much more quickly than it did when the city council was trying to fill the position vacated by Jim Ward last March.

The death of Riverside County Supervisor Roy Wilson has forced the rest of the body to jettison much of its business.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has yet to appoint a replacement, giving supervisors little leeway in approving items that require four votes.

Supervisor Jeff Stone was absent Tuesday, leaving just three supervisors to handle the county's business.

As a result, they had to delay more than a dozen items, ranging from an amendment to the Sheriff's Department contract with Palm Desert to the allocation of Homeland Security grant funds.

The county has critical things on our agenda, Supervisor Bob Buster said.

"It does create a set of problems," he said. "You don't know when the governor will make his appointment."

Budget adjustments, sanitation and sewer deals and changes to construction contracts are among the things that require a four-fifths vote, county spokesman Ray Smith said.

There is no deadline for the governor to make his decision, and for weeks supervisors have urged Schwarzenegger to tap a replacement. Wilson resigned just days before his Aug. 26 death.

Wilson, the county's fourth-district supervisor, had recommended State Sen. John Benoit, R-Bermuda Dunes, to succeed him. The remaining supervisors have backed a Benoit appointment.

Other names floated as possible successors include former state Sen. Jim Battin, former Assemblywoman Bonnie Garcia and former Palm Springs Police Chief Gary Jeandron.

On the campaign trail with the candidates running for the Riverside Unified District School Board.

The city council approved a large-scale public utilities project that cost nearly $20 million and is intended to avoid blackouts several years from now.

The Press Enterprise purge continues

About 30 employees have been let go from the Press Enterprise in recent weeks, mostly reporters, copy editors, editors and one photographer. And in a new move, the publication owned by Belo Enterprises in Texas is firing reporters and then offering them opportunities as free lance writers, something readers will see in the Press Enterprise more in the future.

There's only one reporter left in Riverside and Riverside County has no general reporter as the newspaper continues what some say might be its death spiral. Could there ever be a day when Riverside doesn't have a daily newspaper? Five years ago, could you have even entertained that question?

One of the reporters there who is left will be hosting a live forum on the issue of medical marijuana, one that's come up here again in recent weeks.

It's being held today from 2:30 p.m. -4 p.m.

A Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputy who had been missing was found dead and will be the subject of an autopsy.

The Riverside County District Attorney's office said keep that search warrant sealed in the case of a search involving the home of a San Jacinto councilman.

Isn't it interesting how the only warrants that ever seemed to have to be sealed are usually those involving politicians? But then even though the office still technically has a public integrity unit, it seems to go after activists more than well...public officials.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Prosecutors called the release order "unlawful and without authority" and said it will hurt their investigation. The targets of the investigation have not been identified.

In papers filed Monday with the Riverside-based 4th District Court of Appeal, prosecutors claim "the First Amendment opens no doors to warrant proceedings," and asked the appellate court to halt the release order issued by Riverside County Superior Court Judge Helios J. Hernandez II.

Hernandez originally upheld sealing the warrants in Aug. 26, but reversed himself and granted their release on Oct. 6 on a renewed motion from The Press-Enterprise.

Meeting in Ward Four

Councilman Paul Davis is holding another public meeting at the Orange Terrace Community Center in Ward Four. It's Thursday, Oct. 22 at 6:30 pm. There will be department headsin attendance and particular issues will be the focus of discussion.

So Ward Four residents should head on out there. But what would help a lot of people would be if the RTA would start a busline that actually goes to Orangecrest rather than bypasses it.

Annual Meeting and Neighbor hood Caucus

Saturday, October 24, 2009

9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Bordwell Park, 2008 Martin Luther King Blvd.

Special Presentation by Mayor Ronald Loveridge

Seven (7) RNP Board seats will be up for election, three (3) are in Area 4.

Please see attached document on election information.

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