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, October 29, 2009

The drought appears over for the Finance Committee

Finance Committee to Meet

I received emails and messages today that one of the city's longest running droughts may be ending next week and that's involving the failure of one of the subcommittees formed by the Riverside City Council to meet in nearly a year. The Finance Committee is actually set to meet on Friday, Nov. 6 at 2:30 p.m. in City Hall on the Seventh Floor. Not tentatively set to meet as it has been various times during the year but it's actually on the schedule with a set agenda.

The Finance Committee last met on Dec. 8, 2008 to receive a report on the fiscal budget from Asst. City Manager and Finance Director Paul Sundeen. The latest activity from Sundeen in relation to the committee was to assist Committee Chair and Councilwoman Nancy Hart in explaining during a recent city council meeting why there hadn't been any meeting in so long. Tentative meetings were scheduled on nearly a monthly basis but they were always canceled even before any agenda could be posted. This issue has been blogged about extensively here and at that recent meeting, Hart told the mayor, the city council and the viewing audience that she was responding to questions she had been asked by various individuals as to why this committee never met, during a period of time set aside for elected officials to make remarks near the end of the meeting.

One of its members, Councilman Paul Davis had allegedly been promised the chair position by Mayor Ron Loveridge when he and interim mayor pro tem at the time, Councilman Andrew Melendrez had been coming up with prospective appointments to the city council committees. But when the decision was made, former vice-chair Hart was elevated to chair and Davis inherited her position. It's been said that City Hall went with Hart because it was very unlikely she would ever convene a meeting during her tenure as chair and in fact, her comments seemed to indicate to many listeners including those who contacted me (and it was a bit surprising the fervor this issue caused) that she had abdicated the decision on whether this mechanism of financial accountability and transparency would ever meet, to the city manager's office. Davis on the other hand had campaigned on financial accountability at City Hall including projects under the Riverside Renaissance banner in terms of finding out exactly what the costs will be and he was working on getting the committee to hold a meeting.

It remains to be seen if the city manager's office will be too happy about closer examination of the Renaissance which has grown from an initial budget of $700 million to an astronomical $2.1 billion and depending how much of the budget was based on bonds sales, that number could grow for future generations to pay the bills. And the city's residents really deserve to know the truth about how much they and their future descendants will be paying for the Renaissance party. Not to be told that they are misinformed about where the money's coming from because if that's the truth, then City Hall didn't do its job in educating the public about this massive municipal experiment paid for with their tax dollars in one way or another.

Now, before anyone says that to critique the Renaissance is to be a party pooper, there's a lot of good projects that have helped upgrade infrastructure issues in this city to improve them but some of the other items, such as the seizure of private businesses through threat of eminent domain by the Redevelopment Agency have been more problematic. And the uncertainty among city residents about where the money is or will be coming from needs to be addressed in a transparent fashion.

This is what a Finance Committee Agenda looks like.

Just click "Finance Committee", "2009", "Agendas" and then the one for Nov. 6, 2009 which covers utility bonds and you will be witnessing a historic moment in Riverside.

Hopefully, it means this important subcommittee which provides a layer of transparency and makes it a tiny bit harder for any Seventh Floor backdoor deals to continue, will meet on some sort of regular schedule again. But things look a bit brighter for the city. Just several weeks ago, it appeared that both the Finance Committee and the police department's second strategic plan were benched. The strategic plan which was first announced by Police Chief Russ Leach at public events last spring somehow ran aground in the interim and was allegedly being roadblocked by City Hall management. Others say that it might have been the pallor of former Councilman Frank Schiavone's role in defining and influencing the direction of the police department which might have been a factor until he was voted out of office in June.

But that plan also seems to be back on least for now, but like the Finance Committee and about a dozen or so other issues, it will require constant vigilance to make sure it stays on the right track.

Under New Chair, CPRC Spins its Wheels

[Left, Brian Pearcy listens as fellow CPRC commissioner, Chani Beeman tries to make her point. A motion to lift the current ban minority viewpoints and/or minority reports died for the lack of a second. ]

City Hall won more points with its favorite plaything, the Community Police Review Commission when a push by Commissioner Brian Pearcy to undo what he called a "void" vote banning minority reports in August withered on the vine for the lack of a second. Or so that's how it was explained to people who couldn't stay for the marathon meeting.

Pearcy who missed the meeting where the vote took place questioned its validity given that he didn't think it was properly agendized and pointed out that while the motion on record said that minority reports had been banned, the expression of minority viewpoints perhaps included within the majority report had been allowed. Yet, you had people like Commissioner Art Santore go on about how there should be no minority viewpoints period when he had been one of the majority who had voted to allow written minority viewpoints if not minority reports. So did Santore change his mind?

No, he just clearly didn't pay attention to what he was voting on when that whole sad state affairs went down in August's general meeting. Nor did it appear did most of the other commissioners who didn't seem to be sure what they voted upon which has to be the most ridiculous state of affairs since they voted to include a minority report that they later admitted they didn't read. And if they had read it, they would have voted against it even though a majority body voting against a minority report because they disagree with its content is not something that many people would think happens in real life. Wonderland maybe, but not real life.

Apparently, by the end of the meeting, most of the commission, well actually all of it except the person left standing trying to salvage the minority viewpoint had lost their moral compass and Pearcy's motion died for lack of a second. And that's kind of funny in its own way because earlier there had been two motions on the floor, both with seconds. What's even more interesting is if you watch the Planning Commission, the Human Relations Commission and the Human Resources Board and compare their members' behavior to the CPRC, the CPRC stands alone in having meetings where the majority picks on the minority voices and doesn't try to just silence them but makes personal attacks against them. It's interesting watching Rogan scold commissioners like Chani Beeman for their "style" (as if that's even his role at all) when she asks commissioners to engage and then when commissioners like Ken Rotker push through some sort of passive aggressive innuendo and then insults through the back door commissioners like Chani Beeman, they get passes by Rogan.

But Rogan provided the most entertainment when he either appeared confused or tried to confuse people's concern about delayed investigations into officer-involved deaths with saying it doesn't matter because the deliberations of these cases by the commission wouldn't take place any sooner if the CPRC began its investigations sooner. Seriously, if he's that confused about the separation of those two processes and the time sensitivity issues that are unique to each one, then what is he doing there earning over $150,000 for what in reality (if not by city definition) is a part-time job? I'll take his "false specter" that he mentioned and raise him his latest "straw man argument".

Former chair Sheri Corral resigned and was replaced by Hubbard as chair. Hubbard slouched in his chair the whole time and like Corral, sought guidance for most of his decisions from CPRC Manager Kevin Rogan. It usually went like this. Someone would say something. Hubbard looks lost. Hubbard looks at Rogan. Rogan nods or shakes his head and then Hubbard verbalizes what Rogan has done. Some people say that's the biggest problem with the CPRC these days, its lack of leadership. No, a bigger problem is when the commission handed off its leadership role to its own employee Rogan which is kind of like the city council's biggest problem that it handed over the keys to the city to its direct employees.

The newest commissioner Rogelio Morales from the second ward made his debut and presumably made it through the entire meeting. He was probably the most vocal of any new commissioner in recent history and asked good questions including a couple that some of the other commissioners should have asked six months ago. But he also asked if the meetings could be conducted via the internet so that they could sit in their pajamas and talk about cases. Newest commissioner, meet the Brown Act. Well, maybe they can just hold the meetings at City Hall in their pajamas.

Something did get accomplished during the meeting. The commission did vote 7-1 with one vacancy and Hubbard of course dissenting, to send another letter to the city council and mayor asking for further clarification on the situation involving the delays for investigating officer-involved deaths that were first foisted on them by City Manager Brad Hudson and City Attorney Gregory Priamos. In fact, it was Priamos who informed them in one particularly animated meeting that there could be year-long jail sentences and hefty fines for charter violations, which is pretty interesting considering that Priamos apparently believed that even putting an item on the agenda discussing the possible hiring of independent legal counsel was some sort of charter violation. Which most people might think of as being a conflict of interest at work. Priamos kind of quieted down after he was the one who got written up in the Press Enterprise in a negative way last year for actions involving the CPRC and the ethics code and complaint process that were actually done by Hudson's office. Relations between these two direct employees of the city council are said to be less than warm because Hudson allegedly had believed when the city hired him that it needed a different city attorney. If that's the case, who can blame Priamos for being miffed?

But the commission voted to send a letter reminding the city council and mayor that when they voted by majority to bar the CPRC from launching independent investigations of officer-involved deaths, they and representatives from the police department and city manager's office had reassured them that there wouldn't be more than a six month delay in their investigations. But as three out of four of the officer involved deaths have or will shortly pass their first anniversaries by this weekend all without independent investigations being initiated by the CPRC, clearly these individuals' reassurances were for naught and the waiting periods have gone way beyond those forecast by Hudson and the city council.

It's not clear whether this latest letter will generate any meaningful response from the city council but the number one question that is arising in many communities about the CPRC for most people who are asked about it, is what is with this delay of officer-involved deaths?

Just when you don't think this commission can get any more dysfunctional, the valiant commissioners of the CPRC prove you wrong once again. Dysfunction as an art form, that's the CPRC in a nutshell.

Speaking of Hubbard, he's on deck at the Mayor's Nomination and Screening Committee this month on Monday, Nov. 23 as the subject of an ethics complaint for conflict of interest because he is employed in a high-ranking position with a company, American Medical Response, that has a contract with the city manager's office.

In more CPRC business, interviews for the Ward Three commissioner vacancy will be held Tuesday, Nov. 17 at 2 p.m. on the Seventh Floor at City Hall.

City Hall new security system creates captive audiences at keeping them captive

They say that the sign of success of a meeting is getting people to show up and even more if you can get them to stay, but recently in at least one scheduled meeting at City Hall, people attending had to wait until the meeting was over before being allowed to leave the building because of a new security system installed at City Hall, in lieu of the security guards who used to man the buildings while meetings were conducted in the evening.

If you are in City Hall attending a meeting after 7 p.m. and you need to leave, you might be stuck inside the building unless you can find a city employee willing to let youout. That was the case during the CPRC meeting when virtually everyone who attended left before the latest marathon session of bickering and power plays had been adjourned. CPRC Manager Kevin Rogan had to escort people out of the building and disengage the security system so that people could leave without setting it off.

That wasn't the case involving a recent meeting of the Riverside Neighborhood Partnership. People attending that meeting had to remain for its entirety without being allowed to leave
Seriously, in the latter meeting, the city employee from the Office of Neighborhoods/Development leading it said that if anyone left the building, they would trigger the alarm causing the police department's SWAT team to rush over to City Hall so they had to wait until the meeting adjourned before being allowed to exit the building. There was no prior notification on the meeting agenda or posted at City Hall that this would be the case and it's difficult to find any legal justification for preventing people from leaving a meeting before it's over especially when they haven't been notified of those rules beforehand. In fact, it's not clear whether the public has even been informed that this new security system was installed.

There should also be notification on the agendas of meetings like the RNP that start at 6:30 pm that if you're late to the meeting and get to City Hall after 7 p.m. that you will not be able to get inside the locked down building to attend that meeting.

The city council and mayor tell everyone to "shop Riverside". In fact, there's a campaign of sorts trying to get people to do this. But what happens when the mayor doesn't during his campaign?

(excerpt, Inland Empire Weekly)

Riverside Mayor Ron Loveridge is currently seeking a fifth term in the city’s highest post. And like all political hopefuls, he is spending dough on mailers, a campaign website, consultants and—of course—signs. And to whom did Mayor Loveridge turn for the printing of these election-era eyesores? Surely to one of the many qualified, affordable print shops in the City of Riverside, right?


So, sir. Some of Loveridge’s lawn signs were printed by COGS South Signs, a print shop based in Santa Ana. Although COGS does not appear anywhere in the Mayor’s campaign disclosure firms, there’s no way to deny it—the signs themselves are printed with the firm’s logo and telephone number, according to The Press-Enterprise’s Dan Bernstein (Loveridge’s responses were lame like: “You hire vendors that make a good product. They’re found in different places. People you’ve done work with in the past, you continue that relationship.”

Curiously, just a few months ago, Loveridge described shopping Riverside as the “most important” part of an overall effort to get the city out if its economic doldrums, during a Jan. 22 “State of the City” speech.

Justin Tracy sees a parallel between these campaign spending decisions and the way the city is run. Tracy, who bills himself as a “reasonable guy,” is the owner of PIP printing in Downtown Riverside. He understands that if a merchant offers a better service or a better price, it makes sense to use that business’ goods or services, even if it is outside the city. “He should task his campaign manager with finding services within the city, but if he does find a better deal outside the city, then he should not let them print the info on the sign!” The decisions about how a campaign’s money is spent naturally fall to the treasurer of the re-election committee, in this case, Jim Dudek. In reference to Loveridge’s negligence in his delegation of authority, Tracy asks, “Isn’t it reflective of the oversight he provides the city in general?

Press Enterprise
Columnist Dan Bernstein discusses the Neo-Nazis rallies and counter demonstrations.

And there's some Nazi chatter here from someone identifying himself as Mike O'Dell who participated in the Nazi rally in Casa Blanca on Saturday.


The Blacks have the NAACP, The Mexicans have MPA, "Mexican Political Association

But when we create our own group, then we are called "racists"...

I don't think so.

God Bless the Neo Nazis... Thank you Mike O'Dell

Dear Mr. O'Dell,

You need to go back and read the NSM's 25 point plan which talks about expelling anyone who's not White which isn't in the platforms of either organization listed. Oh and it's not Mexican Political Association, it's Mexican-American Political Association but then again, your own plan states that people of Mexican ancestry can't be American citizens under the Nazi version of utopia.

Oh, and the NAACP was created when your brothers in the Klan started hanging Black citizens from trees and your ideology stemmed from the murder of over 6 million people, an event that's obviously makes the current generations of Nazis uncomfortable enough to engage in revisionist history by pretending it never happened.


There's a changing of the guard coming to the Los Angeles Police Department with the departure of current chief, William Bratton who is taking a high-paying private sector position. This series of articles from the Los Angeles Times discusses the responsibilities and challenges faced by Bratton's successor.

Bratton writes this article about keeping Special Order 40 in place even after he is gone.

Pittsburgh's form of civilian oversight is finding it difficult to meet.

(excerpt, The Pitt News)

The Citizen Police Review Board plans to hold a public hearing concerning the G-20 Summit-related arrests in Oakland, but the University’s feelings about the meeting are unclear.

The review board, an independent group that investigates police behavior, tentatively scheduled a public hearing from 6 to 8 p.m. Nov. 10 to hear students’ and business owners’ complaints about police conduct during and surrounding the Summit.

Beth Pittinger, the board’s executive director, said the group initially hoped to hold the meeting on campus, “because [the demonstrations] happened there.”

If it can’t hold a meeting on campus, Pittinger said, the group will hold one at another location in Oakland.

Robert Hill, Pitt’s vice chancellor of public affairs, said it was “premature” to comment on the Citizen Police Review Board’s plans because the University hasn’t yet received a request to use its facilities.

“We have not established a position,” Hill said.

Will voters approve a new civilian review board in Fort Myers, Florida?

(excerpt, Wink News)

The police union is campaigning against it, saying it would cost taxpayers too much. They're sending out fliers to voters, urging them to vote no on the new police review panel, when the city already has one. Supporters say the mailings are distorting what they consider to be the truth.

"It's shameful politics that they're playing," says activist Anthony Thomas, who has led the charge for citizen review of the Fort Myers Police Department since the officer-involved shooting death of Ernest Weston in 2007.

He says the police union's opposition mailings overstate the taxpayer impact of the proposed panel.

"The city has put it at more than a million dollars. We think it'll be more like $100,000," Thomas said

A clash between the Chicago Police Department chief and the civilian review mechanism has emerged about who decides on discipline for police officers.

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