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

Monday, October 05, 2009

The Human Resources Board takes on Hudson

***UPDATE: City Government breaks silence on Neo Nazis in Riverside***

"There is no place in our city for the hatred, the divisiveness that the National Socialist Movement stands for."

Riverside Mayor Ron Loveridge at city council meeting

UPDATE ***Assistant City Manager Paul Sundeen and Nancy Hart defend the city's failure to have Finance Committee meetings this year. More in future blog posting. ***

"I'm a pretty open guy."

----Riverside Manager Brad Hudson to the Human Resources Board

"I need to talk to my buddy over there."

---Hudson to the Board about City Attorney Gregory Priamos' decision to ban release of statistics about lawsuits filed by city employees to the Board.

"I can be your strongest supporter or I can be your worst enemy."

----Human Resources Board Vice-Chair Ellie Bennett on her frustration that the city management is promoting a perception of secrecy by not being more forthcoming with the Board.

[The Human Resources Board dialogues with City Manager Brad Hudson and Asst. City Manager Tom DeSantis about among other things their frustrations with being treated like "window dressing" by some city staff.]

What: Human Resources Board

Where: City Hall, Fifth Floor Conference Room

When: Monday, Oct. 5 at 4 p.m.

The Human Resources Board hosted City Manager Brad Hudson and his assistant, Tom DeSantis at its monthly meeting held on Monday, Oct. 5 at 4 p.m. on the Fifth Floor of City Hall. It was very interesting to watch the meeting play out and the dynamics between this Board and the city management team. At first some of the board members seemed more reluctant to say anything critical about the relationship between the Board, the city management and city attorney's office but their frustrations soon spilled out much as they had at the last meeting. But this meeting was Hudson at his best, giving the aw shucks and self-depreciating persona he's used to good effect to disarm people since he was first hired in June 2005. DeSantis always has his eye on his boss who in a sense had resurrected his career after he had worked for both inland counties and you always get the impression he's willing to jump in if his boss says something that doesn't quite come out right. Maybe not jump on the sword so to speak but jump in and say something.

It took a while for the board to reach quorum even with cookies and other desserts made available and for a while, city staff members which also included Human Resources Director Rhonda Strout and her assistant, Jeremy Hammond, a former administrative analyst who usually attend the monthly meetings outnumbered board members. But it's worth the wait because unlike the majority of their counterparts on the Community Police Review Commission, the board is not marching lockstep on what City Hall dictates. They're actually more independent. In fact, one of the CPRC's own bad boys John Brandriff who was nearly voted off the island at its last CPRC meeting sat in on the Human Resources Board meeting to find out for himself how it all goes down.

Hudson opened the meeting up after Chair Erin House's introduction of the "celebrities" in attendance by saying that revenues for the city's general fund were much lower than expected, being only about $190 million instead of the $226 million they had been expecting although the city reserves were currently at about $40 million down from $45 million. He said that there had been only 15 layoffs but that doing this had saved the city about $35 million.

"The city council lets me know when I've gone too far," Hudson told the Board about his actions on the labor front.

Apparently, the city council has said something about personnel issues in terms of layoffs particularly in the areas of parks and public safety so the S.S. Hudson had to switch direction in some of those areas.

He said that most of the departments had seen cuts including the fire department and "we cut that as far as we can go". Hudson added that the city council had told him to reverse some of the freezing of positions in the police department and that the department was hiring again. But opening up the hiring of police officer positions is a double edged sword. It's good in that it fills vacancies and increases the number of officers on shifts down the road but great care has to be taken to not skew the supervisory ratio given that four lieutenant positions and up to seven sergeant positions are currently vacant for the foreseeable future. This is one way the department got into great trouble in the 1990s.

Hudson said that the city unlike the county would be open five days a week. That unlike the county, Riverside the city had to be run like a retail business.

"We've got to be there for our customers," he said, "when they need us."

He added that even the public utilities division was seeing a decrease in revenue, not being the "cash cow" that it used to be. And that the recent agreement with the SEIU General Unit which represents the largest group of city employees serves as an example of "status quo management". It had taken them six months for the city to get that two percent raise back, Hudson said, adding that the management went first followed by the executive employees when it came to giving up their raises.

"We forgo our raises," Hudson said of management.

All the other bargaining units have settled their issues except for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, he said. He said that the early retirement provisions weren't popular yet and that next year would be the worst for the city's labor force. But he wanted to assure the city's labor force that it was respected.

Hudson added that the city's public facilities were open the same hours including the museum and community centers and that the libraries hours hadn't gone down all that much. In fact, the library hours would be collectively the most in the city's history. He complained that the "paper blew it all out of proportion" in terms of the situation involving the libraries' reduction in hours.

He said that the rumors that management personnel got raises last year was "absolutely false".

"No one has gotten any raises, " Hudson said, "No one has gotten anything. For many of us, it will be for quite some time."

Human Resources Board Vice Chair Ellie Bennett first apologized for comments she had made at a prior meeting in reference to Strout and Hammond. She did say she was frustrated by the problems with layoffs involving the museum because it had just gotten nationally accredited which doesn't happen with many museums and it might be in danger of losing that because so many employees (about half in two years) had been laid off.

"Anything that jeopardizes that concerns us," Bennett said.

She also as a Riverside County employee said that the city should have tried a furlough program before laying people off like the county did. But Hudson nixed that one, saying that there hadn't been enough layoffs in Riverside to motivate any of the unions including the SEIU General Unit to agree to them.

"We had trouble getting that 2% back," Hudson said, adding that trying to get a 10% cut would be impossible.

So furloughs wouldn't have won many fans in the labor force in Riverside, according to Hudson. The discussion then moved on to the frustration experienced by board members at getting public information on labor issues in the city and then being told indirectly by the city attorney's office that they couldn't get the information because it fell out of their purview. And Hudson pointed the finger away from himself and elsewhere.

The Bus: Hudson vs Priamos

Hudson said he didn't agree with Priamos' contention that the Human Resources Board couldn't have access to statistics involving lawsuits filed by city employees because it was "public information". To his recollection only 2-3 lawsuits had been filed though by the end of the meeting, he had amended that to being "no more than five" lawsuits "but no more than two". But as he spoke, it caused one to wonder whether or not Hudson was throwing Priamos under the bus. There'd been rumors of disagreement between these two individuals where Priamos has prickled for being put in a situation of having to answer for actions initiated by the city management, which if true is an argument that holds some merit.

Hudson denied that he had any problems revealing public information though he said there are "clearly some areas you can't be in" and he's not the first high-ranking city employee to use this mantra that it's not his action or decision to restrict information, it's someone else's fault usually the city attorney. Then they say they'll get the information which is public and then they filibuster for about a year or so not providing the public information and still attributing it to the restrictive city attorney's office. Some might say it's Priamos' fault whereas Hudson just implies that it is because he's claiming it's not his fault that the statistical information was withheld from the board members.

But as for releasing the total number of lawsuits, that was okay as far as he was concerned. He said any order to prevent the Human Resources Board from receiving this information didn't come from his office.

"That is why I am here today," Hudson said.

He said he hasn't spent much time attending the Human Resources Board meetings as he has those involving the Board of Library Trustees.

"I haven't gone to the CPRC because I'm afraid," he said, laughing.

Actually, the truth probably is that he doesn't go to CPRC meetings because he doesn't have to attend them. Because after all, the CPRC is well taken care of by its manager, Kevin Rogan and there hasn't been any troublesome incidents or meetings to attract his attention or concern.

Still, after he and DeSantis left, the Board decided whether or not they would still draft a second letter to the city council for clarification on why they could not receive the statistical information on lawsuits filed by city employees. House said that they still needed to send the letter even though Hudson had been kind enough to offer his suggestions on the situation. He said that the board needed to be heard by the city council on this issue and after the letter was completed by the Human Resources Department, he would hand deliver it personally to the Seventh Floor of City Hall. The issue didn't involve the city manager, it was the city council who had to be addressed regarding a disagreement between the board and Priamos.

The Human Resources Board and "Swimming in the Dark"

When everyone got comfortable inside the conference room, members of the Board began airing their complaints and frustrations that they had been dealing with for months.

"We've been kind of sitting around here swimming in the dark," House said.

Bennett also expressed her frustration saying that she wanted to be in their circle. She said she wasn't giving up and that like it or not, she was staying. But she felt there was "secrecy" from the city management and she wanted to remove that and work with the city management.
She felt there was this inherent feeling among all of them that there was more to it and that the city was rubbing their noses in it.

Board member Woodie Rucker-Hughes who also is president of the Riverside Chapter of the NAACP said that she's disturbed by what she's heard on the street about the feelings among those in Riverside's labor force that they could be next on the list of layoffs. She said she wished the city management would take advantage of the years of experience sitting around the table at the Human Resources Board meetings.

"If I'm going to sit and eat cookies, you can have it," Rucker-Hughes said.

She also echoed an earlier comment made by Bennett that the Human Resources Department leadership should be present at the table during labor negotiations. The board members said they trusted the words of Strout and Hammond.

Bob Gordon said he didn't care for the city's method of dealing with the information requests made by the Board in such a flippant manner. He said the Board had asked for the statistical information on lawsuits and the city staff told them they couldn't access that information even though the documents are public records. He wants to know if the city has a bunch of lawsuits against it so that the Board can help address any issues that might be putting the city in a situation of getting more litigation initiated against it.

CPRC Commissioner Resigns

It's official. Community Police Review Commission chair, Sheri Corral has submitted her letter of resignation. Since she is the designated representative for the third ward (under a charter amendment instituted after the passage of Measure GG by voters in 2004), she will have to be replaced by someone who lives in that ward.

It's not clear whether or not the commission will hold elections to fill the vice-chair spot which will be vacated by Commissioner and AMR employee, Peter Hubbard when he takes over the chair position.

Riverside Police Chief in Fender Bender

Riverside Police Chief Russ Leach was involved in an automobile accident while driving down Magnolia Avenue and getting rear ended by a student who allegedly had dropped a water bottle while driving. Fortunately he wasn't seriously injured but he canceled a planned trip to Colorado in deference to his recent back surgery. It's not known whether or not he still plans to attend the community policing forum on Oct. 7 in the Eastside.

Also, House explained that Leach had profusely apologized for his failure to appear at the meeting in September, attributing it to a "major communication problem". He's tentatively scheduled for a second chance at appearing at the next meeting in early November.

The Neo-Nazis Strike Back

Well, the Neo-Nazis are planning a three-hour demonstration at the same day laborer sight on the corner of Indiana and Madison in the neighborhood of Casa Blanca in Riverside dated on Oct. 24. They are also planning to demonstrate in Rialto in two weeks. Those involved with the counter rally at City Hall are meeting to plan a response to this second rally as well as planning to monitor any Nazi rallies and counter rallies that take place to discourage violence from either side.

This latest rally is in response to the group of anarchists and others who grabbed their flags, tore them up and then chased them to their foreign-made automobiles which added an ironic touch to a protest conducted by a bunch of self-identified nativists (and it's clear from the "25 points" on the National Socialist Movement Web site that this is what they are). This is always why physical confrontations with hate groups might leave some people feeling good inside but aren't really good ideas.

Why? Because the Neo-Nazis didn't retaliate against the anarchists from L.A. County, they protested against the Jewish synagogue which had nothing to do with the rally that turned into a shoving match like you'd see on a school yard. According to L.A. Indymedia, its crowd from that area intend to come back to Riverside on Oct. 24 and do what? Rip up more flags or actually dialogue with the community where they're staging their protests and find out what they think when they bring violence to their neighborhood even to counter a group that represents violence?

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

In a posting on their Web site, movement members claim that counterprotesters Sept. 26 attacked them with machetes, sticks, rocks and fists. They said they left after 45 minutes when asked by police to depart. The group's state director, Jeff Hall, of Riverside, said that on Oct. 24, movement members would stay three hours, no matter what happens.

Riverside police Lt. Larry Gonzalez said there were shoving matches between the neo-Nazis and protesters but no weapons or fists were used. He said it was unclear who began the scuffling. Police never asked the group to leave, he said. Police are already planning for the Oct. 24 rally, Gonzalez said.

Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at Cal State San Bernardino, said the neo-Nazis' Website depiction of defending themselves against a violent mob "follows a pattern in which the focus is not on their bigotry or the fact there's a united community against them, but on a few folks who make the Nazis look like victims."

He urged counterprotesters to not physically confront neo-Nazis, because it would be used to gain sympathy for the group.

The Nazis all eight of them (nine, if you count the one whose car broke down on the way to the last rally) turned their pique over their protest being interrupted against who else? The Jewish people who had nothing to do with it. So is this issue about illegal immigration? Not much.

But Levin raises an important point in that using physical force against them does allow them to paint themselves as victims who are being attacked by machetes, sticks, rocks and whatever else they can come up with even when videos clearly show there were no weapons involved. But then the Nazis tried to sell that version on Inland Empire Craigslist before doing so on their site and to the Press Enterprise. Even though if there had been weapons including machetes involved, then the SWAT Team would have been more involved than it was.

But the Nazis decided to target a local synagogue next.


Hall and two other movement members unfurled swastika flags outside Riverside's Temple Beth El Friday to protest what they said was synagogue members' involvement in the Sept. 26 scuffles. They stood for several hours before, during and after Friday night worship services.

He said movement members would return to Temple Beth El but declined to say when.

"It could be any time, any day," he said.

One commenter said that the synagogue wasn't the only building targeted by the Nazi protesters.


This is sickening. NeoNazis also tagged our church this weekend with "Eat Jews" on our walls. Swastiaks are not anti-immigration- they are hate filled and represent the most extreme violence possible against anyone who is not a white "aryan". The Nazis attacked and murdered millions from all walks of life. They killed Gypsies, the disabled, people whose political beliefs they disagreed with, gays, and folks from various religious groups they disagreed with in addition to the Jewish Holocaust. It's time to tell them to stop using Riverside as a base for their hate filled garbage. Please show up and peacefully tell them to go away.

More County Cuts

Several cities contracting with the Riverside County Sheriff's Department for police services have trimmed their contracts down.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

County supervisors Tuesday approved contract reductions sought by the cities of Norco, Lake Elsinore, Temecula and Wildomar, amounting to a combined total of 14 fewer officers for those cities. Temecula Valley, Lake Elsinore and Jurupa unified school districts also cut a total of seven school resource officers, county documents show.

City officials said the cuts, which range from one less school resource officer in the Jurupa area to five fewer police officers in Lake Elsinore, were necessary to balance dwindling municipal and education budgets this fiscal year. Officials added that the reductions should not impact crime rates, which are on the decline in most of the cities, according to recent FBI numbers.

"It is very much a sign of the times," Undersheriff Valerie Hill said of the school district and city cuts to sheriff's contracts. "They are in the process of making very difficult decisions: 'Do we keep a school resource officer or do we keep a teacher? Are we still going to get help if we yell help? Yes. But maybe we won't have anyone on campus now.' "

Cities and school districts pay the salaries and benefits of the sheriff's personnel contracted to serve them. The Sheriff's Department has agreements to provide law enforcement services to 15 cities and five school districts. The department also serves the unincorporated county, jails and courts.

Hill said the department will avoid any layoffs from the contract cuts by moving officers into funded positions left open due to attrition and early retirements. The department says it has been operating under a hiring freeze and has not added any positions since the end of March.

Things are heating up over the closure of Dufferin Road which has pitted city residents against county residents in recent months.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

At least one, unable to get through the portion of Dufferin that the city closed in July, used a vehicle to move a barrier out of the way Saturday, police said.

Police received two calls around 7 p.m. about two separate vehicles moving concrete barriers that block a short leg of Dufferin at McAllister Parkway, Lt. Chuck Griffitts said. One caller reported a white Hummer and the other a gray minivan, Griffitts said. The city later put the barriers back in place.

One resident wrote in an e-mail that he recently saw a truck get stuck when the driver tried to go down a dirt embankment to avoid the closure.

The leadership of Riverside County have been advised by the Press Enterprise Editorial Board not to go overboard with the loose change they discovered recently to the tune of $24 million.


At the same time, county revenue has fallen sharply. That trend looks likely to continue, particularly with property tax revenue, a mainstay of county budgets: The state Board of Equalization reported in August that property values for 2009-10 in Riverside County dropped 10.5 percent from the previous year.

Nor should the county expect a quick surge in revenue that might justify increased spending now. Economists predict a long, slow recovery for the Inland region, suggesting years of tight budgets ahead. The housing and construction bubble that propelled the Inland economy is gone, as is the easy credit that drove it.

A few million unexpected dollars do not change Riverside County's grim long-term fiscal outlook. And backsliding on this year's savings is not a workable strategy for avoiding financial strife going forward.

People targeting a state assemblyman for recall are closing in on getting their required signatures.

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