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


My Photo
Location: RiverCity, Inland Empire

Friday, October 09, 2009

Regattas and other local races

It's not far down to paradise
At least it's not for me
And if the wind is right you can sail away
And find tranquility
The canvas can do miracles
Just you wait and see
Believe me

---Christopher Cross

From Bissau to Palau - in the shade of Avalon,
From Fiji to Tiree and the Isles of Ebony,
From Peru to Cebu hear the power of Babylon,
From Bali to Cali - far beneath the Coral Sea.


They sailed away, for a year and a day,
To the land where the Bong-tree grows,
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood
With a ring at the end of his nose, his nose, his nose,
With a ring at the end of his nose.

----Edward Lear

And So They Set Sail

Amid cries of sabotage and foul play (just kidding), six council members fought it out using the tranquil surface of Lake Evans as their setting during the first annual City Council Regatta which was held at Fairmount Park in Riverside on Saturday, Oct. 10.

But in the end, only one council member could prevail and Ward Four Councilman Paul Davis coming from behind took the lead about midway through the race and sailed to victory over runner up Councilman Mike Gardner who squeaked by Councilman Chris MacArthur to steal second place. MacArthur shrugged at the finish line after disembarking from the sail boat (itself a tricky task) and said that he had miscalculated the finish line and thus lost his placing. Behind him came Councilman Steve Adams who had taken a huge lead early on, followed by Councilman Andrew Melendrez and then way, way behind came Councilman Rusty Bailey who had taken a wrong turn early on in what he defined was a strategic decision which had been a miscalculation on his part. He had tried to give himself an advantage for later in the race but the gentle winds of the sunny afternoon had a mind of their own and so Bailey set sail in the opposite direction helpless to do much about it but take in the scenery.

Davis' foray into sailing started a day earlier when the neophyte took some lessons from a representative of the sailing program who told him if he did what he told him to do, he'd do fine. Earlier in the race while Davis struggled as most of them did because the winds had ceased, he hoped that his mentor wouldn't become too upset with him. However, when the westerlies picked up again, Davis was able to take the most advantage of the situation and passed front-sailing (and also neophyte) Councilman Steve Adams for the lead.

While Davis was taking his boat out for a practice run, its rudder cracked and he got back to the docks with nary a paddle or a prayer for a replacement rudder. At first he claimed that Gardner had sabotaged his boat because Gardner was the first one there. Gardner quickly denied any involvement and said that if he had done it, it was because he had targeted Bailey's boat and hit Davis by mistake. Gardner's boat did have a dragon in the front (designed by the Riverside Community College Theater department) and the name, "sabotage" painted on the stern which attracted quite a bit of attention. Gardner, who was very instrumental at setting up the regatta, had practiced for over an hour before the regatta was was able to put that into much better use the second half of the race than the first half.

Actually no one cheated or committed any known sabotage but they did express intense signs of competitive spirit even before the regatta started and during the time period before the race when they tried to line up at the start.

Here are some snapshots from someone who's definitely not Ansel Adams or Dorthy Lange but despite having to work with the sunlight blazing over the lake, they turned out okay (so there, bad boy!)

[Councilman Paul Davis waits a replacement of a rudder that cracked during his practice run around Lake Evans.]

[Councilman Steve Adams either getting in his boat or bailing it before taking the boat out on a pre-regatta practice run.]

[Mayor Ron Loveridge emcees the boat race.]

[Councilman Mike Gardner (l) who finished second congratulates the regatta's winner, Councilman Paul Davis]

[Coming in last after taking off on his own to tour the entire lake, Councilman Rusty Bailey finally reaches dry land. Does he kiss it? No, but he comes quite close. ]

[The city council members assemble for a group photo after the race.]

The proceeds from the ticket sales for this event went back to support the sailing program as well as charities that were sponsored by each city council member. The city council hopes to turn the regatta and barbecue into an annual event.

Next up would be to have a regatta involving the commissioners of the Community Police Review Commission but then they'd just try to ram their boats into each other or try to get each other disqualified by abruptly changing the date and time of the regatta so that contestants would have to drop out. Maybe they better start with bumper cars.

The Mayor's Race

An interesting article in the newspaper about Riverside mayoral candidate Art Gage who is running against current mayor, Ron Loveridge in the election in November. That election for the abbreviated term is in its final month and the candidates are out campaigning. If you are voting absentee, that process has started and the votes are coming in. For those that are going to the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 3 you should have received a sample ballot in the mail which will include your polling location.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Gage said later he doesn't think the average resident is treated fairly at City Hall -- people get passed from department to department with a question or problem, they have to fill out a card before speaking to the council, and much city business is lumped into the consent calendar and passed with one vote, he said.

Commenting to residents about the council chambers renovation, Gage said wryly, "It's government -- they do a lot of things that are stupid."

But Gage has his own critics who say his stance as an outsider didn't serve him well on the council and would work against him as mayor.

Former Councilman Ed Adkison, who endorsed Gage for his first term but not when he ran for re-election, said Gage was a maverick who didn't work with his council colleagues.

"He would try to negotiate deals outside his authority," talking with the police union and the parties in an eminent domain case, for example, separate from the city's designated negotiators, Adkison said.

"I think you need to be a bigger consensus builder as the mayor than you are on the council because you haven't got a right to vote," Adkison said. "He's certainly not a consensus builder at all."

Gage said his colleagues wanted him to talk to the police union, and his role in the eminent domain case was simply to urge two parties to talk to each other, which he doesn't think was inappropriate.

As a councilman, Gage also took barbs for going public with budget concerns that some officials said were premature or unfounded. Today, he says that although his budget figures were attacked as inaccurate, the point wasn't the numbers -- it was that the city had less money than people thought, and the public needed to know.

Gage said he thinks some of his colleagues' criticisms arose when he opposed their pet projects.

"I have a philosophy of how government should be run," he said. "I am not going to go along with something I disagree with, just to be one of the guys."

But then along came the next day, an article about Loveridge who's been mayor since well, the 20th Century and the "story" he wants to tell. One chapter addresses of course, his drive to become the president of the much vaulted by municipalities with slogans, the League of Cities. Which is funny because if he wins, he has to go to meetings all over the country and if he does that, the city can't pay for him to go because it banned out of state business travel for everyone.

Hopefully, the League of Nations will foot the bill for its own president traveling around the country if he wins both elections. But then again, do you want a mayor or do you want a League of Cities president? Because it might be difficult to both equally well.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Beyond Riverside, Loveridge is involved with a number of regional organizations. If he is reelected, he is in line to become president of the National League of Cities, a group that advocates for cities and provides them with resources.

When that issue came up at challenger Art Gage's meet-and-greet, though, some residents either hadn't heard of the league or wondered how often the post would take Loveridge away.

"I want our mayor to stay here, especially in this economy," said resident Charlotte Macaluso, who is supporting Gage for mayor. "I don't think he's going to get a one-on-one with Obama, and I don't think Obama's going to care that La Sierra's being tagged every night."

Loveridge noted that he's always reachable.

"Your office is where your Blackberry is," he said.

He said he recently was in a conference call with Vice President Joe Biden about federal stimulus funds.

"A successful city is a city that has connections beyond city hall," he said.

One of Loveridge's favorite phrases refers to "telling the story" of Riverside, something he says his national connections allow him to do on a grander scale. He describes the city as "exciting, diverse, urban and successful."

But what does telling the city's story mean?

Loveridge referred to the 1950s TV police drama whose tagline went, "There are eight million stories in the Naked City. This has been one of them."

"Riverside has many stories to tell," he said. "That's what makes it an interesting place."

It's true that the city indeed has many stories to tell but it's also true that Loveridge and others at City Hall pick and choose the ones they listen to, because as most people know, going to city council meetings and lobbying your elected representatives at that level on most any issue is a waste of time because most of the really critical agenda items are on the consent calendar. Most of the really important work that's done on agenda items takes place behind closed doors particularly on financial issues now that the Finance Committee has been all but disbanded because a committee that hasn't met in nearly a year isn't doing much good for city residents. It might please factions at City Hall but it's not their money that they are spending. It's not even the city council's money. It's the city residents' money and it's time to give a more transparent accounting of what's been spent especially on the Riverside Renaissance.

Columnist Dan Bernstein went further into looking at the money trail when he wrote that Loveridge wasn't shopping Riverside when seeking vendors outside Riverside proper for his campaign signs. He's been shopping in Orange County. Uh oh. So much for honoring the commitment to create a logo that the city will live up to, in this case being the "City of Arts and Culture(removed due to alleged trademark infringement) and Innovation (trademark pending)".

In the meantime, This response to the Press Enterprise Editorial Board's endorsement of Loveridge for mayor instead stumps for Gage.

Ken Stansbury's in Mayor's Race

Ken Stansbury, activist and artist, submitted his paperwork to City Clerk Colleen Nicol and is running as a write-in candidate for the mayor's position. Apparently, there's two such candidates and the other one's a young guy in his twenties. He's out there getting the word out on the campaign trail and doesn't plan to spend money on his campaign. He's getting quite a bit of support from people who don't think that Loveridge and Gage really offer much of a choice for voters at the polls. He's also heading to the Friday Morning Club which is hosting a month of meetings with mayoral candidates, more information is listed below.

Where Art Thou Finance Committee?

This is a question that's been asked by people who either have read the blog postings about the erstwhile committee here for the past month and/or listened or watched Councilwoman Nancy Hart who chairs the Finance Committee issue a public service announcement at the end of the city council meeting on Oct. 6 with the assistance of Asst. City Manager/Financial CEO Paul Sundeen, assuring the public that there was nothing to worry just because the committee hasn't met since December 2008. Hart said that any financial agenda items released by Sundeen's office were in good enough form to go to the complete city council and that just because a meeting was tentatively scheduled (as many are on the city's Web site), doesn't mean the meeting will take place.

Perhaps Hart and Sundeen had hoped to reassure people that the Finance Committee which includes her and council members, Paul Davis who vice-chairs and Mike Gardner still exists even if it doesn't hold meetings or hasn't lately with no end to its current meeting drought in sight. But judging by the responses received, what Hart did was essentially say she was abdicating the responsibilities of her duties as head of that committee to the city manager's office. And that shocked quite a few people who are wondering which entity makes all the major decisions in the city, the city government or its direct employers in the city manager's and city attorney's offices. And why the city manager's office is left to apparently decide when this committee meets to discuss issues before they reach the entire city council, in a situation which is the equivalent of the fox guarding the hen house.

Apparently as the story goes, Hart was not the original selection to chair the Finance Committee. That position was apparently promised to Davis by the mayor in part as a deference to his background in finance. But Loveridge did his own thing and selected Hart who had previously vice-chaired the committee, some say because Hart was unlikely to convene any Finance Committee meetings. With the failure of what was once one of the most important committees to hold meetings, another mechanism of fiscal oversight and transparency over that process has been essentially neutered. As posted earlier, the statistics taken from 2001-2009 clearly showed that the volume of meetings held by the Finance Committee began decreasing about halfway through 2005 and most definitely by 2006. The dates where this trend of decline is noted is no coincidence. In June 2005, Brad Hudson officially began his stint as city manager and not long after that, the Riverside Renaissance was launched.

After Hudson was hired, the city manager's office consolidated the Finance Department as part of its division and votes began taking place in the city council involving the authorization and oversight of interdepartmental fund transfers. And so it went. The Finance Committee which once met twice monthly and met 24 times as recently as 2004 has all but disappeared, something that has people scratching their heads along with the city's practice of posting tentative dates on its Web site for committee meetings that never actually take place.

Sounds like something out of Wonderland.

The CPRC Meets!

Even though the Finance Committee has apparently been put on ice, the CPRC is actually violating its most recent trend which is to only hold one monthly meeting instead of two by actually holding a closed session meeting this Wednesday, Oct. 14. Ever since the commission elected the two members with the worst attendance records last year to serve as the chair and vice-chair, there's been fewer meetings even as the complaints filed with the commission take the police department and commission nearly a year or even longer to complete on average. At first, it was only the police department that had ventured into the triple digits for investigating and reviewing complaints but since March, the CPRC has gone beyond flirting with those figures and has taken over 110 days on average to review complaints.

Pending permission from the Agenda Review Staff (which unofficially consists of CPRC Manager Kevin Rogan, Asst. City Manager Tom DeSantis and City Attorney Gregory Priamos), the CPRC has several more agenda items addressing various aspects of this issue. At its last general meeting on Sept. 23, the CPRC did inquire for more information on why the police department's process is taking so long.

The CPRC tries to claim that there was no tradition established of meeting twice monthly on the second and fourth weeks, an allegation put quickly enough to rest after reviewing eight years of minute records going back to 2000. There are guidelines in the policies and procedures which provide instruction for the meetings held on second Wednesdays being held for case review and/or training

One of the future guests of the CPRC will be representatives of the Riverside Police Officers' Association who have appeared twice at meetings since 2000. Once in late 2002 with then attorney Michael Lackie to address case review, thus shutting it down for several months and then later in March 2004, to attend a workshop set aside for it. Apparently, there were some initial problems with getting permission from CPRC Manager Kevin Rogan for them to appear but that's been cleared up and the RPOA will be allowed or invited to send representatives to a future meeting.

There will be much more excitement going on with the CPRC in upcoming months which will be duly reported here. Not to mention the events taking place with the Human Resources Board which along with what's going on with the CPRC will lead to further discussion of one of the most interesting power plays in the entire governmental and political arena called City Hall which will be that between Priamos and City Manager Brad Hudson. Are the city's boards and commissions one of the playing fields where this takes place? But then there's so many power struggles going on with the CPRC, it's difficult to count them all let alone keep track of them.

Also what happens when the tail wags the dog.

The Deep Freeze at the RPD

As has been posted here, there's been a promotional freeze in the police department at least from the sergeant level on upward. Two captains positions, five lieutenant positions and about seven sergeants have remained frozen since last year. But there's a rumor that they might be unfreezing up to two lieutenant positions and four sergeant positions some time in the future. The police department's pretty much at the bottom in terms of raw numbers and perhaps even beyond its staffing levels in the sergeant and lieutenant ranks. By December, there will only be one lieutenant of Special Operations instead of three and the number of supervising sergeants in both investigations and field operations has been impacted. And by the end of next year, the vacancy level among sergeants could hit the double digits.

The sergeant promotional process involves testing both oral and written and the formation of a single list instead of the old system of using graded classifications. And no matter how the candidates rank on the list, anyone on the list can be chosen for promotion unlike the case with the detectives (where the top ranked candidates get the positions). Currently, there are about 15 candidates on the sergeant's list. There were three vacancies in this rank filled last year, all by officers who incidentally lateraled over from the Oceanside Police Department several years ago.

There's also candidates on the lieutenants list where one vacancy was filled last year but the rest have remained in deep freeze. As for the promotion of captains, that is currently being litigated through a lawsuit filed by two police lieutenants who alleged that promotions at this level were being influenced by political forces outside the police department including the city manager's office and two then current city council members. That lawsuit was bifurcated not too long ago which means that some of the legal issues will remain in the U.S. District Court and others will be argued in the Riverside County Superior Court system.

As you recall, City Manager Brad Hudson and his assistant, Tom DeSantis tried to get the classifications for the assistant and deputy chief positions changed with among other things a provision that would make it easier not just to demote one of these management personnel back to captain (which is the appropriate classified position for upper management below the police chief) but even fire them. At the time this all went down culminating in a huge rally at the city council chambers in March 2007, there were two employees who were promoted while Police Chief Russ Leach was allegedly out of town in New York not being notified about the promotions until he returned from his trip. People felt the involved candidates were the right choices to be promoted because of what they brought to the positions but questioned the process used and just as importantly, who was using it.

A third management employee flatly refused to accept the "at will" terms fearing he'd soon be ousted by the city manager's office.

Hudson and Leach made speeches when asked by the city council to an audience which included representatives from the RPOA and the Riverside Police Administrators' Association, placating the audience that nothing had actually happened. That was technically true but in part only because of intense lobbying of several council members (who each then tried to take credit for doing it all by themselves) by the associations and the 11th hour legal interpretation provided by City Attorney Gregory Priamos which frowned upon the classification changes for public safety management employees that Hudson and DeSantis had attempted to carry out.

This chain of events while highly unfortunate did provide some insight into some very important dynamics, that of the police chief and the labor associations within the police department, that of the police chief and the city management and the clearly fractious interactions between Hudson and Priamos who allegedly was miffed a while back when he wasn't first on Hudson's list of choices to work as his city attorney.

Unfreezing supervisory positions carries the cautionary note of realizing that if sergeant positions get unfrozen and filled then down the food chain, eventually there will be officer vacancies (since detective vacancies are filled). If lieutenant positions are unfrozen and filled, then there are at the very least sergeant vacancies created. But even so, the supervisory levels are pretty bleak and it's likely they will continue to become even more vacant as retirements really pick as they often do when vertical advancement is nonexistent. Once again, heads need to be scratched as City Hall has proved once again, it either hasn't learned anything from the pre-consent decree period or it doesn't care. But the way the world works is that if it keeps pushing the police department in this direction, then it will perhaps get another opportunity to learn past lessons soon enough.

However, like everything in the department including apparently its ability to purchase what are equivalent to school supplies, it's the city manager's call.

The high drama of micromanagement of the city's police department continues onward, as even the money spent by the police department allegedly has to have every line item of appropriations approved and signed off by DeSantis which is odd because in most normal municipalities, it's the department heads which are usually in charge of the budget including the expenditures. But then this isn't exactly normal, it's Riverside.

Best in IE

Congratulations IE Politics, for being selected best blog by Inland Empire Weekly in its "Best of IE" issue. They are very deserving of such an honor.


Granted, the Inland Empire has its fair share of blogs covering a variety of facets and locales—including individual cities and specific organizations. But the all-encompassing blog doesn’t just kick down a summation of the politics that pervade our turf, it does so incredibly consistently, making it a repeat reading attraction.

For the inside dirt, log on to

It's must reading for checking out what's going in the Inland Empire and state because as you know there's never a dull moment in places like San Bernardino County.

On its blog roll they include many good links to governmental offices, organizations, informative resources and other local and political blogs including this one.

The Future of Wi-Fi in Riverside?

The Press Enterprise wrote about the future of Wi Fi in Riverside. It also discusses the very successful Smart Riverside program for low-income families.

But there was some discussion about the future and how long AT&T will be involved, given that like in many places, transferring users of the free service to the paid service is very difficult and slow.

One problem they might want to address with ATTMETROFI (which is the paid service) is ensuring that it maintains a constantly high signal strength. For example, while refreshing the wireless network list, ATTMETROFREE showed an excellent signal and ATTMETROFI? A paltry "low" signal. Often it's difficult to even pick up ATTMETROFI on a wireless list in some locations. It's not clear why that it's working out that way. And lowering the daily price or offering a bargain basement weekly cookie session might make some difference. Charter Communications is offering internet services for $29.95 a month and claiming to be faster than free Metro Wi Fi so business strategy would dictate that it needs to offset that.


Reneker said a combination of issues prevented the city from reaching full coverage. Wireless equipment is now attached to streetlights in 1,400 places around town, but Reneker said that gear can't be mounted on all light poles.

Decorative lights on metal poles and lights that are timed to shut off won't work. In other places, tall trees block the wireless signal.

Another cause of delay was the business model.

The city's 2006 contract with AT&T, which installed the equipment and provides the Wi-Fi service, said the company would build a network for 95 percent of Riverside, Reneker said, but it has stopped adding access points.

Company officials hoped the free wireless, which is slower than other AT&T offerings, would draw in new customers willing to pay for premium service. But the reality hasn't matched expectations.

"The overwhelming majority of people who use the network are on the free service, and from our perspective we'd like to see more people move over onto the premium service," said AT&T spokesman H. Gordon Diamond.

The premium service currently costs $3.95 a day. Diamond said the company is considering lowering the price.

Reneker said AT&T will continue to provide free Wi-Fi through October 2011, but when the contract ends it's not clear what will happen. If AT&T wants to pull out, the city could negotiate to buy the equipment and find another company to provide Internet service, he said.

"I've already been in contact with four or five companies that have interest in doing that," Reneker said. "I don't think we even have to be concerned about (the network) being shut down."

Diamond said company officials haven't decided what to do when the contract is up.

But the city of Riverside's IT division and AT&T's people have been working very hard on the Wi Fi during the past several years. When problems arise, they respond and fix them quickly and they appear committed to making Wi Fi work for Riverside.

Nazi Watch

No Nazi sightings so far this week. Will report back, next week.

On Oct. 24, the Nazis demonstrators and some "storm troopers" (dressed in full Star Wars regalia hopefully) and the counter demonstrators will show up in Casa Blanca's venue of choice, Indiana and Madison. The Riverside Police Department METRO/SWAT Team will be there to referee the proceedings. And the media will cover it like it's a sporting event just like they did last time.

Whether this will help or hurt the Nazis' attempts to go more politically mainstream or not remains to be seen but it's difficult for this group of liberal leaning Nazis to gain much more membership in a fairly conservative city, where even the violent racists lean that way.

And the rest of the city will watch. Not much really fazes Casa Blanca and a bunch of young White men and women playing Nazi clearly hasn't either or even a group of activists planning to come from out of L.A. to do more spitting and stomping (as expressed in their own words). Stay tuned.

The questions as to why Riverside and the Inland Empire are such hotbeds for hate groups like this latest brand of Neo-Nazis (who are still a long way from seriously challenging the membership numbers of the skinheads based in southern Riverside who aren't protesting) is not as easy to address as chasing a few of them off.

Friday Morning Club---Mayoral Candidate Schedule

Candidates for Riverside Mayor, including the newly qualified write-in Candidate Ken Stansbury will be speaking at the Friday Morning Club, that meets Fridays from 10 to 11:30 at Janet Goeske Senior Center at 5227 Sierra Street, Riverside. All are welcome to attend these meetings. Free to attend, Free Parking.

Come with your questions for these candidates

Oct 16 Speaker is ART GAGE, Candidate for Mayor of Riverside, former City Councilman Ward 3

Oct 23 Speaker is KEN STANSBURY, write-in Candidate for Mayor of Riverside

Oct 30 Speaker is RON LOVERIDGE Mayor, Candidate for Mayor of Riverside, former City Councilman Ward

The Group is hosting candidate, Art Gage at the Coffee Depot on Mission Inn Avenue this Thursday, Oct. 15 at 7:00 a.m.

Labels: , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home

Newer›  ‹Older