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

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Another Year Coming to an End in River City

The rallies by the Neo-Nazis in Casa Blanca in Riverside caused a bit of furor and brought national attention to a city that's trying to sell itself as a future economic center by creating or purchasing an assortment of logos and slogans to define itself in recent months. As a result of the Nazis rallying in Riverside, news coverage on television of the situation featured maps of the region showing Riverside with a swastika imposed over it. Not good for a city trying to redefine itself as a positive force over and over and over again.

(excerpt, Inland Empire Weekly)

Cal State San Bernardino’s Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism and longtime monitor of these types of groups. He says that although the NSM is the largest neo-Nazi group in the United States, it is relatively small, numbering only a few hundred at most. However, they have been quite active this year, sojourning to the southern border and holding small protests in other parts of the country, including what may have been the largest they were able to muster, a Nov. 7 rally in Phoenix. The topic soon turned to tactics. Levin expressed concerned about the potential for conflict between the neo-Nazis and counterprotesters. “I don’t think that physical confrontations with a small number of Nazis advance anything,” Levin tells the Weekly. “It only advances their cause. Often it’s the anti-racists that end up fomenting violent activity and all it does is play into the hands of the bigots.” When asked for his opinion about direct action tactics, he replies, “One’s political position does not give one license to assault people. The fact that people are bigoted does not give license to assault them.” So how does the social justice cause deal with neo-Nazism? Levin’s suggestion is that anti-racists instead “focus on how pathetic they are.” He also encourages media not to cover them [Oops, I guess we messed up here—Editor’s note]. He writes off the concern that ignoring them will allow their movement to grow. “When the Klan marches through Pulaski, Tennessee, the whole town shuts down,” Levin says. “They shutter their windows for a few hours until they leave. It’s very effective.”

So how did Riverside act in the face of the Nazi presence in Riverside? Well, if you notice it's been very quiet lately. Word has it that the city's served the local Nazis with a threat of an injunction or some other lawsuit for further demonstration on the grounds that they're essentially inciting violence with their very presence. It's likely that the national organization which is probably as much responsible for the demonstrations as this local branch would be then looking into legal options to counter this threatened lawsuit. And so it's likely that the show will go on inside some arena soon so stay tuned.

Next on the list for legal action is likely the new medical marijuana collective that's opened in Riverside despite resistance from the city government has seen its numbers grow. No raids are currently pending or have been carried out as have taken place in other cities where police mostly arrested people with illnesses and carted them off. But if action is taken, it will be by the police department, said Councilman Mike Gardner. If the city does shut it down and these folks will probably just decide to go and shop Riverside keeping the local drug dealers in clover. In the meantime, celebrities are dropping dead all over the place mostly from over ingesting or mixing legally prescribed medications or having different doctors prescribe them sometimes illegally though in actress Brittany Murphy's case even though large amounts of prescription drugs were found in her home, the cause of her death is officially "natural causes" so far though swine flu hasn't been ruled out either.

The surfacing of real life Neo Nazis in Riverside and the resultant protest rallies was only one of the noteworthy events that happened in the City of the Logos during the past year, in what can only be described as the Year of the Logos, where on several occasions, the city council and mayor spent time debating, discussing and voting on various logos, slogans or catch phrases for the city at large, and even one of its main thoroughfares. And more blueprints for Riverside's development have been created. First there was the General Plan, then there was the Riverside Renaissance and now there's the Economic Strategic Plan with the catch phrase attached to it that no one can say exactly at this point and time where the money's coming from. Well as stated in a previous blog posting, city residents probably know the answer to that even as city officials and their direct staff might be somewhat clueless at this point about the financial source for a project which concept they had just voted to approve. But then the 'Renaissance should serve as a valuable lesson on how important it is to know where the money's coming from. It came from city residents indirectly through land purchases and threatened Eminent Domain seizures in the downtown area so the land could be handed off to developers like Mark Rubin (who donated into several campaign coffers including that of then councilman, Dom Betro) to be ultimately turned into more rental units after it became clear that after the collapse of the housing market, people weren't going to pay $700,000 or more for a condo sitting on top of a business especially not with devalued and foreclosed houses sitting around empty by the dozens.

In recognition that the year 2009, not to mention another decade, is rolling to an end, there will be future blog postings about the significant events which have taken place during this time period and the players involved with each.

These events include two civic elections cycles in the city of Riverside, controversy involving one councilman up for reelection and his involvement in a lawsuit filed involving one of his development projects as well as assorted lawsuits hinting at micromanagement of one of the city's public safety departments. Not to mention controversies and manipulation of the Community Police Review Commission and the ethics code and complaint process, both of which stumbled mightily this year due to mechanisms in the fifth and seventh floors of City Hall. And in the background is the biggest story at all, the city's budget picture being bleak even as more consultants and studies are done while city employees are laid off and city vacancies remain unfilled including 10% of the police department's employment force and even larger percentages in other city departments including large chunks of the library and 50% of the museum staff while before that, maximum ceilings on raises for over 40 management level positions were raised by December 2008.

The city insists that no one got these raises including the city council's own direct employees but controversy first was sparked after a relative of one city department head allegedly told people that this department head received a raise last year. And the list of maximum ceiling raises which was discussed in closed session by the city government after being written about in this blog last spring was actually posted online on the city's own Web site late last year after another city employee in a high position tried to retire on the salary increase he had received and then was told by the city's retirement people, CAL PERS that he couldn't because that salary had never been officially posted by the city. So even though this individual tried to prove that he had been paid the higher salary for a period of time, he wound up having to postpone his retirement.

Some people in upper management and a department head or two have over the years made comments either in meetings or under oath about this blog and even claiming that it's trying to "instigate" something but what the city doesn't realize is that it's through its own actions or misactions in some cases actually the agents causing most of the concern by city residents and even by city employees (including those not getting raises even with promotions) that has been present. It's actions alleged by city management and its employers, the city council and often, particular current and former councilmen which have caused concern including litigation to be initiated which will cost the taxpayers money in the end.

Whether it's lawsuits by community organizations over the city council authorizing the legal fees of one of its own to be paid by the city and thus the residents, or labor-related litigation alleging that the promotional process of one of the city's public safety departments is being carried out by factions on the seventh floor of City Hall, the city government itself is ultimately entrusted by the city's residents to do the right thing in troubling situations even if it means holding itself or some of its more recalcitrant members accountable. But the city council and mayor's overall manipulation and mishandling of the voter-approved ethics code and complaint process has shown that it is unfortunately about as capable of handling these thorny issues as an elected body as perhaps their counterparts in San Jacinto which is troubling concerning what's erupted in that city. Riverside has no major scandal at the moment equaling that and hopefully one isn't lurking but San Jacinto's city government began to crumble months and years ago by eroding the public trust through separating itself from those who put them in office, the voters not the ones holding the blank checks.

Sure, there have been members of the city government who have made principled calls when it comes to the dilution of the ethics code and complaint process and they need to continue down that road. But unfortunately, there is a lot of self-serving actions on the dais by city council members worried about being held accountable for any mud-slinging campaigns they might be engaging in while running for office in 2011 and let's face it, incumbents planning to run ethical political campaigns wouldn't be terrified to strip the language placed in the code which they believe holds them accountable only for a very limited interpretation of onduty conduct.

But if the manipulation of the ethics code and complaint process was one of the more disturbing trends that defined 2009 in city government, then that involving the Community Police Review Commission also mirrored that trend. This year, has seen the dilution of that charter-mandated panel through the essential erasure of one of its charter-mandated power that was essentially rewritten by those in powerful positions (and translated through their marionette collection) who weren't even in Riverside when the commission was created nor when it was placed in the charter by voters wary of exactly this type of micromanagement taking place. It seemed that the majority of city residents who voted in November 2004 knew their elected officials and their direct employees much better than anyone could have anticipated, which was clearly thrown through what was intended to be a protective action. And it's a really unfortunate day when the city's voters have to take collective action to protect one of their representative bodies and accountability mechanism from their own city government.

But then the city's voting population has been very busy during the past election cycle washing their elected officials out of their hair, meaning that in 2007, two out of three incumbents were given the boot and the one who remained kept his seat by scarcely more than a dozen votes. In 2009, the only incumbent who faced serious competition, the city council's alpha male was voted out in an election that shocked maybe everyone in the city except voters in the majority of Ward Four's neighborhoods.

Of course, incumbent Frank Schiavone didn't help his own cause by essentially doing next to no door to door campaigning and instead relying on spending his considerable political war chest on mail ads and political consultants (whose resume included working mostly on failed campaigns) and a host of sock puppets who slammed and threatened everyone they viewed as a threat to their cause online. Then some of these same individuals turned around and boasted to the wrong people about their online activities and how no one knew who they were. But then again there were candidates in three election seats who engaged in this conduct and currently, they are zero for three in terms of getting reelected into office, which is significant considering that in two of these contests, they were the favored candidate to prevail. But essentially one message sent by fed up voters is that they don't like antagonistic or rude displays of conduct by their elected officials and since several of the rudest elected officials were voted off the dais, name calling from the dais has been at a minimum since the 2009 election.

As far as the city's ongoing labor pains go, the next critical date will be Jan. 15, which is the last day the city promised the largest labor union, the SEIU General Unit that none of its employees will be laid off. Watchdogs have been monitoring that situation since 30 days prior to see if any city employees were given 30 day notices of job termination set to go to effect on Jan. 16. There's been a lot of murmurs but no news of any outright layoffs though it's probably a given that January could see another round of employees being given pink slips.

Also taking some cuts recently was the Riverside Police Department which had to incorporate $2.4 million of the latest $4 million budget shortfall from its own resources. Some of that was covered by "savings" in salaries that would have been paid out if employee vacancies had been filled by the city. But at the time the budget cuts had to be made, the department was due to lose its second Traffic Divisions lieutenant in 18 months with the retirement of Lt. Rick Tedesco in November. Initially, it appeared that the city was going to unfreeze up to two lieutenant positions and four sergeant positions but the budget cuts put those plans and positions back on ice. So the plan was to transfer a lieutenant from another spot to serve as the traffic lieutenant and then cover the retirement of Lt. Ken Raya from Special Operations by moving several of his units to join SWAT/Aviation under Lt. Larry Gonzelez and move K9 to Field Operations.

Still, at the supervisory level, sergeants have taken the greatest hits with up to 12 vacancies and growing, with about three of those being filled with the promotions of Dan Warren, Chad Milby and Julian Hutzler who lateraled to the department out of the problem-plagued Oceanside Police Department. The patrol division has seen many vacancies as well, with only six of them being unfrozen to be filled and two arrests within it during a 12 month period both of which came with the usual plethora of questions to be asked most particularly about the department's purported Early Warning System. Not to mention how well the department is functioning given the city's budget crisis and its current micromanagement by City Hall. It's no secret that between the police department's management, the city management, the city attorney's office and perhaps a council member or two (past or present), there have been many cooks in this department's kitchen and it's anyone's guess which cook is running its administration at any particular time.

The department's been developing its strategic plan, part deux in fits and starts with the process aborted so far at least once this past year until it resumed this autumn. Now it's on schedule to be presented as a draft to the city government in March after the department receives input from different segments of the community in Riverside. The discussion of "focus groups" which Chief Russ Leach initially proposed and "a public forum" which was City Manager Brad Hudson's idea while speaking on the issue at a city council meeting not too long ago, has changed into the police department holding meetings for select community leaders in the city. There hasn't been any announcements of any public forums that will be held for the more general population in this city so far but the department has put a survey online for people to fill out.

The minimum that needs to be done under the strategic plan is to include the provisions of the stipulated judgment that are still under effect and were reaffirmed during a vote of the city council in March 2006 including ensuring supervisory staffing ratios, the Early Warning System, critical review and other components. The department also needs to reevaluate its audio recording system in the wake of revelations coming out of the recently completed criminal trial involving former Officer Robert Forman and reexamine whether its cultural sensitivity training is appropriate in light of the testimony on the witness stand about male officers onscene at an apartment playing and joking with a pair of woman's underwear while the woman sat in a chair several yards away. Forman ultimately was convicted of one count of oral copulation under the color of authority when he returned to that woman's apartment several hours later allegedly after a quick food run to Del Taco and forced her to perform the sexual act in lieu of going to jail.

After he was convicted of two criminal counts, Forman was ordered handcuffed by the deputy and carted off to jail by presiding judge, John Molloy who said he "agonized" about sending him into custody but ultimately decided he couldn't treat Forman differently from any other convicted felon in his shoes. Forgetting of course that his admission of agonizing over that decision had already placed the former police officer in a separate category. So Forman is sitting most likely inside the glass building (before those windows get treated at tax payer expense so inmates can no longer peek at the newly dedicated District Attorney's headquarters) in seclusion along with his former colleague, David Reeves, jr. who apparently had an addiction to prescription drugs that spun out of control and as his career and world collapsed around him, he engaged in an armed robbery and kidnapping spree. Oct. 14, both last year and this year not being a good day for the police department that has worked vigorously to reform its patterns and practices for over 10 years.

One veteran and retired employee of the department said that Forman was but a "tip of the iceberg" and one hopes that is not the case. But the power struggles and power plays taking place between the police department and City Hall's seventh floor will exact their toll if allowed to continue by the only people capable of bringing them to an end, which is the city government that is entrusted by the city residents to not engage in dysfunctional governing or to allow dysfunctional and ultimately destructive practices to continue unabated.

One of the most positive forces in city government, Yolanda Garland also passed away not long after Paul Davis defeated Schiavone in the city council election last summer. Her tireless activism made Riverside a better city for its residents. She is sorely missed by many whose lives she touched.

Many of these issues will be blogged as part of a retrospect on the past year and even the past decade in the days and weeks to come as Riverside heads into 2010.

As you might have guessed all this corruption erupting in San Jacinto hasn't been good for the city's reputation.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

"It makes us a laughingstock," said Glen Holmes, 60, of Hemet.

First, the chairman of the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians, which runs a popular casino and is a major source of charitable donations, was charged in late October as part of a federal criminal indictment accusing him of accepting more than $250,000 in bribes from tribal vendors.

Then, in mid-November, nine people -- including four of the five members of the San Jacinto City Council and one member of the city's school board -- were charged in a 155-count indictment by a Riverside County grand jury.

A total of 15 people, including several prominent developers and the co-founder of the San Jacinto Chamber of Commerce, are charged in the case, which accuses them of conspiring to skirt state campaign-finance laws.

Three weeks later, the police chief at Mt. San Jacinto College was charged with eight felonies, including bribery and perjury, for allegedly steering towing contracts to a company that gave him gifts.

San Jacinto resident Bob Stone said it is a sad day for the community.

"The news has traveled all over California, because of the political corruption we have been tagged with," he told council members at a recent meeting.

Developers themselves describe the ill paved road.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

n San Jacinto, no one disputes that developers and city officials crossed paths, attended campaign fundraisers and talked about upcoming projects. That's perfectly legal.

The nature of the business is developers are always going to want access to city officials, said Randy Wastal, one of the developers interviewed by a grand jury that indicted four city councilmen in a sweeping corruption probe involving campaign contribution kickbacks and questionable land deals.

The motive isn't sinister when officials and developers meet, many said.

When Wastal and others donated to charitable causes in the area, such as the police activity league that offered summer programs for youths, it was to contribute, he said. But also, it was to let local leaders know they wanted to help.

It was the same for political donations, Wastal testified under questioning by Supervising Deputy District Attorney Michael Cabral.

"If I wanted to get a meeting with somebody," he said, "and if I have not helped them with their campaign, it's very difficult for me to get a meeting with them.

"But if I had helped with their campaign, I can usually call them up on the phone," and arrange a meeting.

"I feel that if I've donated, they are aware of that and they feel like they don't mind spending some of their time, some of their personal time, discussing a project with me," Wastal said.

"So you sort of view campaign contributions as aiding you in getting access?" Cabral asked.

"Yes. Face time I would call it," Wastal said.

This article and that one look at public employee pension plans such as CAL PERS.

A Washington D.C. Police Department officer has been arrested on murder charges for eliminating a drug dealer's competition.

(excerpt, Washington Examiner)

D.C. police officials are now facing the possibility that a rogue cop acted as a street enforcer for a vicious drug crew, Lanier said Tuesday. She acknowledged at a hastily called news conference Tuesday night that her internal affairs investigators were probing the possibility that Jones, a six-year veteran who worked in the gun recovery section of the department's major narcotics unit, also helped his friends and relatives in the crew tamper with evidence.

"The worst that a police officer can do is betray the public's trust, and this officer went well beyond that," Lanier said. "This officer desecrated the very office he was sworn to uphold."

Authorities don't believe Jones was involved in the gunfight. But under the felony murder laws, all conspirators to a crime that leads to murder can be held equally responsible.

Not to be outdone, another police officer from that department pulled his gun out at a snowball fight.

A police officer shot and killed an Alameda Police Department canine after it bit another officer and refused to let go.

Job Opening in San Jose

The Position

In accordance with the City Charter, the Independent Police Auditor (IPA) conducts objective reviews of police misconduct investigations. The role of the IPA is to provide independent oversight of and instill confidence in the complaint process. By providing outreach to the San Jose community and making thoughtful policy recommendations to the City Council, the IPA works to promote accountability and to strengthen the relationship between the San Jose Police Department and the community it serves.

The IPA has the following powers and duties:

(a) Review Police Department investigations of complaints against police officers to determine if the investigation was complete, thorough, objective and fair.

(b) Make recommendations with regard to Police Department policies and procedures based on the Independent Police Auditor's review of investigations of complaints against police officers.

(c) Conduct public outreach to educate the community on the role of the Independent Police Auditor and to assist the community with the process and procedures for investigation of complaints against police officers.

The Office has a staff of five highly motivated and skilled employees, and an annual budget of almost $800,000. The Independent Police Auditor Advisory Committee serves the Office and is comprised of a diverse and active group of community representatives who meet typically three times per year, providing input and insight to the IPA.

The Ideal Candidate

The new Independent Police Auditor will possess unquestionable integrity and objectivity. The selected candidate will be able to further the mission of the Office with impartiality and independent conviction within the boundaries defined by the City Charter and under intense pressure and scrutiny. As a Council Appointee, he or she will be politically astute but apolitical, and able to work effectively with elected officials, utilizing facilitation and diplomacy skills. A solid record of community engagement, working with a diverse community, and cooperative interaction with a wide array of community representatives will be key. The ability to establish and maintain a mutually respectful working relationship with the Police Department will also be critical for the new IPA's success. Leading and mentoring the Office's team, and providing feedback and guidance to their professional development are important roles for the IPA. Effective communication skills, analytical, investigative and auditing abilities and knowledge of law enforcement policies and procedures will be necessary. Familiarity with administrative and criminal investigations as well as related current case law will be important. A background that demonstrates a balance of leadership and technical skills including a bachelor's degree in a related field is required. A Master's degree and/or JD, and experience with civilian oversight are desirable.

To be considered for this exciting career opportunity, please forward a letter of interest and your resume with salary history and five work-related references (who will not be called until mutual interest is established) to:

Bill Avery or Paul Kimura

Avery Associates

3½ N. Santa Cruz Ave., Suite A

Los Gatos, CA 95030

Fax: 408-399-4423

E-mail: jobs@averyassoc. net

The final filing date for this position is January 22, 2010. If you have any questions regarding this position, please feel free to contact Mr. Avery or Mr. Kimura at 408-399-4424.

Diane Doolan, J.D.

PR & Education Specialist/Complain t Analyst

Independent Police Auditor's Office - City of San Jose

(408) 794-6226 | www.sanjoseca. gov/ipa

Civilian Volunteer Positions in Boulder

Dec. 10, 2009 - Police seek civilian volunteers to review serious misconduct cases

Sarah Huntley
Public Information Officer
Boulder Police Department

Police seek civilian volunteers to review serious misconduct cases

The Boulder Police Department is looking for two community volunteers to serve on the Professional Standards Citizen Review Panel.

The panel reviews investigations into allegations of serious misconduct by members of the Police Department. The review panel makes recommendations to the Chief of Police.

Applicants must be at least 21 years old; must be U.S. citizens; must have lived within the city limits for at least three years; must have no felony convictions; and must have no misdemeanor convictions in the past five years.

Volunteers will be required to attend a nine-hour training class on Saturday, Feb. 6, and are asked to make a service commitment of two years. The panel meets as needed. Although the number of meetings can vary, the panel historically has met fewer than 10 times each year.

All applications are due no later than Thursday, Jan. 7. Qualified applicants who reflect Boulder's diversity and qualified members of the CU community are encouraged to apply.

Anyone wanting more information or an application should contact Sgt. Kerry Yamaguchi at 303-441-3312 or YamaguchiK@boulderc

Public Meetings

Public Safety Committee Chair Councilman Chris MacArthur has canceled the meeting scheduled for Monday, Dec. 21 and there will be no city council meeting scheduled for the next two weeks due to the holiday season.

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