Five before Midnight

This site is dedicated to the continuous oversight of the Riverside(CA)Police Department, which was formerly overseen by the state attorney general. This blog will hopefully play that role being free of City Hall's micromanagement.
"The horror of that moment," the King went on, "I shall never, never forget." "You will though," the Queen said, "if you don't make a memorandum of it." --Lewis Carroll


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Location: RiverCity, Inland Empire

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Riverside Responds by Mail To Water Study


Rumors have been rife that yet another Riverside Police Department officer has gotten himself or herself into trouble. More details to come as well as what needs to be done with the dysfunctional relationship between it and City Hall if this is the case...

[If you're a resident of Riverside who's a customer of the public utilities, you will be receiving this letter and copy of the water report in your mailbox this week.]

If you've been hanging around your mail box this week and you live in Riverside, then you've received a letter from the city discussing the water supply in the wake of news coverage which centered on a controversial environmental study done of the water supplies for cities of a population size of at least 250,000 people. The report issued by that study listed the best and worst drinking water in terms of its safety. Riverside placed second on the "worst" list ahead of Riverside County which placed fourth. Riverside immediately defended itself after the release of the study by saying the water was tested by those conducting the study before it had been treated.

Included in the letter is the copy of the 2008 water report and whether or not any "regulated drinking water contaminants" are found in the water and if so, what levels.

Speaking of water, wars have been fought including between municipalities for this vital resource, but is there a war brewing between Riverside and Colton?

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

I think they are jumping the gun here," said Steve Cade, a construction contractor who attended a meeting Tuesday.

Riverside water officials hosted the meeting to seek input about issues that should be examined in an upcoming environmental study.

"They need to step back," said Cade, a Colton resident.

The $15 million project would put an inflatable rubber dam across the river just south of the Mount Vernon Avenue Bridge to capture rain runoff. The water would be diverted to 28 acres of holding ponds, where it would seep into the ground for storage.

The stored water would be available to Riverside, Colton and the Riverside Highland Water Co., which serves Grand Terrace, said Max Rasouli, Riverside's water resources manager.

The plan could include new tracks for BNSF trains, which would be diverted away from a residential neighborhood.

Oh and there's been a solicitation of input for Riverside residents which is always nice.


Riverside is accepting written comments about issues that should be examined in the report. Comments should be sent by Jan. 7 to Max Rasouli, Riverside Public Utilities Department, 3901 Orange St., Riverside, CA 92501.

Last spring, Riverside saw its biennial exercise called conducting municipal elections. This time, the city council seats in the even number wards were up for grabs and all three incumbents decided that they wanted to stay in office for another term. And after the votes were counted, Councilman Andrew Melendrez of the second ward and Councilwoman Nancy Hart of the sixth ward were able to hold onto power. However, the incumbent councilman in Ward Four, Frank Schiavone was voted out of office and replaced by challenger, Paul Davis. Davis did much more vigorous campaigning out in the different neighborhoods of the city's largest and most populous ward while Schiavone seemed to rely mostly on mail out advertisements. Schiavone supporters including some likely in his campaign also stumped for their candidate in a matter of speaking anonymously online at Inland Empire Craigslist, mostly insulting their critics. Regardless, the issues carried the day with Schiavone's 11th hour stumping on DHL-Gate which was exposed by city residents in Orangecrest and Mission Grove cost him many votes in those neighborhoods and his behind the scenes manipulation including the use of the Governmental Affairs Committee to dilute the charter-mandated powers of the Community Police Review Commission cost him a lot of votes in some neighborhoods such as Casa Blanca.

Schiavone was the focus of an emerging piece of bad news about the city council voting to pay his legal fees while setting lawsuits involving the Friends of Riverside's Hills. City Attorney Gregory Priamos and others said it was the first time they had paid the legal fees of a developer and apparently everyone was supposed to believe it's all a coincidence that the lucky developer just happened to be a Riverside city councilman. More information on what became known as the Bradley Estates Scandal is at this Web site. Not to mention that Schiavone along with current city councilman, Steve Adams were named in a lawsuit filed by Riverside Police Department lieutenants, Tim Bacon and Darryl Hurt alleging that they engaged in political retaliation against officers who were associated with Hurt and Bacon or who supported Adams' political opponent, Roy Saldanha who was endorsed by the Riverside Police Officers' Association and the Riverside Police Administrators' Association.

The lawsuit which a month ago were at the deposition phase raised allegations that the police department's promotional process was influenced or even in the hands of the city manager's office and two elected officials (through alleged comments made by both of them) particularly at the level of filling management positions. This situation spawned a rally of RPOA and RPAA members at City Hall in March 2007 in protest of the city's attempts to take three classified captain positions which served as assistant and deputy chief positions and to make them "at will". At the will of who? That question was asked by nearly everyone until the city was forced to due to legal issues (which put public safety management positions out of the reach of reclassification by the city manager) back down from making these changes. But what would it mean if promotional decisions including management were in the hands of a faction or two at City Hall? And if this is what's going on, who's giving the city manager's office a blank check to do this?

It's moot in a sense at least for now because all the ranks which traditionally officers promote to except the detective level have been completely frozen for over a year with rumors of thaws taking place on some positions now and then, even as the ranks of sergeants and lieutenants become thinner due to retirements.

The police department's management and who exactly was running it has been the topic of much speculation not to mention concern during the past year or so. There's a strong perception that City Manager Brad Hudson and Asst. City Manager Tom DeSantis play a larger role in that than would be expected from City Hall's management personnel. One former city councilman said that in a conversation he had with Hudson several years ago, Hudson had promised to "stop doing that" when it came to managing the police department. And then news came out that any purchases made by the police department even on minor inventory items had to be directly approved by DeSantis. Police Chief Russ Leach went on a medical leave for back surgery and didn't come back until mid-July and engaged in several detective promotions, reconfiguring the department's infrastructure by moving lieutenants around and holding an extended command staff meeting which led to hopes that he was doing what he promised to do which was to retake control of his department back. At the meeting, he sent a strong message to his "troops" but what has happened since?

Since the department's micromanagement begun, it has seen two arrests of police officers one for onduty behavior, the other for that taking place off-duty. This month, former Officer Robert Forman was convicted of two criminal counts by a jury, including oral copulation under the threat of authority stemming from three alleged incidents taking place in early 2008. Exactly one year after Forman's arrest, came that of now former officer, David Reeves Jr. who was arrested at the scene of an armed robbery at a store in Moreno Valley. It's been alleged in some circles that Reeves became addicted to pain medication after reinjuring his neck that he broke about a year after being hired by the department. Just one week before his arrest, Reeves filed a lawsuit through his labor union against the city over being asked to provide a urine sample for an onduty drug test earlier this year. Apparently, the city had tried to retire Reeves and had even confronted him on drugs and he denied he had a problem. And since Reeves' injuries were obtained while off-duty, he would not have been eligible for a paid physical disability retirement.

The arrests of Forman and Reeves within a 12 month period has caused some concern about the police department's Early Warning System which was created and implemented in 2000 upon recommendation of the Mayor's Use of Force Panel and then tightened by the stipulated judgment the following year. Initially while implemented, there had been some struggles by management personnel and supervisors to implement it because a large number of officers fell within the parameters set by both the Panel and the State Attorney General's office but over time, the people encharged with it were able to better recognize patterns and trends that were noteworthy enough to separate these individuals out for being flagged under the EWS which resulted in a smaller watch list of officers, numbering about 6-12 by the time the stipulated judgment was dissolved in 2006.

But it's likely that it's hoped by everyone that the arrests of Forman and Reeves were a random cluster of events and not more of a trend and that Reeves is the last officer to be arrested in a long time. But some people have said that they're waiting for the other shoe to fall (and one former officer said that Forman was the "tip of the iceberg") because like it or not, when officers get arrested, it does taint the department for a period of time and place it and the many employees who don't get arrested to have to work harder because of what these individuals have done. And the reality is that when an officer does get arrested, it's probably an officer who's been problematic behind the scenes for quite a while.

The department's seen quite a few retirements and vacancies in both the civilian and sworn divisions and it's possibly that the police department could see an even more significant budget shortfall within the next year along with more retirements. It's possible that at least two more sergeants might be retiring in 2010 including one who might be leaving as early as this summer. And given that the department might have a considerable budget shortfall coming within the next year, this likely means even more vacancies.

Especially when it becomes clear that the city's coffers will face an even more significantly depressed year than seen so far. Mid-year budget reports are due in January as are any reassessments made and the news might not be good for the city's departments.

Well, the department's attempts to draft for implementation a new strategic plan (to replace the court mandated one that sunsets at the end of this month) have been thready this year but the agency suddenly saw renewed commitment in October after Mayor Ron Loveridge received an email from Leach outlining their plans to implement the creation of this plan and Loveridge asked Hudson to elaborate. Hudson said that there would be one public forum for the city's residents to provide input before the first draft came back to the city council. That was amended later on, to include an online survey for city residents and some "meetings" with carefully selected community leaders taking place in the next several months. But the city's been known to backpeddle on these issues when it doesn't believe that anyone's paying attention to what's going on.

The city and police department hoped it has closed the door on a painful episode of its history.

Blogging will be a little bit lighter during the holiday break but I hope that everyone has a wonderful holiday season! A new year and decade is upon us and there's sure to be many more things happening in the weeks and months ahead.

Happy Holidays!

Riverside's Oldest Resident

Does Riverside house one of the oldest plant forms on the planet?

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