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, June 30, 2009

Riverside County passes its budget and Riverside goes on another spending spree

I did have an interesting conversation with a woman at Riverside's 311 call center about the municipal wi-fi which hasn't been having a very good week, after having had months of pretty stellar service in most parts of Riverside. She reiterated that there was no guarantee built in place that it would remain working at all times, that its quality of signal would be up and down during the lifespan of the project. And there's truth to that being a part and parcel of trying out something that's relatively new. There will be ups and downs.

The only thing that I remember city officials saying about the Wi-Fi from the dais is that it would be 10 times faster than dialup and when it's working smoothly, it most definitely is a lot faster than dialup and probably DSL as well. The trick is keeping it at performing at that capacity. This means navigating through issues like high server traffic, the impact of various forms of weather on the router equipment that's sitting on the light posts to how the topography of a neighborhood and a little thing like wind can impact the routes taken by wi-fi signals from router to router and on through the network system and how many information packets might be lost along these routes.

In many areas perhaps, the Wi Fi is 10 times after than dialup but in at least one area, it's about 10 times slower. The 311 representative attributed the nearly 24/7 slow speeds in some areas as opposed to others where there's larger windows for access to increased traffic caused by kids getting out of school for the summer. In other words, in some locations, maybe you'd better check back in the autumn.

Some others areas have maintained very high speed, smooth performance except for the mystery of the crashing browsers, which is being investigated by AT&T. The downtown area for example maintains pretty good service.

During the summer months, accessibility, speed and performance of various locations through their access points will be studied and the results of these tests will be included on this blog at the bottom of the postings.


The company which is in charge of the ISP for the MetroWiFi in Riverside has contacted one of its advertisers on its free service site to see if the mystery of the crashing browsers stems from the placement of one of their advertisements on the site. Hopefully if so, the situation will be remedied soon.

As promised, there will soon be a series of postings on the history of the micromanagement of the Riverside Police Department and the Community Police Review Commission during the past few years by factions at City Hall including the city manager's office, city attorney's office and possibly done by members of the city council as well. There's some difference of opinion on when it exactly began. Did it begin before the current city management team came to town? Did it begin after the dissolution of the state consent decree? Did it began during the attempts to change the classifications of captains' positions in the police department about two to three years ago?

The next chapter of the ongoing saga of Captain, Captain, Where Thou Art Thou Captain will address one of the pivotal points in micromanagement history which took place in March 2007 when crowds of police officers and city residents gathered at city council for some showdown with City Manager Brad Hudson, Asst. City Manager Tom DeSantis, City Attorney Gregory Priam0s, Chief Russ Leach and eight talking heads on the dais. But many of those in attendance were waiting for a showdown of a different sort? Did it take place? What happened instead and how could have a missed opportunity or a quick tug on the leash of one player changed the course of history in the Riverside Police Department? And what has happened since?

What: The coup detat against the police department by City Hall

When: March 27, 2007 at 6:30 p.m.

Where: City Council Chambers, City Hall, River City

Captain is no longer a position based on merit-It is a political position and City Hall will have a great deal to do with the next selection."

---Darryl Hurt, Tim Bacon v the City of Riverside

"At-will employees fear losing their jobs so they often become 'yes men'. "

---Former Riverside Police Officers' Association President Det. Ken Tutwiler, March 27, 2007

"But I was thinking of a way To multiply by ten, And always, in the answer, get The question back again."

---Lewis Carroll

To be continued....

Crowds of people representing different advocacy groups and labor organizations organized at the Riverside County Administrative headquarters to listen to discussion about whether or not the Board of Supervisors would be able to come up with a final budget for the 2009-10 fiscal budget year set to begin on July 1. Deputies lined the doors at 10:30 a.m. and were not allowing anyone to go in the conference room.

Protests are planned by those who already see where the cuts are coming down on the backs of the mentally ill, children and the disabled. But then what else is new? One irate reader of the Press Enterprise article wrote this:


I have a swell idea. Why don't we reduce the number of County board of Supervisors by two, (the remaining 3 will have to do more with less) eliminate the current CEO (Luna)and have an open, "Balance the Budget" contest available to all current and former CEO's and CPA's. The one with the winning balanced budget plan will receive an offer of employment and an opportunity to further reduce the budget in years to come with financial incentives attached.

This County could do so much more with so much less by lopping off the excess fat in ALL departments and only retaining the hard working, public comes first minded individuals who already do the majority of the work anyhow.

By the end of the day, the board of supervisors did pass a budget but not without some controversy.

Riverside's business dealings into bringing more parking downtown has led to more losses than gains, most recently the failed efforts to hold onto the Regency Towers. So now not long after it started buying more foreclosed homes, the city is trying to buy four more downtown buildings in order to help secure itself more parking. Will it work any better than the wheeling, dealings and trades involving the Regency Tower? We will all have to wait and see.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

The $4.2 million agreement to buy one-quarter of a city block should be on the City Council's July 15 agenda, according to Councilman Mike Gardner, whose ward includes downtown.

The site is 66 by 157 feet, prime real estate for the Fox Plaza, a proposed combination of shops, a hotel, restaurants and residences that would front on Market Street between Mission Inn Avenue and Fifth Street, he said.

The city is eager to retain its footprint on 32 spaces in back of four adjoining structures that stretch from BioKorium Day Spa & Salon at 3615 Main St. to Delights & Invites at 3653 Main St. They're situated between Mission Inn Avenue and Sixth Street on the pedestrian mall.

The quartet of historic buildings, which boasts 30,400 square feet of floor space, dates from the late 19th century to the 1920s. The oldest once housed the Glenwood stables for the Mission Inn's horses and later became a post office. It now houses the BioKorium, but the upstairs is vacant.

Gardner said that the rents of tenants -- which also include the Flowerloft, Simple Simon's eatery, Magnolia's gifts and Don Carlos' hair salon -- would remain the same.

One wonders if the city's really after the parking place or the chance to play landlord to these lucrative businesses currently housed in these buildings. For now, the city has said that it will keep their rents stable but how long will that last?

A former assistant assessor in San Bernardino County plead out to four felony charges and will testify against other people who worked in former Assessor Bill Postmus' office as the county probe into the activities and misdeeds of that office continues.

(excerpt, Belo Blog)

Aleman promised to testify against former assessor's officials Jim Erwin, Rex Gutierrez and others related to prosecutors' investigation into the county assessor's office, Judge John Martin said this morning while reviewing the plea agreement.

Adam Aleman, who last appeared in San Bernardino County Superior Court earlier this month, returned this morning for a hearing.

Aleman was arrested last year on six felony counts of destroying public documents and providing false information to a grand jury. A Jan. 7 date was set for Aleman's sentencing, but that date could be delayed if the investigation is not resolved by then, Martin said.

Spokane, Washington finally gets its police ombudsman but not without controversy.

(excerpt, Center for Justice Advocates and Attorneys)

Two hours later, Burns had the council’s approval for the post on the condition that he accept a creative severance package that Danek said he’d put together with the help of Assistant City Attorney Mike Piccolo. The proposal is that rather than be offered a lump sum payment if the city decides not to renew his Ombudsman contract after three years, Burns will be offered nearly $17,000 in moving expenses and another city job for which he is qualified. The job would be his for at least two years following onto his three year term as Ombudsman.

Danek said he thought, based on his conversations with Burns, that he would accept the offer. The City Administrator also admitted to being somewhat embarrassed by the timing of Burns’s new demand and said the city would accept it as a lesson learned for future such hirings. Again, whether the creative proposal is enough to persuade Burns to accept the position is now up to Burns.

That would have been enough of a meeting for one night except the people who’d come to testify against Burns’s appointment had other ideas. Whether those ideas would be shared with the council was up to Council President Joe Shogan who, from the start, tried to limit the discussion to the narrow issue of whether or not Burns should be approved for the position.

“All we’re considering right now in this resolution is whether or not to appoint Timothy Burns as the Ombudsman, that’s all were talking about,” Shogan announced. If people wanted to talk about the creation of the ombudsman and the powers given the office in the ombudsman ordinance, he said, they would invited to make those remarks at the end of the council meeting during the general open forum, “because all we’re addressing right now is whether we’re appointing Timothy Burns to this office.”

A fundraiser held for a political candidate in San Diego ended with guests being pepper sprayed by deputies and the hostess being arrested.

(excerpt, San Diego Union-Tribune)

Deputies first went to the Cardiff home on Rubenstein Avenue at 9 p.m. to issue a warning after a neighbor called and complained about the loud party, sheriff's Sgt. Chuck Yancey said.

He said deputies returned later when the party hadn't quieted down, and one deputy asked for Barman's date of birth so he could file paperwork alerting the city to the noise complaints.

Sheriff's officials said Barman refused to give the deputy the information, and that's when things got out of control. A crowd of about 30 to 50 partygoers surrounded Barman when he tried to arrest her, and they were able to separate her from the deputy, Yancey said.

Pepper spray was dispersed on the crowd, and the deputies were able to reach her again. At one point, a person refused to let go of Barman's leg so the deputy could take her away. Barman also allegedly punched the deputy, Yancey said.

Barman said she would issue a statement today but had nothing further to say yesterday.

A statement from Busby's office said a man shouted an “obscenity-laced tirade” from a wooded area as Busby spoke to the guests. It said about 25 mostly middle-aged guests – a lower estimate than the deputies' – were “quietly chatting” when a deputy arrived and asked to speak to the homeowner.

Busby said she was outside the house at the time of the incident and saw some of it unfold.

“When the homeowner asked the deputy sheriff why he needed her date of birth, the deputy reacted by restraining the homeowner,” said Busby's statement. “Alarmed guests pleaded with the deputy to let the 60-year-old homeowner go and stop hurting her. She had recently had shoulder surgery and was clearly in pain. His response was to spray the women with pepper spray which caused confusion and outrage.”

A second woman was also taken into custody during the melee. She was cited and released.

Georgia passed a law to mandate taser training for its law enforcement officers but never funded it.

(excerpt, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

The head of Georgia’s police training center says the state training would last at least eight hours longer and cover more than Taser’s lessons, including if and when officers should use stun guns on certain people such as pregnant women. Taser officials say they train police to use the weapons safely but leave it up to them to write policies on when and on whom they should be used.

At the same time, an increasing number of Atlanta area law enforcement agencies are equipping their officers with Tasers and adopting widely differing policies on when to use them. Some policies are stringent while others are less so.

“It would be best to have our own state training on that and to develop some sort of standardized policy with a recommendation of when to use a Taser and when not to,” said Frank Rotondo, executive director of the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police.

Wi-Fi Report:

Downtown near County Administrative Headquarters on Lemon Street.

Distance from AP: 10 ft

Signal: Excellent

Connects: Yes

Internet: Yes

Speed: Medium to good

Crashed browser pages: Yes

Email sent: Yes in about 2-3 seconds

Canyon Crest Town Center just outside of Starbucks

Distance from AP: 100? ft

Signal: Good (four bars)

Connects: Yes

Internet: Yes but dropped off after 30 minutes

Speed: Medium to good

Crashed browser pages: Yes

Email sent: Yes in about 2-3 seconds though email provider pages had to be refreshed several times before being successfully loaded.

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Monday, June 29, 2009

Will the CPRC roll back the clock, and will the city council roll parking costs up?

Is El Nino returning? That's a question many weather experts are asking.

I was trying to write this blog posting out in different parts of the city using the Metro Wi Fi system that the city has in place through AT&T. The public internet service has enjoyed some months of spotty outages here and there but for the most part, pretty fast service with few interruptions during the past few months, a big improvement from when it first started. But last week, coming back from a week out of town, it was like being introduced to an entirely different network system than it was when I had left and not in the best of ways. What had happened to it?

Some issues arose to the surface including one which impacted how browsers download pages while connected to the ATTMETROFREE network. That one started at about last Wednesday or Thursday and is still apparently an ongoing issue. The issue being that whatever browser you use to download pages, you might be seeing a lot of blank pages until you can refresh them enough times to get them working again.

Another interesting thing about the new ad page is that if you try to use any of the "contact" or "customer support" links on it, this is what will come up.

Secure Connection Failed

 uses an invalid security certificate.

The certificate is not trusted because it is self signed.
The certificate is only valid for Noc1.testoss228.i250
The certificate expired on 12/20/2008 8:18 AM.

(Error code: sec_error_expired_issuer_certificate)

So it's expired, a duplicate and self-signed not to mention a duplicate.

It also says this:

* This could be a problem with the server's configuration, or it could be someone trying to impersonate the server.

* If you have connected to this server successfully in the past, the error may be temporary, and you can try again later.

These are messages that come up on browsers when a Web site accesses a port that's reserved for secured transmissions only without the appropriate certification.

Maybe that's something they need to address too. It's not hard to fix. You can get your security certificate renewed through several companies that do this though it's not really cheap. But it helps people feel more confident in the security level of your secured connection portion of your Web site.

Usually I noticed that when I've downloaded pages in different areas of Riverside using ATTMETROFREE, pages download fairly quickly. The downtown area in particularly is often very fast. But when I returned from out of town, everything seemed to have changed.

First of all, the internet ran as slow as molasses near my area, taking up to five minutes to load pages like Yahoo and with the internet dropping off fairly regularly. If the pages didn't download, they'd time out. But for the ones that stuck it out, what would happen is that there would be five minutes of downloading only to find out the final product was a blank browser page. Then five more minutes of trying to refresh the page so it would show up. And so on.

This was in sharp contrast to weeks of very stellar performance thank largely to good maintenance and quick and very effective responses to repair requests by the company hired to repair parts of the system as well as through people with ATT and City Hall. It was quite shocking to see it running like this after several months of fairly high performance. It was almost like someone flipped a switch.

The slower service could be due to increased traffic on an expanding system during the summer months but that doesn't explain the mystery of the crashing browsers.

No matter what browser was used, pages often had to be refreshed 2-3 times before they would appear on the page and some more complicated pages refused to load at all or kept timing out, according to pings done to those Web sites. These tended to be sites like or, especially embedded pages inside the site and can't be downloaded at all even with 10 refreshings. And no, clearing out caches and addressing the browsers individually didn't work at all. When two or more show the same symptoms at the same time, usually neither one is to blame.

The computer after troubleshooting tested out fine in all areas except for diagnostically pinging Web sites and sections within the ATTMETROFREE network.

Diagnostic pinging showed 25-50% packet loss in the area between portions of the gateway of the network. which was more than enough to crash the browsers attempting to load pages with pieces missing. But the error logs in the browsers showed some signs that there was more involved than just packets being lost enroute. Warnings showed up in one browser error log for all the pages that were dropped and all of the warnings shared pretty much the same text, that there was text that showed up in all the error messages including a link and description of a banner add placed by AT&T on its free internet service.

Testing the network in other areas of Riverside yielded similar problematic findings which meant it wasn't solely a regional part of the network experiencing the problem but if there is one, it's probably the whole thing. Error logs on that computer garnered similar references to a articular advertisement being placed on the free service. Some sort of banner ad which includes an interactive "Yellow Pages" widget.

The four areas of the city's ATTMETROFREE which have been tested so far all showed problems. These centers were in the downtown, University Avenue corridor, University Neighborhood, Canyon Crest Town Center and Canyon Crest. Comparison studies with other public wireless networks that are located in the same areas showed no similar problems loading pages with the browsers or similar packet loss. And none of the ATTMETROFREE sites listed here appeared to show those problems until about the middle of last week. They all yielded good results when trying to access the free service from those same areas and there were no blank browser pages.

It looks like that one area to look for regarding a potential problem would be to look at the source code used to insert advertising that as a practice is included on the ATTMETROFREE service. This might not be a bad idea, given that the computer link which was shown in the error logs as the one that halted the page loading in virtually all of the cases is actually this one which takes you to a page run by AT&T that serves to mainly run banner ads. The part of the ad string that seems to appear in most of the error messages in the browser logs is that involving the banner widget for the "Yellow Pages" phone number search that appears in the right hand corner of that link. The placement of that "Yellow Pages" widget, its dimensions and its text are all included in the link that is included as value "z" in the error messages which might make it the subject of interest for further scrutiny of why the browsers crash right after part of value "x,y" which also appear in the error messages show up in the address bar.

The link above had to be copied from an error log from one of the browsers because the ad itself never actually did appear by itself for obvious reasons, meaning that the ad itself is probably crashing before it can be loaded. It does appear to be taking most of the Web site that it's supposed to precede or share down with it to the point where a browser trying to load it will crash which is unfortunate.

The sudden issues of performance of the munifi system after weeks and months of fairly good quality and much improved service was a bit of a disappointment. It's not clear that if AT&T believes that its issues have been dealt with, if the situation involving the crashing browsers will be remedied any time soon.

Municipal internet systems have great potential and Riverside's has gone in great directions with a lot of hard work and dedication, but the issues that have plagued the network this week where you're unable to load pages without browser crashes is an unfortunate development.

But I tried to load the page unsuccessfully for 20 minutes and finally gave up, after Yahoo failed to load after 10 minutes. And alas, this newly reborn slower, browser crashing system doesn't seem to like much either.

And yes, the ATT people have been notified about the browser issue. Hopefully, they will look into it and whether or not the placement of any new banner ads or changes in them on the free service might have caused any problems with the service.

A section of the area around Canyon Crest did experience an outage for about 15 hours due to an issue with one of the larger routers which was deftly repaired and back on line. But several sections of Canyon Crest remain slow and erratic as of today. Still, the repairs that are done in the neighborhoods are often done fairly quickly and very professionally. The success of the service owes a lot to that maintenance and the city's done very well there. But it's strange to have these latest problems with the larger network almost being pinpointed to a specific time and issue, and they've been going on for nearly a week.

So anyway, most of this blogging was done on several public networks in the stead of the ATTMETROFREE which didn't experience these same browser issues.

Parking tickets are about to triple in Riverside.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

The City Council approved the increases without discussion earlier this month.

Councilman Mike Gardner, who represents the downtown part of the city, said he would have preferred not to raise the penalties. However, he said he agreed with a staff explanation that the increase is needed to cover $13 in state-imposed surcharges and a processing fee for each citation.

The fees are not new, although the surcharge increased $4.50 in January. The principal goal is to put more money in the city's parking structure fund, Gardner said.

"We need to build the parking fund," he said.

What will the reaction to this be? It will be interesting to find out how motorists will take it during these long, hot summer months.

Some people have reported back that Ward One Councilman Mike Gardner in Riverside has made comments at the last meeting of the Group that he believes there's enough votes to overturn the city council's decision to essentially strip the CPRC of its powers to independently investigate officer-involved deaths in a timely fashion. That would be great and one wonders where the fourth vote would come from but it still remains to be seen whether the city council would even take it back for a public vote if the dynamic of the city council has changed that much on this issue.

And it's not a given whether or not the current composition of the CPRC could even handle a return back to abiding by the city's charter when it comes to these forms of investigations. Would they even agree to return back to doing the former investigative protocol or would they refuse out of loyalty to the people who likely would remain the big holdouts, City Manager Brad Hudson and City Attorney Gregory Priamos. After all, this could be one of the power plays of the year if this issue does go back on the table. City employees fighting to maintain their status quo. City Council members who appear intimidated at times by their own direct employees and a commission filled to the gills with infighting amongst itself and its part-time puppet manager.

Will this contentious issue be returning soon to a venue near you? That remains to be seen as well. Whatever happens, it will probably make great theater.

Several Inland Empire cities have cut their Fourth of July celebration spending in light of budget cuts.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

With cities taking measures to balance their budgets, such as shutting down city halls on Fridays and eliminating police officer positions, some city officials have concluded that this is not the time for pricey fireworks shows -- which burn through thousands of dollars in minutes.

But fireworks fans need not do without their annual fix. In plenty of cities, including Riverside, San Bernardino, Temecula, Beaumont and Perris, the shows will go on. In Lake Elsinore, too, there will be fireworks. They just won't be sponsored by the city, and not over the lake.

The Lake Elsinore Storm baseball team is playing a home game at Diamond Stadium July 4 and will put on a fireworks display afterwards, said city spokesman Mark Dennis.

Dennis said in recent years the city's fireworks display has cost between $20,000 and $28,000, paid entirely from the general fund.

Faced with a $3 million budget gap, the city is dipping into its rainy-day fund and city workers are losing benefits and will have to take two furlough days each month this year.

"They should take four!" said Rudy Gil in downtown Lake Elsinore last Friday upon hearing that the fireworks over the lake had been cut. "Keep the fireworks going!"

But never fear, the Riverside County Board of Supervisors is likely to pass its final budget soon.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

The budget relies on departmental spending cuts, money from the county's rainy-day fund, planned labor concessions, layoffs and other reductions to bridge a $130 million revenue shortfall.

"Calling this year's budget process a challenge would be an understatement," County Executive Officer Bill Luna writes in his budget recommendations to the board. "The overnight loss of $130 million for general fund purposes (from a base of $750 million) makes for difficult choices."

Under the budget plan, Animal Services, Child Support Services, Human Resources, Mental Health, Public Health and other departments are expected to lay off about 175 employees altogether. The number would grow if the county cannot achieve a 10 percent reduction in the cost of wages and benefits through union contract negotiations, Luna writes.

The county is in contract talks with the Service Employees International Union which represents about 6,000 workers; the roughly 200-strong Deputy District Attorneys Association; and the probation unit of the Riverside Sheriffs' Association.

The county plans to complete those negotiations by July 28, Luna said.

It will be very interesting to see if that actually takes place but it's been said that both Riverside County Sheriff Stan Sniff and Riverside County District Attorney Rod Pacheco have agreed to pay cuts. Which means that somewhere in this latest heatwave, Hell has just frozen over.

But in Redlands, the Press Enterprise Editorial Board is very displeased with how that city is handling its budget woes.

The joint powers agreement allows an end run around those restrictions, if the city can provide a legal rationale for shifting the money. But the Redlands City Council approved the creation of the new authority without any of the details in writing. The council supported a vague outline, and the city will fill in the fine points later. Casting votes without seeing the specifics is a poor way to run a city. And the city's plan breaks the implicit promise of repairs and upgrades to the water and sewer system. The city raised water and sewer rates last year, saying the money was necessary to finance improvements. Now those projects will wait, as the city will apparently have no obligation to repay money it will take from the water and sewer funds. An opaque plan that sidesteps voter-approved restrictions at the expense of promised utility improvements erodes public confidence in city government. And the city's failure to provide any specifics before the council vote invites suspicion that the city does not want residents to know the details, at least until the scheme is in place. Redlands has more direct ways of addressing red ink. The city could pare spending, or if it wants to protect services, ask residents to boost taxes. Those steps are painful, but straightforward. Schemes that make city financing ever more incomprehensible obstruct public understanding of city decisions, and weaken public support of government. Bureaucratic convenience is a poor substitute for residents' active participation in city business.

San Bernardino's police helicopters have been grounded through budget cuts.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

For San Bernardino police's helicopter program, Sunday was a day for bittersweet reflection. Success stories were traded under the cloud of the copter's last shift -- the latest victim of a city budget crisis.

"It's going to hurt," said San Bernardino police Officer Josh Cunningham, the department's flying observer. "We went a lot of places patrol vehicles couldn't."

With loss of the $500,000 annual helicopter contract, San Bernardino, for the first time in three years, will return to using the sheriff's aerial service.

The countywide helicopter answers calls from Chino Hills to Yucaipa, limiting the amount of time it can devote to a single area.

"To put that burden on the sheriff's department, it's difficult," said Leo Bell, a retired sheriff's deputy whose California Aviation Services provided San Bernardino's helicopter and pilots. "You think of the vast square mileage they have to cover."

Cutting the five-day-a-week police copter, which one council member called "the toughest" call of a protracted budget season, has happened elsewhere as well.

As for the rest of San Bernardino's budget for next year? It's being delayed until the city attorney can tell them whether it's legal or not to borrow big bucks from their Economic Development Agency funds.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

City Council members also questioned the prudence of citing nearly $250,000 in savings for a Fire Department reorganization that has yet to clear its first review by a council committee, and a claim that a city-run auto impound yard could bring nearly $750,000 in revenue next year.

City tow company owners and the San Bernardino Area Chamber of Commerce sharply challenged the impound yard as harmful to local business.

"We cannot afford to lose one more business in San Bernardino," said Larry Quiel, the chamber's vice president for business support.

During the first month of the new fiscal year that starts Wednesday, San Bernardino will continue to operate on its spending plan for the current fiscal year after Monday's unanimous council vote.

City Manager Charles McNeely, who started his job June 1, says San Bernardino needs a period of stability to start building a stronger financial base.

In a memo distributed to city leaders before the meeting, he predicted that without access to the agency funds he might have to consider another 41 layoffs, cuts in programs from libraries and parks to public safety and depleting the city's $2.8 million reserve fund

Press Enterprise Columnist Cassie MacDuff talks about the double talk regarding salary raises.


Cities and counties up and down the state have sought take-back bargaining from their unions.

Just last week, Riverside County supervisors approved management pay cuts for sheriff's employees to help trim $21.8 million from the department's budget.

San Bernardino city extracted concessions from its unions to help close a $9 million deficit.

Why hasn't Redlands accepted the Redlands Professional Fire Fighters' offer to give up $560,000 in raises for fiscal 2009-10? It's been on the table since February.

The Redlands Peace Officers Association has offered to cut overtime and health care costs.

But talks are on hold, even as city official cite "contractual obligations" as the reason for taking $2.5 million from the water agency to fund public-safety raises.

Union officials say police and firefighters are being made scapegoats for the city's financial straits.

The firefighters offered to take no raises in 2009-10 and 3 percent raises in 2010-11 and 2011-12. That would save city up to $1.3 million.

"We are trying to be part of the solution, and we are just being absolutely stonewalled," said Bill Conway, president of firefighters union. "I've never worked so hard to give something away."

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Saturday, June 27, 2009

Summer heat comes to Riverside

No Riverside City Council meetings will be held this week because it's the fifth week of the month of June so everyone will have a respite from the activities which take place at City Hall on most Tuesday evenings. Beginning in July and for the duration of the summer, the city council will be operating on a reduced schedule of meeting only once every two weeks. Which means some of the agendas may be more packed than others, particularly in the consent calendars.

A Dubious Anniversary

The fourth anniversary of the city council's decision to ban city residents from pulling items from that calendar for public discussion will be commemorated on July 12. On that notorious day, then Councilman Dom Betro with a second by Councilman Steve Adams pushed the city council to vote 6-1 (with former Councilman Art Gage dissenting) to push that ban through. That was one of the initial steps taken by the then-BASS quartet to limit public comment at city council meetings. Though several city council members said they would take a look at this issue, none so far really has done so.

Will the city council change direction?

A big crowd greeted the last city council meeting to witness the inauguration of the two incumbents and one newcomer who won their respective elections earlier this month. The applause for all three of them was enthusiastic, most particularly for new Ward Four Councilman Paul Davis who defeated incumbent Frank Schiavone by more than 300 votes. Two of the areas that Davis performed particularly well in were Orangecrest where not surprisingly he held a 20 point advantage and Casa Blanca where he won by 10 points. The two major issues which negatively impacted Schiavone's attempt for a three-peat were the DHL-Gate scandals and the micromanagement of the CPRC in which Schiavone apparently (and quite proudly) played a role in during his campaign.

People have discussed about how the dynamics of the city council have already changed after Schiavone's ouster off of the dais, but it's too early to be certain how much will be changed and if so, in what direction. There's no question that Schiavone was seen as the Alpha Male as it's often called and in the absence of that, will anyone try to take that position? Some have said that Ward Five Councilman Chris MacArthur (or better yet, his legislative aide who remains glued to his side nearly at all times) might take that step. What kind of dynamic will emerge from the city council, and what does Election 2009 mean for elections further down the road.

After all, Election 2009 isn't over yet. There's still the November election to determine who will serve an abbreviated term as mayor. So far, pretty much everyone has coronated the current mayor, Ron Loveridge the easy victor but it's too early to tell exactly what kind of competition will be drawn into this race as opposed to one that will be contested for the regular four-year term in 2012.

Some familiar people recently cast off the dais by the brutal double-act election of 2007 made appearances at the inaugural event on June 23. Former council members Dom Betro and Art Gage both appeared at that meeting. Both had aspirations to be mayor while still serving their first (and as it turned out only) terms as councilmen. Both were featured in a splashy article in the Inland Empire Magazine article and both failed to win their reelection campaigns. Will their appearances at the June 23 meeting and perhaps other events mean that they will be reemerging again in future elections? Future city council races in 2011 or one of the two upcoming mayoral races instead?

Election 2009 part deux could still prove to be an interesting chain of events because one thing should be learned and remembered about any election. It's not over until its over and you can never be sure what the end result will be.

Just ask Betro, Gage and Schiavone if any of then anticipated getting pink slips during their reelection bids. Probably not. Where will these men next appear in the political arena? That's a question only the future can answer.

Upcoming Series

More coming up in the ongoing saga, called Captain, Captain where art thou Captain which continues the recent story about the retirement of one of the police department's captains and whether or not the position will be filled and how that will go down if the promotion does take place. Of course, if it instead goes into deep freeze due to budget cuts like other positions have, that story will be told too. At least a dozen lieutenants perhaps eagerly await the hopes that they will be contending for this position if the interest among this rank of officers is at all similar to what greeted the last promotional process involving a captain's position. It's too early to cast odds on who has the best chance of getting promoted given that the criteria and rules for being promoted to captain are a topic of some debate.

Then there will be a continuation, of It's Raining Micromanagers which will involve City Hall's micromanagement of both the Riverside Police Department and the Community Police Review Commission as well as the now contentious relationship between all three entities and members within the entities and so forth. This ongoing plethora of story lines promises only to get more convoluted yet more captivating in the months ahead as the future waits to tell us all whether micromanagement of these agencies will continue to thrive or instead dry up if the power structure has truly begun to change. The cast of micromanagers will be introduced shortly in a future blog posting on this series and they will be assigned grades on their micromanagement skills both in artistic and technical skills categories.

If anyone wants to feel free to submit any more city departments which fall under this category of having micromanagers rained on them, there's an email address in the header above.

A Stats Report

The posting on the lawsuits filed by Riverside Police Department lieutenants Darryl Hurt and Tim Bacon resulted in a very high volume of visitors coming to this site's page to read about it. It's on current pace to be about the sixth most popular event or issue covered on this blog. If you'll recall, that lawsuit which has now been bifurcated by a federal court judge was filed alleging political and professional harassment and retaliation against the lieutenants by a group of defendants including Schiavone, Councilman Steve Adams, Asst. City Manager Tom DeSantis and City Manager Brad Hudson among others.

The micromanagement alleged in the lawsuit allegedly included organization decisions by the department as well as personnel hiring and promotions. More analysis of this interesting case and any developments that arise will be reported in future blog postings. As the case stands, it's been bifurcated by the federal judge which means that some of the arguments have to be refiled in the state's civil court system. Given how many state laws are cited on the first page of the complaint, it's probably those issues which will be transferred to the civil courthouse for future litigation.

But the issues raised in the lawsuits remain worth following on and scrutinizing further because they were pretty serious and perhaps may require outside scrutiny if what's alleged in the lawsuits are part of a pattern and practice of behavior.

"In this universe, there's only one absolute... everything freezes!"

---Mr. Freeze

The Riverside Police Department as has been announced, froze another captain's position which means that the current list of frozen sworn positions includes the following:

Captains: 2 (Deputy Chief Dave Dominguez and Mark Boyer)

Lieutenant: 1 (Original two vacated were Paul Villanueva and Kenneth Carpenter)

Sergeants: 3 (original six positions were held by: Randy Eggleston, Terry Meyer, Leon Phillips (promotion), Lisa Williams (lateral move to newly created position), Johnny Romo and Kevin Stanton

What's really going to make things interesting and not in a good way either, is that it's anticipated that there will be a number of retirements involving sergeants and lieutenants by the end of this year. About 2-3 within each rank is possible and what's that going to do to the staffing levels of the Riverside Police Department at the front and mid-line supervisory levels when that happens? What will that do to the officer to supervisory ratios of the patrol division during its work shifts? You ask anyone these questions at City Hall and why not ask there as well since they seem to be in charge, and you just hear that the department is "fully staffed". If the ratios were to fall to say, 10 to 1, you would probably see DeSantis for example, plugging his ears and saying to himself, the department's fully staffed while clicking his heels. According to the micromanagement team of the agency, it is after all, fully staffed. That's the only response DeSantis had in June 2008 when he and the city council was cautioned during an audit to at least examine the issue. And when what happens when a city-hired consultant gives a little bit of worrisome news to the city council? You never see them again.

But does that even make any sense that the city can keep promising to maintain its officer to supervisory ratios and then have more and more of these positions remain frozen.

Is it raining layoffs?

The Human Resources Board meets on Monday June 29 at 4 p.m. on the fifth floor conference room at City Hall. One of the monthly rituals is when the board members receive statistics about how many employees the city's laying off from Human Resources Director Rhonda Strout and her assistant or another of Hudson's analysts, Jeremy Hammond. The two of them always cite a handful of people and then say that most of those either retire or are laterally assigned elsewhere.

However, at least one department has lost about a third or more of its employees and is having a difficult time and several other departments have numbers that are higher than those carefully chosen and sanitized by the Human Resources Department for the Human Resources Board. Of course it doesn't help either that City Hall doesn't consider part-time employees to be real people worth counting in its own ranks, but it's not shy about including them in layoff rates for other cities, say the oft-mentioned Corona.

Cut off from city services?

Residents in Riverside County's Greenbelt area are protesting a road closure that they say blocks their access to emergency services and from the city of Riverside itself.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Resident Scott Elliot said that he plans to bring at least 100 people to a July 14 public hearing in front of the Riverside City Council, eclipsing the 20 opponents who spoke against the issue at a city Planning Commission meeting in May.

Elliot says the city is isolating him and neighbors and endangering their safety by proposing a street closure to reduce cut-through traffic.
Story continues below

He said thousands like him living in the unincorporated county area oppose the proposal, and that he has been organizing homeowners' association leaders to join in the opposition.

But supporters of the issue have also been vocal, arguing that the city is doing the right thing by closing the street, thereby preserving the greenbelt's agricultural character.

The project would close off Dufferin Avenue at Stewart Street, eliminating a route into the city. Some residents say that if that happened, their safety could be endangered by limiting emergency vehicle access. It would also force them to make longer trips into the city and discourage county residents from shopping in Riverside, instead sending them to Corona

"It literally isolates thousands of people," said Elliot, who has lived in Victoria Grove since 2003. "The city of Riverside is looking at us like we're some sort of aliens, like we can't go into their city."

But Riverside is buying more foreclosed homes lately to refurbish for resale to first-home buyers. But with the housing bust and the ongoing recession, many city and county planning commissions have been left twiddling their thumbs.

Two years on Hill and all I got is a pamphlet

--- the slogan the CPRC commissioners should wear on their new shirts.

The Community Police Review Commission did complete its pamphlet on the Joseph Darnell Hill shooting case but is awaiting a minority report that will be written by Commissioner Chani Beeman to counter the majority opinion that the shooting was justified and that no recommendations were needed to be included in the report. It doesn't seem like the commission does much anymore except hand off assignments to CPRC manager, Kevin Rogan to write and of course he has his own bosses to answer to and so forth.

A discussion on the two words, "analysis" and "draft" was painful to watch. If they are struggling over such basic concepts and the importance of each, then one wonders if they're more qualified to do more when reviewing complaints besides rubber stamping what the police department and city manager's office have most likely already done before the complaints even reach the CPRC in some cases over one year after they were filed. Now, if you have complaints that are over 365 years old by the time they reach the CPRC and Internal Affairs sergeants are saying they've never seen a complaint that's been in conflict with the year's statutory deadline for disciplining officers and the police union isn't complaining about their officers having to wait months or over a year for their cases to be disposed, then it's just as likely that these complaints investigation and dispositions are pretty much done and filed away while the CPRC is still waiting for the complaints to come back for its own review.

Apparently, there's not much discussion in closed session about complaint allegations as well, just votes taken by the members during those meetings which might be why the latest stats show that the CPRC, Internal Affairs and the city manager's office are in agreement about 99% or higher of the time. That little bit of information spilled out during one of the arguments that took place during the CPRC's last general meeting. That's probably why the public report on Hill states that a preponderance of evidence was the reason for exonerating the officers yet no evidential information is included in the report, just an incident summary. And when asked about whether or not there was any analysis done of the shooting, it didn't seem like anyone besides Brian Pearcy, John Brandriff or Chani Beeman knew what the word even meant let alone how it applied. Although Robert Slawsby almost seemed to grasp its relevance.

A wrongful death claim has been filed in the case of a Rubidoux man who was mistakenly shot to death by police in a restaurant in Chino.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

According to Algorri, Chino Police Cpl. Claudia Lisner, who fired the fatal shot into Balandran's chest, told Sheriff's Department investigators that she had twice ordered him to show his hands before she fired.

Witness statements and officer belt recordings obtained through a public records act request revealed that Lisner gave no such order, Algorri said.

Michelle Van Der Linden, spokeswoman for the city of Chino, said Friday that city representatives had been in legal discussions with the family for several months.

"We're unable to comment on ongoing litigation," she said.

Press Enterprise Columnist Dan Bernstein tackles the $5.5 million jury's verdict in the case of a man being killed by Moreno Valley Police Department officers.


The county plans to appeal. That's how things work. But that's just one ingredient in the sausage.

It took this civil case about five years to get to trial. Par for the course in RivCo. Weeks before the trial finally started, the county rejected a mediator's recommendation to settle for $475,000. Lewis' family "reluctantly" agreed to the figure, said their OC attorney, Jon Jackson.

Why did the county, in these lean times, reject a $475K settlement and put itself at risk of a multimillion payout?

Some background: Sheriff's deputies responded to a 911 call from Arthur Lee Lewis Jr.'s parents. A sheriff's statement at the time called Lewis a mentally disturbed man. Officers used pepper spray to subdue Lewis. The family said they did more than that.

"They killed him," the man's father, Arthur Lewis, said a day or so later. "They choked him to death." Lewis' mother, Jesse, said they called 911 because their 33-year-old son was off his anxiety meds and not eating, not because he was out of control.

The county's position: "We had no liability."

So said Lucy Williams, a risk-management specialist and deputy director of the county's Human Resources department. She continued: "Deputies get a call. He (Lewis) is strangling his mother. He resists communication. They have to take him down. He has a massive heart attack." The DA and sheriff found no criminal behavior or officer misconduct.

But in the end, the trial jury disagreed to the tune of over $5 million. So is the city of Moreno Valley kicking itself? If so, it might not be the only city that's been there, done that.

Just ask yourself too why the City of Riverside rejected a $200,000 arbitration award in the case of Police Officer Roger Sutton and instead took the case to a jury and paid out $1.64 million.
They rolled the dice and they lost.

Then Bernstein tackles both Riverside's love them and leave them affair with slogans and titles and "Cuddles", aka Riverside County District Attorney Rod Pacheco.


From there, the "brand" spread like a virus with no known cure. "It became a way of thinking about the city," said MayorLuv earlier this week. Ha!

"City of Arts & Innovation" was hardly a unanimous choice. Other contenders:

"City of Rats & Excavation," noting the city's persistent state of rubble 'n' renaissance.

"City of Cops & Litigation" preferred by those steamed about the City Council's stiff arm of the police review commission.

Others seething over unfunded promises of a new library and expanded museum held out for "City of Farce & Prestidigitation."

But the City Council picked "City of Arts & Innovation" because of the subliminal ("Mission Innovation") commercial message. Because of local advances in "space exploration": finding office space for the DA and parking space for the Fox Theater.

And because Riverside features the very latest in red-light camera and parking meter technology. That's innovation!
A quibble: "City of Arts & Innovation" isn't a marketing "brand."

When I think of "brand" I think of a calf. How many times is a calf branded? Once.
Riverside's no calf. "City of Arts & Innovation" is just the newest tattoo on heavily inked civic flesh. Trust me, it won't be the last.

We know, Dan. Riverside will love and leave this latest title just like it has the rest.

The new police chief in San Bernardino is trying to encourage mutual respect between community members and police.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

A community police academy to help residents gain a better understanding of police work.

Informal dinners to help people get acquainted.

Kilmer, who reported for duty June 1, also vowed to promptly investigate complaints against officers and to clearly explain the decisions made about them.

Westside residents have long complained of racial profiling and brutal police tactics. Activists cite a series of confrontations between police and black or Latino Westside residents, culminating with a melee in August 2007 that occurred after police raided a candlelight vigil for a shooting victim. Authorities never released a report on the investigation of the raid.

On Thursday, Kilmer referred to a list of criticisms and suggestions compiled at a similar forum last December.

"You look through the list, (and see) 'We need to do this. We need to do this.' The bottom line is, we need to treat each other with respect. We can say it. We can talk about it. But we have to walk it," Kilmer said.

State Attorney General Jerry Brown issued this press release about the new stipulated court order imposed by his office on the Maywood Police Department. Here are some of the key reforms that Maywood's department will be required to implement and enforce.


The City Council must provide comprehensive and effective oversight of the Department; the City must retain an outside police professional to submit an annual report regarding the state of the Department; the City Council must provide for the recruitment and retention of highly qualified police chiefs to ensure that the reforms below are carried out. These reforms include:

1. Adoption of hiring practices to ensure that only qualified candidates for sworn and civilian candidates are hired and unsuitable applicants are screened out.

2. Updating written policies and procedures to ensure that police services are provided in a lawful manner.

3. Ensuring that following use-of-force incidents, reports be submitted and reviewed by management.

4. Providing adequate training on use of force, probable cause and reasonable suspicion, and use of Tasers.

5. Making sure that residents can lodge complaints and that those complaints be investigated.

6. Requiring that reports be clear and provide sufficient information to determine the probable cause for an arrest or search, or reasonable suspicion for a detention or pat-down search.

7. Requiring the implementation of an Early Intervention System to track and monitor the activities and actions of sworn personnel to deter inappropriate or unlawful conduct.

8. Retaining an independent outside expert to evaluate the department's management structure to ensure that there is accountability up and down the chain of command.

9. Requiring the Department to purchase digital audio recorders, and ensuring that officers use them.

10. Requiring the installation of video cameras on all Department vehicles and in the lobby of the police station and other areas of the station where officers interact with the public.

11. Changing the culture of the department and eliminating inappropriate sexual innuendo and harassment, vulgarity, discourtesy to members of the public and between officers, and cultural, racial, and ethnic insensitivity.

12. Adopting a community-oriented policing philosophy.

If you are from Riverside and know what's been going on the past 10 years involving this city's own police department, this list should be very familiar to you. Riverside became the first city in the country to be under a reform mandate order by a State Attorney General's office.

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

TGIF: Micromanagement comes to Riverside but at least there's icecream

A current police chief of a law enforcement agency in the Inland Empire who spent years working for the Riverside Police Department joked that one of the best things about his job was that he could work as a police chief and that his city manager didn't tell him what to do. That's kind of what you would call an inhouse joke, unique to Riverside if not completely understood in other places around the country.

It's kind of funny to think of a joke like that being made until you look at this city where there's been a lot of questions being asked by different people about the current status of Riverside's own police department including who runs it and how it's being run. Is it being run by a chief or by committee? Ask a different person, you get a different answer shrouded by a great deal of uncertainty.

As you've read in the Press Enterprise, Police Chief Russ Leach has been recovering from back surgery for the past couple of months and working from his house, while meeting with staff members of his agency. Any injuries to the spine can be formidable indeed and any surgery can be more of an ordeal to have to deal with. Hopefully, he recovers well from his medical issues, but even before he had spinal surgery, questions like the ones below were on people's lips.

What is the police chief allowed to do in Riverside when it comes to running the police department.

Leach's response by email to the publication about who was running the police department was the following.

"Again, simple fact is I'm still here, still in charge,"

But the truth is, how much in charge can he really be of a police department given that he is a direct employee of City Manager Brad Hudson and his assistant, Tom DeSantis? These two men have him employed "at will" and seriously in Riverside's City Hall, that means that you pretty much have to tow the party line or else you're out the door.

Just ask another former "at will" employee, Pedro Payne (who served as the former manager of the Community Police Review Commission), who "resigned" in late December 2006 after a particularly contentious meeting with DeSantis (who allegedly ordered him out of the meeting at some point) over the parameters of his duties involving the commission. Now instead of having a CPRC manager who serves the interests and needs of the commission, we have one who is most likely dictated to by DeSantis on which dots to follow often to the detriment of the commission, which hasn't exactly thrived under his tenure. In other words, a very highly paid, under time scheduled puppet.

The fates of other department heads like Human Resources Director Art Alcaraz who was forced to resign with a confidential clause in his severance package after allegedly being unwilling to lower the educational qualification standards for a certain management position which was taken by an employee who lacked those higher qualifications. Then there was Tranda Drumwright and Jim Smith who were pushed out or in Drumwright's case fired because her supervisor who is now an assistant manager told her she didn't look like "management" material. At the time, Drumwright, a Black woman had far more experience and education over a White woman who got the job instead of her when their departments were consolidated.

So with all the assorted labor-related adventures that Hudson and DeSantis have behind them, it's a bit hard to look at a department head like Leach and really seriously believe that he's allowed or even has the freedom to run the police department the way he sees fit, or even pick the people who work closest to him. And with more allegations being raised by two lieutenants about the politicization of the promotional process, that casts even more doubt on any ability for a police chief to work as an independent leader over the police department in this city. It remains to be seen how the lawsuits will be litigated in court but what's in them is indeed disturbing.

The lawsuits filed by the two lieutenants provided much food for thought, including an alleged statement made by a high-ranking police representative about the rank of Captain and exactly what it means to wear that rank.

Captain is no longer a position based on merit-It is a political position and City Hall will have a great deal to do with the next selection."

---comment allegedly made by a high-ranking Riverside Police Department representative according to Tim Bacon/Darryl Hurt v the City of Riverside.

It's interesting that a quote like this which was an allegation made in a lawsuit would surface again at this time and place when another captain, this time Mark Boyer, in the department had abruptly retired. I say abruptly, because during a conversation I once had with Boyer, he said pretty much that he had more years ahead of him in the department. So to hear of his sudden departure was a bit of a shock. But as shocking as it was, it also created the department's second captain's vacancy (after the retirement of Deputy Chief Dave Dominguez, who held the classified position of captain) and this led to increased scrutiny of the promotional process of a management level position and of course, more rumors of who the favorites were or in one case, who the automatic selection was going to be. Because the way the rumors sounded, it seemed as if this recently vacated position was already filled.

But as it turned out, the position has been frozen at least for the moment. If there's a favorite or someone who was intended to be chosen, that decision will have to wait until one or more of the captain's positions are thawed.

But as it turned out, the position has been frozen at least for the moment. If there's a favorite or someone who was intended to be chosen, that decision will have to wait until one or more of the captain's positions are thawed as will any analysis of how this position will be filled.

Why was it going to be this person who seemed to top most people's lists when asked?

Because he held the political edge over the other candidates and City Hall liked him the best, was the reason provided. Now comments like these can arise from many different places including speculation, envy, or just a wide-spread perception, but they can also come from a place of truth, gained from observation of what's going on and what's been going on within the dynamic between the police department and factions at City Hall during a period of time lapsing back to several months after the dissolution of the stipulated judgment.

As stated earlier, the position has been frozen as part of the new budget cuts according to Asst. Chief John DeLaRosa (as Deputy Chief Pete Esquivel didn't respond as of yet to an email inquiry on the position's status) for an indeterminate length of time. So there might not be the opportunity to fully study how this newly vacated captain's position would be filled and whether it would come down to a promotion by Leach (from his home), DeLaRosa (who allegedly helped fill in some promotions for an ailing Leach just recently) or a promotion by Hudson and DeSantis?

There's a two month window before all the people who are currently on the captain's list have to reapply before the current list expires. In the running are usually about a dozen people, which is quite impressive considering the department only has about 21 lieutenants. There's a lot of ambition in that group, yet obviously a clear understanding that it's at this level where upward advancement becomes more of an elusive prize for most. For some applicants, they realize it can be a waiting game, given that the competition is tough and the turnover for captains (given that there's only four active positions) is not very high. Politicizing the process by making it come down to who's most liked by Hudson, DeSantis or even as alleged several city council members makes the whole promotional process pointless.

But what will happen to many of those who are at the levels where they can try for these positions is that they might retire out first.

In fact, within the ranks of sergeants and lieutenants, about 3-4 in each rank will retire out before the end of the year adding to the deficit of supervisors that currently exists given that at least four supervisory positions have been frozen and only four filled. In June 2008, consultant Joe Brann looked at the situation involving the supervisors and issued words of caution which of course, were pretty much ignored. Why should they matter, when you have city management personnel like Hudson and DeSantis who are so experienced in managing police departments that they can say in defense of Brann's words, that the department's fully-staffed.

The department has been rather tight lipped about its supervisory ratio averages for its patrol shifts but here are some figures that one concerned individual was kind enough to provide as a basis for discussion.

Average ratio: Between 6.0 to 1 and 6.5 to 1 with a variance between 4.5 to 1 and 7.5 to 1.

Factor that with the reality that you may have up to six supervisors in the sergeant and lieutenant ranks. Some people on the alleged retirement list include Sgt. Don Tauli (who originally was set to retire last year), Sgt. Orta, Sgt. Watters and Lt. Brian Baitx. The usual speculation surrounds whether or not Lt. Robert Meier will retire as well but that tends to be an annual exercise but it's also rumored that this is only a partial list. So take these individuals and any others out of the equation and then check your ratios and that's assuming that the rest of your supervisors are in good health and not out on any type of light duty or personnel leaves. It's also assuming that the lieutenants don't fatigue out from working much more overtime to supervise shifts because they are flat-salaried employees.

How would a police chief handle that situation with supervisory ratios? How will Hudson and DeSantis mishandle it? Who will get to make the decision on how it's handled at all?

It should of course be the police chief who makes that decision and it should be made openly by the police chief because the bottom line is he should be accountable right or wrong, good or bad, or what happens in his department. That's one of the roles of being a police chief. And why is it that doesn't seem to be the case in Riverside? Why is it that in Riverside it appears that decisions that greatly impact the police department are instead made by a group of men hiding behind a curtain at City Hall?

The police chief when he's fully recovered from his injury should be attending more public meetings in the community, at City Hall and at roll call sessions and other similar situations in the police department. He should be out there where both community members and his own officers including those who are recently hired patrol officers can see him. It's only the times when the city management personnel need him out front and center with some ridiculous scripted comments to read (mostly on the CPRC) that he's been visible the past year or so. But what's ironic is that he makes comments indicating one point of view regarding the CPRC's much micromanaged investigative procedures and then when he's done performing on stage, he sits down and if you watch his body language, he appears to be agreeing with most everything his opposition is saying to refute his own argument. So does he believe what he says when performing on stage with Hudson or DeSantis in close vicinity or when he's not under their thumb?

It's episodes like that that help provide a display of micromanagement Riverside style in one of its more obvious forms. When you have an employee who says one thing when his bosses are in hearing range and the opposite when they're not.

But anyway, what will happen in the future with micromanagement, the police department and the host of people behind the curtain remains to be seen. And will ousting former Councilman Frank Schiavone change the dynamic of the police department through any direction given to Hudson by the city council? That's a question that remains to be answered as well.

Ice Cream will be coming to Riverside's Metropolitan Heritage house as part of its annual ice cream social.

This Sunday, June 28 at 12-4 p.m.

In what's become an epidemic of departures, another planning commissioner resigns in Murrieta.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Long, 39, is the third commissioner to resign in the wake of changes made to the commission structure, including the City Council's decision to open up all five commission seats to reappointment. The council also voted to have the entire council select finalists for commission posts as opposed to a two-member subcommittee, and to add a training session for commissioners.

The City Council has defended the changes, saying they were vital to improving the city's planning process and to improving the chemistry between the commission and planning staff.
Long initially reapplied, but then withdrew his application.

Former Planning Commission Chairman Mike Fitzpatrick and Vice Chairwoman Barbara Lupro resigned in May in protest of the changes, citing the decision to make incumbents reapply for their posts.

Long said he welcomed the changes, but he said they didn't go far enough. His breaking point came when the city's planning staff reversed its eight-month course and recommended approval of a 50-foot cell phone tower disguised as a clock tower.

City staff said the applicant changed the design to better fit the shopping center's aesthetics. Long said he didn't believe the changes to the design rose to the level of a change in recommendation.

"You can change faces, but if the tools are broken, it is not going to change anything," Long said. "Without those changes, you are just setting up future commissioners for failure."

Wise words indeed, not just for Murrieta's Planning Commission but for another broken commission in Riverside, the Community Police Review Commission.

The beleaguered Maywood Police Department has agreed to enter into a consent decree with the State Attorney General's office. This development should really be of no surprise to anyone after the revelations that have rocked that agency since they were revealed last year. It's the second police department after Riverside's to be placed under a stipulated court order or judgment by that office.

(excerpt, Los Angeles Times)

The court order “paves the way for real reform, enabling the Maywood police department to live up to its potential by truly serving and protecting,” said Atty. Gen. Edmund G. Brown Jr. in a statement.

The order is expected to be filed to the Los Angeles Superior Court, placing the city of Maywood and the attorney general’s office in an agreement to enforce conditions laid out by Brown. Once approved, the city will be forced to install video cameras within the police station and its vehicles. Officers will also be required to carry digital recorders while on patrol.

An Early Intervention System will be established to track and monitor the activities of new officers, while others will undergo retraining. Overseeing the department will be Maywood’s city manager. “The city is very committed to working with the attorney general to complete its commitment to community based policing and the reforms outlined in the attorney general’s report,” said Maywood City Manager Paul Phillips.

Many of the reforms outlined in the court order given to Maywood were similar to those mandated in Riverside's own stipulated judgment that it entered into in March 2001. That's probably the best thing to happen to what must be one of the most dysfunctional if not the most dysfunctional police departments in the country. But a lot of it is up to the people inside the agency as well as outside of it in terms of how the reforms will be carried out and whether they can effect lasting change. And those people must be in it for the long haul, which naturally means years and years and years.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Micromanagement 101: The CPRC and the RPD

Riverside will be posting armed guards at the downtown bus terminal. This is in addition to the armed police officers who are now stationed in two divisions in the old bus terminal. Of course, one division felt that they were being put there to be "body guards" for the other division next door so maybe putting in armed guards will help alleviate that a bit.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Riverside Transit Agency's board of directors will discuss a staff-supported plan to continue using Barry's Security Services guards during operating hours at the bus system terminal off Mission Inn Avenue in downtown Riverside.

The two-year contract includes an additional three years if both the bus system and Barry's agree. Over five years, the bus system will pay almost $434,000.

The company was chosen for a test project in September and will continue on if the board approves. Bus system spokesman Brad Weaver said officials are pleased with the guards, adding their presence seems to have reduced complaints by riders who use the station.

"One of the key reasons for the improvement is the fact that Barry's uniformed officers are present at the station during all hours of operation," Weaver said. "Our agreement with the Riverside Police Department, on the other hand, provided security for just five total hours per day."

Weaver said the agency didn't have data comparing the number of complaints before and after guards were placed at the station but said reports from drivers indicated the guards were improving the station's perception.

Though he has not received much feedback on the bus system's security contract, Riverside Councilman Mike Gardner said hiring the firm made sense.

"My understanding is that they felt they could provide many more hours of security," Gardner said, citing the hourly cost difference between private security and paying officers overtime rates.

In the meantime, downtown business owners are complaining that the city's renovation under the Riverside Renaissance is hurting their businesses.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Wilma Burton, owner of Citrus Punch Designs Inc. at 3738 Main St., said sales have hit the skids since the end of January, when the backhoes began tearing up the block between University and Mission Inn avenues.

"I don't know if any of us will still be open when the project is finished in November," she said.

Shoppers and diners must tiptoe around gaping pits ringed with yellow caution tape while construction workers in hard hats and Bobcats excavate two pedestrian malls from University Avenue to Sixth Street.

The triple whammy of sluggish summer sales, the brutal economy and choking dust is "killing everyone," said Vivian Moreno, owner of the BioKorium Day Spa & Salon at 3615 Main St. She said massages and facials have dropped 50 percent in the last six months.

The city is replacing a century-old water main and installing new conduits for an electrical system, irrigation and communication cables, said Councilman Mike Gardner, whose ward includes downtown.

Each block will have signature landscaping while remaining compatible with the City Hall block, he said.

Lake Elsinore will be shutting down its City Hall part of the week as will Banning.

The Community Police Review Commission continued on its dysfunctional way, and had few high points taking place during its June regular meeting even from an entertainment perspective. It's kind of interesting watching CPRC Manager Kevin Rogan wearing all these different hats. A former law enforcement captain from Pomona. A lawyer. The manager of the CPRC and now the unofficial handler for CPRC Chair Sheri Corral who seems to regularly rely on him for counsel on how to proceed with well, chairing the meeting. It didn't appear that she could make more than a decision or two on how to proceed without having to take Rogan into a sidebar.

The meeting was held up for some time while Vice-Chair Peter Hubbard, the commissioner who's professionally tied with a company which has a lucrative public safety contract with the city manager's office had wandered out of the room to chat with two representatives from the Internal Affairs Division and Commissioner Art Santore was dispatched to go look for him. It's always interesting how some commissioners can be late like Hubbard or Santore or Kenneth Rotker and the whole meeting is at a standstill until they arrive yet if other commissioners like Beeman or John Brandriff are delayed, the meeting begins without them. This double standard of conduct by the chair of this commission readily puts on display for the viewing audience, the deep chasm that exists between the commission members who were political appointments and those who are not. I mean there's someone difference between a commissioner who applies to the panel because they want to make a difference and one who gets on essentially because he's political consultant's Brian Floyd's close friend or who directs a company which is in contract with the city.

Once the meeting got started, Asst. Chief John DeLaRosa who didn't appear in the best of moods provided a briefing on the "progress" of the police departments own investigations into the four most recent officer-involved deaths that the CPRC has been forbidden from investigating itself for an unspecified limit of time. What seemed odd was that DeLaRosa didn't mention the names of any of the individuals who were killed by police except for Marlon Acevedo, but instead mentioned the dates that the fatal incidents took place (although he erred with the date for Carlos Quinonez). Did he remember the names of the other three individuals? Perhaps, but he didn't mention them.

This is the current status of the last four officer-involved deaths:

Sept. 1: Carlos Quinonez, is at the District Attorney's office since March

Sept 11: Fernando Luis Sanchez, is at the District Attorney's office since May

Oct. 31: Marlon Acevedo, DeLaRosa gave a brief summary on this case but didn't give its investigative status. Does anyone wonder why?

Jan. 17, 2009: Russell Hyatt, the department has almost completed its investigation.

Also visiting the CPRC meeting in closed session were two sergeants from Internal Affairs, Pat McCarthy and Marcus Smail to build a better relationship between their division and the CPRC. McCarthy did say to his knowledge that no complaint against an officer ever filed while he was an officer ever violated any statutory deadlines and that the division was dealing well with its caseload.

It's highly unlikely at this point that the CPRC will ever do any of its own investigations of any of these incidents. Even if its members wanted to follow the city charter, they probably won't be allowed to because it wouldn't be surprising at all if when the first one of these deaths comes to the CPRC probably some time in 2010 at the rate things are going that Hudson and DeSantis or perhaps City Attorney Priamos will manipulate the strings of Rogan and another directive will be issued barring any investigations by the CPRC. The case with the highest probability of something of that nature happening will be the Acevedo case, the one that DeLaRosa didn't provide a status for during his briefing.

The commission spent most of its time arguing among itself, in front of a new audience of people, while handing off most of the responsibilities that its members are supposed to be doing such as providing analysis for their own rationales for reaching findings on officer-involved deaths to Rogan to do for them. Well, Rogan works for Asst. City Manager Tom DeSantis who's probably got him on as short of a leash as he and Hudson have on Chief Russ Leach, who's still recuperating on a three month leave for back surgery from an onduty injury that he won't disclose.

The lowpoint of decorum at the meeting took place when Corral told Commissioner Chani Beeman to "shut up", an action for which she did apologize later. But newcomers from the city's communities who attended this latest meeting were appalled at commissioners treating each other that way as they were when Corral vetoed a proposal to create an ad hoc committee to address an issue and refused to provide a reason why. One possible reason why is because perhaps she can only comment on what she's been briefed about beforehand and perhaps her handlers haven't told her how to respond to inquiries for creating ad hoc committees yet and she's still awaiting instruction on that. If she were truly as independent as she claimed to be, she could have easily provided an explanation as to why she didn't want any ad hoc committees created.

Santore spoke up and said, "we work better as a unit" as an explanation for Corral, a comment just about everyone in the audience thought was an attempt at humor.

Very little of substance really happened at the meeting because the commissioners spent most of their time arguing about fundamental topics like "analysis" and "draft" and really seemed reluctant to do any business except hand it off to Rogan to do for them. Far from the days of when commissioners were actually engaged in what they were doing, most of this bunch just sits there and appears to be going through the rote so that they can get on out of there. That is at least, until words like "draft" and "analysis" trip them up and they argue about those terms for 30 minutes or longer.

Then someone brought up going to the police department's MILO shoot or don't shoot training which is helpful. But what was interesting is that someone actually polled the commissioners on how many of them had attended the training, but no one ever polls the commissioners on whether or not they've attended a community meeting. The truth is, there's room for both polls to be taken of commissioners, or there would be if this was a healthy functioning body which it hasn't been for a long time.

It would be nice to say something positive about what's happened to this commission but it wouldn't be honest. It's turned into the "shiny public relations tool" that newest Commissioner Robert Slawsby believed it should be in his interview with the city council, the only problem being is that many city residents don't buy into that version of it. In fact, so many voters in Ward Four told former Councilman Frank Schiavone exactly what they thought of his version of the CPRC by voting for his opposition.

Still, City Hall has turned the commission into its own political machine for at least the short-term future.

Speaking of political machines...

Watching the deterioration of the CPRC underneath the micromanagement of two city manager employees who actually know next to nothing about civilian oversight issues is kind of like watching the same thing happen to the Riverside Police Department. After reading the lawsuits filed by Lt. Tim Bacon and Lt. Darryl Hurt which were posted on yesterday, you have to ask yourself if their allegations are true, how in the hell was City Hall ever allowed to get to the point of where it was micromanaging a police department to that extent where promotions were being made outside of City Hall not inside of it and these apparently include promotions at its highest levels. What kind of city council does this city have that would turn its eyes away from this type of behavior or even worse as in two alleged examples, participate or even direct it?

Anyone who participated or allowed these alleged activities to take place involving the department belongs in front of the city's white-washed ethics process or the county grand jury to explain why fundamental and organizational decisions were taken out of the hands of the police department's chief and put in the hands of his bosses at City Hall and perhaps even several of their bosses. And if retaliatory actions including the old tried and true use of the department's Internal Affairs Division as a battering ram (as also noted in lawsuits filed by former officers Rene Rodriguez, Christine Keers and current officer Roger Sutton in the 1990s.) against officers not liked by City Hall, then that's an issue that the city council needs to answer for as well. But it seems like anytime any elected official works up the nerve to ask their own direct employee any kind of question, up pops another marquee sign with the names of the elected officials in highlights for some Riverside Renaissance. Hudson's a smart man. He knows the best tool of deflection and rerouting is through an elected official's ego and more often than not, it appears to work.

But instead of launching an investigation into the allegations raised by the two lieutenants, the city is spending tax money defending itself and allegedly the public as well when if these allegations are true, what the city residents need to be defended against is a police department micromanaged by two city management employees who have no clue what they're really doing. What they are doing is making a mess and creating a police department that is experiencing problems stemming from their attempts to play police chief.

And let's take a look at Leach's position. What is it that he does exactly or is allowed to do by his bosses? First of all, a police chief usually gets to pick his closest management staff to work with, alongside him in a department. Did he pick his own management staff or did Hudson and DeSantis? Allegations like those raised in the aforementioned lawsuit do raise these kind of questions.

Did he have any say in the hiring of a relative of one of the Riverside County supervisors who may or may not have undergone a full background check? Because the ability to hire is supposed to be a role and a responsibility of a police chief, right?

But it's also supposed to be the role and responsibility of the police chief to promote and is he being given that power in the police department? That's one of the focuses of the lawsuits filed by Bacon and Hurt. Will it be up to a judge or jury to answer those questions, or two judges and two juries because the case has been bifurcated into two different court systems right now.

Who's making the promotions in the police department right now? The police chief, or the city manager's office? And was it true that two city council members played roles or believed that they did so in the police department's promotion process? And is it true what was allegedly said, about the police department's captain positions going not to the best candidate but to the one that City Hall likes best?

These and many more questions remain to be asked and answered.

Police Department Capt. Mike Blakely won a civic award for making over his yard.

Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchins warns of budget cuts ahead.

(excerpt, Los Angeles Times)

Hutchens said investigators will be lost, emergency call dispatchers eliminated, crime lab positions slashed and an entire floor of the women's jail sealed off.

"To think that we can possibly absorb all of those cuts without an impact to the public is not going to happen," Hutchens said Wednesday. "You can keep it going for so long, but there comes a point where things fall off the plate when you don't have enough personnel."

That point may come this year, Hutchens said, when the public begins to feel the effect of up to 50 positions slated for elimination.

The sheriff said investigators are on the chopping block, which foreshadows slower follow-up on crimes, a point of concern in homicides -- which have the best shot of being solved within the first 48 hours. Hutchens said about five forensic scientists will be laid off, slowing down analyses of lab submissions. Currently, there is no backlog for sexual assault cases, but Hutchens warned that could change next year.

The department probably will seal off an entire floor of the Women's Central Jail, and other county lockups, which mostly house male prisoners, will have to absorb female inmates.

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