Five before Midnight

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


My Photo
Location: RiverCity, Inland Empire

Monday, August 31, 2009

The City Council appoints the new CPRC commissioner

To Pick a Commissioner

[City Councilman Mike Gardner and Mayor Ron Loveridge get ready to cast their votes to fill the Ward Two vacancy on the Community Police Review Commission]

[Commissioner candidate Garth Newberry from Ward Two is interviewed by the city council. Seated opposite him are Councilman Rusty Bailey and City Attorney Gregory Priamos]

What: The appointment of the new Ward Two CPRC commissioner

Where: Mayor's Ceremonial Room, City Hall

When: Tuesday, Sept. 1 at 2-4 p.m.

The city council met in the Mayor's Ceremonial room to interview and ultimately select the new commissioner who would represent Ward Two filling the vacancy left by the resignation of Jim Ward in March. Ward's were tough shoes to fill and it would be difficult to find anyone to do so since the city council wasn't particularly interested in doing so as a group. There was a lot of dropping of the word, objectivity and impartiality and Councilman Steve Adams' usual diatribes about agendas but if you're looking for some of those, you need look no further than those making the decisions about who gets appointed to serve on the city's boards and commissions if history is any indication. Some electeds seem to be searching for someone who was fair and just. Others appeared to be just looking for more of the same of what currently sits on that panel right now, right down to almost locking themselves in another conflict of interest situation or two.

But first they had to get there which meant conducting interviews of the six candidates who showed up to be interviewed including two who were added to the list after the Mayor's Nomination and Screening Committee had picked nine candidates to be interviewed about a month ago. Most often, the winning candidate comes out of those 11th hour addition lists and spoiler alert, this time would be no different.

The meeting was attended by about a half dozen city residents, City Clerk Colleen Nicol and City Attorney Gregory Priamos. City Manager Brad Hudson popped in just in time for the final vote by the city council. One city resident, Bob Melsh said that Officer Paul Stucker who was working security had briefly prevented him from entering the room where the meeting was held, telling him that it was a closed meeting but he was finally able to enter the room where the meeting was being held. Stucker and the other officer working didn't tell anyone else who attended that the meeting was a closed session and didn't intervene when they saw people walking in and out of the Mayor Ceremonial Room.

The city council didn't place a sign on the closed glass door announcing that what meeting was taking place and that it was open to the public.

Councilman Andrew Melendrez who represents that ward opened up the meeting when he said that he wanted individuals who were objective and fair in their factual determination and involved in the community.

The interviews were conducted briefly and the afternoon went by quickly. Most of the city council members asked each commissioner the same question in the interest of continuity but others like Councilwoman Nancy Hart asked each commissioner a different one like she couldn't quite make up her mind. Loveridge didn't consistently question the candidates during their interviews and his discriminative behavior provided the audience with some insight into which candidates he favored over others.

The questions were fairly good ones. Several dealt with the current conflict without dwelling into the deeper pinning of that conflict. Former commissioner turned councilman, Mike Gardner asked the commissioners whether they had the time to commit 30-40 hours a week reading cases including all the evidence in the investigations and watching 80 hours of training. Adams threw in a trick question about whether candidates believed the commission should play a role in "punishing" officers even though only the police chief (if he's afforded the power to be in charge) has the power and responsibility to assign discipline in cases of sustained allegations against officers.

The Candidates

Amy Aldana who works for Riverside County said that she tried to foster better relations between the police department and her neighborhood including one time when there was a police pursuit which ended on her front lawn. She said she called a community meeting to "calm these nerves" and invited city officials and police representatives. She said that she would be objective and listen to all different perspectives and point of views on a case. She said she would need to "see all the facts before I made a decision."

Listening to city residents would be important and seeing to their needs, she mentioned several times in her interview.

Restaurant owner, Trey Pitruzzello was up next and did quite a bit of name dropping calling himself a "Riverside boy" who hung out with other "Riverside boys" including the Yaegars and Tavagliones. He said when hearing a complaint, he would weigh all the options and not be galvanized by one side. He would insure that the "public had a voice" and that he would "keep the peace". He had applied after receiving a phone call from some individual and a clerical person at City Hall had told him that the CPRC was a "go-between between the community and the RPD".

He said the police "have a difficult job to do and people love them and hate them" but that he would be in the middle.

Daniel W. Waldo who works for Chevron was heavily stumped by Councilman Rusty Bailey who never flagged in his support for him.

"I never signed up or requested this commission[CPRC]," he said, during his interview. He said that he was pretty busy but would make time to serve on the commission. When asked about the controversial situation involving the CPRC's decision to ban minority reports, he thought it was on the "up and up" and in the right direction but admitted he didn't have all the facts.

"I have no problem being impartial," Waldo said, when asked about police, "I am more partial to respecting them and what they do."

Garth Newberry who teaches art and once briefly considered running against Melendrez for city council was interviewed and said he didn't know much about the conflicts on the commission but that he believed outreach was the answer and increasing public awareness and improving community and police relations were important as well.

When told that to do the job well, he would have to spend 30-40 hours a month reviewing complaint investigations and 80 hours training, he said, "do i have to sit for 80 hours" but said he would be able to do it. He said he would try his best to give an unbiased approach to the CPRC's reviews.

Joe Vazquez who attended the CPRC meeting during the controversial vote sided with the majority that minority reports needed to go. The majority opinion has to be supported or else there would be an "independent report" which he didn't favor. Controversy arose during Vazquez' interview which was more extended after he revealed that his security firm contracted with a large number of Home Depot stores in Southern California including Riverside's Madison Avenue store specifically to provide security concerning day laborer populations. Several city council members including Ward One's Mike Gardner, a former CPRC commissioner, expressed concerns about what might be a conflict of interest, given the controversies involving the police department, the U.S. Border patrol and their arrests and detentions at Home Depot in Casa Blanca.

The issue is currently being litigated in Riverside County Superior Court over whether or not the police department fully complied with the California Public Records Act when it responded to a request for information submitted by the National Day Laborer Network. Both the Human Relations Commission (willingly) and the CPRC (not so willingly) have been asked to address this issue, with the CPRC being asked to address it from a policy and procedure level. Efforts to do this were refuted by CPRC Manager Kevin Rogan likely on advice by Priamos that it was outside the purview of the CPRC and somehow would be construed as a sign of disrespect against the HRC. But it might be difficult having someone involved in a business arrangement with Home Depot in relation to that issue, sitting on the CPRC.

Later, during the vote, City Attorney Gregory Priamos said "there is no conflict" as Vazquez no longer engages in criminal investigations for defendants arrested by the police department but that his work is limited to security. It's interesting how Priamos completely ignored the conflict of interest situation raised by city council members involving his company's contract with Home Depot.But then on the issue of conflict of interest, he's never really been all that consistent.

Christopher Lorenz, a federal employee, didn't show up to be interviewed.

Last up was Rogelio V. Morales who graduated from law school in Washington state and is considering employment with the Riverside County District Attorney's office and resides in the Eastside. His brother had worked as an undercover officer with the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department and he had personally dealt with many officers.

He believed the commission had to be involved in the process and be involved with the community.

"Excluding the opinion of the commission would be a mistake," he said.

None of the elected officials asked him why he checked off a box that answered "yes" to having a felony or misdemeanor conviction in his background during his interview though Councilman Chris MacArthur brought it up afterward during the vote. Priamos said that he talked with Morales and it had been checked off in error. All commissioners are required to have live scans before being appointed.

The Votes

After some discussion, the first straw vote was cast.

Round one vote:

Gardner: Morales

Melendrez: Morales

Bailey: Waldo

Davis: Pitruzello

MacArthur: Waldo

Hart: Vazquez

Adams: Vazquez

Mayor: Aldana

The split vote in round one led to much more discussion before a revote was taken by the city officials. Mayor Ron Loveridge clearly wasn't keen on Morales and wondered out loud if he would have to resign after appointment if he did wind up employed by the D.A's office. Bailey stuck by his choice, Waldo because he said he was a "concerned citizen" (which is a fairly broad generalization that by itself, could fit more than one candidate) and Davis liked the scientific background of his choice, when looking into the area of complaint fact finding.

Others seemed to defer to Melendrez' preference of Morales although Loveridge wasn't willing to give his full vote without a fight. He said, what if they pick Morales and he goes off and joins the D.A.'s office? Then what? Others like Hart argued so what, any one of these applicants could get hired in another position after being appointed, not just Morales.

After that flurry of emotion died down, the elected officials took another stab at voting.

Round Two:

Gardner: Morales

Melendrez: Morales

Bailey: Waldo

Davis: Morales

MacArthur: Waldo

Hart: Morales

Adams: Morales

Mayor: Morales (with some reluctance)

And with that, Morales became the first commissioner appointed from the Eastside.

Ethics Review 101

The Governmental Affairs Committee at City Hall in Riverside will be reviewing the ethics code and complaint process which it does annually under the city's ordinance. The committee is required to invite the mayor and the chairs of all the city's boards and commissions as part of this review process, something it failed to do last year. Hopefully, this year will go more smoothly.

The meeting is scheduled to take place on Wednesday, Sept. 2 at 4p.m. in the Mayor's Ceremonial room at the top floor of the 'Hall. The committee report is here and it includes the language in the resolution which instituted the code and process.

Some organizations in Riverside have submitted comments on the city's handling of the issue and recommendations to improve the process. They had done so in previous years but the Governmental Affairs Committee didn't really take them seriously, probably because it wanted to winnow down the process not enhance it.

The Group which is a community organization has been following the ethics code and complaint process since its membership introduced the concept to the Charter Review Committee in early 2004. After the passage of Measure DD by over 70% of the city's voters which put the ethics code in the city's charter and led to the creation and institution of a complaint process, the Group chair Jennifer Vaughn-Blakely chaired a research committee which made recommendations to the city council after a series of meetings.

The Group has continued to monitor the process including at annual reviews and has repeatedly issued various recommendations to improve the process and to promote greater accountability and transparency. Two things the city government clearly hasn't wanted, at least not so far. And that's reflected in the rather shameful history of what's happened when complaints have been filed using this so-called ethics complaint system. But the Group's members and other people have kept attending meetings trying to improve what's already a broken system.


1. The City has done a better job of promoting the Code of Ethics, especially on the web site. There is a video We continue to recommend that the city clerk, mayor, city council members, board and commission members go out to service and community groups and faith groups to promote the Code of Ethics.

2. Currently the Code of Ethics and Conduct calls for the Mayors Nominating and Screening Committee to handle complaints filed against the mayor or council member. It has provisions for the committee chair and the mayor to recuse themselves. If the mayor and council truly intend to create trust in local government as stated in the Resolution 21752 Establishing the Code of Ethics and Conduct, The Group feels strongly that an objective and impartial body should be appointed to review all complaints filed against the mayor and council members. It is our recommendation that this be a panel of three (3) retired judges. The mayor and council has resisted this recommendation for the past four (4) years.

3. The procedures and timeline for handling complaints needs to be clearer. The Code of Ethics and Conduct does not state within what period of time the complaint should be addressed and it needs to be clearer regarding who will handle and present the complaint. Complainants need to know what will happen to their complaint, how it will be processed and within what timeframe. They need to be notified in writing.

4. Section III , Implementation of the Code calls for the mayor, city council, Part A. Implementation, Monitoring and Oversight calls for the mayor and council to review the Code of Ethics and Conduct at a regular meeting. The Group continues to recommend that the annual review be conducted as a noticed public hearing. This will require special notice to the public and allow for opposition and support to the recommendations that are being proposed. We also recommend that the code of ethics state the public hearing for the review will be held at a time specific each year. This change has not been included in Resolution 21752.

5. Last year the Governmental Affairs Committee agreed to our recommendation for a Code of Ethics and Conduct committee be re-convened for a comprehensive review the code every five years. We asked that this be included in Resolution 21752.

6. The sub-committee of The Group felt the allegations against former Council member Frank Schiavone and his involvement with the Bradley Estates needs to be forwarded to the Governmental Affairs Committee.

7. In light of the alleged unethical behavior surrounding us (San Bernardino County, Grand Terrace) we feel it is important for our elected officials and commissioners to engage in a public discussion of ethics. We have recommended that a public discussion of ethical behavior and what it means to our city be conducted. We further recommended that Judy Nadler, Senior Fellow in Government Ethics at Santa Clara University ’s Markkula Center for Applied Ethics and former city council member in Santa Clara be invited to lead this discussion.

Also submitting recommendations was Kevin Dawson of Save-Riverside who saw first hand what the process really involves and how watered down it is when he tried to submit a complaint against former Councilman Dom Betro after a troubling incident that happened when Betro was going to give a speech at the downtown Fox Theater as an elected official. His complaint was blocked from proceeding to the Mayor's Nomination and Screening Committee as required by the city's resolution by Priamos who was only supposed to serve the city council in an "advisory" capacity under the resolution. Soon after, an abrupt Governmental Affairs Committee meeting was held in the summer of 2007 and two of its members voted to change the language defining "official capacity" in terms of greatly narrowing down this category of circumstances so that the disturbing incident between Betro and Dawson wouldn't qualify under the ethics code. At the time, Betro was a member of the Governmental Affairs Committee.


While it might not be possible to fix everything at once, there are a couple of points that are worthy of correction this next week.

I believe that the resolution improperly inserted into the Code limiting its application to only when council members are acting in "their official capacity" needs to be rescinded.

In its place should be new language stating that our City officials hold a special place in our community. They are high profile public leaders and are looked to as role models of our society. While we honor their privacy, their behavior in public is a reflection upon our City. The principles of behavior outlined in the Code of Ethics should be viewed as the minimum standard for our officials; we wish them to set the example of model behavior whenever they are out in public. Therefore, Resolution 21560 amending the Code to only apply when Council members are acting in official capacity must be rescinded.

New language should also be added to remove the temptation of political interference; complainants should have the choice of having their complaint heard by the Mayor’s Nominating and Screening Committee or request their complaint be heard and resolved by an independent board of retired judges.

The two above lists of suggestions are very good ones and should be implemented if there's any hopes that the complaint process stemming from the ethics code is going to provide accountability and transparency and actually promote professional ethical behavior from this city's elected officials. Unfortunately, it can be predicted right here and now that they won't get the proper discussion let alone implementation that they deserve. When asked about chairing his first review of the ethics process, Governmental Affairs Committee Chair Andrew Melendrez said he was fully prepared to handle the process and that there might be changes made. It remains to be seen if that's the case and what they will be.

But it's more likely that the two other members of the Governmental Affairs Committee will want to stick with the status quo involving the complaint process and that's on a good day.

Labor Pains:

When the city council asked city management to sit down and negotiate with a municipal labor union, did that happen?

To Be Continued...

With all the investigations going on in San Bernardino, the parties involved have taken to blogging to get their points across.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Erwin said blogging is a way for him to get information out that isn't covered by the mainstream press or talk about the news in greater depth.

"It's a way of putting a picture out of what's going on," he said.

He recently became one of the administrators of, a blog devoted to San Bernardino County politics that has become one of the main sites for news and speculation about the ongoing district attorney's investigation.

Sharon Gilbert, a county employee who started the blog , said the site averages about 13,000 hits a day but has had as many as 40,000 visitors on big news days.

The site mainly includes stories from local newspapers and press releases from local politicians but also includes postings from Erwin, Gilbert as well as anonymous commentators..

Gilbert, who said she believes Erwin will be exonerated, said she sees nothing wrong with giving Erwin a forum.

"He has as much right to get his side of it out there as anybody else," she said.

I.E. Politics discusses politics in this most interesting canvas called San Bernardino County. Included on its pages is a list of other blogs which cover the Inland Empire including this one. Also the Big Bear Observation Post and one with an interesting name, Inland Utopia.

San Bernardino County is ripe for great blogging and these bloggers and others take full advantage of that.

A newer blog on the front is The Real San Bernardino.

Riverside County Superior Court presiding judge, Gary Tranbarger has struck another blow to the discrimination and harassment case filed by police officers at the Mt. San Jacinto Community College Police Department.

Riverside County's board of supervisors are expected to approve a labor contract and toss out programs that provide services to the disabled, the elderly and the young per usual.

Some vandals torched the American flag on Mt. Rubidoux.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

The flag, which flew over the popular Riverside walking trail a few hundred yards from the famous white cross, was little more than a charred pile of nylon on Sunday. Remnants of the flag were still stuck to the three-story flagpole.

"It's an act of terrorism," said hiker Jaylene Welch of Riverside. "It's just wrong."

A Canyon Lake city council member faces censure.

Job Opening:

JOB TITLE & Executive Director, Human Rights Commission and
DEPARTMENT: Executive Secretary, Police Review and Advisory Board
Human Rights Commission


CIVIL SERVICE: Not subject to civil service rules and regulations

HOURS OF WORK: 37.5 hour workweek, includes evening meetings


DUTIES & RESPONSIBILITIES: This is a dual position, with roles administering two City agencies. The Executive Director of the Human Rights Commission serves as the City's chief civil rights officer and enforces the local civil rights ordinances that prohibit discrimination (CMC Chapters 2.76 and 14.04). The Director coordinates the City's civil rights functions and responsibilities, in conjunction with City agencies, supervises agency staff, works with the appointed Human Rights Commissioners and City officials in enforcement of these ordinances and applicable state and federal civil rights laws, ensures citywide civil rights compliance by coordinating various training and education programs and provides direct technical assistance and supportive services to City agencies and designated officials. For the Police Review and Advisory Board, the Executive Secretary is responsible for the daily administration of all Board activities, advising on and executing the policies and procedures as established by the Police Review and Advisory Board. Duties include processing and investigating complaints, mediating disputes, reviewing Police Department policies, preparing reports and presenting cases before hearings of the Board.

MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS: Applicants should have strong knowledge of civil rights issues, laws and regulations, especially in the areas of housing, employment and public accommodations; excellent administrative, management and organizational skills; strong oral and written communications skills; demonstrated investigative and mediation experience; a record of accomplishment in civil rights activities and successful work within a multi-cultural, diverse community. Candidates should possess sound judgment and interpersonal skills. Candidates should have at least three years experience in a related professional capacity and one year of experience in a supervisory capacity. JD degree from an accredited law school, and member of the Massachusetts Bar Association preferred; bilingual skills a plus.

PHYSICAL DEMANDS: Ability to access, input, and retrieve information from a computer. Ability to answer phones and maintain multiple files and be able to lift a minimum of at least 10 pounds. Sufficient mobility to travel back and forth to offsite meetings. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform essential functions.

WORK ENVIRONMENT: Standard office environment with fluorescent lights, air conditioning, computers and other standard office equipment. Noise level can be moderate to high when the office is active with phone calls and walk in applicants.

RATE: $68,500-82,500

APPLICATION PROCEDURE: Internal applicants submit a job bidding form and 2 copies of both your resume and letter of interest; external applicants submit 2 copies of both your resume and letter of interest by 5pm on the closing date via email to:> or to Personnel Dept, Room 309, City Hall, 795 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge MA 02139. Fax 617-349-4312


Funeral information for John Sotelo, the first Latino councilman in Riverside's history has been released.

(source: Press Enterprise)

A funeral Mass will be at 9:30 a.m. at St. Francis De Sales Catholic Church, 4268 Lime St., Riverside. As a U.S. Navy veteran who served in World War II, Sotelo will be buried at Riverside National Cemetery, 22495 Van Buren Blvd., Riverside, where a service is scheduled for 12:30 p.m.

A remembrance will be at 2:30 p.m. at Bordwell Park's Stratton Community Center, 2008 Martin Luther King Blvd., Riverside. Those who want to contribute may bring a dish that feeds about 15 people in a disposable container.

Labels: , , , ,

Saturday, August 29, 2009

CPRC: We're going to wash those charter powers out of our hair...

[The majority of the commission including Kenneth Rotker (l) votes to eliminate minority reports. Commissioner Robert Slawsby (r) cast one of only two dissenting votes for that motion.]

Who's afraid of the Big Bad Minority Report?

The Press Enterprise wrote this article about the Community Police Review Commission in Riverside voting 4-2 to no longer accept minority reports on officer-involved deaths or perhaps on anything. Ultimately, it came down to a petty battle between whether or not it's fair for one person to write a report versus the majority of the commission, which is completely understandable because the majority of the commission has no idea what a minority report is by definition. In fact, they believe that they can vote against a minority report simply because they disagreed with its content. That's laughable indeed because if enough of them agreed with the minority report, it would constitute all or part of the majority report.

One would think, in a logical world, anyway. But River City is its own world.

It's been a disturbing trend by the majority of the commission (which is believed to have its strings pulled by City Hall by many folks) to vote away areas of expression of dissent with the majority, first involving dissent by city residents who attended meetings (through reduction of the scope and time allotted for public comment) and then more recently, commissioners. City residents leave the meetings in disgust before they're even completed and others are starting to turn their focus towards the city council which tacitly approves of the train wreck that the commission has become every time they give the city manager and city attorney high scores on their performance evaluations. And what's interesting is that the discussions people are having about the downturn of the that "most special" commission are evolving towards greater discussions of the next round of city council elections taking place in 2011.

But yes, public participation has been a casualty in City Hall's attempts to remold the commission through its post-Measure GG appointments.

In fact, one commissioner proposed a motion to reduce public comment simply because he didn't like this blog (and in fact, has been badmouthing it all over the Westside) which he made clear through his statements when proposing and pushing that motion several months ago. Oh well.

And a little bird told this blogger about the action to eliminate minority reports before the meeting where it took place. Which indicates that the commission's decision to ban minority reports wasn't exactly as spontaneous as it appeared or was being represented. And anyone who believes that the chair and vice-chair noticed some "error" with the minority report at the same time and duly (or not) reported it using the same legal language, well there's again, some nifty beach front property for sale in Idaho.

For those who have been following the commission and measures taken by its majority to reduce public participation in the process of the city's only oversight mechanism over its police department, the loss of minority reports was no more of a surprise than the dissolution of an ad hoc committee set up to draft proposed language on officer-involved deaths was last year. The majority's scared that the minority will have more airtime than they have and it's true that the minority reports tend to attract greater readership including the two which were banned by a majority of the commission from being released to the public. In fact, banning a minority report is a good way to increase the interest in it.

Just call it the Lady Chatterly's Lover's phenomenon. Banning books in libraries and schools just invokes people's curiosity to read them to find out what the fuss is all about or even further, what a governmental agency doesn't want them to know. When you suppress the release of books or something smaller, like minority reports, you're tapping into a basic element of human nature.

And perhaps in homage to National Banned Books Week which occurs at the end of September, a copy of the minority report on the Joseph Darnell Hill shooting can be included as Riverside's very own contribution to the suppression of public documents. This link which is from the CPRC's Web site used to be that of the minority report but as you can see, it's no longer there. So if you want to read the suppressed minority report on the Hill case, go here. And it's been removed from the Press Enterprise site as well.

The commission hit a nadir when its majority including the two commissioners who didn't show up to yet another meeting where a contentious issue came up for a vote, revealed itself to be terrified of minority reports. But that's not the only thing it's scared of as it turns out.

Q: Okay, what could be scarier than minority reports?

A: Reviewing police policies and procedures and making recommendations, that's what.

Apparently, the power employed by the commission to review police department policy and procedures is the next scary one on the city's list to erase or at least greatly restrict to levels that if carried out, will be in direct violation of the city's charter, not to mention the commission's bylaws. To misread the city's charter, revise the commission's history and to run around painting horrific scenarios not steeped in any facts about what could happen if the commission were allowed to exercise this power may be the latest pattern and practice to govern the commission's direction in its nine-year history. Never mind that like the situation with the investigative protocol of officer-involved deaths, nothing bad ever did happen. The city and police department have survived independent and nearly parallel investigations of officer-involved deaths for six years and the open review and recommendations stemming from departmental policies and procedures for even longer than that. But the powers that be at City Hall and perhaps a few in the police department as well have decided that both powers had been exercised long enough. Proving once again that City Hall fears its own police department which makes no sense considering it's essentially running it.

But apparently CPRC Manager Kevin Rogan after being advised by City Attorney Gregory Priamos sent emails saying that the issue of Border Patrol wasn't under the purview of the CPRC at all and that being involved at all would infringe on the boundaries of the discussion of that issue by the HRC. This contention kind of melded into a broader contention that policies and procedure review and recommendations could only be done if they were related to or tied into complaints that were filed. After all, the argument raised by Rogan in an email to one of the commissioners was that no complaints had been filed in relation to the arrests and detentions done by Border Patrol and/or the police department.

Apparently that meant that the CPRC couldn't tread into the waters of the immigration issue even through examining it as a policy and procedure issue which according to all written language is a rather broad power afforded the CPRC and certainly allowable. Meaning that the CPRC should be able to review the policies and if there aren't any, the procedures of the police department on this issue without getting its hand slapped by Rogan or his handlers at City Hall.

The idea that the CPRC can't examine this issue because the HRC is, is as the British would say, absolute rubbish. The idea that the CPRC has no purview at all to examine this issue belongs in the same garbage pile as well. And unfortunately, the deliberate barriers put up by Rogan and his handlers at City Hall cloud the issue further and cast the police department in a light of having done something wrong whether it did or not.

The gross misinterpretation of the joint histories of the CPRC and the Human Relations Commission by Rogan (who's an extension of the City Manager's and City Attorney's offices in City Hall who direct him) as well as separately deserves its own blog posting to set the record straight on that issue. And included in this misinterpretation and misrepresentation is the period of time under the city management of the interim, Tom Evans (working with interim Asst. City Manager Jim Smith) when the CPRC and HRC held joint meetings. Part of this was related to the fact that at the time, the CPRC and the HRC shared a director. Part of this was related to the fact that Evans and particularly Smith had their own vision of the role played by both commissions both individually and in tandem.

Those joint meetings apparently weren't included in Rogan's "history" of the CPRC and HRC were they?

Now,why would that be? Because his handlers in the city manager's office have no reason to educate him on the true history of both commissions. After all, this office lost control of the HRC after cutting its staff apparently in response to a letter it received from the HRC asking for statistical information on the ethnic and racial makeup of the management employees being fired, or resigning from positions in City Hall in the wake of the departures of Smith, Art Alcaraz and Tranda Drumwright. Currently, the HRC is under the umbrella of the mayor's office where it's not fared much better losing nearly all its staff including its director Yvette Pierre to the first round of budget cuts.

But it's disturbing that a history was built between the two entirely based on minute records for both commissions (especially since the CPRC's traditionally kept better and more accessible minute records than the HRC) rather than extending the research further especially by an individual whose stint in Riverside is little more than two years.

But you can't really blame Rogan because in all likelihood being an "at will" employee of City Manager Brad Hudson and Asst. City Manager Tom DeSantis, he has to do what he says or say goodbye to his rather impressive six-figured salary for what essentially is a part-time schedule. And when Rogan is stating policies of the police department as factual when they're not really part of the Riverside Police Department's policies and procedures irritating more than a few individuals at the department (who don't consider themselves to be similar to Pomona's Police Department where Rogan was from), then that's probably through City Hall's direction as well. After all, Rogan's predecessor "resigned" not long after DeSantis kicked him out of a meeting on what else? Officer-involved investigations in December 2006. You don't go lockstep with DeSantis' program, you essentially go home and you don't collect that six-figured salary.

But then DeSantis brings the same skills to the CPRC that he brings to...labor negotiations with the city's bargaining units.

The issue with the Border Patrol's relationship with the police department and the police department's detention and arrest of individuals to determine immigration status arose at the CPRC strictly as a question about the police department's policies and procedures on this contentious issue even though according to the language in the city's charter regarding the CPRC in this area is broader than that as can be seen by those who read the language in both the charter and the commission's bylaws which are linked to on this site.

The question being, what policies and procedures if any, did the RPD use to perform the functions of detaining and arresting individuals to determine their residency status and in addition, what forms of identification did it accept as proof of residency? Did it accept various forms or did it ask specifically for drivers' licenses as were alleged in at least one case? That question was to be sent to the Policies, Procedures and Bylaws subcommittee but then that committee along with Outreach was dissolved and future creation of subcommittees was forbidden by the majority of the commission.

So what role does the commission play in policy and procedure review and recommendation? The first place to look is at the text in the city's charter, which serves as its constitution.

(excerpt, City Charter Section 810 (h) )

Review and advise the Riverside Police Department in matters pertaining to police policies and practices

As you can see, the Not to mention that another provision from Section 810 in the city's charter gives the CPRC the power to advise on all police/community matters ot the city council and the mayor. This provides the CPRC with a fairly wide purview on reviewing and making recommendations on departmental policies.

When the bylaws were being drafted, the CPRC's Policy and Procedures Committee (which has been abolished, recreated and abolished again) was handed a policy and procedure manual (the one referred to in the bylaws below) by then Deputy Chief Andrew Pytlack and asked to go through it and pick and choose which policies to review and make recommendations to then submit to the police department. Given that the committee had a spotty meeting record and was chaired by minimalist and former commissioner, Jack Brewer, not many policies were reviewed but some led to policy recommendations including one which dealt with the handling of property belonging to a person arrested and/or detained.

The police department including Police Chief Russ Leach and members of his management team also said at public meetings including that involving the CPRC that the police department would be sending recommendations on policies to the CPRC for review and feedback which would later be sent back to the department. So the history points towards a rather broad scope provided for the CPRC in the area of policy and procedure review and recommendations.

The commission also drafted sections in its Bylaws defining its roles and responsibilities for reviewing and making recommendations on the police department's policies and procedures. The text for the bylaws borrows heavily from the municipal code which was passed by the city council in 2000 which created the CPRC.

(excerpts, Bylaws)

Article VI (Authority, Powers, Duties)

G. To review and advise the Police Department in matters pertaining to police policies and practices, including making formal recommendation for amendment to the Police Department's Policy and Procedures Manual and on Police Department proposed amendments to the Policy and Procedures Manual.

K: Review and advise the police department in matters pertaining to police policies and practices.

When you read that language, you notice that the provisions are crafted in a manner which provides greater detail to the exercising of 810(h) but they don't include restrictions on when policies and procedures can be reviewed and when they can't. In fact, there doesn't appear to be any prohibitions on accessing policies and procedures for reviewing and making recommendations. This language actually thrusts it in the leadership role of reporting both on police/community issues to the city government as well as reviewing policies and procedures for the police department and forwarding any recommendations to the police chief, especially considering that the language giving it this power and responsibility is explicitly stated in the city's constitution.

At best, the HRC would have similar language in the municipal ordinance since it's not a board or commission included in the city's charter.

Human Resources Municipal ordinance language makes no references to reviewing the policies and procedures of any city department let alone the police department but engages in issues including that of immigration and racial profiling from the perspective of trying to investigate or determine whether ethnic or racial discrimination (along with other forms) or prejudice are taking place. It also has powers to investigate or examine allegations or complaints on these grounds or any that jeopardize equal access for all city residents for private and public agencies.

Despite this, it was the HRC which created a subcommittee which performed the role of addressing policies and procedures in the police department and making recommendations and that was the Law Enforcement Police Advisory Committee (LEPAC) which was created in the 1980s after public uproar from a controversial incident involving a K9 officer and a disabled city resident in her home. LEPAC remained in place and even played a role in advising and reviewing on the implementation of reforms included in the Mayor's Use of Force Panel's report on the police department, including the creation and implementation of an Early Warning System.

However, when the CPRC began its operations, LEPAC was permanently disbanded because the role that it played in reviewing departmental policies and making recommendations would be adopted by the CPRC. Does this enhance the argument that the CPRC has the power and responsibility to do all forms of policy and procedure review and recommendations? Of course it does. Does it bar or deny the HRC from exercising any purview over the immigration issue and/or the relationship between the operations of U.S. Border Patrol and the police department? Of course not. Each board and commission can exercise some form of jurisdiction over the issue from a different angle as defined by charter or ordinance and it's purely ignorance to imply or suggest otherwise.

Why has the HRC taken the lead on this issue? It's not because the CPRC has no right or role in doing so itself. It's because of the two commissions, the HRC frankly has the fortitude to embrace its roles and responsibilities as defined by ordinance and the CPRC has very little interest in doing anything but minimizing its role and responsibilities governed by the charter and its bylaws. To put it simply, the HRC which is under the mayor's office has more guts and slightly more freedom to take the lead on this issue and perhaps the lack of having a director or manager at the helm (though Pierre most likely would have strongly served her role as staff support for the commission) might be to its benefit.

Unlike the CPRC which foists most of its workload and nearly all of its composition of public literature on its manager (and thus his managers), the HRC commissioners appear to exercise a far greater role as commissioners in determining their own community work. The CPRC could have played its own role from a policy and procedure perspective but instead has Rogan fronting it and claiming that there's a lack of purview to look at this issue and because its majority is 1) not motivated to do anything but what City Hall dictates and 2) is very hostile to the same communities that HRC serves so it's pointing its finger through the manager at HRC and saying that out of respect to HRC, it can do nothing but sit on its own hands.

At the same time, the commission is purportedly showing respect to the HRC, it's being very disrespectful and dismissive of communities where this issue in particular has hit home and because of the CPRC's apparently and fairly obvious loathing for serving as a public forum particularly for controversial issues (particularly sad, considering its origins) by ignoring this issue. It's hard to explain in 20 minutes the CPRC's lack of action or interest in dealing with "hot" community issues when a mere five minutes at a CPRC meeting can illuminate that to city residents more effectively and more readily as many have found.

The HRC has one minute record online for its June 18, 2009 meeting here that doesn't give much specific information about the HRC's work in this area except for the creation of an ad hoc "Immigration" committee that was going to meet with Chief Russ Leach on the police department's role on this issue after he returned to work after an extensive medical leave. According to these minutes, Leach had expressed willingness to meet with this committee even as a CPRC commissioner alleged that he had refused to meet with the CPRC to give a presentation on the policies and procedures involved in the police department's detention and arrest of individuals for the purposes of establishing residency.

Being ad hoc allows it to become yet another covert subcommittee that meets entirely in private without any allowances for public attendance, input or even notification. Hopefully, this example of an "ad hoc" committee will be more accountable and transparent than those surrounding the charter powers of the CPRC.

But simply because it's taken the initiative which the CPRC had a chance to do but didn't in any meaningful way, doesn't mean that the CPRC can't step up to the plate and actually abide by a charter responsibility albeit way after the fact. But then if City Hall doesn't want it to do any such thing, it naturally won't.

To be continued....

CPRC Score Card:

Independent investigations of Officer-Involved Deaths as charter mandated

Police Policy and Procedure Review in a broad scope as charter mandated

Standing Subcommittees

Bi Monthly meetings

Timely complaint investigation and review

Recording CPRC findings online

* Charter powers

Which door at City Hall is the next CPRC commissioner hiding behind?

Speaking of the CPRC, interviews to fill the Ward Two vacancy left by Commissioner Jim Ward in March will finally take place on Tuesday, Sept. 1 at 2 p.m. in the Mayor's Ceremonial Room. If you want to spend 90 minutes being entertained by the city council, you could do a lot worse than the interview process for the city's boards and commissions. So who will get appointed after interviews are done? Hint: It's not usually the person who actually a) exhibits the most knowledge about the CPRC and b) provides the best thought out responses to the questions.

After all, if you remember when current vice-chair, Peter Hubbard, the guy who is regionally directing a company which has a public safety contract wit the city. When he was interviewed, his reason for wanting to be on the commission was 1) he felt a great "hole" in his life since terming out of 10 years of service on the Board of Public Utilities and 2) He missed the free and special parking provided for commissioners when they attend meetings.

1) Amy J. Aldana

2)Trey V. Pittruzelle

3) Daniel W. Waldo

4)Garth Newberry

5)Christopher L. Lorenz

6) Joe R. Vazquez

More information on the six people chosen to be interviewed here.

Ethics, where did thou go?

Also approaching is the annual review of the ethics code and complaint process by the Governmental Affairs Committee, according to this agenda.

But the Governmental Affairs Committee has a brand new chair, Councilman Andrew Melendrez who had never served on this committee before his appointment by himself as mayor pro tem and Mayor Ron Loveridge (backed by a city council vote)

It's interesting that page 2 in the report states that Riverside is one of very few ethics processes that undergoes an annual review, according to a survey that City Hall conducted on best practices for ethics codes and complaint processes. Yet the city embraces its unique status as something that sets it apart from most others in a positive light. That's an interesting contrast to what's been going on with the CPRC and the radical changes done to its investigative protocol for officer-involved deaths which was bolstered by a "study" done by some individuals in the city that was used to justify the dilution of the CPRC's investigative powers by claiming that Riverside was unique in conducting its independent and nearly parallel investigations of officer-involved deaths. Its so-called uniqueness in this area was viewed by the city as something bordering catastrophic and certainly shameful rather than a standard that set it apart in a positive light compared to other forms of civilian oversight.

The report is here. Read it so that you too can be prepared for the annual review of the ethics code and complaint process which has been watered down with City Hall's equivalence of a hose to turn into a meaningless public relations tool to provide an allusion of accountability and transparency of city government. Kind of like the CPRC in that regard which has been as Press Enterprise Columnist Dan Bernstein put it, spayed and neutered.

There's so much that one can say about the ethics process and that will be done in several blog postings. There's the renewed importance in it being accountable, independent and transparent in the light of the Bradley Estates situation as well as the attempts made by San Bernardino County (aka the Den of Scandals) Board of Supervisors trying to discourage the creation of an ethics process there.

Riverside's first Latino councilman, John Sotelo has died at age 84.

Arts comes to the Eastside and this interesting article about stage productions taking place at Caesar Chavez Community Center at Bobby Bonds Park includes quotes by residents including the amazing and tireless activist, Christina Duran who took her daughter to several productions. Christina's daughter recently had major heart surgery so let's keep them and their family in our prayers and thoughts. The city needs about 10 Christinas but we're very lucky to have one.

Norco grapples with leasing facilities to political organizations.

Can the San Bernardino County assessor's office repair the damage done to it by a major scandal? That question is answered in a sense by the Press Enterprise Editorial Board.


Bringing professional management to the assessor's office, however, is not enough to reverse the county government's pattern of scandal and corruption. County officials need to change the political atmosphere Postmus exemplified, where officials treat government as a personal perk and view ethical standards as applicable only to others.

Still, replacing political self-interest with public service in the assessor's office is a good start. Putting public business first should be standard practice in county offices -- even without the prompting of another scandal.

Chicago Police Department Police Chief Jody Weis implored the city to take police lawsuits to trial rather than settle them.

(excerpt, Chicago Sun-Times)

Last month, Weis notified Chief U.S. District Judge James F. Holderman of the change in strategy.

"I have asked the Department of Law to litigate those cases which would have been settled [as] a matter of financial concern," Weis told the judge in a July 23 letter obtained by the Sun-Times.

Weis told the chief judge he realizes his decision may bring increased litigation in federal court. But he added that "if plaintiffs know their complaint will in fact be litigated, more focus and concern will be given to the factual validity of the complaints signed."

Attorney Jeffrey Granich, who represents clients who claim they have been victims of police abuse, said of Weis' strategy: "They are making decisions that are going to cost the city millions of dollars."

Granich said Weis isn't addressing the underlying problem of officer abuse.

But the city's Law Department is moving forward with the new strategy.

"We have seen an increase in the number of small-value lawsuits being filed" against the police, said Law Department spokeswoman Jennifer Hoyle, who defined such cases as those that seek less than $100,000.

In the past, city attorneys might settle such a lawsuit for $2,000 if they thought it might cost $10,000 to defend against it, Hoyle said.

"We believe that taking a more aggressive approach in these cases will lead to a decrease in the number of lawsuits being filed," she said.

Federal agencies raided a police department in Florida after a whistleblower alerted them to allegations of overtime pay abuses.

(excerpt, Sun-Sentinal)

Riviera Beach Police Chief Clarence Williams said Wednesday he was disappointed the anonymous tipster did not come straight to him and other city leaders, but promised his department would cooperate fully with the investigation.

The police department, meanwhile, has opened its own internal affairs investigation into the allegations that some officers claimed overtime pay for hours they did not work, Williams said.

In Tennessee, a captain with the Murfreesboro Police Department has been suspended for making racist remarks for the second time in 18 months.

(excerpt, Tennessean)

Watkins was first suspended for inadvertently broadcasting a racial slur over police airwaves on Feb. 22, 2008. He received a three-day suspension without pay for his use of the “N” word then.

“I did use the word ... while speaking to these men,” Watkins wrote after the first incident. “This is not everyday conversational language I use with my family or citizens from other parts of the city.”

Watkins, in his response to the latest complaint, explained the use of racial slurs, including the “N” word and foul language was needed “to keep my finger on the pulse of things going on, as that barbershop on State Street is a pipeline for illegal activity.”

“Just remember, this is the same barbershop where a gentleman was shot and killed in front of about three years ago,” Watkins wrote, in response to the internal affairs complaint. “I had to role-play with some of them to get information, thus the reason for me using some of the language.”

Atlanta Police Department officers have refused to answer questions asked by the new civilian review board there.

Kentucky Derby winner, Mind That Bird while recovering from minor throat surgery plays with his Jolly Ball.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The CPRC bans minority reports

****Breaking News****

The city has laid off two more city employees, both full-time. Losing their jobs were Librarian Alicia Doktor and Purchasing Division Office specialist, J.C. Cortez. Doktor who also serves as a steward for the SEIU General Unit which represents a large group of city employees from a variety of departments was terminated on Aug. 26.

Doktor's firing comes within weeks of two technology interns in the library being laid off and another employee receiving a $15,000 raise. The Board of Library Trustees had just voted the previous day to reduce the hours of operations for the library branches within Riverside in light of the budget situation.

More layoffs are anticipated.

The SEIU is taking it to the streets to talk to people about what's going on with the city, its labor and its finances.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

"We're asking them to defer their increases," just as other city employee groups have done, including management, supervisory and executive workers and fire employees, Human Resources Director Rhonda Strout said.

The City Council on Tuesday night approved changes to the fire management employees' contract that defer a 2 percent raise for a year.

Union officials counter that they've proposed other ways to save, such as shifting some workers to four 10-hour workdays, but the city hasn't really considered those ideas.

"What we have not seen is a serious willingness to engage on these cost savings," Steve Matthews, regional director for SEIU Local 721, said Wednesday. "We're troubled that (the 2 percent raise is) where they want to go first."

Councilman Mike Gardner said as the clock ticks on talks with SEIU, the city loses its chance at savings while the potential for layoffs increases.

"I think we'll continue talking to SEIU in hopes of reaching an agreement, we'll continue looking for other places to save, but we're getting to the point where I think we'll continue to see some layoffs," Gardner said.

Off with their heads: The CPRC votes to ban minority opinions

What: CPRC meeting

Where: Fifth floor conference room, City Hall, River City

When: Wednesday, Aug. 26

“Shutting down a minority report is just fundamentally counterproductive to what this commission is set up to do.”

—Commissioner Chani Beeman, CPRC whose minority report on the Joseph Darnell Hill shooting case was banned by the CPRC for inclusion in its public report.

"It’s not a right of the dissenting member. We can accept it or not accept it."

---Commissioner Art Santore who led the charge to ban the minority report by proposing a motion to ban all minority reports.

"Contrariwise, if it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn't, it ain't. That's logic. "

----Lewis Carroll

"All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players.
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts.

---William Shakesphere

"'cause its time, its time in time With your time and its news is captured For the queen to use."


[Michael Dunn, co-chair of the Riverside Coalition for Police Accountability, presents his argument for the inclusion of minority reports to mostly, a brick wall that's called the CPRC.]

[Commissioners Ken Rotker and Robert Slawsby disagree on whether minority reports should be banned. Actually Rotker flip flopped for a while but finally managed to come to an opinion without resorting to tossing a coin.]

At its meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 26, the Community Police Review Commission voted to first ban the inclusion of a minority report written by one of its members as part of the Joseph Darnell Hill case and then to ban them overall, all in the same evening. Why? Because the members have a difficult time with how to handle any opinions which differ from the majority and the solution as they see it is to just shut those dissenting opinions down and don't let the public know that they exist. That, and apparently they have little confidence in their own majority report to stand side to side with a minority report on the Hill case written by Commissioner Chani Beeman. You would have thought the whole world fell apart by how the majority of the commissioners behaved when presented with her minority report.

Maybe as far as the majority of commissioners on the CPRC, it did. Some of them certainly acted like it. And they responded accordingly. After all, a trained seal will perform repetitive behaviors that are rewarded with fish and tend to avoid those that don't result in that reward.

What unfolded was actually some time in the making, and it was as smoothly produced and directed as most Broadway productions or at least off-Broadway. Were these actions as spontaneous as they were presented?

The answer is, probably not.

Act I, Scene I

The CPRC agenda and 11th hour revisions

Most of the action takes place off-stage but with soft organ music playing in the background, the commissioners with CHAIR SHERI CORRAL leading the procession, enter through stage right and take their places, picking up their scripts and awaiting cues from the production director off-stage. STAGE MANAGER enters from stage left.

Over the weekend, the CPRC agenda had been revised to include an agenda item addressing the process of how the commission would author and submit public written reports on among other things, officer-involved death cases. And when that appeared suddenly on the revised agenda that was distributed and posted, it was relatively easy to see something was up. And then there was word that minority reports might become an endangered species in relation to the CPRC. But the CPRC didn't wait until the belated agenda item regarding the format of public reports came up for presentation and discussion, the majority launched its preemptive strike during the agenda item concerning presentation and discussion of the Hill shooting case.

And like a lot of rumors these days, this one was correct. Still, to watch it play out was fascinating, in how quickly and effectively the latest rubber stamp body (having been a juiced up outcome of the passage of Measure GG in 2004) out of City Hall eliminated another form of public process, one of several done under the current leadership of Chair Sheri Corral and vice-chair Peter Hubbard.

But then despite a backlog of citizen complaints filed, the actual meetings of the CPRC have been way down since the two commissioners with the worst attendance records last year were elected to chair and vice-chair the commission. If they opted out of attending meetings last year, it makes sense that if they make the decision about whether or not to conduct them, they'll opt out of as many as they can.

Corral opened up the process to ban minority reports by listing her objections to Beeman's and why she couldn't vote for its inclusion then Hubbard chimed in and then Commissioner Art Santore who essentially "me toos" Corral and Hubbard provided some harmony for the CPRC's own version of the barber's quartet. They all performed so seamlessly and in line, that one wonders if there was some rehearsals of sorts held beforehand where they received their scripts. Perhaps, it truly was all improv but it's doubtful. It's even doubtful that Corral or Hubbard wrote their own lines, which seemed eerily a lot alike leading people to think they had identical speech patterns and syntax.

Some people asked afterward, did the commissioners really say their own words or were they written by someone else? Listen to the chair and vice-chair when they're giving speeches like the ones they gave at the Aug. 26 to pave the way for banning minority reports and listen to their oratory responses the rest of the meeting. It's an interesting exercise in contrasts.

But the strategy which was enacted by City Hall's police commissioners mirrored that used by the same batch of them last year to eliminate an ad hoc committee that had been created to come up with potential bylaws and policies and procedures in relation to the CPRC's handling of officer-involved deaths. Which is why it seemed familiar when it was unveiled for its second time.

Act I, Scene II

We hate them, we hate them, we hate them: A historical perspective on the CPRC and minority reports.

Commissioners having already entered through stage right in the previous scene are still seated around the table. Direction is still taking place off-stage, but the STAGE MANAGER is also the narrator in this production.

Historically, the CPRC has struggled with the inclusion of minority reports in its officer-involved death cases. Meaning that it's both accepted them and banned them since the issue first came up for discussion. It took the micromanagement team at City Hall several years to figure out a strategy to eliminate them completely.

The very first minority report was done by former commissioner, Jim Ward several years involving the officer-involved death case of Terry Rabb, a diabetic who died after going into cardiac arrest after being restrained and handcuffed by two police officers. The commission upon advice by City Attorney Gregory Priamos voted not to include the minority report because they disagreed with its content.

That rationale, as faulty as it is when considering the definition of a minority report, would rear its head ineffectively in the officer-involved death of Lee Deante Brown and much more so in the Hill case with an additional step taken to not just ban that offensive piece of writing but to prevent any other minority reports

City Hall had learned from its missteps and perfected its latest attempt to micromanage the CPRC on Aug. 26.

But first it had to stumble through its attempts through the commission to try to silence Ward's attempts to write a minority report on the Brown case. Through some miracle or more likely gross incompetence on the part of the City Hall micromanagement team, Ward's minority report was actually included in the majority report but the commission wouldn't repeat that mistake again. And the way it saw it, the world fell apart.

Maybe a few people who occupy or occupied the Seventh Floor at City Hall threw a tantrum after realizing the Brown minority report had slipped out of their grasp and made it into the public's eye. By that time, it might have been too late. After all, it's very difficult to unring a bell.

But what's fascinating is that several members of the CPRC at the Aug. 26 meeting admitted that the commission only approved the Brown minority report because its members hadn't even read it! Those admissions do a great deal to reassure the public that commissioners on the CPRC as a whole behave professionally and responsibly. But when they made these admissions, they showed their hand, in that the decision to ban minority reports (both individually and then overall) is based entirely on whether or not these commissioners agree with their content. When the simple fact is this: If they did agree with the content, there wouldn't be a minority report in the first place because the content of a minority report would be included in the commission's majority report. And one commissioner thought he was clever enough to argue for banning minority reports in the hopes of improving transparency over the CPRC. Maybe something so patently ridiculous makes perfect sense to him or maybe he's been tutored by example in how to strategize through the use of reversals in speech. Which essentially is trying to justify the reduction of something, in this case transparency, by arguing that you are actually trying to enhance it. Former City Councilman Frank Schiavone was a pro at using this form of tactics in his actions against the CPRC among other things.

But then what's clear most of all in this latest debacle coming to you courtesy of the Seventh Floor of City Hall, is that it doesn't matter whether or not these commissioners even know or understand the definition of a minority report because it's pretty clear (and the rumors point in this direction) that it wasn't really their decision to make.

If you want to read the only minority report that slipped through the efforts of City Hall and/or the commission to suppress it from the public eye, go here.

Act I, Scene III

Police Chief Russ Leach: Bring them on (the minority reports)!

This scene takes place earlier in time, circa 2004 and consists of a different and more racially and gender diverse group sitting around a table listening to POLICE CHIEF RUSS LEACH who enters from Stage Left. Costumes are reflective of that era.

The characters are self-directed.

Back in the days when the city was managed by someone else and the police chief actually had some autonomy over his department, Leach appeared unchaperoned at a CPRC workshop held at City Hall on March 17, 2004. When asked about how he felt about minority reports, he said that he encouraged commissioners to submit them and not just on officer-involved death cases but for complaints as well, because he wanted to read alternative perspectives on the different cases. He's restated that opinion at various meetings since and it's a very healthy one to share coming from the head of a law enforcement agency, especially one that's been as intensively investigated, reviewed and revised as the Riverside Police Department's been in the past 10 years.

Of course, it's unlikely that Leach would be allowed to attend a CPRC meeting in 2009 and exercise any degree of candor on the issues that he once did and this assessment is based at least partly on how quiet his management representatives and liaison personnel are at meetings they attend involving the CPRC. Even when questioned, they are very circumspect and cautious as if they are concerned about saying too much.

Perhaps the past police department that was police-chief led could handle the existence of minority reports but the current city manager-led one can't cope at all with a hefty supply of smelling salts located nearby.

Act I, Scene IV

'My report is better than your report!'

INT: Cramped conference room, where a group of commissioners remain sitting while receiving direction from off-stage right and with the STAGE MANAGER continuing as narrator. Time has passed so tempers are starting to fray and small fires are breaking out on the terrain but no major conflagrations yet. That perusal would have to wait until "commissioner comments".

The silliest part of the whole decision to ban the minority reports out of existence is the message that it sends to the community and that is that the CPRC's majority is not just afraid of dissenting opinions and those not lockstep with its City Hall-endorsed majority, but that the CPRC's majority is steeped in the belief that their majority reports simply can't stand side to side with the minority report without looking mediocre in comparison.

Face it, if these commissioners were really as confident about the accuracy and professionalism of their analysis through written process, they would welcome the inclusion of a minority report if only to serve the purpose of making theirs look all the more intelligent and insightful and well...correct! The truly confident majority submits its carefully crafted report and then says to the naysayers, bring it on baby! You've got a minority report that you think can compare? Give it to us and we'll include it and show the world that ours is king and your is crap.

But that's not what this supposedly confident majority of commissioners did, is it? No, they did the opposite. They voted to ban the minority report from inclusion in their public report for a variety of inane reasons, the main one being that they disagreed with it as a majority. Well, that's normal because in all cases, minority reports are generated when there's vocal dissent to majority opinion. But what happened in this case, is that you have a majority of commissioners who clearly feel that their own effort is so mediocre that it would be embarrassing to pair it off with a minority report that might actually appear as better than it really is, simply by comparing it to a majority report that stylistically speaking, is pretty mediocre right down to its emotionally generated plea in its closing section.

The only real reason, strategically speaking, to ban a minority report is not because you disagree with it. That's why there is one. Not because you're offended by it, for the same reason. Not in the interest of improving transparency because by banning a minority report, you detract from that. But because you are scared to death of it and of people reading it and comparing it to the majority report and finding that it's the majority of opinion that is wanting. Because after all, how can you see how flawed a majority opinion is unless it's paired with a better argued minority report?

People left with the sense that this is what really led to the suppression of the minority report in the Hill case. After all, the Hill report is the second to be suppressed simply because the majority of the commission disagreed with its content. The only minority report not to be suppressed by the commission was one they never read before voting to include it. If they had, they certainly would have disliked it and you, the city residents visiting this site, would never have been able to read it.

But this batch of City Hall owned and operated commissioners went one step further and they took away the public's ability to read any minority report that could possibly be generated in the future. All because of an inferiority complex, because perhaps the concoction that City Hall has inspired them to generate and circulate is just not that impressive when stacked against the real thing.

Act I, Scene V

The blessings of the City Council?

INT: City Council chambers, with the eight characters in this chorus group entering from stage left after receiving cues from the director off-stage.

Yes, this title is correct, because when all is said and done, the city manager and city attorney's offices are directed by the city council and some of the most extensive micromanagement involving the CPRC has taken place during the past two years, especially in the area of the investigative protocol for officer-involved deaths by the CPRC. And the sad truth is that the city manager's office wouldn't be this aggressive and wanton with its actions to dilute and neuter the CPRC unless the majority of the current city council wasn't perfectly fine with what he and the city attorney's office are doing. By their silence on the issue, that's exactly what they're saying and with the exception of city councilman and former CPRC commissioner, Mike Gardner and Councilman Andrew Melendrez who tried to reinstate the former investigative protocol to the CPRC with a counter proposal to the freight train motion to limit its powers steerheaded from the Seventh Floor of City Hall, all there's been is silence.

The balance to this is that it's difficult for city council members to get reelected if they openly express any direction or involvement in the actions of their direct employees in regards to micromanaging the CPRC. CPRC opponents on the city council, Art Gage and Frank Schiavone lost their reelection bids in part to their views on the CPRC and/or on Schiavone's attempts, comments he made about his involvement in restricting and redefining its investigative protocol on his campaign Web site.

With 2007, comes four council seats up for reelection in the odd-numbered wards. What happens with the CPRC in the meantime, for better or worse, could define part of whether or not they will return to the dais or be told to pack up and go home by the voters. Don't be surprised if you see a sudden change of heart on the parts of several of the incumbents when election year gets closer.

Why is City Hall scared of the post-consent decree police department?

But when you're discussing why it's necessary to ban minority reports (which in most cases are those that disagree with majority findings exonerating police officers in officer-involved death cases), you can't omit the real focus behind a decision to do so which is to protect the police department simply because City Hall believes that it needs to be protected. Or rather, City Hall needs to be protected from the police department, from paying out major settlements in lawsuits filed against it. The rash of lawsuits and settlements ranging from $75,000 to $800,000 on wrongful deaths and between $75,000 paid out and a $500,000 settlement offer on lawsuits outside of the wrongful death category haven't been lost on City Hall and certainly not on the city's insurance carrier (if it still even has one). Not to mention other grievances filed that might turn into lawsuits including one filed by a man who alleged his legs were broken by a police officer welding a baton and a lawsuit filed by a Black LAPD sergeant who alleged he was racially profiled in front of his own home by police officers.

There's no shortage of problems in the police department for it to be addressing them for some time to come, most notably issues arising from the budget cuts impacting it and other city departments. Not to mention serious allegations raised about improper behavior involving two current and former city councilmen, the city manager's office and the police department's promotion of officers at the management level which have been raised in litigation filed by two police lieutenants. Not to mention serious staffing issues including at the supervisory level and complaint investigations that drag out for a year or longer before even reaching resolution, two situations which were problematic in the period of years leading up to the state's consent decree.

While watching the police department representatives, Asst. Chief John DeLaRosa and Personnel Lt. Gary Leach, the police department's new liaison to the CPRC (who actually attended a general meeting for a change) exhibit poker faces for several hours of the CPRC meeting on Aug. 26 and say nary a word, I was reminded of a story I heard a long time ago that took place in a completely different time and place in Riverside's recent history.

Sometime after the shooting of Tyisha Miller by four officers in 1998, there was allegedly a closed session held by the then city council to discuss whether or not the city would settle the lawsuit filed by her family for wrongful death or to take it to trial. A ballistics expert was presenting some information that he had uncovered in his analysis of the case to the city council, some legal folks representing the city and three representatives from the police department. After explaining a serious problem with one evidential item of the crime scene, he explained why the city shouldn't go to trial. After he finished speaking, the police representatives became red in the face and walked out of the meeting. Were they unable to face what the city's own hired expert had laid out for them?

This story has taken on a legendary status. Is it true? Only a very small group of people probably know the answer to that and most of them are probably gone, meaning retired. But if so, it paints an interesting portrait of how the city viewed the police department at the time, albeit behind closed doors even as the public raged outside. And even as the department's been given a huge makeover to the tune of over $22 million spent, it appears that some things haven't changed that much.

At any rate, not long after that meeting the city paid out a $3 million settlement in that case, the largest settlement of its kind in Riverside's recent history. Settlements petered out for a while after the Miller case interestingly enough until about 2007 when the city began settling lawsuit after lawsuit involving four officer-involved deaths that occurred between December 2004 and October 2006.

But it's difficult not to think of an incident like that taken from Riverside's own history book while watching what took place at the Aug. 26 CPRC meeting. So much of Riverside's history, that of the CPRC, that of one of its many parents, the Human Relations Commission that has been tossed about through speech and in writing including in emails from City Hall recently as CPRC Manager Kevin Rogan, most likely under the direction of his boss, Asst. City Manager Tom DeSantis, tries to winnow down the powers of the CPRC in terms of the area of policy and procedure discussion and recommendation. This latest challenge and redefinition of one of the CPRC's charter mandated powers deserves its own separate blog posting and will get one, but this sudden change came about because of conflicting information given out at different meetings by different people including police department personnel about the policy involving what forms of identification the department's officers request from people when trying to verify their nationality.

The moment that conflicting information between the department alleging that it offered people the option of producing a variety of different identification cards and witnesses at several checkpoints in Riverside who alleged that officers asked only for California drivers' licenses came to a forefront, then that's the moment when the CPRC's role in examining the police department's policies and procedures was suddenly greatly reduced despite rather the rather expansive scope of power given to commissioners to address policies and procedures written into the charter and their own bylaws. They kill the process rather than using it to further examine the conflicting information and to come up with some sort of explanation for it and if necessary, a recommendation for a solution.

And that's how the CPRC as run by City Hall addresses conflicting opinions on any issue whether they involve the police department or each other. It places restrictions on the purview of the CPRC to exercise its charter and ordinance mandated powers, even if those restrictions exist only in their own heads. Most of the individuals who are placing these restrictions don't live in Riverside, they haven't spent time here during the majority of the history of the events leading up to the creation and implementation of the CPRC. The only thing they've consistently shown is their desperate need for a primer on what the history actually is. Any lessons they ultimately learn about what really happened will most likely like most lessons be exacted at the price of the city's residents.

But the other side of what's impossible to ignore with the commission's decision to do away with any minority reports goes beyond the commissioners' fear of what minority reports represent and that's the fact that City Hall through the CPRC and other means including new restrictions on obtaining public information from the police department on its operations and policies is showing over and over again that it fears its own police department.

Why would a department reformed and essentially reinvented through a state-mandated consent decree be so scared of minority reports? The interesting thing is that many of the police department's officers don't exactly seem to carry that attitude that there's much reason to be frightened of them. In fact, some of them seem up to the challenge of addressing them and potentially learning. It's City Hall including the micromanagement team on the Seventh Floor who seem the most frightened.

That issue deserves a blog posting or two and they will be forthcoming. But suffice it to say, the same cooks that stir the pot in the kitchen of the police department do like with the CPRC and perhaps they're more interested in keeping the public through the CPRC from finding out how badly they micromanage the police department.

How the vote broke down on banning minority reports:


Sheri Corral, chair

Peter Hubbard, vice-chair

Kenneth Rotker

Art Santore


Chani Beeman

Robert Slawsby

Absent (per usual)

John Brandriff

Brian Pearcy

and a Ward Two vacancy

If you want to read the Hill majority report,this link will get you there.

If you want to read the now banned minority report, this link may or may not work depending on how quickly Rogan is instructed by the city manager's and/or city attorney's offices to take it down. Current odds are about even that this link will disappear within a week.

If it's been suppressed from public view on the city's Web site, thanks to the Press Enterprise, you can find it here. In general, the minority reports tend to be better circulated and more widely read than the commission's majority report. Another reason to ban them, of course but the problem is that banning the written form tends to increase its popularity. After all, who can forget Lady Chatterley's Lover?

Coming Soon:

The CPRC tries to restrict its power to review and make reconmmendations on police department policies and procedures.

Yes, seriously.

Homophobia rears its ugly head on the comment thread about the highest ranking openly gay male in the Riverside County Sheriff's Department.


Gays have NO business in law enforcement. Period. We're so jacked up as a nation, it's sickening. We are NOT obligated to like everybody. That's the great thing about being an American.

In trying to be everything to everybody, we are now nothing to anybody. Political correctness has killed quality of life in the law enforcement profession.

A man talks about having a husband?? Sick. Quite sick indeed.

---"Crazy Horse", a self-described former employee of the Riverside County District Attorney's office. Makes you wonder about how enlightened that agency is on this issue.

"A battle that has been lost long ago, but it won't change the simple basic fact that homosexuality is morally wrong and deviant. But the PCers get to feel soooo good because they're open-minded their brains have leaked out."

---School Monitor

"OC Retired Lawman" provided a different perspective:

I have spent over 25 years in law enforcement, both in San Bernardino and Orange Counties. When I was a young deputy at age 21, I had to watch fellow officers berate, belittle and beat gay men that were stopped and questioned - the only probable cause being a f****t in public. Times have changed for the better. I spent the last 10 years of my career out of the closet with my partner of 22 years. My best friend, who was a sheriff's sergeant for RSO, died in 1996 from HIV and even back then, RSO respected his life and his devotion to his career. I salute Captain Gregory and wish him the best of luck in running the Indio and Blythe jails. Congrats!

Labels: , ,

Newer›  ‹Older