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

Friday, January 08, 2010

Riverside Downtown's Latest Sweet Heart Deal?

***UPDATE**** Judge's threatened recusal and a missing doctor's report stall the sentencing of former Riverside Police Department Officer Robert Forman. More to come...****

Best in Show?

Oh my goodness, another blog posting from Riverside's best "dog and pony show", as I've been called by Councilman Steve Adams who represents the seventh ward in Riverside. Okay, maybe he didn't say that I was the best dog and pony show but I'm sure he just omitted that part of his statement by accident and hopefully will rectify that omission in his commentary on the dais at this week's city council meeting. Not that I'm not flattered that my comments at the afternoon session last week warranted both an original performance and an encore at the evening session by Adams. With all the important city business to be conducted including hundreds of thousands and even millions of dollars to spend, he still made the time to bring it up again for those who missed the afternoon session and to perform it as his first official action while mayor pro tem on behalf of the dais because after all, that's what the mayor pro tem represents.

But the issues I raised that offended Adams so much are still serious and they still matter and if Adams hides behind rude and boorish behavior on the dais to avoid that, then perhaps he should reconsider running for reelection again in 2011. He must be thinking about it again because a couple of people (though not all of them) who were seriously thinking about declaring are backtracking and really they shouldn't, the Adams they face in 2011 won't be nearly as formidable as he was in 2007 when he won his reelection bid by a whopping 13 votes.

If he loses, one sad thing about that will be that Yolanda Garland, one of La Sierra's best activists and staunchest voices won't be alive to see it because she passed away last year and worked hard to bring progressive action to her ward and Adams greatly disliked her and showed it every opportunity he had to do so. The insults he threw in her direction that she was a liar and had "no class" were truly not Adams at his best. Oh no, wait a minute actually that is him at his best because he takes great pride in his dais behavior, as was evidenced in the evening session last week. It's too bad that he allows and takes great pride in his behavior defining him as a politician because believe it or not, he does have talents and occasionally takes principled stands like on the train issue. It's just few and far between these days and his contempt for members of the public who address this city is fortunately matched most closely with elected officials who no longer are on the dais.

It's too bad that he will leave a legacy of bad dais behavior when he departs public office, like two of his predecessors before him, but that's truly his choice. As it turns out, the city's voters don't like their elected representatives to misbehave in public very much. Yes, thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from developers like Adams receives, like former Councilmen Frank Schiavone and Dom Betro received, are great and all that, but they're no substitute for actual votes. Ward Seven deserves a council member who actually lived in the ward before running for office there. After all, only months before he began his first election campaign in that ward, he tried to collect enough signatures to turn in a petition to run in the third ward but alas, he apparently wasn't successful so his political ambitions necessitated a relocation.

And speaking of dog and pony shows, check out the film, Best in Show, if you have a chance as it's pretty funny.

Press Enterprise
Columnist Dan Bernstein provides this update on the lawsuit filed by Los Angeles Police Department Sgt. Wayne Guillary against the City of Riverside. As you know, that lawsuit was settled in October for a tidy sum of money and silence exchanged for denial of plausibility. In other words, business as usual in Riverside. Instead of litigating this lawsuit to a trial date in U.S. District Court so that both sides could present their cases in front of a jury as it should have been done, the city and Guillary's attorneys settled it behind closed doors.


In 2008, RPD Chief Russ Leach accused LAPD Sgt. Wayne Guillary of "misconduct" and "launching a publicity campaign." Turns out he was merely guilty of being a black homeowner in an upscale neighborhood. And talking to a black woman, who said she sold Bibles.

Guillary said he was cuffed and searched in front of his home. Threatened with a Taser and a gun. When police (up to nine showed up) finally examined his ID, which he had offered to produce from the start, they left. The RPD said Guillary was spoiling for a fight. He denied it.

The LAPD investigated Riverside's allegation against Guillary and, word has it, found no misconduct. In case you missed it, the city has now agreed to pay Guillary and his lawyers $175K to settle the matter.

Pretty hefty tab for a case that, in the city's words, had no merit.

There's been payouts of up to $1.75 million in the past several years, all involving lawsuits with "no merit" or that are "frivolous", according to the city. And more claims and lawsuits have been filed since both inhouse and from city residents. So the city will be hosting more closed sessions to update its legislative body on these cases and it will be making more court appearances to defend itself and it will be settling most if not all of these cases at some point unless someone forces their hand and takes a lawsuit to trial.

And there will probably be even more public outbursts by City Councilman (and former police officer) Steve Adams to come especially since now the rest of the city council's anointed...I mean appointed him mayor pro tem for the next six months. With Mayor Ron Loveridge needing to go on all these trips as the president of the League of Cities, the mayor pro tem role might actually take on some importance.

Still Time on the Strategic Plan Survey

In case, you're one of the roughly 90% or so who wasn't invited to be part of a series of focus groups meeting beginning on Wednesday, Jan. 13 from 5-8:30 p.m. this week at the Magnolia Policing Center on Magnolia near La Sierra, there's still one way to be involved in the Strategic Plan development process and that's the online survey. If you're in the lucky 10% or so who found a gold ticket in their candy bar (oh wait, that's from a movie, right?) or were invited, then go to the focus group meetings because your input is needed.

Spanish speakers will be available to answer questions at this week's meeting and will translate part of the meeting so that more people can participate. Already people who are invited to that first meeting are trying to ensure a good turnout.

Speaking of the police department, there's still time for everyone else to fill out this online survey on your concerns, ideas and thoughts about the police department's upcoming Strategic Plan. It's due the end of January and if you aren't keen on online surveys or need more space to write, then you can pick up a hard copy at the Orange Street Headquarters. It's important to participate in that process.

It's not a bad survey for a start and it will receive further analysis on this site but someone clearly worked hard on it when they put it together. It's a good device to initiate conversation rather than serving as an end all when it comes to receiving public input. But one question is missing, in that whether or not you would like to see the police department under a single chief that can be held accountable for what's going on in the department good or bad or rather you would rather see it ruled by committee, meaning that City Hall calls the shots. I would guess that the addition of that question wouldn't go over very well and perhaps asking it, probably would ensure that you never got invited to another focus group meeting again so no one who's invited is going to ask it.

And that's too bad, because until that question is settled, the Strategic Plan really will have as difficult a time being implemented and staying on its path as the other one did once the consent decree expired. In fact, the process was stalled earlier this year for a period of time due to alleged interference by City Hall which is why it wasn't completed and put in place before the original plan "sunset" in December.

One City Hall individual said that it might have been chilled somewhat while Schiavone was still in office. At any rate, this important process did get back on track at some point. But will it stay on track? That's the question, as the forces at City Hall that tend to keep their fingers in different pots in the kitchen that is the Riverside Police Department get into mischief when people have their attention elsewhere. So don't just fill out the survey, pay attention to what's going on.

Court Dates

Speaking of the police department, former Officer Robert Forman was scheduled to be sentenced on Monday, Jan. 11 at 10 a.m. by presiding Riverside County Superior Court Judge John Molloy on the oral copulation under the color of authority and petty theft convictions but it will likely be postponed until another date. There was also a motion for new trial that's been filed by Forman's attorney, Mark Johnson that's been scheduled for a hearing at 1:30 p.m. That might be postponed as well. Not to mention a felony settlement conference on the felony sexual battery charge that resulted in a deadlocked verdict at the trial last month.

There will be updates on this blog whatever happens in court tomorrow.

Former Officer David Reeves, Jr. will have a felony settlement conference on his armed robbery and kidnapping charges later this month and Officer Anthony Fletcher is scheduled to be arraigned on his felony case next week.

Fox Theater Developments

Attracting some degree of controversy is the new marquee sign at the Fox Theater located on the corner of Mission Inn Avenue and Market. Some people like it and some people hate it. Some changes have already been made since its construction in anticipation of the glitzy premiere of the long-awaited theater later this month.

Even former Councilman Dom Betro has put his two cents in through a letter to the Press Enterprise's Reader's Forum. What's interesting about watching the evolution of Betro still continuing two years after he lost his reelection bid, is how he's becoming more and more what he despised in people while he served as the dais but apparently, he doesn't get that.

Someone who floods the city with negative commentary rather than someone who "works" with City Hall like he tried to get people to do instead of "complaining" at city council meetings. In fact, far from being the champion for public participation that he claims now, he made the motion to restrict public comment at city council meetings including the removal of items from the consent calendar for discussion by city residents, you know the people who provide the tax money that is use to be spent on consent calendar items.

And although Councilman Steve Adams might think he's the most accomplished at engaging in verbal temper tantrums on the dais, he really is but a mere shadow compared to Betro who actually had to get another now former city council member who liked to make similar outbursts to help him rewrite the ethics code and complaint process resolution during the summer of 2007 to allow council members to engage in tantrums away from the dais. And five city council members backed that language in the resolution and those that did were 1) those who engaged in public outbursts from the dais and 2) those who engaged in questionable campaign tactics in their election cycles (which they were heavily criticized for) but wanted to repeat in the next election cycle and 3) those on the dais who are easily influenced by advocates for #1 and #2.

Here's Betro's latest piece:

A lot of political capital and public funding was expended to ensure that the Fox historic theater was brought back to life with the historic significance that it deserved. This included hiring a historic preservation architect to ensure that all that was done met the highest historic standards.

It appears that political incompetence and staff-driven standards have replaced objective historic standards. The digital sign that has been slapped on the front of the Fox is an affront to the historic marquee which was its signature image.

This sign needs to come down. It should be replaced with one of historical appropriate design.

Dom Betro


But it's this current agenda item on this city council meeting agenda for the afternoon session of the Tuesday, Jan. 12 meeting. The only written backup available on this huge proposed expenditure of $25 million of the city's money to hand off to a private developer in the form of a "loan" (and any such thing has to be qualified during the most economically difficult fiscal period in this city's history). That's after being extraordinarily generous to these folks and threatening eminent domain to snatch up prime real estate for them in the first place.

Does the downtown area need hotels? Probably, but why not just take Mark Rubin's busted condo/loft concept and use those units as an avante garde hotel of sorts for visiting guests. But the item isn't being continued to give the public more time to respond to it, it's being continued because property negotiations between the city and the developer are still taking place behind closed doors.

But maybe it's all related closed session item in relation to the same proposed Hyatt Regency Hotel that could be the recipient of some of the city's greatest efforts at enriching that other form of welfare, corporate welfare, in the form of a "loan". As some have told me in response to this controversial item, you would think that the city given how many consultants it's hired during this recession to "improve" or even "define" its image to the world, that it would have some clue how to attract businesses to Riverside without using city funding to subsidize them (which didn't work too well with local restaurants). But this city hasn't quite that down pat yet. In fact, it hasn't even started. Since there's no written back up material on this items which was given public notification through a tiny item in the Press Enterprise (which actually the city was loathe to do because it's still steamed at the newspaper about the article on that controversial water study).

I started getting emails about this as soon as the city published the official notice and while I've been researching to determine the next round of budget cuts for city departments, given that the city's hit the middle of its current fiscal year this month. This likely includes up to $10 million in budget shortfall for the Riverside Police Department, which was recently hit with $2.6 million cuts. Ironically, it's purported that the $2.6 million cuts were pushed by Mayor Ron Loveridge who's the biggest booster of hiring "concept" consultants for just about everything in this city. You know, the guy who ran on the importance of public safety just a few scant months ago but then well, that's the past and this is the present.

But the thing about public safety cuts including police cuts, is that since public safety isn't usually cut first but last, if you see major public safety cuts, what you're essentially being told is that the city's in seriously bad financial shape if it's coming to that. But all we hear as the public is how great the city's doing and how city's like Corona are laying all these people off when if you look at the comparison of how the city's using its labor statistics in comparison to what it's doing for Corona's, there's a huge difference as was pointed out on this blog several times.

Are We Having Fun Yet?

And the intrigue deepens because guess who's heading the Fox Theater's Foundation Board? None other than Mission Inn Owner Duane Roberts who also incidentally donates into quite a few of the campaign chests of elected officials. Which of course is a total coincidence.

And I hate to break it to the readership here but this deal is probably going to go through and it's questionable if it does because as some readers pointed out when the public announcement was first made, how can the city float such a huge loan during an economic crisis when there was some reluctance to do so during the economic boom years not too long ago?

I don't know how common this type of deal is because most cities know that cultural and performing arts institutions can't survive on public dollars, no matter how many are pushed their ways in these kinds of sweetheart deals disguised as public process. And is this public hearing scheduled when people can actually attend. Well, not really originally it was scheduled for the afternoon session of this week's city council meeting but as it turned out, it was scheduled before the requisite closed session to ahem, settle this land deal involving the property.

But I thought it not surprising at all that an individual who's such a big player in the downtown and good at popping some serious money here and there into various political campaigns of local elected officials would get appointed to such a key position. No, it's not really surprising at all. And some people might have to think about whether their votes will co align or conflict with their campaign promises from the various election cycles. That should be interesting.

But naturally, there's tons of money sitting around waiting to get thrown into this project because Riverside's doing much better than other cities. After all, the city hasn't laid off anyone in six months and the police department for example isn't really experiencing 10% vacancy rates while other departments like museum and library have been pretty much decimated. The Development Department might be freezing the most positions percentage wise lately as people continue to "drop out of there like flies".

But with millions more in cuts to come including possibly as much as a $10 million short fall just in the police department, why is this thought even being entertained on the agenda? The city will say this money doesn't come from the same funding source but most of it ultimately does come from the people in one way or another. And since as stated earlier public safety, like fire and police are usually the last departments to receive major cuts, if it's true that the police department is facing more hard hits as anticipated, then what does that say about the financial state of the city?

I guess this means that the civilian and sworn positions in the police department which are frozen won't be thawed. Not if the Fox Theater needs all the city's available cash lying around to stay afloat until it can like pay all that money back in 20 years or so.

That everyone should be very concerned about what's really going on with the city's budget. Really, you should be.

Some more "fan mail" and advice

I actually was so fortunate that I was able to get such great advice from this anonymous commenter and "fan" who is taking some valuable time off of hounding Councilman Mike Gardner to throw some rants my way.


Nobody have the time to read looooooooooonnnnnnggg postings by FBM Mary. If you can not say what you want in two paragraphs, then you are wasting your time. It is common of egocenttric individuals to write loooooooooonnnnggg postings thinking that we are praying for them to write something. The guy you are reffering to obiously his campaing is working, because you took the time to reply. Mary get a husband, a dog or something. You really need it bad.

Husband? Huh? But it's interesting because men get challenged on what they actually do. Women? We get told we need a husband or "it" as if that's the sum of all of our parts and maybe to enlightened individuals like this unidentified individual, that's true.

But maybe I will think about getting a dog some day. I don't have enough room for a pony.

Thank you, Councilman Steve Adams

Your outburst at city council although obnoxious has jump started more participation in a civic project I've been working on for the past 10 years. And I'm thanking you, because no bad deed goes unrewarded. I will make sure that when changes are made in this area that full credit goes to yourself.

Two Temecula city councilmen have been cleared on conflict of interest allegations.

This key decision has come down from the Ninth Circuit on the use of tasers by officers on passively resisting individuals. Some Inland Empire law enforcement agencies will be reexamining their taser use policy. Others won't be, saying that their policies are adequate enough. The Riverside Police Department's taser policy is pretty inclusive of many of the limitations on taser use already, including some that the majority of the police agencies in this country haven't covered in their own taser policies.

Who is going to be in charge in San Bernardino County?

How did the city of Hemet get its name?

Poor Ferndale, California!

A 6.5 earthquake hits but they have major quakes about every 10 years including three huge ones in 1992 so this one was a mere temblor. Ferndale sits close to the intersection of three of the earth's tectonic plates, which in one spot are divided by the San Andreas Fault. The magnitude of the huge earthquake that hit in San Francisco in 1906 was felt in this small town over 300 miles away, knocking down buildings and shattering glass. The town repaired itself gradually after the 1992 quakes which you can see in the film, Outbreak that came out in 1995 after being shot there in 1994. A lot of the "sick" people in that film which starred Dustin Hoffman and Morgan Freeman were actually from that town.

Don't like big earthquakes, probably shouldn't hang out there though it's a pretty town of nice people. Nothing like dodging falling objects and trying to hold onto the table that you're sitting under while it shakes around the room or dodging bricks flying off the whip-lashed chimney. But it's a great place for practicing duck and cover drills and you have to have really fast reflexes to work there but if since its number one industry is dairy and cows can be inclined to kick people especially bulls about to become steers, that's not really much of a problem.

I love earthquakes, yeah sure. Not so sure about cows.

Ethics Training For the CPRC

It will be held at this meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 13 at 4 p.m.

It's hoped that they spend a portion of that training paying extra attention to ahem, conflict of interest issues. Actually, the thought of any type of ethics being part of the CPRC is pretty much a joke after learning of yet another potential conflict of interest situation involving a CPRC commissioner.

This is actually kind of a humorous situation.

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