Five before Midnight

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


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Location: RiverCity, Inland Empire

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Bank of Riverside Prepares to Open for Business

[Day four after the mighty rains stopped, the city sends out its crews to address the flooding of Arroyo Street by a blocked stream that runs through Victoria County Club's golf course.]


Man Detained by Police During Raids, his house hit by mistake?

U.S Attorney's Office files indictments against 20 people

Community Meeting Planned Next Week

UPDATE: Major gang sweeps targeting Latino residences (as reported by witnesses) hit Eastside apparently at some point about an hour or so ago by multi-agency task force hitting over a dozen residences.

Community confused and dismayed that police department and Councilman Andrew Melendrez not returning calls or addressing community on this issue even as dozens of different law enforcement officers and vehicles hit several areas of the Eastside this morning in what's been called a joint operation between the FBI, ICE, the RPD and the Riverside County District Attorney's office.

There's been what's been called "a war" between Latino and Black gang members, the latter not existing according to the city officials and police management (as they've been telling people for years) with the only person saying that 1200 Bloc did exist is Gang Sgt. Gary Touissant at a community policing forum held last year when he said that this gang indeed existed in the Eastside. Still, the city's policy seems to be that it doesn't exist, even when the gang sergeant said that it did which was the right statement to make if that's the case and it clearly is and at least someone made that statement even as the city denied it insisting that any Black gang members in Riverside are simply "passing through" the city. It's perplexing that there are two contradictory statements being issued about whether or not Black gangs exist and are committing violence in the Eastside as Latino gangs have done, but it's pretty clear that the city's stance is not the correct one.

And that's long been an issue that's been raised in the Eastside including by its leaders many times throughout the past several years is why one gang's being targeted for the violence it causes and the others are not even though they kill and harm people as well, usually in spurts of violence that occur when the different gangs clash.

Raids are scary and traumatic for those who aren't the targets and the city and police management need to be sensitive to that and address the concerns raised by neighborhood residents as to what went on this morning and then they need to take a seat and listen to people's concerns and questions about it. Melendrez should be out right now in the Eastside talking to his ward constituents but no one has seen or heard from him. The city leaders and police management need to be as responsive to community leaders and prepared to address their issues and questions as they are when conducting the raids, in a very different way. Relations between communities and police, already fragile most of the time, tend to unravel when incidents like this take place where the leadership remains silent rather than going out and talking with them and more importantly, listening to them.

When police including those wearing armor and carrying weapons are running about, people don't know whether to feel safer or more in danger, especially when they don't know what's going on. Police officers participate in raids as part of their jobs, but they don't live in neighborhoods where these raids take place and that's a lot different to be in that position. Police officers might spend time lying in the ground in situations hoping that it will provide enough cover but residents of areas that are raided suddenly often spend hours on the floors of their own homes hoping for the same while hoping that their loved ones are safe just as they do when violence is going on including by gangs. And from personal experience when police officers including SWAT conducted numerous raids in an apartment complex I lived in going after gang members, or drug dealers or armed weapons dealers and such, the floor gets a bit uncomfortable after a while and you are wondering whether you did the right thing when you reported some of those gang members, drug dealers and gun dealers in the first place. Did you help your neighbors or did you harm them by bringing in even more armed people? That might sound like silly questions to ask but unless you've been there yourself, you don't know and the answer might never be a satisfactory one. Because often that answer doesn't exist.

Addressing crime in your neighborhood is a series of questions that you ask yourself, if it's worth it. Report a drug dealer, a narcotics officer dressed in some seriously bad 70s threads comes around and leaves their calling card on your door with the orange logo on it and then you come home from a holiday and find that someone took a shot at your door. And was it because of being a "snitch" or because they meant to hit the drug dealer downstairs and missed? The last is possible, because on more than one occasion, one drug dealer trying to take out someone who stiffed him walked up the wrong flight of stairs and shot a family eating dinner, through their open front door with a dozen people watching but none of them saw a thing. But then being a good neighbor and reporting crimes like this can be a double edged sword that can come back and hit you.

Plus there's the fear that at any moment, there will be guns going off or shootouts, which aren't pleasant experiences either for people in a neighborhood.

Violence in a neighborhood is a serious issue and a scary issue for people who live in it and experience it. But sometimes the response to that violence or even to prevent it, can be just as scary and occasionally just as dangerous.

Suggestions were made at the Strategic Plan forums to have community/police liaisons to address crisis situations like raids in a neighborhood, including one with multiple racial and even ethnic and generational populations and more than one official language. Any police officer participating in a raid understands his or her role in the larger process and even though it's dangerous to do this, they understand the actions they take and why. Community members have no understanding of all the activity and even as the city might pat them on the head like children and tell them it's for their own good to make them safer, that does little to help them feel safer and less vulnerable at the time and a lot less angry than many feel right now. But that's a challenge, which is to create such a liaison process to improve communications between police and community when the former by design or in some cases necessity, keeps about half of what it does shrouded in secrecy. That's readily apparent when the area commander who's supposed to be means of communication between the department and his "area", is asked questions and can only give vague responses which only serve to muddle the issues further in those communities.

And that there's more than one gang in the Eastside. If the D.A.'s office is out there having arrests done of gangs besides ESR, then it's not issuing press releases each time an arrest is made and a case is filed for members of those other gangs.

But that's a different issue given that one such gang 1200 Bloc has been tagging all over the Eastside and crossing out both ESR and Blood gangs, yet they seem to avoid similar attention, even as the murders of two Latino young men in December 2009 by allegedly Black gang members remain unsolved. D.A. Rod Pacheco to hold press conference on raids at 2 p.m.
But what should be explained is if there's a "war" going on between Black and Latino gangs in the Eastside, why is only one gang being targeted by the city and county in raids and injunctions while the other is free to continue? But then many Eastsiders including some of its leaders have been scratching their heads at the unilateral gang injunction imposed in the Eastside by Pacheco's office, which is kind of a rarity in the use of such injunctions by other cities which often target multiple feuding gangs, realizing that it's the combined violence of the gangs against each other that causes the casualties. And that if you tie the arm of only one of them, then another one will come in and try to fill the vacuum which happened for a while in late 2008 when a Crip gang from outside the city wrote graffiti in the Eastside threatening to "gang bang" with anyone who stepped foot in a large area of the Eastside area allegedly claimed by ESR. Not long after the graffiti appeared, a Latino teenager was shot in the leg inside that zone claimed by this outside Crip gang.

ICE agents are involved in these raids as well, according to eyewitness accounts, as their agents and vehicles have been spotted. This indicates that the targets of the raids are primarily Latinos.

This is a question that's asked often by Eastside residents who have for the most part been completely left in the dark regarding policing strategy involving gang activity in the neighborhood and the department heads and Melendrez need to answer it. To some degree, that might be necessary for sensitive operations but the communication always seems to breakdown after the arrests are done and the police leave en force from the Eastside nearly as quickly as they came. Latinos often feel they have no one to turn to when their kids get beaten up after school by Black gang members or threatened while they are walking home by members of 1200 Bloc who threaten them with words or hand signs. The police chief and department often claim they don't mention gangs by name in order to avoid giving them notoriety. But that's not true at all, as they repeatedly have named Eastside Riva or ESR by its name in many a press conference and article. Here, it's equal opportunity because all gangs can destroys people's lives (and having in the past had my life threatened by members of both ESR and 1200 Bloc, I think that makes me neutral while grading them) and if written about here, none will be getting special treatment in the arena of public rhetoric and word choice.

Pacheco should be contacting the leadership primarily the Latino leadership in the Eastside to address them on this issue. But then again, when members of the Think Tank, a committee with origins in the police department wanted to meet with Pacheco about the injunction, he wouldn't do so unless the group submitted the names of those attending including law enforcement officers to his investigators' division for background checks.

Is Pacheco targeting primarily Latino gangs to prove to the state officials that he's tough on his own racial group, given that his ambition includes higher state office (as he had set up a Pacheco For State Attorney General committee a while back)? Pacheco's given a lot of press conferences on Latino gangs in the Eastside but has never given one on its Black gangs and this fact isn't lost on many Latinos in the Eastide nor is the fact that he still won't meet with anyone of them several years after the injunction, even though he'll hold meetings in other predominantly Latino neighborhoods to discuss gang enforcement and prosecution (albeit of Latino gang members) in the Eastside.

If different gangs in the Eastside are at war and hurting or killing people, most often passerbys, then shouldn't the city be targeting all of them, not just one? At least, it would be nice if the city government could make an announcement at the press conference that 1200 Bloc does in fact exist and by now, is probably more than up to fighting strength.

The Press Enterprise which has been flooding this site has posted this news brief stating that the FBI is behind the warrants being served in Riverside today. Whether that's in relation to the raids in the Eastside this morning, remains to be seen but city leaders and police management need to discuss the situation with the Eastside residents including the leaders who once again have been left in the dark.

[Gang graffiti by probably 1200 Bloc, the gang that doesn't exist, at the Town Gate Center near Chicago and University in the Eastside. While gang violence must be addressed as it impacts innocent lives, questions have been asked in the Eastside while Latinos are targeted and there haven't been as many raids and no injunction involving Black gangs like 1200 Block and Georgia Street Mafia, whose graffiti is often found side by side in the southern part of the Eastside/Victoria Gulf Club/ northern Canyon Crest areas. But ask the city and they'll tell you 1200 Bloc doesn't even exist.)

UPDATE: The operation involved in raids in the Eastside raids this morning is a joint operation between the FBI, Riverside County District Attorney's office, the Riverside Police Department and ICE and that the arrests were primarily Latino although four African-Americans were taken into custody near 12th street and ICE took in some individuals on Patterson Street.

The Think Tank is set to hold a meeting soon on this series of raids and has invited police and city officials including Melendrez who haven't yet RSVPed.

Melendrez later on said he had been receiving phone calls from Eastsiders all day and that a meeting will be scheduled to address the raids in the neighborhood next week.

And the U.S. Attorney's office has issued indictments
against 20 members of East Side Riva and if they're eliminating drug trafficking as they say and hate crimes, not a bad thing and more power to them for accomplishing both in society but it takes two sides to make a gang war and ignoring one side, just will help that side take over. And it will probably be a long time before the killings of those two Latino men by Black gang members because of their race are ever treated or seen by these same federal agencies in the same light as being every bit as much hate crimes. They were shot to death while one of ESR's rival gangs armed themselves and went "cruising" for people inside ESR's territory, which is not a lot different than what the feds had said that ESR has been doing.

What's also interesting to note is that since these individuals are charged with federal crimes, they'll eventually go to federal prisons spreading themselves far and wide across the country to potentially take root elsewhere and grow, bringing what they brought at home with them. It's not that difficult in this difficult economy to replace the arrested people who were dealing drugs with new people and no doubt, any dealers arrested will be replaced by the end of the week. These people will probably be more valuable inside federal prison where they can spread this larger prison gang into different corners of the federal penal system as has already happened when California's gang members were transferred to other state prisons in the country. Now places like Durham, North Carolina are seeing the same interracial gang strife as was once thought only to exist in Southern California's cities. No doubt, due in part to this practice, this phenomenon will spread.

It's hard to attack a larger gang solely by force when it's the same force which makes it stronger, kind of like the Hydra's head being replaced with three new ones for every one struck down. After all, if the Mexican Mafia does or did (well still does if this is the case) control the Eastside as one police official said then it's through the funneling in and out of prison of local gang members which serve as the necessary link between the prisons and the neighborhood streets. Keep that flow going and that's how this gang gathers its strength to build further on its operations as it will spread through the federal penal system even further. Each one that is arrested and goes to prison is a new recruit for any prison gang. And so it goes, and will continue to go until the gang violence problem is treated with a multi-prong approach rather than just throwing the considerable muscle of multiple law enforcement agencies at it hoping it will go away.

That's apparent anytime you see a young kid with nothing to do, no hope of anything to do getting approached by gangs or because their family members were in gangs. Until it's seen through those eyes, then nothing will change. And the legal system can keep on waving swords at that Hydra.

The Riverside County District Attorney's office and Riverside Police Department held a joint press conference during the afternoon open to big media outlets but again, shutting Eastside community leadership out, where they said that six men had been arrested by over 800 police officers from different agencies. The rest of the 20 gang members under indictment are either incustody or are at large.

One man did report having his house broken into by 10 police officers, damage done to his carpet and being forced onto the ground in front of a young child at gunpoint by multiple officers, and it turned out the police had struck the wrong address. His daughter later drew a picture of officers pointing a gun at her father.

State of Morale in the RPD

In the past few weeks, it appears that the newly elected president of the Riverside Police Officers’ Association has made the rounds of both the floors of City Hall and the rooms of community meetings to speak on the issues being faced by the police department and its employees. Det. Cliff Mason was elected by the membership of the police department’s largest bargaining unit over incumbent, Det. Chris Lanzillo who had handily defeated Det. Ken Tutwiler who had done like to Sgt. Pat McCarthy and so forth. The RPOA turned over quite a bit of its board of directors last year.

In the past decade, the RPOA has seen about five presidents come and go. Mason is the union’s sixth leader and he stepped into the position during a time that the police department’s in deep turmoil and the city’s entrenched in an economic downturn, part of a larger recession that’s been felt around the world. He’s a detective who wants his stripes back in an agency where there aren’t any left to be allocated to anyone even as the levels of sergeants sink further and morale in the police department has been impacted by this and other situations that have risen.

Mason’s spoken at meetings about the need to address the department’s sworn vacancies which have been piling up for the past couple years, and his opinion has apparently been that the problems which have rocked the department just shy of four years since the dissolution of its consent decree with former State Attorney General Bill Lockyer have been several years in the making. Mason's joined some other officers who've made appearances in the past year at different venues including City Hall who've said that the morale in the department has sunken to its lowest levels in a decade. The Riverside Police Department is heading in a not so very good direction and it's not a matter of "if" there's going to be a tragic incident, it's a matter of "when" and the clock is ticking while City Hall (which has essentially been running the police department by insisting the city charter states that it can) keeps going on with its short-minded decision making.

And he’s right.

When the city made the decision to promote itself as being highly committed to public safety in front of the cameras and the packed venues and engage in cutting sworn positions behind the scenes by giving its city administration the “final say” in what happens to the city’s public safety agencies, it set the department down the path it’s currently traveling on towards its next highly charged critical incident. And seriously, I believed it would take the city government much longer to screw this one up or allow its underlings to do like. I like others no doubt had hoped that the tragedy that shook the city in 1998 and the $26 million or so spent addressing it would have hit that particular lesson down hard. That and the adage that says, that those who don’t learn from their history are doomed to repeat it. But you've got department heads with more advanced degrees in management practices than Asst. City Manager Tom DeSantis who lacks one and in fact, got his job by having the Human Resources change the educational requirements for assistant city manager in this city. And maybe frankly, this lack of requirement for an educational background is part of the problem. And you've got the problem that apparently the employees in the city manager's office (and a couple elected officials past and present) who want to be police chiefs when even that position requires a more advanced degree than it takes to be the assistant city manager that supervises it. Or in Riverside's case, micromanages that position. And in homage to that style of management exercised by the city, it will be receiving a report card on the State of the RPD under its management, though at this point one really isn't all that necessary because most of the city's been talking about what's been going there including its five (and possibly even more) recent arrests of its police officers. Which is one piece of a much more complicated puzzle involving the state of the city's public safety department.

After all, don't they teach people in management school not to violate labor MOUs, yet this city gets taken to task by the labor unions including through lawsuits alleging labor violations and it appears that the unions have a higher success record for winning their cases than does the city. And guess what? This costs the tax payers' money that needs to be spent elsewhere and would be, if the city would do a better job at abiding by the labor contracts it signs with employment unions.

The SEIU for example is about to go after the city on the issue of Step pay and it's likely that other labor unions will be joining in including those from the police department. At least half of the officers who are members of the Riverside Police Administrators' Association for example aren't receiving Step pay. And okay, maybe that's necessary but if that's so, then someone should propose that department heads make as much money as their assistants. That City Manager Brad Hudson and City Attorney Gregory Priamos make as much as their assistants. That the assistant city managers make as much money as department heads, given that one didn't have a Master's when he was hired in management and another, doesn't work full-time anyway. After all, the leadership should make the same sacrifices its decision making imposes on those it leads. That's called leading with the courage and vision, the same elements that the city council seeks from a higher power every week from some (unnamed) higher power so that it can make good decisions.

When you see what's going on these days, you have to say, well so much for history! We've got a police department that's coming full circle back to where it was in the 1990s in terms of its staffing level and access to resources and huge reductions in other city departments, yet the Bank of Riverside is opening its doors including those to its financial resources to developers. The city has doled out $32 million to the Fox Theater which doesn't even grant media access equally to the many media outlets in the Inland Empire and is committed to spend $500,000 every year to keep it operating when the ticket prices that it charges for its shows are already keeping enough Riversiders away to affect ticket sales on one production.

Well, it’s pretty clear that this city government including Mayor Ron Loveridge still have not proven to be good history students. Loveridge having lived through the last round of turmoil both outside in the city and inside the police department should really know better but he's tied up these days with being the president or king of the League of Cities and fostering a very academic approach to running a city, which involves study after study and apparently more conceptual visions of the city than you can shake a stick at.

Not when you have city officials telling the media that there’s no deficit in Riverside’s budget because of its reserve fund like one did this month. There’s certainly no shortage of funding for these law enforcement positions that have remained frozen for a couple of years because the city is seeing fit to operate as a lending institution to development firms to the tune of what might be up to $57 million just to cover two entities, a theater and a hotel in downtown Riverside. While no stone is left unturned as one council member said, to ensure that developers see a 50% reduction in some of their fees purportedly to stimulate the construction industry (which in actuality will lead to the employment of few people because both commercial and housing development aren’t happening in this region including Riverside), there’s no similar commitment or at least not that which is nearly so visible regarding the unfreezing of police department positions including two heavily strapped areas, the sergeant ranks and the civilian division. The latter which hasn’t received much attention is a backbone in terms of support to the policing side of the department, not to mention that this work force is strapped to the point where officers will be pulled off of the streets to work desks, similar to what has happened in other cities. But then again, it’s not as if civilian positions hadn’t been frozen before. In 2007, many such positions were frozen in the police department for several months to apparently allow the money to be borrowed against and spent elsewhere.

This transfer of officers to desk duty when it takes place will strap the patrol and traffic divisions which have seen reductions in their shift representation and the return of the majority of the patrol division which is relatively young and not as experienced being relegated to the weekend and night shifts, much as they were in the years preceding the Tyisha Miller shooting in 1998.
But the situation involving the case of the disappearing sergeants is just embarrassing, to believe that the city could have let the situation deteriorate as far and as long as it has done while they are playing Bank of Riverside with very high-risk development projects. Either these developers can’t get loans through the bank because they are so high-risk (especially given that the foreclosure rates on hotels in the Inland Empire is the state’s highest) or they are not happy with the interest rates that come with any such loans. But the mantra was on jobs, jobs and more jobs which is definitely critical in an area with a 14% unemployment rate but if they think these developers are going to pay construction members from the unions at the wages they make, there’s probably some beachfront property that you’d like to look at in Idaho.

And since union members are loathe to cross lines even in construction, most of the labor force they are aiming this effort or a gesture as one councilman called it, won’t be the ones wearing the hardhats and carrying the tools at the construction sites. They’ll likely do what many construction interests do in Riverside which is hire Guatemalan which is great because they need jobs too and to feed their families and shelter them (which Adams rightfully pointed out is on the minds of most people). After all, at least 50% of the roofs done in Riverside are done by Guatemalans. But reducing the fees will have much more impact on developers' interests than on creating jobs because the city council is making the mistake of depending on "trickle down economy" which almost never works though it looks great.

But if you're a developer and you need money and the banks won't give it to you because projects like hotels in this region are so high-risk and banks have their own problems (including loathing any form of regulatory oversight), so what do you do? You think all your financial resources are out of reach but never fear! Look ahead and you have the Bank of Riverside, which is open to developers only. Because after all, they're the only ones who need jobs.

So what is the financially strapped developer to do? Go to Bank of Riverside, located on 3900 Main Street in downtown Riverside and get their loans there. They go to a city that can’t even keep its libraries open at the same number of hours as last year and get their hands on millions of dollars in loans. Still, while the Bank of Riverside is handing out the money for loans, maybe they can be hit up for a smaller loan to fund say, three sergeants with step pay? A loan to unfreeze some officer positions along with those in the civilian division? How well do you think that would go over at the Loan Approval office on the Seventh Floor? As well as handing off $25 million to a developer as the city council or wait, the redevelopment agency (it’s hard to keep them straight at times given that it’s the same folks) is likely to do next week, once it eliminates some annoying delays in the land deal that’s been taking place behind closed doors.

Okay, maybe we can do what film maker Michael Moore does and get a video crew and go down to the Bank of Riverside to try and take out a loan on the three aforementioned sergeant positions (with step pay) and some officer and civilian position as well. You know, fill out the forms and then submit them to the loan approval office and see what happens. Whether or not this approval committee at the Bank of Riverside will approve the loan for the police positions. I imagine what will happen is that anyone who does this, camera crew or not, will be greeted by as sea of confused faces who will say that’s not how this loan process works. Wait a minute, didn’t you just say that Riverside’s coffers are flush enough so that it can float a $25 million loan to a developer and you can’t provide enough capital for a few police positions? Oh we should go readdress this issue with the city council, when if you do that, you can watch former officer and current councilman, Steve Adams’ face redden like a ripe tomato on a summer vine.

They envision large-scale home building when the foreclosure rate’s still very high in Riverside and they envision building more office space when the vacancy rate for office space in this city is at least 30 percent. They boast that major crimes are down in the city, and are down to a 30 year low, as the police department faces its next round of budget cuts. And the city government is engaging in high-risk financial lending when it's been laying off employees and making these tremendous budget cuts. Library hours are cut and the museum staffing has been decimated. Office of Neighborhoods has closed again as it does in the midst of every recession and entities that meet in city buildings are being ejected from those buildings by 8 p.m. at night, which might be a bit of bad news for the marathon session holding Community Police Review Commission although if they stopped engaging in one's upmanship and ridiculous side arguments, they might cut their meeting times in half.

But they have created through short-term decision making a police department that’s going to be down at least 12 sergeants and five lieutenants by the end of 2012. This freezing of supervisory positions including that involving step pay will and no doubt has already accelerated the retirement rate of officers at these levels as well, which will only exacerbate the shortage. But I sat at the city council meeting hearing someone cite a figure of over $600,000 for the contract of the consultant, yes the consultant, hired by the city to run the "people's" theater (even though most of the people can't afford it, hence problems opening one anticipated musical cited below) and I sat there trying to calculate how many jobs that money could have saved, how many sergeant positions with step pay could have been returned into service with the money hired to run what should really be a private theater. And the city plans to subsidize it to the tune of $500,000 a year, which is about four sergeant salaries.

But even as the situation becomes more treacherous, it may be the case that the Bank of Riverside has only just begun as the Carpenters used to say opening its doors to developers out there who are unable to do what the rest of the public has to do in these trying economic times with tightening credit markets which is to go to the banks and take your chances getting loans there. Developers get reductions in fees even as the city admits that the financial impact will be minimal which makes a lot of sense given that like, no one is out getting permits to build houses and major commercial vendors are avoiding Riverside for reasons besides having to pay these developers' fees. There's not much land left in Riverside left to develop in comparison to other places where they've cut fees and since annexations have mercifully stopped for a while (which makes sense given that they don't come into the city fold with built in infrastructure)

Annie Closing Before It Opens?

A theater that recently had to cut down its planned showings of the Broadway musical Annie because of lackluster ticket sales, driven by the reality that most of the audience a musical production like this one would attract can’t afford to pay the ticket prices. Annie’s actually one of the theatrical productions with the highest royalty fees which means lower profit margins for any production of this show, which makes it difficult for even this popular musical to be viable in a tough economy where many families have cut the entertainment portions of their monthly and annual operational budgets accordingly. What the city apparently has not realized is that the audience of wealthy theater-going folks that they were hoping to attract to their shows at the Fox Theater just isn’t big enough and the middle class pretty much doesn’t exist anymore.

The city of Riverside which owns the theater and even has encharged itself with approving media passes (mostly to the Press Enterprise) issued a statement praising the reduction of the performances as a "business decision" which will help ensure the long-term survival of the Fox Theater. Okay, whatever.

Riverside County faces laying off up to 1600 employees in the next two years. And in Palm Springs, a courthouse closes down.

Riverside laid off another employee this week, a woman, but transferred her into another position. Still people are watching this situation very carefully and hoping that the city's plan to throw money at the new hotel project will prevent further layoffs which given that action, would put it in a bad light.

Perris wants to shrink its citizen commissions.

A Los Angeles County Fire Department assistant chief has been convicted of animal cruelty in connection with the beating death of a puppy.

The Press Enterprise Editorial Board which waxed enthusiasm for the Fox Theater's opening last week spanked the city for making it appear like a secret operation by denying media access to it. Hey, now this publication knows how the rest of the media in Riverside have felt for years.


The public owns the Fox, and has a substantial stake in seeing the venue succeed. Riverside spent $32 million to refurbish the old theater, which will cost more than $500,000 a year to operate. The city expects to provide a yearly subsidy to keep the Fox running.

But good attendance at the center's events can help defray some of those costs. And public interest will play a large role in deciding whether the Fox thrives. Media coverage of performances can help build enthusiasm for events and boost attendance. That support is crucial: Broadway in Riverside on Monday cancelled three performances of the first musical slated for the Fox due to weak ticket sales.

Discouraging publicity about Fox performances serves no rational public purpose. A media blackout only assures taxpayers of a poor payoff for their big investment in a new performing arts center.

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