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, March 09, 2010

Brad Hudson: "City Hall Not Involved in Coverup"


Riverside City Council votes 5-1 to allow CPRC to initiate investigations of officer-involved deaths in 30 days.

Councilman Chris MacArthur dissents...

Substitute motion fails 4-2

Riverside Police Officers' Association Board cites study

CPRC Manager Kevin Rogan, Chair Peter Hubbard, Vice-Chair Art Santore

No Shows

More to come....

Former Riverside Police Department Officer Jose Nazario filed a $9 million lawsuit in U.S. District Court.

Adams Stunning Pre-Election Reversal on the CPRC


the Upcoming City Council Vote on Restoring the Charter Mandate

It's beginning to sound a lot like election year.

That's what quite a few people were saying after what happened during the Governmental Affairs Committee meeting last week when Councilman (and retired Riverside Police Department officer) Steve Adams pulled a 180 on his stance involving the Community Police Review Commission and its investigative protocol involving officer-involved deaths. Adams along with Councilman Frank Schiavone had led the charge beginning in late 2008 to bring the commission's parallel investigation process that had been in place for eight years to a halt by directing City Manager Brad Hudson and his assistant city manager, Tom DeSantis to issue a directive stating that these investigations couldn't take place until the police department had completed its own criminal investigations of these incidents. That directive by Hudson was later cemented by a 5-2 vote involving a city council that is pretty much the same city council which will take up the issue at its meeting this week to essentially partly reverse that earlier vote. Which proved that this whole episode in the city's history was really about politics after all.

Missing is of course Schiavone who was resoundingly voted out of office in part because of his leadership role in essentially halting the CPRC's ability to carry out its charter mandate to do these investigations, given that there are four pending cases including three that are near or over 18 months old. Schiavone was replaced by Paul Davis who campaigned on the reversal of the Hudson directive and it seems that watching Schiavone get ousted off the dais last year brought some glimmer of understanding to perhaps some or all of the city council members who are up for reelection beginning in June 2011. Including to Adams who after all, only won his last election in 2007 by 13 votes. Even so, he's announced through the Michael Williams Company fund raising service that he's going to run for a third term and maybe he realizes that to actually get some votes, he might have to reinvent himself as a kinder, gentler least polish down those edges a bit. Softening his approach didn't work for Schiavone but perhaps Adams feels that it will help his chances.

Does this mean fewer outbursts from him on the dais at people he doesn't like? Well, that remains to be seen, given that he's mayor pro tem for six months which given his conduct when he gets that gavel in his hand won't exactly raise his Q rating just before the critical period of Election 2011. And Adams just can't help being Adams, whether he's ranting from the dais, taking off during public comment periods or having his car towed away in Orange County.

However, he was in fine campaign form at last week's Governmental Affairs meeting pushing for the 30 day wait on the hiring of an independent investigator by the CPRC and for the criminal casebook to resume getting issued to the CPRC the same time it's sent to the Riverside County District Attorney's office as had been the case before the Hudson directive. That motion passed the committee 3-o and it was rushed to city council the following week where it's probably going to pass with a clear majority vote. Adams had clearly come some distance from the elected official who defamed the CPRC's investigator by saying during the pivotal meeting last year that the investigator had fabricated evidence in one of the investigations he had done.

But given that the CPRC's process involving the four pending officer-involved deaths is already backed up probably by a year and most likely longer, the cases that are pending will have a difficult time proceeding in a timely fashion. Especially given that the majority of the CPRC voted to limit their meeting time including not holding "special" meetings which were instrumental in providing time for the discussion of the cases and the writing of public reports for prior investigations.

It's also not lost on most people that Chair Peter Hubbard, Vice-Chair Art Santore and CPRC Manager Kevin Rogan were missing in action at the Governmental Affairs Committee meeting. Contrast that with the much larger role Hubbard, former chair Sheri Corral and Rogan played in undermining the commission's ability to do these investigations by promoting the Hudson directive. Their absence speaks volumes now as their participation did back then and it remains to be seen if the majority of the commission and Rogan as well, are as vested in restoring the independent investigation protocol to the commission as they were in undermining it.

The Chief Community Forum Show Takes the Road

City Manager Brad Hudson also is making the rounds with his so-called community input forums where he's seeking suggestions on what to look for while hiring the next police chief. He opened up his show in the Eastside at the Caesar Chavez Center where allegedly his cohort, Tom DeSantis was highly selective in which community members' input would actually be documented through the city's audio recording process. At least one newly reemerging leader's with police relations comments as well as those of a woman who frequently speaks at city council meetings and people making negative comments were among those apparently designated by DeSantis to not be recorded and/or edited, a concern which had been raised about other public forums and meetings for years. Which if this is the case, makes it clear that the forums are really not about getting community input but going through the motions of doing so and then editing or omitting those comments which aren't deemed worthy to be forwarded as part of Hudson's information gathering process in order for him to be able to create a job description for the position of chief.

So if you provided input that didn't quite make it into the recorded depiction of the forum, don't feel bad. In fact, you probably did and almost certainly said something right. But anyway, some very good input was heard and received even if it might not have made it in any recorded form outside of that forum. But these actions would make it clear that the selection process for the next police chief has already been doctored.

It would be curious that if such censorship truly took place, then who provided the city management team with the instructions to do so? After all, as Hudson tells anyone who tries to pin him down on a stance he has taken or an action he has done, he answers only to the bidding of the city council. So along with submitting a CPRA request for copies of the recordings of a list of people including those whose input might have been omitted, it might be necessary to ask also for the list of elected officials whose instructions to their management team involved only allowing certain individuals' input in attendance to be recorded for future reference.

But what was even more exciting than participating in a forum that will facilitate the hiring of the next puppet, was listening to Hudson's declaration at the meeting that City Hall had no involvement in the cover up at the police department pertaining to the Feb. 8 accident and traffic stop involving former Chief Russ Leach. Isn't it great that City Hall was cleared so quickly of any involvement in the situation involving Leach before there was any need to have the newly contracted "independent oversight" provider, Grover Trask from Best, Best and Krieger even provide any input on the investigation? The inks' barely even dry on the undisclosed contract with this high-priced attorney and Hudson's already cleared City Hall of any involvement including naturally, himself and his own office. How nifty is that? How surprising is this revelation?

See, this is why city residents are so trusting and have so much faith in these inhouse investigations. What could be more accountable, more trustworthy than having a department head in charge of an investigation who essentially clears himself along with the rest of City Hall this early in the process? And there's really nothing as transparent as an investigation which is as shielded from the light and the city residents whose tax dollars make these inhouse probes possible, as could possibly be. The light of transparency from this internal investigation is so bright, you've got wear shades!

Hudson alluded at the forum that yes, there was a cover up somewhere but that it was over "there", meaning the police department, not "here" closer to where he and everyone else at City Hall is standing. But isn't that what any self-respecting administrator does first when conducting an independent probe, which is essentially clear himself? Clear himself and then point the finger elsewhere? It might be merited to point the finger elsewhere but what if multiple fingers need to be pointed including at the person in charge of the investigation? That would be a bit of a pickle of course but Hudson made it clear that isn't going to happen, not on his watch, because he's cleared himself and the entire cast at City Hall, like that! Click your heels three times and you couldn't match the speed in which Hudson has exonerated himself of all culpability for the situation where the end result was a controversial accident and cover up.

There's no evidence that Hudson or even busy bee, DeSantis were involved in the shenanigans taking place during the early morning hours of Leach's final day as a police chief. But wait, didn't Hudson say this probe was "sweeping"? Meaning of course that it would investigate the many other alleged incidents involving Leach and his "problem" not to mention the behavior of the cast of characters after the first hours of that incident? Comments made by Hudson at the forum about the next chief being different than that one, also paved the way for Leach to serve as the poster child of this cover up, and as its endpoint. This cover up it appears will begin and end inside the police department but is that the truth from an objective arbiter? Or is it self-preservation from an investigation that should be expanded outside of the department? Perhaps the investigation should have been done by an outside agency? Because if Leach were as bad off, that Hudson had to drop comments hinting at that in public, then how could Leach's boss not known about what was going on with his employee?

Hudson and DeSantis announced at some point through the Press Enterprise that they were not notified by the department's management about Leach's accident and traffic stop as they should have been under some unspecified policy they mentioned addressing onduty contacts between the city's police officers and "high profile" individuals. Yet neither mentioned another city policy which requires that city employees who get in accidents with city-owned vehicles be tested for drug or alcohol intoxication. Was Leach ordered by Hudson or DeSantis to be tested for drugs and/or alcohol intoxication when they became aware of the crash, pursuant to that policy? Was he ever tested at all?

Did either Hudson or DeSantis authorize the investigation to be turned over to the CHP on Monday when the incident became known to them or did they wait until Tuesday afternoon after the press had picked up the Leach incident? Did Mayor Ron Loveridge when he found out quickly issue a press release so that the city residents could know what had happened or did he keep it quiet until the city was forced to release more information? Why did the city release an unsigned and incomplete report of the incident, including only a partial CAD incident report? Were city employees honest when asked about the role of alcohol in the accident or did they try to downplay it?

It's interesting to listen to people like Hudson discuss accountability and transparency as if these are part of their vernacular. Especially when it's pretty clear that this accident involving Leach and the resultant traffic stop were never supposed to be known by the city's residents whose tax paid dollars for one thing would pay for the damage to be fixed involving his "self insured" car. It was supposed to be written up and filed away as an inconsequential "traffic collision" report with no further action necessary by the police department and it was never supposed to be heard of outside the walls of City Hall after the fact. Questions remain about the involvement of high ranking personnel in the police department and those inside City Hall as to their involvement in the incident both during and after the fact, questions that won't ever really be answered through a self-initiated probe. Questions also remain about the involvement of higher ranking police personnel and high ranking city employees in prior incidents involving Leach and the police department. These questions won't be answered by a self-initiated probe either, no matter how sweeping.

And questions have also emerged about concerns about Leach's leadership that were brought to the attention of the city council during late 2005, which won't be answered by Hudson's probe. It's puzzling that Hudson's acting as if he was in the dark about past problems, given that any elected official who had received those concerns almost certainly would have asked him to look into them. So if those concerns existed, does Hudson truly expect the public to believe that he knew nothing about them until now? Perhaps ignorance is one defense.

It appears that Hudson's intent on focusing on what happened inside the police department and to divert the attention away from City Hall, which remember has essentially cleared itself through its own probe. Does this mean hoisting the blame on the officers who responded by pulling Leach's car over? The sergeant who wrote the highly questionable report? The watch commander who oversaw what happened at the scene? Members of the command staff including two who put in applications already to try out for a chance to fill the chief's vacancy? Would either of them have applied for the position if they really believed or had reason to believe they would be caught up in Hudson's probe?

But while a lot of focus of any meaningful probe has to be at the police department, a probe can only be effective or serve any useful purpose at all if it's aimed at City Hall as well. Not in a way where city employees can essentially clear themselves of wrong doing but it needs to be done by an outside party that's not under a financial contract to anyone in City Hall and that doesn't include Trask who after all, was hired by Hudson. And history has shown that many of the problems and questionable behavior associated with the police department during 2005 and later traces back to actions linked to Hudson's office. Directives that Hudson and/or DeSantis gave the police chief to carry out for them. In the face of all that, it's difficult to buy into this portrait that Hudson paints of himself having a minimalist role in the police department, which creates a quandary when you realize that Leach's ill-fated traffic stop was years in the making.

Parkview Hospital has missed its payment deadline on its loan. Another blow for the financially strapped hospital. So the financially strapped hospital will go into foreclosure.

Press Enterprise Columnist Cassie MacDuff writes about more shows being cut at Riverside's downtown Fox Theater.

Columnist Dan Bernstein also writes about the Fox Theater and other topics including this about Hudson's community forums on selecting the police chief.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Riverside City Manager Brad Hudson met with Riversiders to hear what they want in a police chief (besides someone who prefers ballroom dancers.) "The police chief is very unique," he explained. Selection must be more rigorous than when picking a finance chief, who "doesn't have a gun."

Hudson had to be thinking, "But I do!!"

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