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

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Riverside Appeals one Judge's Decision and Awaits Rod's

All city hall is doing is giving the voting public an opportunity to vent in the hopes that the city leaders will look as if they are doing something as they are throwing the police department to the wolves. It took the city 2 days before the CHP was brought in (instead of the A.G.) and 11 days for them to issue a statement, which was a blanket denial. Yet nothing has been done about this incident. The city is protecting the chief, and letting the public go after the troops. I have no respect for any of them.

----- "Guest" at Press Enterprise

I can understand why you are mad Cassie (because of your previous experience with law enforcement), but did you honestly think that City Manager Brad Hudson, or City Attorney Greg Priamos would actually give you the time of day let along answers to your questions. Don't expect anything different from Assistant City Manager Tom DeSantis, or the city council members. Like the old saying goes, "you can't fight city hall." Granted having the A.G. handle the case is a noble idea, but lets face it, the feds don't want any part with this because if they did, they would have taken over the investigation a long time ago. So good luck in getting your answers.

---Another "Guest"

You can Hear Pins Dropping All Over the 'Hall

Ask a few simple questions to the powers that be at City Hall and do you get some simple answers in return? Do you receive any answers to these simple questions at all? The answer through silence is of course not when it comes to what's been going on in this city in the aftermath of the Feb. 8 vehicle accident and subsequent traffic stop involving former Riverside Police Chief Russ Leach's city owned vehicle that somehow suffered fender damage and lost two of its wheels forcing the car to be driven on two rims as it threw up sparks while traveling down Riverside's roads.

Some of the questions below are those which have been recently asked which still have received no answers from inside City Hall.

1) Whether or not Leach was tested for drug or alcohol intoxication by City Manager Brad Hudson's office pursuant to city policy that requires that to be done with any city employee who crashes a city-issued vehicle.

2) Why the police report released by City Hall involving Leach's incident was incomplete including only the CAD incident report from the initial "traffic collision" at Central and Hillside and not any CAD information pertaining to the traffic stop allegedly at Arlington and Rutland three miles away.

3) Why the city made a decision on the claim filed by Det. Chris Lanzillo that contained allegations of misconduct and cover up by acting Police Chief John DeLaRosa before having even having completed its purported "sweeping" Hudson probe. A legal decision which doesn't exactly enhance the value of this inhouse probe.

4) How thoroughly investigated are or will be individuals inside City Hall including Hudson and City Attorney Gregory Priamos who are outside the purview of any Riverside Police Department investigators involved in an administrative review.

5) Why in this stage of the investigation is Hudson so eager to claim that he has exonerated City Hall and that the cover up comes solely from inside the police department? Who interviewed Hudson as part of the probe to gather information on whether or not he was involved in any way with the ongoing situation involving one of his department heads? "Who" being besides Hudson.

6) Whether or not Hudson, DeSantis or Priamos knew of any past problems involving Leach including allegations made through correspondence received by the city council in late 2005.

7) Whether the elected officials knew the extend of micromanagement being done by Hudson and DeSantis involving the police department since their joint arrival in mid 2005.

8) Whether elected officials knew how extensively some of their current and former dais mates were involved in the operations of the police department during the past several years.

And there's been a lot of commentary among the public in lieu of the answers to these and other questions that should be coming out of City Hall even if the community leadership has pretty much been quiet about it. People have commented on where the leadership is coming and who is in charge inside the power structure, the city council or the city manager. How else can anyone be put in charge of investigating the outcome of some serious inside the police department that might be at least partly stem from Hudson's office? Yet, that's what City Hall did and one of Hudson's first actions was to clear City Hall from any involvement in the cover up involving Leach. An action that surprised few city residents as it turned out.

The above are just some of the basic questions which have been asked by more than a few people and have yet to be answered by a very quiet City Hall. As Dan Bernstein stated in one of his columns, Hudson ducked some of these questions at the chief's community forum being held at Orange Terrace Community Center on March 10. So essentially because he's in charge of the grand probe, he's allowed to clear himself, City Hall and duck answering questions that involve his own knowledge not to mention his own involvement in the police department. But then it's been a long time since City Hall has been transparent to anyone most especially its constituents.

Still, it's interesting to pose the questions to the people on the dais particularly Mayor Pro Tem Steve Adams who looked like he was trying really hard to break out of his chair and respond with some of his social commentary that he's well known for sharing which makes it clear he really wishes those pesky city residents would just stay home. He spent more time speaking just during the March 16 meeting as Mayor Ron Loveridge spent at the past three. But Adams remained fairly calm even though there's been allegations raised of his own involvement in the police department's operations. He's apparently on a list of elected officials who had ordered that more police officers be assigned to neighborhoods in their wards while running for reelection so they can look "tough on crime", a practice referred to as "political deployment". Not to be confused of course with "political emergency hirings" which is a different subject.

Let the Auditions Begin

Community leaders who for the most part have been silent on the cover up and the Hudson probe are scrambling to audition for the community designated slots that Hudson has inferred that he might be including on his panel to interview the finalists in his search for the next chief. And yes, you have to audition for a spot because you can't be critical at all of City Hall and hope to gain a spot on the approval list which means you have to soften your rhetoric a lot. I've been fielding a lot of questions from city residents on why this segment of Riverside's leadership has been so quiet in the wake of what's happened in this city and not asking the questions that they should be for those they purport to represent who are asking those questions instead. And the sad thing is that if this dynamic didn't exist, so wouldn't a lot of Riverside's problems involving inappropriate behavior which only gets checked when the city's residents threaten to overrun their community leadership who then have to decide what to do next so they won't be left behind.

But Hudson hasn't committed to actually adding any community leaders or members for that matter to his panel along with business leaders, city employees, law enforcement experts and representatives of the Human Resources Department because dangling those positions as a carrot to keep the leaders from criticizing is enough for now. It would be interesting if any of these leaders considered what kind of police department the next police chief will be inheriting when he or she is finally hired. If the police department is experiencing serious structural problems including in its command staff, what will a new police chief be able to accomplish? Do these leaders chosen for any panel really want to sign on to the chore of hiring a puppet to be placed into the police department and manipulated by other people including Hudson's office? Because what exactly would an independent thinking chief be able to do if he's hamstrung by his or her boss? And that's not considering some dynamic issues within the department itself.

Will the current command staff including those under suspicion for participating in the cover up surrounding Leach's accident and previous issues work with the new chief or undermine him especially if he or she comes from the "outside"? What if a new chief comes in and wants to vote most or all the command staff off of the island? Will a new police chief have any autonomy in hiring, promoting or firing individuals in his department or will he have to ask Hudson and/or DeSantis for permission just to breathe?

But people are asking whether or not the police department should be disbanded and handed off to the Riverside County Sheriff's Department or the outside federal and state agencies should be called in to investigate it again. Interesting given that the current State Attorney General Jerry Brown is hitting Riverside today for a joint press gig with District Attorney Rod Pacheco regarding the recent raids conducted on the motorcycle gang.

Most of these suggestions are being tossed out in various forums because of the vacuum of information coming from City Hall and not very much communication on this issue between city residents and community leadership and most of the rest of the city. People see all this inaction with energy being expended on cementing what many people feel is a cover up and want outside action.

Press Enterprise Columnist Dan Bernstein offers up some suggestions on how to hire a police chief As his column stated, there were lots of suggestions and many of those centered around the conduct that will be expected of the next police chief along with a lot of doubt and skepticism involving the trustworthiness of the management personnel inside the police department and at City Hall. I suggested that at the city council meeting and Adams squirmed in his seat and his face turned that interesting shade of crimson that it does when he's not happy. But surely the city government including an absent mayor and Adams who had charge of the gavel must realize that they're in the middle of a serious situation. And that silence in this case is not exactly golden but it does speak volumes.

The Buck Ends With Pacheco

The California Highway Patrol has handed off its investigation report on Leach to the Riverside County District Attorney's office for its head, Rod Pacheco to make a decision on whether or not criminal charges will be filed against the former chief and he'll have to make it with his own reelection bid coming to a conclusion in less than three months. It's not clear at this point what kind of investigation the CHP was able to do having only been assigned to do it two days more than 24 hours after the accident. It's also not known whether or not the agency recommended that criminal charges be filed against Leach and if so, which ones. Mums the word at any rate from the CHP probably as a result of some gag order it received from Pacheco's office.

So what will happen next? Will Leach be charged with DUI and/or hit and run misdemeanor charges? And what will the reaction be to Pacheco's decision whatever it may be? And what bearing will Pacheco's decision have on City Hall's own ongoing "sweeping" inhouse investigation?

Meanwhile, Back at the 'Hall

Mayor Ron Loveridge was a no show at the city council meeting on March 16. Here was where he was at instead.

But someone on one of the comment threads of another article had this to say to him.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Why do we never hear the name Ron Loveridge. Isn't he the Mayor of Riverside? It seems that all these years we have had these Police problems, he has been the Mayor. Yet we never seem to hear from him. Is he tough enoughe to handle Police administrators? Its part of the job. Get involved or your legacy will reflect a serious weekness.

The Election Papers are In

The races are set for the upcoming District Attorney and county judge elections in both inland counties. Much more excitement ahead, maybe.

Election Year Lawsuit Struck Down in Courts

Speaking of elections, an Orange County Superior Court judge vetoed a lawsuit filed by Riverside involving traffic congestion on the railroad tracks that's related to ports in Southern California.

Councilman Steve Adams talks about what he sees as the #1 issue in the city which is different from most people who think it's the recession and the high unemployment rate but to each his own. The lawsuit was also trumpeted heavily by former Councilman Frank Schiavone who was running for election at around that time.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Riverside City Councilman Steve Adams said he doesn't see the ruling as a major setback.

The suit asked for "fair-share contributions" to grade separation projects. To collect them, Adams said city officials want the port to levy a $50 charge per cargo container -- small enough that it needn't be passed on to consumers, but capable of generating hundreds of millions of dollars every year.

The container charges would go into a fund to pay for Inland railroad grade separations, highway improvements and other transportation fixes.

With as many as 128 trains a day passing through Riverside and some studies attributing thousands of annual deaths in the region to poor air quality, "Failure is not an option and neither is quitting," Adams said.

"This is the No. 1 issue confronting our region."

Inland economist John Husing questioned the city's decision to take on the issue in court, particularly at a time when the recession has slowed shipping and train traffic. According to Husing's data, the number of containers coming through the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach dropped 25 percent from 2006 to 2009.

Husing said that instead of filing lawsuits, Riverside should work with legislators on a container fee bill.

Riverside also sued the port and city of Long Beach over an expansion plan there. That case is still pending.

The city council actually voted in closed session to appeal this decision, with the legal fees continuing to be paid by the city residents' money. Maybe they should ask city residents if we want to support pumping more money during a period of time when city employees face layoffs, more positions frozen and library and community center hours are slashed into this farce.

Wildomar gets its new shiny police cars.

A councilman in Lake Elsinore pleads not guilty to DUI charges stemming from a traffic stop and field sobriety evaluation administered to him by police officers.

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