Five before Midnight

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


My Photo
Location: RiverCity, Inland Empire

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Watching the River Run Straight to the 'Hall

"Watching the river run further from things that we've done..."

---Kenny Loggins

Do not run your emotions high on this story.A slap on the wrist may be applied to those involved and they will sweep it right under the rug.

----"Guest" at

"But I was thinking of a way To multiply by ten, And always, in the answer, get The question back again. "

----Lewis Carroll

There's been a lot of reaction to the push for an independent probe by the Eastside Think Tank not to mention that the city manager shouldn't be allowed to handle the hiring process of the new police chief but it should instead go to the city council who through the election process is accountable to the city's residents. The reasoning being that anyone hired by Hudson will just turn into his puppet soon enough given that there's been a lot of discussion and debate in various circles about how much control (or perhaps how little) Leach had over the police department especially dating back to 2005 back when City Manager BradHudson and his staff first arrived in Riverside to run its administration. A former councilman had said that he had told Hudson a few years ago to stop micromanaging the police department and Hudson had promised to do it but apparently that didn't happen. Maybe it's just an attractive toy that Hudson and his assistant city manager Tom DeSantis just can't put aside.

And thus this behavior that one politician who should know better called "fiction" continued to this present day, with of course results that can only be described, in the interests of being diplomatic, as disastrous.

And still Riverside's very own version of Wonderland continues...

Changing the City's Charter

To change the current hiring process would require the city's voters to approve a change to the city's charter which is the piece of paper that Hudson's been waving around whenever his ahem, management of the police department's been challenged by Leach or by anyone else. His favorite section is purportedly the part of it which gives him the "final" say in hirings, firings and promotions over his department heads. And Hudson through DeSantis has used that veto power on promotions made by his department heads including Leach during his tenure with the city. Sometimes with some help from an individual or two who has served on the dais.

Apparently, this veto power hasn't been exercised nearly as much by prior city managers as it has been by Hudson and apparently there's been allegations that it's been exercised in non-charter mandated fashion by elected officials on the dais past and present. Something that apparently happened at least twice involving just captains promotions by themselves since Hudson's hiring and in both cases, the same city council member allegedly intervened and involved himself in that process. And guess what, it's the same council member quoted in this article! Imagine that! Well you don't have to leave it to the imagination because this is after all, River City, the city where anything is possible and that includes having a police department that's run seemingly by committee, with Hudson, DeSantis, City Attorney Gregory Priamos and a city council member or two thrown in the mix. Why restrict yourself to only one chief when you can have a number of them? Makes you wonder if any incoming chief will be told when signing the dotted line that he or she will be nothing more than the department's mouthpiece, its public ambassador while it's being run by a group of people from behind the curtain.

That's why reading the comments by the electeds in City Hall is just too darn funny. But at the same time, it's hard not to remember the damage that's been caused by their practices and that's enough to remind anyone quickly enough that this hasn't been a very funny chain of events. But there lies the problems with handing off the hiring to the city council because there have been members of the city council who have been just as heavily involved in micromanaging the police department as Hudson has, perhaps even through Hudson. Two of them, a current and a former, are defendants in a lawsuit filed by two police lieutenants, Darryl Hurt and Tim Bacon that's in the U.S. District Court. Some of the allegations raised in the lawsuit involve the manipulation of the promotional process at the management level by various factions outside the police department including one council member who probably didn't have this much influence while working as an active police officer earlier in his life before he received an injury retirement.

That would be Adams who's already been mentioned in this posting and former Councilman Frank Schiavone who once served as a reserve officer in the police department. So it's a quandary at this point to decide which would be the most responsible with the selection of the police chief, the city council or its city manager and one important reason why is that the city manager is supposed to be a direct employee hired by the city government to carry out its will. Or at least the will of its majority. If you can't trust the city council and mayor as a body to prevent their employee from micromanaging a public safety agency, can you really trust them with hiring a police chief to lead it any more than you can trust Hudson? But what giving the council this power would do is that it would decrease the layers that shield the city from accountability by a major one because the council and mayor are voted on by the city's residents and the city manager is not. It does put more of the push for making responsible choices in the hiring of a public safety head on the elected body and if the decision proves to be problematic then that might be reflected in the voter tallies when members of this elected body come up for reelection.

Still, giving the hiring process to the city council must be viewed cautiously because the issues with Hudson's tendency to micromanage police chiefs can't be so neatly separated from the government which conducts conditional performance evaluations on him twice annually, because after all, he's an "at will" employee too. If Hudson's creating problems with the hiring process of the police chief and the handling of the city's police chiefs, then he's getting his blessings to do so from somewhere in the city's hierarchical structure above his own position. If the council disproved of his actions as a body, it would perform a correction on Hudson and he would stop engaging in the practice of micromanagement and turning police chiefs into figureheads. If the troubling dynamic between Hudson's office and the police chief has to be examined (and it does indeed), then that goes doubly so regarding the dynamic between Hudson and his own bosses, the city council and Loveridge.

But Loveridge clearly doesn't want anyone to even ask questions, calling it all "fiction". Then again, Loveridge's never been an elected who really likes bad news.

And one problem in Riverside is that the city manager doesn't act under the will of the majority of the governmental council and mayor but through the instructions of a vocal minority and in the past, that's been people like Schiavone and Adams. Not that it's not interesting to see that Schiavone has apparently gained some perspective since his election loss in that he's apparently blaming Hudson for being too involved with the police chief and Hudson's apparently pointing fingers at Schiavone and saying he made me which is what Hudson often does when caught doing something. But the issue of whether or not department heads in Riverside really have the power to promote within their realms is one that has become difficult to figure out exactly if you're outside City Hall.

And that's especially been the case with the police department because if a certain candidate in the police department is up for a promotion inside the department at its management level, what should it matter if they are friendly with a specific council member (like Adams, for example) or not. Because the promotion is supposed to be up to the police chief right? And on the list of qualifications for the promoted position, is there one included that requires a candidate to be buddies with elected officials or perhaps, endorsing them for election? But Adams himself has been involved in at least two promotional processes in the past several years and for the integrity of the process, that's two too many because the charter doesn't give the electeds the power to be involved or influential in that process. In fact, it's supposed to be illegal, something of which Adams is fully aware. Because for one thing, incoming electeds are given an orientation meeting on the rules and regulations of being an elected official in Riverside. At least the formal list of them.

Adams then stands up before the press and claims that any criticism of the micromanagement by City Hall of the police department is to be written off as them always finding fault in something for the sake of it. That's Adams being condescending because he has reason to be. But someone in the comments thread of the hit a succulent point.


Finally a propective that has value speaking for the people.
Adams doesn't think that City Hall mishandled the aftermath of the chief's stop.... And we wonder where it all went wrong.

Actually not so much wondering anymore because everyone's too busy watching it all unfold and the fabric of municipal accountability, however frail it was, unravel. It's kind of like watching a train wreck, not that it won't be swept up soon enough and stashed underneath that very crowded carpet along with the Hudson probe. But at least one organization of community leaders has spoken up on the issue and has also raised the importance of instituting an independent probe of what happened not just on during and after Feb. 8 but what happened in the years leading up to that date.

No Independent Probe in Sight as the "Sweeping" Continues...

The entire city's paying the high price for this mishandling of the department right now yet City Hall has been fairly quiet about these practices and the probe itself, which will look everywhere else but at those practices which ultimately led to the probe being initiated in the first place. Not as a means to shine any real light on the micromanagement of the police department and its end result, but to divert attention away from it. That's the point behind the clearing of City Hall most notably Hudson's office by guess what, Hudson himself. Because for the probe to be truly "sweeping", it would have to include past problems with Leach and the actions taken by city officials involving the police department going back a few years. To be truly a form of "independent oversight", it would have to be conducted by an entity outside City Hall and reviewed by someone not engaged in a financial arrangement with anyone in City Hall. Because when it comes to the buildup to that Feb. 8 traffic stop and cover up, if you want to find those responsible you just need to count the cooks in the kitchen of the RPD.

This past behavior fostered by elements of City Hall is one of the major reasons why the city at least for the moment has put itself on the map of corrupt governmental entities on the Inland Empire. And face it, it's very difficult to upstage neighboring San Bernardino County but Riverside, the city not the county, came pretty close to doing just that the past several months. Public trust in both the police chief and City Hall have plummeted. And people who mused about the corruption in that other county now wonder what's going on in their own city.

Many Riversiders have been talking about how there needed to be a truly independent probe done of the events and intrigue surrounding the Feb. 8 incident when former Riverside Chief Russ Leach crashed his car while intoxicated on alcohol and medication and then was stopped some time and distance later by two patrol officers from his own agency. In fact most people said there should have been such a probe done from day one but of course, that didn't happen but then hey, it took a while for the criminal investigation of Leach's accident to start after the police department he led dawdled over it for nearly two days. And that was after the management at the department had already decided not to treat the incident as the crime that it turned out to be.

What happened was that Hudson opened up his own probe, hired Best, Best and Krieger attorney Grover Trask to provide "independent oversight" and assigned the lieutenant of the internal affairs division, Mike Cook to serve as Trask's liaison to the department. Hudson of course, has also kept himself appraised of what's going on very much but then given his years spent in micromanagement of the agency, that task shouldn't have proven all that difficult. Many different interviews were conducted and then the different accounts of events were left to be sifted through to determine the narrative of what had happened.

What the public will know when the "results" of the internal probe are announced to the Press Enterprise sometime next week is that this is what we did, Yes/No (pick one) there was improper behavior and if so, we handled it internally and by the way, have a nice day. That's pretty much it folks. If there's misconduct that was discovered, you won't know who the city went after, whether it was the officers, the sergeant, the watch commander or the upper management including Acting Chief John DeLaRosa. You won't know if they "got" the people who are truly guilty or those who are really not guilty of anything. That is of course by design.

You'll just know that Hudson cleared City Hall along with his own office early on in this "sweeping" probe to add to what you already know, which is that Hudson and City Hall have chosen their sacrificial lambs. Because make no mistake about it, the truly guilty parties in this mess aren't those who would be subject to a probe inside the police department which after all, is an agency with a house of cards sitting at its top waiting for a wind storm. And that "house" and those in it might be sitting quietly waiting to see if the new chief will issue demolition orders or not. Who will the police chief be and what will the command staff look like when he or she is finished with it? That's a question that's always asked when there's a changing at the guard inside any law enforcement agency especially if the head of the "guard" is coming from the outside as is the wishes of most people. But then given that the new chief will be hired by Hudson, it could very much be the same guard with a new face at the helm. It's too early to tell at this point. And much of how it will play out might be dependent on what kind of probe Hudson really conducted of this incident and its cover up.

But it will be very difficult for the public to know what really happened, a point raised in the Eastside Think Tank's press release. It will be impossible to know if the right people are being held accountable for what happened on Feb. 8 because we already know that those responsible for what led up to it won't be joining them.

But it's highly probable that not much is really going to change from the Hudson probe because it will serve mainly as a prop to keep real change from taking place. A hand or two might be slapped but because this probe is so top secret, it will pretty much be business as usual at City Hall and the RPD as most of this unseemly mess gets swept under the carpet which will then be made up to look nicer before Riverside's next chief arrives.

The RPD is Like a House of Cards...

The dominoes started falling inside the police department with Leach being placed on medical leave pending his medical retirement. DeLaRosa as acting chief started becoming less visible than ever after the city released the city logs involving the use of the cell phones of "key players" in this incident and his chances of gaining the permanent job became somewhat less than stellar. Apparently, Capt. Michael Blakely of the department's personnel division has begun issuing orders and initiating internal investigations including the placement of at least four police officers on administrative leave. The rest of the command staff's not too thrilled by this emerging dynamic, which makes it clear that these are very interesting days faced by the police department. Although it's enough to make those sitting closest to the chief spot a bit apprehensive and you can't really blame them if that's the case.

And since the members of the highest level of the command staff have already been paraded at roll call sessions talking about how they are one big happy family while looking anything but, it's interesting that the only one who's really happy right now is one-time deputy chief Blakely who some say is having the time of his life. Everyone else is left at that level is left wondering who will be standing when the new chief comes and begins heading the police department, well at least as much as a chief can while under Hudson's and DeSantis' umbrella.

And in the anticipation of the hiring of a new police chief, schedules of some captains have been adjusted and the unhappy crew have been more visible for longer periods of time but then they have to be to prove they're up to snuff when their new boss arrives. Because otherwise, the alternative might be to clean house and start anew with a new bunch of them. That's happened in police departments that have been in upheaval even greater than that impacting Riverside's police department. Will it be status quo or Survivor Island? That remains to be seen but it will be interesting to watch who goes and who's left standing, who wins what challenge and who gets a round of immunity. The only thing needed is a tropical setting and a charismatic host to this reality show.

But then this "house" wasn't built on the sturdiest of foundations and in upcoming weeks, there will be a closer look at how the house of the RPD was built. From the top, instead of its base which is how most houses are built.

Per usual in the article there are quotes delivered by city officials in response to the allegations that the police department's been micromanaged by Hudson's office that are truly gems in their own right. Because these individuals in particular should really know better.

Mayor Ron Loveridge whose office was tipped off by an anonymous woman not too long after Leach's traffic stop. Joining him is Councilman and Mayor Pro Tem Steve Adams who actually outdoes the mayor with his own insights. Mostly because of Adams' own history with the police department, not so much as a former officer but as a councilman who still apparently likes to keep his fingers in the boiling cauldron of the police department. There has to be a reason why

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Both Loveridge and Councilman Steve Adams rejected the suggestion that Hudson and other city management staff have exerted undue control over the Police Department.

"I think the idea of (the city manager) micromanaging the police department is a fiction," Loveridge said. With multiple departments and more than 2,000 employees to oversee, "It's just not possible."

Adams dismissed the think tank's claims that City Hall mishandled the aftermath of the chief's stop, and that the process hasn't been transparent.

"No matter what happens, they're going to find fault in it," Adams said.

Actually Loveridge knows it's not all "fiction" and Adams knows that the probe's not "transparent". Even Hudson has admitted that it's not because the city residents who paid for it won't know who was responsible for trying to cover up the commission of a crime by the former police chief. So it's a bit odd for two elected officials to be quoted as saying what they said, although Adams is up for reelection next year and no doubt hoping his constituents have short memories.

Some interesting comments light up the article page including several which answered the assertions made by both elected officials.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

The only "fiction" in this story is that Hudson and Loveridge are competent.

City manager is a one trick pony. Tearing down buildings and building new ones. It's hard to believe he and Mayor/Council weren't aware the Chief had serious substance abuse problems after the Chief's near miss with the San Diego law five years ago. Then they all turn around and approve a new multi year contract for him.

A sorry example of failed leadership is like an orphan. In government, nobody is responsible for bad decisions. Same as it ever was.

They approved the contract because they knew Leach would let Brad Hudson run the Department. The Mayor says "That's impossible", but Brad gets it done with the help of his it midget helper Tom Desantis. It just goes to show you how out of touch the mayor realy is! That also goes for most council members!

I agree with Alex Tortes. The council should hire and fire the police chief, because they are accountable to the voters. City Government shouldn't be run like some royal oligarchy with publicly unaccountable Czars doing whatever they want under this shadowy secret bill of rights that keeps 'investigations' looking like coverups. Riverside citizens are the voters who own the city government, not the other way around.

It appears that the City's strategy in handling the alleged cover up is to simply cover it up. Brilliant!

Finally a propective that has value speaking for the people.
Adams doesn't think that City Hall mishandled the aftermath of the chief's stop.... And we wonder where it all went wrong.

Looks like Brad Hudson may retire sooner than he expected. His management style is getting in peoples way.

Steve Adams and the Mayor along with some members of the city council forget that the "Good Ole Boy" network crop's it's ugly head up from time to time. They forget they are members. Like it or not. Just like the officers and supervisor's were told by higher ups on how to handle the drunk chief.

As a former city of riverside police officer, councilman Steve Adams knows how the department works and how chain of command is law.

Not for a minute should we believe that city manager Brad Hudson members of the police department and city council members did not know the chief was a Loose Cannon.

just for giggles, ask why Tom DeSantis and Brad Hudson each drive a City owned vehicles, how much it costs per mile, and where they each live (neither in Riverside) along with how many unreported collisions have occured for each executive management staff including elected officials over the past three years that have not been formally documented.

To Be Continued...

Press Enterprise Columnist Cassie MacDuff keeps people posted on what's going down with those corruption scandals in San Bernardino County.

Corona considers cutting bus routes.

Public Meetings

Monday, April 5 at 4p.m. the Human Resources Board will hold its monthly meeting discussing this agenda including the recruitment process for the new police chief.

Tuesday, April 6 at 3 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Riverside City Council holds its weekly exercise in meeting. Here is the agenda. Coming back on the closed session agenda is this lawsuit filed by Riverside Police Department lieutenants, Darryl Hurt and Tim Bacon. A rather interesting counterargument to comments made by Loveridge and most especially Adams in the above article about the Think Tank's press release.

Finance Committee Watch

The next Finance Committee is tentatively scheduled for Monday April 12 at 2:30 p.m. Will it actually meet? Your guess is as good as mine but it appears to be back on hiatus.

Thanks Inland Empire Weekly, which mentioned this blog in its issues several weeks ago of IE movers and shakers.

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home

Newer›  ‹Older