Five before Midnight

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


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Location: RiverCity, Inland Empire

Friday, May 07, 2010

The Deputy Chief Retires...Amid a Stormy Sea

"I was aware that Steve Adams was unhappy about the RPOA endorsement or non-endorsement."

----Deputy Chief Pete Esquivel, Jan. 5, 2010 according to court records about Adams' reaction to not being endorsed by the RPOA in 2007. The union endorsed Adams not long after he flexed his political muscle at its leadership leading the charge to reverse the investigative protocol changes instituted by the city council in 2009.

"I don't recall anything. It was a nightmare."

---Former Riverside Police Chief Russ Leach regarding the March 27, 2007 where the "at will" issue involving two key management personnel came to a head.

"I saw him walking down orange street from the coffee shop on Thursday night. I told my gf, that guy looked very important, Good luck sir in the future."

----"Guest" at

"I have no regrets."

---Esquivel to Press Enterprise about his 36 year career.

On the eve of the completion of his 30 plus year career at the Riverside Police Department, Deputy Chief Pete Esquivel talks to the Press Enterprise about his retirement. It comes in the wake of the scandal that erupted in the police department after the Feb. 8 DUI accident and traffic stop involving his former boss, Chief Russ Leach and in the wake of several current power plays taking place inside the department as a power vacuum developed not long after Leach's departure and revelations that Acting Chief John DeLaRosa had been connected to what took place at the traffic stop and to watch commander, Lt. Leon Phillips (who supervised the stop) through his city-issued cell phone records.

It's a crisis which has put the department and the city in the national spotlight and has breached public trust in both entities, mostly through the actions of a relatively few leaders at the top. Another crisis that the city has been left to address to the public as it scrambles to find its next police chief to lead a department where management at least inhouse had been severely lacking in the past several years including by Leach.

At one point, it looked like the 36 year veteran who had begun his career as a young cadet would put in for the chief's position. At one point several years ago, Esquivel had even been approached by individuals asking him to run for the top spot at the Riverside County Sheriff's Department and clearly had the intelligence and political savvy along with the ambition to compete for the helm of a law enforcement agency. He had many supporters in the community, and inside the department and friends on the dais including former officer, Councilman Steve Adams and former councilman, Frank Schiavone. But he attracted controversy as well inhouse, in part due to his close political ties with Adams and individuals within the police department who manned the promotional lists at the highest ranks (including rumored offers of trades of promotions for political endorsements involving two candidates in the 2007 and 2009 elections), a process that became one of the focal points of a lawsuits filed by two former lieutenants that were recently settled by the city. And how one of his promotions into upper management was handled by the city manager's office ignited a firestorm, the impact which is still felt inside the department and City Hall.

Esquivel's Career Trajectory


Riverside Community College, A.A.

Cal Baptist University, BA in Political Science, 1997

University of Redlands, Master's Degree, Business Management, 2002


Cadet: 1975

Detective: 1985

Sergeant: 1990

Lieutenant: 1993

Captain: 2005

Deputy Chief: March 2007

Esquivel worked a variety of different assignments at each rank during his tenure with the department and his career took a steep upward trajectory within the past five years. He was well known in the city's neighborhoods including Casa Blanca where he had spent years working in various assignments and when many people in community meetings talked about community policing, his name had been mentioned. Even as he moved through the ranks, he often thought about how to improve community and police relationships particularly in communities where relations had been less than congenial.

He worked in homicide where he handled cases including at least one involving a serial killer. And he moved up the ranks through his career, slowly at first given that he worked as a lieutenant for over 10 years and more quickly when Hudson arrived. His trajectory served as an interesting contrast to that of DeLaRosa who zoomed up the ranks quickly beginning after Leach's arrival in 2000, earning the nickname "Johnny Who", working a variety of different assignments at each level but none for very long. Esquivel was an extrovert, to DeLaRosa's more introverted approach to policing.

DeLaRosa's upward movement mirrored that of a previous chief, Jerry Carroll who had moved from sergeant to chief in less than five years, which consequently didn't leave much time for him to develop sound management skills even though for a while, he was a pretty popular officer.

Riverside's police department's leadership trends matched those of other agencies including the Los Angeles Police Department meaning that it alternated between being run by an insider and being delegated to the outside. But it appears that Riverside most likely is about to see its second "outsider" coming in to manage its operations and personnel in a row. Not surprising given the dearth of leadership at the top, a casualty of the promotional practices of the department during the past five years and the fact that the dominoes have already started to fall.

The first of which appears to have been Esquivel.

Signing Hudson's "At Will" Contract

"And police unions are kind of an anomaly to have a police unit, especially in a management group, in any kind of industry. It's kind of an anomaly. And the original RPAA was established for the purpose of negotiations and separated from the RPOA. The reason that it separated from the RPOA was to create a clear divide between rank-and-file activities and those of management."

---Esquivel, Jan. 5, 2010

[Acting Chief John DeLaRosa, one of two employees whose promotional process in March 2007 generated a firestorm. Three years later, his actions would come under close scrutiny again in connection with the Feb. 8 traffic stop involving his boss, Leach.]

During much of his career, Esquivel had been popular with other officers due largely to his years spent on the front lines of policing. Though some others would view him later on as promoting his own interests when he reached the management level and entered into a system where promotions were apparently bought, sold and traded as different candidates held onto their marbles until game time and called in markers, in one case at the 11th hour to do anything to land that top spot. In a world where promotions could be shot down even after they were made and couldn't be finalized unless candidates cleared the air with elected officials over a beer in another city, it fostered a less than friendly environment and any tendency for people at that rank to cohabit at it once they reached the top, were pretty much destroyed in the process just to get there. Seriously, it's human nature to have a little bit of a hard time working with a colleague who stabbed you in the back to become a captain and that played greatly into the creation and fostering of the dynamic which dominated the command staff during the past five years in a department where it seemed at times where people kept their friends close and their enemies closer.

And how can you foster a healthy command staff environment when to get at that level, required a certain level of ruthlessness and a lot of self-promotion?

The answer to that is that you can't. And the RPD couldn't either, and didn't.

A Controversy Brews

All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts...

---William Shakespeare, As You Like It

However, Esquivel's promotion to his final rank, that of deputy chief that took place around March of 2007 attracted a firestorm of controversy after it came to light that both he and DeLaRosa who had been elevated to the oft-vacant position of assistant chief had allegedly signed "at will" contracts with the city manager's office meaning that their positions would be reclassified from captain and they could be terminated by whoever they reported to as being "at will". Leach had believed that the two men would be serving at the will of Hudson's office rather than at his own will and had been out of town when the promotions were actually made. Esquivel said in court records that he had signed that contract and according to him, Leach had signed it as well along with Hudson and City Attorney Gregory Priamos.

"I was going to receive a pay increase, some insurance benefits and, I believe, a severance package and, I don't recall, but maybe some other minor incentives," Esquivel said.

He had said that Leach, not the city management office, had offered him the position, if not the contract. Leach had allegedly told him the terms of the contract and that he had asked Esquivel if he were willing to be a "contract employee". Esquivel had said he would be "receptive" to doing that.

Benefits which were all apparently withdrawn when this contract along with that of DeLaRosa's become null and void as told to him by Hudson and DeSantis, after much controversy and a rather contentious showdown over the issue by involved parties at a March 27 city council meeting which attracted quite a crowd. The promotion had gone through earlier, around March 16.

For an employment contract which had been offered out, accepted and signed by different city representatives, that hasn't pretty much kept it from disappearing from the city's written records. Some of those representatives disagreed on whether it was a contract or a "draft" (and thus restricted from public release although a signed draft isn't the requisite preliminary one to fall under this ruling) but at any rate, any contracts that were signed by DeLaRosa and Esquivel for these "at will" positions have disappeared from at least the public record. Which just places that unfortunate chapter of the city's history further under a dark cloud.

Different parties disagreed on the existence of those contracts either in official or "draft" form. Some like Esquivel say that it was signed including by Leach while Leach said that he doesn't remember seeing it or signing it.

"No. I don't think they had a place there for me to sign," Leach said in November 2009.

An interest observation about a contract he had just testified that he had never seen.

Esquivel said in court records later on that he had felt piqued that his promotional process had been brought into question. It would be hard not to take it personally but the process that involved the elevation of him and DeLaRosa to their current positions was such a deviation outside the normal process that perhaps the two of them should have been asking questions about why they had to sign onto that program to get promotions which have gone to individuals before them without surrendering away their labor rights as members of the Riverside Police Administrators' Association. Traditionally, assistant and deputy chiefs have served as "at will" captains to the chief meaning that the chief picked them for those spots and they could be "demoted" back to their classified captains positions when their stints were done with that particular management head because most of the time, the successor would either appoint his own staff from the captains' pool or bring his choice from outside the agency.

But because the selection process had been changed by the city manager's office under the guise of having it more closely match the command structure of the county's Sheriff Department, there was a lot of concerns and many questions about what these positions now entailed and who these individuals who filled them, DeLaRosa and Esquivel, would be reporting to, the police chief or Hudson.

Leach himself provided one interpretation of that situation on Nov. 17, 2009. At the time of the two promotions which would fill the positions directly beneath him, he would be in Washington, D.C. In fact, he was at the Bull Feathers, when he got the phone call.

"So I assume--when the early conversation came up, I assumed they meant at will to me, as the Police Chief; right? But there's a direct contact between Tom DeSantis, I believe, and Esquivel and DeLaRosa about making them at-will employees. But I didn't know that communication took place. I was in Washington, D.C. sitting in a place called Bull Feathers next to a lieutenant of mine. I'll never forget this because a phone call came in and told me what happened. In breaking that down, it looked like I was completely mistaken; that the contract would be between those two and the city manager's office, making them essentially at-will employees to the city manager's office, not to me, the Police Chief. So I didn't like that."

Why would any police chief who wanted some autonomy over the agency he or she had been hired to lead? Leach expressed further discontent with the change in the process that had been done over his head by his bosses.

"I can always reduce them to captain if I want. So I thought we were sort of solidifying that process, when it turns out they were taking a different direction. And this at-will status would be to the city manager's office. So therefore, I couldn't support that because I'm their boss, essentially, but I'm not their boss because they would end up working directly for the city manager's office. So that's sort of where we parted company on that particular issue."

Leach's statements make it clear that it was his understanding or at least that's what he said, that the positions that were designed to report directly to him and serve at his will as the police chief were instead transforming their enforcement of accountability to that of his boss, Hudson. That sends a powerful statement that Hudson, not Leach is responsible for handling the day to day operations of the police department because why else have two key management personnel in the department report directly to him and place themselves in the situation where their employment lies in the hands of the city manager's office? In other words, into a situation not dissimilar to that involving Leach.

Leach appeared on stage at the March 27, 2007 meeting where hundreds of members from the RPOA and RPAA along with community leaders congregated at the city council meeting, to address this contentious issue that drew the question of who was really running the police department into the public arena. Because after all, if the two top management positions under Leach were going to serve at the will of not Leach, but Hudson and DeSantis, then that would essentially make Leach a puppet chief under the real department heads inside the city manager's office.

Leach spoke not much about the "at will" issue or the controversy it had generated within the ranks of the police department, calling it a "miscommunication that took place a while ago" which is much different than what he said about it above.

In Hudson's speech, he focused on saying that this change was part of one he had implemented city-wide. He generally called his relationship with Leach a working partnership.

"I cannot think of a single instance where Chief Leach and I have disagreed over significant matter-over any matter, for that matter. I think we're in agreement; it's his department, I handle the money, he handles the police work."

The comments that Leach and his boss, Hudson made at that public meeting provide an interesting contrast to Leach's comments above which he made on the "at will" issue and the impasse of sorts that he had with Hudson. And at that meeting, different representatives from City Hall assured the audience that there wouldn't be any positions "at will" to the city manager's office, except for the police chief's of course. Behind the scenes, it was said that Leach had been furious about what transpired and had come back from his trip back East for a showdown, at least until he was given a hefty pay increase by Hudson's office.

Esquivel chafed from the experience of having his promotion become the focus of much controversy as he made clear in court records. Speakers at the city council meeting had said that they weren't contesting the individuals promoted or their records but the process. Still, it rankled at least one of the men promoted, a key event in a professional career.

"I have been personally maligned by some of the things that were said to some of these groups, and there were fliers that were roaming around about, you know, got to show up to the council meeting, to this, to this to that or whatever. And some of these people--that part is okay. But the part of me being personally maligned, I didn't think that was acceptable."

Things got a bit quieter after least for a while. Business resumed as usual inside the department and City Hall.

But it would only prove to be the quiet before the storm.

Feb. 8, 2010:

The Police Stop Heard Around the Country

The early morning hours of Feb. 8, 2010, not long after the Super Bowl festivities had wound down was when Leach drank a lot of alcohol including on surveillance video taken at Club 215, downed some prescription medications and then drove through Riverside, the last ride he would take during his nearly decade career as Riverside's top cop. He crashed his vehicle into some object, shredding his tires down to their rims which threw sparks as he navigated his car through the city streets, running a red light and nearly hitting several other vehicles, apparently completely unaware of where he was and where he was going.

Two patrol officers finally caught up with him and pulled him over but not before 911 calls had been made to dispatch about the black Chrysler 300 throwing up sparks and alarming the motorists out on the streets. Officers Jeremy Miller and Grant Linhart, both fairly new, saw what they had which was their boss exhibiting "objective" signs of being drunk, as they later told California Highway Patrol investigators when interviewed. They called for their supervisor, Sgt. Frank Orta, who had over 30 years on the job and was looking to retire in July after having postponed his original retirement plans in light of the serious ongoing supervisor shortage in the police department as vacancies in both the sergeant and lieutenant ranks piled up and were unfilled by City Hall.

It didn't take long for people to suspect especially after reading what passed for a police report on the incident, that clearly a cover up had taken place involving at least the upper management of the police department though most of the command staff including those at the captains' level had been left out of the loop at least for a little breathing a collective sigh of relief as rage began to be vented against the department and the city which through its silence offered up Miller and Linhart and Orta as sacrificial lambs for nearly two months while City Hall under the guise of an internal "sweeping" probe tried to figure out what to do.

Esquivel had not been connected to what transpired on Feb. 8 though there were reports that his signature was included on a copy of Orta's police report not released by the city. But except for that, his name was pretty absent from the Leach incident as focus turned instead to DeLaRosa who had been named acting chief and had started showing up at city council meetings and even some community meetings including one in one of his former haunts, Casa Blanca. A remarkable change from the days when Leach used to have to push his assistant chief out of the insulated environment of the police administration and out in the community, something which DeLaRosa apparently didn't particularly like. Esquivel on the other hand didn't have to be asked twice to do public speaking and whatever his reputation within the department might have been, the city residents tended to speak and view him fairly positively because he engaged them. Particularly during the past two years when Leach began to fade away and DeLaRosa remained at the office focusing on administrative and personnel issues.

But DeLaRosa despite the hand shaking and smiles must have known that he was sitting on a time bomb. Namely the city's phone records which would tie his work-issued cell phone to that belonging to Lt. Leon Phillips who had served as the watch commander during Leach's traffic stop. He had initiated phone contact with Phillips at around 3 a.m. and then Phillips had called him twice within the next hour. And the two probably weren't exchanging cookie recipes during the wee hours of the morning when most of Riverside slept but were most likely, planning on how to handle this delicate situation involving the man who outranked them both.

Sure enough after the release of the phone records to the Press Enterprise, it was DeLaRosa's turn to fade back into the woodwork, the least visible acting chief in probably the histories of many a city. He spent most of his time relegated to the department's administrative headquarters located in some rental space in downtown Riverside and has barely been seen since. Perhaps he's been ordered by city management to keep a low profile during the rest of his tenure as acting chief.

City residents no longer saw him except during occasions like the recent officer memorial ceremony where ironically, both he and Phillips addressed the crowd of over 1000 individuals paying their respects to the fallen. And at the law enforcement's famous relay race from Baker to Las Vegas (and relays are probably one of the most challenging long-distance running disciplines in a sport which usually focuses on individual performance), where he showed up to give support as the police department's team accomplished its best performance including some personal bests but apparently DeLaRosa thought at least one runner hadn't done well enough and had complained about it during the race.

However, it seemed that why DeLaRosa instead of being placed on paid administrative leave as would be customary in many other cities given that he had been tied to an alleged cover up of criminal activity by his boss (who was later charged and convicted of drunk driving involving that incident), he remained at the helm. There apparently were discussions about removing him and placing Esquivel in that position until a permanent chief was found, but that didn't take place because not long after that, Esquivel announced his own plans. The prudent action to take might have been to do what the city did when Carrol was retired, which was to hire an interim to take the helm on a temporary basis due to all the problems at the top of the department including the alleged involvement of its second in command in a cover up. What wound up happening instead is that DeLaRosa ended up keeping that position in large due to default, meaning that while City Hall didn't appear to have much confidence in his leadership ability at this point, neither did it or many people inside the police department for that matter have faith in those below him in rank.

When the city announced its hiring process, both DeLaRosa and Esquivel apparently had planned to at least consider tossing their applications and resumes into the mix which would of course include a pool of unknown size attracted from outside the department. There were murmurs within the community and even the department that Esquivel might be a good replacement for Leach, a good "fit" as it's often been called with the city.

But others warned that if Esquivel did put in for the position, he would run into trouble right away because of problems internally involving him. Many people viewed him as being comfortably apart from the scandal that rocked the department and put DeLaRosa in the crosshairs of the city's own probe. Hudson would later release a partial statement about his probe, one month before its anticipated completion blaming police management for what happened that morning without naming anyone specifically pursuant to state law. But DeLaRosa had already been essentially identified by the press and connected to the decision making process behind Leach's traffic stop. If Leach were given a ride home instead of a ticket to jail on a DUI and there's multiple phone contacts between DeLaRosa and Phillips, then between the two of them, it seems abundantly clear who made the call to give Leach special treatment given how the command structure works inside a law enforcement agency similar to that within the military.

DeLaRosa would rather angrily respond to Hudson's statement by returning to his command staff and supervisors by criticizing Hudson's release of informtion blaming management when the investigation hadn't been completed. And that he would do his best to take care of the other officers involved. He had apparently already given notice that it wouldn't be easy for the city if it wanted him to leave quietly. And this officer had battled his way back from a life-threatening illness several years ago and returned to work against some pretty formidable odds so he had no shortage of resolve to go after what he wanted.

That it wouldn't define his entire career with the department. But as it turned out, the application list for the chief's job most likely didn't include his own name.

And it wouldn't include Esquivel's either.

A Power Shift...and Check Mate?

In the meantime, the furor among city residents didn't die down when these revelations came to light despite City Hall's attempts to clamp down on the crisis before they lost control of it, a strategy that began not long after the mysterious woman caller contacted the office of an absent Mayor Ron Loveridge who was hob-nobbing up in Sacramento that day. The phone calls to the department and City Hall only increased. Within various corners of the city, people were quietly promoting Esquivel as the city's next chief, that he should be placed in that position. He's always been popular and highly visible in different neighborhoods, including during a time period when the department's other highest ranking leaders were practically invisible including Leach.

But some people shook their heads and said that if Esquivel did apply for the position, that he would have problems of his own and that doing so might actually bring his career to an end rather than elevate his position within the department. After Leach's departure and DeLaRosa's virtual disappearing act, a power vacuum opened up in the department's upper echolon and like most such situations, it attracted someone to fill it, in this case Captain Mike Blakely, a long-time employee who had lateraled in as a deputy chief when the city hired Ken Fortier to run its department during the early 1990s.

Currently, he heads the department's personnel division which includes under its umbrella, the Internal Affairs Division which staffs a lieutenant and five sergeants including a couple who were closely associated in Leach's social circles, which created no shortage of difficulties when it came time to assign investigators to the so-called Leach probe. Among allegations that Leach had staffed some special assignments the same way he did promotions, giving them to his friends, drinking buddies and vacation pals, it created an environment where there was a lot of questioning and even more doubts regarding these positions and the people assigned to fill them.

Blakely had been placed back in the captain's rank after Fortier's ouster and had remained there since as the command staff which joined him were promoted through a series of rather interesting events which took place after Hudson and DeSantis took over the city's administration and some say, police department's management in mid-2005. The controversies involving the city's promotions at the management level began almost immediately. After the two men arrived, DeLaRosa was promoted to captain later that autumn and his upward advancement accelerated from that point onward. And the veteran captain wound up being outranked by the man who had been a detective when he had arrived as a deputy chief. But Blakely had something that DeLaRosa didn't have and that was a more solid foundation in management having spent years at that level whereas DeLaRosa had zipped through from the lieutenant's rank, which is the entry point into management to assistant chief in about six years. A whirlwind of advancement that might have caught up with him.

But Blakely quickly moved in to fill the void and soon there were internal investigations being opened or reopened on a variety of individuals, largely those at his own level or just below it. Among those in the captain's rank, Blakely's own work ethic is the strongest, he puts in the most hours at the office. And in the wake of controversy and crisis, Blakely became more energized as those around him became more apprehensive and less certain of their own positioning in the every changing dynamics of department in transition which is a gentler way of describing an agency in chaos. At least four officers were placed on paid administrative leave and several officers were the focus of an internal investigation after hitting a dog to make sure they hadn't engaged in a hit and run (oh the irony considering the initial handling of Leach's own suspected hit and run, not to mention the noninvestigation of that allegedly involving a sergeant in Leach's social circle) and do it on purpose.

And allegedly not long after Esquivel considered submitting an application for police chief, he became the focus of internal investigations and not long after that, his retirement was announced in the Press Enterprise. Just like that, a long-time career of a veteran cop had ended. In his interview with the newspaper, he clearly alluded to the turmoil that has probably been going on before it threatened to spill out in public view.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

"I did have aspirations of being chief in the city of Riverside," Esquivel said Thursday in an interview preceding his formal retirement. "But the whole series of circumstances over the last few months would have made that very difficult."

The city hasn't confirmed that these investigations were initiated and it won't ever do that, due to peace officer confidentiality laws, but it's been said that ironically, Esquivel just like DeLaRosa's problems were tied to his city-issued cell phone. Some viewed it as a rather decisive power play launched by Blakely against the deputy chief as a counter offensive to one against DeLaRosa, while others saw it as something that had been on ice and reopened or a weakness in a rival exploited as part of the ongoing chess game inside the police department's upper echelon that might see more than a couple of retirement parties until it ends. If not quite Survivor Island, the crumbling of the department's highest levels of command have been sobering even as it's been inevitable.

But then this is all part of the legacy and Esquivel's and DeLaRosa's both have become intertwined in it, that was brought to the police department courtesy of decision making outside of it, from inside City Hall. Whether it's relegated to what Leach has called the "Seventh Floor", it's only begun to exact its price from the police department that had spent nearly a decade and over $26 million undergoing intensive reform mandated by the State Attorney General's office under Bill Lockyer. But while many things were fixed, and others improved, other problems lurked and ripened even under the watchful eye of the state's highest law enforcement agency.

There had been tremendous upheaval in the department's ranks in part due to what some called inadequate leadership and supervision which has its own oversight even as it provides it, including at least five arrests (and prosecutions) of officers involved in onduty and offduty alleged criminal conduct during a 14 month period in 2008-09. Some sudden "retirements" at the supervisory level and some demotions as well, including that of a sergeant for allegedly failing to properly supervise two officers investigating a burglary call.

If management's got deficiencies including the department's leader, then at some point, those problems will permeate the ranks. The majority of officers perform their jobs very professionally even in times of departmental free fall taking place around them, while a smaller subset of them (who may be somewhat more at risk to begin with due to a variety of factors including external stressors and possibly, disciplinary histories) began to experience greater problems when supervision and management break down. The five officers who have been prosecuted with two of them convicted of criminal offenses along with a third one preparing to resolve his case, all had problematic histories for various reasons, warning of more problems to arise. Most if not all of them should have garnered extra care and oversight by a sound management structure of monitoring and addressing potential problems (especially those involving alcoholism, drug abuse and family violence) arising in its officers before they reach crisis level. Doing that wouldn't eliminate issues regarding arrests and prosecutions of officers for alleged illegal conduct but it would probably reduce the rates particularly when they spike up which appears less and less like a random cluster of events in light of recent events.

Several people said that when the consent decree expired and Leach essentially checked out, that behavioral expectations including that "off duty" (especially given that it's difficult for officers to ever really be off duty even if they're off the clock) was not held up to the level that it should have been.

If there's allegations of inadequate management and even supervision in some areas of the agency, that's not surprising given the actions that have been taken by City Hall during the past five years including changes in promotional processes beginning at the captain's level and then apparently working their way down from there. If these processes were manipulated by city management and even elected officials to become a barter and trade process rather than that involving the promotional process, then the costs which result are nearly impossible to calculate let alone contain. How do you begin to do such a thing?

And these situations if they have indeed erupted will be left for any incoming chief to address presuming that he has the autonomy and frankly, permission of the city manager’s office to do so. But would city management really hand either off to a police chief faced with a mess of its own making and give him or her the autonomy to address it? And as long as the city government as a majority body continues to check out of the destructive dynamic that has existed between Hudson, DeSantis and the police department, then the destructive cycle will resume after the so-called “honeymoon” period and continue unabated. History will be left to repeat itself once again until the next crisis disrupts the fabric that's been woven leading right up to it.

What's past being prologue until the pattern's broken and a new one begins.

Finance Committee to Meet

One of the city's most on again, off again love affairs is well, back on again but don't blink or you might miss something.

You have to dig a bit around for it online at the city's Web site but the Finance Committee will be holding a meeting on May 10 at 2:30 p.m. to discuss this agenda. It's interesting how not long after the subject of this mothballed committee comes up for discussion in some forum or is written about in the media like with the recent Press Enterprise article, it winds up having a meeting.

So if you're into trying to keep an eye on how City Hall's spending the money, you might want to check this meeting out...before the committee goes back into hibernating amidst the mothballs again. That might sound cynical but this is definitely a committee that's been coming and going since 2005 as some members of City Hall struggle with that thorny issue of financial accountability and transparency occasionally giving city residents a front row seat.

Interesting in the wake of all the controversy about officer-involved death investigations being conducted by the Community Police Review Commission and how adding that body's investigator to the crime scene might contaminate or in other ways compromise a crime scene, that Esquivel once made this observation about the crime scenes of officer-involved deaths or shootings.

"Let me cut to the chase here. The practice had been that a group of detectives, like a herd, would go into the scene and tromp around and march around. And that many of them probably didn't need to be in there and they were just along because they were detectives or they were supervisors to go into the crime scene to see what had occured. The addition of an extra individual [in his case, referring to the city attorney] would absolutely be--would contaminate nothing. And the effort would be that if the individual is escorted into the crime scene and the proper care and consideration would be taken, that no harm would be done."

Chief Hiring Watch

Interestingly enough, there's been accounts that Riverside County Sheriff's Department Undersheriff Valerie Hill is soon to retire. She applied for the sheriff's position and interviewed along with current appointment, Stan Sniff for the job but had made it clear that she wouldn't compete against him if he had enough votes. She later worked with him, focusing on the expansion of the department's correctional division including the construction of a new jail facility.

If she's retiring, it's really interesting timing isn't it? Has she applied for the top spot in Riverside's very own police department? It's hard not to be interested in this hiring process and what it might bring, what might unfold even though City Hall will likely be keeping most of the process a secret from most people.

The hiring process so far had attracted 27 applications with 48 hours still to go in the application process which isn't necessarily all of them because customarily there are often last minute applications submitted in chief hiring searches. At this point, those involved in hiring which is the city manager's office along with the Human Resources Department (as Director Rhonda Strout told the Human Resources Board her department would assist in this process) should be evaluating applications and making selections on which ones will be pushed forward for increased scrutiny. The chief's hiring process should be very extensive and thorough and professionally done, because it's probably the most important position filled since Hudson's been in town.

Interviews with the so-called "community" and city panels were expected to be done in May and hiring hopefully by sometime in June or at least before the police department undergoes its next shift change in July.

According to an article in the Press Enterprise, the final applicant count? 60.

Want a used car? You can bid online here for a city-owned one. Though you might have to have it towed in this case because it doesn't start.

Not to mention bidding on the maintenance of the city's Wi Fi network which just closed. The city's actively seeking a new vendor to maintain and run its free wireless network in the wake of AT&T's decision to walk away with still a year to go left on its contract.

Have Bag; Will Travel?

As part of its network changes after its divorce with AT&T is finalized, the city might be relocating up to 40% of its current wi-fi coverage, leaving the city just under 50% coverage unless it qualifies for federal stimulus grant funding. This BA 100 was one of the last installed, on Glenhavin Avenue and most likely will be among those relocated.

More information on the status of the city's Wi Fi system including the recall of the BA 200s which took place earlier this year. The city is currently trying to receive grant funding to expand the network to 95% or better and if it doesn't win the grant, then the city will provide approximately 52% coverage, down from its current 70 as it will be relocating the hardware that supplies about 40% of the city to areas focusing on low income neighborhoods and shopping centers. Whether or not this will help improve service in these areas remains to be seen as in areas where the maximum distance between access points and network users is about 200 feet, performance doesn't really improve when using it in locations where access points are closer together including where BA 100s are in closer proximity to BA 200s. Increasing the density of nodes in these areas leaves two issues unaddressed.

One being that the primary challenges for access to the network by low-income neighborhoods remains the difficulty of accessing the wireless inside structures, due to construction materials especially in the older houses which dominate some low-income neighborhoods like parts of downtown, the Eastside and Casa Blanca. Tests conducted inside several commercial businesses in fairly close proximity to BA 100s show that even within a 5o feet distance, performance tests indicate challenges accessing ISP connectivity even through glass windows as opposed to more physically challenging barriers such as walls. It's virtually impossible to connect to any wireless signal outside from inside without the amplification of an external antennae attached to the wireless card or connected outside, or through an ethernet device regardless of how close the computer actually is to the BA 100 or BA 200.

The major difficulty with increasing node density in commercial areas namely malls is that most of these places, i.e. Riverside Plaza and Canyon Crest Town Center (both of which lack coverage to the wireless network on at last 80% of their property) for example, are located on large tracts of private property and thus would require appropriate light fixtures which are often lacking to install the BA 100s as well as encroachment permits to place them on private property. Both Canyon Crest Town Center and Riverside Plaza offer wireless spots which are "free" (i.e. Borders at the Plaza) and several coffee places in the Town Center (although Starbucks currently requires a subscription to ATT wifi though that might change).

A closer look at the current Riverside County District Attorney's race.

Public Meetings

Monday, May 10 at 3:30 p.m. on the Seventh Floor of City Hall, the Community Services and Youth Committee will be meeting and will discuss the city's summer programs.

Tuesday, May 11 at 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. The Riverside City Council will meet and discuss this agenda.

Community Police Review Commission Meeting Update

The Community Police Review Commission as you know recently voted 4 to 2 with three members absent to move its meetings from the late afternoon to late morning/mid day with general meetings now scheduled for 12:30 p.m. in what was a deliberate move by the City Hall backed contingent to thwart public participation in that commission's process, not to mention an attempt to prevent other commissioners not in line with this group (which is now a voting minority when all nine are present) from attending meetings, knowing very well from past discussions on meeting changes which commissioners can attend the meetings at which times. Because they knew that they were inhibiting other commissioners from fulfilling their duties of city council appointment, many believed that this action taken by vote is akin to a clear violation of the city's ethics code which does apply to members of boards and commissions.

Not to worry, this meeting change threatens the commission's ability to do business under the Brown Act by creating a situation of potential failure to meet quorums and it has already attracted a fair amount of consternation from several elected officials, which in itself could promote further discussion and debate on the fractured commission.

Election Candidate Forums

Forums will be held at :
Stratton Community Center/Bordwell Park
2008 Martin Luther King Blvd., Riverside, CA 92507

The League of Women
The Group The Latino Network
Voters Riverside
NAACP Riverside Branch
The Pick Group
The Raincross Group

Incumbent - Rod Pacheco (invited)
Challenger - Paul Zellerbach (Confirmed)
Tuesday, May 11th, 7:00pm - 8:30pm

Incumbent - Stanley Sniff
Challenger - Frank Robles
Thursday, May 13th, 7:00pm - 8:30pm

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