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

Thursday, June 10, 2010

City Manager Brad Hudson and Sidekick Tom DeSantis Unlease some New Alibis

[The sign from a building in downtown Riverside that many people in Riverside want to take back beginning with city council election cycles next year after all the embarrassing foibles and scandals coming from within its walls in recent months.]

David Dominguez Speaks Out

Few rational thinking people really bought the alibis presented by Riverside's City Manager Brad Hudson and Asst. City Manager Tom DeSantis when they got caught red handed and eventually exposed as to having to be investigated for alleged illegal acts pertaining to creating and possessing flat badges and having their city-owned vehicles cold plated. Their excuse was that, gee, such and such or so and so made me do it. They blamed their own community development department for pushing the badges on them and former Riverside Police Chief Russ Leach for the cold plates and an illicit gun sale. But few people appeared to believe them, except perhaps for past and current city officials who have given Hudson glowing reviews on his performance as city manager even after all the revelations coming in the wake of the DUI incident which shook the city and the collapse of the city's contract with the consultant it hired to run the city-owned $32 million experiment, the Fox Theater.

Now, a former deputy chief, Dave Dominguez, or Diamond Dave as he's been called, has come forward to refute that version of events and restore some sense of reason to this entire mess and the trails of accounts and excuses coming out of the city manager's office. Now the chief of Palm Springs, Dominguez says that both Hudson and DeSantis wanted these police toys for their own use which refutes the claims of the two men that other employees working beneath them made them do it or told them to do so. Which makes more sense that they would have sought these things than claiming again and again that a subordinate employee told or made the city management engage in these highly questionable actions.

After all, really, what are the odds that they would have been told three separate times to acquire police toys by different city departments? No, it makes more sense that one duo of city management employees would have sought to acquire this equipment all three times. That would make sense to most people. And then when caught, point their fingers and blame their own employees.

[Dominguez comes forward to offer a different version of events on the scandal involving how city officials and management employees acquired police-related toys in the past several years including cold plates for their vehicles. ]

Dominguez said that he had learned about the questionable actions taken by the city management employees while they were trying to obtain concealed and carry weapons permits from the police department. This included a permit given to DeSantis in violation to laws which required him to live in Riverside as well as Hudson using a business address, namely City Hall, on his own permit. Not to mention that highly questionable and possibly illegal weapons sale between them and the police department which was not a legally recognized vendor of firearms, according to more court documents.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Dominguez said he was concerned when he first learned about such requests and discussed the matters with former Police Chief Russ Leach on more than one occasion.

"I recommended that would it be totally inappropriate. It would put the Police Department on the path toward penal and vehicle code violations ... " he said.

"It jeopardized the city. It jeopardized the Police Department, and it ultimately jeopardized the City Council."

Dominguez said the chief acknowledged that Hudson and DeSantis wanted cold plates, which under state law are reserved for police work. The chief was under a lot of pressure, he said.

DeSantis, in an interview Friday, described Dominguez as a disgruntled former employee who had been passed over for promotion to assistant chief in 2007. The assistant chief is the second in command, and two deputy chiefs are third in command, DeSantis said.

The problem with DeSantis' latest attempt to apply blame elsewhere is that court records show that even before Dominguez "failed" to make assistant chief (and lost out to an officer implicated in a recent scandalous event), there were concerns raised by Leach who had approached officers saying that he was being asked to do things including authorizing cold plates that he was concerned would be illegal. An opinion provided by a former traffic lieutenant now retired on the issue of cold plating civilian vehicles concurred with Leach's concerns. Of course, before blaming Dominguez, Hudson and DeSantis had blamed Leach for apparently telling them to get the cold plates. But then have either of these two city employees ever taken responsibility for anything they've done or been caught doing?

Not so far.

[Not me, no way, they made me do it, appears to be the mantra of Riverside City Manager Brad Hudson who was told to cold plate his car by the former police chief, told to have a badge made for him by his own community development department and forced along with DeSantis to engage in a highly questionable gun sale involving the city's police department.]

And interestingly enough, if Dominguez was truly disgruntled, one would think that given that the chief is in charge of the promotion of those assistant and deputy chiefs that Dominguez would be thinking, man I'm so pissed with Leach (the man who didn't promote him) that I really feel like burning him and hey, good guys Hudson and DeSantis burned him on this plates thing so I'm going to come out publicly and stand up for the man who failed to promote me and blame the city management team instead. Say what? If he's mad at Leach for not promoting him and "disgruntled", then why would he be pointing fingers at the city management rather than Leach?

Because how ridiculous does that sound, what DeSantis said?

Because if Dominguez were truly out to burn the men who failed to promote him and if he's implicating Hudson and DeSantis and not Leach in this situation and thus burning them, then what Hudson and DeSantis would essentially be not saying is that they were indeed responsible as many suspected for the promotion of the assistant chief in March 2007 rather than Leach. So either DeSantis and Hudson are telling the truth but have just admitted what everyone suspected all along, that the city management did the March 2007 promotions in upper management instead of Leach. Or on the other hand, they're not being honest at all. Most things should really prove to be so simple to figure out that it's one or the other as it's the case here. But either way and with either alibi, they've cast themselves in a bad light in their eagerness to clear themselves and blame others for what most likely was their own actions.

Any time these two men open their mouths, out comes more cans of worms they have just opened. A little honesty in their alibis would prevent that from happening easily enough but is that something lacking in supply from the city management in Riverside?

It appears that Dominguez has never been a favorite employee of Hudson or DeSantis, certainly not during his tenure in Riverside.

Actually sources say that Dominguez was the alleged target of attempts by Hudson and DeSantis to demote him and that Dominguez along with former employees, Art Alcaraz (Human Resources), Tranda Drumwright (Housing), Jim Smith (interim assistant city manager) and even Pedro Payne (former CPRC manager) were on a hit list of minority employees in upper management to be demoted or even fired or forced to resign by the city management team. None of these employees still work for Riverside.

[One of Hudson's police toys, a badge so that when he went out to take down illegal garage sale signs, he could flash it if questioned. But to Brad's disappointment, the State Attorney General's office said no, you can't keep it.]

But truly the funniest part of what's a well written article is naturally once again provided by that duo of comedians in the city management, Hudson and his sidekick DeSantis. Look at their verbal responses after being caught engaging in a highly questionable weapons sale which really only became "legal" when the city and department laundered it by retrieving the weapons and using a local commercial dealer as an appropriate middleman. Yet they clamor about how they didn't know this or that and it was legal...but have you noticed a pattern here?

1) The city management engages in violation

2) Someone reports it

3) Law Enforcement agency investigates

4) Caught, City Management points fingers elsewhere

5) Legal violation is "corrected" and law enforcement agency accepts it

6) City Management then says, see no laws were broken, it was legal.

But again, let's revisit their excuses they provided to explain away what was essentially an illegal weapons sale using city resources.


Sales of Glock handguns to Hudson and DeSantis appeared to violate state firearms law, documents show. The men paid the city for the guns after using them at a police firing range. Gary Schons, a senior assistant attorney general, in June 2007 found at least three problems with that process: The city can't be in the business of selling firearms to private citizens; there's a mandatory 10-day waiting period to buy handguns, and the gun sales have to be recorded with the state Department of Justice.

In a response letter, Leach said the handguns had been retrieved and resold to Hudson and DeSantis with the help of a local firearms retailer to comply with state law. The transaction occurred in the city's Orange Street police station, and Riverside police Sgt. Cliff Mason was listed as the seller, Leach wrote to Schons.

Mason did not return a telephone call Friday.

In his deposition in January, Hudson was asked about the guns.

"The procedures that were followed weren't exactly correct. ... I had no knowledge of the procedures," he testified. "So I assume we went back and corrected that, and it was done correctly ultimately."

DeSantis said the city stopped allowing civilian use of cold-plated vehicles once the attorney general office advised that it's not allowed.

"Had we known that was a violation, I would have insisted that those vehicles not be registered in that fashion," DeSantis said Friday.

So both Hudson and DeSantis now use ignorance as their defense when for most ordinary people committing criminal violations, the first thing that they're told is that ignorance of the law is no defense for violating it. But again, there's a separate standard for governmental officials and high ranking employees (as there nearly was for the former police chief) and that of everyone else. And yet these two employees who clearly have benefited from their privilege more than once then point fingers at others and tell the city's residents in all seriousness that the city won't tolerate any double standards in how those who commit criminal acts are treated by the police. But do they apply that same standard to themselves? That doesn't appear to be the case with the guns, badges and untraceable plates.

And now Hudson and DeSantis say in chorus that there were no laws violated but really, if that were the case, the original sale of the guns and weapons paraphernalia would have been able to stand and they wouldn't like have to return their toys and then have to pick another vendor to do the sale all over again.

City releases text messages on DUI incident Handling

but Not Those From Separate Investigation of Former Deputy Chief Pete Esquivel

City Hall continues to play games with its selective release of texts done by employees in both the police department and City Hall with City Attorney Gregory Priamos leading the pack as the player who seems as reluctant to turn over his text messages as he did his city issued cell phone records. But buried in the article is interesting information about the other CPRA request that the newspaper did for text messages.


The paper separately requested Esquivel's text messages on a different matter, and the city acknowledged it had the messages but denied the request because the information is part of an internal investigation.

Esquivel abruptly retired from the department after the Internal Affairs Division under Capt. Mike Blakely allegedly opened up internal investigations against him including one allegedly pertaining to text messages sent with his city-owned cell phone. Even though he's retired, the internal investigation is still apparently ongoing. Some say that Esquivel was the casualty of one of several power plays that have been playing out at the upper levels of the police department in the waning days of the Leach/DeLaRosa regime. He might have ruffled the wrong feathers when he considered applying for the top job and then shortly after, he announced he was stepping down into retirement after over 30 years in the police department.

New Chief to Arrive

On June 10, the missive came out of the seventh floor throughout the land called River City that the new police chief had been chosen. And that it was former Los Angeles Police Department Deputy Chief Sergio Diaz. The news came amid massive speculation that the city would hire former assistant chief, Mike Smith after reports came out that one of the council members had claimed at a social gathering that Smith was the one.

Given that this councilman who allegedly spoke a little too soon has a past history of heavy involvement in the police department and who has former Riverside Police Chief Russ Leach testified was always "there", this alarmed quite a few people. That concern came about the same time that the news about the involvement of City Manager Brad Hudson and Asst. City Manager Tom DeSantis in acquiring various police paraphernalia for use when necessary while they were out around the city removing illegal garage sales signs.

The news of Diaz' hiring came not long after the earlier announcement that Acting Chief John DeLaRosa would be stepping down into retirement next month not long after Lt. Leon Phillips after 28 years in the police department had been served his notice to terminate papers in connection with his role in the mishandling of the DUI incident involving former Riverside Police Chief Russ Leach.

Diaz was born in Cuba and immigrated to the United States as a child and has been working for the Los Angeles Police Department in 1977. Although he retired in April his bio is still online. Here is his upward career trajectory inside the LAPD.

Hired: February 1977
Sergeant: 1985

Lieutenant: 1991

Captain: 1998

Commander: 2005

Deputy Chief: May 2007 (the same period as the controversial May Day incident)

He's worked a variety of assignments while at the LAPD at the different ranks in different precincts or areas of the city as shown in the bio but what's important to know too is how much time he spent in those assignments because there's been a resume or two in the upper echelon of the Riverside Police Department where individuals listed many different assignments in each rank but if you look more closely, they didn't spend a very long time within that rank, so a greater number of assignments in a limited amount of time means not much time spent in each one.

He's spent time doing training of personnel and also in mentoring officers including into leadership positions which will likely be helpful in his new job inside a department that has experience a lot of upheaval in the past several months stemming from deep seated problems in the dynamic between the department and City Hall which go back at least five years before the eruption of a crisis.

Diaz talks to the Press Enterprise about the challenges ahead including filling vacancies inside the police department including at the top of the chain of command which includes four captains vacancies as of July 23 which will see the retirement of DeLaRosa who's on his transition team and still will have several weeks to fill the new chief on about the department that employed him until his recent announced retirement. Lt. Leon Phillips received a note of termination on June 4 and there had been rumors that DeLaRosa received one that day too and opted for retirement. But Phillips had his Skelly hearing postponed for two weeks in recent days and his ultimate fate remains unclear. Another detective, Chris Lanzillo received his notice of intent to terminate that same date and after his request to have his Skelly hearing delayed was denied, he was terminated on June 11, about 15 minutes after the hearing was completed.

At least four other officers including two who testified in last year's criminal trial involving former Officer Robert Forman still sit in the Orange Street Station's "penalty box" awaiting disciplinary action.

But Diaz expressed some opinions about what he's going to look at even before he takes the helm on July 1.


Already on Friday, Diaz said he was planning to reach out by phone to some key Riverside figures, including acting police Chief John De La Rosa, who will help Diaz's transition before retiring July 23. The new chief will be introduced to city dignitaries Tuesday.

Before his first day, Diaz said he'd like to visit roll calls, ride with officers and take as many one-on-one community meetings as he can. Beginning July 1, he'll conduct police surveys, inspections and audits to develop a detailed plan of action.

With the department's upper-level command staff missing its assistant chief, deputy chief and one captain, Diaz anticipates an opportunity to fill a leadership void, but could not yet say whom he would bring in or promote.

"Whenever you hear any news about a new chief, before anything else you think 'what does this mean for me?' " he said. "I want to reassure people and my personal plan is to calm things down and not spin things around. I want to hear their ideas pretty quickly."

It will be interesting to see whether Diaz will bring in more employees including those from the LAPD to fill key positions at the top including assistant and/or deputy chiefs or he'll move people up from within the ranks. The anticipation of what will transpire no doubt has sent waves of apprehension through the management level where most of those individuals who occupy those spots chose paths to their ascension which weren't exactly in the job requirements for those management positions. So it's understandable if the thought of a complete outsider coming in and looking at deciding whether to import his management staff or to seek it from outside might have them worrying about their own futures.

Given the fractured state of the department's management level employees, and the intense competition which arose between them, fostered greatly by Leach, which has been more destructive than an environment of cooperation and collaboration would have been in a management staff with healthier dynamics than the current one. After July 23, all three assistant and deputy chiefs that worked under Leach in the past couple of years will be retired. And it's not entirely clear yet if the department has seen the last of retirements at that level in the wake of a new chief entering the building.

There will be much, much more on the hiring of the new chief and what it might mean for Riverside in the upcoming weeks and months ahead as well as the waning days of the DeLaRosa administration.

Fox Theater Contract Canceled?

The rattling of the doors in the House of Brad continue onward as the city mulls whether or not to nix the contract of William Malone to manage the beleaguered Fox Theater in downtown Riverside. But then the city goes further to provide the comic relief of the day when it insists that the decision to possibly revoke the contract has nothing to do with complaints aimed very pointedly at Malone that have been made since he took the reins of the theater.

So yet another failure coming out of Development Director Deanna Lorson's office and the Hudson administrative regime at City Hall. Yet while one city councilman who led the probe into what's been going on behind the scene at the Fox Theater, another relates the sudden decision to possibly revoke Malone's contract to other reasons...besides the complaints. The problem with that is that City Hall might not be aware of this but most city residents didn't just fall off the turnip truck. And with the mishandling of the Leach incident, the micromanagement of the police department and now the Fox Theater, it's pretty clear what the common thread is with all three even if the city council and mayor stick fingers in their ears and essentially go, "la, la, la..."

But at least Davis appears to be breaking some of the ennui and has been addressing the Fox Theater crisis, one of several fires breaking out over the city right now.

While the city residents will pay a fortune for the decisions made in the 'Hall including in ways that will be written about here in upcoming weeks.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

City officials and community members have expressed concerns for several months over how Malone has handled the Fox. According to interviews and city records, Malone has been difficult to reach, missed payment deadlines and left tasks undone because he refused to cede any decision-making authority.

The city's concerns were so serious that Lorson sent Malone a letter in March threatening to terminate the Fox contract in two months if he didn't improve the situation quickly.

Malone has said some complaints stem from disagreements about how to run the facility. Lorson said Malone has been working with the city to correct the problems.

Councilman Paul Davis, who has been critical of Malone's performance, said Friday he opposes continuing either of Malone's contracts.

"He is not qualified nor is he capable of monitoring, managing, operating, financially or otherwise, our facilities," Davis said.

But Councilman Mike Gardner said while he thinks it's prudent to rebid the auditorium contract, that's not tied to any concerns about the Fox.

"This gives the greatest flexibility to deal with unknown eventualities" like when the auditorium will reopen, Gardner said.

As to Malone continuing at the Fox, Gardner said, "I'm not ready to pull his plug, but I want to see him continuing to make changes that will improve the operation."

Riverside Wi Fi Outage

Dude, Where Are You? Why Don't You Pick Up?

[An unknown number of these access points (this one's a Bell 200) have apparently lost their connection to the internet since yesterday morning.]

Riverside is entering into the second day of a fairly large outage of the city's free Wi Fi system provided through AT&T that's impacted southern Riverside and areas by UCR. The outage began at roughly 11 am on Friday, June 11 and repair orders have been submitted both to the city and also to AT&T's Operations Team which maintains the city's network until the city takes over that service this autumn. Still the internet service remains off-line until it's repaired and it's unknown how many of the devices in this city have been impacted by this apparent outage.

No estimated time of repair is available at this time.

[Pinging results involving Riverside's ATT Wi Fi Free network. The top listing of results shows successful pinging to the network's DCHP IP address. However, when pinging the site at the bottom, the message comes up that it couldn't find the host site.]


ATT METRO FREE is back online after a network outage possibly related to downed servers lasting nearly two days, probably impacting the entire city. The repair crew was dispatched on June 11 and completed the repairs late Saturday night on June 12.

The mapping of Riverside County District Attorney-elect Paul Zellerbach's win.

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