Five before Midnight

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


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Location: RiverCity, Inland Empire

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Will the Guard Change at the RPD?

Is former Lt. Leon Phillips now a sergeant? Nothing official but word is that he's been demoted. If so, not surprising as it was believed that the threat to terminate was a power play used to try to get him to accept a demotion.

Update: Nice little earthquake there....always good to test those reflexes...10.1 on the actually about 5.4

UPDATE: Diaz has picked a new deputy chief and it's...Mike Blakely!

Rumors are that an assistant chief and another deputy chief might be hired from outside the department in the next two weeks.

[The administration of newly hired chief, Sergio Diaz began on July 1 and what happens in the first 30 days could shed a lot of light on the department's future direction.]

On June 30, 2010 newly hired Police Chief Sergio Diaz was sworn in as Riverside's latest police chief. Some say that originally he was supposed to have been sworn in on July 1 but the date had been changed to accommodate Councilman Steve Adams' stint as mayor pro tem which expired on June 30. Adams had stepped in for Mayor Ron Loveridge who had other things to do which required him to be out of town on the date the chief would be sworn in and then replace former chief Russ Leach who was medically retired after his involvement in the infamous DUI incident.

But it was ironic and more than a little disturbing (as noted by others too including Press Enterprise columnist Dan Bernstein) that Adams would be assigned this role of swearing Diaz into office, given the most recent revelations about questionable conduct involving the seventh ward councilman. To give a newly hired police chief an oath to uphold and enforce the law when Adams was implicated in the cold plates scandal. Not to mention having allegedly involved himself inappropriately in the promotional process of at least two police department captains while testifying under oath in a deposition that to do so violated the city charter and possibly even state law.

Testimony strongly indicated that he had essentially vetoed the December 2005 promotion of a female captain and had also been tied to the January 2008 promotion of a male captain who had strained relations with Adams but was promoted shortly after meeting with Adams to "clear the air". It didn't seem odd to any of the parties involved and deposed on this in a court of law as to why a promotional candidate had to meet to "clear the air" with an elected official in the first place at the same time he was undergoing the promotional process and that was in itself, disturbing and indicative of a pattern and practice that might be deeper than most people know.

But anyway Diaz was sworn in and is set to begin his first 30 days as the city's new chief and many city residents are watching to see how he will make his mark from the very beginning. The department's experienced many serious problems in its infrastructure in large part due to actions taken during the past five years or so involving the dynamic between the department's upper management and some elements inside City Hall. Allegations of micromanagement of the police department by different individuals including at least one or two current and former elected officials at City Hall had been made including that Leach had very little actual involvement in the promotions at the highest level including those of several captains and his assistant chief and one deputy chief who were promoted in March 2007 when he hadn't even been in town. Leach had also allegedly faced severe pressure from the city management to demote former deputy chief Dave Dominguez who later retired and became chief in Palm Springs.

So what will be the fate of the new police chief in the face of the city's history of factions at City Hall getting involved in police personnel decisions that began even before City Manager Brad Hudson's arrival?

An Early Primer on City Hall Micromanagement

The dynamic of micromanagement by City Hall of the police department actually goes back to at least 1999 when the city council tried to settle a lawsuit filed by a group of white male sergeants by not only trying to create new lieutenant positions but by deciding who would fill those positions which is that was the case, would have violated the city's charter.

The sergeants including five who were later promoted to lieutenant had alleged reverse racial and gender discrimination in protests of former chief Jerry Carroll's decision to promote Alex Tortes, Ron Orrantia and later, Meredyth Meredith. After they filed lawsuits, the city government led by Mayor Ron Loveridge in closed session had discussed creating at least two new lieutenant positions. That in itself is within the scope of the city management to recommend and the city council to decide whether or not to finance through budget allocation. However, Loveridge and the city council allegedly went further by trying to decide who would fill those positions, in essence involving themselves in the promotional process, in this case "promoting" Jay Theuer and Wally Rice to fill those positions. After all, it's one thing to create new personnel positions within the police department even at the supervisory and management level, it's another to decide who will fill them. Carroll retired not long after this situation erupted publicly, his regime ending as the camel with his back broken by the final straw.

When Leach came on board in the autumn of 2000, he promoted two groups of supervisors and management in early 2001 including four of the suing sergeants. Two of them, John Carpenter and Mark Boyer later became captains and one of the focal points of their lawsuit, Meredith became a captain as well. Though ironically or not, Meredith had been cut off at the pass at her first "promotion" in part by Boyer. It's interesting how the interactions of the initial lawsuit and captain candidates on both side of it would play out years later as once again, elements at City Hall involved themselves in the matter of promoting police officers at the highest levels.

So there's some precedence in the city government in a round about way involving itself inappropriately in the promotional process. In a way, that helped set the tone for what was to follow because there's one major common denominator in all this and that's indeed Loveridge who for years has been busy behind the scenes as the city's compass. And it's not clear whether or not City Hall learned from the latest lesson on the problems associated with micromanaging the police department including its promotional processes because as stated earlier, it clearly didn't learn from the lesson which preceded it.

But below are the stake holders involved in the latest round of whether or not City Hall has learned from its prior actions and foibles or not. And whether or not the city council including those members up for election again next year have any clue about how concerned people are about this situation and that they plan to take some of these concerns to the ballot box with them next year.

The Power Brokers

[Chief Sergio Diaz addressing an audience of several hundred individuals after being sworn into his new position as Riverside's top cop. The question has been asked in different circles, how autonomous will he be?]

Diaz has begun his job at the department and immediately faced a dearth of upper management personnel given that they had begun to fall like a row of dominoes and it's not clear whether that has finished or not. Regardless, as the new chief, he has the right to pick his immediate management staff including any assistant and/or deputy chiefs if City Hall allows him to exercise that right which in itself remains to be seen. Riverside's interesting because it has this unfortunate history of attempts by other individuals at City Hall to control the promotions of assistant and deputy chiefs, what with the city management's attempts to turn these positions into "at will" classified ranks rather than non-classified appointments. But assuming Riverside's learned from that disaster, the police chief will get to pick those he surrounds himself with and often that's the strategy to appoint individuals that can be trusted to among other things, watch the new chief's back from any stiletto planting by management subordinates if they have such designs.

The most oft-asked question so far by nearly everyone is whether or not Diaz will appoint key management personnel from inside the department or bring them in from the outside. Former Chief Ken Fortier, an "outsider" from San Diego's police department, brought in key personnel including Mike Blakely as deputy chief and Dave Dominguez as a lieutenant. But the other most recent "outsider" Leach didn't bring anyone from the outside to fill his key positions as his assistant and deputy chiefs included inhouse people like Mike Smith, Audrey Wilson and Andy Pytlak.

[Former Deputy Chief Andy Pytlak was promoted by Leach to that position in 2003 from inside the police department but ultimately retired.]

But apparently Diaz' comments on that is that he hasn't ruled out bringing in at least one outside person to fill a key management personnel position and many people believe that would be the smart move to make as many people believe there's a lack of experienced and qualified people at the highest levels of the police department to fill that role. They also believe that it's necessary for the department to look outside given that the trust in upper management isn't at a very high point internally or outside the department either. At the swearing in, there was a contingent of several dozen police officers from the Los Angeles Police Department where Diaz worked until he retired as a deputy chief in April 2010. Many of them held the ranks of captain and above and it's even quite possible that one or more of them could be hired to work in Riverside's police department.

Some have said that Diaz particularly in his early days and weeks needs to have someone that he can trust to watch his back from those immediately around him especially if he's trying to institute any reforms (and Diaz' reputation of doing that in the LAPD has been mentioned by those who work there and those outside the LAPD) in the police department which sorely needs some in the wake of recent incidents and several years of being mishandled by the city.

One person said he probably learned from the example of former LAPD Chief Willie Williams who came from the outside too and didn't bring anyone from the outside into his management staff. He then had problems with higher ranking people who sabotaged him during his rather short tenure with the department that ended after five years. The LAPD also fosters an environment of offering retirements to officers deemed to be obstructionist to attempts to institute changes or reforms to the police department. And Diaz is well aware of controversy when it arises within an agency having been promoted to deputy chief in the wake of the controversial 2007 May Day incident involving the LAPD which led to over $13 million in lawsuit settlements involving excessive force including against journalists.

But the police department has had a history of having an assortment of chiefs at its helms, some official, some not. And as the city residents have discovered in recent weeks, some of them like to dress and look the part.

[Diaz' boss, City Manager Brad Hudson has taken a more "hands on" approach to the police department than any other city manager in recent memory. Of course as it turned out, he had his hands on other things like cold plates, flat badges and guns allegedly sold to him and one of his staff members by the police department in what would have been an illegal transaction.]

Hudson has involved himself rather heavily in the police department and he's one of those who likes to look the part having had a badge created so he could remove illegal signs from city property and exert his authority when confronted. He has allegedly had a cold plated Toyota Highlander (though he had no knowledge of it) and purchased a Glock handgun from the Riverside Police Department, all actions which attracted attention from the criminal division of the State Attorney General's office several years ago. He's been reputed to have micromanaged Leach while he served as police chief waving a provision of the city charter that states that the city manager has "final say" in promotions at Leach whenever the former chief wanted to make a promotion.

He had the tacit blessings of the members of the city government who weren't also involving themselves in the promotional process. But with all the scandals that have come to light involving the actions of some at City Hall, will the city council send Hudson the message that they hope that the police chief has some autonomy? Including those who praised Hudson as the best city manager ever (including the mayor who made similar comments about former employee, John Holmes) right before the scandalous behavior came to light. And one elected official recently interviewed said that Hudson's a wind up doll or something of that ilk that can be pushed in the decision he needs to head. Okay, that's fine and everything but if that's the case, then which elected officials wound up Hudson and steered him and his minions in the direction of getting badges, cold plates and emergency equipment including allegedly flashing lights and police pursuit tires for their vehicles?

If the city officials who are up for election don't want to be handed pink slips by the voters, it might be something they want to think about carefully, given the mood of city residents since Feb. 8.

And as you know, the S.S. Hudson has an assistant who he plucked from San Bernardino County and allegedly out of some static there to work alongside him as his troubleshooter. And most recently, the former public information officer for Riverside County proper had been apparently involved in some public document damage.

[Hudson's henchman, Asst. City Manager Tom DeSantis who had attracted attention during jobs held in both Riverside and San Bernardino Counties. His latest action, was allegedly destroying public records on the city's automobile fleet that were requested by the Press Enterprise.]

DeSantis apparently according to testimony was the point man for the 11th hour cancellation of one captain's promotion in the police department. But if so, that's hardly surprising given his micromanagement of police department to the point where some said if the department wanted to buy a ream of paper, they had to run it past DeSantis first. But what's so very clear is how the department has thrived since DeSantis began his "management" of it in 2005. Four years out of a consent decree with the State Attorney General's office and it had already run in enough serious problems to prompt multiple complaints to various outside agencies with one of them in particular paying a very close eye on what happens next with the department. And if any outside agencies were investigating the department or even the city at this time, few people would even know. But if that's the case, one of the entities on the list of those to thank would be the city management. For essentially squandering $26 million dollars and much hard work done (most of which took place before Hudson and DeSantis even arrived on the scene to muck it up) to move the police department in the direction it needed to go.

Four years after the consent decree's dissolution and nine years after its enactment, the police department's left in some ways to start over again.

[Councilman Steve Adams drove a cold plated city vehicle in violation of state law and also apparently engaged in some city charter bending by exercising more involvement in the police department's promotional process at its highest levels than he ever could as a former police officer. In what must be the ultimate irony, he administered the oath of office to Diaz.]

Retired police officer, Adams has a brother Ron, who also works for the city in its red light camera program at City Hall and who was one of the defendants in a sexism lawsuit filed by a former female police sergeant. A lawsuit which had a huge six figure payout after relatively little money spent litigating it in the courts. But Adams gives admonitions to criminals and "bad guys" including at the swearing in and in fact, was recently endorsed for reelection by the Riverside Police Officers' Association even as he was caught violating the law by driving a car with cold plates as a civilian. And Leach testified in his deposition given for the lawsuits filed by former Lts. Tim Bacon and Darryl Hurt that Adams during an incident where his cold-plated city-issued car was impounded in Newport Beach had identified himself as an undercover police officer which meant that the watch commander at the police department in Riverside received a phone call from the Newport Police Department asking for clarification. When asked whether Adams was investigated for impersonating a police officer which in itself is a crime, Leach said in his testimony it was the NBPD's call leaving that rather curious incident unresolved.

But it's ironic that Adams has apparently been more involved and exercised more power over the police department as a councilman than he ever did as a police officer. This includes allegations that he involved himself in the promotions of between two to three captains from December 2005 to January 2008. Has Adams left these proclivities behind or will he continue his passionate involvement in the department's operations? After all, Leach had testified that Adams had been one of two elected officials heavily involved in the police department's affairs. But it's interesting to see how quiet those on the dais have been about about Adams and his actions taken including those involving cold plates and promotions. And in what can only be described as very fitting for River City, Adams got to handle at least one ethics complaint involving another elected official as a member of the Mayor's Nomination and Screening Committee even after the news about his own actions as an elected official broke into the public arena.

So it remains to be seen what's next on the agenda for Adams and whether he decides to try to involve himself in the department's operations. He's up for reelection next year in Ward Seven and last time in 2007, he only won by about 13 votes so even he must realize he's vulnerable.

[The city council hasn't been very vocal about the situation involving Leach and its aftermath, in fact you could hear a pin drop at the 'Hall, including on the latest revelations of scandalous behavior from within its walls. Will this nonchalant attitude help or hurt some of its members during the election cycle next year?]

As for the rest of the city council, three others besides Adams are up next year and several could face tough reelection battles as the candidates have already began coming out of the woodwork including Marisa Yeager in Ward One and John Brandriff in Ward Seven. Not to mention other unofficial candidates in wards one, three and possibly five and seven as well.

But as Diaz begins his process of filling his management team with or without the ahem, assistance of outside players, there are some challenges given that the highest ranking individuals in the police department, both the assistant and deputy chiefs, have retired or are about to retire. One of them was implicated in the mishandling of Leach's DUI incident and opted to retire rather than face disciplinary action which could have included termination. The other had been positioned very well to make a run for the top spot but then abruptly announced his retirement and left two months ago after over 30 years in the department. The only other management level position had been vacated several years by the retirement of Dominguez.

At the beginning of 2010, could it possibly have been anticipated that the upper management level of the police department including the police chief would be packed off and sent to retirement?

Oh how quickly everything can change...especially when it comes after years in the making.

The Departed

Former assistant and acting chief, John DeLaRosa kept himself busy in his final month while running Orange Street Station by firing a detective who had sued him, transferring key female personnel out of the facility and opening internal investigations on different individuals. His final date as an employee is July 23.]

[Considered a contender for the chief's job until someone said, checkmate to him by opening up several internal investigations against him including one involving the use of his city-issued cell phone. Within a month, he was gone.]

In the acting capacity had been Asst. Chief John DeLaRosa who was placed in that spot before the call log for his city-issued phone implicated him in the scandal surrounding the handling of Leach's DUI incident and its attempted cover up. He allegedly had wanted to stick around and not make any plans to extricate him from the department done easily. Rumor has it, that he had been issued a notice of intent to terminate on the same day as both former Lt. Leon Phillips and Det. Chris Lanzillo had received their papers. DeLaRosa's final months in his 30+ career with the police department that witnessed his rapid trajectory up to its highest levels left many an employee feeling as if they were walking on egg shells as the acting chief and his mentor, Capt. Mike Blakely were allegedly busy opening up internal investigations on people and transferring officers to Orange Street Station including both Phillips and Lanzillo for disciplinary reasons. When allegations were raised that DeLaRosa had transferred Phillips to Orange Street Station for discipline here, DeLaRosa traveled across town to attend roll call telling officers there that Philips hadn't been transferred to Orange Street for discipline but to be trained for a "special assignment".

Within two weeks, Phillips was given his termination notice from his "special assignment" for his involvement in the Leach incident. Makes you wonder why they would have bothered to transfer him to the station for training him for a special assignment then. But anyway, that's Riverside and how business is conducted.

Not long after, DeLaRosa abruptly announced his retirement the same day Hudson picked his new police chief.

What was really sobering was watching the power play that took place within the ranks that apparently ended the career of Esquivel. He was a very popular officer in the community including during his stint as the area commander of Casa Blanca and in a variety of assignments. He was the yin to DeLaRosa's yang, being placed in more community oriented assignments for longer stints while increasingly DeLaRosa was floated around doing short stints in a variety of administrative jobs while he zipped up through the ranks as "Johnny Who". The rapid advancement while heady at the time might have ultimately been DeLaRosa's undoing while Esquivel's decision to consider filing for the chief's position turned out to be his, as this catalyzed internal investigations including at least one dated one against him.

Rather than go through that process, Esquivel apparently opted to retire, again abruptly. If high ranking officers engage in misconduct, then that's their responsibility but it was still unnerving to see how the highest level of the department engages in its own version of "Survivor Island" to thin its own ranks. It's to the point where anyone at any sense at that level would duck for cover.

One person when learning of the antics of the captains through the events which have transpired recently viewed them as a pack of cutthroats and unfortunately, the department's seen quite a bit of that behavior up at top. Some of the issues that Diaz raised astutely in his opening address on June 30 seem to refer to the infighting which had begun to define the RPD even to those outside of it. Clearly the man's done his homework.

But what's to be done when the department's now in a reorganization process which is sorely needed and has been for a while? Will the same cutthroat tactics to elevate through the highest ranks be seen again? They're a byproduct of how the department and city has conducted the promotional process involving the upper ranks for the past five years.

It's been said that the captain contingent has never been more industrious with its work activities than it has been since Diaz first arrived, clearly its members are trying to impress him as he makes his decisions regarding the department and who will serve as its management team. Probably the most critical and the most immediate decisions to be made about the department which has been essentially rudderless for quite some time. A dearth of leadership within its ranks including its helm (and micromanagers are not really equivalent to leaders) and a complete failure to mentor the next generation of leaders as its pattern and practice. But then the people entrusted to do that are too busy trying to cut each other's throats and undermine one another, not to mention pulling up the ladder behind them when they advance. They're intelligent, experienced police officers granted but they've apparently made the choice to behave otherwise to get ahead of the next person.

What was clear about the very diverse contingent of LAPD personnel that attended the swearing in was that Diaz has a history of mentoring others as many of those in attendance grew to know him in part that way. Many of them were women, or individuals of color as well as White. Diaz didn't need to mention in his speech about valuing diversity because clearly his actions and results speak louder than most of his predecessors' words. Diversifying the police department from top to bottom to better reflect the communities it serves was a key objective in the original Strategic Plan and allegedly had been an integral part in the draft of the followup plan (which is now somewhere in River City's version of the Bermuda Triangle) until it possibly was excised after that draft had been completed. It's currently believed to be missing in action.

It's enough to know that this component was in the early draft of the Strategic Plan because if it's missing in the final version, it will be very clear that it was removed and then the questions will have to be asked why this happened. That was certainly a strong component of community generated feedback.

But one action that will allegedly be taken by the end of the 30 day period could be some promotions to fill some of the vacancies in the police department given that some ranks are very critical including that of lieutenants where the vacancy rate stands at around 33%. But it will be challenging to fill many of these positions given that ultimately the rank that thins out to fill them is the officers' level which is also critically short resulting in staffing shortages in comparison to police department's in some cities even smaller than Riverside. Also negatively impacted by attrition and positional freezes have been the civilian ranks which currently stand at approximately 19% vacant.

Loveridge prattled during one city council meeting that he couldn't think of a more important position in the department than the area commanders as all four attended one meeting for an update on Safe Parks. But seriously, all the department's positions are important and all of them are interdependent and heavily reliant on other positions within the organization even for safety issus (i.e. officers depending on information from dispatchers). It's important to think of the department as an entity of many important parts rather than just its individual parts.

But while it's possible and probably wise for Diaz to bring in at least one person from outside to fill a high ranking position, possibly the highest next to his own, the futures of the management team have yet to be decided in terms of who will serve the agency, where. And that has the remaining four captains more than a little reflective about their own situations in recent weeks.

Here are the contenders at the captains' ranks but it's too early to assign odds as to their probability of career elevation. Diaz has apparently interviewed the captains at least once and he apparently has decided to interview the candidates for promotions at the supervisory ranks as well which is prudent not only for a newly arrived employee to a department with people he hasn't gotten to know but for the process itself to be a better one. Because the top of the chain of command, the chief, really should be interviewing the candidates.

It would serve as a contrast to how promotions were conducted under Leach who hardly ever interviewed candidates but would pick people off the lists from different rankings based on how well he already knew and liked them. Leach in fact, only engaged in interviewing candidates for the lieutenant's rank back close to when he first arrived and only a few candidates omitting many of them with higher placings on the lists. This led to a great distrust of the promotional process within the department and much of the infighting in the ranks among those competing for those few positions.

Captain Contenders?

[Capt. Mike Blakely (l) is the most seasoned captain by far in the department and came into the department as one of its "outside" chief's deputy chief. He has by far, the most administrative experience and the most practice. But some say that Diaz will need someone close to him just to keep an eye on Blakely.]

[As of late, Capt. John Carpenter had been explaining to individuals his version of events during the meeting between himself, Steve Adams and Pete Esquivel at the Corona restaurant which was conducted to "clear the air" between him and Adams just before Carpenter's promotion to captain. Shortest on experience at this level, Carpenter's been especially industrious at the office in recent weeks to try to prove he has the right stuff to move up. Will it and ambition be enough? ]

[Capt. Meredyth Meredith's promotion to lieutenant helped spark a lawsuit against it and the blocking of her promotion to captain in the 11th hour by City Hall nearly spawned another but it remains to be seen what the cards hold in store for the department's highest ranking female officer. Will she move up, stay where she's at or retire?]

[Easily one of the most ambitious of the captain contingent as its youngest member, John Wallace even put in for and made the final round of interviews for the chief's position. He's a talented writer and he's working double duty now running special operations and investigations (which no other captain's coming close to doing) but questions remain about an alleged early morning errand he did to pick up an inebriated Leach in San Bernardino County. Still it wouldn't be a complete surprise if he did move up as when it comes to ambition, he's second only to Carpenter and he had experience doing work on the attorney general's task force/audit and compliance panel.]

A lot will be taking place in the next month or so in this city and its police department but it remains to be seen exactly what these actions will entail.

City Too Broke For Library, Museum Expansion Projects

Riverside's coffers are still flush enough to make private developers happy but alas, no money left for the library or museum and members of the Metropolitan Museum Board have sent out urgent missives to help save the museum which they feel has little or no support from the city leadership even though Riverside adopted its latest logo at some taxpayer expense, of being the City of Arts, Culture and Innovation. There was huge fanfare only months ago about the plans to rebuild the downtown library building from scratch and to add onto a separate building which houses the museum. But both institutions have seen both their operational budgets and staffing get slashed, including the museum which lost half of its employees and the library which lost most of its accredited librarian experts.

The loss of such key staffing positions and individuals shows the ignorance of the city management in this city when it comes to staffing individual city departments with the people needed to do the job. But then the city management team has stumbled over labor issues since it was hired in June 2005, beginning most people thought with the highly contentious labor negotiations with the city's major bargaining units during the long, hot summer of 2006. Unions were locked out of negotiations after complaining about unlawful negotiation practices by the city management and some sued, took strike votes and staged rallies at City Hall including one held by the Riverside Police Officers' Association, the Riverside Police Administrators' Association and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers that September. Negotiations only continued with some of the unions after DeSantis was removed from the negotiation process after unions complained that he would put something on the table, the union would accept and then he would summarily remove it from the process.

But it's clear that at least the majority of the city council and certainly the mayor have been paying little attention to what the city management has been doing. After all, even when Hudson and DeSantis engaged in highly questionable and in several cases, illegal conduct, the city government either opted out of taking responsibility for ensuring the public that this wasn't going on or it failed to this day, to take any action.

Dan Bernstein of the Press Enterprise addressed the curious interaction at a city council meeting between several council members and their boss, Hudson.


Manager/developer Hudson wasn't about to let Councilwoman Nancy Hart throw him off stride when she asked how a new library and rehabbed museum 'n' muni auditorium fit into the picture. He didn't answer, rambling on about financing the convention center until MayorLuv asked, again, about the library, etc.

Hudson's nonanswer: "The financing of this would not affect those projects."

When Hart began to ask again, Hudson interrupted. "I don't have an answer to that right now or they'd be under construction."

Then Hart asked about bonds for the library, etc. Hudson: "There doesn't seem to be much community support for that kind of big bonding." Not much support from the top, either.

These big development schemes seem driven more by available money than what citizens might actually want. As Councilman Bailey lamented during his futile pitch for that arena, the convention center "services people from out of town. What is servicing our residents in this space?"

That wasn't an easy money question. That was a tough leadership question. Nobody answered.

And as he often does, Bernstein nailed it right in the head. There's really no leadership at the 'Hall, certainly not from the legislative body of the city government. But at least Hart's been more inquisitive into getting to the bottom of the decision than she has been involving the mothball storage of the Finance Committee that she chairs. It's interesting how when she asks Hudson a question as one of his bosses after all, he just ignores her until a male elected official asks the same question. And his response to the same question only gets slightly better. But then the way for the bosses to address that is to hold expectations that Hudson as their direct employee will answer a question when asked. It's clear from this discourse who's running whom.

And speaking of performing arts, the Press Enterprise had more harsh words to say about the Fox Theater and its handling by consultant, William Malone. But the problem's not really Malone as it is the leadership decision to hire him and the process inside the city management through its Development Department including representatives, Asst. City Manager Belinda Graham and Development Director Deanna Larsen. And until the integral issues are addressed in this situation including the questionable practice of a city owning and running a theater, little will change.

What should happen with UCR's stalled medical school development according to one former state assemblyman.

Another possible attack in Hemet involving a suspicious device found on a vehicle.

Happy Birthday! Wildomar celebrates two year of cityhood.

Funeral Information for Rev. Jerry Louder

Friday, July 9 from 3-8 p.m., the viewing will be held at New Jerusalem

Saturday, July 10 at 10 a.m. the funeral will be held at Grove Community Church

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