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, August 31, 2010

Riverside Councilman Steve Adams Focus of Ethics Complaint by "Amoral" People

Update: Asst. City Manager Tom DeSantis is on his way out of city employment. The city transitioning him out in a series of steps but he's leaving amid a sea of controversy stemming back a while. More to come about the employee who became the latest domino to fall in River City. Barely one week after a controversial closed session by city council addressing a personnel lawsuit filed by a former police employee.

No real reason given yet by his boss, Brad Hudson but was this the ultimate push under the bus?

UPDATE: Major 7.4 quake in Christchurch, New Zealand with lots of major damage reported. But family's okay, just shaken up and there's no water and lots of broken things.

UPDATE: It's official...Jeffrey Greer formerly of the LAPD is now deputy chief in Riverside and will work in the field operation's side of the department. Asst. Chief Chris Vicino will be starting his job on Sept. 3 while Greer is set to start working on Sept. 17.

The new deputy chief

UPDATE: City transfers handling of WI FI service but experienced service problems within one hour of the transition. Repair crews were dispatched to handle the interruptions in service with an ETA unknown at this time. At least one neighborhood out of service for second day. But that outage is currently being repaired.


"It's illegal for us to interfere in personnel matters."

---Riverside Councilman Steve Adams under oath in January 2010

[Riverside Councilman Steve Adams called the filing of ethics complaints against him by "amoral" people, a plot to discredit him and help his political rival, John Brandriff who's running against him in next year's election. ]

Riverside Councilman Steve Adams has apparently been born with a golden tongue. Or perhaps he gained one and honed it while serving on the city council because you can always count on him for interesting comments and very memorable sound bytes. Because most politicians when quoted in response to ethics complaints being filed against them would just say that the process is there to be utilized by city residents and that he remained confident that he would be able to clear himself of the allegations.

But not Adams. That would be much too boring.

He waxed plenty in the Press Enterprise article about two ethics complaints that were filed against him by local community groups. Calling those who filed complaints against him "amoral" and making accusations that essentially a small cabal of city residents are manipulating the ethics complaint process to undermine his election efforts and to run the city. Only a politician who's been implicated in as many messes as Adams apparently has been would look at an ethics complaint filed against him as some conspiracy to run the city and interfere with his election process. This amid, concerns raised by many city residents in different venues about how city officials are running the city amid their acquisition of perks that many city residents were never informed about being part of the job. But it has nothing to do with that of course, it's all about thwarting his political ambitions. It's not about the distrust that city residents feel about their government because of the surfacing of what Adams dismissively called "old news", it's all about him.

To read what Adams has to say about anything is to get to know him a little bit.

Here's a little warning, do not read the article while drinking your morning coffee because it's been known to induce some laughter because the problems not with city residents, it's with what's been happening and with what's come to light in city government. Adams for whatever reason remains oblivious to that despite the fact that his name's come up several times. by saying that he hasn't received a single phone call or email from any of his constituents about what's been going on in the city. If that's the case, perhaps that's because his constituents are too busy contacting other people about these concerns than their elected representative that until he ran for election, allegedly didn't seem to spend as much residential time in his own designated ward. Maybe that's why he has up to 100 miles a day mileage on his city-issued vehicle, the most of any city official.

He equates concerns with the ethical gaffes of denizens at City Hall including himself with being out to get him and trying to run the city and what's interesting is this pervasive attitude among some at City Hall that ties in concerns with the somewhat amoral actions at City Hall as marking those concerned about them as being amoral themselves. That's a fairly deft reversal on Adams' part but there's too many residents in Riverside who've had questions about what's been happening at City Hall to really buy into it.

The complaints of course have nothing to do with the fact that he drove cold plated cars, allegedly identified himself as a police officer in Newport Beach which necessitated a phone call back to a watch commander in Riverside and generated a huge gas bill which was of course essentially picked up by city residents. Nothing at all to do that his name and photo's been splashed in the newspaper as of late as being tied to various embarrassing incidents.

Now it turns out he had been not just "all over the department" as Leach testified in his deposition but allegedly influencing the promotional process as well because maybe at one point, he thought he was one of the committee of chiefs they had overseeing the place, most of them inside City Hall. These allegations had already been stated and addressed several times but this is the first time the daily publication has written about them though given that it interviewed City Manager Brad Hudson about the promotion of Carpenter in July, it had this story in the coffer for a while.

Adams had a couple of responses to the latest ethics complaint he's received (as there has been others but they were successfully squelched by the city attorney's office on "technicalities" in apparent violation of the ordinance.)


"This is a political ploy by an amoral group of people that are using this for political reasons," Adams said. "I have not had any influence or any attempted influence on any promotion, period.

Adams of course led the fight on the dais to not strip the ordinance of some newly acquired language barring complaints from being filed against elected officials unless they were officially onduty. This past six months has shed some light on perhaps some of his reluctance. That issue will come up again this time around especially since it's been recommended by the Press Enterprise's Editorial Board as well but it's not likely to be changed because unfortunately, it's not clear that the majority of the city council or mayor have learned much from the past six months. The ones that don't who are up for election will probably be looking for other jobs maybe a year from now. And that might include Adams himself if he doesn't take these issues of ethics and legal violations by City Hall since 2005 (and perhaps even earlier) more seriously.

But the ethics complaint centers on some actions of Adams, as stated, that the press coverage hasn't reached yet. The Press Enterprise had access to the information where the allegations were raised but hadn't yet addressed it or written about it.

Actually the ethics complaint touches on the allegations raised that up to three captain's promotions (whether done or vetoed) were influenced by Adams while Russ Leach had been the police chief. He allegedly had been involved in the 11th hour veto of Leach's promotion of Meredyth Meredith in December 2005 several hours after she had been notified to come to the chief's office to get promoted. Adams had allegedly said there would be no way that "fat bitch" would be promoted. And Meredith hadn't been promoted but Mark Boyer had gotten the spot instead. Six months later, Meredith did get promoted as the first and last captain over the department's Communications Bureau after allegedly telling Leach she had consulted an attorney and believed she had a discrimination lawsuit. And if what was exposed in the sworn testimony of those who were involved or witnessed what happened with her, she most certainly did have a lawsuit that could have joined the over $25 million and growing in personnel claims and claims for damages filed against the city involving the police department in the past year.

But in terms of Carpenter who was given a venue to redress the "concerns" or "beefs" that Adams had with him on the eve of his eventual promotional date, there were concerns about the whether or not Adams had influenced the promotional process He, Adams and then Deputy Chief Pete Esquivel, a good friend of Adams, (serving as a mediator of sorts) were told by Leach to meet and patch things up and they chose to not shop Riverside but to meet in a Corona restaurant because as all the parties testified they didn't want anyone they knew to see them sitting together so close to the promotions.

That tells you that no one who attended that dinner meeting seemed to believe that it was appropriate behavior because it it were, why not have it at the Sire's restaurant, Sevillas or El Toritos closer to home? Or that Irish pub near the Riverside Plaza that's been the scene of drunken brawls lately but somehow avoids getting shut down by Priamos, the police department and the city council's office because of the pub's clientele.

It's ironic to read about an elected official like Adams who's been implicated in several scandals that have shaken the city and now has popped up in yet another one accuses anyone of manipulating the complaint process when City Hall through City Attorney Gregory Priamos had done that already with several complaints in direct violation of the procedure for complaints outlined in this city ordinance. But Mayor Ron Loveridge has already said that the complaint would be handled and heard by the committee he chairs, the Nomination and Screening Committee and that even though Adams is a member, he would either be replaced by another elected official substituting in or that the remainder of the committee would hear and decide on the complaint. What will happen in reality is that the Committee through its actions will just show that there truly does need to be a body independent of the city government to hear and decide on ethics complaints involving elected officials. What will happen is that those in attendance might get a good show and a very revealing display of the city government circling its wagons again around itself including those who have cast it in a less than positive light.

"The bottom line is right now I have a good working relationship with our city leadership. I don't see any use in rehashing things from 2-½-years ago. That was then, this is now."

---Carpenter who once kept diligent notes on his experiences on a thumb drive that he allegedly misplaced while transferring out of special investigations.

[Capt. John Carpenter who once planned to sue the city over the captain's promotions had to go to Corona to "clear the air" the day before he was promoted by former Chief Russ Leach, according to testimony uncovered in depositions given by key individuals including Carpenter as a result of two lawsuits filed by former lieutenants.]

Originally Carpenter didn't have such a good working relationship with the city. In fact, he had allegedly wanted to sue the city just as he did with a group of white male sergeants in 1999 over the promotional process involving lieutenants. The city government settled relatively quickly with the lieutenants and in fact, in closed session even allegedly involved itself in the promotional process by not only trying to create new lieutenant positions but deciding who would fill them, meaning two of the plaintiffs with two others including Carpenter allegedly set to receive financial settlements. Which means that the city council and Mayor Ron Loveridge had been involving themselves in the promotional process apparently in violation of the city's charter way before Hudson even arrived onscene.

But anyway, several years later Carpenter closely associated with two other lieutenants who held prominent positions in the Riverside Police Administrators' Association and were viewed as troublemakers by denizens at City Hall and those inside the department who were loyal to City Hall. Carpenter's union didn't back Adams' 2007 election campaign which made Adams a very unhappy camper. He had already blasted the Riverside Police Officers' Association in a letter for not doing endorsing him either. And Carpenter at one point felt that Adams as a member of the Public Safety Committee had refused to allow him to do a presentation on gang enforcement and intervention. He apparently began taking notes in 2007 on problems he experienced making hard copies which were later "shredded" after he got promoted and also stored some on a thumb drive that got "lost" while he moved from one assignment to another.

Carpenter is busy these days having been assigned to oversee Special Operations and its two lieutenants. Deputy Chief Mike Blakely, a taskmaster, had made sure that Carpenter's plate of work to do is so full, he's seldom seen outside his office anymore. And the work keeps coming because Carpenter was recently encharged with handling the department's four Neighborhood Policing Centers which previously had been under the jurisdiction of Field Operations. Is this work being piled on in an attempt to push Carpenter towards retirement?

The upper management level of the police department including its captain's level has never the healthiest one in terms of dynamics. Hopefully with a new chief's arrival and up to two hires coming from outside to take the helms of upper management positions that the stilettos have been put back in the toy box.

It still remains to be seen if that's the case.

"I'd already approved it, so it didn't matter."


[Riverside City Manager Brad Hudson responded to this latest controversy involving the alleged councilman's manipulation of the promotional process at the police department by throwing ex-employee Leach under the bus this time. Maybe his asst. City Manager Tom DeSantis is too busy cleaning off the tire marks from being blamed for the cold plates scandal.]

It's interesting once again how Hudson acts like the promotion of Hudson was a done deal when his office already had the prior history of vetoing the promotion of another captain's candidate picked by Leach in December 2005. Again, in that earlier case, Adams had expressed his concern, well actually he allegedly used derogatory remarks to express his point that this individual was not to be promoted. And guess what, this candidate, Meredyth Meredith who had been called a "fat bitch" wasn't promoted. Unlike Carpenter, she wasn't referred to by name and she wasn't given a chance to "clear the air" at an out of town and out of sight restaurant.

If there's sexism in the ranks of the dais including the use of comments like this, then the city government certainly needs to address that in its ranks. Especially after that speech that Loveridge gave back in 1999 at the dedication of the Martin Luther King, jr. monument about how that type of speech wouldn't be tolerated. But did that include that kind of talk, which may not unfortunately be all that rare in City Hall.

"There's no way that fat bitch is going to get promoted..."

[Capt. Meredyth Meredith wasn't a focus of any ethics complaints against Adams but her promotion by Leach was allegedly nullified in the 11th hour by a phone call from City Hall to Leach asking him to pick someone else. Testimony in depositions later revealed that Adams and his opinions about who should or shouldn't be promoted had tendrils in this vetoed promotion as well which could have led to a lawsuit.]

So it's definitely clear that Hudson did veto one of Leach's promotions in the 11th hour, after Meredith herself had been notified of her change in rank. And while many people had always believed that the decision to do so came out of City Hall, it became clearer much more recently in sworn testimony from various parties that Adams played some role in this process. So Hudson has already shown a history of allegedly deferring to Adams over choosing his own department head's selections. And while Leach serves at the pleasure of Hudson, Hudson serves at the pleasure of the city council including Adams and if the majority of the city council is apparently apathetic and pretty much defers its own responsibilities to the city administration, it's easy enough for one or two dominant personalities to take the initiative to involve themselves in ways not too appropriate.

Hudson currently welds more power over the city council these days. If he likes an elected official who goes with his program, then their ward projects get the green light. If he doesn't, then elected officials sometimes discover obstacles in their path or that he doesn't return their phone calls quickly...or at all. But in the Meredith case, he had apparently bended to Adams' will, so why wouldn't it be possible that he did so in the case of Carpenter, especially considering the other facts in play?

So why is it really so impossible to believe that lightning as they might call it could strike twice?

"I tried to be scrupulous in keeping political interference out of the decisions but more importantly, my bosses at City Hall -- and the elected officials in the city, I think -- have been scrupulous in not interfering."

----Diaz about the promotions last month

[Riverside's new police chief, Sergio Diaz, said that no one from City Hall has contacted him about any of the 13 promotions that he made last month but was mindful of the city's history.]

Diaz' comments were that he had been careful to avoid political influences and that no one from City Hall hasn't called him about promotions even as he expressed concerns about community leaders trying to exert their influence at a recent town hall meeting held at the Orange Terrace Community Center.

But many community leaders have been more wary about City Hall's influence over that process given how extensively the last chief has been micromanaged since at least 2005. Hopefully the hands off process from City Hall is from harsh lessons learned that have finally sunk in and not just engaging in the usual "honeymoon" period. It's still early in his tenure and ultimately his ability to be an independent chief apart from City Hall influence will ride on how effectively those same community leaders and residents apply pressure on elected officials to rein in Hudson and his assistant city manager, Tom DeSantis when it comes to running the police department. Hopefully, there's been enough pressure applied to stop them from using it even apparently illegally to acquire police equipment to play with.

But while it's important to put the past in the past, it's important to learn from it first and Adams might be the focus of an ethics complaint for alleged interference in one promotion inside the police department but sworn testimony from depositions taken from lawsuits filed by former lieutenants Tim Bacon and Darryl Hurt who settled them earlier this year with the city.

But while the complaint asks for censure by the rest of the city council against Adams (who can only be removed by the vote of his ward's residents), the only blanket response by the members of the city council is to circle the wagons around themselves and endorse him for the 2011 election. That's what it's like in a rather closed circle where most incumbents regularly endorse incumbents in upcoming elections which kind of makes you see how they feel about outsiders. That's precisely why the city government is incapable of holding itself or its members accountable because the dynamic of "group think" or "go along to get along" is too entrenched and too pervasive for this to ever take place. And guess what, many people who watch city government have picked that up already, hence the call for an independent panel to oversee the complaint process. The only way the city residents will ever see that take place is if they vote en masse to change the city's charter regarding the ethics code and complaint process after going through one of several avenues to get it on the ballot. Until then, the public will and has already done a very effective job at issuing pink slips to elected officials at the ballot box who aren't up to snuff.

But Adams despite his gaffes including apparently with the police department has picked up some early support.

Adams has also already been endorsed by the Riverside Police Officers' Association for his 2011 election and recently received a campaign donation from...Carpenter.

The Press Enterprise's Editorial Board analyzes about Riverside City Hall's very selective ethics suggesting that the city adopt suggestions including ones to open up complaints to city administrative officials and it be expanded to behavior outside official duties.

Great suggestions, but the odds of the city council changing its position on any stances, will is probably worse than the odds that a blizzard will hit Riverside this week. What the city council will probably show in its deliberation over the Ethics Code and Complaint process through committee on Sept. 1 and overall in Sept. 21. These meetings offer the public chances to provide feedback.

Not Watergate

Political fundraiser Michael Williams apparently got burgled at his business location. That probably made a few prominant local politicians antsy for a few minutes but only one computer allegedly used for playing computer games was apparently seized by the burgular.

Moreno Valley stopped looking for a city manager after the interim decides to stay for less pay. Some looked at it as a godsend; others including those on a community selection panel questioned the action.

The trouble plagued election in new city Menifee has finally been settled--in court.

Will the sheriff
be coming to newly anointed city Eastvale?

Apparently outgoing Riverside County District Attorney Rod Pacheco isn't being a good loser.

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