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, August 05, 2010

An (un) Modest Proposal from River City While Another Scandal Breaks


More cold plate violations emerge including by four sitting city council members.

Pete messed up. Big time. Had he not made waves, the affair and its attendant ethical charges would never have come to light. It was exposed out of spite and revenge. Was it a fatal flaw in his character? Yup. In his job did he do the right thing? You bet he did.

In the final analysis, he was an excellent officer in a very difficult environment. He never participated in any corruption and was promoted only on merit, respected by both good and bad cops.

Hopefully the new chief will have the guts to remove about 9 officers and employees out of hand. He will never succeed until this is done. If we had a city council that wasn't full of incompetent meeting attenders, they could help watch over the process, but, sadly, no, they have neither the knowledge of the situation, the guts, the desire to play hardball nor the political power to carry out the necessary personnel actions with decisiveness and skill. Can this be done against the Union's will? Let me just say that the corruption extends in their direction as well. They would agree to just about anything at this point to "keep the lid on."

The new chief is, of course, being isolated from all this and he will probably never know the full extent of what was going on and who the triumvirate were that were running things. That is why he better start firing immediately before the regrouping starts. He's already made one potentially "fatal" promotion, which tells me he is either in on the cabal (which is nearly impossible) or he is very naive.

Professional chess matches are usually won in the first few moves. If this were a chess game, things would not be looking so good for Riverside right now.

----Guest at

When is PE going to to a real investigative report about RPD corruption? This is tip of the iceburg. What about Leach's Stripper girlfriend / meth dealer that was previously married to Corona PD officer with ties to Mexican Drug Cartel.
What about the illegal sale of guns by RPD to public servants? City Mng DeSantis then threatens mother with children with same gun in Blockbuster parking lot and police refuse to file report, let alone arrest the SOB.
The same DeSantis that destroyed public documents regarding city owned cars being used for private use.
Of course they screwed Esquivel because he didn't cover it up. RPD needs some federal intervention fast! Where is the Riverside DA? Where is the CA AG?


Whew! I remember in the 70's when all the young deputies were migrating from the Sheriff's Office to RPD. Better pay, better equipment, better moral, better working conditions.

Something happened to all the good stuff! Now RPD is a department in crisis. Glad I stayed with the Sheriff's Department -- Anyone remember the old saying "One Riot-One Deputy"?

Hope the new leadership can change the course of an important law enforcement agency -- But not sure if I will hold my breath, the new leadership comes from another department in crisis!!!!

Shucks! 30 years from now it will not make any difference to us old timers anyway.

---Commenter at

"I'm finding in this department there's been a history of extreme litigiousness" by officers accused of misconduct,"

---Riverside Police Chief Sergio Diaz who said he will investigate the allegations.

"We need to get to the bottom of it and not have a double standard and treat people fairly. It seems to be a never-ending story."

----Riverside City Councilman Paul Davis

News broke that former Deputy Chief Pete Esquivel has become the latest police employee to file a claim for damages against the city. But it was pretty much obvious that this was the case after this item showed up on the city council agenda for closed session next week. Rumors had been rampant about Esquival had been involved in some internal investigation involving conduct with a female police officer that might have involved the use of his cell phone. But not much about the investigations were released by City Hall, though a few eyebrows were raised when City Manager Brad Hudson failed to show up for one of Esquivel's public retirement parties while he showed up for one held for former Asst. Chief John DeLaRosa. Proving once again that not all departing police management employees are treated equally by City Hall even when they exit the stage.

It also provided signs of the ways the relations between city management and their disparate police management employees played out in the final days of two long-time careers with the police department. Esquivel had denied at the time being forced out of the department to individuals. His statement that he gave to CHP investigators for the Leach incident suggest at some of the earlier events depicted in his lawsuit. The CHP had interviewed him because he had signed off on the report wrote on it though his signature didn't appear on the copy distributed by the city.

Esquivel had announced his retirement after 30+ years with the agency in April not long after he had expressed his interest in possibly applying for the police chief's job. At the time, he said he believed it had been time to step down given the current climate of the department which was in complete turmoil at the time. But as stated in this blog, what had happened was that the police department had opened several internal investigations against him not long after that. Esquivel retired quietly in early May and several parties were held in his honor including by the Latino Network. DeLaRosa also retired quietly though he's still out and about offering advice to a variety of his former protegees from his old workplace.

However, in his claim for damages, Esquivel stated that he had been forced out of the department in a retaliatory action for insisting that the DUI incident involving former chief Russ Leach not be covered up but that it should be farmed out to the California Highway Patrol for investigation instead. Earlier, he had signed off on a rather questionable incident report crafted by former Sgt. Frank Orta about the incident but the copy with his signature wasn't the one distributed by City Hall to the media and the public. But still if Esquivel signed what was an integral component of any attempted coverup which is a written document attached to it then why did he carry out that action? And if by doing so he participated in a coverup by signing off on what was essentially a highly questionable report, then why is he claiming that he was the individual who had tried to stop the coverup within the department and City Hall?

Hopefully that will be explained more fully when the grievance turns to a lawsuit which might then provide civil dispositions given by the players involved. If the grievance even gets that far which most likely it won't because for one thing, the city ultimately files nearly every "frivolous" lawsuit filed against it. Because if there are elements at City Hall that wanted Esquivel out of there, he didn't leave the department without 36 years worth of information and probably more than a few secrets. But what Esquivel apparently stated in his claim was that he had been the principal player in trying to prevent the coverup of the Leach incident beginning not long after it happened. And that included getting the CHP in to do the investigation.

He said that he was the one who had insisted that this action be taken and that after that, city and police employees came after him, soon opening an internal investigation into a "consensual relationship" that he had with Officer Neely Nakamura who has also filed a claim for damages against the city. There had been allegations raised that Esquivel had been sex-texting a female officer on his city-issued phone and that current Deputy Chief Mike Blakely had received copies of these texts which were later kept away from a CPRA request filed by the Press Enterprise for use in an ongoing internal investigation.

It's not clear how long these text messages were allegedly in the hands of Blakely or the individuals at City Hall but clearly they were a keg of dynamite waiting to be detonated. Another power play launched by members of upper management past and present who face it, have adapted to play in a highly contentious environment where those are just the rules. Most of them rose through the ranks banking less on management skills and work ethic and more on their lobbying skills and doing whatever was needed to get up higher even if it meant stepping on others. People in the city have been asking over and over what kind of police department this city is operating and how on earth did it turn out this way. Most of the officers and other employees are viewed as being professional employed inside a house of cards that has been tipping over and preparing to fall in the past few months. The professionalism of most of the department's why it still can carry out many of its duties. But that doesn't mean that its infrastructure or foundation as it's called isn't a micromanaged mess of probably worse behavior than what's come to light so far.

What's been seen at the top is pretty much a disgrace and an embarrassment to the city and its residents not to mention the officers and civilian employees in the department who do behave.

But City Hall and its syncopates owe the city residents a clean out and a clean up of the mess that a lack of visionary leaderships and effective oversight of city government over its own direct employees. Instead the city's paying money that should go to public services including public safety and works to fight and then ultimately settle litigation filed against it. It really takes one leader with enough fortitude to be accountable to the public to ensure that this will be done to get it heading in that direction but such leadership hasn't emerged from the dais so far. In fact, the only comments from there is to essentially hire yet another public relations person to buffer city government from the public it serves. Many people out there paying attention to all this do understand that this is happening.

Esquivel's claim of retaliation against those at City Hall and in the police department is the second that's been filed by a police department employee since the Feb. 8 incident became public. Earlier this year, former Riverside Police Officers' Association president Det. Chris Lanzillo filed two claims for damages against the city for retaliation against him for his actions as union president as well as for confronting DeLaRosa about the coverup involving the Leach incident during a roll call session. Lanzillo was terminated not too long after he filed his claim for damages by DeLaRosa based on an internal investigation that allegedly was filed after the confrontation in roll call and assigned top priority for investigation by internal affairs by the Orange Street Station. Lanzillo was reassigned there, joining Lt. Leon Phillips (sent there for training for a "special assignment according to DeLaRosa) in limbo until he received his notice of intent to terminate.

In the claims, both Esquivel and Nakamura filed against the city in general and a group of its employees in particular including Hudson, DeSantis, DeLaRosa, Blakely, Lt. Mike Cook, Sgt. Frank Assuma and Sgt. John Capen, the latter three from the department's Internal Affairs division. Esquivel's lawsuit mentions the alleged incident when DeLaRosa went to roll call sessions not long after the Leach incident including one around Feb. 17 and urged people not to talk to the bloggers and the media Lanzillo (who's not named specifically in the claim) asked DeLaRosa why it took over 30 hours to turn the Leach incident over to the CHP for investigation. DeLaRosa allegedly became quite upset, agitated and said he wouldn't explain himself, calling Lanzillo a "lone wolf" by himself. Not long after that, Lanzillo himself faced an internal investigation before being fired.

In early March, Esquivel was called in for an internal investigation and told that he was a witness. An attorney attended along with Cook, Assuma and Capen along with DeLaRosa and Blakely. It was a 90 minute interview where it appeared that Esquivel was the focus of the investigation and asked about the location of Leach's vehicle. It had been in the evidence bay for repairs rather than locked down in evidence.

During the interview it was alleged that Blakely had illegally gotten hold of transcripts or phone numbers from Esquivel's phone. He was asked about a phone number called frequently which had nothing to do with the investigation. Esquivel said it was Nakamura's phone number and he was in an intimate relationship with her. It was a lawful, consensual relationship which didn't violate any rules. Esquivel alleged that they were trying to retaliate against him to put him out of the running for the chief's spot so that DeLaRosa could get it. He was interviewed as the target officer several weeks later and he showed the investigators the text message where he had been told by DeLaRosa to sign the incident report written by Orta.

On April 9, Esquivel was talking on the phone to Nakamura when he saw Capen and Assuma in the parking lot. The two internal affairs sergeants worked in a different building (housed at the downtown bus terminal). Esquivel was later called to attend an Internal Affairs interview, by DeLaRosa. Unknown to him, the internal investigators had allegedly accosted and illegally detained Nakamura as she exited her vehicle. She was taken to the investigators' vehicle and driven to the Internal Affairs building. She was interrogated there for several hours by Cook and Capen along with Blakely. She was allegedly told she couldn't leave and couldn't leave until they could compare notes with Esquivel to see if she were lying. She was able to go to the bathroom but couldn't take her personal cell phone and was escorted by an officer. Investigators told her to remain calm, she was just a witness and no harm would come to her if she cooperated. She was repeatedly shown Esquivel's phone records and was asked why she spoke with him so often. They compelled her to provide intimate details of her relationship with Esquivel. And if the excerpt included in the claim from her interview's transcript is any example, she's not kidding.

(excerpt, Esquivel claim)

Q: (IA) Okay and again I-I-I apologize for being graphic, but can you describe the type of sex acts that we're talking about just so we're clear?

A: As far as intercourse?

Q: Yeah uh well, you've already said intercourse.

A: Right.

Q: ...occurred. Did other sex acts occur?

A: What type of sex acts?

Q: Oral copulation uh, masturbation, anything like that uh or was it always just intercourse?

A: All of the above

While she was still detained, investigators then went with Blakely and Cook to Blakely's office saying they had a "distasteful matter" to discuss. Blakely indicated they had questioned Nakamura and knew all the details. Blakely said it would be incredibly damaging and humiliating if this information got out. Blakely said it would be embarrassing to his family and urged Esquivel to sigh resignation papers. Esquivel wrote who was behind this and was told by Blakely that he and DeLaRosa reported to DeSantis. Esquivel calls DeSantis and wants to talk with him.

Esquivel meets with DeLaRosa escorted by Blakely and is told that the city no longer needs his services. He received calls of support from the community but was told by DeSantis he had no chance for the chief's job.

DeLaRosa fell out of favor for the chief's job and ultimately retired because of his involvement in the Leach incident while City Hall didn't want the truth about the Leach incident included in the CHP report to ever see the public. The city ultimately went "outside" the department to hire Diaz.

There's many questions about this whole situation in terms of what policies and procedures were being violated and one question that as Diaz points out in the article which the public can never know, which is whether or not any departmental policies took place. It remains to be seen whether the allegations of "kidnapping" raised in both claims will be proven or not, whether it's when the department investigates itself on those allegations or whether they are "investigated" in a matter as the litigation moved forward to a lawsuit (which is the likelihood as the claim most likely will be denied next week) through the taking of depositions and the offering up of discovery evidence. And certainly if the claim turned lawsuit went inside a courtroom and a trial was conducted in front of a jury but in a city that's now self-insured that's probably not going to happen. Diaz had his own ideas about the past allegations involving employees in the department he now oversees.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

In Esquivel's case, "We've got members of the department ... essentially accused of kidnapping a fellow officer and detaining that person against their will," Diaz said.

"That's an extremely serious allegation and frankly outrageous."

He's right, kidnapping's a felony as is extortion (also claimed) but the allegations should be investigated regardless and judgment as to their validity should wait until that process is completed. Any investigation done should be looking for the truth and for the factual evidence that helps to define that truth. He added something very interesting that is a topic of good discussion, which is that officers in the department have been suing.

"I'm finding in this department there's been a history of extreme litigiousness" by officers accused of misconduct,"

He's definitely correct in that there's been many claims and lawsuits filed by officers in the past 20 years and certainly quite a few this year. But in many of these cases, most notably the 1996 sexism claim and lawsuit filed by former Sgt. Christine Keers and especially in the case of Officer Roger Sutton in 2005, the payouts in these lawsuits have been considerable. In fact, if a study were done on the financial costs of this litigation, the answer would be staggering and perhaps would shock the city's residents into response. That's a fact but frankly, there's a reason for that. Because it's not that officers are suing after being accused of misconduct. He's correct in many cases as to that being when the lawsuits are filed but often times the original complaints be they claims for damages or grievances were filed before the officers were accused of misconduct. For example, Keers and Sutton which were filed about five years apart alleged that retaliation took place including by management after complaints were made by both officers. Interestingly enough in Sutton's case which went to trial to the tune of $1.64 million, both the jury and the presiding judge (who spoke at the motion for new trial hearing) said they believed the retaliation allegations were the case's strongest.

Sutton had been painted by the city as the perfect rogue officer who had misbehaved during his career in opening arguments at his trial but what his attorneys did is they spent a hour or two with the Elmo showing the jury about 10 years of performance evaluations which for the most part were fairly positive to very positive. The only exception had been the evaluation after the 1998 dog bite incident which is to be expected given that he showed very poor judgment in allowing that to happen. So it's appropriate for a poor evaluation to follow that incident and that's what happened. Once the attorneys finally clicked off the Elmo, the trial had been pretty much won by their side and what was left to be litigated was how much the damages would be for Sutton because for many jurors and people, written documentation trumps oral testimony in proving a fact, something the city should keep in mind the next time it takes a lawsuit to a jury.

But if there's a lot of litigation and claims for damages or grievances and all three areas have increased involving the police department in the past several years, then it might be more fiscally viable in the long run for the city council to instead deciding on claims, to investigate them. The reason being that if a claim appears to have any validity, then an investigation might show that and the claim can be paid out before forcing the city's residents to use general fund money for a trial and payout (given that the city is proudly self-insured) and then also to examine the root causes leading to these often expensive lawsuits especially if there's a pattern and practice of bad behavior behind them. Retaliation in particular is probably the strongest thread in most cases, including city-wide as well among workers, and there traditionally has been retaliation against officers reporting misconduct mostly at the top of the chain of command and even inside City Hall. It is actually the responsibility of the city government to do this type of investigating which might cost money but in the long run will save it by addressing and fixing some of the problems which create this "extreme litigiousness". Because Diaz is right that it exists but it's not happening in a vacuum. And retaliation is a big one this year, in claims and lawsuits. Law enforcement due to its "code of silence" is more prone to retaliation claims and actual retaliation but most professions in a sense also have similar "codes" to varying degrees and all of them including law enforcement have separate management cultures. In the case of the police department in Riverside, that culture extends to the Seventh Floor of City Hall.

In the past several years, there have been two lawsuits filed by former presidents of the Riverside Police Officers' Association and the Riverside Police Administrators' Association alleging retaliation against them including denial of promotions for their union activities. Union leadership is supposed to have the right to advocate for its membership who pay dues into the organization annually from their paychecks for that purpose. But former RPAA president Darryl Hurt and Lanzillo, the past RPOA president filed claims and later lawsuits. The city's already paid out on Hurt's (and PAC member Tim Bacon's) lawsuit in a huge way and on the eve of the April 20 trial date. Hurt alleged in his lawsuit that he had been retaliated in similar ways invovling the initiation of internal investigations against him as did Lanzillo in his grievances. In Lanzillo's case he alleged that the investigation against him that ultimately ended his 16 year career, began the day after the "lone wolf" confronted DeLaRosa during one of his roll call bull sessions. Lanzillo's career didn't last too much longer after his interaction with DeLaRosa in roll call.

The department always paints these officers as bad boys and girls and insists they've been trouble since the day they graduated from the academy. But all this is useless and the good/bad dichotomy is also useless because in many cases, the written documentation that is included in every officer's career locked away somewhere and shrouded by confidentiality laws, when released through trial or earlier more often shows little to no evidence of any major problems with these officers and very little to no disciplinary history. Okay, if you're not experiencing problems serious enough to write them down on the performance evaluations (which are annual) or to investigate, sustain and then discipline then why claim that the officer's some Rhoda Penmark bad seed child years later in a court proceeding? One of two situations is taking place here.

Either the officer didn't have a bad history and the city's attorneys are essentially lying about that in court records or court appearance by claiming otherwise or the evaluations themselves that have been done are lies. Either way, the department winds up not looking very good or professional and either way, there's lying about an officer's conduct going on either over time through writing or more immediately through court testimony or lawyer's statements. Okay, so the officer's always bad after they sue or confront higher ranking officers in a semi-public environment which as it turns out is immaterial when it comes to the merit of their lawsuits because the scope of retaliation is fairly narrow. Say you have an officer who's an angel and gets treated like one and say you have an officer who's more like a devil but gets treated like an angel meaning bad behavior is purposely overlooked. Okay so say both of them are suddenly treated as if they're devils...and say it all starts after management personnel get embarrassed by those officers. Well then what does it matter what the officer was like previously? Because in a court of law what ultimately matters is whether the behavior towards that officer regardless changed after the alleged incident that the officer said he or she was retaliated over.

In the above case, the officer whether angel or devil (and most officers like the rest of the human race actually fall in the middle of these extremes somewhere) has the behavior towards him or her change in a negative way, then he or she might be able to prove evaluation regardless of their work history. So in these cases, bringing up an officers' history even in cases where they might have been "bad apples" or "rogues" is completely irrelevant in the court of law. Because it's not necessarily the conduct including past of the officer involved, it was how this officer was treated over his or her career and whether an abrupt change in that treatment occurred traceable to the alleged incident which sparked retaliation. The officers' job performance is essentially a red herring either way.

What's interesting if disturbing about the Esquivel/Nakamura claims is that if they are telling the truth in their claims, it appears that an administrative investigation led them to being treated as if they had been suspected of criminal actions. The detention, the seizure of personal phones (when police management and select city officials only had to surrender their city-issued phones in Hudson's internal probe), the interrogative tactics of good cop/bad cop and comments about how humiliating it is to compel responses. The department's policies involving fratinization if they exist might have been under investigation but the tactics alleged seem more like those used in criminal investigations. Is sex on duty enough to really merit these tactics if they did take place? If it is, then the police department's in trouble but why is that so if sex on duty isn't really such a big deal? The department's actions on this type of misconduct as it were are just so...mixed.

After all, Diaz just promoted a sergeant who was demoted in relation to an incident where he was unable to respond to a call of supervision because he was having sex with a woman at the time in the same residence that the officers had called for assistance from. In addition, that sergeant also was allegedly investigated for a related incident of vandalism stemming from some graffiti that had been spray painted near the residence. No charges were filed, ironic in a city where its leaders stump on television and at public meetings about how they hold graffiti offenders accountable by prosecuting them and suing them or their parents for the costs of cleanup.

So if an officer in that position can get promoted to a supervisory position a little more than 12 months after his demotion for failure to properly supervise, then clearly sex on duty is no big deal in the police department even if it leaves officers or the public waiting for supervision during situations that could have been much worse or more dangerous than that faced during the incident with this sergeant If it had been, he would have never been promoted so quickly but would have had to "wait" for several years to have his job performance evaluated to see if it merited a promotion. To evaluate whether he values the job, its rank and the lives of the officers who trust in him as well as the public to supervise without neglecting to do that very important job.

Then we have former officer Robert Forman who not only had onduty sex with a homeless woman which may or may not have been consensual (as the police department and D.A.'s office's accounts differ on this issue), but for some reason recorded it on his digital audio recorder. He wasn't fired or told to resign from the department. It's not clear what his discipline consisted back when this happened but he managed to stick around long enough to be charged with three counts of sexual abuse under the color of authority and felony sexual battery, ultimately being convicted on one felony count as well as misdemeanor theft. So if he did it onduty with a member of the public that he encountered and didn't get fired, how much of a big deal can it be really? Rumors had circulated for several years including in the city's workforce about Forman's misconduct because he didn't seem that shy about boasting about being a "lady's man". But did Internal Affairs or Blakely or DeLaRosa or Leach ever tell him that he had to resign or he'd be terminated or did they fire him. No, he remained on the force to get himself in even deeper trouble and to victimize more women, the numbers of which can't ever be fully determined. Though interestingly enough though initially caught through the incident being audio recorded by the device given to him by the department, around the times of the alleged 2008 incidents, over 50 audio recordings were deleted from his recorder.

Another sergeant elevated to that position earlier this year was promoted eight years after he was terminated from the department and then had his separation expunged by an arbitrator. But what about everyone else on the sergeant's list without such baggage because most of them probably had considerably less. But then what are the promotional lists these days, pieces of paper with writing on them. For example, there were 13 sergeants on the lieutenant's list and the individuals promoted ranked #2, 9# and #12 on it. Interestingly enough, both sergeants who were sued by the two officers took their lieutenant's test with one failing to pass and the other ranked at #13.

But a new list will be generated to replace the old one in October after testing is completed this month which will provide future opportunities to compare and contrast the composition of the list as well as how it's utilized in future promotions.

Not surprisingly, the comments threads at began filling up with comments right away including some reading that this latest incident coming to light was the tip of the iceberg and that there needed to be a comprehensive and outside investigation of the police department. Some people support Esquivel in that discussion and some clearly don't. But it's clear that City Hall's hopes that the furor that began on Feb. 8 would die down now and most preferably by election time next year hasn't yet come to pass. But face it, the public is shocked at what's transpired during the past six months and it's been called, the gift that keeps on giving. The only sure thing in Riverside these days is that somewhere in its corners, another scandal is awaiting in the wings to be exposed. It's what is commonly called the chickens coming home to roost meaning that the conduct of city officials and police management employees and their decisions made in the past are coming down around everyone right now in a bad and very public way. But there's no point in complaining about all this exposure if you're responsible for what's being exposed. And there's quite a few people with finger prints all over this mess including individuals in higher positions at City Hall. What's really bad is that people have had to pay in different ways for what relatively few people did but that's what happens when a house of cards starts to fall down.

What's needed is a strong independent force either inside (not likely) or from outside to investigate this mess and implement steps for cleaning it up and for restoring the trust that's been squandered in both the police department and City Hall. The city residents didn't deserves this mess and the police employees didn't either. Those who are responsible need to be held accountable and mandated to address and take responsibility (again lacking in city leadership) in the repercussions of years of bad management and bad oversight of that management. This city is truly reaping what's been sown.

Some have praised the city for releasing the claims filed by the officers though it's not clear whether they did so or not. If so, it's because of all the exposure and pressure they have received to be more "open" meaning more compliant with state law pertaining to the release of public documents to the media and the public. Also strategically it makes sense for the city to cooperate in this case as part of its "defense" by carrying exactly what had allegedly been prophasized by individuals like Blakely.

But when City Attorney Greg Priamos returns from his vacation on Monday, he'll probably tell the Press Enterprise that it's frivolous and the city will aggressively litigate. In that case, hopefully there will be some front row seats left when the lawsuit goes to trial and its fate is in the hands of a jury. Right Greg?

Riverside Promotes Transparency by Adding More Bureaucracy

[Riverside City Attorney Gregory Priamos returns from his summer vacation this Monday with many, many questions to answer, questions that have arisen in his absence. But who will ask him, his bosses or the voters during next year's election cycle?]

In the midst of the latest scandal involving the police department. Riverside's city government has decided it wants to be more transparent which is a decision which face it, is long overdue. But the strategy that the city has apparently adopted to enforce this new philosophy is to create another position at City Hall while other employees have been laid off due to budget cuts.

The details of this new position haven't been released yet but it will be someone who will handle interactions with the media as well as public document requests. Other job duties listed in the Press Enterprise article including handling communication tasks and intergovernmental relations. The person who is hired will report to a hybrid of city management employees along with the mayor, the mayor pro tem and for some reason, the chair of the Governmental Affairs Committee. This is supposedly being done to strengthen the accountability of this employee.

Not likely. But it will be interesting to see how this unfolds and there will be plenty more to write about, that's for sure.

[Asst. City Manager Tom DeSantis who worked for years as a public information officer and thus well versed in the CPRA law destroyed public documents requested by the Press Enterprise as a "mistake". Will Hudson and Hudson's boss make sure that the city's public records are safe in his vicinity?]

But then Press Enterprise Columnist Dan Bernstein lampooned the mayor's proposal in fine fashion just as he always does and he hits the nail right on the head in his commentary. But the publication's editorial board gives them some kudos for taking this step...if the city's really sincere about it which remains to be seen.

Public Meetings

Monday, August 9 at 4 p.m. the Human Resources Meeting usually takes place the first Monday of the month at City Hall. It's not clear whether this board is meeting or has gone "dark". With all the labor issues including those inside the police department, there's plenty for this board to investigate...if it hadn't been stripped of those powers in 2006 by the city council.

Tuesday, August 10 at 3 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
The Riverside City Council meets at City Hall's council chambers for its currently, bi-monthly meetings. This agenda will be discussed. Per usual, the most interesting agenda items are in the consent calendar including this item involving continuing appropriations and the usual slew of Riverside Renaissance items. Nothing on the new position proposed by the mayor to handle all its interactions with the media and public on information requests.

Finance Committee Watch

[The Finance Committee during one of its rare meetings held to discuss the city's financial issues. in an open and transparent fashion.]

On the city council meeting agenda, an announcement has been posted that the Finance Committee will meet on Wednesday, August 11 at 3 p.m. at City Hall.

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