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, September 28, 2010

Was City Manager Brad Hudson Allowed to Dismss an Ethics Complaint by the City Government?

UPDATE: Riverside Police Department wins $5 million in COPS grant money to fund 15 officer positions.

[press release]

The Riverside Police Department
has been awarded a $5,140,185 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) office. The COPS grant provides funds to hire 15 full-time, entry-level police officer positions. “This grant will assist the Riverside Police Department to fight crime while enhancing our community policing and crime prevention efforts, keeping our neighborhoods safe”, said Chief of Police Sergio G. Diaz.

The grant funds will provide 100 percent funding for entry-level salaries and benefits for 15 full-time officers over a period of 36 months. The city will be required to retain all of the grant funded positions for a minimum of 12 months at the conclusion of the grant funded period.

The Department of Justice awarded $298 million to fund the hiring of 1,388 law enforcement officers throughout the country. Due to the high demand and limited funding available, only 379 requests or 8% of applicants were funded. The City of Riverside received the second largest award in California for a police department, while the City of San Jose received the highest funding (16 officers).

The police department will initiate the hiring process for these new police officers in the very near future.

UPDATE: City Attorney Gregory Priamos in vehicle accident last night. Car struck by another car and is at corporation yard.

UPDATE: Another power outage hits thousands of people in Riverside after a substation "malfunctioned" somewhere around University. The city has been impacted by power outages during and apparently after the record heat wave sizzled the city several days ago. Ancient transformer equipment blew out during the 114 temperature several days ago knocking out power for over 2 1/2 hours. Some of these areas of the city used to see 5-6 lengthy power outages every summer. Hope at least those days are over.

[The City Hall in Riverside where apparently the city manager can revoke an ethics complaint according to comments he made in the local newspaper]

Not long ago, the La Sierra/Arlanza Neighborhood Alliance filed an ethics complaint against Riverside City Councilman Steve Adams for engaging in a violation of Section 107 of the city's charter which prohibits interference in administrative service. It was his second such complaint to be filed against him in less than a month's time. Since then, allegations have arisen from another La Sierra based community organization that Adams attended one of its recent meetings and tried to control it but the moderator told him no.

This complaint was detailed in this blog posting and it was also detailed at a site called Our La Sierra. soon after it allegedly happened in earlier September. Earlier, Adams had a complaint filed against him for administrative interference involving the promotional process of two police captains in 2005 and 2008 of which misconduct was alleged in lawsuits filed by two former police lieutenants. Extensive depositions taken in relation to the lawsuits detailed conflicting versions of these events by Adams and city employees including former Police Chief Russ Leach.

Response to the revocation of these ethics complaints by various factions at City Hall has been fairly vigorous since the blog postings detailing these events were published so these are incidents which have attracted a lot of attention from many people in this city. But then 2010 so far has been a year which has unfortunately not been one of Riverside's best or brightest.

[Riverside Councilman Steve Adams had two recent complaints filed against him for administrative interference which were both tossed out by various parties at City Hall.]

[Mayor Ron Loveridge heads the Mayor's Nomination and Screening Committee which hears ethics complaints filed against elected officials. Where was he when City Manager Brad Hudson disqualified a complaint?]

[Riverside City Manager Brad Hudson said he instructed two city employees to leave a LANA meeting instead of give a scheduled presentation but also said he dismissed an ethics complaint filed against Adams in relation to the meeting.]

LANA apparently refiled on its earlier complaint this time changing the text to say that Hudson had been told by Adams to tell the employees to leave the meeting. That was covered by the Press Enterprise but what's really shocking about the article are these statements apparently made at some point by Hudson.


The alliance first filed a complaint Sept. 13. City Manager Brad Hudson responded last week with an e-mail, saying Adams had received complaints that the group "was misrepresenting (its) scope and authority," and was there to give information. Hudson wrote that he, not Adams, decided not to let staff members give their presentation, and so he was dismissing the complaint.

The city charter says council members are not to interfere in personnel matters or give staff orders.

Okay, so what authority does the city's ethics code and complaint process in this ordinance give to the city manager to dismiss complaints filed against elected officials? The city manager's role is to be involved in being invited to participate in the Code's annual review. The role of deciding on ethics complaints involving ethics complaints is assigned to the Mayor's Nomination and Screening Committee which unfortunately has been extremely reluctant to embrace that rule handing off that responsibility to City Attorney Gregory Priamos (who's role is to be "advising" not arbitrating on complaints) in violation of the city's own ordinance governing the committee.

That violation wasn't addressed by the city government until last year's ethics code and complaint review. But now is this an example of once again a complaint that's vetoed by a party outside the established process of hearing ethics complaints because there's no role that's to be played by the city manager in dismissing ethics complaints. Hudson's employers, the city council and Loveridge should immediately investigate the handling of this complaint to determine whether Hudson really dismissed it and then provide a public reporting on their inquiries to city residents. Because Hudson may be viewed as omniscient by the people who are supposed to be his bosses at City Hall despite all the transgressions that have taken place in City Hall under his watch since he first arrived from Riverside County in mid-2005 but no elected officials, he doesn't have the power to dismiss ethics complaints involving his own employers. But it's part of what many city residents think when they watch what's going on in the building that belongs to them, scratch their heads and wonder who's really in charge there.

Is the dog wagging the tail or the tail wagging the dog? Perhaps an answer to that question will be provided during next year's election cycle.

This complaint should have gone to the Mayor's Nomination and Screening Committee to be handled. As flawed as that process is and has certainly proven to be (mostly by not doing its assigned job), that's what the ordinance states. The complaint has issues because some can argue that because the wife of the main challenger against Adams for his seat was in attendance at the meeting and that issue would no doubt be addressed by the Committee during the hearing on the complaint. But one could also argue that if the allegations of the LANA complaint are true, that Adams targeted that particular meeting to grandstand at precisely for that reason. But by having Hudson running around and canceling complaints in lieu of having them appropriately handled by the Committee, it just makes it look worse with him anyway like he's manipulating the handling of a meeting to silence it and also one of his direct city employees to essentially shut the meeting down.

One can agree or disagree with the content of the LANA complaint or whether or not it should or shouldn't file it but what should be agreed upon is that if Hudson actually dismissed the complaint as he claimed in an email sent to the local publication, then he acted outside his own scope as the city manager and that once again, the ethics code and complaint process was circumvented by City Hall. If people argue that LANA's complaint was simply a political attack for a councilman running for reelection next year, then people can also ask whether the circumvention of the code's complaint process was done to protect the political campaign of that same councilman. But if it's true about Hudson's role (and if it's not is he lying then?) then it's becoming abundantly clear that the city council's not leading Hudson, Hudson's leading the city council and Loveridge. And those individuals who are set to vote in next year's round of city council elections need to ask themselves if this is really the type of "leadership" they want from their elected representatives before going to the election polls.

Hopefully, there's at least one elected official who will remember his or her role in the municipal pecking order and will address this situation immediately. But then there hasn't been much leadership from the Seventh Floor (outside of Hudson of course) when it's come to the scandal after scandal which have come to light making Riverside the second biggest laughing stock in the state behind Bell.

Is this blog or the Press Enterprise attacking Adams simply by pointing out the obvious? Some individuals closely tied to the political figures at City Hall might think so but should the city's daily publication really be sitting on its hands when all this takes place? Is that really the effective and responsible way for a media outlet to seek the truth? This blog is not launching any form of "aggressive campaign" against Adams or anyone else, it's just difficult to ignore after reading hundreds of pages of material on what's been going on in City Hall since at least 2005 to notice that in several cases, the trail points back to Adams. Why is his name popping up in association with allegations and documentation of some of those allegations from influencing police promotions to alleging that he was an undercover police officer in Newport Beach to cold plating his vehicle? In contrast, many fewer allegations of misconduct have been made against Councilwoman Nancy Hart for example. Her name doesn't keep popping up as the subject of nearly as many allegations.

What the allegations show is that there's a clear pattern of alleged misconduct including illegal conduct coming from inside City Hall whether it's illegal weapons sales needing to be laundered only after being investigated by the state or flat badges (also illegal)being produced for city employees and apparently for elected officials as well. The city's already seen the resignation of Asst. City Manager Tom DeSantis who had his finger in most of these incidents, his fingers in the destruction of public documents under request by the local newspaper (despite having worked as a public information officer for years with Riverside County) and side deals made or attempted with police employees who either sued or threatened to sue the city over what had been doing on in the wake of the Feb. 8 traffic stop involving former police chief, Russ Leach.

Asleep at the switch has been the Riverside County District Attorney Rod Pacheco who should have assigned his Public Integrity Unit to look at some of the allegations coming out of City Hall not to mention having investigators look into whether any of those who testified in deposition for the lawsuits filed by former Lts. Tim Bacon and Darryl Hurt perjured themselves given the vastly contradictory testimony provided by some of them in connection to different allegations of misconduct including the cold plates. Several years ago, criminal charges were filed in San Bernardino County against a former Riverside Police Department officer for perjury on a deposition so why is there not a similar investigation taking place here given that the questionable testimony pertains to that surrounding criminal allegations involving different parties.

But still waiting in the wings is a federal lawsuit filed by another former police detective that will at some point begin its own deposition process and allegedly some witnesses are set to make star appearances to testify on some of these allegations raised by Bacon and Hurt including the cold plates scandal. Some say that's why DeSantis had been so eager to work out a retirement package for this former employee which included about $125,000 payment. That deal was rejected by the city council in a closed session some time back, when members told DeSantis they didn't want to hear about it but wanted Chief Sergio Diaz to address it. Diaz wisely said it was out of his hands including to members of the leadership of the police union.

It will be very interesting to see what develops there but if the depositions turn out to be as interesting as predicted, it will most likely be the city council next time that wants to make this lawsuit go away.

It's truly impossible after reviewing information including documents the past year to really stop thinking, stop seeing and pick up the pom poms and engage in a rah rah cheer for City Hall and its denizens. Too much damage has been done, too much has been covered up by the people entrusted by the city's residents to be accountable and transparent in their leadership and too much remains unaddressed. And nearly everyone it seems is just waiting for the next shoe to drop and you better believe it's out there somewhere.

It's late 2010 in River City, the town that wanted to be a metropolises that never sleeps. No doubt there's attempts right now in City Hall to make sure the public that owns that building an offers four-year leases out to those who occupy its highest floor doesn't find out what else is hiding beneath its rather lumpy rug. You can take that to the bank because just take a look at the pattern and practice so far. This blog isn't here to make City Hall happy or to promote what's going on inside its walls. There are plenty of individuals out there to do just that while closing their eyes to what's been going on. Illegal conduct comes out as taking place and they'll say don't look at that, focus on the very pretty tree over there. This just isn't that kind of blog. Adams himself called it the "what's brown that's flushed down" at a public city council meeting several years ago and this blogger's been called a "dog and pony show" (while being very impressed that Adams managed to sit still for the entire public comment) because he was really angry for having to go to a lawyer's office before that meeting to be deposed for a lawsuit.

Adams makes his contributions but he's had his allegations against misconduct against him too that seem to persist even as City Hall continues to white wash them or have individuals like Hudson apparently inappropriately involve themselves in the ethic's code and complaint process. Remember Hudson was in the dog house for a while after his involvement in the guns, plates and badges came to light. He was subject to a non-routine performance evaluation in July (instead of waiting for the regular one at the end of the calendar year) and so he knows that his survival depends solely on his ability to keep at least four members of the city council on his string and happy enough to ignore his more problematic tendencies. And so far, he's proven to be greatly successful at doing that but as election year approaches, the same politicians in his court have to start thinking about their own political survival so will they continue to laud him or cut bait especially if any more transgressions come to light?

But what the city government needs to do is to follow the appropriate process for receiving and processing ethics complaints which isn't having them dismissed by Hudson. If not, the city council needs to issue a public statement why it's allowing for the hijacking of the process by one of its direct employees. It can answer that question or four of its members can wait and answer that question next year on the election trail. Because what kind of city allows ethics complaints against those in its highest positions, which are elected officials, be dismissed by one of direct employees. They tried that with Priamos with earlier complaints and were caught violating the ordinance and when caught, the city council averred that it would allow the Committee to handle and decide on ethics complaints. But what the city council has essentially done now is to hand off that job yet again to another city employee instead of keeping it with its own subcommittee assigned that task.

What's happened in Bell has made everyone look closer at their own representative governments as they should. That should include Riverside.

And remember folks what you know now about your city and its scandals, you were never, ever supposed to know including about Leach's vehicle incident let alone anything else that came to light in this, the Year of Scandal in the All American City (tm).

Another City Union Leader Steps Down

[Riverside city employee, Gregory Hagans to retire on Oct. 14]

SEIU union leader and city employee Gregory Hagans will be retiring from the city's work force by Oct. 14 after decades of service for the city including years spent working in the Park and Recreation Division.

In a city now helmed by a city manager that's not union friendly, Hagans had to represent many employees in grievances and will be representing a human resources employee in a grievance to be heard by the Human Resources Board on Oct. 4, its first such hearing in many years. But Hagans faced many challenges during his tenure on the SEIU's leadership team as the city's largest bargaining group had to address the challenges by city management to terms of its MOU labor agreement with City Hall. Hagans was also one of a group of Black city employees to file lawsuits against the city in 1997 alleging racial discrimination, harassment and retaliation.

With former presidents of both the Riverside Police Officers' Association and Riverside Police Administrators' Associations having filed lawsuits against the city for retaliation against them, news of Hagans' own retirement came quite suddenly. But he's now got more time to focus on an election campaign to run for the Water Board.

A campaign forum is being held for Menifee political candidates.

Records were broken all over the south land during a sizzling day of heat. Two localized power outages took place in Canyon Crest and the area near Tyler Mall.

Flags were at half mast in city facilities in Riverside in memory of the life and death of former judge, Victor Micili whose funeral will be today. He was heavily involved in many projects including the Evergreen Cemetery renovation and the implementation of Riverside's Ethics Code and complaint process by serving on the research process. If the city officials are so into honoring the life of this man, maybe they could pay more than lip service to that code.

Suicide inside the NFL

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