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, April 29, 2010

CPRC Changes Meeting Times to Shut Public Out

"This will not define my career."

---Acting Chief John DeLaRosa during a recent command staff meeting about the Feb. 8 traffic stop as he vowed that he would take care of Lt. Leon Phillips and Sgt. Frank Orta, the other parties involved with the stop.

The City's First Train Wreck:

The City Management's Case point on Micromanagement

by City Manager Brad Hudson and Asst. City Manager Tom DeSantis

The Canary in the Mine:

The Community Police Review Commission

[Three members of City Hall's backed voting bloc on the CPRC, not pictures is its fourth member, Ken Rotker who masterminded the meeting change to 11 a.m.]

It began innocently enough as a discussion on an agenda item intended to roll back earlier changes made on the commission's meeting times. This meant that for the Community Police Review Commission's evening meetings would be moved back from 5 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. At its first meeting held at 5 p.m. last month, the commission played to an empty house and that made the City Hall backed contingent quite happy with themselves, short of removing the word "community" from the commission's name altogether.

Alas, their meeting this week was attended by two city residents and that displeased this City Hall voting bloc to the extent that instead of voting to extend the meetings from 5 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., they voted instead to switch to holding them at 11 a.m. A time when they are well aware few community members will be able to attend those meetings. They conducted this meeting while three commissioners were not in attendance and thus couldn't vote on this issue.

You see, the City Hall contingent of the CPRC which includes former Chair Peter Hubbard, current Vice-Chair Art Santore, Robert Slawsby (appointed by former Councilman Frank Schiavone to break a tie vote) and Ken Rotker has become the voting minority when all the commissioners are in attendance. That's because Chair Brian Pearcy, Chani Beeman, John Brandriff and new commissioner, Dale Roberts (not the Mission Inn owner) along with swing voter Rogalio Morales who doesn't have the best attendance record have begun to outvote them, including in the contentious election held last month for commission chair, which in a close vote resulted in former two-time chair, Pearcy ousting Hubbard.

You remember Hubbard, the chair who had to be elected through a proxy vote cast via teleconference call from Santore who was in Florida at the time. The first time in commission history, any commissioner was offered a chance to participate in a commission vote in that manner. But this time even with his voting bloc in full attendance, Hubbard had lost in a squeaker and pouted about it for a while afterward being a no show after losing.

But then the now-voting minority found a way to get even and regain control of the commission. Because it wasn't just about trying to prevent community members from attending but also some of the commissioners as well. As this had been a tactic that had been attempted in the past but ultimately thwarted when some commissioners called it for what it was and the City Hall contingent was forced to back down. At least for a little while.

Ironically, several times during the meeting Santore chastised members who weren't there who should be there while they were conducting business. Yet the representative from the City Attorney's office didn't speak up and offer any of those members an opportunity to participate in the meeting change vote (which could impact their ability to serve as commissioners) by teleconference. But City Hall's shown that teleconference voting will only be allowed when the city manager's office needs a vote that will ensure its continued intentions to micromanage the commission which just turned 10 this month.

But as soon as the City Hall contingent realized that at least at this meeting, it constituted a majority, it went quickly to work, and by the end of the meeting, several commissioners had hit a meltdown, ironic given that this was the first meeting since the commission received its so-called "civility" training. But even as the infighting continues, there will be fewer city residents to attend the meetings to witness it, as the City Hall contingent of the CPRC has made sure of that through its second action to change the meeting times in just the past several months. Not wanting the city residents witness how it conducts business which when you think about it, mirrors the attitude of the city manager's office which runs the commission and a few other things in the city. Watching the machinations of the commission gives the city residents the best opportunity to see exactly how Hudson runs every other department in this city, where most of the business is done in private. And this meeting was no different, in terms of putting it all out on display even as the puppeteers themselves were no where to be found.

What likely happened is that the City Hall contingent saw that no one attended the meeting last month and that made it quite happy until they showed up this month and several city residents were in attendance who spoke. Perhaps that's when the voting majority for that meeting decided not to do as originally planned to roll the meetings forward but instead to roll them backwards even further. Sounds silly? Well as one commissioner Santore freely said in one meeting, the public speaking time was changed from five minutes to three minutes with a snide comment made that people like me didn't need speaking time at meetings because we had blogs. So Santore's dislike for this blog (which he freely expresses at neighborhood meetings and which after all, is his prerogative) was one reason why he felt public comment needed to be reduced?

Silly really.

The one thing about Santore that's more refreshing however, is that unlike the others in his voting contingent is that at least he freely wears his alliance with City Hall on his sleeve. Hubbard, the former chair, works for American Medical Response, which contracts its public safety services right out of Hudson's office, a clear conflict of interest in his service. The kind that City Hall is also more happy to overlook.

[During a summer 2009 CPRC meeting, Hubbard (l) naps during a presentation by the Internal Affairs Division from the police department. To his right, is Santore and in front, is Beeman.]

It's interesting that once again, someone on the commission tries to promote an agenda item to make the commission more accessible to members and the City Hall contingent which does after all have a better attendance record than the other voting bloc counters that action with a motion that will actually further restrict the public's access to the commission, in this case its monthly general meeting. That's happened before as many community members have attended the meetings in the past year or so and then walked away unwilling to come back after seeing how several commissioners treat the public and how they teach each other. At least once an entire class that had sat in on one meeting and the teacher left with the sentiment and no doubt some interesting in class discussion about the unfriendly dynamics involving the CPRC at its meetings. People are afraid to speak at the meetings for the anticipation of getting their heads bitten off.

But by voting to change its meetings to the mornings when the public would be less likely to participate, the commission also essentially disqualified some of its membership from participating as well. And guess what, those members who will have a difficult time participating just happen to be those who the City Hall voting bloc disagrees with. That voting bloc's way to handle dissent or even just a difference of opinion from either the city's residents who attend or other commissioners is just to try to shut them out of the process. And yes, the commissioners who voted to change the meeting time are aware of how it impacts other commissioners because during a prior meeting when they tried to change meeting times to 8:30 a.m., several commissioners on the other side told them that they would be forced to resign from the commission so in the face of some heat, the City Hall contingent backed off.

So at least time by changing the meeting time to an earlier one, they can't plead ignorance. This latest change was fully carried out through the intention to silence even dissenting voices among their own ranks, forget the public which doesn't matter anyway. And one commissioner freely admitted afterward he had been carrying out his marching orders.

[Rotker, who is wearing his CPRC uniform and usually votes along with the City Hall contingent. He's the representative from Councilman Chris MacArthur's ward.]

Watching the commissioners interact with Rogan in the mix, is like listening to fingernails scratching the chalkboard. Watching the CPRC continue its downward slide under the watch of Hudson and DeSantis has been an interesting exercise and a fairly good parallel to what's been happening to the Riverside Police Department under everyone's watch at City Hall. Watching what's happening to the both of them, brings to mind the canary in the mine phenomena. Because in a sense, the failing commission is the canary in the mine, which is the police department and it's hardly coincidence that both the commission and the law enforcement agency that it oversees are floundering, both as a result of City Hall's handling or rather mishandling of them. Because if the police department's not standing in a good place, then neither will the CPRC.

And commissioners like Hubbard, Santore and Rotker have their counterparts in the police department. People who receive marching orders or some sense of direction from elements of City Hall and have carried it out. But if there are commissioners on the CPRC who are trying to do the right thing, so is it with people inside the police department as well. The commission is completely failing in completing the mission that it was set up to do during times which were turbulent in ways different than now and it's not abiding by the city's charter either. The police department is struggling to define itself as its command structure which wasn't that strong to begin with begins to crumble, also in large part to how it has been handled by City Hall including but hardly limited to the city manager's office.

And the leadership of City Hall for the most part has sat back quietly and watched all this take place during the past five years. Except for those who actively participated in the downfall of the CPRC and the problems with the police department and who in fact were the same individuals in both cases. Some city council members actively reversed a decision on officer-involved death investigations that was done by the city council in 2009 but the commission recently violated the city's charter by refusing to send an investigator in the death case involving Carlos Quinonez as the charter doesn't make these investigations optional. But it's pretty clear that the reversal on officer-involved death investigations came from the city council and not those it employs because of the huge disparity in participation in first diluting that charter power and then in its partial return.

The executive management and chair and vice chair of the commission spoke at meetings including two Governmental Affairs Committee meetings and also participated in a top secret ad hoc committee to "research" civilian oversight statewide. Yet when the city council acted to reverse that earlier decision again through the Governmental Affairs Committee, neither the executive manager, chair or vice chair appeared at any of these meetings let alone made any public comments. That just shows that these individuals, are all aligned with the city management office which probably opposed the changes but on this case, was overruled by the city council which employs the city management.

And the work product of that oh-so-secret study that Rogan performed was never really revealed in its entirety. The Riverside Police Officers' Association leadership did its own research study and has been more generous and open about explaining and producing its work product than anyone at City Hall had been about that earlier study.

The whole matter of picking and choosing of what charter amendments to honor and which to disregard has been a pattern and practice of City Hall for quite some time.

For one thing, Hudson doesn't hold as much abidance to the charter amendment (passed by a majority of the voters) involving the powers of the CPRC as he does to the language which enables him to have "final say" in promotional decisions say, by a police chief. Former Riverside Police Chief Russ Leach often said, for example that when he wanted to promote someone, Hudson would throw the charter at him. Apparently that section of the charter was thrown at Leach at least several times. And sometimes, it wasn't even just by Hudson's volition meaning that it wasn't always Hudson who had that "final say" but one or more of his own employers on the dais. Including city council members who made statements that they fully understood that involving themselves in the promotional process inside city departments was illegal, meaning a violation of the city's charter.

Yet at least one current city council member violated that provision of the city's charter while on the dais. But then the promotional process certainly higher up had turned into the kind of sham that a person could literally be promoted one minute and then by the time they went to meet with the police chief, it would be shot down. Ever hear the story where Charlie Brown had the football pulled out from under him by Lucy Van Pelt? Well, that story's included in the promotional process involving a police department where the "final say" comes from inside City Hall. The aftermath of which has led to a command structure that has, with one exception, been unable to figure out how to function in the wake of what's been happening.

At any rate, the CPRC's been sliding down into the chasm for some time now, sliding very much on public display while the downturn of the police department happened mostly either behind closed doors or inside a very insulated environment. But there's similarity between the paths of the two because they fall under the same umbrella of governance and both started having problems magnified beginning during the same time period.

And the city management makes it abundantly clear what it expects from those who serve it "at will" and that's certainly been the case of the CPRC when you compare the two executive managers who served under the will of Hudson.

The city management’s office must be really happy about that, after hiring an executive manager who has clearly not been told to make public outreach any type of priority given that the commission’s outreach has plummeted during his watch. His predecessor, Pedro Payne had towards the end of his tenure, been banned from attending community meetings by Hudson through his conduit of choice, DeSantis. So the fact that there’s been no substantial outreach from the commission is not by accident but by design. Just like with everything else.

[Foreground, Rogan with City Attorney Gregory Priamos in the background. If you ever want to ask yourself how independent Riverside's new chief will be allowed to be, you need to examine Rogan's hiring and his history of employment under the city manager's office to answer that question better.]

Rogan, a retired captain from the Pomona Police Department does provide a very important case study in what the city residents can expect from any new police chief that comes riding into town and there will be more discussion of that in later postings. After all, Rogan had been chosen by two interview panels, one representing the city and one including community leaders and yet, he quickly enough fell vulnerable to the dynamic involving Hudson, DeSantis and the city’s departments. There were warnings that whoever was going to be hired by the city would wind up being a Hudson puppet even before the final selection process to fill this management position had been made. After Rogan came aboard, it quickly became clear that he was an intelligent man who clearly knew what side of his bread was buttered. After all, his predecessor Payne had “resigned” not long after a difference of opinion at a meeting with DeSantis had led to the assistant city manager getting upset with him and kicking him out of the room.

Like the executive manager of the CPRC, the police chief also serves the city manager’s office as an “at will” employee. And generally as we’ve seen that if there’s a difference of opinion on how to run a department or even on how to make a decision about it, if the department head or manager doesn’t back down and acquiesce to the city manager’s office, then they are shown the door. Usually by submitting a resignation as Payne did with the reason being that they are seeking new career opportunities. Or in at least one case if it’s difficult to get rid of a recalcitrant department head, then usually that individual receives a salary increase for their cooperation.

But Rogan who is given full-time pay to work part-time (to protect his PERs retirement) goes along with the program fairly well. He's caused a bit of friction with the police department by generalizing his experiences at Pomona Police Department while answering general questions about the Riverside Police Department, but he's clearly operating along the lines of what his bosses expect. It's ironic in that Payne had been called in by DeSantis during his tenure at City Hall to be admonished to maintain better control over his commissioners yet sometimes it's pure mayhem at the CPRC meetings which never was the case while Payne worked as the manager.

But it's been fascinating if a bit disheartening to watch how he presides over the meetings and when the commission's had weak chairs like Sheri Corral and Hubbard, half of the time they spent leading the meeting was during or after side bars with Rogan, often while others were speaking.

It's also been a valuable lesson watching Rogan and the commissioners aligned with City Hall work even as rumors had began slipping out about the tremendous issues inside the police department particularly with its promotional processes at the top of command and changes which were working their way through the supervisory promotional processes as well. The public was well aware of the dynamics of infighting and struggle within the CPRC but not so much about what was happening behind the closed doors of the police department (and City Hall as it turned out) at around the same time period. Both the CPRC and the police department began to go south in some critical ways after the arrival of Hudson and DeSantis even as they carried out their responsibilities. The crash of the CPRC actually preceded that of the police department but the latter agency being larger and much more significant was felt more profoundly by everyone. People trying hard to keep both of them going and performing their functions and mission statements but even with the best efforts of many, there's only so much that can be done before in a sense, it comes crashing down.

Inside neither of these agencies, did these crashes come overnight.

DeLaRosa's Response to the City Manager's Report on Leach Probe

Not too long ago, Acting Chief John DeLaRosa allegedly held a command staff meeting, a large one in the wake of the revelations about his cell phone records being tied to that of the watch commander sat the scene of Leach's infamous Feb. 8 traffic stop. Even after Leach's comments in the press about the racism and sexism inside the department and how he planned to as he later said, throw some boulders while speaking out at community meetings. Apparently that last comment has made more than a few people at the top of the command structure more than a little bit nervous. As if they weren't apprehensive enough, except for one. Capt. Mike Blakely who helped sink a career or two, opened up Internal Affairs Investigations including against one of his former sergeants who was a victim of a crime and then more recently, went on vacation. But he also set the standard for putting in more hours than anyone else in his peer group and apparently vacations were a rarity for him and around him people breathed a sigh of relief.

But anyway DeLaRosa's address focused mostly on those damn cell phone records during his speech before the masses.

He stood before them, reading his comments from a prepared sheet, angry enough so that tears threatened. He said that his career would in no way be defined by what had happened to it. Everyone else watched him as he also made it clear that he was disappointed with what the city manager's office had said in its report that it had released to the public, blaming the management for what happened on Feb. 8. The report hadn't even been done yet and shouldn't have been released, DeLaRosa had told everyone at the meeting. But he did make reference to the other individuals who had been at the same traffic stop.

"I'll do anything in my power to make sure nothing happens to Leo or Frank," he said.

Meaning Lt. Leon Phillips and Sgt. Frank Orta who had been involved to varying degrees in the handling of the traffic stop once the two patrol officers who had stopped Leach had been released from the scene and sent elsewhere. But the damage has already been done and the evidence that has been released so far indicates that he played a major role in what had already happened with Leo and Frank. If he used his cell phone to give Phillips orders to not conduct a DUI evaluation on Leach and to instead have him driven home, then as the superior officer in management, he bears a large degree of responsibility to what happens to officers lower than him on the command chain. Phillips made his decision on how to ultimately handle it, but whether or not a subordinate can refuse a command from someone higher than him including in management is not something that is known certainly not by those outside the department. Would a person be allowed to do that or would they face punishment even termination?

Certainly the patrol officers and even a sergeant might be more vulnerable than a lieutenant but then again, DeLaRosa didn't just call Phillips at 3 a.m. out of the blue as the selectively released phone records indicate. In all likelihood, someone called DeLaRosa from a communication device outside the city-issued phone system and it's possible that that would have been Leach as purported by Hudson. But there's so many unanswered questions and let's just say, gaps with those phone records, that it's hard to know what exactly the phone records indicate except that DeLaRosa talked to Phillips at least twice and that there are clearly phone calls that were made including one to DeLaRosa which were not accounted for and just point out the fallibility of the logs released by the city.

And why a high-priced ticket like Hudson is allowed to slide by saying he turned off his phone for the majority of the day while out of town.

But by expressing the need to "do anything" for Phillips and Orta indicates that DeLaRosa at least in some sense is admitting culpability or at least knows that that's been done for him already in the minds of many people. But then again, as a high ranking officer suspected of instigating the cover up and blocking of a criminal act from investigation, DeLaRosa's already in an unusual position, having not been placed on paid administrative leave. It had been raised here several times how much of a hurry City Hall was to place two former lieutenants who sued it on administrative leave until they can reach retirement age in contrast to how reluctant it has been to place the involved parties in Leach's traffic stop and attempted cover up on paid administrative leave.

As for what might have been the best thing to do for Leo and Frank, perhaps that would have been to tell them to handle the traffic stop as they would with any other person and then to drive there himself and support them in that action. But DeLaRosa apparently didn't do that, instead what most people suspect is that he issued orders for them not to conduct a criminal investigation of what turned out to be a criminal violation and to drive Leach home instead of to jail.

DeLaRosa is a product of several things including a rapid rise up through the ranks, with very little time spent at each level closest to the height where he had risen. In a department where promotions were given out sometimes like candy, he quickly advanced from lieutenant to assistant chief between the autumn of 2005 and the spring of 2007. In fact, his most recent promotion was in the midst of a firestorm when the city manager's office tried to sign both him and then Capt. Pete Esquivel to "at will" positions which at least Leach believed meant that they would be "at will" to Hudson and not him. That had generated an uproar and Hudson later said that it couldn't be done. There was debate about whether or not Leach had even been involved in their promotion process. He claimed he had been but hadn't even been in town at the time. And that process left a bad taste in the mouths of many for quite a while afterward and gave the public some idea that things weren't quite going as they should in the police department including its relationship with City Hall.

But it's hardly surprising inside a City Hall that appeared to be more involved in the promotional process than the police department. A process which made it more likely that a Leach incident would be its inevitable result.

Steve Adams Endorsement Fallout

The endorsement of Adams by the Riverside Police Officers' Association has already generated some controversy within the organization even though the election's over a year away. Members have withdrawn their PAC funds from the coffer and there might possibly be board resignations arising from this. Why his endorsement has generated some degree of heat might have something to do with Adams' alleged ties to some of the promotions that were carried out by the police department at its highest levels which had created a stir in some corners.

Adams had been a defendant in the lawsuit filed by former lieutenants, Tim Bacon and Darryl Hurt allegedly for involving himself in the promotional process which if so would be a charter violation and illegal as well as threatening officers who didn't back his reelection last time around. He had also created a firestorm in the RPOA during the last election cycle in 2007 through a letter he wrote slamming them. The city settled that lawsuit behind closed doors the same day that Mayor Ron Loveridge called the allegations of micromanagement by City Hall that were made by the Eastside Think Tank, "fiction."

The RPOA seems to be more intent on backing incumbents as shown by its selections in 2009 but their endorsement of Adams will help make for a very interesting if action-packed election next year. Adams is is a vulnerable incumbent who barely won last time out and stack a strong, hard-working principled (and armed in terms of the facts) candidate against him and he's probably going to get pink slipped.

Press Enterprise Dan Bernstein discusses the controversial "reliability" utility charge.

Judge and political candidate, Paul Zellerbach said that Riverside County District Attorney Rod Pacheco wasted money.

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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Riverside Police Unions Strike Back

Two of the Riverside Police Department labor unions strike back in response to former Police Chief Russ Leach's comments about the police department that he made in a recent Press Enterprise article.

Both Riverside Police Officers' Association president, Det. Cliff Mason and Riverside Police Administrators' Association President Lt. Ed Blevins had words to say back at Leach. It's only fair for the newspaper to offer both parties who clearly have differing opinions about what's going on with the department before, during and after Leach's Feb. 8 accident and traffic stop to present their points of argument. Especially if one party, the police chief, raises the red flag of racism and sexism that face it, would have taken place on his watch too.

While they do raise interesting points, the irony is that the boards of both of these association (which are elected positions) apparently lack women and African-American males, both admittedly smaller demographic groups within each association. The last African-American male who served on the RPOA board was Gerald Broussard, and one of the few females ever to serve on it was Debora Foy several years ago.

The RPOA Board of Directors has at least one Latino member on it but is predominantly white and male as many law enforcement labor associations traditionally have been in law enforcement agencies across the country. But there are no women on the board at this time. Though the RPOA does have subcommittees and there might be more diverse representation by race and gender on its subcommittees.

As for the RPAA, only one member is female, and that's Capt. Meredith Meredyth (who ran into a barrier imposed by City Hall during her last promotion) and there's only one African-American, Lt. Vic Williams, within its ranks although the RPAA did have an African-American president several years ago which was Darryl Hurt. Since this association represents upper ranking supervisors and management personnel, the membership of this association would be smaller and drawing from a pool that's less racially and genderly diverse than the much larger rank and file division.

Lack of diversity on labor boards doesn't necessarily stem from racism or sexism but many people look at the board makeup and wonder about whether or not there's racial or gender inclusiveness on them. Particularly members of marginalized demographic groups within a larger majority population. If you're female, you will notice quickly that there's no females on a board and it's probably not much different for members of racial groups underrepresented in the police department. There's been quite a few comments and questions about the police labor union boards and their racial and gender breakdown among the public in recent years.

More so for the RPOA simply because it's larger and it's much more visible than the smaller RPAA and there's a stronger association with it and those it represents because it's often asked by media to present its views on police issues. Its dynamics are different than those of the RPAA which includes management personnel rather than being a counterpoint to management as is often the case with a rank and file union like the RPOA.

It's part and parcel of similar questions that many people have about the racial and gender breakdown of law enforcement agencies themselves which in many agencies has been lacking. Something which was a large enough issue in Riverside to be written as an objective in the original Strategic Plan that was implemented by the department from 2001-06 and it appears that will be the case with the upcoming Strategic Plan for 2010-15. That the police department create and retain a workforce that is truly representative of the communities that it protects and serves. Community forums held to solicit input for the upcoming Strategic Plan and the selection of the new police chief both featured quite a bit of input on the department being more diverse and embracing diversity.

People looking in often wonder if people outside the majority ever apply to run for board positions and if so, what their chances are of getting elected to fill them. And they wonder what if any efforts the labor associations make to create opportunities and mentorships for officers who belong to demographic groups inside the department with attrition rates larger than the 29% rate for male officers as a gender to reduce those numbers especially given that the attrition rates for female officers is considerably higher at 44%. What kind of advocacy and tracking do both unions do in situations where female members and African American men dominate the sergeant and lieutenant promotion lists yet get passed over? How do the labor union address the attrition rates particularly of newer officers which make up at least 94% of the attrition rates in both genders?

And what would either association do if a promotion of a female officer was blocked or vetoed by individuals not in the police department but inside City Hall or any promotion was blocked by City Hall for that matter? What if a female probational officer is at the scene of a crime and witnesses inappropriate sexist behavior by male officers including her own field training officer? Would the union advocate for her ability to work in a non-hostile working environment or if a female officer faced quid pro sexual harassment inside the field training program, meaning she had to perform sexual favors on her male training officer to pass that phase? What services would the union leadership provide for a female officer even a probational officer (especially given its past advocacy for not firing former probational officer Jose Nazario after his arrest by the NCIA in 2007 and for rehiring him after his acquittal in 2008) in that situation?

After all, African-American men and women who belong to these unions pay membership dues like the rest of the officers. And many city residents when they think about police unions, wonder how much diversity there is in their leadership, whether or not it represents the diversity of their membership given their insulated environment.

Another interesting issue that the unions might think about addressing in response to City Hall is the reports of harassment and retaliation that have been alleged by former presidents of both of these labor unions. Hurt, who was the president of the RPAA, along with PAC member Lt. Tim Bacon filed lawsuits in U.S. District Court several years ago alleging that they faced discrimination in the department's promotional process and harassment and retaliation stemming from their political union activities. The city recently settled those lawsuits and both men were placed on paid administrative leave until they turn 50 and are eligible for retirements.

Earlier this year, former RPOA president Chris Lanzillo filed a claim for damages alleging that he faced retaliation for his involvement in actions taken while serving his presidency. In his claim, he had raised allegations that Acting chief, John DeLaRosa knew about Leach's traffic stop fairly early on and that he had criticized DeLaRosa for taking so long to transfer the case to the California Highway Patrol for investigation. Lanzillo's claim was denied by the city about four days after he had filed it and most likely it's heading off to the U.S. District Court, even in the face of emerging evidence that DeLaRosa was involved via his city issued phone to Leach's traffic stop.

After all, two past presidents of labor unions filing claims and/or lawsuits alleging that they were harassed or retaliated on the basis of performing their union duties, are they anomalies or a pattern and practice? It would be interesting if the unions did an analysis of these issues and presented a report on whether harassment and retaliation of union leaders was a pattern and practice of elements of City Hall and compare notes with other city union heads who might relate similar issues.

But here's some of the comments that have been made by the two labor association presidents, Mason and Blevins.


"We've worked extremely hard to get past those issues," Mason said, "and to say what he did toward the people who risk their lives every day and respect the laws, that's extremely unfair and unfortunate."

It would be interesting in response to Mason's comments which raise important issues what would happen if his union leadership have ever done an anonymous survey among its own membership about whether or not they believed there were issues with racism and/or sexism inside the department, along with any other issues of concern within. Similar to a customer satisfaction survey. Or whether either union president would be open to outside organizations conducting a similar survey.

But the point appears to be that Leach raised these allegations of racism, sexism and bickering within the ranks without providing any information or insight on his role in addressing these problems within the past 10 years, whether he served that role in a positive fashion or contributed to those problems. And that point is duly taken.

Leach responded back when contacted by the newspaper.


"I'm not painting everybody with a big broad brush," Leach said. "I'm just saying there's an element that's still there."

Leach's response is interesting because it is reminiscent of an incident that took place involving several male officers including two field training officers at a woman's apartment in April 2008. The male officers had responded to what was initially reported as a potential hostage situation but as it turned out, a woman had called for the police to eject some unwanted people from her apartment. The officers arrived including at one point three sergeants and then began searching her residence, finding evidence of drug paraphernalia and check fraud. At one point, several officers began joking and playing with a pair of the woman's underwear and at one point, it wound up hanging from a dartboard on the wall of her living room. The woman sat in a chair not five feet away from these officers, where she had been told to sit watching the officers behave this way and a female trainee, Megan Edwards also witnessed the incident. Edwards incidentally was terminated several months after that incident for failure to make probation.

Several officers testified about this incident during the recent criminal trial of former officer, Robert Forman who had been charged of three counts of sexual battery and oral copulation under the color of authority though some of the testimony conflicted with that of others. Forman later returned to this woman's apartment and forced her to orally copulate him to avoid an earlier arrest. He either was acquitted or received a hung jury for the other sexual abuse charges. Does one incident define the culture of a department? In a department of over 370 officers, the behavior of a few, may be just that, a few.

But given the blatancy of the behavior in that situation, including displaying it so freely in front of a female probational officer, it's only natural that it would elicit people's concern about whether it was an isolated example of bad judgment by several officers or indicative of a larger problem inside the department. And there's plenty of elements involving the Forman case which show definitive problems with supervision and lack of leadership involving the situation including tracking this officer appropriately given his prior history of sexual contacts with vulnerable pools of women while onduty. After all, the Forman of 2008 came with a huge warning label attached.

How does an officer who has a prior sexual contact (and there's some difference of opinion between different agencies on whether it was "consensual" or not) that's not only on his record but is on his record because it wound up on his department-issued audio recorder wind up deleting dozens of recordings only several years later? Did the department take any steps under any form of an Early Warning System to track Forman, including his behavior involving his audio recorder? Did the department set up any system in its audio recording database mainframe to flag any recordings downloaded by officers where the numerical sequencing was interrupted? What actions were taken at the supervisory level, at the management level and at Leach's level involving the monitoring of an officer who really should have been fired by the city for his prior misconduct? Because the Forman incidents which were prosecuted that happened several years after the earlier ones impacted city residents by potentially damaging public trust and made it more difficult for police officers because of Forman's own actions in a position of public trust. Even if they were truly isolated incidents.

Then there was the lawsuit filed by another former female probational officer, Kelsy Metzler against the city alleging that the police department fired her in retaliation after she filed a sexual harassment complaint against a fellow classmate at the Ben Clark Training Academy. Incidentally, Mason is listed in a defendant in that lawsuit, whether it was due to him seeing a sergeant working in the department's training division at the time or because he had been an instructor at the academy's not clear. There's nothing in the lawsuit or grievance filed by Metzler that indicated what protection she had as a probational officer when instead of being given a field training assignment, she was led into a office with personnel from the Internal Affairs Division and told she was being terminated without cause.

As for Blevins, he served several years inside the police department's Internal Affairs Division including during a period in the summer of 2007 when a person who was connected with the police department had allegedly been discharged by the department within three days after attempting to file a racial harassment complaint with her supervisor. Allegedly, she had met with Blevins to file a complaint associated with racial issues with his division and he had expressed interest in doing so which was the responsible action to take in that situation. But that should have at least made him aware that such problems do actually or at least potentially exist within his agency to some degree.

Leach should have been more clear with his comments rather than generalizing them in the media but it would be useful perhaps if both union leaders would publicly discuss their proposed platform for how they would address any alleged inhouse racism and/or sexism within their ranks if it presented itself and provide a means for open communication with all of their membership including those underrepresented on their boards to discuss issues pertaining to harassment and retaliation based on race, gender, sexual orientation, political activism as labor leaders, speaking out against wrongdoing and related issues. Then when that's done, perhaps jointly or separately they could provide a strategic plan for addressing these and other issues and problems that might exist and for providing remedy and positive change within the agency. This action plan would be the most effective means of countering Leach's allegations in the long run through collective action at tackling challenging issues within their ranks and it would probably empower them as well. To prove to the former police chief and to anyone else that you take these issues seriously.

Then the two union presidents had more comments to make in response to allegations raised by Leach in the earlier article.


He blamed budget issues and internal problems, including the arrests of five officers for various crimes and a lawsuit by two lieutenants alleging unfair promotion tactics.

In response, Blevins noted that, in his view, Leach's lapsed leadership seemed to coincide with the 2006 expiration of the attorney general's mandated oversight -- known as the stipulated judgment. Without leadership, he said it was natural to have some internal disputes.

"If no one is providing direction and answering questions, it's going to create some disharmony," Blevins said.

Mason added: "We were kind of left adrift."

From this point on, the union leaders said their focus will be on aiding the search for Leach's replacement. The deadline for applicants is Friday, with finalist interviews expected in May.

"I don't think it's in bad shape," he said. "We just need some clear direction, and some clear leadership."

It's interesting that Mason and Blevins mused about the changing dynamic of leadership in the police department after the dissolution of the stipulated judgment. Because the relationship between Leach, the police department and City Hall including the city manager's office did seem to intensify after the dissolution of the city's stipulated judgment with the State Attorney General's office. At the same time, Leach's leadership seemed to lessen as he attended far fewer community meetings and city council meetings and generally faded away, particularly during the last two years. But leadership wasn't totally lacking, as there were no shortage of individuals at City Hall intent on micromanaging the police department, beginning while it had been in the latter stages of its consent decree with the state and especially after the state's oversight had gone away.

Hudson would issue directives to DeSantis who would become much more involved in the day to day operations of the police department than any of his predecessors. Hudson and DeSantis invoked the "final say" language in the charter involving the city manager and personnel decisions made by department heads more than did their predecessors. And one of their main focuses was the police department, specifically its command staff at the level of captain and above, where virtually that entire roster of individuals save one holdover from a much earlier regime arose not from decisions made at the top of the police department but inside what Leach called the Seventh Floor of City Hall. Meaning Hudson, DeSantis and an elected official or two put themselves in charge of that process that has never been challenged by elected leadership and until that happens, any new chief after a brief "honeymoon" period to appease critics in the community and department will face the same fate as Leach did in respect to whether or not he or she can effectively make binding decisions as a department head.

Mason and Blevins didn't mention anything about City Hall's involvement in the police department nor have they addressed allegations raised by former RPAA members about this micromanagement even as at least one community organization, the Eastside Think Tank, alleged that the city manager's office had been heavily involved in decision making at the top of the police department.

If Mason and Blevins who both came into power in January were asking questions without answers, it could have been that those who were supposed to answer those questions inside the police department were awaiting direction on those appropriate answers from their handlers inside City Hall. Because these two presidents are right, if you have questions that need to be answered and you're not receiving leadership from above, then yes, that's going to foster internal strife within the infrastructure of the police department especially as the indecision and uncertainty of those above begins to trickle down to those below. The nature of chain of command is to have clear and decisive communication and direction from one link of this intricate chain to the next and if there's a disruption in that process, then there's going to be a lot of disharmony. But that's going to be disruptive as well and ultimately destructive is if that chain of command is compromised by receiving directives from the top or the top of the top which is apparently different elements of City Hall that are inappropriate or even illegal.

And that's not addressed by Mason and Blevins in their comments in the Press Enterprise in response to Leach's earlier comments but it will be addressed and discussed in blog postings here. Maybe these two men know and they don't want to rock the boat, fully understanding that City Hall, not the police department, is in charge of the police department.

But there's still a lot of concerns and questions anyway.

Press Enterprise Columnist Cassie MacDuff also has her own reaction to Leach's comments in the recent article.


"I sat here three months with rocks being tossed at me," he said by phone Monday. "I'm going to toss some rocks now; I've got some boulders to toss."

Apparently, Leach will be speaking out in front of community organizations including one that's apparently meeting in secret later this week on Thursday. It's an interesting town that we live in that guest speakers at community organizations are kept secret given that most organizations like to tell anyone interested in attending meetings just who any planned guest speakers will be.

The reaction to Leach has been pretty profound and mostly negative including in MacDuff's column. Some people have said enough is enough and that there should be no more coverage of this issue but events like this one have a way of just playing themselves out. If the Press Enterprise is approached by one party or another, they're not going to show them the door and say, sorry can't cover it. And if someone like Leach makes strong comments about the department that used to employ him, then giving the employees in that department an opportunity to respond or to ask them what their response would be is what most publications would do.

There's a strong push to just put everything behind the city, forget about it and just focus on hiring a new police chief. In fact, among the community leadership, there's more clamor among it to get spots on Hudson's planned interview panels next month than in addressing the serious issues that created this situation in the first place. And these issues including some raised by Leach, Mason and Blevins must be addressed because it's going to be very hard to even believe that the police chief will be anything but another Hudson and DeSantis puppet.

For a police chief to really have a chance to turn the RPD around, he or she must be independent of City Hall, at least enough so to operate as an autonomous department head both in terms of day to day operations and long-range strategic planning. But that situation doesn't currently exist in Riverside and there's not enough impetus among the city's elected leadership to create and foster that kind of environment, rather than the current one which has turned the police department into a free for all zone of micromanagement from assorted characters who you will meet in future blog postings. The police unions' leadership should be at the forefront of pushing for an independent chief, rather than one that will be reduced to a Hudson or DeSantis puppet. Because they should be mindful of the destructiveness of what that dynamic has done for the agency that employs them and the one they represent out in the city's neighborhoods.
A sizable portion of their members in the RPOA are a bit more pessimistic about the department's future and of the next chief's independence than is the leadership.

As for the RPAA, that situation is complicated by the inclusion of members who are in the upper levels of management and who are intricately tied to elements of City Hall, so much so that their very existence in the top realm of command came about because of decision making and orders dispatched by City Hall. While other members might be more inclined to look at those individuals as the outcome of the micromanagement which has put the police department in a precarious position.

It's interesting to hear them say that the department's in "good shape", even as the dominoes start to fall around them and certainly above them. Because the police department's not in "good shape", it's filled with people who for the most part are working hard to keep it doing the job that it needs to be doing in difficult and very turbulent waters, but structurally speaking, it's a house with an uncertain foundation and a crumbling ceiling. For the most part, the department's having professional people carry out its directive, but unless the fundamental problems of the department are addressed and the city leaders start showing the leadership needed to rein in some of their direct employees and a few of their own, it's going to be come much more difficult for the p0lice department to keep going in the direction that it needs to go.

But people have to be willing.

Riverside Fiscal Budget Watch Begins

More budget cuts coming to Riverside this upcoming fiscal year although the police department might have 15 police officer positions restored. No word on whether there will be any vacancies filled at the department's supervisory levels. Positions are being cut in other departments including community development or consolidated with other departments. No layoffs are anticipated but it's difficult to know if that's really the case or not.

Menifee's financial director speaks out.

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Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Road to Micromanagement is Filled with...Players

[The entrance for the Riverside Police Department's Administrative Headquarters used to have the name of the police chief of painted on its front. The police department doesn't really have a police chief at the least not an official one. ]

"I would describe Tom DeSantis' role of having stronger oversight...more involved with the day-to-day operations of the police department."

---Former Riverside Police Chief Russ Leach describing the management style of Asst. City Manager Tom DeSantis regarding the police department in comparison to his predecessors, in 2009.

After the retirement of former Jerry Carroll in early 2000, the Riverside Police Department went through three more police chiefs before that year ended only a little quieter than it had begun. After Carroll's untimely departure, then Deputy Chief Mike Smith took the helm on an acting basis, while the city searched first for an interim replacement, ultimately deciding on former Long Beach Police Department Chief Robert Luman. Luman stayed about a month past his contract period and then was replaced by Smith in the acting position until the hiring of former El Paso Police Department chief, Russ Leach in the autumn of 2000.

Leach had been one of three candidates in the finalist position of the hiring process for a permanent chief. At the top of the list had been Santa Ana Police Department Chief Paul Walters who had been considered one of the nation's top experts in community oriented problem solving policing. However, it turned out that Walters was using the Riverside position to as an angle to help ensure himself a hefty salary increase at his current job. So that left Smith and Leach as the main contenders to serve as Riverside's next permanent chief. Leach got the job and he made Smith his assistant chief, as a reward for having run the department twice in 2000 without landing the permanent position.

Carroll's days had been numbered already but the final straw that broke his tenure had been the behind the scenes negotiations going on among the city council and mayor regarding a reverse racial and gender discrimination lawsuit filed by a group of White male sergeants. The city government was trying to create lieutenant positions to fill with the plaintiffs in this lawsuit, in a sense involving itself in the promotional process which was thought to be the purview of the police chief. It shocked many people that the city council and mayor would involve itself in one of the roles that was assigned to the city's department heads including the police chief and it generated a lot of controversy. Not just creating new lieutenant positions as a budgetary decision but designing them with specific officers in mind to fill them.

But the city years later, would be facing a situation again where it was quite probable that the promotional process wasn't left entirely to the police chief or even really much to him at all particularly at the department's management level. And ironic or not, some of the same players involved would be one lieutenant whose promotion by Carroll had in part generated the firestorm among the sergeants who sued and others who were promoted under Leach who had been plaintiffs in that lawsuit. It would seem that during its recent history, one entity or another from inside City Hall's Seventh Floor (as Leach later often described it) would want to engage in one or more of the powers assigned to the police chief including that involving promotions.

And so it would be in 2010 a decade after the turmoil that had shaken the police department and city had contributed to the ouster of a previous chief. Barely four months into the new year, the police department's chief has been retired after being convicted on a DUI charge stemming from his Feb. 8 accident and traffic stop. The acting chief, John DeLaRosa known as "Johnny Who" for his rapid ascension through the ranks would be sitting on the time bomb. That would be known as the release of the city's cell phone logs for the morning in question which would effectively tie his city-issued phone to that being utilized by Watch Commander Lt. Leon Phillips while he was supervising Leach's traffic stop. After the release of those records and much criticism, DeLaRosa who as acting chief had been making the rounds at civic and community meetings disappeared again inside the administrative headquarters on Orange Street and filling up that power vacuum was former deputy chief (under long ago Chief Ken Fortier) and current Personnel Capt. Mike Blakely who began running the department. He apparently began that by keeping the Internal Affairs Division which is under his umbrella of authority very, very busy. While everyone else was moving around in a state of apprehension regarding the rapidly unfolding of the chain of events, Blakely was more invigorated than he had been in years.

The first casualty of that change in dynamics was Deputy Chief Pete Esquivel who abruptly announced his retirement soon after, allegedly due to different personnel investigations, after 30 years spent in the department. He had been hired out of the academy and then worked his way up the hierarchy all the way to deputy chief, working a variety of different assignments at different ranks. Many people had believed that he had been positioned perfectly especially after DeLaRosa's position at the top of the pecking order became more precarious. There had been campaigns for him to be the new chief when his retirement announcement came the same day the city released very selective information about the purported Hudson probe of the Leach incident. His long career ending just like that, the sudden nature of it giving people pause.

But the dominoes were already starting to fall beginning with Leach and traveling on down the line. Although that might be an inevitable development, it doesn't make it any less shocking to see the house that had been built on sand fall. And while the heads of the two police unions have been assuring people that the police department was one big family or that most of the management was doing just fine, it became clear to most people watching that in fact, the ceiling of the department had already started to crumble. After all, has anyone even seen either the acting chief or the deputy chief lately at any public meetings, or really any of the command staff members for that matter? People are even at a loss of who to call at that level these days.

The ceiling of the house which had survived its final building inspection courtesy of the State Attorney General's office which had imposed a five-year stipulated judgment on the department which dissolved in March 2006 in Riverside County Superior Court. While the department had made progress in some areas, it was experiencing serious problems in others which threatened to undermine much of the fragile restructuring of the house. Problems which had already threatened to gain a foothold even while the department had been under the consent decree. Problems which begun even before the city manager's office failed to abide by a directive by its boss, the city council to move forward with the implementation of the Strategic Plan until pressured to do so by several city council members who were also pressured to do so. Only one example of how the dynamic between City Hall and the police department threatened to undermine the progress made by the police department during the stipulated judgment period.

And indeed this house had been built by many hands, some of them belonging to individuals outside the police department, a short walking distance away at City Hall. If you take the elevator up to the top floor, you'll be within the space where as many decisions are made about the police department as are made inside the department.

One of the denizens of the Seventh Floor who allegedly participated actively in the Riverside Police Department was its currently most senior council member, Steve Adams, a former Riverside Police Department officer who was alleged to have more influence over the department than it's likely he ever did in his years spent as a patrol officer.

[Riverside Councilman Steve Adams is playing mayor pro tem here but he's declared war on the ports of Southern California through the Press Enterprise, in between allegedly weighing in on personnel decisions inside the city's police department.]

"No, it's illegal for to interfere in personnel matters."

----Riverside Councilman Steve Adams, in early 2010

Recently, the city council in Riverside voted to dump more money into lawsuits filed against cities which have ports like Los Angeles and Long Beach after it lost a key decision in one of them at the initial judicial venue. Lawsuits like this are pretty much not going to come out in favor of the city because the affects of the interstate flow of commerce which is the railroad in this case, are going to be weighted against the positive aspects of maintaining that flow. No, money's most often spent on litigation like this to try to apply pressure on the cities to hand over money in the form of fees to outlying cities like Riverside. But it's pretty clear that the legal system is not the appropriate venue to address an issue which does seriously impact Riverside, when it's the legislative bodies including the state that should be the focus. It's always interesting how incumbents in the city government become much more passionate about the issues that either they ignore during most of their terms or treat with a "let them eat cake" attitude when they receive complaints on those issues from city residents. The situation involving DHL-Gate was one of the best examples of that duality, of first ignoring and ridiculing people who were passionate on that issue. Then election year rolls around and all of a sudden, it's your banner cause.

Adams has been a bit more consistent on the train issue but it will no doubt pick up more steam as soon as his campaign for reelection gets started in earnest. That and a few other issues including those stemming from areas of his ward which hardly ever see him these days.

Adams has hit the computer keyboard to write this op-ed piece blasting the ports for dumping trains on Riverside and he does allude to the need for legislative agencies to become more involved and more accountable but he doesn't mention the funneling of tax payer money into these bottomless pit lawsuits. His suggestions are a bit different than what the city' actually doing which is funneling money into lawsuits that were initially filed while a former city councilman had been running for office in 2009 and began trumpeting this issue along with some others he had neglected during most of his tenure on the dais.

It's a bit disconcerting to read about Adams' pledge for economic and social justice given his stances on other issues including the fact that if there's pollution killing people off in Riverside by causing them to "perish", most of it will be caused by vehicles idling or driving through traffic jams on thoroughfares inside Riverside. Yet, the city council pushes for more development including housing in a depleted market which will bring more cars to idle on the streets in this city and for more warehouses which have a way of attracting huge vehicles including trucks fueled by diesel which also impacts the respiratory systems especially the developing lungs of children.

The bottom line on this issue is that until vehicles use alternate fuels that don't harm people's bodies and the time that vehicles spend in use on roads is cut down in Southern California, more people will die from pollution related diseases from cars than they ever would from the impact of trains.

But by reading the opinion piece, you can definitely tell that Adams is passionate about the train issue especially given the public service announcements that air on cable television warning people about railroad crossings.

Coastal ports and railroad crossings aren't the only issues that grab Adams' attention. The two-term councilman is also very passionate about other things including the Riverside Police Department which employed him long ago. And if a key lawsuit filed against the city and some of its characters had gone to trial this month, Adams would have been set to testify in U.S. District Court about among other things, his passion about the police department including its operations and the extent of his involvement in its operations. The lawsuit filed by former lieutenants, Tim Bacon and Darryl Hurt alleged that Adams had been intimately involved in the promotional process involving filling the captains' positions, namely at least two of them as well as vetoing the promotion of another candidate, apparently one of the very few to have actually been selected for advancement by former police chief, Russ Leach. Adams had also allegedly told at least one officer that he would never get promoted because he had worked on the campaign of one of the candidates facing off against Adams during the 2007 election. That he would "never fuckin get promoted" because of his campaign activities, from a man who's known in some circles for his liberal use of profanity.

Adams had been a police officer for over a decade years ago and had been peers with individuals including both lieutenants and members of the current command staff who were employed by the department in a very different era than that of today. He had been medically retired from some alleged onduty injury (though accounts vary) and his brother, Ron had also worked as an officer before retiring. Ron Adams had been a key player in a lawsuit filed by a former female sergeant, Christine Keers in the 1990s, alleging sexual discrimination, harassment and retaliation, a lawsuit which wound up being settled in the six-figured range after the city spent about $19,000 litigating it. Ron Adams currently works part-time for the city in its red-light camera citation program, having been rehired by the city.

At any rate, Adams had worked at the level of police officer which he continued in until his retirement. And some say that years later when he was elected to the city council, his involvement in the police department continued.

There's some campaign lore that stated that when Adams first decided to run for political office in 2003, he had initially sought signatures in Ward Three but after failing to get enough of them just to file his papers, he moved to the La Sierra area and filed successfully to run there. He has been elected to two terms so far although he narrowly escaped the anti-incumbent fever which swept the polls in 2007 to hold onto his seat by a scant 13 votes over former council member and mayor, Terry Frizzel who he greatly outspent. During the first election, he had been heavily backed by the Riverside Police Officers' Association PAC which had been increasing its spending in local elections due largely to the creation and implementation of Riverside's form of civilian oversight over the police department, the Community Police Review Commission. From 2001-2005, the RPOA endorsed candidates who opposed civilian review whether they publicly admitted it or not. In fact, a couple of the candidates including Adams either said that they supported civilian review or that they didn't oppose it, but then after they were elected, took steps to undermine it proving that in some ways, talk is cheap during election time and actions speak louder than words.

But while the RPOA had been heavily involved in Adams' campaign in 2003, it had opted not to endorse him in his reelection campaign in 2007 for a variety of reasons. There had been tremendous friction between them which culminated in a letter written by Adams involving the RPOA which greatly angered its leadership. Though the differences between the two sides were allegedly smoothed over some coffee, there is still some degree of division in the union when it comes to Adams. The Riverside Police Administrators' Association had also not endorsed Adams and apparently Adams wasn't happy about that either, allegedly making comments to officers about his displeasure about their campaigning against him which could possibly impact their abilities to be promoted. Also the focus of similar allegations was Adams' dais mate at the time, Frank Schiavone.

Interestingly enough, Adams and Schiavone were the two council members who were the most verbally abusive to people who addressed them at meetings. Adams called people "liars" or said they had "no class" and when anyone said anything that displeased him, his cheeks would turn bright red, he'd squirm in his seat and then people would wait to see what would come out of his mouth in anger. But Adams isn't totally clueless, being aware that several of his more boisterous dais mates were handed pink slips by the voters in their respective wards in part because of how they acted (or more specifically, acted out) on the dais. So now that it's election time rolling along, Adams has mellowed out or at least he has tried hard to do so. He mainly sticks to blushing and squirming in his chair and if he really can't take listening to people, he walks out on them. The only problem is that even when people like Schiavone and former council member, Dom Betro tried to play nice on the dais or at least dial down their outbursts a notch or two while in front of the cameras, both were still ultimately voted out of office, proving that city residents aren't nearly as easy to dupe as some elected officials might believe or hope.

But it's also not surprising that Adams and Schiavone turned up as defendants on a lawsuit which alleged that they made threatening comments to police officers not to associate with other police officers including the heads of their labor association, the RPAA. They were also allegedly the two council members who were "always hanging around" the police department and apparently there were allegations that Adams had been instrumental in the promotions involving several lieutenants who were looking to become captains. This included a decision made in the 11th hour involving one would-be promotion where one name was substituted for another after a chain of communication which allegedly included Adams as a link and one of the candidates was left out in the cold. And another lieutenant's promotion to captain happened the day after he had allegedly met with Adams to "smooth things over" regarding some animosity between the two of them. Which causes one to ask, how large of a role did Adams play in the promotional process of management personnel in the police department which would have been as he stated above, illegal under the city's charter?

But then Adams is definitely one of the more colorful characters in the cast of the production of The House that City Hall Built. He's also up for reelection next year and one of the candidates who he will be facing is CPRC Commissioner John Brandriff.

Riverside Police Officers' Association Endorses Adams

The political action committee of the Riverside Police Department's rank and file labor union has allegedly already endorsed Adams for the 2011 election in Ward Seven. Don't be surprised if the Riverside Police Administrators Association follows suit. It's still interesting to consider the 180 degree turn that latter labor association took in the 2009 election when originally its leadership wasn't going to endorse any candidate in the election including in the Ward Four race because it didn't want to appear as if it were favoring one candidate over another and thus wouldn't be able to work with the winner if that person hadn't been endorsed by the union. That kind of makes some sense. However, not long after taking that stance, the union's leadership started showing up in campaign material as having endorsed incumbent, Councilman Frank Schiavone from the fourth ward. Why that reversal might have taken place will be explored in future blog postings as another interesting chapter in the saga, The House That City Hall Built. Because after all, the RPAA had chosen to endorse a candidate alleged to have threatened some of its members, after those allegations were made.

Still it's interesting in the light of everything that's been going on in City Hall concerning its dynamic that it has with the troubled police department that any labor union would be so eager to endorse Adams. Some say it's because there's a stance in place to back incumbents, which is similar to that employed by the Riverside Firefighters' Association. It's not uncommon for unions to back incumbents because often their leaderships believe that the incumbent has the edge in winning reelection and they don't want to risk the wrath of the incumbent who didn't receive their endorsement if he or she wins reelection and holds onto their seat. In fact, there were allegations raised against Adams to that effect that his wrath had been used against union leaders and members in the RPAA.

But Adams is a different kind of choice, since there have been allegations of his involvement in the police department's promotional process at least at its captain level and harassment against former union leaders. It remains to be seen whether that will prove to be a wise endorsement for the RPOA and the RPAA if it follows suit as expected if it chooses to go the endorsement route. He's very vulnerable in his upcoming election bid and all it would really take is a dedicated candidate who wears out shoe leather and puts in the campaign time similar to that spent by grass roots candidates, Mike Gardner and Paul Davis to defeat Adams. Particularly considering his weak showing the last time he ran in 2007.

Backing incumbents doesn't always work out because the RPOA's PAC had backed Dom Betro, Art Gage and Frank Schiavone in their respective elections and all three of them were sent packing in their elections anyway. And Adams actually has greater vulnerability than the other three going into the election season which will commence in just short of one year from now. It remains of course to be seen just how much.

Press Enterprise Columnist Cassie MacDuff writes about the challenge to end privilege between attorney and client in San Bernardino County which is again, buried in corruption.

Will cityhood be coming to Eastvale?

Appointed or Elected?

There's been some degree of controversy over the situation involving Riverside County Sheriff Stan Sniff and about his 2010 election campaign signs where he asks people to "re-elect" him into his position. Frankly, it was a bit disappointing to see Sniff use that language given that he was never actually "elected" sheriff. Rather he was appointed into that position by the legislative body for the county which is the board of supervisors. Sheriffs don't typically get appointed by county boards of supervisors but it's happened recently in this county as well as in Orange and San Bernardino Counties.

The only body which can "elect" anyone in an elective office is the voting public, meaning the residents of a city or county or state who participate in elections and are encharged with the power and responsibility of filling job positions like sheriff and district attorney through the election process. But that's not what happened with Sniff as he never appeared on an election ballot, regular or special, but was appointed through a 3-2 vote from the board of supervisors. He might call that being elected (and thus making him eligible for reelection) but in actuality, he was appointed. If you say that he was elected, that would be like saying City Manager Brad Hudson was elected city manager and City Attorney Gregory Priamos was elected city attorney (though these positions are elective in some cities like Los Angeles and San Bernardino) and in cities where city councils pick police chiefs, that they are elected them. No, in all three cases, these employees are appointed for hire by their city councils and so that's the case with Sniff. It would have been better and more honest for him to instead admit that he wasn't selected through popular vote but that he wanted and believed he earned the opportunity to be "elected". Obviously he didn't choose that road and it's kind of disturbing that he didn't.

Appointed or Elected, Part II

Moreno Valley residents to be given a chance to determine whether the mayoral seat will be elected by them rather than appointed by the city council.

Public Meetings

Tuesday, April 27 at 1:30 p.m. Mayor's Nomination and Screening Committee meets at City Hall's Seventh Floor to discuss this agenda.

Tuesday, April 27 at 2 and 6:30 p.m. The Riverside County City Council will be meeting to discuss this agenda. One of the items dominating this agenda is this workshop being held at 3 p.m. to work on the city's annual fiscal budget. It looks like the next critical public hearing to discuss the budget will be held on May 25 during the afternoon session.

Wednesday, April 28 at 3:30 p.m. (case review) and 5:00 p.m. (general meeting) The Community Police Review Commission will be having its monthly meeting and at the evening session discussing this agenda. Key items on it include the beginning of the "review" process in lieu of an independent investigation of the Sept. 1, 2008 officer-involved death of Carlos Quinonez, Sr. This overly complicated process appears to confuse commissioners nearly as much as the public. There will also be discussion of the annual report and this draft was included. Remember, the meetings are held a half hour earlier and since that change has been implemented, the meetings have played to an empty house. The only people left listening to the commissioners bicker, at least before their recent civility training kicks in, are city employees.

Investigation and Review Time lines Still Dragging

For a long time now, the investigations and review processes by the police department and commission have dragged on for months and in some cases, several years including with the four officer-involved deaths that weren't investigated and the cases earlier which weren't reviewed in less than two years. But complaint time lines have been very slow as well, with the police department's internal affairs division taking months or longer on average to complete its investigations and forward them to the CPRC.

Here are some recent statistics:

March 2010:


Category 1: 121

Category 2: 230


Category 1: 22

Category 2: 35

February 2010:


Category 1: 201

Category 2: 234


Category 1: 31

Category 2: 34

January 2010:


Category 1: 75

Category 2: 171


Category 1: 43

Category 2: 18

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Russ Leach: I wasn't hamstrung but I'm anxious about autonomy

Former Riverside Police Chief Russ Leach breaks his silence to the Press Enterprise and had some sort of interview with its Editorial Board about his planned reemergence in the city's social scene, perhaps as a member of some boards and organizations. He was a no show at his arraignment on DUI charges where his lawyer entered in a guilty plea to one of them but has gone to meet presumably in person with the daily publication. To talk mostly about the police department that he left in nearly as much upheaval as it had been when he first arrived in 2000. The department's currently buried in at least $25 million just in claims and has settled both inhouse and outside lawsuits during the past several years that alleged everything from wrongful death to racial profiling to unfair labor practices and retaliation. At least five officers have been arrested in 2008-09, but allegations of other arrests or officers engaging in criminal behavior without arrests have been made. After 10 years, it's made tremendous progress in some areas yet came full circle in others in ways not so positive.

But then if the leader of a police organization engages in breaking the law while driving and then allegedly makes a phone call to his second in command to take care of it, then it's not surprising that this sense of entitlement to commit crimes without paying the consequences might trickle on down into the ranks to some individuals. Complaints have also been raised about the dearth of leadership in the police department particularly in the past several years. Complaints from community leaders that they don't know who to contact anymore. A sense that the upper level is crumbling and that the department's rudderless. Complaints that promotions of women and male African-Americans into supervision or management stopped after the dissolution of the consent decree with the State Attorney General's office. Complaints that there's serious staffing issues including at the supervisory ranks. Complaints that the department got into trouble after the dissolution of its five-year consent decree. Complaints that the problems began before that point.

And then there's that issue of the covering up of a crime committed by Leach by others in his department and possibly in City Hall as well. Leach said that there was no cover up involved in a case where he had driven drunk and then was sent home without a field sobriety test or a citation. Two patrol officers who stopped Leach had told California Highway Patrol officers that they had noticed "objective" signs of alcohol intoxication in their boss. The two of them then called for a DUI expert, Sgt. Frank Orta to assist them and then he wrote a report after the fact that it had been nothing more than a "traffic collision" to be "filed" away. A report devoid of any real mention of alcohol intoxication being considered and zero mention of any DUI investigation being conducted, let alone a field sobriety test. Apparently the public is supposed to swallow that this doesn't imply a cover up if it's intended to be kept hidden from the public not so much that a crime occurred but how it was handled by those who were trusted to enforce the law equally.

Then the handling of the situation which deviated greatly from how DUIs are handled involving mere city residents and how the same officers handled a similar situation only two weeks later (where they investigated the DUI and took the person to jail). And was there any public notification that this double standard existed between how Leach was treated as opposed to how other city residents were treated? Is Leach really so filled with entitlement from his position that he doesn't find anything wrong with him getting a trip home without an investigation and other city residents getting a trip to jail handcuffed in the back seat of a squad car? The irony, is that he could have probably survived a DUI even a DUI accident as a misdemeanor conviction for DUI doesn't usually end an officer's career. What his job couldn't survive were the actions taken by himself and others to keep from being held accountable under the law as other individuals would have been.

Leach's is correct that there wasn't a cover up of the incident but that's not from lack of trying and he didn't address or mention any of the alleged incidents involving prior stops by law enforcement agencies including his own and rides he received home from his command staff including one alleged incident where he had called one of his command staff members late at night from a desert town in San Bernardino County for a ride. If there were indeed prior incidents, the public clearly wasn't in the loop that the police chief who had been taping public service announcements including one before Super Bowl Sunday not to drink and drive wasn't including himself in his own admonition. The public only discovered any information about this incident because individuals who found out about it refused to keep quiet. That's the only thing that was hopeful about the whole mess was that there were individuals who tried to stop the cover up from really taking any root. But then they seemed to be viewed more harshly by the city management than those who actually tried to keep Leach's conduct under wraps. Yes, Leach's decision to mix "binge drinking" with prescription might be viewed as a serious "mistake" (though it appears there's quite a few "mistakes") but the actions to cover it up and protect him from being arrested and prosecuted were very deliberate by those who participated in those acts.

The department had made great strides since the late 1990s due to the hard work of people in the department and in the communities and after about $26 million had been spent undoing over a decade of damage and neglect. And Leach could have left with a worthy legacy as having brought it down a difficult path, during one of the most trying periods in the city's history. But what he did is that he betrayed it instead, including when he and others who participated in this "preferential treatment" as it's called remained silent about it for months (and still remain silent) while the public's rage was focused on two patrol officers who quickly handed the scene off to their supervisor and then were sent elsewhere. For a police chief who was hired to push for accountability inside a police department, he ended his career by trying to dodge it at the expense of some of those he was encharged to lead and others he was hired to serve and protect. And the price that his agency and city residents paid for those actions is only beginning to be calculated. Not that you can put a price tag on everything, how do you do that with the tremendous loss of public trust in a police department that had worked hard 10 years to gain that back?

During much of his career in Riverside, there were allegations of misconduct within its highest levels, including a letter allegedly sent by a former command staff member that was sent to the city council and mayor in December 2005 before Leach's first five-year contract went before the city council for a vote. Many more allegations would follow and they would remain held secret by the department and City Hall as the police department appeared to look fine on the surface but had begun to decay within. And now, the repercussions of just that are playing themselves out as time passes and careers that looked like they were filled with steam begin instead to wind down.

In the wake of his Feb. 8 DUI accident and traffic stop, the police department has seen the career of Acting Chief John DeLaRosa on the ropes after the release of his cell phone records tied him to the handling or mishandling of the traffic stop. Not long after that, Deputy Chief Pete Esquivel filed for his retirement papers after more than 30 years in the department allegedly after the Internal Affairs Division opened several investigations on him. As for the rest of the command staff particularly those at the highest ranks, it's not clear how long they will be hanging around particularly those who have reached or passed their retirement ages, which is about half of them.

The most senior of them, Capt. Mike Blakely has apparently kept himself quite busy and quite happily so, serving as the agency's de facto chief in the wake of DeLaRosa's withdrawal from public appearances in recent weeks.

And so the house that City Hall built is experiencing the crisis created due to the foundation it had been built upon, which will ultimately collapse and need to be rebuilt hopefully into something much healthier. But for that to happen, major changes would have to happen inside City Hall first. You need a city manager whose office doesn't micromanage city departments including the police department. You would need to have the city council hold their own employees accountable especially when they are less than honest with their "bosses" on the dais. What the city residents are learning so far is that the city council doesn't like to lead. It as a legislative body likes to follow, like the tail wagging the dog. Leach discusses the "Seventh Floor" politics in terms that are self-contradictory in terms of the relationship between the top of City Hall's own command structure and that inside the RPD.

He worries that a new police chief could be micromanaged by the city manager's office or anyone else on the "Seventh Floor". Yet he denies that he himself was controlled at all by City Hall because he had been hired by a prior administration which then makes you wonder again why he's so concerned that his successor wouldn't have autonomy. But Leach muses about the issue anyway.


"I wonder what kind of freedom the person is going to have; what kind of autonomy they're going to have," Leach said Thursday in a wide-ranging interview with The Press-Enterprise's editorial board. "I have my doubts."

If he himself hadn't been hamstrung during his own tenure, then what would there be to be concerned about that happening to the next in line? If he had been truly autonomous, why would the issue even come up as being worthy of questioning whether or not it would be an issue for a police chief in this city? If he had truly been autonomous, wouldn't his response had been more along the lines, with how this new police chief's going to be able to be independent of City Hall influences? So if Leach had intended to refute allegations made the past several years by a wide variety of people including most recently the Eastside Think Tank, then he should have not put contradictory statements together in the same interview. But he continues doing just that probably not by intention.

"I'm anxious about how they're going to bring somebody in and what they'll be able to do," Leach said. Referring to the location of City Council and city management offices, he said, "I don't want the seventh floor (of City Hall) to change or alter the good things that have happened within this Police Department."

Again, it's interesting to raise this concern of over involvement by City Hall or its "Seventh Floor" in the police department if Leach truly was as autonomous as he seems to be saying and was never hamstrung. Again, why even mention the "Seventh Floor" and any involvement it may or may not have in the police department, because the "Seventh Floor" means City Manager Brad Hudson, his staff and the elected officials who make up Riverside's city government. But fortunately for Leach, he's made his comments about himself not being micromanaged even as he's concerned about his successor because there's a series of blog postings which will be titled, The House that City Hall Built that will hopefully clarify the situation in a somewhat less than ambiguous fashion.

One of the most interesting comments made by Leach is his reference to what he called "internal bickering" about the promotional process and how that has been taken out on the streets. But what he doesn't mention are changes that have taken place involving the promotional processes at the supervisory ranks and above in the past several years, first at the upper management level including captains and then at both the lieutenant and sergeant levels. The process beginning with upper management was changed so that it put more power in the hands of the promoter and less on the person undergoing the promotional process. And as the power enjoyed by the promoter increased, more individuals outside the police department became interested and wanted to involve themselves in that process. That led to the majority of promotions at the captain's level and higher being decided not within the police department through an inhouse process and evaluation system but by elements inside City Hall, who more likely than not either instituted these changes in the promotional process or pushed for them.

Similar changes were then made involving the lieutenant rank and then that involving sergeants. For example, the last two promotions off of the lieutenant's "list" were Andy Flores who was ranked at #6 and before him, Leon Phillips who was ranked #11 and promoted in July 2008. Candidates for promotion including at the highest levels saw what was going on around them and who was getting what, when. So some of them realized that an integral part of the promotional process was self-promotion of one's position to try to land an elusive spot and as a natural extension of that, also not pissing off the wrong person to jeopardize their positioning for a promotion. The problems of this evolving process were expanded when more and more individuals including those inside City Hall wanted in on the promotional process.

The adverse impact of this increasingly politicized promotional process is that it would most likely increase any internal bickering that would be taking place between candidates on the affected lists and any of their supporters. It would also trickle down into the other ranks leaving even those applying to be on the detectives' list (which so far operates under its standard process) worried that their "politics" will harm their chances of moving up through the ranks. There's always going to be competitiveness taking place when promotions are involved because that's the nature of any situation where demand of those wanting the position far exceeds the supply of available positions but changes that the majority of the promotional processes have experienced in the past several years can only amplify that situation. It would also serve to increase levels of suspicion between people competing for those spots that so-and-so is getting the position that's open simply because they are better at lobbying the growing cast of those involved in the promotional processes.

On April 20, this promotional system was set to go on trial inside the U.S. District Court, along with other allegations of mistreatment and serious problems inside a police department allegedly run by City Hall. After the Eastside Think Tank took the city to task via press release complaining of this micromanagement, Mayor Ron Loveridge called their allegations and any asserting that micromanagement was taking place, "fiction". However, the same day that Loveridge made those comments, the city council and Loveridge were in the process of finalizing their involvement in the settlement stemming from the lawsuit filed by two former lieutenants, Tim Bacon and Darryl Hurt. Doing so on the eve of trial, meaning that the city had already spent a good portion of the money it would spend litigating it, that is if it won at trial. But if it lost, then the costs would be much higher. Settling the case from the city's standpoint kind of nullifies City Attorney Gregory Priamos' long standing stance that the city settles lawsuits to save the taxpayers' money from the "cost of litigation" which in itself is fiction. It only saves the city money to settle if the city's likely to lose the case at trial and the city anticipating such an outcome, settles a case to save money. If the city takes a case to trial and wins, it's eligible in many cases to seek a return on its legal expenses, which is why the city often issues warning letters to plaintiffs of how it will do so if the plaintiffs lose at trial or win a verdict smaller than the maximum settlement offer.

But Leach fully participated in this promotional system even if he might not have initiated it. And at the captain's level, his promotional decisions were greatly minimized by Hudson being the first city manager in recent memory to use the "final say" provision in the city's charter for promotions by department heads including Leach. And it appears that this veto of sorts was used by Hudson through his assistant city manager, Tom DeSantis at least once involving a promotion within the upper echelon of the police department. It's also probable that at least three and probably more promotions at the highest levels weren't made by Leach. And of the two candidates that Leach did forward at that level, neither was a sure thing but each faced difficulties in reaching that level which were different from each other but both tied to City Hall. Put all of this together and what is left is a command staff that wasn't built by Leach at all, but essentially by City Hall. So what was Leach saying about not being hamstrung again? Because what's a chief's freedom and autonomy, if he or she can't promote those closest to his or her level?

The charter might provide a means for the city manager's office to involve itself in the "final say" of promotional processes and Leach himself said that when he contested promotional decisions by the city manager's office, that this office waved the charter in his face. Some people might definitely call that being hamstrung at least at the upper management level and some people might definitely say that a promotional process like this one might increase any internal bickering that would be taking place. It's pretty clear at this point that the changes instituted at City Hall addressing this level of promotions probably has been detrimental to the police department. And the city's in the position of having the outcome of this treatment by City Hall, being investigated in secrecy by those at least partially responsible for what went wrong even before Leach drank too much and then went driving around Riverside.

If there's indeed any crumbling going up on top of the chain of command (not including Hudson who considers himself at the top of it), then this promotional process would be one major reason why. Because what happens is you have people who are so focused on what they have to do to advance that they don't focus on developing their management skills, and the skills that they use to advance aren't the skills they need to draw upon when they make it. This promotional process encourages the enrichment and proliferation of some less than desirable skills over those which are more important for healthy management. It left the department with a management staff that didn't really know what it was supposed to be doing when things fell apart at the very top. The department's management staff had individuals with poor communication skills who don't realize that relying on emailing to delegate responsibilities and provide feedback isn't going to be effective as one on one talking or that engaging in deal making to jump ahead of your development curve is going to create problems down the line. One of the goals of reforming the department had been to build a business-like culture in management and it's certainly heading in the direction of being as ruthless as one. Probably a side-effect that wasn't intended by the authors of the reform mandate.

It's no coincidence that the only member of the management staff to hit the ground running during this crisis is the most senior member who didn't ascend through the same promotional process as everyone else. The one who spent the most time at this level, the one who had been dropped in rank (having previously been an "at will" deputy chief) and stayed in one assignment for several years that positioned him to jump into where he's at, which is currently leading the department. If there's going to be a vacuum of power created by the ouster of a chief and the retreat or retirements of the immediate subordinates, then the mostly highly motivated and best positioned individual for better or for worse is going to fill it. And everyone else at his level might bicker and complain about it, but they really won't be able to do much about it because they lack the real confidence to take any position themselves. When management promotions become more about who you can lobby into your corner and who you need to smooth things over with first, that's not exactly a confidence builder in one's own management skills, let alone any sense of leadership ability. But it will be interesting to see what happens to the management and command staff levels when the new chief arrives. Of course, that goes back again to the autonomy level and how Leach wasn't "hamstrung" but his successor might be?

Some have said that this dynamic in the management staff contributed to the relatively high number of arrests and prosecutions of officers within the department. At minimum, the department has an arrest rate of 1 per 80 officers (not counting Leach) which is higher than the national average. That there wasn't enough leadership or supervision at top to really keep behavioral expectations high. Lending some support to that argument of course, was the "arrest" and conviction of its top leader for DUI which doesn't exactly send the right message especially since attempts were made at the top to cover it up as allegedly had been done in the past. If that's the case, it's likely that enough people inhouse knew about them for some of them to think, if he can't keep his behavioral standards high, why should everyone below him hold those same expectations? Also the added stress created by this system among those under it would probably be a contributing factor.

Leach also talked about related topics involving the police department particularly his last several years at its helm. About how far he believes the department needs to go to improve itself and about racism and sexism that still remains even after he had been at its helm for 10 years.


"There are still obvious cases of racism," he said. "Obvious cases of sexism."

It's ironic that the latter statement was made by a person who frequents topless bars where women are objectified to earn a paycheck. But anyway, it's not clear from his statement what exactly those problems were, and are and if they exist, why is that the case after he had been leading the agency for nearly 10 years. Because the chief is supposed to set the tone for whether or not racism and sexism are tolerated. It's a bit hard to see it coming out of City Hall where meetings with city employers and developers still involve sexist humor and racial comments are still coming up in meetings at City Hall. Where older women are pretty much chased out of the workplace in this city and replaced with younger ones. It's hard to be able to settle down to any business about cleaning up any such climates at the police department unless a serious look is taken at City Hall where a legislative aide to an elected official regarded to a woman as the "biggest bitch around" upsetting one witness enough to write a letter of complaint about it to the council member. City Hall will only become as much of a professional environment as it's expected to be at its very top.

Several individuals in the past five years who complained of racism and sexism in the workplace at the police department were terminated, including a female probational officer who actually had complained about being sexually harassed while attending the Ben Clark Police Academy which is currently run by the Riverside County Sheriff's Department. However, the lawsuit she filed targeted the Riverside Police Department which had hired her for defamation of character after the department had sent two officers to the Academy to warn her not to go through with her sexual harassment complaint because the department was unhappy about it and with her. She graduated well within the top third of her class and survived two weeks of orientation at the department before being fired the very first day she showed up to receive her field training assignment.

One can deduce easily enough that this probational officer was possibly fired because the department's management didn't want a female officer with a sexual harassment complaint on her record coming into their field training program or its ranks. Is that the truth? Well, it's really difficult to say for sure because the city and the probational officer came to some form of settlement behind closed doors and then she filed to dismiss the lawsuit. The racial profiling lawsuit filed by a Los Angeles Police Department was also settled behind closed doors within two years of being filed.

Leach talks about being disconnected from the department while it was undergoing some of the major problems which had threatened the progress of its reform including budgetary cuts of positions of both civilian employees and officers including at the supervisory levels. The increase in lawsuits and the arrests of the department's employees. And he became disengaged from the department while it was slipping into the crisis mode where it wound up because of actions taken by him including on Feb. 8 and everything came to a head. He ultimately left the department as uncertain about its future as it had been when he first arrived nearly a decade ago. Left it without a leader and a deteriorating command structure after having been micromanaged to the bone, by various characters at City Hall.

Left to find its way once again.

Press Enterprise Columnist Dan Bernstein addresses the issue of why Riverside County Sheriff Stan Sniff is telling people to reelect him. Actually, Sniff wasn't elected sheriff, he was appointed by the Board of Supervisors albeit by a narrow margin.

The San Bernardino County District Attorney's office is getting mighty impatient about the Colonies Partners probe.

Menifee's not been a city that long but already its city management is imploding and he's resigning.

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