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

Monday, November 29, 2010

Chief Sergio Diaz Vs the 'Cheeto' Brigade

[Riverside Police Chief Sergio Diaz objects to the online commenters on the Press Enterprise Web site who criticized the tactics of deceased officer, Ryan Bonominio.]

Riverside Police Chief Sergio Diaz expressed his displeasure at online comments made criticizing tactics used in relation to the killing of one of his officers, Ryan Bonaminio who responded to his last radio call on Nov. 7. Hundreds of comments were written in response to the article, most of them deleted by the Press Enterprise which also posted unprecedented administrative warnings on content within the comment thread the kind an action not taken when commenters demean women who have been killed or raped including Norma Lopez or racial and gender slurs are used in postings. Diaz, a Cuban-American, himself was initially labeled as a Mexican who would turn Riverside into a Sanctuary City after his hiring by the city and before he had even started working as the newest police chief. Meaning that he was labeled based on his last name and where he had worked previously with a stereotype before he had even arrived.

And Diaz responded to the latest round of comments by throwing out a label of his own.


Those online critics "sitting at home eating Cheetos in their underwear," Diaz said, may know little about police work and not understand all the variables in the case but don't hesitate to question the officer's decisions.

"I have to laugh, but it's an angry laugh, when I read some of the comments, (like) 'Well, if Officer Bonaminio had followed procedure...'" Diaz said.

"There's no academy class that says if you're in a one-officer car and it's 10 o'clock at night and you encounter a hit-and-run driver, this is what you do."

The comment seems to be geared towards individuals who criticized the tactics used by Bonaminio most markedly when he responded alone to a pursuit of suspect Earl Ellis Green into Fairmount Park where he allegedly fell on a slippery pavement and then was attacked by Green who shot and killed him by the officer's own gun before taking off with it. People on the site argued whether he should have gone in to the park after Green after Green fled a traffic stop of what turned out to be a stolen truck cab involved in an earlier hit and run or whether he should have waited for backup. Whether or not he should have been patrolling by himself at night, whether there's a "procedure" or not involving such stops and pursuits, or whether there's an unwritten rule (or not) not to run into Fairmount Park alone at night as officers.

Interestingly enough, other highly insensitive comments made against Bonaminio by anonymous commenters apparently weren't included in his criticism. Which makes it appear as if the criticisms not necessarily the intent behind the commenting is what galvanized his public response.

These issues have been discussed in other venues and including by law enforcement officers from other agencies as is not uncommon after a highly charged and tragic incident involving a loss of life. Maybe some of it is second guessing, or what's called "Monday morning quarterbacking" but a lot of that discussion is tinged with sadness and the sense of wishing the past had turned out differently as much as anything else. Including some of it on the Press Enterprise site.

There's a sense of loss and the futility of second guessing life itself before it happens that fuels some of these discussions and that's difficult to get around. That's what has dominated discussions in many places including on the newspaper's comment threads which Diaz says he reads because he's interested in learning more about the public sentiment involving his department and perhaps himself as well. Not to mention that a fair number of comments clearly come from inhouse on many articles in relation to the department.

Diaz was clearly frustrated by the commenting and that's understandable given a lot of the content and the criticism of the actions of an officer who can't respond to them. The department including Diaz has said in press conferences that much is known about what happened in the final moments of Bonaminio's life thanks to eye witness accounts and other evidence not to mention that the face of his alleged killer was caught on the dash cam of his squad car both leaving and coming back to the stolen truck. But what can never be known was what Bonaminio was thinking, what was running through his mind during the incident because he's unable to relate that to anyone. A lot of people have guessed and tried to explain that for him but the truth will never be known about what he was thinking or feeling, while responding to the call, deciding to chase the guy or facing a man who had his gun.

There's been some errors posted that he shouldn't have gone after someone feeling from a stolen vehicle but it's not clear whether the vehicle had been reported stolen at any point beforehand to the officers on duty and it is known that the license plates of the truck were not placed on the back of it so the plates couldn't be run through KLETS. All that was known was that it had been reportedly involved in a hit and run accident a short distance away, a little bit earlier in the night. Bonamino had called for backup before running into the park, and the backup officers were arriving, as the window of time between the departure of Green in the truck and the officers' arrival was about a minute or less.

But Diaz words of criticism or of "angry laughs" towards a group he said was sitting in its underwear eating cheetos isn't likely to really move them or encourage them to change their behavior or their posts. Instead, he's probably made them more likely to respond in kind in the future now that they know he's reading and that they have his attention. Some members of this crowd don't care what they're labeled or whether the attention they attract is negative or positive. And shaming them by attributing a stereotype isn't going to stop them from commenting either after some of them stop laughing about it. angrily or otherwise.

I received some interesting responses about the article, which surprised many with its publication because even though it's titled to address questions being raised by individuals including the commenters about the fatal shooting of an officer by a man who's been charged with capital murder, it's mostly geared towards Diaz' reaction to online commenters. And most of them likely are not members of Diaz' chitos brigade but are asking questions about whether or not some of what the critics have said have struck a chord inside of him or whether this is indicative of how he handles criticism of other forms as well and in other forums. Being a police chief including in difficult times is a challenging profession and part of it is facing critics of all kinds.

Diaz came into the Riverside Police Department on the heels of a chief who was prosecuted and convicted of drunk driving charge and after revelations of how that incident was handled inhouse came out, not to mention other controversies including the guns, badges and cold plates scandals. Other serious issues await in the wings in relation to a period of the city's history when apparently people in the position of authority in management and perhaps in elected office abused or misused that authority. It's a difficult task that he fared and many people are still watching and waiting to see how he will make his mark and what kind of chief he will prove to be, not to mention the roles that will be played by his cabinet, two out of three coming from outside the department. As with most chiefs who serve as ambassadors and spokes people for their agencies, he will receive compliments and he will receive criticisms and he has to be open enough to accept both.

But what some have asked is how well Diaz will receive criticism outside of the so-called underwearing, chito chomping crowd as the commenters he spoke against have been labeled. Others even those who disagree with the comments themselves have asked, well if I have a criticism or a complaint that I tell him, will he take it seriously or will he figure out a label to call me that's unflattering including in the press? Can he handle that or does he want to surround himself with "yes" people?

Diaz has shown that he can address controversial incidents on his watch including launching an investigation into the alleged incident involving the trashing of a homeless encampment by officers rather than defending their actions the day after the incident takes place. But he's shown that he can stumble in some comments he's made to the press as well as in the case of the comments made by a now-medically retired detective who he had a charged verbal exchange with before making them. He's made himself more available and open to media outlets than the previous chief in his final years when he was pretty much invisible after the controversial appointments of two upper management personnel in March 2007 which was followed shortly after by a hefty salary increase from the city manager's office. But he had been less visible to front line officers in roll call appearances after he made over a dozen promotions to fill vacancies in July. Even as several of those promotions generated controversy themselves.

He's set out to reinstitute abandoned community programs and the Community Services Division which will be headed by Lt. Guy Toussaint and carried out his first promotional testing and listing process with some changes to the lieutenant's level. He's brought in two outside and "at will" management personnel but maintains close ties with former Acting Chief John DeLaRosa who retired not long after his involvement in the mishandling of the Leach DUI incident came to light courtesy of the public release of city-issued cell phone records.

But how will he take criticism if he applies labels to some of his critics? Because that action on a smaller group of people who might be a pain in the butt could ripple out to how others view his ability to really listen and accept criticism and perhaps even look into it and consider action if necessary. He's considering changes to how the DUI grant funded checkpoints are conducted based on feedback he's received including from the community which caught people's attention There's diversity of opinion on issues including those that impact policing in communities and that's really needed to improve operations in the department, to continue and build upon what's positive and works and to improve or fix that which doesn't. Hopefully, Diaz will recognize that particularly from his years spent in the Los Angeles Police Department including commanding the downtown area while recognizing Riverside as its own unique city.

The city's residents including those living in the over 25 neighborhoods in seven wards and four neighborhood policing centers need to feel confident that the new leadership of the police department can accept input both positive and negative. But it goes behind just the residents of the city that need to have this confidence, it includes the over 600 employees both civilian and sworn that Diaz leads who need to have this as well. They need to be able to say what's positive and to applaud what works but more importantly, they need to be able to feel they can freely, openly and safely criticize the department that employs them. The reason why the latter component is more important is because it's the side of dialoguing that's often endangered in many police agencies, many of Riverside's city departments including the police department. Diaz talks about wanting better and more open communication within his own agency but to do that he has to remove the fear and intimidation factor that resides there in connection to criticizing the actions of the department and its leadership. In avenues and channels that don't impact officers' ability to get promotions, special assignments and their careers themselves.

Officers need to be able to criticize actions to their superiors including the police chief without worrying that someone at Orange Street is going to call up someone in Internal Affairs at the downtown bus terminal saying hey, we need to get together and compare notes on this officer who just mouthed off at me, filed litigation or said something else I didn't like. The history of the misuse of Internal Affairs to go after officers who file complaints, grievances and lawsuits is very well documented through litigation from that filed by former Sgt. Christine Keers in 1996 to the lawsuit filed by Officer Roger Sutton in 2001 to the dual lawsuits filed by two lieutenants several years ago. Of these lawsuits, two received pretty large settlements, the other a $1.64 million jury's verdict in a trial where both jurors and the presiding judge said the strongest case was made against the department concerning retaliatory action against Sutton. So the city has paid a lot of money in these cases and perhaps because it's settled so many lawsuits filed against it, it's now "self-insured". So the retaliation against officers and other employees who criticize their agencies or file complaints against them has proven to be expensive for city coffers, enough for the leaders to sit up and take notice that creating an environment of fear and intimidation inside many city departments doesn't help the city and it might prove to be expensive in different ways including financially in the long run.

The article also included different police practices experts responding including Ray Martinelli a former law enforcement officer who happens to be one of the investigators on retainer by the city manager's office involving the Community Police Review Commission. The police department itself is expected to review the tragic incident as part of its practice of analyzing critical incidents involving its officers. It's not clear whether any changes in policy, training or tactics including deployment of officers would be made or in what form since that process is highly internalized. But in order to do an analysis that worthy of the officer who lost his life, that really tries to look at it objectively and if necessary, to make a difference for future officers, that means asking some hard questions and perhaps finding more difficult answers. That's just the nature of these types of procedures and the police department's used them well in the past to implement some serious improvements in the department including procuring of equipment, implementation of new training (and for several years, the police department's officers received more training than those in many other agencies) and even hiring more officers.

But it involves allowing and even encouraging an environment where different opinions of those doing the analysis can be heard and accepted, including the more difficult ones.

Diaz mentions that his former haunt the Los Angeles Police Department uses two-man officers mainly at night and in high-crime areas but it's rare to see single officer cars in L.A. at any time of day in different areas including the Westside. The only time I saw a one-officer squad car during my recent trip was a officer responding to a 911 call I made around Third and Oxnard of an accident involving injuries to different parties. L.A. like Riverside's a highly horizontal city over most of its acreage and has about 10,000 officers after a hiring drive by former chief, William Bratton. It traditionally has had a higher resident to officer ratio including 426 to 1 in 2005. So the LAPD is different than Riverside's own department but these issues will probably continue to be raised and debated and discussed which isn't necessarily a bad thing at all. If you're going to as chief ask city residents to be engaged in their department, "OurPD" then you've got to take the criticism along with the compliments and do your best to head the department in the best direction for its future development. Because not everyone who criticizes even likes chitos.

Ethics Complaint Against Councilman Steve Adams to be Heard

[Riverside City Councilman Steve Adams will have an ethics complaint filed against him heard by his panel of peers on Dec. 7]

The complaint filed against Councilman Steve Adams by the La Sierra Arlanza Neighborhood Alliance alleging administrative interference which would constitute a violation of the city's charter will be heard by the Mayor's Nomination and Screening Committee on Tuesday, Dec. 7 at 10 a.m. in the Mayor's Ceremonial Room at City Hall. There was some protest that the earlier dates had put it during the day when many people couldn't attend and City Hall's response was to put it earlier in the day in the morning. Since Adams sits on the committee, Councilwoman Nancy Hart has been approved by the city council as sitting in on the complaint hearing in his stead.

Fox Guarding the Henhouse

[The Mayor's Nomination and Screening Committee will hear Councilman Steve Adams' (center) ethics complaint on Dec. 7 and will exonerate him no doubt adding to its pristine record doing so.]

The process of having a city council staffed committee led by Mayor Ron Loveridge hear and decide on an ethics complaint against an elected official was one that it seemed that only those who actually are elected officials trusted and believed to have integrity. But the public's will finally won out as the city government's own ethics review committee included in its recommendations to have an independent and separate panel of non-elected officials receive complaints leaving any disputed findings to go back to the city council. With an election year coming up after the Year of Scandals, it's interesting to watch how elected officials could first vote to rescind the so-called "24/7 language" from the code itself and then go for this independent panel, some of them kicking and screaming granted.

But these issues matter to the public who've been reading about the travails of Riverside's power structure during the past year not to mention hearing and reading about what's been going on in Bell, California's capitol of corruption this year from the very evil media. More have been vocal about what they wanted including in a ward survey conducted by Councilman Paul Davis.

Still City Hall has to address the issue of complaints, the majority of them, either getting sidetracked to City Attorney Gregory Priamos or City Manager Brad Hudson as happened to a recent complaint filed against Adams, again for administrative interference this time involving promotions made at the highest level of the police department.

Riverside's City Hall kicks off its venture as a hotel owner when construction of the new Hyatt begins and it also wants to run a state owned park within its boarders.

First the gates have been closed, now they shall be closed as decided by City Hall in recent weeks.

K9 officers get themselves some armor and Hemet Police Department in light of recent attacks gets reinforcement as well.

Riverside Sets Deadline for Applying to Boards and Commissions

That deadline is going to be Dec. 15 for the public to apply to fill any current or upcoming vacancies on the city's boards and commissions. What struck as a bit odd was the openings made available to residents of Ward One for both the Community Police Review Commission and Human Resources Board given that the former already had three out of nine positions filled by Ward One residents and the latter already has members from Ward One too. But that's because the terms are coming up for expiration in 2011 with one being ward representative and the others citywide positions. If it's a first term, then the commissioners have the option of applying for renewal which will be evaluated through the Mayor's Nomination and Screening Committee along with the applicants for all the board and commission vacancies. But others like CPRC Commissioner Brian Pearcy will be terming out.

The applicants and their information will be forwarded to the Mayor's Nomination and Screening Committee which will engage in an exercise of sifting through the applications and then asking each other, "do you know this person", and making their decision rather or not to consider them usually based on that. For the Planning Commission, the Board of Public Utilities and the CPRC, the applicants will be interviewed by the full city council and appointed through a public vote.

Applying is encouraged especially in underrepresented wards but it should be known that this process is often highly political and often still it comes down to who knows who on the city council and more importantly, vice versa.

RPD to Conduct Two More Strategic Plan Forums in December

Two more Strategic Plan public forums will be conducted by the police department in December to solicit information from city residents which will be part of the process to create the police department's next five-year Strategic Plan. The department has also been surveying its own employees as well.

Central NPC


December 2, 2010 7:00 PM

California School for the Deaf – Social Hall

3044 Horace Street


December 6, 2010 7:00 PM

Nichols Park – Multi Purpose Room

5505 Dewey Avenue

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Monday, November 22, 2010

Where Bell Goes, So Does Riverside and That Elusive "It" Factor

UPDATE: Not long ago, it was blogged here about the city putting out a job description for a new library director on its jobs site but now it's official, the city's current director, Leonard Hernandez is leaving.

[Riverside Police Chief Sergio Diaz oversaw the promotional testing process for the first time...and there's been changes.]

The "It" factor: A More Mathematical Approach

The very short lived reality show about the elusive search for "It".

Is Paris Hilton "it"?.

Is this "It"? ----unfortunately this link can't be posted because this is a family oriented site but yes, there are some that "It" is something found in a select representation of the population sharing some commonalities.

"Never play checkers when the game is chess"

---Source, unknown

The Riverside Police Department has completed its promotional testing process for both sergeants and lieutenants after a two tiered testing process. The candidates for both positions took their written tests and then moved onto oral panels. The lieutenant's process had changed so that instead of two separate panels comprised of a panel of high ranking officers from other agencies and a panel of community leaders, the department opted for something different this time. Instead, the two panels which each encompassed a third of the overall score, were merged into a panel with equal representation of each including one member of the Human Resources Board.

The interview process of the 12 candidates who passed the written exam took up an entire day's worth of time and then the process was done between the upper management of the police department and the Human Resources Department. The sergeant's process remained the same involving a list of numerically ranked individuals but things went differently this time around for the lieutenants.

Instead of using numerical ranking, the lieutenant's process was heavily rumored to have eliminated numerical ranking for the list that will be posted by the end of this month. In the past eight months, the lists had come from behind closed doors and had been brought to light and a grievance claim had been filed against the city by a lieutenant's candidate who alleged racial discrimination in the promotional process and selection. That claim most likely will continue as formally filed civil litigation. But the change in practices has turned heads with the conversion to the A,B and C banded system. And this time around, there were only two candidates who qualified under A band and another eight under B band with the remaining two under C band.

It will be interesting to see how the top candidates who remained on the list that recently expired have fared this time around including two female candidates who were in the top three last time, with at least one of them having qualified under the A band this time around, not to mention an African-American candidate who ranked fourth last time.

Off the last list, there were five promotions made with two being in the top five, two being in the middle third and one being in the bottom third. So that's led some to think that the list itself isn't really worth much unless the listing is alphabetical instead of numerical. For the women, this has been most ironic given that women were traditionally told in earlier years by members of management both past and current that they had to score highly in the testing process to have a chance of being promoted, meaning they had to bring it.

Well three women brought it, placing in the top five of the latest lieutenant's list and of them, only Melissa Bartholomew at #5 was promoted while #3 Lisa Williams and #1 Jaybee Brennan were passed over. Some say because they apparently lacked that "it" factor which sounds more like an ad for a brand of shampoo than a promotional quality, that was more prevalent in the bottom half of the list than its top half. Speculation has been rampant about what exactly this "it" factor has been with this latest list that has now seen two chiefs make selections off of it, including one that had made comments in front of male and female officers that he preferred promoting SWAT officers in his promotions.

Some men were confused by that and the women, well one would guess that they weren't included on that comment made by former acting chief, John DeLaRosa because the SWAT division remains one not inhabited by female officers. But most of the recent promotions on the lieutenant's list and that of the sergeants too came from two places, Special Operations and Personnel and Training which fell under the helm of both DeLaRosa and his mentor, then Capt. Mike Blakely. And DeLaRosa remains fairly tight with Diaz even after his departure, his appearance walking the halls of one field station in recent weeks raised more than a couple of eyebrows.

Although once two females did try out for SWAT positions, and then allegedly found out that the number of upper body exercises like pullups and pushups had been increased the year they tried out for a spot. They probably thought wow, they're holding us to a higher standard because why else raise the bar to pass for the candidates? That's one way to look at it for an optimist, that the women of the RPD are of such high quality, they require more stringent screening to qualify for some special assignments. Why else would the list of qualifying exercises be increased when they went out than they were when only men applied?

The testing process for a special assignment like SWAT should require high standards to get the best qualified people but wasn't the testing already pretty much to that standard to comprise the current and earlier units? If it's already tough why make it more so when the pool applying changes? If the women who try out have to do more upper body exercises to qualify than the men already there, what is really being said here?

Deputy Chief Jeffrey Greer who hails from a long and fairly distinguished career at the Los Angeles Police Department said after being here for about five minutes while attending a community meeting that he was interested in working with women who were "lacking" in the promotional process. There were a couple different ways to read that statement.

[Deputy Chief Jeffrey Greer discussed how he would help fix candidates for promotion where they were "lacking" but didn't elaborate]

It could be read as an offer to create mentorship programs within the department which are sorely needed for many male candidates as well as female. The majority of those interested in promotions were disenfranchised during the past five years, once every person and their dog decided they wanted in on making promotions including denizens at City Hall. When promotions depend on who you drink with, who you party with, who you are essentially down with or go to church with (with one institution holding greatest favor), then yes, most of the people are left out of that system. People with the most game points amassed, the most political favors owed were able in some cases to parlay them to bounce out an original candidate as happened in late 2005 when then Lt. Meredyth Meredith was bounced out of being promoted in favor of another candidate. Sworn testimony by several parties indicated that Councilman Steve Adams had been behind that little bit of intrigue that took place, though she was allegedly promoted after telling then Chief Russ Leach she had consulted an attorney in the matter who had told her she had a case.

[Councilman Steve Adams, a former police officer, was implicated by several individuals in a recently settled lawsuit of vetoing one captain's promotion and having to vet another, and rumor has it that he even made some "suggestions" to the new chief, that apparently weren't taken.]

But the end result was a management promotional process so thoroughly corrupted at the top and what is there to say when it comes down to having City Hall make some of the final decisions involved with kicking some candidates to the curb and making others jump through hoops. It teaches the rest that the tools that make good leaders and managers are a very distant second in importance to the skills needed to get ahead, to put yourself in top consideration. But who you drank with, vacationed with, fished with or worshipped with, might be enough to move yourself up a list with no numbers next to it, but how does that translate to being prepared for management and its responsibilities?

That process became a different type of mentorship than one that is healthy for the department or even inclusive of most of its officers, male or female of all different racial backgrounds. Perhaps Greer's intention given his extensive background in mentoring at the LAPD (not to mention being a card carrying member of that organization's Oscar Joel Bryant Foundation) is trying to bring something positive to the process, to open it up as a more equal playing field for more people who have been essentially shut out of the party and womanizing culture of the RPD. If Greer were interested in tackling the problems that have plagued the promotional process, then more power to him in his efforts.

Because the police department has a huge gap in place between its supervisory ranks and the top management level including the top spot in part due to the lack of mentoring (which requires thinking outside yourself and engaging in cooperation over cutthroat competition) that it's paying for now even as it's left to Diaz and his management step to address that by coming up with a strategy to build the next generation of leaders and managers in the police department. A task that has to begin pretty soon if it hadn't done that already and the development and implementation of the new Strategic Plan might help in this process greatly.

But the more cynical way to read Greer's comment is that he believes that candidates including women failed to get promoted due to something "lacking" them, perhaps that "it" factor that is more often used as a slogan to sell products than sell the promotional process. That certain well, something that can't be articulated in a way that makes sense but is apparently instantly recognizable by the person looking for the next lieutenant or sergeant. Something that apparently is more common in males who rank lower on lists than women who fill the top spots. After all, women led both the sergeants and lieutenants lists last time and one apparently didn't have "it" and the other candidate only apparently obtained "it" when the department had found itself facing pressure for failing to promote a candidate with over 20 years experience, eight in investigations, a diverse portfolio that didn't include discipline, certainly not a prior termination. She had been passed over by men without investigative backgrounds (ironic given that a prior female candidate or two for sergeant was told to be a detective first) including one with a disciplinary record.

But if something's "lacking" then there should be more explanation by Greer or the management team including Diaz as to what that is, what's "lacking" in candidates in the top five of the lieutenant's list that's found at #12. And what will be "lacking" in at least one of the "A" band candidates this time around, who when thrown with a new process still did well with it, especially if it's true that the next lieutenant's promotion takes place as early as a month if the city decides to fill the position that will be vacated by retired lieutenant, Darryl Hurt in January. The department has already announced that it will be reactivating its Community Services Division which apparently will be headed by Lt. Guy Touissant which will leave the Traffic Division without a lieutenant for the third time in less than three years.

Leaving Special Operations Capt. John Carpenter (as happened with his predecessor, John Wallace) with one lieutenant manning his division albeit one with strong administration skills.

But it would be puzzling indeed to hear that the candidates at the top of the lists regardless of race and gender were "lacking" as many of them have struggled to get promoted, including Daniel Hoxmeier who was on the list for some years before his recent promotion. But he had been the highest ranking person at #2 with "it" and he had a stint in communications replacing Sgt. Lisa Williams who had gone back to patrol after her division had gone from being under the chief's office to being under the personnel division instead. Sgt. Jaybee Brennan also left her tripartite job in the chief's office abruptly before the arrival of Diaz but in a strange twist of fate, the department has seen her return to some of those duties including being involved with the Strategic Plan with Asst. Chief Chris Vicino who alternated singling her out for informal references and calling her a "partner" in that process. And in recent weeks, she is not only a field sergeant but has been referred to as the press information officer, a position she held before DeLaRosa was made acting chief, though one living on borrowed time.

Then again any woman recognizes what it means to be called on to do the jobs because you have the experience, but the men still get the credit for the work product at the end of the day or the shift.

But seriously there are a lot of talented men and women in the RPD who should be facing a promotional system that's much better than the ones of times past. It shouldn't come down to these very coyly allusions of some "It" factor without further elaboration or inclusion of this "it" factor in the policies and procedures of the department and city's promotional practices so that every candidate can be educated on the definition of "It" and have an equal opportunity to work towards being very accomplished in "It" and/or have a chance of acquiring. The definition of "It" shouldn't be left to speculation and it shouldn't be the most deciding factor and yet remain unexplained to the masses. And if surgery is truly required to get "It" then that should be explained in the promotional literature as well.

Very strong candidates from different backgrounds have either been left feeling shut out of the process because not only do they not have "It", they are at a loss to explain what "It" is...beyond some vague words about that certain the secret ingredients in Coca Cola except maybe without being kept locked up in a safe somewhere under tight guard or well...that secret ingredient like McDonald's special sauce (hint, it's either thousand island dressing or tomato sauce mixed up with diluted mayonnaise depending on the fast food restaurant) or what gives Herbal Essence shampoo the ability to give extra body to hair. The "It" factor belongs in advertising campaigns to sell products not in a promotional process to pick the department's future leaders and least without someone coming forward and explaining "It" to level playing field. And other great candidates of all backgrounds, male and female, feel discouraged, too much so to even try it at this point which is a shame. But you can't blame folks who don't know if they have the "It" factor which face it is so powerful, it can elevate a candidate from the bottom of the list straight into a promotion.

At any rate, it will be interesting to watch how this all plays out in the weeks and months ahead, because it's part and parcel of doing as Diaz has said is necessary (and he's definitely right about that) which is to build the next generation of leaders and managers, including the police chief that will ultimately replace him. Diaz big task remains rebuilding a better promotional system to replace that which rested on social connections and political favors above all else and to create one that many men and women feel like buying into and participating in as a viable mechanism to rise through the ranks.

Whether he's up to that which might involve a wrestling match with a denizen or two at City Hall not to mention relying less on the RPD's own version of Marley's ghost and being his own leader and manager. Not an easy task in this city by any means.

The department had already finished the testing and listing process for the detectives rank and released that list. And has been collecting information both from the public and from inside its own walls to use to draft the new Strategic Plan which had been moving in fits and starts due to a variety of reasons since its inception in early 2009.

Some interesting feedback has apparently been generated on some of the RPD's cast of characters at the top including the new additions from outside River City who are starting to become woven for better or worse into its fabric with the passage of time.

[Assistant Chief Chris Vicino, shown here while employed by Pasadena Police Department, has started to earn some points with the "troops" even as he gets ready to continue the solicitation of public input for the Strategic Plan this month]

Asst. Chief Chris Vicino has seen his stock steadily rising even as he didn't get his wish and have his office at Lincoln Station instead of with the suits in downtown Riverside. He's very outgoing and jovial if a bit domineering in discourse but the main question remains, how long will be be hanging his holster in Riverside? After all, unlike Diaz, Vicino actually came into the hiring process for the top spot with experience leading a department, twice as an interim while others were hired to fill the permanent spots. The man so clearly wears his heart on his sleeve in that he'd love to have a chief's position some day and one wonders if this job is a stepping stone to a greater dream. If that's the case, well he's going to have to pass some serious tests here to move on up and out if that's his aspiration.

Greer has factored someone less so far that Vicino but that's not entirely his own doing as he's had help from another party as a much speculated about dynamic in the management level of the department has already started, but whether Greer is quick on the updraw remains to be seen and will define his tenure at the RPD. Like Diaz, Greer has a much different style of presentation than Vicino. But being LAPD, he's probably not exactly a lightweight and he approached the job differently than Vicino, with a little less oration and more observation which might serve him well in the long run.

But he has to remember that he's got competition for his position and that the chess players have already placed their pieces into position with Diaz assisting them whether he's aware of it or not and the game's begun.

[Deputy Chief Mike Blakely (l.) apparently didn't fare as well in the officer survey being collected on input for the Strategic Plan as some of the other management team.]

Deputy Chief Mike Blakely had waited over a decade to ascend back to the position that he had arrived to fill in the RPD which when helmed by former Chief Ken Fortier (stronger on administration than people skills) had been invaded some say by higher ranking individuals from the outside even down to the lieutenant level having witnessed the hiring of retired Deputy Chief Dave Dominguez (now chief in Palm Springs) among others.

But when Fortier was forced out of the agency on the heels of Sonny Richardson and before the chess game that led to the outster of Chief Jerry Carroll in 2000. Blakely's the most experienced of the captains by far and he's avoided being elevated in the same way that most of the current roster faced. His work ethic has led the others to play catch up which was more challenging to some than others and he continues to play a large role in the leadership of the police department even under the change of administration. The fact that he's a pivotal force hasn't changed even with the semi-depature of his protegee, DeLaRosa as his chess pieces have all lined up accordingly forming a solid column of leadership throughout the department.

And you have to remember that because of years spent in his particular haunt, he is the expert on this police department including most of its secrets, which can in a city like Riverside be the most powerful commodity at the middle level of management looking up even higher than that.

Blakely was a captain, in investigations and later personnel which oversaw both the Personnel and Training divisions as well as Internal Affairs Division which some say is being used for more than just investigating inhouse and outside complaints against its officers. Not to mention being closely watched in the past year by those assigned the task of overseeing it, to the point of perhaps to levels its own employees might not be aware. That division's assignments had allegedly been heavily influenced by some of the same factors that had been governing promotions under the former regime, which created some of the same problems. Was the division an investigative division to address allegations of misconduct, or did it also engage in acting as some version of the film, Minority Report by predicting patterns of misconduct to be investigated when certain officers had filed claims for damages or lawsuits against the department and city?

If so, that wouldn't be anything new. Allegations of this use of this division or its misuse had been made in a recently settled lawsuit filed by two former lieutenants. One claimed in his lawusit that he had been told that this division had been instructed to find something, anything to form the basis of arresting him. That would have been one of the many issues in the troubling lawsuits that would have been raised at the April 20 trial before the city and lieutenants settled but allegations had been raised by another former and recently medically retired detective that an investigation had first been initiated and then expedited against him for retaliatory reasons. Apparently the roster of deposition witnesses this detective had provided the city including former Asst. City Manager Tom DeSantis with some reason for pause. Enough so that DeSantis had brokered an earlier settlement which he had hoped would be rubber stamped by the city council in a closed session not long before his announced resignation, but the city council had sent it and him packing and tried to get Diaz to involve himself.

Diaz himself made some comments to the press that the detective had done some "very bad things" not elaborating because he had been shielded from doing so ironically by the same confidentiality laws that the detective had fought to protect. But allegedly Diaz and former Chris Lanzillo had some emotionally charged words in front of one of the police stations not long before the press came calling. A board member from the Riverside Police Officers' Association but apparently not its president, Sgt. Cliff Mason had allegedly called Diaz asking him under his capacity as a union leader, what's up with that. Diaz allegedly said that said that it had been a mistake.

But Diaz has also proven to be a powerful speaker and he has shown that he's open to changing practices when people make suggestions, and he's thought about them which is an important quality to be found in a police chief. But it remains to be seen whether he's truly a "reformer" as claimed by his boss, City Manager Brad Hudson who truth be told, probably isn't as warm to that as he claimed, or is he part of a status quo?

The department needs positive change as the last few months have shown, through the shameful actions of some of the most powerful people in Riverside. And it needs a chief with the vision and the independence (and one who's willing to risk pushing for that type of leadership) to do that and a management team committed to that task at least as much or not more than engaging in reinactments of some of Shakesphere's beloved dramas and a tragic comedy or two as well.

Riverside to Fire Bell's Auditor?

Should Riverside seek an independent auditor? That's a question that's being asked and it's long overdue given that it's no secret that the auditing firm that examined Bell's finances and didn't find them wanting has been hired to oversee the same process with Riverside....which has also had audits bordering on perfection. But is that the truth or is that how the truth is being spun, that remains to be seen. But at least the issue is being raised and the appropriate questions are starting to be asked.

[Riverside Councilman Paul Davis advise the city to hire a new independent auditor who reports to the city council not the city manager]

Councilman Paul Davis and Mayor Ron Loveridge have asked for this issue to be examined and that possibly the chief financial officer would report to the city council and mayor and not the city management. Some people like Asst. City Manager Paul Sundeen who provided a pithy response appeared to be taken aback as if this were something very bizarre and had never been done by anyone as one individual with a very short memory averred.

Because before City Manager Brad Hudson came to town and expanded his office's management team this was exactly how business was conducted as former Finance Director Jim Smith and Sundeen who had worked under Smith in the Finance Department before being promoted over him. The Finance Department was independent of city management, a separate entity until it was transferred by the government to being included under the umbrella of Hudson just like other departments like the police department for example. This was back when the city council actually served as a more viable check and balance mechanism for the handling of its primary responsibility, the city's budget.

Riverside had employed as its auditor Mayer Hoffman McCann P.C. to serve as its independent auditor, the same as employed by the scandalized city of Bell. The audit firm did respond to questions about its involvement in that process which is of course to say that everything's fine...even though financial misconduct by most of Bell's leaders, elected and otherwise, led to a series of arrests to round them up for indictment on corruption charges. Riverside and other cities that received oh so perfect audits from that same firm rivaling those high marks received by the likes of Bell should be asking some serious questions about now.

But this provision of the city's charter states that no firm can work longer than five consecutive years which should put this firm out of the running if the city chooses to abide by a charter provision that the large majority of the city's voters passed in November 2004.

Still the city has to prove that its charter, its constitution of law so to speak, is more than just a piece of paper with writing on it.

[Riverside City Manager Brad Hudson was given oversight of the previously independent Finance Department just after arriving and before City Hall launched Riverside Renaissance]

It remains to be seen what if anything will happen to address this situation which in the wake of the crisis that rocked Bell. Important lessons should have been learned from that situation and hopefully Riverside's City Hall has the leadership to tackle this difficult topic which goes against the grain of selling the city as the next cultural and economic jewel of the Inland Empire, region, nation or whatever.

But the city government in piecemeal cheerfully voted away most of its financial accountability mechanisms entrusted to it by the residents of Riverside including those who vote. That included closer oversight over interdepartmental loans or transfers which happened in the wake of news that the city had overextended its sewer fund which had been used as an ATM machine for such borrowing in at least one case to purchase properties on Market Avenue in downtown Riverside under threat of eminent domain so that some developers who donated into the campaigns of several former and current politicans could erect fancier and very empty rental property in the downtown area. Seriously what kind of visionary leadership would promote the construction of new housing especially condos on the eve of the collapse of that market?

Well Riverside of course.

[The Finance Committee didn't meet for almost a year at one time but has met more frequently since breaking that drought on December 2009]

The above photo shows Councilwoman Nancy Hart actually helming a meeting of the city council's Finance Committe which had been stored in mothballs during almost all of 2009 as first Chair Chris MacArthur and then his replacement, Hart had apparently decided to put it on hiatus indefinitely as shown by the dearth of meetings that before Hudson's arrival took place once or twice a month. But the number of times this commitee met begun to drop abruptly after June 2005 when Hudson came aboard and started tinkering with the handling of the city's finances. At least one former chair said that his attempts to put things on the agenda had been blocked by the Seventh Floor and Hart herself said at a public meeting that she only met when city management informed her there was business to discuss.

The freeze that had the Finance Committe in its grip thawed somewhat this year after public pressure about what was up with the meeting drought and some behind the scenes handling forced Hart's hand.

But in the light of what's emerged about Bell and the fact that so much of the changes regarding the handling of the city's finances and the careful shift in both accountability and power from the city government to the city management while mechanisms like the Finance Commmittee essentially fell off the canvas has generated some concern. Not to mention that all of this took place during the perfect audits issued by the firm that the city used the past five years, which incidently or not goes back to about 2005 and 2006, the time period when the city decided to change more than just how it audited its books.

Some links:

Coping with the death of an officer

In 1937, A woman saves the life of an officer.

Fallout generated by the scandal involving some Rialto Police Department officers.

Happy and Safe Thanksgiving Holidays to Everyone!

It took a while to get to Thanksgiving dinner due to some Metrolink problems. Two trains, one from San Bernardino and one from Riverside experienced delays due to mechanical problems causing the train trip from Riverside to Union Station to last over four hours, instead of just under two.

[The passengers from the Riverside train after being ordered to transfer to the train that the Riverside train had just been attached to in order for both of them to make it to Union Station.]

[The conductor of the San Bernardino train talks to a mechanic about the difficulties which prevented the train from working properly.]

Someone forwarded this this interesting comment that mentioned this Web site.


The citizens should not be surprised that the cop killer was black. Over 70% of suspects that have killed RPD cops were all black. While blacks are only about 10% of this cities population. Where's Chani Beeman, Mary Shelton and they Riverside Coalition for Police Accountability now?
Sadly the RPD still has to endure those 'leftist extremists called the ‘Riverside Coalition for Police Accountability.’ They constantly demonize RPD officers when they use force. A police officers primary concern would be to survive, not to be worried about what the critics will say. Will Mary Shelton & her hateful blog make a memorial page for this fine officer as she did for Tyisha Miller the female lesbian gangster that was shot and killed by the police?

To each his own I guess, but hadn't heard from this guy in a while. He's actually much more quieter in person than in his online writings.

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Monday, November 08, 2010

Riverside Lays to Rest One of Its Police Officers

UPDATE: Bad labor news: Riverside ranks as the third worst city to find a job in the country.

UPDATE: Riverside Police Department changes promotional process listing for lieutenants to "banding".

[Some of the thousands of police vehicles from different law enforcement agencies all over the state driving to the Grove Church on Trautwein Blvd.]

[Several thousand people mostly law enforcement officers from different agencies were sitting in the grass outside the church watching the funeral on a big screen.]

[Thousands of law enforcement officers and other folks watched the funeral services of Officer Ryan Bonaminio]

Thousands of family members, friends, law enforcement officers and other folks attended the funeral and burial services of Riverside Police Department Officer Ryan Bonaminio that took place at the Grove Community Church near Orangecrest before his casket was driven to the Riverside National Cemetery for burial alongside other military veterans and their loved ones.

Law enforcement officers arrived in their vehicles and motorcycles from all over the state from Napa to Pasadena, from Long Beach to Hawthorne to Claremont and the Los Angeles Police Department. Long lines of sparkling lights filled the streets of both Alessandro and Trautwein during the procession to get to the church. People watched and took pictures from the side of the streets including by the Mission Grove Plaza as the officers drove by.

All to pay tribute to one of their own who had been killed in the line of duty.

Inside the church, there were over 1200 people sitting in the pews. Outside there were several thousand people sitting in chairs on the grass in rows watching the funeral that took place inside the church. Many others stood on the sides and in the back, holding onto water bottles and programs, after signing the guest books on display. They laughed at some of the stories that Bonaminio's family and friends told during their eulogies and shed some tears as well.

For many it hadn't been the first funeral they had attended this year, some of them driving long miles to get to the church.

Hundreds of people had attended candlelight vigils, both formal and informal last week both at the Orange Street Station and the shrine inside the entrance of Fairmount Park. Many people came together to donate their services to the vigil on Nov. 11 which was very moving to see, from donations of over 1,000 candles to musicians and religious leaders not to mention community members who gathered together to do things like unwrap candles and put up sound systems including an elected official and officers like Sgt. Rene Ramirez who helped get the lighting so the vigil wouldn't be held in the darkness. Soldier Doug Spencer coming home from Iraq and heading straight in his fatigues to the vigil held in memory of his friend where he met his mother who hadn't seen him in a long time.

[Fairmount Park]

Officer Ryan Bonaminio, 27 was a common sight in the area of what's called the Neighborhood Policing Center North, one of the police department's four areas of policing in the city which has been divided into quadrants several years ago. Like many people have said, he always wore a big smile and he seemed impassioned with the career he had chosen for himself. Certainly when describing what he did to so many people that he crossed paths during his life.

I encountered him several times sometimes with other young officers like himself. He looked very young to be an officer and I asked him at least once if he were brand new and he'd smile and say, "No, I've been here three years." or more recently, "No I've been here four years."

That last time was about several weeks before the last radio call he ever answered on the very busy swing shift that he worked just before the graveyard shift came on duty around 10pm.

[Officer Ryan Bonaminio]

Ramona High School 2000

U.S. Army (January 2001-December 2009)

(Nov. 25,1982-Nov. 7, 2010)

"He was my hero..."

---Joseph Bonaminio, father

Bonaminio never saw his fifth year anniversary of being a Riverside Police Department officer which would have been sometime next July around Independence Day.

Instead his life ended not long after an encounter with a killer at Fairmount Park, a locale which had been the scene of the highly controversial Lake Evans in 1997 involving three officers who beat a man and threw him in the lake. It also saw a lot of criminal activity, not to mention controversies involving the homeless who lived there. The park that had been designed by the same visionary, Frederick Law Olmstead who designed Central Park decades ago had a history which extended back over 100 years, both good and bad.

But what it had never claimed before was the life of a police officer.

Its naturalistic environment without much artificial lighting attracted many people of all backgrounds to the park during the day to enjoy themselves in sunshine and surrounded by trees and a picturesque lake that had been the scene of a regatta race involving city council members which had become an annual contest. Cops and Clergy used to hold their quarterly meetings in the boathouse where only recently the paddle boats had been made available for public use and the sailing program had been restored. Festivals and musical concerts were held within the park near the band shell.

Couples married in the rose garden. Senior citizens met to go lawn bowling. Many families go there to barbecue and fish in the lake or to feed the ducks and other waterfowl that congregate there.

But at night, it turned into something different, the same features which made it desirable by day made it difficult at night to feel safe. Darkness, large trees which cast larger shadows and as it turned out, created a killing zone. About a hundred yards or so from where a church stood, was where Bonaminio was found shot by the officers who arrived to back him up. An ambulance then raced him to Riverside Community Hospital where his family would come including his parents and some of his superiors including Chief Sergio Diaz and members of the management team. Physicians declared him medically dead at about 10:25 p.m. though it took several hours for many people to know his fate. But even before that, it had appeared bleak with people talking about him in the past tense even before the official declaration had been issued.

I learned about the shooting not long after it had happened on Sunday, Nov. 7 at 9:52 p.m the time that the digital video recorder filmed his alleged killer returning to the truck that had been stolen from a rental company some miles away and then driving down Market Street apparently back to where he had stolen the truck. The video later became instrumental in generating tips to the police department's detectives and phone banks which ran for 24 hours without stopping until even after the arrest of the suspected killer. A fingerprint was found in the stolen vehicle and an arrest was made at the Target store on Arlington where many people in this city have shopped or worked. Chief Sergio Diaz said to the Press Enterprise that he felt that Bonaminio even after death might have had a finger in the investigation of his murder and maybe he was right.

And on Nov. 16, thousands of people congregated at a church and remembered the life of a young man then said goodbye...for now as some including his sister, Nichole added in their comments.

One person said to me last week, someone from a more religious background, that this had been a year of tribulation for the Riverside Police Department almost as if it were going through a gauntlet to test its faith and resolve. Similar to what religious figures in the Bible faced and that makes as much as anything else in a world that often makes little sense. Because it's hard to look back at last nine months and attach any reason to them, often life just is.

That the department faced two of the most difficult tests that any agency of men and women could ever have to deal with in their midst in a single calendar year. The first six months addressing a crisis that shook the city and the department to the point that today it's under new and outside leadership and by the end of summer, the police department had taken some steps at moving forward into the direction that was more deserving for it than what had led to the crisis that was behind what manifested on Feb. 8. There had been a lot of turmoil, more than most people would have guessed when the new year began but as difficult as it got, there were lights at the end of the tunnel, although the journey to reach them would be arduous indeed. But it was a very important journey as it turned out and it was one the department seemed more than up to taking to get where it needed to be.

As difficult as the first six months were, they were necessary for the department to be what both the city residents and its over 600 employees deserved and had worked hard to achieve before decision making from those higher up placed it off its path. The sobering thing about it for many people was the realization that many of those in leadership positions had been more interested in looking out for themselves and their own interests than the agency of men and women that they were encharged with leading. And the decisions they made to serve those interests impacted many people in this city. Whereas most of the department's employees countered the management's behavior by putting their concern and energy into providing service for others outside of themselves.

When the people who are being led have higher standards of professional conduct than those leading them, that type of situation is always going to reach its crisis point which clearly happened here when their leadership failed them. But it was the people who were led who restored a lot of people's faith in the department though for many the jury is still out on the leadership.

That's what caused the crisis of confidence and conscience that defined the earlier part of this year. And despite attempts by the city to sweep that under the rug, they were working against a department filled with employees who took care in what they did and had pride doing that. That's why the department's in a better position and trying to move forward than it had been eight months ago because those in its ranks cared about it and what it represented to the public. Because the city residents weren't the only ones disgusted by what was unfolding in their midst. The difference between them and many of the employees is that they could express that without paying consequences. After all, the city watched what happened to one former RPD employee who faced off with an acting chief during the roll call session where he and the management staff had dropped by to reinforce the code of silence.

Beneath all the crises involving the top of the police department’s chain of command, were officers at the bottom of the command who continued to do the work of the department despite all the chaos going on around them. Officers like Bonaminio who worked in the neighborhoods and streets of the four neighborhood policing centers doing their jobs, even as the public became very upset about what had been taking place and expressed that in different ways.

The officers at the street level not being as insulated from the furor that was generated earlier this year as a result of decision making at levels much higher above them.

They say that most patrol officers are mainly concerned about personnel at their level and access to functioning equipment and maybe one or two levels above them on the chain of command. Officers in the police department have been working in fewer numbers lately and they had been supervised by fewer sergeants given the large number of vacancies that have not been filled in their ranks due to the budget cuts to the department. Much has been said about why officers in the police department drive one-man cars in contrast to what takes place in other agencies like the Los Angeles Police Department (where both Diaz and Deputy Chief Jeffrey Greer hail from) and the answers have varied from maximizing the geographic area of the growing city covered to budget constraints. Much work had been done by the labor unions to increase the size of the department's operational ranks in the past year which has led to 27 new officer positions and the filling of over 20 vacancies including those in supervision and management through the promotional process. For the officer positions, it will take 2-3 years before the officers who will be hired to fill them will be fully confident in those positions especially if they are new hires who go through the two police academies utilized by the city's police department for recruits.

But they are also the primary responders, the ambassadors in a sense of coming into contact with the public, the ones who kept the department together and running. From talking to many different people of all stripes and walks of life, Bonaminio was a very good ambassador for the department and the city. People remembered him very fondly with a chuckle, some tears and a smile that mirrored his own. While the world was essentially falling apart around him, officers like Bonaminio still came to work their shifts, wear the uniform and the badge and served the public from the time they arrived in roll call to the time they went home. Through his short life, he left a powerful legacy behind that will outlive him including those inside and outside his department for which he served as a role model.

Asst. Chief Chris Vicino who hailed from the Pasadena Police Department (which sent a large contingent to the funeral) went into his initial roll calls and told the field officers to get back to work but they had never left it or stayed away. The work didn’t just resume when he and the other newer members of the police management arrived including the police chief, Diaz because officers like Bonaminio had been out there doing it all along. That's why Diaz was able to say when he first arrived that the department was doing very well in spite of everything that happened, that officers were doing their work in the field and investigators were doing so with their cases. That's why the department functioned in some ways remarkably well considering its management level had collapsed like a house of cards and their staffing levels were greatly reduced leaving the department with a 10% vacancy rate. Because the work kept getting done in very difficult conditions.

The department had been heading towards the other side of its first crisis when the second one happened on Nov. 7. the night it lost one of its own. Now it's undergoing an entirely different kind of crisis to navigate through in the weeks and months ahead, a test of a different kind.

But one word that's often come up when people describe the RPD probably more than most others is "resilient" that it weathers crises that test it and works towards turning them into something positive and lasting. That's a very powerful quality to have and hold onto during the more difficult times of crisis because that's what brings a department to the other side.

Those in leadership positions in the department and City Hall need to take a closer look at that and honor it through the decisions that they make to avoid the mistakes of the past and to move towards a better future by giving it what it needs before it has to really ask for it, by paying close attention to what's going on before the crisis happens. That's the best way to protect and serve a police department that buried one of its own this week.

[A candlelight vigil attracts hundreds of people from different backgrounds but very few of them from City Hall.]

[Elected officials congregate before the press conference at Orange Street station]

[Mayor Ron Loveridge, center, joined by other city and county officials in front of the cameras at a press conference announcing the establishment of a reward.]

[Riverside Police Chief Sergio Diaz giving the update on the investigation into the killing of Officer Ryan Bonaminio]

[Dash Cam video taken from Bonaminio's squad car (foreground)of the alleged suspect in the shooting returning to the stolen truck cab]

[Earl Ellis Green,44 arrested in the murder of Bonaminio]

[Officer Ryan Bonaminio's service gun after it was recovered at one of the locations of the three search warrants issued with 11 rounds left]

[A roadside shrine inside Fairmount Park]

Family and friends recalled his life.

Detectives investigating the murder of one of their own describe that process and their timeline.

Press Enterprise
columnists Dan Bernstein and Cassie MacDuff wrote columns on Bonaminio.

His funeral services will be on Tuesday, Nov. 16 at 10 am at the Grove Community Church with burial at the National Cemetery to follow.

Transportation Committee Meets on the "Gates"

Riverside's Transportation Committee met to discuss the very thorny issue of whether the gates near the aborted Overlook project should be open or close after reviewing this report. This situation originally arose when two different gates were installed while the thoroughfare for Overlook Drive was to be completed but it's pretty clear now that it will never happen so that left the issue of whether the gates should be opened or closed and residents in that area went up to the podium to argue for either point of view. The gates had been ordered closed and locked for a traffic study and environmental impact report but in the past, the locks had been cut and the gates opened by unknown individuals and this issue had sharply divided neighborhoods in the vicinity. People cited safety issues from speeders, vehicles who run stop signs and individuals who play loud music and vandalize one neighborhood.

Chair Steve Adams initially tried to shut down public comment at noon saying that if people were going to say the same thing over and over they should think about that. One man in the middle of the audience stood up and said he was here to speak and was he going to be allowed to speak and Adams relented and allowed all the speakers on the issue to make their comments.

After two hours of testimony, the decision was made for the gates to be opened until at least mid-December and immediate mitigation efforts be made to reduce traffic issues in the Crystal Terrace area.

[A long line of people wait to speak in favor of leaving the gates open and the line of speakers to close them was somewhat shorter.]

[The Transportation Committee with Councilman Paul Davis substituting in for Councilman Andrew Melendrez because this issue involves a portion of the fourth ward he represents.]

[City residents by the dozens sit listening to the report submitted to the Transportation Committee]

[Dozens of city resident attend a meeting on the issue of whether or not the "gates" should be closed or open near the Overlook area.]

Ethics Review Committee Reports to City Council
City Council Discussion Descends into Chaos

[Councilman Steve Adams shifts his position on the recommendation for an independent pane 180 degrees saying only elected officials are suited to hold themselves accountable for ethics violations.]

[Mayor Ron Loveridge finds instructions from City Attorney Gregory Priamos "incomprehensible" in all his years in public service.]

[Councilman Paul Davis wanted the word "discovery" returned to the text of the recommendations.]

[Councilman and 2012 mayoral candidate, Andrew Melendrez found the whole process "ambiguous" and asked for clarification on the motions being voted upon.]

The recommendations of the Ethics Review Committee went straight to the city council from the Governmental Affairs Committee which had approved all of them except for mandating the exclusion of the word "discovery" and replacing it with incident when detailing the 180 day statutory limit for filing complaints under the Ethics Code. The city council tried to do what it did last year which was for some members of the Governmental Affairs Committee to pull reversals in what they had voted to approve at the city council level once they felt sure they had secured the necessary votes to do so from the full city council. This happened with the "24/7" language which was upheld last year but finally struck down this year after some of the four council members up for reelection in 2011 no doubt realized that governmental ethics and anything related to them would be a contentious issue given everything that transpired during the past year.

Individuals from the public spoke as did Chair Brian Pearcy from the Community Police Review Commission on the process carried out by the committee not to mention its outcome in the form of recommendations. Most of the comments appeared to support the panel's recommendations including the creation of an outside panel to hear complaints and the issue of the timeline required in filing them which previously had been only 30 days after the alleged incident took place.

Kevin Dawson who filed a complaint against former Councilman Dom Betro in 2007 that was nullified by the city attorneys' office urged the city council to adopt the recommendations that were originally submitted by the Ethics Review Committee including that which would allow complaints to be filed on allegations of ethical violations a period of time after the "discovery" of that misconduct.

Bob Melsh recommended that Councilman Steve Adams be asked to recuse himself from the discussion because of the ethics complaint pending against him by the La Sierra/Arlanza Neighborhood Alliance for violating the city's charter amendment against administrative interference. That complaint which was originally scheduled for last week was canceled because City Manager Brad Hudson had to suddenly leave town and he was presented as being germane to the hearing process in front of the Mayor's Nomination and Screening Committee as a witness.

Brian Pearcy who chaired the Ethics Review Committee provided a brief summary of the process that the committee underwent during several public meetings and its final work product.

Councilman Steve Adams said he's not recusing himself from the discussion process because there's one thing not covered in this which is those who make complaints for political reasons and violate the process. Adams wanted changes made to the code including the addition of candidates running for political office in those covered by the code so that they're ethical and it should be known if they refuse it. Adams addressed the use of an independent body to discuss complaints by comparing it to the late police officer, Ryan Bonaminio and said that the panel had to have the same kind of integrity that he had. Transparency is shown when candidates undergo scrutiny during the election that elects them into office and he's all for increasing transparency but didn't feel that needed to extend to a review off of the dais.

He quoted the constitution as stating that politicians had to be judged by their peers. Who better to judge the integrity of those elected to office than those who were elected to serve in those positions by the voters? He also said that there are numerous individuals and entities that already oversee the elected officials including the voters. He vowed never to commit any ethical violations of the oath that he took. He proposed a substitute motion to not silence the vote of those who elected them by having an outside panel handle ethics complaints against them, conveniently forgetting that the most an outside panel could recommend is public censure. Throughout his comments, Adams appeared either to misunderstand the ethics complaint process or he just mistated on it through the use of strawman arguments.

City Attorney Gregory Priamos did correct several of his misperceptions and said that the role of the adjudicatory board of the chairs of the boards and commissions would only be advisory and that only the full city council could take any action and only the voters could expel any elected official off the dais.

Adams appeared unmoved and clearly opposed the panel which in this revised edition would be a collective of board and commission chairs similar to what had been appointed to research and recommend on the current code and complaint process.

"We should be judged by our peers," Adams said, meaning elected officials.

His comments did draw some sharp opposition from the city council.

Councilman Paul Davis sharply disagreed saying that the members of the boards and commissions are their constituents too. He thinks that the inclusion of the terminology is appropriate, asking the other elected officials on the dais, what do we have to hide?

He proposes a motion to change the statuatory period of six months to file a complaint after alleged misconduct to include the "discovery" language.

Councilman Mike Gardner thinks that asking the chairs of boards and commissions to serve on the independent panel "is too much to ask" of individuals who might not be comfortable sitting in judgment of elected officials. He was concerned that people would resign from the chair positions or even the boards and commissions themselves if they had to serve in this capacity.

Councilman Chris MacArthur wanted to protect the members of boards and commissions from the community by having them have the right for informal resolution of complaints against them by their respective chairs.

Governmental Affairs Committee Chair Andrew Melendrez said they could send information advising those running for chair positions that serving on this panel would be part of their responsibilities thus alerting them so they could make the decision of whether or not to run for those positions.

Mayor Ron Loveridge supported the recommendations as a "work in progress" but said they had to move forward.

Several elected officials welded motions and substitute motions on just about every part of it, so much so it was difficult to keep them all straight. Davis said that the discovery should remain part of the process because it's pretty basic and simple. He asked why the complaint form wasn't available on the internet at the city's Web site.

Melendrez asked to have Pearcy trot on back to the podium again to talk about the process of instituting discovery in the issue but Loveridge countered him by saying that if one of the amended standing motions had a second, then Pearcy wouldn't have to come up and talk.

Davis motion on discovery is seconded by Gardner but then Adams wants to speak on it citing it as a "brand new motion" and Loveridge and Adams tussle some more on that language. Priamos interrupts them to recite the semantics on how to conduct motions and substitute motions which leads to some degree of confusion and turmoil on the dais.

"I find that just incomprehensible instructions," Loveridge laments, saying that he's been in public service most of his life.

Adams asks for clarification on the term, discovery and all the things that it means which has nothing to do with the fact that some of his own behavior from several years ago only came to light recently due to the city's efforts to keep it from seeing the light of day.

Vote on 180 days after "discovery" and the changes recommended by the ethics panel came to a vote and it passed 4-3 (with Melendrez, a fairly silent Councilman Rusty Bailey and Adams dissenting).

What essentially happened was that the majority of the city council overruled the wishes of the flip-flopped Governmental Affairs Committee. This was quite a victory for the fairly diluted process that came to light during the year which Riverside's City Hall would rather forget but it remains to be seen what happens next especially during the election cycle next year.

Go on trial, so said a San Bernardino County Superior Court Judge to former county assessor, Bill Postmus on his corruption case.

Why did a Menifee councilman-elect torch campaign signs of his opponent?

[The hearse carrying the body of Firefighter Nick Barrios heading down 14th Street after his funeral on Nov. 10.]

Apparently Riverside's looking for a new library director.

Public Meeting

Tuesday, Nov. 16 at 2pm and 6:30pm, the city council will meet at City Hall and discuss this agenda. This agenda includes the city council discussion of the recommendations involving the Ethics Review Committee including the formation of a new independent panel to hear ethics complaints involving elected officials.

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