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, February 17, 2011

Election 2011: Let the Games Begin

UPDATE: Major quake hits Christchurch, New Zealand...65 killed at's safe but their home was badly damaged as was most the city.

[The borders of Sedgwick River which will be offering white water rafting and canoeing soon]

[A car navigates through Sedgwick River, the boundary between the second and third city council wards]

Sedgwick River returned and these photos were emailed to City Manager Brad Hudson, Public Works Director Siobhan Foster and Councilmen Andrew Melendrez and Rusty Bailey whose wards are on opposite sides of this river. One day later, construction crews were out at the site digging up dirt and rubble and conducting repairs.

Every day students attending two schools including Poly High School walk to school and are left to find a route through or around this river anytime it rains more than a few drops. One councilman said that the city is exploring the use of FEMA money to repair the street and storm drain.

The Ghost of Councils Past Returns?

The latest news or rumors going around was that in Riverside, former Ward One Councilman Dom Betro who was defeated by current incumbent, Mike Gardner in 2007 has risen from the ashes to take out papers for the current election. That did turn out to be the case and according to City Clerk Colleen Nichols (who's also the incoming president of the International Association of City Clerks), he did show up Friday morning to pick up his papers at City Hall. Gardner raised the salient point that taking out papers doesn't mean that someone has decided to run as it's only the beginning steps of the process. But rumors had been heavy in recent days that Betro's been making the rounds of soliciting the necessary funds to run for reelection and calling old supporters of his to tell him that he's back in business.

His problem is that some members of his camp have moved on to support other candidates in Election 2011. So he's going to be left scrambling for supporters and even most of the developers who funded his campaign in 2007 are short of money to donate due to the implosion of the construction and new housing markets including in the Inland Empire. One of the city's employment unions has already endorsed Gardner and at least one other historically has endorsed only incumbents. Betro's campaign war chest was much larger than Gardner's in the last election, not that it mattered when the votes were counted and recounted.

So Betro's left with the task of rebuilding and he's got an uphill climb even while he's allegedly tapping into at least one political campaign. One would think that Betro would have joined onto this campaign and played a vital role in stumping for a candidate who politically isn't much different than he has been. But instead he's doing what he does and that's launching his own campaign or at the very least testing those waters to see how warm the temperature is before diving right back in.

But for Yeager, she faces some difficulties as the Betro brigade is allegedly trying to tap into past loyalties of people involved in her campaign and don't be surprised if there are attempts to even derail it to pull over the machine to the Betro camp in the new few weeks. There might be quite a bit of wheeling and dealing going on behind the scenes before the final lineup of candidates for Ward One in Election 2011 is truly known. But Yeager's mettle might be tested before the election season even formally begins.

After all the lineup's not final until the last papers are filed with Nicol's office. And quite a bit of strategy plays into the decision of when to announce candidacies, when to pull papers and when to file, a lot of watching and waiting to see who's going to file first when often the people that are being watched by those waiting in the wings are often doing the same thing.

One elected official said that candidates who challenge incumbents should pull out papers first to put it out there in the open their intentions but of course that's a strategy advantageous to incumbents.

And in the election process in terms of candidates, it's every one out for themselves in what have traditionally been some heated contests to determine who will win a four year lease to hold office at City Hall from the voters and whose lease won't be renewed and instead will be receiving an eviction notice. Some election cycle or some reelection bids by incumbents pass quietly and aren't very eventful while others turn into dog fights and some of those battles start even before the filing date and go up the final rounds of elections in November and even past that as happened with two wards that were contested in 2007 including the first ward.

Maybe Betro's argument for coming back is that he only lost the 2007 by six votes. But the hard truth is that if he had been a successful councilman, then he would have received over 50% of the votes in the preliminary round that ended that June. Instead, he captured less than that portion of the vote and had to go into a runoff with Gardner that autumn. What happened to him in the 2007 election year just doesn't bode well for his chances of success this time around.

Because usually when voters in a district or ward or at large election pink slip a politician then that's usually goodbye. Former President Grover Cleveland did it by his second term of office in 1892 after losing reelection in 1888 but he had actually won the popular vote in 1888 but lost the electoral vote.

Current governor Jerry Brown was reelected nearly 30 years after his second term was finished but hadn't lost a gubernatorial election (though he lost other elections).

So it happens, it's just pretty rare. But would it work for Betro?

For him to win in 2011, he would have to recoup his base from the 2007 and add a portion of voters dissatisfied with Gardner's stint on the council. Can he do it? It's too early to determine but what brought him back into the fray was the same quality that ultimately caused his defeat and that's his attitude. After all, Betro stormed out of at least one forum in a huff, had an ethics complaint filed against him for allegedly threatening a leader of Save-Riverside by telling him he should pray he loses the election and basically losing his cool in public including on the dais. Some say he's learned from his missteps but his reentry into a race and apparent efforts to pull support away from the Yeager campaign would seem to belie that.

Some of his handling of issues have caused him problems during the last cycle including Tesquesquite Park (which he became interested in belatedly in the election cycle) and the impact of threatened eminent domain in down which benefited at least one developer that he received campaign contributions from, not to mention his spearheading the infamous July 2005 motion that when passed, ended the ability of city residents to pull items from the consent calendar for discussion. For a politician who claimed to be about public participation when he first ran that appeared to many people to be quite a turnabout. And Betro had ridden into office after one of the most excitement packed and some say inspirational campaigns in recent history yet some of those who had worked on that campaign were later left supporting other candidates only four years later. But no one squandered a greater opportunity so greatly except perhaps for former Riverside County District Attorney Rod Pacheco who parlayed an uncontested election bid into a very stormy single term in office becoming the first in that office to be voted out in modern history.

It was Betro's office to lose and he pretty much gave it away.

Also running is Dvonne Pitruzzello, so the race for the first ward is off to a very interesting and exciting start and it will be interesting to see how it plays out especially once the filing deadline has passed and everyone knows who's really running. The campaigns, the public forums and for the incumbents, their dais behavior will be very revealing about how the candidacies stack up during the process that four wards will be undergoing this year.

In the last two election cycles, issues such as eminent domain, city parks, the Community Police Review Commission, DHL-Gate and the public utilities multi-tiered electricity rate structure all played pivotal roles.

This time around, DHL is dust in terms of its domestic service, the city's seen new parks but not Tesquesquite, the issues with public utilities will deepen and the CPRC already has influenced the shape of at least one city council race.

But there are four other wards and two of them, those currently represented by Councilmen Rusty Bailey and Chris MacArthur haven't seen anyone file yet. A large chunk of people who recruited and then later stumped for Bailey have shaken their heads at the direction he's gone off in and are still searching for another candidate and there are no candidates so far emerging in Ward Five which traditionally is one of the toughest to figure politically.

Ward Seven reelected Steve Adams back in 2007 by about a dozen votes, over former councilwoman and mayor, Terry Frizzel who he outspent by at least 20 to 1. There's murmurs that she is considering running again but nothing definite. John Brandriff who's served on both the Human Relations Commission and the CPRC has been campaigning for months in preparation of taking Adams on beginning in June's mail in election. He's hoping to mirror the successful campaign that was launched by Councilman Paul Davis in 2009 when he defeated incumbent Frank Schiavone. The election for the "gateway to Riverside"as it's often called by Adams could get very interesting in a hurry.

So as the filing period has opened, the city council races for the odd-numbered wards are beginning to shape up though it's still quite early in the candidacy race.

Hopefully what will not be seen are what were called "election deployments" involving employees of city departments including the police department where employees were transferred from where they were assigned to wards of those running for office in order to make them look like they were "tough on crime". Police Chief Sergio Diaz and his chain of command are more than capable of figuring out the best places to assign officers and hopefully the city officials who run for reelection will remember that.

Hopefully, it will be a good election process and hopefully the election results will be both accurate but also tabulated and released in a more timely manner than in prior elections. The Riverside County's Voters' Registrar will be doing the voting tabulation but will be closely supervised by Nicol. As you know, the previous Registrar, Barbara Dunmore was fired but then replaced by an employee who filled a similar position in San Bernardino County who had released its own election results only slightly quicker than Riverside County.

As far as endorsements, this blogger will leave that to the experts in that area because frankly it's a pretty arduous and often ruthless process and it's sheer madness for most people to engage in it unless they have to do so. It's silly when incumbents on the dais issue blanket endorsements to each other, which makes the city council either seem like a country club or a high school playground. Not to mention that dais endorsements make very little difference in an election turnout as both the 2007 and 2009 election cycles have shown. In fact it's not clear whether any type of endorsement issued by any group or media outlet really makes any difference at all in how people vote.

What does is the door to door, person to person campaigning, that's the difference most often between winning an election or losing it. Candidates who won in 2007 and 2009 including four new individuals won based on that quality in at least three cases. Candidates who overestimated their name recognition or that the money spent by itself would be enough tended to be issued pink slips.

Though most of the ones who lost had that boosted greatly by an anti-incumbent sentiment which was a fallout of the GASS/BASS quartets. Will the city council's relative silence during the upheaval that erupted last year from scandals coming to light help or hurt those up for reelection?

It's up to the individual ward's voters to elect their own representatives and they should be supported in that effort. The candidates should educate the public on the issues and engage in ethical campaigns and avoid mudslinging, including that which took place in past campaigns. No punishing people including city employees and union members who don't endorse or vote for you. No taking any high ranking police employees to out of town restaurants to "clear the air" in order for them to get promoted by their police chief.

City residents should register to vote if they haven't already as there's still time and cast their votes as part of the democratic process and one of the most important rights they have as citizens and as residents of this city. It makes more sense to endorse participation in the election and voting process by city residents rather than to endorse particular candidates. And of course watching the election unfold and the games to commence.

Some city council candidate Web sites are the following: was a past domain for the Betro campaign but isn't in use

Mike Gardner's Web site

Marisa Yeager's Facebook page

John Brandriff for Ward Seven

Michael Williams Company local business that organizes fund raising for some candidates

Chris MacArthur's domain which might be for sale.

City Hall Stacks its Charter Review Committee

Blast from the Past?

Former Councilwoman Maureen Kane among those interviewed for a spot on the Charter Review Committee

Mayor Ron Loveridge(l.) and Councilman Rusty Bailey listen to the responses to their questions from candidates being interviewed for the Charter Review Committee

The members of the Charter Review Committee are the following and who voted for them:

Tom Evans (chair): Gardner, Bailey, Davis, McArthur, Hart, Adams, Loveridge

David A. St. Pierre: Gardner, Davis, Hart, Adams, Loveridge

Sharon Tyrrell: Melendrez, Davis, MacArthur, Adams, Loveridge

Wendel W. Tucker: Gardner, Bailey, Davis, MacArthur, Adams, Loveridge

Michelle Ouellete: Melendrez, Bailey, Davis, MacArthur, Hart, Adams, Loveridge

Montgomery Van Wart: Gardner, Melendrez, Bailey, Hart, Adams, Loveridge

Michael D. Pope: Gardner, Melendrez, Bailey, MacArthur, Hart, Adams

Maureen Kane: Gardner, Bailey, Davis, MacArthur, Loveridge

Damein R. O'Farrell: Gardner, Melendrez, Davis, MacArthur/Hart(second vote) Loveridge


Brent W. Lee
Diane Medina

(More information to Come)

Watching the city council and Mayor Ron Loveridge interview a roster of candidates to appoint nine individuals and two alternates to the Charter Review Committee was an interesting exercise which took hours to complete. But at the end of the day, the committee consisted of representatives of the following:

Greater Riverside Chamber of Commerce

Best, Best and Krieger

Former interim city management

City Council

In other words, business as usual.

And for the most point mainly individuals who came in and called council members and the mayor by their first names, talked about the last time they had met with them or saw them at some event, all but one said they had read the city charter, yet most couldn't or didn't answer substantive comment about its content and the racial makeup of the panel was entirely White in a city that is about 37% comprised from that racial group. Not surprising since about 90% of the candidates were heavily tied in with the city and the city's social and political network just isn't reflective of the diversity of the city which currently is majority minority like much of the rest of California.

And nearly every candidate interviewed and most of the ones chosen said they didn't bring agendas which is usually a sign that they have one because those who don't usually don't see any reason to protest otherwise. It's one of those committee assignments that does tend to attract people with agendas because it's addressing the city's Constitution and proposing or denying recommendations to have the voters amend it. And that's not just a number of the candidates but those doing the appointments as well.

Like with the CPRC appointment process, candidates were added to the interview pool presumably by other elected officials after the Mayor's Nomination and Screening Committee had made its own selections for interview.

The city council picked eight of the same candidates in the first round of voting(which goes to show how stacked it was) and there was some discussion of the ninth person to be appointed and the two alternates. And then it appointed the chair rather than allowed the members of the committee to do that which shows that from the start, the process of charter review is going to be rather regimented and controlled by City Hall. The city officials not surprisingly picked former interim city manager, Tom Evans which surprised some individuals when they found out believing that as a former council member, Kane had the edge as in the past.

The charter committee will begin its rather lengthy and arduous process of studying the charter (as if most of them read it, very few of them did in depth), soliciting public input, hearing presentations and ultimately discussing and voting on the recommended initiatives to be heard and voted on by the city government.

And if it's anything like last time, it will be a very interesting, twisting and turning process filled with more intrigue than you can imagine would be involved on what looks like on the surface to be a rather droll process.

If it seems like yesterday since the last review of the charter, time just flies by quickly but it's actually a slightly shorter than 10 year cycle because of the whole process is scheduled in accordance with the mayoral election cycle and the voters tweaked with that process in a recent election putting the next mayoral election in 2012 and not 2013.

What remains to be seen is whether there will be any recommendations to "tweak"the charter as some candidates interviewed thought might be necessary or whether any major rewriting will take place. Loveridge brought up as his question about whether or not those interviewed believed that the city council elections should be decided by ward or somewhere in that wording is an agenda attached.

It's been proposed in the past including by one ex-council member that at least the run off elections of ward seats be voted on city-wide. So it will be interesting to watch to see who exactly if anyone will nudge the charter committee towards considering "tweaking" with the current city council election process. And whether as happened last time, there will be attempts by Loveridge to push for initiatives on the ballot which expand the currently rather limited mayoral powers in the current council/management system of government. Last time, Loveridge tried to push for an initiative which would have given the mayor the power to appoint all the chairs of the city council sub-committees. But this time, if he's truly a "lame duck"mayor (and never say never with Loveridge) then how will that impact his involvement in the process

That initiative was sent to the ballot with all the recommended charter initiatives but was among those that failed to pass muster with the voters.

Separate and Unequal?

North High School Lacks Parity with Other RUSD High Schools

In recent months, more people in Riverside have gotten involved with the push for John W. North High School to have athletic facilities on parity with those enjoyed by other high schools in the same school district. The Riverside Unified School District board as a majority has apparently voted against parity or haven't voted for it although some school board members are sympathetic. But the greatest audacity is to say that North High School Football players can just play their games at RCC if they don't have an appropriate venue while the aquatic program at Riverside Poly High School in a wealthier area was given a swimming pool facility instead of being told to do their swimming at RCC's new aquatics center.

Once again, schools are separate and but they're not equal even though the highest grade point average among athletes in high school was apparently found at North High School. But then look at community centers and how they compare from one neighborhood to the next as well. Not to mention the selling out of both the Eastside and the University neighborhoods behind closed doors at City Hall recently and other places when it came to getting money for the Third Street grade separation project (now off the list) and the so-called placements of "quiet zones"including one near Longfellow Elementary School in the Eastside. One elected official said well, there's one at Highland and Hyatt...well that's great for those places but what about Longfellow....

Loveridge once said, as the Eastside goes, so does Riverside, not sure he meant it quite like this or maybe he did.

But there's been a lot of support building for North High to receive equitable athletic facilities as those enjoyed by other local high schools and it continues to build, something the RUSD school board should keep in mind.

Donna Doty-Michalka and Robert Michalka wrote this excellent op-ed article about the disparate treatment that North High School has received in terms of the upgrading of its athletic facilities.

The Press Enterprise Editorial Board vetoes the take home car policy for Riverside's elected officials. So did most people that I've talked to in the past six months.

A Corona Police Department lieutenant files a lawsuit alleging retaliation for reporting another officer for misconduct.

Tuesday, Feb. 22 at 10 a.m., 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. The Riverside City Council will be meeting at City Hall and discussing this
agenda and if you've been paying attention, you'll notice how short the agendas have been getting recent weeks.

Wednesday, Feb. 23 at 5:30 p.m. The Community Police Review Commission is meeting at City Hall in the council chambers to discuss this agenda.

Fridays at 10 am-11:30 a.m. The Friday Morning Club meets at the Janet Goeske Center on 5257 Sierra Street ( at Streeter Ave.)

Here's a list of their scheduled guest speakers.

Attend RUSD Board Meeting in Support Equality for Riverside North HS campaign.

Tuesday, February 22 ยท 5:30pm - 8:30pm
6735 Magnolia Avenue in Riverside
Between Arlington and Central Ave

Riverside North Equality

Request for funding parity with all other RUSD high school campuses!

Invite and seek support from Poly and ML King High School students, staff, parents and alumni.

Some Board Members want to make this as an issue between the high schools, when parity will benefit all. "A rising tide lifts all boats"

Please distribute widely:
Email account : Support Equality for Riverside North HS
Facebook : Riverside North Equality

The Students of John W. North need your support!

A state of the arts school is suffering! Time and neglect have taken its toll, yet it still manages to achieve great accomplishments. The question is how much longer can this continue? A visit to newer and existing RUSD school campuses will demonstrate how much neglect has deteriorated North s facilities. It is time to bring the school facilities, including its athletics infrastructure, in tandem with its great scholastic achievements. It is time to bring John W. North to parity with all RUSD campuses!

A recent development related to improvements of the school athletic infrastructures, funded from Measure B funds, highlighted how far behind John W. North is in comparison to other RUSD schools. When requesting parity in the distribution of funds to improve their athletic infrastructure, the RUSD Board rejected North s request. This negative response galvanized John W. North s committed community to request that ALL the school needs be met! Our school not only needs improvement to its athletic infrastructure but equally to its teaching facilities as well. However, we must now focus on the issue at hand: immediate approval to the improvement of our athletic infrastructure; but rest assured that we will demand improvement to our teaching infrastructure too.

What is needed from RUSD now? To get a fair share of the pie, the RUSD Board must:

1. Approve North s request presented to them on October 4, 2010 to increase the bleacher s capacity in the track and field area to 3,400 seats, and provide for press box, competitive lighting and additional concession/restroom building.

2. Establish a committee, including community members, to discuss and determine the investments necessary to bring John W. North to full equivalency with all RUSD schools.

What do we need from the community? To help us achieve our goals we need you to:

1. Attend next RUSD Board meeting on Tuesday, February 22 at 5:30 PM at Riverside Adult Continuation School located at 6735 Magnolia Avenue in Riverside .

2. Spread the word among your neighbors and friends about North s goals and the need for support.

3. If possible, to speak at the RUSD Board meeting.

4. Write letters to the editor of Press-Enterprise supporting North s request.

5. Email and call RUSD members asking them to approve North s request (;;;;; phone calls to 951.788.71.35).


P.I.E. ( People Initiating Equality)

Main Contacts:
Mary Figueroa 951-317-2648
Armando Gonzalez-Caban 951-788-1682
Francisco Sola 951-780-7206

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