Five before Midnight

This site is dedicated to the continuous oversight of the Riverside(CA)Police Department, which was formerly overseen by the state attorney general. This blog will hopefully play that role being free of City Hall's micromanagement.
"The horror of that moment," the King went on, "I shall never, never forget." "You will though," the Queen said, "if you don't make a memorandum of it." --Lewis Carroll


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Location: RiverCity, Inland Empire

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Never a Dull Moment in River City

"We're Not Running Away"

---Michiko Otsuki


'As a worker at Tepco and a member of the Fukushima No. 2 reactor team, I was dealing with the crisis at the scene until yesterday (Monday).'

'In the midst of the tsunami alarm (last Friday), at 3am in the night when we couldn't even see where we going, we carried on working to restore the reactors from where we were, right by the sea, with the realisation that this could be certain death,' she said.

'The machine that cools the reactor is just by the ocean, and it was wrecked by the tsunami. Everyone worked desperately to try and restore it. Fighting fatigue and empty stomachs, we dragged ourselves back to work.

'There are many who haven't gotten in touch with their family members, but are facing the present situation and working hard.'

Battling On

'Please remember that. I want this message to reach even just one more person. Everyone at the power plant is battling on, without running away.

'To all the residents (around the plant) who have been alarmed and worried, I am truly, deeply sorry.

'I am writing my name down, knowing I will be abused and hurt because of this. There are people working to protect all of you, even in exchange for their own lives.

'Watching my co-workers putting their lives on the line without a second thought in this situation, I'm proud to be a member of Tepco, and a member of the team behind Fukushima No. 2 reactor.

'I hope to return to the plant and work on the restoration of the reactor.'

Sendai Relief fund: $42,447.37

Rescue Relief Rebuild

The Sendai Committee met yesterday to discuss steps to take in responding to the emergency situation in Sendai. Ted Honcharik of Fuel Relief Fund has left for Sendai to transport generators and fuel that will be purchased before as was done in Haiti after the earthquake there.

A skeleton crew of workers are fighting to prevent a total meltdown at various reactors at Fukushima and are getting police to fire a water cannon at one of the pools that stores spent rods (which is probably the most problematic situation besides that at Reactor 2). The U.S. has sent nuclear energy experts to Japan and monitors to Hawaii and the California coastline.

The risk to the western U.S. is viewed as minimal at this point.

For more information from the State Department of Health: (916) 341-3947

The committee says that some people more close to the center of Sendai (i.e. downtown and City Hall) have responded to check in that they're doing okay. Areas outlying near the coast still are not responding. The entire delta region by the coast was hit by the tsunami with miles/kilometers reach inland different depending on the location in proximity to the epicenter of the now 9.0 quake. The local university was heavily damaged by the quake and is inaccessible. At least one museum survived in pretty good shape and individuals at the Metropolitan Museum downtown (which is undergoing seismic retrofitting) might consider sending a delegation to help with any needed work on the museums in Sendai later on.

Electricity, water and other infrastructure issues are still serious problems in the area as is phones. Still many sizable aftershocks. The real time maps show the aftershock activity is moving south through the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Japan.

[City residents and community leaders pack the Mayor's Ceremonial room during a meeting on responding to the earthquake and tsunami in Sendai]

****Sendai's Mayor Katsuhiko Umehara and his staff and the member of Sendai's IRC are all accounted for but not sure about members of the Orange Club. A lot of uncertainty about whether people are deceased, or missing due to evacuations or lack of ability to communicate as mobile phones and internet were down. Sendai City Hall did email Riverside about what was happening there.

***Riverside's Urban Search and Rescue Team is currently fifth on the list for deployment but maybe be prioritized higher. Designated primary responders from Los Angeles deployed from March Air Reserve Base on Saturday with supplies and have reached a town up in Northern Japan impacted by earthquake and tsunami damage. USAR Teams from Mexico (and Acapulco is also Sendai's Sister City) and Christchurch, New Zealand have reached Sendai. Ironically the USAR team based on Japan had been deployed to Christchurch to help them with their Feb. 22 6.3 earthquake when the 8.9 quake happened off the shore of Sendai.

*****Ted Honcharik ifrom Fuel Relief Fund is leaving for Japan in several days hopefully with $50,000 to purchase fuel over there to distribute for free up around Sendai. As you know, Sendai is currently out of food, potable water in many places and nearly out of fuel.

His contact information is:

phone: 951-233-0283

Fax: 951-680-1993


****Riverside and Riverside's International Relations Committee is setting up an electronic donation fund for checks and hopefully pay pal in the upcoming days at City Hall 3900 Main St. or call Mayor Ron Loveridge's office at 951-826-5551

***Several fund raising events are also planned including a possible MLK Jr. band concert at the Fox Theater in Riverside around March 31.

Sendai monument near Riverside City Hall

[The 1998 Sister City teams for the Sendai Half Marathon before the race including Riverside's delegation]

UPDATE: 8.8 quake strikes North-Eastern Japan off coast trigger tsunamis. The quake hit about 60 miles east of Riverside's Sister City Sendai which faced major tsunami damage.

Sendai hit by 10 foot wave. Damage "devastating, at least 300 dead"

Two Riverside city officials said that they will ask city to respond. Mayor Ron Loveridge's office says city is "working" on coordinating its response to the disaster. Riverside to send urban rescue team to Sendai.

Riverside officials said they are discussing how best to aid Sendai and may help create a local donation fund. For now they are directing residents to the American Red Cross, which is taking donations online at or by calling 888-831-8031.

I had the fortunate experience of traveling to Sendai, Japan in 1998 with other runners, coaches and trainers on the Riverside delegation entered in the Sendai Half Marathon. Other sister cities came from France, Mexico, China, Belarus and Dallas Texas also participated. From the moment we landed at Sendai International Airport (the only delegation to fly directly to the city), to the moment we departed, the people of Sendai were the most gracious hosts and very friendly and they hold Riverside in very high esteem. Riverside and its people do not have a bigger fan club in this entire planet than in Sendai. In front of City Hall, there's the Raincross symbol and there is a very descriptive diorama of Riverside's downtown in one of the museums.

Sendai was devastated by the 8.8 earthquake and tsunami with at least 300 dead so far and many more missing. Many of the images of the tsunami going through the coastal area shown on TV are of Sendai including its fishing community as one of the area's main industries is fishing.

Riverside Councilmen Mike Gardner, Rusty Bailey and Chris MacArthur have so far responded to emails requesting that Riverside respond to this crisis impacting its Sister City. Since 1957, the two cities have been in this relationship, the longest still active such relationship in the world. Riverside needs to be a "sister" and engage in sending assistance and aid to Sendai and hopefully will along with the International Council of Riverside send its support.

An interesting article on the Feb. 22 Christchurch, New Zealand which discusses the ground acceleration forces that made it nearly impossible for most buildings even those built to higher earthquake standards to survive intact.

Riverside fifth on national list for failed job recovery which kind of shows that even with redevelopment agencies, they couldn't spark new jobs.

[Former Councilman and current mayoral candidate Ed Adkison represents his company at the Finance Committee meeting on business tax enforcement]

Retire RPD Detective Takes Legal Action

Former Riverside Police Department Det. Chris Lanzillo who left the department last year allegedly took legal action against Police Chief Sergio Diaz and City Manager Brad Hudson in the wake of comments that Diaz made to the Press Enterprise about Lanzillo’s termination and resultant lawsuit that he filed against the city, department and employees including former Acting Chief John DeLaRosa and current Deputy Chief Mike Blakely.

That lawsuit settled last year overturned Lanzillo’s termination and he was medically retired and received a financial settlement and back pay minus a week’s suspension. It had alleged that former Riverside Police Officers’ Association President Chris Lanzillo was the subject of an investigation in connection with a training session and terminated after he had verbally confronted DeLaRosa during one of the management team’s roll call bull sessions after the Feb. 8, 2010 DUI incident involving the former police chief. DeLaRosa had shown up at roll call sessions often with the entire management team in tow to rally the officers to stick together as “one big family” and not to talk to the bloggers or the press.

Lanzillo allegedly then had said that the handling of the DUI incident should have been done differently and asked DeLaRosa why he had waited over 30 hours to hand the investigation to the California Highway Patrol. Not long after that, a supervisor who had not attended the training and witnessed the incident filed a complaint and the incident was investigated involving insensitive comments in a diversity training class. Lanzillo had allegedly said he made similar comments in the past and the department investigated several years back and no one recalled it so he was allegedly given a notice of intent of termination for lying. If that’s truly the case of how the events unfolded, then that’s got to be one of the most bizarre terminations ever…at least in recent history. For admitting that you made a racial comment several years earlier…and because no one can remember it, recollect it or perhaps don’t want to be asked by investigators why if they heard it they never reported it and then being investigated for that, firing an employee. It's bizarre in the face of other employees who were caught making racial comments and were given other jobs inside the city's employment after leaving the police department.

And leaving the final decision to another employee who allegedly also received a notice of intent to terminate around the same time or even the same day as Lanzillo and how was a subject officer in the most publicized internal investigation of the year…who incidentally had been publicly challenged by Lanzillo who asked the same questions that City Hall and investigators should have been asking DeLaRosa.

Almost as bizarre as having a subject officer on the year’s most publicized internal investigation present or involved in the interrogation of a “witness” officer in that same case simply because he was acting chief at the time. If it had been a criminal investigation would you have the suspect of the crime be present during the interview of a witness? Of course not. No, this might not have been as serious as a criminal investigation but the two share some similar reasons as why it might not be prudent to have the subject person in the same vicinity as a witness during an interrogation to gain information for an investigation.

Just another reason on a stack of them not to have all that much faith in Hudson’s “independent” and “sweeping” (the surface) investigation. Just another reason on a stack of them not to have all that much faith in Hudson’s “independent” and “sweeping” (the surface) investigation.

When discussing Lanzillo, Diaz had said that he had “done very bad things” without specifying what they were to the press and Lanzillo had been concerned about that because any prospective employer or other person could do a search on the internet and see the comments by a police chief and think he had done something like child molestation or a serious crime.

This incident allegedly had taken place after Diaz and Lanzillo had an emotionally charged verbal altercation outside one of the police facilities over the lawsuit. After the comments were made, one of the leaders of the RPOA contacted Diaz and asked what was up with that and Diaz allegedly told him he got emotional and it was a mistake.

The city has the option of deciding how to handle it and whether or not to litigate it to trial. Diaz had raised an important point in the Press Enterprise about how too many lawsuits have been settled by the city (which is now self-insured after having had a carrier at one time) rather than taken to trial. I agree with his point although my reasoning might be somewhat different. The city settles for two reasons, to preserve its civil liability or to minimize the risks and to prevent publicity of the surrounding issues in lawsuits. It’s hard to buy the city’s argument that it settles to save litigation costs after seeing how aggressively it’s litigated and fought several labor lawsuits include those filed by a group of Black city employees in 1997 and Officer Roger Sutton’s filed in 2000 and tried by a civil jury in 2005. But then Diaz also allegedly has been working to minimize City Attorney Gregory Priamos' historic micromanagement of the police department which if so is a hopeful and long overdue development in that troublesome area.

There's this pattern of events that was relayed in an earlier Press Enterprise article.

Those officers only file lawsuits or claims when they get in trouble. That’s an interesting point but what would make an interesting study in contrasts is how those numbers that align with his contention stack up against officers who file complaints that are handled inhouse (and not known publicly), then get into “trouble” and then file more public claims and lawsuits alleging mistreatment or misconduct including retaliation. Add in officers who have very little prior contact with complaints or internal investigations initiated against them who suddenly have multiple complaints open or investigations open against them after complaints of mistreatment or misconduct or those who after they file complaints may know or not know that meetings have been called between individuals at Orange Street administrative offices and the department’s Internal Affairs Divisions on discussing those officers soon after they file grievances, claims or lawsuits.

Then provide stats on how many cases are settled, how many go to trial and what the end results are in both cases including average payouts per settlement and/or trial verdicts. All of this together would make for a very interesting sociological study or research paper, maybe a thesis for a doctorate as to what the outcomes would be and any conclusions which could be reached.

The Charter Review Committee Gets Ready To Meet

The Charter Committee is set to already start meeting and all the various agendas that are contingent on charter changes will start popping up for “discussion” at these meetings. One of those will no doubt be the future of the city’s only business, Riverside Public Utilities as there’s serious discussions taking place in different venues about trying to push for an initiative which will increase the percentage of funding which can be taken from RPU to pay for the city’s bills. The problem is that RPU has its own expenses like any company would to pay out of its monies made and one of the debates out there hands down is how much money that RPU has that’s really being spent by the city for outside expenditures.

If you’ve ever wondered how Riverside Renaissance is going to be funded, this can be a critical development to follow. Because people act as if the Renaissance has been paid for and news flash, a lot of it is deferred payment not actual payment and since Riverside’s not making enough money on sales tax and property taxes which are recession-sensitive, how else will these bonds or other forms of deferred payment be done? And will the RPU be liable to shifting a larger percentage of its earned money to do this and pay for other outside expenses? If it passes the muster of the city’s voters, how will this impact them? The answer to that is easy, higher rates for water and electricity (which after the “freeze”, you might have to buckle your seat belts at some of the rate hikes that have been proposed) because how else will RPU make the money to offset a higher payout to the city to spend? Money comes from some resource and the bulk of the Renaissance will likely wind up on the backs of the residents in ways not exacted yet.

But remember when the city council passed and then revoked (because they were election-sensitive) that mult-tier hike that counted amps instead of actual kilowatts used? And the uproar that followed which pressured some council members who were facing elections to back peddle?

What adds a lot of intrigue to this discussion will be the fact that the city council and mayor quickly appointed Tom Evans to the chair position of the Charter Review Committee. Evans is currently an elected official serving on the local water board, was interim city manager before Hudson’s arrival and his expertise was of course, RPU which he oversaw for four years before his appointment in the interim management position. If eking out a larger piece of RPU earnings comes to the committee, how will Evans react?

Stay tuned to see this situation as it pans out, whether it does now or not with RPU, City Hall and the city residents. Because what is ultimately decided could really impact and hit home that the costs of the $2 billion plus Renaissance haven’t even begun to come out of your pockets. Yes, there are definite advantages to having a municipal public utilities entity but it takes responsibility on the parts of the stake holders including city residents to keep an eye on what’s happening and to voice concerns about it too including the charter review process in connection with a valued resource.

CPRC Hold Another Wacky Election

Elects Chair, Vice-Chair

[The CPRC members minus one in Missouri conducted their annual elections]

The Community Police Review Commission engaged in its annual exercise of holding its election for chair and vice-chair. All of the members showed up including the three new members, to conduct the special meeting and to elect their new officers, except for Robert Slawsby who appeared via conference call in Missouri. Rogalio Morales was absent for a short period and missed the first round of elections for both chair and vice-chair.

For chair, Commissioner Ken Rotker nominated outgoing vice-chair Art Santore for chair and Commissioner John Brandriff nominated Dale Roberts. The voting broke down with Santore, Slawsby, Rotker, Ralph Johnson and Robin Jackson voting for Santore who had the five votes necessary to win. Roberts received votes from Brandriff, herself and Jane Adams.

For vice-chair, Rotker nominated Slawsby and Brandriff nominated Roberts. For that the voting became more complicated, because it resulted in a 4-4 tie. Voting for Slawsby were himself, Rotker, Santore and Johnson while Roberts received votes from herself, Brandriff, Jackson and Adams. There was some legal consultation; most of it outside the ability of the public and several commissioners to even hear let alone to follow what took place. At the end, they decided to table the vote for vice-chair to the next meeting when Morales could attend since the CPRC was not required to appoint a vice-chair at the first meeting in March only a chair.

But then Morales appeared and then there was a debate on whether to table the election or revote for vice chair in hopes of having him serve as the tie breaker. It became clear when Morales was polled for his vote that the election would go to Roberts as everyone voted the same as they had in the prior round and he gave his vote to Roberts.

Never a dull moment with a CPRC election as the whole issue of allowing certain individuals teleconferencing votes in the past and not others not to mention the behind the scenes election several years that took place before March of that year have made it clear that there’s been issues with it electing its officers. But in this particular election year, the most pivotal and important position may actually be that of the vice-chair for reasons that could further to light moving through the calendar year when the makeup of the commission might change on several fronts.

Former Councilman Dom Betro Mixes Up the Facts

During a recent debate by the Greater Democrats of Riverside, two candidates for ward one showed up because only the registered Democrats in that race were allowed to participate. These were former Councilman Dom Betro who lost a squeaker of an election in 2007 and also Marisa Valdez-Yeager who is opposing him and two other candidates. Betro provided some colorful participation by engaging in some commentary. One of his claims was that as a councilman, he didn't push the action to ban city residents from pulling items off the consent calendar which the city council did during a meeting in 2005.

Baloney as one person put it upon hearing his claim at the forum. He most absolutely did push for it when he sponsored the motion that put that issue on the table, and the intent of the motion was to restrict who could pull items from the consent calendar.

At least Betro didn't promise he would "look into" that decision that was made as that's the least adhered to campaign promise made by elected officials so far. No one has looked into it.

But check this minute order from July 12, 2005 yourself. It takes some scrolling down and the agenda item numbers (in this case #55) aren't numbered but you'll find it under City Council Rules of Procedure... and follow the voting columns for the motion, the second and the votes cast by each council member on the right hand side. You'll see that Betro sponsored the motion that included restrictions on the consent calendar. Councilman Steve Adams seconded it, and it passed 6-1 with former Councilman Art Gage the only candidate not voting for it.

So former city council members running for reelection again shouldn't engage in revisionist history. The proof is in this case, the minutes. But Betro in his own unique style did spark up some controversy at the DGR by telling the organization which sponsored his appearance that it had to better police itself apparently against bogus Democrats or those not card-carrying or whatever. He didn't get the endorsement, but said he didnt't want it and then complained later that some of the people who asked questions shouldn't have been allowed to ask them including that embarrassing one about the consent calendar because he wasn't seeking an endorsement.

The Mystery of the Disappearing Employees

Riverside is one of those cities where you never know what’s happening half of the time and it’s easy to miss some of the intrigue that takes place and hence, there’s a section in this blog which deals with the mystery of the missing employees. Occasionally there will be an employee profiled who’s disappeared off the canvas especially if the rest of the city clams up about it.

That’s the case with the abrupt departure of former Homeless coordinator Don Smith who is no longer employed with the city and Human Resources apparently won’t even elaborate to their boss’ bosses about what happened. There have been several employees who have left under confusing or even disturbing circumstances including long-time City Hall employee Howard Field and several in Development and even the city’s Human Resources Department. These employees had a common denominator or two which makes one wonder if one of the city’s exorcised ghosts is resurfacing and will be addressed in future postings.

This one came to light involving Smith because people who worked with the homeless or are interested in those issues tried to contact Smith not too long ago and were unable to do so and couldn’t find out what happened or even who to call instead or if the position will be filled. See, that’s typical of the Riverside canvas, is that employees just have a way of disappearing from it…poof…but whether he was a layoff casualty, took a job elsewhere or something else happened. Or if his position’s been phased out, frozen or it will be filled and what will happen to the system of addressing homeless issues and populations that he oversaw.

It’s not lost that the class of employees with some of the largest institutional memories of this city’s history particularly how it’s run and how it conducts business are the ones that are kind of on phase out lately.

The Unwanted Highway to Hell

City residents veto continuation of Overlook Parkway at Public Hearing

A large group of city residents said we don't want a new highway at a public hearing held to discuss an environmental impact report. The emphasis of the hearing was supposed to be whether or not the gates at Crystal View Terrace and Green Orchard Road which had been the subject of many contentious meetings but the concerns shifted to what people view as an attempt to revive the drive to finish Overlook Parkway which was thwarted by residents of two neighborhoods who stand in the path of that construction some time ago. What's interesting too about this process is that part of the planning on finishing the thoroughfare is to put a grade separation at Madison which some say will be funded by the money that had been earmarked for the higher priority grade separation on Third Street that was recently tanked in some small print without the appropriate public hearing.

It's not paranoia that had people concerned. It's the realization that of the four scenarios, the city actually included finishing this street so someone somewhere in the halls of power are thinking about it. The one that would could pit neighborhoods against each other and potentially bring traffic, and create larger problems in the already vanishing green belt area of the city not to mention what it would do to Victoria Avenue, the only street that seems more like a park than a thoroughfare and one of the nicest spots of the city.

Christchurch, New Zealand to lose World Rugby Cup?

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