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

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Has Riverside Become Too Risky an Investment?

UPDATE: SEIU Local Under City Surveillance? Questions have been raised about the installment of a camera near its headquarters on Market Street. The SEIU Local is the largest bargaining unit of city employees in Riverside.

As people in the audience including board members representing the Riverside Police Officers' Association sat in attendance, a sharp exchange of words between Councilman Steve Adams and Councilman Paul Davis after the city council led by Davis and two other councilmen agree to send the ethics complaint filed against Adams alleging administrative interference with two police department promotions to the adjudicative body consisting of the chairs of boards and commissions. Adams accused Davis of being involved in a plot with other folks in the audience who were actively working on the campaign of his rival, John Brandriff not in attendance. Davis responded.

As someone said afterward, "the gloves came off."

Adams had a moment there when he agreed with his colleagues where one almost thought that's really great of him as a councilman to agree to have his complaint heard but then when he did what (former) Councilman Dom Betro did before him, which was try to put the complainants on trial, which simply serves to educate the public that this is what you'd better expect if you use the ethics code and complaint process. It seems to be that the more "false" the allegations, the more aggressive behavior by elected officials against complainants. Something that the public had grown accustomed to during the "nice" years of city council decorum, which reached its pinnacle when police officers were ordered to eject a number of people including on different occasions, two elderly women.

He also made some allegations of fact which were disputed by the depositions of those who testified in the lawsuits filed by two former lieutenants. Since the depositions were never tried in a court of fact, it's important for the allegations made of administrative interference, a charter violation, against Adams have their day of hearing in a public arena.

The city settled the lawsuits filed by the two lieutenants just before their April 20 trial for more money (including the retirements) than it would have likely cost to conduct a "winning" trial. Of course, if the city lost, would it have saved or lost money? Probably lost it.

He alleged that now Capt. Meredyth Meredith never complained about what had happened to her, although former Chief Russ Leach testified in deposition that Meredith had been devastated by her canceled promotion. She had sought legal counsel and had gone back to Leach saying that her attorney told her she had a "discrimination" case. Six months later, she was promoted to captain during the next round and became the first and last captain of the Communications Bureau. This is based on testimony provided in the depositions, Meredith did get told she was going to be promoted and had it rescinded.

Carpenter met with former Deputy Chief Pete Esquivel who was a close friend of Adams and Adams in a Corona eatery (as all three testified they didn't want to be seen together by people they knew) on the eve of Carpenter's promotion. According to deposition, Carpenter had expressed concerns about promotional issues and related involvement in political activity with the Riverside Police Administrators' Association and documented specific concerns and incidents on a thumb drive which was apparently lost while he changed assignments, according to deposition testimony. If Carpenter had his own opinions about who the PAC of his union was going to endorse for city council then why was there a "clearing the air" meeting with Adams, the eve of his promotion and did union leaders have the political freedom to endorse candidates of their choice without repercussions?

Adams had said that in order to influence the promotional process, he'd have to go to the city manager. Testimony in the deposition conflicted in whether he allegedly contacted former Asst. City Manager Tom DeSantis about the Meredith promotion and the Carpenter promotion.

Adams alleged that the allegation that he posed as an undercover police officer was "exonerated by deposition" but the testimony was contradictory and Leach testified that a watch commander had received a phone call about Adams being an officer.

He was driving a city issued vehicle that had been cold plated, a practice reserved primarily for undercover surveillance vehicles but done unlawfully by the city of Riverside for vehicles assigned to city management employees and city council members including Adams. These allegations were never investigated nor were any findings released to the public. The only response to them was that the city settled two lawsuits where these allegations were raised.

Oh and the city clerk swore City Manager Brad Hudson on the witness stand to say that no elected official had ever interfered in an RPD promotion. Oh, well that's true except for the swearing in part.

[When questioned by his boss, Adams, Hudson told those on the dais and those in the audience that no elected official ever influenced a police promotional decision]

But yes, it's all "false", just like the gun sales, the badges given to both management employees and elected officials and the cold plates.

But what's not discussed in this situation is the fact that no less than three former leaders of both police associations filed claims and lawsuits alleging harassment and retaliation based on union activities including those related to PAC endorsements. All three of those officers are now currently retired after settling federal lawsuits, not to mention actions taken against leaders of other city labor associations and unions. That's why it was ironic to see the representatives of the RPOA PAC show up to witness what transpired considering three of their members are still on promotional probation, which has a tendency to make union leaders vulnerable.

In their futures are discussions of the proposed two tier pension plans promoted by Hudson that were adopted by the Riverside Firefighters' Association and apparently without much choice, by a group of executive and management employees. Which direction will the RPOA move towards, or away from Hudson's two-tier system, and when will Hudson make his move?

If Adams is transparent on these issues, then he should make available for all his constituents who ask copies of the transcripts of the depositions in the twin lawsuits so that they can read them and come to their own conclusions.

Got Management Mediation?

[Three members of a management team, which one of them is at loggerheads with a fourth?]
More to come...including the management wars inside the police department...Old vs New, who will prevail?

[Riverside, the city that can't give its own bonds away...could it see the day when it puts City Hall up for collateral?]

"What is the risk? It is zero."

----Riverside Asst. City Manager and Finance CEO Paul Sundeen about the city buying up its own debt.

"My main objective is for safety, liquidity and then yield. My fiduciary responsibility is to make sure when people come for their money, the money is there."

---Riverside County Treasurer Don Kent who nixed investing in Riverside's Redevelopment debt. Too risky, apparently.

the city and county are the first ones to complain that sacramento legislators are stealing the money they need to fund police and fire--and they are also the first ones to steal money from schools that the state would otherwise have---pot calling the kettle black---and a red flag should be raised--the county where hudson used to manage the redeveloment agency does not trust their former employee--ever wonder why?

---commenter, Press Enterprise

“We don’t confirm or deny whether an investigation is going on.”

---Laura Eimiller, spokeswoman for the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office, to Victorville's Daily Press after it was reported to have been conducting interviews in Victorville.

The Press Enterprise article about Riverside buying its own redevelopment bonds really hit a lot of people where they think, in terms of the reality that this city's becoming too much of a credit and financial risk for even Riverside County to invest in. Bond ratings? Petty things really, nothing to worry about...the deal's only risky if housing prices in the redevelopment zones plunge. What could possibly be more fascinating than buying up your own debt? Maybe the reason why Riverside is "first" to do actions like this one and others isn't because it's innovative, maybe it's just because it's foolish. But when setting out to be pioneers in questionable investment and spending of the tax payers' money, the city government never thinks that maybe they're um, pioneers because they're simply acting more reckless than most governments. Sometimes you just have to look at them all grinning from ear to ear when another questionable scheme is presented and wonder what the hell are they thinking?

And even more important, are they even thinking?

[Asst. City Manager Paul Sundeen (center) explains some principle of city finances to the Finance Committee at a recent meeting]

Reading articles like this really hits it home once again just how carefree the city's become with both investing and spending money, that doesn't really belong to it. According to the article, City Manager Brad Hudson who used to head Riverside County's Economic Development Agency came up with this plan so unique no other municipality has done it to have the city and county invest in each other's bonds. Only Riverside County rather wisely balked for different reasons including the fact that Riverside hadn't gotten around to having its bonds rated and the county had made it a practice to only invest in bonds with credit ratings. Which means that Riverside County opted out of a deal with its own former director of its redevelopment agency.

When even the county doesn't want to do business with you or invest in your biggest commodity which like the rest of the nation is its debt, what is a city to do? Put itself through a reality check and ask itself, wait a minute where are we going here, or to just dig a deeper hole for itself?

What the city's choice is here is obvious.

[The finance committee headed by Councilwoman Nancy Hart (l. with Councilman Paul Davis) just started meeting again this year but how much attention is really being paid to how the city invests tax payer money?]

This news came the same time that the Finance Committee just interviewed three auditing firms to pick one for its very own and the one recommended came out of state, up in Oregon. They'll of course replace the city's former auditor which just happens to be Meyer Hoffman and McCann the firm that audited the lovely and financially up and up city of Bell. Not to mention the city of Victorville which also just fired that same firm but has now been targeted for investigating by the FBI and Securities and Exchange Commission and is now probably financially insolvent.

Both Bell and Victorville didn't just have relationships with Meyer, Hoffman and McCann, the auditing firm that was found deficient by the State Controller John Chiang, but they also had relationships with Best, Best and Krieger. Guess what, so does the city of Riverside, but there's no sign that it actually does in writing because as Sundeen explained with a smile, they don't enter into contracts with the law firm. They just call them up on the phone and ask will you do such and such for us. This tidbit of information came out naturally at a Finance Committee and no one on that committee caught that, the fact that they're authorizing the spend of taxpayer money for an outside legal firm without allowing for a paper trail, which is called a contract. What kind of entity does business that way?


Most business relationships that involve financial payments also include contracts including those involving law firms but oh no, not in River City. It was like sitting in Wonderland wondering what the hell is going on with that and everyone sitting around the table is just cool with what seems on its face highly questionable to most logical thinking people. But then the reemergence of the Finance Committee has been filled by moments like that. And when the city announces that it's buying its own debt, to set itself out as a pioneer in that field, it's just hard not to sit back and reflect on the discussions of finances that the public is allowed to hear regarding its money inside City Hall.

City Attorney Priamos loves sending out responses to CPRA requests from his office saying gee, I'm so sorry (that part's not actually in the letter but it'd be nice if they were sorry) but we've done an active and thorough search for the contracts/documents/letters/public records in our office and none were found. Of course that doesn't mean they won't pop up a year or so later as happened with the employment contracts signed by former Asst. Chief John DeLaRosa and former Deputy Chief Pete Esquivel for at will positions in upper management. Those contracts were later revoked in front of an audience filled with members of both police unions and from the public as well. And then after that, they apparently vanished from the City Attorney's office for a couple of years only to reappear in Hudson's fist at a public meeting, and when they were finally produced to the public upon request, stamped inside the first page of both contracts were the city attorney's information and its contact information.

So essentially these contracts had been there all along, hiding in plain sight, I believe it's called.

Alas, it seems that some of them might not be found forever, never to be seen because maybe they don't actually exist at all?

While reading about the whole city stuck buying back its own debt article, I immediately thought of situations like the above with Best, Best and Krieger which happened at that Finance Committee as being equally ridiculous. Instead of taking concerns seriously from those who pay their salaries and keep them employed (or not) every four years, the public was greeted with pat answers like gee, we don't do contracts with lawyers (when the rest of the real world does that)and gee, we can't find those documents now...but check back in a couple years when they're no longer so "hot". The truly unsettling thing is that the mayor and city council watch this happening in the same room where they sit making decisions that impact the lives (and wallets) of city residents and they never ask any questions at least not publicly about these things happening. Like is the city just lazy or does it just not want a paper trail going back to Best, Best and Krieger?

Another thing that struck me is when in a Finance Committee, the whole issue of hiring a new outside auditor was raised because the city had to do that even if Meyer Hoffman McCann hadn't become the butt of jokes. The city charter amendment added by city voters in 2004 requires that no auditor have more than five consecutive years on the city's dime. But even the fact that the city's firm had been implicated in screwing up in Bell and possibly other cities by Chiang, Sundeen had still offered up the factoid that the city could still hire the same firm just not the same auditors as if that's not a bad thing. Thankfully enough members of the Finance Committee were alert enough to veto that quickly.

So given that it's not surprising if you have a line of elected officials defending and even stumping for this debt buying scheme which is gambling on the most unstable housing market in the country. In fact don't be amazed if you have to sit in the council chambers or at home and watch a series of PSAs on how awesome Hudson and Sundeen were to come up with another brilliant scheme to save the city. Sacramento will get to take a convenient break as the (boo hiss) villain along with public sector employees as the county is the bad guy for not going through with its deal with River City.

What else are they going to do, they are so busy fighting the evil empire up in Sacramento that they have forgotten their own jobs, which include financial accountability to their constituents. Remember, the Finance Committee itself was in mothballs for over a year as two chairs, Councilman Chris MacArthur and then Councilwoman Nancy Hart waited for Hudson and Sundeen to tell them if it was okay to have a meeting. Well, I fully understand why that committee was pretty much nonexistent for so long now. What served as a good teacher as to why was sitting through some of the most recent meetings and seeing how they unfolded.

It's interesting if unsettling to watch an assistant city manager, in this case the always cheerfully succinct Sundeen lead the council members pretty much by the nose. Councilman Paul Davis asks questions that need to be asked but he's nearing the juncture in time when he has a critical decision to make in terms of where he wants to go. Going along to get along isn't the wisest choice, and it won't get a councilman elected even in the newly redrawn Ward Four.

So it's great to see Finance Committee meeting again if only to know why it was that it hadn't been meeting.

Several cities including Bell used the firm as their city attorneys and the city of Downey got rid of its city attorney after witnessing the Bell fiasco. Riverside instead placed a member of that firm on its Charter Review Committee, a blatant conflict of interest. If you'd want to know how much business this member, an environmental attorney did for the city, sorry the city doesn't enter into contracts for legal services with Best, Best and Krieger, ergo no paper trail to follow.

We don't have any contracts on file with Best, Best and Krieger attorneys, the city will tell you.

Say what?

That's the same response one might have to the city buying its own debt and a bunch of other quirky things that have been going on since about mid-2005.

As it turns out Riverside has in its employment ranks at City Hall, one of the players in both the Bell and Maywood scandals, Frank Hauptmann who has an interesting account to relate on what his perspective is, and how first Maywood and then Bell became unraveled, with key players in both cities going down in flames and some winding up wearing orange jumpsuits. Not to mention his role in bringing some of those players down. He's a very engaging person who has been a presence felt immediately with the CPRC.

His arrival in City Hall has got to be one of those most intriguing events in the city in the tail end of the Year of Scandal. Because Bell wasn't the only city that was busy last year.

[Frank Hauptmann headed the Maywood Police Department before coming to Riverside and has an interesting account of what happened with both Maywood and Bell.]

Hauptmann had applied for the Community Police Review Commission job in 2007 before he even met Maywood. He lost the job to Kevin Rogan who stayed in it for about three years before heading off to another job in Los Angeles. Two individuals who highly recommended Hauptmann for the position were Asst. State Attorney General Lou Verdugo and former police practices specialist Joe Brann who worked in Riverside as the police monitor overseeing the five year stipulated judgment. Two people who also had business and enforcement ties to Riverside during the past 10 years.

Considering his background which goes back when as a young officer, he worked on the task force assigned to hunt down the Hillside Strangler in the late 1970s, some have asked how Hudson wound up hiring him. What was he thinking, some have asked, assuming that Hudson's doing the hiring.

After all, Hauptmann said he was instrumental in bringing down two corrupt city management employees, and Hauptmann's been a complete reversal of his predecessor, Rogan who mostly fought with some members of the commission during his stint. Hauptmann's been a very active hands on manager and some commissioners are still trying to figure him out, what is his agenda in a city filled with them. Such is the state of affairs in this city where no one really trusts anyone else. But he's definitely an interesting addition to the city's fabric and his role in it will become clear with the passage of time as he works on revamping the CPRC.

In the meantime, Riverside's found the perfect diversionary tactic to steer attention away from its investment practices. The part of the city's spending that needs fixing is of course the pension plans as the city management and city council negotiate with the city's labor unions to adopt two tier pension plans. The Riverside Firefighters' Association and some of the management and executive employees adopted the plan, with the latter allegedly not having much to freely say about it. Basically it was Hudson's way or the highway. No one wants to ask the wrong question and find themselves getting an unpaid vacation soon enough. So that's why some of these pension reform processes haven't had much resistance. I mean, if you put a lot of years in working in River City, you actually want to collect a pension.

There's some classic quotes in this article including the following.

Here you have Sundeen saying the following:

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

"We have no control over our revenue," city Chief Finance Officer Paul Sundeen said. "By definition, we have to decrease our costs. ...The biggest single costs are employees."

But wait a minute, let's see isn't the city's revenue generated by things such as sales tax and property taxes? And didn't Sundeen just make a forecast in the article about the city buying its own debt about the future of the housing market, which is one source of revenue through taxes for the city's general fund?

This is another good quote by Stan Stosel who represents the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers:


"I also find it a little bit obscene that the people who are at the very top of the economic ladder, it's their (large) pensions that are driving the debate."

He's got an important point because the majority of city employees in city unions don't have huge pensions, some are pretty close to the poverty level. City employees who have retired have faced foreclosures on their homes much like other people have who don't work in the public sector. Yet there's little talk of reforming pensions like those received by city management employees like Hudson and Sundeen. There's little talk by Sundeen for example about steps that will be taken about saving costs on the management employees at his level. Hudson for example had told city officials that he had given up the same percentage of deferred compensation as other employees but he was still receiving a much higher percentage of deferred compensation as part of his employment contract that hadn't been touched by those cuts.

Some city council members said of course it's way too premature to look at their own salary and benefits package.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Ward 7 Councilman Steve Adams called the agreement with firefighters for two pensions tiers "excellent," and added the current system is unsustainable.

But he disagreed with Betro's call for management and council pay cuts."Right now I don't want to speculate on any cuts in staff or pay because that's not appropriate," he said.

So it's "excellent" to reduce pensions including for those whose salaries are much lower than those of some of the top tier management employees including Hudson but they can't even discuss any actions closer to home. Why for example do council members get pensions and other lifelong benefits simply for serving one year more than a single term in office? The public elects them to serve it, not to be on the payroll in a sense for past that time of service. Why make cuts in pensions that employees at least pay into that they put in 30 years of service or more to earn and not even discuss why elected officials get any semblance of a pension at all?

But then the only people in this salary and benefits equation who get to set their own are the elected officials who can vote to give themselves raises. At least thankfully, they know as Councilman Rusty Bailey pointed out, it's "suicidal" to even think about doing it during an election cycle for four of them.

It's popular to demonize public sector employees right now, everywhere but the pensions that are painted as exorbitant are mostly those of employees much higher up in the food chain who aren't being asked to make substantial cuts to even the pensions of those who follow in their footsteps. These employees engage in public safety in this city, they build and fix the roads that people drive on and they oversee parks, libraries and museums. It's an upside down world indeed if they're the ones who are blamed for exorbitant "personnel" costs when they put in long hours and work hard, probably not leaving them many afternoons to spend on the golf course or in gambling casinos, or even at city parks conducting business that's definitely not city related.

Instead of asking City Hall why they're engaging in risky business schemes with tax payer money, it's all about going after the pension of maybe not the guy who picked up your refuse but the one who might pick up your children's. Maybe not the employees who will save your life or your home but those who will be hired to do that for your children and their children. Maybe not just the employees who work in the libraries and museums and parks today but those who will be hired to fill all those new facilities in the future (except the downtown library which the city's too broke to build as it promised).

It's going to be hard enough for your kids who live or will be born here to pay off all those promissory notes that the city's issued on Riverside Renaissance which hasn't even begun to be paid for yet let alone pay for itself.

The world we enjoy including our city is something we borrow from our children and we are in the process of mortgaging that all away in return, beginning with budgeting the city's risky propositions on the backs of the employees who can least afford that.

Hate Riverside, hardly! There's great people living here but criticizing a city doesn't mean you don't like it. Sometimes it's just your duty as a citizen, that's all.

City Government Vs Ethics Complaint Process, Take Three

[The City Hall crew including Mayor Ron Loveridge, Councilman Steve Adams and City Attorney Gregory Priamos have to discuss that pesky ethics code again]

Riverside's city government is set to revisit its ethics code and complaint process once again and it's going back for discussion. If it sounds like deja vu at this point, it like totally is because we've all been through this several times already just in the past few months. Well, this agenda item arose last week after people spoke on the dismissal of an ethics complaint filed against Councilman Steve Adams alleging administrative interference by City Attorney Gregory Priamos. This took place after the city council and mayor had convened a special ad hoc panel to review the ethics code and complaint process after there were many complaints about the implementation of the complaint process. Statistics showed of the complaints filed, the majority of them were dismissed by Priamos before they made it to the adjudicating body. Even though there's never actually been a provision in the resolution that created the code and complaint process that allows him to do that. He can provide legal advice but can't actually make decisions about its fate outside of the judiciary body.

The other major issue with the process was having ethics complaints against elected officials sent for the hearing process to the Mayor's Nomination and Screening Committee. The fox guarding the hen house many called it. But it was clear that when the changes recommended by the ad hoc panel (which consisted of the chairs from the city's boards and commissions), were actually adopted by the city government, they weren't ever to be implemented. Because the city attorney dismissed it without sending it to this panel and gave the explanation that it was "well settled" that retroactive implementation didn't apply unless the legislative body asked for it. That's not the same explanation he provided for the people who filed it but anyway some members of the city council who did speak up mentioned that it should be the role of the adjudicating body and not Priamos who decides whether or not to hear it.

But what's getting lost here is that this is not about retro-activity which isn't in the code and apparently not in the city's charter either because Priamos relied on this "well settled" issue to explain his actions in front of his employers and whoever watching the meetings. This is about repeated efforts of Priamos and whoever is holding his leash as an at-will employee to thwart the ethics code and complaint process whatever means they can find to do that.

[Councilman Paul Davis put the item on the agenda after being bombarded by complaints about the dismissal of an ethics complaint by the city attorney]

Councilman Paul Davis who said he had been bombarded with complaints against this action by his constituents asked for the item to be placed on the agenda for a city council meeting with both Councilmen Andrew Melendrez and Mike Gardner chiming in on the issue. The rest of the city council looked like a bunch of deer caught in the headlights, remaining silent. Adams had left his chair before public comment begun but stayed in it when it was discussed at the end of the meeting.

Mayor Ron Loveridge sighed and said that he had always put an item on the agenda when it was brought up by a city council member at a meeting so he would do so but you could tell he clearly didn't want to do it. But what will be discussed is whether or not retro activity should be included in the language of the code, not whether or not Priamos will be allowed to continue to thwart the process. Not that it's probably his idea because as stated earlier, the legal eagle can count to four. So it's not likely that anything substantial that will actually help the code and complaint process will actually be passed and if so, who cares because the city council and mayor have already shown that any actions or changes they make don't mean squat in the face of behind the scenes maneuvering involving Priamos' office.

No truly relevant ethics complaint will likely ever go through the appropriate process which has now changed how many times? The problematic history of the process going back to day one makes that clear. You've had city council members meet in the middle of the summer to introduce new language which had the sole benefit of helping one of them escape accountability for an ethics complaint filed against him that was also dismissed by Priamos. The city council blanket passed those questionable changes which were first affirmed, then affirmed again and then only a few months later, finally overturned. Who gets credit for doing that? The city residents from different wards who en masse flooded the phone lines and emails of their elected officials making it clear that this was what they wanted.

And most of the city council, not all, were astute enough to realize that their political survival rested on listening to their constituents.

Some people are upset the complaint was filed against Adams, calling it a political attack against him solely to help another candidate. Of course most of those who levy this accusation never read an iota of information on what the allegations pertain to involving alleged administrative interference by Adams involving two police captain promotions in 2005 and 2008. None of them who accuse people of using the complaint process solely for political purposes read the sworn testimony of the involved parties including Adams before making their claims. Reading the conflicting depositions by city employees and city officials both past and present was truly one of the most disturbing experiences in not what was alleged but what was actually under penalty of perjury.

Something clearly wrong happened, when you have individuals time a "clearing the ear" meeting of a long-standing personal disagreement between a police lieutenant and a councilman in between his being picked as a promotional candidate by his own chief and the day he's promoted. Not to mention all the involved parties at this meeting not wanting to be seen together by anyone which makes little sense considering there's a wide swath of reasons they might meet, both personal and professional. On its face, in the context of the sworn testimony, the meeting that took place between those involved was just inappropriate period, while the promotional process was taking place especially since the candidate had been named, then the meeting takes place, then voila, by noon the next day, the candidate is promoted.

The city council and mayor had ample opportunity to investigate the allegations themselves since they all knew about them going back to closed sessions on the lawsuits filed by two lieutenants back in 2008. And what did the city council and mayor ultimately do?

They voted to settle the case for more than it would have cost to try it (assuming they were victorious at trial) behind closed doors. About two weeks before the April 20, 2010 trial date. No, they not only didn't investigate the alleged charter violations by one of their own, they tried to hide it, so it wouldn't be tried inside a public venue like U.S. District Court. It probably would have been one hell of a trial but definitely not one the city would have liked because in actuality, there was no way to "win" it.

The revelations that arose last year stemming from the lawsuits about the micromanagement of the police department (down to its last budgetary dime) were disheartening that all these unethical and possibly illegal activities had been taking place when many people were working hard on improving the police department to the tune of over $26 million. Less than four years after the dissolution of the stipulated judgment, the department had once again gotten into trouble at its very top, and with the tendrils reaching into the Seventh Floor of City Hall. City management employees did everything to be decked out like cops short of deputizing themselves and Priamos wanted to soup up his take home car with flashing lights and a police radio so he could "roll" in on major incidents. One of the most interesting developments with the arrival of Chief Sergio Diaz is that the marriage between the police department and Priamos along with his deputy attorney, Jeb Brown is apparently on the rocks leaving the legal branch of that union more than a little miffed.

Diaz might curse this blog at his major command staff and management gatherings even as allegedly back in July he received "advice" on promotions from the same folks who had done so in the past. And apparently Diaz said no thanks, which is what needed to be said loud and clear. But unfortunately, the rights of two of his current captains were allegedly violated during a promotional process which especially at the top went horribly astray during the past few years, on the public's watch. We've surely reaped the benefits indeed of the way that captains and those above them were promoted in the past five years as the chain of events that unfolded have clearly shown. The relationship between the crises that struck the top of the police department's management level and the promotional process that got most of them there, clearly related.

No promotional candidate should have to go through the experience of being told he or she is promoted and then have it revoked before they even get to the department to meet with the chief. No promotional candidate should have to go to clear the air with an elected official as whether or not an elected official likes or dislikes a candidate (especially purely based on politics) should have no bearing whatsoever in the promotional process. The city government has shown either it's in deep denial about what's happened (not likely given all the closed sessions on the lawsuits) or it doesn't care that at least two city employees were subjected to approval outside the process before being promoted and unpromoted and then in the case of the male candidate, promoted.

It's clear from the ethics complaints getting repeatedly denied that this is an issue that the city council and mayor don't want to touch and Priamos is a useful deflection shield for them. He's not the one who's really stopping the process, it's the elected officials who employ him and evaluate his performance at least annually. During public comment at the April 12 meeting, I got paired in some conspiracy outlined by Miguel Morales, along with two other women including one that died two years ago. He's entitled to his opinion although he betrayed his own connection to Adams through some comments he made on the dais that another individual picked up on.

Then news of Adams saying he was "exonerated." Exonerated how? The lawsuits which made the allegations were settled behind closed doors again, for more money than to try the case at that point, on the eve of trial. So no, he wasn't "exonerated" by that closed session vote, and neither ethics complaint was actually heard. Even Priamos never exonerated Adams with his decisions to reject two ethics complaints, because they weren't based on the actual allegations themselves. It would be most helpful if sometime during the discussion on Tuesday if either the city council, the mayor or Priamos could explain the process they engaged in which exonerated Adams as he claimed.

The issue's not even Adams, the issue is whether or not the police department's promotional process for two of its captains was misappropriated by individuals inside City Hall. It's about addressing an issue that City Hall doesn't want addressed even as attempts were allegedly made to influence the promotional process again by the same parties, this time thankfully going nowhere. Should elected officials be allowed to veto promotions involving police management employees, that's an interesting question except you can't go too far with it. The charter clearly prohibits it, Adams testified in his deposition that he knew that (and also that it might violate state law) but what happened and will the public ever know the truth? The depositions which again are the involved parties own words were pretty disturbing. It'd be great if those who were calling this complaint political or poo-poohing the whole deal would at least read them first.

The city council, most of which no doubt has already endorsed Adams as part of the ongoing group endorsement plan has no vested interest in the truth coming out if it doesn't favor it and its endorsement decisions.

But what's going to happen on Tuesday is that the dog is going to chase its tail again and again. That's what has been happening since the Ethics Code and Complaint process was first installed. It will keep on happening until the voting public's had enough of it.

In the Community Services Division of the police department, Sgt. Dan Warren is back in a patrol assignment and don't be surprised if his position is filled by Sgt. Cliff Mason, also president of the Riverside Police Officers' Association who's on "light duty" after blowing out his patella tendon while trying out for the sergeant's spot in the METRO division. His audition had raised a few eyebrows because he was on sergeant's probation at the time and often people don't get special assignments while serving out that initial probationary period. Hopefully, he's recuperating well because patella tendon tears are pretty major and also very painful.

Press Enterprise Columnist Dan Bernstein writes about the demise of investigative reporting. Below is the death of public forums for political candidates running for office.

Where are the Truly Public Candidate Forums in Riverside?

During Election 2011, people have asked me this, because most if not all the candidate forums for all four wards have either cost money or restricted their attendance either through numbers or affiliation. Even the forum held at California Baptist University this week will have limited seating. This leaves many of those interested in attending public forums, including those who will actually be voting in this election because they actually live in the involved wards without many opportunities to listen to the candidates debate or discuss the issues impacting the city and their wards, let alone ask questions.


Tuesday, April 19 at 2 and 6:30 pm, the Riverside City Council will meet to discuss this agenda. One of the closed session cases involves a settlement of an age discrimination and harassment filed by a former Riverside Police Department Communications dispatcher, Sharon Ludwig. She filed it in 2008 alleging that her trainer made disparaging comments about her age.

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