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

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

It's a Mad Mad World In Riverside's House of Cards

UPDATE: Jeffrey Hall, 32, found shot to death at a local residence. Unknown if he's the same individual who headed the Riverside chapter of the National Socialist Movement, an organization of Neo-Nazis who protested in Riverside several years ago.

Riverside city employees punished for whistle blowing on contracts given to Brad Hudson's friends?

Quote of the Day

"We are a much less desirable target for the state now because if they take us over, there is nothing left for them to steal,"

----Riverside City Manager Brad Hudson to Press Enterprise

UPDATE: Hudson promotes Development Director Deanna Lorson to an Assistant City Manager position. My, this is an interesting development in...development...more to come. Her first day, she calls SEIU, tells them about pension and benefit cuts. What are her cuts? And was this done because her boss is planning an exit strategy or simply to transfer her salary from Development to the general fund?

We're trying to tell the redevelopment story,"

--Mayor Ron Loveridge on why the city spent money on the redevelopment banners which adorn some of the city's projects but not the University Village which is in receivership. Yes, Loveridge, tell the residents the whole story, just make sure it's true.

The officer who was the son of one of the Riverside Police Department's captains had allegedly resigned before taking his position in the wake of an arrest last month for public intoxication and fighting. Allegations had arisen that his father upon hearing about the arrest tried to ask a Corona Police Department watch commander for preferential treatment for his son including his release without paperwork from a municipal jail. It's not known whether those allegations were investigated or not.

[Inside City Hall, more than a couple power struggles are brewing during Election 2011]

"You know she needed to vent, and I needed to hear it. But she did say, yeah she was considering, --she thought she had grounds for some sort of discrimination suit."

---Former Riverside Police Chief Russ Leach in his deposition about Capt. Meredyth Meredith (pg. 55, lines 8-11)

"No, the only thing after the fact was that Steve Adams didn't want her promoted for some reason unless other factors were involved; get the call from my boss and said they didn't approve my choice of captain. And it's the first time it ever happened to me so I wasn't happy."

---Leach, in his deposition (pg. 60, lines 19-24)

"I did ask why. They just said 'Look elsewhere for it Can't get the support for it.'"

---Leach (pg. 51 lines 4-5)

"I have absolutely nothing to do with promotions. There's nothing I can do."

---Adams in his deposition (p. 37, lines 20-21)

"I would describe it, it is perceived --my perceived--from his perception, me hanging out with Tim and Darryl, getting involved in campaign stuff, not supporting Steve in his reelection campaign that was my-my perception of it. And it was based not only on what occurred but as well as what he told me."

---Capt. John Carpenter about his perception on why he was prevented from being promoted in his deposition (pg. 156, lines 18-24)

There's nothing like a great conspiracy theory and the one unwoven by Riverside Councilman Steve Adams at the April 19 City Council meeting was better than most. Prompted by his supporter and international correspondent, Michael Morales who set him up with his own speech of the grand conspiracy of the "filthy five" which he didn't actually list linking Councilman Paul Davis, Adams' campaign rival John Brandriff and a bunch of other people including a woman who died a couple years ago to a conspiracy to make Adams look bad. Somehow I don't think those in his "filthy five" should be all that insulted.

It's what's known as a reversal in public rhetoric which Morales , who apparently is quite the online writer set up in his own speech and what was truly surprising was watching Adams promote it in his own speech. Morales typically shows up to serve as a point person for political candidates in need of one, just a phone call away. Though he changes his stances with the seasons, having argued for and against the Community Police Review Commission in the same calendar year (in front of vastly different audiences) for example so that offers up some degree of unpredictability from the former television newsman.

Adams in his own comments started off rather well by saying he wouldn't let an unethical officer get away with misconduct or an unethical politician. But then in the interest of "transparency", he launched his counterstrike against Davis, shocking some on the dais into being even more quiet on these issues than usual. But not Mayor Ron Loveridge who knew what he was doing when he directed Adams to continue, because he always knows what he's doing when he presides over the meetings he still attends. The second part of the speech wasn't really all that necessary for a man who was as uninvolved with the process as he had claimed but it definitely proved interesting.

Adams said he had evidence that the ethics complaints filed by the Riverside Coalition for Police Accountability and members of the Eastside Think Tank was done because Davis and Brandriff directed the organizations to do so. That's the first time I became aware of that as a member of one of those organizations. Actually, no, what led to the filing of the complaints was the allegations raised in the lawsuits filed by two now retired police lieutenants but what drove it even more was the sworn testimony (under penalty of perjury) provided by those who were subpoenaed including of course, Adams. If you haven't read the depositions yet, you should do that as anyone should so they can come to their own conclusions about the allegations raised but many of those who have read it came to similar conclusions, that being that clearly Riverside has had some disturbing actions taking place that only recently came to light. Hopefully, the constituents in Ward Seven who are asking Adams questions about his complaint will receive a copy of the sworn depositions as an answer in the interest of transparency.

Reading them was such an eye opener as it's been for many who actually did read them and a disturbing look at how City Hall does business, how it related to the police department under Leach and how from the outside of the walls of power, it just seems like City Hall's denizens speak a whole different language and operate under a whole different set of rules than it appeared. Adams must have been upset after his deposition when he gave it because only hours later, he verbally attacked me while I spoke at a city council meeting somewhat out of the blue, which seemed odd because it clearly came from out of nowhere.

But anyway, some verbal sword play took place between Adams and Davis while the comment was discussed by elected officials after receiving public comment. Bringing a new dimension to the Group Think environment that has permeated it, which needed to be smashed to bits ages ago. There needs to be someone on that dais who's bold enough to ask the questions which need to be asked, who's not looking ahead to the day when he'll be mayor.

[Councilman Paul Davis pushed for an ethics complaint to be pushed to a hearing date in front of a panel of five chairs of boards and commissions]

[Councilman Steve Adams agreed to the motion then channeled Bette Davis accusing Davis of conspiring against him to help candidate John Brandriff]

It had started a couple weeks ago when City Attorney Gregory Priamos had dismissed a complaint filed against Adams first for being the same in content as the first one, and then in the press for the the most recent changes to the much beleaguered ethics code and complaint process not being applied retroactively even though there's neither a provision in the actual code or or against retro-activity. He didn't happen to bring any documentation to defend or support that legal ruling but Priamos himself has allegedly told individuals who ask what his job is, that primarily it's to protect the mayor and city council though he seems less able to answer the question, protect them from what?

But then Priamos and his assistant, attorney Jeb Brown have apparently not been able to play as much of a major role in governing the police department as they did with the former police chief, Russ Leach. Chief Sergio Diaz allegedly has a much different idea of the role that the city attorney should play and that might have left Priamos at a loss of what to do so maybe the ethics code and complaint process is serving as a surrogate.

Anyway, even though the ethics code and complaint process had changed in part to thwart Priamos' role at dismissing complaints rather than sending them to the adjudication board, Priamos was up to his old behavior anyway. This time, three city council members, Davis, Mike Gardner and Andrew Melendrez questioned his actions including in public. The other city council members appeared to adopt the deer caught in the headlights approach to the issue but ultimately joined with the others to question why the agenda item involving legalizing retro-activity was up for them to decide on at all.

As Gardner, Melendrez and Davis spoke, Adams stayed there and watched, he even managed to stay in his seat the entire time during public comment, a huge change for him and he had his supporters in the room to at least watch including three board members from the Riverside Police Officers' Association which already endorsed him reversing its position from 2007.

[Mayor Ron Loveridge (l.) and City Attorney Greg Priamos (far right) really, really tried to help Adams but the majority of the city council saw the writing on the wall.]

The presence of the RPOA's leadership was ironic, considering the fractious relationship it had with Adams in 2007 when it opted to endorse another candidate rather than him. He had circulated a letter that had upset its leadership, at about the same time that the leadership of the Riverside Police Administrators' Association also began experiencing friction with Adams after its decision not to endorse him.

The political climate hasn't been kind to leadership in either association, sending three prior leaders of them into early retirement after lawsuits were filed by all three alleging retaliation for their union activities. And with attempts to push the two-tier promotion plan to both police associations, some have speculated that doing so at a time when three principal board members including the president are on promotional probation might be the best time for Hudson. But so far he hasn't yet made his move in that direction. Even as the battle of the pensions reached the city council debates held at California Baptist University on April 20. The city and members of city council have been promoting the two tier pension plan. Mayor Ron Loveridge did like at his annual State of the City address sponsored by the Greater Riverside Chamber of Commerce and for the first time in years, didn't receive a standing ovation from those in attendance which included many city employees.

But it's interesting while there's talk of reducing pensions for future employees, that there's discussion about making the city council stints full-time positions with full-time pay which means, hey a pay hike for them! Hmm...dudes, it's an election year, is that the best time to raise that issue because if you think pensions for public employees is very contentious topic, well, those for elected officials and management employees (think Bell! Think Mo Val!) is even more so. What's really striking is that the issues hasn't been raised about how elected officials can actually collect pensions and life time benefits simply for serving at least five years on the dais. What's with that? Some say that some elected officials ran for reelection simply to qualify for those benefits. Didn't work quite so well for one of them. But then debates are the times when candidates throw all kinds of comments out there, what matters is what is done as follow through on what is said.

Wait, did former Councilman Dom Betro really say as the article implies there are abuses in redevelopment? If you think that's what he really believes or cares, there's some lovely beachfront property in Idaho I'd love to show you. After all, he told the Greater Democrats of Riverside at their forum a while back (when he wasn't chastising them about policing their membership) that he and former Councilman Frank Schiavone were the catalysts on the dais who had brought in Hudson in the first place. Hudson didn't apply for the job because he was bored with the county, he was recruited by Riverside, and if one former councilman's comments are true, they sought him out a year before he was hired.

Which mean that they were recruiting him while still trying to figure out what to do with their current city manager, George Carvalho. If that's true, then Carvalho never stood a chance. Maybe some of the people who voted for him to stay and against his firing really agreed with the majority that fired him but took that road to please their fired up constituents who protested the firing of Carvalho enmasse at a city council meeting not long after. After all, only four votes were needed.

In fact Betro's argument apparently for being reelected to some is that yes, Hudson got a little bit out of control after Betro left and he's really the only candidate up for election in his ward that can bring him back in line or under control. As far as campaign points go, that's a doozy and it's hard to see the rationale behind it.

Betro also was featured in Inland Empire Weekly as a key proponent to the threatened use of eminent domain to seize properties in the downtown Redevelopment Agency zone. One of his campaign donors, Mark Rubin was a beneficiary of the ejection of property owners out of several major corridors including Market Street in downtown Riverside, thanks to Betro and others on the dais at the time. So it's a bit odd to see him claiming that there's abuses and/or problems with redevelopment on this campaign jag when he was championing ejecting property owners off of those streets to remold downtown into exactly what, no one still seems to know.

But even as the city pays money out of its deflated coffers to post banners trumping redevelopment projects even on projects not really coming from that funding source, it leaves out others such as the University Village which is currently under receivership and that major condo project down on Market Street after it turned out that only four condos were purchased out of over 100, the rest of them serving as rentals. The ambitious project which was to reduce the percentage of rental properties downtown only served to increase it.

I and others have been accused by Adams and his syncopates of being out to get him and get another candidate, John Brandriff in office. I learned that not only am I endorsing him, I'm actively working on his campaign. Then there's the story that Davis and Brandriff were pushing the people who filed the complaints to do that. Maybe the Davis and Adams clash was overdue but

No actually it's possible for those who think outside the political box to file a complaint challenging the ethical behavior of an elected official without being politically motivated. Ward Seven has a very important decision ahead of it, just like the other odd numbered wards which is to first, participate in the election process which is one of the country's greatest freedoms and to elect their councilman, be it Adams, Brandriff or former Mayor Terry Frizzel. It's that ward's choice.

Besides after studying the issue of campaigns, both successful and not, and then studying the performance of winning candidates, grass roots or otherwise, the conclusion I've reached is that for those who invest in council futures, it's a risky venture because no matter what promises candidates make, or what they claim they stand for and what they claim to do, it all changes within two years of them serving in their offices. It's happened time and time again where those who backed candidates, endorsed them and volunteered countless hours for them get upset because the candidate turns out not to be who they think they were or they "change" or they even do a 180 degree change as at least one candidate up for office this time did leaving many of his supporters confounded. Not so much because they're bad people or public servants, but because they're good politicians. The problem, is when being a good politician matters more than being a public servant to your constituents.

But what ultimately drives the change in victorious candidates to council members is the system that they participate in while in elected office. That's what is broken not so much the candidates themselves. You get rushed into this "go along to get along" or what's called "Group Think" on the dais. The temptation is to engage in voting bloc building first on city-wide issues and then as part of the "open market" system of bartering for support on ward projects by agreeing to do the same for your peers. If you want that park built and need support, you need to support other elected officials' projects and if your colleague is up for reelection, you blanket endorse him or you get shut out of the garden club. This kind of system slowly erodes and ultimately destroys an elected body's ability to hold its members accountable for their behavior on and off the dais. That's one reason why the ethics code and complaint process ultimately will prove to be a failure in River City no matter how many amendments are stacked into the process. Few if anyone on that dais really want that process to succeed. Remember these folks probably knew about the illicit gun sale by the police department to management employees, about the illicit badges, even receiving them themselves but what was their response as a council?

To gather behind closed doors and settle two lawsuits for more money including benefits than it would have cost to try the case in court a few weeks later and "win" it. What the settlements make clear is that despite Priamos tried and true mantra he trots out with every case settled, they clearly didn't think they'd win this round in federal court, also known as a public forum. If you've read the depositions, you'll know why they settled this case.

So where does an ethics process factor into this equation? It really doesn't, if it weren't for the pesky voters in 2004 who voted the code and complaint process into the city's charter, would it even exist.

Of course not. After all it hadn't existed up to that point.

So endorsing or pushing for political candidates really just from observing others try and fail to do that, makes no sense. The key is to vote in the process and to hold your representative's feet to the fire no matter who's on the dais because that will keep you busy enough so you don't have time to work on campaigns of the next people in line to hold accountable when you wake up and realize it's all more of the same. After all, the city's nearly turned over its entire city council in the past several cycles and it's still increasing the city's debt into amounts that the next three generations probably couldn't pay for but will be forced to try to do. It's pretty frightening what will happen when the house of cards that the city's built comes tumbling down, when you have financial CEOs engage in risky financial schemes with the public's money (well actually debt) and then say there's "zero risk".

That's absolutely not true and the fact that the city's Financial CEO is saying that to the press is just ridiculous and makes it clear how unintelligent it believes most of the populace to be.

When in the world of financial investment and spending, there's always risk involved and there's no such thing as an exception to that rule. Sundeen even contradicted his own assessment by outlining what the risk actually was, and that was the bonds were tied into the success or failure of the housing market to get out of its current basement. Riverside Renaissance was set up during a time of flush and when the city council held its coronation at the Municipal Auditorium which added to the theatrics of the event, a few people warned about the downturn ahead and were essentially poo poohed and laughed at by their elected representatives. Well some of those former and current elected officials found out the hard way that nothing including economic prosperity lasts forever and that the worst recession in decades was on the horizon. The problem that Renaissance is probably still going on right now is that the city has buried itself too deeply to get out of it, as it has been with similar development plans in other cities that mortgaged themselves down to their last building even before Riverside came up with its grand idea of the Renaissance. In this rendition, the dark ages came after it, rather than before.

When we find out that all those libraries and public safety buildings we constructed with accumulating really don't belong to us after all but if the city takes a wrong step, a financial institution that holds that debt. And members of the public had been asking the elected officials about buildings that had been put up as collateral when the city takes out bonds or loans for several years now.

One city resident pointed out a while back that the Casa Blanca library was used as collateral in a loan that had nothing to do with libraries and brought it up at a meeting only to get the usual brushoff that the public really doesn't know the full story about the city's financial situation. But when you ask most of the elected officials to provide that full story, they seem at a loss for words as well. This isn't anything new, these themes have played themselves out at public meetings for a while now, they just don't usually make the press. The city has put itself in a situation that it will take one elected official or more with frankly the guts to put themselves on the line to try to clean out the city's closets, that's what people have also been saying for quite some time.

Until there's elected officials who remain as true to exploring these issues say about two years after they're elected as they were to get elected in the first place, then endorsing or promoting candidates is pretty much a waste of energy and time. It's best to leave that up to the high priced donors through their wallets. Because the one thing Riverside has never seen, is two successful grass roots campaigns in a row.

[City Manager Brad Hudson testified (though not under oath) that he absolutely never was influenced by elected officials when making promotional decisions, yes promotional decisions.]

But anyway the Seventh Floor of City Hall continues to develop more strategies to build up the debt further, making the house more precarious, making it clear that an ethics complaint against one of its denizens is the least of its concerns.

When Managers Clash:

The Battle Between the Old and New Guard at the RPD Continues

[Riverside's Administration Headquarters, the epicenter of some epic battles in the management ranks]

[The three newest management team members, Chief Sergio Diaz, Deputy Chief Jeffrey Greer and Asst. Chief Chris Vicino at a community forum]

[Deputy Chief Mike Blakely (l.) and Diaz at a Riverside Unified School Board meeting while an officer receives an award]

Things have apparently gotten a little heated at the Riverside Police Department's Administrative headquarters on Orange Street Station in downtown Riverside. Housed there are of course Chief Sergio Diaz along with other employees working under either his division or the civilian administrative side. These include of course, Asst. Chief Chris Vicino who's second in the chain of command and Deputy Chief Michael Blakely who oversees administration and personnel under Vicino's office. If you use the paramilitary patriarchal structure of the department or something more generic like the food chain, the order of rank starts with Diaz, then Vicino and then Blakely. The other deputy chief Jeff Greer oversees field operations and investigations and thus is housed way across the city at the Magnolia Police Center and a bit of a distance away from the fireworks at the main office. Maybe he's a little relieved about that, because he's had his own adjustment on the management team in a new town.

Diaz apparently some time ago convened a meeting of a large group of employees who are up higher in the ranks to deal with some issues with them, the main one apparently being efforts made near the top to undercut him and his own efforts to manage the department. Apparently this blog wasn't held in high esteem during that conversation, in fact what he allegedly said about it had some colorful metaphors which have been used before. He's entitled to his opinion and since he'd also been to the citizen academy telling those in attendance that they'd been pretty much brainwashed by television programs and bloggers into believing something different about the police department than what existed in reality, it's not surprise he's apparently no fan of this blog. No police chief acting or permanent has been so far.

In fact, his predecessor, Acting Chief John DeLaRosa made periodic visits to roll call to unite the troops as one big family, some saw that as an attempt at reconciliation, others as ridiculous because that family hadn't ever really existed until it became necessary. He made one trip insisting for example that Lt. Leon Phillips hadn't been put in the penalty box at Orange Street Station to be punished but to be trained for a "special assignment" when about a week after he made that pronouncement, Phillips "special assignment" allegedly involved getting a notice of intent to terminate. Phillips allegedly spent time doing what he needed to do to build his case to take to city management to get his discipline dropped to a written reprimand. He stuck to his plan and prevailed, determined to not be a scapegoat in the Leach DUI incident.

At the time, DeLaRosa didn't relate his own involvement and that of his cell phone in the whole DUI incident involving he former police chief. So reconciliation didn't include a confessional component along with it and the one officer there who called him on his reconciliation message and its motives was summarily fired about eight weeks later ending a career which had lasted much longer than that. His firing was reversed even before it was sent to arbitration when the city council medically retired him when it settled his federal lawsuit paying him back salary and additional monies minus a brief unpaid suspension.

So much for family building but it appeared that Diaz was borrowing a tactic from the former chief who still apparently advises him.

He was allegedly asked by concerned individuals to give examples of the efforts by unknown people to undermine him and he brought up an interesting example, only one. It had to do with his appointment of Deputy Chief Mike Blakely last July. He had been advised by individuals at City Hall not to appoint Blakely to that position, he told his audience but he made that decision to do so anyway and that the department needed to support that and put its past behind it.

What's interesting is what he said, compared to the actual dynamics surrounding him, Blakely and Vicino and what's allegedly been playing out since back in August when the cabinet of Diaz was more firmly entrenched. Two at will employees hired from outside the city along with one long-time police employee, an interesting mix to say the least. Now Diaz is obviously intelligent in a difficult job and some of his goals like the creation of programs for youth reflect that drive towards reestablishing community policing in a city where attrition and politics shifted it downstream for a while. He appears a force to be reckoned with at City Hall keeping some folks like City Attorney Gregory Priamos and his syncopate Jeb Brown at bay which has not made either man very happy. Remember Priamos had such a hands on role in police administration that he once allegedly sought to get police lights and a radio to equip his city issued vehicle in case he had to "roll" to a major incident. Being pushed to the sidelines if that's what happened had to be a critical blow but if it was welded, then Diaz did what should have been done ages ago. A very good and prudent move on his part and he's made some brilliant strategic moves in the past six month, making them without it seeming that way. Clearly this chief learned a few things while advancing through the difficult ranks of the Los Angeles Police Department.

But what he's done in the situation that's erupted with his cabinet is take a wait and see approach as two vibrant personalities have clashed since they first crossed. Both Blakely and Vicino are intelligent, strongly opinionated and they both clearly have strong work ethics, putting in many hours in their positions without seeming to blink at it. They are located next door to each other both inside the administrative headquarters and in the parking lot outside as well. In some ways, it's a collision between old guard and interloper, an inevitable dynamic that's played out in the police department before and in other law enforcement agencies as well.

Vicino's main hurdle has been his newness, and that along with Diaz and Greer, he had a tendency to say "this is how we did it in [Insert former law enforcement agency] when proposing his changes and there's been quite a few in a couple key areas, which has left people feeling the arrival of a management team that's 75% new blood including at the top. It'd make more sense to just present the new proposals independent of any reference to where they came from and sell them on their components 0f those proposals themselves. Blakely's got the advantage of positive or negative, being a member of the home court before the new people arrived, and thus serving as a contrast to the three new arrivals. Blakely's more likely to be seen by some as one of them as opposed to individuals who only had been with the department about nine months, seemingly dropping out of the sky compared to individuals who have spent decades including working up the ranks.

But Vicino's a force of his own and he's been quite busy helping with the redevelopment of the department's strategic plan and the reintroduction of the Community Services Bureau which existed until several years ago when it was shelved during what was sold as an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to decentralize its programs and thus community policing. This time around, it was combined with the public information office and when it came time to find a lieutenant, over two-thirds of them applied for the position. Guy Toussaint who had led the Traffic Division was selected by Diaz, the Bureau became the focal priority inside Orange Street Station and received generous office space there. Hunting for the sergeant to serve under Toussaint became much more difficult because none of them put in for it, leaving Toussaint to have to recruit, and for a while, Dan Warren worked as the sergeant in that unit.

But Warren was sent back to patrol allegedly and is likely to have his vacancy filled with a sergeant on light duty, perhaps even Cliff Mason who's been out for several months with a severe patella tendon rupture which required surgery and will be set to return next month to light duty.

Vicino also is the department's third assistant chief in at least its recent history. Under the old schematic, the department had only one deputy chief until Leach promoted Mike Smith to this rank not long after he arrived, with Audrey Wilson serving as the deputy chief. Then Leach appointed DeLaRosa when he had two deputy chief positions, during that whole "at will" controversy that erupted in March 2007. The management team had greatly expanded in the past decade under Leach and currently those same positions are filled, including a deputy chief position that had been vacant after the retirement of Dave Dominguez. Maybe it's not a position that those who have led the department are that familiar with because it's not been around as long.

What's puzzling about the Blakley and Vicino dynamic is that it's not like two deputy chiefs in conflict, Vicino on the hierarchical chart outranks Blakely as the assistant chief which would seem to preclude serious conflicts from playing out, including allegedly in the parking lot when both men were at their cars. What had started allegedly with Blakely having different opinions than Vicino on how things were to be done and his testing of the authority of Vicino has led to the two men speaking very little to each other. At a recent city council meeting when both attended, there appeared to be a chill in the air.

At the center of the controversy are changes made by Vicino (presumably under Diaz' direction) to the handling of the investigations handed out by Internal Affairs and the disciplinary process itself, instituted by Diaz since his arrival. Previously Blakely had overseen the Internal Affairs process as the Personnel and Administrative captain. He had initiated investigations and disciplinary action, but Vicino apparently asked questions as to why officers weren't on active duty when the allegations against them were unfounded. He asked questions about why certain investigations were ongoing or dragging or done in the first place and looked into disciplinary practices done by that division.

[The headquarters of the Internal Affairs Division which has been a focus of the dynamics between two members of Diaz' management team]

Changes to disciplinary imposition were apparently made as well, with captains who oversaw the officers apparently making recommendations and sending them to Greer and Vicino bypassing Blakely. So while Diaz had asked for unilateral support for Blakely in that meeting in front of Blakely, was he internally changing his scope of responsibilities in his division? If so, that would certainly send a confusing message to everyone. Asking people to support his appointment yet showing them by reducing that employee's scope of power, how does that mesh with those words?

In the midst of this, are three very active and strong personalities, with stronger opinions but if there were a power struggle between two management employees where one outranks the other, how's that handled or is it not handled? When does a difference of opinion become insubordination, and what are all the layers in between the two? But then again, Blakely's been a strong player in the department behind the scenes outlasting three chiefs including the one who brought him into the department as its deputy chief. He rode out the turmoil involving Leach, his protege, DeLaRosa and the rest of the intrigue, thriving in the midst of chaos at the top and became a focal party in a number of claims and lawsuits filed by current and former employees, making very serious allegations against him and the conduct of the Internal Affairs Division.

Still Vicino's got to do more than stand his ground because he's the assistant chief and he has the energy and skills to bring into the mix and he could be a potent force for positive change, even if it's in a department that sometimes seems to go around in circles like an amusement ride, moving forward and then retreating backwards again. He's capable of more than holding his own in a battle of wills if he keeps his focus and if there were problems doing on the arena of internal investigations and discipline which was highlighted with a few well known cases in the past year, then that's a struggle worth winning but it should be in a way that builds a stronger, more accountable process that's in accordance with the state laws that shaped it. That's one of Vicino's responsibilities as an administrator upon direction by Diaz to shape an internal investigation and disciplinary process that's accountable to those moving through it, as well as the public but Vicino needs to make it appear less as if he's doing things differently simply because that's how they were done where he came from, because the Riverside Police Department is truly its own unique entity, not like the LAPD or Pasadena's police department.

Diaz has continued to adopt the wait and see approach that's a hallmark of where he came from, he's picked up his skills from those he watched and followed during his own ascension in the LAPD. But while he's looking around for people undermining him, and those evil bloggers, he's got a power struggle going on at the top that bears paying attention to, just as he learned when he made those July promotions that some of the old familiar players that had been involved in that process might return to do it again.

It's unfortunate that he apparently views bloggers as the enemy but if he's paying attention, he'll realize that he inherited a department with a lot of hardworking employees and great things going on but its share of serious issues as well including some that still remain buried. If he hasn't uncovered them yet, he will. He must remain mindful of why he's in the department and not enjoying retirement even as he looks ahead to the future of the agency he leads and manages. A familiar dynamic will likely arise if the Blakely and Vicino conflict continues, as it had with other similar dynamics with other management teams, which actually became opposing teams with varying employees joining one or another.

And that's not a chapter that's really one that needs to be relived, but one that needs to be rewritten in a new script.

An Old Face Returning?

[Former Asst. Chief John DeLaRosa has expressed interesting in applying for the Charter Review Committee]

The city's still collecting applicants for phase two of the appointment process for the Charter Review Committee which has suspended its meetings until the new members are selected. One of those who allegedly has plans to apply is former Asst/Acting Chief John DeLaRosa who told individuals at one of the meetings he attended that he's interested in putting his name in the hat. If appointed after an interview by the city council, he would certainly prove to be an interesting addition.

Public Meetings

Tuesday, April 26 at 3 pm and 6:30 pm, The city council will hold its weekly meeting at City Hall to discuss this agenda.

Wednesday April 27 at 5:30 p.m. The Community Police Review Commission will meet at City Hall and discuss this agenda. The agenda includes another round of discussion about minority reports.

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