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

Friday, April 01, 2011

When Old Guard Meets New in the Middle

[What soil liquification can look like after a major earthquake, this one the Feb. 22 Christchurch earthquake. This one's a street near my older sister's house]

[Deputy Chief Mike Blakely and Chief Sergio Diaz at a Riverside Unified School District meeting honoring one of their police officers]

[The three newest management team members during a meeting soliciting input for the Strategic Plan including Asst. Chief Chris Vicino (r.) who's allegedly had some interesting runins with Blakely at Orange Street]

It's been interesting watching the police department in the past eight months particularly the changes that have taken place at the top of its organizational hierarchy where there's a combination of old timers and newer blood working on the management restructuring inside the police department. Sometimes it's harmonious, some times more contentious including some, recent disagreements about the handling of issues involving the department's Internal Affairs division and some of its investigations. But that's part and parcel of any burgeoning process and the new chief was duly informed of the drama which had preceded his arrival at the department's upper echelon in terms of what he had inherited. So he shouldn't really be surprised at some of the wrinkles that have shown up including that involving one of his captains allegedly trying to get preferential treatment for his son, a new hire, when he was arrested by police officers in a neighboring city. Old habits die hard after all for some folks, and frankly some of the management team members might not have been accustomed to having an engaged police chief for quite a few years.

If he's an engaged chief, then that's a huge part of what's needed to change the system up at the top of the ladder.

But at a recent inaugural meeting held by the first citizen academy convening in years, Sergio Diaz used his opportunity in front of about 30 people including a surprisingly large number of City Hall folks to caution against being essentially brainwashed by the media including television programs and what's been referred to affectionately or not, as "the blog". That's not bad advice to tell city residents actually in general but first a historical perspective on Diaz' tenure here so far and that of his management cabinet. Because the city residents including those not sitting in underwear eating chitos aren't exactly brainwashed, many of them have just been paying attention for decades before Diaz and the other two management personnel hired from the outside arrived from where they came from.

In July, Diaz came into the police department after retiring from the Los Angeles Police Department where he had worked as the deputy chief of the downtown area of Los Angeles. Joining him later was Deputy Chief Jeffrey Greer who had worked at the same agency for many years. Also being picked for the management team was Asst. Chief Chris Vicino who had served two stints as interim chief in Pasadena's Police Department. Vicino had been applied for the top spot himself and had made it to the finals. The three men have diverse backgrounds and very different personality styles that they brought to the department and their respective positions.

These three men of course filled in the positions that were vacated by attrition through retirements including one based on medical reasons and their arrival began another era in the police department. The promised creation of a new generation of leaders and managers that had been made by the previous administration about 10 years ago had never been realized. It takes collaboration, cooperation and most important mentoring to build leaders and managers and during the creation of what was called a "business culture" in the police department, apparently turned out to be as cutthroat at the top as in many a rising Fortune 500 company. Assorted power plays had been taking place during earlier chief administrations right up through the tenure of Russ Leach. Not only were police management employees involved in these operations but assorted officials at City Hall as well, some of whom are no longer part of the canvas. Management players teamed up together against a chief and then when they'd achieved what they wanted, they realized they couldn't trust or turn their backs on each other. Promotions allegedly became items to be bartered or favors to be repaid. Sometimes it seemed like a page out of a Shakespeare play, other times like an episode of Survivor Island.

Diaz became the second outside hired chief, the second consecutive from the LAPD and the third within the last four police chiefs who didn't rise up within the police department he would lead. Quite a few police departments including the LAPD seem to alternate from hiring outside police chiefs (i.e. Willie Williams, William Bratton) and hiring from inside (Darryl Gates, Bernard Parks and the current chief, Charlie Beck) and Riverside's department for the most part followed that same trend. Well, there had been a proclamation of sorts after Leach's hiring that the chief who followed him would be hired from the inside. But of course, it didn't work out that way.

Due to dynamics which dominated during Leach's reign, there wound up being a huge chasm between the chief and those who were next in line. That's why when Leach retired, he was followed out by several key management personnel soon after, the house of cards collapsing very quickly. Competition for the chief's position from the remnants inside drew and quartered two top candidates and when someone did apply for the chief's job, it turned out to be a captain with about six years at that level, most of it spent in assignments internally.

There had been good opportunities to build leadership and management in the past but they weren't explored, in the midst of a lot of intrigue that took place instead. There wasn't a shortage of good employees, the gap between them and the next level was simply too large and people looked at those directly behind them on ladders as people to be stepped on not to work together to climb it. That was something that Diaz and his management team needed to address if they were going to do as Diaz promised the city residents and police department which was for the next chief to be appointed from inside the ranks. The best mark of a chief being that his tenure not be so memorable in terms of having his signature on it, because the focus would be on the changes that were made to improve a system not on the person who engineered them. If that can be remembered, then someone like Diaz has the potential to make those changes to do what the last regime failed to do and that's producing the next generation of leadership.

Diaz' best legacy would be to leave the department in a much better place than when he arrived and in the hands of a generation of capable supervisors, leaders and managers and have that transcend himself. It's up to him whether he'll do that or not but to do that, he had to address reality and not worry so much about what image he's projecting around him. Change the reality and the image will take care of itself, and if too much time is spent on crafting image, then it's time to go back to the drawing board again. It's a bit bizarre when the media including bloggers are asked to do that job for the department (and I once received an angry diatribe from a civilian PIO person that I wasn't doing my part to promote image) but again, the importance is in creating reality and in making changes in it where necessary, not in crafting some image to cloak it. The first will take care of the second whereas if focusing on the second will endanger your opportunities to do so.

That means when situations come up like say what happened in the past week with the new hire arrested for public drunkenness and fighting, the focus should be on the three or four questions that should have raised red flags just on that one incident. Not to worry about how it makes the department look or whether it gives the *right* impression of the department. Crises happen and leaders face them. It's not the crises that necessary defines an agency or even the fact that people know that it happened, it's about how the leadership in charge stops worrying about how it makes him or her look and just deal with the crisis on your plate. In this situation it's the fact that the police department at some point hired the son of one of its captains who was discharged from probation some place else.

That hire then can't even make it to his swearing in date without getting arrested and then there were apparently attempts at the top to get him preferential treatment from another agency. Mind you, this is little more than a year after a greater crisis brought the whole issue of double standards and preferential treatment to the center of this city's conscience including the under wearing wearing chito eating brigade. But this latest misstep isn't just a crisis, it's an opportunity for Diaz to show that he's a leader in difficult situations which he's shown in a couple of the toughest situations that an agency can face including the loss of one of its officers. He defended Officer Ryan Bonaminio against online criticism about his actions on the night he was killed which was the right thing to do in that situation and most people fundamentally agree with that, it's just that there were better ways to do it than stereotyping, which is something the agency as well as law enforcement has been accused of doing often enough. The stereotype itself becomes the focus rather than the valid argument that was raised by Diaz on the issue.

It's nice that Diaz can salsa with Tera Harden (who ironically was the criminal defense attorney for former officer Dave Reeves Jr. ) because it gives people an opportunity to see another side of him but it's also important about how he addresses situations like the latest one involving one of his management staff. But it's often been a struggle by different chiefs who either rose up through the ranks of the police department or came from outside of in terms of defining themselves and their mission statement.

A graduate fellow had once written this analysis of the police department while Ken Fortier was its chief during the 1990s. Its argument was that Fortier had come into the department (with his deputy chief Mike Blakely who's interviewed extensively) to change the police department by bringing in some of the practices utilized by his old haunt, San Diego Police Department. Fortier revamped the department's Internal Affairs Division putting it under a lieutenant (then Lt. Audrey Wilson) for the first time and had created the first Problem Oriented Policing (POPs) teams. At the time, San Diego Police Department had been one of the innovators (along with Santa Ana Police Department) with community oriented policing.

The only thing I can say about Fortier is that I never made him gnash his teeth and curse during his tenure. I met him only once in 1996 at a Common Ground dinner and he had dressed up in a business suit and sat at the table eating his cold cuts sandwich talking about how he'd gone back to San Diego to visit and had chased over and caught a purse snatcher, making it over a perimeter wall when a younger officer couldn't. Fortier appeared intelligent enough in the conversation but somewhat aloof and removed even from what he was talking about and that's the reputation he had at least among some segments of the community though he was popular in others. The paper by researcher David Thatcher (who's still around) illuminates his successes and his failures through interviewing employees in the city and the department who are both name attributed and not, The latter not surprisingly producing more candor in the responses to Thatcher's questions because people know that candor's not rewarded within the city's ranks.

Fortier made the following observation about community policing in one of his relations of a conversation he had with some of his command staff.

Well, that’s community policing. Community policing is not paper badges and tours of police cars, and shaking hands, and so on. Community policing is doing something about problems, and crime, and getting the public involved and getting them energized to work with us.”

That's a useful philosophy actually but Fortier didn't really prove to be effective at implementing it because when he didn't seem to have or show the skills to sell his changes without reminding those who he was having carry out those changes that he was from the outside. He seemed to alienate more people than he brought together and pitted one person against another to achieve a goal, according to Thatcher's assessment. During his reign, the embarrassing chapter of former Sgt. Christine Keers' sexism lawsuit played out and lawsuits and threatened lawsuits including that over drug testing involving a former officer involved in the 1997 incustody death of a Latino man that cost the city $790,000 to settle several years later. Fortier ultimately like Sonny Richardson (an inside chief) received a no-confidence vote from the Riverside Police Officers' Association and took a medical retirement, disappearing off the canvas.

His successor Jerry Carroll, a "Blues Brother", had apparently been a popular officer but given that he went from being a sergeant to police chief in about five years, that didn't leave him much time to develop his administration and leadership skills because that's a pretty tough learning curve to put before yourself to learn a pretty tough job. Some called him Fortier's polar opposite and when another officer, John DeLaRosa elevated that rapidly through the ranks leading some to call him "Johnny Who" (holding a variety of assignments but it would be logistically impossible for any to be for long), it didn't serve him any better.

Carroll ultimately received a lack of confidence from the union but the last straw for him had been discovering that behind his back the city council and Mayor Ron Loveridge had been discussing two lieutenant promotions behind closed doors. Not just talking about creating new lieutenant positions in the wake of a reverse racism and sexism lawsuit filed by five White male sergeants but actually who could fill those positions which incidentally is against the city's charter. After Carroll got wind of that, there were several frantic meetings at City Hall to defuse the situation that had erupted, after the closed doors of the city council's closed session weren't enough to contain it.

[Former City Manager John Holmes discussing the negotiations for the promotions of two lieutenants with leaders including former City Councilman Ameal Moore (r.). Holmes retired not long after Carroll did. ]

But the situation had included more than one tier of intrigue. This was back in the day of the now deceased Human Resources Manager Judith Griffith who had received complaints somewhat off the beaten track of the department's hierarchy by two captains, one of them Blakely. Years have passed and most of the parties involved are gone save two now captains who were on opposite sides of that lawsuit. John Carpenter, one of the suing parties and Meredith Meridyth whose promotion to lieutenant was one of three that attracted that lawsuit. Ironically, the two of them would wind up in different categories pertaining to the allegations that a city council member interfered with the promotional process involving three lieutenants who were captains' candidates. If that were the case, it would have been another charter violation involving administrative interference, to join what that prior city government had apparently done while negotiating two promotions during closed sessions in 1999 and 2000.

Blakely came in through the ranks having been with the department since the early 1990s and he was the only captain of the group not promoted through the system which elevated three of them into that tier, meaning he wasn't promoted by former Chief Russ Leach. That created an interesting if pervasive dynamic in terms of the balance of power between him and the others. And for better or worse, Blakely is Blakely. He's mercurially quick in working out a powerful niche for himself in the police department and is loyal really to no one in a department once defined by loyalties to varying team leaders.

His work ethic has been very rigorous during his tenure with the agency and the other captains soon emulated it when it became clear that a new chief was coming to town. But Blakely took one of his rare vacations recently which as Diaz told a group of press people was "well deserved". Blakely wasn't the only one who didn't show at that press meeting. Capt. Mike Perea who works in Administration and Personnel under Blakely didn't show up either but his absence wasn't addressed at all during the meeting. The media outside the Press Enterprise likely wouldn't recognize either employee only because they work inside the administration, the part of the department not normally on display or visible outside institutional walls.

That was interesting but so was that meeting which had been advertised as an open house celebrating the launch of the renovated Community Services Program and after about a five minute PowerPoint presentation, turned into an interesting forum on media, the dos and don'ts and a question and answer session. If you had a question about Youth Court, the teen programs or how community services would implement the philosophy of community policing in its application, that might be another meeting. But apparently it had quite a few people in attendance confused about what had happened. Diaz called the whole thing a "miscommunication", some shuffling in the Community Services Division/Public Information Office went on soon after behind the scenes and one community member left feeling like she'd crashed the wrong party after Diaz had informed those in attendance it was not an "open community forum".

What it was, turned out to be an interesting event as media individuals including the "good" ones dutifully asked questions after receiving pointers.

The Inland Empire Magazine which sticks mostly to addressing cultural, public and social events among the "who's who" of Riverside proper was properly courted, so was the Press Enterprise which sent everyone left but the publisher, Ronald R. Redfern. Neither La Prensa or La Opinion, the Hispanic Business News or the Black Voice News sent any representatives to what turned out to be an interesting and lively discussion. ABC dropped by for a couple of minutes and Mary Park and her camera man stayed for the meeting even as the network itself changed ownership. But none of the Spanish speaking networks that often show up along with the nationally established counterparts were in attendance either.

Diaz introduced the heads of the Community Services Division which this time around has been merged with the public information office. Lt. Guy Toussaint beat out about 13 lieutenants who applied for his position. No sergeants allegedly had gone out for it so Toussaint apparently recruited Sgt. Dan Warren as part of his staff. However, Warren was transferred out of this division to patrol not long after the division opened up its doors for business and that meeting with the press. His replacement hasn't been announced yet by Diaz at least not officially (though one sergeant on light duty might be moving to that office soon) but that's a bit surprising. Mainly to see that type of shuffling only weeks after a division's re-creation has taken place. Warren was an excellent host at the event along with the other members of the Community Service Division who all seemed very interested in what they're doing.

The department launched its first citizen academy since it was allegedly cut due to budget cuts back when the public information officer's position was held by a civilian employee. There's a pretty good summary on the initial training session here at The Truth Publication. It's great news that Diaz instituted the program which will as he say, improve relationships between community and police officers. And between the police department and city employees as well given the rather high representation of City Hall folks in the first class. A group of individuals serving on the Riverside Neighborhood Partnership were invited as well. It seemed to be a group of people who either already work for the city or are already well networked with the city. Diaz apparently called him the department's "ambassadors" which seemed a bit odd only because the department's own employees are its "ambassadors". The communities are the different areas where these "ambassadors" are being sent to build relationships and strengthen connections.

The term, "ambassadors" implies that the city's residents work for the police department when in reality, Diaz and the department work with the residents of the city. The department and the communities are more like equal partners in public safety, both serving vital functions.

The only thing wrong with the Citizen Academy is that it's most often about preaching to the choir rather than inviting people that perhaps weren't already familiar with the police department's operation or heavily tied into the city. The number of city employees represented for example was higher than representation in some of the neighborhoods themselves combined including the Eastside. And it's not city employees including department heads that the police department needs to build bridges with and promote trust, it's communities like the Eastside and the academy could be a bridge to do that and Diaz has shown himself to be an effective ambassador at public meetings which provides the avenue to do just that. Just as he's proven to be effective at improving the often rocky relationships between the department and the Community Police Review Commission.

Looking at Santana's photos, I found I recognized many of the people in them and that's not really a great thing. Some have already attended the citizen academy in the past and there's a wealth of residents among the 350,000 plus city residents who really could benefit from the academy and just aren't on the conventional lists of actively involved people. It might talk a lot of effort to reach these folks but it'd be well worth while in the future academies not part of the relaunching pilot program.

Most of the members invited this time already had City Hall connections and quite a few of them probably knew as much about the police department as they were going to learn from the training. It would have been interesting to see if the department's leadership had reached to communities and leaders that have had more fractious relationships with the department because for one thing, that's one way to build bridges that can be just as meaningful as those already built with City Hall department heads. That's a tactic that worked very well in Los Angeles (and interestingly Diaz had a pretty good track record in this area there) and probably would work well in Riverside too. That would make the citizen academy very meaningful as a program and community bridge builder and less like a public relations tool. It's also valuable in terms of recruiting volunteers a very important part of the police department but an area where there had been attrition in recent years due to issues in that division's operations that threatened the program.

Judging from Mr. Santana's wonderful photos, it's somewhat more diverse than the city's recently appointed Charter Review Committee. And Diaz communicated a very important message basically telling those in attendance that they had been programmed by television and blogs to believe a different truth about the police department than existed. That's very important to remember, that television and blogs, shouldn't become the sole resources that one seeks for information about any municipal agency including one addressing law enforcement. It's very important to consider different resources for gleaning that information, and there's quite a few resources available including the department's Web site which received a long overdue revamping.

But if the police chief assumes that everyone's been programmed by the media before even really meeting them, then will his assumptions change with the course of this citizen academy class? He sees that the media's definition of what the Riverside Police Department isn't the truth which it can't be at least not entirely given the insulated nature of most law enforcement agencies. But is the portrait presented of an agency to the public by its leader the entire truth either? Department heads and managers present the parts of their agencies that they want or are able to allow people to see and that's certainly true in law enforcement. And that's not the entire truth either. The reality is that any agency, including a law enforcement department is going to be a myriad of different things. Parts that are good and are success stories, and their counterparts that are problems and setbacks. Agencies are both tidy and messy, simple and very complicated and filled with dynamics and undercurrents that occasionally slip beyond even the most tightly contained boundaries to the outside.

It doesn't dim an agency's value to admit that it's complicated and that there's crises and problems. Most people are skeptical about situations that are outlined as being perfection in a world where that doesn't exist.

Like the dynamic that occurs when a new band of leaders come inside an agency and try to implement changes, and then emphasize as if it were necessary that they are outsiders by continuously saying, "This is how we did it in [name of police department]" when it might be more helpful to say "This might work here if we tailor it to this agency". Because the Riverside Police Department's not the LAPD (which has its own myriad laundry list of issues) or the Pasadena Police Department. It's not clear why there seems to be this energy to remake the police department into the image of another because it's not those departments nor should it be. Change is often necessary and it can be difficult but it becomes more so when the people instituting the changes do so in a way that reminds everyone that they are outsiders.

Addressing issues in the department's internal affairs division which have produced interesting dynamics between a newer manager, Vicino and an older one, Blakely over the merits of internal investigations that removed a number of officers from active duty.

Dealing with a city attorney's office that has its tendrils in the police department's operations to the extent that allegedly that office asked for its city-issued car to be decked out with police equipment including flashing lights and a radio. A city manager's office where employees acquired flat badges (destroyed because they violated state law) and firearms through the police department in a transaction that later had to be essentially "laundered" through recollecting the guns and reselling them through a local dealer. Promotional candidates being disqualified or having to "clear the air" with elected officials for any reason at the same time their names have been raised as a promotion by a police chief. Having police employees allegedly with written agreements issued by the city management not to work under other police employees. Having individuals who have helped facilitate the retirements of some of their leaders during the time when Diaz was himself working his way up the ladder of the LAPD.

Vicino and Blakely have very different personality styles, both have probably spent most of their careers knowing how they wanted things done. Vicino from his meetings has a very dynamic personality and Blakely's more behind the scenes but it remains to be seen how their interactions will impact the administrative and personnel which both oversee at their respective levels in the food chain including the handling of internal investigations initiated by Blakely.

Diaz walked into a quagmire which if he's smart, he knows and many people know that too. What will be interesting and ultimately more important than perhaps what he wants the city residents and media to do, is how he has stepped into the shoes of being a police chief and the decisions that he makes, both mundane and critical that impact many people in the city.

From the employees he leads to the communities that are part of the bridge building process, his role is an important one. Perhaps this blog could be filled with photos of him at social events but that's not why the city pays him a generous salary and benefits for a difficult job, why he was hired to lead the department during a particularly challenging time. The events and some of the issues that ultimately led to him being hired as a police chief are in the past, but not all the dynamics that led to them, one of which unfortunately reared its head only in the past several weeks. He has the opportunity to help change all that through his leadership, to build on the department's many strengths and work on its weaker areas but he had to decide whether to create an image or engage in building a reality that will over time take care of its image too.

Will the City Council Election Impact Pension Talks?

"You're asking (employees) to take cuts but you have somebody making more than the governor, and our City Council seems to be OK with that."

---Dvonne Pitruzzello, Ward One City Council candidate and former city employee

[Councilman Rusty Bailey is facing one challenger in his reelection bid but two others face more than that as pension issues become part of the debate]

[When he's not at the Corporate Yard, Hudson's been pushing for "pension reform" among his employees including deferred compensation cuts although most of his enormous pension benefits are protected by terms of his contract from the major cuts he "asks" of his employees]

[What exactly was provided for former Asst. City Manager Tom DeSantis in his severance package with the city?]

There's been speculation that pension "reform" will be one of the issues hotly discussed and debated in Election 2011 as the city's labor associations and unions like the SEIU interview candidates for endorsements.

This might shock some people but some city employees who are retired on pensions live near the poverty level (around $13,000/annually and some are definitely in that ballpark) or face losing their homes to foreclosures due to the recession which hasn't departed the Inland Empire yet including Riverside which has had the distinction of having the worst rate of recovery of any urban region in the country. And in some professions like police work, the vast majority of those hired at about age 21 don't remain in an agency or even the profession itself to collect pensions. And for years, the average amount of time that law enforcement officers lived to collect their pensions even with a younger retirement age was 5-8 years until they started adopting better eating habits and fitness in the last decade or so.

Those huge pensions you read about to whip you into a frenzy? Mostly high ranking management personnel and department heads including some who are making nearly as much money as the city manager who oversees them.

When the city tries to sell these pension cuts, it emphasizes the most elaborate pensions within its ranks and those likely will be the last to be cut if they are ever cut. No, the rank and file unions will be asked to make the sacrifices first before the people of the upper echelon. Take Brad Hudson, the city manager who is one of the top two earning city managers in the state, or at least the highest paid one not currently wearing orange and close to that or behind the new city manager in cash-strapped Moreno Valley depending on what salary and benefit figures provided for both is the most accurate accounting.

Former Councilman Dom Betro actually said something intelligent for a change.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

"I am very concerned about the workers who do not earn six-figure salaries and who do not have the exorbitant pension benefits that mostly get publicized," he said.

And that's true that most of the people don't but the Riverside Firefighters Association gave a way chunks of the pension of employees not hired yet by the city who will be paying dues into that same association. And other associations and unions will be expected to follow the RFA as obediently but remember when Mayor Ron Loveridge applauded the RFA for doing this in his State of the Union City which is highly attended by city employees including department heads? For the first time since he gave the speech or at least in a long while, he didn't receive a standing ovation after his speech was finished.

[Mayor Ron Loveridge didn't get a standing ovation in his most recent State of the City address, were comments about the pension deal with the RFA why?]

They talk about how unsustainable the retirement plans are for many employees and yes, they have problems including PERS (and how its investments were done) but then again, Redevelopment Agencies are unsubstainable (and the agencies are designed that way to "sunset") and yet elected officials don't recommend any "reform" or cuts of those programs, they just clamore about and gnash their teeth about the evil state taking them away as if these Agency programs were almost like drugs.

Then there's Councilman Steve Adams who's collecting one pension from medically retiring as a police officer years ago and eying the one he'll receive for being a city council member longer than four years which so far hasn't been proposed for cuts. But what's he commenting against? Pay cuts for city council members and management. He thinks that what the RFA's done with the future generation of firefighters who will be taking the same public safety risks as they do is just marvelous but don't you dare talk about management and city council. But has Adams offered to cut his own pension along with possibly future police officers hired by the city?

The answer's obvious and it's of course not.


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.

But it's appropriate to go to other associations including the one that Adams once belonged to, the Riverside Police Officers' Association and "ask" it to engage in "excellent" two tier pension plans that will have one officer able to retire at 50 with current pensions while the officer who might be backing him up, maybe saving his or her life retiring at 55 and receiving less? When some employees of several unions said that this "pension reform" could divide an entire workforce, that's not definite but it's certainly possible and that part of it hasn't yet been part of the public discussion in any forum.

Management employees came up next in the city's drive for "pension reform" but allegedly quite a few felt strong armed into going along with the program. Being asked for questions or to address concerns in an environment where there's not really safety in doing that. Ask the "wrong" question, and an unpaid vacation might be waiting for you as more than one employee has discovered. People don't ask questions not because there are none to be asked but to keep their jobs so they can collect the pensions they are being asked to "reform" by the same management that gets to hold onto a much higher pension like Hudson.

Some department heads including Diaz have complained that the press is too wrapped up in their salaries and pensions but some of us are more wrapped up in why "pension reform" is becoming a bitter pill served up with a touch of sweetness and then poured down people's throats so they can all hold hands in public and say we all did it together.

When in that assembly line, there's quite a few who can stand there with smiles on their faces and their fingers crossed behind their backs while some retired employees struggle to pay their bills with their "exorbitant pensions".

Welcome to River City.

Eminent Domain to Take 20 Homes for Railway Project

The Press Enterprise article about the city seizing 20 residential properties through Eminent Domain for a grade separation project is sobering. Since it's public use, it's less thorny somewhat than taking homes or even commercial properties and giving them or selling them to development firms in sweetheart deals but it's still difficult and sad for those involved.

What's interesting too is that the Third Street Grade Separation Project was put on the sidelines indefinitely through some really small fine print in an unrelated vote on the Perris Valley Metrolink line and "quiet zones" even though it was the fourth ranked grade separation in terms of priority. One of the arguments for tabling it was because it involved negotiating with two freight train lines, BNSF and Union Pacific, instead of one. But the Streeter grade separation project also shares that distinction.

Columnist Dan Bernstein of the Press Enterprise wrote about the renewel of Antitoch

Moreno Valley is cash strapped and is discussing how to cut costs.

Monday, April 4:

A day of Rallying and Remembrance

There will be rallies among city and county union employees during this day in protest of the events taking place in Riverside city and county, involving the labor unions.

Tomorrow: MLK statue on the pedestrian mall at 9th & Main Streets, downtown Riverside, 5pm-7pm vigil commemorating Dr. King's legacy.

Another rally was added to Monday - 9:00am at the County Admin Building at 4080 Lemon Street, between 10th and 12th Streets, Downtown Riverside.

Just discovered on Friday: Riverside County Supervisors will be voting on a proposal to cut and modify public employees' pensions without negotiations - yes, WITHOUT collective bargaining: this is illegal!

Please spread the word and have everyone attend - wear your colors and make a lot of noise: we are fighting Wisconsin-style tactics, here in Riverside!


Monday April 4, 2011 at 4 pm. The Human Resources Board meets at City Hall and discuss this agenda.

Tuesday, April 5 at 2 and 6:30p.m. The City Council will meet at City Hall to discuss this agenda.

Wednesday, April 6 at 4p.m., The Community Police Review Commission will meet for a special session which will include training from the Riverside Police Department on Cobain video and digital audio recorder training as well as discuss this agenda. With the 33% turnover on this commission lately, it's important to have further training on the technology which the department utilizes.

Trial Date

Wednesday, April 13 at Riverside County Superior Courthouse Dept. 52, the trial of former Riverside Police Department Det. Scott Impola is scheduled to begin. He's been charged with three misdemeanor counts of assault with intent to commit great bodily injury, forcible entrance into a noncommercial building and misuse of a confidential data base in this case DMV records.

(April 2, 1971-April 2, 2011)

"He said he knew his time was not long, and he was a bit sad because he felt he had so much to do in his lifetime."

Family Recalls Memories of Slain Officers (1972)

Did the world really need colorful soap bubbles?

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