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

Sunday, October 02, 2011

It's All One Big Family in River City

RPOA Election this month.....who will be running? For president, nominees at the general meeting were Sgt. Brian Smith and Det. Ken Tutwiler which if they both run, should be a very good election as both bring a lot to the plate including a wealth of experience in the union's leadership. This contest if it shapes up would be too close to call and the president would be left the arduous task of facing the city's financial crisis which could begin in earnest by next June. Also on tap, are contract negotiations and the two-tier pension plan which divided the union and the RPOA is one of the only ones which hasn't signed onto it. Both men are capable of handling these issues and more and hopefully it'll be a good and vigorous election process with good voter turnout.

Vice president nominees (in case Smith wins as he's the current vice-president)James Riedeman and Juan Munoz were put on the ticket.

Riverside to charge $1,500 vendor fees for horse-pulled carriages which means fewer of them during the annual festival of lights. Sorry folks, but given the city's financial situation, it needs every single penny it can charge businesses.

IN related news, the Riverside Downtown Partnership plans a triple business tax for its members downtown. With all the talk from city officials about how flush the city's coffers are, there sure are a lot of new taxes and increase in taxes being pushed by the city and its arms including the RDP about now.

And Riverside is one of the housing markets expected to be hit hardest by the triple dip in home prices.

Update: Raincross Cafe in City Hall to change its menu? It appears that some or many of the menu items have become cost-prohibitive to make so allegedly they will be eliminated from the dining menu. Given that this restaurant has been alleged by former and current city employees to be subsidized by monies from the Park and Recreation Department, maybe there's a financial squeeze in profits, which the restaurant allegedly hasn't realized since it's opened.

Chief Sergio Diaz showed up at the Occupy Riverside protest to converse with some protesters. (You Tube)

It's not really clear what he said to them because the cameraman is providing commentary, though a couple individuals said that an officer called them "druggies" and they weren't aware he was the police chief until later.

UPDATE: The Riverside Police Department compiles new promotional lists. Is there a new way of doing business at Orange Street or is it as the song says, "still the same"?

Hint: One important "buzz" term? Special Assignments


1) Charles Payne

2) Deborah Foy

3) Robert Tipre

4) Peter Elliot


A Band (alphabetical)

Mark Rossi

Russ Shubert

B Band

Frank Assumma

Steve Bradshaw

John Capen

Christian Dinco

Val Graham

Julian Hutzler

Dwayne May

Skip Showalter

Lisa Williams

C Band

Brian Dailey

UPDATE: Riverside Police Officers' Association holds general membership meeting this month to solicit candidates to run for the president's spot next month. The current president, the current vice-president and at least one past president have been mentioned in the past few months as potential candidates for the top spot in the bargaining unit. Also included on that list had been a past president of a union from another law enforcement agency, who had been mentioned frequently earlier on. So who will be those put up as candidates for the presidency, that remains to be seen. Current president, Sgt. Cliff Mason had opted out of running for a second term.

Under the Gun?

[Riverside Fire Chief Steve Earley faces threats of losing paramedic funding if he ever recommends the granting of a license to another ambulance franchise besides AMR]

In what had to be one of the least shocking events in recent Riverside history, the city council voted 6-1 to deny granting a Basic Life Support franchise license to Mission Ambulance at a public hearing conveniently scheduled in the afternoon of Oct. 11. The room was filled with city staff, representatives from at least four ambulance companies and concerned people. Mayor Ron Loveridge left the gavel to Councilman and Mayor Pro Tem for Life Chris MacArthur and didn't even have to defend the 1989 ordinance that he had been instrumental in creating and passing when he'd been on the city council way back then. MacArthur who also chaired the Public Safety Committee that recommended the denial vote is one of many people at City Hall that's quite tight with American Medical Response's manager Peter Hubbard (who's after all, been appointed to two city boards and commissions) which appeared to play heavily in the contentious hearings to the very end. It just appeared as if the "good old boy" network which is what created that original city ordinance over 20 years ago is just as much in place today. Riverside after all is a city of 350,000 with small town politics. Some of the folks on the dais and some in the audience party together after all.

Mission Ambulance representatives gave a very powerful presentation to the disinterested city council but what can you do when the decision's already been made? The answer is, go through the motions. What Mission Ambulance and the other ambulance carriers need to do know since the denial against Mission is really a blanket denial against all of them is to form a class action and file a lawsuit in federal court arguing that the ordinance violates anti-trust laws as well as the federal anti-kickback statute because of the involvement of federal funding like Medicare that doesn't apply to other entities like refuse collection and cable companies that were used as comparisons. The economic conflict of interest involving the fire chief's role in the investigative process for the licensing puts the whole situation into serious question. After all, one city council member was allegedly told by an irate fire department management employee to "butt out" and not get involved in the issue. Never a dull moment in this city.

It's clear that the fire department at least which is in charge of the investigation of franchise applications acted as if it had the proverbial gun to its head and who can blame it? It's operating under the threats of losing funding for paramedics training including paramedic classes. The moment Earley says yes, I recommend granting [franchise name]a license, they're toast, courtesy of AMR. That company has said, gee we can't afford to provide the funding if we don't get the "retail" side of it, even though they managed to "win" on that point without providing an iota of hard evidence detailing how they would be negatively impacted financially. Just the fear factor was enough for the investigation, first and the city council, second.

Of course, what's not being said by them is that the $1.4 million in funding is tied in with the ALS/911 contract with AMR that comes up for renewal next June. But the fire department's acting scared anyway partly because AMR's been "donating" other funding for fire department programs including dispatch and academy classes for paramedics. The fire department said about 75 paramedics needed those classes which cost about a several hundred dollars apiece otherwise.

The firefighters' union would probably not like to know that the city's apparently too financially destitute to pay for paramedics classes when there's theaters, hotels and parking garages for private entities to stick on the city residents instead. I vote for the classes, because that's important training for very important public safety employees in our city who've had to give up too much already but then again, helping out a developer by essentially financing his project for him is just more important. But the fire department shouldn't be forced in a corner when it's encharged with investigating ambulance franchise applications by threats of losing this funding, that's just offensive but it's part and parcel of River City to do just that.

The city council agenda report for the Oct. 11 meeting includes the investigation details, the application with exhibits submitted by Mission Ambulance, counter responses by the city and also updated responses from health care facilities who felt their complaint about AMR's services weren't taken seriously by Early or the Public Safety Committee. This is the latest chapter in an drama that's been ongoing for decades but is now the focus of questions being asked by at least one city official. Councilman Paul Davis told the city council he had questions about the process and the Riverside Firefighters' Association is opposed to granting Mission Ambulance or apparently any other company a license, saying that while AMR might not go broke over competition, it'll be less inclined to spend money on the fire department including the $1.4 million that goes to paramedic training. This money is actually already committed under the contract between the ambulance company and the city regarding the handling of ALS or 911 calls and was paid out so that AMR could increase its 90% response times from 9:59 to 11:59. The delay would be countered by training and staffing fire department paramedics to handle the ALS until AMR arrived onscene to take over and provide transport. But even though this money is guaranteed under the ALS contract, AMR and its manager Peter Hubbard allegedly have said that if they don't get BLS exclusivity, they'll stop supplying the funds. The company makes about $95-100 million from its business dealings in Riverside, or as it's nicknamed by AMR, "Ft. Knox". Its parent company, Emergency Medical Services generates earnings in the billions.

AMR's used economic suffering as the main thrust of its argument for pushing for BLS exclusivity yet it hasn't provided any written documentation that it would be financially harmed by the introduction of another ambulance company within the city. It's not clear if it's provided a copy to Earley as part of his investigation but you would think since the economic viability of AMR is part of that investigative process, that this information would have been provided. If not, you would think that Earley would ask for it or push for it to be included as documented evidence in his investigation into that component of the process.

Here is the 1990 ordinance passed by City Council for the contract services Goodhew Ambulance Services which later merged with American Medical Response. It's signed by then Mayor Terry Frizzel. Goodhew Ambulance had a franchise contract with Riverside going back to at least 1980 according to contractual documents. The deal which gave Goodhew Ambulance made its owners quite wealthy. That's the only purpose it appeared to serve.

Goodhew Ambulance was bought out and through a process became American Medical Response. In fact, this address for Goodhew Ambulance at 879 Marborough Avenue in Riverside became the address for American Medical Response Riverside. The city council recognized the changes in ownership and name of Goodhew Ambulance to American Medical Response in this contract renewal ordinance in 1997.

The breaking up of Goodhew Ambulance left some of its stock with Laidlaw Medical Transportation in 1995 and one of its subsidiaries MedTrans managed it and then later bought American Medical Response and used that name for its operations.

Care Ambulance Services applied for a franchise in the summer of 1990 and it was set for a public hearing on Aug. 7 that year according to this minute order. That's what triggered the ordinance's initial enforcement to protect the economic interests of Goodhew which had friends on the city council.

That good old boy ordinance is now law in this city 20 years later.

Peter Hubbard, whose father, Dr. Joseph G. Hubbard had allegedly been heavily involved in Goodhew Ambulance in Riverside worked for AMR and also wound up being appointed by the City Council to serve eight years on the Board of Public Utilities and four years on the Community Police Review Commission. He along with other AMR employees served in a county committee on emergency services. Hubbard is also tight friends with other elected officials like Public Safety Committee Chair Chris MacArthur and non-elected officials like City Attorney Gregory Priamos who attended Hubbard's big annual fourth of july party last summer. Both men did their part to help facilitate the decision against Mission Ambulance that would best help AMR and Priamos in particular put on a great show. Remember in River City, it's all about who you know.

Riverside Fire Fighters' Association Timothy Strack's said in several venues that his union opposes the granting of the license to Mission Ambulance but it's not quite that simple as it turns out. The union is probably more divided than it appears. Why? Because while Strack told the city council at the hearing and the media that they have a great working relationship with AMR, somebody's going around and telling others that the same fire department is having "major problems" with AMR but no one can talk about it. At least not in a public venue.

This is what the union leadership said to the local publication.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

“We work hand-in-hand with them to provide the highest level of emergency services possible in the city,” Strack said.

But that's not the only thing the union's apparently been saying.

So why is it then that the union's then allegedly going around and talking about having major problems with AMR? It seems to most people that if this is the case, then the union leadership would be getting its information from the members of that bargaining unit about their experience with the ambulance franchise. So if that's the case, how does going up and talking about all this great teamwork instead help deal with any serious problems faced by union employees with the company if they indeed exist? That makes it seem a lot less about patient care and more about the money that the fire department has been threatened with losing if AMR doesn't get BLS exclusivity in Riverside. After all, that's allegedly what AMR representatives told the fire department, we need that or sorry, say bye bye to the funding. If there's "major problems" with AMR (and the fire department deals with them mainly on the ALS/911 side) then who's going to address them but the fire department's union?

Davis who cast the no-vote against the denial had been trying to raise that issue in the hearing that as far as the rationale went, it deteriorated from concerns about patient care (when even Earley admitted Mission Ambulance was a very good company with no real history of complaints) and more about the money that AMR pays out to the city for the fire department. He clashed with Priamos who tried to shut down his questions about the payouts by AMR to the fire department's funding. Priamos saying it was outside the scope of the agenda item but since it's being held over the head of the fire department including Earley's whose investigation of Mission Ambulance was the agenda item, it just appears that once again Priamos stepped outside of his scope as city attorney. Maybe he was reminiscing about the last time he attended one of Hubbard's parties.

[Riverside City Attorney Greg Priamos (r.) clashed with Councilman Paul Davis when questions of payouts by AMR arose during the application review process for Mission Ambulance. Priamos is allegedly very tight with AMR manager, Peter Hubbard]

As far as campaign donations, everyone on the dais receives contributions not from AMR which is mainly a shell company (as all of them are divided up that way to reduce civil liability to the parent company) although Davis receives donations from both AMR and Mission Ambulance. In past years, entities showing up giving donations to elected officials have been Goodhew Riverside, Hubbard and AMR before EMS's name started appearing on campaign disclosure forms.

The starting salary of an EMT at AMR Riverside wasn't posted at this site for confidentiality reasons. But there is a salary discussion here where someone says you can take its salary or go into the fast food industry where you can make real money and another here during a strike by AMR employees in one Southern California city in 2010 over contracts. Since the vast millions including the $95-100 million that AMR receives from Riverside, one of its top 10 markets go to Emergency Medical Services in Colorado, not much left for the paramedics. Some of which went into other professions to support their families because an AMR salary couldn't quite do that.

The Press Enterprise covered the Ward Seven Debates between Councilman Steve Adams and challenger John Brandriff and the writer Alisa Robinson provided some analysis on the accuracy of various statements made by both of them in the heat of debate. The Press Enterprise allegedly refused to write on one story involving a city employee but has been candid in its views on political debates.


Adams, a retired police officer who is seeking a third term, touted his record of getting sidewalks built in the ward, bringing a new senior center and helping reduce the crime rate.

But he also made perhaps the most blatant misstatement of the evening when questioned about the council's decision Tuesday to stick with ambulance service from American Medical Response and not allow newcomer Mission Ambulance to operate in Riverside.

“They (Mission Ambulance) refuse to respond to people who can't pay,” Adams said.

Although Fire Chief Steve Earley has said he is concerned about indigent patients potentially being refused service, Riverside County Emergency Medical Services Director Bruce Barton has said he has never heard any such complaints about Mission.

But anyway, the one thing about the fire department is that it does do very important work in this city at risk and yes, like Strack said, we should thank them and be grateful but is the best way to do that going along with a situation where the threat of financial loss is apparently being held over its head to the point where it's not clear whether or not any "major problems" are being addressed in ways that benefit both department employees and the public? If "major problems" exist between AMR and the fire department's employees, then why is the opposite image being projected instead that they're one big happy family? How does that support the fire department and its ability to operate free of those "major problems"? It might be anti-fire department to say this but any "major problems" need to be addressed in an environment where if they exist they can be addressed without any repercussions to anyone including fire department employees. The fire department's employees should be allowed to do their difficult jobs without these "major problems" and having to worry about losing funding from a company that's highly profitable and not struggling if it doesn't get what it wants but still would likely make out quite well amid competition if it's indeed providing the best BLS service in the county. Why would a city government not only allow a fire department to be held hostage like this let alone participate in that with its own decision making?

Not to mention some other actions the city has taken involving fire department facilities most notably Fire Stations #13 and 14, which for a while where actually not owned by the city but by the Redevelopment Agency. Why? Because along with two city libraries, they served as collateral for $20 million in federal bonds issued for the Hyatt Hotel. The bonds needed to be financed by collateral with lease revenue streams so the city leased the four facilities to satisfy that criteria. You would think that if a developer wanted to build a hotel, he would pay the costs to build it or his investors but you have to remember the only reason Riverside's paying for it is that the developer couldn't get any bank or lending institution to loan him money to do this given that the foreclosure rates for hotels are the highest here than any place else in the state.

So the fire stations came in handy indeed.


Fire Station #14 on Central Avenue near the 91 Freeway (not a Redevelopment Agency zone)


Fire Station #13 in Sycamore Canyon (a Redevelopment Agency zone)

At least one of the individuals in the fire department says that there's no concern about this business deal, that who would want to buy a fire station put on the block to be paid off for defaulted bond payments? The answer to that is that if the city defaults on the $1.5 million or so bond payments (currently now just on interest) then there's no choice. Bond holders have to be paid out and selling the collateral is the way to do that if there's no money in the coffers. The land would be sold and the fire stations probably leveled since the fire department's correct in that they have limited use otherwise. This isn't about whether or not someone wants to purchase a fire station, this is about fulfilling an obligation to bond holders that their investment will be returned.

It seems shocking in a sense that the city would even place one of its fire stations in a situation with even minimal danger to it, let alone two of them. Two of the newer stations in fact as all four facilities under collateral were either recently built or extensively renovated as a matter of fact. I find it offensive and immoral to put up public buildings as collateral including public safety buildings which house people who save lives and help them when they're in trouble. The irony is that the $1.5 million that the city pays out on the bonds' interest annually is enough to cover the paramedic training because the hotel probably won't pay for it. These stations are also temporary homes for city employees while they work their shifts.

Some have insinuated I'm anti-fire department because I challenged the process for the ambulance franchise license and okay, if the dialogue is to be reduced to that, then I guess that's the purview of those who use that label. But protecting our fire department isn't about always agreeing with its leadership especially when their hands are tied by insinuations or threats of funding loss. It's about keeping an eye on what's going on, and speaking up when threats of any kind are being made and investigations can't be done that are free of those threats of financial loss. It's also to ensure that the fire station facilities which house the men and women of the fire department are safe and secure including from serving as collateral in risky business ventures. Our city's fire stations should be used to house fire department employees and equipment, period. Not as collateral on hotels that the developer's completely off the hook for financially for at least five years or longer if he defaults. Hotels are risky especially in this region, and the Hyatt may have brought construction jobs (and unfortunately, construction workers don't tend to shop locally even a few blocks away) but it cost jobs too.

Not long after its construction started, over 40 employees were laid off from the neighboring Marriott Hotel including a long-time chef. Why would a hotel lay off 4o employees and why would other employees working at the Marriott be scared of losing their jobs if the economy supporting the current hotels let alone newer ones was so healthy?

But the city council told the city residents in both a subcommittee and as a governing body that the city residents wouldn't be financially responsible whatsoever for the Hyatt Hotel...oh if that were true. It's not unless the city council has complete divorced the city residents from the city's coffers filled with tax dollars from properties, sales and utilities.

And as long as two fire stations and two libraries are put at risk to serve as collateral (which by nature is a position of risk), the hotel certainly isn't free to city residents.

Finance Committee Meets, Takes Questions

Asst. City Manager Paul Sundeen: The city won't provide a link to the monthly statements because only one citizen is interested in reading them

[The Finance Committee which now meets regularly was as usual, a hoot]

[Riverside Asst. City Manager/CFO/Treasurer Paul Sundeen didn't want to facilitate access to the city's financial monthly reports online for "only one person".]

The Finance Committee met to discuss business license and how to enforce the rules for businesses who provide services in this city's limits. But perusual, some of the most interesting action takes place during the public comment on non-agendized items. Questions were asked about the independence of the internal auditor reporting to the city manager and also about some puzzling monthly financial reports released by the city's finance department headed by Asst. City Manager Paul Sundeen. Some were missing from online including March 2011 which as it turns out is a very important watermark time period in the city's financial history and the city co-mingled the city's general fund with RDA debt service and capital project funds during several months this year. This mixing and matching of city funds appears to be a more recent development in some rather creative financing and reporting.

The reports were hard to find especially for this year and Sundeen got a bit huffy when he said that since only one person had sought out the city's financial records, there's no point in going through the effort of creating a direct hyperlink to the reports. Davis asked why and Sundeen and company didn't seem all that concerned or interested in doing so. The co-mingling (which is hyphenated to separate the action from those engaging in it as both deserve equal credit) of these funds appeared to begin in earnest in 2011 and doesn't appear to be the "unusual circumstance" as explained by Sundeen. What does co-mingling do? Well, if you dump RDA funds in the general fund temporarily how is a city resident supposed to know exactly how much money is in the general fund, the funding source for all city departments?

The general fund also showed a deficit in 2010 around February and Sundeen said that's because property taxes hadn't been added and that's noted in the report covering that time period. Yet if the city had a deficit in that fund, how did it pay its bills that month and why didn't it do what other municipalities do which is tap into its reserve fund which it states is $43 million? Instead it's mingling in RDA money which isn't supposed to be in the general fund at all. It just appears too much like all those months RDA money was co-mingled into the general fund that it was to hide a deficit in the general fund, why else put it where it's not supposed to be?

How much money does the general fund really have in it? That should be the easiest and most readily answered question for city residents of all the financially related inquiries but no it's's turned into the most difficult. But if the general fund's really in the red after you subtract all the RDA funds out, then it lends more concern to situations like the above where the city's to make annual bond payments (beginning with interest) on the Hyatt Hotel hopefully without defaulting.

Public Meetings

Tuesday, Oct. 11 at 3 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. The City Council will meet and discuss this agenda. As usual, most of the important stuff will be on the consent calendar. The city council/RDA runs amok with more property dealings in the downtown...what part of the Supreme Court's stay on RDAs does the city not understand?

Public Service Announcement

As part of the commitment to public service, the following announcement will be posted for the currently vacant city manager position. If you haven't applied and are seriously thinking about doing it, you still have until Oct. 14. The whole document is just so...insightful and will be analyzed in a future blog posting but the following paragraph under "management style and personality traits" was just priceless.


The ideal candidate will value shared governance, have respect for elected officials, and be responsive and treat the Mayor and all Council members equally. It is expected that he/she will keep the Mayor and Council informed in a timely and accurate manner (no surprises).

The salary for the new city manager isn't included as part of the compensation section but in lieu of that, here is a salary chart for all the city's department heads including the interim city manager. What's fascinating indeed is how the salary of Interim City Manager of 2011, Scott Barber earns about $200,000 while one assistant city manager (Belinda Graham) earn about $212,000 meaning they are paid more than their temporary boss. Another assistant city manager, Deanna Lorson makes about $190,000 because she only became an assistant city manager because it was a move by City Hall to move her salary as Development director from being funded by the Redevelopment Agency to the general fund before the RDA could be shut down by Gov. Brown.

Missing is the salary for the other assistant city manager of finance/Chief Financial Officer/Treasurer Paul Sundeen. Three departmental heads would have to take pay cuts if they served in the interim city manager position, those being Public Utilities Manager Dave Wright, Fire Chief Steve Early and Police Chief Sergio Diaz.

The city clerk clocks in at considerable less pay than most department heads including Human Resources Director Rhonda Strout even though she's the one employee at City Hall who's internationally renowned.

For everyone else, there are the salary schedules though some of the salaries are quite old because of no contract renewals.

Riverside seeking recruitment firm to hire a public works director after the resignation of Siobhan Foster to go work for Pasadena's City Manager Michael Beck who had once supervised her when he worked as an assistant city manager in Riverside. Tom Boyd will fill in for her until a replacement is found. Her departure comes in the wake of allegations under investigation involving how the city awarded public works contracts. If you have any suggestions on a recruiting firm, contact City Hall.


A cappuccino machine was purchased from Schaererusa by the city for $10,000 through use of Measure C funds which are earmarked for library programs and for the extension of operational hours. To date, this machine has never been located anywhere, let alone in any library facility
If you find it, please refer it to River City's Lost and Found

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