Five before Midnight

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


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Location: RiverCity, Inland Empire

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Jolly Good Holiday Season in River City

[Lincoln Field Operations Station, where the alleged incident took place]

Update: An alleged confrontation at Lincoln Station retirement ceremony between a retiring police officer and member of Chief Sergio Diaz's management team while Diaz and Deputy Chief Jeffrey Greer stand and watch. In front of a packed crowd in the roll call room, one of Diaz' management team members introduced the officer by saying that he only knew him through the civil lawsuit.

This led the officer who was in attendance with his wife and family to stand up and say:

"Stop. I am not a racist."

His wife who was in attendance and is African-American stood up and also said her husband was not a racist. The room fell silent as Diaz and just sat and watched what unfolded. After the alleged incident, the management team member who made the comments left by a side exit from Lincoln Station.

[What did Chief Sergio Diaz think about alleged comments made by one of his management team members at a retirement ceremony in roll call?]

[Deputy Chief Jeffrey Greer and Asst. Chief Chris Vicino observe a public forum in the community but what's going on closer to headquarters?]

The lawsuit involving the officer is detailed in this article and it was covered in this blog not long after it happened. The city ultimately settled it for $175,000. The lawsuit was mentioned as part of the introduction and sparked the alleged incident. Just another incident from the top that makes one wonder what's going on up at the top? And what it means for the future of the RPD.

More to come...

State Acted Legally Closing Down RDAs, Supreme Court rules.

Ruling issued on law suit to State Supreme Court is here. What will this mean in the days and months to come for River City? And why the words "redevelopment" and "redevelopment agency" have little to do with another and if the RDAs are creating jobs, then why is the city's own paperwork submitted to Sacramento's State Controller's office not listing these jobs created? Ironically, Redevelopment Agencies were set up to help create more affordable low to moderate income housing but what fund did Riverside's city government raid to pay off its SERAF this year?

The low to moderate income affordable housing fund. Redevelopment agencies were created to foster positive changes in communities but unfortunately, that's not always what happened. Redevelopment gave us a strip mall that went into receivership for a while. It gave us high-priced condos that can't even be given away and cost over 50 mentally disabled people their homes at a board and care facility across the street in between that failed housing project and a slumping combined usage project. A performing arts theater that's in the red.

Amount of RDA debt: Approximately $1.8 billion or higher

"The projects "had nothing to do with reversing blight, but everything to do with subsidizing private real estate ventures that otherwise made no economic sense"

---Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chair Zev Yaroslavsky

"We hope the Legislature goes back to fix this. This is a tool the state cannot afford to lose."

---Chris McKenzie, executive director of the League of California Cities

"Where will the money come from? The state's broke."

---State Assemblyman Chris Norby

[A supervisor from Riverside Public Utilities and a couple of other workers take time off of their schedule to fix someone's car in a city parking lot]

Brad Hudson Redecorates His New Office for the Holidays

But will County residents get coal in their stockings in the form of higher Sewer rates so private developers can pay less?

[Brad Hudson (l. with former councilman and current mayoral candidate Ed Adkison) has spent thousands redecorating his new digs among layoffs up in Sacramento County]

"I wanted something that was appropriate for the work that we do," he said. "It's not extravagant. I just want people to feel like they can come in."

---Sacramento CEO Brad Hudson about the $21,000 spent to redecorate his office and he also billed Sacramento County for eight flights to Ontario Airport and back.

"We've had layoffs; we've had contract concessions; we've had programs cut," he said. "Office expenditures may not be such a good idea."

----Daniel Uselmann, former union head of government employees

Judging from the comments, it sounds like they want to mix up the tar and feathers on the ex-Riverside employee. But then Hudson's new bosses, the Board of Supervisors spent $1 million on their own digs.

One commenter attempts to decipher those plans in the Sacramento Bee blog comments.

Rumor has it from my county buddies that the new county Exec doesn't like the junky look of the offices, demanded the BOS makeover, and wants to institute a dress code.

Of course, it is true that welfare workers tend to dress like maybe I agree with that part...

Of course it would help if the County spent some time communicating with its workers and not just looking for photo ops.

And another....

This is of no surprise to County Workers. Brad Hudson hasn't even introduced himself to County Employees since he came to work in August of 2011. And from what we hear from his Administrative staff he is a man full of himself, ego, and an attitude of my way or the highway. Shame the BOS didnt do a little more research before picking Mr. Hudson. He has a very low opinion from his Executive staff who are with him daily.

Maybe the Bee should look into why he has directed the Municipal Services Agency to go around town and pick up shopping carts and deliver them back to the stores, ON THE PUBLICS DIME! Its all about image for the egotistical man whom the Board of Supervisors placed in command.

This latest spending of the publics money to redecorate his office and the seventh floor conference room is just plain wrong. And the Board should inform him that his decisions in these poor economic times when the County is struggling finacially is a laspe on good judgement.

Lastly to Mr. Hudson~~ I pass you daily in the hallways of the Administration Building. You have greeted me only once. Is it becuase of my finely pressed jeans and laundered shirts I wear? Do I not fit into your 'mold' of what a professional worker should wear? Good luck! You can take it up with my Union. I'm sure the Board buying you out of your existing contract would be cheaper then the ensuing court case.

Former Riverside Police Chief Linford "Sonny" Richardson died at 69

Four major earthquakes hit Christchurch, New Zealand

No deaths

[Rock slide just above Sumner Beach, a suburb of Christchurch from one of four large earthquakes to strike the beleaguered city within three hours. Vantage point is near New Brighton and South New Brighton (one of the epicenters)]

UPDATE: Riverside County Sheriff Deputy Dayle William Long Arrested on $1 million bail in connection with a fatal off-duty shooting at a Murrieta bar.

UPDATE: Finance Committee Watch 2012 report includes the following statistics:

Finance Committee Meetings (2003-2011)
(according to online records at

1999: 20

2000: 19

2001: 19

2002: 17

2003: 8

2004: 21

2005: 11 (nine before June 2005)

2006: 6

2007: 3

2008: 4

2009: 2 (November, December)

2010: 9

2011: 10

The following request for public documents has been sent to City Hall

Pursuant to my rights under the California Public Records Act (Government Code Section 6250 et seq.), I ask to (inspect/obtain a copy of) the following, which I understand to be held by your agency:

Available for copies and examination, documents pertaining to any and all formal and informal complaints and grievances filed by or involving employees of the city's public utilities department in the calendar years of 2010 and 2011 including statistical data compiled by the city including that which it reports to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

I ask for a determination on this request within 10 days of your receipt of it, and an even prompter reply if you can make that determination without having to review the record[s] in question.

If you determine that any or all or the information qualifies for an exemption from disclosure, I ask you to note whether, as is normally the case under the Act, the exemption is discretionary, and if so whether it is necessary in this case to exercise your discretion to withhold the information.

If you determine that some but not all of the information is exempt from disclosure and that you intend to withhold it, I ask that you redact it for the time being and make the rest available as requested.

In any event, please provide a signed notification citing the legal authorities on which you rely if you determine that any or all of the information is exempt and will not be disclosed.

If I can provide any clarification that will help expedite your attention to my request, please contact me at (provide phone or fax number, pager number, etc.). I ask that you notify me of any duplication costs exceeding $0 before you duplicate the records so that I may decide which records I want copies.

Thank you for your time and attention to this matter. You have been very helpful when dealing with public records requests which is greatly appreciated.

UPDATE: Recent Intrigue at the Border allegedly leading to a detention and arrest? Who and What happened and what could it mean for River City?

Stay tuned....

More fan mail.....

It is funny how, some of the so called supporters of LADY KA-KA bunched together to claim that S.Santana is attacking women ... Nothing further from the TRUTH

S.Santana is deffending himself from attacks perpetrated by the stinking, smelly ass, braless M.Shelton "Lady KA-KA" from 5 before KA-KA

The also attacking Police Chief Sergio Diaz.. for the 50 Cents newspaper fiasco... that "Charles 1" caused when a homeless man took some P.E. papers from a coin operated box. After all the attention and courtesy that the "Little General Cheetos", gave to Lady KA-KA..I guess the honeymoon is over...

So women of the World... Nobody is attacking the female gender... S.Santana is responding to attacks by Lady KA-KA, ( Lady SHIT ), ONLY... Looking for all the attention, that she can get.. by insulting people, with her accusations.. against everybody... Lady KA-KA, is a classic example of 1 ( ONE ) stinking flies in the butt bitch against ther rest of the WORLD.

Her list of so called deffenders includes... C.DURAN, , K. WRIGHT, ETC... do we need to say more..

Am I the only one creeped out a little by someone who actually tries to figure out if women are wearing bras or not? That's just gross and it's sexist. If you want to talk about how gross someone else is, then you probably shouldn't act so gross yourself. Calling women bitches, not very progressive are you? Well, we can always work on that.

Chief Diaz is so fortunate to have such a nice friend like you in his corner if he's aware of you at all. So articulate, so coherent, so adult, so non-misogynist in your choice of language and during the holiday season too. And why do you address us all like we're wearing name tags? Why the use of commas instead of ellipses? Why the double consonants? Why the need to call women bitches and use potty talk to express your very adult points?

Between the two of us, I'd rather be me than you and keep blogging. Rather than popping up anonymously on the only online site available to you engaging in such immature and women-hating behavior to defend a police chief who oversees a department that employs female employees including sworn police officers and civilian employees. If you're a truly a supporter of a police chief who has said that all his officers are equal including the women, then you'd refrain from using such misogynist terminology as "bitches" and deriding a woman's appearance. If you have no respect for me, at least have respect for the leader of an agency that's employing women and the women employed in it.

Because frankly, any progressive police chief who understands that women are actively involved in law enforcement wouldn't need a "friend" like you. If he did, then that would speak to much larger institutional problems in this city than just one cowardly misogynist.

[Chani Beeman speaks before the panel on the independent auditor item]

[A packed house showed up for "do or die" night for several proposed charter initiatives including one for an independent internal auditor reporting to the city council which passed overwhelmingly]

The room filled at City Hall for the final day of community input and discussion of possible charter initiatives to forward to the City Council. Also watching were City Manager Scott Barber, Asst. City Manager of Finance/Chief Finance Officer/City Treasurer Paul Sundeen and Finance Director Brent Mason, all looking more than a little tense at the proceedings. Internal Auditor Manager Cheryl Johannes' position became the topic of much commentary and debate in terms of who the auditor should report to, the city manager or city council. She later said that she has one other auditor besides herself working in her division (and one vacancy) as part of the city's overall budget and staffing cuts. Ironic and disturbing that the city's internal audit division loses a staff position yet the mayor not only gets to keep his but give his chief of staff Kristin Tillquist a 15% raise. That definitely tells you where City Hall's priorities are and where they are not and maybe adequately funding and staffing the auditing department's not on the list.

The panel overwhelmingly voted to send a different version of the independent auditor initiative to the full city council but killed the proposal to set up a citizen audit committee. All these initiatives go to the city council and mayor for a final discussion and vote on which ones the public will be allowed to vote on.

UPDATE: Some splendid news. The city is set to replace the missing letter on the downtown library sign as soon as next week. But the library itself will have to wait at least a couple years. But more news to come during the mayoral election for sure as candidates grapple to come up with the best ideas to address the library that Riverside Renaissance forgot.

The Library that Riverside Renaissance Forgot

Here's a Merry Christmas message I received from a perfectly sane individual who's unhappy with what I've been writing about City Hall. You have to ask yourself if Riverside was doing such a great job and everything was so on the up and up as it claims, then why are there individuals writing these types of frankly sick messages?

She is getting what she deserves...M.Shelton attacks everybody,,She shits all over the place at City Hall..

AND THEN SHE WANTS TO BE THE VICTIM...?? M.Shelton is a dirty braless, stinking bitch.. that NO man, will take that piece trash to bed.

AND THOSE ARE THE FACTS... Misspelled or NOT...

5 Before KA0KA

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you too....just another year ending in River City. And to think it started with the blog supported by the Riverside police chief and all the city officials at City Hall including those who purchased campaign advertising. They'll have more to hate and spew about next year in 2012 as more about how the city does business perhaps comes to light.

Because face it, if City Hall were really all on the up and up, there wouldn't be any need for people to get nasty defending it. People would write about its greatness, its accomplishments and they would put their names on what they wrote. Some do that and don't engage in nastiness but others opt out of that.

This person didn't tell of Riverside's accomplishment, they didn't even talk about the city at all just a person who's been critical of parts of it.

But tips have already come in regarding the probable identity of the above individual who apparently isn't all that quiet about his online activities or having called women "bitches" in the past. What is it in City Hall that this individual doesn't want you to know?

So this blog will continue to be published and those who feel the need to defend the city in such nasty fashion will likely continue to do that showing again, how wonderful the city's doing its bookkeeping through their own actions. In the meantime, this blogger's got a lot of stories to work on for the new year and you'll find out exactly why the nastiness exists and why now. And considering how nasty this vitriol has been, there's likely plenty of truths out there to be discovered and exposed about what's really going on at City Hall. What's going on that brings out these defenders in all their nastiness, maybe that's something is the truth.

The Truth that no one else will print and some don't want printed without getting all nasty about it.

That said, thank you to all those who are supportive of this blog and may you and your loved ones have a very happy and safe holiday season.

Riverside County's employees start their migration up to Sacramento County courtesy of its new CEO, Brad Hudson.

[Former Riverside City and County employee Brad Hudson is apparently missing some of his former colleagues at his new digs in Sacramento County]

UPDATE: Is there more to the firing of two Riverside Public Utilities workers than meets the eye? And what was supervision doing?

Councilwoman Nancy Hart: Offended by people's concerns about the city's finances

Nancy Hart made statements at an Investment Committee meeting that she'd prefer personnel cuts or service interruptions on a temporary basis say three months rather than dipping into the city's $40 million reserve fund. She voiced her opinions on concerns about the city's finances as well.

"Because everybody else is having such a hard time, they don't understand why we're not and they think we're hiding something because we're not having a difficult time. And I find that offensive."

Asst. City Manager/Chief Financial Officer/City Treasurer Paul Sundeen did say that the thought of anyone doing anything illegal with money "boggled his mind" and that there's too many checks and balances in the city for any money to be misused or stolen. That's reassuring to hear but what about the former part-time employee who was able to get paid over $770,000 in contracts and salary in less than a three year period with apparently no oversight. Payments in the form of $25,000, $35,000 (from Police Asset Forfeiture to the general fund where it apparently vanished with no paper trail) and $50,000 were made from at least five different city departments that had little or nothing to do with work being done by this part-time employee or her department.

So if the city is so shored against questionable financial practices and payouts, then this part-time employee must just be a little bit smarter.

News broke about the 15% pay raise given to the mayor's chief of staff, Kristin Tilquest around the time she helped spearhead an effort to rename City Hall after her boss. Why isn't this being investigated given the sacrifices that city employees have to make with their own contracts and salaries? Is it like the time a certain department head no longer here received a 15% raise in salary while laying off people in her own department due to budget cuts?

If Nancy Hart is so easily offended by concerns and questions about the city's financial solvency then why when hearing this news about Loveridge handing out raises to at least one of his staff members in the midst of a recession garner at least a question from her or others on the dais?

It's pretty clear at least three city council members are going to check out of asking any such questions of the outgoing politician they hope will hand one of them the magical endorsement. Given how many times Loveridge has helped Councilman Andrew Melendrez shoot himself in the foot during meetings, you can probably rule one mayoral candidate out of the running for an endorsement.

Actually if anyone gets endorsed from the dais, it's most likely to be Loveridge's protegee, Rusty Bailey.

Riverside, CA -- On Friday, January 20, 2012, at the regularly scheduled bi-annual employee shift rotation, a number of management-level personnel moves are planned to take place. These changes are designed to expand the experience of Lieutenants and Captains, giving them the opportunity to increase their skill sets and prepare them for increased responsibilities. These moves are in keeping with our strategic goal of better developing personnel to lead the Department in the future.

Because it is not practical to move all management-level staff at one time, additional personnel transfers may occur at the mid-year shift rotation to ensure all employees have the opportunity to enhance their professional development. The following changes are currently scheduled:


Captain John Wallace From Field Operations to Support Services

Captain Mike Perea From Support Services to Field Operations


Lieutenant Ed Blevins From Investigations to Field Operations, Administration

Lieutenant Mike Cook From Internal Affairs to Special Investigations

Lieutenant Andy Flores From Field Operations to East NPC

Lieutenant Gary Leach From Field Operations, Administration, to West NPC

Lieutenant Bob Williams From Special Investigations to Internal Affairs

Lieutenant Vic Williams From East NPC to Centralized Investigations

What does this mean? What of personality conflicts and broken alliances? And what of that captain's race?

To be Continued...

[Riverside Police Department K9 Division at the dedication ceremony for the new K9 training center. ]

[One of the Riverside Fire Department dogs demonstrating its agility]

[Riverside unveils the new K9 training center for fire and police dogs in Mission Grove]

[Riverside Police Chief Sergio Diaz pets K9 Officer Rocco as his partner Officer Brad Smith and K9 Sgt. Pat McCarthy (l.) looks on]

[Riverside Police K9 Officer Carat with his partner Officer Ray Soto]

[Riverside Police Department K9 Officer Marco and his partner Officer Mike Carroll after a demonstration at the new training station. Marco was considered by David Reaver at Adlerhorst International Inc to be a top dog. ]

A good turnout at the dedication of the new K9 training facility for both the fire and police departments which was opened at Fire Station #9 (which thankfully is not being used as bond collateral at least not so far) after renovations were done on the field out back to create the training course that can be used by K9 handlers to train or "tune up" their canine partners. Dogs which were used for police work as well as to do rescue or cadaver searches at disaster sites were put through their paces in a variety of demonstrations. Assisting in the police demonstrations were several police officers who are themselves preparing to apply for any openings in the police K9 division.

Attending were Chief Sergio Diaz and the rarely seen anywhere Deputy Chief Jeffrey Greer.

Traditionally, the K9 division has been fairly low turnover (with people mostly retiring out) in comparison to other divisions or units but the division did see the additions of Officers Kevin Feimer (who trained for about eight years) and Jeffrey Barney due to a couple of retirements. They spend time in suits as "agitators" for the dogs after receiving training in that skill and apply for any position opening. When selected, the officers receive their dogs (which are considered city property) , equipment including a custom renovated squad car and after getting acquainted, are sent to a six week training academy of about eight hours a day, at Adlerhorst International Inc. which is a local business. After receiving a replacement dog, the new team undergoes a similar process.

They follow regular training practices and often train in different places in the city with their dogs. Having a regular training center makes it easier to do the training including while they are working their shifts.

The division underwent some policy and procedure overhaul in 2000-2002 including on deployment policy with assistance from the United States Department of Justice and receives the canine officers which cost about $15,000 apiece from local businesses including Fritts Ford. Its members also compete in competitions and one team, Officer Mike Carroll and Marco placed highly in the K9 competition in Las Vegas. Formerly under the jurisdiction of the department's special operations division, K9 was placed in field operations during a department-wide reorganization.

It was part of the changes undergone by the police department since 1999. During that time, the department and city were under a consent decree with the State Attorney General's office for five years.

One aide of Lockyer's look at that process was written up as this thesis paper which is a very interesting read. There's a very good passage written about the infamous trip up by some city officials in 2001 to dialogue with Lockyer where much of the concern was what to call the consent decree. Mayor Ron Loveridge apparently didn't like the words "consent" and "decree" especially when placed together so he offered up "Memorandium of Understanding (MOU)" instead. He thought that sounded better and that the city wouldn't face damage to its image around the globe as an cultural and economic jewel if it was called that instead of consent decree.

But great minds came together up in the state's capitol and they came to a mutual decision to call the consent decree the "stipulated judgment" instead. Much nicer to put on the city's brochures and Web sites with the rest of its promotional literature and advertising. Now there might be some people out there who might wonder why what a reform process is called receives greater attention than the process itself but then they wouldn't be all that familiar with River City.

May the Games Begin

"My Captain....My Captain...."

[Riverside Police Chief Sergio Diaz is pondering the captain's list]

The Powers that Be in the police department have apparently denied that anyone high ranking will be retiring soon but it appears that one captain has taken out their PERS papers and is set to retire by April. Given that management vacancies tend to be filled more quickly these days, that means that it's probable that a captain's promotion is on the horizon.

Already, Chief Sergio Diaz has been out scouting candidates and not too long ago, went with two off of the captain's list to dinner. In the past, candidates allegedly used a variety of means to grab any vacant spot in that rank but what will happen with a new management team including a chief in power? Will it be a kind, gentler process or as cut throat and stiletto packed as it's been in the past? Diaz promised in various meetings including those held in public before and after he started his job that he'd not engage in past practices involving the promotional process where it became more about what team you played for or on, who owed who what favor for what and who would be cashing favors in at others' expenses. That left a disjointed captain's rank that was so much so that the chief could only promote one captain into a higher management position and had to hire two from the outside.

But frankly some developments have caused some eyebrow raising and head scratching as to what's different from what it used to be. In terms of how much the rule of "one year in patrol in between special assignments" is enforced and on who. The rule about not being considered for special assignments while on probation including promotional probation. Who gets to fight off-duty, force their way into people's houses and get in trouble and who stays out of trouble because it's a "private matter". Whose son gets a chance at a "get out of jail without a paper trail" card for drunken and disorderly fighting and who's out of luck. And instead of multiple teams to sign up with, there's only one team. You're either on it or you're not, with some wondering if the promotional process is worth testing for at all. Or some waiting to be recommended by someone higher in the ranks to go out for it.

The department's personnel and training division did circulate a memo asking for people to sign up to be mentors in the department but it's not clear how many people responded and what areas if any they were concentrated in.

Now with those who engaged in multiple special assignments dominating the newly relevant lieutenants' list, those issues could come to the forefront as Diaz' "honeymoon" period comes to a close. But for now, the holiday season has brought renewed cheer as the department has held a successful Tamale Festival.

There's a clear favorite in the captain's race who's the "complete package" according to Diaz but as the process is still early and the lobbying is probably not quite at peak levels, so much still remains that could happen in this contest. If the candidate's got the goods, then it's a good time to show them off which would be very cool. It should come down to that whether than who knows who, or who went to dinner with the chief last week to talk about....the weather or who looks good in the World Series or in those Bowl games.

In other news, the Riverside Police Officers' Association has elected new leaders including its new president, Sgt. Brian Smith and vice-president Juan Munoz. So far, the board has promised it will take the organization in a new direction although labor negotiations for the next contract had been put on hold until a new permanent city manager was hired.

Interim City Manager Scott Barber Now Permanent Choice In Other News: Rain's Wet

Some people believe that reporting the appointment of Interim City Manager Scott Barber to the permanent position is breaking news. On one level, that's technically true but it's really not that unexpected that the city once again spent quite a chunk of change paying the same recruitment firm, Roberts Consulting Group to recruit and help narrow down the choices for the city management position. It's not a surprise that the city pretty much had its candidate picked out all along despite undergoing the recruitment process. Roberts Consulting Group when asked at a public forum how typical it was for a city to hire one of the candidates not recruited by its head hunting firm said through a representative that this was "very unusual". Well, after this latest hiring, it's probably a little less unusual or at least much less so for Riverside. But Loveridge really likes this hiring firm and that's why it's been selected for past city management hiring processes even when submitting the highest bid to the city for its services. They actually do quite good work, it just seems that this work is not really needed.

The names of some of those asked to apply for the position including those in our neighboring counties has been made known so efforts will be made to ask these individuals what ideas they had in terms of managing the city.

But anyway, Barber's more personable than Hudson to those outside of the group that a city manager answers to and personality-wise, he couldn't be more different. However, it's been interesting to listen to feedback from those reacting to the news about Barber's appointment or at least, job reclassification.

Scott Barber's contract and its $280,500 base salary

Barber answers commenters' questions.

His appointment might make it very uncomfortable for one of his subordinates, a department head overseeing a female employee who's a...friend of Barber's. But anyway, many City Hall watchers weren't surprised that once again, the city government paid off cash (in this case $30,000) to Mayor Loveridge's favorite headhunter firm to do another "national" search only to somehow hire someone who was probably their choice the entire time. Last time, the city government used this process to recruit candidates to interview at the same time 2-3 council members were trying to bring former city manager, Brad Hudson into the fold. This time, the city merely played it safe and hired someone inhouse who won't come into the position with too much of a fresh perspective which might cause them to say, look at a batch of financial records whether expenditures or investments and ask too many difficult questions. More than a few city council members have difficulties as their furrowed brows show handling even simple questions let alone the more complicated ones. They just rely on "staff" to tell them what to do and even in some cases, how to think as well.

But while there are those who celebrate Barber's hiring and yes, he's the polar opposite of his predecessors Hudson and his assistant Tom DeSantis, there are those who raise concerns that the city deliberately chose someone who wouldn't make any waves or take any serious looks at how the city's spending its money or how badly the city's heading into the red. Yes, it's refreshing to know that he's got no current plans at least to pack a pistol purchased from the police department, draft up a badge and drive a city owned vehicle packed with cold plates and arising from a still unknown but highly questionable funding source. It's good to know that he's not going to screw up labor negotiations for contracts with the bargaining units as Hudson and DeSantis allegedly did in the past.

But some have said that he'll know where all the city's bodies are buried so to speak and will not go digging for them or do anything about them. The city government has this way of declaring that the past is the past and not to be spoken of and to focus on the present and the future. Councilman Steve Adams even grumbled in one meeting when the issue of the money used to pay for the city issued cars came up, that they weren't going to talk about past expenditures by the city government.

It's one thing to say that to city residents but what if any outside agencies were interested in checking out the city's financial books? Would Adams and others on the dais issue the same dismissive response to questions anyone outside might have regarding past financial records and transactions? Hypothetically speaking of course, but this kind of attitude is what has gotten quite a few cities in trouble in the first place.

Is Riverside Complying with Federal and State Laws Regarding its Ambulance Ordinance?

What will Riverside Fire Chief Steve Earley have to say about the state's analysis of River City's way of doing business with ambulance franchises?

In the midst of this, is Riverside violating state anti-trust practices with its sweet heart ordinance involving ambulance franchises? And what of the federal anti-kickback statute which is a felony that carries prison time? Some ambulance franchises applying for licenses did express concerns about this particular law.

After all, the investigative process involving Fire Chief Steve Earley is so fraught with conflicts of interest involving the funding that American Medical Response gave to the fire department that it could "lose" if more franchises bit into AMR's share of revenue generated from BLS services.

You can bet that the first thing the elected officials did when they read that article was to go to the red line and call City Attorney Gregory Priamos to reassure them that the state's not only robbing them blind of all the city's money but they're liars as well. That's not too difficult to predict because the alternative would involve taking the initiative to do research, to ask difficult questions and perhaps even to take a bold and lonely stand and risk ostracism by the "go along to get along" group thinkers who currently make up most of the dais leadership.

This comment appeared at the Press Enterprise site on the ambulance article:

The City Council has allowed their friend Mr. AMR to cloud their judgement on doing what is right. If you recall several months ago, Mission Ambulance proved their is an absolute need for another provider, and they were denied. If you read previous articles you'll see how absolutely crazy this story is:

1) Mr. AMR is best friends with the City Attorney

2) Mr. AMR does give the council members a lot of money for their campaigns.

3) Mr. AMR is best friends with the Fire Chief

4) Mr. AMR does give the Fire Department 1.4mm

5) This is a Pay-to-Play city

6) No cities do not have the right to limit non-emergency transportation

7) Yes it is a conflict of interest that the Fire Chief is best friends with Mr. AMR, receives 1.4mm, and is responsible for denying applications.

8) Yes it is a violation of the Federal Anti-Kickback statue. Receives money in exchange for exclusivity is by definition a violation of the act.

9) AMR doesn't care because the fines they'd have to pay on the violation is pennies compared to what they make in the City.

10) Yes it is true that AMR receives 40% of amount billed. What receiving 40% of $5,000 isn't enough? Besides, it is the County's responsibility to create a contract that is a win-win. It is NOT the City's responsibility to take on that burden. So, just to clarify your comment Mr. Bigdawg86, the citizens and patients that receive healthcare in the City of Riverside are responsible for the other 60% that AMR cannot collect in all other cities??? C'mon...Really?

11) So does the City Attorney, Mr. AMR's goooooood friend, know more about the EMS laws than the State EMS agency? The answer is no, he only knows what Mr. AMR tells him, and that goes for the rest of the council as well. All you have to do is listen to them, they are saying what Mr. AMR tells them say, oh ya and that also comes with a check from AMR, Mr. AMR, or EMS Corp. There are many ways to hide campaign contributions and they seem to be the best at it.

12) Does anyone else see this scandal is the size of Bell??? If you really get down and dirty and look at true numbers, you'll see a HUGE story here.

Public Utility Workers Fired for Concocting Meter Readings

Where's Their Oversight?

And what about all those Unlit Street Lights?

The story came out that two Riverside Public Utility workers were fired for falsifying or just making up readings off of electric meters serving customers in undisclosed areas of the city. This story resonated in many ways but one was because of an experience that happened years ago when another employee was allegedly fired for turning off electrical power off of residents without checking to be absolutely sure he was turning off the right account. You can be totally paid up on your utility bill or have an online payment that just misses the "late notice" deadline and get turned off. Errors do happen and it's always worthwhile to try to pay in person or online and get some sort of receipt for your bill because even if your payment goes through your bank account, Public Utilities can still turn you off. The stories that you hear about situations like that are interesting. After all, not everyone can be City Manager Brad Hudson and get a personal visit from Public Utilities to make sure he pays his bill after he gets a posted 48 hour notice on his door. Ordinary citizens don't have access to that exclusive package service, they just take their chances.

But anyway, this situation garnered so many concerns and questions largely about oversight of the process of meter reading. How come meter readers independently engaging in it were both getting away with it for a while and were apparently "flagged" at the same time for illicit conduct? Bills were delayed and some folks were overcharged and perhaps paid more than they were supposed to pay. But at least they were finally caught in the act so to speak. People who heard that it had happened were asking what areas were short shifted, was cheating the reasons that their bills suddenly spiked? The city has assured the inquiring public that all these illicit bills will be fixed in upcoming months but apparently the two men were able to bypass the department's "flagging" system so how long has this been going on before they were caught?

Anyway in related news, people are talking about the high number of darkened or burned out street lights in Riverside lately. In the past, you might see an occasional one, but now there are series of lights that aren't on at night. One problem with the lights is that they attract copper thieves who break into them to grab the live wire underneath which is extremely dangerous. Construction projects take out more of them and sometimes they don't return into service as has happened with several street lights on Chicago near where the sinkhole led to major repairs on that street after flooding rains a year ago.

You see it all around you. Untrimmed trees, burned out lights, streets uncleaned after storms, it's not about work ethic of the city, it's about money and the fact that the city's been facing a shortfall it doesn't want to talk about far beyond the $3 million in cuts currently planned for the budget.

The city's now borrowing $4 million from Pinnacle Public Finance to pay for renovations done for Tesquesquite Park. Quite a few campaign promises were built on the proposed improvements done to what's now mostly open space near the Santa Ana River. Pinnacle Finance recently experienced a few shakeups at the top of its operations.

It will also be interesting to hear how the city is going to reconcile building athletic fields on top of a former city dump and how the issue of methane gas arising from the old dump will be addressed. Originally the city had done an environmental impact report saying that portions of Tesquesquite Park couldn't be developed because of methane gas deposits. So what the city did was they hired different experts to do a new one and the newer report said that it was okay.

Methane gas can be harmful if people are exposed to it and it can also be explosive in some cases. Years ago, I actually just narrowly missed this explosive incident where a strip mall experienced a methane explosion and 23 people were injured inside a store. But city officials assured the public that nothing will be built on the abandoned dump.

Riverside's Mayoral Race Getting Ready to Really Launch

More Candidates in the Wings Waiting to Enter the Stage

[Mayor Ron Loveridge (l.) isn't running for he? Councilman Rusty Bailey who's not nodding off here is one of the four declared candidates so far]

[Councilman Rusty Bailey tries to stay awake during a high school class]

Yes it's true, not all the candidates have declared yet in the mayoral race. So far you have the entire left half (by ward not by politics) running for office and that's Councilmen Mike Gardner, Andrew Melendrez and Rusty Bailey as well as former Councilman Ed Adkison. However, the mayor's race is still very young. When the new year begins, more candidates will come forward and declare for the office.

The more the merrier I say. Since the mayor's position was weakened way back in the 1920s by the city, the election itself is most valuable for its entertainment value at the moment.

Governmental Affairs Committee to Meet on Ward Redistricting

This report is on the consent calendar of the Dec. 6 city council meeting and it gives a timeline for redrawing the lines of the city's seven wards and how over or underpopulated each particular ward is at the moment. Not surprisingly, Ward Four once again underwent the most population growth and is about 11% over the optimal level for that ward. The issue will go to the public workshops by the Governmental Affairs Committee in March 2012.

Public Meetings

Tuesday, Dec. `13 at 3pm and 6:30 pm
The Riverside City Council under all its assorted titles will be meeting at City Hall to discuss this agenda. This agenda is packed with a lot of excitement including the afternoon hearing on the denial of Alpha Ambulance's franchise application and the closed session discussion of the city's lawsuit against Bank of America.

Not to mention Police Department tow service agreements. How many of them appear on the campaign donation lists of city officials will be audited.

Wednesday, Dec. 14 at 5:30 pm. The Community Police Review Commission meets at City Hall to discuss this agenda that includes presentation of a 2008 report on the commission by police practices consultant Joe Brann.

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