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, January 25, 2011

The Mayor's State of the Union in River City...Sponsored by the Chamber

[The Fireworks display in downtown Riverside during the first annual Lunar Festival which though very successful received no sponsorship from the Chamber of Commerce organization...though some of its businesses did break from the pack]

[Once again, Councilman Steve Adams was a no show during public comment but remained in his seat long enough to champion Redevelopment agencies]

[Mayor Ron Loveridge took time from his busy duties as president of the League of Cities to give his state of the city address but this year, no standing ovation]

The Riverside City Council passed a resolution to oppose the proposal of Governor Jerry Brown to disband city and county redevelopment agencies and a bunch of speakers including those who have received funding for projects associated with Riverside's Redevelopment Agency lined up to praise it. Even former Assemblyman Ted Weggeland showed up to perform "sweep" duties for the entourage of speakers. The presentation was put on by City Manager Brad Hudson, the guru of Redevelopment hired away from Riverside County's Economic Development Agency and it impressed many people but some of the facts regarding some of the "successes" including the University Village (which is allegedly in receivership) were somewhat overstated.

Redevelopment in itself isn't a bad thing and can be very necessary but what's needed is more outside oversight especially since the city council also functions as the Redevelopment Agency board and Hudson had such harsh words for Sacramento's announcement that it will audit 18 redevelopment agencies labeling it essentially a smear campaign against the agencies. Well if you're satisfied that your process is what it should be involving your own redevelopment agency then why not volunteer to have it audited? But that's not going to be happening in Riverside any time soon at least not voluntarily.

That kind of talk towards any form of outside oversight on an insulated process where the numbers put out by the city, as Karen Renfro and others have pointed out, don't seem to match those the city provides to the state is actually quite disturbing. What's just as disturbing is how the majority of the city council drank from the same Koolaid that Hudson served in terms of the evil state taking away "our" money and how the state has a "little budget" problem. Sacramento has serious budget issues including money coming in and its spending habits, so does the United States Government, so does Riverside County and yes, even Riverside City where Mayor Ron Loveridge claimed in his State of the City Address is this oft-repeated $40 million reserve fund that appears to be parceled out and essentially not easily discoverable in the city's budget. And that's a worrisome situation for more reasons that the public's inability to understand how the city does its accounting and the city's inability or unwillingness to explain it. But no, asking serious questions about what's going on with a redevelopment agency (including the merging of "zones" which have nothing to do with other simply so money can be siphoned out of one area in the zone to another) doesn't make a person against redevelopment even as several elected officials appear to paint it that way.

And remember what firm was auditing Riverside's finances for the last five years again? Hoffman, Mayer and McCann, the one under investigation by the State Comptroller's office. The one that some factions of City Hall said during a Finance Committee that they'd be open to hiring other "interests" within that firm to audit the city's books until a council member or two including Paul Davis, said whoa, isn't going to happen. That's a good step but what the city needs to do is to have at least the last couple of audits done by that troubled firm reviewed.

But some elected officials clearly believed that pushing for greater accountability and transparency over these agencies means that you oppose redevelopment, affordable housing (at very unaffordable rents), community centers, daycare centers and other things including probably Santa Claus. The only real convenient straw man argument that city officials can use to try to ward off any concerns that the Redevelopment Agency in Riverside should be audited.

Councilwoman Nancy Hart told some individuals loudly that only three speakers opposed Redevelopment and she didn't want to hear any more of it. But then again, Hart told the daily newspaper that she had an issue with releasing public information to individuals trying to catch City Hall at doing something wrong. So that's not all that surprising.

Hudson's shiny power point presentation on redevelopment's impact in Riverside was very impressive but some of the projects that were presented as success stories were not in fact successful at all or are struggling to survive including the University Village which apparently is in some form of receivership. The Raincross Promenade, a condo project done by a developer who was a popular donor to several political campaigns has sold three out of 144 of its units and the rest are rentals, adding to the percentage downtown which is interesting given that the city's goal for the ambitious project was to reduce the percentage of rentals in the downtown area.

But some individuals including Councilman Steve Adams said that Redevelopment is the biggest provider of jobs, an assertion that is contradicted by the filings provided by cities and counties to Sacramento. It makes sense that there's not that many jobs if you've followed what's been going on with some of these projects. The city seems to hire construction and contracting companies from outside the county and even the state, i.e. Arizona and many businesses that come into these areas bring their own labor forces with them and don't do much hiring or only offer a few positions. Many of those offered out in the endangered University Village were part-time jobs for students including at the two movie theaters that were housed there. Starbucks and other chains transferred employees in from other places. And people lost jobs, and some people lost businesses including on Market Street in downtown Riverside because they didn't own the buildings that were seized by the redevelopment agency under threat of eminent domain, they leased it which means that the city paid them zero compensation or relocation fees which only went to the property owners. So some individuals' life-long dreams of owning businesses were crushed by redevelopment including its rather way too broad and often very opportunistic definition of "blight".

Hudson also claimed that the redevelopment agency was responsibly for the demolition of motels on University Avenue but actually what happened in several cases including the well knowned University Lodge was that the city paid huge amounts of money to negligent property owners or in the case of the Lodge, a well-known slumlord from Menlo Park, Orange County (in that case an excess of $400,000) to leave town. The slumlord received much more in compensation for mishandling his property than those who lived in those squalid conditions to relocate. Why would any absentee property owner have any incentive to be responsible if they were simply negiligent or slum lords and were paid off rather than held accountable? Many people had questions about how that was handled, which weren't answered. Because if you did, then you were against getting rid of a problem property but wait a minute, what can be more pro-slumlord than allowing one to essentially win the lottery before going off to be a slumlord some place else? Most people in similar circumstances would have been told to pay fines to the city for code violations not paid huge sums of money to leave town.

Adams also said that the state took no budget cuts of its own and that educational institutions like the two university systems and the community college system didn't experience cuts but just increased fees. The same night that a summit was taking place at UC Riverside to discuss what else? Budget cuts. Adams is just so incredible to listen to some times, one wishes he'd return to sitting in his seat during public comment so that the city residents could further benefit from his colorful insights.

State Comptroller John Chiang has announced plans to review 18 redevelopment agencies including that in Riverside County. And what about Riverside, city? Well given that the agencies in both the city and county share a common thread if anything problematic is found in the county review, then perhaps that might lead to a city review. Stranger things have happened after all.

Riverside's city government was asked at the city council meeting to volunteer its own redevelopment agency for the Chiang's office to review among the 18 chosen but so far hasn't done that. Though with Riverside County being one of them, again who knows but that could lead to a review of Riverside the city if something doesn't smell right in the county because of a common thread.

Redevelopment Agencies annual reports to Sacramento, for people who are interested in researching them.

The Press Enterprise did this interesting article which includes a history of when city residents lost the ability to pull items from the consent calendar. Marjorie Von Pohle protested this action every week at city council meetings while she attended but although a couple of current city council members promised to revisit the issue during their campaigns, that never happened. Cities like Corona still allow people to pull consent calendar items for discussion but not Riverside.

Mayor Ron Loveridge did his annual state of the city address deal at the Riverside Convention Center and again, it's sponsored by the Greater Chamber of Commerce which makes a bundle from sponsorship and from the paying audience off of an event which should be non-profit given that it's an annual speech made by an elected official voted into office by many other city residents besides members of the Chamber. Some folks who attended and didn't pay the big bucks for tables and for catered food felt as if they were definitely second tier or were treated rudely with one individual being told that she would be "allowed" to go into the city vendor display room.

Gee thanks.

The mayor shouldn't be giving an annual address in front of a paying audience nor should it be a venue for an organization even a business one to rake in the bucks. It should be in a venue where it's open to everyone on equal footing. Especially since the city residents' sales tax money is paying for quite a few of the tables in that room. It's an opportunity for people to hob nob and feel great rather than an opportunity for the public to witness a mayoral address.

As one newcomer to this city in the cheap seats aptly put it, it's really an example of the difference between the "haves" and the "have nots", not the best welcoming lesson for people moving into this city.

Loveridge had a busy week because he also made comments that ticked off the Alvord Unified School District.

Concern Grows over Riverside's Two Tier Pension Plans

The Press Enterprise published this article about the reaction by some of the city's bargaining units to the announcement that the Riverside Fire Fighters' Association and Loveridge applauded the actions of this union in his State of the City's address as being visionary and a necessary part of pension reform. But in actuality, the RFA didn't vote to lessen its members pension plans but those who haven't been hired by the department yet, hence the full meaning of "two-tiered" plans. It's easier to vote away a portion of a future employee's pension than your own and at least the incoming fire fighter applicants will be aware of this happening before they are hired but that brings up the issues of how this "pension reform" will impact the recruitment pools, not just for fire fighters but for employees in other city bargaining units. Will the city still attract the top quality applicants to the fire department if they have a lesser retirement than that offered by other cities? Will they want to work in an agency alongside employees while taking the same risks of the job and get a lesser pension when they retire? Will it foster division within the ranks of a city department?

What if police officers took a similar plan? Would the Riverside Police Department still attract top candidates who might base their decisions on which agency they work for and pick one offering 3% at 50 over one that offers 3% at 55, for example. And pensions do factor majorly into where people decide to work in the public sector and in fact, one of the main attractions of the public sector have been the pension plans. But most city employees in Riverside aren't wading in excess and wealth when they collect retirement, in fact quite a few are barely surviving and keeping their homes because of the dramatic drop in income and the economy in this region in general.

These are questions that have been asked by city workers whose unions are facing similar issues and some say pressure to fall in line behind the RFA. This is a complicated issue but the two-tier plan doesn't really address it, in terms of whether employee retirement funds are invested in the best way possible with the least risk and most return, an issue that's been discussed quite a bit, especially when the stock markets take serious hits. And oversight of the retirement process in ways that protect employees as well as taxpayers.

But the one issue that really seems to be not explored here in these discussions is that there's a lot about sacrifices made to "reform" pensions and save money but not one peep about the pensions enjoyed by upper management at City Hall as well as the very generous life-long benefits given to elected officials who serve a certain length of time in office. In fact, the management level at City Hall has been very good at advocating for its own step increases even as other employee bargaining units have worked without contracts or increase in salaries or benefits for several years now. Some management members might be talking about deferring compensation but will they be engaged in this reform as well?

Unfortunately, there can't be any serious dialogue from elected officials who are so eager to hang on to what they get (and they don't have to work 20-30 years either!) and ask or even pressure other employees to "reform" their pensions so it's hard to take them seriously when it comes to talking about being the leader in pension reform.

Like Loveridge, before you run off and champion that cause as like your legacy or something, what are you doing about the life-time packages for elected officials including yourself? Is that something to look forward to in the next State of the City Address? Will Loveridge be able to announce that he engaged in pension reform in his own backyard?

Community Police Review Commission Votes to Hold Workshop

[The Community Police Review Commission shown at an earlier meeting discussed a workshop to be held Feb. 22]

CPRC Manager Frank Hauptmann

On Jan. 26, the Community Police Review Commission held its first meeting with its newest manager, Frank Hauptmann. Outgoing Chair Brian Pearcy proposed a workshop to explain to elected officials, new police management employees and Hauptmann the institutional history of the CPRC. Former Councilwoman Maureen Kane who chaired an exploratory committee investigating civilian oversight back in 2000 has been invited and Pearcy was working on finding another guest speaker. Suggestions to have representatives from the community and the police associations were not surprisingly denied by Pearcy and objected to by other commissioners.

After all, the commission in the past few years hasn't been exactly community friendly and Pearcy perhaps didn't get the reaction to his workshop idea that he had hoped for. Commissioner Ken Rotker said he had a difficult time accepting it without an outline and then went into this long monologue on the differences between an agenda and an outline. Art Santore not surprisingly thought it should be closed to public participation at all including public comments. The final product that was approved by the commissioners in attendance will take place on Tuesday, Feb. 22 at noon. With a time like that, I don't think individuals like Santore don't have to worry too much about city residents showing up and ruining their fun.

Lawsuit Involving Former Riverside Police Department Officer to Go to Trial?

Apparently the proposed settlement between Riverside and former Riverside Police Department Officer Jose Luis Nazario, Jr. fell through and the case is going to trial. Possibly as early as April. Nazario was fired by the department as a probationary officer after the NCIS began investigating him for alleged war crimes in Fallujah, Iraq in 2005. He was indicted by a federal grand jury and was acquitted of manslaughter charges at trial in the U.S. District Court in dowtown Riverside, the first discharged military serviceman to be tried for war crime allegations in a civil court system.

Information on the criminal proceedings in the Nazario case are here.

After his acquittal, Nazario who has his own Wikipedia page then reapplied online to get rehired by the police department but was not rehired by the city.

And really what appears to be the legal issues here regarding his employment with the police department are twofold. First there's the issue behind his original firing but there's a separate issue behind the city's rejection of his reapplication. Nazario and his attorney in the lawsuit apparently are focusing on the second issue rather than the first. But the difference between the two involves the process of undergoing potential screening by the police department which would include a background exam for the period of time between his firing and his reapplication for his job back as essentially a new hire.

In a Wall St. Journal article, it was revealed that Nazario on a phone call to one of his friends from the Marines that was taped by NCIS had made controversial comments about his stint as a police officer. The police department was put in the defensive position of having to respond to them.


During his time in Riverside, Navy investigators arranged a surreptitiously taped phone call between Mr. Nelson and Mr. Nazario, during which Mr. Nazario described his work. Saying his job was much like the television show "Cops," he told Mr. Nelson that he regularly would "beat the s- out of" a criminal, finding "a reason to take him to jail" later, according to a transcript of the conversation.

In court filings, prosecutors say the conversation shows the two men discussing the killings in Fallujah. "Who gave us the orders though?" asks Mr. Nelson. Mr. Nazario replies: "I did." But Mr. Nazario then says the order to kill the men came via radio from someone higher up.

On Aug. 7, 2007, Mr. Nazario was finishing night patrol in Riverside, when ordered to return to headquarters. NCIS personnel were there and told him he was under arrest.

Asked in an interview about the statements that led to his arrest, Mr. Nazario says he didn't understand that Mr. Nelson was referring to a particular incident in Fallujah and that he wasn't acknowledging any crime. He defends his record at the Riverside Police Department, and says he may have been drinking during the call; he describes the conversation as "two guys" who were "talking tough" about "untrue stories."

A police spokesman said state law prevents him from commenting on Mr. Nazario's personnel record, but that he was aware of no criminal charges against Mr. Nazario during his time on the force.

So these statements made by Nazario caused issues for the police department and the city because after all, that's not exactly what the department would want said about it and have it wind up in one of the nation's top selling newspapers.

But apparently, this didn't cause the department not to hire him back either. During the rehiring process, the department allegedly found a disqualifying factor and took it. Whether or not that part of the episode will play out in U.S. District Court at trial remains to be seen.

Jurupa Valley is preparing to receive ballot information and sample ballots as it prepares to vote for cityhood.

Should the residents of San Bernardino County pay for former Assessor Bill Postmus' legal expenses? Um no.

Public Meeting

Tuesday, Feb. 1 at 3 pm and 6:30 p.m. The Riverside City Council is holding its weekly meeting and discussing this agenda. First up, is the biennial exercise in deciding whether or not to increase the salaries and benefits packages of elected officials. This report is must reading if only to find out how much the mayor currently makes.

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

When the Clock Strikes Past Midnight

If you use Blackberry to get your emails, you're out of luck today. Massive Blackberry server outage all over United States...How long to fix it? Not known at this time.

[Employees of the Riverside Police Department and Fire Department receive accolades and induction into the Riverside Unified School District Honor Roll for saving the life of Arlington High School Head Football Coach Patrick McCarthy (l.)]

[Riverside Police Department Officer Richard Glover who also is an assistant football coach at Arlington High School receiving his award]

[Deputy Chief of Personnel Mike Blakely and Chief Sergio Diaz witness the award ceremony while the fate of Glover's career remains in their hands 14 months after the alleged incident took place]

California State Governmental Code 3304 (d)


d) (1) Except as provided in this subdivision and subdivision
(g), no punitive action, nor denial of promotion on grounds other
than merit, shall be undertaken for any act, omission, or other
allegation of misconduct if the investigation of the allegation is
not completed within one year of the public agency's discovery by a
person authorized to initiate an investigation of the allegation of
an act, omission, or other misconduct. This one-year limitation
period shall apply only if the act, omission, or other misconduct
occurred on or after January 1, 1998. In the event that the public
agency determines that discipline may be taken, it shall complete its
investigation and notify the public safety officer of its proposed
discipline by a Letter of Intent or Notice of Adverse Action
articulating the discipline that year, except as provided in
paragraph (2). The public agency shall not be required to impose the
discipline within that one-year period.
(2) (A) If the act, omission, or other allegation of misconduct is
also the subject of a criminal investigation or criminal
prosecution, the time during which the criminal investigation or
criminal prosecution is pending shall toll the one-year time period.
(B) If the public safety officer waives the one-year time period
in writing, the time period shall be tolled for the period of time
specified in the written waiver.
(C) If the investigation is a multijurisdictional investigation
that requires a reasonable extension for coordination of the involved
(D) If the investigation involves more than one employee and
requires a reasonable extension.
(E) If the investigation involves an employee who is incapacitated
or otherwise unavailable.
(F) If the investigation involves a matter in civil litigation
where the public safety officer is named as a party defendant, the
one-year time period shall be tolled while that civil action is
(G) If the investigation involves a matter in criminal litigation
where the complainant is a criminal defendant, the one-year time
period shall be tolled during the period of that defendant's criminal
investigation and prosecution.
(H) If the investigation involves an allegation of workers'
compensation fraud on the part of the public safety officer.
(e) Where a predisciplinary response or grievance procedure is
required or utilized, the time for this response or procedure shall
not be governed or limited by this chapter.
(f) If, after investigation and any predisciplinary response or
procedure, the public agency decides to impose discipline, the public
agency shall notify the public safety officer in writing of its
decision to impose discipline, including the date that the discipline
will be imposed, within 30 days of its decision, except if the
public safety officer is unavailable for discipline.
(g) Notwithstanding the one-year time period specified in
subdivision (d), an investigation may be reopened against a public
safety officer if both of the following circumstances exist:
(1) Significant new evidence has been discovered that is likely to
affect the outcome of the investigation.
(2) One of the following conditions exist:
(A) The evidence could not reasonably have been discovered in the
normal course of investigation without resorting to extraordinary
measures by the agency.
(B) The evidence resulted from the public safety officer's
predisciplinary response or procedure.
(h) For those members listed in subdivision (a) of Section 830.2
of the Penal Code, the 30-day time period provided for in subdivision
(f) shall not commence with the service of a preliminary notice of
adverse action, should the public agency elect to provide the public
safety officer with such a notice.

On Tuesday, Jan. 18 at around 6pm, a group of individuals including Riverside city employees appeared at a Board of Education meeting of the Riverside Unified School District to get awards and induction into the RSUD's Honor Roll for saving the life of Arlington High School Head Football Coach Patrick McCarthy after a severe infection caused him to go into cardiac arrest right in the football field during a practice. Assistant coaches Zaza Ralph and Richard Glover, a Riverside Police Department officer sprang into action taking emergency measures to resuscitate him until emergency personnel from the Riverside Fire Department arrived to apply further emergency measures before transporting McCarthy to a hospital where he struggled to survive for several days but a little more than two months later, he was standing at the podium at the Board of Education meeting which was filled with people witnessing the ceremony. Speakers including McCarthy cited the bravery of those who were involved including Glover and said if they hadn't acted that McCarthy wouldn't be alive today. Both Chief Sergio Diaz and Deputy Chief Mike Blakely attended and stood up proudly when introduced in front of the school board as they should after those awarded including Glover were given standing ovations. Both men play pivotal roles in a situation involving the young officer as it turned out in a situation that's started over a year ago.

But what might not have been known by most of the people attending the event was that Glover hadn't been able to wear his police uniform in months and that he had actually been placed on paid leave pending the outcome of an internal affairs investigation that has been in the works since about November 2009. They might not know that right now, there's allegedly a recommendation to terminate his employment and that of another patrol officer sitting on the desk of a high ranking management employee. And that the investigation against him and other officers has possibly exceeded its statutory limitations according to state law and the police officer bill of rights yet the management level of the department has either made or received recommendations to discipline them anyway for allegations it has apparently sustained.

It's an investigation and review process that's sparked many questions as it probably should. As it should have months ago so what happened? Because what's resulted is a quandary that taps into many issues involving the problems that have plagued the department's personnel and investigation process for the past few years. Problems that needed solutions before this investigation even got started and long before it got caught in a quagmire where it still remains.

The investigation allegedly originated from an arrest that had been made that had been the subject of a complaint and the investigation was conducted involving Glover, Officer Michael Bucy and later the supervising sergeant who were involved with its handling. An investigation where the direction that it has taken appears to be as prolonged as any investigation possibly could be, and one that has sparked some degree of controversy in whether or not the department has followed state law regarding instituting disciplinary actions of its officers. Not to mention that it seems to be an investigation that no one including in upper management appears to want to deal with as it meanders on past beginning its second year even as a recommendation for rather serious discipline of the two patrol officers has been presented. It appears to be the proverbial hot potato for quite a few people and that's exactly what it shouldn't be at all. Too many lives are involved in a situation that has become uncomfortable to being addressed, it's the first major disciplinary action by the new regime and so far it had seemed like there's been fumbling of the ball up to that point.

Not that by itself, investigations stretching out close to the one year mark aren't anomalies particularly in the area of citizen complaints, as statistics released have shown.

These statistics have shown that the department had already been struggling with the length of time it took to conduct its investigations particularly those involving complaints filed by the public for quite some time long before this particular investigation even began.

For the past five years or so, the average length of time it's taken to investigate both category I (more serious allegations) and 2 (those less serious) has ebbed and flowed but for the most part, has taken at least for citizen complaints often much longer than six months. Much longer than the recommended 60 or 30 days respectively (RPD Policy 4.12 D 5,6) to even reach the Community Police Review Commission if they're complaints under its jurisdiction. And for the most part, it's the category 2 complaints which have run up the highest number of day before completion according to those same statistics. That might be due to several reasons including prioritizing major investigations over minor ones and the fact that the vast majority of category 2 complaints are handled by field sergeants, a rank that's become pretty depleted in the past several years due to their positions being frozen when vacated.

Investigations involving personnel complaints filed against police officers have averaged up to 200-300 days at times to even reach the CPRC according to statistics released by that board on a monthly and annual basis. Yet the department assures both complainants and likely police officers not to mention members of the CPRC that there has never been an investigation that it's done which has extended past the expiration of the governmental code cited above, 3304(d) which states that an officer can't be disciplined more than 12 months after the initial suspicion of misconduct by that officer. The code cites a list of exemptions to that rule, which include the conduction of a criminal investigation/prosecution (which takes priority), investigations conducted by other law enforcement agencies (i.e. the FBI) or the incapacitation of officers involved in the investigation as subjects or witnesses.

Criminal charges were never filed in relation to this case and no civil litigation was initiated either yet the length of investigation and the holding pattern that emerged afterward for more months seemed endless. And in most cases involving the police department, officers are still disciplined (most often by termination) within 12 months of the suspicion of misconduct even in cases where they are being prosecuted on criminal charges. Former officers Robert Forman and Anthony Fletcher and Det. Scott Impola were all fired within six months of criminal charges being filed and well within the 12 months of when the clock was started under 3304(d). There's probably other similar examples where the clock didn't run out on investigations that became criminal cases. When the department strongly believes there's serious misconduct that has been sustained or will be, it acts decisively, it doesn't meander and malinger on an investigation past a year and then engage in a game of musical chairs handing it off to the one left standing to make the decision on what discipline to give out.

So then what happened here in this particular investigation which has presented a situation where officers might get disciplined possibly terminated after the 12 month mark? Even if the department can foster a reason, an exception to waive the requirements of the governmental code, will it past the muster if this disciplinary action is later appealed through arbitration?
Not very likely, given past decisions which heavily favor police officers who have faced serious discipline including termination and likely it would hinge on 3304(d) which means it mostly likely would be tossed out.

But this case hasn't even gotten that far.

So far it's been going on 15 months without any resolution to it and it has generated some degree of controversy as to why it took this long, putting the careers and lives of those involved on hold for over a year and the ultimate outcome for even longer than that. The concerns had included how the investigation into the complaint was handled in the first place including how it proceeded through the chain of command especially during the disciplinary process. It's a process that's not had any winners and has raised questions about how the investigation and disciplinary process is handled by the Riverside Police Department. An agency which already has some interesting history with how it disciplines in different ways for the same offenses. In the same department for example, one detective got a notice with an intent to terminate for alleging lying about making a racial comment several years before he had been investigated for making one last year. An investigation which was one that apparently took priority over this " very serious" one. Even though those involved in both cases sat in the same penalty box.

Another detective had made used a racial slur in roll call during training and had originally been facing a severe suspension. But he wound up with a written reprimand because the lieutenant of the Internal Affairs Division which had been investigating that detective for making the "wet back" comment had himself used that same slur in another training exercise involving the City Attorney's office in front of someone assigned to that office. The lieutenant hadn't really gotten any discipline against him for his slur so they had to go back and reduce the discipline recommended for the detective that his division had investigated for using the same slur, to a written reprimand. It's really hard to look at this ridiculous exercise in showing that accountability for misconduct is something that clearly doesn't trickle up the chain of command and take a law enforcement agency and how it handles that issue very seriously. One person loses their job, one gets a change of disciplinary action and the other gets to retire and then get rehired by the city to work where, but in the City Attorney's office. So at least in that case, the assignment of discipline to an officer seems somewhat capricious? No, the lesson that this situation sends to everyone is that the higher you are up in the chain of command, the less the discipline is that you receive. Because there's quite a large gap between a termination, a suspension, even a written reprimand and a retirement and another job with the city. If that's how discipline was carried out in practice or even as the rule, then it wouldn't seem to be a trustworthy process at all.

Then there was the officer who wasn't issued a notice of intent to discipline for sustained misconduct until 13 months after an incident and since they couldn't give him the disciplinary action that they had intended legally under 3304(d), they decided to "discipline" him through a "non-disciplinary" transfer out of a special assignment. What made that an eyeball rolling event was that the notice of the non-disciplinary transfer was actually written on a memo that had on the top of it, "notice of intent to discipline". What was humorously ironic in a Wonderland kind of way ultimately became very expensive when that episode played out in front of a civil jury about five years ago.

Another long-time detective had committed a serious act of misconduct within his assigned unit and the captain at the time in investigations had recommended that he receive a written reprimand violating departmental procedure that required one of the three following disciplinary actions: suspension, demotion or termination. The assistant chief in that situation then recommended a suspension while the police chief ultimately terminated the detective who then won his job back in arbitration, the city appealed it, lost and then ultimately paid him a medical retirement.

A patrol officer committed sexual misconduct on duty and wasn't terminated but then several years later was arrested and prosecuted for oral copulation under the color of authority and sexual battery and today, is a convicted felon and registered sex offender. Plus he was ultimately fired from the department.

But then the department took back the one police officer whose firing had been supported by arbitration and by Riverside County Superior Court for some inexplicable reason. The officer didn't stay in the department very long before regressing back to the behavior that got him terminated but this time the department didn't fire him, it paid him out, most likely on a "medical" retirement.

It's more than likely that most of the cases don't appear to be like these ones and that they have outcomes that make more sense including when it comes to issuing disciplinary action. At least one would hope so especially in the case of employee terminations. But it's problematic when the process goes astray even once because of the serious implications involved and how they impact people's lives.

Because it's one of the most serious actions that a police department can take and one that's required to adhere to state law including requirements involving statutory periods. An accountable and responsible law enforcement agency would see that it did just that as well as honoring the laws which require departments to have an accountable citizen complaint process, laws which were alleged to be violated by former State Attorney General Bill Lockyer in his lawsuits against Riverside in 2001, which of course was settled in the form of a five-year stipulated judgment. But was proper process followed here with this 15 month process of investigating misconduct allegations, sustaining them and then making recommendations and ultimate decisions involving any disciplinary action. And if the process wasn't followed correctly with Bucy and Glover's investigation, then why not?

There's been some talk about how major this case was in terms of what happened but if that's the case why did it sit for months essentially allowing the clock to run out? Shouldn't the most important investigations be the ones that get completed on time? Yes, investigations shouldn't be rushed to the finish line and risk being compromised in the process but there's plenty of room for taking great care in conducting them and in getting them completed before the 12 month mark. If this investigation really was so important, the situation so grave, it certainly wasn't treated that way. It was treated like it somehow became politicized along the way inside the insulated walls of the RPD. It also raises the issues of how investigations are prioritized within the department. Are the most serious ones treated as the highest priorities or those that become the most politicized? Past practice had often appeared to be that investigators would be placed on one case, work on that one and then be pulled off to deal with a newer one that was suddenly even a higher priority. Is that still the way business is being conducted, hopefully not because it's pretty easy to identify the inherent problems with that type of organizational system.

But this case itself is odd in more than one way including through the recommendations on disciplinary action which have been made so far. Because the discipline recommended in this investigation also diluted itself the higher up it went.

It's kind of difficult to look at this important and often very arduous process of deciding whether to assign discipline to an officer and if so what with an unjaded eye. If it seems that accountability for sustained misconduct goes down, the higher the rank then that hardly seems appropriate either and it sends a very disturbing message. Why should a detective get suspended or even written up for a racial slur whereas a lieutenant gets nothing, retires and earns another job with the city? Officers should get disciplined for that form of sustained misconduct but the severity shouldn't lessen the higher up in the chain of command that it goes. With increased privilege and power which is enjoyed at the higher levels such as supervision and management, comes responsibility and accountability as well.

What kind of message does that send to the department but also to the community, whether the community knows it or not? Because this type of behavior is often symptomatic of deeper problems that the community will become aware of perhaps in a big way down the road even if it's not aware initially. Riverside's definitely seen that scenario play out in technicolor several times.

Glover and Bucy were featured in earlier postings in the Mad, Mad World at Orange Street Station during the time period last spring when both of them and at least four sworn employees spent their days sitting in the Orange Street Station in a situation called the "penalty box" after being removed from their field operations or investigative assignments. That's the place where Lt. Leon Phillips was put as Former Acting Chief John DeLaRosa told officers at roll call to be trained for a "special assignment" rather than being disciplined. But a week later, he was given his notice of intent to terminate. Some special assignment. The "Penalty Box" as it's called might have some purpose but it's become more politicized than anything else, the fact that it has a name bears to that.

The only other thing that Bucy and Glover had in common was that both had testified in the late 2005 criminal trial of that former officer who was convicted of one count of oral copulation under the color of authority, Robert Forman. Bucy had testified as a former trainee of Forman but his testimony had actually hurt Forman because he had testified that his field training officer had been strict and meticulous about details whereas Forman's entire defense had been built on the premise that he had become a lazy, complacent officer.

Glover had testified that he had been at the scene when Forman and one of the alleged victims had been involved in a petty theft misdemeanor that Forman also had been convicted of at trial. But it seemed clear that the officers at the scene of that situation involving an angry prospective john who alleged he had his $100 stolen by Forman and the victim had no idea that anything illegal involving Forman had taken place.

But what happened last spring was that two officers were taken out of the patrol division and placed in the "penalty box" while the investigation of a complaint appeared to be in limbo months after much of it had allegedly been completed. If the investigation was so serious as had been claimed, why did it take so long, and why were the officers assigned to the Orange Street station for months before being placed on paid leave about two months ago? After all, an investigation involving a former detective who made a racial remark was apparently deemed more important and the highest priority by Orange Street Station about the same time that allegations raised by the detective involving an altercation with a management member hit the press. But yet, the situation was so serious the officers had to be removed from their field assignments and put on some form of desk duty yet for a long while it seemed as if the department's management (which itself was undergoing major changes) was content to run the clock out. Which makes no sense whatsoever.

The investigation finally made it to the desk of newly anointed field operations captain, John Wallace who was given the task, of making the recommendation for the disciplinary action imposed on the officers and sergeant nearly 12 months after it had first been noted. The newly appointed members of the management team apparently didn't want to get involved in making that recommendation themselves, leaving it up to Wallace who was left to come up with his own decision or to seek advice from other parties including his executive lieutenant, Gary Leach. A bit of a different protocol than in cases with former management personnel who had been more hands on with it than had the captains.

But for a while, it put Wallace in the hot seat.

[Field Operations Capt. John Wallace took two months of review to recommend termination for the two patrol officers and a suspension for their supervising sergeant]

Wallace who spends much of his time in his office at Lincoln Field Operations Station remained in there even when Deputy Chief Jeffrey Greer recently attended several roll call sessions without him. He rose up quickly through the ranks mostly through interior assignments becoming a captain before the age of 40 and had a flair and talent for writing which led him towards drafting quite a bit of the original Strategic Plan. He had also applied for the chief's position vacated by Russ Leach and had made the list of final candidates for interview. Apparently he had asked the police unions for their support of his candidacy but they demurred, perhaps because several of their members had their eye on another candidate in the finals.

But this captain who had tried out for the chief's spot ironically was left with a very important decision to make which was to issue a recommendation for the officers involved in the case. Not an enviable task to put it lightly given that it had taken so long for the process to even get that far. That put him from the start in a position that wasn't very fair to be placed in.

It allegedly took him about two months to decide on what disciplinary action if any to recommend against the involved department employees and it was apparently a difficult process because upper management left it up to him to decide on what to recommend. And at the end of that period of contemplation, Wallace finally did.

For Glover and Bucy, he allegedly recommended that their employment be terminated. He went a little easier on the supervising sergeant who received a recommendation of a suspension which was between 1-2 work weeks. If that's the case in terms of what was recommended as discipline for the involved parties, it raises an immediate question as to why the supervising sergeant would be receiving lessor discipline than the officers under his watch. Isn't it to be the other way around, because the department has preached that accountability increases with movement up the chain of command. But then you have to look at the Leach incident for guidance where the lieutenant wound up being the only party involved who at one time faced a loss of income being factored into his eventual pension, with the demotion that never came to be. After all, if that's how the management at City Hall issues out discipline, the department after all, is underneath that same management.

Still, it appears a bit odd, the fact that the involved officers faced a loss of employment while their supervisor (who's still on duty) received a recommendation of lessor disciplinary action. The recommendations allegedly made appear to go against the mission statement of the police department in that accountability for actions and misconduct increase the higher up the structural hierarchy that you go. If a supervisor supervises officers who commit behavior that is deemed by a captain to deserve termination and then gets a recommendation for lighter discipline, what does that mean exactly?

But anyway, at about the 14th month, the investigative packet wound up on the desk of Asst. Chief Chris Vicino for its next stage of handling.

[On Asst. Chief Chris Vicino's desk sits the package involving the involved officers and supervisor]

Vicino has to review an investigation that took 14 months to reach his desk, two months outside of the statutory limitation for disciplining officers which recommended termination for two patrol officers and there had been an inverse correlation between the severity of recommended disciplinary action and the ascension in rank of those involved. It puts Vicino in a difficult position of whether or not to accept or reject the recommendations for disciplinary action, one of the first critical and very involved decisions he has made since his arrival involving an investigation that had put the department in the position of potentially violating the state's peace officer bill of rights and 3304(d) unless the department can come up with an exemption. But Vicino has experience as an interim chief in Pasadena Police Department and has been a force out on the trail of the solicitation of input from different corners for the department's upcoming strategic plan so the task that has been assigned to him is certainly within his scope. Diaz himself comes from a police department where the chief had different and somewhat more limited powers of disciplinary action than is the case in Riverside's department. Does he view the issue similar to what happened back at his haunt or as it is in Riverside? Diaz has had his missteps since becoming chief but he's had his visionary moments too. But what defines a chief ultimately are the bigger tests that he or she faces and this is one of them.

What decision Vicino and possibly Diaz make remains to be seen on the investigation process that dragged on past its year. It's not likely that the officers will be fired, especially given that Diaz attended an award ceremony for one of them but will they be given lesser disciplinary action in hopes they won't contest it in arbitration? If the officers were terminated, they have nothing to lose and perhaps everything to gain by taking their case to arbitration where likely it would get tossed given the high rate of discipline overturned during this civilian process. But in the meantime, they face economic hardships that come along with the waiting game for a case to reach, to be presented and decided upon by an outside arbitrator.

Still it raises questions and revisits concerns that have been raised about the investigation and review process of complaints by the police department which has been a dilemma in the past five years. The situation has been raised as a "what if", in what would the department or city do if the ultimate discipline was recommended after the statuory of limitations had passed? Well, in this case it might have happened and is no longer a hypothetical.

Running the clock and playing fumble the ball with such an important process violates so many individuals rights. The complainant doesn't benefit if an allegation is sustained against an officer who then can't be legally disciplined. The officers don't really benefit either from having cases drag out so long either. Their lives are put in hold without any resolution in sight. But is the police department able to resolve its ongoing issues with complaints that average 200 days or more to reach the CPRC? The attempts made so far including having two lieutenants in the division at one time haven't produced long-term results and it's ironic that once again the complaint system has been compromised in its effectiveness not too long after then State Attorney General Bill Lockyer alleged that it was in violation of the state's penal code, necessitating rewriting and reform.

It remains a challenge for Diaz and Vicino, for newly anointed CPRC manager, Frank Hauptmann, for the commission itself, for complainants, for officers like Bucy and Glover and those who represent them. For those who investigate and review complaints including City Hall. But what will be shown here by the ultimate outcome is what kind of decision making has been brought into the police department, and the difference between what's management and what's leadership. Something that's been lacking in this investigation for too long. If people's careers and lives are at stake including officers, they and their process deserve much better than this as do the individuals who file complaints.

What's really needed at this point is serious dialogue among the different players including those in management, supervision, the police bargaining units and the CPRC about what this process is going to be. Because even if this investigation were the only one to experience serious problems, that won't be for long. The intelligence and commitment to improving the police department in the wake of the problems which gripped it are certainly there inside the department, but what is most important is the will to address this situation which has placed doubt in the complaint investigation and review process which needs to be removed. Everyone involved in this tangled mess of a process deserves at least that especially when the decisions made have a profound impact on people's lives and livelihoods.

It's awesome when leaders of departments appear when their employees are being recognized for heroic deeds but it's more important to make sure that the processes that these employees are involved in are what they need to be, to be fair and just for all parties. A process that doesn't realize that isn't ultimately worth very much in the end and inevitably serves as the definer of the leadership and the department itself.

And it seems that there needs to be much more work done on that process. The minds are there to do it, but will they be up to it, is the question.

The Press Enterprise Editorial Board weighs in on the proposed banning of most mobile food trucks. Too bad, it would bring a lot of people to the nearly dead downtown.

Public Meetings

Tuesday, Jan. 25 at 3 and 6:30 p.m., The Riverside City Council will be meeting to discuss this agenda including its plans to do some resolution over Governor Jerry Brown's proposed shutdown of redevelopment agencies.

Also in closed session, the federal lawsuit filed by former Riverside Police Department Officer Jose Nazario comes up for an update.

Wednesday, Jan. 26 at 5:30 p.m. The Community Police Review Commission meets in the city council chambers to discuss this agenda. It will be the first meeting where newly hired manager, Frank Hauptmann will appear.

Public Reception

Tuesday, Feb. 1 at 5:30 p.m. City Hall will finally be holding a welcoming reception for newly hired CPRC manager, Frank Hauptmann in the Mayoral Ceremonial Room about a month after he actually started his employment.

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Sunday, January 16, 2011

January 2011: What Does the Future Hold?

[Riverside Police Department Deputy Chief Mike Blakely and Chief Sergio Diaz attend the award ceremony of a patrol officer whose career remains in the balance pending the outcome of a game of hot potato at the upper echelon of the department]

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Document management portal powered by Laserfiche WebLink 8.0.2 © 1998-2010 Laserfiche

Above is what greeted me (and probably everyone else who tried to access) this weekend when I tried to research documents on the laserfiche at the city's Web site. It's been having this problem of going offline occasionally, on the weekends indicating that perhaps an update or upgrade is being done if not on a database, a server that it might share space with or have some connection to that's somehow causing the laserfiche system to go down. The City Clerk's office has been notified and database was returned to service on Tuesday morning. But there needs to be some investigation done by the city's Information Technology division as to the cause of these occasional outages given that they always seem to happen on the weekends.

[Chief Sergio Diaz, Deputy Chief Jeffrey Greer and Asst. Chief Chris Vicino all hailed from elsewhere before coming to Riverside]

[Deputy Chief Mike of Administration and Personnel Mike Blakely (l.) has returned to the position that he held when he arrived in the early 1990s]

A new year, 2011 has started and a lot has changed since this time last year including new faces on the canvas in Riverside. Who would have guessed last Jan. 17 that there would be three new management employees inside the police department including Chief Sergio Diaz? Or that the city would be short an assistant city manager, Tom DeSantis or a Community Police Review Commission manager, in Kevin Rogan? Had 2010 been the year of the interloper, the invasion from outside Riverside? There's been talk in the community about how a department that had averred to rebuild its leadership internally during the stipulated judgment to reflect more of a "business culture" had wound up resembling an episode of Survivor Island soon enough.

But then 2010 wasn't an ordinary year as it turned out.

Especially for the police department which as of January 2011 looks much different than it did just one year ago. Departing were its police chief of nearly a decade, Russ Leach as well as Asst. Chief John DeLaRosa and Deputy Chief Pete Esquivel. Replacing them were three outsiders including two from the Los Angeles Police Department. These were Chief Sergio Diaz, Asst. Chief Chris Vicino (hailing from Pasadena Police Department) and Deputy Chief Jeffrey Greer. The Riverside Police Department had promised about 10 years when it hired an outside police chief that the next one that would place him would be from inside the department. Of course that didn't happen and it wasn't possible given that the department's highest management collapsed like a house of cards in a sea of revelations that unfolded last year. But that was hardly surprising given the stiletto sticking that had been taking place at that level for several years as some aspiring captains were able to take advantage of actions taken against others during the promotional process including one candidate who had her promotion vetoed by City Hall allegedly by a sitting councilman within several hours after being told she would be promoted. Another captain candidate had to nix shopping Riverside and meet to "clear the air" with that same councilman at an eatery in Corona when his own promotion was stalled. But within 12 hours of that meeting, he was promoted to the captain's rank.

The city and Diaz were probably aware that there were very limited opportunities to promote individuals from inside the department into upper management positions largely due to the somewhat micromanaged promotional process at that level from forces inside City Hall, elected and appointed. Not to manage the highly contentious and often cutthroat atmosphere that developed as a result. Former Capt. Mike Blakely who had entered into the police department as a deputy chief appointed by former Chief Ken Fortier another outside chief, had been left adrift by the abrupt departure of Fortier in a sea of controversy in 1997. Of all the captains, Blakely had been the only one who had seemed to thrive in the chaos that defined much of early 2010 in the department, putting his nose to the grindstone and when the officer he mentored became acting chief, things got very interesting indeed during the brief DeLaRosa/Blakely tenure of leadership.

Even before that, the department suffered from very high vacancy rates at nearly all levels, both sworn and civilian. The percentages ranked from 33% at the lieutenant's level to 20% on the civilian side and about 12% overall as positions that were vacated by attrition were frozen and left unfilled by the city management office. Mirroring conditions that had existed the last time the city had been impacted by a severe recession in the late 1990s which left the department in such a state that according to then State Attorney General Bill Lockyer, it was inadequately staffed to do any of its jobs including community policing. Training budgets had been cut, including POST required by 25% just as it had been reduced in the 1990s.

Being the head of either labor association on the sworn side of the department required hazard pay given that two former members of the Riverside Police Administrators' Association and one past president of the Riverside Police Officers' Association sued alleging retaliation for their involvement in labor activities. RPAA president, Lt Darryl Hurt and PAC member Lt. Tim Bacon had been heavily involved in the contentious "at will" situation that arose involving the controversial attempts by City Hall to convert two key management positions in the department to being "at will".

The city denied that the process had gone very far during the brouhaha that was played out at a March 2007 packed city council meeting but in actuality, both DeLaRosa and Esquivel had signed contracts, they had just disappeared and couldn't be found by City Attorney Gregory Priamos for about three years according to a California Public Records Act request that had been filed back then. Then out of the blue, the contracts reappeared in the defiant hand of City Manager Brad Hudson at a city council meeting shocking more than a few people. But yes, the contracts had been "found" and guess what, they bore the stamp from Priamos office on them, which just goes to show that when Priamos does these exhaustive searches for public documents maybe he'd better include his own office.

But Hurt and Bacon had been busy with other projects including uncovering the whole unseemly guns, badges and cold plates scandals and the city was getting ready to pay out quite a bit to keep that "old news" (as one councilman called it) from coming to light. Well the best laid plans of men often don't quite work out and the information came to light anyway and played out But by that time, they had sued alleging that the department had denied them promotional opportunities and had retaliated against them in other fashions. A lawsuit ultimately settled that offered them pensions as top level captains retroactive including back pay to a couple years earlier plus cash payouts. Quite a bit generous for what Priamos likely at one time called a frivolous action that the city would defend itself against vigorously.

Then not long after, former RPOA president, Det. Chris Lanzillo also filed grievances and a federal lawsuit alleging that he had been retaliated for his involvement in union activities and particularly after he had confronted DeLaRosa during one of his "rally around the leader" visits to roll call sessions in late February and asked him why it had taken so long for the Leach incident to be handed off to the California Highway Patrol. Lanzillo had a claim denied, then a tentative settlement hammered out with DeSantis which then got vetoed in closed session before another settlement was made not long after that. But Lanzillo spent some time in the "penalty box" at Orange Street Station with Lt. Leon Phillips who had been transferred from his watch command to sitting at a desk all day along with officers who had allegedly committed misconduct so serious that the department's management kept them there, waiting until the disciplinary clock ran out on their cases.

Phillips of course had allegedly been busy researching his own case file and hadn't been transferred there to await disciplinary action with a scarlet letter attached at all. When speculation had steered towards Phillips' transfer having to do with discipline he would face in the Leach incident, DeLaRosa naturally ran all the way across town to roll call to assure the troops that no, Phillips wasn't being sent to Orange Street to be disciplined at all but to undergo training for a "special assignment".

Well just one week later, Phillips apparently received his "special assignment" in the form of a notice of intent to terminate, which had allegedly been done in the old school way of when faced with an unwilling subject to impose more severe discipline on him or her hoping that they will "plead out" to the discipline that was originally to be imposed. But Phillips instead apparently turned the tables on his management by working his discipline all the way down to a written reprimand (which was also being contested by him) and allegedly securing an agreement from the city management to never be assigned to work under Blakely ever again. If Phillips hadn't advocated for himself, it's likely that he would have been demoted and suspended (for several weeks), thus being the only member of the cast of characters implicated in the mishandling of the Leach incident to go into retirement with less of a salary to work with than those who outranked him.

Which would have just gone to show that Hudson's mantra is that the buck stops...with midline supervision, not with management and certainly not City Hall which despite all the questions raised about cell phones turned off and how key players inside City Hall were notified about the incident without phone records showing how, wasn't about to include itself or its residents as being included in any "independent" and "sweeping" investigation conducted by Hudson.

Even as chaos reigned for a good while and city residents clamored about what had happened in their midst, the elected officials at City Hall for the most part remained quiet enough themselves so that pins could be heard dropping all over City Hall. A couple asked questions earlier on and then zipped their lips. Others never said or asked anything at all, leading to speculation that they had done so on advice or even orders by their city attorney who himself claimed "attorney/client" privilege and dodged any chance of being investigated for what he might have known or done himself.

It's unsettling to say the least how far the police department had fallen in the four years it had been free of the five-year stipulated judgment with Lockyer's office. With its staffing levels including at supervision not to mention its training budget getting slashed despite full knowledge of the serious problems that could and indeed did erupt in the past when similar actions were taken. The department had stumbled mostly due to Hudson's failure to act on implementation of the Strategic Plan and reduced oversight of the department's progression that had been enacted by the vote of the city council after the judgment had dissolved. The city council had given Hudson rather simple instructions and whether due to his own actions or just as likely, a behind the scenes change of heart by some key councilmen, he went off and changed his marching orders while the department's management team went off in different directions regarding how it carried out its own oversight of the department. It took some effort to resteer the S.S. Hudson back on the right path. The same had to be done again when Strategic Plan 2 was nearly torpedoed before it had even gotten started in 2009 and it took the pressure exerted by two council members to get that plan back on track again where it went through two separate public input processes in 2010, one per chief and is currently awaiting the huge summit that will take place involving the command staff which will meet soon to start ironing it out again.

No women were promoted into supervisory positions after the dissolution of the stipulated judgment and only one African-American (in August 2006) even though on the sergeant and lieutenant promotional lists that were still active in early 2010, women and African-American male candidates held very high positions on both. Community policing had been "decentralized" and not successfully as it turned out, due partly to depletion of employees on both the civilian and sworn sides. Five officers were arrested and prosecuted for various crimes ranging from oral copulation under the color of authority to armed robbery during a 14 month period. The majority of employees did their jobs professionally as they always had but it's difficult to have as much upheaval taking place and not be impacted particularly by what had been going on at the top. Ironically or not, all those who would later blast the media outlets for writing about what unfolded in 2010 as if the media had created something out of nothing were silent during the months and years that issues like staffing depletion and controversial promotional practices at the top were playing out in front of them. These issues that were coming to light in the past would have consequences in the future as is very often the case.

The city management and inhouse management with a council member or two tossed in that mix tussled over the reins of the police department. Different employees aligned themselves on different competitive teams formulated around Leach and another high-ranking management employees giving the department a kind of fiefdom feel.

Promotions to fill supervisory vacancies were made early in January and actually had been in the works before Leach's retirement as the freeze had thawed a little bit and Hudson met with union leadership last January for discussions. The first round of promotions turned out to be very interesting in that the sixth candidate on the lieutenant's list was promoted and there had been some upset over the passing over of a top female candidate off the sergeant's list who had over 20 years of experience, eight years in investigations and no previous terminations from employment.

Several weeks later, the announcement was released from the department that Det. Linda Byerly would be promoted to fill a sergeant's vacancy and after that, there were further promotions including a slate done before Diaz' hiring. Some moves were made to rearrange employees in and outside of Orange Street Station, before his arrival including the transfers out of two female sergeants and one male sergeant filling one of the female sergeant's assignments. Diaz arrived in July and quickly created his cabinet, first announcing the appointment of Blakely to deputy chief. The only inhouse candidate who was able to fill that position at the time, and it quickly became clear that the other two positions including that of assistant chief would have to come from the outside and so they ultimately did. But once again, promises were made as they were 10 years ago that the next generation of leaders in the department including the next police chief would come from the inside. That would require completely changing the management culture of the department to one less dysfunctional and destructive than it had been in the past.

One of the problems cited when Leach had come in was that he hadn't been able to appoint from outside the agency which some see as an important power for a chief from the outside to be able to exercise. But at any rate, Diaz had that ability and brought in Vicino, a finalist for the chief job from Pasadena and Greer, from the LAPD. The cabinet settled down quickly enough though some interesting dynamics erupted right away including the shuffling of the open door policy at Orange Street Station where some doors were shut after being open and some individuals in management managed to circumvent those closed doors anyway. And doors themselves between offices at Orange Street Station themselves became interesting components in the redefinition of the power dynamics at the administrative level and provide some of the most telling clues of how management team members relate to one another.

Greer's arrival had been somewhat different than the dynamics that allegedly emerged between Blakely and Vicino who share offices close to one another while Greer had been stationed across town at Magnolia Police Center which is appropriate for his assignment of overseeing the operations and personnel in field operations (housed largely at Lincoln) and investigations (housed largely at Magnolia). Greer's transition apparently was challenging in other ways than that faced by Vicino but both men brought very different personality styles into the department which provide an interesting study in contrasts.

Vicino had been assigned Diaz' number one priority at Orange Street Station which is the newly reinvented Community Services Division which had been largely disbanded as a unit that had resided offsite several years ago for that decentralization of community policing which hadn't worked well. Programs that had dropped off the radar including the citizen academy were dusted off, revamped and will be returning into operation. For some reason, being assigned to be the lieutenant overseeing this new (old) division was a hot prospect as at least 75% of the lieutenants allegedly put in for it with Guy Toussaint who resided in the Traffic Division getting the assignment. In contrast the competition for the sergeant position was somewhat weaker, with no sergeant requesting it, so Toussaint went out and allegedly recruited one, Dan Warren to work with him. Warren who has an advanced college degree and has been involved in a lot of the training since his arrival from the very hot lateral agency, the Oceanside Police Department will be working with Toussaint and other employees, both civilian and sworn.

Vicino also will be replacing Blakely as the liaison with the Community Police Review Commission which finally hired its latest manager in former Maywood Police Chief Frank Hauptmann who still has not been afforded a public welcoming reception or even an introduction to the city council and mayor by Hudson like his predecessors. If Hudson wants to make it not look so much like he's back dooring Hauptmann then perhaps he had better consider introducing him to the community, because what's one of the words included in the name of the CPRC again?

But it doesn't seem like the city council and Mayor Ron Loveridge are exactly in a hurry to meet and greet with this new management employee either, which is interesting considering all the involvement of the city government in what's been going on with the CPCR during the past several years. With the 2011 election cycle not yet in full swing, there's speculation about how much the election will be impacted by the events of 2010 and their fallout. The filing period which begins appropriately enough on Valentine's Day will be the starting point of determination how each ward race will be shaped. But some incumbents who've already announced the intent to run again are starting to raise money.

Some have signed up again with Michael Williams Company which has announced some fund raising activities already including the following.

Councilman Chris MacArthur who will hold his fundraiser at the home of former Interim City Manager Tom Evans on Wednesday, Jan. 26 at 6-8:30pm with a VIP reception beforehand.

Councilman Steve Adams will hold his at Ciao Bella a tasty restaurant near Spruce and Chicago on Wednesday, Feb. 2 at 5:30-7:00 pm with his VIP reception before that.

Other council members running who've signed up with MWC include Rusty Bailey who hasn't announced any fund raisers yet. And other candidates and incumbent Mike Gardner don't use that company in their own fund raising efforts. The economy's been harsh and that might impact the contributions made by individuals to the various political campaigns most certainly including those who are developers including from out of town. But it's too early to see how that will impact the money raised by different candidates in this upcoming election cycle.

Contrary to some beliefs, this blog doesn't endorse political candidates for any election. For some that's great and it's even necessary, but there are others including me who view it as sheer madness at best. It's amazing that larger sized groups and organizations can engage in that practice with limited bloodshed.

Besides, an endorsement from this blog might make some candidates recoil and perhaps be unhappy given that it's not too popular with some in high places. And it's really up to the wards themselves to elect their own leaders, to take it upon themselves to field debates and public forums for the candidates who run and to show up at the polls and vote for their representatives in much larger numbers than they've been doing. The one thing that this blog does endorse in the municipal election process is for people to go out and vote, as one of the greatest rights for people in this city and this country.

Is Redevelopment Dead in California?

The Riverside County Board of Supervisors are doing something that's apparently quite rare. They are convening an emergency session on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. The topic? Newly reelected (and for once, not an oxymoron) Governor Jerry Brown has decided as part of the massive budget cuts he's proposing that redevelopment agencies be phased out of the cities and counties. The meeting's actually being held to discuss the issuance of $155 million in bonds to address redevelopment projects so they won't be included in any future phaseout.

Some of the supervisors made comments on the meeting and what's up with Brown's proposal.

(Excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Board of Supervisors Chairman Bob Buster said Friday that county officials do not know the ultimate extent of any potential changes to redevelopment.

"We have been heavily dependent on redevelopment, and now we are seeing its vulnerability," Buster said. "We need to talk about not just the current situation, or crisis, but also redevelopment over the longer term."

Buster said the bonds would not go to fund any speculative or unworthy projects.

Supervisor John Tavaglione said Friday the county has "been waiting for the appropriate timing to go out to the bond market."

"It wasn't in place to deal with the governor's budget, but the timing was right that we should do it now, because of what might happen," Tavaglione said.

Except Tavaglione, if it were just a matter of "timing", would the Board be making a decision on bond issuance on a holiday?

And Buster raises an important point that long-term redevelopment in the county is what needs to be discussed in light of the uncertain future of the agencies themselves. Because what needs to be understood is that redevelopment itself and redevelopment agencies aren't exactly the same thing. The latter were created as a tool to do the former but had shifted away from their original mission some time ago as the definition of what is "blight" and who gets to decide that has changed, not to mention the city serving as the "middle-man" in property interactions that they shouldn't even be involved in for the first place. And many people in Riverside have renounced the use of or threat of eminent domain for private development projects (which is much, much different than that for public use) that usually go to firms who line the campaign chests of politicians. So much so in cities like Anaheim that when an organization in Riverside tried to circulate a petition to put it on the ballot, it was hit with a SLAPP suit and then told it was for their own good.

Riverside's already talking about laying off 72 city employees in the development, planning, public works and city attorney's office. About a $8.6 million shortfall and incurring $75 million more debt. Because after all if you don't carry debt, you can't have a redevelopment agency. It's a bit disconcerting how incurring huge amounts of debts whether locally and even on a national and international scale had replaced manufacturing and even service industries (costing tons of jobs through outsourcing) as an economic currency. Because all debts come from borrowing money from the future generations of city and county residents, as well as citizens. Concern about redevelopment agencies and the debt they incur have arisen in that the economic picture is so uncertain in the future particularly in the Inland Empire that some wonder where the money to repay these debts will come from. But one major issue with redevelopment agencies is how project areas are combined and where the money was funneled. The University Avenue corridor is one such zone but not long ago was combined with Sycamore Canyon to create one agency zone, just as the downtown was combined with the area by the Riverside Municipal Airport which makes one wonder if that's just a way of funneling money designated to one area of the project zone to the other.

It's a complicated issue but it doesn't seem like redevelopment agencies were created to last forever and that they aren't self-sustaining. There's talk about how much money redevelopment puts into city coffers but now how much it takes away, say money reserved for Riverside's sewer fund that was "borrowed" against to purchase properties through threat of Eminent Domain to hand off to developers including those who donated to past council members' political reelection campaigns. Or money "borrowed" against employee vacancies to cover redevelopment costs. Riverside, the city, has vowed to spend funding suing the state to stop it, a measure that likely wouldn't succeed and would put Riverside more into the hole. What needs to be done instead is to have open dialogues about what redevelopment means, how it should be done, the roles of all elements of communities and neighborhoods all over the city.

And the Development Department itself has been the subject of much controversy about the high degree of departures from that department, so many including older women who opted to resign in a difficult economy rather than remain working with the city. The sudden departure of longtime employee Howard Fields also drew concern, not to mention issues that this department had its fingerprints on. The Human Resources Board at one time had been so concerned about the exodus from that department or as one person put it, "where they're dropping out like flies"
that it wanted to do a face to face dialogue with Director Deanna Lorson but Hudson in his very congenial style appeared at a meeting to essentially nix that in the bud really quickly and then rather deftly convinced the Board to go redefine its mission which is city speak for, get out of our hair and leave us alone.

Interestingly enough, the Press Enterprise Editorial Board crossed party lines to propose to nix redevelopment and discusses the abuses of redevelopment that have taken place. The issues of accountability, transparency including local input particularly with financing are ones that definitely need more attention from local city and county officials.

But not long after pronouncing that there would be massive layoffs and probably cuts, City Hall began discussing again the expansion of the Convention Center in downtown Riverside which would require at least $25 million. It remains to be seen if the economic climate in Riverside will be receptive to that or not given that City Hall has just essentially announced that the plans to redo the library downtown (which was chosen over renovation of the existing facility) are off again.

It will be interesting to see how all this drama plays out in the weeks and months ahead but it's inevitable that redevelopment itself will have to be, redeveloped into something much different than past practice. That's just reality but it remains to be seen who out there including the electeds will be willing to even involve themselves in those very necessary discussions including with the city and county residents.

Redlands is getting ready to pick a new police chief after losing its long-time chief, Jim Bueermann to retirement.

And in the Riverside County District Attorney's office, the changing of the guard continues with the departure of the head of investigations. Not an unexpected development at all.

Public Meetings

Tuesday, Jan. 18 at 3p.m. and 6:30 p.m. The city council will hold a meeting to discuss this agenda and vote on it. Items include the closed session evaluating the city manager

However, the scheduled public hearing at 3pm for the city council and mayor to discuss salaries and compensation has been continued to Feb. 1 at the same time. No reason for that delay's been given but given that the laser fische database is down again, that delay might allow some time to research the backup material.

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