Five before Midnight

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


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Location: RiverCity, Inland Empire

Friday, June 24, 2011

Rough Sailing Waters Ahead for City Hall?

UPDATE: Several years ago, the Riverside City Council and Mayor Ron Loveridge promised that the construction and operation of the Hyatt Hotel would bring jobs to Riverside.

But in reality has the construction of the Hyatt cost the city nearly three dozen jobs so far at another hotel?

Riverside Councilman Paul Davis blinks; turns down mayor pro tem position. He's quoted as saying he didn't have enough experience but there's much more to the story than that including a power play at City Hall, according to some sources. Mayor Ron Loveridge might be stepping down next year finally but clearly by the latest development with Davis and the mayor pro tem position, he still welds a lot of power over the city council.

Former news reporter Michael Morales
files ethics complaint against political candidate John Brandriff.

In other election news, the mayoral race continues to fill up with faces from the dais including Councilman Mike Gardner who just weeks ago was reelected to a second term after allegedly saying he wouldn't run for mayor. Rumors continue that Councilman Rusty Bailey's also going to toss his hat on given that he's allegedly Loveridge's protege but though he definitely aspires to higher office, you might want to look first at the next county supervisor election to be held after redistricting in 2012. As current supervisor, John Tavaglione is likely running in the redrawn congressional district in this area, candidates are being proposed to replace him and Bailey's on the short list.

Tuesday, July 12 at 9:30am at the Riverside County Administrative Headquarters on Lemon Street, the Board of Supervisors will be holding a discussion and possible vote on redistricting including the proposed plan by Supervisor John Tavaglione to put the Eastside in with areas outside the city, and separated from Casa Blanca and Arlanza. All three neighborhoods are currently in Supervisor Bob Buster's district. One reason is for the huge amount of tax dollars the Eastside attracts for community bloc grants. But there's allegedly a plan in place to attract one current city council member to run for that new district seat while Tavaglione runs for the newly redrawn congressional district position.

Show up at the meeting to speak or contact the board of supervisors.

Clerk of the Board of Supervisors
4080 Lemon St, 1st Floor
Riverside CA 92501
ph. 951.955.1069

or check individual contact information on this link to the supervisors.

UPDATE: Retired Riverside Police Department detective arrested on child molestation charges.

Riverside, CA -- On July 8, 2011, investigators with the Riverside Police Department’s Sexual Assault/Child Abuse (SACA) Unit arrested Granville Kelley, 73 years old, of Riverside for incidents alleged to have occurred in 2003. The investigation began when parents of the victim, now fifteen years old, reported the incidents to the Department.

Kelley was arrested at this home in Riverside. Investigators conducted a search of the residence pursuant to a Search Warrant issued by the court.

Kelley, a former Riverside Police Detective who retired in 1990, was booked into Riverside County Jail for three (3) counts of California Penal Code section 288 (a), Child Molest.

Anyone with additional information is asked to contact Detective Roberta Hopewell at (951) 353-7124 or Detective Phil Fernandez at (951) 353-7121.

Mt. Rubidoux's Northern Slope on July 7

The mayoral race of 2012 gets more crowded as
Councilman Mike Gardner jumps into the ring only weeks after being reelected to a second term.

Goodbye Redevelopment Agencies? Goodbye over $100 million in loans?

Riverside County District Attorney Paul Zellerbach reflects about life at the Dome but
doesn't mention the investigations his office is conducting at Riverside's City Hall. Are they presenting some of the "challenges" of his new post?

Investigating inside Riverside's City Hall?

Riverside Police Chief Sergio Diaz: His First Year

Coming Soon....

UPDATE: Yes, it's actually true. Moreno Valley hires ex-assistant city manager Tom DeSantis to review public works and they want him back next year.

"There is no relation between what occurred in Riverside and Tom DeSantis' talents," Garcia said. "He has a very distinguished reputation for analysis in Riverside. He was responsible for overhauling human resources and working with internal support departments. In San Bernardino County, he was instrumental in the economic development plan."

----Moreno Valley City Manager Henry Garcia who's got some ties to River City.

How will Riverside's City Hall be able to pay its bill next year, the year following the "balanced budget"? This afternoon, the meeting brings more wheeling and dealing involving Fairmount Park.

The city council held its third annual City Council Regatta at Lake Evans at Fairmount Park. It's an event started to raise money for the youth sailing program there as well as charities that are picked by the participants. The day was hot and four city council members showed up for the event. Councilwoman Nancy Hart and Councilman Rusty Bailey had excused absences but Councilman Steve Adams simply didn't show up at all. They even delayed the race for him but he just never appeared at all. Hope he's not off-road driving again.

The race proved to be interesting as the wind ebbed and flowed over the lake, with Councilman Paul Davis winning by quite a bit and last year's winner, Councilman Andrew Melendrez eking out a win over a closing Councilman Chris MacArthur with Councilman Mike Gardner behind him.

[Riverside Councilman Paul Davis in the home stretch to winning the third annual City Council Regatta]

[Councilman Andrew Melendrez after his second place finish]

Politicians aren't really my crowd so I don't hob nob with them all that much. But it was a good event for charitable purposes rather than one where people often attend to be seen with other people. Alas Inland Empire Magazine didn't show up to take photos either. The festive mood at the party belied what is going on in the fabric of civic operations and the politics which runs it.

Meanwhile, back at City Hall...

[Some antics playing out at the city's main headquarters on Main Street]

The hallowed halls of City Hall had just received some most excellent news that would enable them to ring the town bell and pronounce to the masses below them.

Now this just has to be the shocker of the year, and that is that the City of Riverside clears itself on the contracting for a sewer plant project during its own somewhat costly "independent" investigation by its handpicked investigator! The Rancho Cucamonga firm whose common linkage to the city is through one of its own employees and his relationship to a partner with that highly credible auditing firm, Meyer Hoffman McCann. Who hired this firm from his discretionary fund? Current or former City Manager Brad Hudson, who was being investigated! Although Asst. City Manager of Finance/Chief Finance Officer/City Treasurer had already found the allegations to be untrue according to his own in depth investigation.

So far two entities working for the city contractually speaking have cleared it of inappropriate conduct in contracting. At tax payer expense and after doing investigations so thorough, they apparently never interviewed or interrogated those making the allegations. Yes, that sounds like investigations you can hang your hat on but don't look for anyone on the Seventh Floor to respond in any meaningful way to concerns about the (cough) bias(cough) and (cough) conflict of interest (cough) inherent in this type of investigation.

Is that really all that surprising that the city's own investigators would do that? Wouldn't it be interesting if the investigative firm that was hired turned out to be a friend of a friend of a family member situation and then have it investigate City Hall for doing like in its other employee contracts? Let's hope that's not the case but when those being investigated are picking the investigators, it's not uncalled for to examine that process and its findings with a somewhat jaundiced eye.

Still some folks including this one at Craigslist are taking this as a factual finding of the highest merit and saying yes, there was no favoritism in contracting at City Hall. After all, it's only been less than a week since allegations of such were made in a public forum, last time by a business who had put up a bid on the Santa Ana Sewer Trunk Project but anyway, it's always nice when there's people showing up at Craiglist to reassure the masses that the city's not only not favors certain businesses but it's just appearing to do so in its drive to support local businesses. So no, we're not violating any laws, rules or principles but yes, we might be steering certain businesses our way...but hey, it's for the good of the local economy. Part of Shop Riverside (tm) which wouldn't be so hilarious except for the fact that the city still hires very many of its vendors from outside the city, often the county and quite often the state (read Arizona) as well.

And not so funny because of the way over a dozen businesses in the downtown area have left or been forced out some in part of how the city treated them. The city has pushed towards swapping one of its own buildings below its assessment value to save one business with very powerful friends and hasn't done anything similar for the suffering businesses around the Lucky Greek. Because...they don't have powerful friends.

If I were a small business owner, I probably wouldn't set up shop in Riverside unless I could find my own team of powerful friends. What's the point, the city can make decisions which seriously impact your business and you need to have powerful friends to cut yourself a break while those around you are left to deal with it on their own or sue the city.

But one individual commented anyway speaking on behalf of the city's practices.


LADY KA-KA & Baby ca-ca... were wrong... BRAD HUDSON or any other Riverside employees... presure to give contracts to friends of friends.

Lady KA-KA & Baby ca-ca... get a life...

and then this:

Brad Hudson and friends had nothing to do with the contracts., Lady KA-KA and Baby ca-ca... get a life.

5 Before KA-KA

It looks like the city has just found its newest public information officer in Mr. or Ms Potty Talk.

But I believe the salient word to above is not to get a life, but to get a contract with the city. That's where it's at whether it's because you're the friend of a friend of an influential party or you're looking for a six-figured part-time gig and you're someone else's friend or relative. But really this is just someone's creative way of saying mind your own business and let us do our own even as it's attracting more and more attention from outside the city. But then that's hardly surprising either that this is happening.

To the point where we'll probably be shelling out more and more money to enable the city to do its own investigations to try and offset the ones being done by outsiders. Still, this individual better have a tight hold of their rolls of toilet paper during the next few months because the snowball just started rolling down the hill and a couple fans might need some wiping. But that's the end result of having a city government that beginning back in mid-2005, it happily enough voted away most of its mechanisms of financial accountability, one of the city council's most critical roles. Councilman Mike Gardner's absolutely right when he said at the Development meeting last week that the city has a fiduciary role but it also applied back when the city council voted to reduce its oversight over "interfund" transfers and the discretionary funds were raised for Hudson.

In fact, Gardner's committee just voted to approve the raising of similar funds for the "executive director" of redevelopment projects. The city government laments the loss of affordable housing funds in redevelopment but just voted to use about $3.5 million earmarked for an affordable housing project in the Eastside to pay off the balance on a SERAF payment not because it had to do it then but because if it didn't, its powers over what are called the 80% monies (meaning the non-affordable income housing) would be greatly reduced.

So City Hall essentially in a public forum voted to essentially take funds from affordable housing simply to allow it to enjoy all its redevelopment powers over the larger allotment of monies for housing outside of that category including luxurious accommodations like the empty Raincross Promenade and other similar (and just as empty) projects. Sounds like a sweetheart deal for the developer of those projects including the hotel rather than the city's residents who are stuck with the obligation to pay on them whether it's through their libraries or fire stations or not.

Still while a lot of people are denying with or without potty talk, it appears that the District Attorney's office is doing its own investigation. And that former Deputy City Attorney Raychele Sterling and even Councilman Paul Davis have been contacted by that office though Sterling said she wasn't questioned by the city's firm, big shocker there. Okay, so maybe it's possible to do a thorough investigation of misconduct if the person who raised it (and then was fired shortly afterward)isn't interviewed at all by that firm. It's apparently very possible to then sell the merits of that same thorough investigation to the leaders at City Hall.

The friendly blogger had praised the city council for being "loving and constructive" which then led those on the dais to applaud themselves. A little addendum to that, if you ask for the city to have its new auditing firm actually go back and audit the city's finances, the city council will not break out in applause. That's a pretty accurate barometer of a city government some might say.

[Is a power play at City Hall erupting over the delayed appointment of the next mayor pro tem which was to have been Councilman Paul Davis? We'll have to wait and see.]

[Councilman Paul Davis (r.) is now scheduled to become mayor pro tem on July 12.]

In news, that's perhaps related to all this, Mayor Ron Loveridge has not yet agendized the appointment of the city's next mayor pro tem and neither has the current one, Councilman Chris MacArthur. Usually, the appointment is made in the city council meeting before July 1 when the new term for that position begins and lasts for the remainder of the year. But if you look on the agenda for the June 28 meeting even if you're that person who wrote the above, you won't see it there.

And usually, the sequence for selection of the next one is numerical based on the wards, meaning that Councilwoman Nancy Hart handed it off six months ago to MacArthur who was supposed to on July 1 hand it off to Davis. Usually that's done through a ceremony that takes place in the city council meeting preceding the new term and plaques are purchased and provided to the outgoing mayor pro tem before the new appointment's been made. After all, in a city where the mayor has very little official power even though he's making another trip to the Charter Review Committee to try to squeeze out some more even though he says he's stepping down after this current abbreviated term is completed.

It doesn't appear as if Loveridge will be attending the next city council meeting because he's on vacation. But the appointment of the mayor pro tem position has been scheduled for July 12's meeting when he'll be back which tells you that for whatever reason he wants to be in attendance. It will be interesting if that turns out to be the case. Turning the appointment of the city's official ribbon cutter in waiting to something a tad bit more political and politicized. Never a dull moment at City Hall.

While the city council approves the appointments of the mayor pro tem, only Loveridge or the current mayor pro tem in this case, MacArthur can agendize it for a meeting to do just that. This is where one of the mayor's few official powers can turn out to be a mighty one to weld to play politics.

So you might want to think about showing up to the evening session of the July 12 city council meeting to see what unfolds regarding the usually fairly boring mayor pro tem selection process.

Collateral now, but Collateral Damage Later?

This is one of those stories that hasn't been told by anyone in the city including the Press Enterprise even though it's mentioned the construction of the Hyatt Hotel in downtown Riverside. That's been the decision by the city council and the mayor to put up four of the city's buildings as "collateral" for the loans needed to access the federal funding provided through just over $20 million in what are called Recovery Zone bonds which were created through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Back when the city government sold its decision to essentially invest in the construction of the Hyatt Hotel, it assured the public that any concerns about the city paying out money were not valid because the federal bond money would cover it and that it had to be done or the bond money would move to the next city on the list, Ontario.

But as it turned out, the city's residents are picking up the tab for the rather generous loan to the developers of the hotel in the form of leases that will be payed involving four public facilities. The question's been asked and never answered as to what will happen to the four formerly owned city buildings if the city has to default on its rents to them and what will happen to them if the RDA agencies are dissolved by Sacramento given that legislation has passed to do that in the state assembly. If the RDA's dissolved, then over $100 million in loans from the city including the general fund to the RDA might never be paid back to the city after being deemed "noncollectable". And yes, the city government knew this would be the case if they did these loans between the two agencies in what are actually called "interagency loans" rather than "interfund loans" because outgoing City Manager Brad Hudson explained this in a response to a city council member during one of the votes taken on these loans.

Casa Blanca's library was given to the Redevelopment Agency to be leased by the city to provide funds through the RDA to loan to the developer of the Hyatt Hotel.

Arlington Library the property of the Redevelopment Agency, leased by the city to fund a loan to the developer of the Hyatt Hotel

Fire Station #14 isn't even sitting in a Redevelopment Agency zone and still belongs to that agency now to be leased back to the city. Fire Station #13 in Sycamore Canyon is also collateral on the loan.

When I've told people about the terms of the loan from the city to the RDA to the developers of the hotel and how four city buildings are being used as collateral in a sense, people are shocked and say, it can't be true. Our city council wouldn't ever do such a thing. Never.

Never say never.

But it did and all you have to do is read the report that went to the City Council and mayor in early March to see that for yourself. The link below might load slowly because the entire laser fische system is being moved to a larger and better database server so service might be a bit intermittent for a while according to City Hall. But it does exist on the city's site.

This agenda report from the March 2, 2010 meeting details the terms of the Hyatt hotel. The Press Enterprise did this article but never mentioned these buildings being given to the RDA to lease back to the city. But the language is in the section of the city council report below.

[Text of agenda item where it puts up the fire stations and libraries as collateral. Click the photo to make it larger if necessary]

As you can see, it spells the terms of the loan to the developer quite clearly. And remember the city's serving as the loaning agent for MetroRiverside LLC because the developers couldn't get financing from any bank or lending institution because hotels are considered very poor risk investments in the region. Why, because the failure and foreclosure rates for hotels is the highest in the state.

So the city served as the lending institution, got its Recovery Zone bonds and put up four of its buildings for collateral. The developers will pay the money back if they make it but if they don't, the city will own the hotel but that will be a dubious reward. Because if experts in the hotel industry couldn't make it successful, how will amateurs among the city's ranks fare better?

This whole Hyatt Hotel deal merits a closer look but Asst. City Manager of Finance/Chief Financial Officer/City Treasurer Paul Sundeen sharply rebuked a request for the city to conduct a forensic audit of its finances during the six years Hudson was city manager. He said it would be too costly and not worth doing in his opinion. Well the latter is obvious because after all, he's the person overseeing the finances and naturally wouldn't want outsiders looking inside at it. As for the former, how expensive can it be given that the city's more than balanced its budget (according to Sundeen's math) and has willingly risked over $100 million in loans to RDA which might be dissolved as early as July 1?

If that happens, much or all of that will be gone, poof! And yet, Sundeen says it'd cost too much money to do a forensic audit. But then there's speculation that Sundeen won't be in charge of the city's finances for much longer. It's likely that Hudson's disciples including those who had worked in Riverside County might begin their exoduses soon enough. Will any go to Sacramento to serve on his team up there and if so, which ones?

Missing Report Will Be Presented at CPRC Meeting

[The CPRC will receive the final version of a report written by police practices consultant Joe Brann that was written four years ago and just found recently. This meeting will apparently be held in public.]

A report that City Manager Brad Hudson paid police practices consultant Joe Brann $25,000 (according to his discretionary funds list) to complete has finally been circulated to the members of the Community Police Review Commission to review. It will also be made available online later this week. The monies for the report had apparently been not paid out until just recently. It's not clear what happened to create the delay of over three years. Only one commissioner, John Brandriff, served on the commission when the evaluation and research including interviews had been done by Brann. CPRC Manager Frank Hauptmann worked with Brann while the consultant had been working with the State Attorney General's office to investigate and create a roster of reforms to be done by Maywood Police Department. Hauptmann served as the department's last police chief before it was disbanded about two years ago.

An earlier draft of the report had been circulated several years ago but not the final one. And will the commission embrace it given that its membership has turned over nearly completely since the report was began?

Public Meeting

Tuesday, June 28 at 2:30 and 6:30 p.m., the Riverside City Council will meet to discuss this agenda. It's going to be on its summer schedule of meeting the second and fourth weeks only.

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Friday, June 17, 2011

Will 2012 Be a Year of Judgment for Riverside?

Let's Get Ready to Rumble...on June 28?

By Either Mayor Ron Loveridge or Mayor Pro Tem Chris MacArthur

More to come...

Big Shock!!! City clears itself on the contracting for a sewer plant project during its own "independent" investigation! A lot of people are denying it but it appears that the District Attorney's office is doing its own investigation.

A Battle Might be Heating Up on the dais...but does the mayor really control how the council members vote for his understudy?

Is Redevelopment coming to a head in Sacramento? What about all those city loans? Could it be over $100 million erased along with the RDA? Not one city official has answered the question about what would happen to the four buildings serving as collateral for a developer's loan to build a hotel.

[Where the city council/Redevelopment agency puts up four city-owned buildings as collateral to help a developer make bond payments for his new Hyatt Hotel. Click to make it larger.]

Some readers asked for more information on the deal that put two fire stations and two libraries under the Redevelopment Agency so that the city could pay rent and that money would be provided to the developer in the form of a loan for the Hyatt Hotel. Some folks couldn't believe the city would do such a thing and that it just sounded so implausible, so far fetched but it isn't, it actually did happen as the photo of the document language shows. The link for the March 2, 2010 Report #2 is down in the posting. The pertinent language is on page 4.

[The Development Committee meets on the Marcy Library parcel in front of over 50 people]

The committee votes 2-1 to sell Marcy Branch Library to the Lucky Greek restaurant with Councilman Mike Gardner dissenting saying the city has a "fiduciary responsibility" to insure the publicly owned facility draws the top tax dollar. Councilman Steve Adams said nothing he heard at the meeting changed his mind despite the submission of at least two other proposals.

It's very nice to hear council members suddenly so concerned about the survival of one business when they have witnessed at least 16 businesses in the downtown area leave or get forced out by the #1 driving force behind the declining revenues of businesses which is the recession. It's great to hear Councilman Steve Adams say how horrible eminent domain is when he was on the city council when it voted to threaten downtown businesses with eminent domain several years ago, so it could buy those properties with sewer fund money before essentially handing off to developers.

But the city council including this committee needed to follow the process that stresses accountability and transparency to everyone. Not to mention that it needed a much better plan that it has implemented thus far to address the financial hardships of ALL the businesses in the Merrill Street area, not just the ones with powerful friends tied to individuals at City Hall including elected officials.

Maybe small business owners shouldn't even start businesses here unless they build up the power base of influential people to help them first. Because the other businesses damaged by what's going on in the city including the recession and the grade separations have been eminent domained out or forced to fend for themselves.

Watching some known Republicans advocate for corporate welfare was ironic given that some of these same individuals would tell other businesses in dire straits to pick themselves up by their bootstraps and fend for themselves unless it's someone they know. Some top Democrat leaders claimed they were just showing up because this one business was being treated so shabbily. Well guess they haven't been downtown lately and seen what's happened to many businesses there that have been damaged by the recession, all the construction and the hideous parking situation that's chased people out of downtown. Not to mention some of them on the mall being seen as undesirable by those in powerful positions at City Hall.

And what about the couple who own the scuba shop next to the trench, are these same folks going to advocate for them?

They often do the same thing, because the two parties are more alike than different, in that for both of them what's personal becomes political when a situation regardless is closer to home.

CPRC to Hold Meetings in Secret to Avoid Community

[CPRC Commissioner Ken Rotker (r.) pushed for a subcommittee to meet in secret, because he views the community as a "burden" and didn't want to be outnumbered by community members at meetings.]

UPDATE: CPRC votes to hold policy and procedure committee in secret and bar the public from even knowing when and where the meetings take place. Several commissioners allegedly made derogatory comments about the community members being a "burden". These meetings don't have to be conducted in secrecy; the commission minus one member simply doesn't want the community to attend. This apparently has the blessing of CPRC Manager Frank Hauptmann who should have learned from his time addressing issues at Maywood and Bell that increasing the number of secretly conducted meetings isn't the way to go.

Only Commissioner John Brandriff argued against the secretly held meetings and another newer commissioner, called it a campaign speech. But these policy and procedure committee meetings have been held in the public in the past for years before the disbandment. There's no legal rationale behind the secret meetings. It's because two commissioners in particular, Art Santore and Rotker, don't want the public there and the other six apparently don't have the backbone to go up against them or at least provide good reasons why they have to meet privately.

More to come....

Costa Mesa Police Chief Steve Staveley resigns due to the unilateral actions of the city's council involving the police department. Some parts of his resignation notice sound just like another city.


There are basically two reasons that I leave right now. The first is the 5/8 the council wishes to impose and the second is the layoffs of officers. Just before leaving on a very short trip to the river on the 16th of June, I was informed that all professional employees would be moving to 5/8s. When I first got to Costa Mesa this time, and met with two councilpersons they told me that they wanted everyone on 5/8s (cops too by the way). I told them it was not their responsibility rather that scheduling should match customer need (a scientific method of deployment) and not serve some off the wall bias that they had. More importantly, scheduling is the responsibility of the department head not the council. For council persons to demand such changes is meddling Later our CM told me that he was ordered to put everyone in the professional ranks (non sworn) on 5/8s. I told him I would not support that and for me it was a line in the sand. We had a rather heated discussion on the subject and frankly – I was not very polite – which I do regret. If you let council people meddle is such small matters, is it long before they tell us who we can cite, or arrest, or require us to release or whose burg gets investigated – I think not. It is simply a step to corruption and I won’t play in that arena. Never mind the lack of following the MOU or meeting and conferring on any such changes.

Here is the second reason and I wanted to be sure that you understood why I am resigning now right when I could well be of most value to you and the community. Here is why. It’s very clear to me that there is no fiscal crisis in the City of Costa Mesa. The majority of the council has created budget gaps in order to affect or create the appearance of a fiscal crisis. They have pushed finance and the budget process around to get the kind of numbers that benefit their position. They have in essence lied as they create the appearance of crisis in order to appear as the white knight to a narrow band of political followers. They have done this, I believe, because they have a political need to layoff police officers. This is completely unethical and immoral behavior and I will have no part in it. If I stay, and refuse to sign layoff and demotion notices (which I am fully prepared to do) then Tom Hatch will suffer yet more and be forced to fire me. If I resign prior, at least I save him some pain and he is a good guy, and not deserving of this situation. In fact, I think in the right circumstance (and this is not) he has the potential to be a great CM. In any case I will not help the council majority hurt you, undermine this department and halt the improvement of this community – I simply cannot do that – it would be wrong and frankly hurt my reputation as a professional. I do not expect at my age to have another chiefs job, but I do expect to continue to teach, mentor and be of value and so my reputation is important to me. Even more importantly I expect of myself to do the right thing – and this is the right thing and very painful for me personally. I wish I could stay and try to help you, but I cannot – so I bid you farewell.

I have never, however, seen a council such as this one. They lack skill, training, education, knowledge, they fail to study (or at least learn). The majority either lies or are so lacking in the necessary skills that they actually believe the junk they say. They act as if they are owners of the business that is the municipal government of the City of Costa Mesa, but they are not, they are merely trustees of these public assets both human and physical and they fail in that role completely. They are in my opinion incompetent, unskilled and unethical....

The council majority plays fast and lose with the law and ethics and I am certain as individuals they will step over the line and it won’t be long before the DA or more likely the AGs office comes knocking on the door....

Collateral now, but Collateral Damage Later?

Casa Blanca's library was given to the Redevelopment Agency to be leased by the city to provide funds through the RDA to loan to the developer of the Hyatt Hotel.

Arlington Library the property of the Redevelopment Agency, leased by the city to fund a loan to the developer of the Hyatt Hotel

This agenda report from the March 2, 2010 meeting details the terms of the Hyatt hotel.

[Text of agenda item where it puts up the fire stations and libraries as collateral. Click the photo to make it larger if necessary]

UPDATE: Asst. City Manager of Finance/Chief Financial Officer/City Treasurer says independent audit by Moss Adams of six years of Brad Hudson too expensive and in his opinion, not necessary.

And no bid splitting took place, according to him. But if it ever did or does, he should be notified so he could investigate it.

Robert Slawsby resigns from Community Police Review Commission leaving a Ward Four vacancy to be filled by the city council.

City council to pick an interim city manager during closed session today. Will it be one of the following?

Paul Sundeen

Belinda Graham

Deanna Lorson

David Wright

Tom Evans

or someone else?

Time to Pay the Piper as the city council prepares to raise user fees to deal with the costs of Renaissance. But given that the Park and Recreation Department allegedly had been ordered to use its monies to subsidize the City Hall cafeteria, is it a guarantee that the higher fees will actually be used towards the parks?

UPDATE: the Sacramento Bee' Editorial Board's Letter to Brad Hudson

Former Asst. City Manager Tom DeSantis did not provide answers questions during the interview process by the local press for the town manager position in Gilbert, Arizona.

[Rumors have Michael Beck returning to Riverside as a candidate for city manager but is that true?]

Here it was posted that former Asst. City Manager Michael Beck is the strongest applicant for Riverside's next city manager and that's something that's been floating around since even before Brad Hudson made his exit. After all, he's closely tied to Mayor Ron Loveridge and had been since before his hiring by the city in the specially created job title of deputy city manager. Beck of course had gotten out when the getting was good, moving on to become city manager of Pasadena and some wonder why he would ever want to come back. Especially considering all that's about to unfold about Riverside's actual financial health which will provide an interesting if very sobering contrast to all this mythology that's been spun up and passed out like pixie dust to the city's residents.

And apparently most of the governing body as well.

It had been rumored that Hudson had been working on the next stage of his own Renaissance since the departure of his former assistant city manager, Tom DeSantis last year. And if he were to leave, someone would have to replace him because even though there were three assistant managers, it didn't appear that they might have been experienced or qualified to take the top position even in an interim basis. After all the city council has yet to name an interim manager opting to wait until next week's city council closed session to wait for the atmosphere to cool down. Strange words, considering that they were so effusive in their praise of Hudson at the evening session when Mayor Ron Loveridge announced Hudson's departure. What needs to be cooled down exactly?

Well anyway, it has yet to dawn on the city council certainly the majority of it of exactly what shape the city has been left in after having its budget "balanced" through borrowing money and taking out more bonds. So they praise Hudson in public while they had just gone through a contentious closed session where some of them got a reality check on issues ranging from the rampant discretionary spending and "bid splitting" to the situation involving the over $600,000 given to former part-time employee Connie Leach (formally married to the ex-police chief) much of it in contracts. At least $35,0000 of that money arose from the police department's asset forfeiture fund, where the department donated that money to the Multicultural Youth Festival but dumped it instead in the general fund first. In a sense co-mingling highly restricted funds with funds that aren't restricted. How did that happen, and why wasn't a single elected official on the dais looking into that? Why didn't either the city's internal auditors or its external auditing firm, Meyer Hoffman McCann doing that?

Especially given that this firm audited the asset forfeiture fund up to three times annually during that period or at least it took funds from that fund that many times. But it's mystifying that all these expert auditors both inside and outside the city missed all this because it's like missing a red flag against a white background. With the talk about "pension reform", why not as much discussion about how a part-time employee wound up making much more money in a shorter period of time than many full-time employees with longer tenures with the city? Seriously, questions need to be asked and who's going to ask them?

The city government, don't bank on it because it's more concerned with looking like it's on a sink that's not sinking in public than being honest about what's going on underneath the waves. Last Tuesday's love fest on the dais proved that.

But the issue of the bonds and whether or not the city can actually pay them off beginning next year also caused some discussion.

It will be interesting to see what happens if the city utilizes a similar strategy next year but it will be much more difficult. This is why I find it so difficult to be a mouth for City Hall, to praise elected officials simply because they're in those positions and they are nice to me to get what they want, public relations wise. I don't hang with politicians, don't go to their parties or their social clubs, because they work for me and the rest of the 350,000 residents in this city. And right now, the city government as an entity would be getting a failing grade for dereliction of duty. After reading the documentation that led to the assignment of this failing grade, it wouldn't be professional for me to stand up there and say, hey these are all nice people. I'm sure they are but they're also elected officials who through apathy, ignorance or worse have led our city down a dark path. And they have to answer for what they have done by essentially delegating all of their responsibilities including fiduciary accountability to "staff".

It's beyond time for at least one of them to stand up even if that means going against the grain or the "group think" that they have going on the dais and the candidates who have declared or are even thinking of declaring to join the mayoral free for all next year should seriously consider it a requisite of doing so to stand up and ask the State Comptroller John Chiang to audit the city's financial state. It's time to do what's best for the city and not their own political ambitions.

It might be time to pay the piper soon because remember how many times Sundeen and others on the dais kept saying not to worry because the bonds and loans wouldn't need to start being paid off until 2012? Well guess what, 2012 starts in January, and 2012 might be a year of reckoning in more ways than one when it becomes clear to City Hall that it's facing debts that it can't pay back. That might include millions of dollars in bonds and loans, including many that were to have financed the Riverside Renaissance. This could begin a very painful period for Riverside when those in power realize that the city might not be as solvent as they believed or had been led to believe. But it's not like the city hadn't ever been cautioned about this taking place as even on the evening, when the city launched the Riverside Renaissance to great fanfare at the Riverside Municipal Auditorium, the powers that be just didn't take those cautionary notices seriously.

Caution about spending money on new housing given that this market was about to collapse, causing great devastation to the Inland Empire. Caution about borrowing, borrowing and more borrowing and leaving the future generations the legacy of sky high utility rates, sewer fees and other costs that will be what's needed to generate income to begin to pay off the interest on much of this accumulated debt. These critics or naysayers or gadflies as they are called certainly weren't welcome to this garden party in the guise of a city council meeting but they including the late Yolanda Garland were right to urge the exercise of caution in the five year $2.1 billion Renaissance which might have broken the city's back.

Maybe if the city council members had actually been reading agenda reports and backup documents, bond documents and other written material rather than relying solely on the guidance of staff, much of the upcoming crisis could have been avoided or minimized. But what do you see at meetings? City Council members looking down at their reports just before they're going to be discussed and who knows, that might be the first time they've even seen them let alone read them thoroughly.

They might have raised questions when the city's sewer fund turned into an ATM machine and how discretionary spending was allowed to get so out of control to where Hudson was allowed to spend up to $29 million in one year. The city residents will see just how much when one example of what happened during Hudson's watch is played out publicly. They might have spoken up when loans between the city and a state agency, Redevelopment got conflated into "interfund loans", which if you've been paying attention have been flying fast and furious on city council agendas the past six months. There are reasons for that and financial solvency isn't likely to be one of them. In fact, in some cases it looks like the city's been scrounging including when they took $3.5 million out of a housing program in the Eastside to complete a SERAF payment to the state, on behalf of the city's redevelopment agency which didn't have the funds itself to do that.

Not that the council's paying much attention to it because most of this stuff is on the consent calendar now, millions of dollars in expenditures and transfers among the city's different financial accounts and the separate accounting process of the Redevelopment Agency which belongs to the state. The city council has turned over two fire stations including the new one on Canyon Crest and both the Arlington and Casa Blanca libraries to the RDA and if the city can't pay rent on any or all of them in the future, then what happens? If the RDA dissolves, then what happens to its non-monetary assets? Any loans that are in the RDA are gone forever which means that over $100 million of city funds might be gone forever if that happens. The sad thing, will be if that happens because as it turns out, the city's really going to need that cash soon.

The public was never informed that it would be responsible for financing the hotel, by paying off the bonds through the leasing of four public facilities. We were told the developers would pay them off by our own city government. Even when people went to the podium and asked the government specifically about this, the city council and mayor (and staff) said no cost to the residents. Did any single one of them said, hey we're giving our public facilities to the RDA and hence the state to pay for someone else's hotel, the same one that no reputable financial lending institution would touch with a ten foot pole? The city's pushing "pension reform" yet is financing entertainment venues like the Fox Theater (which if closed will cost at least $2 million annually just to maintain) and hotels?

But this is one of those buildings essentially in hock, the Canyon Crest fire station, a beautiful building which houses fire fighters on duty when they're not on calls. It's now owned by a state agency not the city. So much for public safety because it was one of their buildings that headed the list of expendable real estate.

[Remember when the city council and mayor told you that the city's residents wouldn't put a dime into the cost of the Hyatt Hotel? Wrong! Among other costs, four public buildings now are owned by the state through the RDA so the city can rent them]

But the fire station even though it's essentially in hock as collateral to the state so a developer doesn't have to pay off on the bonds used to build his fancy hotel, at least not right away is much better off than the city's favorite ATM machine, the sewer fund.

"I only look like an ATM machine at City Hall but actually I'm the Sewer Fund."

The Sewer Fund has its own story to tell and it should be allowed to do it. The only question is whether it should be a play in three acts or in iambic pentameter. But even as elected officials lament that it's been drained or depleted and thus unable to do what it's supposed to do which is fund sewer repairs and maintenance, what's being done to stop it from being used as a credit card for everything else?

[Siobhan Foster's background is finance, not public works and certainly not in sewers. What did she do to stop the Sewer Fund from being the city's ATM machine?]

The only problem with allowing the Sewer Fund to tell its story is that there are other city funds out there that will be highly jealous of it. So maybe several plays in three acts will be required.

But perhaps the person to ask about the city's financial status and those of its public buildings now belonging to a state agency is Asst. City Manager of Finance/Chief Financial Officer/City Treasurer (all in two days a week while retired) Paul Sundeen, who pretty much dictated when the city council's own finance committee would meet and what it would discuss according to its current chair, Nancy Hart.

[Asst. City Manager of Finance Paul Sundeen at a Finance Committee meeting reporting on some of the city's finances]

But now that Hudson's left the building, how long will Sundeen hang around? The Finance Committee began meeting in late 2009 after a year's hiatus due to pressure applied in the right place, the city council. Several members in turn started asking for items to be placed on the agenda of those meetings. But this committee needs more action, it needs to look critically at the issues that got our city in these dire financial straits in the first place. Because that's where the city's heading, based on its finances and it's evident at city council meetings which have seen more interfund transfers from Peter's fund to pay Paul's fund in the past six months. Apparently on Tuesday's closed session, the city council and mayor are now cognizant of the truth, well maybe most of it about what Riverside's financial future holds.

It's amazing how many of them actually drank the Koolaid about how Riverside's budget is balanced while other big cities aren't balanced, considering Riverside was at the epicenter of the recession because of its reliance on the new housing construction industry for jobs and revenue. But Riverside had two things to simply delay the inevitable and the first was that it owns its own utilities, and that's been used as a huge source of revenue to pay its other bills. Los Angeles also owns its own utility but it gutted its own years ago doing the same thing. The other factor is that Riverside apparently balanced its budget on borrowing money and buying bonds. Riverside probably doesn't have the income stream (except through increasing fees, taxes and utility rates) to pay off the bonds and loans when they come due beginning next year. That's why the Finance Committee met just this week to discuss users fees (which it usually did in the autumn) including increasing some of the costs again.

But one area where Riverside might be seeing changes soon is increasing vacancies in the employment ranks if people depart from their positions because Hudson's left.

It's not clear how many employees brought in under Hudson including those who had worked in Riverside County will stick around now. It's rumored that Sundeen might retire for real this time and that if he does depart, he might not be the only one.

This rumor's hardly surprising given that the pool of candidates that the city government will wish to select from will be very limited and that the city's apparently still scrambling for a replacement now that City Manager Brad Hudson has left the building. And if they can't keep Hudson, then why not one of his former assistant city managers? And remember DeSantis is busy getting interviewed by three panels for the town manager position in Gilbert, Arizona. Even as the editorial board of the Arizona Republic said the red flags he and other candidates raised took away from the process.

[Facing interviews with three different panels for town manager in Gilbert Arizona, hopefully DeSantis has left his badge at home.]

What's interesting if Beck gets hired, is that he's got a connection to the police department's current assistant chief, Chris Vicino who retired last year from Pasadena's police department after over 20 years of service. He also had been appointed to be interim chief twice while working there and that included one stint while Beck served as city manager. But when it came to picking the city's permanent chief, Vicino hadn't been chosen.

Still when the two met up at a city council meeting not long ago, they seemed to be on fairly good terms.

[Riverside's assistant chief, Chris Vicino retired from Pasadena Police Department after serving as interim chief twice, including once under Beck]

Speaking of Vincino, he's also an instructor at Pasadena City College and has his own Rate My Prof page. But it'll be interesting if Beck were hired, how that would affect the dynamic between Beck as this city's manager, and his former interim chief, Vicino with Chief Sergio Diaz in the middle of them.

Still Beck was tied up with the whole cold plates and flat badges scandals that broke loose last year. In fact, Hudson passed the buck to Beck on the badges saying he and DeSantis (and the city council) received their badges only because the Community Development Department which was under Beck had suggested it. But then Hudson spent most of last year putting both Beck and DeSantis under the bus.

Riverside needs to have an open recruitment and hiring process for the city manager position including input from the public through forums and other means and interview panels which include community members. The community members should be allowed to pick their own questions to ask. If they're gravitating to Beck so quickly and tipping off their friendlies, then that doesn't exactly lend to the belief that the hiring process will be any different than the last time when the city government conducted a faux hiring process for the position while three now ex-councilmen courted Hudson in the wings beginning back a year before Hudson's hiring. If that's true as one of those former officials let slip, then they sought him out while City Manager George Carvalho was still employed. One of those council members, Dom Betro, praised him effusively in the swan song article.

Hudson who was interviewed here by Instant Riverside, a media outlet now bunkering down at the Citrus Grill's old haunt in the Riverside Plaza mall, has moved on to greener pastures supposedly leaving the city government stunned and unaware that he had been working on an exit plan. And leaving a whole lot of hurt in its wake that the city government might finally be waking up to after rubbing the pixie dust out of its collective eyes.

[See ya! Hudson's off to Sacramento, perhaps to run a "Renaissance" up there]

There are media outlets who will praise Hudson and defend him and elected officials but this isn't one of them and there are people who show up to praise the city government and Hudson. This isn't Bell, they keep assuring everyone. But without having read a single public document or doing anything but complaining about the Press Enterprise being too negative in its coverage of City Hall. If these people want to know the truth, they need to start requesting the public documents under the CPRA that they already own and they need to do some serious reading. Then they need to start asking questions because after all, the public is paying for what goes on in the city government.

If that makes me a "critic" to say all this, then that's the truth but the others need to start doing some research on exactly what's the truth behind Hudson's real legacy to this city rather than just ask the foxes guarding the hen house and go, okay that's true because my friends wouldn't lie to me. But what happens when they do, because again, the city government insisted that the city's residents wouldn't be paying for the hotel in any way whatsoever. That it would be on the developer. But then why are four city buildings now belonging to an RDA, and paying rent to solely finance a loan the city through a state agency gave to a developer? And why was the Canyon Crest fire station tossed in there given that it's not even located in a Redevelopment project area?

But what's needed now is to hold the feet to the fire of every elected official on that dais because if Riverside's ever going to get out of the hole it's dug itself into during the past five years, then that's what people need to do. And when the whole truth comes to light as it surely will, there will be many more people doing that.

Just in time for the mayor's race.

Public Meetings

Tuesday, June 21 at 2pm and 6:30pm, the Riverside City Council will meet to discuss this agenda. Money to be spent on three and five year contracts with various vendors. The first phase of a sewer project will be approved for millions and the source is an account from public works. But it doesn't mention where that funding came from.

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Friday, June 10, 2011

Election 2011: What it Means for River City as Investigations Loom

"I only look like the ATM machine at City Hall. Actually I'm the Sewer Fund and I've got a story to tell."

"Ah I'm Electrical and so do I..."

Did department heads and upper management employees get bonuses this year? On the heels of "pension reform", did certain employees get bonuses this year? Sources say to look first at the Human Resources Department management and move on from there.

Coming soon....The House that Brad Hudson Built

"Leaves Riverside for Sacramento, and takes a pay cut? Hmm. Either somebody's running from an ensuing scandal in Riverside, or somebody wants to be in Sacramento for political ambitions. As Sacramentans, we all know. Nobody chooses to move to Sacramento!"

---Rob Thomas, Sacramento Bee comments

Will Riverside be able to pay off its bonds? We'll all find out beginning next year. And what of the lawsuits filed by employees retaliating Hudson's response was this:

"...employees whose own conduct has come under scrutiny will retaliate."

Yes, that's right, when the behavior of several department heads and even city management came "under scrutiny" or was raised privately or publicly, it seems that retaliation by other employees higher up did take place. I guess the city residents will find out if the cases go to trial or not, if they settle behind closed doors.

But the employees in Sacramento, better get those pens out to sign the "at will" contracts if you're mid management or higher.

This link contains a photo of Hudson in Sacramento from earlier today.

Details emerge that Hudson's departure is not as hearts and flowers as it publicly appeared. Several contentious hours of discussion took place in the afternoon session when it came to discussing Hudson's evaluation which had been placed on the agenda last week by Mayor Pro Tem Chris MacArthur. And several issues allegedly came to a head.

UPDATE: The posh hangout for young and old alike, the Cafe Sevilla in downtown Riverside got busted in a sting targeting businesses who sell alcohol to those underage, according to a press release issued by Sgt. Cliff Mason who's staffed in the Community Services Bureau. Also cited was the Ralphs Supermarket on the 6100 block of Magnolia. On the bright side, 12 businesses didn't engage in illegal liquor sales. The violators are often given stiff penalties including revocation of liquor license. So will Cafe Sevilla have to go dry for a while?

Brad Hudson's written farewell to the city's employees:

It is with great pride in the many accomplishments of the City’s team and confidence in Riverside’s future that I am sharing with you the news that I have accepted a position as Chief Executive Officer for Sacramento County. While I am excited about this new opportunity, I will miss the many fine employees in the City of Riverside. The City of Riverside has an excellent team in its department heads and staff and I am confident that you will carry on and continue to be a high performing organization. I will begin my new duties in August and will continue to lead you until that time. Thanks for all of your hard work and many accomplishments that have helped me to excel as your leader.


JUST IN! Gilbert, Arizona bemoans its lack of quality town manager candidates one of them our very own former assistant city manager Tom DeSantis! It will be picking its new person by June 23.

[One of the "red flag" candidates applying for the "town manager" job in Gilbert, Arizona]


Tom DeSantis left Riverside, Calif., last year after prolonged police scandals. As assistant city manager, DeSantis bought a police gun in 2005 and drove a city vehicle in 2007 with an untraceable license plate. No charges were filed, but state attorney general's office investigations found both practices illegal.

More info here on DeSantis and his attempts to get hired by Gilbert. All of the candidates except for the acting city manager in Gilbert have raised red flags. Because Riverside's elected officials gave such glowing recommendations in public, DeSantis might have a lead in getting this job. But what the editorial states that the city doesn't need is what they'll be getting in DeSantis.

Hopefully, he'll at least learn not to store public records on post it notes.

Live at the city council the Press Enterprise has brought its photographer and both cheerful and somber people are congregating for the weekly meeting. People whispering about what happened behind closed doors at this afternoon's city council meeting before the invocation was given, even though no official announcement has been made yet of a shocking decision allegedly made behind closed doors.

[Brad Hudson at a hearing on an ethics complaint filed by an elected official.]

City Manager Brad Hudson is no longer working for the city though there's questions raised about the circumstances of how that came to be. The city council had an evaluation for his job performance on the closed session allegedly after it was placed on the agenda by Councilman and Mayor Pro Tem Chris MacArthur catching other officials unaware. A couple hours of discussion on some issues allegedly took place at that time.

The official statement is that he resigned to take a job position elsewhere.

Mayor Ron Loveridge says that Hudson's accepted a CEO position in Sacramento and Councilman Mike Gardner praised his six year tenure. He cared more about Riveride than people who didn't know him thought.

"He's done great things for us," Gardner said, "He'll be missed."

Hudson was not present at the meeting where council members lavished praise on them. There were indications however of a contentious discussion that took place during the afternoon's meeting, of a change in how the city's going to do its business. Not to mention the revelations of investigations into contracting by the Riverside County District Attorney's office.

More to come....

At the end of the day, there's only one vote that matters for at least the next few weeks, there will be plenty of reminders of why it's important for every registered voter to utilize this critical right that a democracy enjoys.


Engage your leadership especially about how they spend your money.


And say farewell to one of the most important reasons why.

The city manager comes up for evaluation by the city council and mayor again on June 14

[Newly elected Riverside County District Attorney Paul Zellerbach is now investigating Riverside's City Hall as the city's ruling body remains quiet.]

Election day arrived on Tuesday, June 7 as the ballots were counted in the four contests pertaining to the odd numbered wards in Riverside. Three incumbents won their reelection bids outright and the fourth, Ward Seven Councilman Steve Adams received about 46% of the total votes against challengers John Brandriff and former mayor, Terry Frizzel. So he'll be facing off against Brandriff in November. Already the allegations of investigations involving Brandriff are being raised on Inland Empire Craigslist presumably by the same individual who was actively talking about him at the weekly city council meetings.

But what's actually opening up at City Hall is an investigation by the Riverside County District Attorney's office which after all has changed guard in the 2010 county elections. The investigation surrounds the awarding of a contract on a proposed sewer plant to the tune of $10.5 million. Allegations were raised in an email written by now terminated Deputy City Attorney Raychele Sterling about the preferential bidding process that favored one firm over the others that also submitted bids on that project. There has been earlier revelations by Sterling and other current and former employees that favoritism had played a role in the awarding of other city contracts. Not to mention that the City Hall Cafeteria had allegedly been subsidized by budgetary funds from the Park and Recreation Department.

Why in these fiscally difficult budget times when departments like Park and Recreation are struggling for budgetary funds is money being set aside for the City Hall restaurant which has no connection to that department at all? But what connects the restaurant to the department is City Manager Brad Hudson who oversees the city department in question and is apparently very friendly with the owner of the eatery at City Hall. Maybe that's a question that someone on the dais will ask during Hudson's evaluation behind closed doors at this week's city council meeting or then again, maybe not.

Because when allegations came to light, the city council and mayor had very little to say about it even when the employees began to get fired and some of them sue either before or after the firings. Rumors had been abound that the Riverside County District Attorney's office had been investigating City Hall on the assignment of contracts, but is the one raised in the Press Enterprise an anomaly or the tip of an awfully large iceberg?

We'd never know the answers to that because no one who serves the public appears to actually be asking the questions. You've got more people in elected office talking about running for the mayoral seat next year then you do in addressing these issues and investigations that keep surfacing. Perhaps some quiet whispers about concern growing on the dais that it's lost control of one of its own key employees are being heard. That there might be indeed concern growing behind those photographic smiles that not all is well inside City Hall. But looking at the current city council it's difficult to believe they have any concerns at all.

Mayor Ron Loveridge is in the twilight of his political career at least in Riverside. There's some murmuring that he's actually thinking about running for state office but given what's likely to unfold in the next year, he might not have much luck getting support for that especially as a long-ago Democrat playing Republican in an allegedly nonpartisan position.

But for all the talk in between the hiring of image consultants about his "legacy", has he really thought about what's to come from financing everything from Most Livable City, to City of Arts, Culture and Innovation (tm) to the Riverside Renaissance and beyond? As the city's collective debt approaches $3 billion including $1.5 billion just from the Renaissance, will his legacy be empty facilities that the city can't pay to maintain or staff and higher utility rates across the board to pay off the massive debt?

Because as wonderful as people at City Hall have told you that the Renaissance has been for Riverside, what they're not highlighting in their comments is the fact that at least 60% of it hasn't been paid for yet. It's been "paid" for by bonds and borrowed money. And now that at least one city issued contract is under investigation by the D.A.'s office, maybe it's time to audit the rest of them including those under the Renaissance as well. Now we know that elected officials will say that no, that's not necessary, it's a waste of time and there's too much else to do rather than focus on a "bad apple" here or there. Okay, then if the city's too busy to audit or investigate its contracts including its contracting practices, then perhaps that can be done by Zellerbach's office, the Riverside County Grand Jury, State Attorney General Kamala Harris (who or the State Comptroller John Chiang instead.

That will leave City Hall with plenty of time to do other things.

Where Running for Mayor is the New Black

[As his alleged final term winds down, what kind of legacy has Mayor Ron Loveridge left now that City Hall has attracted the attention of the D.A.'s office on different fronts?]

In his State of the Union addresses lately, Loveridge hasn't talked about anything like that. he's talked about pension reform in the city's labor force and more visions of working on the city's ever changing image rather than its reality. And with his retirement supposedly around the corner (though he's not "retired" until the filing date's passed), others are clamoring for the position that might open up for the first time since 1993. First to declare was Councilman Andrew Melendrez who some felt spoke up too soon and then he was followed by former Councilman Ed Adkison and Ron Woodbury who later dropped out.

But that wasn't the entire field as it appears that after the first round of Election 2011 contributed possibly two more candidates to that list. Councilman Rusty Bailey who ran against a candidate named Jim Davis who hadn't launched much of a political campaign and defeated him by taking 87% of the vote. So Bailey who some say is Loveridge's favorite protege decides it's time for him to think about running for mayor next year. One wonders what would have happened if he had indulged in that kind of planning while running for his second term as councilman, in terms of what his constituents would think.

Bailey wasn't the only one with mayoral aspirations because Ward One Councilman Mike Gardner who beat out three candidates in the recent election with about 57% of the vote also flirted with a mayoral run. With plenty of time before the filing date even opens, it wouldn't be surprising if other individuals including elected officials put their names in the coffers to run for the position that doesn't weld much power in a city council/city manager system of government. But in the right hands it can be the most powerful position on the dais.

Loveridge has shown that through his example during the past 12 years. But who will follow in his footsteps? The election of course is too early to call but anticipate that other people will throw their names in the ring or announce that they're thinking about it because it appears to be the hot thing to do in politics right now.

One person who hasn't announced plans to run is Councilman Steve Adams who after all, didn't win the mail in round of his election outright. He carried more votes than either of his rivals but less than the 50% needed to end the election then and there. So he and Brandriff face five months of campaigning ahead of them, with perhaps a bit of a lull in the action before it picks up again in the autumn.

Interestingly enough, this election turned out to be the most contentious with allegations and complaints filed about sign stealing and threats of more complaints and criminal investigations. Complaints about whether or not this candidate should have run or that one but a democratic process embraces anyone's willingness to run who is eligible to do so. The voters, and the turnout in all the wards was dismal, cast their votes the way they see fit and in this case, two candidates were sent to the runoffs. Campaigning will have to in a sense start from scratch because there's votes to be won or lost on both sides. It's usually not advantageous to go into a runoff having won the preliminary round because more often than not, the vote flip flops as either the leading candidate flakes out on his or her campaigning believing the election's already been won or the votes the leader didn't get the first time that were spread out two or three ways were actually largely votes against him or her.

But at the very least, Adams has about six months left to serve on the dais even if he loses in the final round. Though for him just sitting in his seat particularly during public comment is a challenge enough.

[Hopefully when serious questions are asked of elected officials, that Councilman Steve Adams will actually be sitting on the dais]

Adams often took off during public comment and then returned by its end. But as election day approached, he did improve in this area. Hopefully this improvement will stick because there's going to be plenty of educational information that the city council and mayor will be receiving in the months ahead on many different issues from those who elect them into office.

Summers are traditionally the months when the government's on a reduced schedule including with its meetings and many go "dark". Sometimes that's when critical business is put on meeting agendas to pass when few people are around to know it's even on the agenda at all.

Will the Finance Committee Take a Look at the Allegations of Favoritism in Contracting?

[Paul Sundeen is the assistant city manager of finance, the chief financial officer and the city's treasurer all while being retired and working two days a week.]

The Finance Committee is holding a meeting on June 15 to discuss fees again. Chaired by Councilwoman Nancy Hart, the committee needs to start looking deeper at the finances of the city. But that would mean that the city council including the three members who staff it would have to be somewhat interested in restoring their own roles as the checks and balances when it comes to the city's finances and how they're handled including by their own direct employees. But will the Finance Committee look at issues like how the city does contracts? Member and Councilman Paul Davis said that the bidding process has already changed but in light of the allegations of misconduct that are being investigated inside the city (including through an outside law firm handpicked by Hudson) and outside of it, will this committee take on a larger role of asking questions on this pressing issue?

That remains to be seen because there doesn't appear to be much enthusiasm for it to do anything but concede the leadership of that committee pretty much to Asst. City Manager of Finance/Chief Financial Officer and City Treasurer Paul Sundeen. Allegations had been raised that go beyond those publicized involving the Sewer Plant but so far it's not clear if they are being investigated as well.

Davis had also raised concerns about the "draining" of the Sewer Fund by expenditures including those that don't appear to have much to do with the purpose of the fund which is created from fees that city residents pay monthly on their public utility bills.

But another issue that's been brought to light at city council meetings has been the use of discretionary funds by city departments. Most of the department heads have a limit of $25,000 per expense while Hudson became the first city manager to receive $50,000. In his case, that limit seemed to be at least below the $28-29 million he spent in past year. But who's paying attention to these funds which by their very nature are used by department heads including Hudson to spend money without city council approval.

[City Manager all glittered out in bling before getting dunked in the tank at the City Hall Chili Cook Off]

Some say this sets up a situation that's ripe for misuse or even abuse if there's no oversight at all over its use especially in cases where it hits the millions over a fiscal year. If that seems too extreme that this type of spending should be accountable to the legislative body, there's some examples of why that might be very critical to do that coming down the pike. There's been cases raised already of how that money's been spent. But who's been paying attention?

[When those sitting on the dais now finally wake up from their naps, what kind of city will be awaiting them?]

It's going to be interesting to see as more unfolds about what's been going on in this city during the past several years including the whole issue of how bids are taken and contracts are rewarded, how the elected officials will react to it.

Again, it'd be nice if they'd start by asking a few questions, you know one here and there to try to get the information to themselves. Too many times council members at meetings don't ask questions to get answers, they ask them so the people "at home" can understand some basic fact about how the city conducts business. When the truth is, it's debatable whether the elected officials really have any idea of what's going on. The truth probably is that those we elected to represent and serve us probably need to know the answers more than we do.

[This sign needs to be on the Seventh Floor of City Hall]

But these revelations are breaking in the press and elsewhere about what's really going on in City Hall and the city council and mayor just look apathetic and sometimes as if they don't have a clue of what's going on because of the way they conduct themselves. None of them responded to news about the investigation by Zellerbach's office not even to say phrases like "We pay for talent" and "We have full confidence in [insert name of city council employee]."

But what's happening is Riverside's work force is losing talent as employee after employee has been terminated, "resigned", "retired" or been otherwise pushed out of their jobs. The breaking point according to the complaints and litigation filed appears to be that these employees were asked or ordered to do things they didn't find ethical and not long after that, were shown the door.

It would be interesting to see if any of these lawsuits see a trial date before the city settles them behind closed doors. It will be interesting to see if this trickle of lawsuits turns into a current as more and more revelations come to light as elected officials continue to act as if nothing's happening. It will be interesting if this investigation by Zellerbach's office spawns more of them.

The long, hot summer of 2011 has begun.


[The mayor and some say his protege in training, Councilman Rusty Bailey at a Mayor's Nomination and Screening Committee meeting]

"I didn't hear that"

[Did Riverside Police Chief Sergio Diaz (r.) really have a hearing problem when asked what to do with two lieutenants who were involved in an off-duty physical confrontation?]

The police chief's apparent decision not to investigate an off-duty physical altercation between two of his lieutenants generated a lot of discussion and debate. But what remains to be seen is whether or not Chief Sergio Diaz followed departmental policy regarding those types of investigations or not, and if the policy wasn't followed, then why.

When asked what to do with the situation involving the two lieutenants when it came to light, was his response to do the appropriate investigation as he would any other employee, or simply to walk away and say, "I didn't hear that"?

Why is it in a police department that made the news in a bad way because of preferential treatment given to the last police chief during his DUI incident, even placing itself in the position of having the question of whether or not preferential treatment was given coming up again?

Several months ago, a police captain's son was hired by the department but was arrested for a drunken fight in a public place days before his first day on duty. His father allegedly called Corona Police Department asking for him to be released early or without booking from the holding facility there. The watch commander said no thanks and the son later resigned from the department.

Then now the incident involving the two lieutenants which was allegedly not investigated by Diaz because it was an "off-duty matter".

Diaz came into the police department when the issue of trust in its handling of incidents involving its own employees in the highest places had been breached. He came knowing or should have known that this issue had caused people a lot of distrust both inside and outside the department especially given that favoritism had been a common thread woven into the agency by its prior chief.

Not the best way to address this issue by essentially saying one thing and then proving through your actions it's business as usual inside the police department. Diaz had made some great strides in several areas of the department that were badly neglected but the issue of double standards, favoritism and preferential treatment in the department are going to wind up being deal breakers when it comes to deciding what his legacy will be as police chief.

Public Meetings

Tuesday, June 14 at 3 pm and 6:30pm, the Riverside City Council will meet to discuss this agenda.

Wednesday June 15 at 2 pm, the Finance Committee will meet and discuss this agenda.

Wednesday, June 15 at 4pm, the Community Police Review Commission will hold a special meeting for training on excited delirium.

Friday, June 17 at 10am, the Friday Morning Club will be hosting Riverside County District Attorney Paul Zellerbach at its meeting at the Janet Goeske Center located at 5257 Sierra Street (corner of Streeter Avenue) in Riverside. A good question to ask him is how the department's Public Integrity Unit is doing.

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