Rough Sailing Waters Ahead for City Hall?
But in reality has the construction of the Hyatt cost the city nearly three dozen jobs so far at another hotel?
Update: 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.
Update: 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.
UPDATE: 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
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.
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?
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.
UPDATE: 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.
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...
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.
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.
[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?
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.