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


My Photo
Location: RiverCity, Inland Empire

Friday, October 21, 2011

Different Tune, Same Dance in River City

UPDATE: Recently Reelected Councilman Steve Adams publicly accuses Councilman Paul Davis outside his presence of misspending public funds associated with legislative aides. He alludes to how it could lead towards using the money as a campaign slush fund, criminal acts and how Davis' actions could lead to a Bell, providing an interesting lesson in passive aggressive behavior. After the election, his gloves come off....and what of Adams' disclosure of his own actions, stay tuned....

UPDATE: Convictions of former Riverside Police Department Officer Anthony Fletcher overturned at Court of Appeals.

Unfolding out in La Sierra is an incident involving a man who allegedly exchanged gunfire with Riverside Police Department officers who were serving an arrest warrant and then barricaded himself inside a house. SWAT/Metro is on scene along with at least 50 police cars backing them up. In the command post, was Police Chief Sergio Diaz aka "Charles1" along with his management team and two sergeants in the department's Personnel and Training Division.

[Chief Sergio Diaz (l.) and cabinet members, Deputy Chief Jeff Greer and Asst. Chief Chris Vicino manned the command post in managing the scene at the La Sierra incident]

Diaz takes an active role in area crime fighting, just last week he nabbed a would-be newspaper thief in the downtown area and he's known for interjecting himself under his call number on the radio to assist officers in addressing their calls.

The man was discovered to be deceased according to the Press Enterprise.

Over 2oo SEIU members march and rally in downtown Riverside

Small earthquake, 3.1 hits Riverside area.

Good thing Measure I passed but does anyone at City Hall know how to spell "library"?


$2.1 billion spent on Riverside Renaissance and All I Got was a Misspelled Library Sign

The sign at the pretty much forgotten by the city downtown branch has been broken for months. Now if it were a theater or a hotel...

Ahhh, aren't they cute? One of the best films ever. Thanks to my supporters at the Blogging While Female blog ring for sending this cute picture. The only cartoons you're going to see in here are cute ones.

One of former State Attorney General Bill Lockyer's advisers
wrote this thesis about the Riverside Police Department and its stipulated judgment.

"For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’

Then the righteous will answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?'

And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'"

---Jesus (Matthew 25.35-40 ESV)

He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully.

----Psalm 24:4 ESV

Early returns in Riverside:


9/9 100.00%

Vote Count Percent

JOHN BRANDRIFF 1,037 44.70%
STEVE ADAMS 1,283 55.30%
Total 2,320 100.00%

One of Adams supporters had these sage words of response to the results of the election. An official response from either camp hasn't been released yet.

The Losers

The Press Enterprise
D. Berstein
The intern, A. Robinson
Lady KA-KA from 5 Before KA-KA
The Never take a shower gang
The filthy five
Poor M. Figueroa and her little community
The plotters at City Hall

No response from the Brandriff camp including their list of "losers". Hopefully the losers are more gracious in losing than the winners were in winning. But at least the election and its usual madness is finished until next year. We can move onto other topics, some folks can take a serious chill pill and we'll have at least one council member on the dais who was there back in the days of the GASS/BASS quartet to answer the questions that the city residents and city employees will bring next year when the city's financial crisis heats up.

Actually as it turns out according to our polling (and we stuck to issues, not who's divorcing or on workman's comp or whatever), many people who cast votes for Adams actually were casting votes for Steve Arroela his tireless aide who does all the work because Adams doesn't spend too much time in his ward. If Arroela had run against his boss, this blogger says he'd probably would have beat him.

Police Chief Nabs Man Allegedly Attempting to Steal Newspaper

[Police cars responding in downtown Riverside after Police Chief Sergio Diaz nabs the alleged newspaper thief]

UPDATE: Riverside Chief Sergio Diaz Nabs Alleged Newspaper thief downtown with the help of three police cars and one helicopter. The PE which was called to the crime scene in the midst of the investigation declined to press charges for what was allegedly an attempted theft from a newspaper rack for a $.50 newspaper. Diaz walking with Asst. Chief Chris Vicino after a city council meeting back to Orange Street Station witnessed the incident and pulled his badge identifying himself as a police officer to make the detention. Soon after, two police cars responded and the police helicopter flew overhead with a spotlight on the unfolding scene while Diaz and Vicino supervised the investigation of a misdemeanor. Not sure why the officers seemed to have it under control and acted professionally after being called to the scene with sirens.

Other officers who were initially responding were called off. Diaz did his assigned role of diverting traffic across the street so pedestrians and people covering the incident wouldn't interfere with the criminal investigation in progress of the alleged crime. Councilman Mike Gardner on wheels navigated the crime scene skillfully until he reached the other side of the street.

The homeless man wasn't cited or arrested and allowed to leave with his shopping cart from 11th and Main and continue on his way.

Next up, a production of Les Miserables...

[Two members of the 99% with nary a member of the 1% in the vicinity]

"Duane Roberts can make millions of dollars but they're cutting your pensions...."

Riverside Police Department moves in on protesters of Occupy Riverside (You Tube) in the downtown pedestrian mall earlier today. Nine arrests.

Arrests continued in the mall area. (second, longer YouTube video)

Initial video taken before police arrived

More video taken of arrests

More video

More video

CBS Coverage

Loma Linda Patch coverage

We Have to Kick the Thugs out of Riverside

But no Press Enterprise coverage, well not until almost eight hours later. The crackdown came not long after the Occupy Riverside had agreed to meet with Chief Sergio Diaz on Monday, Nov. 7 but apparently that meeting date got moved up a day only without Diaz being present. The department told the Press Enterprise said it acted on complaints that reached City Hall causing them to meet with city officials and one wonders if the two major players that run the downtown, the Greater Chamber of Commerce and the Riverside Downtown Partnership played a role. With a heavily packed mayor's race going on not to mention Festival of Lights later this month, the pressure had been building. But not present at the action were either Chief Sergio Diaz not even in civilian clothes, Mayor Ron Loveridge nor the downtown Councilman Mike Gardner.

What's ironic is that the business practices of City Hall have harmed the downtown businesses driving more of them out of business and off of the street, much more than a group of people "occupying" the pedestrian mall. Including the 3% business tax proposed for members of the Riverside Downtown Partnership, an association where many of its members especially those outside the mall feel that they have scant or no representation. I'm not convinced that occupying a mall where businesses are already suffering is the best strategy for a movement addressing how people feel about the growing gulf between wealthy and the poor not to mention the decimation of the middle class but it's definitely an ironic choice including the city's actions involving the downtown, including some that are highly questionable in recent years.

[Orange Street Station, the places where promotions are decided and where they are made]

[Chief Sergio Diaz, Deputy Chief Jeffrey Greer and Asst. Chief Chris Vicino]

"But I was thinking of a way To multiply by ten, And always, in the answer, get The question back again."

---Lewis Carroll

UPDATE: With one captains' position possibly opening up within the year, let the games begin...

Promotional Lists


1) Charles Payne

2) Deborah Foy

3) Robert Tipre

4) Peter Elliot


A Band (alphabetical)

Mark Rossi

Russ Shubert

B Band

Frank Assumma

Steve Bradshaw

John Capen

Christian Dinco

Val Graham

Julian Hutzler

Dwayne May

Skip Showalter

Lisa Williams

C Band

Brian Dailey

The recent round of testing was done involving candidates who hope to get promoted in the Riverside Police Department. Those interested in being promoted to detective, sergeant and lieutenant underwent the testing process. Lieutenants participated in oral interviews and written tests with each receiving half of the scoring points. The written tests are issued and graded by the Chief's office, a change from older procedures which has some asking questions especially given the most recent results which put quite a few of the candidates working at Orange Street Station in the top positions of the new list. The candidates themselves don't learn how they scored on the tests, but are just notified of how they place on the list or what's their band classification. That omission of information is probably enough on its own to generate questions too. But even without it, questions have been generated anyway.

The sergeants' list remained the same as it had been before Chief Sergio Diaz' arrival, listing candidates in the order of their testing scores. However, after Diaz arrived and after his first round of promotions, the lieutenant's list which had operated under the same format as the sergeant's was changed to using the band system of A (90+), B(80-90) and C(80 and below). Within each category, candidates are now listed in alphabetical order and not by their scores perhaps to make it harder for the candidates to really know where they stood in the process and making the list itself murkier in terms of how candidates will be selected off of it. It does make it easier to "mask" high scoring candidates within bands including in the A level whether that was the intention behind the changes or not. If you had five individuals scoring in the top band for example, how would anyone including the candidates know, who really scored the best? It's a way of going back to the rule of two or rule of five or so if you're going strictly off the list from A to C but then considering in 2010, the two chiefs in power were operating off of the "rule of 13" with the lieutenants' list, maybe it does narrow the listing down a bit. The advantage to the band process is just that, it gives more of a selection with in some ways more flexibility if it's done allegedly limited to being within bands.

The testing process itself is somewhat generic and rather strange, given how complex and nuanced it seems that the respective ranks are in reality but that's another blog posting.

These changes all arose not long after controversy had been generated by the promotional process where quite a few top candidates on the sergeants and lieutenants including the number one candidates (both female) were passed over by both Acting Chief John DeLaRosa and in one case, Diaz in their first rounds of promotions last year. Instead, DeLaRosa and Diaz promoted from candidates who placed lower on the list including in Diaz case, one who placed 12th out of 13 candidates on the lieutenants' list. At the time, Diaz and others from his cabinet said as DeLaRosa had implied early that they were all looking for that certain "something" that none of them could really describe in words but clearly three out of the top four candidates on the lieutenants' list who were the two females and one African-American male candidate didn't have it whatever that quality turned out to be.

After years of being told in the Riverside Police Department, they would only have a chance of getting promoted if they topped the lists (as alleged in several lawsuits back into the 1990s), several members of these demographics did just that and found out that the rules of engagement for promotions had apparently changed on them. Whereas being in the top five on the list was the bomb in earlier years, now it simply meant that you were a good "test taker". Actually, similar trends were noted and duly reported through declarations or depositions in connection with racial and/or gender discrimination lawsuits filed against different agencies including the Los Angeles Police Department right before the settlements were paid out. So hearing the same rationale provided by both the temporary chief and the latest permanent chief provided some sense of deja vu if you've followed litigation patterns in the LAPD. So far here, one candidate, Sgt. Val Graham has filed a claim and later a lawsuit charging the promotional process with racial discrimination and coincidentally or not, after that claim was filed, the testing process for lieutenants changed in ways that clearly would make it harder for any high ranking candidate to know they'd been passed over by people placing lower on the scoring list within his or her band.

But watching what unfolded during 2010 and now into 2011 has been very interesting. Part of it is because there was a whole slew of promotions last year to fill long-standing vacancies in the supervisory divisions. That provided ample opportunity to observe how the process worked or didn't under not just one but two police chiefs.

By the numbers, the lieutenant selections (under the original list of 13 candidates before promotions were made) came from #5 and 6 under DeLaRosa and #1, 2, 9, and 12 under Diaz. Not that this practice didn't precede either of these two chiefs, as former Chief Russ Leach promoted a candidate from #11 on the list several years earlier.

It all started in February not long after the infamous Leach DUI incident when the first round of promotions were made. Some believed these promotions had been done in relation to the DUI incident to take attention off of it. Not so, as these promotions were slated to be done anyway after Former City Manager Brad Hudson told union negotiators in January that he had agreed to unfreeze a couple of sergeant positions and when they were unfrozen, a lieutenant's position was added. Andy Flores was promoted to lieutenant off of his #6 position on the list and several sergeants, all white except for one biracial officer were promoted including one that had been terminated several years earlier and then won his job back in arbitration. No women were included in that first promotional round and when the sergeant and lieutenant lists came to light, those omissions raised an even larger eyebrow than perhaps they would have otherwise.

Because as it turned out, women dominated the top five of the lieutenants list and were ranked highly on the sergeants' list as well. And each list contained a highly ranked African-American candidate as well. A bit of an eye opener because of the complaints in the past among upper management about women and men of color being represented in "low numbers" on the lists. Even though women made up about 10% of the department and Black officers about 7%, they comprised between 60% and 80% of the top five candidates on both lists. But none of them made DeLaRosa's first round of promotions.

Passed over was top candidate Det. Linda Byerly who had 20 years plus experience including seven in investigations and no problems who was passed over by less experienced individuals, and apparently that oversight generated some consternation (and it should have generated some questions) and three weeks later, another sergeant position came up and she was promoted. Byerly's promotion broke a five-year drought involving female supervisors as no female officer had been promoted into this level since the expiration of the city's consent decree with the State Attorney General's office. The successful completion of probation by any female supervisor would also break an even longer drought as two female supervisors were demoted within their probational periods.

More promotions followed including #5 on the lieutenant's list, Sgt. Melissa Bartholomew and some sergeants and detectives including the first African-American supervisor to be promoted since 2005, Det. Brian Dodson who'd been on the list at least three years.

After the first round, the department did promote two candidates who had placed in the top five on the lieutenants' list during the first seven months of 2010. However, both of them were promoted after the compositions of the lists became known beyond the select few who make the decisions without having to provide reasoning behind them. Why? Because without a list that's accessible especially by those who are impacted by it, there doesn't seem to be much in the way of accountability in the process. For example, if candidates are promoted consistently from the lowest quarter on the list, that would only be known if people actually knew about the list itself and where different candidates placed. If high ranking candidates were passed over consistently for lower ones, how would that be known if there was no list? If women were overlooked entirely even at the top, no one would ever know. If the management were promoting those who they favored or were on their respective teams regardless of rankings or scores, how would that be known without an accountable listing?

But observing the progression of promotions during the different stages of 2010 in relation to the list was fascinating and it revealed a lot about the department's administration and its operations.

DeLaRosa made the decisions for a few of the rounds and apparently, Diaz relied on his counsel quite heavily when making his own decisions involving his first flurry of promotions upon his arrival in Riverside. But his decisions devalued the lieutenants' list even further, the process that for better and worse had been the one provided for candidates to gauge their performances in that process in a somewhat transparent way, and With the loss of the value of that list, the promotional process slipped back into a more secret practice instead. After all, if you're numbered in the top five, wouldn't you have questions about why #9 and #12 were promoted instead? If you were told that to make the grade, you had to top the list and then management instead deviated from what it told you, it seems that might make it difficult to trust management or its process outlined to participants.

If that outlined process deviated considerably from the promotional process the candidates entered into in good faith, then the only thing left to do is question it. And yes, quite a few people did start to question its progression in 2010.

[Some feel that former Interim Police Chief John DeLaRosa still looms large in the promotional process]

After DeLaRosa took his retirement, Diaz and crew came into the department in the summer of 2011 still working off the older list and they promoted 13 individuals to fill vacancies from detective to captain in one sweep. An apparent housewarming gift from former City Manager Brad Hudson to his new hire. But Diaz' promotions in some respect to quite a few seemed more like a going away present to DeLaRosa who's still tight with the new chief even while serving as the new secretary of the community organization, Latino Network. DeLaRosa had transferred the #1 candidate and the #3 candidate both women out of their assignments in Diaz' office back into patrol citing staffing shortages in supervision of that division. Then he transferred another sergeant out of those same depleted ranks into the #3's spot in Diaz' building before his arrival. That was #2 on the lieutenant's list and he was soon promoted by Diaz .

Interestingly #1 wound up being drawn back into her earlier assignments in the chief's office by Diaz and Asst. Chief Chris Vicino who had taken on the task of dusting off and revisiting the 2010-2015 Strategic Plan. And then when the new test was taken, the process had been changed on the lieutenant's side in the wake of Graham's lawsuit and questions raised about the process of selection off a list that by mid-2010 appeared pretty meaningless. As more candidates were promoted outside of the top five candidates than from inside that top group, again it left the question open. Why even try to undergo the established procedure for promotions if the selection process was left to so much interpretation and allegations of favoritism and those at the top of the list might be wondering if they were simply on the wrong "team" if passed over by those with less experience and lower ranking on the list.

And it's not just this police department, these same issues have been grappled with by agencies all over the country. Just as they have been in other areas of the public sector not to mention inside the business culture.

But under 2010's test, #1 still wound up #1 and after being "tested" by Diaz and the cabinet, was promoted by the end of 2010. Then promotions dwindled down as vacancies had been filled though not completely at those levels but the city's finances were beginning their down slide.

[Chief Sergio Diaz strolls the mall, comments on protesters]

Chief Sergio Diaz showed up recently after the arduous listing process for promotional candidates at the Occupy Riverside protest to converse with some protesters and allegedly called one of them a drug dealer and two others "druggies" but by the end of the recording, they were shaking hands and heading their separate ways. But the testing process was changed when he took office both on the written and oral ends of it. The trends however really didn't change along with the procedure as it turned out. It changed the lists but probably won't ultimately change the promotional patterns of favoring candidates with multiple special assignments under their belts rather than those who spend the majority of their careers in patrol. That's felt by quite a few who believe that if they work in patrol, they have essentially zero chance of ever being a sergeant or lieutenant since despite his earlier attitude that the list isn't all that, Diaz has began promoting straight off of it since the establishment of the latest lists. It's most likely that if lieutenants are promoted, they will be the two current "A" band candidates, both with extensive experience already working under Diaz and his trusted circle including its ex officio member.

For sergeants, quite a few candidates are promoted out of investigations especially during times of fiscal tightness which puts a drain on the patrol division indirectly because of the early 1990s MOU that requires the filling of vacancies in the investigations division. But for lieutenants, candidates who spent their careers in patrol have become more discouraged by the process that may exclude them. Whether that's the case or not, the current trends which are simply the older trends under a different name do bring to the forefront the sticky issue of special assignments and who gets them, not to mention is the system fair to all people.

The lieutenant's listing and promotional choices have followed its own trend, which hasn't changed at all despite the reorganization system.

Earlier in 2010, the lieutenant's list included mostly individuals with experience with field operations especially patrol who tended to be actively involved in community policing at its top though a couple had been placed recently in special assignments. However, most of the selections made by DeLaRosa and Diaz were mainly those who had spent much of their time in what are called "special assignments" including those in the Chief's Office such as personnel and training. Most of them were individuals who had extensively worked under or had allegedly been mentored by DeLaRosa and Deputy Chief Mike Blakely which makes sense given that most of their time was spent in more internal operations. Working intensively under those who make the promotional decisions at the very least offers candidates the opportunity to be evaluated by those decision makers and their names more familiar when promotional opportunities arise. That's how it works in the business culture too.

In contrast, officers and supervisors who work in patrol don't work directly with those who make promotional decisions. After all, how many times does a police chief or his cabinet even attend roll call meetings? In the history of the Riverside Police Department up to its present day, chiefs and their immediate subordinates tend to stay away from the roll calls and other aspects of field operation assignments. The field operations captain apparently has minimal contact with those in his own division even when they are all sharing the same station facility. The deputy chief who's his boss is rarely seen in public circles in comparison to the appearances of the administrative side of the department's leadership.

Some candidates selected came from SWAT/Metro backgrounds, not surprising because DeLaRosa allegedly has said that he preferred to promote those with SWAT backgrounds, which was bad news for female candidates including those who placed highly on the lists. If that happened, then talk about pushing the city's risk of civil liability way up indeed based on the histories of other law enforcement agencies that have seen litigation spring up involving the promotional process.

But his comments and other discussions brought the issue of special assignments into the center arena especially after Diaz' arrival. Blakely who some say mentored DeLaRosa also apparently had experience with SWAT divisions back in his prior haunt in the San Diego Police Department. Deputy Chief Jeffrey Greer wrote position papers while in the Los Angeles Police Department that addressed recommendations made by a blue ribbon panel that evaluated the department's SWAT division including the recruitment and training of candidates. SWAT experienced officers fared very well in the promotional process in 2010 especially after Diaz' arrival though not quite as much as officers with experience in Personnel and Training. These trends are interesting to note. SWAT experienced and trained officers including supervisors have a lot to bring to the table in terms of promotion but when a DeLaRosa makes comments about preferences in one assignment (especially one devoid of women) over others, it does generate questions.

Not faring as well as they did in previous years in the promotional process were those were assigned to Internal Affairs at the time of the promotional selections. That division was well represented as several of them tested and made the list, but unlike what happened under former Chief Russ Leach, none were promoted last year. Those with past Internal Affairs experience such as Bartholomew fared better in the process.

The issue about "special assignments" has caused some consternation since Diaz has arrived because of whether or not the policy in place governing them is always adhered to when selecting the officers who fill them. The departmental policy states that an officer can work in a special assignment for two years (with a one-time year extension to total three years) but after they reach the maximum time served, they have to spend a year working a patrol assignment before they can reapply. The other policy governing them that's come under question is whether someone who's on probation (including that involving promotions) can be eligible to apply or be placed in a special assignment. That came into play when one sergeant who had been serving his probation had been assigned to a special assignment, which then led to his assignment while still on probation to a second special assignment. But it doesn't appear that this policy is being enforced uniformly at all. Some candidates apply for special assignments out of patrol and lose out to people who have just finished a different special assignment. Some people finish a special assignment and have to do their year in patrol before applying for another which is under the policy.

Yet others seem to have two or more consecutive special assignments without taking a break from that by spending the year on patrol duties and this is something that has caused quite a bit of criticism from people left wondering if the stated policy is just a piece of paper somewhere with writing on it. With the increased importance of special assignments first in the promotional process and now in the testing process as well, the consternation with the apparent triple standard of assigning special assignments could increase as it really should because if the policy is being selectively applied or enforced to favor some and limit others, then it seems that it should be scrutinized more closely.

Certainly before it's allowed to play such a major role in the department's promotional system in supervision. It's true that the higher you promote, the more exposure you might have to special assignments because supervision and later management do play roles in their operations so that might make it somewhat likely in some instances for those with special assignments to be more prevalent but it still seems like a very problematic assignment if someone's denied a special assignment to someone who's already had one or two of them in a row or is told they have to wait a year while someone else doesn't. It also devalues the patrol division quite a bit to hold some people accountable for their policy stated times of service in the division that's the backbone of any agency and not others through "rewarding" them for any reason.

The issue of promoting officers who had been demoted came into play last year though candidates faced different "waiting periods".

Three candidates were promoted in 2010 after demotions. Two of them, Lt. Jaybee Brennan and Det. Kim Crutchfield waited about four to five years after their demotions to get promoted (albeit detective instead of sergeant for Crutchfield). The department apparently requires officers who are demoted to have two evaluations of "meet standards" or better before they can be considered for promotions and evaluations are conducted roughly annually. So the two candidates listed here waited four to five years to get promoted which might have been an appropriate time period depending on the circumstances. No doubt the demotions for the women were going to complicate their promotional process but that seemed negated somewhat by the differential treatment given to another officer who had also been demoted who didn't have to wait nearly as long for his second chance.

Contrast the women's experiences with the other candidate, Sgt. Cliff Mason who waited a lesser time period of 18 months after his demotion before being re-promoted to sergeant. A pretty impressive feat considering that the two "meet standards" evaluations had to be completed in that short time span according to the department's policy. It's a bit confusing to an outsider perhaps as to how a person being demoted can achieve two such evaluations in such a brief period of time afterward including one that likely covers the period when the sustained misconduct took place. After all, for example, when Officer Roger Sutton was transferred out of the canine unit, he received a poor evaluation (one of his only ones put on the trial record) after that disciplinary action within the year. Which is what would be expected after a serious incident like he faced, it would be odder if he's received a good or excellent evaluation under the circumstances.

Mason's first "meet standards" evaluation would likely had covered the period of time that included the off-duty incident that led to his demotion in the first place which is a bit puzzling. It's not impossible certainly for Mason to have worked diligently and to have been motivated to improve his performance at all, but it's more puzzling that in 18 months only two evaluations would be possible and it just seems more likely that anything serious enough to get a sergeant demoted would be reflected in that first evaluation afterward. But like the other two candidates, Mason apparently has been very diligent in overcoming the setback and pushing forward towards accomplishing good things which is what is hoped for when offering individuals that second chance. That's important to note as well, but the process in itself apart from those impacted by it generates questions.

Diaz' rationale for promoting Mason was apparently that he already had nine years of experience on the job and during his demotion period had behaved stellar. In all fairness, one of the top officers said about the promotion of one of the females that no one should have to pay their entire careers for a mistake as he had learned from his own career as an officer. The four to five year wait to get a chance to be repromoted doesn't seem to be nearly as questionable as putting that time to good use can in the long run be advantageous and may be very reasonable in contrast with waiting 18 months which seems way too short a time for a demoted candidate to sit on the sidelines to learn or undo the behaviors or problems that contributed to the demotion. In a four or five year period, you can undergo growth, work on your weaknesses, improve on your strengths and become better for it. It's a little more difficult to believe that journey can be accomplished in only 18 months.

But the promotional process and now the issue of special assignments has been very interesting to follow and will be explored even further. Including how the more they appeared to change the process, the more it actually remained the same and what that says for picking teams within the department.

Given the LAPD influx at the top of the department, here are some LAPD links:

LAPD Career Ladder

Nunez etal vs City of Los Angeles is a lawsuit that challenged the LAPD's promotional process involving "bands".

Rampart Independent Review Panel Report discusses the promotional process and also problems with "top down management". This report will be the subject of a future blog posting given the wealth of interesting information in it.

Steve Adams Campaign Flyers Pitched at City Hall

[Councilman Steve Adams (central) recently was in the middle of a controversy regarding his campaign flyers being put on display at City Hall]

For a couple of weeks, people reported seeing campaign flyers representing Councilman Steve Adams placed on the table alongside the agendas inside the city council chambers. The flyers were published by The Truth Publication and detailed information about Adams and his run for city council. Whether or not it was legal to place them on the table in the chambers according to the Fair Political Practices Act, was an issue that was raised by some parties. That's fair enough in any election process, which is run according to a complex and detailed set of laws and rules including those coming out of both the County Registrar of Voters as well as the Secretary of State office.

Salvator Santana who published the flyers addressed the issue in an open letter defending his placing of the flyers on the back table of the city council chambers. Allegedly when City Attorney Greg Priamos was notified about them, he removed them and handed them back to Santana. So that appeared to answer that question at least from the city's own perspective. Priamos is there to protect the city council and mayor so if he removed the fliers, then likely from his perspective he was trying to protect Adams.

While endorsing Adams and the other incumbents in the city council election, Santana had been critical of Councilman Rusty Bailey's decision to run for mayor next year alongside two other council members Mike Gardner and Andrew Melendrez.

He blasted Bailey's decision to run as among other things, anti-patriotic" and some people including other elected officials criticized him for that. It's fair enough for him to criticize Bailey's decision to run (and there is reason to criticize it) but Bailey had the right to make that decision for himself to run for office as well. Just like Gardner and Melendrez have that right as well. even It was technically Gardner who likely doomed next year's mayoral race into a runoff with his own declaration of candidacy after both Melendrez and former Councilman Ed Adkison had declared their intentions to run. Bailey's been castigated by Santana for doing what Gardner had done when both of them had the right to do it whether you agree with their decision to run or not.

It'd be nice if they could have waited to do so until after they completed their second terms that the voters in their ward gave them.

But if you look at the campaign disclosure statements for both candidates in the past election, you'll see that there's a difference between the two of them in relation to how some of their campaign money was spent.

Bailey was represented as a do nothing councilman who hasn't accomplished anything yet most of the accomplishments that Santana lists on his advertisement/endorsement including the added police positions, crime reduction and the various projects were carried out through joint action of the city's legislative body, its city council. Not to mention that individual city departments were involved in those achievements as well, including those who put a lot of effort into writing two grants for the COPS office's stimulus program before winning those 15 officer positions the second time around. Like any council member he had his own accomplishments but much of what he does is through his participation in a legislative body. That and the fact that he has one of the hardest working legislative aides in Frank Arreola speak well to all that.

But Santana besides his blog prints political advertisements for candidates, mostly for incumbents for $250 on his Web site or in print according to 460 forms submitted by several city council members who used his advertising or printing services. On these forms, candidates disclose financial contributions and payments as well as fill out a conflict of economic interest statement. On several forms including those of Councilman Chris MacArthur and Gardner, it shows that their campaigns made at least one payment of $250 for printing advertisement costs.

This is interesting in the case of Gardner because one individual said when he asked Gardner whether or not he had paid Santana any money, Gardner had said no. But if you check out the campaign statements at City Hall, look at the one dated May 10, 2011 for Gardner and on page 28/31, you'll find the contribution under "payments".

[Mike Gardner's campaign disclosure statement containing his payment to Salvador Santana. Click the photo for enlargement and clarity]

Given all the print advertising that Adams has gotten, he likely made payments to Santana for that business. But one candidate who has no payments showing up on his 460 form to Santana or his publication for print advertising is Bailey, the one who's being blasted by Santana for running for mayor. Some candidates had said that when they were told by Santana the price of his ads, they told him they wouldn't pay. None of these candidates received endorsements from him or his publication. On the other hand, those who did pay for his advertising including at least three incumbents did get his endorsement.

The placement of his ads and the news that he received payment from incumbents to advertise in his blog or in print ads has caused consternation among some including at least one elected official. But what he does for the most part is up to him and it's his decision.

However, it just goes to show how tangled news reporting including on politics can get when publications receive money for political advertising. Is the candidate paying only for the ad or for the endorsement as well? It's not clear in this case and Santana's being a businessman which is his right to do but the uncertainty that it might generate is why many publications draw the line between covering politics and endorsements and accepting paid advertising. Some media outlets do both but have posted guidelines for their engagement to make sure that the boundary between advertising and editorial content isn't crossed. But again it's his publication, his advertising business and his right to do what he wants with both as long as the Fair Political Practices laws are adhered to in the process. Still, the questions generated are fair enough too and are often asked of other medial outlets not just his own.

As far as the Adams (whose consultant Brian Floyd has been busy on YouTube lately) versus John Brandriff campaign contest, it's winding down to its last week. Whoever gets the most votes, wins and deserves to win the position. I'm not endorsing either one because most often, I just ask Brandriff the question of whether or not he's absolutely sure he wants to be a councilman in the eve of one of the greatest financial crises in the city's history. He seems to want the job anyway go figure.

As for Adams, there's advantages to having remnants of the old guard on the city council when the city residents really start asking questions about the city's finances, questions that really should be answered by those who made the decisions that led us down this shaky path while they are still on the dais. So maybe when that happens, Adams is the best person to be sitting there explaining what he and his cohorts did to city residents and why they remained silent when scandals broke in 2010. That would be enough to keep him busy and in his seat at meetings and would keep two of his dais-mates too busy to have much time to campaign for higher office. If there's any leadership on the dais that's capable of dealing with any serious financial crises, it's yet to show itself.

And it's not envy or sour grapes speaking because there's not much to envy when the city's facing massive bond payments due and a dwindling general fund revenues especially after the housing market triple dips in June. Riverside is the third highest market for the triple dip and after that hits, property values in Riverside will have declined a total of 60%. Just think about what that decline can do for property taxes at city and county. Often after housing dips, consumer confidence and spending decreases which could hit the sales tax again. With the latest round of fine hikes and fee increases, that just leaves less money for people to spend on the local businesses and add to that sales tax revenue.

The economy is so unstable at this point, it's hard to predict when it will rise and fall but 2012 and the fiscal year of 2012/2013, not looking too pretty right now. So no, I don't envy those who have to make decisions at all and you don't have to have an inferiority complex to feel that way.

So if either of them gets elected, it works for me as a political gadfly. But for those in Ward Seven, your job is to VOTE. It's your voice. The only time an election is really lost is when people don't participate in the vote.

Santana Responds (well sort of) in his blog

[His rendition of one of his critics, which I think is kind of cute, so cute I'm thinking of using it as the signature photo of my a reminder that if people resort to personal attacks about you rather than simply criticize your points, you must be doing something right in River City.]

Mr. Santana has responded to this posting with a posting in kind that makes it clear he's not happy with those who posted criticisms or asked questions about his postings with documentations and is engaging in personal attacks, the very last tool or weapon in any arsenal for a debate. Rather than counter the points with a clear and salient argument, he makes personal attacks calling people anti-establishment and anti-police, saying so and so's lost respect with the community. Rather than protest against hate, he provides a perfect demonstration of it in one of its purer forms.

And then he complains about how people dress which really has nothing to do with the topic at hand which is a political campaign and a city in increasingly bad financial shape.

If I'm the target in his blog posting and the latest public enemy #1 and not other individuals like Rusty Bailey this week, I can live with that because you don't go into blogging to be popular or make friends. That's what social newsletters are for after all.

At least he didn't call me a slut or a whore and I do appreciate that. And I can live with the fact that he doesn't like the way I dress or gasp, am not quite like the photos of the scantily clad beauties he frequently posts on his site.

Still, Salvador's time would be better spent asking Adams how he plans to address the financial situation that the city will be facing when the bond payments come due next year and how city departments including public safety will be adequately funded so they can provide their vital services. His pledges that the city council will cut its own pension funds the same day that the police department starts its two-tier pension program if it ultimately goes that route. Why the fire department's so worried about losing funding already guaranteed in its contract that it refuses to publicly admit that its employees have major concerns about the current monopoly on Basic Life Support Ambulance services. Why two of its fire stations and two libraries (at the same time Measure C revisits the ballot) are put up as collateral for some business developer's hotel. Why the police department hasn't hired a non-dispatch civilian employee in over four years if the city's flush with enough money to buy theaters and make bond payments on projects which should be paid by those developing them instead. Not to mention paying a developer's demolition fees for him on his own property.

I'm of the opinion and maybe it's anti-community to say this but I believe the city's basic services including libraries, museums, fire, public works and yes, police matter more than investing in questionable ventures like hotels, apartment management and theaters which haven't made the city a dime so far, put it further in the red and yes, may have even cost jobs at one downtown hotel. And if it's an "anti-community" and "anti-police" person pointing out the obvious rather than those who are in the more favorable camps for these entities like Salvador, what does that say about this city's support of either?

Fair enough to do that on your blog but it does reflect badly on Councilman Steve Adams to hire people like this as part of his campaign as shown on his campaign 460 statement which is what he did with Salvador. He hired him to perform a service which Salvador did, his right as a businessman. A right I actually defended which he would have known if he'd been able to think past this irrational anger that's grabbed hold of someone who's usually quite interesting and informative to read.

After blogging six years and hearing everything, any type of personal attacks just make shrug at this point. People are going to like you or hate you and there's not much you can do about that except to keep plugging away at it. But usually around election time is when the tactics fire up as perhaps the poll numbers of those waging them aren't as good as hoped or predicted.

I've survived death threats. And I've survived contentious city council elections and so far, every one that's disintegrated into personal attacks hasn't worked out well for the candidates either engaging in them or sitting it out while having their syncopates do it for them. And this is why this blog is all for shortening the election cycle so it reduces the time each year when people generally go nuts. Having to take measures to protect my own safety during elections in particular just has been part of the lesson plan of living and writing about River City.

To engage in tactics like that is in itself a form of desperation and definitely indicate someone either filled with vinegar or venom. I've survived personal attacks by supporters of incumbent candidates like Dom Betro (who also said I had no credibility with whoever after I defended the police union's right to negotiate its contract) and Frank Schiavone (who once said at a meeting I had no ethics). People claiming to support both candidates wrote some pretty cruel things about those who have been critical of those two candidates whether the candidates themselves were aware of it or not...even posting personal information about where people lived. Unfortunately, that's just part and parcel of election campaigns in Riverside these days but so far those candidates surrounded with this type of negative furor haven't been reelected. Because ultimately the people who vote just haven't been into these types of attacks.

Adams has actually conducted himself quite civilly during the election compared to someone like Betro who stomped out of candidate forums but then he doesn't have to be any different because some of the people around him engage in that behavior on his behalf.

Councilman Steve Adams hasn't ever attacked me personally but if he wants to have one of his hired contractors do it, that's okay too. I wish him luck on election night, may the one who gets the most votes win. I definitely wish him luck if he wins as the city faces its fiscally toughest year in decades and it'll be fiscally the toughest until the year that follows it.

And perhaps because I'm so anti-police and Salvador is not, maybe that's why Chief Sergio Diaz is considerably more fond of Salvador and his blog than he is of people like me who just ask too many questions. Which is fair enough because I'm more interested in how the chief's going to lead and manage his department in these increasingly challenging times than his dancing skills.

After all, it's not like I've ever hit the poor chief up for a ride rather than "wander" all day dressed like a "tramp with a "fanatical agenda". But then Diaz has his own difficult path to navigate through the intricate politics of River City. As stated, his greater concerns than bloggers or Occupy Riverside is the upcoming budgets and the impact it's going to have in his department including the staffing levels of the employees who work there. All of who have worked on expired contracts for the past several years.

Speaking of all which there will be a future blog posting of why pushing for increased financial oversight (including by the city council members elected to fill that role) is viewed by the "community" as a "fanatical agenda".

So thank you Salvador for sharing some of your thoughts including your wardrobe critique on your site and providing some pretty stimulating ideas for future blog postings.

UPDATE: After it was revealed that the blogger who published that pretty awesome cartoon of me apparently as part of a campaign ad was tied financially to the campaign of recently elected city council member Steve Adams through a 460 form, the blog posting that including the cartoon mysteriously vanished from public view.

No worries, I still get to keep the artistic rendition done of me by one of Santana's reporter/artists who thoughtfully signed the cartoon he drew of me. This cartoon was apparently paid for by election money contributed by Adams for his services because the cartoon was used in a posting that did advertise Mr. Adams campaign which was what Santana was apparently paid to do through his advertising services.

It might also been paid for by monies received by him from two other individuals on the dais so hopefully Mr. Santana sent all of them thank you notices thanking them for their contributions. Except for Councilman Rusty Bailey who of course didn't pay him money and not long afterward was castigated for his decision in a democratic republic to run for city council. The two of course not being related clearly.

So thanks Mr. Santana and the artist for your nice cartoon. I will give both of you byline credit every time I use it as a reminder that there's some individuals that don't want questions asked about the expenditure of money by City Hall in ways that could endanger our city's ability to provide the basic services. That to ask questions about how the city residents' money is spent is anti-establishment or anti-police.

I would also like to thank Mr. Adams and Salvador's other clients on the dais for providing Mr. Santana with the payments which enabled him to create such a nice cartoon of someone while at the same time living through example the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ as he mentioned in his speech the other day. It's too bad election season is so short.....but there's always the mayor's race.

Maybe it needs another candidate....

Pasadena Discovers Its New Public Works Manager is Being Sued

What's old news in Riverside hits the pages in Pasadena

[Public Works Manager Siobhan Foster's moving on to new digs in Pasadena]

"(The city of Riverside) had me do a lot of things that were unethical and illegal,"

---former city employee Sean Gill to Pasadena Star-News

"If this gets out, I'm out."

----Former Public Works Manager Siobhan Foster allegedly to a former employee

Some newspaper in Pasadena caught wind that one of its newest employees is facing a civil lawsuit against her filed by a former employee in her department. Former Public Works Manager Siobhan Foster who moved on to join her former boss, City Manager Michael Beck in Pasadena is being sued for among other things alleged improprieties involving the city's bidding contract and retaliation against those who complained about it.

Former employee Sean Gill filed his lawsuit which is currently being litigated.

(excerpt Pasadena Star-News)

Gill also claims that top Riverside officials instructed him to "falsify" documents to fast track a project funded by federal Community Development Block Grants.

"The engineers at Riverside couldn't get the plans out in time to meet the CDBG requirements," Gill said. "They put the project out to bid, fast-tracked the process. I had to falsify documents that the work was done, have a check for the contractor cut, and put the check in my desk until the work started more than a month later."

Gill said Foster had intimate knowledge of everything related to the use of CDBG money.

"Everything had to be approved through the director," Gill said. "She knew all about it."

Supervising Deputy City Attorney Jeb Brown had this to say about the lawsuit, reciting text from the city's unofficial manual on how to respond to litigation filed against it.


Jeb Brown, supervising deputy city attorney for the city of Riverside, said "Mr. Gill's case is without merit and (the city) looks forward to vigorously defending the city's interest.

Foster's new (and old) boss had this to say about it.


Pasadena City Manager Michael Beck also came to Pasadena from Riverside where he was an assistant city manager. Beck is not named in the suit, but defended his choice of Foster to replace Martin Pastucha as Pasadena's public works director.

"There was nothing in the litigation that was of concern," Beck said. "It's really a lawsuit against the city in which (Foster) is named."

But what was going on should have caught Beck's attention most notably that the bidding process was apparently so legit that the two individuals Gill and former Deputy City Attorney Raychele Sterling (who kicked major butt at the Mission Ambulance kangaroo court hearing several weeks ago) who asked questions and expressed concerns about it were duly fired not long after they did so.

But now that Foster's left the building for Pasadena and not Moreno Valley as some predicted (because her husband allegedly works there), who will be next among the disciples of former City Manager Brad Hudson to leave the building before its walls come crumbling down? And who will be left holding the bag in the upcoming months especially when the bond collectors start demanding their payments for Riverside Renaissance and Redevelopment?

A Spanking for Riverside County District Attorney Paul Zellerbach?

He received a spanking from the Commission on Judicial Performance

The Commission on Judicial Performance admonished former judge and current Riverside County District Attorney Paul Zellerbach for actions he took while on the bench in connection to the election between him and former District Attorney Rod Pacheco.

Pacheco was quoted in the Press Enterprise news brief:


“I am not surprised,” Pacheco said by telephone this morning “His lack of ethics is not a surprise to me, and it was clearly recognized by the commission on at least two occasions.”

Zellerbach and his office haven't yet responded.

Public Meetings

Tuesday, Nov. 1 at 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. the Riverside City Council met at City Hall to discuss this agenda.

Per usual, the most important item on the agenda is of course on the consent calendar and it's this item.

Monday, Nov. 7 at 5:30 p.m. The Charter Review Committee as stacked as it is (just check out how many members made campaign contributions to city council members) will meet to solicit public input from people at Orange Terrace Community Center. Be there or be square.

Public Service Announcement

[City Attorney Gregory Priamos aka "Legal" sitting on the right here next to some of the people he allegedly believes it's his number one job to "protect" may have tinkered with the city's CRPA procedure]

It has come to the attention of this blog that the City of Riverside through "Legal" is tweaking with how it carries out the CPRA request in terms of providing public documents to people in this city. Apparently quite a few people media outlets and others are asking for many, many documents. So what the city's done is instead of providing the documents and then receiving payment for them. It's asking for payment before running off copies. It's not a violation of the California Public Records Act to charge for copies but the new policy doesn't allow people to "examine" the records first which in terms of hard copies at least are free.

If you make a CPRA request and the city's making you pay for copies before you can even examine them first, then contact one or both of the following organizations below for legal clarification outside the city. More organizations that push for government accountability and transparency through protecting the right for everyone to use CPRA will be posted here and responses from the organizations to the city's latest policy to make it harder (yes, because that's what it's about) through the city attorney's office will be posted here.

Cal Aware

California First Amendment Coalition

This is the best kind of political campaigning that exists in River City

" I am on workers comp "
" I can't go back to UPS "
" I have no income "
" My wife's son killed my son in an automobile accident "
" I flip flop on the issues cause I want your vote "
" My wife will divorce me if I lose "

I am a LOSER
John Bandit
Ward 7
Vote 4 Me!

Seriously if this is the best that Adams supporters can come up with, then maybe his poll numbers aren't so hot. It's his election to lose though it's been hotly contested for months it seems now.

Coming Soon:

Contracts, Lies and Revisionist History

"No one is to ever know about this...."

Who said this and why, and what did City Hall do when it found out about it?

Labels: , ,

Sunday, October 02, 2011

It's All One Big Family in River City

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hint: One important "buzz" term? Special Assignments


1) Charles Payne

2) Deborah Foy

3) Robert Tipre

4) Peter Elliot


A Band (alphabetical)

Mark Rossi

Russ Shubert

B Band

Frank Assumma

Steve Bradshaw

John Capen

Christian Dinco

Val Graham

Julian Hutzler

Dwayne May

Skip Showalter

Lisa Williams

C Band

Brian Dailey

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

Under the Gun?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

So the fire stations came in handy indeed.


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finance Committee Meets, Takes Questions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Public Meetings

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

Public Service Announcement

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Labels: , , ,

Newer›  ‹Older