Five before Midnight

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


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Location: RiverCity, Inland Empire

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Orange Street Rumbles and the City Council Balks

Update: Riverside City Council votes to send all but one charter initiative to the voters though it turned into a dogfight to garner enough votes to forward the initiative on an internal auditor that reports to the city council and not the city manager.

Shot down was the initiative which if passed by voters would have the Board of Public Utilities have final say on the hiring and firing of the Public Utilities manager.

But Councilman Steve Adams and Councilman Chris MacArthur both adamantly oppose allowing the voters to decide on the measure. Adams says it'll put the city at financial peril, could cause major upheaval and if it's not broke, don't fix it.

[Adams cried foul at the possibility of having voters decide on whether or not the internal auditor should report to the city council and not the city manager]

Adams and MacArthur spearheaded a motion to shoot it down which needed five votes to pass and fell one short when Councilmen Paul Davis, Rusty Bailey and Mike Gardner voted against it. Gardner and Davis' counter-motion to send it to the voters required five votes and with Council members Nancy Hart and Andy Melendrez jumping aboard, it got enough votes to pass.

The most critical moment of the three hour workshop? When Bailey pushed through the motion requiring a super majority rather than the usual simple majority to shoot down a charter initiative off the ballot in June.

Another Meeting, Another Brown Act violation?

In the evening session, the city council apparently voted 7-0 on a motion to add a charter initiative to the ballot to do with the city's planner position. No public comment allowed, no advance notice, even the 24 hours for an "emergency" and none of the protections offered by the state's Brown Act.

Update: The appellate decision in People of the State of California v Anthony Fletcher

Striking Riverside County workers gather by the hundreds to march and rally at the County Administrative headquarters in downtown Riverside one day after a Superior Court judge ruled whether or not certain classes of employees could go on strike.

Riverside Police Chief Sergio Diaz (l.) and two key members of his cabinet, Deputy Chief Jeffrey Greer and Asst. Chief Chris Vicino during one of their more peaceful moments]

[Diaz (r.) and the first member of his cabinet, Deputy Chief Mike Blakely photographed here in one of the more ironic of situations at a school board meeting]

Mayor Ron Loveridge gave his final address to the city to a sold out crowd of over 900 city employees and civic leaders even as explosions resounded around him. Those were courtesy of several bomb threats received by the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department by an anonymous individual against unspecified county courthouses in Riverside. No bombs were found but a couple of suspicious items were blown up and the noises they generated echoed through the downtown. Rubber bullets and protests and words were flying during a demonstration at UCR stemming from a contentious meeting involving U.C. Regents who even while the public university system they represent is facing more severe cuts and tuition cuts, arrived to their meeting decked out in private limousines from likely, a five star hotel.

That irony was not lost on many people in attendance at a huge demonstration at UCR even those who stood there quietly observing. It's a serious situation since the health of the California economy has always been in part defined by the percentage of college graduates within the state's boundaries including those who graduate from public universities. So clearly much remains to be played out if this state's economy is to recover on different fronts. With the hard hits to post-high school education, that recovery is less likely and most likely delayed.

But in the meantime, one professor at that university who also happened to be the mayor made his speech at the Riverside Convention Center which will close for several years to be renovated if City Hall can ever agree on a design or cough up the money to pay for it. But then even as the city management is telling city employees that the financial situation's more dire than it's been telling the press, the city's still pledging to spend more money on projects like there has never been a budget crisis.

People gave Loveridge a standing ovation and the Greater Chamber of Commerce and its leader elect for life Cindy Roth presented Loveridge with one of its awards. Some city departments' employees stayed for the luncheon. Others had to leave early because their department's budgets didn't include sending employees to the annual luncheon.

Amid the situation involving the bomb threats that shut down a portion of downtown and what was happening at UCR stood Deputy Chief of Investigations and Field Operations Jeffrey Greer. Formerly out of the Los Angeles Police Department, he'd faced more than what was going on the day of the mayor's last annual address but Riverside's surely presented its own challenges in other ways. After all, not too long ago, Greer allegedly found himself in the middle of a standoff between himself and two members of the upper management team including Chief Sergio Diaz over the assignment of a sergeant into the supervisory position inside one of the department's general investigation units. But in that case, he apparently prevailed and his decision stood and the assignment never took place.

What had allegedly happened was that the sergeant assigned to the domestic violence division was cycling out under the policies and procedures set aside for special assignments/transfers. He had done his time there and the policy stated that when an officer completes a 2-3 year stint in a special assignment, he or she has to then spend a year working in field operations before he or she can apply and have a chance of receiving another special assignment. So this sergeant had reached the end of his time and he was to be replaced by another sergeant. However, that particular sergeant designated to replace him would be supervising a team of detectives that included his own sister-in-law. So one of the sergeants who had also tested for the position expressed concern about it.

Diaz and Asst. Chief Chris Vicino apparently wanted him to be assigned to the division anyway but allegedly Greer who oversees investigations said no, that doing so would violate the nepotism rule due to the close familial relationship between the sergeant and one of his detectives. He didn't back down even as two higher ranking management team members apparently disagreed with him. Finally they backed down deciding that would be the wiser course of action and another sergeant was assigned to head the domestic violence division instead. It did appear like the wise course of action to take because it's always best to try to avoid having close familial relatives working together particularly where one is supervising the other as well as other employees.

However, in a medium sized department like the Riverside Police Department where there are quite a few officers related to others (and at one point there were two sets of three brothers working there) and in marriages with other officers, that can be very challenging task to accomplish. The city and city departments do have nepotism policies in place but it makes practical sense to avoid having family members work directly together especially in situations where one supervises the other. Doing so reduces any perceptions of favoritism or actual practices of preferential treatment that might take place and the sergeant can be assigned to another division where any conflict of interest issues wouldn't be a factor.

It was ironic that it was the assignment of a new sergeant in domestic violence that led to the standoff amongst members of the department's upper management because the special assignment/transfer policy itself had already been the subject of growing controversy. Allegations involving its use by Diaz had already led to an earlier standoff between him, the management and the leadership of the Riverside Police Officers' Association. Only the reasons were far different from allegations of nepotism.

Yet directly or not they still addressed allegations of favoritism and special treatment towards some officers at the expense of others. A not uncommon theme in the Riverside Police Department as it's turned out.

"Worse than Leach..."

The focus of that controversy that brought the management and the police union at a crossroads involved the reassignment of six sergeants into special assignments after they had already just served time in other special assignments. Meaning that in these cases, the sergeant was assigned to one special assignment for a two to three year stint and then upon completion of that assignment, instead of being transferred back to the field operations division for a year, he or she instead received another special assignment. The rank and file officers had long been noticing that while some of them had to do the minimum of a year in patrol in between field assignments, others didn't have to face those same requirements. Several were even bumped out of their special assignments without completing their time to be replaced by other officers, even though they had been doing quite well in their assignments.

This in large part was courtesy of some language attached at some point to the special assignment/transfer policy that stated that special assignments/transfers could be doled out regardless of a previous assignment at the discretion of the police chief. That language in some cases rendered all the language which preceded it null and void because if it's the chief's discretion then the previous requirements don't have much relevance in the final decision making if the chief chooses to ignore them. In some cases, it can be seen where exceptions to mandating time in patrol might be made but it seems that there are quite a few cases among officers and sergeants were it's the rule rather the exception. In the past year, it seems to have reinvented the "team" system which had been so destructive to the police department under the leadership and management of Chief Russ Leach and his successor, Interim Chief John DeLaRosa. The teams again seem to focus around the issue of special assignments and the application of the policies which govern this practice.

That's not that surprising to see because differential treatment of officers from entry level to the top of management based on the individual's personal relationship with the police chief defined the management culture inside the department before Diaz even arrived. And in time, this dynamic had created a two-team system, meaning that some individuals were on Team Leach and others including later on were on Team DeLaRosa. Most individuals weren't included on either team either by choice or because they lacked certain requirements to even be eligible for team membership in what became clubs with closed memberships.

Teams were then allegedly decided based on who vacationed with who, who partied or drank with which individual and whether or not someone played on the right informally organized sports team. Leach and DeLaRosa each apparently had their own teams, which didn't really come into conflict until Leach's retirement after the DUI incident and attempted cover up during the period of time it was unclear which team's leader would prevail.

As it turned out, neither of them did although DeLaRosa played a much larger role in the future of the Riverside Police Department under its new leadership than did Leach.

When Diaz arrived, many officers hoped that the team system would go the way of the teams' captains and who could really blame them? But by the time Diaz had arrived, team membership had become all about survival, inside a profession where the stakes were already very high. Officers are already highly dependent on other officers to do their jobs and sometimes for their survival. Also organizations that are quite large break down into smaller groups quite naturally which often leads to clique formation, the beginning of team formation.

The irony with the team system is that a lot of those people didn't really need them already having the skills and talents to do just fine if they have the opportunities to develop those attributes. Not that the opportunities for leadership and other skills to grow were abundant because the higher up in rank that individuals rose, the more competitive and cutthroat it all became.

Promoting captains apparently became about who owed who what favor and who cut favor with elected officials and who had angered them. The city denied that there were ties between the whims of elected officials and police officers at the highest levels by awarding large settlements and top tier promotions to two police lieutenants who raised the allegations among others in their lawsuits. Anything to avoid the reality of what these promotional processes would have had spilled out inside a U.S. District courtroom during a jury trial. While telling everyone there were no truth truth to these allegations, by actions the city showed that it believed what it paid out both financially and through public exposure would be much less at settlement than it would be at trial.

But the biggest evidence of the destructive nature of the "team" system on the development of future leaders and managers was shown when after Leach retired, the rest of his cabinet soon followed. Not to mention the fact that when a new outside chief was hired, two out of three members of his cabinet also came from outside agencies which shows a dearth of leadership at the management level that is able to step up into the deputy chief and assistant chief positions. In an environment of cut throat competition and backroom deals where individuals could literally win and lose a promotion during the time period it takes to reach the office to accept it, where is their room for fostering an environment to build and foster leadership and management for the next generation of leaders?

The answer was there was no room to do this at all and there were no leaders or managers who could be chief or even chief in waiting. The talent was definitely there and in great numbers but it was like someone had taken what should have bridged these future leaders and managers to the upper echelons and leveled it to rubble leaving only a big canyon between supervision and mid-line management and the top tier of the chain of command.

But then the agency and city had reaped what they had sown and left the police department with the job of rebuilding and reinventing itself.

The period of time where this all took place left the city in a position where it had to go look outside for its new chief and his or her cabinet. And so that's what the city did during the spring and summer of 2010.

But was anything learned by these prior mistakes that had been made? That would remain to be seen and many people watched and waited during what's called a police chief's "honeymoon

Some People Are More Special than Others

The issue involving special assignments and how they were allocated out by Diaz arose almost immediately.

If some people get turned down for special assignments or face delays because they are told they have to fulfill the patrol requirement while others get to bypass a year in patrol and rack up back to back to back special assignments, then yes, this is going to generate serious problems. The perception could arise that some individuals get to serve one special assignment after another because they are "favorites" of the chief and/or his management team and it'd be difficult to explain to that individual why he or she shouldn't think that way. It's a shame that this pattern is apparently reemerging because favoritism of any sort and a culture that fosters it as a necessary tool of advancement or survival has never benefited the police department and in fact, has proven to be a huge detriment. Not much controversy to that statement if you study its history.

The patrol division is the backbone of any police department including this one or so they say. That's what the management including Diaz has been saying since they'd arrived to lead and manage the police department in the summer of 2010. They said a lot about how down they were with patrol, how they wanted to be stationed where the "troops" were at Lincoln Field Operations Station. But it became clear soon enough as summer turned to autumn that year that instead the management team would render itself invisible to most of those it would lead and manage. Similar to how police management is conducted in the Los Angeles Police Department where those at the bottom are separated by those higher in rank than them by more than just L.A.'s massive geography. It didn't take long for Diaz and his management team members to isolate themselves from the majority of those who work under them. Diaz, Vicino and Deputy Chief of Administration Mike Blakely are all assigned to Orange Street Station in downtown Riverside.

Greer is assigned to Magnolia Police Center across town in La Sierra. Some say that might be a blessing in disguise considering the climate at Orange Street Station. Still, most of the people really don't see much of the management team. They rarely attend roll call sessions and even the field operations captain stationed at Lincoln Field Operations made himself scarce while there. What's interesting about the policy and procedure involving special assignments/transfers is how it's written in part to uphold the inherent necessity and value of the department's patrol division but then its application shows just the opposite. The language requiring the year to be spent in patrol ensures that the patrol division always has the same footing as special assignments, that one can't exist without the other and it's intended to ensure that those who serve special assignments have that time in patrol to keep their required skills relatively fresh and strong so they don't weaken with time spent away from patrol.

But the application has always been manipulated in various ways by different police chiefs and not everyone who is a part of it has been treated equally. It's understandable if questions are raised about sergeant A who applies for an assignment after working in patrol as a supervisor and then loses out to sergeant B who gets that assignment even though he's spent two years or more in another special assignment? Also in cases where officers spend up to six years solely in one special assignment after another? What if after that six years they are put back in a patrol uniform for the first time in six years serving as a higher ranking supervisor of officers including many who have continuously worked in patrol?

Still, when a chief allows an officer or a sergeant to skip the year spent in patrol in order to receive another special assignment, is that a way to express how much a chief values the contributions of the department's patrol division or does it instead devalue it? And if you afford certain employees the abilities to skip that year in patrol but don't offer those same abilities to others, does that foster an environment where everyone is equal but some are more equal than others?

Quite a few interesting issues and questions arise in situations involving special assignments/transfers. But as more and more questions are asked and yes, more controversy arises in how the policies and procedures governing these practices are carried about by the police chief, there likely will be more opportunities for this to happen. The RPOA is under new leadership after its most recent elections produced a new president and vice-president and the leadership has already allegedly issued informal complaints to the management involving the special assignments/transfers involving at least six sergeants.

What's interesting about the burgeoning issue involving special assignments/transfers is the fact that their stock has grown considerably in the past year that Diaz and company have been managing the department. Most visibly this has been in the area of promotions especially those at the mid-line supervisory level meaning lieutenants. That can be gleaned by examining the promotional lists for that rank and comparing and contrasting the composition of three different lieutenants lists in play since January 2010.

Initially, the lists were dominated by sergeants who worked patrol assignments though there were those who worked special assignments sprinkled about near the top of the list as well. But all of the people in the top five of the January 2010 list had recent patrol experience. Whereas most of those on the list who had spent more time in special assignments comprised the middle of the list and lower. Still, if you follow the trend for promoting lieutenants in 2010 before and after Diaz' arrival, this is what you would have seen.

The sequential order of promotions in a field of 12 eligible candidates as like this: 6, 5, 9, 11, 2 and 1. The last promotion was done involving the highest ranking candidate on the list in use in January 2010 but during the period of the next test where the grading had been switched from numerical ranking to the banding system. So why patrol officers dominated the lists for lieutenant, it was those who worked special assignments who tended to be more represented percentage wise in the final selections.

What was noticeable about the production of the latest lieutenant's list is that the process of grading the lieutenants had changed offering up Diaz more control of that process. The composition of the list had changed as well with the top of the list being dominated by officers who had spent time, sometimes quite a bit of time in special assignments. The two "A" band candidates were both working in special assignments inside the chief's office at the time and one or both of them had previously been worked a special assignment before picking up their current position. The other interesting change was that unlike his first round of promotions including three lieutenants in July 2010, Diaz began promoting straight off the lists choosing "A" bands for lieutenants and going by the numerical ranking on the sergeants' lists.

Three females were promoted into supervisory positions by Diaz since he arrived in Riverside and at least two of them had to pass several "tests" before their promotions were solidified. The female sergeant most recently promoted had to be interviewed by Diaz with two other candidates who ranked below her on the sergeant's list. A female lieutenant had to work three different assignments at the same time in the month or so before her promotion. It's not clear if the male sergeant who topped the most recent promotional list was interviewed by Diaz before his promotion along with the female sergeant candidate and another one or two male candidates or if the recently promoted male sergeant was interviewed again by Diaz along with the other "A" band candidate before their promotions took place. It's also not clear if the decision to re-interview candidates on the promotional lists is new practice that Diaz has instituted or whether it was just used with this particular promotion. The practice isn't necessarily bad and might be useful but if it's selectively applied, then that might raise issues.

The promotional process and Diaz' promoting off the list in sequential order, whether he's doing these special interviews or not, once its composition changed left individuals working in the department's patrol division not surprisingly feeling very concerned. The belief that officers needed to work special assignments to have any shot at getting promoted if they were field officers began to grow and field officers wondered if it was even worth testing for sergeant and especially lieutenant if you were a field patrol officer. Whether that concern is widespread may or may not be reflected in the size of the promotional lists after the next testing process. Will the numbers of those who apply and pass tests increase or decrease during the next round?

After all, when Diaz arrived, there were 35 candidates who had passed the sergeant's test which was quite a bit higher than the last promotional list under Leach. Not uncommon one would imagine when a new chief arrives on the job and is given a clean slate. But the interviews done in the latest round were certainly interesting. Not that it's bad to do that but it should be done more consistently if so not to single out one individual.


1) Charles Payne (promoted not interviewed by chief)

2) Deborah Foy (promoted after interview)

3) Robert Tipre (interviewed)

4) Peter Elliot (interviewed)


A Band (alphabetical)

Mark Rossi Special Assignment, Chief's office (Not interviewed)

Russ Shubert Special Assignment, Chief's office (Promoted, not interviewed)

B Band

Frank Assumma

Steve Bradshaw

John Capen

Christian Dinco

Val Graham

Julian Hutzler

Dwayne May

Skip Showalter

Lisa Williams

C Band

Brian Dailey

In the meantime, rumors of a captain's vacancy would begin to grow even as members of top level management denied anyone would be leaving. But with an anticipated departure perhaps as early as April, the short list of captains began to get busy. Diaz began having dinners with some of the candidates and another was mentioned by him as being the "entire package" for a captain. These promotions in particular have garnered a lot of interest because Diaz had promised at his swearing in that when he left the department in a decade or so, the next chief would come from within the department. That means building leaders and managers from the lower ranks.

The captains' rank wasn't seen as particularly strong due to the focus on how well candidates allegedly called favors, did favors in the middle of the night and lobbied themselves in front of the chief as shown in sworn testimony by several high ranking members of the police department's management team. This was shown by the fact that when Diaz picked his cabinet, only one of them Deputy Chief Mike Blakely came from inside the department and the management level above the captains had collapsed quickly enough like a house of cards. The department had never had more captains than it did at that time and never had fewer in recent history who were in the running for promotions.

Blakely had been the most senior captain and had avoided the jousting matches to become a captain that apparently dominated the process in the five years preceding the arrival of Diaz. The city itself showed how much when it settled a lawsuit filed by two former lieutenants rather than take those issues to trial in a public forum. The promotion of the next captain in the department will be an interesting and very telling process to witness because how it's done will define a lot about what the department has become under Diaz' watch.

Retirement Postponed?

But that process became delayed when the captain set to retire decided to pull the papers back postponing that decision to leave the agency. That action apparently sent shock waves through the short list of lieutenants on the captain's list.

[City Manager Scott Barber is Diaz' new boss but appears unlike Hudson, to give his employee free rein]

Diaz does have a new boss in City Manager Scott Barber, perhaps the least suspenseful selection for city manager in the city's recent history. It's a given that when you have a city manager who abruptly leaves for another job by announcing it in the middle of a closed session evaluation that the city's not going to want to hire anyone from the outside to wrinkle their noses and question any potential messes left behind. Barber fits that bill quite well, being as far different from City Manager Brad Hudson in temperament as one can get. But what kind of city manager he'll turn out to be remains to be seen as the city enters its fiscal budget crisis. And yes, Nancy Hart there is a crisis given that Barber and others told city employees in labor negotiations that the city was financially in apparently worse straits than we've all been told publicly. This led not surprisingly to employees saying, hey you just told us we were in better shape, could balance a budget and now we don't have enough money? Color some of us confused as well as to the why the city's sending out mixed messages on its financial status to different parties.

The Riverside Police Officers' Association for example just ironed out its long overdue contract with the city and is awaiting city council ratification on it. It held steady compared to the last one but the union leadership hired an auditor to look at the city's finances. That's good news in the sense that it means that two groups were currently auditing the city's finances, more people should be paying attention to what's going on that the city's not publicly telling people. But as confusing and overwhelming as it all might look, here's a benchmark to look at in the upcoming year if you're a city resident.

Look at your utility bills, electric water and yes, sewer. Look for rate hikes, new "fees" and taxes on your bills. You'll be seeing hikes and here's the reason why. The city rakes in a lot of cash from owning its own public utility but it's limited by the city's charter in how it can access that cash flow and how much of it. The city charter currently states that the city can take no more than 11.5% of that cash from the utilities and there were no efforts to raise that cap. There were discussions on lowering it but no action was taken in response. So if you can't raise the cap legally but you need more cash in a hurry, what do you do?

There's only one thing the city can do and that's raise rates and impose fees and taxes for all these services. That's what the city will be doing to pay off its accumulated debt and the money owed on the $2.1 billion in Riverside Renaissance projects.

That will present challenges in a city where it can't even say how it intends to provide $1.4 million in funding to relocate the police dispatch center, money that truly should have been secured before the city entered and probably influenced the highly questionable four-way land swap that has the police department moving out of the Orange Street building a few years earlier than planned. The county responded to that action by planning to retake that building by the end of the calendar year which has increased the necessity of the relocation of dispatch. Since it's likely that the land swap was done largely to benefit the developer who needed lease revenue to pay off $37.6 million in state revitalization bonds for his new office tower, it's too bad that more attention wasn't paid to the details that impact city departments. The developer needed that lease revenue from an anchor client in his tower because the property he put up as collateral for the bonds, the Raincross Promenade, couldn't lease out enough of its condos to make the bond payments which have to come from lease revenue.

It's beyond mind boggling that in the midst of this musical chairs taking place with developers, high priced law firms and city departments over four pieces of property that it was one of the most important components of all, the dispatch unit that was left without a chair.

Then again perhaps not.

But then if you read through the city's enforceable obligation payment schedule, involving the soon to be dissolved RDA, it provides some picture of the city's financial picture.

The city council for the most part didn't even seem to have read it but then it's not clear who reads what agenda reports, though it's clear that with some council members they are taking their first look at them when they are on the dais. It and its management tell the public and the press one thing and the labor unions another which clouds the picture even further.

Meanwhile Back at the Ranch

[Riverside's soon to be vacated Orange Street Station which has seen its fair of drama...and locksmiths this past year]

But while Riverside's halls of power continue to sort out the financial picture or cloud it further, a few blocks away sits another power structure of sorts at the Riverside Police Department's administrative headquarters. This is where Diaz and two members of his cabinet, Asst. Chief Chris Vicino and Deputy Chief Mike Blakely set up shop and do their respective jobs. Greer is stationed about 10 miles away from the epicenter and runs a pretty low-key operation apparently in respect to the rest of management. Whether he appreciates the added distance between him and Orange Street isn't clear. But the people who are currently inside the aging building better not get too settled because Riverside County intends to kick them out at the end of the year if they're still in residence.

How the upper management is run closely mirrors the administrative style of another police department situated 60 miles away in Los Angeles. The members of the chief and his cabinet keep a low profile inside their agency certainly from the other stations like Lincoln Field Operations and in a pretty cramped old-style building, certain dynamics come into play as they did fairly early on.

One of the first dynamics to play out apparently involved Vicino and Blakely who both work in their offices on the second floor at varying distances away from the hub of power which is the chief's office. The design of the station provides opportunities for various members of the management staff to either allow easy access to them by other members or to place restrictions on it. This is easily accomplished in most cases because each office is connected to the neighboring one by a door. It's pretty easy to get a good sense of how the dynamics of the administration are set up by whether or not these entry ways are open or closed and which ones. There have been some administrations that pretty much had an open door policy and kept the doors open connecting all the offices together.

Then again, there have been some administrations where access has been restricted. This allegedly took place in the case of Vicino and Blakely who both have fairly dynamic and strong personality styles and their own ideas about how things should be done. So perhaps it's not that surprising that one or the other might want to place some barriers between them. While Diaz quietly watched, the two allegedly had their passionate disagreements, sometimes in the parking lot at the station. At one point, allegedly a locksmith was called out to change the locks on Vicino's door. Some people saw it as a dynamic between the older and more established guard at the police department and the newcomers.

At one extended command staff meeting early on, Diaz was allegedly concerned that members of his management were perhaps making it difficult for him to accomplish his objectives in branding the police department with his style and sending it in his defined direction as any chief would do. So one lieutenant asked him, give us an example and Diaz allegedly related the conflict that arose early on in the police department and City Hall regarding the selection of his cabinet. One of his choices, not being backed by City Hall, most likely Hudson who was his boss at the time. Diaz' initial boss had been heavily involved in the police department rendering the police chief he supervised and many say, micro managed down to the last paperclip completely inert. At the time Diaz had been receiving advice and assistance from DeLaRosa who had been his tour guide of sorts when Diaz had first been hired, a decision that some questioned concerning what had happened with DeLaRosa in the wake of the DUI incident involving his former boss.

But Diaz kept his cabinet choice and when his cabinet was assembled, they began the task of deciding how to manage and operate the police department. Clashes developed in large part because people bristled at language used to make changes by stating "this is how we did it at [insert former police agency]" as the Riverside Police Department didn't want to be defined as another agency. Sometimes it came down to whether you trust what you know, or trust what you don't. The department had a recent history of alternating between inside chiefs and those hired from the outside but in this case, it had just received its second outside its chief and another one with an extensive history in the LAPD.

Diaz and his two outside hired cabinet team members were awarded "at will" three year contracts that expire in the summer of 2013. He had said at his swearing in that he'd be a long-term chief in a department that like many in the nation had only one in recent years that had lasted nearly a decade. However, Vicino unlike Diaz had prior experience twice as an interim chief in the Pasadena Police Department and it wouldn't be surprising if he was interested in becoming a permanent selection in another jurisdiction. So the experience and good recommendations would help him greatly in that endeavor and his time spent in Riverside has been that he's been put to a pretty demanding work schedule by Diaz. He's also been placed in the responsibility as head of administration to institute changes initiated by Diaz in various divisions under that umbrella.

But no one in the cabinet including Diaz had prior long-term chief experience.

Some of the most changes instituted by Diaz and Vicino being how the department handles administrative investigations carried out by its Internal Affairs Division which then has its work product evaluated, reviewed and ultimately signed off (or not) by Vicino and Diaz. Formerly, Blakely had played a much larger role in that process involving the Internal Affairs Division but changes led to Vicino playing a much larger role which not surprisingly had a large impact on how the police department conducts that side of its business. Staffing in the Internal Affairs Division was cut from five sergeants to only three even as the department still struggles to complete the investigation and review process of citizen complaint investigations to better accommodate the guidelines for competition in that process stated in RPD policy 4.12.

That division had been commanded by Lt. Mike Cook for several years but Lt. Bob Williams would be moving in at the end of the month to take the helm. Williams, a strong candidate on the captain's list would be overseeing the operations of the division that oversees internal investigations. One of his roles and responsibilities is to determine whether or not investigations will be launched and who will be doing the investigations. In the role of citizen complaints, this might mean farming the majority of them out to be handled by field supervisors. But Internal Affairs had seen more than its share of politics and power plays during the Leach years.

In 2010, it also had played a role in the investigation of the Leach DUI incident though Hudson and his assistant city manager, Tom DeSantis pretty much controlled that whole process. The division launched an investigation against then Deputy Chief Pete Esquivel and then provided a case lesson on its differential treatment of officers who are under investigation compared to management team members.

In one case, a male deputy chief was told to wait inside a police station to be informed of when he would be interviewed by Internal Affairs and a female officer was essentially forced into a car without much explanation, driven across town and then interrogated for hours as if she had committed a major crime and really had no rights under the process. It's difficult not to notice the disparity in treatment between a management male employee and a female subordinate employee in an investigative process and not believe there's a double standard there.

Within days of her interview, most everyone knew about the content of its content. When the department couldn't treat one of its own like a human being during a process where an individual is afforded rights then what does that say about everyone else? The department and city had spent as much time during its investigation of the Leach incident trying to find out information on th0se who had blown the whistle on it. Lawsuits and early retirements abounded that year as the whistle blowers left the canvas as well. The cost of litigation in response to what happened in 2010 just in terms of what that one division was ordered to do by higher ups is still being determined.

In late 2010 and 2011, the climate changed and at the December meeting of the CPRC, the dynamic between Vicino and the Internal Affairs division members giving a presentation at the meeting seemed downright chilly but then the dynamic had seemed chilly among management and supervisors and/or members of other divisions too. How can you miss the fact that there are members of Diaz' management team who only stand on opposite sides of the city council chambers from each other and never acknowledge each other like they do with other individuals?

In the particular case of the CPRC meeting, it caught the attention of a couple people in attendance and was in contrast to interactions that took place in the past. If you've been watching the fabric for a while, it's not difficult to see a wrinkle in it. And some of these chilly or hostile dynamics get noticed.

One wonders what the reasons for all these curious dynamics that appear in public might be because there's a lot that people recognize on the outside but don't see the origins of why that might be in any dynamic that rises to attention. But the division itself is most known for the investigations it didn't do when two key incidents involving some of the personnel that Diaz kept closest occurred and investigations weren't conducted in either case. When a chief walks away from questions on whether an investigation should be conducted in one case by allegedly saying he didn't want to hear about it, then it's not surprising that's going to cause some ripples around it. Every chief has faced those kinds of tests and how they are handled or whether they are handled at all does define their tenure in the seat they've been hired to fill. But what will happen if another employee say a lower ranking one gets into a similar incident and it becomes about whether or not to institute a double standard by investigating that individual when a prior individual was treated much differently?

That likely will be determined next time.

Until then, this month, the police department underwent its most recent shift change. Like most city departments, the police department had already stopped posting its management and supervisory hierarchy on its Web site. But Capt. John Wallace and his executive lieutenant, Gary Leach were both reassigned out of the patrol division. Wallace went to Personnel and Training and that lieutenant, Mike Perea is now at Lincoln Field Operations Station in charge of field operations. Leach is now assigned to the West Neighborhood Policing Center with Lt. Andy Flores replacing Lt. Vic Williams in the East NPC.

As 2012 continues, more dynamics continue to play out. In December, a confrontation occurred between an officer retiring from the police department on medical and Blakely during the roll call ceremony. Some say Vicino continues to play the muscle for Diaz out in certain areas of the department and Greer stood firm against Vicino and Diaz in the face of a growing budget crisis in the city. Civilian staffing continues to get depleted, new police union leadership is elected and the dispatch division remains in limbo over $1.4 million which is the kind of money Hudson used to call chump change in a city with a "balanced" budget.

To Be Continued....

State of the City of Riverside

And Whether to Allow Its Residents to Amend Its Charter

[Mayor Ron Loveridge gave his final State of the City Address and meant it this time, which still leaves him time to weld his influence on the dais like he did with the Charter initiative process]

7-o vote by City Council

No to Vote, Yes to Afternoon Workshop as Councilman Steve Adams warns that some of them might not be "charter worthy" or have unforeseen consequences.

[A packed city council chamber listened to the city council's plan to postpone voting on the charter amendment initiatives]

[The Finance Committee has once again dropped off the canvas even as fiscal accountability dominated discussions during the Charter Review Committee process]

Even as the Finance Committee again starts dropping meetings off of its schedule, the city council grappled in the face of the charter initiative recommendations that were brought to it by its own hand picked committee this past week. It's difficult to say which ones had the city council and mayor most concerned and why unlike with past charter review processes, this leadership decided to go against its own committee that it had just praised so heavily minutes earlier and postpone the whole process to an afternoon workshop session next month.

There was a lot of rhetoric about how concerned they were that the public hadn't fully participated, which is somewhat...belated in nature. After all, when the concerns about the number and scheduling of the public forums was brought up including to elected officials several months ago, only one council member, Paul Davis, raised any concerns about the lack of meetings in the city's largest ward. Total silence from everyone else on the dais, including from three members who at the time had no public forums scheduled in their wards.

Councilman Steve Adams said it had to be determined whether the initiatives were "charter worthy" or wouldn't have unforeseen and unpleasant consequences. They might, if the initiative on the independent auditor passes because the city council has made it abundantly clear that it has little or no desire as a body to involve itself in its duties involving fiscal accountability and oversight choosing to rely on "staff" to do that for it. After all, the city council had little or no knowledge that its previous city manager had generated expenditures in his discretionary fund of between $29-45 million annually. It still has very little or no interest in those expenditures which far exceed those afforded a city manager in most other cities.

It's likely that the biggest stumbling blocks in the recommendations were the ones involving fiscal accountability (which dominated the discussion at the Charter Review Meetings) and changes involving Riverside Public Utilities.

Will the city council use the workshop process to actually stonewall public comment? For public workshops, public comment is entirely optional and left to the discretion of the mayor and the fact that it's being held in the afternoon, that speaks for itself. But it'll be apparent soon whether this is all being done to truly elicit public input or to stonewall the process so that the city council and mayor can winnow down or even out the initiatives it doesn't like. As this workshop approaches, a list of the proposed ballot initiatives will be featured along with their accompanying "danger factor" score, meaning which ones will most likely be viewed by the city council and mayor as the greatest threats.

So far the call for an independent auditor that reports to the city council is at the top of the list as surprisingly (or really not) this one has very little support on the dais at the moment.

The workshop is currently scheduled for Feb. 7 in the afternoon.

The Charter Review Committee submitted this report to the city council on its recommendations and they include the back stories of how they came to be part of that list. Some of these if passed could present an unforeseen consequence to the city government by pushing its accountability score up a few notches up. And yes, there are some on the dais who might see that as a development of the most dire nature.

First Fight Breaks Out in Mayor's Race

Adkison Vs Bailey

Round One

[Mayoral candidate Ed Adkison has lobbed the first jab at one of his rivals in the 2012 mayoral race]

The Riverside's mayoral race is off and running with its very first controversy launched before the opportunity for filing your papers has even closed.

Rusty Bailey's current campaign site doesn't list any endorsements received. Google produced an endorsement page which when clicked, produced what's known as a 404 Resource Not Found page which is commonly found in cases where a page once existed but has been taken offline.

Adkison has a facebook page as well as a campaign site. The brouhaha died down soon enough and it's certain that the next fight will be on civic issues including the lack of true financial accountability and fiscal oversight over this city and the city council's recent stumbling over the very idea that initiatives might be placed on the June election ballot addressing these shortcomings. The useful aspect of this brouhaha that broke out is that perhaps it's pretty much informed people which candidate retained political consultant Brian Floyd's services for this election cycle.

[Councilman and current mayoral candidate Rusty Bailey won't be able to nod off during the 2012 elections]

So far besides the aforementioned Adkison and Bailey, Council members Mike Gardner and Andy Melendrez have also entered the race along with Dvonne Pitruzzello and Peter Benavidez. The election is sure to heat up soon and hopefully focus on the many issues pressing this city as the cycles are set to coincide with several key incidents in early 2012.

Adkison so far has picked up the most endorsements and there's more to be handed out and boasted about in the upcoming weeks.

Election 2013 Already Beginning?

[Councilman Paul Davis might already have company in his re-election bid]

It appears that Election 2013 is already getting started Where else but on Craigslist? It's been rumored for a while now that Charles Condor who is the legislative field representative for Councilman Chris MacArthur is planning to run against Councilman Paul Davis in 2013 but most people didn't seem to actually believe these rumors. Still, it will be interesting to how this plays out including when people actually file for the election.

No City Council meeting on Jan. 21.

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