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

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Banned by the City of Riverside or was it Solar Flares?

Several chairs become empty as public comment began at the city council meeting

RPD Promotes Three Detectives 

The newest detectives are Peter Elliot, James Barrette and Matthew Cash. 

The Riverside City Council awards the city's public safety dispatch employers with a proclamation but the fate of financing the relocation of the unit lays in the hands of the Department of Finance Committee in Sacramento which will hear their case later this week.

Police officers flank Karen Wright as she exchanges words with Mayor Pro Tem Paul Davis

Another chair in the city management section sits empty as Asst. City Manager of Finance Paul Sundeen has apparently left the building

But the city struck back at the Press Enterprise which printed a "correction" that Sundeen is now under contract since March 1

"Well behaved women seldom make history"

---Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

Problems Accessing Some Local Blogs?

Are Solar Flares to Blame?

News started to filter in that City Hall was  apparently making it more difficult to access  certain blogs on its networks including those at the public libraries traced back to around March 28, not long after City Manager Scott Barber announced that he was starting his own Barber Blog on behalf of the city.  One individual said that access to Thirty Mile of Corruption had been blocked at one of the public libraries and one of the employees said the city had blocked it.  Other problems with accessing blogs that have criticized or even questioned the city's actions appeared at about the same time. Whether due to changes in the network or perhaps sun spot activity or solar flares, it's not clear how many sites were impacted and whether those blogs that stump for the city were impacted as well.

On March 27 at the city council meeting, City Manager Scott Barber announced the creation of the city's own blog, to address the issues about the city's finances and handling of various projects.  

Barber's Blog
Although Barber's blog originally was to first address the city's decision to put up eight of its fire stations for collateral on two separate capital projects, it appeared that Councilman Andrew Melendrez' mayoral campaign couldn't wait and he'd been receiving increased criticism on the decision by the city council last year to use over $3 million of low and moderate income housing funds from the Eastside's Lindon/Seventh/Chicago project to pay the balance of the due SERAF payment to the state.

So Barber with his writing muse rode in to lend his assistance using his new form of expression. 

One paragraph from his Q and A on that situation jumped out at me right away.

The project has been delayed due the State of California’s take of redevelopment funds, which is unfortunate when you consider what a worthwhile project this is- it is intended to be a use of redevelopment housing funds to ultimately purchase single-family and multi-family homes, along with vacant parcels, to reduce the blight associated with absentee landowners, gangs, and high crime statistics in the Eastside Neighborhood. I think it is important to note that while we don’t have all of the funds in place to undertake this entire project, we continue to actively work on it. One example: our Development Department staff members have utilized Federal funds (NSP 3) to purchase seventy-one multi-family housing complex units in this area, put new management in place and the result has been very positive. Also, our Development Department staff members recently issued an RFP which will result in the development of a new area strategic plan… so, work continues.

Actually what this "explanation" shows is that Berber's just been drinking from the same watering hole so to speak as spun by City Hall and its syncopates. No, the state didn't take or steal the redevelopment funds because the decision to pay the SERAF and the vote at city council was done months before the California State Supreme Court's decision on the future of RDAs. Barber is correct in saying that the funds taken from the Eastside project were to pay off the balance of that SERAF that was due to the state but that was because the city had deferred full payment of the SERAF over a two year period. In order to protect what are known as its "80% monies", the SERAF had to be paid off. The city was required to show "cause" for using money from the "20%" monies or the low to moderate housing monies and as an excuse, it simply wrote in the agenda item report that the funding in its redevelopment project fund was "inadequate". To Melendrez' credit when issues arising from the "loan" were presented, he asked staff to elaborate further but staff didn't address his request for further information in a direct manner and never answered his question.

When questions were asked including by Melendrez as to why the project fund was "inadequate" no response to that question by staff. So if you don't even have to explain why your funding source for SERAF is "inadequate", where's the accountability and transparency in that? Fortunately there are those who know what really happened to that funding source. Still, it would be better if the city council or staff could have answered that question.  Barber's additional information provided on his first blog posting failed to answer that question as well.

Maybe in a future "update" on that subject. 

The city didn't use the housing money to pay the SERAF because the state took its money. It used it because a) its own redevelopment project fund was "inadequate" with all its monies allocated elsewhere even before the loss of the RDAs and unable to cover the full balance payment and 2) it could borrow against the housing funds for up to five years before it had to pay them back. Being that the city is already some 12,000 in affordable housing units behind its own HUD plan, it probably figured it could just postpone the project.

The loan should be enforceable under the provisions set aside involving the handling of the RDA's assets and debt obligations and is required to be paid back by the end of the fiscal year in 2016.  A long time for the Eastside to wait for the return of its affordable housing funds. This and the loss of its Third Street grade separation funding (which hopefully will be addressed in Barber Blog) were a one-two hit against it by City Hall difficult for it to take.

Still even with its flaws, the Barber Blog is an interesting read. A bit "grey" meaning all text and no graphics or photos but hopefully his public information/relations office can help him with what is likely to be, a work in progress.

But while the blog was being set up by Barber's office other interesting developments were apparently taking place.

 Soliciting questions for his new blog

About one day after Barber issued his announcement on his new blog on about March 28, something began to happen when city networks were used to access this blog and likely the Web site Thirty Miles of Corruption as well. Whether due to actions taken by the city or related perhaps to all the solar activity taking place on the sun, there was apparently some...connectivity issues.

While the city can restrict access to Web sites on its own networks, it can't legally block political speech Web sites or news Web sites that it disagrees with or doesn't like on that basis while allowing access to those similar sites that it does like, agrees with or endorses.   The banning of political or news Web sites at public libraries is more problematic for the city given that it recently said publicly that it wasn't able to restrict access to porn on library computers due to them being publicly funded. One woman had complained to the city council that porn was still accessible on library computers and now people were unable to access local political blogs that had been critical of the city's operations?

Former Deputy City Attorney Raychele Sterling has called political speech that which requires the highest level of review and it takes a very stringent standard to disallow access to it.

The ACLU has been contacted and more information is being collected. However, the morning after the city council meeting and updates appeared on this site and Thirty Miles of Corruption on the problems, the access to that site was restored and other indications are that the networks that had been experiencing "problems" are back to normal. 

Governmental censorship or solar flares eruptions, at any rate the powers that be at City Hall have never been a fan of this site.

Councilman Steve Adams:  "Yes" to Discrimination in the City being Funny

Councilman Steve Adams told the city council chambers and those watching on television essentially that yes, discrimination is funny.

It was interesting to attend the city council meeting and the public comment is when the "anti-establishment", "anti-police" and "haters" (as one council member calls us) get up to the podium to redress our elected government.

Several city council members have left the dais, returned with drinks in cups and then generally seem to be relaxed and in a better spirit towards the end of the meeting.  It was very nice in that Councilman Steve Adams actually refreshed his cup before public comment rather than taking off before it got started and he sat with the others to listen to the public.

Councilwoman Nancy Hart has this way of nodding and smiling at what you're saying even when you're saying that the city's falling into a steeper deficit than it admits or that highly restricted funding sources (police asset forfeiture anyone?) were used to fund the attendance at meetings held by the Greater Chambers of Commerce. Sometimes there's side bar conversations on the dais though some council members do pay attention.  But Nancy will nod if you say the city's flush with money and she'll nod if you say it's in the red.

Some people spoke and one of them was former Deputy City Attorney Raychele Sterling who had told the city council, mayor and people watching that the city had literally spent thousands of dollars to hire a private detective to follow her around. All that to follow a mother picking up her child rather than going drinking at bars and frequenting strip joints.

Kind of like when someone in the police department had filed a grievance claim, that employee had allegedly been followed around even off-duty even when they went to a bar. Yet no one had followed the police chief around the night he went on his infamous drive through Riverside from Club 215.

This week, Sterling talked about the alleged misuse of evaluations as forms of discrimination and for some reason, Adams either found it funny or was just in a jovial mood.  But after she finished, Sterling asked Adams if he found discrimination funny.  And Adams actually said, "yes".

Wow, was the reaction that many people had, because he had made this comment with a Press Enterprise reporter, Alicia Robinson in the audience.  Because of all the lawsuits and grievances filed by city employees against the city past and present. Some of which are active...which means uh oh Adams' candor about his opinion on discrimination might just cost the city some major bucks.

Some examples of what Adams might also find funny.

The 17 city employees from Public Works to Human Resources who filed a lawsuit alleging racial harassment, discrimination and retaliation. After six years the city settled with the remaining plaintiffs.

Officer Roger Sutton who filed a racial discrimination, harassment and retaliation lawsuit which the city took to trial so as not to pay $200,000 in arbitration awards and wound up instead paying out a jury's verdict of $1.64 million.

Los Angeles Police Department Sgt. Wayne Guillary who received a settlement of $175,000 from the city after filing a racial discrimination lawsuit.

Lawsuits filed alleging discrimination in Code Enforcement, Public Utilities, Riverside Police Department, Public Works and retaliation alleged in the City Attorney's office.  All are "funny" according to one of our elected officials? Allegations of racism, sexism, ageism and discrimination on the basis of disability in our city are all "funny" too.  By the same city council member who was listed in a lawsuit by two former police lieutenants for interfering in the promotion of a female lieutenant to captain. Retaliation lawsuits filed by former Riverside Police Department employees, public works employees and allegations of wrongful terminations. These are "funny" too?

Well if "funny" means expensive then yes. 

And how expensive will one councilman's definition of "funny" be to city residents? Yet the same city council and mayor who tell the public to trust in their collective ability to hold each other accountable on the dais just sit and smile while one of them says yes, to discrimination being funny.   Then they wonder why so many city residents didn't want them to review and decide on ethics complaints filed against elected officials.

But back to the Barber Blog, I have submitted the following comment:

One Comment
 Mary Shelton
Posted April 4, 2012 at 8:19 am |

Permalink Your comment is awaiting moderation.

 I enjoyed reading your first posting as I find blogging itself to be fascinating and a very educational experience. I did have one issue that I think might be important for you to address and of interest as well. Comments should not contain sexual content or links to sexual content, or content that promotes discrimination on the basis of race, creed, color, age, religion, gender, marital status, status with regard to public assistance, national origin, physical or mental disability or sexual orientation.

I agree with this position but I would like to ask you what you thought of a comment made by Councilman Steve Adams at last night’s meeting. When he was asked by a former city employee if he believed discrimination to be funny, he actually answered, “yes”. How is that reconciled with the city’s policy against all forms of discrimination which can’t be practiced if it’s to receive federal funding including grants? How is that reconciled with the fact that discrimination lawsuits have been filed by city employees including those currently being litigated?

An elected official publicly stated in front of witnesses with memories that he believed discrimination to be “funny”. An employee who is one of your direct bosses pursuant to the city’s charter. Yet under state and federal law not to mention the city charter, there are prohibitions against discrimination by race, gender, age, disability, religion, sexual orientation and such in the workplace. It seems like there might be an inherent conflict there on this issue that could have legal and fiscal implications for the city. Including the loss of federal funding and payouts on litigation filed both internally and externally alleging discrimination.

Thank you for your time and I look forward to your response on your blog.


I await a response in the form of a posting on Barber Blog addressing this issue soon.  I'm just making sure I don't hold my breath because it could be a long wait.

The Quadruple Land Swap Caper

Part 1

"Contrariwise, if it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn't, it ain't. 
That's logic."

---Lewis Carroll

Citrus Tower is the centerpiece of a four way land swap which left two city facilities hanging in the wind when the RDA shut down its business

Once upon a time, there was a developer who came from a far away land called Beverly Hills where his company Regional Properties resides. His name is Mark Rubin.  He emerged as one of the major characters in another tale, Master of Their Eminent Domain which starred of course, former Councilman Dom Betro and a host of supporting characters.  Inland Empire Weekly published this story and earned for its efforts, a banishment from the downtown public library allegedly ordered by "a little man in a blue shirt" though after fuss was raised, this action was reversed.

But Rubin's donated to some political campaigns, serves on the police chief's advisory board and is fairly involved in the city's fabric.

Anyway, Rubin's project in that gripping tale turned out to be the Raincross Promenade which somehow worked its way from being a housing project which included affordable units to what its site advertised as luxurious condos for more affluent customers. But as it turned out, very few of the condos sold and so they turned into luxurious rentals for more affluent tenants and still even though the city said that over half of them were rented out, the building still looms like a silhouette in the darkness at night.  The Promenade had to be marketed as the right spot for more affluent residents which is most likely why the Swiss Inn, a board and care facility had to be jettisoned. Its dozens of dually diagnosed mentally ill/disabled residents and their caretakers scattered to the far winds.  No solid information provided by the city as proof as to whether they were 1) afforded relocation monies and/or a rent differential for 48 months at their new residences or 2) given the right of "first refusal" at the project which led to their ouster the Promenade.

Rubin bought the property that housed the Swiss Inn from the city and then ousted its residents before "flipping" the now vacant property to the city. Oh wait, no first the city paid his demolition fees to level the last reminder that mentally disabled/ill individuals had lived so close to luxury condos and then they purchased the property back. As of 2012, today in fact, no plans were ever made on how to develop the property and it soon grew thick with weeds.  But then the city didn't sell and then repurchase the property back to develop it. No, they did it to have a private developer vacate the "undesirables" so it wouldn't have to dirty its hands doing so so he could increase the value of his investment in the Promenade. That's why unlike most everything around it, there are no plans to develop the Swiss Inn parcel into anything at all because it's already served its purpose to the city and perhaps to Rubin as well.

And perhaps by remaining undeveloped, it would help increase the profitability of the Promenade across the street. Only it didn't quite work out that way, because you can't beat a housing market that's gone bust even by gentrifying out the mentally disabled and ill neighbors.

Anyway the Promenade, whether occupied or not, had another purpose to fulfill. Its earnings however meager had to serve as collateral for bonds taken out by Rubin on another project, the Citrus Tower on the corner of University and Lime.  Yeah, the one which dangled the huge crane over the 91 freeway traffic jams giving Cal Trans enough fits to eventually sue successfully for its removal.

The resolution for Rubin's recovery zone bonds which were about $37.8 million (and $37.202 million in the report) was discussed and passed by the city council in the summer of 2010. Somehow Riverside County decided to allocate its share of the recovery zone bonds pot to this project within Riverside's boundaries since Riverside had used up its portion to finance the Hyatt Hotel. It's important to know this part because it's the bonds which likely generated the need for this land swap to take place.

Its primary purpose appears to have been to provide an anchor tenant for Rubin and his Citrus Tower which as you know is being built during one of the most difficult periods for even filling office space. The vacancy rate for office space in many cities is at least 40% and for high cost, luxury office space like proposed in Rubin's project it's even more difficult. Especially since office space per foot was cheaper in other cities around Riverside.

But okay, so you're going to get the county's share of recovery zone bonds (and oh, why the county really gave it up must be quite the untold story) so what do you need? Oh yeah, proof of payment of those bonds and you have to put up collateral that is capable of generating lease revenue streams. In this case, Rubin had hoped it would be the Promenade and indeed it was that luxury condo turned luxury rental complex that was to be the source of collateral.

But despite kicking out the residents of the Swiss Inn and even exorcising its memory, the Promenade was having a hard time generating enough of a lease revenue stream so.............................

Time for Plan B?

Best, Best and Krieger was headquartered in the plush digs of the Wells Fargo Building until Mark Rubin's Citrus Tower needed an anchor tenant to generate lease revenue to pay off the $37.8 million in bonds.

Best, Best and Krieger is one of the best known law firms in the state, having branches all over including in Riverside. One of its major clients, if not its top client is the city of Riverside which brings it many cases. Many of which, almost all of them don't involve written contracts and like in other notable cities in California, BBK also serves as the city's bond counsel even in cases where the bonds aren't sold on the open market which is kind of extraordinary when you think about it. But anyway, many lawyers including partners of BBK are heavily involved in city politics and woven into its fabric. The new chair of the Downtown Business Council (part of the Greater Chamber of Commerce) is also the Community Police Review Commission's newest commissioner, Joseph Ortiz. Michelle Ouellette, one of the environmental attorneys was appointed to the Charter Review Committee. So BBK is a big player in Riverside City and also Riverside County.

BBK's had more than a few housing issues arise with where to put its offices. Should the city help find a building to house it or should it stay where it was located?  But currently it's housed in the Wells Fargo Building on the corner of Market and University a few hops away from City Hall.  Within walking distance to the federal and state courts in one direction and from some of the top restaurants in the downtown area that are actually open more than a few hours a day.

Suddenly, it broke that BBK was looking for new digs and that it would be relocating to the Citrus Towers a little closer to the boondocks and adjacent to the 91 freeway, and exhaust fumes. The rent was pricey at the Fargo building but suddenly BBK was itching to bolt.  But was that the case, or did they find an incentive to end their multi-year lease early?  Was it a case of them deciding that the Fargo gig just wasn't working out for them or did another party come up to them and present a case to the law firm for ending its lease early and hightailing it to the Towers?

Tortious Interference  is a legal term that arose some say, when the acclaimed show 60 Minutes was threatened by a law suit from a major tobacco company that had once used as a source a scientist released from that company who was whistle blowing on his bosses. That was to pressure the network into not airing a segment involving an interview with this whistle blower and it almost worked.  Until one of the producers of the show turned the tables on his own employers at CBS.

Blow by blow, this is the timeline of how the situation played out at CBS over the controversial 60 Minutes episode. 

Essentially what it means that if  A + B enter into a legally binding contract, and if C tries to entice or pressure either B or C to enter into a breach of that same contract, then the remaining party (if injured by said breach) can sue for pretty heavy damages. In the case of CBS, the threatened litigation put the sale of a multi-billion dollar corporation at risk.

There's not much information provided on exactly what led to BBK's decision to leave its lease early at the Wells Fargo Building so far but what's telling about the situation was the city's eagerness and some say overeagerness to find a replacement tenant to fill out BBK's lease.  This just makes no sense at all for the city to do this for any reason. The city didn't need the high-priced rental space, in fact it had ended several leases involving other department facilities in recent years including both the police department's investigative bureaus (near Spruce and Chicago) and the Internal Affairs Division (at Central near the 91) which was given two weeks notice by the city to relocate to the downtown bus terminal which wasn't even ready to house that division.

Why was all this rushing around of moving city divisions out of leased space going on anyway? Why, to save money of course.

So why would the city then turn around and decide it just had to use one of its own departments as a tenant to pick up the remaining lease of a private company?  What was the city's stake?  It had to be huge if it was willing to move one of its city departments housed in space which didn't require paying rental costs (on top of maintenance and building user fees).  To take a department that pays zero in rent and then have it buy into an expensive multi-year rental lease. It's difficult to figure out by Riverside County's Grand Jury and Riverside County District Attorney's office through its Public Integrity Office aren't taking a closer look at this whole land swap deal.

It's hard not to wonder if the city had gone to its main outside law firm to feel it out for moving to Citrus Tower to be an anchor tenant and then wondering if it tried to "help" them decide to do that. Once it reached that point because BBK was in a lease, at some point the business manager and/or owner of the Wells Fargo building would get wind of it. And if so what would his or her reaction have been, to be happy about it, to charge the city with tortious interference through a lawyer or to simply ask the city and/or BBK to come up with a replacement tenant to serve out the remainder of the lease. At this point it's not clear what happened but it looks on its face pretty suspicious on different levels.

The funny thing about this whole situation is that it didn't seem that one elected official on the dais saw fit to inquire deeper into this cornerstone of the land swap except perhaps for Councilman Paul Davis.  There was a lot of talk about how the city couldn't get involved with what two private entities like BBK and Rubin were doing but the city was involved with working out an arrangement with either BBK and/or the Wells Fargo building owner and/or manager before most city residents ever were notified this was even going on.

Not to mention that it would cost the city at least $8 million extra money to do it this way and we all know when the city needs to refresh its coffers, it will probably do so by raising public utility and sewer costs through rates, increases and  taxes. The city residents will be paying for this situation one way or another.

But anyway before all that, the city still had to pick out the perfect new tenant to finish off a lease it hadn't even started.

That city department would have to be among the city's largest ones, meaning the one with most employees in suits and at desks in order to better fill the more than ample, high-priced rental space in the Fargo building.

So naturally of course, that could only be the Public Utilities Department. It filled the needs in two ways, it had an infrastructure which guaranteed plenty of people in suits to fill the space (except for what would be subleased). It also generated its own operations fund through monies collected by city residents through bill payments.  Perfect, the city clearly thought.

BBK did decide to leave a group of its employees there which also was interesting amid its rush to seek new digs at the Citrus Towers. And as the city admitted, Rubin needed a "name" tenant like BBK to use as an anchor to attract other tenants to generate the lease revenue to pay off the bonds in place of the inadequate monies generated by the rentals at Raincross Promenade.

 Riverside Public Utilities is housed inside Garage 6 which is bond obligated. The police headquarters a couple blocks away was supposed to move here...until problems emerged.

Downtown Parking Commission's Program includes information on the city's garages and minutes from this meeting show problems with reporting revenues from Garage 6.  The loss of 400 public spaces and the review of 138 other leased spaces make you wonder how much money is being generated by this garage doesn't it?

The Riverside Public Utility headquarters were located in what is known as Garage 6 and it's mainly a big sprawling space with a labyrinth through dozens of cubicles. The building was made possible like many others in the whole RDA world through investing in bonds.  The public utilities had its operational funds to use to help make the payments. As far as many people could tell, Public Utilities headquarters seemed to be in a useful spot though miles away from its industrial headquarters on Lindon and Adams. Still, it seemed that it would stay there until.....

News broke that it would be moving to the Wells Fargo Building to pick up the remainder of the lease taken out by BBK. But then who would fill the space it vacated?  And who would pick up the payment schedule on the bonds because once Public Utilities left the building, it could no longer foot the bill.

Why the Riverside Police Department of course.   Because the walls of Orange Street Station were a crumbling, crumbling down.

The Riverside Police Department's Administrative offices housed at Orange Street Station are allegedly caught in limbo as this part of the "swap" is starting to look like it might  collapse.

The police department's admin headquarters on Orange Street Station almost looks like it was designed by the same person who designed the downtown library which is also crumbling. The city used to own this building but swapped it with Riverside County for another building (and land swaps are the way of doing business downtown) and so now the city pays the county $1 for rent each year until 2017.  This allowed savings in the cost of remaining there but new homes had to be found for the public dispatcher division which was housed in the basement. Dispatch was painted when an employee showed it to me and several other people but still looked cramped, and not very brightly lit with no windows. Very claustrophobic.  Plus was it safe to house it in a building that likely would pancake in a major earthquake? 

So it had to move and it was to move to Magnolia Police Center where new equipment was purchased and the location in the facility was established. But it needed $1.5 million to pay for the relocation and renovation and that's all tied up in the Oversight Board while a bunch of management people at City Hall sit on their hands and I guess, hope for the best.  It seems that the city's too broke to pay for its relocation.  Anyway, Orange Street Station minus the dispatch unit was supposed to move to Garage 6 which sounded like crazy thinking to some folks because of the modifications that would be required to enable that office space to securely house the divisions at Orange Street Station. 

The situation took on some urgency when it was revealed that Riverside County wants the building vacated by Dec. 31, 2012. Since Riverside exercised an interest in ending its lease early, that freed up the county to take the building sooner without complications. Originally, the county wanted to house its human resources department offices there and then there was discussion about demolishing the building and putting in a new jail facility. But its current plans are not clear. 

And more lately, it appears that there maybe logistic problems arising from Orange Street's planned relocation after all. Some say the city's already trying to find another "tenant" for Garage 6.  What does this mean for the deteriorating police department (where another episode emphasizing the importance of locksmiths came to light this week) and a public safety dispatch center now in limbo and at the mercy of the Oversight Board? 

To Be Continued...

( If an update on this situation makes an appearance in Barber Blog, it shall be noted)

CPRC to Present Annual Report to City Council

But Why the Failure of the Council to Schedule Oral Reports by This Commission?

And is the manager's job in danger?

Frank Hauptmann,

 the last chief of Maywood Police Department is the part-time manager of the CPRC but for how long?

The Community Police Review Commission met on Wednesday, March 28 and discussed its agenda including the presentation of its annual report. Last year, it had released its annual report to the city council meeting in March in adherence but unlike has been the case with other boards and commissions, the CPRC was not scheduled to do an annual report in front of the city council and mayor like the rest of them.  This tells you a little bit how City Hall views the CPRC and it's clear how its own blogger feels about it through his comments. It's been in existence since April 2000 and hearing complaints since January 2001.

But hopefully this time, someone on the dais will show some leadership skills and agendize the report  to be heard in public session just like is the case with the other boards and commissions. Mayor Ron Loveridge and Mayor Pro Tem Paul Davis have the charter powers to do this just by asking including at the weekly meeting to discuss the tentative meeting agenda. Any other interested council members can simply request that either one of these gentlemen put it on an upcoming agenda.

The commissioners listened to a presentation from two former commission chairs, Bill Howe and Jack Brewer on the history of how meetings have been conducted.  Commissioners created a new speakers' forum allowing the speaker to decide whether to address the commission before or after the presentation on that agenda item.  

It's always been clear that the information provided on the complainant and the officers involved is not equal. Most of the history including the criminal side of a complainant or individual involved in an officer-involved death case can be looked up online or through the court clerk's office. The history of police officers is almost entirely shielded by state laws including PC 832.7 and the Peace Officer Bill of Rights signed into law by then (and now) Governor Jerry Brown. What most people don't know is that the often slammed organization the ACLU was one of its largest proponents. The ACLU still takes cases involving police officers for civil rights violations.  The Bill itself also known as AB-301 was proposed by the Los Angeles Police Protective League in the mid 1970s. The bill's intent was to rein in what was called the administrative zeal of management involving police officers and at the time there were quite a few abuses.  In the 1970s there were many cases of management abuses in law enforcement agencies that were reported.

Later with the increase strength of labor unions within law enforcement, it was often used to shield information from the public about the police officers employed in their cities and counties, and much of the litigation filed during the last decade or so dealt with the POBOR in that capacity. One of the largest discussions and debates came after the Copley Press  Decision several years ago. The lack of information about the backgrounds in many states has both worked for and against officers in how the public views them. Especially in cases where you watch while officers are sentenced to prison terms like happened in New Orleans and wonder where it all started with them. Knowing that not all the guilty parties were ever charged with crimes including those who oversaw the department but who somehow are overlooked when egregious and illegal acts take place by those they supervise and manage but who also bear even greater responsibility.

Inside a department where a former officer wound up sentenced on federal Death Row for engineering the murder of another police officer in that department.

However, things often have a way of coming around full circle and once again, the Bill of Rights has been used against officers by their own management and by city administrative and legal officials as well.  And guess what, quite often the heads of the labor unions themselves have been the targets of  hunts that the public can't even know about in part because of the same laws that were set up to protect police officers from this behavior. 

Some of these hunts took place inside Riverside's own police department and were allegedly instrumented by City Hall's own administration. Although it's considered by some "anti-police" and "anti-establishment" to even admit that these things happened, the people waving fingers at people and calling them that right now, last year wanted people who were concerned about what was going on inside the police department in the aftermath of the Leach DUI incident to just shut up and go away.

But doing that isn't being supportive of anything but corruption and it doesn't change what was happening. It doesn't make any sense to advocate turning ones eyes and ears away from that which is clearly wrong not if you really love this city.

And the city still hasn't apologized to the police department or the public for pushing it to operate as an unlicensed gun vendor to outfit two now ex-city management employees with Glocks and assorted equipment. Where were the laws that were supposed to protect those who brought misconduct including illegal activities and gross misuse of police resources (and money too!) to light? When you can't even stand up to management in your department and ask a basic question about a delayed investigation involving your chief without ending your career, how is that a status quo worth defending by doing nothing?

I thought a lot about what former officer told me about his realization that the laws set up to protect his rights did the opposite and I still do. What do laws set up to protect your rights really do?  And how quickly can they be welded back in ways that bring both officers and management back to square one?

All you have to do is submit a California Public Records Act request and find out how much money was paid out to settle retaliatory lawsuits filed by now former police employees.  These witch hunts cost the city's residents quite a bit of money. After all, did any of the defendants in these lawsuits pay out a dime on settlements of lawsuits?   No, the city residents ultimately did because the city's "self insured" since it apparently lost its insurance carrier some time ago.

The silence imposed by the Bill of Rights often served to actually protect abuses committed by management as one former officer said becoming a double edged sword.  An officer who had spent a great deal of his career fighting for the exercise of the Bill of Rights now found the confidentiality aspect of it being used as a tool by his own management to silence him. So often that's what happens with any guidelines or laws that are intended to defend people's or a class of people's civil rights.  It's not the laws themselves that create the problems, but if you're not dealing with the best of intentions, that's when bad conduct happens.  It takes vigilance mostly by those they protect to make sure that doesn't happen.

After all, is there a city attorney in the state of California who's better than Gregory Priamos at actually using the Brown Act (which is supposed to make government transparent) to actually make government seem even less transparent?

Probably not.

Family members of David Ledezma spoke on his fatal shooting as did city blogger Salvador Santana.That case is currently being investigated by both the police department and CPRC.

A young woman also spoke and said her husband had been hospitalized with brain injuries suffered during an arrest after a pursuit near the south western area of the city. She said an Internal Affairs investigation was launched after the officers' belt recorders allegedly malfunctioned. Asst. Chief Chris Vicino left not long after she spoke.

They also discussed the training schedule for commissioners. Most of this training is provided by personnel from the police department. The link includes other links for more information on particular training elements including PowerPoint presentations.  A recent training session involved a documentary on the reinvestigation of the shooting at O.K. Corral by the Earp brothers and Doc Holliday.  Ironically, one of the members of the Mayor's Use of Force Panel in 1999 was actually a descendant of the Earps.

Community members including those from the "anti-establishment" portion of the city's population pushed and supported the addition of this training for commissioners especially in the areas of Use of Force, audio/video technology, less lethal options, training on all relevant laws and Internal Affairs procedures. Education is power or so it's been said. Hopefully more training opportunities for the commission will be utilized especially given its recent high turn of commissioners.

The meetings are open to the public for open session items, the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month and are according to the bylaws to be held at a certain time in the city council chambers.

What wasn't addressed by the city is the fate of Hauptmann whose employment might be endangered by the "new" pension rules. It's been said he might work for free or for peanuts?

Stay tuned...

Riverside wins Financial Reporting Award

The city announced that it won an award for its accounting practices from the Government Financial Officers Association of the United States and Canada.

Of course here's one past honoree and the certificate that it received some years ago. The same association gave an award to another city which received accolades from other financial accountability reporting associations like California Society of Municipal Finance Officers.

What?  Wait, an Association gave an award of achievement for Outstanding Financial Reporting to...Bell? And the GFOA awarded that city more than once. The rest is as they say, history.

And history has a way of repeating itself.  That remains to be see if what is past is prologue.

Behind Unlocked Doors

More Intrigue at Orange Street Station and what hasn't changed since the last chief.

Asst. Chief turned interim Chief John De La Rosa visits former protegees at Lincoln Field Operations Station, is he part of Chief Sergio Diaz' mentoring program?


And A former interim Chief is walking the halls of Lincoln Station like it's home...

Cool Web Site Alert

This is a cool site where you can design covers for all kinds of electronic media. It's very nice if you're not artistically inclined. I spent some time doing the most dreaded of tasks for a left-brained person which is design covers for several books I'm been writing. 
The one below will be just a general book of resources for sunshine laws, freedom of information act requests, attending meetings, public speaking, and the answer to the #1 question that I receive:

How do you speak out publicly even knowing people will harass you for it?  If I do the same, will the same people do it to me?

That's actually the reason I've been working on this book. To help give people the tools to speak out and not be afraid of those who wish they'd just "shut up". 

This is one earlier practice cover. As you can, see it most definitely needs much more work! 

Labels: , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home

Newer›  ‹Older