News and the "Truth Squad" in the All-American City
UPDATE: Was Chris MacArthur's legislative aide placed on admin leave and if so, why?
Is Riverside's Redevelopment Mess behind the decision made by Southern California Gas Company to relocate its payment offices? That building was property that was transferred to the former RDA from the city. But now that all those properties madly transferred in March 2011 by the city out of the RDA might have to go to the successor agency...who knows what will happen?
Our records indicate that you previously visited our branch payment office located at: 3460 Orange St., Riverside, CA 92501 This email is to inform you that our branch payment office at this location is scheduled to close, effective Thursday, May 3, 2012. The office will be relocating and in preparation for the move, will be closed for approximately four (4) days.
The new payment office will be located at 7000 Indiana St. #105, Riverside, CA 92506 and is scheduled to open on Wednesday, May 9, 2012. For your convenience, we offer another easy way to pay your gas bill by doing so online.
With My Account it is easy to view, pay your bill, and manage your account online. Save a trip to a branch payment office and pay your bill faster by using My Account. Pay My Bill
Thank you for your patience and we apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you.
Branch Office Department
UPDATE: Charter Review Committee Chair Tom Evans gets a new gig in Lake Elsinore
This month, this blog hit a milestone of sorts, celebrating its seventh anniversary of being online, having been started in April 2005. Not everyone has been happy with it of course including the powers that be at City Hall. So what happened recently in Riverside was hardly surprising.
A couple of news stories recently crashed the pages of the Press Enterprise including what happened at a recent city council meeting. News emerged that City Hall had accidentally filtered out the Web site Thirty Miles of Corruption from the public libraries while trying to block it from the city's other networks accessed by its employees. This explanation actually is believable. At the March 27 city council meeting there was mention by speakers that a lot of city employees accessed this Web site and then on March 28, something curious happened. People started having problems accessing that blog, this blog and who knows how many others on most of the city's half dozen or so internet networks. The only one that wasn't blocking certain blogs critical of the city was Smart Riverside, the city's free service. Most of the other networks started having problems allegedly beginning on the evening of March 28 or early March 29. When this situation was brought to light and news was delivered that the ACLU would be notified, at about 11am the next day, the situation appeared to reverse itself, soon enough to report that good news to the ACLU attorneys.
The ACLU attorney who responded back was most interested in the blockages at the public libraries, which makes since there's an extremely high bar set for banning news or political speech from the public libraries.When I realized that the city's networks apparently had been cut off, I figured that it must be accidental. Because what the city admitted that it did was that it was filtering out blogs critical of its operations from the employee used networks and that its blockage of them from the public library systems was accidentally done. Like oops, we were trying to censor them from our employees (within 24 hours of being notified that they were visiting one blog) but we goofed and accidentally censored them from everyone else.
It's funny that the city can't even engage in censorship properly but then even while censoring city employees on the internet, the city might have run into legal problems. Yes, the internet used by city employees can be blanked censored from certain types of sites, i.e. porn (which as one woman complained is not banned from the public libraries) but the city can't split hairs and ban or block sites in an allowable class based on whether or not it agrees or even likes the content. Meaning that in this case, the city might be able to block the city employees' access to news or political blogs on the city but it can't ban employees from viewing Thirty Miles of Corruption or Five Before Midnight while allowing them access to say, The Truth Publication or Inside Riverside which essentially lobby for Riverside and its elected officials. That's a violation of both the First Amendment but also the 14th Amendment as well.
It's more than likely that the blogs or news/political sites which trump for the city weren't blocked by any of the city's networks including the one that still is allegedly having "problems" loading certain sites.
But then Riverside's long had some history in the area of blocking things it doesn't like from its venues but it still hasn't learned from its experiences.
Because after all, the city should have learned from past attempts at censoring at the library from attempts to remove the book, "The Fan Club" from its shelves several decades ago. The book was on the shelves as of 2008 when the library held one of its celebrations commemorating Banned Books Week, a copy would find its way in the "cage" where the librarians had placed books commonly banned in other places. During the days of the Brad Hudson/Tom DeSantis regime, Banned Books week kind of fell out of favor, at one point being shafted off the premises of the downtown library to the annual United Way Chili Cook-off.
After much of what has come to light about what happened during this regime, it's not surprising that an event like this one would be one held by them in high esteem. After all, during their era, the librarians all had gag orders on them not to say anything even about the purview of their own jobs or else they would face the consequences.
Not to mention more recent book banning including by the Riverside Unified School District which banned Robert Cormier's The Chocolate War from at least one of its middle school libraries not long ago.
All he needs is a cape and some spandex.
The Press Enterprise proved to be an appropriate venue for Adams to add some clarity to the comment he made at the March 27 City Council meeting in response to Raychele Sterling's public comments alleging the misuse of evaluations against city employees. He laughed during much of it and when she asked him if discrimination is funny, he didn't say, "no I don't".
He didn't say, "I never find it funny," or even "I'm offended that you are asking me this comment and calling me on my rudeness because I'd never find it funny."
No, what Adams answered instead was, "yes".
Most of the time when people answer "yes" to their belief that something is funny, they mean that they find it funny. But Adams said that he simply was responding to a comment he found "outrageous".
(excerpt, Press Enterprise)
Last week, Adams said he was reacting to comments he found inappropriate. “Rather than end with a scowl on my face, I smiled,” he said. “(When) she made another outrageous statement, I just said ‘sure.’”
Okay, so that's an explanation. He never said in his quoted comments what that "another outrageous statement" was and he never even said that he didn't believe discrimination to be funny to refute what he had said at the city council meeting. There's still no statement from Adams that he doesn't find discrimination funny. But then again, most people who oppose discrimination are fairly consistent in stating that opinion in a variety of circumstances. If you were truly against it, why would you respond otherwise in any circumstance including in public? Folks who responded said that since Adams won his reelection, he obviously doesn't feel as if he's accountable even to the voters, of which at least half in his own ward are Latinos who have a history of discrimination as a demographic population. After all, it's his tireless aide who does much of the legwork in his ward and is the most visible presence there.
It's interesting that the issue got raised at all because when that meeting was watched online or in reruns, apparently his comment in response to Sterling was somewhat muffled. Allegations have been raised that the volume of some of the speakers is lowered during public comment at least in the recordings that are online and on reruns of the meeting on television. It's also interesting to see whether or not City Attorney Gregory Priamos had some advice to Adams in the future when it came to public statements that discrimination was funny.
But what about all the federal funding that the city receives that could be suspended if the city engages in discriminatory practices? What about the litigation filed against the city alleging discrimination including racism coming out of the police department and public utilities?
Given the city's history of millions spent litigating and either settling or losing inhouse lawsuits, the last thing you'd think that anyone on the dais would have to say about discrimination is that it's funny. A group of African-American employees settling lawsuits and Officer Roger Sutton taking his lawsuit to trial and winning a jury's verdict of $1.64 million.
Not long ago, it suffered a major blow in ongoing litigation involving a Public Utilities employee who won a major victory in court. But then what's not generally known is how poorly the city's done when defending itself against grievances filed by its employees including for discrimination and/or retaliation. After all, it's now currently "self-insured" which is simply one way of saying that it's the city residents that will be footing the bill rather than the insurance carrier.
While researching the latest installment to take place at the still-deteriorating retro-styled building which houses the police administrative offices, news emerged of another incident that allegedly took place involving someone working there. A couple people were furious about it and what they felt was a history in upper management and supervision, those they believed were supposed to serve as role models for those they manage and supervise. If it's what happened, it's beyond very disappointing. But what does it mean about how business is being conducted by those at the police department's administration headquarters? But then the last three incidents involving individuals in high ranking positions there have been disappointing to people who had hoped that the management culture of the department had changed with the arrival of Chief Sergio Diaz and his cabinet. The current management had sailed into the department, setting its calendar to Year One as if it hadn't existed before their arrival and said everything would be different now that they were there.
But is it?
It reminded me of several emails I received in the past which explained what life was like at Orange Street Station during the regime of former Chief Russ Leach and his cabinet. Not to mention what was allegedly happening in the industrial parking area of Lincoln Field Operations Station near Adams and Lincoln in what were called "Off Probation Parties." The kind where female trainees were allegedly the guests of honor.The behavior described was the kind that eventually results in multi-million dollar payouts in litigation by cities including self-insured ones.
Then there was the following line.
harassment is a rite of passage with getting stripes or bars.
The police department's strategic plan addressed the issue of mentoring and "promotional meetings" which hopefully will be different than those in the past which allegedly took place on golfing greens, restaurants, vacations and intramural sports. These could be very good and useful tools to developing promotional practices in an agency where few trust them and to ensure that they're accountable, fair and transparent to those who participate in them. But quite a few people have opted out of the process entirely, including many of those who work field assignments wondering what's the point, not long after the whole issue of special assignments and who gets them became a bone of some contention in the department including between management and the Riverside Police Officers' Association. If you were a police officer working in a squad car in the streets of Riverside, interfacing more with the public and less with police management or politicians, how much of a realistic chance did you have of getting promoted? What were the odds of you getting promoted compared to employees who hadn't worn a police uniform in years?
How would those questions be answered under the last police chief? How would they be answered by the current one?
In 2009, Leach appeared in front of the Human Resources Board and provided the attrition rates for male versus female officers. Male officers dropped out at a rate of 29% while for female officers it was around 45%. For both groups there were 93% (for male officers) and 96% (for female officers) attrition rates for probationary officers. Actually for female officers, the biggest dropout period appeared to be about 2-3 years in their careers with the department, a time when most officers are settling into their jobs and feeling more confident in their abilities to do what's required. It's also when reality might hit officers that what they did to cope and survive in a culture that doesn't really view them other than strippers wasn't a one-time thing, or a two-time event but the decisions made to make it that far were just symptoms of that culture.
But then the information that sifted in about the "off probation" parties was among the hardest to read. If these parties took place as alleged, how was that allowed to happen? And did someone finally step forward and put a stop to them? Hopefully by the time of Diaz' arrival, they were just a vestige of history.
When Diaz made his own appearance in front of the same Board had these statistics changed? Were they presented at all? Did the Human Resources Board get any information about attrition rates for male and female officers at different stages of the process?
The disparity of attrition statistics aren't very surprising considering what had emerged about the police department under its last chief, the one who was medically retired after a controversial DUI incident.
As everyone in the country knows by now, he was pulled over while driving intoxicated from Club 215 where exotic dancers entertain those who drop by for food and drink. It's not surprising that there are those who don't feel drawn to watching women strip believed that this culture which celebrated women who did believe that they had little to zero chances of advancing in the police department. What do you do if you're a women, have ambitions of promotion and those who make the decisions seem to relate best at least on a recreational level to women who strip for a living? Not to mention that many male employees didn't subscribe to this culture either and were likely penalized as well or at least not rewarded by it. To be viewed as favorable for promotion and special assignments was it required to embrace this culture? Leach had people of choice to vacation with, party with and so forth. For women, what is it like to know that the management team members who make the promotional decisions that impact both male and female officers relax by ogling women stripping at clubs? Or they go drinking at bars and hit on women there sometimes those who are there with other employees? The department's upper echelon was apparently a hard drinking, hard partying culture, not normally one in most cases that many women subscribe to or even most men past the age of about 25.
That's why it's not surprising when a woman complained of being pulled over by an officer in 2010 who told her she did nothing wrong, he just wanted her phone number. Remember getting involved in sexual misconduct if you are a man might get you dinged but you'll be back in no time, that's what the department both under Leach and now under Diaz has shown. Leach had left the building for good this time and Acting Chief John DeLaRosa had been appointed to that position before the public knew he had been implicated for failure to act appropriately in the investigation into the alleged coverup of Leach's DUI incident.
But those individuals are gone, well except for DeLaRosa who's still an influential and visible presence in the department's fabric. Still, there are elements of that same troubling culture that existed in Leach which are still present now leaving people wondering if despite the new focus on image over substance by Diaz and his cabinet, things had changed.
Lieutenants can allegedly still physically fight and whereas most people (including lower level officers) might get arrested, criminally charged or at least investigated, it's viewed as a "private matter" by Diaz and crew. Captains can allegedly try to get their sons (also police officers) out of jail without paper trails within months of a new chief being hired in a department that had been painted as giving preferential treatment to its own chief. If that's what is happening, what is so different about the management culture of the department under Diaz and company as opposed to how Leach mostly through his own cabinet ran it? It's a shame if little or nothing's changed because the department's filled with hardworking and talented employees both on the dwindling civilian and the sworn sides of it. But how are these individuals and the public served if it's indeed business as usual inside the halls of power in the police department?
I thought of the complaint about the woman pulled over for her phone number, what that must have been like. What does a woman do in that situation?
Pulling women over to ask for dates and phone numbers was what helped put Walkill, New York under the second state issued consent decree issued two weeks after Riverside had started its own in March 2001. In some states, that kind of conduct can land an officer in jail for up to a year because it's illegal to use police powers to get information for personal information. This woman felt creeped out just giving the officer her license, which he used to copy information off of it. Did he then go and run it through CLETS to get what she didn't want to give him? There's no way of knowing what he did with it or whether he had done the same thing to other women.
The problem when this happens is that it causes women over time to start distrusting officers who pull them over on traffic stops for more legitimate reasons. Because one officer in a uniform has that much power to rightly or wrongly shape the way members of a gender view all police officers even those who are committed to protecting public safety including for women. As some of these officers learn when they either stop or interact with women who've had these experiences. One female victim of Forman's refused to let officers into her apartment and finally told one of them why. That ultimately led to the investigation of the department against Forman. But the arrest warrant declarations by detectives also showed that she had tried to tell other officers including a sergeant with no followup back to her.
Is it such a large stretch for an officer who pulls a woman asking for her phone number to then pull her over, coerce her to take her clothes off and walk back home carrying them while he drives behind her, as happened in another police department in New York state about 10 years ago? Officers who engage in this conduct make it much harder for the majority who don't to do their jobs because of the strong identification people have not for officers as individuals but as members of the same police force. Rewarding certain officers or not holding them accountable makes it harder for both the officers not engaging in that behavior (but who might be labeled for it) and the public.
Officers joking about and playing with a woman's underwear not long before she alleged that Forman committed a crime against her. None of them would testify to the identity of the officer who stuck her underwear on a dart board right in front of her. The female officer present who had been assigned to Forman for field training failed probation within three months of his investigated. Arrested and out of the department three months before that happened with Forman in 2008.
Not exactly surprising either as the management in a police department can release an officer from probation without explaining why.
Then again, most officers don't engage in this type of misconduct even in a culture of management and supervision that seemed best to wink at it or selectively enforce investigations and/or discipline involving it. But as several cases have shown even getting discipline for it isn't going to slow down upward progression of some careers for very long. On the other hand complaining about this kind of behavior is pretty much career suicide as former Sgt. Christine Keers discovered in 1996 even before Leach's arrival.
Some say her own son who works with her in another local law enforcement agency isn't on speaking terms with her anymore.
Still, what do you do when one former management level employee allegedly had a history of sexual harassment claims in a prior police department? Because the police department's management of not so long ago past apparently included an individual like that.
What do you do if you're the female employee that gets hit on by one of them? Do you keep your mouth shut, just ignore it or do you file a complaint? The first might ensure more career longevity than the second.
What's there to say when a male supervisor gets his demotion reversed within 18 months of being disciplined yet two female supervisors had to wait nearly five years for the same action? As one member of Vicino's management told someone, "no one should have to pay their entire career for a mistake" but some seem to pay longer than others.
Within three days of meeting with this coordinator, this female volunteer was allegedly let go from the volunteer program. That was about three years ago, has anything changed since then in Diaz' commitment to the volunteer program?
It takes a lot of commitment and work by management to address these issues but it seems that members of the management have already been quite busy now that spring's in the air.
Maybe the golfing green has replaced the conference room for meetings, the office for conducting business and if these individuals in management participate in promotional processes then maybe they'll start conducting the interviews on the golfing greens for a more informal and relaxing session. Maybe they'll have the promotional meetings or seminars there as well.
To Be Continued...
Meanwhile the city continues its bait and switch involving retired city employees. The latest being the manager of the city's Community Police Review Commission who landed a $50,000 contract for working between April and August. Not only does he get to keep his job, but in order to avoid the entire issue of "double dipping" he gets to earn a greater payday.
But what happens when August rolls again, do they terminate him leaving the city without a manager for the CPRC that City Hall's never supported except as a public relations tool to be manipulated or will he wind up with $50,000 contracts every three months making his "part-time" salary, $150,000 a year? But it had to be $50,000. Why ? Because apparently that's still the maximum amount of money the city manager, Barber in this case can spend on contracts without being required to go to the city council for approval.
The choice of making it $50,000 and guess what, did it ever appear on the city council agenda for approval on March 1? Of course not. The city government including staff members like Barber never wanted the city residents to know that Hauptmann's employee status had changed and that his salary had apparently increased as well.
So when August rolls around, does Barber fire Hauptmann or having him resign leaving the CPRC without a manager or does he re-up his temporary contractual status for another four months at $50,000? Hopefully, this question can be answered by Barber in his blog soon.
This issue also caused concern because the police department rehired retired employees to fill some of the positions for background investigators who evaluate the histories of prospective employees by the department including officers. Asst. Chief Chris Vicino said that those employees impacted by the new rules would no longer be housed in a police facility but would be working from home sending their hours spent on their responsibilities to the city for billing.