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

Saturday, August 18, 2012

When There's Too Many Police Chiefs in the Kitchen...



Is life about to get tougher for this councilman?

A Huge Fight looms on the dais over the "red light" camera as one council member declares war on another and how will it impact Election 2013? 

Frankly, I don't know where you come down on the mayor's race, but there needs to have someone in
that position and on the council seats who want to STAND UP and not roll over on everything for the
lowest common denominator to NOT get anyone upset.
If a council can't make a basic decision on conduct and show some leadership, why are they there.
At this point Andy, I think that it best that I NOT do your fundraising and frankly, during the next cycle I
will just do stuff for Steve and Chris. Davis has won re-election already because NO one will join a
chorus. This is very disturbing.
If this council can't do the right thing against Mr. Davis .... why is the Council there? The bully has won
those that have enabled him totally, in my opinion, lack any character on this issue and others. Some of
my past emails also have referred to things that I got involved with this city ...particularily the Fox
Theatre. No one listen to me then .... everyone rolled over to a mayoral appointment committee that did
exactly what shouldn't have been done ... and you have a $34million White Elephant on your hands---with
NO solutions to deal with it. And, I could go on about other issues as well.

-----Mike Williams, from Campaign consultant and fundraising firm, Michael Williams Company in email written to Councilman Andy Melendrezed and carbon copied to Councilman Steve Adams, Chris MacArthur, Mayor Ron Loveridge and former Councilman Ed Adkison

Oh what tangled webs we weave....

What are the newest "three amigos" discussing over Mexican food on the other side of town?

Alleging a conflict of interest is a political tactic, Adams said.
“This is an absolute harassment attempt by a group of people who are friends with another council member … to create an issue that does not exist.”

---Councilman Steve Adams to the Press Enterprise on questions asked on why he voted on the red light camera program which employs among others his brother.

Drew Peterson Convicted of First Degree Murder of Kathleen Savio 

Stacy, you are now next for justice,"

-----Nick Savio declared as he finished speaking about Stacy Peterson missing since 2007

While his attorneys swear to appeal all the way to the US Supreme Court if necessary, the question remains:

What happened to Stacey Peterson?

The Davis Investigation

Coming soon....

The RPD promoted its newest lieutenant, Valmont Graham. 

Sparks fly at City Council between Councilman Paul Davis and two other council members after City Attorney Greg Priamos reports on complaint filed against Davis, in open session. The best Dan Bernstein column ever was written in response to the total hypocricy of the city council's "independent" (yeah right, the investigator works directly for Greg Priamos in his office not an outside firm unless he's recently PERS disqualified) investigation and censure of Councilman Paul Davis.  Wasn't it ironic that the two loudest council members were both alleged to have violated the city charter when they interfered with police promotions at the captain and lieutenants' level?  

Where's the "independent" investigation and public censure of them?  Should the Davis incident have been investigated?  Yes as an ethics complaint (and none so far filed by citizens have been "investigated") but don't call your own city employee an "independent investigator." This should apply to Council members like Rusty Bailey and Steve Adams  for charter violations (which are integral parts of what the city has been sued over) as well if the process of investigation is a fair and ethical process. 

Former Riverside Police Department Officer in the hot seat over DUI reporting incident involving Costa Mesa mayor. On one hand, it begs questions of what happened with fingers being pointed everywhere, on the other, how  did the mayor avoid a breathalyzer test?   How do politics and range wars and spy versus spy play out in the OC?

UPDATE from City Hall

The letter that City Attorney Gregory Priamos sent to a law firm representing Mission Ambulance forbidding the firm and its attorneys from communicating directly with elected officials and city staff. 


The fatal shooting of a dog at a residence by RPD officers while establishing a perimeter around a murder suspect sparks controversy as the the "Cheetos Brigade" responds. Hopefully there will be more information provided on this incident by Chief Sergio Diaz. 

Is the next major promotion lurking in the wings to be revealed soon?  And if so, who's really pulling the strings at Orange Street?

Stay tuned...

Summer definitely came to Riverside this month in the form of a blistering heatwave. So many people are cooling off even as the hot days of summer have reached the doors of both City Hall and the Riverside Police Department.

We Hate Bloggers, No We Love Blogs

How City Hall and the Press Enterprise Learned  to Love the Blog

The old stately courthouse is seeing plenty of attorneys hired by the city appear to defend it on employee initiated lawsuits

One of the most fascinating recent developments is how two entities who hate blogs have learned not only to hate them but to embrace this form of media in the past year.  That being the Riverside City Hall and the Press Enterprise both of which have started up blogs including in the latter's case an investigative journalism blog on municipal issues.

Now the coverage of the Press Enterprise on Riverside's issues has always been fascinating as have been its ties to the city which houses its headquarters.

In fact,  Thirty Miles of Corruption has revealed a little known historical fact  in its most recent blog posting. This has to do with  this public utility contract that the city council approved for the newspaper and Riverside Community College back in 2000. It's not clear whether this three year contract was definitively renewed beginning in 2003 and one would hope the city's only daily newspaper would veto any future contracts for lower rates.  After all, they write articles about people including those who lived on limited incomes including the elderly and/or disabled who struggle to pay their bills in the face of increasing costs with receiving that service. These people don't get the same sweet heart discounts and if the electric rate is so much cheaper to pay for as has been advertised by City Hall, why would entities like the Press Enterprise need these deals in the first place?  After all, wouldn't they and it be blessed simply by existing within the boundaries of a city with the most affordable rates in the state as is often said?

But the original contract is must reading because it appears on its face a clear gift of public funds to a media outlet. That's made clear by the absolutely ludicrous the reasoning the city came up with back then to offer the newspaper the lower rates.

Just read the sections under "fiscal impact" and "Alternatives" to see how ridiculous the city's been even in the past for justifying using public funds or a public service as a gift.  Under "fiscal impact", it states clearly how we the city residents benefit from the newspaper paying lower utility rates  "through the continued contribution from the Press Enterprise and the RCC to overall power costs".  Yet by paying their utility bills like the rest of us at the appropriate rates, wouldn't they be contributing even more money to "overall power costs". By paying less,  those contributions are less than what they should be wouldn't you think?

But if that's ridiculous, the city's rationalization under "Alternatives" is downright laughable ( and Riverside DA Paul Zellerbach are you reading this, you didn't like the four way landswap, this should drive you nuts) if you can read it without spitting out your morning coffee.  The city stated that if it didn't give cheaper rates to the PE and RCC then they would drop the city's electrical service and use another one thus costing city residents and utility customers money in the long run.  Wait a minute, doesn't Riverside own its own public utility company?  I wasn't aware that city residents or even businesses were given even one or two or a laundry list of other power companies to choose to do business with other than Riverside's own public utility.   And if that did happen, seriously how much money would the city lose if the PE powered its then tiny building with another source of electricity?

Really how stupid does the city view its own residents when engaging in business deals like this one?  It's perhaps controversial for public colleges and universities to get what amounts to subsidized utility rates (and the University of California Riverside at least for a while had its electric rates completely subsidized by the city).  But what for a media outlet that's supposed to represent the free and unbiased coverage of city issues, this is pretty alarming. I asked a journalism mentor of mine if he knew any other examples where media outlets had sweetheart deals with the cities that they covered and he could only think of one newspaper in Nebraska but it didn't involve reduced utility rates. It'll be interesting to research other media outlets who have been used facilities in Riverside including the Black Voice News and the Los Angeles Times and see if they received similar electric rates.  Though at the time the Press Enterprise was getting reductions in its operational costs, the Black Voice News had to spend money on attorneys to sue the city for removing 26 of its news racks off the streets and dumping them into a Public Works truck over the unilateral enforcement of a $1 million insurance policy solely against that publication. Because conversations with the Los Angeles Times and Orange County Register revealed that neither publication had ever been informed by the city that it needed a similar policty to operate news racks within city limits.  The Press Enterprise apparently wasn't paying it out either to the city.

It's interesting because some of the controversies and issues that Public Utilites has faced including one of the longest ongoing employment discrimination cases received scant coverage in the newspaper back that far. But it's not what is or is not going on in one of the city's largest department (though it's not clear whether everyone in the payroll of that department actually works in it). that drove that contract. This situation reeks of the involvement of current Mayor Ron Loveridge who if you recall was also instrumental for the city spending high six figures to hire a public relations firm (Sittrick which specializes in "crisis management") to advise and instruct the city on how to handle the news media.

Loveridge cursed the Press Enterprise (which was still family owned back then) even as he had close ties to the likes of Marcia McQueen (who served on the Charter Review Committee in 2003-04) because its coverage of the Miller shooting and its aftermath was extensive and helped put the city in the international spotlight and under its microscope courtesy of its subscription to the Associated Press.  The Black Voice News probably angered the city more but Loveridge and others followed some really (but hopefully not too expensive) advice to target that publication from expulsion and the city wound up settling a lawsuit with the publication.  The Press Enterprise which toned down its coverage in early 2000 deciding it was time to move on not to mention that like with the Black Voice News, the people connected to it were a llegedly getting anonymous death threats.

The city was especially nervous because after the months of addressing Miller were supposed to end, along came the controversial revelations involving the reverse racial and gender discrimination filed by a cluster of White male sergeants. The city had been embarrassed after then Chief Jerry Carroll found out that Loveridge had been the leader in brokering a settlement including the creation of two new lieutenant positions behind closed doors. Now Carroll was on his way out the door anyway but this unfortunate chain of events made his departure that much more expensive. It's interesting that the city's concern that its utility rates might be crimping on the Press Enterprise's ability to put out a daily newspaper appeared not long after the last mess surrounding Carroll's pique at elected officials including Loveridge involving themselves in the promotional process of the police department began to fade into the sunset.

What many people don't understand is that what's been wrong with City Hall actually predated the arrival of two of its most colorful inhabitants, former City Manager Brad Hudson and his assistant, Tom DeSantis. They didn't invent the bad behavior that inhabited a building, the climate that existed made it possible for them both to be added to its canvas.  Hudson was specifically targeted for recruitment to the city manager position perhap beginning before the ouster of George Carvalho from that position and he never failed to have a city council that didn't serve him.  Not only did they not prevent him from removing some key mechanisms of management accountability from City Hall they encouraged it.

Then the two of them went to town for over five years. But the playing field they enjoyed was well worn by their arrival.

Because it was former city manager, John Holmes who was the employee who signed on to this sweet-heart utility contract with the PE and RCC, not Hudson. It would have been former city manager, George Carvalho who would have signed on to its renewal if that's what happened in the summer of 2003 just before the new fiscal year started.

The Press Enterprise has facilties in different places in Riverside and San Bernardino Counties and when it comes to even the thinnest allegations of financial mismanagement or other forms of corruption in other places, the Press Enterprise has been right there even in one notorious case in the south-western part of the county when it was dead wrong.   But not so in Riverside where the Press Enterprise has vetoed coverage of the controversial awarding of employment contracts to the tune of over $600,000 to a part-time employee married to a department head.

The Press Enterprise allegedly backed away from covering the alleged interference of Councilman Steve Adams into the promotions of two police captains back in 2010. Even while it covered the scandals erupting on illegally purchased guns, illegally made badges and illegally issued cold plates, it wrote not one word on Adams' involvement in those two promotions.

Not until another deposition surfaced that was given by former Chief Russ Leach where he claimed that Adams had blocked the promotions of Captains Meredyth Meredith did the Press Enterprise write on this issue.  What was interesting in the latest article on the issue is that the reporter made reference to Leach's past deposition given in an earlier lawsuit and what he said (a bit less) about Adams' alleged involvement in the promotions. So the reporters at the newspaper clearly read the depositions including those by Leach but didn't write about the promotional issue until two years later.

The Press Enterprise didn't cover alleged incidents of preferential treatment given by Chief Sergio Diaz to employees who work in his office when they've been involved in off-duty incidents including an alleged assault and battery. Nor did it cover allegations that City Attorney Gregory Priamos at least planned to engage in pension spiking about nine years ago in relation to one of his former employees even when provided with evidence that this might have taken place.  That episode has come under attention in the past several weeks.

 Allegedly that one was stalled by concerns of what the city would do to the media outlet.   Interesting coming from a newspaper that back in the 1980s and 1990s hadn't been afraid of hardly anything.

Reading the newspaper back then especially in the 1990s provides a much better sense of what was going on in Riverside, both smooth and turbulent than reading the newspaper provides now.

Pressure had to be applied just to get already completed articles signed off by editors and published on the Bradley Estates controversy involving a former city councilman.

It's a shame because the reporters there are quite dedicated and talented but they're a long way down the food chain from making the decisions of what gets published in the newspaper that's gutted its staff in a serious of pink slipping and buyouts in the past few years.  Their hands appear to be tied because they won't report on anything unless the City Hall side of the story returns or responds to their inquiries or phone calls. The problem by adhering to that rule is that pretty soon City Hall realizes that all it has to do to kill a controversial story or just one it doesn't like is to just not return phone calls at all.   Most publications in its catagory of mainstream coverage just state that the person wasn't responding to requests for comment and after doing that once or twice, City Hall will start being more responsive to further inquiries because it will have learned that not responding no longer kills the stories.

All these observations made the news that the Press Enterprise would be embracing blogging more interesting to follow. It started with the blogs by giving its reporters this additional duty on top of their respective beats and then it most recently added an even newer blog into its roster.

City Hall had preceded it with a blog started by City Manager Scott Barber curiously at about the same time this blog was banished from the city's internet networks. It's been interesting to read although none of my suggestions on topics were ever embraced by it including the notorious four way land swap that seems to mainly serve to help two of the city's favorite private enterprises at its own expense or more accurately the expense of its city residents.

Like others I found it very interesting that the Press Enterprise started its own Government Watchdog Blog this past month. I found it also very ironic, because as a blogger since 2005, I'm fully aware of the evolution in terms of how mainstream reporters have related to blogging and bloggers since that form of electronic media began to take off.   Blogs became more populous after print media started its slow dieoff with newspapers cutting back in editions, pages and even closed shop including the Seattle Post Intelligencer and the Rocky Mountain News which both shut down hard copy production.

It's just that it's beyond fascinating to see how the print media is now embracing the same medium it used to curse. Journalist after editor after news anchor after talk show host used to complain that blogging wasn't "real" journalism.

Imagine the relief of bloggers everywhere that bloggins is now "real" enough for the mainstream media to embrace.  But a few postings into it, it's quite interesting including its focus on the use of the California Public Records Act and the Freedom of Information Act to be able to effectively cover even emerging scandals at City Hall. David Danelski who's probably the newspaper's best reporter and certainly its best investigative (and maybe only)journalist  which is rarer in print media than it used to be. When fewer business corporations (rather than families) started owning more and more outlets and then started slashing personnel and operational budgets, investigative reporting and indepth journalism were the first casualties of these actions taken by the Press Enterprise and other publications.

The latest blog posting is whether or not it's okay for lawyers to submit public information requests. While it's an interesting read, what really needs to be written about is what happens to Riverside's own city employees when they submit they utilize these federal and state sunshine laws.  Then, ask yourself  how much money have city residents paid out in the form of lawsuit settlements in connection with how City Hall has treated those who submitted these requests. More public documents could shed light on this issue but what is known is that three former police employees all with ties to the leadership of the two sworn police employees' unions had sued the city including for retaliation taken against them for union activities.

Former lieutenants Tim Bacon and Darryl Hurt (from the Riverside Police Administrators' Association during its most active and visible period) and Det. Chris Lanzillo (president of the Riverside Police Officers' Association) filed lawsuits that centered a lot on relaliation by city and police management or at its direction against leaders of collective bargaining units. Interestingly enough, all three former employees submitted pubilc records requests under the state laws defining such to receive public documents tied to expenditures by the city management and elected city officials in relation to primarily police equipment including but not limited to the following.

Police badges, police guns, cold plates, reversible tires, police lights, police radios and tire rims were among the items requested or utilized by city management, city legal and/or elected officials.  The punishment of the above employees which led to rather generous financial settlements of their lawsuits after varying periods of litigaton began after this search for information on illegal and unethical conduct at City Hall itself began. As one former deputy chief allegedly told one of them, you have a target on your back.

What's ironic (and there's so much irony) is that the Press Enterprise credited the CPRA requests it made for uncovering the majority of information on everything from the Leach DUI to the guns, badges and cold plates stories. But we both know that wasn't truly the case. Limited information was provided through public documents on the Leach episode including the CHP criminal investigative report which is public informatino under the law and the criminal case involving Leach was adjudicated at his arraignment.

In fact as I recall, most of the coverage on the CPRA aspect of the case was how former Asst. City Manager Tom DeSantis utilized a rather peculiar means of storing information on public documents, the post-it note.

Tom DeSantis's chosen method at storing public information

But anyway, after watching how mainstream journalism has always belittled the blog, it's fun to watch it embrace it. Danelski could turn it into something very special if perhaps the latest editor's not as restrictive as the last guard.

So happy blogging Press Enterprise, welcome to the club!

City Attorney Gregory Priamos, Thank You

and your buddy City Manager Scott Barber too!

The city attorney earned kudos for honoring the California Public Records Act request this month. A gold star for Gregory Priamos on his performance board.

Former Riverside Police Chief Russ Leach had plenty to say in his deposition

This blogger's been criticized in some circles for not being a little ray of sunshine at promoting City Hall and its busy agenda like other sites.  But lest anyone think that there's too much cynicism and criticism, this blog would like to extend a hearty thankyou to Riverside City Attorney Gregory Priamos for honoring the California Public Records Act request involving a request for depositions that were taken in connection if any with three lawsuits filed by Riverside Police Department officers against the City of Riverside.  Two of the cases were filed 1-2 years ago so it's likely that there would be depositions taken by either or both sides based on the timelines set by other lawsuits filed by city employees including those who work for the police department.

This was the content of the CPRA request.

Sent: Tuesday, July 24, 2012 12:48 PM 

To: Barber, Scott 

Cc: Gardner, Mike; Melendrez, Andy; Bailey, Rusty; Davis, Paul; MacArthur, Chris

 Subject: CPRA request 

 Tuesday, July 24, 2012 

 City Manager Scott Barber
 City of Riverside 3900 Main Street 

 RE: Public Records Act Request 

 Dear Mr. Barber, 

 Pursuant to my rights under the California Public Records Act (Government Code Section 6250 et seq.), I ask to inspect and/or obtain a copy of the following, which I understand to be held by your agency: 

 Copies of any and all sworn depositions taken in the following lawsuits against the city:

 Neely Nakamura vs the City of Riverside 

 Valmont Graham vs the City of Riverside 

 Duane Beckman vs the City of Riverside 

 I ask for a determination on this request within 10 days of your receipt of it, and an even prompter reply if you can make that determination without having to review the record[s] in question. If you determine that some but not all of the information is exempt from disclosure and that you intend to withhold it, I ask that you redact it for the time being and make the rest available as requested. 

 In any event, please provide a signed notification citing the legal authorities on which you rely if you determine that any or all of the information is exempt and will not be disclosed. If I can provide any clarification that will help expedite your attention to my request, please contact me at this email address. I ask that you notify me of any duplication costs exceeding $0 before you duplicate the records so that I may decide which records I want copied. 

 Thank you for your time and attention to this matter. 


Nearly 10 days later, I received an emailed response by Barber cced to all the people above.  He didn't include Priamos on that list but the request had gone through legal in the days preceding his responive email as the city had allegedly weighed whether or not to grant the CPRA request.

After careful review of your Public Records Act Request, there are a total of 47 pages of documents responsive to your request.  The City charges direct duplication costs of $0.60 for the first page and $0.10 for each additional page copied at the same time. Please remit payment in the amount of $5.20, made payable to the City of Riverside, should you desire copies of these documents.  Once payment is received, the documents will be promptly mailed to you.

This response to your request was made after consultation with legal counsel in order to ensure that this response complies with all applicable laws and regulations.

Very truly yours,

Scott Barber
City Manager

In response, the city manager's office through its adminstrator, Maureen Mitchell (who had worked in that capacity for the police department) authorized the release of  two depositions in relation to Graham's lawsuit which were those taken by East Side Think Tank president Mary Figueroa and Leach. 

Soon the Press Enterprise became interested in the latest Leach deposition and wrote about Leach's allegations of the "involvement" of two current councilmen in the police deparment's promotional process.  He expounded on the alleged interference of  Councilman Steve Adams which was more detailed by him in his April 2012 deposition than it had been earlier when he was depoed for the Bacon and Hurt lawsuits. 

Leach testifies about Adams crashing a meeting held by Hudson and DeSantis upset about Meredith's promotion.  Adams denied the allegations of promotional interference as he had earlier. Nonsense, he pretty much told the Press Enterprise which finally wrote on the subject. 

Here's an excerpt of Leach's testimony on the matter. 

"I got-- when I took an emergency call from DeSantis all panicky and said, "You're not going to promote Meredith are you?"

I said, "Yes. Best qualified this time for the job."

And he said, "No you're not going to do that."

And I found out Steve Adams marched into the meeting with both of them--meaning Hudson and DeSantis--told them emphatically she couldn't be promoted."

---Former Riverside Police Chief Russ Leach on April 9, 2012 about the aborted promotion of now retired Capt. Meredyth Meredith, one of two captain's positions that he alleged Adams interfered with.

Councilman Steve Adams and Capt. Jonn Carpenter sit together at a recent memorial obviously mending their fences.

Then Leach moved on in his testimony about the promotional process that he said played out involving Carpenter.  That was the one where Adams, Carpenter and Adams' buddy, Esquivel met in some restaurant out of town (meaning El Torritos and the Salted Pig were definitely out) so no one they knew would see them together.  Leach testified twice that he had asked Esquival to help mediate between Adams and Carpenter as Adams' friend. 

What was interesting is how Esquivel played a prominant role in this episode as Leach testified he was pretty much out of the loop when it came to promotional decisions inside the department. 

"So I went to City Hall to have a face-to-face with Hudson and DeSantis to present what the testing process revealed and who we selected. And he said, "Well, let me think about it."

So I let him think about it And I hadn't heard from him for a while. And then I called back and he explained to me that Carpenter and Adams had bad history together. Adams was adament that he didn't want Carpenter to be promoted to captain."

---Leach on April 9, 2012

 In earlier depositions with the lieutenants' lawsuits, the parties involved in this get together said that they had mended their differences and issues and left happier. By noon, the following day Carpenter became the next police captain. 

When it comes to the alleged involvement of  Council Rusty Bailey, a finalist for mayor, Leach appears almost as bereft of details as he did in his initial deposition on Adams two years ago. He does say that due to his addictions to prescription pain medication between 2008-2010 that his memory's not great but what he does say about Bailey is interesting. 

It's not a given that he would be privy to how every promotion fell out or every conversation about the approval of his choice for promtion played out. Hudson and DeSantis kept quite a bit of their conversations on a lot of issues involving their heavy almost fetish like involvement with the police department behind their closed doors. 

The incident happened when Bailey attended a community meeting that was also attended by Graham when he worked under then NPC East Area Commander Larry Gonzalez.  People had asked questions about the number of police officers and their salaries and Graham had referred the qusestions back to the councilman for followup and response. Nothing that should be a big deal because after all if the councilman didn't know the answers then all he has to do is say, I'll research it and get back to you. May I have your contact information?  Next question.

 Bailey hadn't allegedly offered up any complaints when it happened but later he went to complain to Hudson and DeSantis according to Leach's testimony. 

What Leach said happened next is detailed on these pages. 

Page from deposition detailing Leach's alleged conversation with city management that took place not long after Bailey's complaint about the community meeting to it. 

The Press Enterprise article interprets the incident as being about how Bailey unwittingly got involved or interfered in the lieutenant's promotional process according to allegations raised by Leach's deposition. But Leach in his own words doesn't abscribe meaning or motive behind Bailey's actions as he testified to them.  He related an incident where he tried to even bring up the issue of promoting a lieutenant and DeSantis had immediately brought up Graham's name as don't tell me it's THAT person.  There's no context provided by Leach other than the incident involving Bailey's earlier complaint about a community meeting except to speculate that it could have been something else negative because Hudson and DeSantis had their own sources of information when researching various departments under their umbrella. 

But then Leach brings back the Bailey incident.

"The only conversation I had with DeSantis was about the Bailey thing and then he camed and asked me, "Who are you looking at for the upcoming lieutenant's vacancy?" Before I could answer that you know..."

In reference to when he felt that DeSantis had vetoed his choice when he had responded to him with "er.." given his use of that response in the past.  

Leach is certainly a vulnerable witness with a DUI history and even his statements that he had addictions to prescription drugs. He's been unpredicatable in the past when it comes to testifying but what his testimony shows best is the larger portrait of what went so terribly wrong at the top of the Riverside Police Department  including the civil war inside of it and what some would call its unholy marriage to the Seventh Floor at City Hall.  That's where the city's liability for damages and its risk lay not in the details that City Hall and its legal team are all wrapped in right now. It's not about whether Adams or Bailey even interfered with the  police department's promotional process thus violating the amendment in the City Charter prohibiting administrative interference, it's about the creation and proliferation of a culture that planted the seeds for wrongdoing of all different forms to take place.   If you look closely at all the depositions detaling the police department and City Hall whether you believe them all or not what you'll see is that all the major players at the top of the police department and City Hall know the games and they know how they play them. 

Let's just take one example. This impromptu out of town dinner by Adams, Esquivel and Carpenter in early January 2008 at a Corona restaurant. They all testified about it in 2010 as did Leach and none of them testified that it didn't take place. They all appeared to believe that it seemed perfectly legitimate for a police lieutenant to have to iron out his differences with an elected official to get promoted. Yet all three of them testified that it was best not to shop locally lest they be seen by other police department or city employees.

So how legitimate could the dinner have been if the three people involved would raise red flags just for being seen together at a restaurant?

It's amazing that just because Adams and Carpenter might have had a past conflict or problem that this would impact Carpenter's ability to be promoted by Leach and have that promotion signed off on by Hudson. 

This is even though the charter prohibits elected officials from engaging in administrative interference which means they really should have zero influence over the promotional process conducted by a department head. But if that were true, number one Leach would never have suggested this breaking of the bread session be done between Adams and Carpenter.  Carpenter never would have been in the position to accept that because it shouldn't have been germane to his engagement in the promotional process. Leach never would have had Adams' best friend and Carpenters' superior broker the peace treaty between the two.   

In other words, the dinner between the three of them would never have happened. 

It wasn't a dinner between equals as the heirarchy between Adams, Esquivel and Carpenter is quite clear and in that order. It gave Adams the most options and Carpenter the least in a process where it's perfectly legitimate for Carpenter to be involved but not Adams.  Try to sell this dinner date to a  reasonably intelligent jury and it'd never fly. 

It doesn't matter as much what they testified about why they met, the fact that they met at all and that Leach set up that meeting using Esquivel as the facilitator is why the city would have never been able to take the Bacon/Hurt lawsuits to trial and win in front of a jury.  All three parties can deny it to the high heavens that it spoke to a culture where elected officials dictate promotions and their subordinates in the department and management obey them. But their actions spoke louder.  You don't need to rely on Leach's flucutating memory to explain why it really happened. 

Somehow they all got copies of the same rulebook and they used it. What will be the city's legal defense for that reality? 

Some say the devil's in the details but while City Hall's so focused on them, it's missing what those details look like when they're all put together into what's called the larger picture. That's what will cost the city a lot if it tries to sell anything different in court. 

If this lawsuit goes to trial, it's that larger portrait that will be revealed and it's what will be remembered. Just like the trial involving Officer Roger Sutton became about much more than a racial discrimination and harassment allegation when you put the sum of all the sworn testimony together and an indictment against how the management of the department operated. It won't become absolutely clear until witness after witness for both sides goes up to testify in a public forum about their recollections that reality will sink in and by then it'll be too late. 

Current Chief Sergio Diaz hailed from the Los Angeles Police Department which also settled far many more civil cases than it tried and he's relying on its scant trial history to advocate vigorous litigation of police lawsuits in his new haunt. He's definitely raising an important point to the importance of the city not settling so quickly but he didn't study his local history even going back to just 2005. That's by his limited choice in terms of who would tell him. 

It's that total picture that resulted in the huge jury verdict in his favor. As shall it be with any employee lawsuit that the city foolishly opts to litigate all the way in front of a jury. 

Chief Sergio Diaz Promotes His Captain

The chief and two-thirds of his cabinet were involved in the promotion of the latest captain.   Deputy Chief Mike Blakely (not pictured) has been kept quite busy in his assignment to oversee the depositions of two police employees currently suing the city over practices in the police department. 

Chief Sergio Diaz however doesn't even pretend to be friendly to bloggers unless they promote him. After all, this blog in particular has been banned on all the city and police department networks since earlier this year. It had been restored on the public libraries' internet networks after mistakingly being banished from that venue as well under the apparent direction of City Manager Scott Barber.  It made total sense because Barber was trying to launch his own foray into blogging, the so-called Barber's Blog at the same time.

But anyway, Diaz and his cabinet were busy this past week because it came time to promote the new captain who would be replacing a recently retired Meredyth Meredith.  The short list allegedly included candidates Gary Leach, Bob Williams, Vance Hardin and Guy Toussaint. A couple dark horses loomed including Ed Blevins and Larry Gonzalez.   Diaz' calendar and that allegedly of his boss, Barber's had been busy with dinners and other meetings with some of the candidates showing that the public sector isn't necessarily that far removed from the corporate climate.  But others just went through the process without lobbying much at all.

At the end of his process, Diaz went with Blevins and in a first for him, he had one of the candidates, Public Information Officer Guy Toussaint issue his first press release in ages on a departmental promotion nearly 24 hours after it was announced here.

Blevins is a former president of the Riverside Police Officers' Association and had served in that capacity when Diaz first came onto the Riverside canvas through the recruitment and hiring process. He also enjoyed the most seniority among lieutenants even apart from those competing for the spot and worked different assignments.

His promotion didn't open up a lieutenant's position because his had been filled by the promotion of Sgt. Mark Rossi but the retirement of Williams this month did create a vacancy.  After former Deputy Chief Pete Esquivel vacated his job as head of security at the Tyler Galleria allegedly due to the night work schedule, allegedly Williams was offered to apply for that position.

 It's not clear yet whether or not Diaz will choose to fill it or simply backfill Williams' post overseeing Internal Affairs with a lieutenant from another assignment.  What isn't clear that if he does intend to promote another lieutenant will he do it off the currently active promotional list or wait until October or November when the testing and ranking process for the next lieutenant candidates' list is certified.  The job posting for anyone interested in applying to be a lieutenant opened and will close at the end of this month.

The usual group of candidates is expected to reappear on the list along with newer candidates which may or may not include several new sergeants including Pat McCarthy, Dan Russell, Gary Touissant, Dan Warren and Brian Dodson.

 It's always great when newer people engage the process and this could turn into one of the most interesting lieutenants' application and testing processes in recent memory.

The sergeants' rank is facing at least two retirements from its most experienced ranks. There are currently 50 positions at that rank down from 55.

RPOA's Thoughts Weigh Heavily on Who to Endorse for Mayor

Alicia's blog in the Press Enterprise detailed how the Riverside Fire Fighters' Association has endorsed Councilman Rusty Bailey for Mayor.   That's hardly surprising given that traditionally this bargaining unit's opted in elections to back incumbants.  That makes some sense because usually incumbents are strong favorites (though they don't necessarily parlay that to a win) and if you back them and they stay in office, you don't risk pissing them off or getting on their bad sides so they can punish you for your disloyality the next four years.  

That is, if the elected officials are so inclined. 

The Riverside Police Officers' Association has endorsed incumbents sometimes but they've endorsed newer candidates too. Remember Roy Saldanha who ran against Councilman Steve Adams in 2007? Adams didn't take too kindly to losing out on that endorsement by the RPOA and the Riverside Police Administrators' Association to the newcomer and that allegedly set up the stage for Adams' name coming up when controversies regarding two captains' promotions arose. 

The RPOA allegedly mended its fences with Adams after being upset by a misleading letter circulated by his campaign as well as some comments made him over a cup of coffee after that election. 

Councilman and mayoral candidate Rusty Bailey comes under fire for whether or not he interfered with the promotion of a Black  police sergeant now suing the city

Bailey had survived having his house burgled and items including a laptop computer stolen but the thief was caught not long after leading one Press Enterprise letter writer to compare it to the still unsolved burglary of his own home months ago where among the items stolen was his father's Purple Heart awarded after he was killed in the line of duty at war. 

But he's hit a roadblock with several law enforcement unions in terms of their endorsements though the RPOA plans to meet with both him and Adkison soon for interviews and a decison on whether the union through its political action committee will endorse anyone at all.   And now with the issue of Bailey that arose in Leach's latest depo, it's not clear whether or not the police unions will want to embrace him as a candidate for mayor. 

So what about former Councilman Ed Adkison? 

Former Councilman and the other mayoral candidate, Ed Adkison isn't necessarily feeling much love from the police union either

As it looked, he had his work cut out for him too with the RPOA which didn't appear too enthused about him either.  Whether or not that has anything to do with a union's frissure that took place when his colleague Councilman Frank Schiavone ran against his successor Paul Davis in 2009, it's not clear.  Ruptures in the process of endorsement seem to occur most often when two different groups of people involved go into the process supporting a candidate or in some cases even promising him or her the endorsement. 

That usually doesn't bode well when it happens.  

But it's not written in stone that a bargaining unit or union has to endorse either candidate. Sitting this one out might be a smart decision.  In such a close competition, there's not much to gain by endorsing one over the other. The most important part of the process is learning as much about how they stand on the pertinent issues including in their own words. 

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