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

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Who's Declared War on Whom in RiverCity?


**JOIN Team Sahagun**

Don't let the city thrown him under the bus

First a Custodian, now a Police Officer 

I wish I’d done this a long time ago. I didn’t think it would really
happen, until it happened.”

---Sahagun, who grew up in the Eastside about becoming an RPD officer at the age of 39

call city council and mayor at 826-5991
or send emails to protest the city hall's actions:      

RPOA Weights In; Blasts City Hall

Says Officer "thrown under proverbial bus"
(I do agree by the way) 

 (Brian Smith wrote a pretty epic letter in my opinion, it's definitely a must read)


Meet Chief Gregory Priamos

City Attorney told him to do it 

RPD Incident Report  (N.Sahagun/Romano and supervisor Sgt. Lisa Williams_)   (PDF file for downloading)

Police report involving the arrest of  Karen Wright points finger at City Attorney Gregory Priamos. Priamos refuses to give his side of the conversation with the officer citing "attorney/client" privilege as the story of the latest embarrassment in Riverside spreads across the land...

“Priamos requested that during future meetings, I should stop S1 [Wright] from going too long past the three minute allotted time.”

---Officer Nick Sahagun from his police report 

Glad this finally came out. I never believed for a second this arrest came from anywhere but the city council dais. Now can the CC and mayor explain again in public why they threw the officer under the bus?  And why they denied having any control of the handling of gadflies by the police?   Their change of protocol behind closed doors, if they thought the actions were appropriate?  These and other questions challenged the veracity once again of our city council and mayor. 

I mean if you can derail a promotion or block it with a phone call from somewhere on the dais, it makes you wonder who's really in charge. 

Hyatt Hotel Vs Riverside

The city might wind up owning this hotel...and its debt.

Dan Bernstein writes on the mess with the Hyatt Hotel.

Who wants to bet the developers for the Hyatt don't file a lawsuit and include an injunction against further "loan" payments until the lawsuit is litigated?  I wouldn't bet against this scenario.

The Most Disturbing Officer Arrested Ever

 NYPD Officer Arrested for Alleged Cannibalism Plot

 More coverage on the City Council Arrest:

The Mayor in the blog posting says the city council chair will make the decision on who to expel not the police officers from now on. If the police were always making the decision and the arrest was justified under that discretion, why change the practice now?  Or did Mayor Loveridge just throw the police officers under the bus?


Karen Wright handcuffed  after she'd turned away from the podium after exceeding the three minute rule  (picture: TMC)

The police department's newest captain comes to supervise handcuffing of Karen Wright
(Photo: TMC)

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."

--Benjamin Franklin

Councilman Andrew Melendrez has found himself in between a few political cross hairs for asking the wrong questions

Alas, things are not currently very peaceful in Riverside, or River City as it's affectionately or not referred to by people  who follow the political tides that have shaped the city going back over a century. But while the denizens of the dais had for the most part held their cohesiveness together for the past several years as one regime or another marched in and then were voted out of office, that era might be coming to an abrupt end as there have been some dust ups on the dais and all out war is threatening to break out between various elected officials.  It's getting harder and harder to create a scorecard for all the conflicts that have erupted in public not to mention those brewing behind the scenes.

Councilman Paul Davis and Councilman Steve Adams have been at odds with each other to say the least going back even before the last election impacting Adams' ward back in 2011.  In that election, Davis supported Adams' challenger, John Brandriff who hoped to oust Adams but it wasn't to be and Adams quite easily won his reelection. Since then, Adams appears to have been itching to get Davis back for that transgression, that break from the unity that had defined Riverside's dais since well, before Davis got on it in 2009.

Davis has his flaws like any politician. To be one is to be flawed but he's got his strengths too and one of them is breaking from the traditional "go along to get along" and "I didn't see/hear/say that."  Which in some ways sets him apart from the others in the dais.  He asks questions on various issues from the whole AMR monopoly to the issue with the Red Light cameras and it's these two particular issues that quickly enough got him into trouble.

Picture at least six people on the dais doing just this all the time!

But as it turns out, Adams is busy getting ready to go to war with another councilman and that's Andrew Melendrez.  This war is really one that is linked to two major issues, the aforementioned Red Light Camera issue and also the complaint filed against Davis by an employee from the city's fire department. Adams right now is loading himself on information to use as ammo against Melendrez in upcoming days as rumors have been brewing for several weeks that a huge blowup is looming on the dais. 

Meanwhile, several of the city council members and one former one now running for mayor have shown up on an email that was written to Melendrez from political consultant for hire, Michael Williams which looks like some sort of cease and desist notice to Melendrez that he shouldn't be expecting any help from Williams and Company the next time he runs for election which will be for city council next year. All those carbon copied on an email sent by Williams to Melendrez two months ago are clients of Williams either for the mayoral election or for city council.  Missing is Councilman Rusty Bailey who was a client of Williams during his city council reelection bid last year but he's not shown up on the client list for his mayoral bid. 

Williams already had allegedly not accepted Davis as a client when Davis first ran for city council in 2009 because as some have said, he was pressured by others on his client list that they'd rethink their own status with Williams if he accepted Davis. At the time, there allegedly wasn't any bad blood between them, it seemed amicable and civil involving both parties that just wouldn't be working together. But it's clear that judging from Williams August 2012 email, things have changed.

Paul Davis, Ward 4

First city council member to appear on the Williams' blacklist during his 2011 campaign

Steve Adams, Ward 7
Councilman Steve Adams doing some digging on Melendez and appears on the carbon copy list along with the mayoral candidate that he endorsed of Williams' email.

But even some time after Williams had drafted his email to Melendrez, Adams was off doing his own research on Melendrez on the Red Light camera issue submitting a request for the paper trail between Melendrez and the city on that extremely polarized issue.

Adams sent this email to the city clerk's office to get into that paper trail. 

From: Adams, Steve
Sent: Thursday, October 04, 2012 1:27 PM
To: Nicol, Colleen; Morton, Sherry
Subject: Public Records request

Please provide me with any and all e-mails sent or received by Council
Member Melendrez over the last 60 days in regards to the Red Light
Camera Program and or Council Member Steve Adams.

Thank you,
Steve Adams

So what is Adams looking for in relation to that issue? Well the answer's really quite simple. The two erupted in what was one of the most contentious issues to come across the formerly peaceful dais in years. The city council had voted 3-3 (with Nancy Hart being absent) on a motion to keep the controversial, money losing program. Mayor Ron Loveridge cast the deciding vote in favor of the program but it was supposed to come back for reevaluation after a period of time. Imagine the shock of some of those in the dais when their own employee, City Manager Scott Barber tried to keep the program running as  is with some changes without bringing it to the city council for a vote which was the stated purpose of the approved motion. He just said the problems in it had been fixed and that was that.  But the issue being treated like that created a brouhaha and like what happens in situations that cause furor among city residents, it went back to city council and  then the issue arose of putting it on the ballot next June for people to vote on its fate.  But in the meantime...two motions were in conflict, one to dismantle it until the election and one to keep it going until the election.  Guess which one Adams led the charge on?

The Red Light Camera issue is probably the best intended project ever to get totally screwed up so that it became an ineffective, overreaching, nonenforceable, possibly illegal (or at least being seriously challenged as such), costly mess of a program in the city's recent history.  It's not uncommon as a pedestrian to see cars slow down for intersections with cameras and then completely blow the red light of the next one in their path and vice versa. Some people just like to blow red lights period. What hasn't been studied by the city is that there's a relationship between the Red Light Camera program and the decrease in police officers assigned to the traffic division. At one time in the early 1990s, there were about 18-19 traffic officers assigned to the streets but even as Riverside's streets became more congested, there were too few highway off and on ramps and the population grew, the number of traffic officers steadily dropped as low as 13. Were the cameras one way of dealing with this trend in the diminishing of these positions including two that were phased out even before being implemented in 2008?  Did they supplement the traffic officers or supplant them?

Anyway, whatever the merits or pitfalls of the Red Light Camera program, the blowup between Adams and Melendrez if it can be called that happened not because of the issue itself, but by the fact that Adams had actually participated in the vote to decide its fate.  Most people know by now despite the Press Enterprise's initial under reporting of it that Adams' brother, former police officer Ron Adams is one of the retired officers hired to part-time to run the program. At least as of a few years ago, he was paid a salary out of the former city manager's discretionary fund.   But Adams participated in the vote to keep the program going which meant that his brother would keep his job there.  Melendrez questioned that and Adams took offense.  He asked City Attorney Greg Priamos about it and Priamos said that under the law, since the Adams were only brothers and not father and son or married that it didn't constitute a conflict of interest for him to vote.

But Priamos didn't touch the city's ethics code of conduct in his narrative. Under the code, the perception or appearance of a conflict of interest is also governed under the code and its complaint process which differs from the law. Priamos clearly chose to dodge that issue by not including it in his rather expansive narrative on the issue.

The two argued back and forth about it at the most recent and prolonged meeting on the Red Light camera issue and Adams complained that Melendrez had sat in the negotiations involving the contracts with the Riverside Police Officers' Association even though his son, Aurelio was a police officer and a member of that union.  Melendrez said that they could discuss the appropriateness of that but stood his ground on the ethics of allowing Adams to vote on the Red Light Camera program's fate.

At evening's end, the vote was very tight with Hart there to cast her vote and Adams as well. As it turned out, Adams vote to "save" the program was needed which is why he didn't recuse himself.  But no matter how he phrased it, the consensus was that he voted to keep his brother employed by the city and he can't really blame anyone for that. The voters will ultimately be the ones who will decide the fate of this problematic program where any money made seems to go everywhere but back into perhaps funding traffic education programs (which are funded by diminishing sources of  grant money). That would make some sense to put it rather than paying the lion share of money to a private company in Australia that has a satellite office in Arizona.

 But it was clear that Adams and Melendrez only postponed an even bigger confrontation ahead.

Melendrez and Adams also tangled over the complaint filed against Davis by a fire department inspector at a event earlier this year involving a food truck festival which involved a disagreement or argument where Davis allegedly acted disrespectful to and interfered with her performance of her duties.  The employee filed a complaint against Davis which was her perogative under a system that's available. But the investigation including its process was fraught with problems.

The investigation was mentioned as being "independent" meaning by an investigator working for an outside form. That was technically true but mostly due to a chain of events tied with the state's enforcement of employment rules pertaining to PERS retirements. Jeffrey Collopy the investigator who did the investigation was a former employee first of the police department where he retired as a lieutenant and then he went to work for Priamos directly as an investigator in his office. It was only because of the enforcement of new rules involving PERS that he's still not an official city employee today. The investigation of a complaint against an elected official should have been done by a business outside the city's own employment roster but that didn't happen.

Plus the investigation process wasn't explained at all to the public either before it happened or even after.
Apparently some of the members occupying the dais didn't understand it either because Melendrez asked questions about how it had been handled. He'd been ill with a heart  condition when it had been handled so he was asking followup questions on the process and some of them were critical in nature. But this was an appropriate action for him to take to ask questions as part of a fact finding process.

Was investigating a complaint against Davis wrong?  No. But the process followed seems very problematic at best and when an elected official asks questions about it he shouldn't be penalized for it.But apparently Melendrez would be paying a price for his inquisitiveness.

Then Michael Williams  of  Michael Williams Company sent out the following declarative statement on how he felt about the city council and mayor these days. For those who don't know, Michael Williams is one of the top political consultants in Riverside specializing in the area of campaign finance.  He helps candidates throw those parties to attract partygoers who will donate funds to the candidates' campaign chests. He's pretty popular and boasts an impressive roster of clients.  

It was in response to the apparent resolution of the complaint against Davis.

Loveridge. Ron 

From:   : 

To:  Melendrez,Andy

Cc:  EdyAdkison; Loveridge,Ron;steveadamsward7;ChrisArthur

Wednesday,August 29,20126:54 PM 

Subject: Yesterday'sCouncilMeeting.

 August 29, 2012 

Dear Andy, This letter pains me to write, you are a very nice man. We probably disagree on alot of issues, but you're a good honest man. I have been extremely disappointed with the current council and mayor of this city. Yesterday is probably the best example of what I'm talking about. Through my extensive rumor mill, there was to be some discussion about misconduct by one of your fellow members. I know you were absent during the meeting, but the result has me very disturbed by the LACK OF WILL TO STAND UP, by this council and current mayor. 

The Dom Betro's/Frank Schiavone's/Ed Adkison's/Steve Adams's/Art Gage's/and yourself were vital in the creation of the Renaissance program and implementation in this city. These people took risks and in some cases it cost them their jobs. This current council has borne the fruits of these risk takers and taken the accolates of this. That's politics. 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 and 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. The Emperor and some colleagues have no clothes ... all of your council members are friends of mine, but the disappOintment with the lack of will to do the right thing is pathetic. Andy, like I said, this pains me to say no to you at this time. But, until I see some spunk (LEADERSHIP) out of this council, I think I'm going to pass on all the races in 2013. 

My best always, 

 Mike Williams 

This Council (with a few exceptions) and Mayor can't stand up 

Williams is right on about the Fox Theater in that it's turned into a white elephant at least financially speaking because it's losing money. But his view that the Renaissance was this great program that involved elected officials taking risks and losing their jobs wasn't exactly factually true. The electeds didn't take the risks themselves, they made sure the public took the risks, after all it's not their money they gambled on and then when it wasn't spent (including utility revenue funds used to pay for expenses outside utilities), the city borrowed, and borrowed and borrowed some more, putting itself in debt over $2.1 billion just on the Renaissance.

The city's going to face major cuts because it won't have the cash to spend. Only last week, reports came in that police chief, Sergio Diaz was telling people including his own advisory board that the police department won't be able to address certain crimes, and that there will be more streetwalkers and such due to the budget cuts to the police department. Other reports include programs like UNET not being adequately funded on the city's side and such including the Vice unit. And if the police department is facing these kinds of budget cuts and more then what does that say about the state of the city?

But will Williams go through with his boycott of Davis and now Melendrez or will he change his mind or just fund other candidates? Stay tuned, after all the email was written in August and there's been some developments since then including one that will surely impact Davis' reelection bid. 

RPOA Declares Neutrality in Mayoral Election

(So now there's at least two of us)

The Riverside Police Officers' Association is neutral in mayor's race according to this letter submitted by its current president, Sgt. Brian C. Smith.

Text of RPOA letter:

To Whom It May Concern: 

After careful consideration and a thorough review process that included one on one interviews and questionnaires, the Riverside Police Officers’ Association has determined that both Mr. Bailey and Mr. Adkinson are exceptionally qualified to serve as Mayor for the City of Riverside.

 The Riverside Police Officers’ Association has decided to stay neutral in this race and not endorse a specific candidate. Each Candidate has wide range of experience and differing views on how to best serve the residents of Riverside and are prepared for the challenges that await them once in office. 

 The Riverside Police Officers’ Association looks forward to working with the Mayor’s office to help promote Riverside as a city rich in history and tradition and a safe place to raise a family. I encourage every registered voter to cast his or her ballot in November! 

Respectfully, Brian C. Smith

I have to say that I thought I would be the only one to not choose to endorse either candidate though I've been pressured about having to endorse one or the other for a myriad of reasons. Not by the candidates so much but by supporters.  If I don't endorse one, I'm getting the other elected as if one vote truly equals a thousand. I'm flattered that they think my vote counts more than I do but I dug my heels in this one and said, no endorsement.   Sorry but my memory of history just isn't that short on either of them. They both have so much to prove and in some cases a very steep curve.  The people looking for a "reformist" mayor, better keep looking because it'll take someone who's never served on the dais to reform what's wrong with city government.

It seems that I'm not the only one. The Riverside Police Officers' Association's own PAC has opted out of endorsing either candidate either and as Smith stated, is taking the neutral position. All I can say is you go, union. I think that the union opted for the right choice in the mayoral race and I applaud it. Whereas the Riverside Firefighters' Association opted to endorse the closest thing to an incumbent (and historically its PAC nearly always endorses incumbents), the RPOA just said no...or if not to the candidates themselves, just that they won't pick one over the other.

Some people might view this as being indecisive but I'm not one of them. It's in fact very decisive. The reasons for my neutrality are the opposite of those stated in the letter. I'm not sure either of them is fit to be mayor not that the mayoral position is that powerful in Riverside and with good reason if you've studied local history going back into the 1920s when you had a Ku Klux Klan guy running for mayor, a financially corrupt government and a police chief arrested for public intoxication. They both would need to prove it to me and that's impossible without serving in the position.

Sometimes history repeats itself. But the union did have a struggle with this one or so I've heard and that's not surprising. It's a thorny issue to decide to endorse...nobody but sometimes it's just what you got to do. Allegedly endorsing either candidate would have created issues with membership that couldn't be reconciled. No matter what the qualifications of the candidates, what the union leadership might have been showing is that it listened as it should do to what its members had to say. That's a very good and important step on its part.

Any endorsement of Bailey would have been highly problematic for its leadership as Bailey had been accused by former Police Chief Russ Leach through his most latest deposition of interfering with the promotional process surrounding now Lt. Val Graham. The city's already paid out settlements to former police employees in part on allegations that Adams had interfered with the promotional process involving two police captains. Leach's second deposition which addressed Adams' alleged involvement stamped him even harder in that camp than his earlier one.

The RPOA wasn't the only police union that apparently opted out of endorsing Bailey as apparently the Riverside Sheriffs' Association did the same thing. Bailey had gone around looking for support among law enforcement and the issues pertaining to his alleged involvement in Graham's promotional process was one he apparently couldn't run away from.

Some also said that some union members were also leery of Adkison in part because of problems associated with the use of police officers by elected officials as "bouncers" to eject public speakers at the dais speaking on issues including two incidents. This happened when people like Dom Betro, Frank Schiavone and Adksion were on that dais, the ones mentioned in Williams' email. One incident involving four individuals including 90 year old Marjorie Von Poule and the other, an 82 year old woman complaining about a city pipe bursting and flooding her house who exceeded the three minute speaking rule.  Police officers were allegedly so unhappy with how a former quartet of council members ran the dais that it was getting harder to find enough of them willing to work security at the city council meetings back then.  Who really wants to be the police officer ordered to eject the 82 year old woman anyway just for speaking past three minutes like she's a criminal?  If someone does something like that, it should be an elected official instead.But none of them could apparently take responsibility for it so they had some officer or officers take the heat for it instead. Then during the first incident, several councilmen allegedly ordered former City Manager Brad Hudson to call up the DA and the detectives at the department to do cases against those four individuals but thankfully everyone they called refused to do it and frankly had other work to do instead as well.

This is just history in case memories have faded  or some people in City Hall don't want it remembered. 

At any way however way the RPOA reached its decision, it made the right one and I think future events no matter who wins (because one of them will) will bear that out. It was the best decision to make and it was the right one.

In the meantime, Rusty Bailey's campaign mailers ignite criticism from the Adkison camp causing many to question the integrity of his Team Bailey campaign.

Photo Gallery

The City Council Chambers while under construction to have prior re-construction undone to bring it up to governmental code.  But are other laws being broken inside it?

 We are family...I got all my brothers and...well that's the way it used to be for the now battling and fractured city council in River City.

Summer's over and city council is once again back holding its regular sessions.  In recent months, the city council have recently  broken away from their "go along to get along" Group Think (tm) way of doing city business and have started jousting with one another. It's hard to keep track of the playlist of who's ticked off at whom because it changes almost every week. Some of that was outlined in the above paragraphs but it's all subject to change at any moment.

One meeting got so contentious that Mayor Pro Tem Rusty Bailey had to take action. Outgoing Loveridge who's been mentoring Bailey has been skipping evening meetings so that it gives Bailey a showcase to show off  his leadership skills to the public both in the audience and watching at home or online. But lately that's meant breaking up some fighting on the dais between some of the other members. As already stated, Bailey and Melendrez have been going at it a bit on various issues.

At one point at a recent meeting, Bailey broke in at some point and asked Adams to vacate after Adams waggled his finger at Melendrez.  It's getting to the point where people in the audience want to hand out boxing gloves or nerf sticks to the battling city council members. As much as Loveridge has been grooming Bailey, he just looks lost up there.

The aforementioned red light camera issue came back to be rehashed all over again and the Press Enterprise blogged about city staff getting dressed down by elected officials as if that's actually news. Okay, the part about the city council members dressing down their city staff most definitely is news especially this part: 

( excerpt, Press Enterprise)

My issue is with staff asking us to rubber stamp something we knew nothing about,” Hart said.
“This is not the way we as a council want to do business,” she added.

Councilwoman Nancy Hart, you don't want to be a rubber stamp, don't act like one!

Maybe Hart's not aware of it, but she's been a rubber stamp used by "staff" for years.  After all, she's the one who as chair of the Finance Committee chose not to conduct meetings unless former Asst. City Manager/Chief Finance Officer/Treasurer Paul Sundeen said there was a reason to meet or anything to discuss. Public pressure put Hart in the hot seat of having to explain her inaction with the Finance Committee and when she tried to do her usual direct examination of city employees adding them leading questions, it didn't acquit her well. Soon after the Finance Committee dusted itself off and started holding monthly meetings apparently finding plenty to talk about from developer's fees to audits to amnesty periods on parking tickets.

But it was when the Finance Committee didn't meet was when most of the questionable expenditures and uses of the city's finances took place.

But the fact that city staff including City Manager Scott Barber (who's obviously picked up a few things from his predecessor) spent money to the tune of $2.5 million this time on that debacle called the Fox Entertainment Plaza isn't really news at all. It's called pattern and practice and city managers have been doing such in Riverside since way before two weeks ago.  And the other times, the city council and mayor sat up there like bobble heads smiling their way through it.

Every scandal that erupted in Hudson's watch was responded to as if the city council were bobble heads who thought if they smiled widely enough and pointed quickly away from the latest embarrassment at a pretty trinket, no one would notice illegal and/or unethical behavior. Point out anything untidy like illegal badges, illegally purchased guns and the city council and mayor would just smile and point out the lovely tree over have to wonder why after that and more happened under the watch of past and current city council members why Hart's only complaining now about being a rubber stamp.

 The Citrus Towers stood at the top of a four way land swap which means that the city will pay $2 million plus annually just to make sure this project has its anchor tenant, Best, Best and Krieger.  Like the top end of any Ponzi Scheme like designed structure or just the first seat filled in musical chairs, this building looks splendid.

Okay, the Citrus Towers looks magnificent and it's filled with Best, Best and Krieger lawyers who vacated their old digs at the Wells Fargo building closer to City Hall to occupy space there. Loveridge even chose to have his very last (and  this time it's true) Mayoral Ball there on the sixth floor. If he did that to dissuade the people from seeing the situation involving the infamous quadruple land swap as a gift of public funds to the two private companies which benefited the most from it, all it did was raise more questions.

Questions like who's picked up the BB&K lease which is quite pricy at its old home and who's paying the $1 million or so of the bond indebtedness at the building on Orange Street near City Hall that's still housing a portion of the Riverside Public Utilities office.  Barber refuses to answer this question asked repeatedly at City Council meetings and in fact the last time it was asked, he was playing with his i Pad.  The answer as it turns out is that the Riverside Public Utilities is paying the "lease" on both buildings instead of just one of them.  It moved its administration and engineering division to space on the 3rd and 4th floor of the Wells Fargo Building (though the marquee of suite space on the ground floor hasn't been updated yet) and the finance division is still housed at its old haunt on Orange Street with the fate of Customer Service currently at its headquarters at a building that was transferred to the RDA before that collapsed unknown as to where it'll be going.

So basically what Barber doesn't want to say and no city council member either wants or allows or cares enough to get him to admit is that essentially the Public Utilities department is paying roughly twice the "rent" it was paying before this land scheme was engineered. If that hadn't happened, then this division would have simply stuck to paying the bond indebtedness on one building.  But the city needed Public Utilities to occupy both buildings so that the unused lease period of one and the bond indebtedness of the other could be paid for by utilities funds and then the cost passed on of course to the consumer most likely through rate increases and new fees and taxes.

Just like anything towards the end of a Ponzi Scheme, this building is a shell of itself with Riverside Public Utilities forced to pick up the tab for a building it barely occupies any longer, save for its Finance Division while it also allegedly picks up the tab for its pricier digs downtown. 

But the part of the land swap that narrowly avoided a bad situation was the police department. Originally the administrative offices at the Orange Street Station were going to fill the vacancy at the RPU building. That of course didn't happen because logistically it couldn't be done in a way that would work for the police  department services being relocated. The police department thus avoided paying $700,000 in renovation and relocation expenses not to mention having the department's budget or the general fund try to come up with the $1 million plus annually to pay the bond indebtedness. The police budget simply wouldn't be able to come up with this cash annually as it stands and it's also unlikely that it wouldn't have to pay at least a sizable portion because the general fund itself (which finances most of the police budget) is not able to really cover the costs either. Why do you think the city put RPU there instead to cover that bond debt each year? Because it has its own financial resources that it generates that the general fund doesn't. 

Imagine what would have happened if the city had tried to force this insane transfer through, given that the police budget is facing cuts at least that's what Diaz and his cabinet have been telling people in the communities of Riverside about police services. He's said to his band of "good" business and community leaders that some crimes won't be policed due to budget cuts. Other members of his leadership inside the department have been at meetings warning of cuts or reduced investment including financially in programs like UNET and Vice.
Chief Sergio Diaz and company have been warning their trusted band of business and community leaders about the impact of budget cuts on future policing

It's not exactly clear why Diaz is doing this or most anything for that matter because he only chooses to explain things to his set. But if it's in hopes that the leaders on his advisory board for example will take their concerns to the city officials to stop the budget cuts or if it's just facing the reality that the city's financially strapped, it's not clear yet.  But it makes what the city nearly did to the police department in the quadruple land swap a crime in my opinion. When the city was preparing to foist an extra start up cost of $700,000 on the department and that's before increasing its annual rent on its administrative headquarters from $1 annually to over $1 million, it should have been anticipating that the worst recession since the Great Depression might impact the city's budget including that of its police department. 

So why when they should have known that the budget could face serious cuts did they choose to help both Mark Rubin (who owns the Citrus Towers) and to a lesser extent, BB&K at what could have been high costs to both the police department and RPU?   Rubin needed to pay the $37.5 million in state bonds with lease revenue generating stream which was to have been the Raincross Promenade luxurious condos turned rental apartments which he hoped would be leased out.  The city claims that all of the units are leased out but that place is still quite dark at night and at any rate if it was fully occupied, it would have used the rent to pay the bonds on the Citrus Tower and the city would have never had to get involved in the business of helping promote private enterprise at the expense of its own city departments. So who was going to benefit from all this. 

Rubin, Citrus Towers: He gets an anchor tenant in BB&K so he can remain eligible for the bonds used to build the Towers by the use of lease revenue generation. Also an anchor tenant can attract more business for high-end office space which is not exactly experiencing a shortage in Riverside right now. 

BB&K:  The city's #1 law firm doesn't benefit as much giving up premium if expensive office space in exchange for what some in the firm have called smaller, more cramped digs at the Towers. And then there was the issue of not completing their lease on the Fargo building space. Presto, the city steps in and offers to finish out the lease for BB&K facilitating the move. 

Cost to BB&K: Maybe slightly higher but thanks to the city, it avoids a lawsuit by building owner for breach of contract.But city risked a lawsuit filed against it for "tortious interference".

RPU:  Winds up having an incremental lease hike as the costs of living at the Fargo digs costs more than what they were paying at the building that housed administration, finance and engineering. Now they're paying two lease tabs instead of one since after the deal with the RPD fell through, they couldn't backfill the space. 

Cost to taxpayers:  higher than what was paid in its current digs. Now it's paying roughly twice as much as earlier which will no doubt be passed on to customers.  

RPD: Would have seen its lease on administrative headquarters go from $1 (until end of 2017) go up to over $1 million annually. Not to mention the $700,000 to relocate most of Orange Street and additional monies of over $1.4 million to do the much needed relocation of dispatch, some of which was grant funded, the rest bond money tied up in the RDA mess. Dispatch was never going to be relocated to the RPU building and could have been relocated independently and in fact was relocated independently from the situation at Orange Street Station.

Cost to tax payers:  Anyone who thinks that it's not going to increase the cost to city residents by multiplying one's "rent" by over a million times, raise your hand. Or that it wouldn't have substantially worsened cuts currently being faced by the RPD to its services as told by Diaz and his cabinet at meetings.

The Fire Station That Just Wants to Be Finished

Construction halted on downtown fire station.  If you're a licensed contractor that can finish a fire station for a good price, the city needs you!

 An older photo of the new downtown fire station which has been in limbo since Edge Construction walked away from it. It does look a bit more finished than this photo but is unable to open.

Or that really pretty looking fire station downtown that hasn't seen a crew construction for months. You see Edge Construction bailed from the project and walked away, something that contractors usually only do when their bills aren't getting paid meaning they're out of liquid cash. But the company has indeed shutting down. Initially Randy Carter, its onsite supervisor at the fire station said the project would be completed but we're guessing that's not happening.What's confusing is that work shut down some time ago allegedly because payments weren't being made to contractors back when the building parcel was tied up in the RDA shutdown.

Councilman Mike Gardner did helpfully respond to an email on the matter.


The surety company has taken over construction responsibility since Edge Construction failed.  Work has stopped until a new general contractor is brought on board.  I expect that to be fairly soon.  This may delay opening which was scheduled for right about first of the year.  The length of the delay depends on how long it takes to get in a new general and how long it takes them to ramp back up.

Hope this helps.  I know it is not 100% definitive, but it is the best information we have right now.

Best regards,


The project is currently on hold for an undetermined amount of time.But this project is included on the Building Watch. We'll all see what happens with this much needed fire station. The only thing that can be said is that hey, at least it's one of two city fire stations (with #4 being the other) that's not collateral on some bond deal including those involving private projects by developers like the Hyatt Hotel downtown.

It's so nice that the city did its best to loan money to a developer to get the Hyatt done on schedule but one of our fire stations which is badly needed is left fallow until at least early next year.

Former City Manager Brad Hudson has left the building but does his legacy live on?

City Manager Scott Barber got royally dressed down by his bosses, was he waiting for his BFF City Attorney Greg Priamos to bail him out?  

But Priamos has been too busy lately with his own problems and wearing his tongue out defending the right for Councilman Steve Adams to vote for a position that employs for his brother.


If Councilman Steve Adams isn't in his seat, it must be public comment time but the beleaguered councilman with the golden tongue is running out of buds on the dais.

In Search of the Naughty Nine?

Riverside's Police Administrative headquarters still resides here but what of the "Naughty Nine"? And how this elite list could wind up costing tax payers.

Did this leopard ever really change his spots?  And why slapping someone on the wrist for an offense that can get them fired isn't always "best practices".

Ever since Chief Sergio Diaz first arrived in Riverside with great fanfare in mid-2010, there's been issues arising within Orange Street Station with what's been going on there.  Whether it's a turf war between two members of Team Diaz leading to a call for a locksmith or a physical altercation between lieutenants that led to Diaz allegedly putting his hands over his ears and walking away from someone saying he didn't want to hear about it. The sudden vacations which arise after allegations of  on duty incidents arise  not to mention the internal investigation involving sexual harassment being done against one captain (who's expected to have the complaint reach that middle finding of not sustained). Then there's  another captain who'd brought baggage into the position from sustained misconduct some years ago facing a new crisis of sorts. That's all sometime after yet another captain allegedly tried (and failed) to get the watch commander of another police department to release his son (who was also hired by the RPD as an officer) without a booking trail.

I look at this and I wonder what the hell is going on here?  And how is this any different than the department under Leach at least when it comes to behavior or misbehavior at the highest levels?

It's hard to know what to make of all this given that the individuals at the very top are supposed to set the example for others in a hierarchical type organization of leadership and management. The public's left in the dark about the mechanisms of accountability used to ensure  that management adheres to professional standards of conduct and when someone who critiqued the Strategic Plan asked about such mechanisms and what they were, the answer simply is that the department doesn't share that information with its partners in the community. Then those in charge of it including Diaz wonder why or flail their arms and get upset when people challenge them or just ask them on that when one of the individuals they chose for a management position gets in trouble. 

What has Diaz actually done with management that's any different? Management personnel got in trouble under Leach, as witnessed by some major retirements on the heels of Leach's own medical retirement. Some apparently still get in trouble now and even when they allegedly commit assault and battery there's no investigation of "private" or "off-duty" matters. Two police officers get different types of discipline for committing sexual misconduct on duty by their chiefs. One, an officer re-offends and winds up being criminally prosecuted and convicted of a felony charge, another, a supervisor gets promoted at least twice. .It's hard to know how to look at these differences in treatment for similar offenses when the initial offenses committed by both most often lead to job termination. If an officer commits a sexual offense on duty and sees that someone above him in rank gets wrist slapped in comparison, does that make it seem like the department takes a hard stance against it or an easy stance or is which you get decided by rank?

Two officers investigated for making the same racial slur. One, a detective is going to get the book thrown at him. The other, the lieutenant in charge of the division investigating him gets nothing...except for a job with the city after his retirement. Once he gets nothing, the detective is retroactively un-disciplined which when you think about it seems fair on one hand but makes the whole incident somewhat bizarre on the other.This was under Leach but is it different under Diaz?

Never a dull moment but it's an issue of concern given how the promise of accountability of upper management and supervision was woven into Diaz' new Strategic Plan as one of its most critical objectives. That was an important stance to take given the crises of confidence impacting the RPD in 2010 where the trickle down effect of management that got into serious trouble including the chief may have contributed to the arrests of more than six officers within 14 months with some of them facing prosecution and conviction for crimes. That didn't just happen in a vacuum. It has partly to do with the very mixed messages that are sent officers when people higher up above them commit misconduct and not only are not investigated but sometimes have been rewarded for it. 

This issue is one that arose and was discussed in a matter of speaking already at the city's highest levels.

With Diaz and two of his cabinet members facing the ends of their three-year contracts in the summer of 2013, what lays ahead for the future of the police department including at its very top? Some say Diaz might be vulnerable and that Barber and he don't have the best relationship in part because Barber didn't hire him. Inhouse criticism of Diaz by several fronts has led to trying times for the police chief though it seems likely at least right now he'll survive that.  Some say that Asst. Chief Chris Vicino has his eye on the spot while others say that it's possible that Deputy Chief Jeffrey Greer who's practically invisible to everyone except when they need him to be in a hot seat on a controversial sell like the Red Light Camera program might be leaving. 

If that were to happen, who does the department have to replace him or anyone else for that matter? In the three years that Diaz has been here, who's ready to step up into those management positions? Who won't be bringing a trouble history with him? Will Diaz reign be a decade long like he predicted?

All this remains to be seen.

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