CITY OF RIVERSIDE: TEAM SAHAGUN?

Posted: November 5, 2012 in Uncategorized

UPDATE:11/07/2012: BAILEY ELECTED MAYOR OVER ADKISION!

UPDATE: 11/06/2012: CITY COUNCIL TUESDAY: CITY ATTORNEY GREGORY PRIAMOS APOLOGIZES FOR THE EVENTS THAT TOOK PLACE.  PRIAMO STATES, NO ONE PERSON GAVE HIS INSTRUCTIONS TO GIVE THE DIRECTIVE TO THE POLICE OFFICER, CONTRADICTING HIS CLAIM OF “ATTORNEY-CLIENT” PRIVIVLEGE, WHICH WOULD INDICATE SOMEONE ELSE IS INVOLVED!   IN LIEU OF THE APOLOGY,  PRIAMOS MADE NO CORRESPONDING STATEMENTMORE TO INDICATE THAT CHARGES WOULD BE DROPPED AGAINST MS. KAREN WRIGHT…

What’s next in line for City Council, Mayor and City Attorney at tomorrows City Council Meeting, when the growing community support for RPD Officer Nick Sahagun is multiplying?  It didn’t take long after the arrest of public speaker Karen Wright that City Hall begin to wash their hands of the event, by stating it was the officer’s call.  City Attorney Greg Priamos became stonefaced when he was caught off guard with the question that the actual directive came from him.  He laid claim to “attorney-client” privilege, meaning he’s protecting the mayor or some members of city council.  Well many in the community are flustered with City Hall’s response.  Even the  Riverside Police Officer’s Association fired off an incendiary letter claiming the city was basically trying to throw officer Sahagun under the bus by the following letter.  Further, as in TMC’s opinion, was the City of Riverside eluding that Officer Sahagun was lying on the police report?  The spin on this dirty laundry has placed the machine on over drive and an attempt to make it go away with a double rinse cycle.  According to the Press Enterprise, RPOA’s President Brian Smith stated, “You either have an officer that’s lying in a police report or you have an employee that’s not telling you the whole truth.”  Inadvertainly making claims against a police office can destroy their careers, especially if they decide to work elsewhere.  Councilman Paul Davis stated, “this officer has to be completely and totally exonerated … otherwise it could seriously hurt his career.  An officer has to tell the truth all the time and I believe this officer is.”

CLICK THIS LINK TO VIEW FULL LETTER

Now the members of the community have rallied around Officer Sahagun, and created “Team Sahagun.”   Appearing at a city council near you, in this case tomorrow council meeting beginning with an early start at 3:00pm due to the elections.  With this don’t forget to go out and vote and make a difference!

A LETTER TO THE COUNCIL AND MAYOR FROM MARY SHELTON:

From: mary shelton <chicalocaside@yahoo.com> To: Mike Gardner <mgardner@riversideca.gov>; “asmelendrez@riversideca.gov” <asmelendrez@riversideca.gov>; “rbailey@riversideca.gov” <rbailey@riversideca.gov>; Paul Davis <pdavis@riversideca.gov>; “cmacarthur@riversideca.gov” <cmacarthur@riversideca.gov>; “nhart@riversideca.gov” <nhart@riversideca.gov>; “sadams@riversideca.gov” <sadams@riversideca.gov>; “rloveridge@riversideca.gov” <rloveridge@riversideca.gov> Sent: Tuesday, November 6, 2012 7:58 AM Subject:Doing the Right Thing

Hi,
I was going to write you all another letter about this situation but I caught the letter written by Brian Smith, RPOA president and I can say that what he wrote put you all to shame. He said it better than I could say it. I’m not surprised that Smith did that, he’s an intelligent, nuts and bolts kind of guy. He gets to the point pretty quickly.
He’s absolutely right. You are throwing Officer Nick Sahagun under the bus by allowing City Attorney Greg Priamos’ comments go unanswered. I told you from the start that I didn’t believe that the officer acted on his own volition and I did so fully knowing I was right. Even when criticized for it, I stuck to that because it’s the truth and I think on some level most or all of you know it. Even if you lack the moral courage and integrity to do something about it, at least so far but it’s not too late. One of you at least needs to step up, to man (or woman) up and do the right thing.  I think if that happens, the rest of you will have to follow to exchange one form of potential embarrassment for another.
Herd mentality and all that.
I’ve observed this officer along with the others over the past two years he’s worked CC. He’s friendly, helps people who ask questions and is very professional. He’d never done anything close to this before so it was kind of surprising to see his behavior change. Then I received information that something happened in the afternoon session where there was some change of protocol made and then I found out that Sahagun actually worked both afternoon and evening shifts which isn’t the norm for officers who man these shifts.  Whatever happened with Sahagun clearly happened at some point during the afternoon session which backs up what’s in his police report.
That part is crystal clear and the beauty is, you don’t have to be an Einstein or have a PhD to understand it. You just have to have common sense mixed in with a healthy dose of institutional memory.
Then before I even had to request the copy of Sahagun’s report under the CPRA, the PE posted it online after it somehow slipped past the city attorney’s office that likely would have squashed it. After all what was Priamos’ first comment?  He didn’t know it was public. I believe he’s speaking the truth as what Priamos told him to do. I’m glad he included it in his report. It shows that he pays attention to detail and he’s a good listener. It’s too bad that the officers who are there primarily for public safety apparently have very little trust in the people on the dais to not do things like what’s been done. But at least they apparently understand that the life that they are to save even at the sacrifice of their own can’t even sit the attorney down and interrogate him on this “client”.  The “client” and I know there is at least one or more among you who’s being silent on this doesn’t have the integrity to step forward and clear up this matter rather quickly so that Officer Sahagun can get out of the spotlight and go back to focusing on what he’s hired to do which to protect and serve the public.
I believe that the city council should have put a greater priority on scheduling a closed session with your city attorney than the election night celebration or defeat parties. I guess election party night clearly matters more. In fact, it would have shown tremendous leadership from Mr. Bailey (and he’s Mayor Pro Tem so he can set the meeting agenda) to choose to settle this issue and perhaps be late to his own election party because a great wrong has been done here. And the tragedy of it is that except for Councilman Davis, none of you seem to really get it or you just don’t care. You say, “resisting arrest can’t end well” even though the report doesn’t really mention resisting (nor did the initial oral version of it) and there’s been no PC 148(a)(1) charges recommended by the RPD. You say you stand by Sahagun (in the same breath as you said you couldn’t stop him once he started) but through your actions you’ve shown the opposite. Smith mentions in his letter that he doesn’t believe he’ll get a response from you based on your past history. Unfortunately as I told him he’s probably right.
But this is still all better than avoiding dealing with the pressing issue of your city attorney making comments that indicate that he said the officer lied on his report.  He then cited “attorney/client” privilege likely to protect one or more of you from accountability for it which instead you view as embarrassment. Your comfort level has trumped the integrity of a police officer that perhaps you know nothing about.  Maybe if you did, it might at least give you food for thought.
Here’s a little bio information on Officer Sahagun. He has been a police officer with the RPD since 2007. He was born and raised in the Eastside in our own city, the ward that Melendrez represents. He worked at a  restaurant in Riverside for a period of time and started working for the RPD as a custodian in 1990.  He saw what officers did and wanted to become one himself so in his late 30s, he enrolled and pulled himself through the part-time peace officer’s academy at Ben Clark Training Academy.  He was hired by the RPD at the age of 39 after graduating from the Academy with top honors. Second highest in his class in physical skills and at the top academically which I imagine is quite a bit better than Adams did in his own training.
He has worked in patrol in the NPC West which I believe falls within the wards of Hart and Adams.
His comments on becoming an officer were the following: “I wish I’d done this a long time ago. I didn’t think it would really happen, until it happened.”
So this is an officer who wanted to serve the public and reached that point later than most of them to get where he wanted to be. This is an officer, whose primary responsibility is public safety, meaning that if someone tries to harm anyone in the chambers then he’s to stop them even if it costs him his life. This is also an individual who wasn’t even worth holding a closed session today to get to the bottom as to why your city attorney ordered him to discriminate against a particular speaker (mentioning her by name) which is a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Likely trumped by a greater desire to hit the party circuit.
Something that Officer Sahagun and all of you took oaths to uphold and protect when you raised your right hand to be sworn into your respective positions. Then one or more of you hid behind the city attorney and ordered Sahagun to go against his own sworn oath because one or more of you couldn’t uphold your own promises that you made when you raised those hands before the city clerk.
This is also the guy you threw under the bus and before you all protest, I think it’d be more prudent at this point to undo the damage which has been done. This “client” needs to just stand up publicly and admit what he or they did. That’s what being an elected leader is all about yet it seems to be the lesson you have the most difficult time grasping.  Everything that happened in 2010 obviously didn’t teach you anything.  But then let’s see, city council is totally silent, city attorney cites “attorney/client” privilege to investigators and a police lieutenant gets thrown under the bus. We all know that if Lt. Leon Phillips hadn’t spent his time in the “penalty box” at Orange Street Station preparing a defense he would ultimately win, he’d be in a lot worse shape today than the police chief who broke the law, the assistant chief who covered it up and those in City Hall who were probably more involved in what was going on with mishandling of the police department by City Hall (in violation of the city charter) than they ever let on.
There’s not much more to say except the city council and mayor has once again deeply embarrassed our city putting it on the international map because coverage of this incident reached Europe over the weekend.  I wish one or more of you would do the right thing but that requires stepping out of your comfort zone and frankly which among you has the courage and moral integrity to do so?  I’d truly have to see it to believe it because I and other people are tired of just hearing about it.  We’ll see if anyone truly has the guts. Adversity has a way of bringing out the best and worst in individuals.
Until then, stop saying how much you stand behind an officer who’s integrity was challenged by one of your own employees who’s currently protected by your mostly blanket silence.  Mr. Adams, when you shake the hands of officers like Sahagun and thank them, are those just words or are you going to back that up with action? Why don’t you lead the movement to get to the bottom of this matter?
Mayor Loveridge, I’d like to commend you on your legacy as mayor. This is a hell of a way to end it isn’t it? Yes, you’ve done some good things, the Mayor’s Use of Force Panel was your most important act but when I think of you, I think of something former CBS reporter Mike Wallace once said during the scandal rocking 60 Minutes when it refused to air a controversial interview with a Big Tobacco whistle blower. “But history only remembers most what you did last.”
Something to think about when you consider what your last action as the city’s mayor is going to be. It’d be a great legacy if you could be the leader in getting the city council or yourself to come clean about why you’re hiding the city attorney who hid behind a police officer who found himself an unwitting participant in your latest embarrassing scandal. Whether or not he’ll be a casualty of it is entirely up to all of you.
Remember actions speak louder than words.
Best regards,
A LETTER TO THE COUNCIL AND MAYOR FROM KEVIN DAWSON:
To: sadams@riversideca.gov, rbaily@riversideca.gov, mgardner@riversideca.gov, nhart@riversideca.gov, rloveridge@riversideca.gov, cmacarthur@riversideca.gov, asmelendrez@riversideca.gov, pdavis@riversideca.gov

Cc: sbarber@riversideca.gov, dbernstein@PE.com, arobinson@pe.com, ghammons@pe.com, njensen@pe.com, kchaffee@pe.com, egreenhouse@pe.com

Subject: Shame on you, and you know who you are.

Date: Nov 6, 2012 11:46 AM

November 5, 2012
Dear Council members and Mayor,
I am very upset with the events of the council meeting on Oct. 23 and the arrest of Karen Wright.  I’ve watched the meeting several times and I don’t believe Ms. Wright deserved being treated the way she was.
I attended the council meeting the week before and saw how the Poly High Baseball team was afforded substantially more than three minutes during the public comment period. I’d also bet that each of the speakers for the Poly team failed to submit a speaking card.
I’m sorry, but you can not be arbitrary and show favoritism to those you like, and punish the speakers who are your critics.  The actions that night violated the preamble of the city charter, the code of ethics, and quite possibly Federal constitutional rights.
In the council meetings leading up to that night, it was standard practice for the speaker to be allowed by the Mayor to finish one’s thoughts or paragraph. Ms. Wright was often allowed to exceed the 3 min. speaking time.  If this policy was going to be changed, a announcement or notice should have been given to either the public or to Ms. Wright.  To have a sudden policy change, especially involving PD with citations, amounts to a form of entrapment.
All of you volunteered to be on the council or serve as Mayor. No one is forcing you to be there. You have an obligation to listen to the public during the comment period. If you don’t like what you are hearing, grow a thicker hide or resign.  Listening to criticism is part of the program, as no one is going to agree with everything you do.
I am upset that blame was being laid upon the PD officers from that night, when it is now public that the city attorney instructed them to take action on Ms. Wright.  The city attorney is now claiming attorney/client privilege.  Just who is he claiming to be the client?  I think we need to know who is the political coward that would instruct the city attorney to sic the police on an elderly, native American, disabled woman, and then hide behind the legal shield of attorney privilege.  Worse than that, the coward tries to shift the blame to the poor police officers ordered to do the dirty work.
I know Officer Sahagun. He is a good person.
There were plenty of other actions that could have been taken that night short of arresting the speaker. An announcement could have been made at the beginning of comment period that a new policy was being initiated to bring stricter enforcement of the 3 min. speaking time rule.  The microphone could have been turned off.  A ten minute break declared, during which, a calm effort could have been made to restore decorum. The city attorney could have sent a warning letter after the meeting as he has done before.
Requesting Police action should be a last resort and reserved for emergency situations or after all other remedies have been exhausted.  Police action always carries the risk of unintended consequences and we are very lucky that no one suffered any serious injuries that night.
We deserve to know the truth about what happened that night. Someone gave the orders and needs to take responsibility.  We deserve to know who really gave the instructions.  Unless we hear otherwise, I am assuming it was the Mayor.
Shame on you Ron, and anyone else who goes along with this cover up.  The Police are not your personal chamber bouncers.
There needs to be an apologize made to Karen Wright, the police officers, and the public.  Why should we have to pay to defend a possible lawsuit, so you can save face or political embarrassment?  You want to take credit when things go well, but you also need to accept responsibility when things go bad.
Kevin Dawson

 

A LETTER TO THE COUNCIL, MAYOR AND PRESS ENTERPRISE FROM LETICIA PEPPER:

From: letitiapepper@yahoo.com To: letters@pe.com, letters@pe.net CC: sadams@riversideca.gov, rbailey@riversideca.gov, dbernstein@pe.com, bhudson@riversideca.gov, city_clerk@riversideca.gov, mgardner@riversideca.gov, nhart@riversideca.gov, rloveridge@riversideca.gov, cmacarthur@riversideca.gov, asmelendrez@riversideca.gov, pdavis@riversideca.gov Sent: 11/7/2012 8:32:30 P.M. Pacific Standard Time Subj: Corrected Letter to the Editor re Op Ed Piece on the Karen Wright Incident

Dear Editorial Board:    Your recent editorial about the City’s use of police and handcuffs to silence a critic states that “The only facts that do not seem to be in dispute: At the Oct. 23 council meeting, frequent critic Karen Wright spoke past her allotted time and refused to sit down.”     I believe you are wrong about this “fact” not being in dispute.  First, the editorial makes it sound like Ms. Wright had been ordered to sit down and had refused to do so.  That is not true, according to the video, Ms. Wright herself, and others who were present nearby.  She was not refusing to sit down, but was about to do so when she was stopped by the police officer.     That police officer, however, because he was acting on the prior order of the City Attorney — as opposed to acting on his own judgement — was right behind her as she turned away from the podium, still commenting, preparatory to going back to her seat.  She was about to pick up items she’s left there so that she could sit down.      She was startled to find the police officer immediately behind her and asked him to get out of her “space” because he was so close.  Instead of moving out of her way, he touched her arm or shoulder preparatory to caring out his order to “stop her.”       She was already in the process of turning to walk away when this happened, and, no doubt not thinking she’d done anything wrong — since speakers other than she have also spoken past the three minutes a bit with no effect other than the Mayor telling them their time is up and to bring their comments to a close — turned to the council to say “Stop the police harassment.” Why would she say this?  Because it was harassment to send a police officer to treat only her, and no other speaker who went over the three minutes, in this way.     She was not planning on standing there to protest anything; she was in the process of returning to her seat when this all happened. So making her sound like she was being disruptive by not returning to her seat is a low blow, and bad reporting.      While the editorial focuses on the political fall-out, please keep in mind the very real personal fallout for the victim of this misconduct by whoever was behind the City Attorney’s order to “stop her” (my vote is for the Mayor, since it was his chosen candidates, Bailey and Miller, that she regularly spoke against while urging the audience to vote for their opponents).         She is charged with a crime she did not commit — speaking 16 seconds over a three-minute limit is NOT a violation of Penal Code section 403, as I’m sure any neutral, intelligent attorney would tell you.  She is therefore wrongfully facing a potential sentence of up to six months in jail, and the cost and worry of being involved in a criminal proceeding with potentially serious and expensive consequences.       The City Council, Mayor and City Attorney all owe her an apology and they need to make every effort — both individually and as a group — to get this charge dropped as soon as possible.  Let’s see which of our elected officials will step up to the plate and right this egregious wrong against freedom of political speech.
Letitia Pepper P. O. Box 55560 Riverside, CA 92517 (951) 781-8883

COMMENTERS ON THE PE:

It’s fairly obvious that when Mr. Priamos invokes his catch phrase of “attorney/client privilege” where none exists he is being less than forthcoming with the truth. This is not unusual since the truth is very elusive to our City Attorney. For him to state one of our officers is untruthful is a serious accusation since an officers credibility is the foundation of his career.  Mr.Priamos should “man up” and tell the truth instead of trying to defame a  member of our Police Department. I support Officer Sahagun and I am wondering  when our ex-RPD councilmember from Ward 7 is going to come out of hiding and support the membership that supported him.   – John Brandiff, Commenter on the PE

Yeah…the city council and mayor need to just man and woman up and the “client” needs to step forward and just admit what he or they did. But Smith is right in that the history of them doing that is not the best including prior incidents when police were directed to remove people from the podium by mayor pro tems including elderly women. The people that order these removals need to be very upfront about who’s doing it but somehow they just can’t do that. Isn’t that what elected leadership is all about? To take that role of being responsible?
I’m glad Davis is figuring it out but there’s six city council members and one mayor left to figure out that throwing people under the bus for their own actions is just not acceptable behavior. The mayor and CC have had two direct employees supposedly go “rogue” if you really believe that…in less than a month. They need to rein them in and hold them accountable. But not hide behind them either. If you want to call your mayor and CC people about this issue, the phone number for the CC is 951-826-5991 and the emails are: rloveridge@riversideca.gov ,  mgardner@riversideca.gov , asmelendrez@riversideca.gov , rbailey@riversideca.gov , pdavis@riversideca.gov , cmacarthur@riversideca.gov , nhart@riversideca.gov and sadams@riversideca.gov   -Mary Shelton, Commenter on the PE

TMC, RATED RIVERSIDE’S MOST “SLANDEROUS” AND MEZZSPELLED, “MISSPELLED” AND “OPINIONATED” BLOG SITE!  TEMPORARILY BLOCKED BY THE CITY OF RIVERSIDE AT PUBLIC ACCESS SITES WITHIN THE CITY, THEN UNBLOCKED.  I GUESS YOU CANNOT DO THAT ACCORDING TO ACLU.  RATED ONE TWO ONE STAR OUT OF FIVE IN TERMS OF COMMUNITY APPROVAL RATINGS..  TMC IS NOW EXCLUSIVELY ON FILE WITH THE COUNTY OF RIVERSIDE’S DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S OFFICE, AND PROSSIBLY POSSIBLY ON FILE WITH THE CITY OF RIVERSIDE’S POTENTIAL SLAPP SUIT LIST… WE WILL HAVE TO ASK GREGORY ABOUT THAT ONE ( OUR PEOPLE WILL HAVE TO CONTACT HIS PEOPLE)… AGAIN, THANK-YOU COMMUNITY OF RIVERSIDE AND THE CITY OF RIVERSIDE EMPLOYEE’S FOR YOUR SUPPORT!   COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOMED, ESPECIALLY SPELL CHECKERS!  EMAIL ANONYMOUSLY WITH YOUR DIRT OR FOR CONTACT!   THIRTYMILESCORRUPTION@HOTMAIL.COM

Comments
  1. Officer Nick Sahagun actually was hired at the age of 39 by the RPD as an officer after working there since 1990 as a custodian. He was raised in the Eastside and put himself through p/t Ben Clark Training Center police academy graduating with top honors. Second in physical agility and first in academics.

    He’s been working for the RPD since 2007.

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