IS THE ETHICS PROCESS NOTHING MORE THAN JUST A KANGAROO COURT RUN BY THE CAPTAIN KANGAROO HIMSELF, GREG PRIAMOS?
The Ethics Complaint process has been one which has been thoughtfully designed to orchestrate a favorable result each and every time a complaint is brought forward to the adjudicating body. The adjudicating body on the one hand always seems to somehow be associated with City business or other associates. We therefore ask the following question, “did this resolution deny former employee of Public Utilities, Jason Hunter due process and deny his civil liberties regarding his right to a fair hearing?” Jason Hunter was the City of Riverside’s Principal Resource Analyst, in other words his was head of Wholesale Energy Marketing and Trading. In response to the many Human Resource (HR) board members involved as part of the complaint, former employee Jason Hunter believes that the City put forward the following resolution to consolidate the complaint. In other words, there intent was to consolidate all board members in one complaint, what the City claims will aide in efficiency and effectiveness. Sort of a one size fits all, which anyone knows, does not work for the greater good of residents or employees of the City of Riverside. What we have by this resolution is an attempt to skirt the true complaint issues and present a result which would end in a favorable outcome for the City.
We therefore ask the following question, “did this resolution deny former employee of Public Utilities, Jason Hunter due process and deny his civil liberities regarding his right to a fair hearing?” But it doesn’t stop there. His concerns included the City highering outside council, whereby he had none. The City Attorney Gregory Priamos’s continued interference in the process.
When we look at the following resolution passed by City Council passed October 2012, the above resolution appears to contradict the core values. One of the core values is “creating trust in government.” By consolidating all individuals into one hearing represented by one or several attorneys, places doubt on this concept. The conflict of interest of Justin Scott Coe, chairman of the Ethics Panel, also chairman of the board of Public Utilities, of the department of which Hunter was fired from. It doesn’t stop there, the first hearing did not end in a definitive decision, but was deferred to a later date or continuance, so the panel could study the complaint with a better perspective. We will get to that a bit later. Priamos was did not appear at any of the ethics hearing, and according to Hunter should have recused himself at the Human Resources hearing as a result their prior interaction with his resulted in none compliance to his document and informational request.
Hunter names the following as part of the ethics complaint: Norman Powell, Chairman of the Human Resources Board; Arthur Butler, Holly Evans, Jamie Wrage, Sonya Dew and Tricia Eibs, all members of the Human Resources Board.
Hunter’s objections are as follows:
I object to the city paying for outside counsel for the Human Resources Board members at their ethics hearing if this indeed is happening. I remain unrepresented and question the fairness of such arrangement.
- Per City Charter Section 702 (b), the City Attorney is to, “represent and appear for the City in any or all actions or proceedings in which the City is concerned or is a party, and represent and appear for any City officer or employee, or former City officer or employee, in any or all actions and proceedings in which any such officer or employee is concerned or is a party for any act arising out of such officer’s or employee’s employment or by reason of such officer’s or employee’s official capacity.”
- I object to the City Attorney’s Office advising the Ethic Hearing Committee, as it cannot fulfill its obligation under the Charter and remain as independent counsel to this committee. This is an obvious conflict of interest, much like the City Attorney himself advising the Human Resources Board at my grievance hearing of May 13, 2013, while his subordinate, Mr. Neal Ozaki, advocated against me. In fact, as a former city employee, I question why I was not given the option of being represented at the City’s expense at the May hearing, as it appears members of the Human Resources Board will be at this Friday’s scheduled hearing.
- I object to the City Attorney’s Office writing the protocols all-together. Per Section 804 of the City Charter: “Each board or commission may prescribe its own rules and regulations which shall be consistent with the Charter and copies of which shall be kept on file in the Office of the City Clerk where they shall be available for public inspection.” Resolution No. 22590 violates the Charter by allowing a conflicted City Attorney to unilaterally adopt the protocols for this hearing and is therefore illegitimate.
- I object to any past, present, or future ex-parte communication between Smith Law Offices, city-appointed counsel (I assume) for the Human Resources Board, and either Ethics Committee members themselves or their counsel regarding any matters regarding this complaint. If this communication has already occurred, I demand to know the nature of such, and based upon such information, may request dismissal of the HRB’s counsel or Ethics Committee members to ensure a fair hearing. Per the California Public Records Act, I request all contracts and invoices of Smith Law Offices with the city related to this hearing.
- I object to city of Riverside board and commission chairmen serving as members of the adjudicating body. These appointed officials owe a duty to the city of Riverside, and hence have a considerable conflict in remaining independent. Further, they themselves fall under the jurisdiction of the Code of Ethics and Conduct and are therefore not unbiased in determining the intent of the voters in interpreting the code. Moreover, members of the adjudicating body themselves may be subject to ethics complaints at a future date, with members of the current Human Resources Board finding themselves serving as their adjudicating panel. The conflict here is obvious.
- For the same rationale as above, I object to the Riverside City Council serving as the appellate body.
- I object to Justin Scott-Coe serving as the chairman of the Ethics Committee. Mr. Scott-Coe is the current chairman of the Board of Public Utilities. I was illegally terminated without cause from Riverside Public Utilities in part for whistleblowing activities against its executives, and the conflict here should be obvious.
- I object to being given only 15 minutes to state my case. This matter should be dealt with seriously and no time limits should be in place, as long as relevant materials are being discussed and the meeting is progressing efficiently. I question the fairness of this protocol, and its compliance with the Code of Ethics and Conduct (Resolution No. 22318) itself.
- I object to opposing counsel being given unlimited time to state its case, given the restrictions on my time. I question the fairness of this protocol.
- I object to not being allowed to compel witnesses and evidence, as allowed under Section 804 of the City Charter.
- I object to not being allowed to question city employees and members of the Human Resources Board as to their involvement in the proceedings of May 13, 2013. I question the absence of this protocol, and whether this absence violates compliance with the Code of Ethics and Conduct (Resolution No. 22318) itself.
- I object to not receiving answers to the various questions I have asked to elected officials and public employees over the course of the last several months in regards to this complaint and my grievance hearing of May 13, 2013.
In an email to the City Council he hopes that they would consider the alternative..
CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE AND VIEW EMAIL
The City Charter for the City of Riverside is as follows where he specifically refers to Section 804:
In the second part of the hearing or the continuance, after 2 hours of discussion the panel found no code of ethics violation connected with the hearing process of the Human Resource Board, but the panel would recommend to City Council that their be more training of the Human Resource Board. Also noted was the interference of City Attorney Gregory Priamos in the process. What was also disturbing was that Ethics Panel Chairman Justin Scott Coe admitted meeting with City Attorney Gregory Priamos prior to the hearing, and that he recieved a set of protocol from Priamos that the others on the Ethics Panel did not receive. Again we have a conundrum with the perseption of conflict of interest and swaying the decision process by the City Attorney himself.
City Attorney Gregory Priamos Public Utilities Board Chair Justin Scott-Coe
Interesting enough one of the speakers who in defense of the HRB was none other than BB&K Attorney, Joseph T. Ortiz. Who is also part of the Greater Riverside Chamber Business Council as well as the Riverside Community Police Review Committee. But if you have been reading this blog, you also know very well how entangled BB&K is with the City of Riverside on boards etc. Coincidence, conflict of interest, you decide.
Ortiz was quite outspoken on the issue, but it doesn’t end their. A complaint was issued by Jason Hunter regarding an RPD episode at his home, evidently initiated by City Attorney Gregory Priamos. In regards to this episode, Hunter issued a complaint against the Riverside Police Department via the Riverside Community Police Review Committee. Will Hunter recieve a fair hearing of which was against Riverside’s finest? His story is as follows:
RPD GIVE FORMER CITY EMPLOYEE JASON HUNTER A VISIT
What TMC learned, was that after Hunter was released from his postion, a pack of three RPD officers were sent to his house. We were later told anonymously that one of the RPD officers was known as “Crazy Vince.” We learned they were sent by non other thatn City Attorney Gregory Priamos, this in order to question him regarding a complaint made against him of alleged threats. He was told by an RPD officer that he was not allowed to appear at City Council or on the City Hall grounds. The officer told him they would place handouts around to inform other RPD officers. “You can’t do that,” Hunter stated. The officer responded, if you do they’re may a young edgey police officer and you may get shot. Now what we had in the past, was Karen Wright arrested for going over the 3 minute mark, Letitia Pepper arrested for clapping, and now the threat to shoot to kill a former employee by RPD enforcers given the order per the City Attorney Gregory Priamos. When RPD attempted and reached Hunter’s ex-wife to ask her information regarding his state of mind, she asked how did you get my information? They didn’t respond. She also now has a complaint with CPRC for illegally attaining private information, as well as Jason Hunter for the threats to kill him if he shows up at City Hall. It doesn’t get better than this folks! Others also have come out anonymously, and have also had experiences with RPD acting out of the line of duty as “enforcers.” We certainly may not hear anything from DA Zellerbach, expecially in an election year..or Chief Sergio Diaz, because I imagine they will say it just doesn’t exist. So far the Riverside Community Police Riview Committee has not responded to Hunter’s complaint. But how will this pan out with City supporter Ortiz, a BB&K Attorney and Commission Member of the Riverside Community Police Review Committee? In which their mission statement states that the Community Police Riview Commission was created in order to promote public confidence in the professionalism and accountability of the the sworn staff of the Riverside Police Department. Sworn should mean something to a police officer, to uphold the law and not the so called blue line of protection. Most use the term to refer to the unwavering commitment the police have for each other, to the point of willingness to blur the truth in favor of their “blue” brethren. Meaning: The police do not cross “the thin blue line” when it comes to defending each others’ actions.
Let’s hope TMC doesn’t get a visit from the so called enforcers… Thanks, we have the FBI.
More to come on this breaking story…
PAST ETHICS COMPLAINT AGAINST COUNCILMAN CHRIS MAC ARTHUR:
Going through past ethics complaints we bring the isssue of the complaint against Councilman Chris Mac Arthur and his legislative aide Chuck Condor. While the adjudicating body found no wrong doing, OSHA cited with the complainents regarding the action in question. Councilman Adams may have other words to describe his attack on complanents, “Did you see it? did you see it?”
LANZILLO: THE GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING…
The gift that keeps on giving, once again one of Riverside’s former best, fired RPD officer Chris Lanzillo is in the news again. In 2010 he was fired by RPD, then shortly reinstated, then granted a tax free medical retirement after a settlement agreement. Lanzillo decided to start his own investigative practice in Orange County and worked with an Upland Law Firm, Lackie, Dammeier & Mc Gill. So TMC asked the question, “Is this insurance fraud?” According to Police Chief Sergio Diaz in a 2010 Press Enterprise story, Lanzillo was fired “not because he was a member of the leadership of the [police union], but because he did some really bad things.” The specifics of “THE REALLY BAD THINGS” was not elaborated on by the chief. But if the Chief chimed in on this, we must speculate the worst. So Sergio, what the hell does “REALLY BAD THINGS MEAN!” If you can tell the community of Riverside, which incidently pay for your double dipping salary, what do we have as a Chief of Police? If you are a leader, take control to protect, serve and train your officers. If you cannot do that, just retire, and allow those officers who can take the City Riverside into the the 21st Century.
In a TMC story earlier this year allegations of former RPD officer and former President of the Riverside Police Officers’ Union, Lanzillo was involved in some unscrupulous activities in Orange County. After his medical retirement, Lanzillo must have had a health miracle in that he felt good enough to to start his own investigative practice, in which from time to time, worked with an Upland Law Firm, Lackie, Dammeier & Mc Gill. Lackie, Dammeier and McGill, which represents more than 120 police associations in California, until recently had featured on its website a manual for tough negotiating tactics that included targeting city officials until they caved in to union demands.
The current allegations were that the two allegedely conspired and were involved with shaking down elected officials with embarrassing information that would compell them to vote on issues favorable to Police officers and their Police Union. The latest is that FBI became involved. Further, they were utilizing the local law enforcement officers as enforcers for their ill gains, without concern of the taxpayer. Lanzillo allegedly utilized GPS tracking devices illegally placing them in the vehicles of elected officials. The conclusion was that this gave the perception that this was a conspiratorial shake down and black mail operation of elected officials, hiding under the auspices of a legal law firm supporting the request of union law enforcement officers. Then the Orange County DA raided their offices in October of 2013.
Incidently, there is also an incident of stalking, anonymously sent to us, regarding Lanzillo when he was with RPD. This he did as a uniformed officer.
LIVE NATION TO TAKE OVER THE FOX THEATRE.
“This is an exacting opportunity for the City of Riverside,” Mayor Rusty Bailey said., “this contact will provide Riverside with a world-class entertainment provider to match are world-class facilities.” We at TMC were not aware that Riverside had “world class facilities.” Did Mayor Bailey give this paid gig to Live Nation because he grew up with one of the officials Live Nation, Paul McGuigan?
The City continues to be in the business of government entertainment, even though the Fox Theatres continues to operate in the black at over $1 million a year.
GOING BACK IN TIME IN RPD, THE KEERS COMPLAINT: “LOOK HER MOUTH IS OPEN, SHE MUST BE TRYING TO GET PROMOTED.”
In 1989, when Keers yawned in the bay, Detective Ron Adams (Councilman Steve Adam’s brother, prior police officer), commented, “Look her mouth is open, she must be trying to get promoted.” Nice Ron..and good luck on your brother who believes he is Congressman material for the next election. Watch out folk who you vote for!
This complaint filed by female RPD officer Keers back in the 90’s against the police department. Yes, it does have Councilman Steve Adams brother Ron Adams included in this complaint. Even now, what will the City of Riverside do to curtail undo liability against the taxpayer via their employees, such as RPD?
HOW DOES IT LOOK WHEN RIVERSIDE CITY ATTORNEY, GREG PRIAMOS, IS HELPING BEST, BEST & KRIEGER MAKE TONS OF MONEY FROM RIVERSIDE CITY TAXPAYERS BY VIOLATING STATE BAR RULES AND THE PUBLIC INTEREST?
According to an email sent to TMC by Attorney Letitia Pepper the following was stated:
As I think most of you know, local activists have been trying for years to get copies of any contracts for legal services between the City of Riverside and the law firm of Best, Best & Krieger. This is because the City Charter provides that the City Council is supposed to approve — after review of course — contracts for outside legal for legal services.
Their Public Record Act requests have been met with a claim that no such contracts exist! Yet the City continues to pay BB&K the big bucks — but without any contracts?
State Bar Rules require that attorneys provide all clients with a written contract for any legal services. There are only two possible exceptions to this requirement that might apply to explain why no contracts exist between BB&K and the City:
(1) if the services provided were provided on an emergency basis (in which case a contract in writing must be provided once the emergency has been dealt with), or
(2) if the client has waived its right to a written contract.
I have urged these activists to submit a written Public Records Act request to the City for any records related to the existence of such a waiver of the right to a written contract. I don’t know if they’ve done so yet. But this is an important issue that must be addressed alongside the absence of any written contracts.
Would such a waiver of the City of Riverside’s right to a written contract for legal services be legally valid? No, it would not.
The right to a written contract for outside legal services, which can then be reviewed and approved only by the complete City Council, is a right which exists for the public’s interest, not the interest of the City Attorney, or the interest of the City Council members. A right created in the public interest can never be waived.
This issue is of particular importance right now. The City Attorney has been retaining the expensive services of Best, Best & Krieger to file amici briefs in appeals in which the City of Riverside has absolutely no interests! The amicus brief I was shown by Jason Thompson, Esq. already filed By BB&K on behalf of the City of Riverside, even states, in its introduction, that Riverside has no interest in such case.
After the City Council’s plea (and mailings) that people vote for Measure A, or else face the reduction or closure of libraries and other public services, why and how is the City paying for such legal fees? Do the members of the City Council even know what’s going on, or how much money we’re bleeding in fees in cases in which the City and its residents are not involved?
And is the City Council prepared to allow the City Attorney to continue to funnel taxpayers’ dollars into even more lawsuits related to Best, Best & Krieger’s lucrative war against medical marijuana, when the City’s own residents have not been demanding an attack on medical marijuana?
Who is running this City? Its residents, or the City Attorney?
Below is a link to the page at the BB&K website, showing how BB&K will be able to continue to raid the public trough for millions of dollars, with help from City Attorney Greg Priamos, unless the City Council demands that, as required by the City Charter, any further outside legal services be first put into a written proposal, with a written legal services contract, submitted to them as an agenda item, and then put to a vote of the complete city council.
I request that Jason Thompson provide the City Council, the press, and the public with copies of these amicus briefs showing that the citizens of Riverside are paying for legal services that provide them with absolutely no benefits.
Our governments, at all levels, have been hijacked by special, financial interests. What’s happened in Riverside with this outside-legal-service-payments-without-a-written-contract scheme is a great local example. It’s also a great opportunity for our currently elected officials to prove that they are going to begin to represent their constituents, not big businesses, and not big law firms.
Sincerely, Letitia E. Pepper
Here’s the link to BB&K’s website that shows that, if the City Council doesn’t regain control over outside legal services, we’ll be bleeding wasted money for years to come.http://www.bbklaw.com/?t=40%20&an=27170&format=xml#!”
According to a Press Enterprise story on December 24, 2013, Assistant City Manager Belinda Graham again signed on the Rancho Cucamonga law firm Cihigoyenetche, Grossberg & Clouse to again investigate another alleged wrongdoing case for the City. This time they were hired to investigate RPD’s asset forfeiture expenditures. If you remember back in May 2011 we did a story regarding forming Deputy City Attorney Raychele Sterling’s allegation of that former City Manager Brad Hudson was allegedley steering contracts to his friends. This Sterling learned from emails via employs in that department. Ms. Sterling reported these allegations of favoritism and was then fired by City Attorney Greg Priamos. City officials then said the allegations of contract steering were baseless, the City Attorney never responded and City Manger Hudson hired the above firm to investigate himself and put to put to rest these allegations against him. The law firm will charge the taxpayer a measley $300.00 plus incidentals. After $150,000.00, the law firm miraculously concluded the allegations were baseless! What a miracle. Belinda Graham was also assistant city manager under Hudson. We as taxpayers must begin to ask the City why it has costed us so much liability, not this one case, but other, especially the ones you don’t hear about.
NOW YOU SEE IT, NOW YOU DON’T!
Partner Scott Grossberg of the law firm Cihigoyenetche, Grossberg & Clouse
The story gets stranger, because TMC found out later that one of the partners of the law firm, Scott Grossberg, also a motivational speaker who specializes in magic, and is the author of three critically acclaimed and bestselling books, available on Amazon, “The Vitruvian Square: A Handbook of Divination Discoveries,” “The Masks of Tarot,” and “Bauta: Betraying the Face of Illusion,” in addition to his oracle/divination cards, “The Deck of Shadows.” This partner specializes in magic, thought-reading, and divination (Tarot, oracle cards, palmistry, astrology, and numerology). How much will this investigation cost the taxpayer this time, I guess my question to the City of Riverside is, does this get paid through the taxpayer or the other side. But it may be as it is in Belinda’s world, Cihigoyenetche, Grossberg & Clouse may be just the thing to take this investigation that one step beyond.