A bit of concern came forward the other day with emails from the community who were for the most part, taken back, after viewing the City Council meeting on the internet. City-supported presenters that came forward to address the Council were filmed in a way one would normally expect, as seen below from Council Chambers on January 29, 2015.
But when it came to public commentary, a funny thing happened: the camera angle was switched to view the public (many of whom are critics) from the rear of the Council Chamber. This action sends a personal message to the community: you don’t matter. Your voice and personification is so far away that what you have to say is not important nor worth being heard.
Not only was it so far away, but now viewers at home could only seeing the backside of the public. Questions arose if this was a tactic by City leaders to diss or demean the public. Just when it appears that the City is connecting better with the public, you get this. We found that this was interim City Manager Lee McDougal’s call, and will remain so until further notice. According to the PE, Alicia Robinson reported the following on City Manager McDougal. “It was my order, yes,” McDougal said. “The meetings are City Council meetings … . I believe (council members) should be on camera because they should be the center of attention at the meeting and not necessarily the speakers.” So was this all Mr. McDougal, or could he of had a little push from our Mayor? Regardless, we’ll take from this fiasco a positive: a reminder to follow through with our New Year’s resolutions to renew our gym memberships, so our backsides are more pleasing to the audience at home.
Lets review how the past rules of decorum have been enforced at City Council meetings to see if we can establish a pattern…First, by order of former City Attorney Greg Priamos, the City arrests public speaker Karen Wright for going over the three minute rule by a few seconds, but later Mayor Bailey allows former Mayor Loveridge to go well past the three minute rule to talk about his brother. Second, Mayor Bailey has former BB&K Attorney Letitia Pepper arrested for clapping. Now Mayor Bailey is the brunt of her First Amendment law suit, and clapping is allowed in Council Chambers, even for those supporting critics of their government.
Now there’s an attempt to continue to intimidate, disrespect and insult the taxpayers by filming them from behind, and I must say WAAAAY behind. But not in the City of Moreno Valley: they film you right up in your face and in HD, and live during Council, not the grainy, blurry filming Riverside uses. So again, I ask CM McDougal if he would like to change his statement? Just when you think that the new improved City Hall is really listening, are they really walking the walk?
STATE OF THE CITY: A PUBLIC AFFAIR OR JUST ANOTHER MONEY MAKING BOONDOGGLE FOR THE CHAMBER? We asked the question, why should the taxpayer have to divvy out monies to subsidize non-profits? Most non-profits raise the money for events through private sector contributions. Therefore, we have seen this time and time again, and we wonder why are streets aren’t fixed, why are trees are not cut and why we still don’t have a City Library.
HOW YOUR UTILITY BILL SUPPORTS THE CHAMBER: FOLLOW THE MONEY. The Greater Riverside Chamber of Commerce (GRCC) is recognized as an Internal Revenue Code Section 501 (c)(6) organization. Unlike a 501 (c)(3) organization, whose primary purpose is to serve a religious, charitable, scientific or educational purpose, the Chamber serves the best interest of its membership. It’s membership consist of a select group of businesses. Most of these businesses are customers of Riverside Public Utilities (RPU). The current General Manager of RPU, Girish Balachandran, under Section 1202 of the City Charter, has the authorization to negotiate and execute contracts with individual retail customers for water and electric utility service. He also has the power to offer many intangible benefits to customers. Mr. Balachandran serves on the Board of Directors of the Chamber.
Balachandran’s predecessor, former General Manager Dave Wright, back in the salad days of giving away ratepayer money, also chose to serve on the Board of Directors of the GRCC. As a board member, both had a duty of loyalty to the Chamber as defined under California Corporations Code Section 7231 (a): in essence, they must put their interest before that of the any other entity. It is not infrequent that GRCC lobbies the City Council on issues affecting RPU, and endorses City Council candidates whom have jurisdiction over RPU. This answers many questions regarding Measure A and the Soubirous Hearings. The Chamber, we believe, was in part responsible for the Soubirous crucifixion regarding his position on Measure A. His position would not favor GRCC’s true agenda.
The City’s Conflict of Interest Policy states that an employee may not have a personal interest which would tend to impair independence, judgement or action necessary to pursue the City’s best interest. This tenet is codified as law under Government Code Section 1126 (b) of the the State of California. Conflict of interest laws attempt to discourage not only biased-decision making not serving the public interest, but also the perception of such bias.
To wit, Resolution No. 22676 of the Riverside City Council, states, “the City Manager, City Attorney, and the City Clerk shall not serve as a member of the board of directors of a non-profit corporation which is receiving or will be reasonably likely in the future to seek and/or receive funding from the City of Riverside so as to avoid any appearance of conflict of interest,” thereby establishing intent of the policy. Obviously our utility managers seem to believe the rules that apply to their boss, need not apply to them…
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It has been well-known for some time that the Chamber receives taxpayer funding from the City of Riverside. What has been much less known is the amount of funding the Chamber receives directly from ratepayers, under the signature authority (i.e. no public vetting before the Board of Public Utilities or City Council) of both Mr. Balachandran and his direct subordinate, Michael Bacich, the Assistant General Manager of Customer Relations and Marketing. These funds have been paid via the request-for-payment process that has until recently been kept hidden from the public disclosure. Below, you will find a list of the roughly 200 payments RPU has made to the Chamber over the past 4 years in individual amounts up to $24,000.00, as well as proof of his predecessor’s participation on its Board (above figure).
The Kingpin David Wright
THE PAYMENTS TO THE CHAMBER QUEEN
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So, is Girish Balachandran following in the footsteps of David Wright, and proving once again that in the River City there’s simply no bridge too far when it comes to conflict-of-interests as is the case with his board membership with the Greater Riverside Chamber of Commerce?
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TMC RECEIVES LEAKS FROM RIVERSIDE CITY HALL REGARDING BRENDA DIETRICH’S HUMAN RESOURCE DEPARTMENT. You can read the full leaked concerns of City of Riverside employees from the employee handbook to specific allegations against Human Resource Director Brenda Diederich, by clicking on the links below.
HUMAN RESOURCES DIRECTOR BRENDA DIEDERICH
These address Riverside City employee concern regarding an antiquated employee handbook, Human Resource Director Brenda Diederich hiring a personal friend and the targeted termination of gay employees without cause.
TOTAL COST TO THE TAXPAYERS FOR THE STATE OF THE CITY EVENT BY QUEEN BEE’S CINDY ROTH’S GRCC (GREATER RIVERSIDE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE).
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The bottom line was that the taxpayer paid out $11,218.50 (minimum, given Mr. Mason’s list doesn’t include a $1000 table for the Parks and Recreation Department we are sure we sighted) for Cindy Roth’s Greater Riverside Chamber of Commerce event, but we again, as the general public, had a seat in the back of the
bus event. Next time you pay your utility bill, spot a pothole, or your support is sought for better salaries and benefits by the Police or Fire unions, remember how these departments chose to donate your money to the Chamber….
HOW MUCH IS, “I OWN IT,” COSTING THE TAXPAYER?
Is it also an indirect advertising plug for that specific “I Own It” customer? … Who “incidentally” is the law firm of BB&K. Since we own it too, can TMC also be part of that campaign? We of course have not been asked..but we patiently wait for our turn… Why? Because, “I Own It.” Our take is that it may not be long before RPU begins to recant with, “I Regret It.”
TMC, RATED RIVERSIDE’S MOST “OFFENSIVE,” “INAPPROPRIATE,” “HURTFUL,” “MEAN SPIRITED,” “DISTASTEFUL,” “EMBARRASSING,” HORIFFIC,” “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 THE ACLU. RATED ONE TWO ONE STAR OUT OF FIVE IN TERMS OF COMMUNITY APPROVAL RATINGS.. TMC IS NOW EXCLUSIVLY EXCLUSIVELY ON FILE WITH THE COUNTY OF RIVERSIDE’S DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S OFFICE (WE BELIEVE THIS WILL END SOON, SINCE THE FOCUS IS NOW ON THE IMPROPRIETIES OF MR. “Z”, WE TRIED TO TELL YOU, BUT NOBODY LISTENED), AND DON’T FORGET WE ARE PROSSIBLY POSSIBLY ON FILE WITH THE CITY OF RIVERSIDE’S POTENTIAL SLAPP SUIT LIST… A STRATEGIC LEGAL MANEUVER THAT CAN BE DONE ONLY IN RIVERSIDE WITHOUT A CONTRACT… AGAIN, THANK-YOU COMMUNITY OF RIVERSIDE AND THE CITY OF RIVERSIDE EMPLOYEE’S FOR YOUR SUPPORT! COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOMED, ESPECIALLY SPELL CHECKERS! WE JUST CAN’T SPELL! EMAIL ANONYMOUSLY WITH YOUR DIRT BY CONTACTING US AT: THIRTYMILESCORRUPTION@HOTMAIL.COM