ASSISTANT CITY MANAGER, BELINDA GRAHAM TAKING CONTROL.. yes it appears she searching Las Vegas on her City screen..
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 of Riverside. This time they were again hired to investigate themselves, this time RPD’s asset forfeiture expenditures.
According to Vivian Moreno, her account and comment on this situation are as follows:
Does the misuse of assett forfeiture funds turn cops into robbers? Equitable Shared Funds (Asset Forfeiture Funds) shall be used by law enforcement agencies for law enforcement purposes. Here are some of the “ALMOST NOTHING” things that were spent. Baker to Vegas Run-tennis shoes,gear & hotel stay. Police Chief Leach paid $35K to his wife Connie. Birthday cake and candles. Police Chief Leach & Gonzales spent almost $500 a night each at the Ritz Carlton, Vicino goes golfing. Police Chief Leach took Grover Trask to lunch with these funds, then the City of Riverside hired Grover to defend Leach. I bet Grover didn’t know leach was using Asset Forfeiture Funds to pay for his lunch. Or the $15,000 on Fitness Equipment, $2,084.40 on Small Kitchen Appliances or the $35,000 to former Police Chief Russ Leach’s wife Connie Leach’s Multi Cultural Youth Festival? Assistant Finance Director for the City of Riverside tried to explain it to Dvonne Pitruzzello, but again the DOJ has precise criteria for the use of asset forfeiture funds. One thing is certain, you cannot transfer Federal Police Asset Forfeiture monies to the General Fund.
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According to a recent Press-Enterprise review of asset forfeiture spending, they turned up almost nothing that appeared to be questionable. Are you kidding? Do you even know what Equitable Sharing is? Here is a link of equitable sharing guideline by the DOJ. Read this first, then do you review. My second question is how much time did you spend on your review to find almost nothing?
Asset Forfeiture Guide: Seeks to assist state and local law enforcement agencies participating in the program by clarifying the directives they must follow to obtain and use equitably shared funds. The goal is to make the process as clear as possible so that local communities and the nation can thrive from reduced crime and from quality law enforcement. Were suppose to use bad guy’s monies against bad guy’s. Who’s the bad guys in Riverside?
Equitably Shared Funds shall be used by law enforcement agencies for law enforcement purposes only. What does Tennis Shoes, Lunches, Connie Leach and Golf have to do with Law enforcement? I trust Aquino’s account of the situation than the City’s. She understands the program even better than the Press Enterprise.
If the Press Enterprise turned up “almost nothing,” that means they turned up something. So what was it? What may seem slight to the PE, may be huge to the Attorney General. Communities have lost Asset Forfeiture Funds for almost nothing. Here is a link with 14 ridiculous things police bought with Assett Forfeiture Funds. Which includes law enforcement agencies who have spent $10,000 for gatorade to $25,000 for Disney training. The following is former Chief Russ Leach uniform bill and lunch with former DA Rod Pacheco paid by police asset forfeiture.
Then you have to ask the question, “Did the Chief Diaz cancel the current December “Chief’s advisory Board Meeting” because they could no longer use Police Asset Forfeiture funds to pay for the dinner provided to the Board Members?” What fund will they use now and will there be a January meeting with no food? I just have one thing to say to the CHIEF… POT LUCK!
If you remember back in March 2011, TMC 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.
Sterling learned this from emails sent from employees in the Public Works Department. Ms. Sterling reported these allegations of favoritism to the City Council Members and Superiors, and was then fired by her boss, 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. We’ve yet to hear a response from her current boss, City Manager Scott Barber on this issue.
City Manager Scott Barber Ooops, Sorry, City Manager Scott Barber
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. The new investigation is all about Police Asset Forfeiture expenditures. The way these funds are spent are in question. The criteria for spending is set by the Department of Justice. According to the Press Enterprise, the PE themselves did their own investigation and found in a review of asset forfeiture spending by RPD, they concluded they turned up almost nothing that appeared questionable. Really now PE? Running shoes, Las Vegas to Baker Run, Connie Leach salary not questionable? What the PE doesn’t understand is that items which appear as nothing can consequentionally be a basis for losing the whole assett forfeiture program in Riverside.
NOW YOU SEE IT, NOW YOU DON’T! IS THIS WHAT THE TAXPAYER SHOULD EXPECT FROM THE NEW INVESTIGATION?
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.
ROUND THREE APPEAL FOR FORMER AND FIRED CITY EMPLOYEE JASON HUNTER
In a letter, appellant Jason Hunter, former City of Riverside employee, questioned the decision of the Code of Ethics Adjudicating Body made on his behalf. TMC recently wrote about this in this December 2013 article. Jason Hunter was the City of Riverside’s Principal Resource Analyst, in other words his was head of Wholesale Energy Marketing and Trading. Hunter’s recent letter is as follows:
Appeal by Jason E. Hunter of Code of Ethics Adjudicating Body Decision of Code of Ethics and Conduct Complaint against the Human Resources Board
In accordance with the City of Riverside Resolution No. 22461-Code of Ethics and Conduct -the following shall serve as a formal appeal of the Adjudicating Body’s decision regarding the above-referenced ethics complaint, filed September 9,2013, and heard on November 15, 2013, and December13, 2013. It is appellant’s contention that the findings and conclusion of the Adjudicating Body weremade in clear error and abuse of discretion.
As to the first cause, Creating Trust of Local Government:
The Adjudicating Body (“AB”) ignored the fact that the members of the Human Resources Board (“HRB”), serving as a quasi-judicial panel, had a serious obligation to appellant to understand the basic tenets of local, State, and U.S. law regarding due process and disciplinary proceeding procedures. The AB found that the HRB was unprepared for this hearing, and delegated its responsibilities to an all-too-ready-to-take-charge City Attorney, but instead placed this blame on city staff. While appellant agrees there is significant fault on behalf of staff, he believes the HRB also had a fiduciary duty to him to make sure he was afforded a fair hearing by an impartial tribune. It is clear from the videotape of the disciplinary hearing that the appellant believed there were clear violations of his rights taking place, and yet these are never even minutely addressed by the HRB.
The Adjudicating Body did not consider the fact that all post-hearing attempts to cure the defects presented to the HRB after the May 13, 2013, hearing, including his Motion for Reconsideration of June3, 2013; letter to HRB Chairman Powell of May 16, 2013; and additional pleadings at subsequent HRB open hearings were simply ignored. The AB also chose to ignore Section 804 of the City Charter stating that Boards must meet monthly, so that the public has an adequate opportunity to voice its concerns regarding city operations.
As to the second cause, Making Unbiased, Fair, and Honest Decisions:
The Adjudicating Body admits the City Attorney took over the meeting at times. The Adjudicating Body recognizes the HRB was not prepared for the disciplinary hearing. Given these two admissions, how can the HRB have made fair, unbiased decisions?
As to the third cause, Treating Everyone with Respect and in a Just and Fair Manner:
The AB admits the HRB and city were remiss in providing transparent and easily comprehended protocols, rules, and outline in a timely fashion to the appellant. The AB seemed to ignore that the advocating Deputy City Attorney seemed well prepared for his disciplinary hearing in terms of time limits the appellant was ignorant to. Hence, the City Attorney’s office seemed to receive preferential treatment in preparation for the disciplinary hearing.
The AB admits procedural defects most likely happened during the course of the disciplinary hearing, but does believe the HRB had a responsible to at least slow down the proceedings to investigate the appellant’s claims of such. Appellant finds this logic flawed.
As to the fourth cause, Ensuring that all Public Decisions are Well Informed, Independent, and in the Best Interests of the City of Riverside:
The Deputy City Attorney misled the AB at the December hearing by stating the HRB does not have the power to compel testimony nor evidence. This statement is a half-truth, nor was this assertion what appellant stated for the record at his disciplinary hearing. City Charter section 804 grants the HRB the option of requesting such power from the City Council, as would have been appropriate in an adversarial proceeding of substantial concern such as appellant’s demotion and termination under circumstances of alleged retaliation and harassment.
As far as protecting the best interests ofthe City of Riverside, the appellant leaves to the City Council to decide whether allowing a contested disciplinary hearing to spiral into Superior Court and the District Attorney’s office was good judgment.
As to the fifth cause, Ensuring that All Officials are Prepared for the Exercise of Their Duties:
The AB acknowledges the HRB was unprepared for the disciplinary hearing, and delegated decision making to the City Attorney’s office in light of their willful ignorance. However, the AB seems to find city staff at blame. Appellant argues once again that the HRB was cognizant of the significance of this disciplinary hearing and chose to willfully come unprepared to conduct this quasi-judicial session.
Appellant in fact believes the rules, protocols, and outline for his disciplinary hearing were not even written by the HRB, which should have been their responsibility to deliberate publicly. Hence, the HRB allowed themselves to be beholden to a biased City Attorney’s office in how it was to conduct his disciplinary hearing.
In light of the misrepresentations and omissions made by the city staff, as well as the Adjudicating Body’s refusal to discuss or vote upon appellant’s timely objections made prior to the November 15, 2013, hearing, and intransigence in accepting additional evidence at the December 13, 2013, some of which was requesting by the Adjudicating Body itself on November 15, 2013, the Adjudicating Body was unable to make an educated decision based upon complete information, including newly discovered evidence.
Appellant now respectfully requests that the City Council reverse the decision of the Adjudicating Body, and find that Human Resources Board members Norman Powell, Arthur Butler, Holly Evans, Jamie Wrage, Sonya Dew, and Patricia Eibs did violate the Code of Ethics and Conduct in failing to:
1. Create Trust of Local Government
2. Make Unbiased, Fair, and Honest Decisions
3. Treat Everyone with Respect and in a Just and Fair Manner
4. Ensure that all Public Decisions are Well Informed, Independent, and in the Best Interests of the City of Riverside
5. Ensure that All Officials are Prepared for the Exercise of their Duties.
Also, the appellant wishes the City Council to deliberate as to whether ignoring the complainants pre-hearing objections and motions, as well as requested evidence and new evidence, was an exercise in sound judgment on behalf of the Adjudicating Body. Additionally, the Appellant calls for the City Council to set for public review the protocols, rules, and outline established by the City Attorney’s Office for conducting Code of Ethics and Conduct hearings as per the spirit of Resolution No. 22461.
SHOULD THIS BE THE NEW RULE ON THE CITY OF RIVERSIDE’S EMPLOYEE BULLETIN BOARD?
“WHISTLE BLOWER’S WILL BE FIRED” .. “DO NOT REPORT FRAUD, MISUSE OF PUBLIC FUNDS or any ILLEGAL ACTIVITY by MANAGEMENT OF THE CITY OF RIVERSIDE, or YOU WILL BE FIRED!”
Your next City of Riverside employee position posting should read:
WANTED: ANYONE WILLING TO LIE, CHEAT AND STEAL FROM THE CITIZENS OF RIVERSIDE. ALL OTHERS NEED NOT APPLY…
The high cost of liability litigation is costing the taxpayer a mint, his transparency is no transparency when it comes to the taxpayer as in this TMC article, especially when it comes to contracts. Let’s find a way to curtail this.. Fire the City Attorney…
City Attorney Gregory Priamos
FIRE CHIEF STEVE EARLEY RETIRING? OR JUST REINVENTING HIMSELF IN ORDER TO DOUBLE DIP?
According to a Press Enterprise article, Fire Chief Steve Earley is retiring. But we noticed he accepted a new position as the City of Riverside’s Fire Administer. So is Chief Earley really reinventing himself and double dipping into the coffers of the taxpayer again. Governor Brown has passed a “Double Dipping Bill,” making it illegal. Is this what is happening? Is Earley retiring Early to cash in on a good thing, simply because the system is set up to benefit government employees instead for the best interest of the taxpayer. Now he will mentor three Fire Chief to act as acting chief in a musical chair format. Are they kidding? No they are not! How much is this going to cost the taxpayer, to carry on Earley as a temporary employee and to sustain 3 Fire Chiefs? No one knows, not even Assistant City Manager Belinda Graham when posed the question by the Press Enterprise. But what is really the PE describes Earley’s new position as fire administrator, they state he will advise the city on fire department issues. What? Isn’t that the job of a Fire Chief? So, why do we need a Fire Administer? Is that another word for a paid lobbyist for the city? Well regardless, we definitely don’t need three Fire Chiefs, there should have been one person already qualified to make the move up. But again, this is Riverside… Politically, Earley made local history at the Goeske Center when he had to admit that Measure A, in a TMC store we reported that Chief Earley admitted it was not a City Charter amendment as the City contended, but a “General Tax.”
Is this new position for Earley been designed in colusion with the City Attorney to insure that American Medical Response (AMR) continues it’s monopoly in the City of Riverside? Earley also proposed that ambulance services should hold accreditation by a private industry association known as the Commission on Accredition of Ambulance Services (CAAS), this despite state and county mandated regulatory standards. The Press Enterprise called it “arrogant.” Many in Riverside are calling it a “scam.” Does Fire Chief Earley have the best interest of the taxpayers at heart? We think not. Further, the Commission was found to have other past ex AMR employees on board. Sarah McEntee, the executive director of CAAS and presenter of the proposal to the Council, is married to current AMR executive Tom McEntee. Conflict of interest?
Sarah McEntee, Executive Director of CAAS
The whole scheme or artiface behind this commission appears to ensure the monopolization of the market place by AMR, and those ambulance services who can pay CAAS’s high fees for accredition. This would leave out smaller ambulance services by design. Thanks, but no thanks Chief Earley, the PE may call this “arrogant”, we call it plain “despicable.”
But it doesn’t end there folks we did several stories on this regarding the close ties between AMR executives and the City Council and Mayor. Back in October 2011, 6-1, City Council votes to deny Mission Ambulance a franchise, except for Councilman Paul Davis. That means American Medical Response, or AMR, will remain the sole medical transportation provider in Riverside. Councilman William “Rusty” Bailey suggested that a council subcommittee review the ambulance policy, but it’s not yet clear if that will happen. It will never happen, because actions speak louder than words.. Mayor Bailey who was Councilman at the time voted on this denial, and we can see why. At the time Councilman Rusty Bailey was seen with having ice cream at a local Dairy Queen with non other than Peter Hubbard of American Medical Response (AMR).
On a side note and on good authority, we found out that now Mayor William “ Rusty” Bailey bought the cone of ice cream for Peter Hubbard. Could this be a bribe? You decide.. the point folks in this bit of levity but on good authority, is that we intend to expose the relationships of old family connections which have created a culture of corruption in the City of Riverside. We are just sorry our source could not attain the ice cream flavor…
City of Riverside Mayor Rusty Bailey Sorry, Mayor William Rusty Bailey
Peter Hubbard, AMR
Back in August of 2012, TMC stated that Fire Chief Earley is also a friend of AMR’s Peter Hubbard. There has been some talk around town that Peter Hubbard (AMR) hosted Tim Stack (President of the Riverside City Firefighter Union) and Wendy Stack’s wedding reception at Peter Hubbard’s home. We shouldn’t be surprised, after all, this is River City and screwing is king… Back in October 11, 2011, sources tell us Councilman Steve Adams, with intentions to run for Congress, was seen with AMR’s Peter Hubbard having drinks at a local water hole known as the Salted Pig.
What else can we tell you of the incestuous relationship with the City of Riverside and even Riverside County. Well, TMC has found that back in February 13, 2012 the State Emergency Medical Services Authority (EMSA) states that City of Riverside and County of Riverside overstepped it’s authority in limiting ambulance services. TMC therefore ask the question if the $1.4 Million that AMR provides the City of Riverside each year for paramedic training and equipment contribute to how the City votes on issues that impact AMR? TMC thinks so, we also think it can be construed as a “bribe.” Oopps, I said it, and I’ll say it again, a “bribe.” Others have mentioned that the $1.4 million allows AMR to buy two more minutes from an agreed response time. This allows AMR to be late by 2 minutes, therefore how does this help the injured? We say it is just like having a bad burrito, it just doesn’t sit well in the stomach’s of the Riverside community residents. This of course shouldn’t be the case.
Here’s another exposé of a gem, Bruce Barton, Director of the Riverside County Emergency Medical Services Agency, according to the following document, was previously in the employment of American Medical Response (AMR) back in 2004. Any surprise to anyone? Could this contribute to a conflict of interest?
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Bruce Barton, director of the county’s Emergency Medical Services Agency, and Tom McEntee, AMR’s general manager, said Thursday there was no intent to mislead anyone at the Oct. 17 workshop. Information about the rate increase was widely available online, Barton said. Let’s not forget the accreditation company CAAS, Sarah McEntee, the executive director of CAAS is the wife of AMR’s general manager, Tom McEntee. Incestuous?
According to public speaker Rebecca Ludwig, could “Golden Boy”, Riverside County Supervisor, John Taviglione have a part with AMR?
So what is next for General Earley, oopps, retired at work again Fire Chief Steve Earley? You decide… You are always right, citizens of Riverside, make your opinions be known at City Council and not be afraid of retribution by the City as some residents have indicated. One we are none, more than one we are many….
Will the real Steve Earley please come forward..
As one local Riverside critics stated, “Would that mean its OK to embezzle as long as you don’t go over the budget?”
Of course, you know, there is more to come… stayed tuned for another episode of “As Riverside Turns Your Stomach”.
With this, questions still linger regarding the process that went down. Why is the Fire Union making decisions regarding the taxpayer? Why is it that the City, through City Manager Scott Barber, must look elsewhere, outside the City for a new Chief? Don’t we have capable people who can move up the rank, such as Deputy Chief Mike Esparza. Incidently, Mike Esparza was chose to be the interim Fire Chief until a new one is found. I just say we keep the new Fire Chief Mike Esparza.
Esparza will take charge until March 2014; the next in roatation are Division Chief Bill Schellhous from April through June; and Division Chief LaWayne Hearn from July through September. Again if we are touted as having the best of the best due to are training, why must we look outside for another candidate? Time and time again we see the same scenario, we’ve seen it with Police Chief Sergio Diaz, another double dipper. But remember this was also the legacy of the prior City Manager who skipped town when he seen the writing on the wall.. Brad Hudson. Hudson was responsible for the hiring of Police Chief Sergio Diaz as well as Fire Chief Steve Earley, from the County of Riverside whereby Hudson previously worked, not to mention our current City Manager Scott Barber, former Public Works Director Siobhan Foster, who was said by insiders didn’t know what a “pot hole” was, and current Human Resource Director, Rhonda Strout, known in some circles and “Luxury Girl”, who had her own set of problems with the cost of liability to the tax payer with current employees.
According to this PE posting, Chief Earley in his new position of Fire Administrator, would have offer his expertise on the city’s ambulance policy and the county emergency medical services system. Again we need to ask the questiion of what is the Fire Unions role in the decision making process in the City of Riverside. Secondly, are there ulterior motives involved between the City and the Unions to insure the continuation of the infamous ambulance monoply known as American Medical Response.
UPDATE: SCORES OF RETIRED, AND EX-FIREFIGHTERS AND EX-POLICE OFFICERS INVOLVED IN DISABILITY SCAM. According to the L.A. Times many of them were coached before going to physician’s to be evaluated by their attorneys and supported by their unions. This is the kind of behavior that concerns people in Riverside. Many of them were found going fishing, riding motorcycles, running, going on cruise and working other jobs. The let down was the taxpayer, who placed these individuals on a heroes pedestal. These indivduals didn’t care, only for their own self interest at the expense of the hardworking taxpayer. More arrest eminent, the fraud has been predicted to extend beyond $400 million.
Boys just want to have fun, even on a disability retirement..
In Riverside we had the case of retired and ex RPD officer Chris Lanzillo, who was given a medical retirement/pension and went on to start his own investigation firm in Orange County. Another medical/disability retirement fraud case? Lanzillo was a former Union President for RPD and somehow connected to doing work for the law firm of Lackie, Dammeier & McGill, which their offices were raided by order of the Orange County D.A. office. Since then two Costa Mesa Councilman sue the law firm and it eventually closed.
Let me see if I’ve got this straight…A Riverside detective named Chris Lanzillo gets fired…then is called back so that he can be retired early on a medical disability…which qualifies him to recieve his pay in large part tax free for the rest of his life. BUT…he’s not so disabled that he can’t work as a private investigator for a law firm that represents cops and cop unions…and shall we say…suuplement his retirement pay……Is that absurd or what! He’s a bad cop who’s now a crook…and we got to pay his freight for the rest of his life! – John Bosch, Commenter on the Orange County Register
Brian D’Arcy, Union Chief IBEW
Ron Nichols confided at a private meeting with the DWP Board of Commissioners that IBEW Union Boss Brian D’Arcy had made the threat, and Nichols said he was worried the City of L.A. would not defend him in a lawsuit, according to two officials who attended the meeting. Is this another example of how the Goodfellas continue to infiltrate public sector monies by strong arming and threatening public officials for their own self greedy gratifications? It is apparently appearing to be so. Alleged corruption of this magnitude should not be tolerated by the public at large.
Ron Nichols, former DWP General Manager
“D’Arcy told him that if he were to ever share any information, D’Arcy would sue him personally as a breach of fiduciary duty,” DWP Commission president Mel Levine told KFI NEWS Friday. What also appears eminent, besides unions being in control of many public service aspects, many of them have infiltrated are political system with façade of representing the taxpayer. Remember folks, we are dealing with rate payers money. Money which is in the realm of Public Utilities, owned by the taxpayer. Some commenters were stating that that the unions were no better that the mob. I do believe that not only the taxpayer are hurt by union action and behavior, but the union workers, which the union’s use for their benefit. Read more: http://www.kfiam640.com/articles/local-news-465708/outgoing-dwp-boss-threatened-over-secret-11964091/#ixzz2qAgvmZrm
UPDATE: FULLERTON POLICE NOT GUILTY IN MURDER OF KELLY THOMAS Sobs fill courtroom.. Many are asking the question, why aren’t police cleaning house of the bad apples? If not, is the beginning of a police state mentality? Where by the judge and the jury accepted the actions of the police. Will it be acceptable that the police act as the judge, jury and executioner, and the court system only a formality? Should we as residents and citizens be concerned and afraid?