Dear City Council and mayor:
First of all I have a confession to make. During one of my most recent public comments, I spoke over the three minute time limit. I think I spoke about 20 seconds over but that’s only because I had to remind the mayor that when he interrupted me at the 2:40 mark (according to the recording of the meeting) that I still had time left to speak, that ate a bit into my allotted time. I would love to express my sincere gratitude from the bottom of my heart that I wasn’t grabbed by a police officer the moment I had finished and was heading to my seat, pushed to the ground by him and his partner and forced to lie on my stomach while being handcuffed and then on my knees pleading with them that I couldn’t stand up. I have bad knees too and I can fully understand how it might be nearly impossible to rise on one’s feet without my hands to help me.
I also violated the three minute rule at the CPRC meeting (this time probably around 15 seconds) and I thanked Chair Dale Roberts for not scolding me but allowing me to complete my thought (as I hate ending sentences with dangling participles) and for not having me forcibly removed as well. The only thing I’d ask if it does happen to me, is please have them handcuff me in the front and maybe if I could have the fuzzy handcuffs instead of the metal ones. Thanks, I mean if some of you have enough pull to influence police promotions (of two captains and a lieutenant so far) and where officers are assigned during your city council elections (aka election emergency detail which three of you allegedly did during your last election cycle) or get people hired by the city (aka political emergency hire without background checks which happened at least once) then I would think if you would insist on more comfortable handcuffs that this could be done in a flash.
You can just bill it to Scott Barber’s discretionary fund (since apparently he’s spending money without your approval anyway on the Fox Plaza) since there’s probably no money left in the sewer fund. The police budget’s too strapped too but at least they don’t have to pay more than $1 million in “rent” and renovations just so two private enterprises can benefit from the city’s dealings like RPU does now.
Now that this is out of the way, I did not attend the meeting. I had responsibilities as an elected representative to fulfill which led to a time conflict. I was talking to one of my critics as I often do because I enjoy it and because sometimes that’s where the best ideas come from too as well as the truth. Lest you don’t understand this, I’ll refer you back to Hans Christian Anderson’s tale about the poor wardrobe challenged emperor. I’ll take a good critic even a vocal one over a herd of people just trying to tell you what you want to hear any time but then when you put public servant in front of politician, it’s not difficult to think that way.
Okay, so I’m not quite as privileged as the many individuals which Mayor Loveridge has allowed to speak over the three minute limit while those of us who get cut off beginning at the 2:45 mark (2:30 if we’re female according to video recordings) just sit and watch the blinking red lights on the dais. Of course we don’t see any police officers because they’re still standing in the back of the room while these people speak beyond the time limit. That’s when the mayor’s not encouraging these time violators to get their friends out of their chairs to also speak and without filling out a speaker card! Okay, maybe I should have been attending all these fundraisers I’ve been invited to attend but I’m not really into the whole political scene.
Plus I also know that even with “time, place and manner” restrictions to free speech, they can’t be enforced in a content-discriminatory way. That means you can’t sit and smile as someone talks longer than three minutes telling you how great you are and then turn around and have another speaker who’s criticizing you, I’d say forcibly removed from the podium but she’d already finished speaking and had been leaving at the podium by that point. Most of us mere mortals can’t even be Chief Diaz and rant during a break about how much I hate someone (in this case, Karen and other women) and then have to be escorted out by my assistant chief rattling the doors as I go. Talk about disturbing the peace but unlike the more ordinary people, he gets a pass. But then screaming at the top of one’s lungs is a means of communication among upper management in the RPD since he’s been here so his behavior’s hardly surprising. So no, I don’t think I’ll take lessons in decorum from Diaz.
I saw the videos and heard different accounts from different sides of it and I was appalled but then a lot of people are, not that it matters to you because you don’t seem to know much of what’s going on outside your immediate circles. Some of you more than others. But as painful as it is to watch a 60 year old woman in pain trying to keep her dignity because her bare skin is showing while she’s being handcuffed for the world to see, it was more so watching the actions of those on the dais in the videos. I heard that Mike Gardner told someone that she got what she deserved and found that disappointing but it’s easier to say that without being responsible for it in public than to answer questions about a troublesome land swap that took place in his ward. I saw Councilman Melendrez just sit and stare and Paul Davis bury his head in his hands then later give a version that confused people who contacted me saying it didn’t match the videos. His statement about not being able to interfere in a police action without being prosecuted for it falls in the face of the later decision to take that discretionary power from the police and give it to the mayor or mayor pro tem.
Chris MacArthur I believe also just stared expressionless (though probably not so much when the allegation was made about his aide pulling a knife on someone else’s aide, during public comment). As for the rest of the city council, they fled like they were fleeing a bar brawl out the side door into the conference room including our mayoral candidate who I suppose was putting his leadership skills on display. Except that Adams might not have been leaving because of that, he just tends to leave his seat during public comments anyway so I think people were confused about what he was actually doing.
What I saw was a city council and mayor who were showing how ill equipped they are at connecting with constituents in their wards (and I believe Karen lives in Bailey’s ward) and then when the police were signaled to do the handcuffing, half of those on the dais didn’t even have the integrity to sit and watch what was allegedly being done on its behalf. I don’t believe, it was the officer’s choice to do this and I have information that indicates otherwise already and that this situation had been brewing for weeks. He and his partner had worked at other meetings and while other officers had approached the podium while people were speaking too long, I think the reason why most people didn’t recognize him is because he’s never done anything like that, in fact he’s never left the back right corner where he most often stands at meetings until the other night.
Besides, police expelled another individual, a man, last week who was just sitting there (but had an earlier incident with the city council) even though there was no way to visually know who he was so someone clearly told them to do it. I’m still sifting information about what happened and who really directed it.
One thing about the truth is that it usually comes out (and very rarely from the mouths of politicians) and I believe in this case with the armed bar takedown of Karen in city council that it will as well. Just like it did when it turned out that the expulsion of four gadflies including Marjorie Von Poule was ordered by the city council and wasn’t a policeman’s call. In fact, one of our former deputy chiefs, Dave Dominguez just said no to the city council trying to get detectives to open investigations into the incident and paid for it by his somewhat early retirement. Four brave police officers refused to arrest the four gadflies, made the call to handle it their way and defused a situation created by inadequate leadership on the dais. By the way, all four of them have commendations in their jackets courtesy of me for what they did. So Loveridge when you told all the media out there that it never happened before, that was not true and I believe you know that.
Police were also ordered by a mayor pro tem to “escort” an 82 year old woman from the podium several years ago. Her crime was that she exceeded the three minute rule to talk about a city water pipe that broke and flooded her house. Her house was on the Riverside/Woodcrest boundary so she hadn’t been to a city council meeting before and likely didn’t know the time limit. Still, she had to be pulled away from the podium. That incident was caught on video and I believe it might still be on YouTube somewhere because unlike Loveridge the mayor pro tem didn’t have the cameras turned off, an odd action to take on a righteous police initiated action don’t you think? A couple of you were actually on the dais when that happened and even though that was clearly not a police initiated activity, none of you said anything. That’s just puzzling to me, that the first action the mayor would take when something like that happens the other night is to make sure there’s no recording of it taken. Wouldn’t you want a video camera to serve as an objective witness to a righteous arrest? One would think so certainly.
Three minutes might seem like an eternity for elected officials to suffer through on the dais but hey, most people who come to speak have never been inside of city council offices their taxes have paid for (because even when lower income people run for office, they buy all their campaign materials from Riverside not Orange County). Most don’t have the money to attend and hob nob or network at the Mayor’s Ball (held at the Citrus Towers, epicenter of the four way land swap). Most of those who speak including the woman on crutches who also faced possible expulsion or arrest for exceeding the three minute rule don’t have access to back rooms to iron out the issues that impact them before they even get to the city council to be referred to a subcommittee to go back to the city council again. Most have to pay to go to restaurants, go attend the pricy ticket items at the failing Fox and most of the people that only have the three minutes to speak during are actually the people who most “Shop Riverside”. Many use a public transportation system that provides inadequate service, has no transfer system and requires seniors, elderly and young people to find other means of transportation after they shut down at 8pm at night. Taxies, because of regulations voted on by the city council it costs in Riverside to go four miles what it costs to go ten miles in Los Angeles.
I’ve got quite a few phone calls and emails on what happened the other night. Because of today’s social technology including Face book, I’ve had women’s organizations and those for the disabled asking about it.. What’s up with Riverside and a city government that is so undone by one gadfly? Wait a minute, two because that other woman at the podium on crutches upset the city council too and the officers came down the aisles but didn’t touch her.
But then I think it’s how the various elected officials acted which is shown on videos now on YouTube and everywhere else that speaks for itself.
It’s been disheartening and baffling to me to see otherwise intelligent people who appeared to have cared about lowly city residents once, I mean at least to get our votes (because most movers and shakers don’t actually live in their wards or the city) just act the way that I’ve seen on the dais and make the decisions that have been made. Like forcing more costs on two city departments just to help out a campaign donor so he can pay off his state bonds, and not even answering simple questions about it when asked. We pay so much of our tax dollars for PR to make us look good yet it’s clear the reason that’s done is because our leadership’s more natural tendency is to do something that gives us a black eye on a national scale. You are your own worst enemies.
This is for Bailey. I’m extremely disappointed at being labeled a “crazy woman” by you for speaking my mind, rather than I guess staying home and baking cookies and cleaning house which are worthy activities but women have always been doing more than that. I’m not worried about it because I know that most high school students reject “lessons” like that taught by their teachers and can differentiate between them and a thinly veiled personal attack. But I also know they don’t confront teachers about it due to power differentials in that relationship and concerns about retaliation for speaking up.. By the way, I’m not even stupid either. I have a college degree, an IQ of 145 (though I have two siblings with IQs over 190) and audio/visual photographic memory. I can also run a 17:30 5k (and represented Riverside in Sendai as a runner) when I’m in shape and can look at anything that’s broken, and pick out what’s wrong with it and possible solutions no matter what, whether it’s an internet network or a flawed management system without knowing much else about it. I certainly know what’s broken here and how to fix it but it’ll take a few election cycles to do that beginning with next year.
I would have liked to have equal time with your students to explain why it’s important to participate in public speaking as a person who’s done it and how it’s important to keep speaking up even when it’s not popular. How to respond when their elected leaders treat them like they’re stupid or crazy or make jokes about them, and remind them of a guy named Gandhi who had to deal with all of that including being laughed at. I’m thinking of approaching Riverside Poly and asking if us “crazy ladies” can have an opportunity to address the students exposed to hearing us called crazy including the female students who were pushed to internalize a lesson on sexism since no male references were made.
That’s one of the most critical lessons to teach your young people as part of helping them become better thinkers, listeners and doers. I’d hoped a teacher like you with a West Point education (and I have three relatives who went there) would have learned that by now but it appears not.
As for the rest of you, now it turns out that the mayor’s decided to take the role of city council bouncer from the police and give it to the “chair” of the meeting.. I guess that speaks volumes about how you really feel about this incident. You’re so horrified particularly Loveridge (whose legacy is on the line) about the media coverage once again painting Riverside in a negative way that now you’re throwing two officers there to protect you under the bus. Dang, that happened fast, faster than you’d expect if what happened again was righteous.
Because why change the policy that you claim’s in place (when reality is different) if it’s not broken and if those two officers behaved so appropriately that night, why are you taking their powers of discretion away from them and the department? I was not surprised to see the blame so quickly placed on the officers and individuals saying I don’t condone their actions in blog postings which is a rather disingenuous way of throwing them under the bridge too. Clearly you don’t condone their actions because you’re changing the policy but in reality it’s because that’s your reaction not to what they’ve done but to media reaction to what they’ve done. Damage control is in full mode because I fully know that none of you care a damn about Karen. I think everyone pretty much knows what’s going on with this recent decision to change the rules which were always that the elected officials made the call of who gets to stay in a meeting and who gets escorted out.
I guess these changes had to be done behind closed doors instead of a public forum or through a subcommittee like Governmental Affairs Committee because there’s not enough time to do that before the mayoral election. Not that I believe that’s the primary reason, it’s just that your pattern and practice of dealing with controversial situations that blow up in your face behind closed doors instead of in a public forum no matter how you stump for transparency and accountability during your respective campaigns.
In closing, I’m so inspired by your poor actions on the dais that I’m thinking of running for political office myself. I’m not well connected, not much of a backroom dealer, not into speaking out of both sides of my mouth, don’t like freebies at tax payers’ expense and I’m clearly not as brilliantly strategic so maybe I’m not really qualified to be a city council person.
I do have more respect for democracy and public participation and my approach to critics is to take that passion and put it to work for me. Put critics on my task forces rather than “yes” men and women and campaign donors or managers. I’ll start with Karen because she’s actually a really gifted leader, has many good ideas and presides over meetings including handling civil discord much better than you do. I’d definitely put her to work, not put her in handcuffs. If Bailey was really smart, he’d had done that himself.
I’ll save the arrests, armed bar takedowns and handcuffs (not to mention the expense of prosecution on Riverside County) to the real criminals. And the moment I preside over what happened the other night, I would take full responsibility for it (not throwing people under the bus to make myself look better in the spotlight) and submit my resignation because I would have failed as a leader. If I use videos of public meetings for any educational purpose I will let the viewers express what they think about it, rather than use it as a platform how awful it is to listen to public comment. In fact, I think when I get elected I’ll hold forums on public comment and how to expand it using various social media for my constituents including at the schools. That’ll be one of my first acts while I’m in office.
I certainly won’t hire a legislative aide who calls women “idiots”, “bitches” and carries a knife around for sure. I’ll promise my constituents that during my swearing in ceremony. Thank you for your time.
Oops I think I exceeded the three minute rule for communicating with elected officials. Please don’t arrest me or have me arrested. Best regards.. Mary Shelton
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