CITY OF RIVERSIDE: IS CITY ATTORNEY GREG PRIAMOS AND CITY HIRED ATTORNEY DOUG SMITH CORRUPT LIARS? KEITH NELSON SEEMS TO THINK SO!

Posted: May 6, 2014 in Uncategorized
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CITY CODE OF ETHICS NOT SO ETHICAL WHEN IT COMES TO CITY ATTORNEY GREG PRIAMOS AND CITY HIRED ATTORNEY DOUG SMITH?

Board Member, Keith J. Nelson, Ph.D., Inland Regional Board of Trustees, who also served a member of the City’s Adjudicating Body whenever an alleged violation of the City’s Code of Ethics, responded in this letter to Councilman Mike Soubirous regarding his concerns with the behavior and involvement of City Attorney Greg Priamos and outside legal, hired by the city, local Riverside attorney Doug Smith.

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     Attorney Doug Smith             City Attorney Greg Priamo

Of the misrepresentations made to the Council by Mr. Smith, this was the most egregious. There is simply no nice way of stating this – he lied.

The main concern in question was the dual roles of the City Attorney’s Office acting as an advocate to the City, as well as a neutral counsel to the HRB (Human Resource Board.)   Also, City hired attorney Doug Smith materially misrepresenting himself to the Council on March 25, 2014.  Are Priamos and Smith liars?  Keith Nelson seems to think so, considering Smith’s actions most egregious.  Did Priamos tell Smith to lie to City Council of the findings of the Ethics and Conduct Hearing’s adjudicating body?  Currently, Priamos is writing a book on ethics.  The letter is as follows:

FROM THE DESK OF KEITH J. NELSON

April 29, 2014
Honorable Mike Soubirous
City of Riverside
3900 Mail Street
Riverside, CA. 92506

RE: Code of Ethics – J. Hunter v. Human Resources Board members

Dear Mr. Soubirous,

It was a pleasure speaking with you recently at the Boards and Commissions Annual Dinner. Unfortunately, my message today concerns a most troublesome matter. Let me begin by stating emphatically that this letter is not private. Instead, it is intended for you to share with your colleagues on the City Council, and whomever else you deem it contents would benefit. I would, in fact, read this letter into public comment at the next City Council meeting, but it would I’m certain exceed the three minute limitation allowed for such.

I will go off topic for just a moment and formally introduce myself in an effort to create clarity as to my interest and involvement in this matter. I am a 25+ year resident of Riverside who has endeavored to remain active in our community. As you may recall when you were running for Council, I contacted you to discuss your views and commitments on certain issues I feel important to our city. I have three adult children, plus one I am still raising here. I have been involved at many different levels with the city and surrounding area, including but not limited to: the Commission on Disabilities (chairman), Inland Regional Center (Board of Trustees), Team USA Special Olympics (coach), Special Olympics of Southern California (Regional Advisory Council), Regional Center (Business Committee), Arlington Little League (coach, Board of Directors), AYSO Region 47 soccer (founder, coach, Board of Directors), Poly High School Special Needs Boosters clubs, Poly High ROTC Boosters club…and more. I hope that this listing demonstrates my commitment to our community. I have always wanted to be proud of the city I live in.

To the matter at hand: I have served on a few Code of Ethics and Conduct adjudicating bodies (“AB”) during my tenure as the Chairman of the city’s Commission on Disabilities. I have always taken this responsibility extremely serious. If you were to review the administrative records of these hearings, I believe you would find that I often ask the most questions on the AB and deliberate issues of concern at substantial length. As a commissioner and member of an adjudicating body, I find our job comes with a multiple of masters: to our fellow citizens by striving to improve the city in which we live; and to the Council itself, representing our local government towards achieving the highest level of integrity.

Out of all the ethics hearings I have been involved with, the case involving Jason Hunter really bothers me the most from many perspectives. First, the role of the City Attorney’s office, throughout the entirely of the process, was deeply concerning. At the ethics hearing, we were instructed by the City Attorney’s office that it could both represent the city (Human Resource Board members, “HRB”) through outside counsel (Mr. Doug Smith) and serve as neutral counsel to the adjudicating body. We were also informed that the HRB members themselves would not be made available to the AB. As I consider the goal of our Code of Ethics and Conduct, established by our City Charter, is to provide both an actual and a perception of transparency, this dual role and lack of access to key parties is difficult to come to terms with. As such, I am left with the notion that our powers as finders of fact have been curtailed somewhat needlessly.

I have followed up on this matter in particular, because as an adjudicating body a definitive part of our final decision was to bring specific areas of conflict and concern within disciplinary hearings being run by our city staff to the attention of the City Council. My vote, in fact, was predicated on my motion to present said report to the Council (see minutes of December 13, 2013). To date, for reasons mostly unknown to me, this action has not been taken despite assurances of such from the AB Chairman, Mr. Justin Scott-Coe. I will elaborate more as I walk you through the ethics hearing from my perspective. I strongly believe that failing to address these core issues renders the entire Code of Ethics and Conduct complaint process pointless, and wastes significant time on behalf of all parties involved.

Concerns:

•Limitation of Scope.  As an adjudicating body our ability to request information was virtually non-existent. We could not require testimony, subpoena documents nor investigate issues outside of the strict scope outlined by the City Attorney. And yet, we were presented by the city with no justification for this being so. I find these constraints overly burdensome, particularly in light of HRB counsel (Mr. Smith) materially misrepresenting to the Council at the March 25, 2014, appeal hearing that Mr. Hunter had the opportunity to present all evidence. This statement was simply untrue. In fact, many of my reservations during the ethics hearings themselves centered around the somewhat arbitrary limitations put on Mr. Hunter concerning evidence he could present and his ability to provide testimony, either his or other witnesses.

• Training of the Human Resources Board. Of the misrepresentations made to the Council by Mr. Smith, this was the most egregious. There is simply no nice way of stating this – he lied.  Astonishingly, Mr. Smith told the Council the exact opposite of what we concluded. The adjudicating body clearly and unequivocally stated that as a body we were to make a presentation to the Council regarding proper training of boards and commissions, specifically chairmen, and the need for more transparent hearing procedures written in a way such that the average citizen would feel confident in the process and how to present evidence.

Mr. Smith sat in attendance at both ethics hearings as we quite clearly and repeatedly made these points. There was also significant concern over the lack of engagement by non-chair members of the HRB at Mr. Hunter’s disciplinary hearing, and plain disregard for adherence to basic parliamentary procedure as evidenced in the video of this proceeding.

• Actions of the City Attorney.  After viewing the video of the disciplinary hearing in question, and even taking a month-long recess to absorb its meaning, we as an AB concluded, clearly and without reservation, that we were extremely uncomfortable with the actions and demeanor of the City Attorney, Mr. Greg Priamos. However, we were informed by the City Attorney’s office that this inappropriate behavior was out of the scope of our authority to review. Irrespective of such self-serving advice, our
concerns and observations must be brought to the attention of the City Council:

1. The City Attorney was seated in the middle of Council chambers (directly next to HRB Chairman, Mr. Norman Powell) at the disciplinary hearing, and not to the side as seated during regular Council meetings. This provides the visual that the City Attorney was indeed running the meeting. It should be noted that Mr. Priamos can be seen whispering advice to the Chair out of microphone reception throughout various points in the video.

2. The City Attorney responds out of order, not waiting to be recognized by the Chair and without being asked for comment time after time. It is noticeable that his pro-city/anti-Mr. Hunter recommendations to the Chair are followed unswervingly and without debate by the HRB. In one instance, Mr. Priamos even recommends a pause in the proceedings and leaves his seat before the Chair acknowledges his request.

3.In a disturbing revelation made after the conclusion of Mr. Hunter’s ethics complaint hearings, Mr. Scott-Coe admitted to the AB that he had met privately with City Attorney, Mr. Priamos, just prior to the meeting to discuss the hearing in general, and the limits on presentation of evidence and testimony. If the goal our Code of Ethics and Conduct complaint process is full transparency, those instructions should have been made to the entire AB in an open forum. In fact, Mr. Priamos’ involvement at all at that juncture, in light of his behavior at the disciplinary hearing is perplexing. Additionally, the rules of Ethics Hearings should be made public, and properly vetted as such.

4. At the first ethics hearing, held on November 15, 2013, the AB discovered that Mr. Hunter had provided the city with a detailed list of objections and motions concerning the ethics hearing protocols provided to him by the City Attorney’s office, prior to the AB convening. Without delving into these individually, I found it unsettling that the AB was not made aware of the existence of this list until the onset of the hearing, leaving us unprepared to tackle the issues and without justification from the City Attorney’s office regarding their merits.

5. As it is not clear who wrote the rules for Mr. Hunter’s disciplinary hearing, it is unknown who made the decision for the HRB to deliberate in secret with the City Attorney at the conclusion of the presentation of the city’s case. Following, the actions of the HRB taken in this private setting were not announced later to the public. As such the AB could not determine how or why the HRB made its findings or determinations.

It was the general feeling of the AB that certain city staff, including the City Attorney’s office, might have been in violation of the Code of Ethics and Conduct throughout the disciplinary process. However, once again, this was ruled outside the scope of our review by whatmight-be-considered a conflicted City Attorney’s office. Of grave concern were the delays by the city in providing Mr. Hunter with notices and rules, as well as access to particular evidence to provide an adequate defense.

We sincerely question the duality of roles played within the City Attorney’s office (as active advocate and neutral counsel to the HRB) during Mr. Hunter’s disciplinary hearing. Although we were assured this is standard operating procedure, we find the practice debatable as to its fairness. Again, this matter was ruled outside of scope of our investigation.
In conclusion, the true and accurate findings of the AB were misrepresented to the City Council and the mandated presentation per our unanimously-carried motion was never presented. These factors were paramount to my final vote. I don’t believe anyone was comfortable with what they saw transpiring on the video of Mr. Hunter’s disciplinary hearing. It was one of the rare times I was actually embarrassed by our city’s actions.

This is not how I envision a City committed to Arts and Innovation, as well as progressive visions of open and transparent governance, conducts itself. Our presentation absolutely should have been made prior the Council hearing the appeal of our decision carried forth by Mr. Hunter in order to have the Council fully educated.

Further, I am at a loss as to why the AB was not informed individually of the Council appeal hearing on this subject. If in attendance, I would have used the public comment period to rebuke the misleading statements made by the HRB attorney.

This letter is only a high level summary of this matter, provided in an effort to induce open dialog and independent investigation of the facts surrounding both Mr. Hunter’s disciplinary and ethics hearings, as well as the nature of these proceedings in general.

If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to contact me at your convenience. At this point, the highest motivation should be to provoke meaningful change as to how the city conducts its business in these regards.
Sincerely yours,

Keith J. Nelson, Ph.D.

 

Currently, there is an ethics complaint on appeal with Councilman Steve Adams, whereby Attorney Doug Smith is representing him, and City Attorney Greg Priamos is the legal advisor for the City.  Should we expect the same favorable outcome in a decision by the Adjudicating Body, even though a licensed Attorney hired by the City has been called to the forefront as lying?  There have been more than two Ethics Complaints filed against Councilman Steve Adams, all which have been unfounded.  The current complaint, which is in on appeal, contains evidence not reviewed by the Adjudicating Body.  Evidence which displays that Adams witnessed corruption in the City of Riverside on several occasions which can be construed as “undo influence.”  Regardless, is this whole Ethics Complaint process a formality and a sham?  Set up by those in positions of power to direct a favorable result?  If that is true, do we have corruption?  Should the taxpayer be reimbursed for Attorney Doug Smith’s fees and a complaint filed with the State Bar of California?  Should City Attorney Greg Priamos be fired and a complaint filed with the State Bar of California?

UPDATE: CITY MANAGER: OKAY MR. BARBER, WHO IS RUNNING THE STORE?  This Press Enterprise clipping was sent to TMC to show that in this instance, who is watching out for taxpayer monies?  This clipping shows a Public Notice by the AQMD for a refund amount of $1,407.91 that the City of Riverside has failed to recover in care of the taxpayer.

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The question that residents are asking as the one who submitted it, who’s running the store?  That should be City Manager Scott Barber.  So I’m guessing the City really doesn’t need the money, I believe it could still be put to good use for library books, park programs etc.  You may get use to seeing figures with a lot of zeros, but all monies are important, no matter the amount.

UPDATE: BROCKTON STREET RESTRIPING:  ACCORDING THE RIVESIDE PUBLIC WORKS DEPARTMENT CONSTRUCTION IS PLANNED MAY 19, 2014 TO AUGUST 2014.  The City will be transforming the four lane main arterial commuter route to one lane in both direction for vehicles, and the other two for bikes…  I guess Mayor Bailey and Councilman Mike Gardner think we a Seattle, Washington.  Wood Street residents are not happy as this one resident John Zavesky commented.

Well it looks like Brockton is going to be reduced to a single lane of traffic in each direction so those hundreds of bike riders will have their own lane. This is one house that will not be voting for the current mayor come next election. Between this and the City Council renaming 1/2 a mile of Central Ave. “Riverside Plaza Ave.” these elected officials have clearly proven they aren’t interested in dealing with real social issues such as addressing a responsible solution to the ever growing numbers of homeless folks. That would be working on something socially responsible, a job that is obviously beyond the current crop of elected talking heads.

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Traffice and commuter frustration is at a peak, with the 91 freeway contruction at 14th and Central, the Cridge Bridge not yet done, the new underpass construction at Riverside Avenue and now a reconstruction of Brockton Avenue to a bike lane?  What are the knuckleheads at City Hall thinking.

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There’s more folks, there is study currently on regarding the conversion of Magnolia Avenue to a Commuter Train/Trolley route, one of Mayor Bailey’s ideas.

We must remember that culture can’t be constructed, designed or constructed such some idealist at City Hall envision it.  Culture is born, it is nurtured by the characteristics of the people of that community to become a city which reflects a theme, not by design, but by the working spirit of that community.

UPDATE: CITY WI-FI TO BE REMOVED!  According to the Press Enterprise the City Wi-Fi system will be removed because it’s not working, but if you live in Riverside, you will know that it never worked.  Even when the Measure A campaign was in full mode the City was telling the community that if the measure doesn’t pass, we will be eliminated alone with the funding source of $770,000.00 in funds.  Below is a copy of the handout that was given at the Goeske Senior Center to Vote Yes on Measure A, or else lose programs.

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Even during the City’s campaign on Measure A they knew it didn’t work.  Money continued to be pumped into the program that just could not get off the ground.  The City’s response was that it was taken down because it was never designed for mobile use.  Originally, the city wi-fi was designed for internet access, such as lap tops and home computers.  According to residents it never worked.  But wi-fi is a no brainer, it’s not rocket science, you connect to your location, done.  The No on Measure A campaign tried to warn the community of these informational nuances, but still lost.  Again, much waste at a cost to the taxpayer, at the salvaging of egos.

UPDATE: PRESS RELEASE: INVESTIGATION CLEARS RPD LEADERSHIP OF ALL ALLEGATIONS?  Amazingly, the law firm Cihigoyenetche, Grossberg & Clouse does it again, clearing RPD in any wrong doing with regards to misappropriations of funds through Federally funded Police Asset Forfeiture Program.  It wasn’t to long ago that the City hired them for a measley $150,000.00 to investigate the allegations of fired employees, accusing former City Manager Brad Hudson of preferential contract awarding.  Yes Diaz and Vicino, you would have to waive your rights, unless you paid out of your pocket for the investigation?  If that is not the case it was public taxpayer money, so the investigation is public. TMC brought allegations of Asset Forfeiture misuse back during the Chief Russ Leach years.  In this case the law firm was hired to investigate and make legal opinion on the use of Federal Asset-Forfeiture funds.  That’s fine, anyone can do that, but there opinion doesn’t hold legal water, since the Federal government in the only entity which can make that determination.

AFONE          AFTWO

CLICK THIS LINK TO SEE PDF VERSION

Our concerns with the above documents were when Federal Asset Forfeiture monies were utilized for community programs such as the Multi Cultural Youth Program, a Mayor Loveridge originated Community Program, that appeared to have support through Federal Police Asset Funds.  Illegal?  To the tune of $35,000.00.  This at the time, Chief Russell Leach was in charge, and this amount of $35,000.00 was donated or transferred to his wife, Connie Leach’s runned Multi Cultural Youth Organization…  We asked the DA himself Paul Zellerbach to look into this but all he told us was “Is this Illegal? or just bad Business?”  This while his subordinates flipped through a DA file which contained TMC articles.  Then the people who brought forward the issue and the document were now in the questioning box.  Why was that, I ask? Is it because the City of Riverside held the trump card for the DA?  If this in fact was the case, what did Ms. Aquino know?  Why didn’t she speak out years ago?  Was she protecting the office of RPD?  Was she protecting people within RPD?  We can only suspect her actions to be in the category of quite remarkable..

Investigation Clears Riverside Police Leadership of All Major Allegations

Chief Sergio Diaz and Assistant Chief Chris Vicino Waive Privacy Rights, Agree to Disclosure

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                       CHIEF DIAZ                 ASST. CHIEF VINCINO

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – City Manager Scott Barber announced today that an independent investigation has refuted all major allegations that Police Chief Sergio Diaz and Assistant Chief Chris Vicino improperly used Police Department funds, as alleged by a former administrator.
Barber made the announcement after both Diaz and Vicino relinquished their rights to confidentiality in connection with the investigation. Both men said they made the decision because they wanted the public to know the results of the investigation, even though one allegation against Vicino was sustained. Otherwise, the results could not have been made public under the law.
I appreciate Chief Diaz and Assistant Chief Vicino taking the step they did in order to ensure that the public can know that its police administrators are running the department in an ethical and proper manner,” Barber said. “I am gratified that the public can have a full accounting of the allegations and the ensuing investigation.”
Of eight allegations raised by former Police Administrator Karen Aquino, seven were found to be unfounded. In the only sustained allegation, Aquino alleged that Vicino used a city copier for personal reasons and implied that he asked another employee for the employee’s access code in order to make additional color copies for personal use.
During the investigation, Vicino acknowledged making about 300 copies during a three-year period in connection with a college course he taught. He said he sent a letter to an Assistant City Manager expressing regret for the oversight and pledging it would not happen again and enclosed payment for $30.50. The part of the allegation involving Vicino allegedly asking for an employee’s access code so he could make color copies for his personal use was found to be unfounded.
Vicino told investigators he did ask another employee for the access code to the color copier, but only because he had forgotten his access code and needed to make color copies for a presentation that Diaz was going to do on a new strategic plan for the department.
I have always had faith that an impartial investigation would reveal that this department is run according to the highest ethical standards,” Vicino said. “I regret using the copier for a personal use, but I’m willing to take my medicine out in the open if that is what it takes for the larger issues to be resolved in the minds of the public.”
Other allegations explored in the investigation included:

  • That the department misappropriated city funds by directing employees to participate in Riverside Police Foundation activities while on duty. The foundation, which supports youth programs, is part of the Department’s mission to prevent crime, therefore use of city resources was appropriate, the investigation found.
  • That Vicino engaged in disrespectful and intimidating behavior toward Ms. Aquino. Vicino did not intentionally engage in such behavior and his response was a direct reaction to statements made by Aquino toward another employee during a meeting, the investigation found.
  • That the Department improperly used asset forfeiture funds to purchase vehicles. The investigation found no evidence that either Diaz or Vicino used such funds improperly.
  • That the Department failed to follow the requirements of a $5.1 million federal grant to hire 15 new police officers. The investigation found no evidence to support that.
  • That police administrators failed to notify Aquino that a city vehicle and gas card were used by a retired police employee to help the department participate in the “Baker to Vegas” charity run. There is no evidence to suggest the car or gas card were used inappropriately and department administrators had no obligation to notify Aquino of the pending use.
  • That Aquino was directed to pay for golf tournaments out of the department’s general fund and that thousands of dollars were spent so that Vicino and others could play golf. Aquino was describing charity golf tournaments that department personnel participated in to assist local organizations in raising funds for children’s programs. Investigators described this allegation as “a significant stretch from the truth.”
  • That Diaz signed a contract for a Parole and Corrections Team without proper review of the City Attorney’s Office. The investigation found that this allegation “lacked any validity whatsoever” and that the memorandum of understanding was signed by all appropriate parties.

UPDATE: AND UPDATE THAT IS NOT REALLY AN UPDATE!  WE TOLD YOU SO! SEWER RATES GOING UP!  THE REAL STORY AHEAD!

SENT IN BY SHARON MATEJA, IS THE AMERICAN EAGLE VULTURE JUST THE RIGHT THING TO CLEAR THE WOOD STREETS OF THE COYOTE PROBLEM?

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My Mom called me around 7pm and told me that she was sitting on her back patio and looked down to where her dog was playing on the grass and there stood a coyote. She quickly called her little dog and thankfully Sadie her dog came running up to the patio. The coyote just stood there. My Mom was a safe distance from it being that her patio overlooks the medical center and the RCC ball field. She lives on Rice Rd. The problem is that this is the second time my folks have had a run in with the coyotes and both times have been in broad daylight. My parents have a fence all the way around their property and my Dad walked the perimeter the first time they sited the coyote and there was one area where it looked like the coyote dug under the fence. He patched it up and thought they were safe. They have a little Boston terrier and now they are afraid to let her out. I am afraid for my folks because there is the garage and a room under their house that they use on a daily basis. Can anyone offer any advise on what they can do? We are really afraid now that the coyote has been back twice.   – Julie Sparkman, Wood Streets

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.  NOW TAGGED LOCAL BLOGGERS OR LOCAL MEDIA?  RATED ONE TWO ONE STAR OUT OF FIVE IN TERMS OF COMMUNITY APPROVAL RATINGS..  TMC IS NOW EXCLUSIVELY ON FILE WITH ZELLERBACH’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

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  1. […] CITY OF RIVERSIDE: IS CITY ATTORNEY GREG PRIAMOS AND CITY HIRED ATTORNEY DOUG SMITH CORRUPT LIARS? K… […]

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  3. […] Or the time, which involved City Attorney Greg Priamos denying that he had anything to do with the command for the arrest of public speaker, Karen Wright.  Officer Sahagun was commanded by the City Attorney to arrest public speaker Karen Wright.  Then Priamos calls the police report “inaccurate”, this then implies that officer Sahagun is s liar.  Brian Smith, RPOA President states, “we call that a lie in the profession, and the State of California calls it lying in a police report a crime.”  So if it is in fact a lie, will Priamos prosecute Officer Sahagun for falsifying a police report?  To this day it remains unclear what Priamos meant by referring to the report as “inaccurate.”  In addition, has yet to give an explanation of what was actually said between himself and Officer Sahagun.  Again is City Attorney Greg Priamos a liar? […]

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