Posts Tagged ‘downtown riverside library’

WILL THE CITY OF RIVERSIDE BE SNIFFING THE GREEN WITH THE SUCCESS OF “THE CHEECH”?

UPDATE: 03.27.2018: PRESS ENTERPRISE: RIVERSIDE CITY COUNCIL EYES BAN ON MARIJUANA BUSINESSES: The City’s hypocrisy has no end. You bring in the Cheech Project idea with open arms and completely discount what and who the person is known for all at the same time. ‘Reefer’ side could be the center of the ‘pot’ revolution! First you have the Cheech Project, then all you need now is the ‘grass’ for the city coffers to be ‘loaded’ with ‘green.’ The ‘grass’ is really greener on the other side this time. Another missed opportunity or too big a bag of an opportunity?  Interesting enough, the City of Riverside has enough money to launch a new Office of Homeless Solutions consisting of a team made up of Assistant City Manager Alex Nguyen and 12 other people.  Sorry guys when you come to ‘Reefer’ side you can only carry an ounce if the ordinance passes, not a bag you both can walk in.

Given the financial straits the City finds itself in these days, Riverside residents are appropriately beginning to ask, “How much is ‘the Cheech’ (short for Chicharrón) project going to cost us?”  Back in February 2017, the Discovery Cube project was scrapped, leaving options open again for the aged downtown Library.  Why did the Cube’s backers decide to leave?  According to a later staff report, it was, “economically not feasible at this time,” …we’d add, “without further public subsidies.”

And while the public continued to openly state their displeasure with a $30, $40 $43 million new Jetsons library concept, as opposed to more cost-consciously renovating the old one, our Council continued to push forward to rid the Mission Inn of unsightly homeless people with the aid of City Manager John Russo.  And the answer our resident rockstar came back with, after hashing through several other options supposedly, was the Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art, Culture, and Industry, which would serve as a home for Marin’s private pussycat Chicano art collection and provide space for temporary exhibitions, classes and lectures.

But will we be seeing blurred lines if the Riverside Art Museum, leading the fundraiser efforts for “the Cheech,” project, doesn’t hit their extended deadline to raise a total of $3 million by May 2018 – a condition set by our City Council needed to continue progress towards making the Cheech a stoned-cold reality?  Problem is, even if they do, does the public really know what the final numbers are to rehabilitate the old library (a certifiable roach motel), or how much dough they’re committed to for the ongoing operation and maintenance of the joint?  Will those costs and others continue to chronically rise like has been the pattern with the new library?  Will the Cheech project eventually go ‘Up In Smoke’, and the idea of an avant-garde art center be just another one of Russo’s ‘Nice Dreams’ for the ole’ River City, made without any consideration that ‘Things Are Tough All Over’ for everyone who doesn’t have a government job?

Taking a “the grass is always greener,” perspective, the Cheech could also be an extension of the City of Riverside, and the center of the pot revolution.  Bringing untold millions in local taxes, the residents could finally see those buds trees trimmed, pot holes filled and homeless housed in gold-tiled apartments; and those pesky exorbitant public employee pensions would turn out to be just figments of our smoke-filled minds.  Oh, the irony!

According to “High Times” Cheech has been enlisted by the State of California to help register pot businesses.  Revenue for much needed services is what Riverside needs to keep this town ‘Still Smokin’ in the market place!

But what’s the straight dope?  We at TMC are committed to weeding through the real facts and figures for our readers.  Let’s start with the makeup of that initial $3 million startup money.  Well, $2 million will be raised by private pledges and contributions, while $1 million will come from the State in a form of a grant.  As many have pointed out, that $1 million from the State is still public money, even if it’s not money from the City general fund.  So yes, Riverside taxpayers are already on the hook alongside fellow Californians.

One thing Riverside taxpayers will be solely responsible for is the ongoing operations – cush jobs provided for Riverside Art Museum employees under contract from the City – and maintenance of the Cheech Project.  The total costs are estimated to come in between between $750,000 and $925,000 annually, to be partially recovered by a $1-2 admission fee.  Math never being our expertise we admit, we still figure “the Cheech” needs about 3,000 visitors daily to break even.  To be blunt: ain’t gonna happen.  Further, $100,000 was already approved out of our general fund last year by the Council for architectural services.

‘THE CHEECH’ MOU, MAY 16, 2017

Back to those pesky start-up capital costs.  A recent article in the Press Enterprise stated that the total cost of renovating and re-configuring the old library into the Cheech, which maxed out at  $7 million a year ago, now could reach as high as $10 million…hmmm, where have we seen this pattern before?  And it’s certainly evident that it’s been a long hard struggle to reach that $3 million mark to begin with.  And if that bogey is hit, where will the additional $7 million come from?  More I.O.U.’s?  Yes, the plan is to continue to raise that money (private, public, whomever still has a pot to piss in) and create an endowment for ongoing expenses on top of that.

CITY OF RIVERSIDE NEW FISCAL HAWK, MAYOR WILLIAM “RUSTY” BAILEY

At City Council on February 23, 2018, Mayor Bailey grilled presenters of the Cheech regarding how much money they had in hand towards the $3 million goal. $80K was the answer, with the balance in pledges (I.O.U.’s), totaling $1.7 million plus the impending State grant of $1 million, most likely derived from Assemblyman Jose Medina’s support to pass Governor Jerry Brown’s new gas tax.  We remind folks that when the library was being looked at for renovation, the cost was in the neighborhood of $20 million.  Will Cheech, or any of his vast array of high-net-worth friends, consider investing in Riverside and his project?  Or might the plug be pulled on the Cheech due to the chance that taxpayers may be asked to foot the bill on an unpaid ‘two finger bag’?  And if that possibility remains, should we reconsider building a new library all-together?  Or, will the Council simply start extending deadlines and take the money from its residents and businesses find financially more creative ways of accommodating the Cheech rather than admit they are on ‘doobie’ us grounds?  It would seem that to continue on this road would only make the taxpayers see ‘acapulco red.’

Well according to Russo, even if the project does not transpire, the City of Riverside still has to spend the ganja to repair the 1960’s library’s roof, heating, air conditioning system and elevator, estimated at $1.5 million.  His hope is that others will pay for that instead of local taxpayers (as long as we’re willing to fork over $40 million for a new library and subsidize the ongoing operations and maintenance at the Cheech.)

DONATE: FOR THE RIVERSIDE ART MUSEUM PROPOSED CHEECH MARIN CENTER FOR CHICANO ART, CULTURE AND INDUSTRY. 

FILE UNDER “PUTTING THE CART BEFORE THE HORSE”: One would think that it would be more appropriate to honor someone when a project has been completed, such as the ‘grand opening’ or ‘ribbon cutting,’ not while they haven’t even completed raising the first round of start-up funds!  And yet Riverside City Manager John Russo has been named “Public Partner of the Year” by the Inland Empire Economic Partnership for his leadership on the development of the Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art, Culture and Industry in downtown Riverside.  Is the ‘Mutual Admiration Society of Riverside,’ (MASOR) in ‘high’ gear, or what?  Good job John Russo City of Riverside Minister of Propaganda Spokehole Phil Pitchford!

Riverside City Manager John Russo Honored for Nurturing Cheech Marin Center…wow

Cheech, you are absolutely driving okay, especially when you doling out a possible revenue stream for the City of Riverside.  You can be rest assured that the Riverside Police Department under Chief Sergio Diaz will be ‘highly’ motivated that you will reach your destination safely.  Why?  Because we do have two sets of rules in River City.

HOW DID THE WHOLE APPROACH TAKE PLACE BETWEEN CHEECH AND RUSSO WITH REFERENCE TO DISPLAYING HIS ART IN OUR MUSEUM?   Well according to O.C. Weekly, while in Riverside last year (2017) for the second iteration of “Papel Chicano Dos: Works on Paper From the Collection of Cheech Marin,” which featured 65 artworks by 24 established and early career artists, the actor/collector was randomly approached by John Russo, the city manager, with a proposition. “He told me how perfect it would be for Riverside, which is 51 percent Chicano, and the Inland Empire at-large, which is 52 percent Chicano, to open a museum for my art,” says Cheech. “At first, I had no idea what he was talking about. I was like, ‘What? You want me to buy a museum? I don’t know if I can do that.’ And [Russo] said, ‘No! We want to give you a museum to house your collection.’

AT THE MARCH 13, 2018 FINANCE COMMITTEE MEETING: COUNCILMAN MIKE SOUBIROUS REFERENCED THE OLD DOWNTOWN LIBRARY AND IT’S REPAIR ISSUES, BUT HE ALSO STATES THAT THE DOWNTOWN LIBRARY IS A DANGER ZONE FOR CHILDREN AND EMPLOYEES, BECAUSE OF A PEDOPHILE PROBLEM.  Now that a serious public safety statement has been made, what will this retired Commander for the Highway Patrol request our local police department to do in order to combat this problem?

RIVERSIDE TOURISM BUREAU’S NEXT CREATIVE ADVERTISEMENT

IT SEEMS CHEECH ALSO HAS A FINE COLLECTION OF PUSSYCATS RIVERSIDERS MAY WANT TO INSPECT!  MAYBE WE CAN CONVERT THE OLD FIRESTATION FOR THIS NEW CHEECH VENUE!

TMC, RATED RIVERSIDE REGIONAL COUNTY’S MOST, “SCANDALOUS,” “NEGATIVE,” “WARPED,” “RAUNCHY,” “LOW CLASS,” “VISIONS OF GRANDEUR,” “FULL OF B.S.,” “REPREHENSIBLE,” “IGNORANT,” “MISGUIDED,” “BULLYISH,” “INDECENT,” “REPUGNANT,””IMMORAL,” “FILTHY,” “VILE,” “SICK,” “PERVERTED,” “DEFAMATORY,” “STUPID,” “PATHETIC,” “DESPICABLE,” “DISAPPOINTING,” “BELOW THE BELT,” “A NEW LOW,” “SHOCKING,” “OFFENSIVE,” “OBNOXIOUS,” “INAPPROPRIATE,” “HURTFUL,” “MEAN SPIRITED,” “DISTASTEFUL,” “EMBARRASSING,” HORIFFIC,” “SLANDEROUS” “FIT TO BE VIEWED FROM THE REAR” AND MEZZSPELLED, “MISSPELLED” AND “OPINIONATED” BLOG SITE! YES WE ADMIT WE OUR ALL OF THAT AND MORE, WHICH IN CURRENT TERMS IS KNOWN AS “POLITICALLY INCORRECT.” 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 STAR OUT OF FIVE IN TERMS OF COMMUNITY APPROVAL RATINGS.. … AGAIN, THANK YOU COMMUNITY OF RIVERSIDE AND THE CITY OF RIVERSIDE EMPLOYEE’S FOR YOUR SUPPORT! CONTACT US: thirtymilescorruption@hotmail.com

 

Two weeks ago, we released our story of the Drug Dealers Next Door: Part I.  The following is the second part of Author David Silva’s response to the City of Riverside, approximately one year later, which was posted in the Inland Empire Weekly on September 24, 2008.  Nothing had been done by the City of Riverside to resolve the drug issue in his neighborhood, which leaves us pondering the question, “Did they really want to?” or “Did they really care?”

In this second Silva article, the author displayed his continued frustration with local law enforcement and local elected representatives.  Like the case of David Silva, no one within the City has contacted or given us any direction as to what to do about our problem neighbors.  At least you can rely on something in life – government inaction!

On September 19, 2017, Wood Streets resident and former Mayoral Candidate Vivian Moreno went to the City Council meeting to bring the lingering and current neighborhood issue of the Drug Dealer Next Door…with an added twist, prostitution!  Yep, the other night the Wood Street residents had the pleasure of hearing the annoyance of the Wood Streets King Pimp not being paid correctly by one of his employed working girls. Yep, right in the front yard without any fear of anyone knowing what they were talking about.

Keep in mind this issue had been brewing in our neighborhood for approximately 5 years and gets worse by the day, so I guess it was the natural progression we should’ve expected…and accepted?

Moreno came to Council to declare that she is required to have business license in order to do business in the City of Riverside, but a drug dealer or prostitution ring does not.  So why should she?  If the City allows an illegal business to operate, why should she continue to comply legally with a City that cannot protect legal businesses from the illegal ones?  She tore up her business license in front of them.  Much like Silva, it was an attempt to call attention to an unresolved issue by petitioning her government.

However, we conclude David Silva must be right: if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.  Besides having unsafe neighborhoods for our children, our seniors, our taxpayers, we still cannot get our trees appropriately cut, our pot holes filled.  It has been clearly evident for many years now that the City of Riverside cannot provide even the most basic services to our community, who are now paying through the roof (Utility Users Tax, General Fund Transfer, Measure Z, etc., etc.), and for what?  Certainly not safety.  Our neighborhoods continue to be put at risk by the inertness of our law enforcement and leadership.  It happened ten years ago; and it’s  happening now with no remedy in sight.  The same fools sit on the dais within the Art Pick Chambers; and Chief Sergio Diaz’s highly-paid, crack narcotic squad has done what? [crickets]

THE DRUG DEALERS NEXT DOOR: PART II: BY AUTHOR DAVID SILVA:

INLAND EMPIRE WEEKLY SEPTEMBER 24, 2008 

It’s been nearly a year since I wrote about the drug dealers operating next door to my house [vol. 2, issue 25 cover], and if you’re wondering how the guys are doing, let me assure you they’re doing just fine. 

Franco (not his real name, but drug dealing is illegal, you know) recently installed a carport awning to protect his trade in bad weather. Brother Mario (another pseudonym) is on what appears to be his fourth new car since Christmas. Say what you want about these guys (and lord knows I’ve said a lot—to the Riverside police chief, the mayor, the city’s crack narcotics unit and the Weekly’s readers), they’re single-handedly keeping the local auto industry afloat. 

Yes, these boys have struck gold, and the rest of us are green with envy. While no less than seven “for sale” signs can be seen on front lawns up and down the block, the dealers next door are in home-improvement mode.  While the rest of us sleep in shifts in case some addled tweaker tries sneaking through the bathroom window, the dealers sleep the untroubled sleep of the dead, their persons and their stashes safe behind wrought-iron doors and the sign on the front that reads (I kid you not) “Do not ring after 10PM.” 

Of course, there’s always the remote possibility that the dealers really should be more worried that, at any minute, Riverside’s crack narcotics unit will come crashing through those reinforced doors. But who are we kidding? If the police were going to put a stop to all that illicit activity next door, they would have done so by now.  

As I wrote back in October, my non-dealing neighbors and I tried repeatedly to draw the city’s attention to the situation next door, going so far as to arrange a neighborhood meeting with one of Mayor Ron Loveridge’s deputies. The deputy listened wide-eyed to our story and jotted down notes into a little black notepad, which he then tossed into a briefcase where, I imagine, it remains gathering dust to this very day.  Nothing was done.   

By the time my column appeared, I had called the Riverside PD three separate times to complain about the dealing next door (not counting follow-up calls to check on the status of the complaints). Since October, I’ve called the police and City Hall three more times, each time being told that the department had no record of any previous complaints, and each time being assured that the department was now right on it. One of those calls resulted in a callback from Riverside Councilman Frank Schiavone, with Police Chief Russ Leach sitting by his side. Both Schiavone and Leach assured me that the city took such complaints seriously, and that they were right on it.  

Nothing happened.  

This has been going on for three years now, during which I often wondered why the Riverside PD would put up with an open-air drug bazaar operating in a residential neighborhood just three blocks from three public schools. Drug busts are great PR for the police, and right here was a major bust just begging for the cops to walk up and slap the cuffs on it. So why didn’t they?  

Early last month, I finally learned the answer to this nagging question: It wasn’t that the police didn’t want to bust up the drug house next door. They just couldn’t find it.   

“According to my computer,” said the officer who took my sixth (and, I swear to God, last) complaint, “the street address you gave me doesn’t exist in Riverside.” 

“Well, that’s odd,” I said. “I’m looking right out my front window and there it is.” 

“Are you sure?” 

“Oh yeah, it’s right there. Maybe you should check again.” 

He did, and again declared the address didn’t exist. Back and forth we went, with me insisting the street address of the drug house next door to me existed, and the officer insisting that it didn’t. Finally: 

“Found it!” he said, sounding well pleased. “OK, we’re on it. The Police Department takes these calls very seriously.” 

After three years, six complaints, a meeting with the mayor’s aide and a conference call with a councilman and the city’s top cop, the Riverside Police Department’s crack narcotics unit finally located my neighbor’s house on a map.  

More than a month later, the dealing next door has continued unabated, and if there are any cops snooping around, they’re wearing invisibility cloaks. The only thing that’s changed around here is my attitude toward the neighbors. 

“How’s it going, Franco?” I shout when I go out for the mail. “Yo Mario! Nice new Prius, buddy!”  

If this is how the city of Riverside wants to wage its war on drugs, I might as well be on friendly terms with the winning side.  

–David Silva, Author

FROM THE DESK OF LOCAL RIVERSIDE RESIDENT, ACTIVIST & COUNCIL CANDIDATE, KEVIN DAWSON, REGARDING NEW LIBRARY DESIGN:

“UGLY” THE COMMON TERM TO DESCRIBE THE MONSTROSITY TO BE KNOWN AS THE NEW RIVERSIDE DOWNTOWN LIBRARY.

The $10 million over run is to elevate the building so people from the Fox will hopefully walk under it to get to the Culinary Institute. That’s $10 million for a walk way! Why don’t we just use $1 million to buy coupons to the Culinary, that we could hand out as incentives to Fox patrons to walk around a less exspensive library building on the ground? Of course I’m just joking. This is a ugly, over priced building, loaded with gimmicks that will become dated looking like the horse collar grill on a Ford Edsel. Unlike a car, we won’t be able to trade this lemon in a couple years after we realize we made a mistake. Also, the city has been cutting the library budget for years. They’ve let go all the professional staff that had library of science degrees and cut way back on programming. The current main library is denuded of books. The city is not going to restore funding with this new building. This project is based on lies and manipulations. The head librarian gave as reasons for needing a new building, that the current building was too big and that the pillars ruined the sight lines. They said it would cost almost as much to remodel the current building as building a new one, so why not build a new one. But then when they proposed the Discovery Cube would go in the old building, the remodel cost dropped to $10 million. When the Discovery Cube dropped out and the Cheech Art museum was proposed, they now say it will only cost $5 million to remodel the building. I say we should remodel the current building for the $5 million, and keep it as our main library, saving us $35 million! Measure Z was sold to the public as being needed for “needs” like public safety, and not wants like a new library. I want to support the library but not like this. If they have an idea for a great, inspiring new building, put it before the voters, and ask us to support the project based on its merits. Ask us to prove our support by our willingness to pay for it through a special acessment tax. That way, a crappy design will die the death it deserves, but an inspiring design will prevail and be supported by a proven majority. The people in San Francisco were so inspired by the Palace of Fine Arts, which had been built to only last a couple of years for the 1915 Panama exposition, that they voted to tear it down and rebuild it as a permanent structure. The Palace of Fine Arts is great example of inspirational artitecture and something that would compliment the mix of classic historic structures we have downtown, but an example of how to be bold, without being offensive to the surrounding neighborhoods. Our city is on the road to making a mistake but it’s not too late to change directions. We should not move forward with this design because people are tired, and just want to “get it done”. We should not move forward, just because we’ve already spent money on this design. Ugly needs to be called out for what it is, and this is an ugly building.

Let me also comment on councilman Gardner’s motion to approve, where he said he was making the motion to approve because he thought “the people of Riverside were ready, evidenced by the number of speakers who came to speak.” Really? The room was almost empty and hardly anyone was there to speak, unlike the night the council voted to move the library, and the room was packed. That night there were 80 speakers and a petition signed by almost 800 people saying don’t move the library. That meeting went until 1AM, but in the end, the council ignored the public, and approved an expensive project, without ANY discussion of how to pay for it. It was only later, they presented Measure Z. And while Measure Z was generously passed by voters, our city is still not out of financial danger. I believe our financial problems are what is driving the proposed utility rate increases. Our city has a electric and water fund transfer of 11.5%, that gets transferred straight into the city general fund, where it can be spent on anything. So, if the City Manager says the rate increase is not about more money for the General Fund, ask him if he would agree to not take a transfer from the rate increases, and see what he says.  – Kevin Dawson

NEW RIVERSIDE DOWNTOWN LIBRARY (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

With $60 million in unfunded future pension liabilities, Council, with the help of City Manager John Russo, overrode the community dissent that night, over-allocating funds for a new library.  Proving the establishment elite have an agenda, and your dissent for the project in public comment was only a legal formality they had to bear before moving on to a pre-determined decision.

REMEMBERING TOM PETTY: “DOG ON THE RUN”: 1977:

TMC, RATED RIVERSIDE’S REGIONAL COUNTIES MOST, “NEGATIVE,” “RAUNCHY,” “LOW CLASS,” “VISIONS OF GRANDEUR,” “FULL OF B.S.,” “REPREHENSIBLE,” “IGNORANT,” “MISGUIDED,” “BULLYISH,” “FILTHY,” “VILE,” “SICK,” “PERVERTED,” “DEFAMATORY,” “STUPID,” “PATHETIC,” “DESPICABLE,” “DISAPPOINTING,” “BELOW THE BELT,” “A NEW LOW,” “SHOCKING,” “OFFENSIVE,” “OBNOXIOUS,” “INAPPROPRIATE,” “HURTFUL,” “MEAN SPIRITED,” “DISTASTEFUL,” “EMBARRASSING,” HORIFFIC,” “SLANDEROUS” “FIT TO BE VIEWED FROM THE REAR” AND MEZZSPELLED, “MISSPELLED” AND “OPINIONATED” BLOG SITE!  YES WE ADMIT WE OUR ALL OF THAT AND MORE, WHICH IN CURRENT TERMS IS KNOWN AS “UNPOLITICALLY CORRECT.”  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..  … AGAIN, THANK YOU COMMUNITY OF RIVERSIDE AND THE CITY OF RIVERSIDE EMPLOYEE’S FOR YOUR SUPPORT!  CONTACT US:  thirtymilescorruption@hotmail.com