Category Archives: Ethics

Riverside improperly held electricity tax election, judge rules

It looks like the old ways of doing business in Riverside are beginning to erode. Read about it here from the PE:

Referee Issuing Red Card Penalty

This decision came about because residents were forced to take legal action against some very unwise legal advice given to the City Council which makes them look complicit in trying to defraud the ratepayers.

If ever we needed an elected Inspector General, this sort of waste of public funds should be reason enough. What else is being hidden from view?

After long years of suffering under the economic development vision of “cheap dirt”, and a series of deplorable leadership decisions, feckless city managers and past councils with questionable ethics and certainly with no love of place, residents are finally demanding answers and showing a willingness to apply constant pressure on the issues that matter to all of us.

Increasing demands for closer scrutiny over decisions on how our public funds are being disbursed is beginning to pay and special interests don’t like this trend. We’re seeing a reassertion of parents and taxpayer rights to effective school bond oversight.

We can complain all we want about the fraud, waste and abuse that occurs in government, but if we don’t step in to express our thoughts, keep demanding answers, or counter the latest special interest vision with our own, residents will always get far less than we deserve from our tax dollars.  Where do you want to make the next difference in Riverside?



Is It Time For A Sunshine Ordinance For Riverside?

Go For Public CommentHow many times have we been shafted as citizens because our right to weigh in was abridged or eliminated?

Getting the City Council Agenda on a Friday and trying to get straight answers from council members or staff about an item is an unnecessarily  frustrating exercise in democracy.

There is too little time to get answers, ask questions, make recommendations, offer suggestions or anything we the people may have to say.

During Summers the Council meets every other week. No reason we couldn’t adjust the posting time and not miss a beat with staff work flow. We could implement this in a few short months.

If a recent City Council meeting is any guide, maybe we’ve reached a tipping point for expanded public participation in our public affairs.

Could it be time for Riverside to draft a sunshine ordinance of it’s own?. It reminds me of the neighborhood slogan that says, ‘if it’s about us and it’s without us, it’s not for us’. That sums up the conducting of City business and our opportunity to engage in effective public dialog with our elected officials and City staff. I wonder what we’d come up with for our Riverside Manifesto Of Right To Public Participation or a Citizens Bill Of Rights .

I know we’d restore our right to pull an item off of the consent calendar for discussion. We’d probably have no limit on putting speaker cards in during the item being discussed.

Maybe with a new City Manager and City Attorney, we can explore how to quickly restore our rights to participation and full transparency at all city council and committee meetings. That means great video or complete, unedited, full face shots of all speakers .

One thing that makes sense is to allow any speaker to plug in a thumb drive to illustrate or compliment their time – all three precious minutes of it.

We risk better government and better results. Check out what San Jose’s Sunshine Ordinance looks like. let’s start add your ideas.Pass it on.

Clapping At Council Goes On Trial

For those who remember our public calls for action regarding the conditions in our neighborhood, Letitia Pepper was arrested for clapping at one of those city council meetings.

Rusty Bailey and Greg Priamos are both saying in their depositions that Letitia was yelling and screaming from the back of the room and running from chair to chair.

If you remember it differently, please stop by Letitia’s house, 503 Highlander this Saturday between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. and let her lawyer know what you saw. Thanks in advance for your support.


City Beat: Councilman Mike Soubirous Investigation, Bogus Or Blunder

Open GovernmentThirty Miles Of Corruption had a well documented post regarding the way politics is being played at City Hall and why we should be storming the castle to get this sorted out.

One of the points brought up was a Charter amendment to put some transparency and process back in the public spotlight.

As taxpayers, we expect our elected council members have a right to speak to any department, any employee or any City employee about any matter of interest to their voting public.

That’s one reason we should be getting our meeting agendas and notices two weeks, or ten business days in advance.

Reed Reforms

While running for Mayor in 2006, then-Councilmember Chuck Reed introduced his signature Reed Reforms – a comprehensive strategy to build a more honest, open, accessible, and fiscally responsible government. These reforms include numerous measures designed to improve public access to city records and information, promote ethics and accountability, and maximize the participation of San José citizens in the city’s decision-making process.

Mayor Reed enacted two of his Reed Reforms during his inauguration, when he added the following pledge to his Oath of Office:

“I further pledge to uphold the San José Charter, to always place community benefit before personal interest, and to exercise the power of the Mayor’s office honestly and ethically. No Lying, No Cheating, No Stealing.”

Overall, 32 Reed Reforms have been adopted by the City Council, including new policies that:

  • Have led to the creation of a sunshine ordinance that increases transparency in our local government.
  • Require the Mayor and Councilmembers to make important disclosures before the Council takes action.
  • Publicly disclose the offers made to City unions for pay or benefit increases.
  • Plug loopholes in the campaign financing and lobbying ordinances that reduce the influence of paid interests.
  • Require the calendars of the Mayor and Councilmembers to be posted online.
  • Have implemented a more inclusive, community-based budget process that ensures proper public input when defining the city’s spending priorities.

The adoption of these reforms has been a critical step in changing the way City Hall operates and has helped build the foundation for a government that San José residents can be proud of.

Read more about the Reed Reforms


University Neighbor Arrested For Clapping At City Council Meeting


by thirtymiles

On June 25, 2013 at City Council in the City of Riverside, Letitia Pepper, Esq., former Best, Best & Krieger Attorney, was arrested for clapping in approval of statements made by public speakers.  If you recall, public speaker Karen Wright was arrested last November 2012 for speaking 16.8 seconds over the 3 minute rule.  Mike […]

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Public Invited To Meeting Recommending Ethics Ammendments

The public is invited to a meeting to recommend amendments to the Code Ethics and Conduct next month at City Hall.

On Sept. 7 at 4 p.m. in the Mayor’s Ceremonial Room (7th Floor), the City Council Governmental Affairs Committee is holding an annual meeting to formulate recommendations to the City Council.

The City Council will hear those recommendations at 7 p.m., Sept. 20, in the Art Pick Council Chamber. The public is invited to attend.

For more information, visit the following link on the City’s Web site at  or call the City Clerk’s Office at(951) 826-5557 for a brochure and a copy of the code.

Send us an e-mail with your answers to the 13 questions. You may e-mail directly to

Whatever Happened To Video Recordings Of Committee Meetings?

With an ethics panel, charter review and mayoral election ahead and a new city manager, it’s never been a better time to put some transparency in our civic affairs.

That means at the minimum, video recordings of committee meetings, made available withing 24 hours and for a Smart City, that would  look like live streaming video with interactive public participation and input.

This is not complicated technology. We can do this right now. It’s another reason to upgrade the city’s Wi-Fi network.  Bandwidth is weak. We can do better.

Without a meaningful or rewarding user experience,  our achievement – Citywide Wi-Fi – will become meaningless. The Smart City initiative as proposed in  Seizing Our Destiny should not become a joke. Transparency of civic affairs is reason enough to leverage technology for greater participation.

Anyone looking to be mayor or city manager would be wise to develop a platform for turning this into a reality within 90 days of taking office.  We’re going to need more participation not less if Riverside is to be the City of Our Dreams Now.

The upside to a transparent civic process, easy citywide access to that process and feedback from citizens and taxpayers would be:

  • A focus on what’s urgently wanted and needed most, right now for all of us
  • A way to solicit the broadest range of ideas and  workable solutions
  • A fast way to rank relevance
  • A way to utilize social networking for a greater quality of life
  • A way to make connections city wide around cooperative interests

I don’t see a downside to more of us being connected around Riverside being the City Of Our Dreams Now. Do You?