There is a saying that we say all the time when we as a people want to make a point of importance: “If you don’t know your History you are doomed to repeat it.” As a matter of fact, a recent report came out last week that stated our students in public education were not taught enough history in school and most did not know how the country was founded. I read a report of a parent who asked his kid, “where is Mississippi located?” and the kid responded, “in Mississippi I guess.”
Even Republican Vice Presidential candidate, Sarah Palin, got history wrong in Boston when asked about the famous midnight ride of Paul Revere to warn the citizenry that the British forces were coming. Palin said Revere was firing warning shots and ringing bells and telling the British you are not going to take our guns.
I cite this example because the Riverside Coalition for Police Accountability is requesting that the city do an audit of the six years that Brad Hudson served as city manager. Brad Hudson has moved on to the County of Sacramento as the Chief Executive Officer. The RCPA wants the audit to look at his use of: discretionary funds, awarding of contracts to private businesses and developers, his hiring and firing practices over employees which they refer to as “whiten of city hall”, abuse of the Whistle Blowing Protection Act and to review the budget expenditures for the past six years. I did ask Deborah Wong, Vice Chair of RCPA, why they were requesting such an audit. She responded, “we are looking for more transparency and higher ethical standards in city hall,” as a short answer. One of the ways we can determine what we need to change is know exactly what has happened over the past six years, Wong also stated.
Over the past six years Hudson has bumped heads with the RCPA members with his secrecy of handling incidences involving police investigations. The RCPA was an out growth of the 1998 shooting death of Tyisha Miller, a Black teenager, by four White police officers, that led to a year long national demonstration. There was also the big incident that involved the now retired police chief of driving under the influence and wrecking his car and destroying public property. The RCPA was not involved in the investigation of this incident of special treatment. Another embarrassment was the policy Hudson brought to the attention for council members to get a car for personal use at tax payer’s expense.
Riverside City is a very diverse city compiled of 60.2% Whites, 47.8% Hispanics (a combination of all races), 7.0% African Americans, and 6.2% Asians and a public policy that express inclusion as its mantra for a good government. The RCPA is made up of a very good cross section of highly intelligent citizens that have demonstrated over the past two decades their commitment to the city. One has served as a police chief, another is a professor at the university, another on the board of trustees at the community college, and another president of the local NAACP Branch. These individuals are also heavily involved as leaders in their churches, so their thoughts and opinions are highly sought after and respected.
With the history of uncertainty and suspicion being left behind with the departure of Hudson, it would behoove the city to consider the request of the RCPA and conduct the audit. In doing so it will allow the new manager to confront these suspicions. If not, the new manager and elected officials might repeat and make the same mistakes as Hudson.
One thing I know is the community will not forget nor let an elected official forget what they think Hudson might or might not have done. If they do not see people of color being hired, it will be viewed as continued “whitening” of city hall. If contracts are awarded to questionable or credible vendors that the community is not familiar with, will draw unnecessary inquiries. If a legitimate reason arises for the RCPA not to have information during an investigation of a police incident against the public, under the current suspicion and mistrust, it will be blown out of context.
Let us learn from the lessons of the past and consider the request to have an outside firm conduct the requested audit by the Riverside Coalition of Police Accountability citizens. It will give the new manager a good objective place to start their tenure with the city instead of misinformation.