TURLOCK — Some council members have accused colleague Mary Jackson of leaking closed-session information about candidates for Turlock city manager to the public, according to a memo by Mayor John Lazar.
The memo does not say who or how many council members leveled the accusation. But Lazar said he twice spoke with Jackson and others "associated with the allegations" and found no wrongdoing, according to the memo obtained by The Bee on Tuesday through a California Public Records Act request.
Rumors of Modesto Police Chief Roy Wasden's candidacy were widely circulated after The Bee wrote that Wasden was at Turlock City Hall during city manager interviews. A Bee reporter spotted him there April 28. Wasden did not deny it, saying only that it was not "appropriate" to comment.
Wasden starts the job Friday.
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Jackson said she couldn't talk about the specific allegations because she believed the matter was a "confidential issue."
"This is yet another attempt to silence me and stop me from doing the job Turlock voters elected me to do," Jackson said. "I believe we're wasting valuable city resources and our tax dollars on these roadblock 'allegations' instead of dealing with the important issues facing our community — the budget, economic development and revitalizing our downtown."
Wasden said the council will have a discussion about whether to investigate Jackson at Tuesday's open- session meeting. "We're going to have issues to deal with," he acknowledged. "It'll be what it'll be."
Council members spoke about the alleged misconduct during the council meeting June 9 but did not disclose who they believed was at fault.
Lazar said the allegations were a "witch hunt" meant to widen a wedge between council members that began during the past election season.
Votes often are 3-2, with council members Ted Howze, Kurt Spycher and Amy Bublak in the majority and Lazar and Jackson in the minority.
Howze called the alleged violation "criminal conduct." He asked for an investigation by City Attorney Phaedra Norton but ultimately agreed to "sleep on it."
Howze and Lazar did not return calls for comment Tuesday.
Jackson also has been the target of a civil grand jury investigation into whether she had a conflict of interest when voting on the Vintage Lounge Piano Bar project in January. One of Jackson's campaign volunteers, Axel Gomez, was the lawyer representing the Vintage Lounge before the city's Planning Commission. Another lawyer took over as an appeal was heard by the City Council. Grand jury forewoman Diane Sol would not say Tuesday if the grand jury will issue a report on Jackson. She said grand jury reports will be released within two weeks.
Bee staff writer Merrill Balassone can be reached at email@example.com or 578-2337.