'End petty grievances,' Riverbank mayor urges

RIVERBANK -- Mayor David I. White moved to put Riverbank's recent political upheaval into the past Monday night, striking a tone of unity in his state of the city address.

White called on the city and its leaders to "end petty grievances" so they can face challenges together.

Usually, the mayor delivers the state of the city address at the council's second meeting in January. Instead, Chris Crifasi bid farewell that night after his surprise resignation weeks earlier. Appointing Crifasi's replacement and filling the subsequent empty council seat provoked heated debate in Riverbank.

White urged residents Monday "to be bigger than the sum of our individual differences." White said his top goal is to usher in a spirit of transparency in Riverbank's government, with a "city that serves residents in an open and honest manner." Some residents have complained about decisions they think were made behind closed doors, including White's appointment as mayor.

White didn't provide many specifics on how the economic crisis will affect the city. "The goal is no layoffs, but employees will have to make some concessions," he said. The council recently approved a policy to allow employees to take voluntary work furloughs.

White also made a plea for council members and the public to treat council meetings with respect. "Grandstanding is discouraged, as it detracts from the agenda and the business of the people."

The feel-good talk didn't last long.

Resident Darlan Ribeiro criticized White's speech during public comment, accusing the mayor of taking credit for accomplishments that weren't his. "I wonder what you've done other than vote to appoint yourself as mayor," he said. Ribeiro was one of the 20 people who applied for the council's empty seat last month.

Earlier in the evening, council members Dave White and Jesse James White handed out statements responding to a group that recently started a recall effort against them. The group, Riverbank Citizens for Fair Change, filed a notice of intent to recall last week, said City Clerk Linda Abid-Cummings.