State

Jardine: Time for White to step aside

WHEN IS ENOUGH, ENOUGH? — It would behoove Jesse James White, 21, to abdicate his booster seat on the Riverbank City Council and drop his premature Assembly campaign, too.

That's what you do when you've been arrested after a probation search that turned up cocaine and marijuana -- in small amounts, but nose candy and pot nonetheless.

After all, you're not the subject of a probation search unless you did something previously to land on probation. White pleaded no contest in 2007 to a "wet and reckless" charge, which is a watered-down version of a DUI.

"It's embarrassing," Riverbank Mayor Virginia Madueño said.

There's White's arrest. Add in his increasing verbal combativeness toward staff and other city officials during meetings, and the self-proclaimed City of Action more closely resembles the City of Factions. And he was elected under false pretenses because he wasn't even a registered voter when he filed to run for office at age 19 in 2008.

Two other council members -- Sandra Benitez and Danny Fielder -- told Bee reporter Kevin Valine they believe White should quit.

Madueño, in fact, plans to meet soon with City Manager Rich Holmer and the city attorney to determine the city's options in removing White from the council. And she encourages Riverbank residents to weigh in at the next council meeting, Monday at the Riverbank Community Center.

"It needs to be dealt with," Madueño said. "We're not going to pretend it didn't happen. The citizens' voices must be heard."

White would have to recuse himself from voting on any action. His mentor, grandfather and fellow Councilman Dave White would be wise to do the same even though he might not be required to by law.

Beyond the public embarrassment, though, is the need for a young man who is father to a toddler to define his perspectives.

While Madueño admittedly is no Jesse James White fan, she is an intelligent and decent person who sees the bigger picture.

"You have to look at it from the human perspective," she said. "This is somebody's son, somebody's grandson and somebody's father. How unfortunate this is for everyone involved."

Enough is enough.

SANCTUARY — You could say the valley has become a go-to place for people perpetuating hoaxes as they run from their personal troubles.

Two weeks ago, an Orange County woman told police she'd been kidnapped in Modesto when, indeed, she came to our fair burg to escape her five children in Southern California and be with her boyfriend here, then claimed he held her against her will and sexually assaulted her.

After surrounding their house on East Coolidge Avenue and handcuffing the boyfriend, authorities determined most of her story, at least, was bogus. They're still investigating the sexual assault allegations. They'll soon decide whether to charge her with filing a false police report, child abandonment and other crimes.

Then, last week, a second missing Southern California woman turned up in the valley, this one in Merced. Nancy Salas, 22, disappeared Wednesday, last seen before heading out for a run in a canyon near Glendale. Authorities scoured the canyon in an extensive search using dogs, helicopters and rangers. Instead, she walked into a store in Merced -- 270 miles to the north -- Thursday and asked the clerk to call 911.

Police said she had been attending UCLA, where she was a sociology major. They learned she had dropped out last year, but she led her family to believe she was still in school. They were preparing for her graduation party at the time of her disappearance.

On her Facebook page, she lists among her favorite activities, "Sillyness, Gallivanting, Giggling, Skipping, Imagining."

HOPE FLOATS — In February, organizers Art Mitchell of Modesto and Karen and Allen Aldridge of Jamestown canceled the Sierra Hope benefit motorcycle ride for this year. In its 15 years, the Sierra Hope ride raised nearly $3 million for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. But as the ride grew bigger and expenses soared, a smaller percentage of the money raised went to the cause. Law enforcement agencies in the various cities between Modesto and Jamestown dramatically increased their charges for officers who worked as thousands of motorcyclists passed through.

Mitchell and the Aldridges, though, said they wanted to organize a replacement event on a smaller scale. So from 11 a.m to 4 p.m. June 5, they'll host an appreciation party for those who supported the Sierra Hope Ride, taking over Jamestown's main street with music, food, a silent auction and other events. The Muscular Dystrophy Association, along with a Jamestown-based food bank, will reap the benefits. Call Jamestown Harley-Davidson at 988-4888 for more information.

YEARS, NOW TEARS — Long before Modesto resident Azure Blue Rodriguez died last week, she'd clearly beaten the odds. Suffering kidney failure as a toddler in Santa Clara, doctors feared she wouldn't survive a transplant because she weighed only 19 pounds when she received her new kidney at age 3. Her story, before and after the transplant, made headlines in the San Jose Mercury News and other papers. She moved to Modesto after her parents divorced in the 1980s, but she fell in with the wrong crowd of kids and eventually returned to Santa Clara to live with her father.

Rodriguez graduated from Westmont High in the South Bay in 1993, and eventually came back to live with her mother, Cruz Rodriguez, in Modesto. She remained here until her death May 10. She was 34.

Jeff Jardine's column appears Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays in Local News. He can be reached at 578-2383 or jjardine@modbee.com

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