Riverbank leaders' pay, practices under fire in flier

RIVERBANK — A group critical of City Hall is putting pamphlets that question city management pay and spending on residents' doorsteps.

The anonymous documents claim top city officials make more than their Modesto counterparts, question how the city spent a 2005 sewer rate increase, and call for an independent audit of city finances.

Ida White, the mother of Councilman Jesse James White and daughter-in-law of Councilman Dave White, said the pamphlets are meant "to get people to start thinking. Hopefully, citizens will get more involved and not let (city officials) do the same old, same old."

She said Jesse James White and Dave White are not involved in the effort. She said about 50 people are helping with the pamphlets and started putting them on doorsteps this week. She declined to name who else is involved but said their names will become public in time.

"If everything is on the up and up, they should be willing to have an outside audit," Ida White said, "an outside person not connected to the city. Maybe the grand jury can make it happen."

City Manager Rich Holmer denied the accusations and called the claim that he and his managers earn more than Modesto's top managers "a blatant lie."

"But I would gladly accept a raise as would my managers to earn what Modesto employees do," he said in an e-mail.

Holmer, whose 35 years of government experience includes 15 years as Riverbank's city manager, earns about $235,900 annually in salary and benefits, compared with about $250,700 for Modesto City Manager Greg Nyhoff, according to records from the cities.

But those earnings are slightly less this year because both men are taking furlough days. Holmer, for instance, is taking six furlough days.

He said the city's books are audited annually by a CPA firm and the most recent audit found no problems. But he said he welcomed further scrutiny.

"I'm uncertain what another INDEPENDENT audit would uncover because there is nothing to uncover, but the reality is if Charles Neal or Jesse or Dave White want to pay for one, I'll gladly do it," he wrote.

Neal is a former Riverbank mayor and critic of City Hall. He could not be reached for comment Thursday.

In his e-mail, Holmer said the pamphlets are an attempt to divert attention from Jesse James White's problems.

White, 21, was arrested May 14 on drug charges after a probation search of his home turned up small amounts of cocaine and marijuana, according to authorities.

White missed the May 24 council meeting, where about two dozen people called for him to resign. His next chance to appear in a public forum is 5:30 p.m. Monday at a budget workshop in the council chamber.

The pamphlet offers no proof that Riverbank managers make more than Modesto managers. It is a copy of a document Jesse James White read at a recent council meeting in which he tried to get the city to rescind pay raises granted under a 2005-06 job classification and compensation study.

Ida White said in about a month the group will form a committee to get a measure before city voters to rescind the pay raises. Group members will reveal their identities then, she said.

The compensation study compared Riverbank with a dozen similar cities, such as Oakdale, Los Banos and Patterson. It found that Riverbank salaries on average were below what the other cities paid.

Ida White said the group plans to put out a pamphlet on sewer rates. The city has tried for more than a year to raise sewer rates. The most recent efforts have been blocked by Jesse James White and Dave White.

Bee staff writer Kevin Valine can be reached at or 578-2316.