State - INACTIVE

Riverbank councilman says he will not resign

RIVERBANK -- Riverbank Councilman Jesse James White said he would not resign Monday night even as the mayor and two council members explored disciplinary action against him.

Mayor Virginia Madueño asked White to step down at the meeting, but he declined, saying the council would appoint "a tax and spend puppet" to replace him.

White, 21, was arrested May 14 after sheriff's deputies said they found small amounts of marijuana and cocaine in his apartment and vehicle during a probation search. White has pleaded not guilty.

"I will remain until my legal issues play out," White said.

Madueño, Councilman Danny Fielder and Councilwoman Sandy Benitez asked City Attorney Tom Hallinan to look into the process of censuring White.

A censure is a formal reprimand. White would not have to step down if the council censured him. He can be removed only if he is convicted of a felony or a misdemeanor involving his official duties such as taking a bribe.

White's grandfather and fellow council member, Dave White, was not at the meeting. He still was in a Modesto-area hospital after complaining of tightness in his chest and undergoing surgery Thursday.

Madueño said Jesse James White has lost the public's trust and was eroding the hard work by the city to improve its image.

Benitez said of White "this young man had a chance. ... He didn't declare he had a record (when he ran for the council) and now he's in trouble again."

White was placed on three years' informal misdemeanor probation June 4, 2007, after pleading no contest to "wet and reckless" driving.

During public comment Jesse James White's cousin Lee Ulloa asked Madueño whether she knew the difference between "censure" and "censor" and said censor was popular in three cities: Moscow, Havana and Riverbank.

"I know the difference," Madueño said. "I don't need to answer your question."

Ulloa later stood outside the council meeting holding a sign that read "Riverbank Communist's for Fair Change Sucks," a reference to Riverbank Citizens for Fair Change, the group that tried to recall the Whites last year.

Jesse James White's tenure on the council has been controversial since his November 2008 election. A civil grand jury report last year recommended that he resign because he was not registered to vote when he applied to run for the council.

Riverbank Citizens for Fair Change is mounting another recall effort against Jesse James White.

The Whites have criticized city spending and the salaries of the city's top managers. Jesse James White has said he will lead an effort to put a referendum before city voters to repeal pay increases managers received based on a 2005-06 salary and job classification survey.

In other action, the City Council:

Voted 3-1 to increase water rates by 1.28 percent. That works out to $2.21 a year for a homeowner. Jesse James White voted "no."

Voted 4-0 to ask staff to refine a proposed low-cost loan program for several hundred businesses that need to install backflow devices to prevent water contamination. The refinements include extending the repayment of the loan from six months to 12 months. The council wants the city to collect the costs of installing backflow devices from 21 businesses that were part of the downtown redevelopment project.

Bee staff writer Kevin Valine can be reached at kvaline@modbee.com or 578-2316.

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