RIVERBANK -- Councilman Jesse James White made it to his first council meeting in a month Monday night. Sort of.
He attended the regular session but then boycotted the closed session, in which he and Mayor Virginia Madueño and Councilwoman Sandy Benitez were set to discuss promoting a city employee.
White objected because he said city officials had printed business cards for Debbie Olson with her new title before the council had decided whether to make the appointment and city officials did not talk about the proposed 18 percent raise for Olson during budget talks a few months ago.
Madueño and Benitez could not meet in closed session because it takes at least three of the five council members to conduct city business.
The council has effectively been at three members since Councilman Danny Fielder resigned July 29. Dave White -- Jesse James White's grandfather and fellow council member -- has been in the hospital and then a rehabilitation center since June 15.
Jesse James White's action clearly irked Madueño and Benitez.
Before Monday's meeting, White, 21, had missed the one regular and two special meetings scheduled for this month. The council could not meet because of his absences.
The agenda on those meetings included Olson's promotion and discussing how to replace Fielder. The council had two choices: appoint someone by Aug. 28 or hold a special election in March at a cost of $25,000 to $35,000.
Madueño and City Manager Rich Holmer were recommending the council appoint someone.
Holmer has said he suspects White missed the three meetings to force the council to hold a special election.
The Whites often have been on the losing side of 3-2 votes and at odds with Madueño, Benitez and Fielder.
City officials said White was wrong about the funding for Olson's new job as executive director of the Local Redevelopment Authority, the city agency that oversees the former Riverbank Army ammunition plant.
The funding comes from grants and not from the city's general fund budget, Holmer said. He said business cards were made so Olson would have them when she and other city officials attended the Association of Defense Communities conference earlier this month.
Madueño strongly defended Olson, saying she has been invaluable in the effort to transform the former Army ammo plant into a jobs-rich industrial park. The city took over the plant April 1.
Madueño chided Holmer, City Attorney Tom Hallinan and City Clerk Linda Abid-Cummings for having to go through White's mother and former Mayor Charles Neal to communicate with White.
Holmer has said that White does not return phone calls.
Bee staff writer Kevin Valine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2316.