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City Of Riverbank Responds To Grand Jury
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In an official written response to the recent Stanislaus County Grand Jury report, the City of Riverbank says it does not have the authority or ability to invalidate Councilmember Jesse James White's election or remove him from office as recommended by the Civil Grand Jury.

Retained attorneys Greenberg, Traurig LLP have advised the city there are only two ways to challenge an official's eligibility to serve in an office to which he or she was elected. First, the election results can be contested according to the California Election Code. But this must be done within 30 days of certification of the results.

Secondly, the Attorney General has the exclusive authority to bring a "quo warranto" action on his own motion or complaint by an individual against anyone alleged to unlawfully hold or exercise public office and this action can be brought at any time.

The City replies to other (selected) parts of the Grand Jury report as follows: • The City has "a strong city manager/weak mayor" form of government and the City Manager should establish a more efficient manner of spreading information to the Council and staff.

The City disagrees with these recommendations, saying Riverbank is a general law city that has adopted a city manager form of government whereby the Council sets policy and the City Manager implements policy. There is no form of government known as "strong city manager and weak mayor." Only six of the 460 California cities, most of them large like Los Angeles, have a mayor-council form of government.

The Jury's recommendation regarding dissemination of information is already implemented, the city replied. The City Manager continually spreads information to the Council and staff on a routine basis via biweekly reports, management planning meetings, ad-hoc groups, internal website, phone calls, e-mails and an open door policy.

• The City Manager needs to be visible in his leadership role.

This recommendation is already implemented. The City Manager has always been visible in the community, the city answer to the jury indicated. He attends all major functions and collaborates with such groups as Rio Arts, Riverbank Community Theater, Riverbank Woman's Club, Friends of Jacob Myers Park, United Way, Riverbank Historical Society, the Alliance, StanCOG, Valley Art Association and the Rotary Club. The City Manager has an open door policy and believes in management by walking and talking with staff and citizenry.

• The City Council should evaluate the City Manager on an annual basis.

The City replied it agrees. The City Attorney is preparing a revised evaluation for the Council and City Manager to review. Afterwards the City will reinstate the annual city manager evaluation (Following complaints, the Council has recently moved to reinstate annual City Manager evaluations that have been skipped for the last four years, although neither Council members nor critics have an answer as to why they were no longer being done on that annual basis).

• City Council should develop a set of policies and procedures for each department.

This recommendation is already implemented; each department is responsible for developing policies and procedures for itself, according to the city's answer.

• When document verification is required, the City Clerk or Assistant City Clerk should review each document for accuracy and timeline.

Already implemented, the City commented, when it falls under the purview of the City Clerk and not on any other officer such as County Clerk, Fair Political Practices Commission, Secretary of State, etc. (The Grand Jury's report intimated the City Clerk should have noted Jesse James White's violation of the electoral code in filing for candidacy before he filed as a registered voter.)

• One delivery system, paper or e-mail should be used and training provided for the sole Council member who professes computer illiteracy, if the City chooses to use only the electronic mode.

The City disagreed with this recommendation since one delivery system is not in the best interests of transparent government and the city uses many forms of communication including personal visits, public meetings, phone calls, voice mail, e-mails and hard copy printouts. Much of its literature is duplicated in Spanish and the city does offer computer training and a city-owned laptop.