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Straw Vote Decides Contract
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Three council members drew straws and then two stepped down from the dais to avoid conflict of interest when the Riverbank City Council voted March 10 on changing a contract for production of a downtown specific plan.

Following protests from local resident Charlie Neal, Councilmember Dave White formally acknowledged his beauty supply business on Atchison Street lies within the plan area, Virginia Madueno said she owns an investment property on Atchison Street and Sandra Benitez said her residence on Sierra Street lies within the area.

Calling for the drawing of a short straw to decide which of the three should remain on the dais to constitute a quorum and allow a vote, City Attorney Tom Hallinan Jr. then instructed White and Benitez to leave their seats and Madueno to remain.

Council then moved ahead with a 3-0 vote to approve a contract amendment with Ian Wolfe Ross Urban Design for the downtown specific plan.

Even that was complicated by a citizen's queries about the relationship between Ian Ross and the City Design Collective, with whom the city originally made a contract in October of 2007 to prepare a preliminary downtown land use and urban design plan.

Ian Ross is the owner of Ian Wolfe Ross Urban Design that is the principal company in the City Design Collective (CDC), staff explained.

CDC has performed the services in the original contract and made preliminary recommendations to support the city's revitalization efforts and help reduce competition from merchants located outside the downtown district, said Economic Development and Housing Director Tim Ogden.