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White Out? Critics Launch Recall Movement
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Political activist Dottie Nygard confirmed Friday that Citizens For Fair Change have started collecting names for a petition to recall Jesse James White from his Riverbank City Council seat. They put up a table for this purpose outside the Riverbank Community center even as people left the May 24 council meeting.

White did not attend that meeting but many citizens spoke there to strongly criticize him following his arrest during a probation search on suspicion of possessing drugs. A majority of speakers called for his resignation from the council.

If the city cannot find legal reasons to remove White from office, Mayor Virginia Madueno said at that meeting, she encouraged citizens to launch a recall movement to achieve the same purpose.

City Manager Rich Holmer, meanwhile, said Friday there could be additional developments this week in the case the might force White from council office and end his aspirations in the race for an Assembly seat.

"I'm thrilled. We definitely have more support this time," Nygard said of the recall effort.

The group needs to collect signatures from 25 percent of the city's registered voters.

Speaking of a previous attempt to oust White from office, Nygard noted that on that occasion the councilman's supporters launched an anti-recall movement and distributed what she considered deceiving forms to get people to remove their names from the recall petition.

White's grandfather and fellow Riverbank councilmember Dave White commented that the law says a man is innocent until proven guilty and up to Friday - prior to the three-day holiday weekend - the District Attorney's office had not even filed charges against Jesse James White.

"For lack of evidence perhaps," the elder White said.

"But our opponents have got what they wanted just by raising a huge hullabaloo," he added.

Meanwhile, White's supporters were reportedly handing out papers to business owners concerning the Hayhurst pay study of 2005 that led to hefty raises for city employees.

The young councilman claims city management refuses to bring up this issue in a public setting, but contends the public should know where the money went for the raises before they allow another sewer rate increase. He is calling for an independent, unbiased audit of the city's books.

The pay study was meant to compare the salaries of Riverbank employees with cities of the same size in the Central Valley. Why was there such a large increase in July of 2006? he questions, saying Riverbank management now enjoys salaries larger than their peers in Modesto, a city with 10 times the population.

Holmer called White's distribution of papers on the Hayhurst study "an act of desperation."