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White Wash - City Drops Lawsuit
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Riverbank City Council has withdrawn its lawsuit to remove councilman Jesse James White from office, apparently to save the taxpayers further costs in legal fees.

The city has spent to date more than $53,000 in a suit that says White acted illegally and without authority (quo warranto) in claiming a council seat four years ago because he was not registered as a city voter at the time he became a candidate for office.

Elected at 19 years of age, White has fought all attempts - including two recall actions - to oust him from the council, maintained he did nothing illegal and said he would appeal any adverse ruling up to the California Supreme Court, which could cost the city another $50,000.

White's term of office is due to expire this November but he said over the past weekend he may run for reelection.

"I'm considering my options," he said. "I love this city and its citizens. I will consider another run. I'm not upset by opposition. I like to stand up for what I believe in. I expect the political establishment to keep coming after me ... When the council goes into the business of overturning the will of the people, they're on a slippery slope. The elections are only 10 months away. The people will get their say."

White repeated his former criticism of Mayor Virginia Madueno and councilmembers Dotty Nygard and Jeanine Tucker who voted to bring legal proceedings against him while councilmember Richard O'Brien opposed any court action on grounds it was a waste of the taxpayers' money.

"They had no legal authority to bring a suit. It was politically motivated," White said.

Citizens Charles Neal and Scott McRitchie have noted in council meetings the number and cost of the lawsuits in which the city is currently involved and warned it against further legal expenses.

The terms of the settlement reached between the city's and White's attorneys this past week specify the two parties will each pay their own costs and will not sue each other again. Doug White (no relation to Jesse James White) of Sacramento has represented the city and Lynn Belsher of Modesto is White's attorney.

"I got what I wanted," said White. "I did not want the city to waste more money and I had no intention of suing the city."

Mayor Madueno, on the other hand, sees the settlement as a compromise, a practical move to save the city further expense and clear the decks to move ahead with more pressing problems.

"It was a difficult decision to drop the case since we had already won in superior court and in the court of appeals and felt the court would side with us in a summary judgment," she said Monday. "But we knew Jesse would appeal and drag it out and it would cost the city thousands of dollars more ... in the best interests of the city, we decided not to pursue it. He has already cost the city thousands and we need to move forward."

Backed by his grandfather Dave White who was already serving on the council, Jesse James White won his own seat in November of 2008 but has faced a lot of criticism and several attempts to force him from office.

When elected, he was on court probation for something less than driving under the influence and called "wet and reckless driving." He was then arrested on drug charges in 2010. That was settled last May when he accepted sentencing for a misdemeanor without jail time or probation.

A county civil grand jury decided in 2009 he was not a registered voter of the city at the time he took out papers to run for council and recommended he be removed from office. City officials said at that time they did not have the authority to oust him but last May filed a superior court case against him claiming he did not have the right in 2008 to take office,

In the meantime, he survived two recall attempts against him led by Nygard and Tucker before they became council members.