Sunday, February 14, 2010

Riverside grand jury interviews former and current Indio City Council members

Sunday, February 14th, 2010.
Issue 06, Volume 14.

RIVERSIDE - A Riverside County grand jury has been interviewing former and current Indio City Council members, but those who have been questioned declined to comment, citing secrecy rules or lack of knowledge about the probe, it was reported today.

Mike Wilson, a former councilman who served for 13 years, told the Desert Sun he was interviewed twice in January. By law, grand jury proceedings are kept secret until they are concluded.

"I have been before them and I can't say what (it is about) exactly," Wilson said.

Though the nature of the inquiry is unknown, it comes as city grapples with a multimillion-dollar deficit and city leaders face criticism for their spending habits. Early retirement deals have also been a source of concern, including one for City Manager Glenn Southard, the the highest-paid city official in the Coachella Valley who plans to retire April 1.

City leaders have been criticized recently for putting federal funds at risk, for the city's credit card policy, and for hiring an expensive firm to analyze and make recommendations regarding the city's financial woes.

Councilwoman Lupe Ramos Watson told the Desert Sun she was informed of an ongoing grand jury inquiry but had not testified before the panel.

Watson said City Attorney Edward Kotkin told her that the grand jury asked for documentation on how the city responded to a previous investigation, but did not have any additional details.

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