Tuesday, August 12, 2014

(San Joaquin County) Silva blasts response to grand jury

August 12, 2014
Stockton Record
By Roger Phillips, Record Staff Writer

STOCKTON - Anthony Silva [Stockton mayor] says he disagrees with the city's proposed response to a recent grand jury report in which the mayor, in particular, was heavily criticized for leaking confidential information to the media last year from a closed-session City Council meeting.
In its proposed response, city staff agrees with the San Joaquin County grand jury that Silva leaked the name of city manager candidate David Garcia in November. The city also agrees with a grand jury finding that "seven or eight" volunteers who work for Silva at City Hall are inadequately trained and supervised.
The City Council is scheduled tonight to vote on whether to approve Stockton's required response to the grand jury report, which was released three months ago. Silva expressed his displeasure with parts of the report at the time, so his reaction to the city's response is no surprise.
"I don't want anything to be entered into the public record where somebody typed out a response for me that is incorrect," Silva said Monday.
Garcia, who was in the running to replace the retired Bob Deis, withdrew from consideration shortly after the leak by Silva, who was one of his supporters.
"I really still believe there are some individuals who put a monkey wrench into the process in an attempt to make me look bad," Silva said. "Simple as that. But I don't want to rehash that."
The city manager job ended up going to Kurt Wilson, Deis' interim replacement.
The city's response to the grand jury credits Wilson with "improving communication" with Silva and the council "in efforts to provide clear expectations, preserve ethical standards and adhere to the Government Code and local policies and ordinances."
Silva said he will have more to say about the city's response at tonight's meeting.
The grand jury report also criticized the rest of the council members for being aware that information about the search for a new city manager was being leaked to the public well before Silva's leak but not doing anything about it.
Councilwoman Kathy Miller said she did voice concern over leaks to the City Attorney's Office last year, but she said there was no way for her to prove her suspicions.
"All I knew was I had been hearing some people were throwing names around," Miller said.
As for his volunteers, Silva said he has had to rely on them because he does not have enough staff members.
"They don't get access codes to computers or anything like that," Silva said, adding that the one exception was when a volunteer sent an email from the mayor's personal America Online account to a television reporter on the night Garcia's name became public.
Silva said the volunteer had his permission because in his opinion, Garcia had been selected days earlier by the council and his identity should already have been made public.
Miller said she is hoping tonight's discussion will produce new ways to prevent leaks of information but admitted she is realistic.
"It's not the first time there was a leak from closed session, and, given human nature, it's unlikely to be the last leak," she said.
If tonight's discussion proves to be vigorous, it will be in stark contrast to the nonexistent conversation one year ago when the council approved the city's response to the 2012-13 grand jury report.
The council voted 7-0 on Aug. 13, 2013, to approve the city's response to a report that explored Stockton's economic collapse. A year ago, council members voiced no criticism of the city's response before approving it.
But the 2013-14 grand jury found that one year after they cast that unanimous vote, "a majority ... of council members stated they disagreed with official responses they had previously approved." Denise Mathews, the 2013-14 forewoman, said the conclusion was based on interviews with Silva and the other six council members.
In tonight's most convoluted vote, the council will decide whether to approve a response to the criticism of how the council handled last year's response.
Mathews declined to provide details regarding which aspects of last year's response some council members now disagree with. Several council members reached for comment in recent days said they do not disagree with last year's response, which answered 40 findings and 33 recommendations by the grand jury.
Miller said the volume of last year's 134-page city response made it highly unlikely seven council members could have agreed with every word.
"When there's that many (findings and recommendations), it's probably impossible to think you're going to get 100 percent agreement on every single thing," Miller said.
Mathews said, "I can't say I agree or disagree with what she is saying."
Contact reporter Roger Phillips at (209) 546-8299 or rphillips@recordnet.com. Follow him at www.recordnet.com/phillipsblog and on Twitter @rphillipsblog.

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