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Former Councilman Chastised By Grand Jury

City Ethics Procedures, Brown Act, Government Code Violated

POSTED July 5, 2012 12:55 p.m.

 

The Stanislaus County Grand Jury issued a report critical of former Oakdale City Council Member Jason Howard’s actions when serving on the council during his shortened term.

The June 2012 report disapproves of Howard’s Dec. 7, 2010 actions where he removed a confidential personnel file from city hall even after being told not to do so, interfered with a city personnel issue in March 2011, and failed to abstain from a July 2011 council resolution where there was a clear conflict of interest by remaining and participating in discussions. The report is also extremely stern in criticizing Howard for choosing to remain on the council after moving out of the area in violation of residency requirements in the California Government Code.

It took Howard only one day as a council member to come under fault by the Grand Jury. In an act described as “poor judgment,” the Grand Jury found that Howard violated Oakdale procedures on ethical behavior during an incident on Dec. 7, 2010, the day after being sworn in as a council member. On that day Howard requested a 2009 confidential public works personnel investigation report. Howard met with then-City Manager Steve Hallam and was allowed to review the report in an office and instructed that the report could not leave the premises.

When Hallam returned he noticed both Howard and the report gone. Hallam contacted Howard by cell phone and learned Howard had taken the document home with him. During the call Howard stated he would return it shortly after review but did not understand why it needed to be returned immediately. It took a second telephone call from Hallam, even though Howard had been advised that legal counsel considered the document sensitive and personal, for Howard to return the report later in the day.

For more of this story, look to the July 11 edition of The Leader.

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