Embattled Riverbank City Councilmember Jesse James White failed to appear at the Feb. 27 council meeting after his arrest in Oakdale a week before on charges of felony driving under the influence and child endangerment and renewed calls for his resignation from the council.
City Attorney Tom Hallinan Jr. told the council he had been in touch with White’s attorney and learned White had entered a medical treatment program for treatment of alcohol abuse but did not plan to resign from the council at this time.
“You can’t do much,” Hallinan explained to council members and the public that turned out for the Monday night session in neighboring Riverbank. “He can’t be forced to resign unless he is convicted of a felony, pleads guilty to it or commits some malfeasance involving his office.”
Mayor Virginia Madueno said councilmembers and city staff had received many calls from residents calling for White’s resignation but the council was restricted by state laws on what it could do.
“Our hands are tied,” she said. “The compelling argument for the public is not that he was driving drunk but that he left his child behind (when he ran away). People feel if he can do that, he is not a suitable person to represent the community.”
Madueno added she was glad Councilmember Richard O’Brien had joined Councilmembers Dotty Nygard, Jeanine Tucker and herself in a call for White’s resignation. O’Brien previously had refused to back lawsuits against White as a waste of taxpayers’ money and said resignation was up to White’s conscience.
In the Feb. 20 traffic accident in Oakdale when White’s Corvette hit a parked car along F Street near Mann Avenue, he was arrested on charges of felony driving under the influence and child endangerment after trying to flee the scene on foot.
Oakdale police officers called to the 1 a.m. accident reported White smelled of alcohol, his speech was slurred and he could not stand on his own. They also said his 4-year-old son, who was strapped into a child booster seat in the front passenger seat, sustained facial cuts and a bleeding nose from deployment of the air bag. White, according to witnesses, checked on the child briefly after the crash but left him in the car seat and attempted to flee the scene when told a call had been made to 9-1-1.
White posted bail by afternoon of that same day and is free until a court appearance on March 21.
This is far from his first brush with the law. When elected to council in 2008 at the age of 19, he was on probation for what the court called “wet and reckless driving.” Two years later he was arrested on drug possession charges.