Editorial: Valdivia should explain reversal on pay

Hollister Mayor Pauline Valdivia has been on the council since 1998.

Time and again over the years, Councilwoman Pauline Valdivia has defended her previously consistent stance to vote on city compensation matters such as contracts for workers, with questions arising periodically because her daughter is a Hollister employee.
Valdivia had continually voted on matters related to city employee compensation instead of potentially recusing herself, while being backed in her decisions by prior city attorneys and while arguing state law allows her to take part in those votes.
It appears as though state law does allow Valdivia to vote on city compensation matters. Legally, it seems fine. Politically, that’s for voters to decide, and they haven’t been stirred whatsoever by Valdivia’s stance. She is, after all, serving in her fourth consecutive term.  
On the most recent matter before council members having to do with city pay – an outrageous proposal from interim City Manager Bill Avera to give department heads wide discretion in giving employee raises – Valdivia chose to step aside and recuse herself from the vote.
Fortunately, council members had the sense to reject the proposal without Valdiva’s involvement. Unfortunately, Valdivia hasn’t explained why she stepped away from this particular vote other than citing “family reasons.”
Did she see the light and realize she has held a clear bias when voting on city compensation matters – after historically leaning heavily in favor of pay increases? Perhaps she couldn’t compel herself to support such an irresponsible proposal at a time when the city is barely gearing up for a recovery from a recession that ended years ago.
Either way, Valdivia’s constituents deserve an explanation. Either she or the city attorney should provide one, because her stunning shift in course could carry significant implications down the road.

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