Councilwoman clarifies stance on pay votes

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Pauline Valdivia

Councilwoman Pauline Valdivia clarified her position regarding a recent recusal from considering a city compensation proposal. She underscored in an interview with the Free Lance that she recused herself on a particular vote last month – the four other council members rejected it  – because the item related directly to her family members’ respective classifications as employees as opposed to a general pay matter.
Valdivia last month recused herself from a vote regarding a proposal to give department heads discretion over some employee bonuses. She later cited “family reasons” for the recusal. Up until that decision, Valdivia routinely took part in matters related to city compensation. Her daughter is a support services employee, and her son-in-law is a utility engineer.
The District 3 councilwoman in an interview with the Free Lance further explained her stance regarding last month’s decision. She did so following a retreat meeting last week where she broached two ideas with potential implications on city compensation policies – extending the Measure E sales tax and offering early retirement incentives.
She explained why those ideas were different than the one from which she abstained when it related to any potential conflict. The proposal last month would have given department heads some discretion in awarding bonuses to employees.
“I abstained because it was specifically for confidential (employees) if I recall, and also administration,” Valdivia said, referring to her family members’ classifications.
She said the city attorney, from the Hollister’s contracted law firm L&G, advised her to abstain.
“That’s a decision I made then because it was specifically for certain areas,” Valdivia said.
Mayor Ignacio Velazquez called it a “good decision” by Valdivia to recuse herself from the bonus matter.
“I think Measure E first is pretty broad on what it means,” Velazquez said in defending Valdivia’s ideas presented last week. “It’s bringing income to the general fund. It’s not specific toward the salaries of the people.”
He said those ideas differed from the bonuses for certain employees.
“As far as legally, what she’s entitled to discuss – if a person is living in a household, you’re not able to be voting on those matters,” Velazquez said. “I don’t think, legally, she did anything wrong.”

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