Rolan Resendiz

Editors note: A previous version of this article incorrectly reported one of the investigation’s findings. That has been corrected.

After almost a year of an internal investigation into the alleged misconduct of Hollister City Council member Rolan Resendiz, the findings were unveiled at its regular meeting on June 18. But the results of the probe—and the veracity of another council member’s accusations of harassment—were questioned by Resendiz and his supporters.

Hollister’s city manager and the city attorney presented the findings to the council and disclosed accusations made by council member Dolores Morales that were serious enough to merit a police investigation. The report has not been made available to the public due to attorney-client privilege, according to City Attorney Mary F. Lerner.

The report detailed the investigation into four allegations — one which dated back to 2021 — in which Resendiz was accused harrassing or intimidating Morales. The investigation upheld two of the four allegations against Resendiz, both of which involved him getting in Morales’ personal space and verbally confronting her.

One of the alleged altercations between Morales and Resendiz happened after an April 17, 2023 city council meeting, according to a source familiar with the investigation. Morales reported that Resendiz blocked her from getting into her vehicle while berating her. However, the investigation found that Morales misrepresented the incident.

“The investigator found that this incident did not occur as council member Morales reported because the video evidence does not support council member Morales’s account of the events,” said Lerner, reading from the report.

The Free Lance reviewed surveillance video footage which allegedly captured the incident in question. The two-minute clip—which has no audio—shows Morales and Resendiz leaving the building at the same time, with Morales walking slightly in front of Resendiz. At one point, Morales stops and turns towards Resendiz, who is about to walk past her. It is unclear if Resendiz had made a comment before she turned around. 

While Morales is standing still, the video shows Resendiz moving up close to her, and she quickly moves aside and stays at arms length as the exchange continues. Resendiz gesticulates as he addresses her and within seconds begins moving toward his car, which is parked just a few feet from Morales. 

In the video, Resendiz opens the passenger door to his car and Morales stays on the curb. They continue the interaction and at one point get within arms-length of each other before they both walk away and get into their cars, which are roughly one parking space apart, ending the confrontation.

According to Resendiz, Morales said in her statements to investigators that he had obstructed her from getting into her car. 

“I was never near her car. There was a parking space between her car and mine. She proceeded to follow me. She proceeded to speak to me, and she stated to the police and to the investigator that I blocked her from getting into her car,” Resendiz said at the June 18 meeting, appearing via teleconference.

Morales could not be reached for comment by the morning of June 19.

The city attorney did not identify the witnesses who offered their accounts of the interaction between Resendiz and Morales, and the Free Lance has been unable to contact those witnesses. 

At the June 18 meeting, Morales defended her push to investigate the incident, saying that continued misconduct by any of the council members might deter the public from serving in office.

“We will not have people serving if this behavior is not addressed, and so that’s why I brought these issues forward, and it’s based on how I feel […] because I think that is key. If somebody does not feel comfortable and safe, then, you can have whatever circumstances, but the situation is challenging,” Morales said.

Allegations and investigations

The misconduct allegations date back over a year ago to the spring and summer of 2023, when Resendiz publicly sparred with Mayor Mia Casey and Morales during multiple city council meetings. Resendiz frequently lobbed corruption accusations at the pair, saying that they had taken money from real estate developers.

Resendiz has alleged that this was evidenced by their support for projects such as the expansion of the city’s sewer services and for a lower inclusionary housing requirement in Hollister. 

Casey and Morales repeatedly denied those allegations.

While Casey did receive contributions for her 2022 campaign from individuals connected with developers Anderson Homes and Lands of Lee, according to campaign finance reports, these were returned.

The disciplinary proceedings against Resendiz began in May 2023, when he was initially verbally reprimanded for his behavior, which allegedly violated the council’s code of conduct. The situation continued to escalate and culminated in a chaotic meeting on Aug 7.

Casey said during a council meeting in September 2023 that Resendiz had violated the code of conduct 15 times. In response, the council stripped Resendiz of his committee appointments, and in October was formally censured by his colleagues.

Resendiz’s supporters spoke out during the June 18 meeting, and one accused Morales of colluding with Casey and council member Rick Perez to persecute Resendiz.

“Three people, together, who do not like Rolan come together and say, ‘He’s done this to me, He’s done this to me,’ and you just keep throwing things at him until something sticks. It’s just lies, Dolores,” said Carly Robles via teleconference during the public comment period. 

Morales also had supporters in attendance, one of whom called Resendiz’s behavior “toxic.”

Casey moved to have the council censure Resendiz for a second time and to have him undergo workplace harassment training. The city attorney recommended that any disciplinary action taken by the council be in accordance with the old code of conduct, which was recently changed, based on the dates of Resendiz’s violations. The recently revised code incurs harsher penalties for violations.

Council member Tim Burns did not support the censure, calling it an “exercise in futility.”

“I can’t support it, simply because this has been a familiar path that’s happened at least two or three times. I just see no purpose in it,” Burns said.

“Frankly, I’d rather just forget about it as well,” said Casey, responding to Burns. “But I also feel like as a council, we have a duty to say something. If someone is being intimidated or someone is being bullied…”

Morales said she would like to see Resendiz undergo harassment training.

Ultimately, the council reached a consensus to bring back a resolution to censure Resendiz for the second time in less than a year.

In a phone call Wednesday morning, Resendiz doubled down on his accusations against Morales and Casey, and added a new one.

“The reason they’re trying to censure me is to silence me from being vocal about the mismanagement of the funds,” Resendiz said.

“The facts are facts, and the way that they’re conducting business…might hold up in the kangaroo court that they’re running, but it’s not going to hold up in a court of law,” Resendiz concluded.

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