Grand Jury Report: Finds unethical practices & intimidation by Madera mayor and council members during meetings

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A grand jury report about the inner workings of the Madera City Council and it’s finances paints a concerning unethical picture.

The grand jury states it began its initial investigation after salaries were increased for department heads in the city of Madera.

At the same time, residents had their water rates increased.

So the grand jury was trying to determine if there was a connection.

The grand jury says after attending several council meetings, it turned its attention to the mayor and the city council.

The eight page grand jury report states Madera city administrators and elected leaders don’t have a written code of ethics to follow.

It states they have not attended any ethical training.

The report says city administrators and elected officials are doing personal business with the city as private individuals, which the grand jury found is a direct conflict of interest.

But more importantly, the grand jury found the city has a lack of transparency and even intimidation towards residents who speak before the council.

The report says agendas for council meetings are difficult to understand, and the public doesn’t know how to access them.

“We are taking the report very seriously,” says Madera City Manager Arnoldo Rodriguez.

Rodriguez has only been in office since December of 2018.

Rodriguez says, “My goal at the end of the day is to assure the people that their tax dollars are being properly allocated, that the decision making process is being done in public. There are no backroom deals happening here at the City of Madera.”

Rodriguez says city leaders will be going through ethics training and changes are being made to the agenda process.

He says agendas will be posted online in a timely manner and on all social media platforms. They will also not be written in technical terms.

Rodriguez says, “So they can pick up a report and understand what it says. So they have a comfort level knowing that tax dollars are being spent properly.”

But what about the grand jury finding elected leaders are doing personal business with the city of Madera?

Rodriguez says new policies will implemented.

Rodriguez says, “If those things have occurred we are going to make sure they don’t reoccur.”

CBS47 contacted the District Attorney of Madera County, Sally Moreno.

She said her staff is looking into the grand jury report to see if any criminal charges needed to filed.

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