Following a civil grand jury report that found misuse of city stationery, the Stockton City Council on Tuesday could approve an amendment to its policy manual defining the use of official city letterhead.  

The current council policy does not contain guidelines dictating how councilmembers can use city letterhead, which has led members of the Council’s legislation/environmental committee to request that staff present a new policy. 

The new proposed amendment going before the Council states that, “City Council is allowed to communicate using city letterhead for official city business with a copy to the City Council.” It also says, “No Councilmember may use the city letterhead for the purpose of press release, news release, or communications with the media.”

Approval of the amendment would address a recent recommendation from the recent San Joaquin County civil grand jury report, “City of Stockton: Crisis in Government” that was released last week.

The 16-page report investigated claims of Brown Act violations and broken trust within the City Council allegedly stemming from stories and associates from the local publication 209 Times.  

“The efficient and ethical governing of the City of Stockton is under attack by both external and internal forces,” reads the report.

The grand jury said the Stockton City Council had rebuffed requests from them to turn over publicly funded report findings about the completed Brown Act violation investigation.

While the grand jury wasn’t able to obtain the information they requested, they were able to find evidence of another alleged Brown Act violation stemming from a news release Councilmember Michele Padilla issued on official city letterhead. 

The recommendations from the civil grand jury report suggested that all councilmembers correspondences written on city resources should reflect a majority position of the council, not individual positions. 

The release was posted on 209 Times as an “official news release,” although the city had never made it nor approved it, the grand jury report stated. 

In Padilla’s missive, entitled “Taking A Stand for Respect and Dignity in Stockton: An Open Letter,” the councilwoman accused City Manager Harry Black of misconduct. She wrote it on city letterhead, which the jury said lent the idea that the city backed up her statements.

Padilla has written messages to the public on official city letterhead on at least two other occasions.

The recommendations from the civil grand jury report suggested that all councilmembers correspondences written on city resources should reflect a majority position of the council, not individual positions. 

The Stockton City Council meets Tuesday at 4 p.m. at City Hall, 425 N El Dorado St. in Stockton.

Victoria Franco is a reporter based in Stockton covering San Joaquin County for Pagransen and its nonprofit news site Pagransen. She is a Report for America corps member.

Victoria Franco is a Stockton-based reporter covering the diverse news around the Central Valley as part of the Report for America program. As a Stockton native, Franco is proud to cover stories within her community and report a variety of coverage. She is a San Jose State University alumna with a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism. In her collegiate years she was Managing Editor for the Spartan Daily. From her time at the Spartan Daily she helped lead her staff to California College Media Awards and a General Excellence first place. Victoria encourages readers to email her story tips and ideas at [email protected].