San Joaquin County District 3 Supervisor Tom Patti speaks during the groundbreaking ceremony for Sonora Square in Stockton, Calif., on June 1, 2022. (Harika Maddala/ Bay City News / Catchlight Local)

The San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday decided again not to censure one of its members for allegedly violating the county’s Code of Ethics.

The allegations against Supervisor Tom Patti — a Republican running in November’s election for a seat in U.S. Congress — were kept confidential to the public, but are the latest in a series of disputes between Patti and other members of the board about how its meetings are conducted.

On Sept. 13, the board voted 3-1 to censure Patti for violating the Code of Ethics with “derogatory comments” and “uncivil and disrespectful conduct” toward a former chief of staff who worked for Supervisor Kathy Miller, a Democrat who has sparred with Patti over various issues at board meetings, including how supervisors propose proclamations to honor various groups at the start of each meeting.

The Code of Ethics outlines core values county officials should demonstrate, such as integrity, responsibility, fairness and accountability, respect for other county staff and the public, and appropriate and efficient use of public resources.

A censure does not involve any suspension, loss of pay or any other such punishment, but Patti has said there are political motivations behind the ethics violation allegations as he faces U.S. Rep. Josh Harder, the Democrat in the November race for the 9th Congressional District.

Patti acknowledged at Tuesday’s meeting that he can be “abrasive,” but said there was “nothing that rises to that caliber of ethic violation.”

Supervisor Kathy Miller speaks at the LGBTQ+ flag raising at San Joaquin County Administration Building in Stockton, Calif., on June 27, 2022. (Harika Maddala/Bay City News/Catchlight Local)

Miller, who made the confidential allegation in May 2021 that was the topic of Tuesday’s meeting, denied political motivations, noting that the allegations came before the election area was redistricted or had any Congressional race involving Patti.

Other supervisors expressed frustration that lengthy amounts of public meetings have been spent dealing with the various disputes between supervisors.

“It’s very unfortunate that we have board members that don’t get along,” Supervisor Robert Rickman said. “It puts the rest of the board and staff in an uncomfortable position.”

Supervisor Miguel Villapudua proposed accepting the report on the confidential allegations and not taking any further action to censure Patti for a second time in less than a month.
“I don’t see any benefit on it,” he said.

The board ultimately voted 3-2 on that motion, with Miller and board chair Chuck Winn voting no and Patti, Rickman and Villapudua voting yes.

Dan McMenamin is the managing editor at Bay City News, directing daily news coverage of the 12-county greater Bay Area. He has worked for BCN since 2008 and has been managing editor since 2014 after previously serving as BCN’s San Francisco bureau reporter. A UC Davis graduate, he came to BCN after working for a newspaper and nonprofit in the Davis area. He handles staffing, including coaching of our interns, day-to-day coverage decisions and management of the newswire.