SALINAS, Calif.- We have new information on a story we've been following closely, on a controversial decision by one of your elected leaders. José Castañeda was recently elected to Salinas City Council, but he currently serves on the Alisal Union School Board.
Government Code Section 1099 states you must leave the original seat in order to take the new one. Castañeda hasn't done that and some of you have asked Central Coast News why. He's been on the board for a decade now and for now there's nothing stopping him from continuing his tenure.
On Thursday, Central Coast News obtained a copy of the most recent letter Monterey County Superintendent of Schools Nancy Kotowski said she sent to the California Attorney General's office to make sure the state knows about Salinas City Council Member and Alisal Union School board member José Castañeda.
Castañeda told us he didn't have time to talk in person on Thursday night. But by text message, he said he's still on both, despite the fact his boss at the Monterey County Office of Education has been looking for his resignation since December.
"Giving Mr. Castañeda every opportunity to look into the matter and make a determination himself and since there hasn't been a resignation and there is a question on the incompatibility of the offices, I have just notified the state AG of the matter," Kotowski said.
Superintendent of Schools Nancy Kotowski said she also sent Castañeda copies of the attorney general's decision saying there's a legal concern holding who elected positions within the same city. According to the Monterey County District Attorney's office it's not legal. Now Kotowski said she's letting the state take it from here.
"It was a matter really to turn over to the study of the state attorney general who has jurisdiction over that question to investigate," Kotowski said.
We also investigated what he's getting paid two sit in both seats.
"Board members receive a stipend and board members also receive benefits as part of their part of the package they receive," said Alisal Union School District Superintendent John Ramirez.
Ramirez said board members are given a $240 stipend a month, along with the benefits. But even though it's offered, Castañeda said right now he doesn't take the stipend or the benefits.
As for the city council, Salinas Mayor Joe Gunter said council members get $600 a month, a car allowance and benefits if they decide to take them. Castañeda said he has a meeting about them later this month.
Castañeda said he championed the school boards decision to do away with lifetime benefits for long-term board members about three years ago. We have calls into the attorney general's office to find out how it plans to handle the case. Media representatives said they are aware of the situation.