Andrew Edwards, Staff Writer
Posted: 03/10/2010 06:37:39 PM PST

GRAND TERRACE – Councilman Jim Miller, who has been charged a single felony count for an alleged conflict-of-interest violation, has resigned.

Miller’s letter to City Hall stated his resignation became effective Wednesday.

“It has been my extreme pleasure serving the community that I love, and it is in that spirit, given the recent turmoil, that I step down from the council,” Miller wrote.

“I choose not to be a distraction to my fellow council members, the city and my community any longer, and I appreciate the overwhelming support shown to both Margie and myself,” he continued. “I realize the responsibility of this event lies solely on my shoulders and I intend to address it accordingly.”

Miller did not return phone calls seeking comment. He pleaded not guilty to the charge in September 2009 and his next court date is scheduled for May 4.

The now-former councilman has been charged with breaking California law intended to prevent city council members from profiting from of their votes. He is accused of voting to send $18,000 worth of city advertising contracts to a newspaper owned by his wife, Margie.

Miller said during Tuesday’s City Council meeting that his wife’s newspaper would return the money to the city, according to a report published in an inland newspaper.

The city’s mayor, Maryetta Ferre, declined to comment on Miller’s resignation. City Councilman Walt Stanckiewitz, however, said he doesn’t think Miller has gotten a fair deal.

Stanckiewitz said he and city residents want to know if the District Attorney’s Office will be as zealous in investigating allegations made against another council member as it has been in pursuing the case against Miller.

A group of Grand Terrace residents sent a letter to the District Attorney’s Office in late January that asked investigators to check whether City Councilwoman Bea Cortes also broke the law.

The residents demanded an inquiry into Cortes’ votes in favor of $2,800 in city payments to Terra Loma Real Estate, a firm where she had a real estate license.

“They’re waiting to see if the District Attorney attorney applies the same principles to the second case,” said Stanckiewitz, who also said Grand Terrace politics have become more interesting than they should be.

“It’s awakened a lot of residents to the fact that maybe things are not as pretty and rosy as they have been portrayed for years,” he said, adding that government doings in Grand Terrace may not be much different than other cities and counties.

The District Attorney’s Office is still reviewing the residents’ allegations against Cortes, spokeswoman Susan Mickey said.

Cortes said in a telephone message in response to a request for comment on Miller’s resignation that she has been advised to not make statements.

Grand Terrace City Attorney John Harper that it is his understanding that Cortes does not actually receive income from the the real estate firm and was not required to have abstained from votes on the payments.

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