11:08 PM PST on Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Press-Enterprise

GRAND TERRACE – City Councilman Jim Miller abruptly announced his resignation Tuesday night, admitting at a Grand Terrace council meeting that he should not have voted to approve payments of city funds to his wife’s newspaper.

Miller, 61, said at the meeting that his resignation will be effective today and promised that his wife, Margie, who owns the weekly newspaper Grand Terrace City News, will return to the city about $18,000 that she was paid for running legal advertisements for the city from Oct. 26, 2006, to Aug. 12, 2008.

Miller was arrested last July on a felony conflict-of-interest charge stemming from his votes to approve payments to the newspaper as part of the council’s consent calendar agenda, which contains a number of routine items approved in a single vote.
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Jim Miller

“I now know that I should have been told to refrain from voting on those items,” Miller said Tuesday. “No one ever suggested that I should abstain from voting on those items or had a conflict of interest.”

Fellow Councilman Walt Stanckiewitz, who stepped out of his chair and around the dais to shake Miller’s hand, criticized other council members for not publicly supporting Miller and laid some blame for Miller’s votes on City Attorney John Harper.

“Your hands are soiled in this also,” he told Harper, accusing him of failing to “do your homework” before rendering an opinion.

In a report filed in support of the criminal charge, a San Bernardino County district attorney’s investigator quoted Miller as saying Harper had told him when his wife bought the newspaper in 2006 that her ownership posed no conflict of interest for Miller.

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