Council Authorizes Investigation into Conduct of Mayor

Murrieta Mayor Harry Ramos will be the focus of an investigation into allegations of improper conduct. Murrieta 24/7 photos: Kristen Spoo...

Murrieta Mayor Harry Ramos will be the focus of an investigation into allegations of improper conduct.
Murrieta 24/7 photos: Kristen Spoon

Although a three-hour discussion failed to produce a decision on how to handle such situations in the future, the Murrieta City Council Wednesday authorized an independent investigation into allegations of misconduct involving Mayor Harry Ramos.

With Ramos recusing himself, council members voted 4-0 to authorize an independent investigation, preferably by a retired police investigator from outside Riverside County. Any allegations indicating crime or violations outside the purview of the council would be referred by the investigator to the appropriate outside agencies.

Council members listened to a report from city attorney Leslie Devaney and testimony from several residents regarding possible policy for such action, which is not covered in current city council policy. Ramos, who has denied the allegations, warned that a dangerous precedent would be set if the council voted to consider an investigation every time allegations were raised.

"I absolutely want to get this monkey off my back and I'm willing to be the test case," Ramos said. "But I am fearful that if you do this, within a month you could have five city council members under investigation for allegations.

"I have agreed to the investigation because I have nothing to hide. But what happens when an individual does not wish to be investigated?"

Some council members said they felt the council should revisit the code of conduct at a future date, but all seemed reluctant to make a decision on the overall process at this point. Finally, a motion by mayor pro tem Randon Lane (left) that the meeting proceed to a discussion of the specifics of this case passed 4-1, with Ramos the only dissenting vote.

After Ramos recused himself from the second part of the discussion, further public comments were heard before a motion by council member Rick Gibbs to ask for the investigation was passed unanimously.

Allegations against Ramos were stated by several residents during the public comments portion of the June 17 council meeting, most notably by former council member Doug McAllister. He presented a list of seven allegations, which were transcribed and given to council members for review prior to Wednesday's meeting. They include:

-- An allegation that Ramos conducts himself inappropriately in response to questions from the public. This is based on an email McAllister (right) said he received that "was an attack on my motives rather than just answering my question. He also went after all of you (council members) and claimed bias."

-- Allegations that Ramos was overheard making racist and derogatory comments about commission applicants after their interviews.

-- Accusations that Ramos inappropriately engages with staff members and has been seen going through their desks.

-- Allegations that Ramos reports no income on a government-required form 700.

-- An accusation that there have been multiple complaints by individuals of unwanted advances by Ramos.

Resident Marissa Crowther accused three other council members of having knowledge of improper conduct by Ramos and not reporting them. Other residents sided with Ramos, however, calling Wednesday's meeting a "witch hunt."

Ramos was elected to the city council in 2012. This is his first year as mayor after being appointed to that position by his colleagues.


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