City Council Removes Ramos From Mayor's Position

Harry Ramos talks to reporters moments before he was removed as mayor by the Murrieta City Council Thursday. Murrieta 24/7 photo: Doug Sp...

Harry Ramos talks to reporters moments before he was removed as mayor by the Murrieta City Council Thursday.
Murrieta 24/7 photo: Doug Spoon

Story updated at 6:10 p.m. with video report:

The Murrieta City Council on Thursday voted 4-0 to remove Harry Ramos from the mayor's position and from all city commissions and committees following the release of an investigation into allegations of misconduct.

After studying an 81-page report of the findings of an independent investigator and listening to public comments, council members -- minus Ramos, who was excused from the proceedings -- approved a motion by council member Rick Gibbs to strip Ramos of his authority.

Ramos remains a city council member, but mayor pro tem Randon Lane will serve as mayor in the interim and Ramos will not be allowed to serve on any city committees. Also, per the motion unanimously approved by the council, he will receive no reimbursement for travel outside the city because his duties will no longer require such travel.

Accusations of sexual misconduct and misuse of authority against Ramos were detailed in the findings of an investigation conducted by Betty P. Kelepecz, a licensed investigator with Norman A. Traub Associates. You can read the entire report here.

Lane will serve as interim mayor until the council selects a new mayor, perhaps as soon as its next city council meeting of Oct. 20.

"It's my belief that this report, issued by a very solid investigator having been a senior police officer, having been a police chief, an investigator, an attorney ... this report is accurate," said Gibbs (left), whose motion to strip Ramos of the mayor's title was seconded by Alan Long.

The only other council member to speak before the vote was Lane (below right), who said that although in studying the report, he did not take into consideration any information regarded as hearsay, there "were some things I did look at and that caused me great concern. As elected officials, whether we like it or not, we're held to a higher standard.

"Unfortunately, as we've seen in a pattern throughout the last eight months, Mr. Ramos -- in my opinion -- has created a pattern that does not give a good representation of the city of Murrieta."

According to the investigator's conclusion of the report, "the preponderance of the evidence showed that Ramos engaged in patterns of behavior and conduct including but not limited to, making inappropriate advances on women, making comments and statements that were shown to be dishonest, using his position as mayor for his personal gain, making objectionable comments to and about his colleagues, and acting aggressively toward them and making inappropriate comments to city staff, all of which may represent violations of the City of Murrieta Code of Conduct."

Incidents of misconduct cited in the investigator's report include:

-- An allegation that Ramos told assistant city manager Kim Summers that "as soon as we get rid of (city manager Rick) Dudley then we're gonna fire you too." Only Dudley and city attorney Leslie Devaney are hired and can be fired by the council. According to the report, Summers confirmed the comment. Ramos declined to be interviewed by the investigator.

-- Allegations that Ramos made unwanted advances to women at a Murrieta innovation center, at a Chamber of Commerce awards dinner and at a Chamber mixer. One of these women has filed a lawsuit against Ramos, alleging sexual assault. The investigator interviewed several witnesses about these events. According to the report, Ramos declined to be interviewed.

-- Allegations in interviews with two residents involved in the community who said Ramos suggested having meetings at a bar rather than City Hall. Again, Ramos declined to be interviewed.

Making a public comment before recusing himself and leaving council chambers, Ramos said, "I never got to face my accusers." He apologized to city staff "that they were put in a position to discuss issues publicly regarding the city council or myself." He was also critical of Dudley, saying, "In no way should a city manager get involved in the political process. I do not agree with how engaged he was in the political process of this."

Outside council chambers while other public comments were taken, Ramos said he did not receive due process and that he was not given the chance to address the charges. According to the report, however, he declined interview requests.

The last two Murrieta mayors have now left or been removed from office before their term expired. Long resigned his position as mayor following a 2014 arrest and charge of DUI in an accident that injured four teenage girls. His court case has not yet come to trial. Long ran for re-election as a council member and won that seat last fall.

A video report with additional information is presented below:


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