Ramos' parting shot: Opposes majority vote, walks out

Harry Ramos speaks to the media after Murrieta City Council members voted to remove him as mayor in October 2015. Murrieta 24/7 file phot...

Harry Ramos speaks to the media after Murrieta City Council members voted to remove him as mayor in October 2015.
Murrieta 24/7 file photo

Murrieta City Council member Harry Ramos' exit from Tuesday night's meeting might have surprised some, yet it seemed to sum up his stormy relationship with his colleagues over most of his term.

In the last city council meeting before Kelly Seyartos is sworn in to fill the council seat he lost Nov. 8, Ramos argued against his colleagues on an action item, cast the lone "no" vote, and moments later walked out while the meeting was still in progress.

Silent for most of the meeting, Ramos finally spoke out to address the next-to-last item of the evening -- the appointment of a new Traffic Commissioner. Ramos argued that information was provided to the entire council on only two of the 20 applicants. He did not agree with the explanation of Alan Long and Jonathan Ingram, who interviewed all candidates, that although Scott Vinton and Arne Chandler were presented Tuesday night as the two finalists, all candidates had been invited to the meeting and council members could vote for any one of them.

When the vote finally was taken, Vinton was selected as the new Traffic Commissioner, receiving three votes. Ramos abstained from voting, then voted "no" on a motion to approve Vinton's appointment.

Moments later, during council member reports, Ramos re-stated his position on the matter, which had already been resolved.

"I have nothing to report, other than to say it is a policy ... and without question, sending out letters stating someone was not chosen, I believe, impacts my ability to choose somebody other than who was recommended. That goes against the policy, it's not fair, it's the not typical way we proceed. That's all I have to say."

Then, as other council members began to give their reports, Ramos stood up, gathered his papers, walked around behind the dais and left the building. He did not respond later that night to a request for comment from Murrieta 24/7.

This was just the latest in a series of actions that has put Ramos at odds with his council colleagues. Concerns by other council members were first expressed two years ago, when Ramos was approved as mayor, following the council's protocol of rotating members into that position on an annual basis.

At the time, council member Rick Gibbs was outspoken in questioning Ramos' qualifications for mayor, even though he believed it was necessary to return to the rotation policy of council members ascending to the mayoral position. Gibbs voiced his disagreement with the way the council handled the situation in December 2013, when mayor pro tem Kelly Bennett left the council and Ramos -- with virtually no experience -- was named mayor pro tem in her place.

"The experience and knowledge to be a successful mayor are possessed by three people on the dais side -- Mr. (Randon) Lane, Mr. Long, and myself," Gibbs said during the Dec. 2, 2014 meeting. He pointed out Ramos' inexperience in conducting council meetings, his refusal to provide a biography for publication on the city council website, and his lack of participation in subcommittee meetings.

Nonetheless, the council voted unanimously to give Ramos that chance. Trouble soon followed, however.

On June 24, 2015, the city council authorized an independent investigation into allegations of misconduct and sexual advances made by Ramos, which he denied. On July 24, 2015, a woman filed a lawsuit against Ramos, alleging that he sexually assaulted her outside a Chamber of Commerce mixer the previous January. Five days later, the Murrieta Chamber of Commerce suspended Ramos' membership. And on Oct. 8, 2015, the city council voted 4-0 to remove Ramos from the mayor's position.

That action did not remove Ramos from his council seat, however. On Aug. 16 of this year, he filed a lawsuit against the City of Murrieta, seeking a mandate to overturn the council's decision to remove him as mayor.

Ramos is scheduled to attend the first part of the Dec. 6 council meeting before Seyartos is sworn in to take his place, and he would have the opportunity to make any final comments at this time. It is not known whether he will attend that meeting.

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