A resident’s complaint against five officials is pending while the city works out bugs in new procedures.

By Alicia Robinson / Staff Writer
Published: Feb. 16, 2017 – Updated: 10:34 p.m.

Hearings on ethics complaints filed against Riverside’s mayor and four councilmen have been postponed indefinitely while the city prepares materials for the hearing board.

Riverside resident Jason Hunter alleged that Mayor Rusty Bailey and Councilmen Mike Gardner, Andy Melendrez, Chris Mac Arthur and Jim Perry violated the ethics code and the state’s open meetings law by discussing and voting on investigations of two other councilmen behind closed doors in 2014.

Hunter is a former Riverside Public Utilities employee who settled a lawsuit in 2015 over his firing two years earlier.

Separate hearings were scheduled for each official, but three held Feb. 10 – for Gardner, Melendrez and Bailey – were postponed after technical problems and Hunter’s requests for additional information.

Mac Arthur’s and Perry’s hearings, set for Feb. 14, also were delayed.

Officials have revised the ethics code and complaint process several times since 2005, when the code was established. Last year, the council appointed a nine-member ethics board, from which five members are chosen if there’s a complaint to be heard.

This batch of hearings is the first time the city has used the new citizens panel to resolve complaints, so everyone expected a few kinks to be worked out, said the Rev. Jeff Wright of Madison Street Church, who sat on all three hearing boards Friday and chaired one.

“We learned a whole bunch of stuff during the first set of hearings, and I think the process will continue to evolve,” he said.

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