Mayor of Riverside Rusty Bailey has issued a veto against City Manager John Russo and his renegotiated contract. The renegotiated plan extends Russo’s formerly five-year term to seven years and includes a guaranteed three percent raise to his $415,988.40 salary with benefits and a $675,000 home loan. In an interview with The Highlander, Bailey commented that Russo’s plan to create this new lucrative contract in the middle of his term is “unprofessional” and “too much, too far and too soon.”
Since the city charter does not allow Bailey to veto the contract, Bailey claimed that his only option was, as given by the City Attorney of Riverside Gary Geuss, to go to court in order to proceed.
During a phone interview, Bailey shared with The Highlander that his efforts are intended to “keep a democratic process in place, by having checks and balances in place.” In a statement to members of the Riverside City Council, Bailey explained that his persistence to pursue this matter stems from his belief that the government system must be held in place with checks and balances and he “wishes the city council would respect those (principles).”
Bailey insists on reminding the public of their role in ensuring the government keeps checks and balances in place. This principle keeps members of the city council accountable for their actions, says Bailey. “Because we’re a charter city, we have a set of rules that are voted on by the public … The language was put in because the people wanted to have more power,” stated Bailey. “… When you look at any law, there is intent to give the mayor more leverage to provide checks and balances. That’s the basic, fundamental principle of government that’s needed in this situation.”
Bailey said that there was vehement opposition for the renegotiation, with “about 500 text messages, public messages and Facebook comments all opposed” and only five people in support of it. In spite of the public opinion, the city council voted 5-2 on the renegotiation.
Citizens and community members are encouraged by Mayor Bailey to attend Tuesday public meetings at 3 p.m. at the city hall to voice their concerns during their public comments section and express their opinions in regards to this controversy to the city council members.
Russo was not available to comment.