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Why Riverside Mayor Rusty Bailey says he vetoed city manager’s contract

By in Press Enterprise on February 9, 2018

By Ryan Hagen

Riverside Mayor Rusty Bailey on Friday, Feb. 9, issued an explanation for his attempted veto of a new contract for City Manager John Russo that harshly criticized Russo for seeking a raise at a time the city is facing budget cuts.

In a four-page message defending a veto that City Attorney Gary Geuss said the mayor wasn’t authorized to issue, Bailey wrote to the City Council that Russo’s initial compensation is already almost than five times the median household income in Riverside — more than the compensation for the state’s governor.

“Mr. Russo has now decided that the contract that was negotiated fairly and at arm’s length is not good enough… that he deserves more compensation and other perks. It is my strong opinion that it is bad business to renegotiate an employee’s contract — any employees contract — in the middle of its term. I am calling on Mr. Russo to honor his contract with the city of Riverside — to let his ‘yes’ be an actual ‘yes.’”

Russo could not immediately be reached Friday afternoon.

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Bailey emailed the message to the City Council three days after ending a meeting by declaring that he was vetoing the City Council’s 5-2 vote to extend Russo’s contract.

The city’s charter gives the mayor power to veto “any formal action” of the City Council, with certain exceptions, and to follow that within 20 days with written reasons for the veto. A vote by at least five members of the City Council between 30 and 60 days after the veto can then override the mayor’s veto.

But City Attorney Gary Geuss said during Tuesday’s meeting that Bailey had no authority to veto the contract, because the charter says that “the city manager shall serve at the […]    

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