Riverside Councilman Steve Fullenkamp shown in September 2016 at a council meeting. TODD JACKSON / STAFF

Riverside city council permanently barred from removing councilman

Riverside City Council is permanently enjoined from removing Councilman Steve Fullenkamp under the current provisions of the city charter, a judge found.

Fullenkamp considers the ruling a victory after he sued the city during an attempt by his fellow council members to remove him from office. He said attempting to remove an elected official from office is “very serious” and hopes other municipalities think twice before making a similar attempt.

MORE: Dispute emerges between Riverside police chief, councilman

“I feel that the charges were unfounded and flimsy from the beginning, and I feel like I did the right thing by defending myself against these charges by the rest of city council and staff,” he said.

The controversy surrounding Fullenkamp’s attempted removal deeply divided the Dayton suburb of 25,000 residents, and it cost the city more than $40,000 in legal fees to hire a special counsel. The matter resulted in heated city council meetings and frustration among residents and city staff.

A Montgomery County Common Pleas Court judge previously issued a preliminary injunction, which is now permanent. Fullenkamp and his co-plaintiffs — a host of city residents who opposed the councilman’s removal — withdrew the lawsuit with prejudice March 31.

Riverside Law Director Dalma Grandjean said the “city is gratified the case has been concluded” and its “elected officials look forward to working together” on a number of issues.

EARLIER: Judge sides with Riverside councilman facing removal attempt

When filed, the plaintiffs said they sought compensatory and punitive damages in excess of $25,000, though the final settlement does not pay damages. The city will cover Fullenkamp’s legal fees by paying $75,000 to Brannon & Associates, though most of the sum will be covered by the city’s insurance carrier.

In June, Police Chief Frank Robinson alleged Fullenkamp attempted to intervene during a criminal investigation. Two other complaints involved Fullenkamp allegedly telling Director of Planning Brock Taylor he should have disregarded the instructions of the city manager in a long-standing zoning dispute.

Taylor and Vice Mayor Mike Smith complained, with Smith alleging Fullenkamp’s statements were an improper interference with city administration under the charter.

In September, Fullenkamp and the 11 other co-plaintiffs called the remaining council members “evil-minded defendants” whose conduct “has been extreme and outrageous, which no person in a civilized and democratic society should be caused to endure.”

More coverage of the lawsuit against Riverside:

» 2 co-plaintiffs die during lawsuit against Riverside City Council

» Riverside won’t remove councilman as judge weighs constitutionality

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