Screenshot from a Banning city council meeting.

Banning city council member Don Peterson submitted a letter of resignation to the city at the start of the year, addressing it to former mayor Art Welch.

Despite previous spats and degradations towards Welch, Welch was the only one not admonished in his Jan. 2 letter, which states that Peterson’s resignation would be effective Jan. 13, the day before the council’s first meeting of the new year.

Peterson accused the Record Gazette for not investigating personal financial issues of the remaining council members or the city manager, or an alleged cover-up at the Police Department regarding a personnel issue, and suggested that Peterson has insight into a potential district attorney investigation.

“As you know, I am in strong disagreement with the direction the city has been taking and have given up all hopes that my presence on the council could change the self-destructive course Banning has now taken,” Peterson wrote. Further, “It has been my observation that the city of Banning is led by unqualified, narcissistic and compromised individuals who care only about themselves and the special interest groups that finance them. I have no desire nor the time to take part in their charade.”

Peterson prided himself for being the fiscal conservative on the council, often voting against progressive actions, and he was regularly critical of his fellow council members, and was known to contribute vitriol about community members of influence to websites that supported his views.

Peterson was threatened with censure after a grand jury investigation implicated him for circumventing authority of the city manager, creating “a destructive culture within city government,” “improper, unprofessional and inappropriate contact and actions,” and fostering a negative culture of bullying that led the city to struggle with low employee retention, as well as litigation costing the city in excess of $2 million, and boasted about initiating other grand jury reports against city entities to highlight potential malfeasance at the city’s chamber of commerce, redevelopment agreements with the nonprofit Cultural Alliance, and claiming that city resources were used to assist a local car dealership that sought advice from the city.

Peterson has had his loyal supporters including former police chiefs, planning commissioners and past city council members who have vouched for his character and willingness to stand up to developers threatening to ruin the city’s rustic character.

Peterson, whose home in Banning has been listed for sale, is the sole proprietor of La Mirada-based Americal Patrol security guard and patrol service company.

When he ran initially in 2012, Peterson said, “People were tired of the old, and wanted to put their trust in the new. The truth prevails. You can’t cover that up.”

Peterson did not return messages seeking comment for this story.

Immediate past-mayor Welch told the Record Gazette, “I’m sorry to see this happen. We’ve got to move on, and that’s all I’m going to say” on the matter.

In a statement Mayor Daniela Andrade said “We wish him all the best in his future endeavors. The city will continue to move forward in a positive direction, and work to bring more businesses to Banning.”

Don Peterson’s resignation letter is linked to the top of this story.

Staff Writer David James Heiss may be reached at , or by calling (951) 849-4586 x114.

Staff Writer David James Heiss may be reached at , or by calling (951) 849-4586 x114.


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