Wednesday, June 20, 2012 | 4:40 p.m.
On a split vote, the state Ethics Commission has dismissed an allegation that Boulder City Mayor Roger Tobler used his position on government time to seek personal and financial gain for his business.
But the commission will further investigate complaints that Tobler and City Manager Vicki Mayes used their positions to push city purchases into the mayor's Home Hardware and Variety store.
The commission will probably hear testimony in July on the pending ethics complaint filed by former two-term Councilwoman Linda Strickland, who unsuccessfully ran against Tobler in 2011.
Strickland alleges $150,000 in city business has been funneled to his hardware store since 2003 during the times he served on the city council and as mayor without disclosing the purchases when the council approved the claims for payment.
On a 4-2 vote, the commission accepted a motion from the attorney for Tobler and Mayes to dismiss the charge the two used government time to discuss the problems with the slowdown in the hardware business and ways to improve it.
David Duncan, the attorney for the two, agreed there was a meeting but there is no evidence it was held within the two-year statute of limitation. Duncan said Tobler is not a full-time mayor and the complaint fails to show it was held before the deadline.
Commissioner Paul Lamboley said it is on government time when a mayor and the city manager get together and "it could have been midnight." He and Commissioner Tim Cory dissented from the motion to dismiss the allegation. They felt it should be the subject of the upcoming hearing.
Voting to dismiss the charge were Commissioners James Shaw, Magdalena Groover, Keith Weaver and Chairman Eric Beyer.
The complaint says Tobler used pressure on the city manager to keep her job and to steer business to his hardware store. And Mayes, in turn, pressured department heads to buy their goods from Tobler's store.
Both Tobler and Mayes have denied the allegations. But a panel of the Ethics Commission decided there was sufficient evidence to go forward with a full-scale allegation.
The commission, in a prior decision sought by Tobler, held there was no violation of the law in the mayor selling goods to the city. But still pending in the complaint is whether he should have disclosed those purchases.
There is a second hardware story — Ace Hardware — in Boulder City. And there are allegations that city department heads were directed to make even purchases at both stores.
Duncan, in his motion to dismiss the charges, said there has been animosity between Strickland and Tobler and Mayes. He says Strickland filed the ethics complaint within two months of losing the mayor's election to Tobler.
There was an attempt during the more than two hour ethics hearing to reach a compromise on the allegation that Tobler failed to disclose the business. But it failed and it will be part of the full-scale hearing.