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Bruce McFarland: Bob Kellar should step down now

Posted: February 1, 2010 3:53 p.m.
Updated: February 2, 2010 4:55 a.m.
 
What is wrong with Santa Clarita City Councilman Bob Kellar?

Well, if you're inclined to believe most of the three dozen or so citizens who testified at the last Santa Clarita City Council meeting, absolutely nothing. I was there. I, too, testified. I found it to be a fascinating spectacle of blind faith.

There were two kinds of Kellar supporters at the council meeting. Most told tales of Kellar's selfless sacrifice for them personally, or about a friend or a deserving community organization that Kellar helped. Of course, they always made sure to include that "Bob is not a racist."

I couldn't help wondering what individuals, not following the story and hearing about it on the 11 o'clock news might be thinking: "Gee, why does everyone think this man is a racist? Oh. It's because he said he's a proud racist. What's wrong with that guy?"

The folks testifying for Kellar at the council meeting did not say how they admired him for declaring in public that he's a "proud racist." They mostly attacked the media for taking it out of context (even though most accounts included the context), or they attacked the motives of the individuals who questioned the advisability and appropriateness of a sitting council member going to an rally opposing illegal immigration and saying he wasn't bothered by people thinking he's a racist.

The Jan. 24 edition of The Signal quoted Kellar: "At the rally last weekend, Kellar gripped a microphone and told a crowd he agreed with former President Theodore Roosevelt's philosophy: This nation has room for only one flag - the American one - and one language - English. He said he once voiced that opinion at a City Council meeting and people told him he sounded like a racist. ‘I said, ‘That's good. If that's what you think I am because I happen to believe in America, (then) I'm a proud racist. You're darn right, I am,' Kellar said."

So I ask, do good people of sound mind really think it's patriotic or helpful to equate being "a proud racist" with "believing in America?" Not the people I've talked to, but many excused Kellar's behavior anyway, because that was just "Bob being Bob."

Is "Bob being Bob" what Santa Clarita wants or needs to become a better place for people to live? I don't think so. And what kind of person responds to an accusation of racism by saying, "That's good."

The other Kellar supporters at the council meeting represented extremist anti-immigrant groups like the Minutemen, who have been known to arm themselves and take immigration violations into their own hands at the Mexican border, and the Save Our State crowd, whose supporters, according to Wikipedia, are known to harass day laborers throughout California, as well as taking part in other anti-immigrant activities.

SCV Independent Minuteman Roger Gitlin, one of the rally's organizers, said the event was designed to defeat proposed legislation that would give undocumented residents a path to citizenship, as described in the Jan. 15 edition of The Signal. To me, that sounds like they are against the immigrants who are already here.

The Signal article also quotes a Southern Poverty Law Center representative as saying, "The SPLC has classified Minutemen as an ‘extreme nativist' organization. Such groups target individual immigrants, rather than merely immigration policy."

I don't know about you, but I think there's something wrong with a council member who supports and encourages those groups to rally in our valley.

So what's wrong with Bob Kellar? Is he just too dumb to realize he's encouraging divisiveness in the Santa Clarita Valley? Doesn't he care about putting local people in the national spotlight, residing in the home of "proud racist" Councilman Bob Kellar?

Is he so arrogant and prideful he can't admit and apologize for the hurtful and damaging words he said? Or is the outcome of his actions exactly what he wants to happen?

I don't think Kellar is dumb, and I do believe his friends' accounts of his altruism and commitment to the community. But arrogance and pride do seem to be among Kellar's socio-governmental deficits - so much so that the single descriptive term to accurately
define his behavior might be pig-headed.

It doesn't really matter what prevented Kellar from accepting responsibility for his actions and their negative consequences. He is an unrepentant embarrassment to the city and does not deserve to sit on the City Council.

Bruce McFarland is a Santa Clarita resident. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal. "Democratic Voices" runs Tuesday in The Signal and rotates among several SCV Democrats.

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