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Mayor Bob Kellar: Re-election, FPPC, Signal coverage

A range of viewpoints ...

Posted: March 23, 2008 1:04 a.m.
Updated: May 24, 2008 5:02 a.m.

Mayor Bob Kellar, up for re-election to the Santa Clarita City Council April 8, makes a point at last week's Valencia Industrial Association luncheon.

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Editors' Note:

The Signal's coverage of Mayor Bob Kellar's conflict with the state Fair Political Practices Commission generated a lot of mail and discussion on our Web site.

Some objected to The Signal's coverage as biased and wrong-headed; others were amazed that Kellar didn't quickly report the missing information to the state. Here are the recent letters received about the controversy.

Please share your thoughts.

The Signal welcomes letters endorsing Santa Clarita City Council candidates. Such letters will be published until April 1, a week before the council election.

* * *

Signal can do better
Your editorial apology to Mayor Bob Kellar smacks of tabloid and ambush journalism: make the accusation in front page headlines, then quickly apologize (but not on the front page).

Politicians play this game all the time - making or releasing a wild statement, then quickly apologizing or distancing themselves from it.

But the damage was already done. Someone set and approved that headline, so who proofs your paper and its contents?

It is beginning to look like we have a new "Valley Green Sheet" for a local newspaper. If you don't know what I am referring to, research it.

Yes, your paper has changed, but there seems to be a dangerous pattern emerging. I know you can do better ... so do it. I have been a Signal subscriber since 1981 and I am not liking what I see.

Kevin Eliason
Santa Clarita

* * *

Mayor did nothing wrong
I am writing to comment on The Signal's headline (March 15) claiming that Bob Kellar still has not complied with Fair Political Practices Commission's alleged requirement that he disclose the names of individuals and companies who paid real estate commissions to Kellar-Davis, Inc.

As is typical of laymen trying to opine on legal issues, both The Signal and the person interviewed at the FPPC sloppily miss basic California law on the issue.

Kellar-Davis Inc., a corporation in good standing, holds a real estate broker's license. When a person or company pays a commission, it is paid to the corporation. In California, a corporation in good standing is a legal person separate and distinct from its shareholders, officers and directors. Bob Kellar is an employee and officer of the corporation. Individuals and companies are not paying him a commission. Instead, his employer is compensating him for work performed.

Mr. Kellar has complied with the Fair Political Practices Act by disclosing what his employer paid him. That is all he is obligated to disclose.

The claim that Mr. Kellar must disclose the sources of income of his employer is as patently stupid as a claim that Councilman Frank Ferry must disclose the names of every person who pays tuition to the school where his is principal.

The distinction between an employer and individual, and the distinction between a corporation and a shareholder, is well established under California law.

Mr. Kellar is right when he says that "In the real estate industry, that would be a breach of my fiduciary responsibility to the client, to put (the client's) name on some special list that would be (filed) at City Hall or in Sacramento or wherever."

That fiduciary duty is established by California Supreme Court case law, and by statute. Both the broker Keller-Davis Inc. and the realtor employee have fiduciary duties to the corporation's clients. The fiduciary's duty is the same as the duty of a trustee to the beneficiaries of a trust.

The fiduciary must be solely loyal to the client, placing the client's needs and desires above all else. Lawyers have that same duty to their clients.

One of the quintessential tenets under which lawyers practice law, and real estate salesmen offer or seek real estate for their clients, is that the client's name is never disclosed to anyone, unless the client expressly consents. That non-disclosure is part of the client's right of privacy under Article I, Section 1 of the California Constitution.

I can confirm Mr. Kellar's statements that high-net-worth individuals become absolutely enraged at any disclosure of their identity by a Realtor because of the existence of that fiduciary duty.

As a young lawyer, I was co-counsel in a lawsuit against Beverly Hills' second largest real estate brokerage, which breached its fiduciary duty to both a buyer and a seller.

We won a multimillion-dollar jury verdict against the real estate brokerage, and the two real estate salesmen involved, because they breached their fiduciary duty simply by misusing information about their and our client.

That's why I know the Realtor fiduciary duty case law backwards and forwards, and still can recite it in my sleep, even though I am retired.

Under Article I, Section 1 of the California Constitution, the real estate brokerage client's right to privacy, anonymity and non-disclosure of the client's affairs is paramount.

Under basic rules of construction of laws, the state Constitution trumps a mere statute, like the Fair Political Practices Act.

The bottom line is that Bob Kellar is acting in a correct and proper manner in refusing to disclose the names of clients of Kellar-Davis Inc.

I wish the press and dim-bulb state employees did a better job of learning the law and applying it, rather than making it up as they go along and accusing Mr. Kellar of wrongdoing.

Jennifer Kilpatrick
Las Vegas, NV

* * *

Teflon Kellar
Oh, to be a local celebrity and politician. It is the epitome of not having to be held accountable. Bob Kellar - Teflon MAN! Isn't that what everyone wants?

Mr. Kellar says: "I would never knowingly jeopardize the public's trust in me." How generous of him. Yet, when he is asked to provide required information, and to do what is expected of everyone holding his station and standing, he finds ways to delay.

Now, a state panel must investigate? That's a good use of tax money.

Thank you, Mr. Mayor, for ensuring that the most important issues in the Santa Clarita Valley (Las Lomas, traffic, slowing housing sales, and great local sports events) are blown off the front page of our local paper, so we can follow your "above reproach" approach to informing and responding to the citizens who put their trust in you.

Give me a break!

Oh, to be wealthy, and not to have to live by the annoying rules everyone else must follow.

John Klymshyn
Valencia

* * *

Honesty, please
When does it stop? The mayor of our city is incapable or unwilling to fill out a form honestly. He did not disclose his gross income on his financial disclosure forms for the years 2002, 2003 and 2004. He states this was an "inadvertent omission." He said that disclosing his income would "jeopardize his work as a Realtor."

I think our city deserves a City Council member who 1) takes his/her responsibilites as a public servant as seriously as the job of "Realtor," 2) can and will fill out financial forms honestly, and 3) does not embarrass our city with statements such as "I'll tell you something: I have done nothing but cut both my wrists for this city for many years and I've done it of my own accord."

How about you stop cutting your wrists for us and simply fill out the forms honestly. That's what good mayors do.

Catherine Flynn
Valencia

* * *

Focus less on Kellar
Get off Bob Keller's back! Didn't I read that other council members had failed to disclose required financial info to the state? Yet I don't see their names on the front page with a headline regarding jail (I believe their stories were on page 8 or 9).

Change your biased ways or lose another subscriber!

Robyn Tevere
Canyon Country

* * *

Kellar needs to go
According to The Signal's March 15 article ("Kellar Hasn't Provided Info to State"), Bob Kellar thinks the law requiring him to disclose the source of his income is "unfair" and thus he refuses to do so.

On the other hand, Kellar thinks it perfectly fair for an elected official to disobey the law yet remain in office. I don't. Nor do I think it fair for Mayor Kellar to take money from unnamed sources and make decisions on development and budget issues, using only his own questionable judgment as to what may constitute a conflict of interest. The disclosure laws were passed in order to make it more difficult for politicians to profit at the expense of the public interest.

In 2005 Bob Kellar represented both the buyers and sellers of the COC Canyon Country property. It was in his own financial interest that the price of said property be as high as possible.

In fact, the price of one parcel went up from $5 million to $6.452 million during negotiations, to the benefit of Bob Kellar. (See The Signal, 8/28/05.) It certainly was not to the benefit of the taxpayers that the price went up. Kellar's share of the commission for parcel 6 would have amounted to $96,780.00, assuming he split his 3 percent commission with his partner.

I do not know how much he netted from the sale of the other nine parcels.

Is there any real question about why Kellar didn't disclose his income for those transactions?

Kellar's assertion that he would "lose his company and his house" if he were to disclose his sources of income is alarming indeed. It makes one wonder just who is buying real estate in Santa Clarita that would object to being known as having paid Kellar a commission.

Is organized crime purchasing a lot of property? Or perhaps al-Qaida?

The fact is, the transactions are all recorded with the county Recorder's office and thus a matter of public record anyway.

So this "impossible situation" Kellar finds himself in is an imaginative way of distracting attention from something that should be receiving a great deal of attention.

Bob Kellar has made it clear that he places the highest possible priority on his own economic interests. Further, he has made it clear that he believes himself above the law. I think that is an excellent reason for him to become a former mayor and council member.

Linda Baldwin
Valencia

* * *

Kellar's the one
The upcoming City Council election has only one proven leader with experience and responsiveness: Bob Kellar.

While there has been much press given to Bob in an accusatory way over the last few weeks, it always seemed strange to me that such revelations are only made just prior to an election. Furthermore, as it has been indicated, other council members ran afoul of the same errors in filing, but without much follow-up or headline-blaring.

All that I know is when I write Bob a letter expressing my opinion or concerns, I get a personal phone call. As others have indicated in their letters to the editor, this response shows a willingness and desire to listen and exchange ideas with his constituency.

Marsha McLean and TimBen Boydston are also excellent in their response. I never get a response from either Ferry or Weste.

I firmly believe in Bob's integrity and know that his decisions are in the best interest of the city of Santa Clarita and I urge you to vote for Bob Kellar.

Carl Porter
Valencia

* * *

Kellar ensured success
I have lived in Santa Clarita for 20 years and seen many changes take place in our valley. I think one of the best changes was when we became a city - that brought a lot of improvements to our community.

I feel that Bob Kellar is one of the major reasons for our city's success. Bob started out as a planning commissioner and has served us well as a councilman and mayor. I consider Bob Kellar one of the best things to happen to this city, especially to Canyon Country.

We have tree-lined medians, new and widened roadways, and new parks.

We also have the Whites Canyon Road bridge and the new COC campus on Sierra Highway. I also appreciate Bob's efforts to prevent the Cemex mining project.

I am a former sheriff's posse captain for the Santa Clarita Valley and know first-hand how very supportive Bob is of our local law enforcement. Bob Kellar is always behind our Sheriff's Department.

He is someone we can count on to do the right thing for this community. I have personally been to his home for various charity events and have seen first-hand how much he gives of his own personal resources to help many non-profit organizations in our community, year in and year out. I support Bob Kellar and appreciate all that he has done for Santa Clarita.

Joe Powell
Santa Clarita

* * *

Curious timing
I find it curious that right before the local election you have chosen to publish yet another story questioning the character of Bob Kellar.

He is one of our finest citizens and has worked tirelessly for years in the private and public sector for the benefit of Santa Clarita.

Your front page story with the "Possible jail time" headline only exemplifies that no one at The Signal has enough local tenure to know that.

Mayor Kellar addressed the issue and corrected the document immediately upon it being brought to his attention that he didn't check a box on a form.

Journalistic integrity and fairness should question why public servants accept legally-required documents without reviewing them for completeness. (I could not submit this letter without filling out a bunch of boxes; you made sure of that.) I look forward to your story on the responsibility of those who accepted the document in question and missed this unchecked box repeatedly since 2000.

I guess it's safe to assume Bob Kellar will not be one of the candidates The Signal endorses for City Council. But then again your readers have no idea "who" The Signal is anymore anyway.

Linda Jones
Valencia

Editor's note: Bob Kellar has not yet filed all the documents required from public officials by the state of California, although he has said he will do so by Tuesday.

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