Our own Travis Kiger met with the Chairman and Treasurer of the Fullerton Collaborative yesterday to review donations to that group from people who might have had business before the City of Fullerton where the Collaborative’s Executive Director, Pam Keller, sits on the city council. He also looked into whether or not the Collaborative had received contributions from developers – people from whom Pam Keller had specifically refused to take campaign contributions.
From the records made available to him, Travis discovered two prominent names: Pelican-Ontario, an affiliate of the Amerige Court project developers, and the egregious Steve Sheldon, pitchman for the massive Jefferson Commons project. Pelican and Sheldon gave $300 and $1000 to the Collaborative, respectively. Bushala Brothers, Inc., local property owners and developers in Fullerton gave $1000 as well.
The issue of the St. Jude Medical Center participation in the Collaborative, and Keller’s December 2007 votes in favor of their large project on the west side of Harbor Boulevard was also discussed at length.
The officers of the Collaborative have claimed that the Executive Director is paid from funds separate from those gathered from donations that support Collaborative activities. That may or may not be accurate, but it is true that the typical budget for “Faces of Fullerton,” for instance, includes $5000 for staff salary, and the Collaborative only has one employee – Keller. The larger issue is that contributions made to the Collaborative could, and may have gone to pay for the contract with FSD for Keller’s services. Is it really necessary to parse out different accounts?
The Collaborative leaders also related that in the future they will scrutinize and pre-approve all donations; but that is not any of our business. Our business throughout this affair has been to find out if Pam Keller has been voting on projects applied for by members and contributors to the Collaborative (she has), and whether she has solicited donations from the very developers who she refused to take money from for her campaign (she has).
In conclusion, we make no accusations of illegal behavior on anyone’s part; but is it ethical of Pam Keller to refuse developer campaign contributions only to turn around and solicit them for the Collaborative – an entity she is paid to run? We don’t think so. When she ran for council in 2006 Keller made a big deal about letting the development process be driven by public participation – rather than by outside developers. Her votes to approve the gigantic Jefferson Commons and Amerige Court projects were baffling to many who no doubt took her campaign promises at face value.
There you have it, Friends. You decide.