What Does Pam Keller Do All Day?

For most people the idea of being one’s own boss is an alluring if somewhat daunting proposition. With the freedom and self-responsibility come the risks – of freedom and self-responsibility.

So imagine the pleasant prospect of being your own boss, answering to nobody, and at the same time enjoying the safety of a government job with a regular paycheck and pretty good benefits. This is what Fullerton City Council woman Pam Keller gets by being the Executive Director of the Fullerton Collaborative and remaining an employee of the Fullerton School District. The people who print out her paychecks have no idea how she’s spending her time. She doesn’t answer to them. And the Collaborative Board seems to have shown very little interest in her doings, possibly because she’s actually in charge. Pretty sweet gig if you can get it.

Pam Keller - Teacher on Special Assignment

The memorandum of understanding between the Collaborative and the school district lists a series of vague directives to be accomplished by the Executive Director through the school year. The two most specific of Pam’s duties are “assist schools to link with community partners for support services” and “increase awareness of schools regarding community services”.

So essentially her job is to communicate with schools. What does that entail? Fire off a couple of emails, make a phone call every once in a while? No, that would only consume a few minutes per day. There must be more to this $51,000-per-year job.

If we give her the benefit of the doubt, it’s likely that the achievement of these goals requires Pam to spend most of her workday meeting with teachers and parents, visiting schools and attending parent/teacher meetings.

Is that what she does? How much time does she spend with teachers and parents? What are her work hours? Since she really is only accountable to herself, does anyone else know?

Regular teachers must answer to parents, principals and ultimately the Superintendent. Who does a “teacher on special assignment”, funded by an outside organization, answer to? Does Superintendent Mitch Hovey appraise her performance? Could he take appropriate action if he didn’t think she was performing well? He certainly has no incentive to question her since the Collaborative pays her salary regardless.

Ultimately, we expect that the Fullerton School District will have to answer this question: Does the perverse nature of FSD’s employee arrangement with the Fullerton Collaborative cause harm to the public by diluting accountability and hiding conflicts of interest?

28 Replies to “What Does Pam Keller Do All Day?”

  1. Okay i have a question. If someone has to set goals in a business setting and they don’t have a staff, who do they run those by to see that they’re attainable and also met? 51k was more than a full time beginning teacher gets. My impression is that you’d be hard pressed to fill in 40 hours a week! So what gives, is this a full time or part time job? i too am willing to give her the benefit of the doubt, but the IRS form didn’t look so good.

  2. Although it certainly raises some good knee-jerking issues, I’m not sure it makes a difference. I don’t know what her MOU says nor do I know what arrangements she has made with the parties involved, but based on what has been posted above, consider this:
    If we, the tax-payers, are not footing her salary and it is being covered 100% by a non-tax-payer-subsidized organization, where is the problem? If she is on an extended leave of absence with the district (which may be possible) and she is not receiving retirement or insurance benefits, there is no issue. HOWEVER, (and I know these are some pretty big IF’s) if we The People are paying for any of it through the school district, then I see a BIG issue.

    If she is triple dipping (money from the district, the city, and the collaborative) then I see an even larger issue.

    Without knowing more facts, I can only consider the what-if’s…

    Let’s get some facts and go from there.

    1. Greg, take a look at all of our previous posts on the Fullerton Collaborative and the picture starts getting clearer. They start back in August.

      The picture that emerges is an arrangement that really makes no sense – except in so far as it benefits Keller.

      The Fullerton Collaborative should end its relationship with the FSD and pay its ED directly. And Pam Keller needs to identify when Collaborative contributors projects or interests are being voted on by the City – and recuse herself.

      1. I’ll take a look at those posts.

        I agree with your latter statement and would extend that comment to ALL officials that may have a conflict of interest.

  3. Good post. There is no accountability. Keller has, and continues to use this gig to promote herself while still getting a regualr paycheck.

    But it’s worse than that. As a fundraiser for the Collaborative she raises money that goes to support herself and entangles her in dubious relationships with entities that have had land use decisions before the City.

  4. Ok, I did some reading up on this from earlier posts. WOW! That is one very special and very convoluted relationship!

    Back to my IF’s… If she is chasing down donations from developers, she would need to recuse herself from jus about EVERY SINGLE project that goes before the council.

    Pam, if you read this, what are you doing? Why? Is it really worth it? As the saying goes, you cannot serve two masters.

      1. I think she’s serving three masters:

        Pam Keller, non-profit executive
        Pam Keller, elected official
        Pam Keller, government employee

  5. “If she is chasing down donations from developers, she would need to recuse herself from jus about EVERY SINGLE project that goes before the council.”

    Yes. And what make it even worse is her boasting that she doesn’t take money from developers for her campaign! Only for her Collaborative. The board of that Collaborative is really just a front. They have no idea what Pam does all day, either, or even if they are getting their money’s worth – $50K+.

    1. It pains me to say this, but I can man-up when necessary…I have to agree with the F-site on this one. Serious issues raised and serious conflicts.

  6. I have read all the previous articles, and perhaps I missed something, but you complained that the Fullerton Collaborative was not transparent enough, so they allowed you to review their books and records, and you found $2,300 in donations by two separate developers to the FACES of Fullerton project (which I personally thought was wonderful) which you explain as an attempt to influence the City Counsel’s votes on multi-million dollar projects.

    Developers often make charitable donations to organizations which benefit the areas they are developing. Is it always corrupt when they do so? Should you be the sole arbitrar of which organizations should benefit from their money?

    I appreciate you guys keeping your eyes out for corruption in local politics, but continuously barking up this tree seems more like sour grapes than an attempt at informing the public.

    1. #11 The issue is not developers. What makes the Collaborative situation unique is that the one and only employee is also a council member. If Pam just recused herself from those votes it would not really be an issue but she didnt.

      Also, the Fullerton Fire and Police employee Associations are members of the collaborative. She should not be involved with negotiating their salaries if they make up part of the group that pay her salary.

    2. Keller acolyte, developers can give money to whoever they want.

      But Pam ran for office on a promise to not take developer money. She then took money from developers for her private charity, knowing that it would be concealed from public view.

      Next she voted in favor of both developers’ bad projects, offering no explanation to her constituents. She voted without disclosing those donations that she received on behalf of the non-profit which pays her salary.

      And finally, she did all of this while on the payroll of the Fullerton School District, in a relationship that puts financial risk in the hands of taxpayers with little, if any, benefit to them.

      If you cannot see multiple ethical problems with this arrangement, then you have not spent enough time contemplating the absurdity of it all.

      For more information, please talk to the board of the Fullerton Collaborative. I’m sure they will be happy to tell you why they have since decided to start scrutinizing each donation that Pam brings in.

  7. There are real management problems here both for FSD and the Collaborative.

    And let’s not forget the apparent use of Collaborative members to gin up support for the Redevelopment expansion.

  8. 1. I believe the Fullerton School District’s involvement in this scenario represents a serious conflict and they should end the arrangement immediately. Pam could remain with the district (obviously a lesser tenured teacher would likely be replaced), or the Collaborative could simply pay Pam directly. I have confirmed with the FSD that Keller must be given the opportunity to retain her position as a teacher if the District ended the current arrangement with the Collaborative. So please, no “Why are you trying to get Pam fired?” comments. That is simply not the case. At least on my part. In fact, she could jump in as my daughter’s language arts teacher immediately and I am certain that it would be a vast improvement. That’s a PK compliment people.
    2. I do not believe that the Collaborative board is a front for Pam Keller by design. I believe that Pam Keller decided to run for City Council subsequent to taking this position. I cannot know this for a fact, but I am confident of the statement.
    3. With respect to Greg’s point about the role being 100% funded, I find that to be not entirely accurate with respect to the costs that the district will incur throughout Pam Keller’s life. Her pension has increased through the years in which she has had no District responsibilities, and while I understand that the collaborative has funded the Districts contribution to that pension, it is clear that fixed pensions such as this are underfunded and the taxpayer will ultimately be responsible for bridging that gap.
    4. I don’t have a strong opinion about the value of the Collaborative. It may very well provide valuable services. Not my issue. However, I do believe that those involved find it valuable to the community and I also believe that Pam finds it valuable to the community. It is not my mission to contribute to the notion that the Collaborative’s sole intended purpose is to act as a financial foundation for Pam Keller’s political endeavors. Primarily because in the absence of governmental involvement, I could care less. I do agree, however that intended or unintended, it certainly does provide an incomparable platform for advancing one’s political career in Fullerton and the Fullerton School District is deeply involved in that reality.
    5. Whether the Collaborative chooses to support their Director as she pursues her political ambitions is their business. However, when the Fullerton School District chooses to be a part of that in such a direct and frankly, messy way, it is all of our business. I am hopeful that they are in the process of coming to that same conclusion.

    1. Good summation, Chris. There is also another side – the City side, and the problems of soliciting donations from people who have business before the City. This becomes particularly problematic when the Collaboarative has one and only one employee. In this light every thing that helps the Collaborative inescapably helps Keller

      When a Collaborative member (St. Judes) has the ED of an organization to which it contributes vote to approve its massive expansion I see a problem.

  9. Shadow, I concur. I think there are many facets to this public school district / privately run non-profit / City Council trifecta. However, as I look at the arrangement, the issue which screams at me the loudest is the Fullerton School District’s involvement.

  10. the fullerton collaborative is code for the pam keller self-promoting to the community to retain her council seat. who coached the blonde one on this sleazy tactic?

  11. keller acolyte, obviously you are not a fullerton lifer. there exists in fullerton’s politics an insidious influence that has contaminated this city with its cronyism and nepotism. its deceitful web stretches from creating fullerton municipal jobs for firends then buying and renting fullerton property to its friends/fullerton city workers. this network runs through our municipal government, the library and the school district

  12. Have you tried to interview Ms. Keller? Last time I checked, she is open to interviews. Also last time I checked, that is the best way to get answers.

  13. Chris,
    Well said. As I noted in comment #2, the issues raise a lot of big IF’s.

    van get it da artiste,
    You are right that there are favors being passed about. The only way to stop it is to get rid of the old regime and replace it with people who are open, honest, and fair.

  14. There is nothing anywhere in your reporting which indicates that any of the donations given went to anything except the costs of hosting the FACES of Fullerton event to which they were presuably pledged.

    Yet you want our counsel-members to recuse themselves based on any tenuous connection. If a counsel-member is in the same church congregation as a person with business before the city, should they recuse themself? How about having a kid in the same little league age group? C’mon, it’s not that a big a city, if you have something substantive, spit it out.

    1. No sale. Keller is the one and only employee of the Collaborative. And you may have failed to note that of the “Faces” budget $5000 goes to administration. Administration=Keller. So get off your high horse admit it: Keller is creating her own rules as she goes along. Up ’til now nobody has been the wiser.

      1. That $5,000 in funny money was suddenly removed from the 2010 Faces budget over the summer. Acolyte, you’re referring to internal accounting. The Collaborative can count their money behind the curtain however they want. But it’s not really relevant to the ethics issue.

        Money to the Fullerton Collaborative is what it is, whether it goes to Keller’s salary or tubs of face paint. If it doesn’t come from one place, it has to come from somewhere else.

    2. Acolyte, you need rehab. Can you really not distinguish the difference between someone who is PAID to work at a charity vs. a parent on a little league team?

      Pam is PAID to run the collaborative and is the only paid staffer. If I give money to the Collaborative, I have contributed to her salary. Your attempt to pretend that the contributions can be isolated into separate pots is either naive or wishful thinking but a dollar is a dollar.

      If, for the sake of easy math, the Collaborative has a $50k per year budget and I donate $1,000, I have given 2% of ALL the expenses for the year. There is no way to say that I actually gave the $1,000 only to the face painting project and zero to the salary of the person working there.

      Pam needs to come clean. Either stop voting for every project or issue that dovetails with her PAID employment or get off the Collaborative and go back to teaching.

  15. Keller Acolyte,
    Your simile of church and youth sports doesn’t come close to this situation. If you belong to a church, and that church PAYS YOUR SALARY, and big supporters of the church present a project to the council for approval, THEN YES, THEY SHOULD RECUES THEMSELVES FROM THE DISCUSSION AND VOTE.

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