THE GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY BOARD – FINAL REPORT

Summary:

In response to the Big Bear City Airport District agenda

posted on Oct 6th, 2017 for the Oct 11th meeting.

Which revealed the ongoing activities of a secret ad-hoc committee for the consideration and report of possible censure of Director Kelly

Findings:

The Government Accountability Board has determined that no laws were broken by Director Kelly, and no violations of the Big Bear City Airport’s policy manual were committed by Director Kelly.

No further actions for censure are necessary at this time.

Also noted, it seems to be poor policy for Director Baker to create the “ad-hoc committee” in secret.

Depriving the public as well as the other board member affected any input. The truth was not sought or desired from the public on this matter which seems to be retaliatory on the part of Director Baker and a possible abuse of his position as president of the Airport board.

Also, the only egregious actions were apparently by President Baker attempting to politicize the unfortunate illness of Director Seifert’s wife, and create the negative perception of insensitivity or lack of compassion.

Director Kelly has prayed for and shown great concern for Mrs. Seifert and their family. The screen capture of the SMS message shows that.

 

Airport Board’s Secret Ad-hoc committee allegations: –brown

The Government Accountability Board Findings –black


CONCERNS: The following are what the ad hoc committee determined to be the most egregious violations of our rules of behavior, decorum and order, (See Section 5000.40 B 5, quoted below).

No laws were broken by Director Kelly. And no violations of board policy are proven.

A. Former Director Rick Seifert: On or about April 15th 2017 Director Kelly sent an email to Director Seifert inquiring why Director Seifert had missed the April meeting

No laws were broken by Director Kelly. And no violations of board policy are proven. There is no policy against 1 board member e-mailing another board member. Also, President Baker excused Director Seifert in the April meeting without board approval.

Airport Board policy does not allow Baker to excuse an absence. Also In the April recording and official minutes, Baker implied it was Director Seifert that was ill. So when Director Kelly saw Seifert and family at an amusement park, it was reasonable to inquire.

and noting that, as he follows Director Seifert and his wife on Facebook, he had seen photos of Director Seifert at Knott’s Berry Farm on the date of the meeting.

Director Kelly and Seifert are friends. Currently, and have been friends for some time. No law broken, no policy broken.

In the email Director Kelly states “Were you too sick to go to the meeting, but not sick enough to go to Knott’s?” Further, “the public deserves an active director who takes the position seriously. The public also deserves an honest report from the president of the board”. President Baker had reported that Director Kelly (should read Seifert) was absent “due to illness”.

No law broken, no policy issue.

Director Kelly further wrote “If any director cannot fulfill his duties on the board or can’t report to the rest of the board honestly, they don’t deserve to be on the board.” He went on to state “Serving on the board is not a country club membership. It is a commitment to serve”.

True statements. No law broken, no policy issue with telling the truth. It’s a privilege to be on a board, and members are required by law to attend regularly.

Director Seifert subsequently resigned his position on the Board.

Most likely to care for his wife, and spend time with family. No law or policy broken.

Director Seifert was absent from the meeting as he had attended an event with his wife for their granddaughter’s birthday. Director Seifert’s wifo had been diagnosed with a terminal disease. This would be the last birthday with their granddaughter that they would share. Mrs. Seifert passed away on September 18th of this year.

Very touching. Perhaps President Baker should have asked the board to excuse Seifert properly with a simple vote. All members would probably have said no problem, avoiding the issue. Also, adding this into the censure complaint is inflammatory and prejudicial, and not relevant, since why he was going to the amusement park was unknown to Director Kelly. Again, very sad. No law broken, no policy broken.

Wes Krause spoke with Mr. Kelly about this on or about 8/14/17 because Mr. Kelly wished to discuss the reasons for the proposed censure.

Reasonable to ask why the attempt to censure. No reasons were given. Director Kelly would of course want to know why. No laws broken, No policy broken.

Mr. Kelly expressed “regret” for sending the email. However, shortly thereafter, on August 20, 2017, Mr. Kelly again texted Rick Seifert, who responded to the General Manager asking that he prevent Mr. Kelly from contacting him as his wife was close to death. See attached copy of a text to Rick Seifert that he forwarded to the general manager: “I received this text today from Joseph Kelly, my wife is in the last stages oflife, and this has to STOP.”

He simply texted Seifert asking if they could meet, because apparently someone had been circulating a copy of their email and telling stories and untruths about Director Kelly. Seifert asked Director Kelly (what’s it about) never mentioning how sick his wife was, and never said anything to Director Kelly about not contacting him. They speak, talk and are still friends. No law broken. No policy violated.

B. Fair Political Practices Commission: On or about August 10th 2017, Director Kelly filed a complaint with the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) alleging that Directors Baker, Goddard and Castillo “violated the Political Reform Act’s conflict of interest provisions” regarding a possible consideration on a future agenda of an increase in fuel prices.

It is a violation of law to vote on matters that directors have financial interests and benefits in. Directors are to recuse themselves. All 3 buy fuel at publicly subsidized prices, and voted to postpone indefinately any price increase. No law or policy broken by Director Kelly. However, Directors Baker, Goddard and Castillo may have issues.

Following a brief inquiry, on August 24 the FPPC determined the complaint to be unfounded.

Actually, the case had new information added for review by the FPPC (Fair Political Pratices Commission)

No law or policy broken by Director Kelly.

On August 31, 2017 Director Kelly sent an email to the General Manager indicating that there was an “FPPC investigation” although the notification from the FPPC of no investigation was sent August 24. At least one purpose of filing this complaint was to try to disqualify directors from voting on his request for a “defense” to censure although Director Kelly was disqualified from participating in the vote on his request for a defense.

True statement by Director Kelly. There was an investigation with the FPPC. The case had new documentation, added. Why the email was sent is only speculation on the part of the secret ad-hoc committee. Director Kelly properly recused himself from the proceedings regarding his defense of these unfounded charges and censure. No law broken. No policy violated.

C.Police Report Against General Manager: At the May 2017 regular meeting of the Board of Directors, Director Kelly threatened the Directors with federal civil action under 42 USC 1983.

Actions by the board appear to be in violation of Federal Law Title 42 USC 1983. Stating the fact that continuing may result in filing for relief and damages is not against any law or board policy.

Following that meeting President Baker consulted with Airport Manager Leno and both concurred that it would be wise to ask District Counsel to attend future Board meetings. Following the provisions of the Directors’ Policy Manual, Section 4011.10, the General Manager requested that District Counsel attend the Board meetings to advise the Board as a whole. However, on or about August 15, 2017 Director Kelly reported that San Bernardino County Sheriff (SBSD) that airport manager Dustin Leno had committed a felony, to wit “misappropriation of District funds” by asking District Counsel to attend Board of Directors’ meetings. The SBSD very briefly investigated the allegations and found no criminal violation upon which to act and took no further action.

Not accurate. Manager Leno is listed as a witness, not as the subject. And Legal Counsel is not an employee of the General Manager. Full Board approval is required by law to expend extra public money on the legal counsel issues. It appears Director Baker and/or The Manager do not have independent authority for that. A decision and information by the District Attorney has not yet been rendered or communicated. Charges can still be filed as appropriate. Perhaps Director Baker should stop committing acts that require full time legal counsel. No reasons for censure.

A copy of that police report is attached.

Not true. The secret ad-hoc committee attached only the officer’s summary.

Director Kelly filed such report after his August 10, 2017 request that the Airport Manager provide documents showing his or the board president’s authority to act on behalf of the Board, but before receiving any such information, Director Kelly filed a public records report on August 25 asking for documents regarding the authority to request District Counsel at meetings.

Airport and Manager Leno have still not complied with the records request as required by law. Director Kelly broke no policy or law by simply asking.

On August 31, prior to the September 2 special meeting on his request for a “defense” to censure, Director Kelly alleged that there was such an ongoing criminal investigation, when there was not. The Police Report was issued September 5. This action is without legal basis and potentially damages the General Manager and harms him in his profession based upon false allegations.

No notification had been given to Director Kelly. This issue has yet to be resolved, and there are a number of investigations pending. No law or policy broken by speaking the truth, even if it’s uncomfortable.

D. On or about 8/14/17 Director Krause spoke with Director Kelly to find a “solution” to such behavior. Director Kelly told him that his “solution” was to make him, Director Kelly, the Board President because he understood how the Board should be ran and Director Baker did not.

It’s not a violation of policy or law to express his opinion. And it may be self evidently the truth, and good advice.

E. On or about 9/21/2017 Director Kelly contacted Director Krause in advance of this consideration of censure regarding a “solution.” Director Krause indicated that the filing of the FPPC complaint and the criminal allegations undermined efforts to find a resolution.

Director Kelly seeking resolution was reasonable, and no law or policy broken.

F Director Kelly met with the President of the Board ( at that time, Julie Smith) and repeatedly accused her of violating the Brown Act in establishing Board Committees. When he was told there was no violation, he reported the Board to the San Bernardino District Attorney Public Integrity unit, twice. No violations were found. This action was in retaliation for not being put on the committees he wanted.

This event is from years ago. The board may have violated the Brown Act. Discussing it with the Board President, and asking for help from the Public Integrity Unit is not against any law or policy. It’s their job. Guessing at motives is pointless and irrelevant. 

G. Director Kelly does not abide by Board decisions with which he disagrees and thus places his personal agenda above that of the District that he was elected to serve; the following comment has been placed into the record of meetings where Mr. Kelly does not agree with the vote of the Board majority (i.e. use of District letterhead): “Despite the diligent work of our Board Secretary in the preparation of the minutes, the nature of the minutes cannot adequately show what transpired at the meeting of June 14, 2017. The presiding officer and other District Officers interrupted, spoke out of turn, spoke when they should have listened, made false statements, denied and discouraged my freedom of expression and obstructed my ability to carry out my duty as a representative of the public. These acts and others were done unlawfully, in violation of my rights and the rights of our constituents.”

Director Kelly has abided by all lawful Board Decisions. Even when he disagrees, which is his right and duty. Placing correct comments into the record is the proper procedure. The Board and Staff should probably pay attention to the comments, rather than trying to punish him with censure. No law or policy broken.

H. Since January 1st, Director Kelly has filed at least nine (9) Public Records requests for Directors’ hangar agreements, Form 700’s and emails between each other and District Counsel. The cost of his requests and of addressing his legal accusations against the District was $6,477 only for the month of August 2017. This amount does not include attendance at any District Board meeting by District Counsel.

It’s perfectly legal and proper to ask for public documents. As a Director when it’s his duty and when acting as a private citizen. An investigation of the Board into why so much was expended on these simple requests may be needed. As the only legal charges are for photocopying. No wages for district employees are to be included per law, as it is a primary function of government to produce public documents as requested. It is not a burden upon government, it is their job and function. And remember, it was Director Baker and Manager Leno who asked for and expended public money on legal counsel. Possibly in violation of state law. Director Kelly however broke no law or policy by asking for records, PUBLIC RECORDS.

I. Director Kelly has retaliated after placement of the consideration of censure on a future agenda by asking to place on the agenda censure of Director Baker for an error in his ethics certificate that was corrected over a year ago.

Actually, it appears the exact opposite. Director Baker may be retaliating against Director Kelly for being called out when Director Baker was not in compliance and in violation of the Ethics Training Law. As well as older tiffs where Baker was in the wrong. Using censure to attempt to settle political scores is not an appropriate use of the public trust. Again, no law broken or policy broken by Director Kelly. The request for censure of Director Baker for his violation had merits.

J. Director Kelly has contacted airport tenants to speak against Directors, specifically Mr. Villalobos.

No record has been provided, however speaking his mind about some of the many issues and improper actions when truthful, is not against any law or policy. No censure should be based upon such a thin accusation.

K. Kelly’s overall approach is disruptive rather than collaborative and constitutes a pattern of behavior:

This opinion by the secret ad-hoc committee is speculative at best. It’s also inflammatory, since no actions by Director Kelly have been against the law or policies of the Board. He may make some uncomfortable, but that is not sufficient for censure. 

1. Before he was elected, he placed his name on a letter that made false statements about the Board’s use of eminent domain.

No proof or documentation to support this allegation. And Director Kelly seems very well aware of the law and certainly the Board would not consider censure for anything before he was even elected. No law broken. No policy broken.

2. He makes unreasonable demands of staff; most recently, he requested a variety of documents regarding fuel prices although the Board already has determined not to proceed with his approach.

It seems well within Director Kelly’s duties to ask for information on behalf of the people he represents. The fuel issue and subsidized pricing that benefits the other board members that may have conflicts of interest is fair game, and we would expect nothing less. No law broken. No policy broken.

3. In the February, 2017 workshop with Brent Ives to try to complete the Policy Manual, he refused to accept Ives’ advice or to work with him.

Having listened to that entire meetings audio, Director Kelly was very polite but firm about important points. Ives was there (paid) to advise not dictate. Every point Director Kelly made was reasonable, and seemed correct. But in any case his opinion was valid and appropriate. No law broken. No policy broken.

4. When interviewing a candidate to replace Gary Steube, his statement “I’m gonna ask my own questions” and argumentative behavior caused a candidate to withdraw.

2014? And it’s his job. Maybe if he couldn’t handle the heat, it’s probably good that candidate dropped out. That meeting also had Brown Act violations. Asking good original questions is proper, expected and no law broken. No law policy broken.

5. His pattern of behavior is to make unfounded accusations that waste resources and destroy and erode morale, trust and public confidence.

Simply opinion. Director Kelly has wide support. No law broken. No policy broken.

CONCLUSION:

Findings of The Government Accountability Board:

Director Kelly has not broken any laws or Board policies in any manner as alleged, and no censure would be warranted.

This matter should be dropped and The Big Bear Airport Board should not spend any additional public money pursuing private retributions.

END.