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Ex-Mayor of Walnut Faces Fine Over Dirt

July 21, 1988|MICHAEL MILSTEIN | Times Staff Writer

WALNUT — Former Mayor Harvey K. Holden may be fined $2,000 by the state for not divulging his dirt while in office.

According to state Fair Political Practices Commission documents, Holden received $10,000 worth of fill and grading work in October, 1987, from a developer building a housing project next to his home. Holden had voted to approve the project.

But Holden did not report the gift on his 1987 Statement of Economic Interest, a financial disclosure form all public officials must file annually with the commission. The statement requires officials to list all financial interests, including loans, income and gifts worth more than $50, that might affect their public decisions.

After an investigation this spring, the commission staff concluded that Holden's actions violated the state Political Reform Act and "justify the imposition of a monetary penalty." The $2,000 fine, the maximum possible, is part of a tentative settlement between Holden and commission staff.

The agreement must be formally approved at the commission's July 26 meeting, spokeswoman Sandra Michioku said. Most such agreements are approved, she said.

The political practices commission also investigated some of Holden's other City Council votes for possible conflicts of interest, she said.

Because the commission has not approved the settlement, Michioku would not elaborate and would not say whether any other violations had been found.

Repeated attempts by The Times to reach Holden for comment were unsuccessful.

Holden is a longtime governmental fixture in Walnut, a mostly residential city with a population of 25,000. He was first appointed to the city's Planning Commission in 1965, serving intermittently for nine years until he was elected to the council in 1980.

Holden, who did not run for reelection, remained on the council until April. He served twice as mayor.

Holden's home in Walnut sits on a rise adjacent to a housing project being built by William Lyon Co. of Newport Beach. In January, 1987, state records show, Holden and the company, with the approval of City Engineer Ron Kranzer, agreed that Lyon workers would grade part of Holden's property.

Kranzer is on a cruise in Alaska and could not be reached for comment.

A report by state investigators says of the agreement: "Holden met with the city engineer and developer to propose an addition to the plan that would affect his property when the development went in. As a councilman, he voted in favor of the developer's proposal."

Lyon Vice President Fred Bosley said in an interview that he was not aware of the investigation or possible fine. He said Lyon had purchased the land from Via Verde Development Co. in 1986 after the development had already been approved by the council.

Bosley said it is normal practice to make grading improvements on property adjacent to a development. "You are occasionally fixing (adjacent property) and making it better," he said.

According to a letter Holden sent the political practices commission, the grading work was necessary to correct drainage defects on the development site. The grading would not have been effective, Holden said in the letter, if it had not also included his land. Holden said he bought that section of his property "as a developable separate building site."

After questioning by a commission investigator, Holden filed an amended disclosure statement for 1987, which was sent to Sacramento on May 20. That statement did not list the dirt and grading as a gift, but included a letter from Holden explaining the work and stating: "I do not believe this constitutes a gift to me."

At the suggestion of the commission and as part the proposed settlement, Holden filed a second amended statement June 9, listing the work as a gift valued at $10,000.

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