City Attorney’s Ruling Puts Kolender in Clear on Loan

Times Staff Writer

The San Diego city attorney’s office Monday ruled that Police Chief Bill Kolender didn’t have to disclose on city forms a $50,000 personal loan he received from the vice chairman of the San Diego Crime Commission in October, 1984.

Kolender received the loan from James A. Vaus Jr. for a second mortgage on Kolender’s Del Cerro home. A trust deed between Kolender and Vaus--founder of Youth Development Inc. (YDI), a nonprofit group that aids troubled youths--was filed with the county recorder in October, 1984, but the loan was not listed on Kolender’s financial disclosure forms for that year.

The city attorney’s opinion held that Kolender, an appointed public official, is only required to report income and loans from firms or entities doing business with the city. Although the San Diego Police Department refers runaways to a YDI shelter in Clairemont, the organization receives no payment for its services and is not doing business with the city, the opinion held.

“Hence you could never use your position to increase their (YDI) revenue and likewise no action of theirs could have any material financial effect on you,” said the opinion, written by Chief Deputy City Atty. Ted Bromfield. “Since the loan arises from a relationship in which no foreseeable economic benefit flows from your public decisions, it need not be reported.”


Kolender said Monday that he wished that the newspapers had waited for the city attorney’s ruling before publishing stories last week about his loan.

“It was a public document that was recorded, and there was no evidence that I had done anything wrong,” the chief said. “Everyone went with big, fat headlines before they took the time to review it.”

Last week, Kolender said he had done nothing to benefit YDI, such as giving the organization his written endorsement as police chief.

But Jim Potter, YDI executive director, said that Kolender allowed YDI to use a letter of appreciation in a recent direct-mail fund-raising appeal. YDI sent copies of the letter in an appeal for money to pay for a nationwide telephone hot line for troubled youths, Potter said.


The letter was a copy of one sent to YDI three years ago by Kolender, thanking the organization for contributions it made to the Police Department, Potter said. YDI asked Kolender to retype the letter and add a recent date for its fund-raising appeal, he said.

“I know we had the letter and we decided it would be a good thing to use,” Potter said. “It would lend some credibility to our organization.”

Kolender said Monday that he now recalls reissuing the letter for YDI. He said it should be considered just one of his endorsements to “a million other groups in town. I support groups like that all the time who cooperate with us.”

Potter said he didn’t know how much money the fund-raising appeal brought in. He said that, in the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, YDI raised $655,850, more than $500,000 of which was spent on its programs.


The organization also carries on its books $377,309 worth of loans it has made to individuals, including those who have purchased real estate once owned by YDI.

One of those loans was an $18,000 second mortgage in May, 1984, to Roger Young, executive director of the crime commission. A friend of Kolender, Young has said he was the one who suggested that the chief obtain a second mortgage from Vaus.