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Mayor Klein to handle details of Litfin estate

Original post made on Feb 11, 2008

In an odd twist to a tangled situation, Mayor Larry Klein has been retained by state Sen. Joe Simitian to handle the technical details of Michael Litfin's estate, Klein has announced.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, February 11, 2008, 12:07 PM

Comments (20)

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 11, 2008 at 1:33 pm

This gets murkier and murkier. Where does Simitian fit in all this? And of course the Mayor getting involved has to be a conflict of interest.

Does anyone have any common sense in this, shouldn't Litfin's brothers be more suitable than the Mayor?

Posted by Shouldn't-One-Avoid-The-Appearance-Of-Impropriety?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 11, 2008 at 1:41 pm

> Klein told the Weekly there is no conflict of interest
> involved in his handling technical aspects of
> Litfin's estate.

Guess this means there won't be any review of the Children's Theater by the City Council. Another scandal swept under the carpet--another of the many reasons "Palo Alto is special".

Posted by Not so fast
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 11, 2008 at 1:47 pm

Too late for avoiding the appearance of impropriety--Klein has already weighed in with his opinion of the investigation and the people involved.
Maybe Klein should step down and allow jack Morton his rightful place as mayor. After all Klein has been mayor at least once before.
That is why nothing ever changes in PA--we keep on putting old dinosaurs back in office.

Posted by parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Feb 11, 2008 at 1:48 pm

no, only certain children's groups are special.
Public city officials should not comment on ongoing police investigations, though they are free to be executor of someone's estate, of course.

Posted by a mom
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Feb 11, 2008 at 1:54 pm

Simitian? Klein? What's next? Talk about conflict of interest! this goes way way beyond. A conflict of interest couldn't be more blatant.

This whole childrens theater fiasco has taken on a surreal tone.

Posted by John
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 11, 2008 at 2:53 pm

Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive!

What is going to happen if or when the PAPD investigation butts up against Mayor Larry Klein's law firm protecting Litfin's estate? Politically, this just looks worse than bad; and he says, there is no conflict here!!!

Posted by Mike
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 11, 2008 at 3:03 pm

The prior posters are way off base. I suggest a look at the law; Mayor Klein's firm is only handling technical details of a transfer of assets. That's very different than being involved in the criminal investigation. They're not at all related, and won't interfere with one another.

It's really unsettling to see the vitriol posted here, about someone offering to help another human being. I think you all need to lighten up, and practice a little more human charity.

Judge not....

Posted by sister bev
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 11, 2008 at 3:17 pm

This is all about perception. And the perception ain't looking so good.

Posted by Mike
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 11, 2008 at 3:29 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by political observer
a resident of Southgate
on Feb 11, 2008 at 4:11 pm

This seems very strange. If PAPD is still looking for answers what if they need to examine the estate of Liftin. Will they subpoena the Mayor or be too scared?

Posted by Shouldn't-One-Avoid-The-Appearance-Of-Impropriety?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 11, 2008 at 4:14 pm

Now that Larry Klein’s law firm is involved, let us not forget there is an attorney-client privilege established between Mr. Klein and the Litfin estate. Klein, who happens to be Palo Alto mayor, has already weighed in with a rather strong message that he does not approve of this investigation, and presumably would like to see it go away.

Even though Mr. Klein does not have a particular linkage, as mayor, to the investigation, he does have a linkage to the funding of the Children's Theatre, the funding of the Police Department, and whether or not the police chief keeps her job (at least strong input). We have to remember that all of these linkages exist between the Mayor and the ongoing operations of the city.

Klein has now “purchased” a way out of this situation for himself. He will now be able to recuse himself in the future, so that his hands won’t be “tainted” by the fallout of this mess. While the “Weak Mayor” doesn’t have a lot to do with City Operations, it does have a lot to do with City financing. Mr. Klein has now managed to not have to ask any questions about this matter in the future.

One can only wonder what Klein would do if he were a “strong Mayor” with control of the Police Department?

Posted by JA 3
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 11, 2008 at 5:06 pm

<The prior posters are way off base.>

Your conclusion is based on a key presumption here and, thus, perhaps is in error.

Without knowledge of the specific terms and conditions of the retainer agreement by and between the estate and Mr. Klein's firm, there is no means to render a definitive judgment regarding the prior posters' writings.

All should tread carefully here; a crime may have been committed; clearly, the search warrants granted earlier led one to believe there is some evidence -- perhaps substantial -- of a past crime or crimes.

Until the police department investigation is complete, it may be wise to wait to comment further.

One thing is certain, though: politics does not mix well with a possible financial crime committed against a non-profit group with significant City funding.

Much as we may not like it, appearances very often matter in politics. In my opinion, appearances here do not readily yield positive conclusions for Mr. Klein.

Posted by Logical
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 11, 2008 at 5:13 pm

A quote from the article:

"Klein said Litfin contacted him about handling his estate prior to his suspension Jan. 24. Klein noted that his law practice specializes in handling such estates."

This was a done deal before anyone knew of the criminal investigation.

I don't see anything inappropriate here at all.

Posted by Palo Alto political observer
a resident of The Greenhouse
on Feb 11, 2008 at 5:39 pm

"It's Chinatown (er Palo Alto) Jake"

So if the estate holds some fabulous heirlooms will Mayor Klein then go about nailing the paintings or dusting the china vases and placing them in the Children's Theater Lobby?

Posted by blameshift
a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 11, 2008 at 7:38 pm

Interesting...Klein blames the police, citicizes their investigation and then ends up represented the estate of a former city attorney who was part of a financial crime investigation...I guess blaming the police is an easy to collect $200 an hour on the back end...Blame shift and cash in. If this is not an actual conflict of interest, I do not know what is?? Maybe the investigation needs to include the mayor's office?

Posted by Ernest Kinsolving
a resident of another community
on Feb 12, 2008 at 7:28 am

In a previously publicized statement it was made clear that Simitian was someone whom Michael trusted to carry out his wishes (taking care of the Children's Theatre), which is why Michael appointed Simitian the executor of his estate. And clearly Simitian trusts Larry Klein to discharge this duty as well.

It's easy to make comments and innuendos about the circumstances in an anonymous forum. What is more useful and perhaps more difficult is to figure out what we want, individually and collectively, and take steps to make it happen.

A lot of people who care deeply about the Children's Theatre are doing what they can to ensure that the theater continues to provide positive experiences to the kids of the community; they've been voicing their concerns and opinions to the City of Palo alto, giving their support to the employees on administrative leave and volunteering their time and effort to keep the theater running.

Posted by fishy
a resident of Southgate
on Feb 12, 2008 at 9:29 am

"which is why Michael appointed Simitian the executor of his estate. And clearly Simitian trusts Larry Klein to discharge this duty as well."
Simitian's choice of executor shows an extreme lack of good judgment. I used to like the guy, but after his meddling in the science curriculum (there's a separate arm of the government for that - not his territory) and now his poor choice of executor, he is losing credibility fast.

Does Simitian have no concept of how this creates more distrust within the community? Why would he set us up for this? Appointing Klien is such an obviously poor choice that one has to wonder what's going on behind the scenes.

Posted by EOPACT
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Feb 12, 2008 at 9:37 am

It makes sense to me--the "good old boy" network is alive and kicking. You have Simitian, a former member of the PA City Council (who clearly learned the ways of "nanny government", that he espouses, in the corridors of AP City hall). He involves Larry Klein,a former city council member and mayor, who was inexplicably re-elected to the council and is now mayor again. And now Ojakian, another former council member is in the mix.
Notice a pattern here?
Pretty soon Emily Renzel, LAine Wheeler, Sandy Eakins and Nancy Lytle will be involved also.

Posted by Tired of Theatergate
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 12, 2008 at 11:08 am

If you are as tired as this taxpayer is of trying to figure out whom is linked with whom in this area, follow this suggestion.

Since Mayor Klein did such a fabulous job of managing the investigation into the Children's Theater and then taking on the executor job of an estate subject to said investigation, let's all urge him to run for the empty Lantos seat for Congress.
Go Mayor Klein our next Congressman!

Posted by can you believe this?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 12, 2008 at 12:05 pm

> "which is why Michael appointed Simitian the executor of his
> estate. And clearly Simitian trusts Larry Klein to discharge
> this duty as well."

And it's a sure bet that Bonny trusted Clyde too ..

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