Redevelopment Grant Money Returned

Editor’s Note: This is really unfortunate in my opinion. Though it’s been stated numerous times in the press that the effort to question this grant wasn’t politically motivated, these audio segments of Tea Party leader Doug Crosse indicate that the timing was such that it would give people a chance to rethink who they vote for. I’m surprised that City officials didn’t show more backbone and stand behind a grant that they approved, or own up to any issues in their process.

To Mr. Kolarek: thank you for keeping your business in town. I would have pulled the plug and moved out months ago. Please don’t ever donate a single penny to any local political campaign ever again. Your support, while generous, isn’t worth being targeted. And thank you for what you’ve done for the Simi Valley Education Foundation. Your charitable efforts have been drowned out by the political noise of this story, but your generous contributions are very appreciated by this community.

Press Release Statement

After many months of public persecution, slander, and defamation of my character, I am publically addressing the Simi Valley Moorpark Tea Party’s investigation of me and my business.  At this point my decision is to return the grant funds issued to me through the Tapo Street Façade Renovation Program.  With the recently approved Proposition 30 Sales and Income Tax Increase Initiative, these funds will cause me huge adverse tax implications.  I have delivered a cashier’s check to the City today.  The money I received is not worth the ongoing attacks on my character.  Peace of mind and focusing on my family and business is far more important to me.  The City of Simi Valley is a small business community, where one strives to work hard to earn a decent living, to raise a family, and support its community.  I have found that this situation to have taken such a toll on me and my family.  I cannot sit back and allow such incredulous acts to continue to happen.

It seems that because of the people I have supported and continue to support politically, I’ve been targeted by the local Tea Party and several other private citizens. This group of irate and mean-spirited people will stop at nothing to try and tear me apart. They’ve come after me, my family, friends and my business.  My wife, along with friends and employees, has received threatening text messages.  Additionally we have been the target of online cyber-bullying and splashed across the local newspapers in a negative fashion. Just this week one member posted copies of my personal bank account information online. Sadly, the City provided my personal information and failed to redact the details of my account number and address. My attorney was successful in having this removed from the internet for the time being, but it does illustrate to what extent this situation has spun out of control.  I’ve seen and heard enough nonsense to know this has to stop immediately.  My family’s safety is more important than money.

I must say it’s very sad to think that our community has members that stoop to this level and have no other greater good to add to the community and invest their time.

When I came to the City with my project several years ago it was to improve a dilapidated corner of the town and beautify it for the community. I was successful in that endeavor and am very proud of the operation my employees and I run. From the beginning we’ve given back to the community through charitable donations to the YMCA, Simi Valley Education Foundation, The Boy’s and Girl’s Club, Wag-n-Walk and other local programs. We plan to continue our relationships in the community and to contribute as much as we can. We will rise above this small group of naysayers and continue to strive for integrity and professionalism despite their tactics.

The Ventura County Grand Jury reviewed this case when it was originally filed by the head of the local Tea Party and stated publicly that they had declined to move ahead with any investigation. On multiple occasions the City Manager’s office assured me that all facets of the requirements for the grant had been satisfied. Unfortunately this group continues to bring forth new allegations of wrongdoing when previous avenues have run short. The City seems to have bent over backwards to satisfy this small group but they continue their bully tactics. If the City wasn’t satisfied with the paperwork I submitted prior to funding, then they would have never released the check to me in the first place. Now, out of 44 grant projects, only my project is being reviewed by this small group associated with the tea party. When will the constant attacks end? I cannot allow this group to target other local businesses that were involved on my project, and to be targeted like I have and suffer the public humiliation and smear tactics. It makes more sense to return the money to the City and forgo the ongoing argument.  My business is financially sound and not a start-up company. We have been open since 1999 and continue to thrive. I will feel better to have no ties to the Tapo Street Façade Renovation Program in order to remove any doubt from people’s minds and move forward with conducting business as usual in our fine community. Once again, my family’s safety and well-being is more important than money.

Kelly Kolarek
K & J Auto Exchange

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