Fix Our Harbors

San Mateo County Harbor District

The Half Moon Bay fishing, boating and surfing community would like facilities modernized at Pillar Point Harbor. It's time to fix crumbling infurtructure, chronic water pollution, dangerous working conditions on Johnson Pier, unsafe docks, inadequate public restrooms, outdated visitor serving facilities, poor wifi connectivity and compromised trail access.

LAFCO executive director meddled in lawsuit against Harbor District—Three Captains lost in court

Attn: SMC Civil Grand Jury,

March 5, 2015 — Email from LAFCO Executive Director Martha Poyatos requesting the Harbor District provide a letter from Three Captains attorney Mark Scheer.

March 13, 2015 — LAFCO Executive Director Martha Poyatos has email correspondence with to Three Captains attorney Mark Scheer.  Ms. Poyatos sends attachment/s, a link to a newspaper article about the Harbor District and requests Mr. Scheer provide information about campaign contributions for Harbor Commissioners.

May 21, 2015 — LAFCO Executive Director Martha Poyatos emails attachments to Three Captains attorney Mark Scheer.

June 2, 2015 — Three Captains Sea Products Complaint (lawsuit)

Dec 17, 2015 — San Mateo County Superior Judge George A. Miram ordered Three Captains to pay the Harbor District  $38,000 in legal fees for an Anti-SLAPP motion. This came after the District earlier prevailed in a motion to dismiss one of the Plaintiff’s two causes of action (the Anti-SLAPP motion).

Feb 25, 2016 — Three Captains dropped their lawsuit against the Harbor District. They formally dismissed their writ petition against the Harbor District. This on top of winning the anti-SLAPP motion and $38,000 in attorney’s fees was good news for the Harbor District.

Why didn't South City notify the Harbor District that it was interested in becoming the successor agency?

Based on the email exchange below; we're wondering about a cozy relationship between SMC LAFCo and the City of South San Francsico.

Jim Steele South San Francisco City Manager

Our first impression is that South City clearly went behind the Harbor District's back in order to lobby Martha Poyatos, LAFCo Director to be the successor agency.

Whether SSF Assistant City Manager Jim Steele is acting on his own or representing the council is unclear, but knowing the South City Council we doubt he's doing this without the foreknowledge of at least some others on the council.

Based on the email exchange below it appears that South City was thinking, "If the Harbor District is dissolved then we want the property tax for ourselves, how do we get the money?" — that little bit about Martha researching different types of appointed boards is interesting. Apparently Martha thinks her job description includes doing research for Jim Steele and SSF Manager Mike Futrell.

Why didn't South City notify the Harbor District that it was inquiring into potentially becoming a successor agency, and if not South City, why didn't Martha/LAFCo let the Harbor District know?

This looks shady to us!

City of Belmont: Warren Lieberman's code of conduct is a double-edged sword

McCarthyism is the practice of making unfair allegations or using unfair investigative techniques. Or in the case of the City of Belmont McCarthyism can be found in  Lieberman's unethical code of conduct aimed at restricting dissent or political criticism.

 Hoisted by his own petard.

Pietro Parravano kisses junior staffer

Why is Pietro Parravano kissing a junior staffer at a Harbor Commission meeting?  

The kiss violates the District's Harassment and Retaliation Policy 6.2.5.  

Section B:  

It is no defense that the recipient appears to have voluntarily "consented" to the conduct at issue. A recipient may not protest for many legitimate reasons, including the need to avoid being insubordinate or avoid being ostracized.

Section D:

Even visual, verbal, and/or physical conduct between two employees who appear to welcome it can constitute harassment of a third applicant, elected representative, officer, employee or contractor who observes the conduct or learns about the conduct later. Conduct can constitute harassment even if it is not explicitly or specifically directed at an individual.  

YouTube VIDEO of the Kiss:

Three Captains Lawsuit Nonsense

   John Dooley

 John Dooley

John Dooley and Larry Fortado are suing the San Mateo County Harbor District after Fortado's fish buying business was ordered to relocate a controversial hoist.  John Dooley is paying Fortado's legal fees because Dooley stands to profit from the hoist.

Larry Fortado, owner of Three Captains Sea Products, filed the lawsuit in San Mateo County Superior Court on Tuesday, June 4, 2015 alleging loss of income because he was denied use of a hoist he installed to offload fish from boats at Pillar Point Harbor.

 John Dooley

Larry Fortado and his not so silent business partner John Dooley are mad as a hornets nest because a group of fishermen turned them in for neglecting to apply for a Coastal Development Permit for the hoist. 

After Coastal Commission staff met with fishermen a permit waiver was pulled off a 2014 Coastal Commission meeting agenda and a full permit was required. Three Captains neglected to provide the Coastal Commission with a complete permit application before or after the hoist was installed.

In 2015 the Harbor Commission passed a resolution that denied renewal of a one year probationary hoist agreement.

Larry Fortado and John Dooley swore to get even and filed a meritless lawsuit.  

Harbor District Legal Fees By The Hour

In 2014 six law firms responded to a Harbor District RFP for general legal counsel. On May 21, 2014 three of the six firms were recommended by then General Manager Peter Grenell to replace Aaronson, Dickerson, Cohn & Lanzone.

Harbor Commissioner Robert Bernardo loves corporate lawyers

The following three firm were recommended by Peter Grenell and considered by the board of Harbor Commissioners:

  • Mark C. Watson  $185.00 per hour  (Peter Grenell's personal attorney)
  • BBK, Christopher J. Diaz  $275.00 per hour
  • Hanson Bridgett, Steven Miller, Partner  $345.00 per hour

On June 4, 2014 Harbor Commissioners met at Sea Crest School in Half Moon Bay to discuss hiring a new law firm. Nothing was reported out of closed session.

After concerns were raised by Commissioner Brennan about an apparent conflict of interest regarding attorney Mark C. Watson and his business relationships with Peter Grenell and Commissioner Jim Tucker the board decided to hire Hanson Bridgett.

 On June 18, 2014 Harbor Commissioners voted in open session to hire Hanson Bridgett.

  • Agenda Item 5—Selection of Law Firm Hanson Bridgett LLP to Provide Legal Counsel Services & Approval of Contract  18:00
  • Commissioner comments  19:48

Hanson Bridgett's rate ($345.00 per hour) is significantly higher than the rate Aaronson, Dickerson, Cohn & Lanzone charged ($190.00 per hour) the Harbor District.

Do the Math

Based on the above legal expense report it appears BBK would have saved the Harbor District almost $30,000. in general counsel legal fees from July 2014 through March 2015.  BBK's hourly rate of $275.00 adds up to significant savings over time.  Hanson Bridgett's hourly rate of $345.00 is above what the District can reasonably afford. 

Grenell charges District $14,856.25 for personal attorney Mark Watson

Did Peter Grenell force Jean Savaree out so he could hire his own attorney?  

 Peter Grenell (AKA The Ole Beardo) created a sexually charged drawing of an  administrative employee who worked at the Harbor District. Peter Grenell was the employees boss at the time. The drawing depicts the female employee  nude, lying in bed,  partially covered by a sheet.  Grenell  presented the   employee with his artwork at the Harbor District office.

Peter Grenell (AKA The Ole Beardo) created a sexually charged drawing of an administrative employee who worked at the Harbor District. Peter Grenell was the employees boss at the time. The drawing depicts the female employee nude, lying in bed, partially covered by a sheet. Grenell presented the employee with his artwork at the Harbor District office.

Why did Peter Grenell recommend his personal attorney Mark C. Watson as a suitable replacement for Jean Savaree of Aaronson, Dickerson, Cohn & Lanzone?  

Why didn't Mark C. Watson disclose his attorney-client relationship with Peter Grenell in advance of his interview with the board of Harbor Commissioners?  Why didn't Mr. Watson disclose to Commissioner Brennan that he was representing Peter Grenell regarding a pending sexual orientation and gender harassment complaint she made against Grenell?

 Mark C. Watson is  Peter Grenell's personal attorney

Mark C. Watson is Peter Grenell's personal attorney

May  21, 2014

Six law firm responded to a RFP, three of the six firms were recommended by Peter Grenell, and all three recommended firms were interviewed by Harbor Commissioners.

  • Mark C. Watson  $185.00 per hour  (Peter Grenell's personal attorney)
  • BBK, Christopher J. Diaz  $275.00 per hour
  • Hanson Bridgett, Steven Miller, Partner  $345.00 per hour

June 4, 2014

Harbor Commissioners met with Peter Grenell to hire a law firm to replace Aaronson, Dickerson, Cohn & Lanzone.  Commissioner Brennan left closed session early.  Nothing was reported out of closed session.  

 June 18, 2014

Harbor Commissioners voted in open session to hire Steven Miller of Hanson Bridgett.

  • Agenda Item 5—Selection of Law Firm Hanson Bridgett LLP to Provide Legal Counsel Services & Approval of Contract  18:00
  • Commissioner comments  19:48

Aug. 20, 2014

The board of Harbor Commissioners approved Peter Grenell's request for reimbursement for his personal attorney Mark C. Watson.

Read the $14,856.25 invoice

Why did Mr. Watson charge his client Peter Grenell a higher rate ($425.00 per hour) than the $185.00 hourly rate he proposed the Harbor District pay if Commissioners agreed to hire him to replace Jean Savaree?

If Mr. Watson had been awarded a job as the District's new legal counsel would Grenell have requested reimbursement?  

Birthday card artwork by Peter Grenell (AKA The Ole Beardo).  Mark C. Watson is Peter Grenell's personal attorney.

Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission vs. Three Captains' Sea Products

Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission (PSMFC) filed a complaint against Three Captains' Sea Products on Feb. 10, 2010 in San Mateo County Superior Court. 

The claim for relief included $120,097.27 in damages.

PSMFC made an administrative error in 2008 and 2009 while issuing checks for the California Salmon Disaster Relief Programs. PSMFC inadvertently double paid Larry Fortado, owner of Three Captains' Sea Products.  The total amount of the overpayment was $120,097.27. 

PSMFC and their attorneys sent Larry Fortado letters seeking reimbursement on July 31, 2009, Sept. 30, 2009, November 18, 2009 and Dec. 29, 2009.

After a jury trial was demanded Larry Fortado paid back the federal disaster relief money he owed PSMFC. 

Read the Complaint — Case No. 491958  

Young deNormandie Letter

John Dooley's lawyer Mark Scheer sends a letter to the Harbor Commission.

Mark-Scheer-Young-deNormandie-attorney.png

Law Firm Musical Chairs

In May 2015 Mark Scheer went to work for Williams Kastner.  

Todd Blischke of Williams Kastner currently represents Larry Fortado in his June 2015 lawsuit against the Harbor District. 

TODD-W-BLISCHKE-Hoist-Harbor-District-Larry-Fortado-John-Dooley

"Cash is Cash," said Realtor Jan Gray

Is the Harbor District considering selling property to a company with links to organized crime?

When Peter Nguyen and Kara Chau were told to vacate Pier 45 in San Francisco it was because their company Next Seafood owed $143,172.20 in back rent and $77,881.25 in attorney fees to the Port of San Francisco. The seafood wholesalers continued their business under a new company name, Global Quality Foods located in Hayward.

Harbor District realtor Jan Gray confirmed that she recived a cash offer from Global Quality Foods for a 2.5-acre property in El Granada known as the the Obispo lot next to the Post Office.  An article published in the  Half Moon Bay Review on Nov. 20, 2014 said the following:

The company indicated it could pay for the land in cash without the need for loans. The company later sent proof of funds, Jan Gray said.

“Cash is cash, and they’ve proven they have the cash,” Gray said.

Jim Tucker harbor commissioner money laundering scheme.jpg

The Harbor District has owned the land since the 1950s, when it was donated to the District by two women in memory of their fishermen husbands. News of the offer has commercial seafood business owners and commercial fishermen concerned that Harbor Commissioners might enable a money laundering scheme if an offer that included ill-gotten gains was accepted. 

It's been alleged that Dzunt (Peter) Nguyen and Kara Chau have been involved with racketeering and corruption. In 2014 the couple testified that $150,000. was paid for an ice machine in three sacks containing $50,000. each. 

Some in the fishing community are under the impression that Harbor Commissioner Jim Tucker may have a connection to Next Seafood/Global Quality Foods through one of his campaign donors.

Inquiring minds want to know if Commissioners Jim Tucker and Will Holsinger are counting on "sacks of cash" when a  deal on the Obispo lot in El Granada moves forward at their final board meeting on Dec. 3, 2014?

Debra Galarza's asinine Tort Claim

Read Finance Director Debra Galarza's Tort Claim filed against the Harbor District on Sept. 11, 2014. It appears Galarza will seek "an amount not yet ascertained."

We've learned that Jim Tucker was overheard bragging to Peter Grenell at Peet's Coffee on Burlingame Ave.  Allegedly Tucker said he instructed Galarza to file a Tort Claim against the Harbor District.

If true this might be good reason to censure Commissioner Tucker.  By encouraging what appears to be a frivolous lawsuit it looks more and more like Tucker is unwilling to put the best interest of the Harbor District ahead of his open hostility towards Commissioner Brennan. 

We wonder how much this will cost tax payers? 

 

Harbor District Meeting video—Dec. 4, 2013

 

The following comments are from the Half Moon Bay Review.

Mike McHenry's Letter published in the San Mateo County Times

Mike and Kim McHenry published this full page ad in the San Mateo County Times on Sunday, Oct. 26, 2014.

Please join with the McHenry family and vote for change.

Op-Ed by Captain Mike McHenry: Reform Our Troubled Harbor Commission

Mike McHenry Half Moon Bay Fisherman

I’ve been an active Half Moon Bay commercial fisherman for 56 years and a leaseholder at Pillar Point Harbor for over 30 years.
 
Grand Jury Report
 
After reading the July 2014 Grand Jury recommendation to dissolve the San Mateo County Harbor District, and the arrogant response by Harbor Commissioners, hopefully voters will begin to understand the difficulties commercial fishermen, leaseholders, live aboard tenants, and sports fishing interests are up against. 
 
DA Investigation & General Manager's Retirement
 
On Sept. 3, 2014 the District Attorney mailed a letter to the law firm representing the Harbor District. The letter is part of an inquiry into the California Maritime Infrastructure Bank & Authority and followed recent interviews with senior members of the Harbor Commission. At the Sept. 3rd Harbor District meeting Commissioner Jim Tucker said a DA investigator interviewed him regarding Harbor District general manager Peter Grenell's activities as president of the bank and chair of the authority. At the same meeting Peter Grenell announced his retirement from the Harbor District after serving 17.5 years as the general manager. Grenell's last day will be December 30, 2014.  
 
Cautious Optimism
 
A thorough executive search for a highly qualified General Manager has the potential to fix the Harbor District’s management problems. To ensure the best candidate is hired, we must elect new Harbor Commissioners.
 
Commission Out of Touch
 
In 2012 the Harbor Commission levied the highest fish unloading fees on the West Coast. The fees are passed onto fishermen and ultimately onto consumers. For the past several years I’ve attended countless Harbor District meetings to raise awareness regarding the harm these fees are having on small fishing businesses and the local economy. Commissioners Jim Tucker, Will Holsinger and Robert Bernardo stubbornly insist they are entitled to a percentage of the commercial fishing fleet's catch without the risks involved in going to sea. Commissioners are aware that the fees they’re imposing are inconsistent with market conditions at other commercial fishing ports. Commissioners should understand that requiring arbitrarily high fees for unloading fish at Pillar Point Harbor isn't a sustainable approach to generating revenue.
 
Fiscal Mismanagement
 
The Harbor District recently misplaced $40,000 in tenant checks for berthing, and $30,000 in fishing fees are missing. Over the past few years members of the public have asking numerous questions about accounting irregularities. When bank records were requested management made excuses and refused to provide useful information. When the missing fishing fees were brought to light, management slapped leaseholders with an audit handled by a consultant. The consultant was uninformed regarding which documents were needed to perform an audit and neglected to include a due date on requests.
 
Culture of Favoritism
 
At Pillar Point Harbor, three business owners lease three fish unloading stations. Oddly, preferential treatment was granted to the fish unloading business that came up $30,000 short paying fees in 2013. The Harbormaster approved installation of a new hoist outside the designated lease area. This windfall doubled the leaseholders' dock space yet their rent did not go up. Currently each leaseholder pays an equal amount in rent regardless of this new special arrangement for only one of the lease holders. Two of the three leaseholders were never offered a chance at expansion and the District’s Harbormaster was in such a rush get the new hoist installed that he completely forgot to apply for permits from the Coastal Commission and the County Planning Department.
 
Shredding & Videotaping
 
Recently we learned that Harbor management has a bad habit of shredding documents. The District’s own document retention policy requires that many of these documents be retained. Last year Commissioner Jim Tucker argued that public access television broadcasts of board meetings was like a “fungus.” In response to Tucker’s groundless concerns the board majority voted to discontinue meeting videos.
 
Poor Performance
 
Complaints from tenants and fishermen have grown over the past few years, and in response the board majority has taken steps to stifle public comment and move it to the end of four-hour meetings. The General Manager and the board president intentionally schedule agenda items relevant to Pillar Point Harbor's commercial fishing fleet for meetings held in South San Francisco, and they intentionally stack agendas for Half Moon Bay meetings with items relevant to Oyster Point Marina. At every opportunity, t
hey block the public’s ability to participate. A few weeks ago Commissioners rewarded poor performance by voting 4-1 to give the General Manager a raise and a contract extension. Now we learn he’s retiring under the dark cloud of the Grand Jury Report and a DA investigation.
 
November 2014 Election
 
Incumbent candidate Jim Tucker has a new campaign website that lists his endorsements. I was surprised and disappointed to see who’s on his list of supporters. I wonder whether those endorsements were made prior to the June 2014 publication of the Grand Jury report.
 
Vote only for Nicole David (4 year seat) and Tom Mattusch (2 year seat) and reform our troubled Harbor Commission.
 
Please contact me with any questions 650-703-5498.

-Mike
 
Michael D. McHenry
Merva W (60-foot fishing vessel built in 1971)
Half Moon Bay Seafood Marketing Association
Leaseholder, Pillar Point Harbor
Berth Holder, Pillar Point Harbor
New York Times: Swim to Sea? These Salmon Are Catching a Lift

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