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chronic water pollution, dangerous working conditions on Johnson Pier, unsafe docks, inadequate public restrooms, outdated visitor serving facilities, poor wifi connectivity and compromised trail access.

"Destruction of Records" letter from Bill Kehoe

January 13, 2014

President Bernardo and Commissioners

San Mateo County Harbor Commission

Re: January 15, 2014 Consent Agenda Item 6 Records Destruction

Dear President Bernardo and Commissioners:

I respectfully request that you remove Item 6 from the Consent Agenda and put on HOLD any records destruction until such time that the public’s questions on the SMC Harbor District’s financial irregularities have been answered by an independent audit.

Also, there seems to be a conflict with some of your listed records for destruction and your Resolution 19-96 Retention Schedule which states retention for Checks – 10 years, Minutes – Permanent, Resolutions – Permanent, etc. I would like to know who is responsible for this oversight.

I am concerned that the recent trend of the Harbor District to limit the public’s access to information by first removing the video broadcasts of their meetings, then moving to Action Minutes (which hides the discussion of an item) and now the destruction of records give me the impression that the District is trying to hide something. This is not good for the Harbor District or any other elected government body because it leads to the mistrust of our elected officials.

I urge the Commissioners take a more cautious approach with the district’s records until the public’s need to know has been satisfied. I would also suggest, for historical reasons, that all documents be digitized for future research and investigations and retained indefinitely.

Thank you for your public service.


Bill Kehoe - Moss Beach

Email Response from Robert Bernardo to Bill Kehoe 1-14-14:

Dear Mr. Kehoe,

On behalf of the San Mateo County Harbor Commission, thank you for writing and sharing your concerns regarding Consent Agenda Item #6 related to the Harbor District's records management and disposal policy.

As you may know, it is a common practice for most government agencies to have a records management and disposal policy. The Harbor District's policy comes from a Board resolution adopted back in July 17, 1996 (Resolution #01-14) which provides a formal procedure for proper records disposal. 

Records disposal is a fairly routine activity, and the Harbor District reviews its documents about every couple of years, with the most recent being in 2007 and 2010. The ultimate goal of this policy is to dispose of records which are no longer useful in conducting the District's day-to-day business. Basically, we contract with a professional shredding company to handle proper disposal. 

Per our policy, some documents that are never destroyed include: Board minutes, Board agendas and personnel files. The California Government Code (Sec. 34090) requires that all public records be retained for 2 years. We are in compliance with legal mandates such as this. 

At tomorrow's (1/15) meeting, the Board will review and consider the list of items slated for disposal. Those specific items are listed in the Board packet (also available on the District's Web site) for members of the public to review as well. 

I hope this better explains our policy and the need to dispose of documents periodically. As an agency that has been around for 80+ years, policies such as this help keep the harbor business moving more efficiently to better benefit the public that we serve.

As always, thank you for sharing your insights and ideas with us. 

Warmest regards,

Robert Bernardo, President

San Mateo County Harbor Commission

Tel. 650-794-1810

Email Response from Bill Kehoe to Robert Bernardo 1-14-14:

Commissioner Bernardo,

Thank you for taking the time to respond to my comments, however, referring me to your two documents, Items for Disposal (Exhibit A - Records for Destruction) and Resolution 19-96 (you erroneously  referred to Resolution 01-14 which is on this Consent Agenda) , was not needed since I already read them and cited both in my comments. 

Instead of telling me something I obviously already know, it would have been better to address my direct question about the three discrepancies I pointed out between the documents. And to be clear, I stopped looking after I found the three, there maybe more, but you need to direct your staff to explain this.

Let me list them again:

  • Box #22 May 2007 - August 2007 Checks 
    • Resolution 19-96 Schedule states "Canceled Checks Retention 10 years"
  • Box #26 1984 Resolutions
    •  Resolution 19-96 Schedule states "Resolutions Retention Permanent"
  • Box #26 1984 Agendas and Minutes
    •  Resolution 19-96 Schedule states "Agendas and Minutes Retention Permanent"

It seems to me that you are violating your own Policy and Procedures 2.1.4 adopted by Resolution 19-96 on July 17, 1996.

Again, this Item 6 should not be on the Consent Agenda for Jan 15, 2014  and should probably be delayed until after the SMC Grand Jury gives it report on its ongoing investigation. You are risking the integrity of the Harbor Commission in the public's eye.

Sorry for having to be so blunt but your email completely ignored the comments I took my own time to look into and I found it unacceptable.


Bill Kehoe - Moss Beach

PS. I removed the other elected officials on this as they do not need to be drawn into this level of conversation but I did cc their aides as an FYI.

Email Response from Robert Bernardo to Bill Kehoe 1-15-14:

Dear Mr. Kehoe,

To answer your question about the three file boxes listed below, I have just directed Harbor staff to double-check every box meticulously tomorrow morning to ensure that there are no discrepancies with our district policy regarding records retention/disposal. 

If there are in fact, instances of potential violation of our records management policy--staff will alert the Harbor Commission at tomorrow evening's meeting during the agenda report. That way, we may pull these specific items off the list. 

I hope this is helpful. Thank you. 

Warmest regards,
Robert Bernardo

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