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chronic water pollution, dangerous working conditions on Johnson Pier, unsafe docks, inadequate public restrooms, outdated visitor serving facilities, poor wifi connectivity and compromised trail access.

Filtering by Tag: Destruction of Records

"Destruction of Records" letter from Harvey Rarback

Jan. 20, 2014

Re: SMCHD Record Destruction

President Bernardo,

I'm a Director of the Coastside Fire Protection District, but I am writing to you as a private citizen.

I am very concerned about the imminent destruction of some Harbor District documents and records.  I was unable to attend the January 15 meeting where the item was on the agenda, but thanks to the private group CitizenAccess.TV I was able to see a video of the meeting.  As I have mentioned in public comment, the decision of the HD to stop the video taping of your meetings was another step in reducing the transparency of your agency and causing the public to wonder what you have to hide.  The public needs to trust in the integrity and transparency of its agencies.  An expensive and divisive recall election was the result of the public's lack of trust in the Fire Protection District.

The decision to destroy some of your records is suspicious, especially in light of the ongoing Civil Grand Jury investigation and the large number of outstanding PRA requests.  I urge you to refrain from destroying any non-duplicated records or documents until the Grand Jury issues its reports and the PRA requests are fulfilled.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. 

______________________________________________________________
Harvey Rarback
Half Moon Bay

"Always tell the truth that way you don't have to keep track."  -Pogo

"Destruction of Records" letter from Dr. Mary Larenas

San Mateo County board of Harbor Commissioners

January 15, 2014

RE: Item 6 of the 01-15-2014 Harbor District Board meeting - Records Management: Destruction of Records

Dear President Bernardo, Harbor Commissioners, Board of Supervisors, members of the public and other elected officials,

I respectfully request that the following email content be read into the public record.

I am Dr. Mary Larenas and unfortunately, as a working professional, I will not be able to attend the Harbor Commission meeting tonight in South San Francisco. Therefore I would like to use this correspondence as a means to express my deep concerns with a pattern of behavior by certain Harbor Commissioners and staff.

Throughout 2013, there has been a progressive attempt to limit and restrict public comment, curtail the efforts of certain Harbor Commissioners who attempt reform, access to Harbor Commission meetings and information about the inner workings of the harbor management. To date there have been motions adopted by particular Harbor Commissioners and staff which curtail public comment, restrict Commissioner questions and actions, end video recordings of meetings (critical to those of us who cannot attend all of the meetings), hide financial records, and now an attempt to destroy records (Item 6) that may shed light on harbor activities. One only needs to review past videos of meetings to view the progress of these behaviors and restrictive actions - unless these are among the records to be destroyed.

These actions to limit, curtail, restrict, hide, serve to only deepen my concern with the direction the Harbor Commission and harbor staff is heading, which is towards a total lack of transparency.

Therefore I am asking that Item 6, on the 01-15-2014 Harbor District (HD) Agenda; Destruction of Records be pulled and no action taken on this matter until further investigation.

Respectfully submitted,

Dr. Mary Larenas

Moss Beach, CA

Email Response from Robert Bernardo to Dr. Mary Larenas 1-15-14:

Dear Dr. Larenas,

On behalf of the San Mateo County Harbor District, thank you for your email and for sharing your concerns. 

This serves as an acknowledgement that I have received your message and intend to read your letter at tonight's meeting for the public record.

Please note that with regards to agenda item #6 related to records disposal, Harbor staff have reviewed each of the file boxes again have found that two items are in fact, duplicates.  They are copies of originals, so they may be disposed of.  The original items remain in the District’s archives for permanent retention.  One other item has been removed from the list for disposal. All other items on the list remain eligible for disposal.

Thank you, 

Robert Bernardo

President

San Mateo County Harbor Commission

Tel. 650-794-1810

"Destruction of Records" letter from George Muteff

January 14, 2014

SMC Harbor District
Attn: Harbor Commission President Bernardo (sent via email)

RE: Item 6 of the 01-15-2014 Harbor District Board meeting - Records Management: Destruction of Records

Dear President Bernardo (et all),

I am writing this to express my deep concern with recent actions taken by the Harbor Board (Board) over the course of the last year, culminating (so far) with this, Item 6, on the 01-15-2014 Harbor District (HD) Agenda; Destruction of Records.

As much as Iʼd like to attend and present the Board with my concerns personally, I will unfortunately not be able to attend, hence this communication. It is my hope that you and your fellow Commissioners heed the request that myself and others are proposing; please pull Item 6 from this Agenda - please do not take action on this matter at this time. Following is the background and supporting data to justify removing Item 6 from the 01-15-14 Agenda at this time.

You may remember me from my comments suggesting that the vacated HB seat (due to death) should go to the voters as opposed to being appointed by the Board (Comfort Inn meeting). You may also remember that my argument, to place the seat on the ballot at the earliest convenient time was based on the fact that the vacated term was as close to the full term as it could have been (almost the full 4 years) and that the Board should be made up of elected officials as opposed to appointed (by the Board). Your predecessor, Mr Tucker was Board President at the time.

Over the recent months the HD has set several disturbing Policies that have gotten the attention of the electorate (and others). Taken singularly, each one is cause for concern; but collectively, they certainly appear very damning. With your permission, Iʼll be blunt in my recantation, from my perspective: First, pitch a fit about a Board member asking questions and shut that down / next, curtail public input / next, curtail member input / next, cease all video recordings of the Agency meetings / next, move to Action Minutes (veiling Item discussion) - and now, for the cherry on the cake, destroy Agency records. Certainly you can clearly see cause for concern from those your Board serves. It is abundantly clear to the public that the Board is circling the wagons against its constituents. It should be equally obvious to this Board that this Boardʼs actions have created a breach of trust with your constituents. The more than obvious question is - Why? What is it that this Board is working so feverishly to hide &/or protect?

When one further considers the recent questionable financial discoveries, the benefits package Board members enjoy, and the rancor both with the public and between your own Commissioners, one can clearly understand the the erosion of faith by the electorate and that the HB has some major issues that need to be dealt with.

I am and always have been an advocate for transparency, thereby creating a genuine partnership between governing boards and their constituents. Transparency is a lot more than a word found under T in Websterʼs. It is a mindset, a core value, a necessity in good governance for achieving the best results for all. Every governing board for every district should work with those they represent, not at odds with them and most certainly not in a vacuum. It is the public, after all, whose funding pays for every stitch of everything the governing boards claim and use. If nothing else, transparency should be a good example of governing boards respecting the public that funded their district and elected the members. Honesty is the key - both between the public and its elected and between the elected and the public.

I am requesting that Item 6 be pulled from the 01-15-14 meeting Agenda. Further, and I realize how critical document management can be, this Item should be publicly vetted at both HD meeting locations, casting the net as broadly as possible to collect all the public input possible Before action is taken on this matter. I would tag it as ʻdue diligenceʼ on the part of the District.

Please understand; I am grateful for the concept, efforts and intent of most governing boards, even in disagreement; but when public perception of bad practices by their board(s) coupled with the specific actions of this HD (described above) are combined, as they are here, it would be my suggestion that fixing that set of issues takes precedent over all HD business, as opposed to furthering the hole you seem to find yourselves in.

How can a Board be effective in doing their charge when they are too busy circling their wagons and dealing with damage control?

As you will note, I am ccʼing your peers, all SMC Board of Supervisors and our local press. It has been my experience that folks seem to be more careful when others are looking over their shoulder. I am truly sorry it has come to this and wish you all only the best, but I am doing here what I feel is the right thing to do and what I feel I have to do.

It is my fervent hope that you and your peers take the same posture. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Respectfully submitted,

George Muteff
Half Moon Bay

Copy:

Harbor Board Commissioners;

  • Robert Bernardo - smcharborcommissioner@yahoo.com
  • William Holsinger - william.holsinger@me.com 
  • Jim Tucker - jamestucker17@comcast.net
  • Pietro Parravano - fish3ifr@mindspring.com
  • Sabrina Brennan - Sabrina@DFM.com

San Mateo Board of Supervisors members;

  • President of the SMC BOS Dave Pine - dpine@smcgov.org
  • Don Horsley - dhorsley@smcgov.org
  • Warren Slocum - wslocum@smcgov.org
  • Carole Groom - cgroom@smcgov.org
  • Adrienne Tissier - atissier@smcgov.org

Local news;

  • HMB Review reporter Mark Noack - mark@hmbreview.com
  • Christa Bigue, HMB Patch Editor - christa.bigue@patch.com

Email Response from Robert Bernardo to George Muteff 1-15-14:

Dear Mr. Muteff,

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

As you may know, it's 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 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. 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 one. 

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 always, thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and insights with the Harbor District. 

Warmest regards,

Robert Bernardo, President

San Mateo County Harbor Commission

Tel. 650-794-1810

Email Response from George Muteff to Robert Bernardo 1-15-14:

Mr Bernardo,                                                                                                      

I appreciate your enthusiasm in response and the recognition that that response provides, however I am a bit struck by the content.

With all due respect, it appears that your response to my submission is a canned auto response that was provided without even reading what I wrote. Maybe, had you just stopped after the opening line it may have worked better, but once past that open, it is line after line after line of what appears to say “trust me” (which is no substitute for open dialog). Had you read my input, you would have seen that it is my opinion that your Board has violated my trust. Using phrases like “breach of trust” clearly indicates that  problem, yet you just gloss over it - as if you never saw it.

I am much more interested in the reading and understanding of what I wrote by those I wrote to then I am etiquette and posture. It is important, considering the gravity of the actions already taken by this Board, that you and your peers think this latest matter through before you act. Take your time, vet it as thoroughly as possible at both District meeting locations. Help us understand your perspective and let us help you understand ours; then, after listening to your constituents, take the action that serves best.

In reading your staff report on this Item, it appears to me that this rapid move on “Record Destruction” is all predicated on saving the District the need to purchase filing cabinets, thereby saving the District money. That is absolutely absurd and is another example of why the perception of the Harbor Board has such a black eye to the public.

If I may, I’d like to make a suggestion; please take the time to read what is sent to you by your constituents. Try your best to understand the points made and the reason behind it - or better stated, the perception of you and the Board by the author on the issues raised. I believe that if you do that and truly consider what you are reading, your opportunity to do a better job will grow exponentially, which will only benefit us all. 

Thank you for your time and service. It is my hope that you not only take pride in your work, but that you hold the integrity of your Board to the highest standard for the benefit of those you serve and yourself. After all, your name is on the line.

With that in mind, I hope that you understand that my comments here should not be viewed as disrespectful (they are not meant that way), but rather as constructive criticism in an effort to help you and your peers do a better job. That requires listening and communicating in earnest and honesty on each and every issue faced.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Respectfully submitted, 

George Muteff

Email Response from Robert Bernardo to George Muteff 1-15-14:

Dear Mr. Muteff,

My sincere apologies if I have offended you in any way. It was not my intention. My goal was to provide the same background information that I provided another community member who asked a very similar question. 

With regards to agenda item #6 related to records disposal, Harbor staff have reviewed each of the file boxes again and I have learned that the items slated for disposal in Box #26 are in fact,  "duplicate" documents. In other words, the original documents will be preserved in perpetuity. These documents include items such as Board resolutions, agendas, minutes, and leases.

Please rest assure that the Commission will no doubt have an in-depth discussion tonight regarding these policy decisions where we will address issues of transparency, best practices and protocols.

I hope this answers your question. 

Thank you,

Robert Bernardo

 

"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.

Sincerely,

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.

Sincerely,

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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