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chronic water pollution, dangerous working conditions on Johnson Pier, unsafe docks, inadequate public restrooms, outdated visitor serving facilities, poor wifi connectivity and compromised trail access.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

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!

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. 

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.

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

Scott Grindy's creepy video surveillance of hillside residences

El Granada residents should beware of inappropriate use of "Homeland Security" video surveillance by Harbormaster Scott Grindy.

Everett port ends golf ball surveillance

Friday, May 22, 2009 at 3:41pm

EVERETT, Wash. —

When golf balls began pelting the Port of Everett's shipping terminal, security officers trained their anti-terrorism cameras on the nearby hillside neighbors, hoping to catch the mystery duffers.

But after residents complained of being spied on, port officials turned the surveillance cameras around. Nevertheless, the barrage of balls has ended.

Scott-Grindy-Harbormaster-Harbor-Master-Port-District-San-Mateo-County-Camera

"In hindsight, we realize the golf balls are a public safety issue, not a threat to the terminals in terms of somebody breaking in," port security director Scott Grindy told The Herald of Everett. "Aiming at the hillside probably wasn't an appropriate use."

Police reports were filed and the video cameras were trained on Rucker Hill after dozens of golf balls landed on the port property in recent weeks, which Grindy said endangered workers and equipment.

The cameras, obtained with some of the more than $2.3 million in federal Homeland Security money for the port, never spotted any balls being hit, and the effort will not be resumed, Grindy told The Associated Press on Friday.

"We've decided to keep our cameras on our perimeter and security fence," he said.

Residents who learned about the surveillance from an article published by The Herald newspaper on May 16 were upset they were being watched.

"If they have the ability to tape my house, there should be a written policy to determine who can see these tapes and how they are used," Dave Miller, whose bedroom window faces the port, told the Everett paper.

Charlene Rawson, chairwoman of the Port Gardner Neighborhood Association, which includes Rucker Hill and the port's terminals, arranged a meeting with port Executive Director John Mohr.

"We had a nice conversation about it," said Rawson, who initially said she believed the port's actions violated people's privacy. "The port said they don't have the cameras pointed at any particular house."

There's no way for the public to determine exactly what the cameras recorded. Port officials said they cannot share video footage because of Homeland Security rules, not can they disclose the location of cameras or answer whether they can pan or zoom.

Grindy said port officials are now working on a surveillance policy.

The only reported damage from the wayward balls was a broken window in a vacant pickup truck two weeks ago. But Grindy said near misses were reported by crews on Amtrak passenger trains, Sounder commuter rail and Burlington Northern Santa Fe freight trains.

Golfers apparently were practicing at the top of the hill in an area where the port terminals, railroad tracks and a public footpath cannot be seen, he said.

"I think the whole issue is that an avid golfer is not realizing that there's all this stuff below," he said.

Grand Jury gives Harbor Commission a shellacking

The Civil Grand Jury ripped into the San Mateo County Harbor Commission in a new report titled, "What is the Price of Dysfunction?" The report was released to the public on July 9, 2014.

The report says, "It is impossible for the Grand Jury to ignore the negative public comments that the District’s general manager frequently receives. He is most often the public face of the Harbor District. However, it should be noted that the general manager serves at the pleasure of the Harbor Commission with whom final oversight resides."

Will Holsinger Bullies Women

Commissioner Holsinger's 2014 campaign website neglects to mention that he bullies women. 

Will Holsinger:  Twice Appointed, Never Elected

The board of Harbor Commissioners appointed Will Holsinger twice, once in 2012 following the death of Commissioner Sally Campbell, and a second time in 2013 following the death of Commissioner Leo Padreddii.

Appointed in 2012 & 2013

Two Time Loser

Will Holsinger lost two Harbor District elections, the first was Nov. 2, 2004 and the second was Nov. 6, 2012.

2004 Election Results

2012 Election Results

Jean Savaree severs ties with Harbor Commissioner Will Holsinger

Click this image to watch the video.

Click this image to watch the video.

In June 2014, Jean B. Savaree, attorney with Aaronson, Dickerson, Cohn & Lanzone, ended a 25 year engagement with the San Mateo County Harbor District.

In March 2014, Jean Savaree informed the board of Harbor Commissioners that her firm would not renew its contract with the District. The announcement followed a heated meeting where Commissioner Will Holsinger accused Savaree of "poor legal scholarship" and disagreed with her findings. Read about the "research" Will Holsinger disagreed with and his repeated harassment of the only woman member of the Harbor Commission. 

Aaronson, Dickerson, Cohn & Lanzone first engaged to serve as Harbor District legal counsel with the appointment of Kenneth M. Dickerson in 1989, and he was succeeded by Marc L. Zafferano in 1998, and by Jean B. Savaree in 2011.

William-Holsinger-harbor-commissioner-bully-Jim-Tucker-Robert-Bernardo

We confront bullying and aggression head on.  Harbor Commissioner William Holsinger has crossed the line too many times.  The unacceptable bullying must stop now.

Pier Pressure

This cartoon from the Half Moon Bay Review pretty much sums it up.

   

   

Irate fisherman wait four hours to speak

At the May 21, 2014 Harbor District meeting Commercial Fisherman Steve Fitz waited 4 hours to speak to the board of Harbor Commissioners for 3 minutes.

At 10:00pm when President Robert Bernardo called Captain Fitz for public comment Commissioners Jim Tucker and Will Holsinger responded by ordering an immediate end to the meeting. This was after Captain Fitz waited 4 hours while the board dilly dallied in closed session for 3 hour, leaving only 1 hour to cover a 21 item agenda.

It was at the point that members of the public began yelling at the board to let Captain Fitz speak. Commissioner Brennan urged President Bernardo to extend the meeting by five minutes. Commissioner Tucker got out of his chair and was about to walk out when President Bernardo agreed to allow one last public speaker.  

Captain Fitz read aloud a letter to the US Department of Transportation from the Half Moon Bay Seafood Marketing Association. The letter requested the Harbor District be denied a federal Tiger Grant.

Highlights from the letter include a lack of faith in harbor management's ability to administer the federal grant appropriately and a vote of no confidence in the board of Harbor Commissioners.

Excerpt from the HMBSMA letter:

"We have made numerous attempts to participate in the public process with SMC Harbor District to no avail, therefore, due to the current climate within the SMCHD and because our lives depend on the changes made to our harbor, we cannot support the SMCHD Tiger Grant application at this time. We are simply not comfortable with public grant funds being provided for further changes to our port, that the local commercial fishing industry will not have a voice in."

Pillar Point Harbor comments on DJ Op-ed

Response to Daily Journal Op-ed

Dear John Mc Dowell,

Thanks for writing about a few of the problems with the San Mateo County Harbor District. 

We have a couple corrections for you. You said, "A former harbor commissioner received $18,348 in benefits, and she’s dead. Lifetime benefits for commissioners require payment to her son, who is on her health insurance policy until he is 26". Deceased Harbor Commissioner Sally Campbell's grandson (not her son) receives those benefits. Commissioner Campbell adopted her grandson so he would be eligible for generous benefits from the Harbor District. 

Also, in your editorial you did not make it clear that both Commissioner Will Holsinger and Commissioner Pietro Parravano are taking advantage of extravagant benefits offered by the Harbor District. Commissioner Jim Tucker takes a cash payout instead of the benefits. We assume the extra cash covers Commissioner Tucker's monthly Mercedes payments. 

Will Holsinger has been a candidate for the Harbor District twice and lost twice, he also applied for appointment twice and was appointed by the board majority twice. 

Problems with the Harbor District are deep and require replacing the board majority and hiring new management. Commissioner Robert Bernardo, Port of Oakland PR manager/public employee does his best to put a smily face on the Harbor Districts problems. Unfortunately he's in over his head. Commissioner Sabrina Brennan, small business owner/community advocate may be tough as nails but she's outgunned by Commissioner Tucker, Commissioner Holsinger, Commissioner Parravano and management.

We hope the County Board of Supervisors and other elected reps will think carefully about endorsements for Harbor District this Nov. This election will be the first time in two decades that real change is possible for the hardworking men and women who risk their lives making a living fishing off the coast of San Mateo County. The commercial fishing families of Pillar Point Harbor want and need change. 

We hope voters will take action this November and vote out the incumbents.

Pillar Point Harbor, San Mateo County

December 5, 2013

Half Moon Bay Review

Harbor Commission majority must be voted out

Harbor officials have failed to correct sewage contamination problems for a year or more. Their accounting practices are unacceptable for a variety of reasons, including their inability to bill correctly or collect monies due. They have not properly considered a move to substantially less expensive office space.

November 21, 2013

Half Moon Bay Review

Digital divide evident at harbor meetings: Local governments struggle to adopt new technology

“I’m concerned by the level of scholarship by our legal counsel,” said Will Holsinger, himself a practicing attorney. “By maintaining these links, the district is tacitly approving the information to which the individual is being directed.” 

Will Holsinger—twice appointed, never elected

Will Holsinger is nothing more or less than a hand picked puppet of an entrenched board of harbor commissioners.

This is a guy that was appointed by the existing Board members (not voted in) initially to fill a vacancy on the Board. When the seat opened up for election, he ran and was severely beaten. But that didn't stop it from happening again.

Will Holsinger:  Twice Appointed, Never Elected

The board of Harbor Commissioners appointed Will Holsinger twice, once in 2012 following the death of Commissioner Sally Campbell, and a second time in 2013 following the death of Commissioner Leo Padreddii.

Appointed in 2012 & 2013

Two Time Loser

Will Holsinger lost two Harbor District elections, the first was Nov. 2, 2004 and the second was Nov. 6, 2012.

2004 Election Results

2012 Election Results




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