LAFCo Chair and County Supervisor Don Horsley influenced LAFCo Executive Director Martha Poyatos to look for ways to dissolve the Harbor District.
On December 16, 2013 Horsley sent email to Poyatos that said:
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chronic water pollution, dangerous working conditions on Johnson Pier, unsafe docks, inadequate public restrooms, outdated visitor serving facilities, poor wifi connectivity and compromised trail access.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 Chair and County Supervisor Don Horsley influenced LAFCo Executive Director Martha Poyatos to look for ways to dissolve the Harbor District.
On December 16, 2013 Horsley sent email to Poyatos that said:
Based on the email exchange below; we're wondering about a cozy relationship between SMC LAFCo and the City of South San Francsico.
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!
The kiss violates the District's Harassment and Retaliation Policy 6.2.5.
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.
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.
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.
The following three firm were recommended by Peter Grenell and considered by the board of Harbor Commissioners:
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.
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.
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.
Did Peter Grenell force Jean Savaree out so he could hire his own attorney?
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?
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.
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.
Harbor Commissioners voted in open session to hire Steven Miller of Hanson Bridgett.
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?
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.
Will Holsinger paid Daly City Mayor David Canepa's company Clique Factory $5000 to generate a fake Twitter following, post attack tweets from multiple fake Twitter accounts and for Canepa's endorsment in the 2014 Harbor District election.
(Click the button and read Will Holsinger's Form 460.)
Aaron Kinney, Feb. 3, 2014
Clay Lambert, Editor, Sept. 26, 2013
Mark Noack, Oct. 31, 2013
Mark Nowack, Nov. 14, 2013
Clay Lambert, Editor, Aug. 21, 2013
Mark Noack, Jan. 23, 2014
Mark Nowack, Dec. 5, 2013
Dave Pine, President, SMC Board of Supervisors, July 10, 2014
Don Horsley, SMC Board Supervisor, July 10, 2014
Samantha Weigel, June 6, 2014
Samantha Weigel, May 29, 2014
Lee Engdahl, Aug. 12, 2013
Samantha Weigel, March 21, 2014
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.
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.
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.
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, they 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.
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
Half Moon Bay Review - Editorial by Clay Lambert
The San Mateo County Harbor Commission scheduled a meeting on Sept. 17, but three members — all currently candidates for re-election — had other priorities. Consequently, there was no quorum. Voters learned more about candidate priorities from their absence than they ever would have from their presence at the meeting that night.
Jim Tucker was attending services for a friend who died and says he told staff he couldn’t make it. That is certainly understandable.
Instead of attending the commission meeting on the evening of Sept. 17, Robert Bernardo was at the Oyster Point Yacht Club for a gathering that was ostensibly meant to “celebrate the anniversary of the McAteer-Petris Act,” credited with stopping the fill of the San Francisco Bay. The announcement of the event praises Bernardo at least as much as any worthwhile legislation and, whatever the intent, Bernardo acknowledges that he used it to raise money for his own campaign.
When questioned later, he said he had hoped to make both the meeting and the fundraiser, and he acknowledged that attending to the fundraiser — instead of the office he hopes to win with that money — was not his finest decision.
“I was trying to do too many things,” he said.
Will Holsinger said that personal commitments “took me out of the county that day.” That’s strange because he appears in a photo taken that night and posted on Daly City Councilman Ray Buenaventura’s Twitter account. In the photo, Holsinger seems to be having a whale of a time, yucking it up at Buenaventura’s campaign kickoff event instead of attending the Harbor Commission meeting.
Just down the street at the Municipal Services Building in South San Francisco, the commission was to have discussed the soon-to-be-vacant general manager’s position behind closed doors. Staff was prepared to present a special rate for visiting boaters at Oyster Point Marina. Ironically, the commission was going to discuss canceling meetings in December and January.
Forget duty, it would seem to be common courtesy for commissioners with other priorities to tell colleagues Pietro Parravano and Sabrina Brennan they needn’t make the trip from the coast to South San Francisco. Fortunately or unfortunately, you needn’t worry about the district’s contracted attorney, Steven Miller. He plans to submit an invoice for his time, compounding the waste of tax dollars that night. (Reached on Thursday, Miller declined to say how much he would bill the district.)
What are voters to make of candidates who value the money used to attain office more than the duties of the office itself? What is the message from sitting elected officials who don’t bother telling their colleagues, let alone the public, when they have other commitments on meeting nights? What are they saying when they rack up campaign dollars even as they waste yours on staff and consultants called to meetings that don’t take place?
You will decide in November.
It appears that Peter Grenell authorized the Harbor District web designer Georgia Wright to do work (web design and brochure design) for the California Maritime Infrastructure
Bank and Authority (CMIB/A). During the Aug. 6th board meeting Grenell stated that Ms. Wright's company Market Web Consulting had never invoiced CMIB/A or been paid by CMIB/A. He also said that Market Web Consulting had worked for the CMIB/A for about 8 or 9 years.
It appears that the San Mate County Harbor District may have been paying Market Web Consulting for CMIB/A work/billable hours. Peter Grenell may have authorized spending Harbor District funds on the CMIB/A website and marketing materials. Georgia Wright may have been told to bill the Harbor District for her time/work for the CMIB/A and told not to include the CMIB/A billable hours as a line item on Market Web Consulting invoices to the SMCHD. Its possible that Ms. Wright lumped her CMIB/A hours in with her Harbor District hours and invoiced the Harbor District for both.
It's unusual that Peter Grenell invited Brian Foss, CMIB/A Board Member and past President and David Hull, CMIB/A Executive Director to be on the Harbor District committee to interview candidates for the Harbormaster position.
At Aug. 6, 2014 Harbor District meeting Peter Grenell said that for about 9 years the Harbor District web design consulting firm Web Market Consulting had also been providing web design for the CMIB/A. Read the Web Market Consulting Invoice.
During the same meeting Commissioner Brennan asked Peter Grenell if Web Market Consulting was paid to design and update the CMIB/A website. Peter Grenell said, "Number one, they don't get paid, they've never invoiced for their services. So there's no money changing hands. Number two, It seemed a matter of convenience to have Web Market Consulting pickup the rather minimal website needs of CMIA, that's how that happened."
Commissioner Brennan asked if any SMC Harbor District staff, employees or consultants have engaged in any CMIB/A activities? Peter Grenell said, "No." 2:10:12
Commissioner Brennan asked if any SMC Harbor District employees of Harbor Commissioners have attended any CMIB/A events or meetings? 2:10:42
Peter Grenell said, "Harbormaster Scott Grindy attended the Northern California seminar, a one day thing in San Francisco."
By DAVID CHIRCOP - Saturday, May 16, 2009 at 9:40am
EVERETT, Wash. —
Golf balls are bombarding the Port of Everett and anti-terrorism cameras are being trained on a residential neighborhood to hunt down the source.
Port officials believe someone on Rucker Hill is whacking golf balls down the hill onto port property, endangering dozens of workers and millions of dollars worth of equipment and cargo.
"We're trying to use any means possible to stop it, aside from posting somebody in the field of fire all day and night," said Ed Madura, a port security official.
The port says the flying golf balls constitute a threat to personal safety. Pointing video surveillance cameras toward the likely source is an appropriate use of the equipment, port officials say.
In the eyes of at least one resident in the Rucker Hill neighborhood southwest of downtown, swiveling the cameras from the fence line to the neighborhood is an invasion of privacy.
"Hitting golf balls is a problem, but if they turn their cameras up on the neighborhood and spy on us, that's a bigger problem," said David Mascarenas, a neighborhood watchdog who has for years fought the port to improve the community's access to public land.
The cameras were paid for, along with fencing and other security equipment, with $2.3 million in grants from the Department of Homeland Security following the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
Before the attacks, the Everett port had open terminals and only minimal security. People who live in the surrounding neighborhoods often would walk down and drop crab pots off piers that are now blocked by tall cyclone fences topped with razor wire.
Golf balls have been raining on the port's Pacific Terminal for several months. However, a police report wasn't filed until this week when 18 golf balls over the span of two days were found near stacks of shipping containers. One ball even bounced into a piece of equipment waiting to be shipped to Alaska.
"It's been going on for a while, but it's been getting a lot worse the last couple of days," port spokeswoman Lisa Lefeber said.
Dock superintendent Bob Porter has been shagging balls from the Rucker Hill golfer for months. He keeps a box of them in his office near Pier 1.
"We have to put a stop to it," Porter said.
No injuries have been reported, although an errant golf ball is believed to have broken the driver's-side window of a longshoreman's pickup truck, which was parked in a secure area.
Lefeber said as many as 100 people may be working at the port on any given day. And while most activity happens during the day, people work at the port all hours.
John Nostrom lives near a grassy overlook on Warren Avenue. On two instances, in recent years, he has seen young men pull up to the spot, haul out their drivers, then tee off. The spot is a little more than 200 yards from the place where balls are being found.
"They don't hang out too long," he said.
A good golfer could drive a ball at speeds of up to 165 mph, said Rex Fullerton, general manager at Legion Memorial Golf Course in north Everett.
At that speed, golf balls can seriously injure someone.
"It's obviously a dangerous thing for somebody to just hit a golf ball into an area where it flies over people," Fullerton said. "Of course, we'd encourage them to hit golf balls at our golf course."
If someone is caught, any criminal charges that might be filed would depend on the circumstances, said Sgt. Robert Goetz with the Everett Police Department.
It isn't clear who is driving golf balls onto port land or why. Is it someone practicing their chip shot or a person with a chip on their shoulder?
Steve Ritchie, a dispatcher with The International Longshore and Warehouse Union, Local 32, said he wouldn't be surprised if it was all a malicious act by a disgruntled Rucker Hill resident.
The neighborhood, named for the prominent Rucker family, which built a hilltop mansion there in the early 1900s, boasts some of the city's best views of Port Gardner, the Olympic Mountains and Cascade Range.
There have long been tensions between the neighborhood and the port over noise from container ships that are sometimes unloaded in the middle of the night, glare from floodlights and exhaust from idling vessels.
"There's a lot of people out on Rucker Hill that want the longshoremen more or less shut down," Ritchie said.
Information from: The Herald
El Granada residents should beware of inappropriate use of "Homeland Security" video surveillance by Harbormaster Scott Grindy.
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.
"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.