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chronic water pollution, dangerous working conditions on Johnson Pier, unsafe docks, inadequate public restrooms, outdated visitor serving facilities, poor wifi connectivity and compromised trail access.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

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.

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.


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

"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


San Mateo County Harbor Commission

Tel. 650-794-1810

"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

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.” 

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