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chronic water pollution, dangerous working conditions on Johnson Pier, unsafe docks, inadequate public restrooms, outdated visitor serving facilities, poor wifi connectivity and compromised trail access.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

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!

Pietro Parravano kisses junior staffer

Why is Pietro Parravano kissing a junior staffer at a Harbor Commission meeting?  

The kiss violates the District's Harassment and Retaliation Policy 6.2.5.  

Section B:  

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.

Section D:

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.  

YouTube VIDEO of the Kiss:

Three Captains Lawsuit Nonsense

 John Dooley

 John Dooley

John Dooley and Larry Fortado are suing the San Mateo County Harbor District after Fortado's fish buying business was ordered to relocate a controversial hoist.  John Dooley is paying Fortado's legal fees because Dooley stands to profit from the hoist.

Larry Fortado, owner of Three Captains Sea Products, filed the lawsuit in San Mateo County Superior Court on Tuesday, June 4, 2015 alleging loss of income because he was denied use of a hoist he installed to offload fish from boats at Pillar Point Harbor.

 John Dooley

Larry Fortado and his not so silent business partner John Dooley are mad as a hornets nest because a group of fishermen turned them in for neglecting to apply for a Coastal Development Permit for the hoist. 

After Coastal Commission staff met with fishermen a permit waiver was pulled off a 2014 Coastal Commission meeting agenda and a full permit was required. Three Captains neglected to provide the Coastal Commission with a complete permit application before or after the hoist was installed.

In 2015 the Harbor Commission passed a resolution that denied renewal of a one year probationary hoist agreement.

Larry Fortado and John Dooley swore to get even and filed a meritless lawsuit.  

Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission vs. Three Captains' Sea Products

Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission (PSMFC) filed a complaint against Three Captains' Sea Products on Feb. 10, 2010 in San Mateo County Superior Court. 

The claim for relief included $120,097.27 in damages.

PSMFC made an administrative error in 2008 and 2009 while issuing checks for the California Salmon Disaster Relief Programs. PSMFC inadvertently double paid Larry Fortado, owner of Three Captains' Sea Products.  The total amount of the overpayment was $120,097.27. 

PSMFC and their attorneys sent Larry Fortado letters seeking reimbursement on July 31, 2009, Sept. 30, 2009, November 18, 2009 and Dec. 29, 2009.

After a jury trial was demanded Larry Fortado paid back the federal disaster relief money he owed PSMFC. 

Read the Complaint — Case No. 491958  

"Cash is Cash," said Realtor Jan Gray

Is the Harbor District considering selling property to a company with links to organized crime?

When Peter Nguyen and Kara Chau were told to vacate Pier 45 in San Francisco it was because their company Next Seafood owed $143,172.20 in back rent and $77,881.25 in attorney fees to the Port of San Francisco. The seafood wholesalers continued their business under a new company name, Global Quality Foods located in Hayward.

Harbor District realtor Jan Gray confirmed that she recived a cash offer from Global Quality Foods for a 2.5-acre property in El Granada known as the the Obispo lot next to the Post Office.  An article published in the  Half Moon Bay Review on Nov. 20, 2014 said the following:

The company indicated it could pay for the land in cash without the need for loans. The company later sent proof of funds, Jan Gray said.

“Cash is cash, and they’ve proven they have the cash,” Gray said.

Jim Tucker harbor commissioner money laundering scheme.jpg

The Harbor District has owned the land since the 1950s, when it was donated to the District by two women in memory of their fishermen husbands. News of the offer has commercial seafood business owners and commercial fishermen concerned that Harbor Commissioners might enable a money laundering scheme if an offer that included ill-gotten gains was accepted. 

It's been alleged that Dzunt (Peter) Nguyen and Kara Chau have been involved with racketeering and corruption. In 2014 the couple testified that $150,000. was paid for an ice machine in three sacks containing $50,000. each. 

Some in the fishing community are under the impression that Harbor Commissioner Jim Tucker may have a connection to Next Seafood/Global Quality Foods through one of his campaign donors.

Inquiring minds want to know if Commissioners Jim Tucker and Will Holsinger are counting on "sacks of cash" when a  deal on the Obispo lot in El Granada moves forward at their final board meeting on Dec. 3, 2014?

Make your voice heard: Thursday, July 10 at 6:30pm Oceano Hotel


Lisa Wise Consulting is facilitating the Pillar Point Harbor planning workshop.


  • Thursday, July 10th - 6:30pm 
  • Oceano Hotel, Princeton by-the-sea
  • Thursday, July 10, 2014 - 6:30pm

Political Payback at Pillar Point Harbor

Commercial fishermen at Pillar Point Harbor believe a new hoist location at Pillar Point Harbor/Johnson Pier is a quid pro quo gift from Harbor District General Manager Peter Grenell that favors one commercial fish buying company.

"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


Harbor Board Commissioners;

  • Robert Bernardo -
  • William Holsinger - 
  • Jim Tucker -
  • Pietro Parravano -
  • Sabrina Brennan -

San Mateo Board of Supervisors members;

  • President of the SMC BOS Dave Pine -
  • Don Horsley -
  • Warren Slocum -
  • Carole Groom -
  • Adrienne Tissier -

Local news;

  • HMB Review reporter Mark Noack -
  • Christa Bigue, HMB Patch Editor -

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


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