Pietro Parravano

The Tale of the Missing Harbor Servers

This is a first draft. For the final report click here.

Less than one month after being sworn-in commissioner Mattusch inquired about two handwritten checks listed in the Feb. 4 meeting packet. IT/HR director Marietta Harris explained that the checks totaling $19,075 were for new “routers” (firewalls).

I requested follow up information because the board had not approved the purchase. Marietta emailed two requisition forms on Feb. 10. Palo Alto Networks firewalls, software, and support subscriptions were split on the requisition forms to avoid the spending limit. Acting general manager Scott Grindy and Marietta's signatures were on both. 

I also noticed that the forms listed three servers however the words "server" were scribbled out and replaced with the handwritten word “firewall.” This piqued my curiosity so I asked why servers had originally been typed on the forms. I was told it was a typo and that we had previously purchased servers from the same vendor.

I requested the firewall invoice and Marietta emailed, “We paid from the quote because we were all in the office discussing what we needed and the quote and in order to get the discount we wanted to act fast.” It occurred to me that the staff might have asked the IT vendor to split the project on two quotes to avoid the required board authorization on purchases above $15,000.

Two weeks after commissioner Mattusch's question about the $19,075 payment Marietta surprised the board by announcing she was resigning at the Feb. 18, 2015 meeting.

Cause for Concern

On March 30, 2015, I phoned Scott Grindy and expressed concern about a meeting held while he was away. I had observed finance director Debra Galarza sharing a draft staff report with a vendor. I was concerned because the vendor had not yet submitted an estimate to the District and the draft included a $47,000 purchase request

I asked Scott if he thought tempting a service provider with an inflated budget number in advance of receiving an estimate was prudent. Scott said, “It’s not unusual.”

On May 11, 2015, I followed up with an email to district counsel, interim General Manager Glenn Lazof and commissioner Mattusch. My email said:

On Monday, March 23, 2015, Debra Galarza emailed me and requested a meeting at the 504 Avenue Alhambra building in El Granada. She needed access to the new office space so she could meet with the Well Connected Office (IT vendor) while they performed a site visit in advance of providing the District with an estimate. At the time Debra was acting as General Manager while Scott was away at the Port Captains Conference.
I emailed Randy Kinghorn (the District’s realtor) and asked him to open the building.  Randy, Steve Almes, Steve’s employee, Debra and I met at the District’s new headquarters. Steve and his employee checked phone jacks and server rooms, Randy and I looked at the public meeting room related to a new wall that would be installed by the building owner as part of the lease agreement.
Randy left and I waited in the conference room for Steve and Debra to finish. I was writing email on my cell phone when they joined me.  Steve and his employee discussed some of the IT possibilities, overall Steve said the building would not require much work because it was set up well from an IT perspective.
Debra handed Steve a draft staff report for the upcoming April 1st meeting and asked Steve if everything looked okay. I asked if I could take a look at the draft. I noticed that $47,000 was recommended for IT services related to moving the District’s headquarters from South San Francisco to El Granada.

Servergate

At the April 1, 2015, board meeting I opposed a motion by commissioner David to hire the Well Connected Office for IT related moving costs. A few days later I learned that the District was not in possession of servers purchased in 2012 from the Well Connected Office. I alerted counsel about the missing servers.

On April 5, 2015, Steve Almes owner of the Well Connected Office informed Scott Grindy that he no longer wished to work for the District.

By reading past agendas and board packets I was able to confirm that the Board approved spending up to $40,000 on IT equipment on May, 16, 2012. John Ullom confirmed via PRA request that the District paid the IT contractor $34,689.31 for servers (check #040875) on May 31, 2012.

On May 18, 2015, deputy secretary Debbie Nixon provided a formal response letter to a PRA requests I made in March and April. The letter stated, “Yes, the equipment was delivered to the District. We assume the equipment was installed.” This was odd because the servers had still not been located. At the time I wondered if they might have been recycled or stolen. I did not respond to Debbie’s email and I later learned the custom servers were never actually built or delivered.

The next day on May 19th, Glenn Lazof sent a memo to District staff that said, “Effective immediately I am directing all staff and contractors to cease any professional contact with Commissioner Brennan, other than at Public Meetings, or as explicitly approved by me or an authorized designee.” On the same day Lazof also sent a bizarre memo to the board accusing me of harassing him during a phone conversation. I believe Lazof’s untrue allegations were intended to tarnish my credibility. And his memo to staff was intended to ostracize me and interfere with my ability to do my job by treating me differently than the other commissioners.

Bernardo Shoots the Messenger

Commissioner Bernardo was incensed by the suggestion that our management staff had paid for equipment that was missing and possibly never delivered. He was the board Treasurer in 2012 and it was his job to review and approve bills in advance of payment.

On May 26, 2015, commissioner Bernardo said that I should be removed as board president because I made false allegations against our IT consultant. Bernardo also said, “There is no fraud, there is no theft, no criminality whatsoever.” And he went one step further to suggest that my concerns could have resulted in a lawsuit against the District.

Two Refunds

On August 8, 2015, the Harbor District received a long overdue $34,689.31 refund for servers that were paid for in 2012 but never delivered.

At the Sept. 2, 2015 Harbor District meeting Marcia Schnapp, a past finance director and current interim administrative manager confirmed that the District had received a refund for the firewalls ($19,075) less a 7% restocking fee. During the meeting I requested a copy of the refund check to verify the amount, hopefully I will receive it soon.

To-date the total refund for the firewalls and servers is $52,429.06.

The Sept. 2, 2015 staff report disclosed that IT vendor Steve Almes said that Marietta Harris told him to issue invoices for equipment he had not delivered. During the meeting Glenn Lazof said that staff had not been following the District’s purchasing policies and he detailed a number of accounting errors that were still being resolved. He said that multiple estimates should be requested for equipment and that consultants should be prohibited from purchasing equipment on behalf of the District except in an emergency.

Conclusion

Harbor District general manager Peter Grenell announced his retirement at the Sept. 4, 2014, board meeting. Grenell's last day was Dec. 31, 2014. He managed the district for 17 and a 1/2 years.

The District’s IT and human resources director Marietta Harris announced her resignation at the Feb. 18, 2015 board meeting.

I’m currently serving a four-year term as a Harbor Commissioner that ends in 2016. I resigned as board president at the May 26, 2015 board meeting. 

The District’s finance director Debra Galarza signed a six figure settlement agreement on Sept. 4, 2015, and resigned effective immediately. Galarza threatened but never actually filed a lawsuit against the Harbor District. She did however have a history of numerous complaints against the district that predate my time on the board. It's been alleged online that commissioner Jim Tucker told Galarza to file a tort claim against the district in 2014.  A contractor is currently filling in as finance director.

The District's deputy secretary Debbie Nixon's last day will be Sept. 25, 2015. A temporary employee has been trained to cover the position and will be filling in.

The District has a new IT vendor.

CA Maritime Infrastructure Bank/Authority


May 16, 2012

Travel Authorization for GM to attend CMIB/A So-Cal Seminar

Meeting Minutes,  Item 13  

Peter Grenell, Harbor District General Manager told the board of Harbor Commissioners that he is an "active member of the association, and part of the presentation at the seminar."  

Note: President and Chair of the CMIB/A would have been a more accurate description.

CMIB/A So-Cal Seminar travel arrangements made by Harbor District staff

CMIB/A Seminar reimbursements to Peter Grenell


May 24, 2012

Peter Grenell's memo to Commissioners

Note: This memo was not included in a board packet. It was obtained via a Aug. 26, 2014 Public Records Act request by Commissioner Brennan.

Peter-Grenell-Harbor-District-Memo-CMIB/A-Commissioner

Aug. 15, 2012

Harbor District $25 Million Bond Resolution No. 17-12

Harbor Commissioners approved issuing $25,000,000. in tax-exempt Bond obligations at the Aug. 15, 2012 board meeting held in South San Francisco. 

Aug. 15, 2012 SMCHD Board Packet Memo, Item 7

Aug. 15, 2012 SMCHD Meeting Minutes, Item 7

Public Comment by Sabrina Brennan, Aug. 15, 2012—before Brennan was elected:


Aug. 26, 2014

Commissioner Brennan's PRA Request

  1. By Laws of the CA Maritime Infrastructure Authority
  2. PRA Request Documents
  3. Joint Exercise of Powers Agreement Creating the CMIA
  4. PRA Request Documents
  5. PRA Request Documents
  6. PRA Request Documents
  7. PRA Request Documents
  8. PRA Request Documents * website & graphic design request
  9. PRA Request Documents
  10. PRA Request Documents
  11. PRA Request Documents
  12. PRA Request Documents
  13. PRA Request Documents
  14. PRA Request Documents *
  15. PRA Request Documents
  16. PRA Request Documents
  17. PRA Request Documents * Harbormaster interview committee email
  18. PRA Request Documents * Grenell's memo to Timi Vann, NOAA West Coordinator about PPH development plans
  19. Harbor and Navigations Code
  20. Weist Law Firm Inquiry Analysis and Proposal
  21. CMIA and Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District
  22. PRA Request Documents * Meeting Minutes: Jan. 11, 2012 & email from Genevieve Frederick
  23. Financing Port and Marina Infrastructure Powerpoint 2012
  24. PRA Request Documents
  25. PRA Request Documents
  26. PRA Request Documents * Meeting Minutes: June 27, 2012 & Dec. 14, 2011
  27. PRA Request Documents * David Hull's Consultant Agreement Dec. 19, 2012
  28. PRA Request Documents
  29. PRA Request Documents
  30. PRA Request Documents * CMIB/A San Francisco Seminar & Grenell's May 24, 2012 memo to Harbor Commissioners about the CMIB/A SF Seminar
  31. PRA Request Documents * Grenell's email to Charchenko about PPH building planned for Parking Lot B and Perched Beach project & Audit email: Sept. 21, 2012
  32. PRA Request Documents * Meeting Minutes: May 23, 2013, Oct. 3, 2013, Dec. 5, 2013, Jan. 9, 2014
  33. PRA Request Documents * Meeting Minutes: Nov. 17, 2011, March 9, 2009, Aug. 18, 2006, June, 19, 2000, April 28, 1999, May, 14, 1998, Aug. 21, 1997, Feb. 20, 1996, Dec. 18, 1996, Nov. 28, 1995
  34. PRA Request Documents
  35. PRA Request Documents
  36. PRA Request Documents
  37. PRA Request Documents * Meeting Minutes: Dec. 19, 2012
  38. PRA Request Documents
  39. PRA Request Documents * CA Gov Code Section 6500-6536 & emails
  40. PRA Request Documents
  41. PRA Request Documents
  42. PRA Request Documents

Why is a bank located at the Harbor District headquarters?

On June 24, 2014, I received an email with a link to a bank website. When I visited the site I noticed that the address of the bank matched the address at the Harbor District administrative office in South San Francisco. It's peculiar that Peter Grenell, Harbor District General Manager is the President and Chairman of a bank/authority operating from the Harbor District's office space.

Checkout the PDF presentation below, JPA, resolution, Half Moon Bay Review editorial, and screen shots from the banks website. I'm doing research to learn more…

California Maritime Infrastructure Bank/Authority presentation →

Joint Powers Agreement →

Resolution 04-00 (Why is the year not included on this resolution?) →

Half Moon Bay Review editorial by Clay Lambert, July 2, 2014

July 3, 2014 screen shots from the banks website:

Back when he was an active fisherman, Pietro Parravano requested dissolution of the Harbor District

In 1992, Pietro Parravano, President of the Half Moon Bay Fisherman's Marketing Association, mailed a letter to LAFCo requesting dissolution of the San Mateo County Harbor District.

In 1998 SMC Harbor Commissioner Don Shearer, who served with Pietro Parravano as Vice President of the HMB Fisherman's Marketing Association, pleaded guilty for embezzlement.  It was reported in the San Francisco Chronicle that President Parravano gave Don Shearer the stack of blank checks Shearer used for embezzling money from the HMB Fisherman's Marketing Association and the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations.

In 2012 Pietro Parravano's attempt at grant fraud from Bay Area Air Quality Management District was reported in the Half Moon Bay Review. A whistle-blower triggered an investigation by the Air Quality District and the $83,000. Carl Moyer Air Quality Grant from the state was rescinded.