VIDEO—Information requests blocked by the General Manager
Video Start Time: 2:22:00 — End: 2:30:05
Public record costs draw scorn at harbor: Commissioner argues staff ignores queries
Half Moon Bay Review - July 3, 2013
Asked by the Review, Brennan forwarded more than 80 email requests sent by her to harbor staff, seeking information on issues such as a harbor dredging project, a shoreline access report, a fee schedule for harbor tenants and other items. Saying she wanted all the information in order to do the job she was elected to do, she complained that her requests were routinely ignored by harbor administration. She said that filing formal public records requests with the district's attorney became her only alternative. She saved special criticism for district General Manager Peter Grenell, alleging he was deliberately withholding information and acting unprofessionally.
"When I ask for an item that comes before the board, and I ask the general manager, he doesn't respond and doesn't provide information,” she said.“I feel like I'm between a rock and a hard place.”
She also reminded her colleagues that she was saving the district money by not signing up for the harbor commission's provided health care.
Harbor commission cuts off colleague, tightens rules: Board approves limits on public complaints
Half Moon Bay Review - Aug. 15, 2013
Over the first six months of 2013 those record requests cost the district $50,000 in legal fees, according to Commissioner Will Holsinger, an attorney who was appointed to the board earlier this year. He indicated those costs were inappropriate, reading into the record how the state defines the misuse of public funds.
"I'm not prepared to say whether (Brennan's costs) were for the business of the district or whether they were for her personal interest,” he said. “I do know they were not authorized by the district.”
Brennan countered that her legal costs were being overstated. A June expense report found her 2013 requests resulted in 55.8 hours of legal time — the most of any commissioner — but at a cost closer to $10,000. She described herself as a scapegoat even though larger legal expenses had been accrued by redundant staff requests.
Holsinger admitted his figure was inaccurate, but he re-emphasized the legal protocols should be tightened. His colleagues sided with him, mandating that any requests made to the district legal counsel needed majority approval.
Harbor board at odds over manager: Grenell may get raise despite complaint
Half Moon Bay Review - September 19, 2013
About two months ago, Brennan filed a harassment complaint with the district against Grenell, which is now being investigated by an independent law firm. She said could not provide details on the complaint because it was a district personnel matter, but she noted that Grenell “has demonstrated a history of bias against women.”
At a June harbor commission meeting, Brennan lashed out publicly at Grenell for allegedly ignoring a series of her requests for information. Her complaint was filed soon afterward.
"He is demeaning, demoralizing, rude, condescending, arrogant, and it ends in an unpleasant experience for me," she said to other board members at the time. "The general manager is capable of providing answers and he chooses not to do it.”
In recent meetings, Brennan has pointed out that district policy designates the general manager as the person in charge of judging all harassment complaints and determining whether to investigate. She asked her colleagues to consider revising the policy. It was not immediately clear how her complaint ended up with an independent arbiter.
"It appears by reading this policy that commissioners would need to make a complaint potentially to the person they’re making the complaint about," she said.
Tucker said he did not know details about Brennan's complaint, but to his knowledge she was the lone critic on the board of the general manager.
"Four out of the five commissioners are very supportive of Grenell's work and his accomplishments," he said.“The only one who's said anything verbally is Brennan.”