San Mateo County Civil Grand Jury report:
Agenda Item 11: District General Manager's Compensation Increase
Approve a 2.5% pay raise for the General Manager, commencing with the pay period starting Sept. 27, 2013
During the Sept. 4, 2013 Harbor District meeting, Treasurer Jim Tucker moved to place an item on the Commission's Sept. 18, 2013 meeting agenda regarding the General Manager's compensation. He called for a 2.5% increase in the General Manager's pay. Parravano seconded the motion. The motion passed 5-0 to place the item on the agenda.
At the Sept. 18th 2013 Harbor District Meeting Commissioner Brennan voted NO to a 2.5% pay raise for the General Manager for the following reason:
"I don't support a raise for the General Manager because I have reasons to be concerned about his ability to do his job.
He has demonstrated a history of bias against women and this continues to this day. Currently I have a pending complaint involving bias against women and an investigation is in progress."
Agenda Item 4
Evaluation of Possible Alternatives to Current Audio/Visual Recordings of Harbor Commission Meetings
Commissioner Brennan's comments:
As an elected representative, serving a four-year term on the San Mateo County Board of Harbor Commissioners, it’s my goal to improve transparency, accountability and inclusiveness at every opportunity.
The Harbor Districts is a countywide special district. Over 50% of the Harbor Districts revenue comes from property tax. The Board has an obligation to provide San Mateo County citizens with governance that is truly transparent, effective and accountable.
In recent decades, civil society and governments around the world have made great advances in increasing transparency at both the local and national levels. Yet there is still a need for greater and more meaningful participation and accountability, particularly when it comes to how public resources are allocated.
As good stewards of Oyster Point Marina and Pillar Point Harbor we should always strive to increase transparency and access to government data and public information.
Please support Transparency and Accountability by voting NO on terminating videotaping and voting NO on terminating public access television broadcasting on Pacific Coast TV.
Agenda Item 5
Review of Fish Buying Lease, Fish Buying Fees and Fee Enforcement
Commissioner Brennan's comments:
During the July 17th 2013 Harbor District meeting in South San Francisco the board reviewed and discussed current Fish Buying Fees, Fish Offloading Fees, Fee Enforcement and Fish Buying Activity Permits.
The General Manager made it clear at the July meeting that the fish buying fees and fish offloading fees required in the leases held by Morningstar, Pillar Point Seafood and Three Captains don’t reflect market conditions of Northern California commercial fishing ports.
All three Harbor District leases currently require fish buyers pay $10.00 per ton for wet-fish, $.01 per pound for finfish and shellfish, and five percent (5%) for all retail fish sold on-top of $.01 per pound. Additionally the leases require fish off-loaders pay $10.00 per ton for wet-fish and $.01 per pound for finfish and shellfish. That means that if a leaseholder offloads fish and buys fish they would be required to pay a total of $20.00 per ton for wet-fish and $.02 per pound for shellfish and finfish.
Fishermen that sell finfish and shellfish/crab from fishing vessels at Pillar Point Harbor are not required to pay the District five percent (5%) for retail sales, and for this reason it’s inconsistent to require Morning Star Fisheries, Pillar Point Seafood and Three Captains to pay a 5% retail sales fee.
Based on data included in the General Managers July 10, 2013 Memo it’s apparent that other Northern California commercial fishing ports charge no fees or much lower fees for fish offloading and fish buying.
At the July 17th meeting it was noted that the wet-fish offloading fee included in the General Managers July 10, 2013 memo was incorrect. The City of Monterey charges $1.74 per ton NOT $1.74 per lb. for squid offloading. The General Manager should correct the misinformation included in his Memo, as he was aware of the correct fee on May 17, 2013 9:33 am via an email from staff.
After reviewing the fee data provided at the July 17 meeting it's clear that SMC Harbor District wetfish, shellfish and finfish fees are not competitive with other commercial fishing ports in the area.
Fish Purchasing Fees and Fish Buying Fees trickle down to commercial fishermen. When the Harbor District attempts to extract fees from commercial fishing businesses, without accurate data and sound reasons for comparatively high fees the District runs the risk of harming small business and weakening the local economy.
The fees and fee enforcement included in the current leases are structured in a way that is counterproductive to the goals and priorities of the Harbor District.
The Coastal Commission adopted SMC Harbor District Appeal No. 133-79 that specified Condition (1B), "one-half of all slips for the exclusive use of active commercial fishing boats." Local Coastal Program (LCP) section 12.5.A states, "commercial fishing and recreational boating are on an equal basis, and to accommodate those needs accordingly." This applies specifically to Pillar Point Harbor with regards to space and resources.
The Harbor District has a vested interest in the success of the commercial fishing fleet. Requiring arbitrarily high fees for offloading and fish buying at Pillar Point Harbor isn't a sustainable approach to generating revenue and it's not in keeping with the goals and priorities of the Harbor District or the Midcoast LCP.
Commissioner Brennan's Motion:
For these reasons I move to amend all three leases, discontinue all fees and raise the minimum base rent to $3000.00 per month, to be effective as of July 1, 2013.
The motion failed for lack of a second.
- It should be noted that the Harbor District currently does not have a way audit or enforce the fish offloading and buying fees at Pillar Point Harbor. Johnson Pier does not have a scale, a gate, video cameras or a staff person dedicated to counting fish.
- Read the Dec. 2014 Dornbusch Report
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.”
Itemized invoices from - Aaronson, Dickerson, Cohn & Lanzone (ADCL)
- No fee is charged for providing ADCL invoices to District
- Monthly invoices by task should be made available to the entire board on request
- Brennan requested ADCL invoices
General Managers lack of response to board members requests for information
- Results in running up ADCL fees
General Managers slow response to public records requests
- Results in running up ADCL fees
President Tucker threatens to discontinue videotaping Harbor District meetings
General Managers slow response to Commercial Fish Buyers request for information regarding fish buying fees
- It's been over 4 months since Mike Mc Henry first requested fish buying fee info from Commissioner Bernardo
- To-date information has not been provided by General Manager
Board majorities confusion over committee meetings vs. special meetings
- Commissioner Holsinger appears confused over committee meetings, who should attend and how committee meetings should be noticed.
- Commissioner Brennan comments on General Managers refusal to notice the Harbor District Marketing/Promotions committee meeting held on May 29, 2013.
Boards majority votes (3/2) not to adopt the Pillar Point Harbor Shoreline Erosion Committee as an official committee of the Harbor District
- Committee will continue to meet as a citizens advisory group
- Agendas and Reports will be posted on Commissioner Brennan's website
- Meetings are open to all