Harbor to hold secret meeting tonight in South City, General Manager to get $4,000 raise

The recap:

The Harbor Commission plans to meet tonight in South San Francisco without video coverage of their meeting. The governing board, by a 3-2 vote in late August, accepted old-timer Jim Tucker’s recommendation to cancel the video due to either a) the audience acting dramatically or, b) to protect the staff from insulating comments from the audience. Jim’s rationale changes from time to time.

In that meeting Commissioner Holsinger, seemingly waking up from a nice nap, lectured the audience that he didn’t like publicly funded videos being linked to by political web sites (he cited that of Commissioner Sabrina Brennan). He doesn’t like the links. Public shouldn’t pay for it. Videos must stop. A copy of Computers For Seniors For Dummies has been ordered for Holsinger. It explains all those fancy words like “Internet” and “links” and “Democracy.”

Parravano didn’t say anything. Smart guy. But he still voted to cancel the video. Not so smart.

Bernardo, who looks and acts more and more like a well-trained puppy with every passing meeting, agreed with Tucker that the meeting behavior was a problem but then pointed out that maybe they just weren’t used to interacting with the public, period. He likes democracy. Good boy, Roberto, good boy.

End of recap. In tonight’s meeting, which you will never see, the Harbor District will extend for three years its $7500/month lease of 3675 square feet of South City office space for the few employees who work there. Each employee has about two Holiday Inn hotel room’s worth of space. The US average is 176 sq ft of space per employee.

Congratulations to the Harbor District office employees!

Later in the meeting Harbor Manager Peter Grenell will get a raise of about $4000–a 2.5% raise on his approximately $142,000 salary. Grenell is tight with Tucker and it shows. Last meeting the board handed out raises to the Harbor Master (a raise of $5,906 to $118,128, hasn’t had a raise since he was hired in April 2012), to the Human Resources Manager (a $3,037 raise to $121,492, hasn’t had a raise since January 2012), and the Director of Finance ($2,375 raise to $95,031, promoted to that position in July 2013 with a pay bump at that time).

Congratulations to “Ole Beardo” Peter Grenell and the senior staff of the Harbor District!

Want one of those jobs? You are in luck, my friend–they are hiring. Grenell is asking to hire two more employees, one for the position of Deputy Harbor Master the other for the position of Accountant (the old accountant is now the Director of Finance, who just got a promotion, a pay bump, and a raise).

Congratulations to all the future employees of the Harbor District! (You know who you are, wink wink.)

And finally, what meeting wouldn’t be complete with another formal effort to SHUSH! (Shut Her UP, Sabrina Hush!). In this episode of SHUSH! Harbor Manager Peter Grenell proposes approval of a “meeting protocol,” which further limits Brennan’s ability to place an item on the agenda and further limits the public’s ability to have its voice heard.

Congratulations Commissioners Tucker and Grenell! Tell Commissioner Holsinger the good news after his nap.


[Note: corrected error in Grenell’s salary.]

Harbor Commission, the most secretive government body on the coast, to hold “public” meeting with no audio or video recordings

The San Mateo Harbor Commission will meet today at 7:00 pm at the “Harbor Conference Room” of the Comfort Inn on Cabrillo Highway. They get a good rate from the hotel. The hotel is owned by local developer Keet Nerhan, who also leases land at a good rate from the Harbor for an RV park next to Surfers Beach. Scratchy scratch scratch.

On the agenda is a pay raise of 2.5% for their Human Resources Manager (Harris) and their Director of Finance (Galarza), who also will be getting a 2.5% raise. It is not clear what either person does at the Harbor District.

The District only has a few employees and doesn’t seem to warrant a dedicated human resources manager. Of course it may be that the generous health and retirement benefits enjoyed by the Harbor Commissioners (past and present)–more lucrative than all the other Coastside board positions combined–require an unexpected level of activity.

What a director of finance does is also anyone’s guess. There’s bills to be paid and invoices to be settled. But enough work for a full-time position?

The Harbor Master, Peter Grenell Scott Grindy, who in most organizations would be doing the work of the human resources person and the finance director, also is receiving a raise. His pay will be increased by 5% this year.

These are the same employees who ignore or slow-walk most of Commissioner Brennan’s questions. They funnel her questions through the district’s attorney so they rack up big bills which they later complain about and use as a basis for trying to shut down her questions.

They will also be shutting down Brennan’s questions tonight. Agenda item 5, under New Business, is titled “District Chain of Command.” The proposed action is to “Reaffirm chain of command for communications.” Which is another way of saying, “Brennan can’t ask any questions unless the board majority says she can.” So much for democracy–Brennan won more votes than any other harbor commissioner in history, as far as I can tell. Tucker got 71,000 or so. Brennan got 120,000. They hope she will just go away if they make it tough enough for her. She’s a girl, after all.

But you won’t get to see or hear any of this. The board majority, over Brennan’s objections, voted to terminate the video recording at the last meeting.


MCC asks Harbor to reinstate videos of board meetings

The Midcoast Community Council has challenged the Harbor District to restart the video recordings of the Harbor Commissioner board meetings. In their letter to the members of the commission, the MCC states that “…video records are essential to support the spirit and practice of conducting open meetings.”

The Harbor Commission has long been accused of shady dealings and hiding from the public. In my Guide to Local Government Agencies, written about a year ago and not updated since, I described the Harbor District in these terms:

A county-wide district that controls Princeton Harbor (as well as Oyster Point). Most Coastsiders have no idea it exists. Its meetings are not videotaped. I think the Commissioners like it that way.

However, things changed when Sabrina Brennan won election in a landslide victory in 2011. She pushed for videotaping and, starting early this year, those videos were re-posted to a wider audience on Montara Fog.

This increase in public scrutiny and public awareness seems to have made Commissioner Tucker, on the board since 1998, uncomfortable. He led the effort to end video taping, which succeed last week in a 3-2 vote.

The Harbor District once again becomes the only local government body which does not videotape its meetings. At this point they are not even making audio recordings.

In an apparent jab at Commissioner Holsinger, a loyal ally of Tucker, the MCC letter points out that it is routine to post links to government videos on internet sites.

Holsinger, at the August 21st meeting, complained that Brennan was posting links to the board’s meeting videos on her personal site, saying that that was a political use and he would not allow public funds to pay for videos that were being used for political purposes. Holsinger seemed unfamiliar with the Internet and the manner in which videos hosted at one site could be linked to and even played within another.

[Click to read the letter from the Midcoast Community Council.]