Storm Flares In Moss Landing
Alleged charges of bribery and illegal dumping fuel demand for $200,000 settlement.
Thursday, July 19, 2001
According to documents obtained by the Weekly, Stilwell has demanded $200,000 from the Moss Landing Harbor District, claiming that he was slandered by one of the District''s five commissioners.
The claim is based on a signed statement from Richard Deyerle, part owner of Sea Harvest Markets and Restaurants, who has significant leases with the district.
In the statement, Deyerle says that in a conversation in April, Harbor District Commissioner Dennis Garmany told him Stilwell had "ordered oil to be poured down the sewer." Deyerle also says Garmany told him that Stilwell had accepted "a big bribe" from a Moss Landing contractor.
"I recollect that the amount mentioned was $10,000," Deyerle''s statement says.
The demand letter, from Stilwell''s attorney, Robert L. Shipley of Carlsbad, claims that the statements are "pure fabrications designed to destroy the reputation of Mr. Stilwell." In addition to the $200,000 settlement, the letter also asks for a "written public apology," and a "written public endorsement that Mr. Stilwell has not engaged any misdeeds, criminal or otherwise, during his tenure with the District."
The harbor commissioners represent a voting district containing 155,000 people in northern Monterey County, including the entire city of Salinas.
The demand holds the district commissioners responsible for Garmany''s alleged statements, saying that all damages result directly from his position as vice president. The statement quotes Garmany as saying he "had proof of these matters and was deciding when and if to act on it."
The settlement demand expired on July 9. The commissioners discussed the matter that night in closed session. There were two items on the closed meeting''s agenda. The first item was a discussion of the district''s "significant exposure to litigation."
The second item on the agenda called for discussion of the dismissal of Stilwell from his position as harbormaster and general manager.
Two of the commissioners--Jack Compton and Tom Villa--have told the Weekly that they want Stilwell out, each for his own reasons. Garmany has declined to comment about Stilwell for the record, but is reported to have campaigned last year on an anti-Stilwell platform.
Commission President Jack Compton told the Weekly that he questions Deyerle''s signed statement, because Stilwell is in a position to help or hurt Deyerle.
"The commission appointed Stilwell to negotiate with [Deyerle] on behalf of the District," Compton said. "I''d be suspicious of why he comes forward with this now."
Among the commissioners, at least one thinks the whole matter should have been made public last week. Commissioner Russ Jeffries of Salinas, who has been an ally of Stilwell''s, feels that the threat of litigation should not have been discussed in closed session. He believes that California''s open meeting law, the Brown Act, was violated by keeping the threat from the public.
"It should have been part of the open session first," Jeffries says.
Timing is critical because Stilwell''s future with the district is now on the Commission agenda. It appeared there in early July because of an action taken by the previous board last year. It was stipulated that the current commission had to wait 180 days before acting on Stilwell''s contract. That period ended on July 1.
The Harbor District commissioners met again on Wednesday evening, July 18--after the Weekly''s press deadline. Both agenda items had been carried over from July 9.
theWeeklyTally0Number of nursing homes in State Senate District 15 (Monterey, Santa Cruz, San Benito and parts of Santa Clara counties) not cited for violations that "caused actual harm or had the potential to harm" residents in 1999. The district has 24 nursing homes.
--Source: California State Council
of Service Employee International Union