Reader Rant: ‘Just Who Is Trying to Control the Peninsula Planning Board?’

by on March 21, 2018 · 14 comments

in Ocean Beach

By Incensed Peninsulan

I really want to know – given the recent brouhaha over the electioneering for the Peninsula Community Planning Board’s March election – just who is trying to control the Peninsula Planning Board?

The reason I raise this query is because it appears that the electioneering became quite ugly with negative campaigning and possible violations of the Planning Board’s own bylaws.

On the surface, a slate of candidates for the 5 empty Board seats was elected and a number of Board members were ousted and other candidates defeated in the March 15th annual election. This happens every year, doesn’t it – during the elections throughout the City’s 50- some neighborhood planning committees? Or does it?

Negative Campaigning

A review of certain mailers and emails shows something different this year.

For one thing, there was an unprecedented negative campaigning – where election voters were told not to vote for certain candidates based on a false assertion of their supposed stance on one issue. At times these elections have residents or groups advocating for certain candidates due to this or that experience or background or position; a positive campaign.

Not this year and not in the Peninsula. A negative campaign was waged by a sitting Board member against 4 candidates for the Board – all based on a falsehood. The four were charged with supporting the Prince’s Recycling Center next to Stump’s Market – which is not true – the four are not part of a slate and have not taken public positions on the recycler.

Yet Board member Margaret Virissimo sent out emails asking her recipients to not vote for

“a few individuals that are running for a seat on the board whom are for the recycling center staying where its at and have been an extreme nuisance to us getting the job done,”  and added, “even going to Midway [Planning Committee] and even meeting with Price [sic] recycling behind our backs.”

And then above the list of “bad candidates”, she added another dagger:

“The People NOT to vote for that are the recycle center staying and have put us through hell and back.” Virissimo then listed: Jim Hare, Geoff Page, Julia Quinn, and Robert Goldyn.

Rounding out her election email, Virissimo listed the “good candidates” and a little something good about them, listing Robert Tripp Jackson, Scott Deschenes, Sara M Alemany, Mick Moore and John Plaza.

Promoting Slates by Board Members Violates Bylaws

Virissimo wasn’t the only Peninsula Board member doing a little electioneering. Sitting Board member Don Sevrens sent out a flier advocating for most of the same 5 candidates Virissimo did, but adding incumbent Mark Krencik instead of John Plaza.

And not only that, another fancy and colorful flier went out promoting the same 5 that Sevrens promoted. Of the 5, only Mark Krencik is an incumbent.

Why does this matter?

It so happens that according to the Board’s own bylaws, this is not allowed. According to Article V “Elections,” Section 3 :

Voting to elect new PCPB members shall be by secret written ballot. Proxy voting for elections is not allowed under any circumstances. Development and promotion of “slates” of candidates is contrary to the intent of Council Policy 600-24 and is not allowed. (My emphasis)

This paragraph in the Peninsula Planning Board’s bylaws is taken directly from San Diego City Council Policy 600-24).

We have at least 3 sitting Board members, Virissimo, Sevrens and probably Krencik, openly promoting the same slate of candidates, except for one candidate. (It’s not clear whether Krencik knew he was on the flier – yet he didn’t disavow it either.) Promoting a slate of candidates is not allowed.

We should add that all the candidates pushed by Sevrens and on the fancy, graphic flier – which was posted on social media – won. All of Virissimo’s candidates won – except for Plaza.

Lack of Transparency?

There’s also a lack of transparency to the graphic and fancy flier put out, claiming “We Are Your Team”. Even though 5 candidates are pictured amid all that patriotic bunting, there’s no claim for credit. The Planning Board’s website is listed, but no individual or group claim credit for this particular electioneering effort. Some received the flier via social media and it appeared to be from new candidate Mick Moore. At least Sevrens’ flier is obviously his and Virissimo’s email hers.

Observers recall a similar graphic and fancy flier for social media last year, promoting a slate of candidates. They won and are still on the Board.

Calls for “Change”

The other weird thing about this election and its fliers of slates is the hyperbolic and hypocritical calls for “change”. The fancy flier calls, “It’s time for change” with 3 exclamation points. It asks if voters are tired of all that crime, traffic, congestion and over-building, and if so vote for the slate.

Sevrens in his flier claims the Planning Board will keep doing bad things “unless you stop them.” Virissimo’s email claims her slate is “new blood and energy”. Or maybe it’s not all that weird, campaign rhetoric and all.

Yet, it’s not as if the Board members ousted and the candidates who were defeated represented a bloc that supported “over-building” and congestion. Quite the contrary, as some of them such as Quinn and Page have been instrumental in the campaign to preserve the 30 foot height limit – a heady and substantial tool against over-building and congestion.

This isn’t just a case of sour grapes – by the losers against the winners of a local election.

It’s a waving of a red flag. Through negative campaigning and possible bylaw violations, one group of residents was ousted and defeated – with the claims made – falsely – that they all supported the recycling center, that they harassed the Board or were supportive of over-building. And another bloc was voted in – also on false claims – that only they were against congestion and only they have sworn to protect the Peninsula “and its way of life”.

So, again, I raise the question: just who is trying to control the Peninsula planning board? Who organizes these slates, picks the issues to hang others on, has some money to put together graphic and fancy fliers for social media? In whose interest is it that the folks who sit on the Board are either totally inexperienced and way behind the curve or who don’t care about 30 foot height limits and the ways the city allows developers to rule the day/

 

Margaret Virissimo email:

 

 

 

 

 

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Geoff Page March 21, 2018 at 7:33 pm

Having been in the thick of all this, I would like to make one correction for the sake of Mark Krencik. The paragraph above that stated:

“We have at least 3 sitting Board members, Virissimo, Sevrens and probably Krencik, openly promoting the same slate of candidates, except for one candidate. (It’s not clear whether Krencik knew he was on the flier – yet he didn’t disavow it either.) Promoting a slate of candidates is not allowed.”

There was never any indication that Mark promoted a slate of candidates. It is correct that he appeared on the two slates above but I don’t believe Mark participated in any of this. The 3 sitting board members who were doing this were Virissimo, Sevrens, and Jon Linney, the current chair.

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Cliffhanger March 21, 2018 at 7:51 pm

This is the kind of low grade BS that people notice and call out but nothing comes of it.It’s the creep creep creep of seeing what bigger BS these people can get away with before someone calls them out on it directly and there are consequences. Problem these days, there are rarely any consequences and the same people pull bigger size BS stuff as long as they can.
Here’s a good analogy from Friedman in the NYT…
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/20/opinion/donald-trump-vladimir-putin-turkey.html?rref=collection%2Fcolumn%2Fthomas-l-friedman&action=click&contentCollection=opinion&region=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=1&pgtype=collection
Keep calling it out, Editor Dude.

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Matt Lewis March 22, 2018 at 11:42 am

geoff page is just feeling hurt because no wants his old school, tree hugging liberal agenda being pushed on the community.

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Matt Lewis March 22, 2018 at 11:48 am

Also, who ever wrote this article is pretty gutless considering they don’t even list their name as the author.

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Lauren March 22, 2018 at 3:50 pm

I for one took off early from work to cast my vote, and I’m pleased with the outcome.

To rant about what looks to me to be a fair and balanced election just goes to show that the people in point loma area chose the right people.

To assume there is lack of transparency and loosely accuse the other candidates of somehow colluding to control this board of volunteers is nothing more than malicious resentment.

After reading this anonymously signed rant as you call it, I’m embarrassed for this paper to even allow such hate speech. From the editing correction stated above, it sure look like Geoff Page wrote this article.

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kh March 22, 2018 at 5:28 pm

The author isn’t loosely accusing. She’s directly stating it and showing one of the board member’s email as proof.

Hate speech? With language like that you sure sound invested in this.

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kh March 22, 2018 at 5:30 pm

Geoff is correcting the author, because he knows differently on that small point.

An intelligent person might deduce this means Geoff isn’t the author.

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Geoff Page March 22, 2018 at 4:39 pm

A fair and balanced election? Sitting board members lying to the public about candidate’s positions on a very divisive issue, telling the community not to vote for them, and signing as the PCPB Secretary? Your idea of fair and balanced is vastly different from mine and I’m sure many others.

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Mike March 23, 2018 at 6:06 am

Same old Point Loma that’s been going on since these planning groups started.
It seems to be ever since these community groups got involved instead of bringing unity and positive community planning it has brought competitive infighting ,overgrowth, grandstanding. Instead A group should utilize cooperative momentum As someone who has roots in point Loma since 1913 and roots in Southern California since mid 1800’s. My family and I have seen a lot of changes All of you seen seem like carpet baggers to us. I think City of San Diego should disband this community planning group do to the fact that they are to easily corruptible there is no oversight and they are responsible legally for the decisions they make and can be held accountable.
Also if anyone in point Loma does not like what is going on they can file a class action lawsuit against the community planning board to stop them. So really this community board just get so caught up with going around and around and at the end they could all just be removed by the city of San Diego

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Geoff Page March 23, 2018 at 12:33 pm

Mike,
These kinds of differences between people will always exist. I have to disagree that the planning boards have only “brought competitive infighting ,overgrowth, grandstanding.” Sure there has been infighting and grandstanding but that is human nature. I’m not sure what you meant by “overgrowth.” I’ve seen the planning boards do a lot of good too.

Your comment that “All of you seem like carpetbaggers to us” was very odd. I’m guessing you and your family seem like carpetbaggers to the native Americans who were here first. But, how does existence in a place make any one person or family any better than someone who just arrived? That’s like the old saw that we “must respect our elders” just because they are old, even if they’ve been assholes their whole lives.

Why would a class action suit be needed to sue? Not sure what you meant by that. There are provisions in Council Policy 600 to decertify a planning board, that would be where to start if anyone felt the board had gone off the rails.

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Paul Webb March 23, 2018 at 9:19 am

The fact is that three incumbents who were among the hardest working, most qualified and most committed members of the planning board were not re-elected, possibly as a result of actions taken by board members in violation of City Council policies governing planning board elections. The City needs to examine the conduct of the election and actions of some board members.

This is not the first time that a slate of candidates was promulgated. In my first election to the board, I was listed on a slate without my knowledge. Like Mark Krencik, I did not did not disavow the slate because I didn’t know it existed.

By the way, Mark, as chairperson of the Project Review Subcommittee, works very hard and shows tremendous dedication to the community as demonstrated by time and care he puts into preparation for subcommittee meetings. I am not sorry to see that he was re-elected, although I am very disappointed in the process.

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Editor editordude March 23, 2018 at 12:32 pm

We can unequivocally say Geoff Page did not write this post.

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Frank Gormlie Frank Gormlie March 23, 2018 at 12:36 pm

Our readers should know that we received 13 comments that violated our comment policy on this post so we did not publish them – but they emanated from just 2 different ip addresses. They all called the OB Rag or Geoff names, like in grade school, and made threats about law suits against us. None of them included the actual name of the authors or explained why they were upset with us.

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Paul Webb March 25, 2018 at 2:21 pm

Another thought about the losing candidates in the election. In my six years on the planning board, there were always board members who were content to attend board meetings but generally not willing to take on the hard work that the Planning Board needs to accomplish its goals – review complicated development proposals, read and repair lengthy response letters to Environmental Impact Reports and other environmental documents, examination of the municipal code, etc. Jim Hare, Julia Quinn and Robert Goldyn were board members who took their responsibilities seriously and devoted the time and attention needed to keep the planning board functioning.

I don’t know much about their replacements but I sincerely hope that they are willing to do the heavy lifting to keep the planning board running at a high level.

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