More Thoughts on the Ouster of an Ocean Beach Community Leader

by on August 20, 2021 · 4 comments

in Ocean Beach

By Frank Gormlie

I hesitate to add more commentary to the debacle enveloping the Ocean Beach Town Council these days, but like a pile of rotting seaweed, there are things and questions we cannot ignore.

Just why was Mark Winkie asked to step down as president of the Board of Directors?

Putting aside for a moment the issue of how Winkie was dealt with by the Board, we look at the context. And let’s put aside for another moment the fact that three board members have since also resigned due to the manner in which he was asked to leave. For background, the Point Loma Monthly reported:

Winkie sent a letter July 6 to the 14 other board members taking responsibility for an undisclosed personal indiscretion and seeking to speak to each member individually to forestall any disruption to the organization. It didn’t work.

Within seven hours and without a formal meeting, a reply signed by 10 board members was sent to Winkie questioning the effectiveness of his leadership as president and requesting that he resign in order to put the issue behind them. Winkie soon resigned.

In a letter addressed to “Whom it may concern” and posted in the OB Rag, interim president Corey Bruins had this to say:

Some members of the board lost confidence in Mark’s ability to continue to effectively, and without significant bias, lead as President, and a Director, of the OBTC. … I can clarify that the collective notion of asking Mark to resign stemmed directly from each individual’s own experience of Mark in his capacity as President of the organization, and was not in reaction to anything in Mark’s personal life.

Yet, due to the pandemic and the ways in which the Town Council had to operate (zoom meetings, no public activities), some of the brand new members of the board barely even knew Mark. Some had not even met him in person. Why, then, would newbies be so willing to swing their weight around and oust a sitting community leader? We don’t know.

The official line, then, from the current leadership is that Mark was asked to resign due to Board members’ loss of confidence in his ability to effectively lead as president, and “not in reaction to anything in Mark’s personal life.”

Yet, when interviewed by the Monthly, Bruins stated:

“For me personally, this was not a smoking-gun situation. This was not a … ‘You really messed up and you gotta go’ kind of thing. … What goes on in somebody’s personal life is what goes on in their personal life. But at a certain point when you’re in leadership, people are going to have perceptions around that and that’s going to create a perception of how capable a leader you are.”

So, which is it? Was Mark asked to resign because of the loss of confidence in his ability to lead the OBTC or was it because of the personal indiscretion?

Let’s recall that in February of this year, Mark Winkie was re-elected to his seat as president unanimously by the entire Board of Directors. Unanimously. No one ran against him. So the official line would have us believe that from early February to early July, a mere 5 months, a majority of the Board somehow lost confidence in Winkie’s ability to lead.

As they used to say in law school, this doesn’t pass the smell test. It’s just not reasonable to believe that after two full terms as president and after being elected for a third term, Mark Winkie somehow lost his leadership qualities in less than half a year. And during the pandemic, no less.

If Winkie then, was truly not asked to step down due to his failures as a community leader, it must have been for personal reasons then, right? for his personal indiscretion. If this is true, what the heck OB Town Council? When were you appointed the morality police? What happened to the great tolerance that OB has? And, if true, why wasn’t the other board member involved with the “personal indiscretion” also asked to resign? They still sit on the board.

Perhaps, then, there’s other reasons current board members wanted Mark out. If it wasn’t leadership and wasn’t personal, was it simply a generational conflict? The Young Turks sweeping out the older generation of has-beens? Could be, but then look at some of the board members who are still on the board and who signed the letter to Mark asking him to resign. They couldn’t be part of the younger gen.

Could it have been politics? Did Mark’s politics upset new and old board members? Did Mark oppose the recall of Jen Campbell whereas others wanted her out? Did board members perceive that Mark was simply using the president’s chair at OBTC as a stepping stone to higher office? It wouldn’t be the first time, a would-be politician used a community platform to run for an elected – and paid – position. Just look at Kevin Faulconer’s rise from chair of the powerful Mission Bay Park Committee to mayor of a major city.

First off, I’d have to say that’s a long stepping stone, two terms and a half. And what about all the other dues Mark paid in doing the grunt work for the Town Council’s events even before he was president? Even so, it’s not out of the question for Mark to have his eye on a higher seat.

But were there other board members who also had their eyes on, say, the District 2 Council seat? People who know interim president Bruins find him to be ambitious. Perhaps he also had his sights on D2 and by removing Mark, the runway was clear. What about others on the board?

A quick perusal of current board members finds a fairly new and young crowd. None at least on the surface have the gravitas needed to mount a serious campaign for council or board of supervisors or – even dog catcher.

Except one. Gary Gartner.

Gary used to work for disgraced County Board of Supervisor Dave Roberts, a Democrat. While a supervisor, Roberts’ former staff members filed claims against the County alleging various acts of wrongdoing by Roberts including creating a hostile work environment, misuse of County resources and employee favoritism. A third former employee filed a similar claim. Roberts denied all of the allegations made against him. Eventually the Board of Supervisors agreed to settlements totaling $310,000 for three of the former staffers in relation to various claims that he had created a hostile work environment. And then Roberts lost his next election.

During all those days that Roberts denied any liability or wrongdoing, guess who was running the flack machine for him and deflecting those nasty accusations – until they stuck? Gary Gartner.

Of course, all this is speculation. I’m sure that Gary Gartner is an honorable man. Let’s just wait and see who is selected for the vice-president position on the town council over the next week.

But, we have to admit here, that all this is greater than Mark Winkie himself. Mark was treated poorly, unfairly and unscrupulously. Yet, the issues are larger. Let’s also set aside the issue that Mark resigned “voluntarily”, thus the OBTC bylaws didn’t apply.

It’s clear, though, a community leader of Ocean Beach was ousted improperly.

It wasn’t just unfair to Mark that he was removed, it was also unfair to the Ocean Beach community at large. For years, the Town Council has acted as spokesperson, advocate and proponent of Ocean Beach. It wields a larger voice than just what a private, non-profit does. It speaks for the community and the community looks to it to help resolve problems and issues. Whether an OBcean is a member or not of the OBTC, OBceans still look to the Council as our “official” representative.

In order, however, to represent OB, a group has to have and own that credibility and trust. The community needs to know that its council is above and beyond petty issues and politics. And power plays.

But here we are. That trust has been eroded by the actions of a few people who for whatever reason, ousted Winkie and were not transparent about it. Finally, after calls for accountability by 22 community leaders, the board has agreed to hold a hybrid meeting on Wednesday, August 25, during which the candidates for the five open seats will be introduced and the membership will be allowed to vote on them.

But Mark Winkie didn’t apply for a seat. Others who resigned haven’t applied either. And individuals who have been on the board have declined to re-apply due to the break-down in trust. They didn’t trust the board to even accurately count and report the ballot results.

This is where we’re at.

Should we just resign ourselves to not get more involved and allow the dust to settle so the village can move on? Can we just ignore the bashing OB has taken in improperly having one of its leaders unfairly removed? How can the trust that is required be restored?

These are the questions OBceans need to ask ourselves.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

gordon a browne August 20, 2021 at 2:44 pm

Thank you Frank. I think I smell smoke here, but not sure of the cause. Please let me know of any further developments.

Gordon Browne


OB Moving Forward August 20, 2021 at 3:42 pm

This is so important. See this happening over and over. Yes, the issues are deep. So sad, even in such a place as OB a select few can do the faux power grabs… The issue is fight on this OBTC or start fresh. Energy poured into dealing with that Bruins fellow and whatever small weird clique who lacks all credibility really. He could have won over a lot of people with a few obvious moves to secure trust, but he doubled down on disrespect for the whole community. STRONG CASE FOR INERGENERARTIONAL to start another real OB advocacy group, let OPBTC fade out as they will without further input from real folks. And a new option will draw the energy of those on the fence. Really, to any critical observer this situation is ridiculous and handled authoritarian like. All the people who do not want to be involved in that canard can work under a new umbrella, new tech times, a lot can be done with good energy and not deal with these people until they fade. Let’s start a new entity and let them churn their wheels into dust. The work continues. That is one idea, if people think there is a chance to address OBTC and make a correction without a multi year fight lets do it too.


claudia jack August 21, 2021 at 8:28 am

The Yak Yak all over is the OBTC jump the guy with one person leading it & he swayed the Board~ One thing that no one understands is their was a Personal Issue between two people and under the thunder of the board Mark was asked to step down and the other person is still on the Board! WHY? The person who is still on the Board involved in the Personal Issue did not sign the letter that was sent to Mark~~ People in the Community want the REAL HONEST STORY~ Instead the issue between the the acting president & OBTC Board became a Hide n Seek Game! FYI~ Another Board Member stepped down this week so it won’t take long for some more “Juice” to tarnish the OBTC! I even heard from a Board member last week & I feel the stress & the Low Energy with in the Board, the Board needs to have a shake up & get rid of the Bad Apple!! “OB Moving Forward, Frank and many more need to be involved in next meeting so all can vent the TRUE Facts!! Just some thoughts from what I’ve heard on the streets!! c


Joe Dehaba August 22, 2021 at 8:05 am

Sounds to me like Mr. Winkie apparently committed one helluva “personal indiscretion” for his brethren and sistren on the OBTC to ask him to step down.

If and when any such indiscretion is revealed, may reveal why Mark Winkie was asked to step down as president of the Board of Directors of the OBTC.


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