What’s the Latest in the Ocean Beach Town Council Debacle? Here’s a Time Line

by on August 16, 2021 · 12 comments

in Ocean Beach

Screen shot posted on OBTC facebook displaying “private” zoom meeting for new candidates.

The current debacle involving the Ocean Beach Town Council continues to churn. There’s been another resignation from the Board. Isaac Darby resigned last week.

With Darby’s resignation, that means two of the ten Board members who signed a letter to then president Mark Winkie asking him to resign, have since resigned themselves. One Board member resigned without signing the letter.

And with all these resignations – there have been a total of five over the last couple of months – there are only ten current members on the Board and there are now five open seats. What remains of the Board is in reality a rump group, having caused the ouster of four members. One-third of the Board has departed.

In the middle of last week, the rump Board held a “private” or secret zoom meeting with potential candidates for the open seats. During this meeting, apparently, the Board vetted a number of candidates that will be voted upon by the OBTC membership at an upcoming public / zoom meeting later this month.

As an aside, the OBTC is a private, non-profit organization, run by a Board of Directors who are subject to be elected to the Board by the OBTC paid membership. The Board members themselves then select its officers.

The candidates vetted at the secret zoom meeting will be the only candidates on the ballot for the election on August 25. Normally, candidates introduce themselves at an open meeting and then the elections of board members are conducted over a period of at least one week.

The pandemic, of course, screwed all this up.

Today, August 16, the Board announced its election process: it will hold a special election this month. It stated:

At our next virtual public meeting on August 25th, the slate of candidates who have already submitted letters of intent will participate in a candidate forum.

Following the forum, the membership of the OBTC will have the opportunity to vote and elect five of these candidates to the vacant seats. This election will follow the same process that we use each year in our regular annual election.

So the board has cleared up this layer of confusion. But, what is also clear, is that despite an open letter signed by 22 community leaders calling for accountability and transparency from the board, there has been no substantive response by the Board itself – until today. Interim president Cory Bruins did send a statement to the OB Rag for posting that was a type of a response.

Also, what is clear, is that a deep distrust of the current, rump board has set in within the community. One of the greatest civic organizations in OB has been so damaged by the controversy that the group has lost credibility, so much so that community members wanting to be involved no longer trust the board to freely conduct its own vote counting. Some have even suggested an independent body facilitate the tallying of the votes for any election the board carries out.

Time Line of Debacle

  • February 2021: Mark Winkie is elected unanimously by the Board as its president, at least for the third time;
  • Spring 2021: board member Jon Carr resigns from the board for personal reasons;
  • Early July 2021: due to a personal indiscretion, Winkie sends a letter to board members and offers to meet with Board members individually to explain his situation;
  • July 6: upon Winkie’s reaching out, several Board members pressure other board members to immediately sign a letter asking for his resignation; certain board members are not contacted or asked to sign the letter;
  • July 6: Board member Arlene Fink resigns in protest of the process and manner in which Winkie was pressured;
  • July 6 : Within 7 hours of Winkie reaching out, he is sent a letter signed by 10 Board members asking for his resignation. The only reason listed was: “Recently, you conveyed to some of us that if we lost confidence in your ability to effectively lead our Town Council, both internally, and externally in the community, that you would step down.” The letter is signed by these board members: Corey Bruins, Cameron Reid, Stephanie Logan, Isaac Darby, Gary Gartner, Scott Grace, Connor Harrington, Trudy Levenson, Aaron Null, and Christie Romano.
  • July 6: Winkie sends a very short note back to the board, with the terse statement: “The majority has spoken,” and resigns.
  • Late July: Board member Christie Romano also resigns for the way Winkie was treated; Romano had signed the original letter to Winkie asking for his resignation.
  • July 28: During the monthly “open” board meeting (on zoom), Bruins appears as president. There is no explanation of how or why he is president; there is no comment on why Mark Winkie is not, or what happened to him or the other board members who had resigned. Susan Winkie, Mark’s spouse, read a statement to the board during the meeting. She stated the OBTC membership deserved to know the manner in how Mark was asked to resign.  Immediately after Susan’s statement, a number of former board members asked the board for clarifications and explanations. There was no response from the board that night – and it took them 8 days to issue any kind of response. Here’s Susan’s statement:

On July 6th Mark Winkie received a letter from this board and was asked to resign as President of the Town Council. The membership of the Town Council deserves to know the way this situation was handled and have it become part of the public record.

Just 7 hours before Mark received the letter asking him to resign, he sent a letter himself to the entire board. In this letter he took responsibility for his personal actions outside of the Town Council and wanted to reach out and address any concerns. In addition, he offered a vision for the future and re-committed to the issues he is passionate about in Ocean Beach. Lastly, and importantly, he said he would be contacting every board member individually to have an open and transparent conversation to ensure the Town Council could move forward effectively and with confidence.

He never had the opportunity to talk to anyone because less than 7 hours later he was asked to step down. Note that two legacy members of the current board never had the opportunity to weigh in on this letter. Another board member felt coerced to sign quickly, and has since resigned and an additional board member refused to sign and also resigned.

The Ocean Beach Town Council has a very specific set of by-laws that includes guidance on asking someone to step down. These by-laws were not followed as intended and there was no due process….

Mark provided consistent leadership on the issues that really matter; the rise in homelessness, unchecked crime, Short Term Vacation Rentals and the erosion of our neighborhoods, the future of the pier, and a vendor ordinance to curtail the out-of-control situation at Veterans Plaza. He knows the problems intimately, has contacts throughout the city including partners in other Town Councils up and down the coast. …the Town Council provided an elevated platform for these messages. And that has been taken from our community by this board and specifically a few people who advocated hard for his resignation.

The membership of the Ocean Beach Town Council deserves an apology from the board for the way this situation was handled, and / or rescind the letter, reset and move forward following the by-laws in an open and transparent manner.

  • August 6: 22 community leaders issue a public letter to the board; citing “a crisis in confidence”, and demanding accountability and a special election. Here’s their letter.
  • August 6: Bruins responds to open letter. Regarding Winkie’s resignation, Bruins stated, “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.” The last line of Bruins’ letter states: “… 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.”
  • August 6: the OB Rag asks for Bruins’ resignation from the board, as a logical result of connecting the dots.
  • August 11: the OBTC rump board holds secret zoom meeting with potential candidates;
  • August 12-13: board member Isaac Darby resigns;
  • August 16: Special election called and process of membership election clarified by Board.

There’s more to be said – which will come at another moment.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

OB man August 16, 2021 at 3:37 pm

Whatever the reality, the board leadership is making it all worse with no clarity and the super spin. The council member must be called to make a statement, they cannot be acting like this without her support tacit or overt.


Claudia Jack August 16, 2021 at 6:27 pm

AMAZING~ What really is the Bottom Line~ The Public Deserves to know! A LOT of Community People of OB believe their is really another Board Seat~ WHY was Mark asked to Step Down and not the other?? The letter sent to (MW) was only signed by 10 Board Members, what happen to the 11th Board Member? Ummmm c


Douglas Blackwood August 17, 2021 at 1:01 am

Political spin at OBTC is no win for residents. “something’s happening here- but it just ain’t exactly clear”.
Come on now: give us the facts. We need our Town Council to be transparent!


Grace August 17, 2021 at 9:34 am

I think labeling the meeting as a “secret zoom meeting” is extremely misleading and a huge misrepresentation. The OBTC Board of Directors hold two meetings per month – one that is open to the public (fourth Wednesday of the month) and one that is private (second Wednesday of the month). This has been the standard for years and years. Wasn’t this merely the private meeting?

Further, I will always advocate for transparency, but I would also urge those who are so invested in this conversation and following this story to then also volunteer to help with OBTC events, attend the meetings, and know what type of work is put into the organization before forming an opinion and speaking on the matter. I was Events Chair of the OBTC for 3 years… and if everyone chiming in here in the comments section or on Facebook had volunteered once or twice, my job would have been a heck of a lot easier!!

I hope this gets resolved soon so that the board of directors can get back addressing community needs and not have to spend so much energy on this.


Frank Gormlie August 17, 2021 at 10:25 am

Thanks Grace for contributing to the conversation. Normally, candidates for the board address the entire community and membership at open, public meetings so we all can see and hear who they are. This was not done. The community was not allowed to participate in the vetting process and the only candidates allowed on the ballot will be those who this current rump board has picked. Doesn’t that seem unfair to you? We’re aware of the once a month private meeting that the OBTC feels it must hold, but not all town councils do that. It’s tough right now to feel “volunteery” for a board that is disregarding the community’s concerns and is not being transparent.


Grace August 17, 2021 at 10:56 am

Thanks, Frank! That’s true that candidates for the board address the entire community during the public meeting, but it’s also true that some sort of vetting often goes on beforehand. We would typically try to talk to perspective board members a head of time, hold happy hours, and communicate beforehand. I am hopeful and excited to see the batch of candidates during Wednesday’s meeting, and applaud them all for wanting to contribute and volunteer despite the chaos. I hope that more people start feeling ‘volunteery’, especiallllyy if they don’t like the direction things are going. You’re not necessarily just volunteering to serve the current board, but serve the community. So I just wish more people would quit yappin about it and try to help.. that’s all I’m sayin :)


Frank Gormlie August 17, 2021 at 10:58 am

Ain’t it the truth.


claudia jack August 17, 2021 at 3:21 pm

First off it is Nice to see input from OB Man, Douglas, Frank & Grace concerning this whole Mess! Thanks for your comments, they make a lot of since! I do a lot for the community and worked under the Event Chair, Grace, she was down to earth and when she first took it on I know she was over whelmed, & I gave her many pointer’s and I felt she did a Fantastic Job. Then I noticed their was a upper change in command and I could see things changing and the attitude of a few were “My Way or no Way” So then all of a sudden Board Members were quitting so some of the Fun had gone away! Being a Board Member or Volunteer is a very rewarding thing~ When groups get ( I ) Team people on Boards things change~ When Groups have Secret Meetings & don’t keep the Board on the same level things start going SOUTH!! This last issue with the OBTC leaked out if the Board & appointed “President” announced what really happened their would not be this big mess!! All it did was start a major Yak Yak Concern~ Also the OBTC has had Board Members talking about other Board Members in Local Taverns, WHY would they do this when your suppose to be a TEAM~ Like DOUGLAS says “Give us the Facts” Ummmm the Election should be interesting !! I know a few people running, I hope they have a chance to serve the OBTC & Community~ A lot of people are concern about the Board getting stacked~~ c


Frank Gormlie August 17, 2021 at 11:08 am

I need to reiterate that until the OBTC board of directors is more responsive to the community and the demand for transparency, the OB Rag will not be advertising for the town council nor for candidates to a board that has lost credibility.


claudia jack August 22, 2021 at 7:39 pm

Frank> People are wondering if the OBTC put out a list letting the Community know who’s running for the Board?/ I did not see a list!! Happy Sunday Evening>> c


kh August 17, 2021 at 1:45 pm

I appreciate those community members who challenged the OBTC actions and brought attention to this, including the OBrag.

And I appreciate remaining OBTC board members for being responsive and considerate of how to move forward. The decision to have the seats filled by election is reassuring. No we can’t undo everything that happened, but at some point we gotta move on. Carrying on needling the OBTC like this isn’t helpful.

I agree with Grace, I hope all the people that showed so much interest in this drama will show the same interest in attending meetings, volunteer events, advocating for our community, or even signing up for the board.


Debbie August 18, 2021 at 8:36 am

You can join the OB Town Council for free … that gets you a vote.

I am not advertising for them but letting the public know :-)

Go to the website and sign up. Get involved.


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