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Proprietor’s note: The Monterey City Council on Tuesday reversed course on a plan to reform leasing policies for the city-owned Fisherman’s Wharf, where many long-term tenants have enjoyed sweetheart rates under agreements reached decades ago. Just last year, a council majority of Libby Downey, Alan Haffa and Timothy Barrett revamped the leasing program to provide for shorter lease terms, market rates rather than inexplicable discounts, and other changes intended to break up the buddy system that have enriched a few. The reform effort essentially died, however, after Downey lost her seat in the November election, losing out to Dan Albert Jr., who had considerable support from wharf interests, and when Barrett flipped sides after receiving campaign contributions from wharf-related enterprises. By a 4-1 vote Tuesday, the council eliminated a long list of professional business practices for the wharf and replaced it with a general statement of intent that removes almost all objective standards from the city’s leasing policies. Among those urging the council to retain was Monterey resident and retired dentist Dan Turner. Here, slightly modified, is his statement to the council:
The current guidelines for city leases were approved just a short time ago after a long and exhaustive process that included discussions at least eight City Council meetings, input from all sorts of real estate professionals, attorneys specializing in real estate law and all sorts of other meetings and seminars, etc., etc. And now, all of a sudden, here it is on the council’s agenda again.

How could this happen? Were you all in a coma, or under the influence of something when you agreed to these guidelines and now that you’ve come to your senses you realize that you have to “revisit” them to correct your mistakes?

Of course not. There is only one reason for tonight’s “revisiting” and that is that money – and lots of it – has been applied to the political process here in the city of Monterey in just the right places. The effect has been to remove a councilwoman who was ferocious in her defense of the rights of the citizens of Monterey in assuring that they got fair prices for their rental property, the election of a new councilman who is in favor of trashing these laboriously developed and very fair leasing guidelines and the flipping of a sitting councilman who suddenly – after receiving campaign contributions from (wharf tenant Chris) Shake – decided that all these very fair and laboriously developed guidelines needed to be revisited.

No one is going to follow you guys around to see how often you have coffee with Chris Shake and (hotel manager) John Narigi but these sorts of political shenanigans represent the worst sort of political cronyism. Worse than that is the debasement of our local politics by our system of legalized bribery that we refer to as campaign contributions. Mr. Narigi seems to have taken a page from Don Chapin’s political handbook in organizing the business community to donate to local city council races. Mr. Chapin has been able to control the Salinas City Council by donating large amounts of money to pro-business candidates. Do you really want Monterey to become like Salinas in that regard?

There is nothing wrong with listening to business owners and taking their desires into account. But if you decide to “revisit” these laboriously created and very fair guidelines for leasing city property and return to the policies of giving wharf leases at below fair market rents, not charging for the entire square footage, allowing lessees to sublet at many times the rent they pay to the city and letting them keep the difference between what they pay us and what they get from the sub-lessee, there will be no other reasonable conclusion than that the money applied by the business community did its job and that you guys have sold us out.

I hope I’ll have to return here at some point in the future to apologize to you for ever having thought that you’d do such a thing. Don’t disappoint me.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Scott McKenzie February 24, 2017, 7:20 pm

    Concur, Daniel.

  • Judy Karas February 24, 2017, 8:13 pm

    I was there at the council meeting with Dan, and I had the same feeling that I did when watching the confirmation hearings for some of Trump’s nominees. The decisions had already been made beforehand and none of the Republicans were going to change their views, even if the comments made by the Democrats were sound, informative, well-researched ones, with justice and the wellbeing of the planet on their side. The vote was pre-determined, and the Democrats had no chance. Same as with the Mty. city council vote on Tuesday evening. The four council members listened to the public as a formality, having already made up their minds. Thanks to Alan Haffa for asking good, probing questions. Unfortunately he was voted down. So disappointing to see the rest of the council vote to reverse course.
    I encourage readers to google “CITY OF MORRO BAY HARBOR DEPARTMENT LEASE MANAGEMENT POLICY” to read about another coastal town that DID renegotiate leases to make them more in line with fair market value–and created a Harbor Department to handle the leases and help determine where the revenues from the leases would go–“In FY88-89 Harbor Fund lease revenues were $427,634 increasing to $777,784 in lease revenues in FY98-99. The aggressive modernization of the City’s property management practices over the last 15 years have allowed the Harbor Department to expand services to the boating public and improve existing harbor/park facilities.”
    I doubt our city council would relinquish its control over the leasing arrangements, at least not as long as they’re so partial to the wharf merchants in Monterey.

    • Julie Engell February 25, 2017, 8:04 am

      It’s not just the preferential treatment that irks. It’s all the services and facilities these same council members will claim we can’t afford while we continue to subsidize some of the wealthiest and most powerful among us.

      Here’s what I think. We need better representatives, and we need to begin looking for them and grooming them now. (Dan Turner, Willard McCrone? Would you be interested? Libby Downey, would you come back?) In the meantime, we need to understand how to block these changes to the wharf leasing guidelines.

      Some options:
      We could mount an initiative to put into place the leasing guidelines that were just trashed.

      When the first contract is negotiated, we could mount a referendum against it and file a lawsuit against the city for making a gift of public funds. (I know more about the referendum piece than the gift of public funds piece.)

      We could picket the businesses who receive our gifts of public funds because they’re lousy business neighbors. (Personally, until the wharf policies are re-reformed, I won’t be doing business with any of them again.)

      We could also insist on campaign finance reform that would cap the total a candidate could spend on a campaign (Say $10,000, would that be enough for city council?) and that would prohibit any council member from participating in any hearing or vote on any item that would benefit any of his/her contributors. This might also require an initiative.

      None of these options will work without a large, committed volunteer force capable of engaging and influencing the general public. But you gotta start somewhere.

      Any other ideas out there? Any interest in actually getting together and doing something?

      • Ron Chesshire February 25, 2017, 8:16 am

        Julie, it is not often that you and I agree to much if anything but, the campaign finance reform issue is close to my heart. I have helped stimulate some consideration at the County level and would be glad to work on Monterey’s problem. If the City Council doesn’t believe reform is necessary there is no better option than to take it to the People. If this ignites it would be wise for Council to enact because the People wont be as accommodating and generous.

        • Ron Chesshire February 25, 2017, 8:18 am

          Julie, please read my comment down the line below and take a look at the report.

          • Julie Engell February 26, 2017, 7:23 am

            In my opinion, expenditure caps is the way to go, although according to the Common Cause report, few jurisdictions employ them. I believe contribution limits would only strengthen corporate influence, which is not the direction I want to go. In my experience, individuals who control multiple corporate entities make identical contributions from each entity, which of course, multiplies their financial influence. The average activist/contributor has only one entity (himself/herself). Limiting contribution size would only serve to strengthen corporate influence. I would not support it.

          • Ron Chesshire February 27, 2017, 10:25 am

            Common Cause did not go into rules for “aggregation”. By establishing such rules one individual or entity would not be able to contribute from multiple sources and this is being proposed to the Board of Supervisors.

  • Natalie Gray February 24, 2017, 8:21 pm

    I can’t say I’m surprised. Dan Albert did not stand up for kids and teachers when he worked for MPUSD, allowing Supt. Shepard to run roughshod over our education community. I had hoped he would care for Monterey, but I guess he’s still the same second banana. Too bad. He could have been a contender.

    • Jeanne Turner February 24, 2017, 10:37 pm

      I agree, Natalie. My kids were at Monterey High while Dan Albert was principal. An empty suit. Having lost Libby that leaves Alan Haffa as the lone member of the Monterey City Council who represents the people of Monterey; the other four have sold out so can no longer be trusted to do what is best for Monterey residents.

      • Chad Balester February 24, 2017, 11:24 pm

        Jeanne Turner, I respect you and the hard work you do without pay for this community with Measure Z. However, if you’d really like to better understand this particular Wharf issue before commenting, if you’d like to look beneath the surface portrayal of things here, I would be more than happy to discuss this with you. My brother, Ben Balester, ran an honest business down there, he is also a pillar of the community who does nothing but give give give, and in no way was he robbing the people of Monterey.

        • Al Washburn March 3, 2017, 2:25 am

          Chad, I appreciate your pointing out that there is another side, but it does most of us no good when you offer to privately show Jeanne what lies beneath the surface. Show us all by writing about it here.

    • Alex Stewart February 25, 2017, 7:53 am


  • Joanna Greenshields February 24, 2017, 8:22 pm

    To coin a phrase oft used by Trump. Sad!

  • John Dalessio February 24, 2017, 8:23 pm

    Sad. Money corrupts the corruptible.

  • Terri Larson February 24, 2017, 8:54 pm

    I am still shaking my head at the turn of events with the Monterey City Council😡😡😡Very suspicious indeed😡😡 But I applaud you, Royal, in bringing Don Chapin into this discussion. Finally somebody calling him out as the puppeteer he is of not only the Salinas City Council, but the mastermind in getting Judge Phillips elected to help get through his pet projects. Too much money equals too much power! Not good for our small community😔

  • Chad Balester February 24, 2017, 11:13 pm

    ‘Barrett flipped sides after receiving campaign contributions from wharf-related enterprises”
    Wow, Royal Calkins reallly playing lowball here with statements like that. I think Timothy Barrett is just a balanced person, and Alan Haffa: Monterey City Councilmember has been out of balance in spite of his good intentions . He painted a viliffying picture of the Wharf, and yes.. perhaps they were viliffying towards him. Thats whats called a mirror. I think Mr Barret simply understands the ins and outs of it in spite of the over simplification of the matter both you and Mr Haffa have painted in the name of propaganda.
    What is more, it is very bad juju that the City expelled my father and brother Ben Balester from the wharf prematurely to this matter being resolved, now giving the new corporate out-of-town tenants the revised deal (my family has been on the Wharf for more than 100 years and are very local) What do you have to say about this? Is this legal?

  • Bob Coble February 25, 2017, 12:10 am

    The majority of the Monterey City council lost its courage and left only Alan Haffa with the integrity to continue trying to do justice for the taxpayers of Monterey. What a shame. Dan Turner — you are right on with this excellent accounting of this turnaround.

  • Pris Walton February 25, 2017, 6:27 am

    So folks, isn’t it time we organized and reformed local campaign financing? Who is up for cleaning up the system?

    • Ron Chesshire February 25, 2017, 8:02 am

      Get on board, the train will be leaving the station soon.

      There are no rules or limits for campaign financing other than what the FPPC provides. We have seen big money flow into County elections for years and have asked for reform. It is on the way in Monterey County and the train is at the station. No need to buy a ticket, this ride will be free.

      When the County adopts some rules and limits maybe the movement will spread around the County because there are no rules or limits in any jurisdiction in the County except Pacific Grove. The old saying goes, “it doesn’t matter when you get on board, it’s just that you do”. Stay tuned for future developments.

  • Alex Stewart February 25, 2017, 7:52 am


  • bill leone February 25, 2017, 9:39 am

    I am Solidly behind Dan on this issue, & I am proud to stand beside him as a fellow member of the local chapter of Veterans For Peace. Dan’s statement is articulate, precise, & Right On. What has happened to the Monterey City Council is an example of all that is corrupt & destabilizing in American Politics; to replace & to influence thoughtful policies by the use of overwhelming campaign contributions. The result being, the Public getting screwed. Alan needs all the political support we, as a community, can muster, & we need to replace all of the existing Bimbos now sitting on the Council who are responsible for this “destructuring” (Darth Bannon’s term) of local Democracy.

    • Glenn E. Robinson February 26, 2017, 7:17 pm

      Not to nitpick, but the word is “deconstruction.” It has a long history in post-modernism and literary criticism scholarship. Darth Bannon (like the term!) was trying to show off to the literati when he used the term.

  • Reginald V. Wedge February 25, 2017, 11:26 am

    At the very least there need to be recall elections for the Monterey City Council. It seems like we have been trying to clean up American elections and politics since at least the days of George McGovern. That is a long time ago. Despite what Sir Winston Churchill said, the American form of a “democratic republic” is the worst and weakest form of government. Our system has been toxic, corrupt and money driven since the get-go. This was easily seen by Dickens and recorded in his 1842 publication, “American Notes.” 2017 is the 241st year in which this country has labored under an ill-conceived system of government. After these 241 years we are a failed, bankrupt, banana republic of a Third World Country. The laughing stock of the planet.

    It is obvious that the votes of the citizens of Monterey have been bought and sold and sold down the river. For some reason the commercial interests of the United States of America cannot exist and thrive in an honest, open, healthy, sunlit and fresh-aired environment. The stench of rotten fish along the Wharf is again all over this situation.

  • bill leone February 25, 2017, 12:49 pm

    Reginald, I am in agreement with almost every word you wrote.

    Also, the term Darth Bannon used was “Deconstruction,” ….of the liberal state, not “destructuring,”
    although “destructuring” would be more accurate, if that word just happened to be in the dictionary.

  • bill leone February 25, 2017, 12:54 pm

    The source of the above-cited “Alternative Facts:”


  • Karl Pallastrini February 26, 2017, 6:49 pm

    I don’t have a dog in the fight regarding the lease arrangements between the Wharf and the City of Monterey. What I do find disturbing is the character assassination of Dan Albert, as a Principal and Assistant Superintendent in the MPUSD. First, it was about his role in the lease-lease back process in regards to facility replacement and up-grades to schools in the District. MPUSD was not the only district in the county or state that used that method of financing construction costs. And…Dan Albert did not do anything without the approval of the MPUSD Superintendent and Board of Education. The “empty suit” remark is not the Dan that I know. As a former principal at Carmel High, Dan, along with Principals at Pacific Grove and Seaside High, met on a regular basis. We got to know each other on many levels, exchanging problems, ideas and solutions. There is no question in my mind that Dan wanted the best for his students and teachers. Let’s keep remarks about Dan Albert focused on his new role as a member of the City Council.

  • Peggy Johnson March 25, 2017, 5:07 pm

    I love seafood, but I love sea life more, so I don’t indulge. There seems to be something fishy going on at the wharf, so maybe we should just eat at home.