CCWD director sends anonymous hate mail to HMB planning commissioner

Posted by on Tue, August 28, 2007

The name of Lansing's employer has been blacked out.
Lansing's home address has been blacked out.

HMB Review editor Clay Lambert says that Coastside County Water District director Chris Mickelson is the author of an anonymous letter sent to Half Moon Bay planning commissioner Kevin Lansing [HMB Review]. The letter was mailed to Lansing the day after he had filed a written complaint with the CCWD about Mickelsen’s behavior.  The anonymous note reads:

Wrong CCWD, you dumbshit! Guess that PhD from UCLA didn’t do you much good…besides that crappy dead end job at [Lansing’s employer]. Guess reading isn’t requiered (sic) at your loser position!

The letter, in an envelope mailed from San Francisco with no return address other than "Your Pal", was scrawled on a copy of document that Lansing had enclosed in his complaint to the CCWD: the code of ethics of the Contra Costa Water District.

Lansing’s complaint to the CCWD [pdf] said that at the Planning Commission meeting on August 24, 2006, which Mickelsen attended as a representative of the CCWD, "Mr. Mickelsen stood at the back of the room (off camera) and proceeded to extend his arm and finger to make a motion of shooting me with a gun. He then raised his hand in an obscene gesture." Lansing filed a complaint with the city of Half Moon Bay four days after the event on August 28, 2006. He says that after the city said it could do nothing about the incident, the wrote to the CCWD on August 23 of this year, so that the complaint would be filed within a year of the incident.

The anonymous letter was postmarked from San Francisco the next day.

Review editor Clay Lambert wrote today in his blog, "Mickelsen confessed, admitting to me that he wrote the profane missive." Lambert described the letter as "Much ado about nothing". The event has echoes of a 2004 event in which Mickelsen confessed to the Review that he bought an anonymous attack ad in that year’s campaign for the Cabrillo Unified School District board.

Lansing has submitted a new complaint to the CCWD regarding the anonymous letter [pdf], as well as to the Half Moon Bay Coastside Chamber of Commerce of which Mickelsen is a board member and past president [pdf].

We attempted to reach Mickelsen at his business this afternoon, but he has not returned our call.

Comment 1
Wed, August 29, 2007 5:53am
Deb Wong
All my comments

Not sure if Lambert is right that the letter from Mickelson was “much ado about nothing”. The letter writer seems to be harboring a lot of rage. He also appears slightly unstable, with the letter bordering on harrassment.  We do not need people like this in public service. The sentiments written on the letter have “loose canon” written all over them.

Wow. From what I’ve seen Kevin Lansing is doing a great job. This re-inforces my opinion.

Here’s a link that describes some other things about that infamous August 24, 2006 Planning Commission hearing that led to all this:

Some people (CCWD director James Larimer and Review Editor Clay Lambert) have tried to lamely justify Mickelsen’s disturbing behavior because CCWD’s pipeline project was put last on the agenda that night. Amazing.

The CCWD directors are elected public officials who were getting paid (by us) to attend the meeting. The least they could do was let the many ordinary citizens (who were there on their own time) dealing with complex neighborhood problems go first. The vote to place CCWD last on the agenda was 7-0.

I explained all this at the time, but that doesn’t stop the Review and Mickelsen/Larimer from trying to distort history.

See the 4th comment from the top in the above link: my response to Larimer at the time.

The contents of this unsigned letter violate the norms of common decency expected of everyday citizens, much less public officials, and should be condemned by all.

—Jack McCarthy

Pathetic and Sick! Chris Mickelsen, Jim Larimer and Clay Lambert have collectively set a new low in Coastside discourse. did a public service in providing Ms Mickelsen’s actual ‘note’. I won’t judge the demonstration of a lack of formal education by Mickelsen or the obvious envy of Mr. Lansing’s education for I don’t believe that that should be a prerequisite for public office. The lack of judgment demonstrated by Mickelsen should be a disqualifier for public office and deserves censure by fellow board members.

Due to the payments by CCWD to the board members, it would appear to confer an employee relationship between CCWD and Mickelsen. I would hope Mr. Lansing would consult his personal attorney to determine whether he has a cause of action against CCWD should they fail to act against Mickelsen.

In following the link to the Review’s swamp, I found Mr. Larimer far from condemning Mickelsen’s actions; he was pathetically attempting to justify them. There does seems to be a matter of factual disagreement regarding the 24Aug06 Planning Commission meeting.  Mr. Larimer asserts that Mr. Lansing unilaterally moved the CCWD item from the 2nd to the 3rd on the agenda. Mr. Lansing asserts that it was a 7-0 vote to change the agenda. The minutes of the meeting should be definitive in settling the dispute and apparently there is a videotape of the commission meeting that I would hope that Darin Boville would assist in putting it up on Coastsider.

The other factual item appears to be the claim by Larimer and Mickelsen that $3000 was squandered by the two or three hour delay. I would love to see that “supposed” number broken down. Just how much do they pay per hour?

Also, the arrogance of Mickelsen and Larimer to expect that the public should genuflect to their demand to be moved to the first of the meeting and the public at the meeting should simply get out of their way and wait.

As to the Review’s Editor Clay Lambert, this is not the first time he has treated Mickelsen’s anonymous political attacks with a ‘wink and a nod’. The very structure of his blog site encourages anonymous ad hominem attacks. Lambert had access to all the facts - and simply chose to ignore all of them!

“Not that any of this really matters, except in a symbolic way. Much ado about nothing,” wrote Lambert - Isn’t it about time we get a REAL newspaper on the Coastside?

Ken Johnson

How can an anonymous, profane, insane hand scrawled note from an elected official to an appointed official be determined as “much ado about nothing?”  I have personally witnessed Chris Mickelson’s erratic behavior at City Council meetings.  When I complained to one of our City Council Members, she replied that “he is just a bad boy.”  This sounds as if his own colleagues dismiss him as an embarrassment and have recently been successful in keeping him on a short leash and out of the cameras sight and public’s eye.  It appears the strain was too much for the little guy.  A nasty anonymous letter was the best he could do.

If you have something of any value to say, then just step up to the plate and sign your name.  (Guess you won’t be on this website.)

Otherwise, quit wasting our time.

Dana Kimsey

Review editor Clay Lambert’s treatment of the Mickelsen’s “letter” story is a serious lapse of judgement.

In the paper, he tacked it on to the end of an unrelated story, after the jump to the inside of the paper, where he knows no one is going to read it.

On the web, he buried it in the sixth paragraph of an unread blog under the meaningless headline “Lest you think all conflict has been resolved…”

If he were a rookie, the technical term for this would be “burying the lede”: putting the real news (that an elected official sent anonymous hate mail to another public official) where it’s easy to miss. But Clay knows what he’s doing.

There is only one possible sanction for an elected official who behaves in the manner. And that happens at the ballot box.  By burying this story, Clay helped Chris Mickelsen escape the appropriate consequences of his actions.

Comment 8
Thu, August 30, 2007 11:47am
Barb Mauz
All my comments

Ken Johnson wrote:

Isn’t it about time we get a REAL newspaper on the Coastside?

The answer is YES! Thank goodness the Tax-Paying Homeowner/Residents here and people in the outside world who CARE about our fragile, LIMITED Coastside have where they can get the TRUTH of things.

For instance, on the back page of their latest issue we find two articles where the full story is LEFT OUT. In an article entitled, “City declines to pay for SAM improvements” where the REAL story is in the Sub-Title: “Council Challenges Joint Powers Agreement” the reporter leaves out the real substance of the story!

And, in a story entitled, “New Zoning on Burnham Strip would not prohibit a house” where the full story is really in the subtitle, “Harbor District Hopes Grandfather Clause will Protect Investment” the REAL story is what S.M. County’s so-called “LCP Update” would allow on this property which is Zoned Community Open Space Conservation and the Harbor District’s bizzare claim that they have a right to “build a house” which would set a precedent in order to make up for their self-inflicted budget problems!


Barb Mauz

The biased Review is a big reason why corrupt, unethical politicians can get away with just about anything in this town.

The Review’s buried “news” report on the Mickelsen incident says this: 

“In [Lansing’s] complaint, which city attorneys concluded this April was without merit, Lansing accused Mickelsen of making obscene gestures toward him during the meeting…”

Actually, the City did not conclude that the complaint was “without merit” but rather they said that Mickelsen’s activities (obscene and threatening gun shooting gestures) were not covered by the City’s ethics or harrassment policies because neither party involved was a paid employee of the City. (Planning Commissioners are unpaid appointees). The Review’s wording makes it seem like the incidents did not happen. 

Here’s how the Review describes Mickelsen’s letter:

“Mickelsen confirmed Tuesday that he recently returned to Lansing a copy of his complaint, and wrote profane comments in the margins that besmirched Lansing’s intelligence, education and job.”

Notice there is no mention that Mickelsen did it anonymously—and that he confessed only after a complaint was filed.

The irony of all this is that Mickelsen’s scrawled comments appear right above the words “Code of Ethics,” while Larimer and Lambert continue to defend the guy.

I guarantee you that if an HMB Planning Commissioner did what Mickelsen did, that person would be gone within a week.

Link to the Review “news” story

Mickelsen may also be getting a pass on this because, as several folks have told me after reading his note: “Yep, that sounds like Chris.”  On the surface, it looks like a Dog Bites Man story.

Here’s a thought experiment. How do you think the Review would have played the story if a Boy Scout like Jim Grady or John Muller had written the note? What if Bonnie McClung had written it? How about Marcia Raines? Try wrapping your head around that for a moment.

Comment 11
Fri, August 31, 2007 12:06am
Carl May
All my comments

“...may also be getting a pass…”

C’mon, Barry, you know the majority of voters that chose the current ruling combine in the CCWD will give him a pass—those who even chance to hear about this little embarrassment, that is. From backstabbing coffee shop prattle to the dirty-trick ad next to Jonathan Lundell’s in the Review, this is standard fare for some local politicians who are re-elected time and again. And obviously excusable according to the unpublicized editorial policies of the local newspaper that favors them. You can only surmise this kind of thing doesn’t bother, and may even serve, their core constituency.

Carl May

Comment 12
Tue, September 4, 2007 10:28am
lani ream
All my comments

Chris road by our home in HMB on his bike and noticed me on the deck. He shouted out “Lani Ream-is this where you live?” When I answered “yes” he yelled back “now I know where you live and where to find you”. He obviously enjoys what he considers intimidation but this newest behavior should put him beyond his elected position. lani ream

Comment 13
Tue, September 4, 2007 5:12pm
Ken Johnson
All my comments

Thanks Kevin, finding any reference to Mickelsen’s illiterate Unabomber style hate mail in the Review without your link on 08/30 at 12:34 PM is nearly impossible. The search words “anonymous” and “Mickelsen” only turns up the attacks in 2004 and 2001! The Review is such a sad excuse for even a weekly ‘shopper’ - not even close to being a news paper!

I hope a police report was filled.

Did he attend CUSD? To what grade?

More later,
Ken Johnson

Comment 14
Tue, September 4, 2007 9:41pm
Barry Parr
All my comments

In his carefully-worded smartvoter profile, Chris Mickelson says he was “educated at Coastside Schools and Local College”.