Video: HMB director refuses to vacate chair of SAM
Half Moon Bay City Council member Marina Fraser, who has been Acting Chair of the Sewer Authority Midcoastside for the year since January 2008, is refusing to step down until she has been elected for a full one-year term as official chair. You may also want to read the Review’s account of the meeting, but there is no substitute for watching the video.
Fair warning: This is the most squirm-inducing video of a public meeting I’ve seen in years.
SAM is jointly operated by the city of Half Moon Bay, Granada Sanitary District, and the Montara Water and Sanitary District. Half Moon Bay’s two directors have half the votes on the SAM board, and the four directors from the two Midcoast agencies hold the other half of the votes. As long as the Half Moon Bay and the Midcoast directors vote as blocs, all votes end in a tie.
In January 2008, the Midcoast and Half Moon Bay directors were unable to agree on the election of a Chair, and Fraser, as Vice Chair, became Acting Chair, a position she has held for the last year.
Last Monday, Fraser said that she would refuse to the vacate the Acting Chair position until she is elected to a full one-year term as Chair of SAM.
Pressed for a reason to elect her to the Chair, said, "If you had just elected me as Chair, I would have been fine ... you denied me the respect of having a Chair position. So, this can go on if you’d like. Elect me as chair, and I’ll serve, and someone else can serve after me."
Half Moon Bay’s other SAM director, John Muller, is backing her up. At the meeting Muller said, "Give her an official year as chair, and in 2010 I’m ready to move on. ... If we cannot do that you have to realize Marina has thirty-four more months on the City Council. Thirty-four more months!"
Here is my interpretation of what I saw. You should watch the video and draw your own conclusions.
First, keep in mind that Fraser has been acting as Chair for the past year. Therefore, she’s refusing to vacate the position because either (1) the former Mayor of Half Moon Bay wants to remove the word "acting" from her resume, or (2) Half Moon Bay sees a strategic interest in controlling SAM for at least another year, if not longer, and is using this as a pretext.
The Midcoast directors are under no obligation to vote for Fraser now, or in 2008. That’s why there’s a vote. There’s nothing illegal about what Fraser and Muller are doing, but it raises the question of whether the city is acting in good faith.
Considering Fraser’s and Muller’s threat to never vacate the position unless Fraser is elected Chair, the Midcoast directors have no reason to believe that she will ever vacate the chair. Even if she’s elected to the position.