Transparency Matters

Morro Bay residents can do better than resorting to misleading anonymous postcards and personal attacks to get their positions across.

Around July 19-20, residents complained about receiving an anonymous postcard from a group called Morro Bay Water Future (MBWF), which supports the city’s position to move forward with their Water Reclamation Facility. The postcard, which arrived in the mail around the same time as the city’s Prop. 218 notice, failed to disclose their independent expenditure committee number as required by law. According to the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC), mass mailers advocating a political position, even if it’s not specifically advocating for or against a California candidates or ballot measure, need to disclose who they are.

After residents went on neighborhood social network pushed for MBWF members to identify themselves, the group scrambled to update their website with an FPPC application pending status. Save Morro Bay reached out to the California Secretary of State’s office and obtained their application, which is now available online. The phone number they listed in their paperwork is the same phone number on record for the Morro Bay Open Space Alliance, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. A representative for the MBOSA says the organization, which is supposed to be nonpartisan, has remained neutral on the Water Reclamation Facility.

MBOSA’s board chair is Glenn Silloway, who is the partner of active city councilwoman Marlys McPherson. Presented as “positions by the city [of Morro Bay],” McPherson’s 2016 campaign website published content and materials that have also appeared on MBWF’s website. According to her voting record and council meeting minutes, McPherson has aggressively supported the controversial project.

Silloway is also an active supporter of the project. On Nextdoor, Silloway has repeatedly and personally attacked opponents of the project, at one point accusing members of the Citizens for Affordable Living (CAL) of electioneering: an allegation that appears ironic now. Save Morro Bay heard from several Morro Bay residents who claimed Silloway and other purported members of MBWF reportedly harassed them at local events that allow political campaigning at tables. Harassment reportedly included screaming matches and being aggressively followed into Spencer’s Fresh Market, a local grocery chain that’s graciously allowed residents to table outside their business to advocate positions on the WRF.

Silloway, who is also board president of the Historical Society of Morro Bay, should recognize the historical significance of why anonymous mailers and personal attacks in Morro Bay are completely unacceptable.

In 2010, residents were inundated with multiple-media attacks on then-mayoral candidate Betty Winholtz. SLO Coast Journal thoroughly documented the attacks on Winholtz, who is currently a member of CAL. An anonymously produced flyer called “Seagull Sentinel” was delivered to Morro Bay residents. The flyer, which had the appearance of a newspaper, criticized and mocked Winholtz. The flyer published claims about Winholtz that were considered misleading and false. The flyer was accompanied by anonymous YouTube videos that remain online.

Save Morro Bay won’t dignify the MBWF postcard or website content with a response until the entire MBWF board membership steps forward, provides a mission statement and promises to hold a more respectful dialogue in the future.

Transparency matters.

Save Morro Bay strongly prefers to discuss the issues and maintain an issue-oriented dialogue, but the lack of civility and transparency as exhibited by residents — with connections to the city — cannot be ignored. This post places us in an uncomfortable position to address the conduct of private citizens who have contributed to the community in unmistakably productive ways. But in the context of the Water Reclamation Facility controversy, we believe they’ve crossed the line into various legal and ethical issues that perfectly embody our long-standing issues with the City of Morro Bay.

5 thoughts on “Transparency Matters”

  1. Nicole Dorfman

    I am confused why you are bringing up the mailing against Betty in 2010 in this post targeting Glenn Silloway. Are you accusing/insinuating him of that as well? Because that’s how it reads to me here….

    Regarding the MBWF mailing, I was also involved in crafting the message. Like you, Glenn is also working with a group of concerned citizens toward solutions to our sewer issues. Your insinuation that we attempting to deceive people is flatly untrue. It was a mistake and an oversight not to put our pending legal reference on the postcard in our rush to get it out on a deadline. We are not trying to hide our identities or misinform anyone. And nowhere in the mailing are personal attacks on anyone.

    And please do not throw MBOSA under the bus. We are in-fact, non-partisan and neutral in the sewer. For you to suggest otherwise harms the amazing board, made of a diverse section of our community, who come together to protect open space. That’s it. If you have a problem with Glenn, please keep it to that. Some of our board members support Glenn’s position, some support yours. I know this through my personal relationships with various board members, not because it is ever discussed in our meetings, which are focused solely on the protection of open space and what we can do to meet our goals in this arena. If you have any questions or concerns about MBOSA, you are welcome to attend our monthly meeting, this Thursday at 5:30 at the Chamber of Commerce and see for yourself.

    1. Nicole,

      The 2010 mailing against Winholtz is an example of another anonymous mailer that spread misinformation to the community. A link is provided to SLO Coast Journal, which mentions the individuals involved.

      Regarding MBOSA: I’ve stated the facts, including your statement that the organization is nonpartisan and neutral in the sewer. I did not suggest otherwise.

      I can only address what I wrote, not what you think I insinuated.

  2. Nicole Dorfman

    What you said about MBOSA is not all facts. When you add, in the sentence copied below, that MBOSA “is supposed to be nonpartisan” – you suggest that it is not.
    “A representative for the MBOSA says the organization, which is supposed to be nonpartisan, has remained neutral on the Water Reclamation Facility.”

    Please leave MBOSA out of the discussion.
    Thank you, Nicole

    1. Then change the phone number on the FPPC filing form before I change my mind about filing a complaint with the state.

  3. From: “Mark Low”
    To: [email protected], “Council”
    Cc: “Matt Makowetski” , “Dana Swanson” , “lkudzma” , [email protected], “Citizens for Affordable Living”
    Sent: Thursday, July 26, 2018 8:47:35 AM
    Subject: … but the lack of civility and transparency as exhibited by residents — with connections to the city — cannot be ignored. / AMEN AARON

    Save Morro Bay strongly prefers to discuss the issues and maintain an issue-oriented dialogue, but the lack of civility and transparency as exhibited by residents — with connections to the city — cannot be ignored.

    SHAME ON YOU COUNCIL MEMBER McPherson, shame on you…

    8. same table, wastewater treatment O&M is going up 78% at the new plant. The footnote accounts for Cayucos’ current 25% share, but what accounts for the balance, i.e. is the new plant that much more expensive to run?
    9. page 175, first paragraph, the upgrade in the 1980s was left out of the history, making the plant sound more ancient than it is. 2

    10. page 175, first paragraph, the phrase, “the City’s new, more stringent, permit requirements” does not reflect the fact that the current sewer plant is meeting the “more stringent” requirements now as often as not, if by stringent you are referring to meeting secondary treatment.

    When enough Citizens are Informed/Educated, the carpet you are relying upon will no longer provide cover to sweep into…

    Respectfully submitted,

    Mark Low
    Concerned Citizen
    Plan “B” Proponent
    Capital Cost for an ECOfluid USBF(MBR) equipped facility is significantly less at $6.80
    (without a membrane) and $7.40 a gallon capital costs (with membrane) tertiary treatment
    compared to the $20.84 a gallon capital cost for the secondary level treatment oxidation
    ditch out lined in the San Luis Obispo County’s current RFQ.
    As Carollo overbuilt this facility, after intentionally “ignoring” a “gravity flow/single tank ‘PRE-ENGINEERED’ design” 10 years ago for much more than the “DEIR” why should a thinking Citizen expect a different result in Morro Bay, given the willful ignorance in use by Carollo, B&V and others. I name these folks specifically because they are they matter now, to the future quality of life for the Citizens of Morro Bay. (The Mom holding the child at the podium is extremely uninformed, financially speaking, when it comes to her child’s future. To her I would say: Gravity and Sludge Blankets are Free.
    To the gentleman who offered the BRILLIANT Idea of opening a Community Coffee Shoppe to defray the costs of building and operating a wastewater treatment facility, I say: BRAVO! Really SOLID THINKING>Run for Mayor!
    ECOfluid’s “pre-engineered” designs conserve energy and resources because all biological processes and secondary clarifications are accomplished in a single tank. It takes less time, money and energy to design, bid, build, operate and maintain this very efficient and effective treatment technology. A significantly less amount of land, time, energy and money are needed to construct and operate an ECOfluid USBF (MBR) equipped facility which
    results in a lower environmental and economic footprint, overall.

    This just out:

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