Dave Potter's Anti-Environmental Voting Record
(c) Copyright 2004-2009 David Dilworth
Supervisor Dave Potter --
Very Clever Environmental-Fraudster
Dave Potter is a Monterey Peninsula elected official who has a long track record of voting for and influencing large environmentally harmful projects, including the Pebble Beach Company Forest Destruction Plan (Clint Eastwood's Chainsaw Massacre), and trying fairly successfully to hide his harmful work and voting record. He has turned very mean when caught.
Potter very cleverly has many Peninsula voters and media falsely believing he is trying to protect our environment. The truth is Potter is constantly helping developers, perhaps with more influence than any other local elected official -- not merely on our Monterey Peninsula, but all along California's Coast as a Coastal Commissioner. He does a lot behind the scenes by pushing on agency staff, and a lot can be seen in his public votes - that the media ignore or are willfully ignorant about.
A common trick Potter uses is voting happily for environmental protection only when his vote is meaningless (when there are enough votes for the development anyway). He will even pound the table speaking out against development ("How can I protect our environment as the 1 in a 4-1 vote?") when he knows a project already has enough votes to pass without his. This makes the other electeds voting for the project look even worse as bad guys; not that they often care.
But watch carefully when Potter's vote is meaningful; when the votes are tied and his is needed for development; when his is the swing vote in a 4-3 decision. In those cases almost every time Potter votes For Development and Against protecting our Environment. He has gotten away with this for a decade without the media catching on and for a long time the Sierra Club didn't get it.
Potter's trick is exposed when he is the swing vote on development or water issues, then he tries to vote quietly. When he is a swing vote on an important issue, he frequently "misses" the meeting. His smarter and less extreme Board colleagues (Water Board, Supervisors and Coastal Commissioners) have begun to catch on and when his vote does matter they are more often putting him on the spot where his vote will be publicized.
Being the swing vote puts an elected official in a powerful position to extract "concessions" out of a developer. I would love to see a list of the "concessions" Potter has pressured developers to deliver.
One can also reasonably ask why the Herald, the Pine Cone and the Weekly refuse to report on Potter's arranging serious financial misdeeds and conflicts of interest. Click here to read a story that none of them ever reported. They all received this Press Release.
While Potter started out his Supervisor and Coastal Commissioner roles voting well - his votes have decayed miserably since 1997 and are now horrible. The best Commissioner voting record is about 90% good votes, and in 1999 Potter was at 64%.
But, since 2000 Potter's votes are predominantly AGAINST our Coastal environment. Potter's percentage of bad votes has increased to 80% - as bad as the worst property rights Commissioners !
Forest Destruction and Huge Development Advocate
Potter served as "quarterback" for Pebble Beach company as their designated advocate on the Coastal Commission. At the 2006 final Santa Rosa Coastal Commission hearing Potter jumped to approve the project - immediately after both government attorneys had informed the Commission the project was impossibly illegal. Thankfully, his effort was defeated 4-8.
In 2002 a coalition of six conservation groups prepared and endorsed a proposed Monterey Pine forest ecosystem law and gave this proposed ordinance to Supervisor Potter (March 12, 2002) - but Potter has yet to lift a finger to provide the desperately needed protection for our vanishing forests. I have left 4 phone calls for Supervisor Potter on this exact subject since August 2003 and he has yet to return, or respond to, any of those calls.
When asked at the Democratic Party Candidate's forum in 2004 Supervisor Candidate Susan Goldbeck instantly and fully endorsed the Monterey pine forest ecosystem protection law and committed to spending money to put it in motion.
On the spot, Potter sneakily ducked the answer. He only responded by saying something like --
"I'm proud of the City of Monterey's tree protection ordinance (which is good and that he did help create). I'd like to see a debate between a tree protection ordinance like Monterey has and the proposed forest protection law."
So Potter had a full opportunity to endorse the proposed law, to agendize it for discussion, or spend money to make it happen, but he intentionally and fully ducked (refused to answer) the question of supporting the forest protection ordinance.
Its was more than five years since the voters passed this highly misleading ballot Measure A written by Tony Lombardo for Pebble Beach Company.
The problem for Clint, Peter Ueberroth and Pebble Beach Company is "Measure A" is illegal and harmful - it blatantly violates the Coastal Act by allowing more development in highly protected coastal habitat - Monterey pine forest and wetland ecosystems (called ESHA or Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Areas, and it impermissibly zones the property of a single owner. If the County sent it to the Coastal Commission it should be tossed out right away.
Clint and Potter colluded to delay sending the illegal Measure to the Commission so it gets there at the same time as the County's approval of the massive Pebble Beach Company project - of yet another golf course and subdivisions.
That way if the Commission balks at the illegal and harmful measure, PBC can whine "but we went through all the hoops. You can't tell us No now!"
Potter also engineered the illegal June 13, 2006 un-agendized Monterey County Supervisor's letter (Brown Act violation) pulling Pebble Beach Company's Measure A from the Coastal Commission's agenda; causing the Commission to waste a whole day as that was the only item on that day's agenda. He also caused dozens of people to waste their time and travel money.
Potter Votes to Convert Agricultural Land to Commercial
On July 1 1997 Peninsula Supervisor David Potter voted to convert excellent agricultural land (with a 40 acre minimum zoning) to commercial zoning on Highway 68 near the Salinas river. The land, owned by Bollenbacher and Kelton - one of Monterey County's largest land development corporations, is at the intersection of Highway 68 and Reservation / River road. 15,000 square feet of office space on the land was also approved.
Up until July 1997 Potter has had a good voting record against further growth, urban sprawl and growth inducing freeways and dams. He had no reason to vote for this loss of agricultural land since it would have easily passed with the other 4 pro-growth votes on the County Board of Supervisors of Edith Johnsen, Tom Perkins, Judy Pennycook and Simon Salinas.
More Agricultural Land Conversion
Potter voted Coastal Comm (Mar 98) to Convert Prime Agricultural lands and allow Santa Cruz County to amend it's LCP to allow for biomedical livestock operations.
RANCHO CHUALAR 2:
All 5 supervisors including Potter and Pennycook voted to approve EIR. Potter voted to approve Chualar II EIR even if he did vote against project. Dave Potter voted for EIR approval, against GP amend & Zoning on Chualar II.
Small but Awful Development
In Spite of Our Water Emergency
Even though Potter knows full well that our Peninsula has been in a Water Supply Emergency since 1998 (because he is required to reaffirm it every year on the Water Board), he continually votes and works hard to approve new development and expand water use.
Potter voted for Clint Eastwood's Monterra Ranch water permit Feb 24 2000. The vote was 3-3 so thankfully it didn't pass.
Potter Supports Water Transfers
(Actually he hand-held the water transfer project every step of the way)
When the first three pro-public interest directors were elected two years ago (2000), a process to dismantle water transfers began. As the needed fourth vote on a 7 member Board, Supervisor Dave Potter repeatedly made it clear he was in no hurry to stop this practice. Potter dragged his feet in every conceivable way and successfully kept water transfers alive for 18 months allowing many developments to complete their approvals and allowing many new applicants to get their paperwork submitted.
With the Nov 2001 election of Judi Lehman, running explicitly to end water transfers, and the defeat of incumbent Ron Chesshire, a new majority emerged making Potter's stonewalling irrelevant. He no longer could cast the swing vote since there was now a majority of pro-public interest directors. They could get the needed 4 votes without needing Potter's vote.
The new Board majority immediately put a real halt to water transfers on January's agenda.
The board approved it 4-3 with dissents from Potter, Pendergrass (elected as Sand City's Mayor with less than a total of 100 votes) and Seaside's Alvin Edwards. After public comment closed, staff suggested adding an exemption for military properties. Some Board members asked for language about that for the next meeting.
For the February meeting, last evening, this issue was marked by threats of lawsuit by the city of Seaside, threats of recall of other Directors by Seaside's Director Alvin Edwards and crowd roars of disapproval. The opposition was summed up by one fellow "We have the full spectrum on our side - all the Commercial property owners, Chambers of Commerce and the Mayors oppose this. What more could you want?" (maybe the public)
Dave Potter didn't even show up, giving all the opponents an excuse to demand the item be continued until he returned - even though he had already voted against it.
Potter Hides Water Transfers
As Water Board Chair Potter rescinded the policy of having all water transfers come before the board - making it extremely hard for the public to find out what was going on. Potter has sharply cut off speakers, prevented public comments on some items and stopped Board members from asking clarifying questions of their staff before public comment. He kept this up in spite of strong criticism from the public and his own board.
After dragging his feet for 9 (or more) months Potter finally voted for a well regulation law for the Water District.
Potter Hides Developer's 2004 $10,000 Campaign Contribution.
July 8, July 9 & July 10th, 2009 - Monterey Herald stories on a $10,000 campaign contribution to Potter from local developer Nader Agha that Potter had diverted to a broker/developer (Russ Carter) rather than deposited in his Campaign checking account in 2004. Potter called Agha and first asked that the contribution be in cash. The check never showed up on a Potter campaign contribution form until Agha disclosed it in years later in May 2009.
Undisputed Fact: Both the Donor-Agha and the Recipient-broker/developer (Carter) agree that they did not know each other previous to the transaction but both knew Potter. This requires a conclusion that Potter arranged the $10,000 transaction, even though Potter denies any knowledge of it.
Undisputed Fact: Agha's $10,000 check was cashed by Carter, but no one claims Agha's $10,000 was paid back by now, some 5 years later. Forcing the conclusion that this was not a loan as Potter is trying to claim.
This means Potter knowingly arranged a "campaign contribution" and not only did not report it, he took pains to hide it - while getting the money - 4 to 5 years before the transaction was publicly known.
Potter Hoodwinks Coastal Commission Staff into meeting at Developer's Hotel
March 13, 2009 - Coastal Commission staff publicly apologized to Commissioners at today’s because it arranged last year’s Monterey County Coastal Commission meeting at Rancho Canada. This is significant because Rancho Canada is owned by the land use lawyer Tony Lombardo who was also representing a project on that meeting’s agenda.
Commission staff expressed regret for the conflict of financial and political interests and said they are taking steps to try to hold all future meetings in public buildings. Because they do not live in our area they apparently had no idea that Mr. Lombardo owned Rancho Canada until it was too late to arrange another meeting location. No previous Coastal Commission meeting had been held at Rancho Canada. Monterey County Supervisor. Coastal Commissioner Dave Potter was apparently lobbying for the meeting to be held at Lombardo’s building.
Potter also persuaded Coastal Commission Staff into meeting in San Francisco (at a large cost) in 2008 rather than for free in Marin County. Potter left during the meeting to attend a Fund raiser held for him only 3 blocks away by a lobbyist who often appears at the Coastal Commission.
Potter's Positive Acts
Potter opposed the New Los Padres Dam in 1995. Still consistently opposes it. (However, as of May 2009 Potter now supports a "regional" giant growth water project which would take away our right to vote down another giant growth water project.)
Potter did significantly help stop the Hatton Canyon Freeway. (but Potter wants you to forget he voted FOR the Hatton Canyon Freeway while on the Monterey Council. And don't pay attention to the giant Noyo Bridge in Mendocino County (wider than the Golden Gate Bridge) where it only passed because of Potter's swing vote.)
Potter did vote against the Sand City Hotel - twice.
But there are those other problems ....
So while Potter formerly did some good things even a few very good things,
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This Page Last Updated July 9, 2009