The Partisan: Public water advocates seek to unseat Potter

By Royal Calkins

One of the Peninsula’s leading water activists, Ron Weitzman, is asking the mayors’ select  committee to reconsider its appointment of Carmel Mayor Dave Potter to the water management district responsible for exploring a public takeover of the Cal Am Water system.

The mayors’ group had been expected to name Monterey Mayor Clyde Roberson to a seat on the water management district board on Jan. 4. But one of Roberson’s supporters, Del Rey Oaks Mayor Alison Kerr, arrived at the meeting 15 minutes late, after the group had picked Potter in what has been described as a “speed-up vote.”

“The obvious question,” Weitzman said in a letter to the mayors’ committee, “is why you did not wait for the sixth member to arrive. Less obvious but even more puzzling is why the two members who favored Clyde Roberson did not excuse themselves from the meeting until the arrival of the sixth mayor. The vote could not have taken place without a quorum.”

The appointment is significant because it places Potter, a longtime political ally of Cal Am, on the board that later this year will hire consultants to study the feasibility of a Cal Am takeover and, if the study supports the idea, to actually pursue a purchase. The procedure is set out by Measure J, a ballot measure well supported by Peninsula voters last November.

Potter’s appointment potentially tips the balance of power on the water management board, technically the board of the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District.  The board is now made up of three people supportive of the takeover — Alvin Edwards, Monterey County Supervisor Mary Adams, and George Riley, who spearheaded the Measure J campaign — along with Cal Am loyalist Jeanne Byrne, recently appointed member Gary Hoffmann, who professes neutrality, and Molly Evans, who has leaned toward the takeover side in the past but failed to support a takeover advocate in the process leading to Hoffmann’s recent appointment.

Roberson was featured in campaign ads supporting Measure J and he had recently aligned himself with the groups supporting the takeover plan, Public Water Now and Weitzman’s Water Ratepayers Association of the Monterey Peninsula.

While Kerr was en route to the meeting at a Pacific Grove restaurant, the mayors’ group selected Potter to replace former Seaside Mayor Ralph Rubio on the water management district board, which would oversee the Cal Am system if the takeover is successful. Potter received his own vote plus those of Seaside Mayor Ian Oglesby and Sand City Mayor Mary Ann Carbone. Pacific Grove Mayor Bill Peake voted for Roberson, who abstained.

Potter later told reporters he was pleased to have received the appointment and intends to use the position to make sure Carmel residents see lower water bills in the event of a public buyout. He could not be reached to comment on Wednesday.

Potter served on the Monterey County Board of Supervisors for two decades, during which time the county worked closely with Cal Am in an ill-fated effort to build a desalination plant. That effort continues despite repeated delays that add costs to a project many critics believe would produce unfeasibly expensive water in a service area that already has the most expensive drinking water in the nation.

Other water activists are exploring a potential legal challenge to the Jan. 4 vote on grounds that the agenda was not properly posted before.  Some have also suggested that Kerr, the new Del Rey Oaks mayor, may have been intentionally delayed while attending a meeting at her City Hall. She stopped short of confirming that had happened.

“People are concerned about how key appointments that affect the region’s future are being made,” she said via email. “I understand and would be deeply disturbed to discover if my delay and subsequent inability to vote on this particular matter were planned in any way.”

If another vote was taken, it presumably would result in a 3-3 tie, setting off a series of new motions and votes until one member or another captured a majority.

In his letter, Weitzman also suggested that the mayors’ group take a weighted vote based on population in each of the cities, and that it invite a seventh member, Marina Mayor Bruce Delgado, to join the committee. Marina is not represented on the panel because it is not served by Cal Am, even though Cal Am plans to build its desal plant in Marina and its operations would involve the use of groundwater to which Marina claims the rights. A lawsuit over that issue is being played out in court.

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Royal Calkins

About Royal Calkins

Contributing writer Royal Calkins has worked for newspapers in Santa Cruz, Monterey and Fresno. For the past couple of years, he has produced a local news and commentary blog, the Monterey Bay Partisan. He can be reached at

7 thoughts on “The Partisan: Public water advocates seek to unseat Potter

  1. Dave Potter is one of the most sleazy politicians to have been elected to public office in Monterey County. The primary architect of Monstrosity Downs (remember?), & a shill for Cal Am. His presence as mayor of Carmel is proof that the residents of Carmel can be just a stupid & ill-informed as the voters who put the Trump Crime Family in the Oval Office. Moreover, Mayor Oglesby, who showed up at almost every Public Water Now event, is now showing his true allegiance; that is, to a criminal corporation that is dedicated to ripping off the residents of the Peninsula using any means available.
    And I always thought voter suppression was a Republican Dirty Trick.
    The Monterey Democratic Party must condemn this blatant power play.

  2. It all sounds like “sour grapes” to me. There is a process, we’ve done this many times, we’ve never had this sort of controversy for this appointment until now.
    After the successful election of George Riley, there has been a clear shift in the represtation of the MPWMD in Mr. Weitzman’s favor.
    What does Mr. Weitzman want for the entire MPWMD Board of Directors to be made up of people like George Riley?
    I don’t get it, I’ve been on the loosing side of elections, appointments, many times in my life, and when it happens, I simply lick my wounds and move on, why is it today when this sort of thing happens it’s so “outlandish” or “pejorative”? This is politics, everyone elected knew what they were getting into when they decided to run for office. The effort to overturn this decision in my opinion is a complete waste of time, in fact, Roberts Rules Of Order which govern a decision like this, will only allow those members to vote to re-open debate on this issue to the 5 individuals that made the decision in the first place, so the Mayor Of Del Rey OKs cannot even vote on any action to reconsider this decision or RE-open debate, it requires one of the 5 members who voted 3 to 2 to elect Potter to initiate any action to change that, why would any of those 3 mayors change their vote? Are they that wishy washy of a politician that they don’t stand up for their decision? Of course not, the motion to re-open this issue and appoint again should fail 3 to 2 and that should end this rather futile attempt to undue what has been done.

    Here is the summary on Roberts Rules so you all can understand what I’m talking about, kind of surprised that any elected officials who are supposed to be well informed about Robert Rules Of order are not aware of this; it seems like some of our Mayor’s of our Peninsula Cities needs a refresher course!

  3. Reminder: Measure J won by a significant Majority, in spite of being out spent 10 to 1, & its grassroots proponents not having to resort to misinformation & outright vicious lies. Moreover, Robert’s Rules of Order, as well as laws, established procedures & legislation can be, & has been, used to subvert Justice & Equality (witness: Stand Your Ground laws, & Voter Suppression legislation, funded & written by the American Legislative Executive Council, of which American Water -Cal Am’s parent company- has been a loyal member for many years).

  4. The above dialog between Mr. Leone and Mr. Davi represents the long standing divide, between the interests of the “business coalition” who use their influence over electeds to create policy to serve their self interests, and residents who get screwed by those policies and have begun to claim their power of numbers to fight back. Monterey Downs and Measure J are two recent examples of citizen resistance to status quo, good old boy power plays. I suggested at the MPWMD monthly meeting last night that the Water Board form a public advisory committee on the feasibility study including both interest groups, as well as other interested parties in our community, so that finally the two sides can have a forum to navigate differences, while reviewing progress reports from the consultants who will be hired for the feasibility study. The Board agreed to agendize it at their February meeting.

  5. Michael, I applaud your efforts to promote a Mindful discussion & debate on the issues; this is Progress. However, I would add, that both sides must stick to the facts & not make stuff up, follow the rules (as Mr. Davi suggests), not resort to political Dirty Tricks, be open, honest & fair, & not Sleazy, as has been the case in the past (following in the footsteps of Roger Stone & the people he has worked for).
    Special Note: I have been part of the “Business Community” for over twenty years, having started up, owned & managed The Bagel Bakery for twenty years, & now have my own private practice as a psychotherapist.

    1. Bill, I have eaten a lot of your bagels. Thanks. There is a difference between the business community and the “business coalition.” It’s the coalition that has deeply aligned itself to CalAm’s interests. The business community is far more diverse.

  6. Yes, I understand your point: I am proud to be part of the Business Community, but would Never, Ever be part of the Business Coalition, which plays politics to serve it’s own, selfish interests & works against the interests of the Community as a whole.
    Thanks for your support by being a loyal customer; it enabled me to get two graduate degrees. I now work as a psychotherapist at MPC, helping veterans & students at large & The Village Project, helping anyone who is having a rough time solving the many personal & real-life problems we all face. It’s my way of paying back a community that has been very good to me.

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