Marx’s own emails belie prior claims

May 17, 2011

Jan Marx


San Luis Obispo Mayor Jan Marx, by her own admission in a series of emails, was a key player in an illegal campaign aimed at torpedoing a development project proposed by rancher Ernie Dalidio — something she has repeatedly denied.

Marx’s reference to herself as “vice president” of Citizens for Planning Responsibly (CPR) is contained in emails to other members, copies of which were obtained by the news website last month.

The emails show Marx was active in her leadership role through July 2008, aside from a few months she sat aside to run for a seat on the San Luis Obispo City Council.

Then, after her subsequent mayoral election, she successfully advocated and endorsed a land use ordinance intended to restrict Dalidio’s use of his land, if he were to annex to the city. And while Marx noted her knowledge of agricultural land use issues during council discussions, she failed to inform her fellow council members or the public of her pivotal role in the anti-Dalidio campaign and possible conflict of interest.

Last October, the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) levied $80,000 in fines against Tom and Jim Copeland and banker David Booker for 16 campaign violations in their secretive battle against Dalidio’s project, proposed for south of the Madonna Plaza shopping center.

Ernie Dalidio

The FPPC ruled in its decision and order that the Copelands, who had an economic interest in stopping Dalidio’s development plans, sponsored the campaign. Attorneys for Dalidio have contended the Copelands — and likely other local developers — broke anti-competition laws in their decade long battle against Dalidio.

Marx has consistently downplayed her involvement in the campaign, and contends she is not an officer of CPR at this time.

“I am not an officer of Citizens for Planning Responsibly or any other organization, and was not at the time of the vote on the Calle Joaquin urban farm,” Marx said in an email to CalCoastNews. She then refused to answer further questions.

Marx has admitted to making a $3,000 loan to help launch the campaign against Dalidio which she helped organize in 2004. She claimed, however, that she was not involved in the inner workings of the campaign as it progressed.

In an email she allegedly sent Feb. 19, 2008, she announced plans to run for San Luis Obispo City Council, and noted she needed to hand off some of her CPR leadership duties while she ran her campaign.

“This is not confidential, but I will be making the formal media announcement next week,” Marx says in the email. “I will need to hand off some of my CPR tasks (Suzanne?) and step down as vice president in the next few months, after the fundraiser. I will keep tabs on the litigation, however.” (Suzanne Fryer was legal counsel for the Copelands and a member of CPR during the campaign against Dalidio’s development.)

In an email dated May 20, 2007, Marx asks recipients to tailor her message “as they wish” before sending it as their own to members of the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors. The message asks the board to vote against providing any public funds for the proposed Prado Road interchange.

That infrastructure would be necessary if Dalidio was to include larger stores such as Target in the development.

Marx’s leadership role in the group is further supported by several emails she sent to group leaders such as attorney Suzanne Fryer, Richard Kranzdorf, and Michael Sullivan, informing them of the activities of CPR attorneys. Those activities included trying to get a judge to rule that the voter-approved initiative allowing Dalidio to build his shopping mall was not legal.

In one email disseminated prior to a public meeting, Marx suggested that Rosemary Wilvert, a spokesperson for the group, provide talking points for Sullivan to distribute to speakers before the meeting.

On June 12, 2008, Marx replied to an email from Carol Rich who wondered if CPR should use the donor list of Adam Hill, then a candidate for a county supervisor’s seat.

“It seems to me not to be a good idea to ask either Jim (Patterson) or Adam for their lists, since they will be sitting supervisors when this project will likely come up,” Marx says in the email. “This could make it look like they are prejudiced against the developer, ect. . . .”

Contacted recently, Hill said he is opposed to planning through the ballot process, but he is not opposed to Dalido developing his property, and does not view the land as valuable open space because it is already hemmed in by development.

Patterson did not respond to requests for comment.

Nevertheless, it appears Marx does not think her involvement in the anti-Dalidio campaign is a perceived conflict of interest.

The state’s political campaign watchdog, the Fair Political Practices Commission, states that “a public official has an economic interest in a business entity for which he or she is a director, officer, partner, trustee, employee, or hold any position of management,” and as such is not permitted to vote on issues about the entity.

“All this backroom wheeling and dealing defeats the need for transparency in local government and casts a pall of a serious conflict of interest – if not an entire loss of credibility – over Mayor Marx’s continued involvement in any Dalidio decisions,” said Dalidio’s attorney James McKiernan.

Marx’s vote on the city’s agricultural master plan keeps the city-owned 25-acre reserve, located at the end of the Calle Joaquin cul-de-sac north of Kimball Motors, and Dalidio’s property if it is annexed into the city, zoned for agricultural use.

The plan passed 4-1, with Councilman Andrew Carter voting against it.

Carter said he voted against the plan for three reasons. First, he said he was concerned because he had been informed the plan only included the city owned reserve and had not been told Dalidio’s land would be added.

Then, he added, the city did not inform Dalidio about its plan to restrict his property.

In their defense, city staff said they had contacted a former partner of Dalidio’s, Bill Bird, about the plan, even though Bird was no longer involved in the project.

Bird was ill at the time and is now deceased.

Carter also was opposed to the plan’s proposal to cut a road through Dalidio’s property to provide access from Madonna Road through to Madonna’s Target and Costco stores.

Dalidio’s attorneys and at least one council member have said they are in favor of the council revisiting the agriculture master plan.

“In light of new information that has come forward, I would like the opportunity to look into the issue further, and possibly reconsider my original vote on the plan,” Councilman Dan Carpenter said.

Daniel Blackburn is editor of


Citizens for Planning Responsibly was not a political committee or a non-profit. Dalido had won the vote. Marx and several others started an organization to get a judge to say Dalido’s fight was illegal.

Because they ran their business as private, they did not have to disclose donors. They have refused to disclose what they brought in and how they spent their monies. Sound familiar?

They raised money, hired lawyers and worked to get the people’s vote thrown out and also against Dalidio’s appeal. And she did have a financial stake, she faced steep lawyer fees that were to be paid by Daldio if he lost. Which I suspect the Copelands would have covered.

A large amount of the money came from Marx to run Citizens for Planning Responsibly. Her husband teaches at Cal Poly and she had a very financially dismal law practice she ran out of her home. They could barely pay their bills rather than fund Citizens for Planning Responsibly.

Does anyone really believe Jan was not getting kickbacks from the Copelands for fighting to stop their competitors?

And does anyone believe the $100,000 listed as being from Booker as the unlawful donation into No on J was his? Booker is way too cheap for that. My guess would be that the developer who is in the process of putting in a Target, a store Dalidio had a contract with, was also funding the illegal campaign.

When the truth comes out, and it will, I hope it ends with Dalidio being highly compensated for his losses and a few dirty competitors and lying politicians being ruined financially. Then there would be justice.


Let’s not forget the involvement of many past and current (local) sierria club board members.

Look at the lists and

2006 Executive Steven Marx TREASURER

Further reading

The Sierra Club does some great things, the involvement of there people in this, not so much.


That list readslike a who’s who of the environmentalists in this county. Their arguments about M-J setting a presedence are valid however, Measure J changed everything in this county, but I have yet to see anything come along in a similar fashion. So maybe it was typical political exaggeration and manipulation all along.


Why are we as voters letting this kind of corruption carry on?

Vote everyone like this out of office.

The *right* to vote may have been given to us, but it’s a privilege too many of us abuse. Responsible voting involves KNOWING the details of what or who you’re voting for.


Govenment officials like her are exactly why our founding fathers put the second amendment in the constitution.


My God, could you be more wrong? Are you actually advocating someone shoot her? Please explain EXACTLY what you mean by your sentence; or should Cal Coast News forward your comment to the SLO PD as a “threat” against the life of an elected official, no matter how badly that official has acted?

Kevin Rice

Actually, DQ is correct and it’s not a threat at all, nor is there any advocacy as you imply. DQ simply fails to be politically correct.

“I ask, Sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people. To disarm the people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them.”

George Mason

Co-author of the Second Amendment

during Virginia’s Convention to Ratify the Constitution, 1788

“Firearms stand next in importance to the constitution itself. They are the American people’s liberty teeth and keystone under independence … from the hour the Pilgrims landed to the present day, events, occurences and tendencies prove that to ensure peace security and happiness, the rifle and pistol are equally indispensable … the very atmosphere of firearms anywhere restrains evil interference — they deserve a place of honor with all that’s good.”

George Washington

First President of the United States

“The supposed quietude of a good man allures the ruffian; while on the other hand arms, like laws, discourage and keep the invader and plunderer in awe, and preserve order in the world as property. The same balance would be preserved were all the world destitute of arms, for all would be alike; but since some will not, others dare not lay them aside … Horrid mischief would ensue were the law-abiding deprived of the use of them.”

Thomas Paine


Just thought of the goverment’s laughter at us pions.

In the earlier days, the people had basically the same weapons the soldiers had.

Later the military became equipt with gattling (machine) guns..

In this day and age it is impossible to resist or fend against police or military we are out-gunned, out-trained and would not stand a dog of a chance if we rebel against any government.

fat chance

Sad but true…


Actually, if you remember your Thomas Jefferson it is EXACTLY why the 2nd amendment (yes, GUN RIGHTS) was put in:

“When governments fear the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny. The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.”


I agree with Bob, that sort of talk reminds us of Tucson Az. This mayor is under political fire but she is not able to or about to send tanks into the streets after those who oppose her. Any talk of potential violence is inappropriate, this is solely a political/legal issue at hand.

But, since I have been a blowhard on the left I can’t fault too much those doing the same from the right. And keep in mind, though there are some hard right folks who blog and visit here, and some others like me on the left-we all want essentially the same thing in life, as outlined by our bill of rights and constitution. The devil is in the details. If a really tyrannical government were to send troops after us we would ALL be armed and dangerous, protecting our freedoms. Folks on all sides should keep this in mind when we are throwing rocks at each other.


The second amendment is for national size occupations- uprisings and such

not for municipal use, or for use against elected officials the balllot box is more powerful than your 357.


@hotdog: who’s this “us” – you have a mouse in your pocket?



“or should Cal Coast News forward your comment to the SLO PD as a “threat” against the life of an elected official, no matter how badly that official has acted”

This sounds like George Orwell’s 1984 realm.

DQ post is NOT clear and present danger, it is rationale that I can concur with.


So Bob, it would appear from the historical references cited that in fact you could not be more wrong. Our founding fathers were clearly concerned that we would encounter corrupt governments and suggested ways to deal with them. Very clever those founding fathers.


When you enter Arizona and they realize you are from California, they jest and say “Welcome back to America”

On-going,Progressive, Massive Cummulative of Legislation has made the 2nd Amendment a public placebo.


Just another typical eccentric prince who wears a sweet look and talk to get over on the masses


I wanted to just say, “My, grandma, what big teeth you have!” But that is too easy.

So let me get this right. She took out a LOAN to start up CPR, acted as it’s vice-president, and then claims to have no knowledge of the inner workings of CPR? I don’t know if I am more offended she thinks we’re that stupid, or (should she actually be truthful) is she really that blasé with her own money? (Imagine how she’d be with ours!).

Jan, I’d ask you to do the honorable thing, but I am sure you have no idea what that might be.

The only time I tune out King Harris is when he has her on. Just a vile, vacuous person.

The shame is on the voters of San Luis Obispo, for not seeing beyond the (D) after her name.


Once again SLO gets what it deserves. Instead of jail time, Marx gets elected to office. Typical of our elected officials. And, she is clearly using this position as a springboard to higher office to reap more benefits and bribes. Get some guts SLO and recall her. The citizens need to do this as our DA and other elected officials are all part of the cabal.


“Marx appears to be vindictive, mean spirited, and unethical, but apparently has no legal conflict of interest. She can continue manipulating SLO city government for her narrow-minded vendettas, at least until the next election.”

Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely…

If the voting public actually took the time to look into their beloved candidates before pulling the election lever, they might be surprised how many are cut from this same clothe…


So easily said…..

To recall any official would take

a lot of time (which few have if living right being a full time job in itself!)

lots of money for (Which few have to spare):

legal expense


media to reach the mainstream and to counter opposing

an army or team to get registered voter’s signatures

a major under taking


The reality is the people we elect to serve, are in actuality using the system to screw us for their agenda, knowing it is super dificult for any voters to do anything about it unless your Bill Gate or Warren Buffet!!


Illegal, immoral or neither?


Marx appears to be vindictive, mean spirited, and unethical, but apparently has no legal conflict of interest. She can continue manipulating SLO city government for her narrow-minded vendettas, at least until the next election.


Does the corruption ever stop? What makes people think they can get away with things like this, probably the fact that they often do. Marx needs to be removed, which the law may be able to accomplish faster than a recall by the voting public. This is the epitome of flaunting ones indifference to the legal guideline that they have sworn to conduct themselves within, while in service to “ALL” their voting constituents. Jan Marx, you should have to personally pay financial restitution for your uneven/illegal actions, not the good people who trusted you and you should go sit behind bars while you think about that.

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