Marx’s own emails belie prior claims

May 17, 2011

Jan Marx

By KAREN VELIE and DANIEL BLACKBURN

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 KCCN.tv 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 KCCN.tv.


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catsdad

“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.” Jan didn’t hold a public office when she allegedly was the “vice president” of CPR. So says this article. So no foul.


As far as the city’s agricultural master plan there was no need to inform Dalidio of any thing pertaining to it. His property is in the county just as his father wanted. Can’t James McKernin read the Tribune to find out what is happening at city hall and report to his largest client?


The proposed road parallel to Hwy. 101 through Dalidio’s property was approved several years ago and Carter knows that. Carpenter now wants to revisit his vote now under pressure from Congalton’s boy, Carter.


Whatever happened to the story about John Callahan’s after death workman’s compensation award?

You dropped that awful quick after Congalton had it on his show. It seems the “free press” can only step on certain toes.


cheseburger

This is just par for the 18 hole course of San Luis Obispo fraud capital of the world, oh and nothing at all will happen to her, no fines, no charges, ah just another day in the life.


racket

Velie, belie.


They sound like they rhyme, but they don’t.


And, in fact, they kinda mean opposite things …

belie = to confuse or contradict; Velie = to clarify or expose.


I think I am up too late.


zaphod

belie

a : to give a false impression of

velie

a: to have a correct impression of

;)


kettle

Another thing that I wonder about is where were all these “don’t build on prime ag land” people when this happened: http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=san+luis+obispo&safe=off&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=San+Luis+Obispo,+California&ll=35.239381,-120.675784&spn=0.003952,0.009549&t=h&z=17&layer=c&cbll=35.239381,-120.675784&panoid=ii3aI3FIcUXK9e9HDRL1cw&cbp=12,139.78,,0,0


As the economy picks up there will be more next door.


r0y

That’s a beautiful facility! Too bad it’s now empty/closed down. That could have been folks trying to bring “livable wage jobs” to the community (not the minimum wage/retail stuff). I don’t know how/why it closed, but I imagine the costs of business here (and in CA in general) were not worth it.


Our local paper had this about it, but that’s about all I wanted to research into it…


Still, that is a sweet looking factory!


Dan Blackburn

Yes, we “might” see these important issues reported in the future, but not if everyone continues to believe that what Karen provides is somehow a free “public service.” Get behind her. With your contributions. This county’s real “free press” is yours to support.


Moderator

Also please “like” us on Facebook, use the box on the right sidebar or go: http://www.facebook.com/CalCoastNews


Thanks!


oto

Hey, Dan! Another great article reveals the “snake” in the “Garden of Eden”. On its surface, SLO looks like the ideal place to live, the jewel of the California coast, where it’s always warm and sunny. But no one has ever really researched or publicized the way things “get done” within the dog-eat-dog politics of SLO’d city/county politics. My learning curve started when I began to read yours and Velie’s articles about the economics of real estate fraud in Paso Robles. The subsequent investigations into the local real estate developers expanded to encompass the banking industry in two counties, and this investigation has shed light on institutions and “community leaders” we believed could do no wrong. It’s a warning to all of us that we have to pay attention to the details of business transactions in which we invest our money–on an ongoing basis. But the most culpable institutions are the one’s which had the ability to investigate and didn’t, like the district attorney’s office and the county courts who must have had access to documents involving legal transactions and settlements. Even judges and lawyers invest their money in real estate and provide the startup capital for local banks. And if you are here for any length of time and watch how the county’s planning dept. and subdivision review board do business, the question of kickbacks and slush funds becomes a real possibility. Don’t you wish, sometimes, that you were the fly on the wall when all these behind the scenes abuses of official power were taking place?


r0y

As they say: The devil is in the details!


Paperboys

A billionaire once told me, in reference to a contractor that defrauded him in building the Ascott Suites in Morro Bay, that a person can lie, cheat and steal as much as they want and get away with it so long as they pay their taxes. The crook that took him was pretty much untouchable in civil court but the guy didn’t pay taxes on the money he stole, so the IRS put him away.

As I see it, the only way Marx goes to jail is if she took money, didn’t report it and didn’t pay taxes on it. If that’s the case, the IRS will catch up to her eventually.

Absent that, she might get fined or recalled or forced to resign, but she won’t likely do jail time.

The mayor indeed should respond, preferably under oath (and a lie detector as well). It’s up to Dalidio to sue.

What say you Mr. McKiernan? Are you up to the hype in your commercials?

I had Richard Kranzdorf at Cal Poly. He was a good teacher and an interesting person. Hate to see his name dragged through the mud too. But it wouldn’t surprise me a bit if he was into this deep.


hotdog

I had Richard Kranzdorf at Cal Poly. He was a good teacher and an interesting person. Hate to see his name dragged through the mud too. But it wouldn’t surprise me a bit if he was into this deep.


Now why would you say that? Seems like you just contradicted yourself.


Many folks in this town (thousands) were against the Dalidio plan, for many reasons. Involvement in the effort to either create a better plan or kill the development altogether does not make one questionable in any way.


Paperboys

Kranzdorf was a good teacher when I had him in the early 1990s. But since then I’ve read numerous opinion pieces of his in the Trib and New Times, and frankly his politics are a little too far left for me. I see him and some of the others here, as puppet masters, manipulating the strings behind the scenes and never taking a leading role. So I don’t see what I wrote as a contradiction. In fact I didn’t mean it in a bad way and I am sorry if it came out that way. He’s entitled to his opinions and to work on whatever side of a political issue he wants. He’s not a politician so he’s completely free to fight an issue if he wants to.

Marx on the other hand (Kransdorf’s favorite saying BTW) is an elected official and she could have some problems if it is proven that she did have a conflict of interest. I just don’t think it by itself would be a jailable offense, as many here seem to believe or maybe it’s wishful thinking.

In another vein, it’s interesting to see the far left (which Marx and theothers definitely are) getting their come-uppance and old misdeeds coming back to haunt them.

I think you are right Hotdog about there being a lot of reasons to oppose Dalidio’s project which makes it even more unbelievable that they would resort to all this secrecy and skullduggery to fight a simple farmer who watched his farmland get surrounded by development to the point where farming became impossible.

He was backed into a corner and then kicked in the gonads by people who thought they could game the system and do whatever they wanted.

The Copelands, Marx and all the others would probably have been fine if they shed light on their efforts instead of trying to be so sneaky.

Hiding who they were just makes them all look guilty.


NorthCountyDude

And many, thousands were for his project. Measure ABC Lost by 51%. Now I wonder what the results would have been if Marx, Copelands, and others involved were not in the picture. Sorry to break to you anti-growth or SLO’d growthers out there, but this County leans right. The city council has had republicans on the council, and even Christians. SLO has two large churches. Using money and illegal campaigning will catch up to you. And no one cares about extra farming in SLO except for maybe the environmentally concerned. We don’t have drive ins, and the city is already bike-able. So what if Dalidio’s project adds traffic? The jobs and more shopping will be worth it. Besides LOVR already has bad traffic. One more bad spot of traffic won’t kill.


justme

Yeah? let’s all just get in line and jump off a cliff so we can show our “togetherness”. God, what a depressing contribution to the idea of “who cares anymore?” Got any kids, Genius? Hope not. Wow. I gotta wonder why some humans brains even send signals to the heart to pump in some “people.


oto

The voters voted in favor of the Dalidio plan. How many more voters would have voted for it, if they hadn’t been defrauded by their elected officials and false advertizing?


danika

“The time has come, the walrus said, to speak of many things…” The time has indeed come. Truth and justice. Jan, you have some ‘splainin to do!


willie

She won’t, she’s too afraid, unable and incapable to handle it.

She will only speak (NOT interactively) under the protective umbrella of King Harris and his light hearted charm on AM Show.

I like King but I turn off my automatic radio when she comes on his show because I can’t stand to hear her pathetic voice!


Crusader

What’s truly stunning is this type of information was simply buried in the past. The papers, TV and other forms of media didn’t want to get their hands dirty. After all if might impact their ad revenues. Now with venues like http://www.calcoastnews.com we are beginning to get more of the facts of what actually takes place.


I don’t think the DA and other bodies know yet how to respond with this new transparency. They have long been part of the insiders’ system. In think in time those who are sworn to uphold the law will slowly come up to speed like their media brethren are doing now. I honestly believe Marx’ antics would have easily earned her a jail cell in other communities.


In a few years we might actually see prompt and thorough investigations launched when information like this comes to light. We might see people like Marx actually charged. At the very least we’ll see a community that is less and less tolerant of such shenanigans and pressure from them will keep people like Marx from running for office…


racket

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