Morro Bay’s mayor accused of conflict of interest over donation

November 6, 2022

By KAREN VELIE

Amid negotiations over a controversial project, Morro Bay Mayor John Headding garnered a $2,000 donation from one of the parties, an action that prompted critics to accuse the mayor of having a conflict of interest.

Incumbent Mayor Headding is facing one challenger, Carla Wixom, the owner of Carla’s Country Kitchen. Headding supports the construction of hundreds of wind turbines off the coast of Morro Bay while Wixom has voiced concerns over the environmental issues related to wind farms.

Last year, the federal Department of the Interior identified a 399-square-mile area northwest of Morro Bay as a location that will support three offshore wind farms. A lease auction for the three offshore wind development areas is scheduled for Dec. 6.

While the federal government is tasked with awarding the lease agreements, city officials will have jurisdiction over associated maintenance facilities in Morro Bay.

Alla Weinstein is the founder and CEO of Trident Winds, a deep-water offshore wind project development company. She is also the CEO of Castle Wind, a joint venture between Trident Winds and TotalEnergies.

On Sept. 10, Weinstein donated $2,000 to Headding’s mayoral campaign. In an interesting twist, Headding’s campaign lists Weinstein’s occupation as an engineer with Global Business Alliances, according to his Form 460.

Weinstein, on behalf of Castle Wind, met in closed session with city officials on Nov. 1 to negotiate the price and terms of payment for the outfall facilities previously used by the Morro Bay Power Plant, according to the Morro Bay City Council meeting agenda.

On Oct. 20, a listener on the Dave Congalton Show on KVEC asked the mayor if accepting the donation from “Tradewind Turbines” created a conflict of interest.

“Absolutely not,” Headding said. “There is been no wind company awarded that project yet. And even if it was, that contribution was from an individual.”

In 2018, Helios Dayspring, the cannabis grower currently in prison for bribing a public official, hosted a fundraiser in which Heading collected thousands of dollars in donations while failing to report Dayspring’s campaign contribution.

After CalCoastNews discovered the violation, Headding filed an amended financial disclosure report that listed Dayspring’s donation.

Subsequently, Helios received one of the two pot dispensary permits from the city of Morro Bay.


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mb business owner

Initially I had hopes for heading, but he jumped on the unethical and morally-bankrupt jamie irons train soon after his election and has continued to sell out to the almighty dollar and special interests. Hopefully our town will do the right thing and VOTE HIM OUT!


Myself

The current thinking of staff and council seems to be full steam ahead with the windmills and battery storage, neither of these projects have been thought out at all and meetings have already been behind closed doors. Also seems very odd that the battery storage is ok to be built at that spot but the sewer plant was in a bad place and could be seen from hwy one, but only for asplit second, but this building will be 40 feet tall and will be seen from hwy for quite sometime, I am in favor of leaving the smoke stacks up and there that i am to see this ugly building and dangerous batterys.


diamond

Still want to know why only Dayspring got busted and not the people who took bribes,

Thats where the corruption is. Start there.


LeroyMoo

I’m disturbed that Castle Wind has already been picked as a favorite to get the outfall facility by the Morro Bay inner circle that could be out on the next voting cycle. I see there was also a line item on the councils 8/24/21 special meeting stating “City Council approved Community Benefits Agreement with Castle Wind in 2018.” I guess I missed the press in between if there was any.

Whether the outfall and it’s easement is a lease or a purchase it looks like Castle Wind could be the path-keeper to collect cable easement fees in the future from the off shore leases. Doesn’t a significant deal like this have to go out to competitive bidders where proposals are scored and voted on by a panel? A private utility would definitely due competitive scoring on RFP’s. Additionally, there would need to be a full blown feasibility study from the competitive bidders available for public comment correct?

It also seems presumptive to think that the undersea cables will land in the plant end of the discharge tunnel and without issue transverse across Vistra property to the PG&E switchyard. Is there really going to be space for the new current standard 6 bay 24 breaker 230kV breaker-an-a-half bus structures and the 200KVDC to 230KVAC converter banks? Some space can be saved by using metalclad/surrounded 230kV gas insulated bus structures with SF6 gas. Then there’s is always the Tsunami issue where the Morro Bay plant elevation is only 10 feet above sea level and the groundwater is at 6′ during the rainy seasons.

There is a BOEM study on the Humboldt area wind project with the transmission proposals, but I have yet to see the same for the size of the Morro Bay switchyard after landing eight 400MW 200kVDC cables. That sure would be nice to see first before giving easement speculators a leg up.


Niles Q

Finally, someone sees what I see. None of this has been planned out. Alla Weinstein came to town in 2016 and pitched the idea of a wind farm off Cayucos, 22-mlies or so. That was 2,500 foot deep water.

This new Morro Bay call area is in 4,200 feet of water, 30 miles offshore from San Simeon. Morro Bay comes into the picture ONLY because of the switchyard behind the old power plant, which is already zoned industrial and the high voltage wires that leave the plant and connect to the power grid.

And no, that switchyard isn’t big enough to handle the 3GW the federal government is planning for in the call area. There is however, room on Vistra’s property to greatly expand the existing switchyard, in the area where the gas lines used to come into the plant. Those lines have been removed and the old power plant has no means of running ever again.

None of this has been planned out. The lease sale is in December, but whatever companies win those bids still have to go through the full environmental review process, both federal NEPA and State CEQA, plus pass scrutiny of the Coastal Commission, State Lands Commission, City, County and probably 50 other agencies that will have at least review and concurrence authority for these projects.

I frankly think offshore FLOATING wind farms is just about the nuttiest idea I’ve ever heard.

There’s a serious lack of respect being given to the power of the Pacific Ocean. If they install these floating windmills in the open ocean, Mother Nature is going to send them to the bottom of the sea.

Why on earth would you install floating structures, 600+ feet tall, in 3/4ths of a mile deep water, in the most corrosive environment on earth in terms of metal, mechanical, electronic and electrical gear, of which wind mills are made of all four?

And in an environment with ever changing sea conditions and unpredictable weather? They need to use up every available space on land for windmills before even thinking about going far offshore.


Florian75

“They need to use up every available space on land for windmills before …….going far offshore”. Ahhh…..no thanks, terrible idea.


Downypaso

Pharma John Headding is a Gibson benchwarmer, called on only after Bruce lost his Bill Laimbeer of local politics, aka Adam Hill. Headding is happy to ignorantly throw himself into whatever melee Bruce tells him. He’s not in Adam’s league, but he does rate high in cluelessness. Considering this, it’s a wonder he hasn’t climbed higher in SLO County politics.


TKG

The corruption brought into our local governments by Helios Dayspring knows no bounds. when will the other FBI shoe drop?


Rambunctious

Its time for a change in Morro Bay….


matthwy58

Once they take a bribe there’s no looking back. Easy money corrupts simple minds.


Bert

Headding you are shady. I hope you lose the election.