BY ELAINE GOODMAN
Daily Post Correspondent
A San Mateo County Harbor District board of commissioners meeting that ended with a 10-minute-long tirade from board member Sabrina Brennan could renew calls for the Harbor District to be dissolved.
Brennan repeatedly called fellow board member Tom Mattusch a “pervert” during her outburst, which took place during the board’s April 15 meeting. Brennan referenced photos of naked women that Mattusch had emailed to her and others in June 2014, and she used anatomical terms to describe the images.
“He is a pervert, he is a sexual predator, and he should not be serving on this board,” Brennan said. She also called board member Virginia Chang Kiraly and chairwoman Nancy Reyering “enablers of a sexual predator.”
“Quit lying, Sabrina! You’re lying!” Kiraly responded to Brennan. The meeting was conducted remotely due to COVID-19, and board members shouted over each other on the Zoom communications platform.
The other board members tried to conduct business, taking roll call votes on items while Brennan continued her rant. Items approved included establishing a Human Relations Standing Committee and making changes to the Finance Committee’s reserve policy.
The Harbor District is an independent agency that operates two facilities — Pillar Point Harbor in Half Moon Bay and Oyster Point Marina in South San Francisco. It is funded by property taxes and commercial activities.
Her complaints were already investigated
Brennan’s complaints about Mattusch were investigated previously by Mary Topliff, an outside attorney hired by the district. According to Topliff’s February 2018 report, Mattusch acknowledged sending pornographic photos to Brennan and about 40 other people, and said he thought Brennan would find them funny.
Because the incident happened before Mattusch was elected to the Harbor District board in November 2014, Topliff determined that Brennan’s complaint of being sexually harassed by a fellow board member was invalid.
Topliff also said she found it significant that Brennan continued to work on Mattusch’s election campaign for months after receiving the photos.
Brennan has been embroiled in other controversies since she was first elected to the Harbor District board in 2012. As of February 2018, the district had spent $780,999 on settlements and legal fees involving Brennan, including investigations into complaints Brennan filed, investigations into complaints about her, and settlements to employees.
The San Mateo County Civil Grand Jury investigated the Harbor District in 2014, issuing a report titled, “What is the Price of Dysfunction?”
Grand jury recommended dissolving district
According to the report, the district has a history of dysfunction going back at least to 2001, and commission meetings often turn into shouting matches. The grand jury’s top recommendation was to dissolve the Harbor District and have the county take over its functions.
“District commissioners are lacking in professional decorum and fiscal oversight, and … a lack of fiscal transparency makes it impossible to determine exactly how taxpayers’ money is being used,” the report said.
San Mateo County Supervisor Don Horsley said in 2018, while he was running for re-election, that he might explore dissolving the Harbor District. At the time, he called the commission “dysfunctional and an embarrassment.”
Last week, Horsley told ABC7 News that last month’s Harbor District meeting was “the most disgraceful performance I’ve ever seen on the part of an elected official.”
“For me, I’ve seen enough,” Horsley said. “I think it needs to be dealt with at this point.”
Horsley didn’t respond to an email requesting comment yesterday.
How the tirade began
Friction between Brennan and Reyerling started during the April 15 meeting as the board prepared to vote on a contract with Questa Engineering Corp. for a restroom and green space project at Pillar Point Harbor RV Park. The $248,215 contract includes architectural design, engineering, permitting and construction support.
Brennan said she’d prefer if the district hired an architectural firm for architectural projects. That firm could then hire subcontractors as needed. Questa’s website lists the firm’s services as civil, environmental, and water resources engineering, planning, design, and geological consulting. Brennan also said she had hoped to see a presentation that included some of Questa’s past projects.
Reyering interrupted Brennan, saying Brennan’s time to comment was up and she was repeating herself. Brennan argued that she needed one more minute to finish her comments. The board took a two-minute break, and then another, to allow tempers to cool. Brennan was allowed to finish her comments.
Next, Mattusch voiced his support for hiring Questa for the Pillar Point project. That set off Brennan’s tirade.
“He has zero credibility because he is a pervert,” she began.
After voting “no” on the Pillar Point contract, Brennan declined to vote on the remaining items during the meeting, saying at one point, “I have no words for this group.”
When Kiraly made a motion to extend the meeting by five minutes, Brennan said: “Do you really want to torture yourself longer?”
In September, the Harbor District board ousted Brennan from her role as board president, although she kept her seat on the board. Three of the board’s five members voted for Brennan’s removal as president: Kiraly, Mattusch and Reyering.
Brennan ran for re-election in November 2016, receiving the largest number of votes among four candidates vying for three seats, with 32% of the vote.
Her term will end this year, as well as the terms of Kiraly and Mattusch. Starting with this year’s election, commissioners will be elected by district.