Sat. Jun 22nd, 2024

By Linda Sutter – August 2, 2023

In a Special Meeting held less than 24 hours after posting the Harbor Commissioners voted to plead to Del Norte Superior Court to pay arbitration award of $1,298,575.00 to the Fashion Blacksmith over a period of 10 years. The Harbor District was also charged attorney fees.

In a resolution developed these are the facts:

“ on April 20, 2023, the arbitration panel that presided over the proceeding issued an interim award, wherein the panel issued an award to Fashion Blacksmith in the amount of $1,298,545, and the panel indicated that this amount could be increased in a further proceeding if the District does not repair the Fashion Blacksmith building by the end of September 2023 and does not dredge by the end of October 2023. WHEREAS, on June 5, 2023, the arbitration panel issued a final award arbitration award, wherein the panel also awarded Fashion Blacksmith costs in the amount of $134,927 and attorneys’ fees in the amount of $418,925, with interest on the entire award accruing at 7% per annum. “

The Harbor plans to claim they have an undue Hardship. However, it is worthy to note that on July 25th, during the Tri-Agency meeting held at the VFW Hall, the harbor Commissioners voted to pay $10,000.00 to a defunct Tri-Agency without so much as a forethought.

Now they plan to spend more money on attorney fees to plea with a Del Norte Superior Judge that their legal loss is a hardship. The Resolution goes on to state:

“WHEREAS, if judgment is rendered against the District in the Fashion Blacksmith matter, the anticipated total judgment to date is estimated to exceed $1.8 million dollars, and if the District is unable to complete the repairs to the Fashion Blacksmith building and complete the dredging work as ordered by the arbitration panel, the damages could be significantly higher; WHEREAS, the District foresees such a judgment in the Fashion Blacksmith matter would significantly deplete its limited financial reserves; WHEREAS, the District’s approved budget for FY 2023-24 includes a general fund balance of only $609,712.44”

Although the resolution reports $609,712.44 the Comptroller at the August 1st, District meeting stated there was $700,000.00 within the budget, and expected to receive up to $250,000. More for recovered tax income from the State. Let’s not forget their incredible inability to control their credit card expenditures which amounted to $73,000.00 over a 3 year period and where the Del Norte District attorney as well as the Del Norte County Auditor turned a blind eye which gave the Harbor District a Green Light to continue to spend public money on things that do not benefit the public.

But wait there’s more. How does the Harbor expect to continue to pay for the other two legal atrocities they have lost to? In another case against Dutra, It is not known how much they lost to the Dutra case, and the newest case involving Alex Lemus is pending. Part of the problem the harbor fails to identify is the fact that their Assistant HarborMaster Mike Rademaker, is leading them down an eternal road of legal disasters.

Within the resolution the harbor goes onto state,

“ the District’s current insurance coverage is insufficient to cover the debts arising from the potential judgment;” and “exhaustive efforts have been made by the District to identify viable funding sources to cover the judgment, but no secure revenue stream was found that would not adversely impact the District’s essential operational expenses;”

If I were a judge I guess I would be wanting to look at their insurance coverage to see if that is a true statement. I would also want to look hard at their finances because what they are claiming and what is being spent are two different stories.

Lastly, if I were an attorney I would submit an amicus brief to the court requesting that the paid Harbor Commissioners dissolve the District and return it to the board of Supervisors jurisdiction to control how money is spent and control the continued bad decisions made by these paid Harbor Commissioners.

For the last 12 years the Harbor Commissioners have made several financial decisions that are compounding and have come to light. People should be concerned that the very people they voted in caused these ongoing issues.

  1. This is not Santa Barbara. Five years ago they had a waiting list for the Yachts, moving out the local fishing boats. We need a new harbormaster, comptroller, & let’s remember these people when it comes time to vote, lets vote them out for the sake of local business, fishing boats, & Fashion Black Smith. I think they were sued once before, but I guess they just don’t care or poor memory.

  2. Thanks for covering harbor meetings. They are noticed at last minute at best, and some meetings are not noticed at all. The new comptroller does not post financials on the website like the former person did, which seems shady. The article raises a good point that Assistant HarborMaster Mike Rademaker has no experience and is bringing additional problems to the harbor. He wants to be harbor law officer, even if it results in bankrupting the harbor. Humbolt Harbor does not have their own police force, and they are much busier. Rademaker compares our harbor to Santa Cruz and Santa Barbara to support his argument, but all one needs to do is look at Del Norte 911 call log to realize very, very little crime occurs at the harbor. Maybe if he spent more time handling urgent issues like dredging, they would not be getting sued. Look what he and Petrick have done to the RV parks via Lemus. Seems strange that they can afford time and money to create an unneeded police department, remove only bathrooms near south beach, spend $100,000s on attorneys and consultants, yet cannot afford to pay the business they harmed. A Triplicate article mentions internal communications in which Petrick writes that he will unleash his attorneys to intentionally harm Fashion Blacksmith owners. Now he is unleashing them to avoid complying with arbitrator’s decision. Wild Rivers Outpost articles have shown Petrick to lie and falsify information on numerous occasions. This article is correct in that people should be concerned and some agency needs to thoroughly investigate the harbor.

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