Harbor Commissioner Robert Vessely refuses to sign reprimand

Robert Vessely

By KAREN VELIE

During a contentious Port San Luis Harbor District board meeting on Tuesday, commissioners voted 3-2 to reprimand Commissioner Bob Vessely for allegedly violating the Brown Act by emailing confidential closed session information through his public email.

District President Jim Blecha wrote two reprimand options. The first would be used if Vessely agrees to stop sharing confidential information; the second would be used if he refuses.

The board voted for the refusal option after Vessely said he was unaware of the accusations. Vessely then claimed spousal privilege protected him insinuating he sent the email to his wife. He also blamed a staffer for reading his emails.

When asked to respond to the allegations, Vessely said he did not know what he was accused of, and that he had not been given an opportunity to read the reprimands. He then refused to open his email to read the reprimands and asked that public comment be opened.

“It sounds like a rigged jury,” Blecha said before opening public comment.

The majority of Vessely’s supporters argued against the reprimand, claiming the charges had not been disclosed. Kara Woodruff, who for years worked to conserve Wild Cherry Canyon, called the “unknown” charges “suspicious.”

However, the agenda, which was posted days before the meeting, provided links to the reprimands that described the alleged violation.

“Commissioner Bob Vessely did willfully and knowingly forward a document, dated December 30, 2020, clearly marked Confidential Communication -Personnel Matter and pertaining to confidential personnel matters, to a third party not authorized to receive such documents,” according to the district’s resolution of reprimand. “This action by Commissioner Vessely violated the public trust and the implicit trust of fellow Harbor Commissioners to be ethical in the dealings of Port San Luis Harbor District.”

Vessely disagreed that he sent the email to someone not permitted to receive it, saying that “California allows marital privilege.” Vessely is married to Susan Devine, who was one of former San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Adam Hill’s legislative aides. The commission did not disclose who Vessely allegedly sent the email.

Commissioners Blecha, Bill Barrow and Drew Brandy voted for the reprimand, while Vessley and Mary Matakovich voted against the reproach.

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