|Summary|| Morro Bay was host to significant and dramatic events during the Wednesday, Feb. 10 Coastal Commission hearing, in which the fate of Executive Director Charles Lester was decided. An estimated 1,000 people turned out to support Dr. Lester's continued tenure with the Coastal Commission and to demand a transparent, responsible process.
After nearly a month of California citizens, organizations and legislators reaching out to both the Governor and to the Coastal Commission – resulting in over 20,000 letters submitted – and six hours of public comment at the hearing, Commissioners spent scant time on the issues raised. Instead, and in direct opposition to public demand, they refused to give their reasons for wanting to dismiss Dr. Lester, and the majority of Commissioners opted to vote behind closed doors.
|Outcome Description|| After over six hours of public comment, Commissioners briefly spoke to their feelings on the matter before going into closed session and firing Dr. Lester, termination effective immediately.
The vote was 7:5 with Commissioners Mitchell, Vargas, Turnbull-Sanders, Uranga, McClure, Howell and Diaz voting to fire Dr. Lester. Commissioners Bochco, Groom, Kinsey, Luevano and Shallenberger voted against firing Dr. Lester.
|Why You Should Care|| Dr. Lester has accomplished much in his over 25 years with the Coastal Commission. His accomplishments show him to be both a good steward of the Coastal Act and also an executive director with a balanced view of environmental and social needs.
As a state agency, the Coastal Commission and its Commissioners are obligated to serve the people of California. Based on the overwhelming support from thousands of people across the state, his staff and our state legislators – and with no visible opposition to Dr. Lester – the decision to terminate him was unconscionable.
Beyond the unfairness to a single individual lies a larger question: How are we to have faith in Commissioners to protect California’s greatest public resource when they act as if they are no longer accountable to the public they serve?
|Decision Type||Consideration of Dismissal of Executive Director|
|Opposition to Project||35 Former Coastal Commissioners, 18 California Legislators, 10 Members of the House of Representatives, 6 Democratic Party Committees and Clubs, the Exec. Director of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, a Former U.S. Secretary of Defense, and a Former U.S. Secretary of Transportation), Surfrider Foundation, The City Project, CA Coastal Protection Network, Azul, Green Latinos, Hispanic Access Foundation, Jean-Michel Cousteau's, Ocean Futures Society, Environmental Action Committee of West Marin, Social and Public Art Resource Center, Environment California, San Diego CoastKeeper, Committee for Green Foothills, Endangered Habitats League, The Nature Conservancy, Friends of Harbors, Beaches and Parks, SoCal 350 Climate Action, Clean Water Action|
|Coastal Act Policies|
|Mary K. Shallenberger|
View Meeting Page for the meeting where this issue was discussed/voted on.