Del Piero backers gave LandWatch
Published: November 16, 2012
THE NORTH County activist group that
bankrolled Marc Del Piero’s unsuccessful campaign for supervisor
has also been a bonanza to the county’s most high-profile
environmental activist group.
In a big-money effort to unseat incumbent 5th District
Supervisor Dave Potter, the North Salinas Valley Fund for
Responsible Growth gave Del Piero a total of $132,500, a
colossal amount for a county election.
But the North Salinas group has also been a huge contributor to
LandWatch Monterey County this year, donating a huge $197,600 to
the development-wary organization. In fact, the contribution
from the North Salinas group exceeded LandWatch’s total
donations in 2010 by nearly $50,000, according to its most
recent 990 tax form.
LandWatch executive director Amy White said the group’s bounty
has been and will be used to pursue LandWatch’s goals, which
include helping implement the county’s general plan and battling
Ferrini Ranch, a proposed 866-acre subdivision off of Highway
68, and Whispering Oaks, the proposed Monterey-Salinas Transit
operations facility on the former Fort Ord.
“Whatever money LandWatch receives,” White told The Pine Cone,
“we use it to work on projects to achieve our mission.”
The North Salinas group’s big contribution to LandWatch
underscores its growing leverage in Monterey County politics,
which largely began this year when it provided major backing to
Del Piero and 4th District Supervisor Jane Parker’s campaigns.
The donations are not surprising, given the shared interests of
LandWatch and the North Salinas Valley group, whose members
include former LandWatch executive director Chris Fitz and chair
Julie Engell, who is also LandWatch’s current treasurer.
The tax-exempt North Salinas group became instantly wealthy in
2008 when it received a $600,000 settlement stemming from
a lawsuit it filed against Monterey County over permits for
Butterfly Village, the proposed residential development north of
Salinas. The group was then called the San Juan Opposition
Its members’ desire to see Potter ousted from the county board
of supervisors led it to donate heavily to Del Piero. Potter has
accused the group of trying to “buy” Del Piero’s supervisor
seat. However, according to the Monterey County Elections
department, Potter handily defeated Del Piero, 54.3 percent to
45.7 percent. By comparison, President Barack Obama’s margin
over Mitt Romney was 51.4 percent to 48.6 percent.
Despite Potter’s obviously insurmountable lead, Del Piero still
refuses to concede, pointing to what he believes are thousands
of absentee and provisional ballots that have yet to be tallied.