MARCHESE ACCUSED OF TRYING TO GET NON-PROFIT WETLAND GROUP’S MAILING LIST FOR HIS CITY COUNCIL CAMPAIGNBy Dave Wielenga
Tom Marchese not only lopsidedly lost his battle for re-election to the Board of Directors of the Los Cerritos Wetlands Land Trust (LCWLT) Tuesday night, but questions raised about his ethics in a letter from the organization’s esteemed founder may have cost him any realistic chance to be elected to the Long Beach City Council on April 13.
Don May, who helped create the LCWLT some three decades ago and has remained the group’s guru since moving to Hawaii several years ago, endorsed Janice Dahl for the seat that Marchese occupied on the Board of Directors. She won easily, receiving 48 votes to join Phil Lohman (54), Jericho Poppler and Stephanie Loftin (52) and Steve McCord (51) on the board. Marchese received 19 votes.
But more damaging than the endorsement of Marchese’s opponent were May’s charges that Marchese could have endangered the not-for-profit LCWLT’s very existence by trying to use his seat on the board as a tool in his city council campaign.
“Tom has often been helpful in the past, but his more recent actions preclude his ability to serve on your Board,” May wrote in his letter. “Tom has every right to run for office, but the ethical thing a potential public servant does is to resign or at least suspend membership in advocacy groups that may perhaps one day have some business before that office, and to preclude any suggestion that the organization’s assets or membership might be used in electioneering, which could lead to the loss of LCWLTs tax status. Tom not only did not withdraw from LCWLT Board, he demanded your membership list and threatened to sue you for withholding it. As you have witnessed, the Board is unable to function with him on it.”
Marchese could not be reached for comment. Messages left on his telephone answering service were not returned.
Marchese has been basing his candidacy for council on his reputation as an environmentalist and his allegations that current Third District Councilmember Gary DeLong has used the position to grant favors to friends and powerful insiders.
But reached by telephone in Hawaii, May’s description of Marchese’s behavior as an LCWLT board member sounded similarly self-serving.
“I don’t like to cast stones, but it is not endearing to me when someone threatens to sue the organization for doing what it is supposed to do,” said May. “Tom threatened to sue the Land Trust for refusing to give him membership lists [that members feared he intended] to use for electioneering.
“If that had happened it would have endangered our tax status as well as our certification to receive public funds to buy wetlands. For someone to have been able to show that our membership list had been used for electioneering would have endangered everything we do. Tom has done exactly the things a board member is not supposed to do—including speaking as if he speaks for the board.”
Comparatively, May spoke glowingly of Dahl as he accounted for his endorsement of her candidacy for the board.
“Janice is a known quantity. She helped found the group, playing a major role from its days as a task force to when we filed the DBA to when we formed the corporation and wrote the by-laws. She’s always been dependable and trustworthy person.
“And then, we have Tom.”