Palma tries to clear up e-mail story |

Palma tries to clear up e-mail story

Greg Crofton, Tribune staff writer

An e-mail surreptitiously taken from Juan Palma, executive director at the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, and released to the media, angered Palma while providing comic relief for some who attended an agency meeting Wednesday.

“First, I’d like to address this stolen e-mail,” Palma said, provoking a wave of laughter through the crowd. “Someone or some entity broke into the building or my computer system and accessed my e-mails.

“Of the hundreds of e-mails, they picked this one, none of the positive ones. At best, I used poor words in the last sentence of that e-mail.”

TRPA staff handed out copies of the e-mail to members of the audience. The last sentence states: “This is when you call in your chips — I want the APC lines softened. I want them to recommend approval of the scenic system to the GB. Fan out, call in our favors with APC members.”

Palma reminded the APC and the public that 95 percent of the message was professional. Then he asked APC members if any one of them had been asked for a favor.

“Have there been favors asked of any of you? If that is the case, I would like to know,” Palma said. “I don’t believe that is the case.”

Palma then announced that from now on, his communications, such as e-mails and phone calls, would be encoded. Then he quoted Abraham Lincoln and later said: “In the end, things will be OK. Let us do our duty today.”

Alice Baldricia, APC chairwoman, answered Palma saying: “No TRPA staff or council has urged me to vote a particular way.”

Kevin Cole, APC member concurred.

“(The) only contact I had was from Carl (Hasty) asking if I had any questions, that was it,” Cole said.

Hasty, TRPA’s deputy director, said he felt the e-mail did not affect action taken Wednesday by the APC, which in a 12-to-1 vote, recommended that its Governing Board adopt a new scenic review system.

“It was attempted to be used that way but there’s really nothing there,” Hasty said. “I’ve heard people saying it insinuated something, I even heard the word conspiracy. In the end, the e-mail didn’t have a bearing on the recommendation from the APC.”

Sara Ellis, who represents Nevada Realtors and has been negotiating with TRPA staff regarding the scenic system, said it is not uncommon for a staff to lobby its own board, but she said she was slightly bothered by the message.

“It seemed more like staff was trying to win instead of coming up with appropriate policy that helps the basin,” Ellis said.

“This is an appropriate policy for the basin,” said Pam Drum, TRPA spokeswoman. “We are looking forward to the Governing Board acting on the APC recommendation.”

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