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Controversy Around Controversial Anti-Terrapin Signs

Council opts to not pass resolution condemning signs. Hopes to move forward with productive, civil debate.

A resolution condemning became a controversy itself Wednesday night, as the Fairfax Town Council split over whether or not the resolution would make the debate on the project more divisive.

“It sets a bad tone,” said Mayor Larry Bragman.

The resolution called for the debate to be “civil in tone, respectful of the applicants’ and public’s rights, and remain free of all acts of intimidation.” However, it also specifically called out opponents of the project as using tactics that would make Phil and Jill Lesh feel intimidated and unwelcome.

That, said a number of people in the audience, wasn’t fair.

At the heart of the debate was . According to Jill Lesh, signs saying “Stop Terrapin” were placed exactly along Phil’s morning walking route in Ross – suggesting that someone knew where Phil walked each day. Additionally, flyers were posted on cars at and a petition was presented to the Leshes. 

Ross Police Chief Erik Masterson said there was no vandalism but a number of signs posted on telephone poles. No police report was filed.

The story, though, got passed on and rumors arose and it became, what Bragman called, “triple hearsay.” Because no police report was filed and no photographs were taken, people were also unsure about what exactly was on the flyers. 

By calling out this specific incident in the resolution, a number of opponents of the project said that it was biased in favor of the Leshes and seemed to criticize all opponents of the project.

“Painting with a broad brush every opponent as being intimidating or terrorizing or creating an unwelcome feeling isn’t fair,” said Vice Mayor Pam Hartwell-Herrero.

A number of residents who live near the proposed project and have been vocal critics said they had also been yelled at or felt threatened by Jill Lesh.

Adrianne Peixotto, whose first concert was the Grateful Dead, said Jill called her cell phone and yelled at her, calling her a ring leader with a mob mentality, and accusing her of posting the flyers – which she said she didn’t know anything about.

“I think the resolution is great, but it needs to be generic without names, because it does feel accusatory,” said Peixotto.

The council discussed removing references to the Leshes and this specific project from the resolution, making it simply a call for civility, but David Weinsoff, who brought the resolution forward, asked for a vote as it was written.

“I’m greatly afraid this might be the beginning of a slippery slope,” said Weinsoff. “I want to nip this in the bud.”

However, Weinsoff was the only one who voted for the resolution. Council Member Lew Tremaine, who had originally said he supported it, abstained from the vote. Council Members Hartwell-Herrero, Bragman and John Reed voted no.

"This is a delicate point [in the discussion]," said Bragman, who thought passing the resolution and specifically calling out opponents of the project, without a police report or any direct knowledge of the incident, could further raise hostilities around the project and affect the council's neutrality. "We are not a grand jury."

FaceOnMars September 10, 2011 at 02:13 PM
Richard, I'm at a loss to see the connection between the current proposed location in Fairfax vs. Ross as being a basis for NIMBYism?!? I believe you've invoked a strawman ... as my suspicion is that Phil would like to travel as little as possible.
keo September 10, 2011 at 02:14 PM
Richard- Think you are missing the point. Whether what this flyer person did was legal or illegal, it's creepy, it smacks of someone watching u and knowing your walking route. I think if someone did this to you, it would feel a little unerving and I don't think it would be any less unnerving if you thought it was legal. Secondly, whether it is legal or not it is extremely childish and silly behavior for an adult to display. Thirdly, the neighbors have repeated several times that Phils rep said (when he met with them way back) that if they met too much opposition they wouldn't want to submit the proposal, the neighbors jumped on this statement and since then have been doing everything in their power to create a huge intimidating noise from the opposition. As soon as Phil actually filed for the use permit, they have been in hyperdrive, submitting letters to every news outlet, interviews with news stations, inflammatory fliers posted at a home for seniors and a funeral for a child. There are reasons why we have democratic systems in place to deal with these types of issues, let that process happen before u assume u know everything and how it will impact our town. There are so many people in town who want this to happen including most of the local merchants, they have every right to see this process thru to determine how it might impact our town. This small faction of opponents are trying to thwart that for the entire town and that is BS no matter how u want to look at it.
keo September 10, 2011 at 02:15 PM
There is not an appropriate venue in Ross, otherwise I am sure he would have tried this.
Richard Nagan September 10, 2011 at 02:29 PM
I don't know how it will impact your town nor do I care. I am, just commenting on people trying to suppress freedom of speech. Yes, there are systems in place for governmental review and also the right to protest and state opposition or support outside of the governmental system.
keo September 10, 2011 at 04:32 PM
Then butt out Richard, as there are many more details to this story that you obviously know nothing about. It goes beyond your black and white argument re: freedom of speech.
Richard Nagan September 10, 2011 at 04:44 PM
The article is about a resolution to condemn speech and, no, I will not butt out.
Mimi Newton September 10, 2011 at 06:21 PM
The resolution was about condemning incivility in the Town's permitting process. EVERYBODY at the Town Council meeting agreed that engaging in civil discourse and not harassing people, whether opponents or proponents, is appropriate. I think that's the bottom line here. We have a public process and those who posted the signs were trying to influence that process. By doing so they succeeded -- so far -- in hijacking the opportunity for the rest of us to participate in that process - it was not their statements but the manner in which they presented those statements that crossed a line from free speech into harassment/stalking/whatever you want to call it and I am appreciative of everyone who came to the Council meeting, including all the Council members, who made it clear that a line was crossed that should not have been.
Richard Nagan September 10, 2011 at 07:06 PM
The purpose of free speech is to influence the process
Mimi Newton September 10, 2011 at 07:47 PM
What process? There has been no process. Even speech has its bounds, as I'm sure you're aware, Richard. Can't yell Fire in a crowded theater, libel, slander - all ways in which Free Speech has boundaries. I would argue that free speech can go too far if it constitutes harassment, i.e., unwanted physical contact, use of epithets, inappropriate jokes, comments or innuendos, obscene or harassing telephone calls, e‑mails, letters, notes or other forms of communication, and, any conduct that may create a hostile environment - in this case the hostile environment was the town's planning process - a process where all the residents of the town are supposed to be able to exercise our free speech in terms of proposals that go before our planning commission and our town council - and we didn't have a chance to do that because somebody decided to observe a celebrity going about his private business - and, rather than communicate with him through the town's process, make him feel threatened. Whoever did this used intimidation to completely sabotage a process in which we all in this Town should have been able to participate. So that is what this is about. I am hoping that Phil and Jill Lesh reconsider submitting their proposal to our Town and I am hoping that civility will win out - Have a great Saturday!
Richard Nagan September 10, 2011 at 08:03 PM
Well, Mimi, you obviously do not believe in free speech. If Phil felt threatened it is entirely on him and no one else.
FaceOnMars September 10, 2011 at 08:22 PM
Richard, perhaps if you had said "Well, Mimi, you obviously do not believe in absolute free speech" it might have been more accurate. Do you believe in absolute free speech?
Mimi Newton September 10, 2011 at 09:01 PM
@Richard - oh, but I do - hence this conversation. I think it's great! We need to keep a civil dialogue going and all agree to hear each other out. But I don't think it's "entirely on him" if Phil felt threatened - it's on the whole community AND the Leshes, unfortunately. As a public figure, I think it's entirely reasonable for Phil Lesh to have felt very uneasy about the signs. You and I might react differently, probably having a significantly smaller sphere of people who know who we are to worry about . . . hopefully (-;
Richard Nagan September 10, 2011 at 10:03 PM
With the exception of things like yelling fire in a crowded theater, yes.
Richard Nagan September 10, 2011 at 10:05 PM
No, the person, whoever it was posted signs on poles expressing opposition to Phil;'s plans. There were no threats. If Phil got froghtened then it is on him. Should Obama get frightened if people post signs expressing disapproval of his ideas and actions?
Sierra Salin September 11, 2011 at 02:47 AM
Hah, I really like the word "froghtened." Nice word, in an otherwise obtuse conversatin about free speech, terrapin landing, and expressing oneself. It would appear to this one that absolute free speech would include yelling "fire" in crowded places, or anywhere, and leaving the interpretation, etc, up to the smarts of whoever had the fortune to hear it. Personally, I don't think the signs were any great big deal. Not well thought out perhaps, and whoever did it had a right to post signs, and free speech, etc. The wording was nothing terribly offensive, and, I would be a little creeped out. Being famous, can have drawbacks, and trying to build a large commercial enterprise, anywhere, involves press, and some heat. All part of the process. Free speech, liberty, etc, can be kinda sticky, irritating, and messy, especially when we may not agree with others positions and beliefs, and many of us would wish to limit them for others at times, without hindering ourselves? The "real" questions are can we just be kind, or listen to each other, and get along? Communication is messy. Between what we assume, what we believe, what we think, and what we hear, everything is obfuscated by misinterpretation, earwax, hormones, misunderstanding or outright misinformation, and it is a wonder any 2 people can understand each other at any time, period. And I wonder why there is so much war in the world, rather than education, healthcare, community caring, and just plain love?
Kathy Flores September 13, 2011 at 04:32 PM
Another act of vandalism: Someone (and we know who they are) walked onto my father's property and ripped in half the STOP TERRAPIN CROSSROAD sign. The second time this was done the SA police were notifed and an incident report was made. The SA Police were notifed again and this "incident report" has now escalated to the next step. We know this happened because we have incident report number, but do we know that the posters in Ross ever really happened? Probably not. The Ross Police Dept do no have an incident report and the Leshes needed publicity and played the "poor me card".
Mimi Newton September 15, 2011 at 05:50 PM
Kathy - sorry to hear it; but glad to hear you know who did this & are taking steps to hold them accountable.
E. Williams September 16, 2011 at 03:32 PM
Keo, I am in the Stop Terrapin Landing Facebook page and I have no idea who posted the flyers, so quit it with your broad generalizations about who knows what. Sowing paranoia is a bad way to promote community.
keo September 16, 2011 at 04:21 PM
Hey Ellen, placing flyers everywhere telling the seniors and community members that this is going to be a horrible thing for our community when there are so many who want this in the community, is certainly not promoting positive community vibes. Just b/c YOU don't know doesn't mean others don't.
Sierra Salin September 16, 2011 at 04:45 PM
Relax Keo, the folks with another opinion than yours have just as much right to be vocal about not wanting the venue, and to voice their freedom of speech and expression. Honestly, it is more on anybody wanting to effect change in, on, or around a community, to appease fears, and doubts, and be convincing, than the other way around. Likewise, folks should at least remain open and be willing to consider a proposition. Neither side should steamroller, dismiss, or minimize the others points, and there are good and bad possibilities here. People do have valid concerns, which need to be addressed, without being bullied by either side. Hey, lets build a nuclear power plant in town folks, lots of jobs and cheap energy you say...... and certainly nothing to worry about, etc. One persons DDT on their morning cereal is another persons bane. The point and bottom line for all of it is, what are the real effects and changes going to be, and how do both sides get past the spins, and judge the project on what it will give or take from the town, AND act/choose accordingly? Education and beliefs are tricky things. Outside of nature, human rules, laws and ways of being and doing, are pretty illogical and insane, and we would do best to start living and acting with all nature held in the equation, and not just 5 or 20 years worth of $ profits, while other parts of the equation are being exploited.
Kathy Flores September 16, 2011 at 04:47 PM
Thi is crazy making. Did you even see the flyers that were handed out to the residents informing them of Terrapin Crossroads? I would say more than 2/3 of FAIRFAX residents did not know about this nightclub or they had heard a rumor. There was not any fear what so ever written on them. It was just the facts for anyone to read and understand and then they can make their own decision if this is what they want in Fairfax. Can we move on now?
Kathy Flores September 16, 2011 at 04:51 PM
Thank you Sierra.
E. Williams September 16, 2011 at 05:03 PM
You know what's creepy? Keo knows my first name. It's not in my profile or my email address. Are you a friend of mine Keo?
Kelly Dunleavy O'Mara September 16, 2011 at 05:04 PM
Actually - I think you signed some comment at one point "Ellen" because that sounds familiar and I don't know you.
keo September 16, 2011 at 05:29 PM
Sierra- You are way out of context and off on tangents. E. Williams was trying to tell me that what I am doing, saying I have heard from reliable sources about who it is, (notice I am not posting names, b/c there is no proof) is creating paranoia and not fostering community. So I was expressing my opinion that plastering flyers at a seniors home and on cars at a funeral (regardless of what happened to Phil at his home)suggesting that TC will be bad for our community, our children and that is is going to be like Fairfax Festival EVERY weekend, is also creating paranoia and is far from community minded especially when most in the community, whether for or on the fence about the venue, want the opportunity to at least hear the proposal and see it thru the steps that EVERY business should have the opportunity to go thru !!
keo September 16, 2011 at 05:31 PM
@Kelly Exactly. No not a friend. If you can follow and retain lots of info as I can, it's not that hard to figure things out.
Sierra Salin September 16, 2011 at 05:45 PM
Community is messy and takes time as we are all pieces of work in progress, with earwax and beliefs filtering what we hear, bad eyesight confusing what we see, and wacked out beliefs and thoughts in our heads. It is a wonder any of us can understand anything. Wherever ONE or more are gathered we have conflict, confusion, and problems. However inflamitory or misguidededed anyone's flyers may be, folks still have the freedom of speech and expression. More the question is, how do we communicate? How do we educate each other, and not exclude anyone, as the "devil?" How do we have enough intelligence as a community, to get past opinions, hot air, smoke, allegations, and misguided ignorance and or actions, and act from facts, data, and with integrity to build a sane world? There is too much war already, and no need to shoot each other over this or anything. And we all need to act, live, work, with everybody's best interests at heart, without minimizing, excluding, or scapegoating anyone... Although, I do have a soft spot which would like to jail some folks at the top, and redistribute their wealth for a more just world, and a future which is survivable. Wall street, bankers, and war profiteers are difficult for me to include, and I would listen to them at least, before saying no way, and no more, before sending them back to preschool for a spanking, and some milk and cookies. And to a degree, we are all petty tyrants in our own spots.
Kelly Dunleavy O'Mara October 11, 2011 at 01:34 AM
Jason -- I'm deleting your comment. You can't call anyone names.
FairNAGS October 18, 2011 at 02:36 PM
Classic neocolonialism in the guise of wine, song and revelry! Don't take the bait Fairfax. I, like so many of us, had my oil changed at this site in 1992. Where I'm from that qualifies as cultural heritage. Make no mistake, for West Marin, this would be the cultural equivalent of the Three Gorges Dam. Join our FaceBook Page to help stop this and Save our Abandoned Heritage! https://www.facebook.com/pages/FairNAGS/205437729529921
Sierra Salin October 18, 2011 at 03:15 PM
Fairfax already lost it's one architectural gem and historic building when the Lucky building was torn apart for the new Good Earth. There are so few examples left of butt ugly mid century concrete boxes and we should preserve them for the future. Likely the gas station is more of a superfund site than a cultural heritage, and perhaps some well placed mycelium could clean it up?

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