The Coastal Post - March 2000

Environmental Health Dept. Tampering Charges Against Kinsey Supported

By Jim Scanlon

Tests by the County's Environmental Health Department reveal fecal coliform bacteria contamination of the water supply of Rancho Nicasio Restaurant according to the Gannett Corporation's Marin Independent Journal. Several people complained of getting sick after eating in the popular West Marin bar restaurant and nightclub. Water is presently being hauled by tankers for use by the restaurant pending further investigation.

The water supply and septic system of the restaurant were the source of contention between Environmental Health, the restaurants new owner and Supervisor Steve Kinsey, when a food service permit was denied until the water and sewage systems were brought into compliance with state and county codes.

This conflict was one of several cited by Ed Stewart, the former head of Environmental Health at his "Whistleblower's Hearing," when he accused Kinsey and other county officials of endangered public health by interfering in enforcement, and pressuring his staff.

The dispute was settled by negotiation between county and private attorneys. Steward was overruled and a temporary permit was issued until the septic system was upgraded a few months later. It is not known if, or when, anything was done about the water system. There should, however, be extensive documentation concerning these negotiations on file at the Civic Center. It is believed that the Marin Civil Grand Jury is looking into all of Stewart's complaints.

Stewart and the health inspector involved in this incident were relieved of their duties and escorted out of the Civic Center on five minutes notice last September and officially fired this January. Appeals are pending to be followed, most likely by law suits for wrongful termination. Look for this story to continue.

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