Biography

B I L L  M C C R O N E’ S  B I O G R A P H Y

I believe that my background, education, and experience are very relevant to my qualifications for election as Mayor of Monterey and have therefore set them forth at length here. I have a lifetime of public service and achievement to draw upon in carrying out the public trust. I hope you will take the time to consider my unique qualifications.

  • Childhood
  • College / Leadership Training
  • Military Service
  • Postgraduate
  • Business Experience
  • Community Service
  • City Service
  • Other Organizations

C H I L D H O O D

I grew up as an Army brat, born 1946 in Washington D.C. soon after my father returned from Europe. He rose to Colonel after starting WWII as an Army Captain stationed at Schofield Barracks, HI on December 7, 1941. He then served for the duration of WWII in all of the European campaigns. His example of sacrifice and service to country have always been an inspiration to me.

We moved around as career military families do, from Galveston, TX to as far away as Versailles, France during my childhood. Several of my father’s assignments in the Washington area led me to claim Virginia as my home, graduating from high school in Arlington, Virginia in 1964.

C O L L E G E / L E A D E R S H I P  T R A I N I N G

I entered the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York on July 1, 1964. Among the many memorable experiences of my Cadet career were: being taught tennis by Hall of Famers Arthur Ashe and Stan Smith; being coached in football by the then unknown “Stormin’ Norman” Schwartzkopf; and participating in a national security seminar taught by Heisman Trophy winner Pete Dawkins.

West Point provided me with the finest leadership training in the world. My course of study led to a Bachelor of Science Degree (primarily math major) when I graduated in 1968 in the top 25% of my class. I was commissioned a 2nd Lt. in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, in which I served three years.

M I L I T A R Y  S E R V I C E

 After successful completion of Ranger School and the Engineer Officer course, I received my first assignment to the 193rd Infantry Brigade in the Canal Zone, Panama. Rising to the rank of Captain during my 18 months stationed there, my duties included service as a platoon leader, executive officer, brigade supply officer and miscellaneous duties including travel all over South America as a staff officer for a provisional military strike force designed to react to emergencies affecting our embassies there.

I was ordered to Vietnam in August 1970. I was initially assigned as Operations Officer for the 27th Combat Engineer Battalion at Camp Eagle (101st Airborne Division), replacing a friend who had been wounded less than a week before I arrived. Although I felt somewhat overwhelmed to be directing the combat and engineering operations of a 1,200 man battalion at the tender age of 23, I grew into the job and was awarded a Bronze Star for my achievements for the three months until my friend returned from convalescence.

Our area of operation in Vietnam was Northern I Corps: from Danang in the South to the DMZ in the North; from the coast (named by author Bernard Fall as “The Street Without Joy”) to the Ashau Valley in the West. My battalion built and maintained roads, bridges, airfields, and embattlements associated with the numerous firebases defending the area, and was the primary engineer reaction force to enemy interdiction and sabotage.

In December 1970, I was reassigned for the remainder of my tour of duty as Commanding Officer of the 591st Combat Engineer Company (LE) which provided equipment and construction support to the battalion and the 101st  Airmobile Division in the same area of operations. My first community service project while CO of the 591st was construction of an orphanage for a Christian missionary in Hue in the spring of 1971. I have often wondered what happened to it after the fall of South Vietnam in 1975.

On January 30, 1971, I was given command of a company-sized task force with orders to open a tactical road from Khe Sanh to the Laotian border at the point of the Allied invasion of Laos (Operation Lam Son 719 to interdict the Ho Chi Minh Trail). Given only 24 hours notice of the Operation (D-Day minus 1), I quickly organized and led a nighttime assault back into Khe Sanh which the Allies had not occupied for two years.

Operating independently west of Khe Sanh, in an area that saw some of the heaviest fighting of the war, my task force completed its mission ahead of schedule. We then stepped aside at the border to allow the South Vietnamese Army to carry out the invasion. I was awarded the Bronze Star for Heroism in Ground Combat for my conduct during that mission.

I completed my tour in Vietnam with (3) Bronze Stars and (3) Campaign ribbons.

P O S T G R A D U A T E

 I arrived home from Vietnam in August 1971 and entered the University of Virginia School of Law the next day. It was an exciting time and Mr. Jefferson’s University was a stimulating environment with many contacts with people involved in the investigation and prosecution of the nearby Watergate break-in. Among my classmates were two future Virginia Governors and U.S. Senators – Chuck Robb and George Allen Jr.  Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller was a year ahead of me, but we coached against one another in a championship flag football game.

I graduated in June 1974 in the top 25% of my class and reentered the Army to fulfill my original West Point service obligation of three more years. I was assigned to the Judge Advocate General’s Corps (JAGC) at Fort Ord. I served as Senior Defense Counsel for two years, supervising the criminal defense services provided by six lawyers to a military population in excess of 10,000 young men and women. I personally tried over 100 cases, about 40 of which were jury trials. I then served for one year as Chief of Legal Assistance for the 7th Infantry Division.

My experience with the military will be an important asset to work with the military in our community and my early career as an engineer gives me unique qualifications to understand some of the problems facing Monterey.  I am, of course, a strong supporter of retaining our local military installations against any possible BRAC closure and believe my military background would be an asset to the City in such proceedings.

B U S I N E S S  E X P E R I E N C E

Although I had several law firm job offers from San Francisco and Virginia, I decided there was nowhere I would rather settle than the Monterey Peninsula, like so many others who were introduced to the area by service at Fort Ord. I resigned from the Army in July 1977 and started a law practice in Carmel with two friends from the JAGC office. My personal practice evolved into the areas of real estate, business and estate planning. I became the managing partner of the firm which grew to five lawyers and ten staff in six years.

My real estate expertise enabled me to participate as a general partner with long time Monterey residents Margie Purcell, Don Edgren, Doug Chandler, and Jim McCord to design and build a small residential subdivision on Martin Street in Monterey known as Mira Bella Oaks. We purchased and preserved the historic house once owned by Herbert Hoover (before he became President) while building (5) single homes around it. The design was sensitive to the historic site and the preservation of trees around the new buildings was recognized as a model at the time. The project won an award from the City. Those of you who have visited the home of Don and Margie know very well the quality of this project, of which we are very proud. The project was designed by McCord & Wald and built by Doug Chandler. I’m no longer exactly sure what my contribution was but I claim credit anyway! My wife Carol and I were married in the Hoover House and ended up living in one of the houses for five years.

In 1983, I decided to leave the law practice to pursue an entrepreneurial opportunity as the General Partner of an R & D partnership to develop a cost efficient chemical means to derive hydrogen gas fuel from water by a patented process. As President of the Omnia Research Corporation , I organized the experimental development which was conducted in Marina with mostly local capital. An operating device was designed, constructed and successfully tested in Phase One. Unhappily, we were not able to obtain the planned Phase Two investment capital and the project was terminated in 1985.

I resumed my law practice as a sole practitioner in 1985 and was a self-employed attorney until January 2009 when I retired for medical reasons. I specialized in business and real estate law and litigation, while maintaining my proficiency in Estate Planning.

My clients were mostly small businesses and real estate brokers with whom I have maintained long relationships (although I did represent Chase Manhattan Bank once!)

C O M M U N I T Y  S E R V I C E

With a growing family about to begin school, I decided in 1985 to become more involved in my community. I completed Leadership Monterey Peninsula in 1986. The LMP was a valuable introduction to the non-profit and public sectors of the Peninsula.

In 1987, I joined the Board of Directors of the Family Resource Center, a non-profit charitable corporation dedicated to the prevention and treatment of child abuse, with facilities in Seaside and Salinas. I was elected President of the Board in 1989 and organized a capital campaign to raise $650,000 in charitable donations to design and build a dedicated facility on Broadway in Seaside. The capital campaign was successful in one year and the new facility was built as planned. FRC has since merged into the Family Services Agency.

After leaving that Board, I became involved with our children’s activities with Scouting – Brownies, Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts. I agreed to be chairman of Cub Pack 38, affiliated with Monte Vista Elementary School, in 1996. Under my leadership, the Pack grew from 25 boys to 60. I am very proud of the enhancements made to the experience of these boys, ages 7 to 11, including overnight camping with parents, overnight trips to Alcatraz, the U.S.S. Pompanito in San Francisco, and the U.S.S. Hornet in Oakland.

I have been active with Boy Scout Troop 2 of the Presidio since both of my sons were members. I am very proud that my older son Jack earned his Eagle Scout award.

I volunteered to manage my first Pinto team (Monterey Pony Baseball) in 1993. I coached my older son and 12 other 7-8 year olds in the Spring that year and the next. I love baseball! Teaching and sharing my love of the game with the boys was probably more rewarding to me than them!

C I T Y S E R V I C E

PARKS & RECREATION COMMISSION:

I began community service with the City of Monterey in 1986 when then Mayor Clyde Roberson asked me to serve as a community volunteer, on the Sports Center (then known as the ‘Swim/Gym’) Study Committee. Soon thereafter, I was appointed to the Parks and Recreation Commission and served until July 1997, including two years as Chairperson. I participated in every aspect of the feasibility study to include location, design, construction, fund raising, and initial operation plan for the Sports Center. I can recall much negative testimony during the planning stages but we persevered and the result is a nearly self-supporting community facility that improves the health and spirits of our citizens and is a veritable jewel of the City.  I believe this facility should be more accessible for Monterey residents and the resident fees should be greatly reduced.

During my tenure on the Parks & Recreation Commission, many park projects were designed and completed. In addition to the Sports Center, we designed and built Window on the Bay (Phase I and Master Plan); San Carlos Beach Park; improvements to Jacks Park, the Recreation Trail, Dennis the Menace Park, Presidio ballfields, Bayview and Monte Vista School, Monterey High School (lower fields), Larkin School Park, Via Paraiso Park, Camp Quien Sabe, Whispering Pines Park, Hillltop Community Center and Park, CONA Community Center and Park and the Skateboard Park at Lake El Estero. It is a record of accomplishment for which I am justifiably proud and the quality of life of our citizens has been demonstrably improved.

I am particularly proud of San Carlos Beach Park. I persuaded the commission to move ahead with construction even though we did not have funding to complete it. I argued that we would find it in time to finish the project, and I was right. As a result, the park opened a year earlier than originally planned and is now one of the premier parks in our city and a destination beach for novice scuba divers from all over the West Coast.

I am also very proud of the Skateboard Park. I began advocating that the City create such a park in the late 80’s. The City Council prohibited skateboards from the recreation trail, but left avid skateboarders with no other place to practice their sport besides the street, which was dangerous and illegal. There was also a prejudice against skateboarders who were reputed to be rude and rebellious. Finally, the City Attorney and Council were concerned about liability.

I am no great fan of the sport but it is legitimate exercise and a useful activity to keep our youth occupied, out of trouble, and most importantly, out of the street. After several years, I was able to persuade a majority of the Commission and the Council to address the problem. We found the site and the money. The park was built just as I left the Commission.  The completion of these parks is testament that I am a public servant who does not just talk but actually gets things done.

NIP COMMITTEE:

I helped to organize the Old Town Neighborhood Association (OTNA), and was a member of its original Board (1989).  After its organization, I was its first representative to the Neighborhood Improvement Committee (NIP).  After serving two years, the City Council decided that a citizen could not be on two commissions/committees, so I elected to resign from the NIP and continue my service on Parks & Rec.

I came away with the highest regard for this unique and innovative program. The NIP works very well in bringing improvements that our neighborhoods need and want.  The Committee has also been extremely generous in allocating funds to citywide projects like the Sports Center, San Carlos Beach Park, the Skateboard Park, and the Lower Presidio Historic Park, among many other citywide projects.

PLANNING COMMISSION:

I was asked by then Mayor Dan Albert to submit my name for appointment to the Planning Commission in June 1997.  The Commission had developed a reputation for being very difficult to deal with for applicants, staff, and the public alike.  I played a publicized role as Chairman in cleaning up these abuses. After removal of two commissioners for cause by the Council in 1999, the Commission became a collegial body that considered matters before it with expertise, fairness and respect for those who appeared before it.

After my appointment to the Commission, I rarely missed a meeting and performed the public’s business with diligence and fairness.  Among the projects we reviewed with major EIR’s were the Cannery Row Marketplace, the Oceanview Plaza, the Catellus Master Plan, the Del Monte Theaters, the Cannery Row Local Plan and Historic District, the Del Monte Beach Seawall, and the Cannery Row Clement Hotel.

I devoted substantial time and attention to the award-winning Downtown Specific Plan, the North Fremont Specific Plan, the Waterfront Master Plan, and the new City Master Plan.  I firmly believe that these Plans, once vetted through an exhaustive hearing process, do not belong on a shelf somewhere.  They should be implemented as soon as possible with funding as it becomes available and, as Mayor, I will make this a high priority.  There are funds available in the Tidelands Trust Fund and the City must do what is required to make these funds available for necessary and essential Waterfront Master Plan improvements.

OLD MONTEREY FOUNDATION:

I joined the Board of the non-profit Old Monterey Foundation in 2013 and have devoted a great deal of time to its activities the past 5 years.  Frank Sollecito and I had read the 2002 Master Plan for the Lower Presidio Historic Park during our time with city government and were disappointed that nothing had been done with the Plan in the nearly 20 years since the City leased the Park from the Army in 1995.  There was not even a sign designating the area as a public park, or as open to the public. We persuaded the Board of OMF to adopt the buildout of the Park Master Plan as our primary project in 2014.

I became Chairman of the Park Committee and am proud to report that we have raised nearly $1.2 million to fund and substantially complete Phase I of the buildout.  This 25.3 acre park, which has been called the “most historically significant site in California,” now has a monument entrance sign, ADA accessible trails, picnic tables and benches, an historic wooden perimeter fence, and ten interpretive historic signs describing the rich history of the site, dating back to 1602.  We had the grand opening on November 11, 2017 to much acclaim and can now describe the Park as the ‘jewel” of the Monterey park system.  This a sterling example of my ability to get things done.

DISABILITY

Those who have noticed that I don’t walk as well as I used to when I was a strong skier and hiker in the Sierras, may know that I am a victim of Agent Orange exposure during combat service in Vietnam.  In some people, AO causes ischemic heart disease by blocking the arteries.  It first appeared in me in 1995 when I had my first heart attack in the prime of life, even though I had normal indicators of heart health.  Thereafter, AO destroyed my heart and led inexorably to a heart transplant at Stanford in 2009.  The extensive surgery set me back several years in recovery, but it will be ten years since the transplant this January and I now have a normal life expectancy. In 2010, the Veteran’s Administration recognized Agent Orange as the presumptive cause and awarded me a 100% disability rating.

OTHER VOLUNTEER SERVICE AND ORGANIZATIONS:

Carmel Valley Rotary Club (1978 – 1992); Rotary Club of Monterey (1996 – 2007); Leadership Monterey Peninsula (1986); Family Resource Center, President (1987 – 1992); President, Pacheco Club (1991); past Board Member, Monterey History and Art Association; Chairman, Local Selective Service Board (1994 – 2009); Mentor, Veteran’s Transition Court.

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