West Marin Citizen


Past postings are numbered in the order they went online, with the most recent postings located immediately below the Table of Contents.

To go directly to stories without scrolling, click on the highlighted phrases following the numbers.

Weekly postings are published by Thursday.

529. Kremlin interferes with this blog: the full post-truth story

528. Words matter…. as if you didn’t know

527. Milk, cheese, and Donald Trump

526. Majority of voters go for Clinton but… Trump wins election; Kremlin, ISIS, & KKK celebrate

525. Undeterred by rain, small-town Halloween celebrations held throughout Pt. Reyes Station

524. Recalling the tribulations of a courageous contractor from Point Reyes Station

523. ‘Plutocracy’ to occupy four theaters, starting with two in West Marin

522. Pt. Reyes jeweler’s memoirs describe difficult marriages, Philip K. Dick’s science fiction, horse vaulting, and West Marin history

521. Park Service ousts Donald ‘Trump’ Neubacher

520. The transgender journey of an Inverness woman

519. I’m back and hitting the bars

518. A Staggering Debacle

517. Memorial set for Russ Faure-Brac of Dogtown

516. The zoo in my backyard

515. The Teddy Bear picnic and why to stay at home

514. Western Weekend this year proved to be especially colorful

513. Wake for Donna Sheehan of Marshall reflected her eccentric life

512. Memorial Day weekend chaos

511. MALT art show a testament to rural beauty

510. A trip to Tomales

509. Party for publisher who sells her newspaper

508. Birds, deer, a cat, a rat, a face in the flames, and another overturned truck

507. The adventures of Bigfoot

506. Art in Bolinas, hail in Point Reyes Station, and Emergency Response Team training in Nicasio

505. Wish get well at Toby’s; then Gather at Perry’s

504. The whole truth and a bit more

503. Caltrans meeting about replacing Green Bridge draws mixed responses

502. West Marin’s bridges to its past

501. Patrolling the CHP

500. A sparse serving of sagacity

499. Small town slumbering and cows stampeding

498. The highs and lows of St. Valentine’s Day weekends, past and long past

497. Presidents’ Day, Valentine’s Day; in Canada indigenous people to protest

496. Eastern Door newspaper exemplifies courage in a Mohawk community

495. Documentary by ex-resident of Bolinas tells story of Burundi-genocide survivor

494. Focusing on the birdlife around Mitchell cabin

493. Wandering around in early January

492. A gallery of critters around Mitchell cabin

491. Stunned to learn French, New Anus State Park, and other surprises in the world of news

490. Some Christmas surprises

489. In West Marin the drought symbolically comes to an end

488. Occasionally the most intriguing parts of newspapers are the miscues

487. Despite a series of downpours, Point Reyes Station steps out to celebrate the Yuletide

486. A visitor from New York

485. It was the best of times; it was the worst of times

484. The Comoros solution for undocumented residents

483. Finding refuge in my surroundings

482. Remembering the past in Point Reyes Station and Tomales

481. Point Reyes Station focuses on helping preschool and preparing for disaster

480. Little Nicasio was a happening place Saturday and Sunday

479. Mowgli taught me to love jungles

478. A Scottish journalist’s observations regarding the vote to remain part of Great Britain

477. Racoons waxing and Tricolored Blackbirds waning plus a mystery in the woods

476. The autumnal equinox is upon us

475. Grito de la Independencia in Point Reyes Station

474. Some Nicasio Reservoir history is seldom seen, and some is seldom recognized

473. Tomales Founders’ Day draws a goodly crowd despite a shorter-than-usual parade

472. It all happened between two vivid dreams

471. A photographic look at signs of life

470. All in one day: displays in Point Reyes Station & Inverness of arts, crafts, & public service

469. A word with you, if you please

468. Sorry I’m late, but here are a bobcat, albino robin, and five fox kits to make up for it

467. Nurturing nature

466. Riding an old narrow-gauge train and modern Amtrak plus driving the ‘Highway to Hell’

465. It was like winning a second Pulitzer Prize

464. Photography, drama, etchings, and paintings worth seeing this summer

463. Sunday’s Western Weekend Parade and Saturday’s 4-H Fair draw enthusiastic crowds

462. White House Pool enchanting despite vandalism and poison oak

461. Humor — including blonde and similar jokes — that’s gone through at least 3 countries

460. My deer friends

459. A few of my photos in war and peace from West Marin to Southeast Asia to Central America

458. Animals provide relief from an animalistic world

457. Gala for just-retired popular librarian; preparing for disasters; odd news reports

456. America owes a lot to its weekly newspapers

455. Pining for a couple of old friends

454. Creatures of spring at Mitchell cabin

453. Gallery Route One exhibiting whimsical art with messages from three women

452. Save a spaniel

451. When words fail us

450. With spring 10 days away, late-winter rains give a boost to West Marin flora and fauna

449. A gallery of photos from Point Reyes Light open house, staff reunion, and book readings

448. Misunderstandings and other ‘small’ news plus a big ‘ol party

447. ‘Picturing the Point Reyes Peninsula’ exhibition opens in Jack Mason Museum

446. Readings from ‘The Light on the Coast’ draw crowd to Tomales Regional History Center

445. Jon Langdon’s ‘Beyond Geometry’; Mr. Badger goes a-huntin’; Gypsy cobs cloppin’ downtown

444. Point Reyes Station innkeeper and former jeweler Ann Dick a prolific writer at 87

443. Oldtimer says dams, not homes and ranches, had hurt salmon runs; now it’s the drought

442. Legends of the Celtic harp wow enthusiastic crowd in the Dance Palace

441. A gallery of local-wildlife photos

440. The Ghosts of Christmas Presents

439. The holidays are the time for us in West Marin to start preparing for disasters

438. The last days of fall

437. The Light on the Coast due to gleam this week

436. Using words well and not so well

435. My 70th birthday

434. The Mitchell cabin perspective on protection and food for wildlife

433. Guatemalan murder suspect, who was hunted via social media, caught in Mexico via TV

432. Mulling a potential flap at the confab

431. My frantic flight from Latin

430. The Fall of Nicasio and Point Reyes Station

429. A dead buck, buzzards, flies…. and who else?

428. With federal parks here closed, art exhibits getting more attention

427. From Paris’ Montmartre to New Orleans’ Storyville to San Francisco’s Tenderloin

426. Masterful new book set in Alaskan wilderness is a story of conflicts that echo West Marin’s

425. The pressure on journalists as the NSA pushes US toward becoming George Orwell’s ‘1984’

424. The US government’s love-hate relationship with Syrian brutality

423. Tomales Founder Day parade and party in park draw a huge crowd

422. A visit from Pepé Le Pew

421. A young leviathan dies at Stinson Beach

420. Images of many types of dogs at Inverness Fair

419. First the grim news, then the gay

418. Don’t believe everything you read; newspapers will survive

417. Don’t Bogart that smoke detector, you roach

416. Wildlife relish outdoor dining at Mitchell cabin

415. ‘The town that West Marin forgot’ celebrates its park with food, auctions, rock ‘n’ roll, and grand opera

414. Raccoon-noitering

413. Thoughts about our infatuation with animals

412. Fox News in Point Reyes Station

411. New Age detritus found to be littering roadside in Lagunitas

410. Western Weekend 2013: good weather, good fun; close call

409. The mysteries of words, birds, and the NRA

408. Remembering massacres under Guatemalan President Ríos Montt

407. My good buddy gets hit by a car and dies

406. Tormented by computers, comforted by spring

405. Way out west in West Marin

404. Enduring a week of terrible events

403. Bicyclist killed in Inverness Park

402. Of cats and bobcats, burros and burrows

401. Google boggles blogger

400. Exhibition of portraits of ‘Tomales Neighbors’, past and present, opens to kudos

399. Deus ex machina

398. Proposed law would end trapping of bobcats for their pelts

397. Postal Clerk Known for Feralhood Retires

396. Whatever Happened to Our Curiosity?

395. Filmmaker Ole Schell, formerly of Bolinas, with jookin’ dancer Lil’ Buck, actress Meryl Streep & cellist Yo-Yo Ma in China

394. The Point in Winter

393. When critters watch but don’t bother to bother each other

392. Quotes Worth Saving IV

391. Inverness museum exhibit on Swiss immigrant who came to be called ‘Mr. Point Reyes Station’

391. Our fascination with how words are used — some examples from across the pond

390. A collection of favorite wildlife photographs snapped around Mitchell cabin

389. Counting curves on Highway 1

388. The winter solstice of 2012

387. Shoreline School District blessed compared with a number of others

386. Pearl Harbor Day, Point Reyes Station’s Christmas tree lighting, and a new era at MALT

385. Quietly photographing all natural neighbors

384. The old codger connects Thanksgiving, turkeys, and NATO missiles

383. Feeding time

382. What a week for the press!

381. Our political D-Day

380. Marin agriculture as photographed between 1920 and 1950 by the county’s 1st farm advisor

379. Zen and the Art of Motor-mouth Maintenance

378. Tony’s Seafood Restaurant, a reminder of the Croatian immigration to Marshall

377. North Bend Ranch — rich in narrow-gauge railroad history — put up for sale

376. Young Kosovar refugee, whose diary West Marin read during war, sends an update

375. At the end of our line we found Cazadero

374. Typical-graphical errors and other journalistic confusion

373. Why Marin needs to approve Measure A

372. Tomales Founders Day parade bigger than ever

371. A convoluted look at language

370. Not quite what you’d expect

369. Jack Mason Museum opens exhibit on Inverness Yacht Club 100 years after it was first launched

368. Tomales High turns 100 years old as NASA’s Curiosity lands on Mars

367. Wild scene from my deck as photographed over two weeks

366. Far West Fest hot as a wildfire and lasts longer

365. The story of a ‘Deputy Sheriff in Wild and Wooly West Marin’

364. Drakes Bay Oyster Company struggles on against Park Service

363. Fighting a thorny intruder in West Marin

362. Unintentional double entendres in the press

361. Summer brings a new assortment of wildlife to Mitchell cabin

360. A short trip to exotic Gualala

359. Pictures from a fun-filled Western Weekend in Point Reyes Station

358. Marin County agriculture brought in $70 million last year

357. The agony and the ecstasy of Spring

356. History and merriment combine at Nicasio sesquicentennial celebration

355. Most 2nd District congressional candidates want US to legalize medical marijuana

354. Old Farmer’s Almanac still fresh after 220 years

353. A photographic history of Inverness Park

352. On eve of June 5 election, Supervisor Kinsey describes his grueling schedule

351. Glimpses of the narrow-gauge railroad

350. Senator Feinstein says Park Service employees ‘feel emboldened to once again fabricate science’

349. A drought for livestock but not for people

348. The origins of Point Reyes Station

347. More shenanigans by the Point Reyes National Seashore

346. Surviving another earthquake

345. Turkeys — both avian and human

344. Crowd at memorial honors beloved Realtor

343. Former National Seashore Supt. Neubacher & his boss Jon Jarvis becoming a political problem for the Obama administration

342. Grim times abroad and tranquil days at home

341. Using social media to hunt for Guatemalan murder suspect in US

340. The Great Storm of ’82 in pictures

339. Caught in the great storm of 1982

338. A roundup of wildlife at Mitchell cabin

337. Seasonal greetings can be confusing

336. Christmas Day visitors

335. How our Christmas turkeys got their name

334. A Christmas Carol

333. Who’s been naughty or nice

332. A gallery of visits from wildlife

331. The changing of the seasons

330. Artist Thomas Wood’s studio show captures nature’s beauty

329. Save America’s Postal Service

328. Symposium on National Seashore misdeeds; pancake fundraiser for firefighters & Disaster Council; barn dance — all in Pt. Reyes Station

327. Occupy Wall Street protest expands to Point Reyes Station

326. Joel Hack to retire as publisher of The West Marin Citizen

325. Women of West Marin

324. E Clampus Vitus gives further recognition to Duncans Mills’ trove of coastal history

323. Ungulates in the news

322. Incurring the raccoon gaze

321. Point Reyes Station’s Dance Palace celebrates 40th anniversary

320. Tomales Founders Day parade and picnic

319. Newswomen heroic in covering combat

318. Gopher it

317. Inverness Fair provided an antidote to Weltschmerz

316. Saturday’s opening reception for an exhibition of Elisabeth Ptak’s collages

315. Living among the wildlife

314. The threat from a runaway sand dune

313. Saturday’s Far West Fest

312. What’s in a name?

311. Tomales’ party in the park

310. The frustrations of home maintenance — a lesson learned from ‘The Arkansas Traveler’

309. The turtle

308. Hats off to Safeway

307. As expressions come and go, do you know what you’re saying?

306. We’re back following an unknown hacker’s vandalism to this blog

305. The sun shone on Sunday’s Western Weekend parade

304. The Western Weekend 4-H Fair and barn dance

303. Words, pictures, and the press

302. Memorial for Jonathan Rowe who led creation of the commons in Point Reyes Station

301. Goddamn winter’s back

300. This blog turns 300

299. Charge ahead! or pay cash

298. Daughter dies in Nevada County

297. What does the Easter Bunny have to do with Jesus’ resurrection?

296. West Marin update

295. Tales from West Marin’s forgotten past

294. When everything goes wrong

293. Writer Jonathan Rowe dies unexpectedly at 65

292. Some of the creatures that visited my cabin in a single day

291. Finding small absurdities in the midst of major crises

290. Bolinas exhibition takes an artistic look at the world

289. A fox at the table

288. The common people are revolting

287. How two resourceful women coped with crises

286. Have a happy and trippy Valentine’s Day

285. Quotes Worth Saving III

284. Facebook, the bizarre culmination of mass communications

283. A Great blue heron, mondagreens, and three cheers for Ghana

282. Video of two tributes to Missy Patterson during her memorial reception

281. Wishing a healthy, happy new year to West Marin’s critters — you included

280. ‘Tis the time of Janus, the god who looks forward and back

279. The death of a West Marin matriarch

278. Improbable politics in Wasilla, St. Petersburg and Point Reyes Station

277. Faces along the Path of Lights

276. Literary and civic news sponsored by the creatures of West Marin

275. Another round of inter-species peace negotiations at Mitchell cabin

274. Ramblin’ Jack Elliott takes turns performing with Corey Goodman and Maria Muldaur at amazing fundraiser in Marshall

273. Trailer Stash — a musical fundraiser to prepare Marshall for disasters

272. Day of the Dead celebration in Point Reyes Station

271. Point Reyes pedestrian home from hospital after being struck by deer

270. Have a happy (or scary) Halloween

269. Anastacio’s Famous BBQ Oyster Sauce — a part of West Marin’s Latino heritage — further refined

268. This fall’s wildlife census for my hill

267. Culvert project at White House Pool aims to reduce flooding along the levee road

266. Greetings from your governor

265. Bolinas boy makes good with documentary on fashion models

264. Scotland’s ill-fated colony in Panamaand why I read the Economist

263. Avoiding more victims by capping a sticky gusher

262. Crafting the Considerate House

261. West Marin remembers Duane Irving

260. The art of boating

259. Firefighters in action

258. Do you like coyotes and bobcats? How about rats?

257. Los mapaches con cacahuates; también fotos de los cuervos y venados

256. Proposal for ceasefire in West Marin ‘newspaper war’

255. The young creatures of summer

254. Eli’s coming — causing momentary dismay at The Point Reyes Light

253. Under the volcano and in the eye of the storm — a firsthand account

252. The duel between The Point Reyes Light and The West Marin Citizen

251. Santa Muerte and El Cadejo

250. Wildlife around my cars on the Serengeti Plain of West Marin

249. A big Western Weekend Parade in li’l old Point Reyes Station

248. 4-H Fair and Coronation Ball keep alive Western Weekend’s agricultural traditions

247. A tail for West Marin to bear in mind this Western Weekend

246. Point Reyes Light sells and will incorporate as a nonprofit

245. Point Reyes Station area blackout rumored to have been sparked by bird

244. Planned Feralhood desperate for a new home

243. John Francis takes a walk down under

242. A day in a small town

241. Point Reyes Station’s notorious curve is scene of yet another vehicle crash

240. The Mother Goose method for getting rid of thistles

239. A benefit so that handicapped kids can go rafting

238. Where angels fear to tread

237. The Chronicle, hang gliders, and horses

236. Crowd celebrates 80th birthday of Marshall artist-political activist Donna Sheehan

235. A classic revisited

234. Nature celebrates spring

233. More on diplomatic news we’ve been following

232. Sportscar flies off embankment; no one hurt in miraculous landing

231. A chat with the Trailside Killer

230. Life and death on my hill

229. Valentine’s Fair raises money for Haiti relief

228. Historic irony as milk truck overturns in Marshall

227. Encouraging my bodhisattva possum on her path to enlightenment

226. Benefit for Haitian earthquake survivors filled with mixed emotions

225. What drought? Nicasio Reservoir overflows

224. Disconcerting standup reporting

223. The storms begin; schools close; a near miss at my cabin

222. Spare the rodent (or rabbit) & spoil the diet

221. Lookin’ out my backdoor: some of my favorite wildlife photos

220. Careening through the holidays

219. Chileno Valley journalist working in Abu Dhabi brings new wife home for visit

218. Just what would Mayberry be like on acid?

217. The foxes of downtown Point Reyes Station

216. Interpreting dreams

215. Let’s talk turkey

214. You’ll Never Walk Alone — an unlikely story

213. A wistful walk on the bottom of Nicasio Reservoir

212. Progress in the backyard peace process

211. John Francis leaving; 4 other artists turn pages but sticking around

210. What we inherit

209. Over 200 show up at fundraiser to help pay injured ad manager’s medical bills

208. A community helping one of its own

207. A country mouse in the Tenderloin

206. News of the week reported through pictures

205. Update on injured ad manager of West Marin Citizen; benefit planned; and will there be a race?

204. Startling weather; amazing stepdaughters

203. Talented-animal tales

2o2. Saga of The West Marin Citizen ad manager’s recovery spreads around the globe — not always accurately

201. And you were there

200. Hospitalized ad manager of West Marin Citizen coming home; friends volunteering to provide meals

199. Scenes from the Inverness Fair

198. Great progress for injured ad manager of The West Marin Citizen despite problems with convalescent hospital

197. Thieves use ruse to clean out till at Station House Gifts

196. Anastacio’s Famous BBQ Oyster Sauce goes on sale

195. A hillside of wildlife

194. Kaiser Permanente’s ‘Sicko’ machinations shock injured ad manager of The West Marin Citizen

193. Immobilized by multiple injuries, ad manager keeps selling from hospital bed

192. All creatures feathered and furry

191. The wildlife of summer around my cabin & an update on Linda Petersen’s condition

19o. West Marin Citizen advertising manager hurt in crash; her popular dog Sebastian dies

189. Sunday’s Western Weekend Parade

188. The Western Weekend Livestock Show

187. Western Weekend parade will be Sunday despite reports to the contrary

186. The purple couch beside the road

185. A funny thing happened at the car wash Friday & other odd events

184. My brush with a badger

183. Scientists find no evidence oyster farm harming Drakes Estero; more likely restoring it

182. Why bottom of Drakes Estero can never become part of a wilderness area

181. Badger, Ratty, and the sensual raccoon

180. ‘And how the wind doth ramm!/ Sing: Goddamm — Ezra Pound

179. A tailgate gallery of bumper-sticker humor; Point Reyes weather both Arctic & tropical

178. Crowd in Inverness Friday calls for reviving park’s Citizens Advisory Commission

177. Flying over Northwest Marin

176. Spring meditations in a Miwok cemetery concerning the news of West Marin.

175. Two warning signs of Spring

174. Tomales may be little but it’s lively

173. Doe stalks cat; raccoon emulates Scripture — for the rain it raineth every day

172. Three-year drought comes to a symbolic ending as Nicasio Reservoir overflows

171. Pot busts at my cabin — again

170. Happy Valentine’s Day (as it’s evolved)

169. Blogging about blogging

168. Thinking about words

167. Point Reyes Station celebrates President Barack Obama’s inauguration

166. A reader in Ghana

165. The bittersweet story of a hardy little tree

164. A parting look at 2008

163. Blackout hits Tomales Bay area

162. Nature’s Two Acres Part XXXVIII: Way Out West in West Marin

161. Chileno Valley Ranch as depicted by a rancher-artist who lives there

160. Nature’s Two Acres XXXVIII: This time it’s a tale of two bobbed cats

159. Thanksgiving in Point Reyes Station

158. Nature’s Two Acres Part XXXVII: a bobcat at my cabin

157. Quotes Worth Saving II

156. Nature’s Two Acres Part XXXVI: The migrating birds of fall; or ‘Swan Lake’ revisited

155. Election night euphoria

154. The fun and anxiety of preparing for a disaster

153. Porky Pig, Demosthenes, Joe Biden, and ‘K-K-K-Katy

152. The political zoo.

151. Nature’s Two Acres Part XXXV: Mr. Squirrel

150. A coyote at my cabin

149. Preparing for the fire season

148. Telling the Raccoon ‘Scat’

147. Faces from the weekly press

146. Tomales, Tomales, that toddling town

145. How park administration used deception & sometimes-unwitting environmentalists to harass oyster company with bad publicity

144. Nature’s Two Acres Part XXXIII: Photographing wildlife indoors and out

143. What government scientists elsewhere had to say about the park’s misrepresenting research to attack oyster company

142. Landscape photos & paintings in Stinson Beach

141. What’s in the Inspector General’s report on the park that newspapers here aren’t telling you

140. Point Reyes National Seashore Supt. Don Neubacher seen as ’scary’

139. A demonstration to save Point Reyes National Seashore deer; park administration dishonesty officially confirmed

138. The good, the bizarre, and the ugly

138. Alice in ‘Wilderness

137. Nature’s Two Acres Part XXXII: The first raccoon kits of summer

136. Nature’s Two Acres Part XXXI: The pink roses of Point Reyes Station

135. Nature’s Two Acres Part XXX: Baldfaced hornets

134. Scenes from my past week

133. Artist Bruce Lauritzen of Point Reyes Station draws a crowd for opening of exhibit

132. Kite day at Nicasio School

131. Sunday’s Western Weekend Parade in photos

130. Early projections hold: Obama, Woolsey & Kinsey win… Leno easily bests Migden & Nation

129. Western Weekend’s 4-H Livestock Show fun — but smaller than ever

128. Humane Society of the US says National Seashore claims about deer contraception are misleading

127. Lt. Governor John Garamendi joins battle to save fallow & axis deer in Point Reyes National Seashore

126. Nature’s Two Acres Part XXIX: Cold-blooded carnality… Or, why be warm blooded?

125. Nature’s Two Acres XXVIII: The first fawns of spring

124. The Beat Generation lives on at the No Name Bar

123. ‘Still Life with Raccoon

122. Nature’s Two Acres XXVII: Animals about town.

121. Newspaperman from Chileno Valley describes his life in the United Arab Emirates

120. Point Reyes Station and Inverness Park demonstrators call for a pedestrian bridge over Papermill Creek

119. Seeing history through newsmen’s eyes…. or the pen is mightier than the pigs

118. Five Faces of Spring

117. Supervisor Steve Kinsey defends further restrictions on woodstoves in West Marin

116. Prostitution in New York, Reno, and Point Reyes Station

115. A country without the decency to ban torture

114. National Seashore’s slaughter of deer traumatizes many residents here; ‘we demand a stop’

113. A tale of Kosovo, West Marin, and a bored battalion of Norwegian soldiers

112. Dillon Beach sewage spill update

111. ‘Drive-by journalism’

110. Sewage spills into ocean at Dillon Beach

109. Nature’s Two Acres XXVI: Which came first, blacktail or mule deer? Hint — their venison is oedipal

108. Nature’s Two Acres XXV: Talking turkey

107. Here’s hoping ‘the goose hangs high this Thursday for Valentine’s Day

106. Signs of bureaucratic contamination

105. A final thought about the Caltrans worker who just did his job — and saved the day

104. Statewide campaign to legalize hemp and marijuana comes to Point Reyes Station

103. Heavy news media presence briefly halts axis-deer slaughterin the Point Reyes National Seashore

102. Storm damage bad but could have been tragic

101. Nature’s Two Acres XXIV: Buffleheads, Greater Scaups, and the 16.6 million wild ducks shot annually

100. Lawsuits against and by Robert Plotkin settled out of court

99. Nature’s Two Acres XXIII: Bambi, Thumper, and Garfield

98. Governor Schwarzenegger’s proposal to close Tomales Bay State Park to save money could prove expensive

97. Old Christmas trees, wild turkeys, and the famous cat-and-rat scheme

96. Blackouts, newspapers in the news, and poetic frustration on the prairie

95. Hurricane-force wind & heavy rain take heavy toll on West Marin

94. Marin County gets a bum rap from itself

93. ‘Eco-fascism in the Point Reyes National Seashore

92. Guess who came to Christmas dinner

91. Yuletide greetings from Santa Claws

90. Assemblyman Jared Huffman’s ominous mailer

89. Nature’s Two Acres XXII: They’re hundreds of times more deadly than cynanide… and headed this way

88. Non-native species stops traffic in Point Reyes Station

87. Blackouts bedevil Point Reyes Station area

86. Urban legends

85. Nature’s Two Acres XXI: Coyote influx benefits some birds around Point Reyes Station

84. Winter Moon Fireside Tales — an undiscovered gem draws only four ticketholders opening night (but more for second show)

83. Striptease in Point Reyes Station… well, sorta

82. Our Lady of the Chutzpah — the many faces of State Senator Carole Migden

81. Stefanie Pisarczyk (AKA Stefanie Keys): a woman of two worlds

80. Point Reyes Station’s ‘Path of Lights’

79. Lessons to be learned from the oil spill

78. Nature’s Two Acres Part XX: Where coyotes howl and raccoons roam free

77. West Marin Community Thanksgiving Dinner celebrated in Point Reyes Station’s Dance Palace

76. Giving thanks for an abundant harvest

75. Being a Gypsy isn’t enough; KPFA fires host criticized for not being a ‘person of color’

74. Nature’s Two Acres Part IXX: ‘Things that go bump in the night’

73. Point Reyes Station pharmacist decries health-insurance practices

72. Farm Bureau president quits; defends independence of wife who disagrees with his political position

71. Ship hits Bay Bridge; spilled oil drifts out Golden Gate and mires birds on West Marin coast

70. California photo book’s release celebrated with gala on Inverness Ridge

69. Coastal Post’s December issue to be its last, assistant editor says; publisher contradicts her

68. West Marin’s ‘Mac Guru’ leaving town — a friend with a knack for surviving

67. One last warm weekend before the season of darkness

66. Ranching matriarch Hazel Martinelli dies at 101

65. Nature’s Two Acres Part XVIII: Seasonal sightings

64. White House Pool: a public park where management listens to the public

63. Tuesday’s Marin County Farm Bureau luncheon for politicos

62. Hawks on the move

61. Point Reyes Station’s Hazel Martinelli celebrates 101st birthday with party at son’s deer camp

60. Vandals dump sewage at West Marin School

59. Paving Point Reyes Station’s main street at night

58. Bolinas firehouse and clinic opening party Sunday

57. Nature’s Two Acres XVII: As seen by an old, almost-blind dog

56. Despite public-be-damned management, it’s still a beautiful park.

55. Language, politics & wildlife

54. Truth becomes an endangered species at the Point Reyes National Seashore.

53. ‘Possums,’ a sequel to the musical ‘Cats’

52. The KWMR/Love Field ‘Far West Fest’

51. Quotes Worth Saving & the Inverness Fair

50. Watching the Point Reyes National Seashore obliterate cultural history

49. Congress sees through Point Reyes National Seashore claims

48. Music, wildlife, and the cosmos

42. Garbage in, garbage out

41. 76-year-old Nick’s Cove reopens

40. What we didn’t celebrate on the Fourth of July

39. Ship’s flare or meteor

38. The death of a salesman: Andrew Schultz

37. Preventing fires at home while The Point Reyes Light feels the heat

36. Monday’s demonstration against The Point Reyes Light

35. Inverness Park fire Friday razes art studio

34. Western Weekend retrospective; anonymous satire of Point Reyes Light distributed at parade; Light’s use of unpaid interns may run afoul of labor laws.

33. Sunday’s Western Weekend parade and barbecue

32. Many fail to find Western Weekend livestock show; a new newpaper debuts in West Marin; The Point Reyes Light reports a former bookkeeper is in jail on embezzlement charges.

31. Nature’s Two Acres Part XVI: A gopher snake & other neighbors

30. New newspaper to be published in West Marin

29. Mermaids, cows, Horizon Cable, and Russia’s Internet war on Estonia

28. Nature’s Two Acres Part XV: ‘Among animals…one finds natural caricatures.’

27. Nature’s Two Acres Part XIV: ‘The world, dear Agnes, is a strange affair.’

26. Sheriff Bob Doyle stays the course despite blunder

25. Nature’s Two Acres Part XIII: ‘Who’s the Head Bull-Goose Loony Around Here?’

24. Nature’s Two Acres Part XII: April showers ‘cruel’ with ‘no regrets’

23. Nature’s Two Acres Part XI: The perky possum

22. Former Point Reyes Light columnist John Grissim, the late pornographer Artie Mitchell, Brazilian President Lula and the advent of orgasmic diplomacy

21. Nature’s Two Acres Part X: ‘Nature Red in Tooth and Claw’

20. Nature’s Two Acres Part IX: Point Reyes Station’s blackbirds

19. Nature’s Two Acres Part VIII: ‘Mice & rats, and such small deer’

18. The Gossip Columnist

17. Saying Yes to Change: A former Point Reyes Station innkeeper finds true joy by moving in with a working-class family in a poor neighborhood of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.

16. The Bush Administration at Point Reyes Part II: Whatever happened to the Citizens Advisory Commission to the GGNRA & Point Reyes National Seashore?

15. The Bush Administration at Point Reyes: Part I

14. Marin supervisors refuse to tilt at McEvoy windmill

13. Nature’s Two Acres Part VII: Rats v. dishwashers

12. Nature’s Two Acres Part VI: How Flashing Affects Wildlife

11. Nature’s Two Acres Part V: By Means of Water

10. Bankruptcy court trustee lets Robert Plotkin hold onto some of his Ponzi-scheme ‘profits’

9. Big Pot Busts at My Cabin

8. Storm-caused fire razes Manka’s Lodge and Restaurant in Inverness

7. Nature’s Two Acres Part IV: Christmas turkeys & where the buck stopped

6. Nature’s Two Acres Part III: Insectivores and Not

5. My background: Biographical information on newspaperman Dave Mitchell

4. Nature’s Two Acres Part II: Living dinosaurs actually found around my cabin

3. Nature’s Two Acres: A Point Reyes Station Photo Exhibit

2. Robert I. Plokin

1. Introduction to this site SparselySageAndTimely.com plus an account of orphaned fawns being released in Chileno Valley.

About 150 people showed up Sunday at Tomales Bay Resort and Marina for a Community Farewell to former West Marin Citizen publisher Linda Petersen of Inverness. Petersen on Saturday sold her paper to Point Reyes Light editor Tess Elliott and her partner David Briggs.

The Citizen will now cease publication, and The Light should be more financially sustainable as the only newspaper for a readership area of about 10,000 people.

As one speaker at the party noted, the creation of The Citizen in 2007 grew out of community resentment toward sensationalism in The Light while it was published by Robert Plotkin of Bolinas from 2005 to 2010. The advent of a competitor created financial problems for The Light, Plotkin acknowledged in 2010, but The Citizen itself wasn’t highly profitable.

With Tomales Bay and the resort’s marina in the background, the artist Vickisa of Bolinas makes mental notes as corn cobs are barbecued on the deck of the resort.

The Citizen’s former obituary writer Larken Bradley (left) and her husband Mark chat with Linda Petersen, who will soon move to Portland to be near her son and daughter and their families.

Unable to attend the event was my partner Lynn Axelrod, who started The Citizen’s calendar section and who for three years was the paper’s only regular reporter. As a reporter, she often did the work of a news editor — finding many of the news stories she covered. In this role, she received compliments and thanks from readers.

Former oyster-grower Kevin Lunny (left), whose family plans to open an oyster bistro at the resort, chats with Ulla McLean of Point Reyes Station (center) and Joyce Goldfield of Inverness Park.

Joel Hack of Bodega Bay founded The West Marin Citizen in June 2007 under the name West Marin Pilot. When the paper began publishing weekly the following month, the name was changed to West Marin Citizen. Here Hack enjoys slurping down an oyster on the half shell.

George Clyde of Marshall (left), a former programmer at KWMR radio, swaps stories with historian Dewey Livingston of Inverness.

As Petersen prepares to move from Inverness to Portland, Bernie Stephan, the master of ceremonies, takes note of the many places she’s lived, including Denmark, Sweden, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico.

Kris Brown, who is active in progressive politics locally, tells of how much she enjoyed working with Petersen.

Stinson Beach gallery owner Claudia Chapline, who has been writing art reviews for The Citizen, has let it be known she will now write them for The Light.

Joel Hack, who founded The Citizen eight years ago, previously published The Bodega Bay Navigator. He turned The Citizen over to Petersen, who was then his ad manager, three and a half years ago.

The Haggards with Colin Schlitt, Van Van der Maaten, Danny Vitali (standing left to right) weren’t the only local performers well received by the audience. Performing later in the evening was the band El Radio Fantastique, who got everyone dancing — including small children and band member Loyal Tarbot’s 92-year-old grandmother.

As is common at community events hereabouts, Art Rogers of Point Reyes Station had the guests pose for group photo. Standing left of Petersen, who has just received a bouquet, is Tess Elliott, editor of The Light, and her partner David Briggs. Seated at far right is Mary Olsen who with Teri Mattson hosted the farewell party.

Wives Kill Most Spouses In Chicago, read a perplexing banner in the Sept. 8, 1977, Florida Times-Union. (Compared with cities nationwide, Chicago’s wives are the most likely to kill their husbands? Or is it that wives tend to hold off killing their husbands until they get to Chicago?) It was another meandering headline. As we all know, the press is full of them albeit not always quite that dramatic. Here are a few other confusions from years gone by.

First some background for those of you too young to remember: The first swimming pool at the White House was built by FDR in 1932. He used it regularly, as did Presidents Truman and Kennedy. In 1969, however, President Nixon had the pool floored over to create a press-briefing room but left it structurally intact. In 1975, President Ford replaced it with an outdoor pool designed for diving. Now that you know all that, perhaps you can make sense of this Sept. 12, 1974, headline from The Argus of Rock Island, Illinois: New ambassador to Japan joins Ford in missing swimming pool.

And I may never learn what The Bellingham (Washington) Herald meant by its Feb. 15, 1977, headline: State diner featured cat, American food.

These goofups from the 1970s were compiled for a 1980 Columbia Journalism Review book titled: SQUAD HELPS DOG BITE VICTIM and other flubs from the nation’s press. Such “flubs,” of course, continue to this day — even in this age of Internet media.

Here is the headline for a basketball story that was posted online Saturday:

Sometimes the mistakes are malapropisms (a word that sounds similar to the one that is intended). For example, The New York Times on Feb. 7, 1977, published the headline: 14 Are Indicted On Obscure-Film Charge. At least there was nothing Obscene in the headline.

Likewise, when The Alabama (Montgomery) Journal on April 23, 1976, ran a story about an induction, the headline was: 4 Indicted Into Military Hall of Honor.

Here’s an excerpt from a story that ran in The Scranton Tribune on Jan. 14, 1975: The breaking down of most prejudices and discriminations has lifted women from mental work to important management and top professional positions. My guess is that an overworked typesetter disliked her menial job and was bitter about top management.

Of course, some malapropisms in print are really typos. The Arkansas Gazette back on April 11, 1975, announced: Libertarians To Protest All Texas. They’d never do that today.

A mere three weeks ago, the headline below ran in The West Marin Citizen:

The fact that three young ladies worked up a sweat while supporting Future Farmers of America would seem to be a testimony to their diligence. Moreover, “sweetheart” when spoken with a backwoods drawl might be pronounced “sweatheart.” ________________________________________________________________

And then there are those times when incompatible headlines end up together.

Monday having been St. Patrick’s Day, I’ll close with this example from the March 17, 1977, Odessa (Texas) American.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Struggling to breathe, a juvenile fin whale washed ashore at Stinson Beach early Monday. The 42-foot-long male weighed roughly 11 tons.

The whale appeared to have taken a beating thrashing around in shallow water. There was also trauma to its right side, which could have come from colliding with a ship. That’s been known to happen here. The fin whale’s only natural enemy is the killer whale (i.e. orca). Photos by Lynn Axelrod

The California Marine Mammal Center based on the Marin Headlands handled the scientific aspects of the death. After a volunteer at 7 a.m. reported a beached whale was dying, the center dispatched a veterinary team to investigate.

The National Park Service had managed to turn the whale so that it was headed back out to sea, but the whale was already dead by the time the veterinary team arrived around 9 a.m.

After the whale died, a Park Service lifeguard tied a cord around the whale’s tail so that it could be dragged onto the beach with a backhoe.

The whale proved to be too heavy, however, and the line snapped the first time the Park Service tried to pull the corpse ashore.

“The veterinary team has since performed a necropsy (animal autopsy) to try to determine the cause of death,” the center reported later in the day. “Once the whale was rolled over, the Marine Mammal Center’s director of veterinary science, Dr. Shawn Johnson, discovered trauma to the sternum area and internal hemorrhaging around the heart.

“In addition, air [bubbles were] present in the subcutaneous tissue — indicative of trauma.” However, the center added, “There were no broken bones discovered.”

The severe trauma to the whale’s right side was found upon further examination.

Numerous radio stations, several television crews, and a number of newspaper reporters and photographers massed on the beach to cover the fin whale’s death. It was the second in a year in West Marin waters. A 47-foot-long fin whale washed ashore at Point Reyes last year after having been struck by a ship.

“Fin whales are the second largest marine mammal on earth, next to blue whales, and belong to the family of baleen whales,” the Marine Mammal Center wrote on its website.

Unfortunately, fin whales are on the federal list of endangered species, and the death of this young leviathan upset many observers. It brought tears to the eyes of my partner, Lynn Axelrod, who covered the sad event for The West Marin Citizen.

The young victim with the town of Stinson Beach in the background.

Even before it began to decay, the whale’s corpse was giving the area a fishy odor. After the whale was cut up by Mammal Center staff, the Park Service buried it eight feet deep further up the beach. Microbes in the sand will cause the fat and tissue to decompose but leave the bones intact.

This was only the latest of many whale burials at the beach. Some 31 whales have become stranded on Stinson Beach in the past 34 years, and even in death they are covered by the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Unless one has a permit, it is illegal to disturb the bones.

The Marine Mammal Center on Tuesday reported, “All we can determine at this stage is that the animal appears to have suffered blunt trauma which either caused, or likely contributed to, its death.

“The cause of that trauma is unknown at this time. Additional testing [on blubber from the whale] will potentially reveal other findings.”

 

During the 27 years I edited and published The Point Reyes Light, I belonged to a variety of newspaper associations, among them: the San Francisco Press Club; the California Newspaper Publishers Association (CNPA); the National Newspaper Association (NNA); and the International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors (ISWNE).

Since retiring at the end of 2005, however, the only membership I’ve maintained is in ISWNE. The society’s purpose, to quote our website, “is to help those involved in the weekly press to improve standards of editorial writing and news reporting and to encourage strong, independent editorial voices.”

Moreover, the society really is international notwithstanding its being based in the American heartland at Missouri Southern State University in Joplin. Three or four years ago, ISWNE listed the locations of its members’ newspapers, and I was surprised to see there were more in Alberta than California.

ISWNE’s annual conferences are often held abroad: Calgary, Alberta, 1994; London, Edinburgh, Cardiff & Dublin, 1995; Halifax, Nova Scotia, 1999; Victoria, British Columbia, 2000; Galway, Ireland, 2003; Edmonton & Fort McMurray, Alberta, 2005; Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, 2009; Coventry, England, 2011. In 2016, the group will head to Australia.

Postings from this blog are occasionally republished in the ISWNE newsletter.

Whether they’re in the US or abroad, most ISWNE members edit community weeklies. One of the more active members, who happens to be particularly savvy about community newspapers in the UK, is Jeremy Condliffe, who edits The Congleton Chronicle in Congleton, Cheshire, England. Perhaps these international editors merely have small-town common sense, but their comments in ISWNE’s publications and on its email hotline reflect a world of wisdom.

Why am I telling you all this? As a member of ISWNE, I receive its quarterly journal, Grassroots Editor, plus its monthly newsletter (above). I also read the bimonthly Columbia Journalism Review (below), which is published at Columbia University in New York City. The difference between New York’s and Joplin’s assessments of the state of newspapers is fascinating.


The July-August issue of CJR contains a review of The Wired City: Reimagining Journalism and Civic Life in the Post-Newspaper Age.

The author, Dan Kennedy, an assistant professor of journalism at Northeastern University, apparently imagines a day when nonprofit websites will replace many newspapers.

Post-Newspaper Age? The impression that newspapers in general are fading away has gained credence mostly from being so oft repeated.

It’s true that several well-known newspapers such as The Honolulu Advertiser and The Rocky Mountain News have folded in the last few years. Several big city dailies such as the New Orleans Times-Picayune, the Detroit News, and the Detroit Free Press have cut back to three days a week. The Christian Science Monitor has had to drop its print edition and publish only online. We’ve all heard the story. It’s been discussed on CBS’s 60 Minutes.

In contrast, the spring issue of Grassroots Editor headlines a spot-check of far-flung weeklies, “Despite predictions of their pending demise, community newspapers are alive and well in: Montana, Bahamas, California, Ireland, Missouri, North Dakota, Atlantic Canada.”

In that issue, the editor of The Winters Express in Yolo County, Debra DeAngelo, commented on a conversation she’d had with CNPA’s director of affiliate relations, Joe Wirt.

“He explained that he’s visiting small Northern California newspapers to see what it’s really like in our world rather than assuming that we’re all in a rush to ditch print publication for online formats and iPhone apps.

“Apparently, the good folks at CNPA noticed that, wait a minute — not every small paper is dying a slow, choking death. Many are surviving, just as they are, despite years of economic stagnation and the explosion of online technology….

“People still want to read the city council stories on paper rather than watch them on cable, likely because waiting a week for the story is less painful than sitting through a meeting.”

Steve Andrist, executive director of the North Dakota Newspaper Association, put it more bluntly: “Those people who say newspapers are dead or irrelevant or dinosaurs — they’re still reading newspapers.” Nor is optimism about the future of newspapers unique to supposedly old-fashioned editors at county weeklies.

Warren Buffett, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. holding company, is similarly optimistic about the future of bigger newspapers. And Buffett has amassed a personal fortune of $54 billion by knowing when a good business is undervalued.

In the past 19 months, Berkshire Hathaway has spent $344 million acquiring 28 daily newspapers. The company has stressed it doesn’t intend to “flip” (resell) any of these papers but instead plans to be their long-term owner.

In 2011, Buffett (left) was ranked the third richest man in the world. In 2008, he was the richest. He has repeatedly said the US under-taxes the rich and endorsed President Obama’s reelection.

It’s worth noting that Buffett does not interfere with his newspapers’ editorial policies. In a letter to shareholders, he wrote, “I voted for Obama; of our 12 dailies that endorsed a presidential candidate, 10 opted for Romney.”

Buffett also told shareholders why newspapers can survive regardless of widespread lamentations about their future:

“Newspapers continue to reign supreme,” he wrote, “in the delivery of local news. If you want to know what’s going on in your town – whether the news is about the mayor or taxes or high school football – there is no substitute for a local newspaper that is doing its job.

“A reader’s eyes may glaze over after they take in a couple of paragraphs about Canadian tariffs or political developments in Pakistan; a story about the reader himself or his neighbors will be read to the end. Wherever there is a pervasive sense of community, a paper that serves the special informational needs of that community will remain indispensable to a significant portion of its residents.”

Buffett doesn’t dispute the need for daily papers to include national and international news but makes explicit that what sells newspapers is good coverage of local news.

That’s just what the weekly press has been doing all along, informing readers about events in their own community. This, in turn, is why weekly newspapers aren’t about to die off.

As usual, Buffett knows what he’s talking about. The last I heard, there were fewer than 5,000 households in West Marin; nonetheless, two competing weeklies, The Point Reyes Light and The West Marin Citizen, are able to survive here thanks to their both providing intense coverage of local news.

Hosting our wildlife neighbors — My girlfriend Lynn Axelrod is a reporter for The West Marin Citizen, which for the past two weeks has been publishing its annual pet issues. She and I don’t have any pets ourselves because they would drive away birds and four-footed wildlife, but in recent years I too have sometimes published an animal issue at the beginning of the new year.

Among the most common wildlife around Mitchell cabin these days are wild turkeys, and last weekend, they began showing up on the railing around our deck. Here one marches past our dining-room window.

Wild turkeys can be aggressive, and a decade or more ago, they began chasing and otherwise terrorizing school children in Tomales. This young deer, however, was not at all intimidated when it found itself grazing among a flock of turkeys between Mitchell cabin and neighbors Dan and Mary Huntsman’s home last Sunday.

A turkey stares at me from behind a lamp hanging over our dining-room table.

A mother raccoon (at rear) introduces her four kits to our kitchen.

A bobcat hunting just uphill from the cabin.

A gray fox on our deck.

This possum didn’t mind being petted as long as I gave it something to eat.

A coyote in the field below Mitchell cabin two weeks ago.

A mother badger and her cub as seen from my field.

One of my favorite wildlife photos, which I’ve published before, is of a buckeye butterfly on a chrysanthemum. The plant was growing in a pot on my deck.

 

The editor and publisher of The West Marin Citizen, Joel Hack, will retire after this week’s issue, which will be published Thursday, Oct. 20. Advertising director Linda Petersen of Inverness will take over ownership of the weekly newspaper.

Joel Hack at Drakes Bay Oyster Company

“I’m leaving because I’ve been doing this for 17 years,” Hack, 67, told me Sunday, “and it’s time to stop.” Publishing a small-town weekly, he added, “is constant — 24/7 and 52 weeks a year. I’ve had five weeks off in 17 years. It was approaching burnout.”

Before Hack started The Citizen, he had been the editor and publisher of The Bodega Bay Navigator for 12 years. But after unsuccessful negotiations with Robert Plotkin of The Point Reyes Light and after losing several major advertisers in a real estate market down turn, Hack in August 2006 dropped the print version and began publishing exclusively online.

So why did he start The Citizen in West Marin? In November 2005, Plotkin, a new resident in Bolinas, bought The Point Reyes Light from me. At the same time, he offered to buy The Navigator from Hack, but when they couldn’t strike a deal, “he decided he would just take Bodega Bay over,” Hack said.

As the new owner of The Light, Plotkin (right) told The San Francisco Chronicle he wanted to create a paper with the “sophistication of The Economist” and the “flair” of The New York Observer newspaper. (Chronicle photo by Eric Luse)

Instead of providing highbrow reporting, however, Plotkin quickly offended many West Marin readers with coverage that was often lurid — a full-color, front-page photo of two chickens, whose throats had just been slit, hanging upside down with blood pouring from their necks, a girl chomping into the severed head of a goat during festivities on Mount Tamalpais etc.

When The Light started covering Bodega Bay news, “it was one more thorn in the side of West Marin readers,” Hack said. “We have nothing to do with Bodega Bay,” was their response. “Why should we be reading about it?”

Nor did The Light go over well in Bodega Bay. Plotkin sent three reporters to cover stories there, Hack said, but the venture “lasted only about a month.” With Plotkin unfamiliar with Western Sonoma County, Hack explained, “the coverage was a little off.” Plotkin ran into the same problem when he tried to extend The Light’s coverage to Fairfax in East Marin, Hack added.

Reporter Lynn Axelrod of Point Reyes Station inspects last week’s issue. Her reporting and editing are expanding under The Citizen’s new structure.

Meanwhile, Plotkin and I soon had a falling out, and I stopped submitting occasional pieces, for which I was not charging, to The Light and sent them to The Navigator website instead. In selling The Light to Plotkin, I had signed a non-competition agreement that I would not write for another Marin County newspaper, but attorney Robert Powsner on Plotkin’s behalf  got Judge Jack Sutro to issue a bizarre injunction against Hack and me that barred my posting on Hack’s website.

Powsner told Sutro that my posting on the website was “damaging or destroying” The Light, and the judge accepted the claim. In chambers, Sutro told lawyers for both sides that protecting Plotkin’s $500,000 investment in The Light outweighed constitutional prohibitions against censoring free expression.

Moreover, the now-retired jurist didn’t seem to understand the Internet and ruled that a Sonoma County website is the same as a Marin County newspaper.

Linda Petersen had been my houseguest when Hack began looking for an advertising representative. She took the job and played a major role in getting the newspaper off the ground financially. Her role at the paper eventually expanded to include business and reporting. What will her title be as owner? Hack has suggested “la jefa” [the chief], she responded.

Hack was already feeling “a little thing of anger” toward Plotkin for trying to go into competition with him after he revealed The Navigator’s finances during business negotiations. Then came the injunction. Added to that, “readers in West Marin were pissed off,” Hack said, so in July 2007,  he started his own weekly newspaper in Point Reyes Station. The results were gratifying.

“People popped in and wanted to work on The Citizen,” Hack said. “Outside contributors and staff had a sense of what a community newspaper should be. In the first year, we did very well. We had lots of advertisers and lots of readers — really good readers.

“But within the first six months, the stock market crashed, and the whole economic system collapsed. The recession dug its heels in. Where we had been flying high, things had gotten very much more difficult, and they haven’t improved… Real estate dried up, and in total, Realtors [had been] the largest advertisers.”

Nonetheless, The Citizen “had a winning formula,” Hack said, “because we were also publishing The Marin Coast Guide, and that saw us through.” These days “we struggle,” he noted, “but at times we break even.”

In contrast to Plotkin, who often was viewed as an outsider in West Marin, Hack did his best to take part in the community. Here the mustachioed publisher served a guest at the 2008 community Thanksgiving Dinner in the Dance Palace.

With a second newspaper in town, The Light was “losing between $5,000 and $15,000 a month,” Plotkin himself reported. Across the country newspapers were losing money, Plotkin wrote, so “this is not unique to The Light, although there have been some aggravating factors, namely myself…. My sensibility is at odds with many in the community.”

Of that there was no doubt. “During the first couple of years under the last publisher,” editor Tess Elliott wrote after Plotkin sold The Light in May 2010, “it lost one third of its subscribers; the effects of those years continue to reverberate. Our reporters still regularly hear complaints and flat out refusals to talk.”

As for Plotkin, he had acknowledged he would take a “financial bloodbath” when he sold the paper. He reportedly received about $150,000 for The Light after paying $500,000 for the newspaper and periodically subsidizing it.

What’s next for the two newspapers? Could the 63-year-old Point Reyes Light and the four-year-old West Marin Citizen ever join together as one? Nothing is in the works, which is too bad, for it means two small-town weeklies will continue to split West Marin’s readership and advertising.

Both papers have had to take dramatic cost-cutting measures. The Light can no longer field as many reporters as it once did, and both papers have had to relocate to cheaper quarters. In the last year, The Light moved out of Point Reyes Station and now operates from a small office behind the Inverness Post Office. The Citizen, which had been renting the old Point Reyes Station Library next to the Pine Cone Diner, moved into filmmaker John Korty’s former studio on B Street.

The Light is now owned by Marin Media Institute, and friends of The Citizen have begun looking for investors from the community to become part owners, along with Petersen.

As for Hack, what will he now do? “I don’t know,” he replied, “but I’m sure I’ll come up with something.”

The Wall Street Journal last Wednesday published the latest in a series of out-of-town-media reports on the dispute between The Point Reyes Light and The West Marin Citizen. The report ran under the headline: “Newspaper War Rages in West Marin.”

With many West Marin residents wishing the “war” would end, more than 300 people as of Monday evening had signed a petition calling for both sides to get together and work out their differences.

The dispute went public a month ago when Citizen owner Joel Hack published an “Extra” edition accusing Marin Media Institute, the nonprofit that had just bought The Light, of attempting a “hostile takeover.” The edition said that MMI was trying to take advantage of Joel’s personal financial problems to gain control of The Citizen.

Joel is married to Kathie Simmons, an attorney in Sonoma County. Kathie, who does business as a one-attorney law firm, had to dip into her IRA several times in recent years to cover business expenses.

The problem, Joel told me, was that because she was under 59 and 1/2, she had to pay penalties for the early withdrawals. Without the  funds to pay the penalties and failing to file some tax returns in a timely manner, the couple saw their initial debt of $4,000 to $5,000 to the IRS and the State Franchise Tax Board balloon to $26,000.

On Feb. 26, Joel and Kathie filed for Chapter 13 protection (from creditors) under US Bankruptcy laws. They then began paying off their back state and federal income taxes at the rate of $600 a month. Under Chapter 13, they could do this over 36 months without incurring additional penalties.

However, MMI’s attorney Doug Ferguson then notified the bankruptcy trustee that the nonprofit had negotiated unsuccessfully to buy The Citizen and would still be willing to buy the paper if the trustee liked the idea.

Citing attorney Ferguson’s letter, the bankruptcy trustee last month recommended the bankruptcy court convert Joel’s and Kathie’s Chapter 13 (individual bankruptcy) to Chapter 7 (possible liquidation) or Chapter 11 (reorganization).

MMI now says it later told the trustee — when he asked — that the nonprofit was no longer interested in buying The Citizen. But the damage had been done. Faced with either Chapter 7 or Chapter 11, Joel and Kathie have now voluntarily dismissed their bankruptcy protection, and Joel told me he will dip into his own IRA to pay off their debts.

[Corey Goodman, chairman of MMI, on Aug. 3 offered a “mea culpa” for letting attorney Ferguson send out a letter that indicated MMI was ready to buy The Citizen. Corey said he should have “proofread” Ferguson’s letter but did not. In reality, Corey added, MMI by then was no longer interested in buying The Citizen.]

[I’m willing to take Corey at his word on this, for he confirms what I’ve said from the start. In a June 23 posting about the newspaper war I wrote, “Whom do I blame? Attorney Ferguson, who seems to have been too clever by half…. Ferguson was clearly looking for the bankruptcy court’s help in getting Joel to accept MMI’s (previous) $50,000 offer for The Citizen.”]

The Wall Street Journal meanwhile quoted me as saying the dispute between the papers “is extremely bitter. We’re reaching the point where an awful lot of people would like everybody to just quiet down the fighting.”

Among those people is Nancy Bertelsen, who has long been active in West Marin civic affairs, especially those involving the arts. On Friday she emailed me a petition that was also sponsored by six other people who are likewise prominent around Point Reyes Station: Steve Costa, Chris Giacomini, Michael Mery, Claire Peaslee, Jonathan Rowe, and Murray Suid.

Prompted by the difficulties between our two weekly newspapers, those of us listed [above] met to discuss how we could encourage the owners of the papers to unite in some way for the good of the community,” the cover letter said.

“We’re writing to ask if you [the public] will support this effort by adding your name in support of the statement below. The intention is to bring the owners to the table to work out a solution that is acceptable to all. Use the following blog website to respond if you agree with the statement intent: http://www.westmarinblog.org/

“We hope you will be joined by many other friends, readers and advertisers. The proposal along with all our names and the list of advertisers will be submitted to both papers, with a request that they publish the full list. If you support the initiative and would like to have your name appear with ours, consider signing by Tuesday, July 20th (we hope this will be published on July 22nd).”

The petition to both publishers reads as follows:

“There is broad interest in West Marin in the emergence of a single newspaper that serves us all. The current competition between two weekly papers is not working. It forces both to struggle—journalistically and financially — and it strains the loyalties and resources of advertisers, readers and contributors alike. We urge that you end this situation, which is depriving the community of the strong, stable paper we need.

“Both papers exist to serve the community. The owners of both are clearly committed to that purpose. But the current situation is working against what both papers want to achieve, and against the best interests of West Marin. Readers and advertisers are weary and do not want this fractured situation to continue. We want a unified community.

Specifically, we urge the owners of both papers and their representatives to begin an open discussion to work out a more positive relationship than is the case now. Using the services of a mediator would probably be helpful. A new relationship might include a merger of the two papers or any number of agreements that have not been imagined before now but that would be mutually beneficial.

“In any case, negotiations should be without conditions or preconceptions, and with neither recriminations nor need for apologies on either side. Instead, we call upon you to start fresh and seek a way forward, to restore the vitality and viability of West Marin’s local media.

“We know that resolving this will not be easy. But we feel that the task is important—and a responsibility of our local journalism establishment. We all look forward to supporting you and to helping in any way that we can. Something great can take the place of the current tensions: something can emerge that the whole community can support.”

The petition caught me by surprise, but I’ve signed it, and I urge other West Marin residents to do the same so we can quiet down the fighting. It’s easy. Just click on http://www.westmarinblog.org/ and type in your name and hometown. The web page includes a list of people who have already signed.

Update: On July 22, The West Marin Citizen printed the cover letter, the petition, the names of its sponsors, and the names of the more than 300 people who signed it. The Point Reyes Light the same day published the cover letter and names of the sponsors but neither the petition nor the 300 signatures.

As many West Marin residents recall, Linda Petersen, ad manager of The West Marin Citizen, was severely injured a year ago when she fell asleep at the wheel and hit a utility pole in Inverness. Her popular little Havanese dog Sebastian died in the crash.

Linda suffered 11 broken ribs, a tear in her diaphragm, a collapsed lung, a broken neck, two fractured vertebrae, a broken wrist, a shattered femur, a fractured kneecap, and two broken ankles. She was hospitalized for three months, and last October a community fundraiser was held to help pay her medical bills.

In January, Linda got a new Havanese from the Marin County Humane Society and named him Eli. Sebastian had been 16 years old and was slow getting around in his last couple of months. Eli, however, is only 19 months and still puppy, as I learned all too well during the past three weeks when Linda left him in my care while she visited her mother in Sweden.

Linda with Eli in a KWMR listeners’ pets promotion.

I had taken care of Sebastian from time to time when Linda was away. Usually I was scarcely aware he was in my cabin. Eli’s stay was totally different. If he didn’t get at least a couple of long walks a day, he pooped indoors (this happened three times) or peed (once). Worse yet, it was never on a wood floor but always on a carpet, which probably reminded him of grass.

Eli has a number of toys and likes to play fetch, but sometimes he lightly nips the people playing with him. I discouraged this but didn’t worry about it. My guests were merely patient. Neighbor Jay Haas was visiting a couple of weeks ago when Eli drew blood while playing with him.

Some of Eli’s antics were both comic and irritating. While sitting on my couch, Nina Howard of Inverness tried throwing toys for Eli to fetch, only to find that when he returned with them, he often jumped onto the couch and stood on her bosom with all four feet. Eli’s a small dog, but this was too much for Nina.

Eli sleeping while balanced on the back of the couch.

But it was his puppy-stage chewing when unattended that gave me the most problem. He chewed on a couple of houseplants, one of which was a philodendron. Unfortunately, philodendrons are poisonous for dogs and people. The plant can cause lips to burn and throats to swell, so when I caught Eli chowing down on a vine, I had to hold him over a sink, pry his mouth open, and run water through it. Boy was that a struggle!

The time I became most concerned for his well-being, however, was the night he spotted a raccoon on my deck, slipped out the kitchen door, and took off into the dark after it. Luckily the raccoon chose to run rather than stand its ground or that could have been the end of Eli.

When Eli became too exuberant, I initially tried to distract him with chewable dog treats, but that proved to be a terrible idea. Rather than chew on them, he tried to “bury” them — in corners of my loft, behind furniture, or in the furniture itself. I was more than a little annoyed when I discovered that in digging a hole to bury a treat, he had shredded a quilt covering a futon.

Eli at White House Pool.

Most of the time, however, Eli was a good companion and well behaved. I took him for daily walks at White House Pool, and we both enjoyed the outings. For me, it was a chance to take in the scenery. For him it was a chance to run without a leash and poop whenever he felt like it. (I, in turn, always carried the disposal bags Marin County Parks and Open Space provides, and diligently cleaned up after him.)

Eli and I quickly became buddies, and I liked having him sleep on the bed beside me at night. He was too small to get in my way, and often he’d affectionately nuzzle me under the chin before falling asleep. During the day, he followed me from room to room, and I took him with me in the car everywhere I went.

This, in turn, led to an unexpected encounter at The Point Reyes Light. Last weekend, the Jack Mason Museum held an opening for an exhibit on Jack, who died 25 years ago. Dewey Livingston of Inverness, who has taken over Jack’s mantle as the historian of this area, had suggested I write a profile of Jack in advance of the event, and editor Tess Elliott had said The Light would like to publish it.

On a hot day three weeks ago, I dropped in at The Light to check its clipping file for stories I’d written over the years about Jack. Because of the heat, I didn’t want to leave Eli in the car, so I brought him in with me on a leash.

Eye to eye, Eli and I discuss whether a dog’s legendarily sensitive nose can distinguish between the Turkish and the Virgina in Camel’s blend of tobaccos. But the young boulevardier’s sense of smell proved too sophisticated to be tricked. “That’s Gauloises Brunes,” Eli sniffed,not a Camel.”

No sooner had I located The Light’s file on Jack than a couple of staff members asked me to leave. Why? Because Eli was with me, and he belongs to the ad manager of The Citizen. A few days earlier, The Citizen had published a special issue that accused Marin Media Institute, the nonprofit which owns The Light, of attempting “a hostile takeover.”

MMI had this day fired back with a dismissive rebuttal, but The Light staff’s feelings were still too “raw” to have Eli in the office, I was told. To them he “symbolizes” the other camp, the staff said. I explained about the hot car but left. Later that day I was invited back to check Jack’s file, which I did and wrote an article that ran in The Light last week.

I’m not criticizing the staff at The Light. Tess wrote me afterward that she felt bad about Eli, and I took the staff at their word when they said their emotions were raw at the moment. Indeed, MMI vice chairman Mark Dowie that week said The Light’s staff were catching hell from townspeople over board actions the staff had nothing to do with.

Both Eli and MMI’s leadership need to exercise self-restraint. At least in Eli‘s case, he’ll be receiving training in this during an upcoming class at the Dance Palace.

In preparing this posting, I was able to interview West Marin Citizen owner Joel Hack on the record, as well as Marin Media Institute vice chairman Mark Dowie briefly. Other MMI directors insisted on talking off the record. Corey Goodman, chairman of MMI, promised to make himself available for an in-depth interview Tuesday but stood me up. Much of the information here comes from a letter sent by MMI’s attorney to a bankruptcy trustee and from the trustee’s response.

The ongoing dispute between The West Marin Citizen and Point Reyes Light has become remarkably bitter. The Citizen on June 14 published an “extra” edition to announce the new owners of The Light have “launch[ed] a hostile takeover” because they could not buy The Citizen in a normal fashion.

The Light on June 17 published a brief response, saying its owners no longer have any interest in buying The Citizen. It added that it would “publish a thoroughly documented chronology of negotiations in an upcoming issue.”

What’s occurred has surprised the staff and owner of The Citizen, as well as the staff of The Point Reyes Light and nearly all the directors of Marin Media Institute, the nonprofit which owns The Light. Here’s the story.

Citizen owner Joel Hack is married to Kathie Simmons, an attorney in Sonoma County. Kathie, who does business as a one-attorney law firm, had to dip into her IRA several times in recent years to cover business expenses.

The problem, Joel told me, was that because she was under 59 and 1/2, she had to pay penalties for the early withdrawals. Without the  funds to pay the penalties and failing to file some tax returns in a timely manner, the couple saw their initial debt of $4,000 to $5,000 to the IRS and the State Franchise Tax Board balloon to more than $20,000.

On Feb. 26, Joel and Kathie filed for Chapter 13 protection (from creditors) under US Bankruptcy laws. They then began paying off their back state and federal income taxes at the rate of $600 a month. Under Chapter 13, they could do this for 36 months without incurring additional penalties.

Meanwhile, Corey Goodman of Marshall and Mark Dowie of Inverness, who would later become the chairman and vice chairman of MMI, arranged for an appraiser to estimate the value of both The Light and The Citizen.

Out of all this came MMI’s purchase of The Light but no agreement with The Citizen. In fact, it appears the two sides never came close although MMI and its attorney tell a different story.

Initially both sides talked of a “merger,” but in the end it was clear that MMI wanted an acquisition. The staff and content of the two papers would not be merged; rather, The Citizen would be shut down.

Joel, in turn, claims the personal bankruptcy was disclosed at the appropriate time during negotiations, and the bankruptcy trustee reports that Joel and his wife did, in fact, list all of their assets when they filed  for Chapter 13. In essence, what they failed to do was place a value on three assets.

In their brief statement of  June 17, MMI directors called their offer to Joel “generous.” Their attorney, Doug Ferguson, wrote the bankruptcy trustee that it amounted to “$50,000, all cash for all assets constituting The West Marin Citizen, with this amount payable $40,000 to Mr. Hack and $10,000 to fund severance payments to key employees including editor Jim Kravets….

“Mr. Hack would be required to execute a non-competition agreement precluding for five years his engaging in the newspaper publication business in Marin County.”

As Joel sees the offer, it was hardly generous but ridiculously low. He said this week that at the time the offer was made, The Citizen had “good” accounts receivable of approximately $20,000 and had already sold $20,000 worth of ads for the next issue of The Citizen’s semi-annual Coast Guide, and would sell more.

“By giving me $40,000,” Joel said sarcastically, “they’d be giving me my own money that I earned.” The Coast Guide alone is worth several times that amount, he added.

In addition, Joel wanted to have a responsible position in a merged paper and for his daughter-in-law Shari-Faye Dell, who works for The Citizen, to get a job at The Light. Goodman rejected these conditions, and after a flurry of discussions, negotiations were dropped.

That might have been the end of the matter, but three weeks later, Ferguson, the MMI attorney, wrote the bankruptcy trustee, “The Point Reyes Light and The West Marin Citizen…appear to be finding it impossible to survive in what has unfortunately proven (in terms of necessary advertising revenues) to be a one-newspaper market….”

“I think it’s a two-newspaper town,” Joel responded with a laugh on Tuesday. “I’ve got advertising. I pay all my bills. My payroll is made on time. The newspaper is not anywhere near bankrupt.”

Citing attorney Ferguson’s letter, however, the bankruptcy trustee this month recommended the bankruptcy court convert Joel’s and Kathie’s Chapter 13 (individual bankruptcy) to Chapter 7 (possible liquidation) or Chapter 11 (reorganization).

Trustee David Burchard also noted that although Joel and Kathie had listed The Citizen, the Bodega Bay Navigator website, and her law practice as assets, they hadn’t put a dollar value on them.

Joel Hack in front of Toby’s Feed Barn.

Not to do so was a mistake even though, according to Joel, “[The Citizen] revealed everything to the trustee: payroll records, accounts receivable, accounts payable, bank statements. There was nothing concealed.”

As for the Navigator website, which is rarely maintained, it has virtually no value, and it would be difficult to set a value on Kathie’s law practice if she were not a part of it. She has no major clients, and many of the small ones she does have would probably follow her to a new office.

If Joel and Kathie had merely written “unknown” as the value of all three assets, it is unlikely the trustee would have paid much attention, he said.

As it is, the trustee’s recommendation that the court convert their Chapter 13 to Chapter 7 or Chapter 11 has already cost Joel and Kathie money for legal fees, and more costs are coming. “It’s costing me an extra $20,000 at a minimum that I wouldn’t have had to pay if [MMI] hadn’t f-cked with my bankruptcy,” Joel grumbled.

Joel said he and Kathie at this point have “several options, all of which will result in the debts being repaid and The Citizen standing free and clear from anything.”

As for The Light, I’ve yet to find anyone on its staff or board of directors who — in hindsight — thinks Ferguson’s letter to the bankruptcy trustee has done the paper any good. It’s needlessly given The Light a black eye and caused its staff to catch hell around Point Reyes Station.

From what members of the MMI board tell me, most were unaware that Ferguson’s letter was being sent. Editor Tess Elliott, ad director/business manager Renée Shannon, and front-office manager Missy Patterson knew nothing about it, Mark said. If the public is going to blame anyone, he added, blame Corey and him, not the staff or the rest of the board.

As for me, whom do I blame? Attorney Ferguson, who seems to have been too clever by half. While he did not explicitly ask the bankruptcy trustee to convert Joel’s and Kathie’s Chapter 13 bankruptcy to Chapter 7 or 11, he’s an experienced lawyer who should know how his letter could gratuitously muddle their personal finances.

I assume Corey and Mark signed off on his sending the letter, but I doubt they were in as good a position as attorney Ferguson to foresee the problems inherent in his gambit.

Those MMI directors who now defend attorney Ferguson say he was obligated to file a letter with the bankruptcy trustee because MMI was negotiating to buy an asset in bankruptcy. But it wasn’t. As Ferguson acknowledges in his letter, the negotiations had already been terminated. So why defend the attorney? Possibly because he was one of the donors when MMI was buying The Light.

Ferguson was clearly looking for the bankruptcy court’s help in getting Joel to accept MMI’s $50,000 offer for The Citizen. Sounding a bit too hopeful, the attorney wrote the bankruptcy trustee, “Should such an offer be of interest to your office, then upon so being informed, I will promptly submit a binding legal offer.”

“All it was,” said Joel grimly, “was an attempt to drive the price down. It was hardball negotiating.”

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