Sonoma County


Inverness resident Andrew M. Schultz died on Monday, June 18, at the age of 58 from complications related to small-cell lung cancer.

His death will inevitably be described by those who knew him as “The Death of a Salesman,” and Andrew would be the first to agree, as evidenced by his personalized license plates, “AD SPACE.”

100_3194_1.jpgAndrew’s specialty was selling newspaper classified advertising to automobile dealerships, which he did almost continually for more than 30 years.

Born in Manhattan, New York, on July 27, 1948, to Fran and Leon Schultz, he attended public schools in the Bronx, Plainview, and Long Island, as well as Hofstra University on Long Island for two years.

For two years he studied to become a chef only to switch courses and attend two more years of classes at the New York Institute of Photography.

Andrew moved to California in 1971. “I had been wanting to get out of New York. I felt trapped,” he explained in an interview last winter. “I felt nothing was happening for me there.”

He arrived in Marin hoping to work as a photographer. Given his choice, he said during the interview, “I would have been a magazine photographer doing cover shots for magazines such as Glamour, Time, and US News and World Report — mainstream magazines.”

Many may have sent or received the composite postcard from Inverness with photos of downtown, a friendly pelican and the famous beached boatwreck. All those photos were taken by Andrew Schultz.

Another of Andrew’s favorite photo assignments has been the annual Disaster Council pancake breakfast at the Point Reyes Station firehouse. Andrew said he enjoyed capturing on film the pillars of the community stuffing their faces with pancakes.

“In 1972,” he recounted, “I went to work for The Funfinder as a photographer but quickly became a salesman. In those days, The Funfinder was an entertainment periodical the size of TV Guide, boasting a circulation of 20,000 in San Francisco and Marin counties.

When The Marin Independent Journal bought The Funfinder in 1975, Andrew went to work for The Independent Journal. “The most fun I’ve ever had was selling automotive classified when I moved from The Funfinder to The IJ,” he recalled. “It was one of the most interesting changes I made in my work life. It clicked, and I just loved it.

“With the majority of the people that I meet, I discovered that there are three stages. First, they don’t like me at all. Then it’s, ‘Let’s give this guy some time.’ Then, I really win them over. You always know when you’ve broken through to the customer.”

Andrew said he genuinely liked his customers. “About six times… dealers offered me jobs, but I didn’t want to sell cars. Whenever a dealership offered me a job selling their product, I knew I had them right where I wanted them… that they trusted me and we had built a strong professional relationship. Contrary to what most people think, business relationships are really personal relationships.”

Andrew worked at The Independent Journal until 1987, when he moved to Monterey County and began selling automotive classified adds for the Santa Cruz Sentinel. “Nine months after I got there, I won salesman of the year,” he recalled with pride. I left Santa Cruz a month before the Loma Prieta earthquake. I had been living in Soquel, two to three miles away from the epicenter in Aptos.”

After moving back to Marin County, Andrew sold advertising at The Point Reyes Light for a year, at the Petaluma office of a free “pennysaver” owned by newspaper chain publisher Dean Lesher, at The Petaluma Argus Courier, The Cotati Times, The Press Democrat in Santa Rosa, and Auto Trader in Petaluma.

Indeed, Andrew sold advertising space wherever he could find it, whether it was on cash register tapes or the community-access channel of Horizon Cable. In 1999 after public-utility deregulation, he even tried to sell electricity and was hopeful of signing up most of California’s schools. However, the company he was working for collapsed.

Many West Marin residents knew Andrew as an advertising salesman and operator of Horizon Cable’s community channel, Channel 47. As such, Andrew donated a good portion of his time to helping the local nonprofits with their fundraising.

West Marin had enjoyed good television reception until 1973 when Bay Area channels stopped transmitting from Mount San Bruno and began using the newly constructed Sutro Tower. TV signals to this stretch of coast were then blocked by Mount Tamalpais. Among those unhappy with the resulting poor reception was Andrew. The poor reception also prompted John Robbins, formerly of Inverness, to build the West Marin Cable system, starting in 1983; he sold it to Horizon Cable in 1991.

Robbins, who had employed Andrew part time, recalled in an interview last January, “The first time I met him, I was at the White House Pool building the cable system. He stops his car right on the corner of Sir Francis Drake Boulevard and Balboa Avenue and wants to know when he’ll get hooked up.”

When Robbins was building the Stinson Beach part of the cable system, he hired Andrew to line up customers. “I let him go there and knock on doors.”

Even after the cable system was built and sold to Horizon, Andrew continued in his spare time to sell advertising for its community-access channel, which was then Channel 11 and 13 and is now Channel 47. Only recently did he finally relinquish that responsibility to Horizon owner Susan Daniels.

“He’s a wonderful, pushy, in-your-face salesman, and he aims to leave you feeling good about the conversation,” Robbins said. “You always knew when Andrew was coming. His voice was a big as he was [6-foot, 3-inches and more than 250 pounds].”

“Sometimes I’m insensitive in realizing that I’m a very big guy,” Andrew acknowledged. “I’ve been told at times I’m disruptive… I’m definitely noticed. I’m good at parties, but I don’t care to go to them very often. I come home at night and the mask comes off.”

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©Art Rogers/Point Reyes

Rather than socializing, “Andrew’s life revolved around his computer and movies,” Robbins noted. “At times, I am nearly a hermit,” Andrew confirmed.

“Yet I feel as if I have lots of good friends. I have loved many in my life. I have a hard time understanding jealous people. They don’t seem to realize that you can’t take love from others. Love is only given.”

Surviving Andrew are his brothers Billy, Nathan, and Barry Schultz. His father Leon Schultz died in 1990 and his mother Fran in 2000.

Andrew is also survived by his former partner, Daniel Medina. Andrew also leaves a long list of people he has loved and who have loved him, commenting several weeks ago, “They will all know who they are…”

At his request, Andrew will be cremated. Adobe Creek Funeral Home in Petaluma is handling arrangements. A memorial service will be held on Limantour Beach at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 23. Before he died, Andrew asked that in lieu of flowers, contributions be made to Hospice by the Bay and West Marin Senior Services — “please.”

Editor’s note: At Andrew Schultz’s request, several of us combined efforts to write this piece before he died.

ivan_1_1.jpgFew Point Reyes Light reporters have received as many awards as Ivan Gale (upper left) of Chileno Valley, winning five state and national journalism awards in 2004 alone. The Light’s new owner, Robert Plotkin, on May 3 announced he will no longer display the awards won over the years by Gale and other Light staff. Gale left The Light to earn two master’s degrees from the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University. He is now a business writer for the Gulf News in Dubai, the rapidly growing financial and tourist center in the United Arab Emirates. Here he attends a press conference where Shaikh Ahmed bin Saeed al Maktoum, the uncle of the ruler of Dubai, talks about Emirates airline’s annual results.

When I sold The Point Reyes Light to Robert Israel Plotkin in November 2005, San Francisco Chronicle reporter Jesse Hamlin asked me how I felt about leaving the paper in new hands.

“One thing that gives me confidence,” I replied, “is that the citizens of West Marin know what they want in a newspaper. And if you’re not giving it to ‘em, they’ll let you know.”

100_0459.jpg Eighteen months have now past, and West Marin residents have repeatedly let Plotkin (at right) know he is not providing the community newspaper they need and expect. How much longer The Light can survive in its present form is now a topic of much speculation around the community.

Nor is The Light the newspaper it appears to be. Some merchants have been mistakenly billed for ads that had been canceled, and Plotkin’s former printer Scot Caldwell has told others and me that a number of merchants are refusing to pay for these and other ads. Innumerable people have stopped subscribing to The Light — some as long ago as last year, but they have kept receiving the paper each week, Caldwell added. I have heard the same thing from dozens of readers who stopped subscribing to The Light months ago but continue to get it free in the mail.

Meanwhile, with financial help from his landlord, Plotkin is in the midst of refurbishing his office while also publishing dozens of vapid, but relatively expensive, color photos and not paying off creditors to whom he owes significant amounts of money.
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When Plotkin’s debt to Caldwell’s Marin Sun Printing reached $11,000, the printer told me, Plotkin changed printers. Plotkin has now paid off $4,000 of that debt, but the damage has been done, and Caldwell will soon be part owner of a new weekly newspaper based in Point Reyes Station. More about that in a moment.

• Last year, Plotkin’s inaccurate reporting so offended the Stinson Beach Volunteer Fire Department that Chief Kenny Stephens had t-shirts and bumper stickers printed that say: “Put out The Light until he gets it right.”

100_1667.jpg• Three weeks ago former Light publisher Michael Gahagan, who sold the paper to me in 1975, described one of Plotkin’s self-promotions as “meglomaniacal,” adding: “It saddens me that [Plotkin has] so mistakenly misunderstood, dishonored, and continue[s] to defile a community legacy.”

Part of the legacy that Plotkin has taken off The Light’s walls are state and national honors won by Victoria Schlesinger (at left), who like Gale left The Light to earn two master’s degrees in Journalism from Columbia University. The May issue of Harper’s magazine published a whopping nine-page exposé by Schlesinger of the so-called Millenium Villages Project that is supposed to lead the Third World out of poverty. Ironically, Columbia’s Journalism Department paid her way to Kenya to investigate a pilot project run by the director of Columbia’s Earth Institute, Jeffrey Sachs. The former Light reporter revealed Sach’s project is a poorly administered fiasco which is trying to replicate a failed experiment from a quarter century ago.

• Meanwhile, journalist Elizabeth Whitney of Inverness, who last December organized a community meeting to discuss The Light’s inadequate coverage of local news, is now organizing a public protest. “I think it is time to TAKE BACK THE LIGHT,” Whitney wrote in an announcement she began circulating last week.

“I am now initiating a focused protest on Monday, June 11, as TAKE BACK THE LIGHT DAY. If you have strong opinions about the Point Reyes Light, take your paper back to the editor at the office in Point Reyes Station and communicate verbally or in writing why you feel as you do. You can also mail your paper back with your comments to Box 210, Point Reyes Station 94956, if you find this easier.”

• On Monday of this week, San Francisco Chronicle columnist Jon Carroll wrote that the redesigned Light, which is heavy on color and light on local news, “looks like an alumni bulletin… The writing is terrible, but Plotkin is apparently not a words guy. Plotkin is a Plotkin guy.”

Plotkin’s malicious coverage of a deputy’s taking me into custody a year ago and having the county psych ward check to see if I was suicidal was “sleazy,” Carroll wrote in Monday’s Chronicle.

(In fact, as soon as county staff talked to me, they determined I was not suicidal, had no signs of emerging psychological problems, and should be immediately sent home in a taxi, which I was at county expense.)

Light reporter Micah Maidenberg, who wrote the story under Plotkin’s direction, knew all this from the public record, for I had emailed him copies. Maidenberg also knew the deputy went to my house after Plotkin made a bogus claim that I was suicidal. In addition, Maidenberg interviewed me, and I gave him straightforward answers.

However, neither the facts contained in the public record, nor my answers to his questions, nor his boss’ involvement were included in Maidenberg’s story, which instead lumped me in with a violent man from Bolinas who was taken to the psych ward and attacked a doctor.

• Maidenberg, by the way, is the same reporter who in March wrote the story identifying various Latino residents of West Marin as documented or undocumented immigrants.

Community leaders including Sacred Heart Church’s Father Jack O’Neill, Toby’s Feed Barn owner Chris Giacomini and his manager Oscar Gamez, Marin Community Foundation director Carlos Porrata and his wife Rebecca, Point Reyes Books owner Steve Costa, Cabaline Saddlery owner Vicki Leeds, 13 prominent Latinos, and a number of other well-known townspeople have publicly questioned Plotkin’s “journalistic ethics” in publishing Maidenberg’s story.

Not surprisingly, Maidenberg has given notice he’s leaving as of the end of this week. Maidenberg’s departure, however, is the least of The Light’s problems.

• Don Deane, publisher of The Coastal Post in Bolinas, has brought in Jeanette Pontacq of Point Reyes Station as editor. Under her, The Coastal Post has introduced color photos, is covering more West Marin news, and is picking up more advertisers.

On Wednesday, Deane told me he and Pontacq are also discussing publishing twice as often, fortnightly instead of monthly. However, he noted, no final decision has been made.

• One decision that is final was made by Joel Hack, owner of The Bodega Bay Navigator website, and Caldwell of Marin Sun Printing. They are about to start a new weekly newspaper in West Marin.

Debuting Friday, June 1, will be The West Marin Pilot. At least that is its tentative name. The public will be asked to submit suggestions for the final name. Hack said the first issue will be an eight-page introductory copy. Each week from July 1 on, it will be published full size and sell for $1 a copy.

dscn2329_1.jpgFormer Light editor Jim Kravets of Fairfax (left) will edit the weekly. Former Light advertising representative Sandy Duveen of Woodacre will sell advertisng.

Caldwell told me Kravets and Duveen will both share in the ownership. Like Caldwell, both of them have had a hard time collecting thousands of dollars Plotkin owes them.

As for The Navigator’s Hack, Plotkin is suing him and me for Hack’s letting me post items on his Sonoma County website. Plotkin has claimed that the postings violated The Light’s sales agreement in which I agreed not to work for another Marin County newspaper.

In a ruling that defies common sense — and presumably the law — Marin Superior Court Judge Jack Sutro last fall ruled a Sonoma County website is the same as a Marin County newspaper and ordered me to stop posting on it. That ruling is now before an appeals court.

img_3174_1.jpgAlso planning to work for The Pilot are: Missy Patterson of Point Reyes Station, who for 25 years has handled the front desk at The Light; former Light historian Dewey Livingston of Inverness, who used to contribute West Marin’s Past; feature writer Ellen Shehadeh of Inverness, who had been a frequent contributor to The Light; obituary writer Larken Bradley of San Rafael, who had won a variety of state and national journalism awards while at The Light; and Charlie Morgan of Inverness Park, who covers sports events for KWMR, will be the sports writer.

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Caldwell told me The Pilot is still deciding where to have its office and might even move into the Creamery Building, where The Light is also located. As Duveen (right) remarked with a laugh: “That would be a hoot.”

moon-over-tomales_2.jpg Tomales cartoonist Kathryn LeMieux drew an enthusiastic crowd to Bodega Landmark Gallery in the town of Bodega Saturday when she opened a two-week exhibit of her surrealistic and often-whimsical oil paintings.

The final days are this Friday through Monday.

Not surprisingly, two of her favorite subjects — cows (such as Moonrise Over Tomales seen here, copyright K. LeMieux) and the California Mermaids — not only attracted the most attention but also the most buyers.

West Marin residents who read Feral West on The Bodega Bay Navigator website or read it for 10 years in The Point Reyes Light are familiar with two of her California Mermaids, Fera with her pet shark Fluffy, and Lana with her cigar and cocktail glass.

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copyright K. LeMieux

For this exhibit, Kathryn added some unfamiliar and even more voluptuous mermaids, rendering them in a painterly, rather than cartoon, style.

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Although Mavis the cow was missing, Kathryn’s paintings of cows jamming the north end of the Golden Gate Bridge (copyright K. LeMieux) and grazing around Point Reyes Station’s old, brick Grandi Building were on display and selling.

Kathryn claims Mavis the cow is her alter ego in Feral West, but many of us, including her husband Don Armstrong, believe she’s really a California Mermaid — as the photo below, which I took of her at the Marshall Store, would tend to confirm.

100_1796.jpgKathryn, along with five other women cartoonists, also draws the nationally syndicated cartoon Six Chix for King Features. The strip formerly appeared in The Press Democrat and now appears on SFGate.com if you go to this link.
Other websites around the country also buy Six Chix from King Features, which has created a subscriber service “with perks,” Kathryn noted. One of the perquisites is that readers who miss seeing the cartoon in print can have it delivered by email to their computer daily. In addition, they can call up past installments of the cartoon.

Since the cartoonists get a cut of what King Features sells, drawing for online readers is becoming an increasingly significant part of their income, Kathryn told me.

100_4300_1.jpgMore Internet news: Horizon Cable, which provides television, FM radio, and Internet service to more than 1,200 homes and businesses in Point Reyes Station and Olema, Inverness and Inverness Park, Dillon Beach and Stinson Beach (as well as roughly 375 customers in Novato) has moved its headquarters from Novato to the Farm Bureau building in Point Reyes Station.

Like many other Horizon customers, I was without Internet service for extended periods last week, but the outages were not related to the move. Susan Daniels of Fairfax, who with her husband Kevin owns Horizon, on Tuesday told me Horizon is in the midst of a major upgrade. “Every active component in the system will be changed,” she said, explaining this will increase the system’s bandwidth. Along with this will come improved Internet service, high-definition television, and more channels, she added.

This being West Marin, however, not everything that recently interrupted Horizon’s Internet service can be blamed on its being upgraded. On Monday night, a PG&E transformer exploded near the Red Barn in Point Reyes Station. Only a handful of nearby customers lost power, but one of them happened to be the Horizon cable system headquartered next door. It was down for several hours.

Indeed, there has always been a wild-west aspect to providing West Marin with a cable system. The original system, West Marin Cable, was created strictly to improve television reception. John Robbins, then of Inverness, began the system in 1983 and sold it to Kevin and Susan in 1991. John’s was not an entirely conventional system.

Creating a viable cable system for such sparsely populated towns as West Marin’s was daunting. Sometimes John had to string cable on power poles for more than a mile to reach just one ranch. In awkward locations, John had to string his cable on barbed-wire fences.

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Horizon Cable office manager Andrea Clark fields the calls when customers need help. Her motherly manner makes it difficult for most of us, even when frustrated, to get annoyed with her. Owner Susan Daniels and system technician Jim Townsend standing behind behind Andrea say major improvements to Horizon’s television and Internet services are being implemented now that the company has relocated its office to Point Reyes Station in the center of its service area.

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John had been building the Stinson Beach part of his system when he sold West Marin Cable to Horizon. As it happened, county supervisors had issued John a cable franchise for Stinson Beach, but Seadrift subdivision developer Don Beacock had his own deal with Wonder Cable, which at the time served Bolinas.

Horizon had no sooner taken over the system when something like the Oklahoma Land Rush began on Seadrift Spit. Within the subdivision, cables had to be buried. Both Horizon and Wonder showed up with trenching equipment, and “it was a race for the spit,” Susan recalled, with each company trying to lay claim to the land first. With two cable companies digging parallel trenches on opposite sides of Seadrift’s roads, county supervisors intervened and ruled that Horizon’s franchise for Stinson Beach was communitywide.

That sort of cable conflict, however, pales in comparison to what is currently happening in the former Soviet Republic of Estonia.

For those of you who don’t follow politics in the Baltics, you should realize that at this moment a new and economically crippling form of warfare is being waged by Russia. It’s serious enough that the May 12-18 Economist warns that stopping the assault “is not yet NATO’s job, but it may be soon.”

As Britain’s Economist explains, “For a small, high-tech country such as Estonia, the Internet is vital. But for the past two weeks, Estonia’s state websites (and some private ones) have been hit by ‘denial of service’ attacks, in which a target site is bombarded with so many bogus requests for information that it crashes.

“The Internet warfare broke out … amid a furious row between Estonia and Russia over the removal of a Soviet war monument from the centre of the capital, Tallinn, to a military cemetery.

100_1771.jpg“The move sparked rioting and looting by several thousand protesters from large population of ethnic Russians, who tend to see the statue as a cherished memorial to a wartime sacrifice. Estonians mostly see it rather as a symbol of a hated foreign occupation.”

The attack, which is sabotaging Estonia’s Internet commerce, as well as government operations, was initially launched by computers traceable to the government of (Ras?)Putin (seen here in an Economist photo). But the assault has now been taken over by sympathetic supporters, some of whom plant viruses in other people’s computers so that innocent users unknowingly help sabotage Estonian institutions.

The assault would be called an “act of war” if carried out with a missile instead with computers, one senior NATO official told The Economist. NATO and the US have rushed observers to Estonia to figure out how a country can fend off such an attack.

In the meantime, “the best defence is to have strong networks of servers in many countries,” a Finnish expert is quoted as saying.

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