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JANUARY 29 - FEBRUARY 4, 2010

MARiN’S BEST EVERY WEEK

QUOTE OF THE WEEK:

In a strange way, Gumby is love.

[SEE PAGE 25]

Upfront

Vows & Celebrations

Talking Pictures

PG&E’s trick of the light

With this ring I Zen wed...

Clay pride!

9

17

25

› › pacificsun.com

SPIRIT OF UGANDA TAO: THE MARTIAL “Invigorating the stage with that elusive thing called joy” (New York Times), Spirit of Uganda presents riveting music and dance for audiences of all ages. To the melodic tones of standing drums, with dramatic choreography, bright, layered rhythms, and gorgeous call-and-response vocals, this vibrant cast of performers, aged 8-18, bring to life the sounds and movements of East Africa. Spirit of Uganda celebrates the cultural roots and newer offshoots of this lush and diverse nation. >> www.empowerafricanchildren.org

ART OF DRUMMING Athletic bodies and contemporary costumes meet explosive Taiko drumming and innovative choreography in this show that has critics waxing lyrical about TAO’s extraordinary precision, energy, and stamina. The stars of TAO live and train at a compound in the mountains of Japan, reaching the highest level of virtuosity only after years of intensive study. These performers each bring nontraditional flair to the group by drawing on their diverse backgrounds: one as a hard rock musician, another a gymnast, and yet another as a composer. They offer a young and vibrantly modern take on a traditional Japanese art form. >> www.drum-tao.com

Friday, January 29, 8 p.m.

$45, $35, $25, Students 18 & Under - $18

MOSCOW FESTIVAL BALLET: COPPÉLIA

$35, $25, Premium Seats - $50, Students 18 & Under - $20

LES BALLETS TROCKADERO DE MONTE CARLO

This astonishing company presents a brilliant new choreography of this charming ballet about a young villager who falls in love with a life-size dancing doll. Franz becomes infatuated with Coppélia, the creation of the diabolical Dr. Coppélius, much to the chagrin of his fiancée Swanhilde, who decides to show him his folly by dressing as the doll and pretending to come to life. The exquisite costumes, flowing music, and comical characters make the presentation of this masterpiece an occasion not to be missed.

Fabulous, funny, and very very sophisticated, The Trocks are a worldwide dance phenomenon. For more than three decades, the all-male Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo has performed loving parodies of classical ballet with to-die-for technical skill and impeccable comic timing. With hairychested men darting about in tights, tulle, tutus, and plus-size toe shoes, The Trocks take the art form’s conventions to the limit of absurdity, combing excruciatingly funny slapstick with a genuine respect for classical ballet. >> www.trockadero.org

Friday, February 12, 8 p.m.

Saturday, Feb. 13, 8 p.m.

$45, $35, $25, Premium Seats - $65 Students 18 & Under - $18

$45, $35, $25, Premium Seats - $60, Students 18 & Under - $20

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JANUARY 29 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; FEBRUARY 4, 2010 PACIFIC SUN 3

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›› LETTERS IJ been drinking too much Arabian Mocha Java The recent IJ editorial decrying the Sausalito City Council as lacking in common sense [for rejecting a proposed zoning change that would allow a Peet’s Coffee on Bridgeway; city regulaSausalitans bravely face another tions prohibit day without a Peet’s franchise. chains along the waterfront] is the usual claptrap we’ve come to expect from the daily paper’s archconservative editorial board. Keeping in that style, they now urge Sausalito elected officials to break the law they are forsworn to uphold. It’s more important to allow a chain store to desecrate the town. It is far beyond the ken of the IJ to understand the simplest of economic theories which shows that taking dollars out of the community in favor of avaricious corporate greed depletes the community. We’ve come to expect such outlandish proclamations from the IJ. The list is long. From their narrow-minded and savage stance on the bag ban to their brainless opposition to alternative energy sources, we have our very own Fox TV outlet. The IJ completely misunderstands information mailers; they abandon journalistic ethics with sensationalistic and incorrect headlines; and their stealthy encroachment into the advertising territory of a revered local weekly, along with their dwindling reader-

ship, shows their true black colors. This editorial was priceless. Common sense, the IJ declares, was missing. They never even defined the meaning of the term! It’s apparent they don’t know. Their rip-off of the term in this instance is the last refuge of the dimwitted conservative. It’s a bald attempt to dumb down the argument because they’ve lost the argument. It’s an arrogant stance. It’s like saying, “You’re intelligent. You know what we mean.” Wink wink. They’re actually saying to their readers, “You’re stupid if you don’t agree with us.” Yes, we do know what the IJ editorial board means. Their continued brutishness, along with wrong “facts” unchecked by their opinionators Dick Spotswood and the coward Richard Rubin is a desecration of human dignity. Jonathan Frieman, San Rafae

Doesn’t anyone use the word ‘coterie’ anymore?! I hope that the Sun has at least one linguist amongst your readers. If that person sees this letter, then perhaps he or she can explain where new, trendy words come from. An example of such a word appears in Annie Spiegelman’s recent article on the light brown apple moth [“Moth the Hoopla,” Jan. 15], in which some expert is quoted as saying “no greater a threat than a suite of other insect pests....” Suite has suddenly become a hot new word, used in place of the old-fashioned word “group,” not with respect to a group of rooms, but a group of anything! I wish I could understand who invents these words and why. If the new word is needed because of some evolving technology, OK, but all that this new word does is

›› TOWNSQUARE

TOP POSTINGS THIS WEEK

The Real Marin Problem—Cats! We hear a lot of complaints about how Marinites baby their dogs and don’t control them on the trails and sidewalks and restaurants, but I’ve got a bone to pick about pet cats. Talk about a pet that owners don’t control! Belvedere Planning Commission I am really starting to question the integrity and sanity of the Belvedere planning commission. I have heard one to many stories of people who have bought houses or property, ... Feature: Marin IOU The company that owns the Marin Independent Journal will soon declare bankruptcy, according to sources within the company. The bankruptcy of the paper’s holding com...

Your soapbox is waiting at ›› pacificsun.com muddy up the language...there ought to be a law. Gil Deane, San Anselmo

We’ll be on it like moths to the flame... Thank you for your comprehensive story on a very complex and disturbing issue [“Moth the Hoopla,” Jan. 15]. Please keep following this subject—the light brown apple moth eradication program—as it affects us all, via our tax dollars and our health, should spraying or other methods be employed. Great job! Kris Brewer, Mill Valley

Can’t spell mothers without ‘moth’... and ‘ers’ Thank you for the excellent cover article about the light brown apple moth “hoopla.” I hope it alerted readers to the ongoing issues with the United States Department of Agriculture’s and the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s plans for use of toxic chemicals in our neighborhoods to combat a moth that causes minimal damage and, according to experts, cannot effectively be eradicated. I wanted to mention two other methods of applying chemicals which are part of the government’s plans in the draft Environmental Impact Report, but were omitted from the article: back-pack sprayers and truck spraying in populated neighborhoods. The public outcry stopped the aerial spray, and we hope people will join the fight against these alternate distribution methods as well. There is also a great article in the University of California’s California Agriculture, a peer reviewed scientific journal, which came out after your article went to print. The new study highlights the lack of a scientific basis for the LBAM program. The article can be found at www.universityofcalifornia.edu/news/article/22661. The waste of tax dollars and negative environmental and health implications of the LBAM program make it irresponsible at best. Please write or call U.S. Secretary of Agriculture’s Tom Vilsack’s office today and ask him to reclassify the light brown apple moth and end the LBAM eradication program. Sarah C.Killingsworth, Mothers of Marin Against the Spray

Fortunately, most women too busy fainting, waving hankies to vote Gay marriage is just the first step down a steep, pernicious slope. Mark my words: If gays and liberals get their way on this, before long white and black Americans will be allowed to wed Fortunately, they tend to save each other, people their exercising of this right of color will soon for ‘Dancing with the Stars’... be sitting in the front of the bus and, inconceivable though it may seem now, women will get the vote! Martin Blinder, San Anselmo

You mean PG&E isn’t benevolently trying to save us from ourselves? Marin Clean Energy must be a great idea judging from all the money that PG&E has spent on paid lobbyists to try to convince our elected representatives to drop out of the program. The amount of electricity supplied to Marin by PG&E is only 1 percent of its total supply. It seems to me that PG&E is afraid that Marin Clean Energy will work so well that other towns and counties will want to follow suit. Our city council members, board of supervisors and other government officials have spent numerous hours, in addition to many public meetings, becoming informed about Marin Clean Energy. They have carefully studied its economic and environmental benefits and adjusted the program to minimize its risks. Anyone who disagrees with their considered conclusion can always choose to stay with PG&E. Kay Karchevski,San Rafael

We noticed Mayor McCheese was conspicuously absent... Last week, first lady Michelle Obama called on the U.S. Conference of Mayors to help her fight the national scourge of childhood obesity. She noted that one-third of all children are overweight or obese. She proposed healthier school lunch fares, increased physical activity and nutrition education. Read More Letters 8> JANUARY 29 – FEBRUARY 4, 2010 PACIFIC SUN 7

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< 7 Letters

Traditionally, the National School Lunch Program has served as a dumping ground for USDA’s surplus meat and dairy commodities. Not surprisingly, USDA’s own surveys indicate that 90 percent of American children consume excessive amounts of fat, and only 15 percent eat the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables. Their early dietary flaws become lifelong addictions, raising their risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke. In the past few years, several state legislatures have asked their schools to offer daily vegetarian options. According to the School Nutrition Association, 52 percent of U.S. school districts now do. Last fall, the Baltimore City Public School system became the first in the United States to offer its 80,000 students a complete weekly break from meat. Parents and others who care about our children’s health should demand healthful plant-based school meals, snacks and vending machine items. Additional information is available at schoolnutrition.org, schoolmeals.nal.usda.gov, healthyschoollunches.org and choiceusa.net. Patrick Sullivan, Mill Valley

This is what we call a bottom-up approach

the Best of Marin contest were not fabricated by us or hearsay. One was related to me directly by an employee of the Pacific Sun who put me on “hold” and then spoke directly to the editor, then got back on the phone and gave me a direct quote. The other was cc’d to us in an email with an email address from the Pacific Sun staff. That is why there are quotation marks around these responses. However, the point (which does seem to be lost in all this) is that since book stores are dying all across the United States (as are newspapers), arbitrarily choosing this particular category to rotate out (for what appears to be not a very profound reason) puts another nail in the coffin of a category of enterprise which the literary community values highly as a sign of quality of life in Marin County. We are saddened that this requires an explanation to the editorial staff at the Sun. By the time this category is returned there may not be as many book stores of any kind because the climate for book stores in the Marin area will have been soured in just one more significant way by this eclipsing by the Sun. Then the editorial staff can say, “No need to list that group again. There aren’t enough of them left to list. I wonder where they all went?” Toni and Joel Labori Eis, Rebound Bookstore

Decade after decade Marin County has experienced droughts, and abundant rain fall as well—nothing to panic or worry about. The only thing to worry about is how our bureaucratic system that makes things that could be so simple, instead, so complicated. Our Marin Municipal Water District is one fine example. All the reservoirs that supply the county are 60 years old, or older perhaps. During this time, sediment and top soil has washed off from the hillsides into the bottom of these lakes—thus they are not holding as much water. So when we have a bountiful rainy season, more water becomes over spill and flows into the ocean. Great! Meanwhile, the population has more than doubled, but we have smaller water capacity. Of course we can ration the water and increase the rates to discourage over-use, but there is an obvious solution that no one has even mentioned—and that is to dredge the lakes. Take the Nicasio reservoir, for instance. By June it’s almost empty; if we dredge 10 feet deep on a few acres we would have enough room for supply for half of San Rafael. And that’s only for one lake. I know there is some bureaucratic hoops to jump, but it can be done. Pierre Auroy, Novato

Actually, that IS hearsay... We have read with great interest the editor’s response to our letter [“This Is Not About My Store,” Jan. 15, which accused the Pacific Sun of “sabotaging the visibility of book stores.”] We would like to respond briefly. Both of the “reasons” given to us for taking the “best book store” category from

›› OOPS! In our Jan. 22 letters-to-the-editor page we published a letter [“We, the Jury”] from the Marin Chapter of the California Grand Jurors’ Association. In an attempt to abridge the group’s formal title, we referred to it as a county grand jury. The MCCGJ, though, is a collection of former and current grand jury members—not the county grand jury itself. Objection sustained!

• • • • In our Dec. 19 issue we were proud to highlight the vaunted talents of local guitarslinging folkster Billy D, and his rousing Monday open mic nights at Peri’s. UnforBilly D, ‘not a black man.’ tunately, the accompanying photo was neither of Billy, a guitarist, nor taken at Peri’s. In fact, as Billy pointed out in an email the following day, he is also “not a black man.” OK, so the photo was way off. Sorry, Billy! See you Monday at Peri’s in Fairfax, 9:30 sharp.

Put your stamp on the letters to the editor at ›› pacificsun.com

›› UPFRONT

Will Marin flip the switch? PG&E gets down and dirty in attempts to thwart Marin Clean Energy by Pe te r Se i d m an

W

hile city councils throughout Marin were holding their second round of meetings to decide whether to stick with Marin Clean Energy or opt out, a brochure showed up in county mailboxes claiming that the energy plan would “automatically switch” residents’ service and “enroll them in a costly energy scheme.” The mailer contained most of the PG&E talking points former state Assemblyman and consultant Joe Nation has been hauling around city councils on behalf of PG&E. A closer look at the mailer uncovers information that residents will have the opportunity to opt out of Marin Clean Energy, but even that bit of information comes with a twist: “All Marin power consumers will automatically be enrolled in this costly program— whether you like it or not—unless you affirmatively opt out or your town or city has chosen not to participate.” The Marin Clean Energy plan always has called for an opt-out period that will include alerting consumers four times that they have the opportunity to decline joining Marin Clean Energy. But PG&E, a monopoly with a boatload of cash, maintains that customers deserve a direct vote on the energy initiative. Allowing a Marin Clean Energy general vote would ensure an unfair death of the energy initiative, say proponents. PG&E would spend whatever it wants to influence the vote. The mailer from the Common Sense Coalition is a perfect example of what could happen. The coalition is a barely disguised PG&E

platform. On the bottom of the mailer’s back page is a small-type message stating “this information was provided by the Coalition for Reliable and Affordable Electricity, a coalition that includes Pacific Gas and Electric Company.” A link to a website goes to a page that reproduces the mailer and includes a page to join the coalition. No members of the group are listed other than PG&E. The mailer also includes a postage-paid card on which residents can ask PG&E (or Common Sense Marin) to put them on a mailing list to stay informed. That tactic violates at least the spirit if not the letter of the law that created community choice aggregation, according to Marin Clean Energy comments sent to the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC). The mailer is an attempt to jump the gun on the opt-out period. In its comments, Marin Clean Energy asks the PUC to revise rules “to bar utilities from soliciting opt-outs at any time.” The state’s community choice legislation, AB 117, “does not contemplate any role for the utilities in the solicitation of optouts.” Marin Clean Energy adds that the legislation provides that “the community choice aggregator shall fully inform the participating customers” about their right to opt out of a community choice energy initiative. The correspondence requests that the PUC consider holding a tighter rein on the rules. Currently utilities are required to notify the state energy division about anything they post on their websites regarding community 11 >

›› NEWSGRAMS Sutter and MCF partner for health fund Sutter Health is pledging $10 million to the Marin Community Foundation (MCF) in order to establish the Sutter Health Access to Care Fund. The new fund, which will be directed and distributed by MCF each year for the next five years, is meant to increase the availability of primary healthcare services to uninsured and underinsured Marin County residents. According to a press release, grants will support such efforts as “increasing the number of patients served by the county’s community clinics, funding the purchase of equipment, extending hours of services, supporting health prevention programs and helping to provide health insurance to children who otherwise would not receive coverage.” Martin Brotman, M.D., president of Sutter Health’s West Bay Region, said,“Sutter Health recognizes the vital role that community clinics play in meeting the health needs of our communities’ most vulnerable populations.” However, the contribution follows reports of Sutter transferring nearly $88 million out of Marin General Hospital over the last two years, before the Marin Healthcare District is due to resume control this year. Michael Dufficy to retire Michael B. Dufficy, 71, the senior judge on the Marin County Superior Court, has announced his retirement; he’ll officially slam the gavel on 20 years of service Feb. 18. Born in Ross and a resident of Kentfield for more than four decades, Dufficy practiced law in San Rafael for 26 years, including serving as a Marin County deputy district attorney in 1965-1966, until he was first appointed to the Marin County Municipal Court in 1990 by then Gov. George Deukmejian. He was elevated to the Superior Court in 1992, and thereafter elected to six-year terms in 1992, 1998 and 2004. Dufficy presided over the Marin Family Court throughout much of the 1990s; his tenure was marred by charges of cronyism and ethical violations. His critics charged that several attorneys who were personal friends of the judge—reportedly describing themselves as the FLEAS (Family Law Elite Attorneys)—repeatedly received favorable treatment in his court. Dufficy’s supporters contended such charges were unfair, stemming from petitioners unhappy with the decisions of the court. Following a grand jury investigation, a highly critical report by investigative attorney Karen Winner and a vociferous recall effort, Dufficy stepped down from the family court in 2000 to instead preside over civil cases. Dufficy plans to work on private mediation and alternative dispute resolution in San Rafael following his retirement. Nonprofit acquires second Marin home This month Habitat for Humanity bought its second local home—a three-bedroom, two-bath foreclosed property in San Rafael. Last fall the nonprofit acquired a five-bedroom, two-bathroom duplex in Novato that is expected to be remodeled by spring, with the selection this week of a family to occupy it. The San Rafael home will also undergo a major renovation before being sold for approximately $297,000 (with “sweat equity” stipulations) to eligible first-time homebuyers who work or live in Marin and are legal permanent residents or U.S. citizens. Mandatory orientation meetings for prospective owners will be held from 6-8pm Feb. 23 and 10am-noon Feb. 27 in the Kennedy Room at Saint Raphael Church, 1104 Fifth Ave. in San Rafael. For more information, call 415/625-1010 or visit online at www.habitatgsf.org. —Samantha Campos

EXTRA! EXTRA! Post your Marin news at ›› pacificsun.com

JANUARY 29 - FEBRUARY 4, 2010 PACIFIC SUN 9

›› BEHiND THE SUN

From the Sun vaults, January 25 - 31, 1980

Episode II: The Sun strikes back Marin weekly reels in director with mighty interview tractor beam... by Jason Wals h

30

‘You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy’—Ben Kenobi, Star Wars years ago Same coulda been said about yuppie Marin 30 years ago this week. But it was neither the depraved Mos Eisley cantina nor the 2AM Club at closing time Pacific Sun staffers found themselves navigating in January of 1980—it was George Lucas’s San Anselmo home where they were invited for a rare and lengthy interview. And before the filmmaker could finish them off with an under-the-table bolt from his blaster, reporter Joanne Williams engaged him in a little verbal dueling about how Star Wars had changed the young Marin filmmaker’s life. Here’s Episode II of the Sun’s 1980 interview with the 36-year-old Lucas. O



O



O



O

Do you believe that your films contribute to a better world...? Star Wars was done with that in mind. As a student of anthropology I feel strongly about the role myths and fairy tales play in setting up young people for the way they’re supposed to handle themselves in society...I realized before I did Star Wars that there was no contemporary fairy tale and that the number of parents who sit down and tell their children fairy tales is dwindling. As families begin to break up, kids are left more to the television and they don’t hear bedtime stories. As a result, people are learning their mythology from TV, which makes them very confused because it has no point of view, no sense of morality. It’s a very amoral thing and as a result, unless a child has a very strong family life or is involved with the church, there’s no anchor to hold on to. Are you a religious person? I don’t go to church. I’m a fairly religious person. My approach to religion is like my approach to politics and government, that is, I’m more academically interested. Why did you choose not to direct ‘Empire’? I’ve sort of retired from directing. If I directed Empire then I’d have to direct the next one and the next for the rest of my life. I have never really liked directing. Writing is what you like to do? No, I hate writing. What I enjoy is editing. I started out as an editor. I became a director because I didn’t like directors telling me how to edit, and became a writer because I had to write something in order to be able to direct something. 10 PACIFIC SUN JANUARY 29 – FEBRUARY 4, 2010

Lucas, demonstrating his ‘not that social’ look, 1980.

What else is on the horizon? My company is doing a film a year that I write the stories on and turn the screenplay over to others people. I’m doing another film called Raiders of the Lost Ark directed by Steven Spielberg. We’ll start shooting this spring. It’s an adventure film, a period piece that takes place all over the world. What has it done to you to move from modest income to great wealth? It’s enabled me to do things like make the ranch a reality as an artistic retreat. But on a personal level it doesn’t mean much of a change. I’ve been very poor up until four years ago. I was happy before. I mean it’s great not to have debts over your head all the time and be able to go out to a movie whenever you want. I have a theory about money, which may not be very valid, but until four years ago my wife was the one who was working and I was the one who was writing and we were making maybe $12,000 a year. That was fine, we seemed to be getting along all right. And then when I started doing Star Wars we were making $20,000 a year and that was all right. There wasn’t much difference. Once you have a car and a house there’s not much more you can do except eat out more. Then Graffiti became a hit and I made quite a bit of money and it didn’t really change my life because I already had a car, I didn’t need another car. I already had a house, was perfectly happy in that house. So it allows you to do more esoteric things like fix up the house. We’re restoring the oldest house in San Anselmo. That’s what we do, we restore old houses. Are you interested in doing political films or working with big stars? No. The only reason we’re continuing to do commercial films at all is to be able to finance the ranch.

›› TRiViA CAFÉ

by Howard Rachelson

1. What happened in 1937 that caused Marin County commuters to shift from trains and ferries to cars and buses? 2. A person or animal whose skin lacks normal pigmentation is known by what Portuguese term? 3. Pictured, to right: #3a 3a. What popular 2006 musical film was loosely based on the career of what Detroit super group? (two answers) 3b. This group’s first No. 1 hit record, in 1964, started like this:“Baby, Baby...” What was the title? 3c. One of the main stars of this film, Beyonce Knowles, was originally the lead singer of what music group? 4. Tea made from fermented tea leaves is known as black tea, but tea from unfermented tea leaves (just dried and steamed) is known by what name? #3b 5a. All the Nobel prizes except for Peace are presented each year on December 10, the anniversary of what? 5b. In what city does this Nobel Prize Award Ceremony annually occur? 6a. A male honey bee that develops from unfertilized eggs, has no sting and carr carries no honey is known as a what? w 6 6b. This poor animal’s only role in life is to be #6a ready to do what? #3c 7 7. If you cannot pick up a pe penny with a magnet, then the coin is made of what metal? 8. On January 2, 2007, almost 4,000 people attended the funeral of what former U.S. president, who died at the age of 93? 9. Characters fr from Shakespeare: 9a. Cordelia was the daughter of what title character, a king? 9b 9b. D Desdemona was the wife of what title character? 9c. Puck was the mischievous spirit in what play? 10. “Half of 10 plus 2 times 6.”This problem can have FOUR different solutions, based on grouping and parentheses. Name the solutions in order from largest to smallest. BONUS QUESTION: Begin with the word “startling.” Now, remove one letter at a time, to form a series of proper English words, until you arrive at a one-letter word... and you don’t have to rearrange any letters. Howard Rachelson, Marin’s Master of Trivia, invites you to a live team trivia contest at 7:30pm every Wednesday at the Broken Drum on Fourth Street in San Rafael. Join the quiz—send your Marin factoids to howard1@triviacafe.com.

Why the focus on the Northern California film community? Part of it is aesthetic, creating a good place to work. Another part is using technology to advance the film industry. The industry is really a 19th century idea. We’re in the 21st century now, practically, but film is still very crude, very 19th century. Film is still a piece of celluloid pulled through gears and sprockets. Do you still dislike critics? I read the good reviews and ignore the bad ones. I had a bad local review for American Graffiti, but back East it got good reviews. The Chronicle said it was the worst film of the year. The problem is my parents don’t read the New York Times, they read the Chronicle. That was my first real success and they made it so it wasn’t a success to the people I care about. Do you like being well known?

Answers on page 32

I try to keep a low profile. People can be big pests. It’s annoying having people parading in and out, or trying to eat in a restaurant and having people come up and try to sell scripts. There are threats, you get harassed all the time. Do you entertain, go to parties? I don’t’ like parties. We don’t give parties. We’re not that social. We have lots of friends in Marin where we go to dinner, very quiet kinds of things. Do you think you’ll ever become a more public person? We’re trying to walk a thin line between being reclusive and having a sense of community. I look at my main community effort as my films, which I feel are a social responsibility. < Share your ‘Star Wars’ memories with Jason at jwalsh@

Blast into Marin’s past with more Behind the Sun at ›› pacificsun.com

< 9 Will Marin flip the switch? choice programs. But the creation of Common Sense Marin and the Coalition for Reliable Energy and Affordable Electricity shows how utilities can skirt that rule. Marin Clean Energy asks the PUC to mandate that utilities notify the energy division about “all communications and materials” from the utilities as well as from entities the utilities fund when discussing community choice in general and in specific. The recent mailer, which carries a prominent “Consumer Alert!” headline, is “one example of these communications,” according to the Marin Clean Energy correspondence. “Both the mailer and the website contain objectionable statements” that “circumvent the commission’s review requirement.” Marin Clean Energy calls attention to the tactics because they allow “opponents such as Pacific Gas & Electric the opportunity to use fear-based marketing to scare customers into opting out.” PG&E is engaged in a two-prong attack against community choice. While actively, and some say unfairly, opposing community choice in Marin and other local areas, the utility embarked on a $3 million effort to gather signatures for an initiative it qualified for the June ballot—a constitutional amendment that mandates a two-thirds vote in any jurisdiction that seeks to create a public-power agency and break away from an existing utility power grid. It also requires an agency like

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Some community choice plan critics say it’s unwise to risk public money by cosigning the loan. But, says McGlashan, it’s really a low-risk venture that could yield a handsome return for the county and the water district. In a best-case scenario the county and the water district would split the risk and each cosign for $850,000. In exchange, Marin Clean Energy would give the two bodies a break on electricity rates in the neighborhood of $70,000 a year. That amounts to a return of about 8 percent a year in exchange for assuming the risk. The benefits to Marin cities—and especially to the county and the water district— multiply when the requirements of complying with AB 32 get thrown into the mix. The Global Warming Solutions Act, enacted by the state in 2006, requires reducing greenhouse gases to 1990 levels by 2020. Marin Clean Energy proponents say it can take Marin a long way toward that goal. Marin Clean Energy will go to the board of supervisors Feb. 2 to see whether the county will cosign for all or part of the loan. If the vote goes against Marin Clean Energy, “the board is guaranteeing that it will face a general fund liability to comply with AB 32,” says McGlashan. “The air resources board has calculated that compliance with AB 32 in the next 10 years in unincorporated Marin, including all societal costs, is about $108 million. If you assume that half of that amount will be borne by the economy, half will be govern12 > ment liability. The tragic reality is that

ing out misleading marketing mailers. In December, state Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and seven other senators, including Mark Leno, sent a letter to PG&E CEO Peter Darbee. It blasts the initiative, now called the “New Two-Thirds Vote Requirement for Local Electricity Providers,” and the utility for trying to circumvent the Legislature. It charges the company with using “the initiative process to pursue PG&E’s self interests...” It also says the effort “calls into question” the company’s integrity. The senators are not alone in their condemnation. The Los Angeles Times, Sacramento Bee and New York Times are just some of the news outlets that have had stories and editorials criticizing the PG&E ballot measure. Because of the measure, it’s now advantageous for Marin Clean Energy (and any other community choice program) “to launch in time to beat that June ballot,” says Marin Supervisor Charles McGlashan, chairman of the Marin Energy Authority, the joint powers agency that administers Marin Clean Energy. The energy initiative needs a $1.7 million loan to cover expenses until ratepayer money starts flowing. River City Bank, a community bank based in the Sacramento area, will lend the money if Marin Clean Energy can get the loan cosigned. The energy agency has made proposals to the county and the Marin Municipal Water District. Contrary to some reports, the agency has not asked the county or the water district for direct loans. It has asked the county and the water district to secure a loan by cosigning for it.

Marin Clean Energy to garner a two-thirds vote in a proposed new expansion area, as well as hold a separate election in the existing service area. In other words, before expanding, a public power agency would need a two-thirds vote from its entire customer base. The measure, say proponents of community choice power agencies, is a bold attempt to use the almost insurmountable two-thirds rule to effectively block local power. After the second round of consideration among the county’s city councils, only Ross reversed course and dropped out of Marin Clean Energy. Novato, Corte Madera and Larkspur already had decided to refrain from joining. In explaining his vote, Ross Councilman Scot Hunter said that in the long run Ross always could opt into Marin Clean Energy if it succeeds. That’s exactly the opportunity that the PG&E ballot measure, cynically first called “The Taxpayers Right to Vote Act,” is designed to prevent. Ross and the other cities not in Marin Clean Energy would need that super-majority vote to join—and voters in the rest of the Marin Clean Energy jurisdiction also would need to cast a supermajority vote. San Francisco’s PUC is working on its own community choice power plan. Along with Marin Clean Energy, San Francisco has registered complaints with the state PUC about PG&E tactics. On June 11, San Francisco city attorney Dennis Herrera filed a petition asking the PUC to put a lid on the utility’s attack on community choice. The petition echoes the Marin Clean Energy warning about send-

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< 11 Will Marin flip the switch? by voting no on cosigning a loan, the board would guarantee that we will have to step up and ďŹ nd the money for climate change. And I canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t tell you how on Earth we would ďŹ nd that money.â&#x20AC;? If the county declines to cosign for the full amount or agrees to secure part of the loan, Marin Clean Energy will then approach the water district on Feb. 3. The next day, if the loan is secured, the Marin Clean Energy board could vote on a contract with Shell Energy North America. That timeline could alter, but Marin Clean Energy knows itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a race to June and the PG&E ballot measure. If the county and the water district decline, McGlashan says, thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a possibility that private citizens could step up to secure the loan in a joint effort. During the ďŹ rst year, the energy plan will need about $6.4 million in operating funds. Marin Clean Energy envisions getting another loan using ratepayer funds as security. A core idea of community choice programs, which many people have a difďŹ cult time grasping, is that community choice creates a revenue stream with which a community can fund local power programs and climate-change initiatives, which in turn, can stimulate local economies. In addition, community choice ensures local control over power decisions. In an often-repeated argument, community choice opponents say they favor sticking with PG&E because it can deliver while Marin Clean Energy is an unknown quantity. But they rarely cite the utilityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s monopoly hold on ratepayers. And critics rarely mention successful community choice programs in Massachusetts and Ohio. They also rarely mention the fact that one-quarter of all residents in California receive competitive electricity from municipal utilities. Paul Fenn, founder of Local Power, a San Francisco-based company that provides consulting services for governments looking to start community choice programs, played a

signiďŹ cant role in starting community choice in Massachusetts, where he was a staffer for the state Senate Energy Committee. Local Power worked with San Francisco to develop a community choice program, which now is considering bids from clean-energy providers. â&#x20AC;&#x153;PG&E has said publicly that it will spend at least $30 millionâ&#x20AC;? to pass the ballot measure, says Fenn. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We have the big challenge on our side of raising at least a few million dollars.â&#x20AC;? Local Power is working with other groups on ballot statements against the measure, which voters will see as Proposition 16, says Fenn, who adds that he expects PG&E to engage â&#x20AC;&#x153;in a huge media buy and cluster-bomb votersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; mailboxesâ&#x20AC;? using that $30 million. As far as sticking with PG&E for security when it comes to rates, Fenn points out that this is the same utility that ratepayers have bailed out of ďŹ nancial trouble to the tune of billions of dollars, and the utility that now is asking for $4 billion in rate increases. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Marin Clean Energy provides the basis to develop renewable sources and local power projects,â&#x20AC;? he says. Investing in local power in what amounts to â&#x20AC;&#x153;a climate protection agency thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s attempting to do something in the middle of a rapidly accelerating climate crisisâ&#x20AC;? is a good investment. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a kind of wake-up factor here,â&#x20AC;? he adds. â&#x20AC;&#x153;It would be tragic if ďŹ scal conservatism would blind us to the gun pointed at our head, if we would rather pick up the penny on the sidewalk and then get shot. Better to focus on the well-being of your grandchildren.â&#x20AC;? Fenn has a question: â&#x20AC;&#x153;Why would PG&E spend $30 million on a ballot measure? Both Marin and San Francisco through community choice have found that right out of the gate they can double the amount of green power delivered at the same price [as PG&E].â&#x20AC;? Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a major threat to a company that has held customers in a monopoly grip, â&#x20AC;&#x153;a company that is essentially a [natural] gas company.â&#x20AC;? < Contact the writer at peter@pseidman.com.

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›› FEATURE

Houses of justice Civil rights exhibit aims lens at housing discrimination ALL PHOTOS BY BERNARD KLEINA

Kleina snapped this striking shot at an open housing rally in his hometown of Chicago.

HISTORIC CIVIL RIGHTS MARCHES The exhibit, featuring the Open Housing Marches of 1965 and 1966, will be on display through Jan. 29, from 2-7pm, at 64 Donahue St., Store 140B, Gateway Shopping Center, Marin City. Feb. 2-14, the exhibit is at Novato Unified School District Office, 1015 Seventh St., Novato. Open 9am-5pm Mon.-Fri.; 1-5pm Sat. Opening reception is 5pm Feb. 1. For info, call 415/457-5025 or visit www.fairhousingmarin.com.

‘Cherry bombs and firecrackers were tossed… bottles and bricks flew through the air.’

by S am ant ha Camp os

‘It is the policy of the United States to provide, within constitutional limitations, for fair housing throughout the United States.’—declaration of policy, U.S. Fair Housing Act, 1968

H

e was late that Sunday morning. So when Bernard Kleina finally arrived for his rendezvous with civil rights demonstrators at a church in It’s a thin blue line between love and hate. Selma, Alabama, on July 31, 1966, the young Catholic priest found they’d already commenced their march. Kleina wedged his car in the only available space in the parking lot—between a pair of police cars—and filed in behind the procession heading toward nearby Marquette Park. The Chicago clergyman had come to observe and photograph a demonstration against housing discrimination. But when Kleina saw the thousands of angry people gathered in the streets in protest, he left the camera behind and joined the 350 peaceful marchers in support of open housing. It was a hostile environment—even for a seasoned demonstrator like Kleina. Despite police escort, Kleina says, “It turned out to be the most brutal march in which I have ever been involved.” As the Chicago Tribune reported the following day, “At least 25 persons were injured, most of them being hit with bottles, stones and broken glass thrown by white hecklers...cherry bombs and firecrackers were tossed...bottles and bricks flew through the air.” The Tribune counted 15 cars set on fire; two vehicles pushed into a lagoon; 30 smashed 14 PACIFIC SUN JANUARY 29 - FEBRUARY 4, 2010

windshields and at least a dozen slashed tires. The tardy Kleina definitely arrived ill-equipped for what was about to go down. “Before any march in Selma or Chicago, we would always meet in the church and try to acclimate ourselves to what we were going to face. I was late so I wasn’t ready,” Kleina recalls. “[During the demonstration] there was this young, white punk and he was poking me in the shoulder. I told him, ‘I wouldn’t do that if I were you.’ And the fellow behind me in the procession tapped me on the shoulder and said, ‘Remember why you’re here, brother.’ And then I shut up.” From that point on, Kleina and his fellow marchers took everything that was thrown at them. “And believe me, it was a lot,” he says, “whatever they could get their hands on.” That march was one of many in the Chicago Freedom Movement Civil Rights Campaign, led by Martin Luther King Jr., which lasted from mid-1965 to early 1967. By the summer of 1966, the movement focused largely on nonviolent action as a means to end racial and ethnic segregation in housing, eventually leading the way to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, commonly known as the Fair Housing Act, passed one week after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.

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Kleina’s photographs of that time are being time the results were clear: Prospective white presented in an exhibit titled “Historic Civil tenants received better treatment than their Rights Marches,” which has been on display African-American counterparts in a signifithis month (through Jan. 29) at the Gateway cant number of cases. In 2008, Fair Housing Shopping Center in Marin City and will run Marin conducted a test for race discriminafrom Feb. 2-14 at the Novato Unified School tion in rental housing in Marin County. The District Office. The exhibition, sponsored by audit was based on voice identification, and the Marin Task Force on Housing Discrimi- the assumptions that people make when nation and Fair Housing of Marin, features they hear somebody on the other end of the only known color photos of these historic the phone—what they sound like. In about marches. They were also some of the first se- a third of the paired tests, Peattie says, the rious photographs Kleina took. “Going down Caucasian voice was favored over the Africanto Selma changed my whole life,” says the pho- American voice. tographer; Kleina left the priesthood in 1968 But African-Americans aren’t the only—or and went on to become the director of a fair- even the most frequent—victims of discrimihousing center in a Chination in the county. cago suburb. According to Nancy “I’m still trying to Kenyon, Fair Housing of document the strugMarin’s executive direcgles of people involved tor, familial status, gender in civil rights or the and national origin also struggles of people play a part. For example, who’ve experienced a complaint was filed discrimination,” he recently by a Pakistani says. “The truth is that man who moved in with the kinds of things his Caucasian fiancee. that we see [in these Shortly thereafter, the photos] can happen landlord terminated anywhere—and have her rental agreement, happened anywhere, accusing the man of in different forms.” being a terrorist. [That And, yes, even in instance aside, most Marin, says Caroline “national origin” comPeattie, housing direcplaints in Marin involve tor for Fair Housing of discrimination against Marin. “I like to think Hispanics.] In another attitudes are more procase, a couple with five gressive [here] than children was told their in other parts of the ‘A right delayed, is a right denied’ family was too large country, [but] we don’t —Martin Luther King Jr. for a three-bedroom have a racially wellapartment. However, integrated county. And state guidelines allow I think much of that has to do with institu- for two people per bedroom plus one for the tionalized racism and the way people have apartment—therefore, a two-bedroom would access to home equity that was then passed allow five people; a three-bedroom would down through the generations.” allow seven. Over the past 10 years, Peattie says, the And then there was the case of a wheelchairnonprofit has run several race audits and each bound single woman who was not al- 16 >

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< 15 Houses of justice younger generations lowed to install a ramp in to not take things for a condo association. She granted. “I was 4 years filed a lawsuit and won. old when the Voting In fact, the National Rights passed in ’65,” Fair Housing Alliance— County Supervisor which includes Fair HousCharles McGlashan ing of Marin under its told the crowd at the umbrella—scored a vicexhibit’s Jan. 21 opening tory in its lawsuit against reception in Marin City. A.G. Spanos Co. (the fifth“It’s shocking that in my largest housing developer lifetime things like this in the country, run by the were going on, where sons of San Diego Charcertain people were exgers owner Alex Spanos) cluded out of just rank for not complying with prejudice and ignorance. the Fair Housing Act of A week after the assassination of Martin Luther There are sectors of soci1991, which mandates that King Jr., the U.S. Congress passed the Fair ety that are still excluded Housing Act. residential buildings be and discriminated accessible to the disabled. against, and Fair HousThat settlement—in the form of a $4.2 million ing of Marin [helps] to ensure that we don’t fund to renovate thousands of housing units slip and make mistakes and inadvertently, or to meet disability requirements—is especially subtly, perform acts of discrimination.” significant for Marin, where, of the 170 comAnd as history shows us, the effects of displaints Fair Housing of Marin received last crimination can be profoundly deleterious. year, about 62 percent were disability related. “President Obama believes that hope It’s an unsurprising statistic, considering the dies last,” Kleina noted at the exhibit’s county’s baby boomers are now in, or nearing, reception. “[Obama] said in his acceptance their senior citizenship. “An aging population speech that ‘while we breathe, we hope.’ means an increasingly disabled population,” And I really like that.” says Peattie. Kleina, however, said that in reality, hope And discrimination is discrimination, dies first. whether it’s age or race—at least as far as Fair “When discrimination steals someone’s Housing is concerned. Which is one of the opportunity to buy the home of their points of the Kleina exhibit. choice, when segregation prevents them “This exhibit is really important to say, from sending their children to quality look, this is something that played a very schools and living in good neighborhoods, significant part in this nation’s history. And when a family is tricked out of their Ameriit’s not over yet. We have a long way to go,” can dream by a predatory lender—those says Peattie. “We can pat ourselves on the families lose more than their home,” said back and say, yes, we live in a very progresKleina. “Those families lose hope and then sive county—that is true. But we do not life becomes a downward spiral of despair. live in an integrated county and I think that “A lost home,” he warned, “can mean a people should sit up and take notice of that lost life.” < and think about why that is.” Email Samantha at scampos@pacificsun.com. Because the images are in color—not the black-and-white so typical of the era—the Comment on this story in TownSquare, at marches of ’65-66 don’t seem like so long ›› pacificsun.com ago—which helps serve as a reminder for

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f Buddhism is, loosely, a faith founded and the values they live by to be expressed in on the idea of non-attachment, then their wedding ceremony.” a Zen wedding—the attaching of two Kavanagh describes the American Zen lives together—might seem like something wedding as a “lovely invention,” as couples in of an oxymoron. Asia do not usually get married by Buddhist But not to the monks or nuns. “In hundreds of couples Asia they’re purely in the Bay Area who civil affairs. They’re turn each year to likely to go to the the non-dogmatic temple after City folds of the Asian Hall for a blessing,” tradition’s principles he says. when joining their Kavanagh counlives together. sels couples about Evan Kavanagh, their spiritual a Buddhist minisvalues in advance ter “empowered” to uniquely tailor through a program each ceremony. at Spirit Rock Med“Even when itation Center in we’re in a relationSan Geronimo to ship with someperform Buddhist body very closely, rituals, including how often do weddings and meyou sit down and morials, does not say—what is your believe there is a concept of God, or conundrum. His karma or reincardefinition of “nonnation?” he asks. attachment”— “For many couples “being in the Zen unions can help your marriage find its proper balance. it’s the first time moment, each mothey’ve considered ment, and accepting things as they are”—he what or how to express these values to says, “is the foundation for a true and reward- each other and their community.” ing relationship.” Many couples blend their American traI agree. My husband and I chose a Bud- ditions with the rituals of Buddhism. Doug dhist wedding ceremony in a family back- Boggs and his wife Michelle brought a wide yard more than 10 years ago; it was presided mix of religious background to their Budover by the Honorable Patricia Leonetti, dhist ceremony. “I have a broad religious then abbot at Green Gulch Zen Center in background of practices from different Muir Beach. Though my husband practices Christian schools and varied philosophies Buddhism, I had done little more than read like that of Lutheran, Presbyterian, Baptist about it in college and keep a battered copy [and] Rumi, Zen and Tibetan Buddhism,” of Suzuki Roshi’s Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind says Boggs, who is also an ordained minison my bedside table for reading. Still, what ter and meditation practitioner. “Michelle’s I had read convinced me that it would be a background is Catholic.” peaceful and loving way to express my comThey chose to have their wedding in the mitment to my husband, since I have a more Shakespeare Garden at Golden Gate Park at piecemeal spirituality. the tail end of summer. “The flowers of the For many couples, being practitioners garden were in full bloom on a gloriously of the tradition is not necessary to hold a sunny and unseasonably hot, September Bay Buddhist wedding. Kavanagh marries many Area afternoon,” Boggs remembers fondly. people who are simply drawn to the prinJigme Rinpoche (Rinpoche means ‘precious ciples and rituals. one’ and is an honorific), the Tibetan monk “Buddhism has come from outside of the who maried them, was dressed in the tradiAmerican mainstream culture and probably tional garb of an orange wrap and numerous has fewer associations with our childhood ceremonial scarves. “He brought Buddhist traditions,” Kavanagh says. “People often want props, such as an urn, which he blessed, and their spiritual commitment [to each other] is to be placed in a high location in our 18 >

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to,â&#x20AC;? says Boggs. My husband and I heard similar praise. home to attract beauty and manifest love and Kavanagh feels that another reason people light. He also blessed a ceremonial stick decochoose a Buddhist ceremony is due to the rated with feathers and ribbons,â&#x20AC;? says Boggs. openness of the tradition. The couple wrote their After San Francisco own vows, and Boggs Mayor Gavin Newsomâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s included a poem â&#x20AC;&#x153;scrolled attempt to equal the onto Nepali sheets of pamarriage playing-ďŹ eld perâ&#x20AC;? that theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d brought for gays and lesbians, back from their travels. Kavanagh found himself â&#x20AC;&#x153;Jigme chanted marrying many couples throughout most of the in the LGBT communiceremony. The beauty ties. He was married to that he created was staghis own husband legally gering. It laid a bed of in San Francisco, and love for all to be blessed his license has not been with,â&#x20AC;? says Boggs. invalidated by the courts. Beautifully juxtaposed â&#x20AC;&#x153;The world of with the Tibetan chanting American religion is was a classical trio playing so complex. In convert Mozart. Buddhism, there is a My husband and I complete openness to also opted for a mix of the LGBT community. traditions. We spurned It could well be that [to] convention and met those of us [of any our guests at the door, sexuality] who grew up in to much astonishment. churches where there was Many female guests told a judgment, a Buddhist me it was bad luck to ceremony offers a great be standing there in my deal more tranquility.â&#x20AC;? wedding dress but I did In a Buddhist ceremonot feel that way at all; ny elements may include we were inviting them Pac Sun writer Jordan Rosenfeld and her lucky an altar set with a variety into our ceremony, and groom show off their Buddhist-nuptial scarves. of â&#x20AC;&#x153;propsâ&#x20AC;? to symbolour lives. My husband ize values or beliefs. and I walked down the Usually there is a short meditation or period grassy aisle togetherâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;my father did not of silence, and then the couple recites the â&#x20AC;&#x153;give me awayâ&#x20AC;?â&#x20AC;&#x201D;and we took vows that â&#x20AC;&#x153;refugesâ&#x20AC;? and â&#x20AC;&#x153;preceptsâ&#x20AC;?â&#x20AC;&#x201D;a statement of how we had written, as well as Buddhist vows the couple intends to live their lives spiritually. to respect, cherish, honor and love. We There may be a poem or song, often spoken wore ceremonial Buddhist scarves and set by family or friends, then an exchange of vows a statue of the Buddha alongside photoand rings. graphs of beloved deceased relatives on the â&#x20AC;&#x153;I love sitting with people in love who altar where we were married. are optimistic about their future; itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s such a â&#x20AC;&#x153;We have been told, and some people still remind us to this day, that ours was one of the joy,â&#x20AC;? says Kavanagh. < Send Jordan your positive energy at jordansmuse@gmail.com. most beautiful weddings they had ever been

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Pacific Sun 01.29.2010 - Section 1