Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Gallo Buys Asti Winery

Posted By on Tue, Jul 21, 2015 at 10:21 AM


E & J Gallo Winery (Gallo), the world's largest family-owned winery, already claims ownership of 12 wineries throughout the wine country regions of California. Yesterday, they announced that they were expanding in the northern Alexander Valley region of Sonoma County with the purchase the historic Asti Winery.

Asti Winery dates back to 1881, founded by Italian immigrant Andrea Sbarboro. The current owner, Treasury Wine Estates, is actually based in Australia, and is reportedly struggling in the American wine market. Gallo, on the other hand, is robustly moving into the area, recently buying J Vineyards and Winery in Healdsburg as well.

The Asti Winery property, aside from being one of the oldest, is also one of Sonoma County's largest wineries, exceeding more than 500 acres and capable of crushing 35,000 tons of grapes. Gallo's purchase also includes the Souverain brand, made at Asti. The deal is expected to close at the end of the month, terms were not released.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Powerful New Documentary to Open in Sebastopol

Posted By on Wed, Jul 15, 2015 at 9:53 AM

Richard Alpert and Timothy Leary
  • Richard Alpert and Timothy Leary

In the 1960s, two Harvard professors would meet and begin an exchange of life-altering ideas, and perception-altering drugs, in a journey that bent the edges of reality and human consciousness. They were Timothy Leary, the counterculture icon who publicly advocated for LSD, and Richard Alpert, the spiritual teacher later known as Ram Dass.

The new documentary film "Dying to Know" chronicles the long and heartfelt friendship between these two revolutionary thinkers that helped shape a generation. Director and producer Gay Dillingham has been fascinated by the dynamic between Leary and Ram Dass ever since she was allowed to capture on film their last encounter in 1995, after Leary publicly announced he was dying from prostate cancer. Finally completing the film last year, she screens "Dying to Know" in person on Friday, July 15, at the Rialto Cinemas in Sebastopol.

The film acts as a portal into the close-knit relationship between Leary and Ram Dass. In an interview, Dillingham shares their story and its universal themes of life, death, and everything in between.

"I was born in 1965, so I didn't live through the Harvard years," says Dillingham. " But I certainly rode the wave of that influence." In the '60s, Leary's experiments with psychoactive drugs like LSD signaled what the director calls a "breaking open of society" that was propelled further by Leary's friendship with the brilliant, grounded Alpert. "They really formed a team," says Dillingham. "The power of their friendship and collegial partnership was truly what started the way this particular modern era uses medicine to expand consciousness."

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

2015 Bohemian Best Of Party!

A fun night...in pictures

Posted on Wed, Mar 25, 2015 at 11:55 AM

We had a blast at our Best Of party at Santa Rosa's Flamingo Resort & Spa. Congratulations to all our winners. You make he North Bay the great place that it is. See you next year.

2015 Bohemian Best Of Party
2015 Bohemian Best Of Party 2015 Bohemian Best Of Party 2015 Bohemian Best Of Party 2015 Bohemian Best Of Party 2015 Bohemian Best Of Party 2015 Bohemian Best Of Party 2015 Bohemian Best Of Party 2015 Bohemian Best Of Party

2015 Bohemian Best Of Party

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Friday, February 27, 2015

Farallones Fight over USCG

Posted By on Fri, Feb 27, 2015 at 4:46 PM

Farallones! - WIKIPEDIA
  • Farallones!

Hey, got a late-in-the-day blast signed by a bunch Northern CA lawmakers, pushing the White House to get the Coast Guard to drop a request for what the Reps (Huffman and Thompson included). are calling a late-game request for an exemption from a new National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration rule, which would vastly expand the boundaries of the Gulf o' Farallones and Cordell Bank sanctuaries of a marine variety . According to NOAA, the Gulf of would add 2,000 square miles into its benthic grasp, from 1,282 to @ 3,295 square miles. Cordell Bank would almost double in size.This is what you call and interagency dispute between NOAA and the Coast Guard, and the White House Office of Management and Budget is the Reconciler in Chief on this matter. 

The meat of the letter:

We are increasingly concerned that the implementation of the final rule to accomplish crucial ocean protections has been delayed due to an exemption request from the United States Coast Guard (USCG). While we recognize and very much appreciate the unique and vital role the USCG plays in protecting the health of our marine sanctuaries, we do not agree that this requires a specific exemption to be added to the final rule at the eleventh hour. The completion of the boundary expansion will benefit small rural communities up and down the coast that depend on a healthy ocean and income generated from tourism. We urge you to allow the final rule for the expansion to move forward in a timely manner.

Went and checked out the Federal Register for what it had to say about the proposed new rule and exemptions: Here's a couple:

Exemption for Department of Defense Activities

NOAA proposes to extend to the [Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary] expansion area an existing exemption for Department of Defense (DOD) activities necessary for national defense, provided suchactivities are conducted on or prior to the effective date of GFNMS designation or GFNMS expansion. DOD activities necessary for national defense initiated after the effective date of designation or expansion could be exempted after consultation with the Sanctuary Superintendent, with authority delegated from the ONMS Director. DOD activities not necessary for national defense, such as routine exercises and vessel operations, would be subject to all prohibitions that apply to GFNMS.

Exemption for Emergencies

NOAA proposes to extend to the proposed expansion area for GFNMS a provision that would exempt from sanctuary regulations for activities necessary to respond to an emergency threatening life, property, or the environment.

The push from congress comes two days after the latest NOAA advisory council meeting on the Farallones, held in Pt. Reyes Station. Next one's in May. 

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Friday, February 20, 2015

Cosby Canceled at Wells Fargo Center

Posted By on Fri, Feb 20, 2015 at 11:57 AM

Last week I wrote about the scheduled appearance in Santa Rosa by alleged serial starlet-drugger and creepy toe-sucker Bill Cosby. The story wondered why on earth the show must go on in Santa Rosa, when it's been cancelled at various venues, and in light of the fact that there's like 31 women who claim he's a creep. I wondered why Wells Fargo would continue with naming-rights for the center, given what we believed was a colossal case of poor judgement on the center's part.

Well, as of today, the show is "indefinitely postponed.

This just in from the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts, a press release in our inbox this morning, from us to you. Indefinitely postponed is a nice way of saying the thing's been canceled. Good riddance. 

"SANTA ROSA, CA (February 20, 2015) – Promoter John Low announced today that the Bill Cosby performance, scheduled for Saturday, June 6, 2015 at Wells Fargo Center for the Arts, has been indefinitely postponed. The postponement is by mutual agreement between Mr. Low and Mr. Cosby.

“We regret any inconvenience created for patrons who have already purchased tickets,” said Kyle Clausen, Director of Marketing and Patron Services for Wells Fargo Center for the Arts.

Ticket holders will automatically be issued a refund for their ticket purchases. Patrons who purchased tickets with a credit card will receive a refund to that card within five to seven business days. Patrons who purchased tickets by cash or check will be mailed a refund check within 14 business days. Questions about this refund process can be directed to the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts ticket office at 707.546.3600, which is open daily from 12 noon – 6 p.m."

….This must have been what Clausen meant when he said there was a "resolution" in the works as I was reporting this story.  
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Friday, January 30, 2015

Recommended for You, Sonoma Lawman

Posted By on Fri, Jan 30, 2015 at 4:57 PM


A task force established by the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors has released its draft recommendations online Thursday. 

The Sonoma County Community and Local Law Enforcement Task Force was created in the aftermath of the 2013 death of Andy Lopez, who was shot and killed by a Sonoma County Sheriff’s Deputy. Lopez was carrying an Airsoft rifle that mimicked an AK-47 when he was shot.

The recommendations include suggested reforms and serves as a multi-point answer to several questions posed to it by the board of supervisors.

Of special note in the draft recommendations is the proposed creation of an Office of Independent Auditor to review police-relating shootings and other use-of-force issues in policing and in the county detention centers.

This is the main recommendation, says task force chairman Eric Koenigshofer in an interview. The draft recommendation will be unveiled at the task force’s next meeting, Feb. 5

Koenigsburg was asked in advance of its release whether the board was considering a so-called “civilian review board” to deal with a perceived lack of accountability in the county when there are police-related shootings and injuries. Complicated question, that.

“Yes, it’s a civilian review board,” he answered. “No, it’s not a civilian review board.” He said it would take an hour to get an answer that accurately reflected the recommendation. “Define ‘review board,’ said Koenigshofer.

In effect, the proposed Office of Independent Auditor would be a new office within the county apparatus, but independent of the sheriff’s office. The “citizen review board” part of the deal would be under its umbrella, the OIA Citizen’s Advisory Committee.

Here’s what that citizen’s committee would do, according to the draft recommendations:

“The OIA Citizens Advisory Committee will conduct regular, public meetings in which the Auditor will provide information to the Committee related to trends in law enforcement including complaint tracking, results of situational audits, discussions and conversation with law enforcement related to policies and protocols and efforts to engage and outreach to the public with the aim of supporting the positive relationship between the community and law enforcement. The Committee will also reserve time on each agenda to hear from the public related to their questions and concerns related to law enforcement activity.

“The OIA Citizens Advisory Committee is intended to assist and complement the Independent Auditor as liaison between the community and law enforcement with the ultimate aim of creating a sense of security, mutual respect and trust between all parties.”

Koenigshofer says one of the big challenges in creating recommendations for the county was that expectations in the police-reform and activist community were very high—and that there remains a lot of anger about the Lopez killing, and its aftermath. With the anger has come suspicion that the board wasn’t going to actually do anything. Not so, says Koenigshofer, and it’s all enshrined now in their draft recommendations. “We tried to take the assignment that the board presented us,” he says, “and present things that the board could implement.”

But there was always a strain, since the task force was set up because of a single, tragic incident—but charged with offering sweeping reforms to policing and accountability here. He described the process as, "an effort to understand the legal landscape that exsits – not because we didn’t want to tell people what they can’t do – but to understand what they can do."

Activists had, for instance, pushed the task force to demand that Officer Erick Gelhaus not be allowed back on beat after he was cleared of wrongdoing by Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch. That wasn’t part of their purview, but the task force still had to address the fallout from Ravitch’s decision.

“A lot of what has come out in these meetings is that there was dissatisfaction with [Ravitch’s] decision to not charge the deputy with a crime. And, because there is disagreement over the result, there has been a suggestion by some folks that something could be created to override the DA’s decision,” says Koenigshofer.

“You are exactly right that the Lopez incident created expectations that the task force could never implement,” he adds.

The problem facing the task force is that both the Sonoma County supervisors and the D.A. have powers granted to them enshrined through state law, not to mention the state and federal constitution.

“It’s a fool’s paradise to think that a local government can come up with its own arrangement with the expectation of overriding state or federal law,” says Koenigshofer. He recalls an axiom from the Bill Clinton era: “Every complex question has a simple answer that’s wrong.”

“What we are proposing is a very significant change in the status quo, but that doesn’t go as far as some people would like it to,” he adds.

The task force recommendations are up on the county website, and address each of the four questions and conundrums posed to it by county officials.

The big-ticket item is the aforementioned creation of an Office of Independent Auditor. The OIA would “have authority to audit investigations of employees of the Sheriff’s Office,” and would include detention workers at the county lockups. The task force recommended that these auditing powers be extended to the county Probation Department, and would also create a special unit devoted to incidents involving youth.

It’s a big proposed change for how internal investigations are received and conducted, as the task force notes in is recommendations:

“The introduction of an Office of Independent Auditor (OIA) will result in the need to develop a new coordinated process of complaint receipt and review involving both the Sheriff’s Office (SO) and the OIA. As previously noted, the OIA will not become a part of the Sheriff’s Office investigation process nor will the OIA be subordinate to the SO. The OIA will be housed in a separate facility with its own budget. The two offices will need to cooperate and coordinate in order for the OIA to successfully perform its duties.”

The task force also recommended that the Officer of the Coroner and the Sheriff's Office be split, to avoid creating a conflict of interest when there’s an officer-involved fatality.

From the draft recommendation:

“Since the Office of Sheriff and the Office of Coroner are held by the same person a conflict exists. The conflict is a fact which is the result of the organizational structure and is not a criticism of the performance of the current office holder or his staff. While there are numerous fine points which may be made within a discussion about the degree of conflict or whether a conflict has ever actually occurred, the fact remains that there is a conflict. The only way to eliminate the conflict is to separate the Office of Coroner from the Office of Sheriff.

It is recommended that the two offices be separated by obtaining voter approval in 2016 to take effect in 2019. As part of the measure presented to voters in 2016, include a provision which converts the coroner function to a position filled by Board of Supervisors appointment.”

The last recommendation has to do with the Sonoma County Grand Jury and its shortcomings when it comes to investigating law-enforcement related fatalities or injuries. The grand jury told the task for that it faced numerous challenges, inadequate funding for investigative work among them. The task force reiterated what it’s said before, without making a new recommendation about the role of the grand jury going forward.

“In light of our own investigation, and the findings of the 2013-2104 Sonoma County Grand Jury, we do not recommend that the Grand Jury be used as the sole mechanism for Law Enforcement Accountability.”

For citizens who were outraged by the Lopez shooting, and feel like they’ve been shut out of the process—or that their voices have not been heard: Fear not.

“This is our interim report to the full task force,” says Koenigshofer. “There will be a great big discussion at the board level, with hearings and meetings and etc. This is the beginning part of the public discussion.”

I reached out to Sonoma County Supervisor Efren Carrillo earlier this week for a comment on the task force’s work—and on the conditions under which it was empaneled. Here’s what he said:

“While the task force was created in response to a single incident, from the beginning the board intended for the scope to encompass a broad look at a broad scope of issues. The recommendations are being presented in draft form, and are pending additional input from the public, cities, and community partners. Therefore, it would be premature to comment on any particular item. I recognize that there are complex legal issues and constraints that the task force has had to consider when forming their recommendations, and which they are still working through.

I am supportive of the task force and their process, and eager to receive their final report and presentation of recommendations in May. From the beginning, the board has supported the independence of the task force, and the importance of having input from a group that reflects our community. The Board takes the relationship between law enforcement and the community very seriously, and we are looking forward to working with the community, Task Force members, law enforcement, and community organizations to make Sonoma County a better place to live and work.”

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Friday, January 23, 2015

An Interview with Grindhouse Director William Lustig

Posted By on Fri, Jan 23, 2015 at 10:13 AM


Director and producer William Lustig broke out on the horror film scene in 1980 with his gritty and gory debut feature, Maniac. Hailed at the Cannes film fest, and reviled by American film critics, Lustig’s stylized and violent film remains a landmark in the genre for its unflinching performance by actor Joe Spinell (The Godfather, Taxi Driver), special effects by Tom Savini (Dawn of the Dead) and its unique look inside the mind of a killer. On Jan. 29, Lustig appears in Santa Rosa to screen all-new digital prints of Maniac and his directorial follow up, Vigilante.

Speaking by phone from his home in Hollywood, Lustig talks to the Bohemian's Charlie Swanson and Sonoma County-based blogger and horror film aficionado Eric Ritz about Maniac and how his passion for the grindhouse translated into a lifetime of filmmaking and film preservation.

Charlie Swanson: Talk to me about how you went from a fan of grindhouse movies to working in the industry.

William Lustig: Well, I started working in the industry when I was in my teens, so there wasn’t really a long transition between fandom and actually working on movies. I’d been a horror fan for as long back as I can remember, and I sort of started working in the business at the time when the ‘70s grindhouse movies were being released.

CS: How did you meet and befriend Joe Spinell?

WL: I met Joe Spinell when I was working as a production assistant on a movie called The Seven-Ups, and Joe was playing one of the thugs, and he was one of the most approachable actors on the set. We started talking about horror films, and like any horror film fan will know, when you meet a fellow horror film fan you immediately bond. So for many years, my goal was to be a filmmaker, and Joe and I stayed in contact.

We wanted to work together, and had tried to raise money from investors and were always frustrated, so we pulled our money together-myself, Spinell and Andrew Garroni- a grand total of $48,000¬–and we went out and shot Maniac.

CS: What first drew you to the story of Maniac?

WL: Well, first thing was I always believed in Joe and his talent. Having a horror film where he’s the focus of the movie is exciting to me. And Joe was fascinated by serial killers.

You see the ‘70s are what I call “the golden age of the serial killer.” Now a days serial killers are kind of boring, you see them on ‘Investigative Discovery,’ and it turns out to be the next door neighbor, or the creep down the street, but back in the ‘70s we had Ted Bundy, we had David Berkowitz, you know all these people that were really colorful serial killers. They were flashy for their day, so we had the idea that the central character would be a compilation of these killers.

  • Joe Spinell in 'Maniac'

Eric Ritz: I have a question regarding Spinell. At this point he was–not a star–but he was a recognizable face…

WL: Oh definitely, he was making serious coin as a character actor. In fact, what really showed me Joe’s commitment; obviously we weren’t taking salaries out of this movie, but Joe turned down $10,000 a week doing a Spielberg-produced movie, directed by Robert Zemeckis, called Used Cars. And it was because he was committed to Maniac.

ER: Was there any concern, because Maniac is a pretty harrowing movie, was there any worries that this would ruin anything he had going?

WL: You mean was he concerned for his image? The answer is no, and back then, you know Maniac might be a little extreme, but it wasn’t that much more extreme than Friedkin’s Cruising. People were making movies that were kind of out there. It was not a conservative period as far as filmmakers were concerned. In the public there was the rise in conservatism, but not in the industry.

ER: So Spinell just wanted to double down and be in Cruising and Maniac.

WL: He was! Literally, his check from Cruising went to finance his portion of Maniac. He signed it over, it right into our bank account.

CS: When you were shooting Maniac, did you have any idea it would go to Cannes and be this lasting, controversial film?

WL: Joe Spinell had an expression while we were making the movie. Now, Joe was very respectful of me as the director, he would also smoke pot and have some vodka, but he never was difficult or out of control. He was always there and present. And what he used to say to me in my darkest days making the film, because when you’re making a movie for $48,000 there are plenty of dark days, he would say, ‘Bill, we’re making a happening. You don’t know it, but this movie is going to be an event.’ I would be going ‘Yea Joe that’s great. Let’s just play 42nd St and Texas drive-ins and I’ll be happy.’ Sure enough, he was right. He really saw it, he saw that this movie would become, I have to say, a classic.

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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Rohnert Park: The Walmart Friendly City

Posted By on Thu, Jan 15, 2015 at 1:19 PM

Walmart has apparently taken its worker's rights cues from some of the more creative expressions of American capitalism
  • Walmart has apparently taken its worker's rights cues from some of the more creative expressions of American capitalism

It did not go well for protestors and others intent on stopping a proposed Walmart expansion in Rohnert Park. A Tuesday night meeting at Rohnert Park City Hall found the town’s cowed councilmembers voting 4-1 in favor of letting the supercenter plan go forward, according to an exhaustive report in the mid-week Press Democrat.

The vote ended, presumably, a five-year battle fought by opponents against the megalithic market, which has been trying to expand an already extant Walmart in town.

In the meantime, it went ahead and built another Walmart in Rohnert Park, a so-called “neighborhood market.”

Anti-Walmart agitator Rick Luttman sent an email overnight Wednesday, after the vote, that prompted one of those chuckling, “Tell us what you really think, Rick” moments.

Luttman described the development as “outrageous and disgraceful. No other city in Sonoma County would have done something like this. They’re all a bunch of wimps.”

“The worst part,” he adds, “is they clearly don’t believe in democracy. The opinions expressed by citizens last night was overwhelmingly opposed to Walmart.”

I reached out to my old friend and colleague Liza Featherstone, a journalist, professor and the author of Selling Women Short: The Landmark Battle for Workers’ Rights at Walmart, for some scope-out thoughts on how Walmart might have managed to convince Rohnert Park officials to green-light the proposed expansion—despite a broad base of opposition to the proposal, which extended to numerous justice and workers’ rights groups around the area.

The corporation has gotten savvy over the years, Featherstone notes, given the relentless torrent of criticism directed at them for low wages, poor job security, and ongoing patterns of naked gender discrimination.

“The company has gotten really good at telling a different story,” she says. “They’ve had so much practice over the years.”

And indeed, the Tuesday vote was met with protestors banging drums, and with, as the P-D reported, Walmart supporters wearing Walmart buttons and carrying signs that said how wonderful the company was. Yes, shopping at Walmart is definitely cheaper than blowing a hole in your paycheck at Whole Foods.

But despite the self-generated hype to the contrary, long-documented workers’ rights problems with Walmart haven’t been addressed by the company in any substantive way, says Featherstone. It has plowed forth with public relations campaigns, many featuring smiling brown workers cheerfully sporting the signature blue Walmart apron, gushing about the friendly corporate culture and blah blah blah.

And why should Walmart give a hoot about its wage-slavery: people still apply to work there, in droves, despite well-documented policies that aren’t exactly in the best interests of workers. The company, as has been noted elsewhere, provides new employees with applications for food stamps, since it knows workers will be left short at the end of the week.

Ain’t it ironic.

“It’s not just about the low hourly wages,” says Featherstone, “but the difficulty in just getting enough hours, and reliably just being on the schedule, which is another huge challenge for someone trying to make ends meet. And, on top of that, the health insurance is terrible, and it’s hard to get it because it’s so hard to get the necessary hours to qualify for it.”

The Press Democrat report was larded with gibberish from the Rohnert Park officials, who essentially argued that it’s not their business, necessarily, to decide which businesses are good for the city and which aren’t. Let them all come, and the market will decide.

As Featherstone notes, one of the tricks to a successful Walmart bulldoze-the-opponents campaign is to promise jobs in an area that’s otherwise short on them. But I checked, and the jobless rate in Sonoma County has plummeted over the past two years, from almost 7 percent in 2013 to below 5 percent as of late 2014.

But the issue isn’t necessarily the quantity of available jobs, but the quality.

Featherstone notes that “any conservative, or just an observant person, would argue that people apply for these jobs. If there were better jobs in the community, obviously people wouldn’t be applying at Walmart, and that’s one thing that communities have to consider. Why would they want these low-paying jobs? The community probably needs to be providing other ways that people can make a living. If there is support, it’s probably because there are significant numbers of people who are not finding jobs. If you find that there are people in the community who don’t really care or actually want it to be there, it might be because the community needs to figure out better ways for economic opportunity.”

Featherstone goes on to note that longstanding gender discrimination concerns at Walmart haven’t gone anywhere. “There are these additional insults to employees’ dignity, in the form of sex discrimination. The majority of workers are women, and they are paid less and promoted less often. That issue has never been resolved despite a class action suit, from the first decade of this century.”

In other words, the terrorists have won. Oh no you didn’t!

The P-D report was filled with handwringing jeremiads from town leaders extolling the virtue of the Blessed and Irreproachable Free Market. It wasn’t their job to decide whether another Walmart in the town would drive out other businesses, such as Food Maxx, that provide the same service but without the odious corporate profile and well-documented history of screwing its workers at any and every turn. Vive Le Costco!

At least the proponents of expansion kept it civil. Give them that. One thoughtful Walmart supporter waxed downright philosophical in the Press Democrat when he considered the substance of opponents’ arguments against the expansion. He called them a bunch of “sniveling, crying, mental midgets.”

That person was not Ted Nugent, but it might as well have been. 
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Friday, January 2, 2015

How Gov. Brown can honor late NY Gov. Mario Cuomo

Posted By on Fri, Jan 2, 2015 at 5:47 PM

Jerry Brown in 1992

I worked at the Albany, New York alternative weekly, fresh out of college in the late eighties, when Mario Cuomo was governor and capital punishment was the political cage-match of the era (endless budget standoffs were second on the card). Cuomo, who died on New Year’s Day, prevailed in a 12-year battle with state Republicans over the death penalty. 

Cuomo is beloved for this, and rightly so. .

And yet there was a Cuomo mantra around the Metroland office back then. It came in the form of a hard fact, and it confronted my idealism and whatever rosy-eyed view of liberalism I’d come to hold at that point, which was minimal at best. I was trending anarcho-hothead, even then. But the fact is:

Mario Cuomo built more prison cells than any other governor in state history.

He’s said it himself, and the New York Times noted it in their obituary on the three-term governor this week.

Cuomo was loved; he kept the hangman at the door, with soaring rhetoric and logic. 

He also helped to condemn, especially, a generation of young black men—along the way to the fortification of our growing prison-industrial complex.

Yet the biggest buzz in Albany those days was always about whether Cuomo would run for president. The signs were everywhere you looked or wanted to: The big 1984 Democratic National Convention speech, mystery trips to Japan, ruminations on foreign affairs, Lofty Thoughts on America and Spirituality, money at the door with the donor smiles.

Cuomo never ran, the Democrats got their Dukakis kicked in 1988, and there then emerged the triangulation Democrats with a pro-death penalty Clinton as beaming avatar of the new way.

Those were the days, Arsenio. I always thought, from afar and in the cold Albany night, a young man with dreams, and, perhaps, visions—that Jerry Brown was the far preferable West Coast bookend to our lord and liberal Cuomo of the East. Brown was the Zen Hipster governor hanging out with Jerry Garcia, where the Catholic Cuomo would just go on and on about St. Francis of Assisi. I've since come to appreciate my saints and all, but back then... 

When he ran in 1992, it seemed Brown was last man Left to carry the soaring Cuomo trumpet on capital punishment—but now played through a didgeridoo less and less pleasing to queasy-on-crime voters. Then Bill Clinton with that infernally callow saxophone of his, and it was all over. Pass the pentobarbital, mama, I'm comin' home. 


As governor this time around, Brown's solution to his major prison problem—too many prisoners—has been to send the non-violent overflow downstream to the county lockups. And he's had the flexibility, unlike Mario Cuomo in his day, to undo some of the harsh sentencing laws that drive the numbers and feed the prison-industrial beast.  

There’s a moratorium on the death penalty in California, and has been since 2006, owing to a very cruel and unusual problem with the lethal concoction used in most modern executions around the country. Yet despite his historical opposition, at last glance Gov. Brown was still working to get the state’s execution protocols into "constitutional" compliance. C'mon, man.

Mario Cuomo defied public support for capital punishment and won three elections.

New York finally got its death penalty after George Pataki beat Cuomo in 1994 and pushed a bill through the legislature. It was on the books for about a decade, nobody ever got executed, and here’s some details about how it went down, from the Death Penalty Information Center.

“In 2004, that statute was declared unconstitutional by the New York Court of Appeals, and in 2007 the last remaining death sentence was reduced to life, leaving New York with a vacant death row and no viable death penalty laws. In 2008 Governor David Paterson issued an executive order requiring the removal of all execution equipment from state facilities.”

Gov. Brown could start with the executive order if he wants to honor the old commitments and kinships. 

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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Did North Korea Attack the Rialto Cinema's Website?

Posted By on Tue, Dec 23, 2014 at 2:39 PM


Update: The Rialto will be showing The Interview at 9:40pm starting Christmas.

No, they didn't but such are the times we live in.

I just read that a few theaters are going to screen "The Interview," pudgy faced North Korean dictators be damned. I was pleased to see that Berkeley's Elmwood Theater is one of the brave theaters to show the movie. The movie house is the sister of Sebastopol's Rialto Cinema. I wondered if they would show it in Sebastopol too but when I went to their website it was down. And when I checked the Elmwood site it was down too. Did North Korean hackers do it?

No, said Melissa Hatheway, the Rialto's director of marketing and community relations. Just a buggy server or something. Or maybe the the rush to buy tickets crashed the site.

Hatheway said it was easy to slot the movie in Berkeley because they had a one-off movie they could bump but no such luck in Sebastopol. The movie list was set and couldn't be rejiggered, she said.

Both sites are back online and everything seems cool for now. But I for one will remain vigilant against any moves from Pyongyang.

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