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Comment Archives: stories: News & Features

Re: “Legalization Realization

The issue of legal marjuana has very little to do with weed itself. More of a government issue of how to tax it. Many years ago tobacco companies designed packs for joints. How to get billions of dollars from citizens legally growing pot. Another case of the "Almighty Dollar" over common sense.

Posted by Rick Fernwood on 09/24/2015 at 10:00 AM

Re: “Back Door Men

Just another example of "rogue police". Unexcuse-able behavior for the protectors of the Friendly City. If I am not mistaken, this isn't the first time. What if Barney Fife's gun went off and killed one of their kids? Resisting arrest???

9 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by Rick Fernwood on 09/24/2015 at 9:53 AM

Re: “Back Door Men

This is outrageous behaviour from a local police dept supposedly pledged to "serve and protect" their community. "Surveil and harass" is more like it.
With so many in every community being incarcerated for non violent crimes and first time offenses, why have the police increase the sense of injustice with these tactics? Good grief, 3 officers to conduct a parole search when no crime was suspected, no complaint made?
That's not only a waste of tax payers money, but very poor public relations.

14 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by leslie 2 on 09/23/2015 at 11:48 PM

Re: “Back Door Men

Crackpots after easy money.

2 likes, 20 dislikes
Posted by Bee Ben on 09/23/2015 at 8:07 PM

Re: “Going Tipless

This article has inspired me to return to Peter Lowell's for another meal. I've experienced both good and bad from the restaurant (food is nearly always 4-5 stars imo), but service has been tricky at times. Glad to hear they are taking leadership on income inequality in our community!

2 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Denny Rosatti on 09/22/2015 at 11:53 AM

Re: “Going Tipless

BTW, Lowell Sheldon is just ahead of the game, one day soon, tipping will go away in California....mostly because of a high minimum wage.....I've been in the restaurnat business 35 years, I know. I've been an owner the last 16....Tipping is going away....

3 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Rocco Biale on 09/21/2015 at 1:14 PM

Re: “Going Tipless

To justsaying....if TIP is To Insure Promptness, why do we do it at the end of the meal. If we're " insuring" something, shouldn't we do it before?

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by Rocco Biale on 09/21/2015 at 1:12 PM

Re: “Going Tipless

Just a couple points here, from a New Yorker who's relocating to Sebastopol:

1) Peter Lowell's is hands down my favorite restaurant in Sonoma -- it's one of my favorite restaurants anywhere! PL's embodies everything a local place should be; it's creative, exuberant, relaxed, true to its principles, and above all DELICIOUS. I have read gripes on SM about service, but in two dozen visits over the last 7 years I have never had anything but great service there. So I think that is truly a bad rap.

2) Maybe it's the years I've spent overseas where "service-compris" is standard, but to me an automatic service charge just makes sense. Tipping is an archaic practice that neither really communicates a larger message to management nor fairly compensates the supply chain that leads to that hot plate of deliciousness just placed before you. And it makes both waiters and patrons uncomfortable, by setting them up essentially as counterparties in a transaction, rather than people enjoying the miracle of a great restaurant. Let's face it, this model is outworn. There are plenty better ways for waiters to show they care and patrons to show they're happy than by this financial reward/punishment system.

3) Restaurant work -- at every level -- is HARD WORK. Competition is fierce for the best employees. Plus, shouldn't the people who bring you such goodness be fairly paid for that task?

Finally, Lowell, as everybody knows, is a passionate, committed, incredibly brilliant chef who is an asset to our community. I don't even want to contemplate Sebastopol without PL. We need to be supporting the local businesspeople that are bringing their hard work and passion every day.

4 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Marc Farre on 09/21/2015 at 11:45 AM

Re: “Going Tipless

Was just recently at the restaurant, my first time. I was a little underwhelmed. I did read about the 20% policy and it did not strike a positive chord for me. I still believe that a TIP is To Insure Promptness. WE did not really experience that.

As for the comments from DonDonSurvelo, do not worry about Lowell's. I noticed that they are already collecting the 9% tax on the "Service Charge". Hmmmm Not only are we required to pay a standard fee in lieu of the traditional tip, we are now taxed on it, whereas before tips were not a taxable commodity for the client. (Yes the servers and any kitchen staff that were receiving a portion are required to report it as income)

The result is a 25% (in my case) surcharge to the advertised prices. Not sure how that jives with the laws regarding advertising or labelling of prices. I would guarantee that even with the good intentions of paying the staff a living wage ($16 -$28 an hour given the hours and expense of living in the bay area is not a living wage) that none of us would buy gasoline (or groceries) that were labelled at $3.00 per gallon and after we filled up were billed $3.75

2 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by Just Saying on 09/19/2015 at 7:29 AM

Re: “Going Tipless

As the owner of Peter Lowell's Restaurant I am always interested to read comments on the changes we are making.

1st off I would like to acknowledge that we are not perfect. We have not always performed at as high a level as we would have liked, and are still improving today. Today, however, our service is far more consistent than any time in the past. We believe that we have the potential to provide excellent service to each and every customer that walks through the door. I humbly ask any former or current customer that has had an unpleasant experience to email me directly. I would like to invite you in for a meal on the house. I have no doubt that "keeping it real" is speaking the truth. Again, I humbly ask for a another chance. Every staff member on our current team has the utmost respect for the art of serving and comes to work each and every day hoping to curate excellent experiences for all our guests. email me at and I will set you up!

As to the taxation... "dondonsurvelo" is correct. Much like every other business in the country, we will now be paying taxes on every dollar our employees take home as pay. No one likes paying taxes! That's the basic truth. We will however survive and prosper despite the extra tax burden.

Lowell Sheldon

15 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by lpsheld on 09/18/2015 at 11:34 AM

Re: “Going Tipless

Good tip or bad tip, the owners and management should be more connected to the client in the seat and know whether service and food are good or not. A good server will let management know if there is a problem at the table even if they are the cause of the problem.

One thing not mentioned in this article is the increased taxation the owners will pay. Right now the owners are required to report a minimum of 8% of a server's sales as income. Now with no tipping the employer will have to report 100% of the income of the server and will have to match the Federal, State, SS and Medicare taxes. Higher incomes mean more taxes for the employer. It won't put them out of business but it will cut into the bottom line and it is not something you can put off paying.

3 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by dondonsurvelo on 09/17/2015 at 8:29 PM

Re: “Going Tipless

I've had some of the worst service ever at Peter Lowells. Now they can still make an excellent wage for ignoring you.

17 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by Keeping it real on 09/17/2015 at 10:56 AM

Re: “Going Tipless

Pullman Kitchen in SR tried it at 17% and then stopped it because.....

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by Connieinca on 09/16/2015 at 3:11 PM

Re: “Coho vs. Pinot

The wine industry could clear up much of the water controversy by telling us how much water they use, groundwater and surface water. Claims that the industry is sustainable are made without supporting data or a clear definition of sustainable water use. The wine industry is a business run by the numbers. If they are using so little water, where are the hard numbers about acre feet pumped from the ground or the river? Each vineyard knows how long their pumps run, their capacity, how many emitters they have on their drip lines and how much water goes on the vines. That they are so reluctant to provide this information certainly gives the impression that the truth about where our water goes is being hidden from us. Concealing this information keeps a lid on a political uproar and keeps the value of vineyards high for potential investors who do not realize the critical water situation in Sonoma County.

6 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by jwc on 09/12/2015 at 5:20 PM

Re: “Coho vs. Pinot

Thank you for this excellent and informative article. While really painful to learn how seriously our rivers, environment, wildlife and lives are being depleted and destroyed, I am so appreciative for this in-depth coverage. This conversation is long overdue and I am hopeful that this is the beginning of a movement to stop this madness, hold our politicians accountable and bring regulation into an industry that is out of control. Thank you to Will Parrish, Neighbors to Preserve Rural Sonoma County, Wine Water Watch, Shepherd Bliss and everyone else who is working so tirelessly to educate, advocate and fight for authentically sustainable standards, practices, procedures and regulations for living, working and growing grapes in Sonoma County.

6 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Roberta Teller on 09/12/2015 at 11:33 AM

Re: “Coho vs. Pinot


It's true that your statement was in response to my question concerning your views on the Water Board's emergency order in the Russian River tributaries, but you were positing a general view on the effectiveness of regulations. You repeat and defend that view here. So, I'm not sure what you mean when you say I “misquoted” you.

You also say I'm “throwing bombs” at wine-grape growers by writing this article. That's an interesting analogy, and I'm afraid reflects a viewpoint that sees criticism as a violent threat.

The main point of my article is to examine the history and context behind the outrage against the wine industry that surfaced at the State Water Board's five community meetings in July. Many of these residents perceive that winegrowers, winery owners, and their lawyers, politicians, and experts are setting the terms within which policy struggles are waged, leading (among other things) to continued degradation of fish habitat and unfair regulatory double-standards.

I didn't criticize you for working with winegrape growers, nor did I criticize Keith Horn. I did point out aspects of the role you and he are playing, though, in helping set the terms of said regulatory and policy struggles. If you believe in the role you are playing, as it seems you do, that's understandable. I invite you to defend your position, as you did here (and I believe I gave you space in the article to do that also). If you're proud of your work, then the fact that eight of the nine people on your board of directors (according to the most recent tax statement I looked at) are wine-grape growers shouldn't feel like a criticism.

10 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Will Parrish 1 on 09/11/2015 at 1:19 PM

Re: “Debriefer: September 9, 2015

Who told you SWMC would open soon? The same guy who's said it so many times in the past year? Doesn't sound like a very reliable source to me.

Posted by Dick Fritter on 09/11/2015 at 5:24 AM

Re: “Right Thinking

RE: Phyllis Schlafly She is a liar, delivering diatribes against girls and women who are JUST TRYING TO MAKE A LIVING BY WORKING, something Phyllis Has Never Done. She is buys The Other Party (you know, the vicious, manipulative, cheating, law-disregarding One) and works with them to wage the War on Women--example: 963 bills against women, families in just 3 months! She has refused to debate me as I tell her as we see her.
WHO could be so stupid as to deny this nation the 9% boost in GDP that Other nations had when they codified ERA-like wording AT THE MANDATE OF THE USA, which then refused the Equal Rights Amendment to ITS OWN LADIES AND GIRLS? Besides ERA Requires NO funding, unlike most legislation!

What patriot would be behind Stopping sex discrimination, male and female? Or against the democratic (small d) American principle of equal treatment for ALL?

Wouldn't denial of gender-equal treatment TO THE MAJORITY OF AMERICANS be shameful??

Let's put Phyllis in her place by passing the ERA into US Constitution. Call your state and Congressional legislators to ask...AND WHAT IS YOUR POSITION ON CODIFYING GENDER-EQUAL TREATMENT in our Constitution, and putting women and girls IN THE Nation's contract with its People now?! Then email me at the address at page-bottom of our www, ...while there, check out our ERA Rebuts (Schlafly's) Lies. Point-counterpoint. Knock your socks off. Also scroll down homepage until you see the pic of faculty and students turning their backs on Schlafly at her own Alma Mater. yikes!

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by sandyo on 09/09/2015 at 4:33 PM

Re: “Notes on that Napa Trainwreck: Not a Laughing Matter

Seems like you are building an affirmative action argument here. Racial discrimination has wronged black people for generations. Clearly. But, are we then to conclude that our attitude toward a group of rowdy women being loud and annoying others around them must be conditioned on their race? If they are black, then doing anything about their rowdy behavior must be racist? If they are white, then kick their asses off the train, no problem?

Frankly, I'd like someone in the media to talk to others who where in that train car. Were they upset that their costly special experience was being ruined by a rowdy group of women? Did the Wine Train offer to move them to another car where they could have a conversation and not have their experience dominated by loud and annoying people?

Are one class of people above reproach regardless of their behavior?

2 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Prep on 09/07/2015 at 8:34 AM

Re: “Coho vs. Pinot

Will - You misquoted me. You asked me about the State Board's regulation of rural residential water uses and my answer was that regulations cause conflict which is very clearly occurring in Sonoma.

As for my testimony before the State Board on the Russian River frost regulation I presented information on the surface-groundwater interactions that dominate the Russian River system and make it very difficult to find one responsible party for fish standings that are the result of cumulative effects of numerous changes in the river system. When the National Marine Fisheries Service tried to blame a grower 1 mile upstream from the Felta Creek fish stranding they ended up dropping the enforcement action because they could not show one entity was the cause and concluded it was the cumulative effects of river channel incision from gravel mining and dams, low water and nearby and upstream diversions of water that caused the stranding. While you criticize me for working with growers it was my organization in response to the 2008 frost that wrote the grant for the $5.3 million in federal funds that helped to build all the off stream ponds in Mendocino and Sonoma counties that addressed the one stranding on the upper Russian river and the other stranding on Felta creek.

I choose to collaborate with farmers and ranchers to change their land and water management practices and build the projects that benefit salmon and trout. You chose to throw bombs at the people you blame for the scarcity of fish in the Russian River. I choose to work with the people I do not necessarily agree with but who will make the changes needed to benefit the fish. Regulations have very limited effect and collaborative programs are also needed. This fact is recognized by the regulators themselves which is why the National Marine Fisheries Service which oversee the recovery of salmon and trout and the Regional Water Quality Control Board which is responsible for water quality serve as the certifiers of farm and ranch lands under our Fish Friendly Farming program. Your criticism of Keith Horn and Constellation is without merit. Constellation’s lands in Sonoma County have been certified and recertified twice by the regulators demonstrating a very high level of environmental stewardship. You need to develop a broader view of what is needed to recover these fish. Laurel Marcus

1 like, 2 dislikes
Posted by Laurel Marcus on 09/06/2015 at 10:55 AM

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