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Politics Suck and/or Rule
As expected, small-town politics got down and dirty during the 2012 election cycle. Remember 'Who is Stacey Lawson,' the anonymous internet campaign that uncovered details about the candidate's wealth, spiritual guru and New Age–styled writings on Huffington Post? Local politico Paul Anderson got about 30 seconds of fame from the stunt, but maybe he was on to something: Lawson didn't get elected.
Despite a groundswell of grassroots support, anti-war activist Norman Solomon didn't make it to the November polls as a Congressional candidate either, losing to Marin's golden boy Jared Huffman. Then there were those last-minute Gary Wysocky robo-calls, funded by the anonymous "Anybody but Wysocky." The hit-and-run tactic didn't work, as Wysocky was reelected to the Santa Rosa City Council, albeit in fourth place (just ahead of Don Taylor—whew, close one!).
Peace in Medicine director Robert Jacob proved that you could have your medical marijuana-infused cake and eat it too when elected as vice mayor in Sebastopol. (He also had my personal favorite campaign strategy: flyers taped to the beer taps at Aubergine.) It was a one-two punch in front of a San Diego nightclub when Efren Carrillo went ninja on a man outside a Too Short show for allegedly harassing his lady friends. All charges were dropped; the young Sonoma County supervisor doesn't seem much worse for the wear.
Michael Allen proved that moving to San Rafael doesn't guarantee political office when unseated in the Assembly by challenger Marc Levine. Susan Gorin and John Sawyer made nice (hugs, even!) at a December Santa Rosa City Council meeting after Gorin defeated the former mayor in a vicious fight-to-the-finish to replace Valerie Brown as Fifth District Supervisor.
And in the midst of Obama's re-election, Measure Q, a promising proposition for district elections, which would have ensured fair geographic representation in underserved areas in Santa Rosa, was defeated at the polls. And they say the weak shall inherit . . . ah, but not in 2012.—Leilani Clark
It was bad enough that we lost Copperfield's Used Book Annex in Sebastopol, and then—boom!—River Reader in Guerneville closed its doors as well. Those weren't the only major closures in 2012, of course: this was Santa Rosa's first year without the Harmony Festival, or the Handcar Regatta. Drake's Bay Oyster Farms was forced by the Feds to close after over a hundred years in Point Reyes, and Douglas Keane closed Cyrus Restaurant, probably while bemoaning something about foie gras and/or bulldogs (and/or landlords). While Traverso's closed last year, a different Italian institution underwent a major transformation in 2012: Canevari's Deli in Santa Rosa. Ed Canevari is still an owner, but the printouts of Elks Club–type jokes and "COFFEE: 35¢" sign are gone, as is the "O Sole Mio" window. (Ed continues to monitor the recipes.) And to kick off the year, Incredible Records in Sebastopol closed on Jan. 1.—Gabe Meline
Construction Time Again
Highlights of the development beat in the North Bay this year: Napa got really huffy about an old industrial site on the river, SMART construction kept people up at night and a tribal leader's ethnic origin was called into question.
In other news, a split Petaluma City Council approved the final EIR for the Deer Creek shopping center last April, which plans to house another branch of Friedman's. On the not-so-local side of the Petaluma spectrum, construction on the 34-acre site of a future Target is poised for early 2013. Up in Santa Rosa, discount chain Smart & Final plans to open a space in the Santa Rosa Avenue warehouse vacated by Circuit City. And more grapevines will be planted in West County, due to an October approval by county supervisors of Best Family Winery in Graton.
The ongoing Rohnert Park Casino saga, aside from casting the spotlight on Greg Sarris, is finally in the construction phase after the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria secured an $850 million financing package. The SMART Train moved forward this year, and Napa Pipe proposed putting a Costco on its embattled site, and many, many, many people filed lawsuits about zoning and traffic and other things that are just as exciting.—Rachel Dovey
Don't Bogart That Joint
Medical marijuana was both the biggest winner and the biggest loser this year. Federal government crackdowns on California dispensaries continued, the most high-profile being the April 2 DEA raid of Oaksterdam University in Oakland. On April 23, federal prosecutors threatened to seize the property that houses two Novato dispensaries, Green Door Wellness Education Center and Green Tiger Collective for violations of federal law and municipal zoning codes; both businesses closed soon afterward.
Kumari Sivadas of the Sonoma Alliance for Medical Marijuana told that Bohemian that Sonoma County had seen a rise in prosecutions, seizures and arrests of people involved in cannabis collectives in 2011–2012. In December, supervisors Valerie Brown and Shirlee Zane's recommended measure to lower approved limits for cultivation and possession of medical marijuana was defeated, after criticism that the two had not engaged the public before the measure went to vote. Brown told a crowd of patients, lawyers and advocates in her final meeting as supervisor that she had "failed them" and that she was sorry.—Leilani Clark
Press Releases We Received in 2012!
"Manifest with Sex Magick—Magical Intimacy With Sexy Challenges."
"Article: Macho Men Prevail."
"Guide to Finding Your Cosmic Mate (For Those Unable to Find a Human One)"
"Nudity in America."
"It is total bullshit and an embarrassing waste of time, and I hope you enjoy it."
"Are Black Men Globally Relevant?"
"'From Menses to Menopause,' Skype-only class, $210."
"My medical records show that I have been urinating blood since 1991."
"Research on the History of Mental Illness in Dolphins and Dogs."
"First Post-Amputation Public Performances Announced!"
"Christmas Potluck for Everyone Interested in Secret CIA Mind Control Technology."—Gabe Meline