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MARIN COUNTY'S NEWS MONTHLY - FREE PRESS
(415)868-1600 - (415)868-0502(fax) - P.O. Box 31, Bolinas, CA, 94924

September, 2006

 


Three West Marin Issues
By Jeanette Pontacq

Last months relatively small mention of "West Marin prices" has brought forth quite an outpouring of ill feelings toward the local Palace Market in Point Reyes Station. Just about everyone seems to have a personal anecdote on 1) high prices and 2) outdated foodstuffs. This is NOT a matter of a conspiracy to overcharge locals or even pure and honest avarice, folks. Instead, it is an easy-to-understand example of the power of volume buying and discounts for large outlets like Safeway, Home Depot, Costco and other big box stores we love to hate, at the expense of the small business. The Palace Market, for example, does not partake of volume discounts of any consequence and its freezer items often outstay their expiration dates, because they don't move fast enough to avoid it (and personnel are probably not checking the dates regularly, which adds to workloads and further costs).
Actually, the local market probably makes only about 1% profit on sales. No one is getting rich off those prices! In the world of markets, that is peanuts. The higher prices most likely come from vendors setting those higher prices for themselves and then requiring that the market itself add something on to stay alive. While I myself am not happy with paying more for stuff at the local market, or paying more for gas at the gas station or paying more for wood at Building Supply (all for pretty much the same reasons of little volume), honesty demands 1) that we all admit that the local market is not just greedy and 2) that we all try to put a price on keeping the convenience and personal service offered by our small and essential shopkeepers within our little town. So rather than complain about the higher prices, let's all imagine what it would be like without a gas station, without a local market or without a local building supply.

* * *

More news on the continuing saga of Robert Plotkins' Point Reyes Light: Mr. Plotkin and his attorney, Robert Powsner, managed to get a two-month injunction recently against Dave Mitchell, stopping Dave from writing his column on the website of the Bodega Bay Navigator, or dealing with "sheriffs calls." Within the recent sale of the Light, there is a non-compete clause, restricting Dave Mitchell from "doing journalism" within Marin County for a certain amount of years. Last I looked, Bodega Bay was in Sonoma County, but Judge Sutro was swayed by the fact that the issue revolves around the internet, which has no boundaries at all.

Prior to this ruling, Mr. Plotkin's attorney, Robert Powsner, had written a letter to the editor of the Bodega Bay Navigator, Joel Hack, threatening an expensive lawsuit if the Sonoma County newspaper continued to comment and report on West Marin issues, in any format. This threat, of course, has happened while the Point Reyes Light has moved into reporting steadily on what is happening in Bodega Bay, in order to solicit advertisements from there! Am I the only one that sees the utter hypocrisy and unfairness of this ploy by Plotkin? Plotkin knows Joel Hack is short on funds, while Plotkin is ready to spend bucks on Powsner to act as his enforcer to punish Mitchell for being and Joel Hack for trying to continue to exist.

West Marin is most certainly not benefiting from greater access for the community from all this aggressiveness and unpleasantness from Mr. Plotkin. The present Light is offering shallow and incomplete coverage of West Marin, while moving into Western Sonoma County. It would do better to chill out and offer the West Marin community more input via letters to the editor and guest columns. There are lots of important West Marin issues that need in-depth analysis and reporting. With all the issues unreported in West Marin, why is Plotkin moving into Bodega Bay?

* * *

The recent brouhaha over the attempt by the Park Service and the Giacomini Trust to complete an unequal land swap that would allow the ranching group to seriously develop the edge of the wetlands along C Street in Point Reyes Station is very quiet. Nothing has been heard on the issue recently, supposedly while the whole swap deal is renegotiated, but rumor has it that a "deal" was already done on disallowing any continuance of livestock on or near the wetlands. So all we have to worry about with further negotiations is large scale, market rate development along C Street.

Since there is absolutely no logical reason for a land swap anymore, one wonders what the two parties are negotiating at this point. A couple of non-profits with deep pockets have offered to outright buy the two "soon-to-be-underwater" Giacomini parcels off Inverness and gift them to the Park Service. Personally, I just think the Park Service should take down the berms that hold the Bay back and make those annoying parcels disappear! The parcels off Inverness are essentially worthless, especially with a rising ocean via global warming.

And I have to respond to those who say that the Rich Giacomini Ranch on the wetlands has been a good steward of the land and deserves to make more, (through developing the edge of our town) than the 4.5 million they have already received from the government. It might be instructive to look at the records at the Army Corps of Engineers to see the reported "substantial" environmental complaints put forth against that particular Giacomini Ranch over the years, and find out how many were truly mitigated. Personally, I think it would be more logical and historically accurate to name the new wetlands after the late (and missed) Sis Arndt rather than Rich Giacomini. Sis fought for decades and decades to try to protect the wetlands against exploitation by the ranch. More on that epic story laterÉ stay tuned.

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