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September, 2007



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Skeptic's Journal
By Jeanette Marie Pontacq

Local History
West Marin has a fascinating, even seductive, history. It has everything --- sex, greed, color, thievery, stupidity, honesty, cowardice, self-sacrifice, beauty and waste. All the players are not movie stars, but none of the players are dull. Our history, way back or last year, is there for those interested to inform themselves on. In Bolinas, the local museum (the only art museum in Marin) is a wonderful source of local history, its wins and its losses as many fought for the land and others fought against it.... as is the Jack Mason Museum at the Inverness Library.... and the Tomales History Center. The history that intrigues and informs me, however, lies within the personal remembrances and stories of people here a long time.
I have been in West Marin for only16 years, but have spent a good part of it in learning about the 'stories' of old timers - from the old timers themselves -- who tell the real stories of why things are the way they are and who was involved in whatever land deal or crooked rip-off, sorrowful happening, or gloriously fun event of the past. The stories are passionate and real, and never heard in public yet.

After listening to all that, and recording as much as possible, I am here to tell readers that West Marin is at an important crossroad, which we all need to pay attention to. Every corner of every field or road in West Marin has a past, a story, a history. Real people, with real feelings, cared about those corners, those fields, those roads, those creeks, the land, the villages. I would simply ask every one to stop for a moment and ask themselves why they like living in West Marin in the first place. It most certainly is not for the same reasons that someone likes living in Kentfield or Mill Valley. Point Reyes Station, for example, has always been a blue-collar town, based on agriculture. Agriculture is the basis of what West Marin was/is. Tourism is increasing, but is that how we want to define ourselves from now on? We need to make an informed and collective/democratic choice, yes or no, not just let 'whatever' happen.

Making Phone Calls
I have cousins in France. Cousins that I really like and love to talk to in order to get the latest gossip in our mountain village or just discuss the latest weird happenings in either French or American politics. We could do it via email, but voice-to-voice is more fun.

So it was not a happy moment when I noted that Bush had signed into law a legislation that broadly expands the US 'government's' authority to eavesdrop on international phone calls and email messages of Americans. Many decisions on what is done with those surveillance tapes goes through, are you ready, the office of the resigning Attorney General Alberto Gonzales: he who has been lying up the kazoo multiple times in sworn testimony and is incompetent and sycophantic to Bush. Yes, that Gonzales. HE is eavesdropping on my calls to my cousins, while we talk about how dumb he is and how dumb and incompetent the whole American administration is. We are also talking, often, about my French aunt's lover, who is 82, but quite charming and fun. Frankly, I prefer to talk about my aunt's lover, because I am really tired of talking about the present US government, which just keeps on ticking and destroying the basis of my beloved Constitution no matter what I say or write. At least my aunt pays attention to what I am saying, although she is not going to give up Charles, who, again, is charming and fun. So why should she?

Seriously, however, it should be mentioned that a new Bush executive order states that the Bushies can 'take' the financial resources (all of them) of anyone they judge to be a hindrance to success in Iraq or Afghanistan, or the 'War on Terror.' How does one define a 'hindrance,' (although that is not the exact word used in the order)? The meaning, however, is the same. If I write that I think the Iraq war is useless and counter-productive, am I giving aid and comfort to the 'enemy?' Let's define the word "enemy" at this point in time, in speaking of the Constitution? Everything written these days, even in the Coastal Post, is shown on Nexus. Everything is seen, believe me, even the least of us in print.

During the Vietnam War, I was a vocal protestor. I had/have a file at the FBI, showing me to be 'suspect.' Gosh, here we go again. We all need to be aware that our niceness and recycling will not be taken into account when we are ultimately judged by the neo-cons in control of the country. Sad to say that the Democrats voted to give Bush this latest power of surveillance. If you are not outraged, you have not been paying attention - as the bumper sticker says.

Impeaching Neubacher?
PBS's Bill Moyers Journal recently presented the entire hour on the subject of impeaching both George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. It was a brilliant and logical presentation. The point of impeachment is to take back our rights from the neo-cons, who are obviously hoping to continue to use the extraordinary powers 'taken' by Bush/Cheney via the next President. Even if a Democrat wins, who can say that he or she will make the effort to rescind those dictatorial 'rights' of the new President. Who gives up power these days?

Listening to Moyers and his guests made me think of analogous local issues. Right here in West Marin, we have a government bureaucrat that continually refuses to interact or listen to the voice of locals, like a potentate. The issue of the 'land swap' between the local Park Service and the Giacomini Trust, which will obviously result in undesirable build-out over the delicate edges of the Wetland, is a case in point. The majority of local residents want the eastern side of Tomales Bay Wetland to start on C Street, like Nature intended. But money is to be made by the Giacomini Trust and Neubacher is going along, he says.

So, my opinion is that Neubacher needs to either resign or be replaced with someone more sophisticated in negotiation and more competent in public relations and open to the history and needs of the local community. Deliberately using bad science, vindictiveness toward ranchers, and stonewalling silence when found out. Sound like anyone you know in Washington DC?

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