Tags >> history
Jul 07

Golden Gate Bridge History

Posted by Bruce Robinson in transportation , technology , speaker , ocean , history , finances , construction , coast , California , author

Bruce Robinson
gg_cover.jpgEven though we may have seen and crossed the Golden Gate Bridge many times, it’s hard not to be impressed each time by its distinctive color and historic profile. The story behind it is equally impressive.

kstarr.jpgKevin Starr,As a native San Franciscan, Kevin Starr has spent most of his life within sight of the Golden Gate Bridge, and seen it from just about every possible perspective, even from below while swimming beneath the span. But there is one vantage point he has not tried.

The building of the Golden Gate Bridge was a popular subject for photographers of the day, and many of their striking images have endured as popular posters today. Unsurprisingly, Starr has a favorite, seen below.

Jul 06

West Marin Newspapers

Posted by Bruce Robinson in news , media , Marin , journalism , history , coast , business

Bruce Robinson

When a local ownership group came forward to purchase the Point Reyes Light from its contentious and unpopular out-of-town owner, they expected an era of peace in publishing would follow. But that wasn’t what happened.

There are numerous details about the failed newspaper negotiations that are told differently by the two sides: who approached whom about a possible deal? Was it to be a sale or a merger?  And, perhaps most vehemently, which side was first to breach the non-disclosure agreement that was part of those talks. The owners of the Point Reyes Light charge it was Joel Hack, when he published his June 17th EXTRA edition of the West Marin Citizen.  Hack contends it was the other guys’ attorney.

Western Marin County is one of those rare regions still served by two local newspapers. And their current feud isn’t really something new, observes Mark Dowie (right) , the vice chairman of the recently formed Marin Media Institute, which now owns the Pt. Reyes Light.

David Mitchell, the owner/publisher of the Point Reyes Light during its Pulitzer-winning days, offers a more thorough account of the dispute between the current owners of the two West Marin papers in his cleverly titled blog, Sparsely Sage and Timely.








Jun 30

Bill Bagley

Posted by Bruce Robinson in politics , news , media , Marin , legislation , history , government , finances , economy , California , business , budget , author

Bruce Robinson

In the 1960s and 70s, California’s legislature was widely seen as a model for state governance, a far cry from the way Sacramento is viewed now. What’s changed? A former lawmaker offers his perspective

California had only half as many residents when Bill Bagley (R-San Rafael) was in the legislature (1960-74) and the business of governing was less complicated in many respects. In those days, he recalls, lobbyist-sponsored dinners and events served as the common ground for legislators from both major parties to build the social relationships they would draw upon in conducting the state’s business.

Balancing the state budget has been the overriding political consideration in California for more than a decade now, the biggest issue in the recall election that carried Arnold Schwartzenegger into office. Even so, Bagley faults the Governor for making matters worse.

Bagley, a moderate Republican, believes California’s new open primary law will help ease the partisan logjam in Sacramento, but he also sees a critical need for impartial redistricting in the state, as the current lines were deliberately drawn to perpetuate each major party’s hold on “their” districts.

Looking ahead to the November gubernatorial race in California, Bagely and another former state legislator, John Vasconcellos, have drafted a series of 20 serious policy questions they challenge Jerry Brown and Meg Whitman to answer publically.

Former Assembly Member Bill Bagley speaking at the podium, is joined by (from left to right) former Assembly Members Jim Cunneen and Fred Keeley, former Senate Republican Leader Jim Nielsen and former Senator Lucy Killea, and by former Assembly Republican Leader Michael Villines.

Promotional copy about Bill Bagley's book:

"Politics is personal," Bill Bagley likes to say, and here is a personal journey through the politics of America's most extraordinary state. California's Golden Years offers tales of cash-filled envelopes, all-night poker games, and all the free liquor a legislator could drink. But the stories and anecdotes offer more than mere fun - they illuminate a larger lesson learned during Bagley's 14 years in the California Legislature. Personal relationships are, in Bagley's view, the glue that ensures working relationships and pragmatic compromises. "Those who play together," he writes, "say together." Today, as the Golden State faces unprecedented challenges, California's Golden Years provides both a look back toward a fondly remembered era and an insider's explanation for why politics seemed to work better then than now.


Jun 28

Jack London's Lake

Posted by Bruce Robinson in water , volunteer , state government , Sonoma Valley , recreation , preservation , policy , parks , nonprofit orgs , history , fish , farms , environment , California , author , aging

Bruce Robinson

Jack London's cottage and ranch buildings have been preserved at the state park that bears his name in Glen Ellen. But there is another part of his historic holding that is languishing in need of repair and restoration

Cracks in the dam, such as the one in the center of this photograph, are continuing to widen as the muti-layered process of getting the pre-requisites and approvals for remediation work drags on. Five years into it, Elisa Stancil, a neighbor and volunteer event coordinator at the park, says progress is slowly being made.

London erected the dam and created the rain-fed lake in 1913, using it for both recreation (as seen here) and for his farm.  Restoring the 98-year old dam is estimated to cost $1.3 million, but Stancil says that, too, has been delayed by the glacial permitting process.

The photos below show the lake's water diverter, seen as it appeared while under construction in 1913, and as it looks today. They're taken from the picture gallery on the website of the Jack London Lake Alliance.

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