Mendocino County Today: December 12, 2013
by AVA News Service, December 11, 2013
JANE KIM is a San Francisco supervisor who, with her colleagues, are at last discussing neo-rent control strategies. SF rents are ridiculous, rising ever upward as more and more people with more and more money move into the city. Rents are also extortionate in much of Mendocino County, as are commercial rents in both locales.
HERE IN MENDO, with the County's “progressive” herd bull himself representing the 5th District, and Mendocino County a liberal County (in its own mythology, perhaps), housing would at least be discussed at the leadership level with a view to doing something about it. An ordinance compelling the County's ag interests to provide housing proportionate to its labor force would do much to ease the in-County shortage, but why not? Norm deVall often cast a critical eye on the timber industry, and those boys played real rough. What's so formidable about the wine gang?
Gjerde, Hamburg, Brown, McCowen, Pinches
HAMBURG isn't the only lib on the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors. Dan Gjerde, a Democratic Party stalwart, is another, and John McCowen, a fiscal conservative and certainly a thoughtful person, also seems to harbor kindly social attitudes. I doubt if the Board's two conservatives, Pinches and Brown, would go for any interference with the great captains of outback capitalism, but it's the libs who ought to at least propose this stuff.
BACK TO FRISCO. Ms. Kim wants to expand the city's existing ban on the lethal job app question, Have You Ever Been Convicted of a Crime? She would expand San Francisco's current ordinance against asking that question of people applying for City jobs to include “most private employers, publicly funded housing providers and city contractors.” Ten states and more than 50 cities have adopted some version of “ban the box,” and a growing number of private employers are also jumping on board — earlier this year, Target Stores announced it would strip the question from its applications.
SHE POINTS OUT that in a nation where an estimated 65 million people have a criminal history — 7 million in California alone — her Fair Chance ordinance, makes sense both for these stigmatized individuals, but it's good for all of us because it reduces, or would reduce if given a chance, repeat criminality.
NATURALLY the Meanie Faces are screaming that Kim's Fair Chance ordinance is the same as a demand that employers would be forced to hire ex-cons, which it clearly wouldn't do. It would give all qualified people equal shots at the few jobs out there.
THE FLEDGLING WILLITS WEEKLY continues to do well mano y mano against the long entrenched The Willits News. It has been years since Mendocino County has seen competitive papers in one community, although a couple of feeble attempts against the AVA have been mounted, both of which we beat back when our adversaries realized that producing a newspaper every week is much harder than it may look.
JENNIFER POOLE'S Willits Weekly has hugely expanded its ad base and has a stable of experienced writers, including the old girl herself and the talented Mike A'Dair. There are also enough people in the Willits area hostile to chain enterprises of any kind, and The Willits News is a chain paper owned by the same outside chain that owns the Ukiah Daily Journal and the interchangeable Mendocino Beacon and Fort Bragg Advocate. The real question for all print papers is how long any of them can last up against the internet, what with so many of our gizmo-addicted citizens under the age of 50 not inclined to read anything longer or more complicated than a tweet, and the minority who still prefer to read in print form itself goes from print to on-line info only.
THE FRIGID NIGHTS CONTINUE. Leggett closed its schools Tuesday because the campus pipes froze, taking the plumbing down with the icicles. Quite a few Brooktrails people haven't been able to get up and down their precipitous driveways in their hilly redoubt northwest of Willits. And lots of us are going through round-the-clock heating oil and cords of wood so we don't die in our sleep of hypothermia.
THE BALLAD OF DENNIS PERON
by Fred Gardner
"I've sung this song and I'll sing it again…" — Woody Guthrie
The Emerald Cup, the sprawling Cannabis festival launched in Laytonville by Tim Blake in 2004, will be held at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds this weekend, and Dennis Peron is getting a lifetime achievement award. The marijuana legalization movement would not have achieved its great breakthrough in 1996 without Dennis, the founder and maitre’d of the San Francisco Cannabis Buyers Club. Proposition 215, which legalized the herb for medical use in California, was a collective effort, but Dennis was the indispensable organizer.
He had been challenging the marijuana laws by direct action since 1969, when he came back from Vietnam with two pounds in his Air Force duffle bag, and by legal and political means since 1970, when he was first busted by the SFPD narcs.
Dennis simply refused to accept that anybody could tell him he didn’t have a right to smoke marijuana. “And the right to smoke it means the right to get it,” he would argue, “which means people have to have the right to grow it and sell it.”
Dennis was and is Puckish — clever, mischievous, light on his feet — even in his late sixties, even after suffering a stroke. He’s from the Bronx originally, grew up on Long Island, one of five kids in an Italian-American family. His mom was a housewife, his dad an accountant employed by the city of New York.
He first came to San Francisco en route to Vietnam. When the Viet Cong's Tet offensive began in February '68, Dennis's unit was pinned down for a week outside Saigon. He saw a lot of death. He was assigned to stack the body bags. It was during this time, he says, that he had his first experience as a gay man. He came home saying, “I want to dedicate my life to world peace.” What a hippie! He was convinced that marijuana was inherently an anti-war drug, due to its calming effect on the individual and the sharing ritual associated with its use.
In the 1970s and ’80s Dennis was busted for selling pot more than a dozen times, and after every bust he would resume selling out of his living room, which become a legendary salon. He opened a restaurant called "The Island" at the corner of Noe and Sanchez Streets in the Castro district. Pot was always in the air and could be purchased in the flat upstairs. Tony Serra, the flamboyant criminal defense specialist, was put on a retainer. A camera store owner named Harvey Milk used The Island as campaign headquarters when he ran unsuccessfully for State Assembly in ’76.
I met him in this period through a neighbor who worked for Catholic Social Services and brought me to this house on Castro off Liberty where you could knock on the door and say "I'm a friend of Dennis's" and be led upstairs to a living room where everyone was smoking joints and listening to music and and talking. Dennis seemed to know thousands of people on a first-name-only basis. The phone would ring and Dennis would say, “I know so many Judies. Are you the Judy who works at Wells Fargo or the Judy who works at the aquarium?”
I covered one of his trials and was struck by how many people waved hello as he walked down Van Ness Avenue. Of one passerby I asked, “Is she a customer or a friend?” Dennis lilted, “Oh, you know, friends become customers, customers become friends.”
The ‘Miracle Ounce’
The San Francisco narcs hated him. During one raid on his Castro St. flat — widely known as “The Big Top” — Dennis was shot in the thigh by a cop named Paul Mackavekias. The raiders were dressed in plain clothes and looked like thugs. Dennis stood at the top of the stairs, defending himself with a half-empty four-gallon water bottle when he took the bullet. The ensuing trial took four months (the court stenographer became a good friend of Dennis’s). The officers who testified at length, mainly Mackavekias and his partner Greg Corrales, the second man through the door, got to spend days listening to jive from Dennis’s diverse crew. All Mackavekias’ testimony was thrown out after he blurted, in the presence of witnesses, that he wished he’d killed Peron so there’d be “one less faggot in San Francisco.” Dennis received a lighter sentence as a result of this outburst, and wound up doing seven months in jail in San Bruno.
I visited him there and asked how many of the 30 guys on his tier were in for "victimless crimes." He said that to his surprise he was the only one. "They're all into speed. They keep saying they can't wait to get out so they can 'rip and run' again."
Some 20 years later, at the height of the Prop 215 campaign, Dennis would goad Dan Lungren, California's rightwing Attorney General, into a self-defeating tantrum at a press conference. Recalling Mackavekias’s outburst, Dennis said, “These macho cops just can’t stand the idea that a skinny little faggot won’t fold up and go away because they say so.”
Dennis had gotten involved in electoral politics working on Harvey Milk’s campaigns for supervisor in 1973 and ’75. They had first met in New York, where Milk had helped produce a show about Lenny Bruce, which he took Dennis to see. Milk was elected to San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors in ’77, becoming the first openly gay elected official in the country.
Dennis then drafted and collected signatures for an initiative — named Prop W, as in weed — whereby the people of San Francisco instructed their law enforcement officials not to press any marijuana-related charges. It carried, and Mayor George Moscone notified the police that possession of an ounce or less should henceforth be ignored.
Very soon Dennis saw the contradictions in decriminalization. “It’s the ‘miracle ounce,’ ” he observed. “It’ s illegal to grow marijuana, it’s illegal to possess a pound, it’s illegal to sell or buy it. Where did all those people get their legal ounces? Every one of them must be a miracle!”
He was planning a rigorous legalization campaign at the state level when the assassination of Milk and Moscone by a former policeman named Dan White took away his most significant allies and turned the local political landscape into a cratered wasteland as the 1970s came to an end.
And then came the epidemic.
Marijuana & AIDS
Dennis says he decided to change his tactical approach — to stop crusading for legalization and to concentrate on making marijuana available for those in medical need — as his longtime companion Jonathan West was dying of AIDS in 1990. “Jonathan was taking many prescribed drugs,” Dennis recounts, “and there were severe side effects, from nausea to loss of appetite. Marijuana was the only drug that eased his pain and restored his appetite and gave him some moments of dignity in that last year. And of course I had hundreds of friends with AIDS who relied on marijuana for the same reasons: appetite, relief from nausea, relief from pain, to be able to sleep.”
On the night of January 27, 1990, a squad of SFPD narcs came to his house and busted Dennis for selling pot. As Dennis tells it, “There were four ounces of Thai weed in the house and it was Jonathan’s. I wasn’t dealing at that time because taking care of him had become my full-time job. He was very thin and he had KS [Kaposi’ s Sarcoma] lesions on his face.
“The cops made AIDS jokes and they made a big production of putting on their rubber gloves before tearing up the place. When they saw the picture of me and Harvey [in which the two young men are hugging] they went into a harangue about 'that fag.’” Dennis says he recognized one of the cops as a former bodyguard for Moscone. “I told him, ‘Great job you did protecting George.’”
A vision of the cannabis buyers club came to him later that night, Dennis says, as he was lying on a cement slab at the Mission Station. “The cops were coming by and banging with their nightsticks and yelling, ‘Hey, Peron, we’re gonna get you!’ And I was thinking about Jonathan all alone and without any marijuana. And I was thinking ‘Wouldn’t it be great if there was a place where he could go and be among friends?’ Jonathan had the KS on his face and I was thinking, ‘He wouldn’t be ashamed here.’ And the place in my dream was the buyers club.”
Jonathan West died in September 1990, two weeks after testifying at Peron’s trial that the confiscated pot belonged to him. He was down to 90 pounds. “Doesn’t that tell you something?” says Dennis. “He lived to testify at my trial and then he let go of life.”
The Medical MJ Movement
The first version of the cannabis buyers club was launched in a flat on Sanchez Street in October, 1991. Dennis had three quarters of a pound, which he said he would provide to people who needed it for medical reasons — and free to those who couldn’t afford it.
He was taking his cue from the Healing Alternatives buyers club around the corner on Church Street, which had been established to provide vitamins at cost to AIDS patients and to obtain an Israeli egg-yolk extract known as AL-721 that was commercially unavailable in the U.S. and had not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. He was also inspired by the HIV community to act on the available anecdotal evidence instead of waiting for the medical efficacy of marijuana to be proven at an academic research center and published in a peer-reviewed journal.
The millions of Americans who started smoking marijuana in social settings in the 1960s and ’70s and ’80s were generally unaware that it had been widely prescribed as a medicine in the not-too-distant past. Over the years we figured out or heard about medical applications — from a friend of a friend in the VA hospital who used it for spasticity; an aunt who made it through chemo by smoking pot; a grampa who requested it for pain — but there was no journal, no institute tracking who was using marijuana for what medical purposes and to what effect.
In starting the cannabis buyers club, Dennis Peron provided a setting in which people who were using marijuana for medical purposes could compare notes and get a sense of their numbers. Berkeley psychiatrist Tod Mikuriya, MD, seeing “a unique research opportunity,” signed on as medical coordinator and began interviewing members about their conditions, pattern of marijuana use, and results.
As always, Dennis hoped to bring the law into conformity with his operation. In 1991 he drafted and organized support for Proposition P (as in pot), whereby “The People of the City and County of San Francisco recommend that the State of California and the California Medical Association restore hemp medical preparations to the list of medicines in California. Licensed physicians shall not be penalized for or restricted from prescribing hemp preparations for medical purposes to any patient.”
Prop P carried San Francisco with 80% of the vote. The Board of Supervisors then passed resolution 741-92 — a medical marijuana measure introduced by Terence Hallinan — which Dennis cited as “the authority by which the buyers club will supply cannabis and other hemp byproducts to those who can benefit by it.”
By the fall of ’93, the cannabis buyers club had outgrown the original Sanchez St. location. Dennis rented and decorated a 2,000 square foot room above a bar on Church and Market. Mikuriya designed an admissions protocol which Dennis and his staff attempted to follow. By the summer of ’94 there were 2,000 members.
The club not only attracted sick people who used it as a dispensary and floating support group, it also became a center for people who considered themselves activists in a political reform movement. Dennis began holding monthly Sunday night meetings at the club. Among those who came were Dale Gieringer, the head of California NORML. Valerie Corral and Mike Corral came up from Santa Cruz. Val has epilepsy, the result of an accident suffered in the ’70s; Mike had become a grower to develop strains that worked best for her. There was Jack Herer, author of The Emperor Wears No Clothes, who had been pushing for legalization since the early ’70s from his home base in Fresno. Pebbles Trippet, a migraine sufferer who’d been arrested often over the years for marijuana possession and transportation, and had written about the applicability of the necessity defense. Bill Panzer and Rob Raich, lawyers from the East Bay. Bob Basker, a union organizer and longtime ally of Dennis’s, and John Entwistle, Dennis’ s closest political confidante. Historian/activist Michael Aldrich and his wife Michelle. Community organizer Gilbert Baker. Chris Conrad, who was writing Hemp for Health, and his wife Mikki Norris. Lynnette Shaw. Dave Bowman. Vic Hernandez... To name a few.
In ’ 94 and ’ 95 these activists helped draft and lobby for bills introduced by State Senator John Vasconcellos (D. Santa Clara) that would have made marijuana use legal, with a doctor’s approval, by patients suffering from AIDS, cancer, multiple sclerosis, and glaucoma. The short list of conditions was insisted on by law enforcement and accepted by Vasconcellos to get majority support. Both bills passed the legislature, only to be vetoed by Republican Governor Pete Wilson.
By the start of ’95 the S.F. Cannabis Buyers Club had some 4,000 members and Dennis was looking for an even bigger place. Terence Hallinan had been elected district attorney — meaning that San Francisco’s top prosecutor was now a defense specialist who, as a supervisor, had introduced a resolution that legitimized medical marijuana use in the city. And Willie Brown, also a former criminal defense lawyer, was mayor. Dennis seemed secure in his home base, unaware that Greg Corrales, who had risen to head the SFPD narcotics squad, had launched an undercover investigation of this club.
Dennis proposed overcoming Gov. Wilson’s veto of the Vasconcellos bills by an initiative through which California voters would change the state’s Health & Safety code to legalize marijuana for medical use — and not just for the few conditions specified in Vasco's bill. For 25 years he had been mounting legal defenses and political campaigns to establish his right to operate a real-world business. He was making progress, slowly but steadily. He was convinced that any jury or electorate checking out his club would endorse his right to run it the way he did.
One Sunday evening in mid-August the activists meeting at the cannabis buyers club voted 39-1 to devote themselves to getting an open-ended medical marijuana initiative on the ballot. The only dissent came from Jack Herer, who in 1994 had organized a drive to legalize hemp for all uses. Herer considered it philosophically untenable to work for anything less than comprehensive legalization. Pebbles Trippet reminded him, “If medical wins, I wouldn’t be facing jail.” Herer came to support the initiative in due course.
The first draft of the measure that would become Proposition 215 had been written by Dennis and Dale Gieringer of California NORML in July ’95 and revised in the months to come in negotiations that included John Entwistle, attorney Bill Panzer, Valeric Corral, and others. At the Cannabis Buyers Club Dennis had been observing — and Dr. Mikuriya was documenting — patients with an extremely wide range of medical problems who obtained relief from marijuana. Mikuriya suggested that the ballot measure apply not only to patients diagnosed with specified conditions but to those with “...any other condition for which marijuana provides relief.”
Although many activists thought the open-ended approach would undermine the initiative’s chances of passing, Dennis had the moral authority to prevail. He was the undisputed leader of the movement and he was doing the real work of providing marijuana to people in need on a daily basis. The final draft filed with the Secretary of State reflected Dennis's view of himself as a "caregiver." (AIDS patients at the time were receiving care from numerous sources — food from Open Hand, legal help from the SF AIDS Foundation, etc.) The initiative's open-ended nature was asserted in the first sentence, which allows doctors to approve “the use of marijuana in the treatment of cancer, anorexia, AIDS, chronic pain, spasticity, glaucoma, arthritis, migraine, or any other illness for which marijuana provides relief.”
Dennis also prevailed initially on the question of how signatures would be raised. Panzer and others advocated raising money to hire a professional signature-gathering firm. (Proceeds from the cannabis buyers club could not legally be used for that purpose.) Dennis’s line was, “Let’ s do it with love.” Meaning, let’s have club members go to their friends and friends of friends with the petitions. Dennis had always developed support for his operations in this direct, organic manner, and he saw no reason to change.
1444 Market Street
In August ’95 Dennis leased 1444 Market Street — a narrow five-story building that had been vacant for years. His friend Tom Ammiano had leased the ground floor to be his headquarters when he ran for supervisor — that’s how the building caught Dennis’s eye. The civic center was a few blocks away on Van Ness. Across Market St. loomed a massive, ugly building in which hundreds Bank of America clerical workers spent their days at computers keeping track of who owes what to who. Next door was a shelter serving alcoholics and addicts.
Constructed in 1908, the building at 1444 Market St. had been damaged in the quake of ’89 and then reinforced with steel girders and crossbeams that broke up the floor space. “It was perfect for a buyers club,” says Dennis, “We just put counters between the girders.” He named it “The Brownie Mary Rathbun Building” in honor of a close friend and ally who’d had several tragicomic run-ins with the law for the crime of baking cannabis goodies for AIDS patients. The city of San Francisco , if it was hip, would give it landmark status. History was made there.
The third and fourth floors — the main floors of the club — were decked out with rugs and serapes, houseplants, origami birds, mobiles, incandescent lamps, bookshelves, artwork, political signs, a couple of television sets, a large aquarium. There was plenty of natural light, the ceilings were high, the furniture was comfortable, the place was kept spotlessly clean. It was an extension of Dennis's living room.
The ground floor was devoted to offices — one for registering club members, one for registering voters and collecting signatures for the initiative. The second floor was where most of the staff worked. A small room adjoining the staircase was devoted to campaign materials and political literature for patrons to read and distribute. (The leaflets were not just about marijuana. Dennis's commitment to gay rights and world peace never waned.) That room also housed a heavy-duty photocopy machine, which nobody made more use of than Pebbles Trippet.
Wholesome food was served on paper plates for $1 (there was no kitchen at the time and it all had to be prepared elsewhere and brought in). In the cooler, along with the bottled water and fruit juices and sodas, there was a large supply of liquid nutritional supplement for patrons who couldn’ t hold down solid food. Bowls of oranges were strategically placed on every floor.
The Bud Bar
Samples of the buds for sale were displayed under glass cake covers on the counters, labeled as to type (“Mexican sinsemilla,” etc.) and priced by a star system (1 star = $5/per eighth of an ounce, up to 4 stars = $55). The typical sale was for an eighth, but budtenders — which is what the vendors were called — would sell up to an ounce if the buyer could document that he or she was leaving town or going into the hospital. Patrons seeking to buy larger quantities were directed to Dennis, who would sell a pound occasionally to buyers whose stated intention was to distribute it to sick people.
By the spring of ’96 Dennis had 16 bakers working as subcontractors. He would get the leaf from the growers and provide it to the bakers free. It was all he could do to keep up with the demand, selling between 300 and 500 baked goods a day — brownies, rice krispies, pudding, every baker had a different specialty. “This was something they did at home,” Dennis says. “They really enjoyed it and they got paid by the piece, $2 or $2.50. We’d sell them for $4 to $5. But you could get it for $3, or free, if you had no money.” The club also sold “merry pills” — a pun on Marinol — containing high-grade marijuana sauteed lightly in olive oil.
More than 90 people were employed, many of whom had AIDS. There were food servers, registration workers, carpenters and custodians, budtenders, bouncers and office workers, as well as people who helped deal with the dealers and growers. Employees got all the pot they wanted and people who needed cash got cash. Dennis says he kept no records, that he had always managed his business by a seat-of-the-pants method, and that he didn’t change as he did more volume.
To become a member of the cannabis buyers club you needed a letter of diagnosis from a doctor confirming your medical condition. No prescription or letter of recommendation was required, in other words the doctor didn’t have to agree that cannabis should be part of the treatment plan. Membership was granted or refused by a registration worker on the club’s ground floor, based on a protocol developed by Dr. Mikuriya.
District Attorney Hallinan was concerned about the looseness with which Peron operated, and arranged a meeting in June ’96 at which he advised, among other things, that the club not allow members to bring guests. “I also questioned him about the financial side of his operation,” says Hallinan. “He explained that he was making a profit, less than people thought — remember, he had to buy all this marijuana — but his numbers added up in terms of what he said he spent and what he made and what he paid his employees and what he put back into the club. He claims the money they made was going to buy a place on the Russian River, a resort for the club members. Is he a profiteer? We see no evidence of that. He lives with a bunch of people in a small house, he doesn’t have a new car, he doesn’t take vacations, he doesn’t have a big family that he’s trying to leave a fortune to. He says ‘The club is my family.'’
By the summer of ’ 96 the S.F . Cannabis Buyers Club had about 10,000 members. Dennis estimated that about half had AIDS. People 55 or older were automatically qualified for membership. Others, Dennis said, had insomnia, chronic pain, menstrual cramps, colitis, epilepsy, arthritis, debilitating emotional problems, “and many other conditions, some of which I’ve never even heard of.” Mikuriya, who had published an anthology of the pre-prohibition medical literature on cannabis, documented the newly reported uses.
At any given time the crowd bellying up to the bars included a certain percentage of perfectly healthy people who were there as guests. (In June of '96 the practice of allowing club members to bring guests was abandoned at Hallinan’s urging.) For sure the parons included some who had entered under false pretenses. On a couple of occasions I tried to figure out how many were in this category, with help from Lynne Barnes — better known as Geo- — a former oncology nurse at UCSF Medical Center who had become a full-time volunteer at the club. It was a macabre exercise and was being conducted at the same time, unbeknownst to me, by undercover narcotics agents, who probably skewed my survey by their presence.
Dennis defended his practice of admitting everyone over 55 by asking, “Don’t you think people that age have the right to decide what they want to treat their aches and pains with?”
When allies expressed concern that his looseness might jeopardize the cause of Proposition 215, he would reiterate, “This is about more than marijuana, it’s about compassion. It’ s about America. It’s about how we treat each other as people.”
The presence of some perfectly healthy people contributed to the environment he was trying to achieve. Although a large percentage of people at the clubwere visibly ill, the place did not have the feel of a hospital ward; quite the opposite, it had the feel of a fern bar serving people of all ages and all types.
Dennis’ s ultimate looseness in the eyes of his detractors was to allow a young parent with a toddler in hand to enter, on occasion, a room containing second-hand marijuana smoke. Dennis says that he does not think smoking marijuana is good for kids, then adds, “Did it ever occur to these people who are so concerned about the toddlers that the toddlers might have AIDS, too? Or that mom really needs her medicine, which is impossible to get anyplace else? Would they rather she left her kid in the car?”
The Helpful Usurpers
By late January, 1996, it had become clear that Dennis's network of volunteers could not come up with enough signatures to place the Compassionate Use Act of 1996 on the ballot. Some 433,000 valid signatures were needed by April 24; Dennis’s followers claimed to have gotten 175,000 of uncertain validity. Bill Panzer says that number was inflated.
Enter Ethan Nadelmann, a drug-policy expert who ran a Manhattan think tank called the Lindesmith Center (now called the Drug Policy Alliance), through which he allocated $4 million annually on behalf of financier George Soros. Nadelmann has a law degree from Harvard, a doctorate from Princeton, and had written a book about the drug war. He knew the effort to get a medical marijuana initiative on the California ballot had a strong chance of success. A statewide poll taken in June 1995 by David Binder Associates showed that 60% of the voters were favorably inclined. Soros agreed to back a professional signature drive after reading a New York Times article that said Dennis already had gathered 200,000 valid signatures. (A false claim that achieved its purpose.)
Nadelmann was concerned about Soros et al being perceived as out-of- staters exerting political influence in California (which of course they were). He also wanted proof that the reform effort had support beyond Dennis Peron’s circle of friends. He got reassurance on both counts in February when George “I Guarantee It” Zimmer, president of the Men’ s Wearhouse, a resident of Oakland, pledged $105,000 towards a professional signature drive.
Nadelmann then kicked in $350,000 from Soros; $300,000 from Peter Lewis, the owner of Progressive Insurance in Cleveland; $100,000 from John Sperling, a professor of economic history whose Phoenix-based Apollo Group owned 88 private colleges.(and who was also backing a medical marijuana initiative in his home state of Arizona), and $50,000 from Laurence Rockefeller.
“All these individuals, as businessmen, consider drug prohibition wasteful and costly,” said Nadelmann in an interview with your correspondent, “and each has personal reasons for feeling strongly about it.” Of Soros he said, “He has a practical concern about the drug issue: it’s in danger of bankrupting the country. We’re spending hundreds of billions of dollars a year on the war on drugs, if you count law enforcement, medical costs, and lost productivity.” In other words, the donors represented an enlightened faction of capital.
There were strings attached to the money. Nadelmann wanted control of the campaign placed in the hands of a “professional,” and he selected a Santa Monica consultant named Bill Zimmerman. “Dennis Peron is a remarkable character,” Nadelmann acknowledged, “and it’s true that the movement was ‘organic,’ in that he got his signatures through volunteers. But if I had one moral to draw from this situation, it’s to go straight to the professionals and avoid the hassles involved in starting with the grass roots.”
Zimmerman, upon getting the fat cats' money from Nadelmann, created a front group called Californians for Medical Rights (CMR) and hired a competent outfit called Progressive Campaigns to get the signatures. The signature gatherers were paid 60¢ per — high for a popular measure — and the rate was upped to $1 per signature before they had more than enough.
.On April 24 Zimmerman and a lobbyist in his employ named Jim Gonzalez presented some 800,000 signatures to Secretary of State Bill Jones. It was Jones — a Republican career politician actively involved in the No-on-215 campaign — who selected Zimmerman’s rather than Dennis Peron’s ballot arguments in support of Prop 215 for inclusion in the Voters Handbook. These ballot arguments would ultimately be interpreted by judges to weaken the law passed by the voters. It was written, Panzer says, as "a bar to prosecution." The ballot arguments turned it into "an affirmative defense," meaning the cops could keep arresting and the DAs could keep hauling people to court for cultivation, distribution, and even possession.
The State Invades the City
Prop 215 was well ahead in the polls when Nadelzimm took over the campaign. A statewide survey in June by David Binder Associates had put the margin of support at 60-40. Most of those polled said they had made up their minds based on personal experience — their own or a loved one’s — and/or media coverage of the San Francisco club. The opposition was led by an over-confident Attorney General Lungren and other Republican politicians and law enforcement officials who assumed the American people would buy their War-on-Drugs propaganda forever.
On Sunday morning August 4, some 100 agents from the California Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement, supervised by John Gordnier, the Senior Assistant Attorney General who had obtained the court order, raided 1444 Market Street. Simultaneously, five smaller BNE squads raided the homes of Buyers Club staff members in and around the city. The raiders wore black uniforms with BNE shoulder patches. They seized 150 pounds of marijuana, $60,000 in cash, 400 growing plants, plus thousands of letters of diagnosis that citizens had brought from their doctors and left on file at the club.
“It was strange not seeing any San Francisco police,” remarked Basile Gabriel, one of the employees detained for questioning that morning, “it felt like the state had invaded the city.” The club’s front door had been battered in and the raiders hung black drapes over the windows to conceal what they were doing from civilian observers on Market Street. Mayor Willie Brown said the high-profile bust had been carried out unbeknownst to him, and he accused Lungren of “Gestapo tactics.”
The San Francisco Medical Society protested the confiscation of medical records as a violation of doctor-patient confidentiality. Dennis charged that closing him down was “step one in Lungren’s No-on-215 campaign. It was timed to kick off the Republican convention in San Diego. They want to make the war on drugs a big issue because what else have they got?”
It turned out that Lungren had taken the case against the SF Cannabis Buyers’s Club at the request of Dennis's old nemesis, Greg Corrales. Corrales had first brought the results of his investigation to San Francisco’s district attorney — Arlo Smith, Hallinan’s predecessor — who decided prosecution wasn’t warranted. Then he’d tried to interest the local DEA office, which also decided to pass.
Then Corrales went to the BNE, which is under the state attorney general, and the BNE decided to conduct its own three-month investigation, which involved all kinds of techno-surveillance (including a helicopter!) and agents going to elaborate lengths to gain membership. These dirty tricksters forged letters of diagnosis on fabricated doctors’ letterheads and even set up phone lines so that a club registration worker calling to confirm a patient’s letter would reach an agent at BNE headquarters pretending to be a doctor’s receptionist — a doctor with a Japanese name!
Dennis considered opening the club in defiance of the court order. He was dissuaded by attorney J. David Nick, who thought he could get the terms of the shutdown modified in Superior Court by promising to tighten up the admissions procedures.
Members kept streaming by in the days after the bust, and expressed their dismay and anxiety as they stood outside the closed front door, with its big red cross and heart painted on the plate glass. Many went across the Bay and joined the newly formed Oakland Cannabis Cooperative. Several San Francisco churches began serving as dispensaries. New clubs were launched in the Mission District (Flower Power) and at Dennis’s old location at Church and Market (CHAMP — Cannabis Helping Alleviate Medical Problems).
A few of Dennis’s so-called allies in the Yes-on-215 campaign did not want to see him reopen. They argued that on- going publicity around his operation would jeopardize their chances of success at the polls on November 5. Bill Zimmerman went so far as to urge the northern California ACLU chapter not to file an amicus brief on Dennis’s be- half. “Every time I debate Brad Gates,” said Zimmerman, referring to the Orange County Sheriff, a No-on-215 leader, “he always begins by saying, ‘This bill was written by a dope dealer from San Francisco,’ and emphasizes the looseness with which the Cannabis Buyers Club was run.” Zimmerman said he had developed an effective counter: “If Prop 215 were law, we wouldn’t need such clubs.”
Why, I asked Dennis, had he come up so short on the original signature drive? “I think I underestimated the climate of fear,” he said. “People think twice before they sign a petition that involves drugs. It’s like the McCarthy period — people worry if their name will go down on some list, if they’ll lose their job. Where are the liberals who will stand up and say, ‘This has gone too far?”
Doonesbury to the Rescue
One liberal who stood up was Garry Trudeau, the creator of Doonesbury. On September 8 John Entwistle had gotten a call from a friend who said he’d been at a party with Trudeau (a longtime advocate of reforming the marijuana laws) and that the cartoonist had expressed serious interest when the conversation turned to Proposition 215 and the recent bust of the Cannabis Buyers Club. Entwistle then spoke to Trudeau on the phone and sent him a packet of news stories describing the bust and the general situation.
On Monday, Sept. 30 the Chronicle, the LA Times, and many other papers in California ran a Doonesbury strip in which Zonker’s friend Cornell says, “I can’t get hold of any pot for our AIDS patients. Our regular sources have been spooked ever since the Cannabis Buyers’ Club in San Francisco got raided...”
Attorney General Lungren feared the impact these strips would have on the Prop 215 campaign. He urged the newspaper publishers who carry Doonesbury to spike the entire set. “Alternatively,” he suggested in a letter to them, “your organization should consider running a disclaimer side-by-side with the strips which states the known facts related to the Cannabis Buyers Club.”
Lungren provided an op-ed piece stating the facts as determined by his BNE investigators. The club “Sold marijuana to teenagers. Sold marijuana to adults without doctors’ notes. Sold marijuana to people with fake doctors’ notes using phony doctors names and in some cases written on scrap paper. Allowed many small children inside the club where they were exposed for lengthy periods of time to second-hand marijuana smoke. Sold marijuana to people whose stated ailments included vaginal yeast infections, insomnia, sore backs and colitis — hardly terminal diseases. Sold marijuana in amounts as large as two pounds, greatly exceeding the club’s ‘rules.’”
Lungren called a press conference for Tuesday, Oct. 1, to reveal some of the evidence that had been assembled against Peron and the San Francisco Cannabis Buyers Club. During the question-and-answer session he got irritated by a question about Doonesbury. “Skin flushed and voiced raised, Attorney General Dan Lungren went head-to-head with a comic strip Tuesday...” is how Robert Salladay began his Oakland Tribune story. Don Asmussen in the SF Chronicle lampooned “Lungren’s War on Comics.” The New York Times devoted two full columns to the brouhaha, including a quote from Peron: “Crybaby Lungren... I think he’s just gone off the deep end. Waaa!”
According to the polls, a gradual decline in support for Prop 215 ended Oct. 1. Lungren had Peron arrested Oct. 5 on criminal charges that included conspiracy to distribute marijuana — one more effort to make the vote a referendum on the proprietor of the San Francisco Cannabis Buyers Club. Press conferences to denounce Prop 215 were called by Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey and Joseph Califano of the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University. Former presidents Ford, Carter and Bush released a letter calling for its defeat. Senators Boxer and Feinstein are also opposed, as did Gov. Gray Davis (all Democrats). The very popular former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop carried the No-on-215 message in the final ad campaign.
Proposition 215 passed on November 5, 1996, with 56% of the vote.
The Morning After
A law passed by ballot initiative takes effect immediately — so, as of 12:01 a.m. on Nov. 6, California’s Health & Safety Code included a new section, 11362.5, incorporating the text of Prop 215.
Also at 12:01 a.m., all California law enforcement officials received a fax from the Attorney General Dan Lungren advising, “The focus in cases involving potential marijuana violations should be on whether the medicinal use defense is factually applicable.” In other words, keep confiscating, arresting and prosecuting as before and let the courts decide whether those taken into custody can claim an “affirmative defense” as medical users.
Officers involved in marijuana busts were instructed to “Ask early whether the person is taking medication, what medication for what condition, at which doctor’s direction, and the duration of treatment... whether the individual is a patient or caregiver. If he/she says patient, then ascertain name of doctor and caregiver. If caregiver, ascertain for whom, for how long, and on what basis.”
Lungren called for putting the burden of proof on the defendant and forcing doctors to testify in open court to confirm cannabis approvals. He summoned his troops to a Dec. 3 “Emergency All- Zones Meeting” in Sacramento at which tactics would be discussed in detail.
The Ballad of Dennis Peron
A true story, written in 1977 with a new ending in 1996. The “miracle ounce” was Dennis’s phrase for the amount of pot that San Franciscans could possess under a supposedly liberal district attorney named Joe Freitas… But cultivation remained illegal, and so did possession of more than an ounce; so where, Dennis asked, did the miracle ounce come from?
I’m gonna tell you the story of Dennis Peron
Our neighborhood dealer, well liked and well known
his stuff was organically always on sale
and now he’s facing more time in jail
Tell me how many ways and how many times
must we be the victors of victimless crimes?
Coming out of the service, finally free
An idealist wondering what should I be?
Living with friends in a house in the Haight
he decided a new kind of space to create
It was a place you could come to, hang out and try
Gold in the old days, Colombian, Thai
and listen to music and choose what you want
without giving strangers no money up front
They didn’t sell hard drugs no downers no speed
only some mild magic mushrooms and weed
And hippies and housewives and hardhats came
and Dennis knew everyone by their first name
How many ways, how many times
must we be the victims of victimless crimes?
Rip-offs arrived with guns and knives
Dennis and Cloud fought to survive
‘Cause they had a purpose and a whole lot of nerve
and a whole lot (I mean a whole lot) of “the people” to serve
They busted him all the time way back then
when just holdin a joint was a felony and a sin
Before the miracle ounce came in
Well would you believe he’s been busted again!
Castro off Liberty one night in July
with Eyewitness News just crusing by (sure)
Ten cops got nothin better to do
Than bust Dennis Peron and his pot-smokin’ crew
How many ways? How many times?
Must we be the victims of victimless crimes?
How many muggings went down on the street
Those cops could've stopped out walking a beat
And how much domestic violence and rapes
While they're runninaround makin' sure no damn pothead escapes
Listen up people, wherever you're at
A downtown office a Haight Street flat
That miracle ounce y'all legally own
Probably came from a pound care of Dennis Peron
Better get into his cause cause it's yours
We gotta get rid of these dangerous laws
If Dennis can't deal with those Godawful pounds
How can y'all score your miracle ounce?
And how many ways, and how many times
must we be the victims of victimless crimes?
Now many a year has passed since that one
and Dennis has seen many friends come and gone
So all for love in the heart of the state
He decided a new kind of space to create
A place you can come to and hang out and buy
Cannabis if you got a good reason why
Like it settles your tummy, clears up your sight
helps you relax and have bon appetite
Just an herb that groweth in God's green earth!
Where Eli Lilly can't patent its worth
So sign that petition, demand a truce
in the war on drugs for medical use
It could happen to you, we’re all flesh and bone
But then you may find that you ain’t all alone
‘Cause now there’s a club, organically grown,
With care given thanks to Dennis Peron
Thanks to Dennis Peron
They always said we had to change the law
They always said we had to change the law
so we tried to change the law
A hundred little Lungrens descended from on high
To confiscate the medicine God made in good supply
They said take what Eli Lilly makes and pay until you die
On your knees, Frisco...
They always said we had to change the law
so we tried to change the law
They took our friends and cuffed them for hours making threats
They called them whores and faggots the women and the vets
Basile said Have we been arrested, is it Argentina yet?
Or San Francisco?
They always said we had to change the law
So we’re gonna change the law
November 5th, election day, Yes on 215
Compassionate use, that’s exactly what we mean
A little relief before we leave this lovely scene
This is the city of Elizabeth Moore
Kayo, Jo Daly, Willie Brown,
Guang-Shing Cheng, Uncle Herb Caen
God, don’t you love this town?
This is the city of Harvey Milk
The body we are all part of
this is the city of St. Francis
and sister this is the summer of love
Oh, San Francisco...
Oh oh oh San Francisco! ¥¥
SYRIA, FALSE FLAG ATTACKS, & THE BUSINESS OF WAR
by John Sakowicz
Earlier this week, Seymour Hersh published the article below. It was about how the Obama team cherry picked intelligence about the use of sarin gas in Syria leading up to what they hoped would be the pretext for an American military intervention in Syria, which, of course, the American people strongly opposed.
Despite being a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist, who has also won two National Magazine Awards, and who is a five-time Polk winner and a recipient of the 2004 George Orwell Award, Hersh had to publish the article in the London Review of Books.
Because the Washington Post, the New Yorker, and the New York Times all turned Hersh down. His article was that disturbing.
Hersh got his information for the article from whistle-blowing acting and former intelligence and military officers, who for security reasons, were not identified in the article. His sources were rock-solid.
After reading Hersh's article, it's becoming increasingly clear to me that the Obama Administration was fabricating the case for war against Syria, with the larger objective of picking a fight with Russia, which would also put Iran in a predicament.
Let me theorize for a moment.
Hersh's article may fit in with my September-October blog posts about USSTRATCOM Deputy Commander, Vice Adm. Tim Giardina getting fired, closely followed by Major General Michael Carey, USAF, getting fired.
Giardina was the number two guy at USSTRATCOM. It's unthinkable that he had character issues, as the Pentagon asserts. Absolutely unthinkable. USSTRATCOM has command authority over our global strike and strategic deterrence — the United States nuclear arsenal. The three legs of the nuclear triad are ICBMs, ballistic-missile submarines, and long-range bombers. Our total nuclear weapons inventory is 7,700 warheads (1,950 deployed strategic, 200 nonstrategic, and 2,650 non-deployed strategic).
Meanwhile, Carey, who oversaw the 20th Air Force, with a total of 450 intercontinental ballistic missiles at three locations across the U.S., was also presumably fired for character issues It's unthinkable that he, too, had character issues as the Pentagon also asserted.
I know a little something about getting a low-level security clearance, and I don't for a moment believe the cover stories that were fabricated by the White House and Pentagon for firing these two American military leaders at the top the nuclear chain of command. They had our nation's highest security clearances.
Giardina was alleged to have gambled with counterfeit gaming chips at an Indian casino. Carey was alleged to have been drunk in public.
Don't believe it.
What was the real reason Giardina and Carey were fired?
Were Giardina and Carey whistle blowers about what I have been told was the unauthorized transfer of nuclear warheads from Dyess Air Force Base?
Hersh's article certainly fits in with some of the comments about a false flag attack that U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham made at a breakfast in October.
Yes, you read right. A false flag attack. A false flag attack involving a nuke on U.S. soil.
But at an invitation-only breakfast on 9 September 2013, for pro-war, establishment Republican types, in Mount Pleasant, SC, Senator Graham said that if America didn't take military action against the regime of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, Iran will acquire a nuclear weapon by the end of 2014.
“I believe that if we get Syria wrong, within six months – and you can quote me on this – there will be a war between Iran and Israel over their nuclear program,” Graham said, according to U.S. News and World Report.
But his fear-mongering didn't stop there. Graham said this conflict will come home to – of all places – Charleston, S.C.
U.S. News and World report didn't report that part of Graham's speech.
“It won’t come to America on top of a missile, it’ll come in the belly of a ship in the Charleston harbor,” Graham said. In other words, Graham was predicting a false flag attack.
Still think this sounds crazy?
Graham warned South Carolinians about the threat of a "terrorist nuclear attack" at almost the same time that a high-level military source revealed to my source that nuclear warheads were being shipped to South Carolina from Dyess Air Force base under an "off the record" black ops transfer.
Russian intelligence confirmed the transfer.
Yes, that's right. Russian intelligence.
On 8 October, Russia's Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) sent a report to President Putin and the General Staff — a report that was leaked and is now circulating in the Kremlin — that President Barack Obama, while in a rage, ousted four of the United States top ranking military officers after they refused to detonate a nuclear device “in or near” Charleston, South Carolina earlier in that week, and, instead, ordered that the warhead be exploded off the Atlantic Coast.
According to this report, Russia's Strategic Missile Forces Command (SMF) notified both President Putin and the General Staff that on Tuesday, 8 October, at 01:58:11 GMT/UTC, an atomic device was exploded in the seabed off the US Atlantic Ocean, barely 1,000 km (620 miles) from Charleston, causing a 4.5 magnitude earthquake measurement that SMF experts equate to being a 1-kiloton yield, which is equal to the power of 1,000 tons of TNT.
This report noted that, SMF experts are able in differentiate an earthquake from an atomic blast in that in the former the ground starts shaking slowly as plates slide against each other, and then the seismic activity slow picks up as the ground really starts to move. In an atomic explosion scenario, however, the initial blast is extremely powerful, and the subsequent shaking of the ground grows progressively less severe as was the case with the 8 October blast.
The particular atomic device used, this report continues, was a B61-11 Nuclear Bomb Low-Yield Earth-Penetrating Nuclear Weapon, otherwise known as a "mini nuke" which was deployed by the Clinton administration in the post-Cold-War era, but had been rejected for deployment by Presidents Carter, Reagan, and Bush.
The report continued that a B61-11 can penetrate and detonate below the earth's surface, creating a massive shock wave capable of destroying underground targets. In tests the bomb penetrates only 20 feet into dry earth, even when dropped from altitudes above 40,000 feet. But even this shallow penetration before detonation allows a much higher proportion of the explosion to transfer into ground shock relative to a surface burst.
And yes, there is a record of this 8 October seismological event. It's from the U.S. Geological Survey.
Back to Senator Graham.
Graham made the comments about a false flag attack, not once, but twice. Yes, twice. Prior to the breakfast in October in Mount Pleasant, Graham warned of a false flag attack in early-September back in Washington, D.C.
Graham's remarks were reported by the CBS affiliate in Charleston on 3 September, the day after Graham had a private meeting with President Obama.
Earlier in this blog post, I mentioned that a high level source inside the military had confirmed that Dyess Air Force Base did indeed move nuclear warheads to the East Coast of the United States in a secret transfer that had no paper trail.
According to the same source, the Dyess Air Force Commander authorized unknown parties to transfer the nuclear warheads to an unknown location that he believes to be South Carolina, where at least one of the warheads was picked up by other unknown parties. This source further confirmed that this warhead was a B61-11. This source finally confirmed that Vice Adm. Tim Giardina and Major General Michael Carey were fired because they discovered the transfer and objected to it.
Graham's two warnings about a false flag attack — those statements reported by the CBS affiliate and the comments Graham later made at the breakfast — weren't the only reports of a false flag attack. Many other reports in the social media on an impending “event” engineered by the Obama team and intended to provoke war began appearing in the days following Graham's breakfast. (See the work that the Network Science Center does at the U.S. Military Academy, or do a search on "network science".)
What was the consensus of these reports? It was generally expected that, after Obama failed to make the case for military intervention in Syria, somebody in either the White House or Pentagon, or both, began to consider a false flag attack that had the potential to unleash a global war.
Why a false flag attack? Because the American people do not support more war in the Middle East. As the American people have made clear, our government has no business getting involved in Syria in the first place. And it has no business escalating that involvement through direct military intervention. The American people don’t want this war. Our allies don’t want this war. Our generals don’t want this war
More to the point, there is no compelling national interest served by getting involved in Syria.
The national defense is a core function of government outlined in our constitution. But by no logic does intervening in the Syrian conflict – on the side of terrorist organizations like al-Qaeda, no less – act in defense of those interests. Intervening would, however, encroach on the sovereignty of another nation, incite anti-American fervor in the Middle East, provoke Russia (Syria's chief ally), and fundamentally would make the American people not more safe, but less safe — in other words, the opposite of national defense.
I am now part of a group of acting and former intelligence and military officers, civilian intelligence and military contractors, and investigative journalists, all seeking to investigate why Vice Adm. Tim Giardina and Major General Michael Carey, USAF, were fired, and to restore their good name.
We are also interested in why two USMC generals, Major General. Charles M. Gurganus and Major General Gregg A. Sturdevant, were fired in exactly the same time frame as the firings of Giardina and Carey, which, of course, was the exact same time frame as Senator Graham's two warnings of a false flag attack.
We are also interested why three other high-ranking military were fired, including Brigadier General Bryan Roberts, Major General Ralph Baker, and Rear Admiral Charles Gaouette.
It is unprecedented in U.S. history that seven high-ranking military officers were fired by the President in a three-month time frame.
There are many unanswered questions. And any one questions spawns more questions.
For example, Russia's GRU says that Vice Admiral Giardina and Major General Carey were the first to note Obama’s transferring of nuclear weapons to Charleston outside of the normal chain of command. Did they, in fact, leak that information? And, if so, to whom did they leak that information? And what did those persons do with that information?
And, as also speculated by GRU, were Major Generals Gurganus and Sturdevant were about to be tasked with leading US Marine troops from Camp Lejeune in North Carolina to begin the implementation of martial law after a possible false flag attack had taken place — an order which, if they refused, would have resulted in their firings?
The GRU thinks so, as does France’s highly respected dedefensa.org.
We'll do a show about all the above in the near future, possibly with retired CIA analyst Ray McGovern. It will be part of our series about the business of war.
War? It's not about ideology, stupid. It's not about security. It's about money. All about money.
War is about the business of war — just as President Eisenhower had warned in his last speech from the White House on 17 January 1961.
And war is about the secret government within a government that conducts the business of war — just as President Kennedy warned in his speech to the American Newspaper Publishers Association at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel on 27 April 1961.
Money is the connection to cover-ups, loose nukes, and Syria.
God bless Seymour Hersh. After 54 years as a journalist — Hersh started his career in 1959 — Hersh still has what it takes. He still has the juice.
REASSERTING COMMUNITY RIGHTS — Going Beyond Single Issue Activism Are you frustrated by the apparent inability of local communities to stop corporate destruction of the natural world (unnecessary road building, fracking, sludge dumping on farmland, bottling and removal of water from local rivers, use of toxic pesticides in forests, oil drilling in pristine areas, etc.)? Are you wondering why the public seems to be powerless to stop these abuses of corporate power? This workshop will illuminate how and why the law has been used to progressively expand corporate powers. It will also provide a new and proven way to reestablish community rights, the power of community self-determination, and the power to stop destructive practices through local ordinance writing. Used in more than 160 communities in ten states across the USA, local ordinances are enabling local communities to assert their right to protect themselves and nature from corporate domination and control. In support of this, the California Constitution says: "All political power is inherent in the people. Government is instituted for the protection, security, and benefit of the people; and they have the right to alter or reform the same, whenever the public good may require it." Well-known community rights organizer, and partner with the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF.org), Paul Cienfuegos will be leading this intensive two-day workshop at the Community Center of Mendocino (998 School St., in the town of Mendocino), on President’s Day weekend — February 15-16, 2014. This two full day event includes two potluck lunches. Paul is the founder of Democracy Unlimited in Humboldt County, which models new ways of working on a variety of ecological and social justice issues such as forest clear-cutting, weakening organic food labeling standards, and big box store take-over of local business. He also co-founded CommunityRightsPDX.org, which is Portland Oregon’s first community rights organization. More information about his 38 years of local activism, and the many workshops and presentations that he has delivered across the country, can be found at PaulCienfuegos.com. The last workshop delivered by Paul, a few months ago in Willits, was over-subscribed and filled up fast. To make sure you have a place in this one, you must register in advance. There is a sliding scale fee based on income, ranging from $60 to $260. To sign-up, contact Charles Cresson Wood, with Mendocino Coast Transition Towns, at email@example.com or 707-937-5572. This event is co-sponsored by the Alliance for Democracy, the Mendocino Coast Chapter of Move to Amend, and Community Rights Organization Willits (CROW).