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When a problem comes along, she must whip it. Meet your new mayor, Santa Cruz.

Nüz

Famous Last Words

Nothing short of a lovefest. That's how the packed City Council chambers struck Nüz, as residents bade farewell to two councilmembers--and said hello to three familiar faces.

"The Santa Cruz consciousness is spreading," said departing Mayor Chris Krohn, who put Santa Cruz on the map by appearing on CNN, CBS and Fox News, first when the council supported medical marijuana rights and then when it became the first municipality to draft a resolution opposing a U.S.-led war on Iraq.

"No. 26 was Madison, Wis. No. 27 was Baltimore," said Krohn, noting that since that trailblazing day, 26 other cities have joined Santa Cruz in opposing the war.

Apologizing for "not having done more" to further the creation of a peace park and a downtown plaza and for not having resolved the tidelands dispute and ongoing attacks on the city's mobile-home rent-control ordinance, Krohn urged locals to remain vigilant, so councils "never go down a dark alley and make a deal with the devil--be it a he-devil or a she-devil."

As he and Councilmember Keith Sugar exited stage left, the newly elected Mike Rotkin, Cynthia Mathews and Tim Fitzmaurice were sworn in--a threesome of former mayors that got one onlooker blurting, "Don't let the revolving door hit you on the way in!"

A suit-and-sneakered Rotkin (yes, we did notice the Jerry Garcia tie, Mike) noted that the most important thing a councilmember can do is "learn to count to four" (presumably because four votes equals a council majority), while Mathews radioed a conservative vibe with a blue suit and a matching "No bold new initiatives" warning.

But before Nüz could start mourning the good ol' days when councils were weird and wacky, and debates went on until 4 in the morning, Fitzmaurice shifted into high gear, revealing that he knew he had a chance of getting re-elected when (a) he didn't get the Senile's endorsement but (b) did get the SCAN endorsement, and (c) "when Aldo used yellow and black in his election signs, because everyone knows those colors bring the wrong things."

After reading his lengthy--and, may we say, quite eloquent--poem

to the San Lorenzo River (a piece he describes as "eight feet long and the shape of the river"), the Fitz nominated Emily Reilly for mayor--with the following proviso:

"You need to be a lion tamer, you need to carry a whip--and I tried to find one at Frenchy's. ... But Reilly's got the stuff; too many think she's a pushover, and you've got to be tough to deal with this bunch," he concluded as a purple-clad newly elected Mayor Reilly lifted both fists in a victory salute.

Noting that voters overwhelmingly supported keeping the utility tax--and thus city services--Reilly pledged her support for the Metrobase and promised to fight graffiti, to be respectful of everyone and to make a habit of peace.

"And when all else fails, drive the speed limit," she said. Absent to deal with a family emergency, Scott Kennedy was unanimously elected vice mayor.

Harry Potter and the Time Warner Freelancers

Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling has premonitory powers.

Osama bin Laden is a pawn of the film industry.

AOL Time Warner is the anti-Christ.

Sound far-fetched? Fine, but consider the facts:

In 2001, just weeks after Sept. 11, in AOL Time Warner's Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone a disembodied He Who Cannot Be Named (a.k.a. Voledemort) lurks beneath the turban of Defense Against the Dark Arts professor Quirell. This revelation is made all the eerier by the knowledge that, even as we watch the film, the disembodied voice of He Who Cannot be Found (a.k.a. Osama Bin Laden) is echoing, somewhere in the caves of Tora Bora, in a very Voledemortian way.

In 2002, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is released even as weapons inspectors prepare to peer into Saddam's very chambers of secrets.

Well, OK, maybe we're reaching. But did you notice that the film features a self-writing diary, even though AOL Time Warner, which released the film, is forcing freelance writers and artists to sign away rights to their work?

To demonstrate this inequity, Pat Hanson, chair of Local 7 National Writers Union, has been standing outside local theaters dressed a la Hogwarts' Professor McGonagall and carrying a sign that says, "Time Warner Unfair."

"Traditionally, freelancers survive by syndicating and reselling their work," Hanson explains in a tone way more patient than the edgy witch she is dressed to resemble. "Forced to give up their copyright under work-for-hire contracts, multiple sales are impossible. Indeed, all additional sales and royalties attached go into the already deep pockets of multibillion-dollar corporations like Time Warner, which owns 100 major publications."

Picketing in front of a lot of people is a good idea, but will Harry Potter fans get the point, given that author J.K. Rowling is far from being a starving freelancer?

"J.K. Rowling is a bestselling author, but most writers aren't. If you really appreciate what artists and writers do, let AOL Time Warner know that how they're treating independent artists and writers is unacceptable, " Hanson insists. "No one should be forced to sign away his or her copyright. And no one should be fired for refusing to sign an unfair and non-negotiable contract."

Local resident and humor columnist Tom Pinsky has had similar "work-to hire" experiences at the hands of San Jose Merc News owner Knight Ridder and Gannet Newspapers--the U.S.'s largest newspaper group in terms of circulation, with 94 daily newspapers and a daily paid circulation of 7.7 million, including USA Today, the nation's largest-selling daily newspaper.

For instance, at the Merc, where he had supplied a self-syndicated humor column while retaining copyright, Pinsky' situation changed overnight about 18 months ago.

"All freelancers were told, 'From now on, you are work-for-hire, and when we publish, we will own the copyright, for any technology in existence and any yet to be discovered, including the fifth dimension. In exchange we are offering zero additional dollars,'" Pinsky jokes.

Although Knight Ridder eventually gave him a royalty-free license to sell his stuff elsewhere, they still own the copyright, a deal that has Pinsky believing that "this is all about avoiding having to pay artists again for their work in the event that a new pipeline for information--be it center pads in cars or chip implants--comes to pass. When that time comes, they don't want to pay people for their work--again."

Meanwhile, freelance technical writer Don Monkerud recalls that he stopped working for the San Jose Business Journal when they wanted to take away his copyright.

"I have a formal grievance against them because they took my stories and tried putting them on the online Lexus Nexus without paying," he says. His advice to freelancers?

"Through the union, we're trying to do collective action, but it's tough, because that involves withholding writing at a time when there are plenty of freelancers eager to see their work in print. I hate to say we are a dying breed, but if people want to write, they are going to need to take a full-time job."

So, what would Harry Potter do?

Monkerud laughs.

"Call Merlin. That's what we need. Some magic."


Nüz just loves juicy tips: Drop a line to 115 Cooper St, Santa Cruz, 95060, email us at , or call our hotline at 457.9000, ext 214.

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From the December 4-11, 2002 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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