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[whitespace] Dirty Tricks

Marin recall losing its luster

By Greg Cahill

ERIN BROCKOVICH will not be using her star power to save a floundering recall campaign against Marin County District Attorney Paula Kamena. Last week, a coalition of angry family law advocates and medical marijuana supporters announced incorrectly that Brockovich--the environmental law crusader portrayed by Julia Roberts in last year's popular film by director Stephen Soderbergh--would be attending a press conference to lend her clout to a bid to unseat Kamena. Not so, said a spokeswoman for Brockovich.

Now the recall campaign itself is drawing fire for the latest in a string of apparent dirty tricks.

A letter from Edward Masry, a partner in the Southern California law firm that employs Brockovich, cited in the Marin Independent Journal, stated that someone has been masquerading as the celebrity legal eagle by using fake stationery to write letters to California State Supreme Court Chief Justice Ron George and another judge to complain about alleged abuses in family law matters. Masry went on to state that someone has been using Brockovich's name "to further a cause that she has no association with or knowledge of."

Lynette Shaw of the Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuans reportedly told the IJ she was surprised to hear about the Brockovich incident. Shaw, who helped plan the press conference, said that she is convinced Brockovich "was misrepresented." In a statement to the paper, Kamena characterized the recall campaign as lacking in credibility, noting that the incident should call into question the viability of complaints against her. "This reminds me of the jury instruction about witnesses being willfully false," she said. "It says a witness who is willfully false in one material part of his or her testimony is to be distrusted in others."

Meanwhile, a classified ad appearing in the San Francisco Chronicle last week listed a job opening for a Marin County district attorney. Among the qualifications: "Integrity a must."

Two separate groups--one angry over child-custody decisions and the other miffed about the county's medical marijuana policies--joined forces last fall in an eleventh-hour bid to force a May 22 special recall election.

No one has stepped forward to run against Kamena.

Nation Wide

STATE ASSEMBLYMAN Joe Nation, who won a seat in the Legislature last year, isn't wasting any time making a name for himself during the energy crisis. Nation has proposed a conservation-based program that would charge a higher rate for those using more than the amount of power allocated in previous years.

The program, for residential and commercial users, would require the installation of real-time meters to help users gauge the rate of consumption and the cost of that power at any given time. The proposed tiered-rate system probably would go into effect first for businesses. It is estimated that the state will face a 30 percent shortfall in electrical power this summer, despite the announcement this week that Gov. Gray Davis has signed long-term contracts with energy suppliers. California consumers, who were asked to curtail energy use this winter, have decreased consumption overall by just 8 percent.

Meanwhile, Nation--who sits on the Assembly's Utilities and Commerce Committee--will discuss his proposal and other energy-related matters on March 28 at the monthly dinner meeting of the Santa Rosa Democratic Club. There will be an open-mic session for audience participation. Among the topics that Nation will discuss are public conservation measures; energy efficient homes; the feasibility of solar, wind, and nuclear power; and the possibility of state ownership of utility companies, power plants, and transmission lines.

The dinner meeting will be held at the Santa Rosa Memorial Veterans Building, 1351 Maple Ave., Santa Rosa. The meeting begins at 6 p.m. with a mix-and-mingle session, followed by dinner at 7 p.m. Admission to the event is free, though dinner costs $7 with reservations ($9 without). For details, call 575-0128.

On a side note, the conservative Bush administration has been very, very good for the local Democratic Club. SRDC President Liz Basile reports signing 24 new members, bringing membership up to 325. "In a way, Bush is doing us a favor because we're beginning to see active Democrats up in arms over his policies," she says. "It's very scary what's happening."


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From the March 8-14, 2001 issue of the Northern California Bohemian.

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