Welcome to the topsy-turvy world of winemaking. One week, Gallo of Sonoma plays local hero, donating $150,000 to Santa Rosa Junior College, earning the right to name the planned instructional winery to be built on the JC’s Shone Farm near Forestville. The next week, the pesky United Farm Workers of America are reminding people that Gallo of Sonoma has refused to meet the union’s “modest demands for decent wages, benefits, fair treatment and just working conditions” and that all Gallo wines will be subject to a national boycott endorsed by the UFW and the AFL-CIO beginning June 14. It’s enough to drive a person to drink. Something fortified, please, like Gallo’s soon-to-be-boycotted Thunderbird.
It’s taken more than a year, but the mainstream media is finally catching up with the Bohemian on the issue of the Bay Area’s potential housing bubble ( April 14, 2004). Last month, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan warned what wannabe home buyers in the North Bay have known for years–that home prices nationwide are outstripping the income of middle class wage earners. That was enough to cause many commentators to recall Greenspan’s “irrational exuberance” comment from 1996, in spite of which investors continued throwing good money after bad until the inevitable stock market crash in 2000. In the past week, both the Santa Rosa Press Democrat and the San Francisco Chronicle have run housing bubble articles in the wake of Greenspan’s recent comment. If the tone of these articles is any indication–“A housing bubble ready to pop” was the headline of the Chronicle‘s recent Sunday editorial–the end of the red-hot housing market may be at hand. You read it here first, of course.
How will soon-to-be-termed-out Sixth District Assemblyman Joe Nation fare in his battle against incumbent Rep. Lynn Woolsey in the Democratic primary for the Sixth Congressional District next spring? There’s a clue or two to be found at representativevoter.org, website for the Voters for Representative Government (VRG), a North Bay-based organization seeking to inform voters on the race to replace Nation in the state Assembly. “Throughout his tenure, Nation consistently raised huge amounts of money from PACS and almost no money from individuals,” VRG states. “In our view, his legislative goals have reflected the priorities of his contributors.” Say it ain’t so, Joe!
–R. V. Scheide
From the June 8-14, 2005 issue of the North Bay Bohemian.