5 The year started and ended with life and death. State Sen. Bill Monning, D-Carmel, in January introduced an assisted suicide bill – the End-of-Life Option Act – that finally saw passage in October after Monning yanked it from consideration and then re-introduced it in extraordinary session of the Legislature. Carmel resident Darby Worth sat down with me in January to talk about her undying wish, to be buried in her front yard. The 93-year-old activist is still kicking and still fighting for someone official to give her a permit that will allow her strange burial to take place. New York Times media writer David Carr died in February, and oh how badly we still need him around, to pick apart the nonsense of the media world, especially the nonsense now at the Las Vegas Review Journal and the secrecy that surrounded its purchase by billionaire Republican Sheldon Adelson. And just a few weeks ago, I learned the founding editor of the Sacramento News & Review, a woman who helped me numerous times and who had written eloquently about Monning’s bill (and spearheaded the recent “Letters to the Future” project about climate change), was herself dying. Melinda Welsh, in an essay in the Sacramento alt-weekly and theLos Angeles Times, revealed she has a rare type of head and neck cancer that’s spread and only about a year to live. Here’s to Melinda, and Darby and David and Bill, people who knowingly or not have made my life richer.
4. In September, following the surprise announcement that the Salinas Californian was cutting its print schedule to three days a week and trying to youth-up its readership, I took a long look at the Californian and tried to analyze whether it had a future. A week later, I did the same with the Monterey County Herald. Both are still hanging on, sort of, the Californian relying on press releases for a lot of its news and the Herald growing increasingly thin. It will be interesting to see, in a year, what (if anything) they look like.
3. Also in September, after a two-and-a-half year legal battle against the Diocese of Monterey, the Weekly obtained documents and discovery in a civil lawsuit involving a young Salinas man and his alleged molester, former Catholic priest Edward Fitz-Henry. The documents, especially depositions, reveal a strange and sordid tale, and the admission by an investigator for the Diocese that he believed sexual activity took place between the priest and the young parishioner. I think the Diocese fully expected the Weekly would go away, and not fight for access all the way to the Sixth District Court of Appeal. We published our story in October, and in December we won the First Amendment Coalition’s Freedom of Speech and Open Government honor for it.
2. We tackled lunatic stories. In March, Managing Editor Mark C. Anderson broke the news that high-profile restaurateur Rob Weakley (a former owner of Restaurant 1833 and co-founder of Pebble Beach Food & Wine) and attorney Gavin Kogan were opening an edible cannabis manufacturing facility in Salinas. In April, staff writer David Schmalz parsed the issue of Monterey’s wharf leasing policies, and ticked a lot of people off in the process. And in December, Assistant Editor Sara Rubin and I told the tale of two doctors, one divorce and a python used as a tool of revenge – probably my favorite story of the year, and maybe my favorite story ever.
1. Remember that time last May when my husband won a few million in the lottery and I tried to quit my job? And then in October I definitely quit it by giving three months notice and Dec. 30 was supposed to be my last day?
Weekly CEO Bradley Zeve and Publisher Erik Cushman talked me into staying. As I am telling people who ask (and most everybody asks), I was “appropriately incentivized.” What that means is nobody’s business. So to all of you who have written the past year to tell me, as it relates to some story, that I should be ashamed of myself – keep those letters coming.
I’ll keep better track of where my shame level should be in 2016. In such a busy election year, it’s likely going to be pretty damn low.