Council, where he served three one-year
terms as the city’s mayor. In the ’80s and ’90s,
he also served as a director on the Golden Gate
Bridge, Highway and Transportation District;
the Doyle Drive Task Force; and on the board
of the Transportation Authority of Marin.
In one out-of-the-box pursuit, he and several
colleagues are seriously addicted to railroad
nostalgia: they are the owners of a restored
Pullman car in which they often travel from
city to city throughout the country.
The columnist and his wife, Joanne, who
both volunteer for St. Vincent de Paul in
San Rafael, have lived in Mill Valley since
1976. The couple has two adult children:
Beth, a writer for Alta California magazine
and a print and online columnist for the San
Francisco Chronicle; and Alex, a production
manager at Lucasfilm Animation.
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Your column appears in the Marin Independent
Journal’s opinion section on Wednesdays and
Sundays; how long does it take to write? My
wife says I’m always writing a column. I’d say I
spend from three, four, five, to maybe six hours
writing one column; usually that’s in two sittings. And that doesn’t include the research.
But I’m always taking notes, talking to people
or they’re calling me. I can carry two or three
columns around in my head at any one time.
Tomorrow, I’m having breakfast with Jerry
Peters. Jerry’s a friend of mine who’s a Novato
Sanitation District commissioner and former
Chamber of Commerce president. We’ll talk
about what’s going on in Novato. Maybe I’ll
take notes, but I’m not looking for specifics; I’m
looking to understand. I’ll keep what we talk
about in my head for a few weeks, then put it
together with something else I run across, and
I’ll have a column.
Is it difficult to write a column? Or does it
almost come easily? The hard part isn’t writing the column; I just write what’s in my head.
The hard part is polishing what I’ve written
into 600 words, more or less, that makes some
kind of sense and that looks reasonable.
How do you select your topics? When some-
thing makes me angry, I’ll write about it. But
you have to keep in mind, I’m a dilettante; I’m
intrigued by politics. Some writers won’t go