Judge William Newsom, father of the Governor-elect, dies

Editor’s note: RIP, Judge Newsom, a longtime resident of Dutch Flat, and a wonderful man!

“Retired Appeals Court Judge William Newsom, a relic of San Francisco’s old Catholic school guard, and the father of Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom, died Wednesday morning at his home in Pacific Heights. He was 84,’ as The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting.

“His death was confirmed by Nathan Click, spokesperson for Gavin Newsom. Cause of death was not given but the elder Newsom suffered from chronic illness over the last several years and had taken a turn for the worse in recent weeks.

“In his honor, flags at the state capitol were ordered to be flown at half mast, by Newsom’s old friend, Gov. Jerry Brown. Newsom had been an environmental lawyer in the 1970s when Brown, serving his first stint as governor, appointed him to the judiciary.

“’Anne and I extend our deepest condolences to the entire Newsom family,’ the governor said in a statement. ‘Bill was a longtime friend, a champion of the environment and someone whom I was proud to appoint to the superior court and court of appeal.’

“William Alfred Newsom III was born Feb. 15, 1934 in San Francisco and raised in the Marina District. His grandfather had opened the first neighborhood branch of the Bank of America, in the Mission District in 1929, and his father was a building contractor.

“Newsom was raised in the Jesuit tradition, and attended St. Ignatius College Prep at the old campus on Turk Street, where his classmate was Gordon Getty, with Brown a few years behind. Newsom’s father had managed the first two political campaigns of Brown’s father, Edmund G. (Pat) Brown. And Getty, whose parents were divorced, moved into the Newsom household. Both those connections were to prove helpful to him.

“As was tradition with the Catholics back then, Newsom crossed the street from his high school to attend the University of San Francisco, along with his pal Getty. After earning his B.A. in French literature, Newsom attended law school at Stanford University, while also earning a master’s degree in English literature. His first plan was to be an English teacher but it did not stick.

“’I changed my mind and said, ‘I’m getting too old. I’ve got to do something to make a few dollars.’ So I went into law,’ Newsom said according to a transcript of the California Appellate Court Legacy Project.

“He took a job at the State Supreme Court, and started polishing his quips. When later asked about his work there he suggested that some of the justices did not mind a drink here and there.

“’Sometimes I’d be asked to work on a case and other times to pick up a case,’ he told The Chronicle in 1982.

“In 1967, after spending a few years in Rome, working for a subsidiary of Getty Oil, Newsom announced his return to San Francisco by running for the Board of Supervisors. When that failed, he moved to Squaw Valley and opened a solo law practice in Tahoe City. He was early on in his dedication to protection of the environment in general and mountain lions in specific.

“This caught the attention of Jerry Brown, who in 1975 became govenor. Newsom never minded making light of his friend’s one-time pursuit of the priesthood.

“’He was a little younger; but he went into the Jesuit order,’ Newsom once said. ‘I became convinced that I didn’t want to be a Jesuit partly as a result of knowing Jerry.’

“Brown got back at Newsom upon appointing him to the Placer County Superior Court, by describing him as ‘my token Irish Catholic.’

“Three years later Brown elevated Newsom to the Court of Appeal, the state’s second highest court. Newsom was only 44 and right away he made headlines by advocating for the decriminalization of narcotics users.

“’Our laws are a travesty and there isn’t any hope of them working,’ Newsom said, perhaps seeing into the future. ‘You will never stop people from importing and selling heroin.’

“By 1982, Newsom, called ‘Billy’ in the Irish bars, was considering a run for the mayorship of San Francisco.

“NewsAudit cites flaws in costly California bullet train project
‘Politics. It’s the Irish malady,’ he told The Chronicle’s Jerry Carroll, in an interview conducted over lunch at the Washington Square Bar & Grill.

“When that failed, he turned to his old friend Getty, and became administrator to the Getty Trust.

“Newsom’s marriage to Tessa Thomas, in 1966, ended in divorce after six years. When asked years later about his romantic life, Newsom said, ‘It’s kind of an odd thing to say, but I’m still going rather steadily with my ex-wife. It was a very amiable divorce. Neither of us remarried, and in my case it’s not likely.’

“Newsom lived out his years at a house on Fillmore and Pacific. For half a century or more, he was a regular at Sam’s Grill, meeting for lunch or dinner with Gordon Getty, and local businessman George Miller.

“’One thing I loved about Judge Newsom is that he was a Renaissance man,’ said John Briscoe, owner of Sam’s. ‘He had a command of literature and history, as well as the law. He was also a masterful political player. I admired him greatly.’

“Newsom was predeceased by his ex-wife, Tessa. Survivors include his son, Gavin Newsom, and daughter, Hillary Newsom Callan, both of Kentfield.

“Services are pending.”

The rest of the article is here.

At world’s biggest climate conference, Trump adviser promotes fossil fuels

“President Trump’s top White House adviser on energy and climate stood before the crowd of some 200 people on Monday and tried to burnish the image of coal, the fossil fuel that powered the industrial revolution — and is now a major culprit behind the climate crisis world leaders are meeting here to address,” as the Washington Post is reporting.

“’We strongly believe that no country should have to sacrifice economic prosperity or energy security in pursuit of environmental sustainability,’ said Wells Griffith, Trump’s adviser.

“Mocking laughter echoed through the conference room. A woman yelled, “These false solutions are a joke!” And dozens of people erupted into chants of protest.

“The protest was a piece of theater, and so too was the United States’ public embrace of coal and other dirty fuels at an event otherwise dedicated to saving the world from the catastrophic effects of climate change. The standoff punctuated the awkward position the American delegation finds itself in as career bureaucrats seek to advance the Trump administration’s agenda in an international arena aimed at cutting back on fossil fuels.”

The rest of the article is here.

Nevada City launches “Goat Fund Me” campaign, fire reduction plan

Editor’s note: Reinette Senum sent me this press release:

The City of Nevada City is taking additional initiative to create more defensible space in and around Nevada City by deploying teams of goats and sheep in response to the growing risk of fire. The unprecedented fires in California, particularly in Paradise, have hit all too close to home and have become the ultimate Cautionary Tale.

Whether you are a homeowner, a renter, or a building/business owner, it’s clear that everyone is in the same boat together, equally at risk for catastrophic fire.

The immediate challenge for the City is that while ranchers are expanding to meet demand, for now, their herds are already rented out next spring, summer, and fall, making their herds only available to the City this winter.

Assigned as the lead on this city project, Nevada City Vice Mayor Reinette Senum got a jumpstart by launching a GoFundMe campaign, titled Goat Fund Me, an hour before last Wednesday’s Wildfire Prevention & Preparedness Town Hall at the Rood Building. The City is starting with a goal of $30,000 though it will ultimately cost much more than that. Over $1,200 has been donated in the first 24 hours.

The Goat Fund Me campaign can be found here: https://www.gofundme.com/GoatFundMeNevadaCity

“For the immediate moment we turn to our homeowners, renters, business owners, and neighborhood associations while we work at securing grant funding for the long haul. However,” Senum added, “this generally takes many weeks or months and we simply don’t have that kind of time if we’re going to launch the program by this month and throughout the rest of the winter.”

For good measure the city staff is recommending the City Council approve (up to) $5,000 to start the prescriptive grazing behind Pioneer Park. The intention is to utilize this particular site as a Public Demonstration that will include outreach materials for the public including tips, tools, best practices, and contact info of qualified, vetted ranchers.

City Manager, Catrina Olson, stated “While the City does everything in our power to reduce the fire risk we think it equally important that we teach our local residents how to do the same and it’s our goal make it as easy as possible for them to do so.”

The City will provide this information in brochure-form as well as on their official City website so you can utilize the same prescriptive grazing techniques on your property and surrounding neighborhood as the City will on their city-owned land. The City will also continue to identify other ranchers that may have smaller herds available for rent all year long. There is also talk of a herd-share program starting up for neighbors in response to the fires and our unhealthy forests.


Vice Mayor Senum, city staff, and local ranchers have walked city owned property and have identified 4 different methods of clearing as well as the following properties as high priority for this winter: behind Pioneer Park, Deer Creek environs including water treatment plant, Woods Ravine between Hwy 49 and Cement Hill Road, Sugar Loaf, and the old airport.

This type of grazing includes a herdsman to be on-site at all times as well as a camping trailer, water wagon (if needed), electric fencing, herding dog, transport trailer, and can cost anywhere from $500 to $1,000 per acre depending on the difficulty of the terrain and how much there is to graze. Approximately 200 goats can knock down an acre per day. Nevada City owns over 450 acres of greenbelt.

“That’s a lot of acreage,” Senum stated, “but we’re breaking it down into bite sizes and prioritizing where the risk is greatest. However, the more money we raise, the more acreage we can cover!”

Once these properties have been cleared the City intends on following up with hand-crews. They will be calling upon community volunteers for the easy-to-reach properties and as well as hoping to partner with the County to utilize the Jail Release Program and/or the Washington Ridge Crews. 

With the explosion of homeless camps in the area, adding to the mixture of risk, the City will maximize the benefits of clearing out these properties by also following up with removing abandoned homeless camp so as to discourage homeless camps in the future thus reducing the fire risk even more while ensuring a healthy watershed!


The City asks for support in keeping Nevada City and surrounding communities safe particularly until the program gets off the ground and more funding is secured over the next few months.

Senum emphasized, “There is no better insurance policy than to reduce the risk at hand. We ask our citizens to be proactive and ensure that we are safe and thriving in a healthy, fire-free community!”

For more information, contact Reinette Senum at reinettsenum@gmail.com