.Should I Stay . . .

. . . or should I go (to Sacramento)? The Gav-Gov’s ongoing moment of indecision

So where is Gavin Newsom, his wife and four young children going to live when he becomes governor next month? Turns out it’s kind of a question in need of an answer, just a short month before he assumes office.

Word from his transition team after the long Thanksgiving weekend? Newsom is still not sure where his head will hit the pillow once he’s sworn in.

Several stories about Newsom’s eventual neighborhood choice popped up in state papers in the immediate aftermath of his crushing defeat of Republican John Cox. Most reports intimated that he’d likely stay in Marin with the family, given that he’s got a cool house and four kids under the age of 10.

Earlier in November, Newsom told reporters he hadn’t yet wrapped his mind around whether to move or not. He and his family live in a 1,800-square-foot Kentfield home, purchased for $2.2 million in 2011, that’s pretty swanky by outside appearances. There’s an in-ground pool and views of Mt. Tamalpais, to go along with what looks to be a lush, green lawn.

Friends and associates of Newsom interviewed for the where-will-he-live round of stories pretty much all concluded that he’d likely stay in Marin.

So that’s what I figured, too, when I asked about it before the Thanksgiving break took hold. Newsom’s press office in Sacramento off-loaded the inquiry to Nathan Click on the transition team. Click forwarded the Sacramento Bee quote Newsom gave after the election and said that’s still the operating posture being taken by the governor-elect, barely a month before he assumes office in a state with the fifth largest economy in the world.

The question of whether Newsom would move to the governor’s mansion in Sacramento became less moot after Jerry Brown and his wife moved there in 2015, following a taxpayer-funded upgrade of the hoary governor’s pad.

Stories about Brown and Newsom inevitably mentioned that Jerry Brown was the first California governor to occupy the Sacramento mansion since his father Pat Brown lived there in the 1960s. So there’s a recent precedent, set by Brown.

Still, here are a few good reasons for Newsom to stay put and turn the Kentfield compound into a Marin governor’s mansion:

  • The Guesthouse. Why would you move to the veritable food-desert of Sacramento when a swank new restaurant just opened down the street that’s perfectly well-suited for meetings with Pacific Sun reporters (see Dining, p15)?
  • San Quentin’s death row. The prison is right down the street and Newsom could use the Marin Mansion as bully pulpit to push for an end to the death penalty, if he’s so inclined. Jerry Brown squared up personal objections to capital punishment with the facts: It’s the law of the Cali-land; there are nearly 800 inmates on death row; and serious questions around cruel-and-unusual constitutional standards regarding the execution protocol have stymied the state’s pro-death posture. If Newsom’s looking for a Big Issue to latch on to early in his term—on the order of gay marriage, legal pot or gun control, issues which put him in the national spotlight—ending the death penalty in California seems like a pretty good one.
  • Cannabis. Newsom led the way to legalization with his Blue Ribbon Commission on cannabis legalization, which set out the parameters of the legal-weed regime now afoot in the state. Curiously, Marin County has kind of lagged behind the region when it comes to a full-on embrace of the economic opportunities extant under Proposition 64. A pro-legalization governor operating in the cool mists of Marin could lend a helping hand to easing the way for legal pot-shops to open in the county. Or not.
  • Pool party at the Newsoms’! In our dank reverie, the media’s invited, the shindig is clothing-optional, the spread is delicious and locally drawn, and the pot-delivery services in the county are showing up in droves in the driveway. Oh, don’t tell me those drivers don’t know where Newsom lives. Anybody who thought it was a good idea to marry Kim Guilfoyle (Newsom’s ex-wife, who is now dating Donald Trump Jr.)—well, jeez, he must have been high at the time or something.

Don’t leave us, Gav-Gov! We’re just starting to get to know you!


Sing to Us, Dingus!

Well, we don’t know whether Newsom will remain in Marin, but we do know of one grateful Marin County resident happy to be home in the county. Dingus has been found!

“Bring us Dingus” was the cry heard from Bolinas for the last seven months, ever since the two-year-old dog went missing in April. Unbelievably, the pit bull and German shepherd mix made his way home on Thanksgiving Day, after an incredible, thousand-mile journey.

The story begins with his disappearance in April, which baffled Bolinas residents. A surveillance video from Smiley’s Saloon caught the last known-images of 65-pound Dingus walking on Wharf Road around 8pm that night. Then he was gone.

Dingus resided happily in one of the most dog-friendly places in America—dog-friendly, that is, until one disappeared without a trace. Since then, the West Marin townsfolk have grown more wary and protective.

The pup’s people, Azi Lynman and his mother, Katie Weber, began one of the biggest dog hunts in Marin. They distributed hundreds of flyers in the North Bay, East Bay and San Francisco; placed dozens of ads online; and launched #bringDingushome on social media.

False sightings were abundant, with Lynman and Weber traveling around the state to check them out. The heartbreak after each disappointment was almost unbearable. On Thanksgiving eve, Lynman, 24, received yet another call that Dingus had been found, this time in San Diego.

“I believe I might have your lost dog,” the message said.

Lynman phoned back and spoke with Tanner Kuljian, 21, a University of San Diego football player. He sounded certain he had Dingus. The two young men video-chatted, and when Kuljian showed him the pooch, Lynman saw the telltale mole on his face. It was Dingus, indeed.

Soon, Lynman, Weber, her daughter and Dingus’ dog sitter were making the 525-mile drive to Kuljian’s home in San Diego. How did Dingus get so far away? Where did Kuljian find him? There were so many questions to be answered, and plenty of time to ponder them on the 13-hour trip in the pelting rain and heavy holiday traffic.

At 1:15am on Thanksgiving morning, the eager foursome arrived at Kuljian’s door for the long-awaited reunion with Dingus. A video post on the Dingus Khan Facebook page shows him prancing joyfully and jumping from person to person as he greets his family.

What led up to this moment, seven months after Dingus vanished from Bolinas? Kuljian filled us in: “I was at a friend’s party and someone I’d never met before was there with a dog. He said he got him from a dog-fighting place, but that didn’t seem right, because the dog was goofy and friendly.”

As the man with the canine continued to talk, he admitted that the tale about the fighting dog was untrue. Actually, Dingus walked up to him while he hiked in Bolinas last April. Since he was sans collar, the man took him. (Dingus is microchipped, and any animal shelter or vet could pull up Lynman’s current contact information.)

“The guy showed us a newspaper article [“Where’s Dingus?,” Pacific Sun, Sept. 5] and a Facebook page about a lost dog,” Kuljian said. “He was super-drunk.” Kuljian read the story and online posts. Clearly, the inebriated fellow knew the pup’s people wanted him home desperately, but he never contacted them. “I thought, ‘Wow, this isn’t your dog,’” Kuljian said. “It was fucked-up.”

That was all the impetus he needed. “My friend and I snatched Dingus and ducked out of the party,” Kuljian recalls. The thief was too drunk to notice. The college student called Lynman the next morning, and the tearful reunion soon followed.

The family’s first stop once back in Bolinas was Smiley’s. Applause rang out from the 30 or so customers inside the bar as they called out, “Dingus, Dingus!” That night, Lynman and Weber feasted on Thanksgiving dinner and had a few extra reasons to be grateful.—Nikki Silverstein

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