It's All Smoke and Mirrors.
Why voters have to struggle to save Napa County's Agricultural Preserve and watershed.

On December 8, 2000 at the Wine Summit in Napa, Wine Institute president John DeLuca was keynote speaker. Those in attendance were provided with the Institute’s new vision--to move grape growing up to Washington State where 1/2 million acres of apple orchards need to be converted.  John put it bluntly to the audience:  "For some reason the bottom fell outta' the apple market there."  Sounds great, then we won't have to worry about the glassy winged sharp-shooter and chemical sprays, we'd all just be homes.  This would be another in a series of very fishy deals for Napa  and other Bay Area counties which rely on ultra premium wine sales.

With  investment in wineries that aren’t factors in Napa Valley vineyard ownership, DeLuca spoke of his vision that will translate into a bill he hopes “to push through Congress.” That vision is Federal legislation allowing wineries to franchise their operations in all 50 states. Needless to say, much like Pizza Hut, Kentucky Fried Chicken and other franchises, we would find store fronts offering tastings and sales at malls across the country, with a few oak barrels to dispense wine and add character. This is all very "Pepsico" while Pepsico plans to own one of the state's largest wineries.  DeLuca's investments are reputed to be in Sutter Home Winery, a behemoth virtually devoid of  ownership of Napa County vineyards.

Yet none of this reflects the spirit and positioning of the wine industry of Napa, Sonoma and other Bay Area counties, which are proud of their vineyards, proud of their superior quality, and content to keep wineries close to fruit sources.

Are wineries now being told “move your vineyards up to Washington State” if you want to stay in the wine business? At the summit with John DeLuca was his good friend, Attorney General Bill Lockyer.  Bill paid tribute with John to Joe Alioto, "who made our careers possible."  Then Bill paid tribute to Chicago, his favorite city.  His contribution was to advise those attending that "within 15 years we are going to launch a city as big as Chicago right here in California."

Adding to these complex pressures on Napa County are pro-development interests of a spooky nature.  I laud Napa County voters for declining the Soscol Ridge home development project resoundingly -- 84% of voters said no to this Napa gateway project and told its developer “Go back to Texas.” Another solid group voted to defeat the Rev. Moon’s “Last Resort” (Aetna Springs) project in Pope Valley.

Yet look at who controls land in Pope Valley and consistently places pressure on Napa County for development. Why, it’s more than the Reverend Moon with control of Aetna Springs through New Education Foundation. It has also been the “good ole boys” of the CIA with Buttes Gas & Oil, now warehousing 3,200 acres with Triad Development Co. through The Vineyards at Juliana.

And who supports Triad Development? Why, Carlyle Group, a defense contractor. Who advises Carlyle Group? George H. W. Bush, just as he advises Khashoggi's spin-off, Barrick Gold (Toronto).

There was an excellent article about Carlyle in “The New York Times” March 4. Click. Triad Development’s association with Carlyle was revealed December 25, 2000 in Puget Sound Business Journal. Click.  

Don’t forget that President Bush’s brother-in-law, Robert Petri Koch, is executive vice president of The Wine Institute. Is he fast at work crafting legislation envisioned by his boss, John DeLuca, for winery franchising? Or has he been asked to work out kinks in the plan to convert those apple orchards in Washington State? Or to help in other ways? 

Another of John DeLuca's goals is to have the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms drop their bond applicant requirement of fingerprints.  As John explained "it sorta makes us look like criminals."  Was William Shakespeare ahead of his time, concluding "As You Like It" with "If it be true that good wine needs no bush, 'tis true that a good play needs no epilogue.  Yet to good wine they do use good bushes, and good plays prove the better by the help of good epilogues."

How can counties that appreciate agricultural and watershed lands continue to vote so blindly when Texas and Chicago interests continue to pose the greatest threats to preservation of the land? Why not say “go back to Texas” or “go back to Chicago” when it comes to voting for candidates?  Aren't we already upset with the high cost of energy which is provided by Texas? (How many people realize that Dynegy, Inc., a Texas energy provider to PG&E, is 27% owned by Chevron USA where Condolezza Rice was on the board until her presidential appointment?  That Enron of Texas controls another PG&E supplier, Portland General Electric?  That a third California energy supplier, Reliant, is Texas-based?).

The people still have a chance to make a difference, regardless of the whims of the Wine Institute, the Executive Branch and its sponsors, when they can take control of their local political machinery in Bay Area counties and vote the bums out.  Remember that engaging in a pattern of decision-making that is contrary to law is known as "corruption."  It doesn't take a bribe to seal the deal, merely a series of favors that are contrary to the law.  This applies to all public officials, city and county employees, and judges, whether elected or appointed.  Sometimes a little sunshine on the deals helps.

John Goodman, Triad Development Inc., Pinnacle Realty Management Co. © 2000

Goodman, chairman of both Triad Development and Pinnacle Realty Management, made his mark during the past year not only through those companies but with his separate investments.

In June, Goodman and the New York-based Carlyle Group teamed to purchase the historic, 15-story Dexter Horton building in downtown Seattle from the city of Seattle for $46 million. Later in the year, Triad's plans to redevelop the Colman Tower site in downtown Seattle hit a potential roadblock when the city's Downtown Design Review Board reacted negatively to the building design by noted New York architect Charles Gwathmey.

Meanwhile, Triad completed its renovation of Pier 70 on the downtown Seattle waterfront, continued efforts to renovate the Skyway Luggage Building on Elliott Avenue and began to advance into the Interbay neighborhood with a pair of acquisitions near the National Guard Armory.


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