A definitive (if highly subjective) guide to the city’s 100 most intriguing people, from scientist Gary Anderson to exhibitionist Jenni Ringley to rock climber Beth Rodden
Stop and think about what makes our community special.
Some people believe it’s the vitality and buzz that comes from having the state capital located in Sacramento. Others say it’s our primo location in the center of North California—the famous short drive to the Bay, the ocean, the lake, the mountains. For many of us, what makes Sacramento distinctive is a thriving music scene and a burgeoning arts community. For some, it’s an awesome NBA squad. For others, it’s simply the friendliness of the inhabitants.
But ultimately what makes the region exceptional is the people who drive the engine: the doctors, artists, activists, scientists, writers, educators, CEOs, ministers, musicians and (once in awhile) the politicians. With this in mind, we decided to create our own “who’s who” roster for Sacramento—a subjective listing of the area’s most intriguing, accomplished, forward-thinking people.
We call it the “Sacramento 100.”
The creation of the list was not without its controversies and biases. First, there was the matter of criteria and the hint of elitism. Were we after the most powerful? The richest? The most charitable? Not really. What we finally decided we were after, simply, was the most interesting. People who make a difference. In terms of rules, we wound up with only one: to be named to the list, you had to live in the Sacramento region and/or truly consider this your home. (This automatically ruled out certain state political leaders, for example, who keep homes in other towns and are basically passing through Sacramento on the state’s business.)
We held a nomination period where SN&R reporters, staffers and some “connected” members of the community were asked to kick in names of people they thought belonged in “the 100.” Ultimately, we ended up with a way-too-long list that had to be pared down to the 100 essentials. We knew going in that there would be plenty of disagreement from readers about some of our choices and the number. Our response: 1) Write and tell us who you think we missed, and 2) What’s so bad about too many interesting people doing too many intriguing things in our community?
Some of you will read the short biographies we’ve assembled here and marvel at the brains, talent, dedication and triumphs of the people who make up the list. For those of you who aren’t ready to tackle a read-through of the entire listing in one sitting because of its sizeable (!) nature, we urge you to save it, refer back to it, use it as a “peoples” reference guide to our community.
We hereby present, in alphabetical order, our Sacramento 100.
One of 16 children growing up on a small Michigan dairy farm, Gary Anderson figured out he probably wasn’t going to inherit the family farm—so he got an education instead. Now this UC Davis animal sciences professor is an international leader in the field of embryo physiology and genetics, and a close colleague of Ian Wilmut (who brought us “Dolly” the cloned sheep.) Anderson’s current research goal is to isolate embryonic stem cells from pigs, basically trying to figure out how to genetically alter the molecules of their organs so as to one day save human lives. Anderson recently received a $30,000 prize for undergraduate teaching and scholarly achievement. Students give him high marks for his enthusiasm, sense of humor and “cool” neckties.
Now serving a first term as state treasurer of California, Phil Angelides presides over the sizeable public monies of the state. He’s quickly built a reputation as a bright, hardworking leader who manages the public’s multibillion-dollar cache well, prioritizing investments that will spur development in distressed communities. The Harvard graduate also sits on the boards of PERS and STRS, the public employee and state teachers retirement boards that have assets of $240 billion. At 47, Angelides is also a wealthy and prominent Sacramento-area developer, activist Democrat and former chairman of the state Democratic Party.
John Baccigaluppi and two friends got together in the early ’90s to create a zine called Heckler “in order to get free lift tickets in Tahoe and hopefully, get a snowboard with bindings.” Thanks to Baccigaluppi’s radical sensibility, wit, hip musical taste and slacker-meets-philosopher writing style, Tower Books saw the skate/snowboarding publication as a winner and picked it up for distribution. The publication ultimately grew from a 16-page zine to a 120-page glossy (maga)zine and also became the first and only snowboard and/or skateboard magazine to publish on the Internet. TransWorld Publications bought Heckler from Baccigaluppi and the guys, but in 1997, that corporation was taken over by Times-Mirror Magazines. So John and Co. bought their labor of love back. Writes John: “The only thing we belong to is ourselves and I hope you do too.”
“Today, you have the option to enjoy current Broadway shows without leaving Sacramento,” beams Leland Ball, the producing director of the California Musical Theatre. Ball, who admits his resume “reads like an Amtrak schedule,” first came to Sacramento’s summertime Music Circus series in 1976, and moved here on a year-round basis in 1989 to establish the Broadway Series, which brings touring shows during the rest of the year. Together, Music Circus and the Broadway Series sell more tickets than any other theatre group in town. Ball is now involved in plans for a permanent tent-like structure over the Music Circus amphitheater on H Street, which will host both musicals and concert acts. The new structure will also be air conditioned, opening the way for matinees.
Rabbi Brad Bloom
“The feeling of our congregation is devastation, shock and numbness,” a shaken Rabbi Brad Bloom told the Sacramento community after an unknown arsonist burned his local synagogue and two others in June 1999. “But we are going to move in a positive direction, rebuild and create a stronger community.” Born in Baltimore, Rabbi Brad Bloom was ordained in 1984 by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. Now the Senior Rabbi at Sacramento’s largest temple, Congregation B’nai Israel, Rabbi Bloom has been active in the field of aging and is former president of the Interfaith Service Bureau. He became a national spokesman on the subject of hate crimes since the terrorist burning of his B’nai Israel and has spoken before Congress on the topic.
Dr. Ernest Bodai
A relentless, one-man lobbying campaign waged by Sacramento Kaiser Permanente surgeon Dr. Ernest Bodai convinced the U.S. Postal Service to adopt a breast cancer postage stamp. As director of Kaiser’s Breast Surgical Services, Bodai fixated on the stamp as a means to educate ordinary Americans about the disease as well as support research and treatment efforts. Ironically, Bodai was diagnosed last month with prostate cancer. When he went public he told a reporter, “I wondered if I’d be as strong as some of the patients I take care of.” Not surprisingly, Bodai has received floods of letters and cards from well-wishers the world over.
Steve Boogar, chief operating officer of NEC Computers Inc. in Sacramento, has just been named executive vice president of sales and marketing for the company’s parent firm, NEC Technologies Inc. In corporate-alignment speak, this means Boogar will stay in Sacramento and continue serving as chief operating officer for the firm (a huge employer in Sacramento) that makes mobile, desktop and server computers for the business market. In addition he’ll take on new work for NEC Technologies, which makes “large screen presentation products.” With nearly 20 years of high-tech industry experience, Boogar has a high-level track record of growing companies and making them financially successful.
Rev. Don Brown
Influential both nationally and internationally in the Episcopal Church, the Rev. Don Brown describes his mission: “Jesus changed people and the world for the better and my goal in life is to do the same thing.” Dean of Sacramento’s Trinity Cathedral Church for the past 13 years, Brown received his Master of Divinity degree from the Episcopal Theological School in Cambridge, Mass., and his Doctor of Ministry degree from the Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley. Now the senior pastor of the Episcopal Cathedral for Northern California, Brown has been highly influential in Sacramento’s merging spirituality and social service through his service on the boards of directors of Loaves and Fishes, Francis House and the River City Community Services.
Tim and Buck Busfield
In 1986, actor Tim Busfield picked Sacramento as the perfect place to launch the Fantasy Theatre, a touring company aimed at youth, which now reaches 160,000 kids per year. In 1991, Tim and brother Buck (artistic director and producing director, respectively) added the B Street Theatre, which entertains grown-ups. Emmy-winner Tim, who’s currently featured in the TV series The West Wing, often appears in the B Street’s summer shows. Buck directs many of the theater’s shows, including several of his own scripts. The brothers plan to open a second performance space in April—a studio theater where they can extend into more popular shows. Look for something different this summer: Wuthering Heights—The Musical. The pair are also working on a “long-held dream” of expanding the Fantasy Theatre into a statewide program, the Children’s Theatre of California.
Ellie Charlton and Jeanne Barnett
This elderly Sacramento couple made national news just for getting married. Ellie Charlton, 65 and a great-grandmother, was joined in “holy union” with her longtime partner Jeanne Barnett, 70 and a high-ranking church lay leader, at the Sacramento Convention Center in February 1999. In an unprecedented action, a group of 96 United Methodist ministers risked being defrocked in order to help the Rev. Don Fado perform the marriage.
Under the ambitious, hard-driven leadership of Leroy Chatfield, Loaves and Fishes grew from its start as a small meal service for the poor to become the region’s premier organization that provides free meals, legal advice, medical help and schooling to the region’s poor and homeless. Never one to mince words, Chatfield remains controversial (even in retirement), for his bold, sometimes confrontational style, e.g. he told the city to take a hike when its bureaucrats demanded Loaves and Fishes apply for proper planning permits. Chatfield, who has said that he follows “God’s law, not man’s law,” was trained as an organizer by the United Farm Workers while it was led by Cesar Chavez.
The Rev. Glen and (son) the Rev. Rick J. Cole Jr.
If you’ve ever heard the young Pastor Rick J. Cole Jr. give one of his thundering, fire-and-brimstone sermons, it’s easy to see why locals have come to love his preaching (and/or fear his conservative politics) as much as they did his father’s. Under dad’s leadership—that’s the Rev. Glen Cole—the Capital Christian Center experienced extraordinary growth during the ’80s and ’90s and moved to its present prime location off Bradshaw and Highway 50. In 1995, Cole’s son Rick returned to Sacramento, fresh from a pastorship in Nebraska, to take up where his retiring father left off. Now, under the Rev. Rick Cole’s stewardship, the Capitol Christian Center (an Assembly of God church) is one of the region’s largest, most powerful conservative churches and part of the largest Pentecostal denomination on the globe, with 32 million members worldwide. The Capital Christian Center complex now houses an enormous church structure as well as a school and bible college.
The controversial force behind the University of California’s decision to end affirmative action, Sacramento’s Ward Connerly has built a national reputation on the dubious distinction of being one of the few African-Americans ready to speak out publicly against the use of race as a criteria for admissions. Connerly (who used to storm into the SN&R offices to argue with the editor about the paper’s pro-affirmative action editorials) is nothing if not brave. The UC Regent made further national news last year by challenging a national bookselling chain when his book Creating Equality was filed in bookstores along with other books about black Americans and ethnicity.
A lawyer and activist, Bill Craven came to California from the Midwest to serve as state director for the Sierra Club from 1997 to 2000. Then he moved his fight for environmental protection to the Legislature and served as a chief consultant for the Natural Resources Committees in the Assembly and, more recently, the Senate. As an attorney, he has represented Sierra Club lobbyists from around the country and has helped with the Voting Rights Act lawsuits on behalf of African-American and Latino voters. “It’s the lobbyists and volunteers for the public interest environmental advocacy groups who are essential,” says Craven. “If not for them, the only people the legislators would hear are the industry representatives.”
He has worked with some of the best dancers on the planet. Cunningham spent 13 seasons with the Boston Ballet as a principal dancer, resident choreographer and ballet master, among the likes of Rudolf Nureyev, Edward Villella and Agnes de Mille. Then he moved to Sacramento where he has served for 13 seasons as co-artistic director (with wife Carinne Binda) of the Sacramento Ballet. Cunningham introduced full-length classics and new works (including several of his own) into the local repertory, bringing the company recognition at a national level. UC Davis Presents is working with Cunningham and New York choreographer David Parsons for a new work that will dedicate UC Davis’ Center for the Arts. As Cunningham says, “Sacramento Ballet is firmly committed to presenting the best of both classical and contemporary ballet, and to increasing the accessibility of the arts.”
Dave and Lois
Dave Walker launched his news anchor career with Sacramento area viewers while working for KOVR during the 1970s. Funny thing, his wife and work partner Lois Hart gained local popularity at KOVR and KCRA around the same time. In 1980, the pair left Sacramento to anchor the very first CNN news broadcast, and continued with the network for eight years, anchoring prime time newscasts as well as interview programs. The couple returned to KCRA in 1990 as the weekend evening anchor team, then moved to the weeknight slot in 1994. The dependable Dave and Lois regularly win the SN&R’s award for best news anchors in Sacramento.
This 29-year-old Gold Country native and product of Placer High and Yuba College thrilled the hometown Sacramento crowd at last year’s U.S. Olympics Trials, soaring to a new world outdoor record in the boldest of track events, the pole vault. She won the gold in Sydney and just set a new world indoor record (twice) last week in Idaho. Dragila is a one-time tomboy turned daredevil rodeo rider whose charisma burns through her amusing TV commercials. She is helping take women’s sports to new heights; heights that some of us who once tried the pole vault—before deciding to stick to something a little closer to the ground—find dizzying yet very exciting. It’s a cliché, sure, but the sky is the limit for Dragila as she promises to take us with her on another vault for gold in 2004.
As state superintendent of Public Instruction since 1994, Delaine Eastin is the highest ranking official in California’s elementary and secondary public school system and the first woman to be elected state superintendent. Eastin has spearheaded efforts to reduce class size and improve reading and mathematics instruction. She was recently given the President’s Crystal Apple Award from the American Library Association; the Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of California, Santa Barbara; and the Woman of Achievement Award from the Women’s Fund, among others.
Heather Fargo grew up talking politics around the dinner table with her father, Frank Fargo, a professional city manager. So it was pretty natural that she eventually wound up in politics herself. After graduating from UC Davis and getting a job with the state parks service, Fargo began her community activism as a proponent of good planning, open space and community protection. Next she sought elective office (she’s served multiple terms on the Sacramento City Council) and, eventually, became mayor this past year. Her recent campaign materials say it all: “Who do you get when you mix a heavy dose of community activism with a degree in environmental planning and management in a person who is also a cat lover?: Mayor Heather Fargo.”
Dr. Neil Flynn
A UC Davis Medical Center epidemiologist, Dr. Neil Flynn is a national leader on AIDS and HIV treatment and prevention. Now serving as director of research for the UCDMC’s Center for AIDS Research Education and Services, Flynn is controversial (politically, if not medically) for his assertion that the most effective way to limit the spread of HIV among injection drug users is to limit unsafe injection. He has been a leading advocate—in medical journals and political policy debates—for the need to distribute clean needles and teaches safe injection techniques to injection drug users.
“You are utterly dependent upon nature and other human beings,” writes Jack Forbes. “If you understand yourself and your place in life, you will respect other human beings and other living things.” As professor and former chair of the Native American Studies department at UC Davis, Forbes has been a leading writer and scholar in the field of Native American studies for over forty years. With Powhatan-Renàpe, Delaware-Lenàpe represented in his ancestry, Forbes is one of the founding members of the indigenous institution, D-Q University, located outside Davis. A radical intellectual and activist, Forbes has written over 300 books, articles, stories and poems since 1969.
Karen Joy Fowler
The writer Karen Joy Fowler claims to have led a “distressingly ordinary life.” Born in Indiana, Karen Fowler’s family moved west when she was 11. She graduated from Palo Alto High in ’68, and went to Berkeley, settling in Davis in 1972. Fowler embarked on a writing career on her 30th birthday. Her writing ranges from science fiction to history, and her books include Sarah Canary and The Sweetheart Season. Upcoming is Sister Noon, set in San Francisco circa 1890. Her fiction has been nominated for countless awards.
A developer, trial attorney and senior partner of Friedman Collard law firm in Sacramento, Mort Friedman has been honored by both the California Trial Layers Association and the Sacramento Bar Association as each organization’s “Lawyer of the Year.” Part-owners of the Arden Fair Mall and Town and Country Village, Friedman and his wife Marcy have impacted the way Sacramentans shop (for good or bad) by convincing large retail giants, such as Nordstrom, Barnes & Noble, Virgin Megastores and Trader Joes to enter the city. An active member of Sacramento’s Jewish community, Friedman is twice past-president of the Mosaic Law Congregation. Wife Marcy, an artist and philanthropist, has served two terms as president of the Crocker Arts Museum Board of Trustees.
Before arriving in Sacramento in 1984, CSUS President Don Gerth held top administrative positions at California State Dominguez Hills, Cal State Chico and San Francisco State University. Past president of the International Association of Universities, Gerth is respected for the growth CSUS has experienced during his tenure. But the man is also controversial as hell. Recently, he received the U.S. News and World Report’s notorious Sheldon Hackney award. The sarcastic honor was bestowed this year on a “craven college president who looks the other way while college newspapers are stolen.” (Gerth did nothing last October when 3,000 copies of the State Hornet were stolen and then used to barricade Hornet offices during a student protest.) Gerth says rumors of his stepping down soon as CSUS president are greatly exaggerated.
Sacramento lobbyist Lenny Goldberg is a non-stop advocate for the disenfranchised of California, doing battle with corporate business interests on behalf of the poor, consumers, children and union members. Goldberg’s 15-year-old firm gained statewide acclaim as it led the fight against the negative impacts of Proposition 13. Goldberg also has worked on behalf of Children Now, as an advocate for reforming child support programs. Today, as California faces an energy crisis, Goldberg is on watchdog duty with The Utility Reform Network, which represents the interests of small consumers on energy issues. “I love my job,” Goldberg has said. “I can be a loose cannon and kick butt and not worry about what people think.”
This 6-foot-4 hoop dream girl has won lots of honors: 1999 WNBA Most Valuable Player, a 1999 WNBA Newcomer of the Year, a 1999 WNBA Defensive Player of the Year, a 2000 All-WNBA Second Team honors and a 2000 Olympic Gold Medal at Sydney, Australia. After getting her college start at Florida Atlantic and then playing in the American Basketball League, “Yo” (No. 33) arrived in Sacramento and proceeded to excel with the Monarchs. Now she rebounds, steals and blocks, like nobody’s business, averaging 16 points a game. Yeah, the Monarchs didn’t take the WNBA title last year, but with “Yo” continuing at forward, who can say what’s to come for 2001.
“It is my joy, pleasure and obligation to work to make our world and community an even better place for our children and grandchildren,” Jane Hagedorn says. As a clean air and community advocate, Hagedorn has headed the American Lung Association of the Sacramento-Emigrant Trails since 1976. Under her direction, the association has grown to include 3,600 volunteers, a staff of 21, and a multimillion-dollar budget that provides over 50 program initiatives in a nine-county region. Hagedorn’s extensive public service activities include board leadership roles for everything from planning to parks to public transportation to the local symphony and even trees.
A divorce in her early 20s left Kathryn Hall practically homeless and on welfare with two children to raise. With her family’s help, she ultimately got back on her feet, worked her way through school and became a public administrator in Sacramento for the state Department of Health. But in 1988, after watching a newborn die in its mother’s arms, and shocked to then realize that Sacramento’s infant mortality rates were as high as those of Los Angeles, Hall made a life-changing decision and set about founding the Birthing Project. Her initial goal for the organization was to help at-risk mothers deliver healthy babies, but the project has grown since to also provide substance abuse prevention and economic development services. The Birthing Project’s success is clear: the program’s prenatal care program has been replicated more than 35 times around the country.
When Robert Harris was 14 months old, he was diagnosed with polio and doctors told his parents he would never walk. From the time he was seven until he was a senior in high school, Harris underwent seventeen major orthopedic operations and spent a total of six years in the Los Angeles Shriners Hospital. He moved to Sacramento in 1987 to serve as president of Sacramento City College, and attributes his “never give up, never give in” resolve to his determination, at an early age, to overcome all obstacles. Under Harris’ leadership, SCC has made many advances, including the building of a permanent Child Development Center and a new state-of-the-art Learning Resource Center. Harris is known for slinging hash at the noon hour in the campus cafeteria as a way to “keep in touch” with his student body.
Sara Blaffer Hrdy
In her exhaustive new book on motherhood, UC Davis’ professor emeritus of anthropology, Sara Blaffer Hrdy, offers up this news bite: the maternal instinct is not as strong as most of us think it is. As much a scientist (she’s been elected to the National Academy of Sciences) as she is a feminist, Hrdy (there is no vowel in the last name, which is the Czech word for “proud”) sets out in her new book Mother Nature: Maternal Instincts and How They Shape the Human Species to revolutionize our understanding of motherhood. Ultimately, she proposes that, in humans, there is no such thing as “the maternal instinct.” “Mothers do not automatically and unconditionally respond to giving birth in a nurturing way,” she says. Needless to say, Hrdy’s enemies are many. But even those who disagree with her findings have to admit to the solidity and integrity of her research.
As California’s secretary of Health and Human Services, this Sacramento native heads an agency that serves millions of residents, with more than 42,000 employees and a budget of some $50 billion. His journey to the Gray Davis Cabinet has been a long one. Johnson is a brilliant, extraordinarily well-read, self-made man who has come a long way from the days when, as a little kid, he would plant himself in the public library for hours after school. At Grant High School, he was a scrappy, undersized offensive lineman. At CSU Sacramento, he was a questing student of the late Joe Serna, later Sacramento’s mayor. Johnson’s political activism took him into politics, where he won first a seat on the city council, then a seat on the county board of supervisors before serving as regional director of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.
Kevin Johnson grew up in Sacramento’s Oak Park, managing to escape the influence of poverty, drugs, gangs and drop-out rates which can collide there. Now retired from his all-star guard spot with the Phoenix Suns (though recalled to duty last year due to another player’s injury), Sacramento’s own NBA legend pops up with regularity now on national television as an “inside” b-ball commentator. Johnson is most loved locally for his St. Hope Academy, which provides a “home-like atmosphere” for at-risk children in the Sacramento region. His leadership, vision and financial generosity are key to the Academy’s success in helping children’s lives be “built on character, formed by education.”
Many politicians start local and work their way to Washington, D.C. But City Councilman Dave Jones’ public service goals have always been focused on helping the little guy in his hometown, a focus he developed while using his law degree to do public interest work for Legal Services of Northern California. So even after he landed a coveted job working as counsel for then-Attorney General Janet Reno, Jones says he always planned on returning to public service in Sacramento. When his friend Darrell Steinberg left the City Council for the California Assembly, Jones came home and won the seat in a special election in March 1999. Since then, he has been a tireless advocate for improving Sacramento’s poor neighborhoods and schools. His potential for making a real difference in Sacramento seems limitless.
Appointed director of the Crocker Art Museum in 1999, Lial Jones guides the Crocker (established in 1885), which is recovering from its earlier reputation as a frowzy, post-Gold Rush fossil. Jones, who has been involved with museums since she was a teenager, came to Sacramento from the Delaware Art Museum. Since arriving here, she’s expanded the museum’s artistic parameters beyond Western landscapes and certain representative Old Masters, and laid the groundwork for expansion. Stay turned, she’s working on plans to grow the museum in years to come.
“Stewart hates bullies” says lawyer Joseph Ragazzo about his friend, Stewart Katz, an attorney who is best known, simply, as the local lawyer who sues cops. Katz gained national recognition for his outspoken and unrelenting opposition to the Sacramento Sheriff’s office use of the “pro-straint” chair, a device used in the county jail to immobilize unruly inmates. Before fighting the chair, Katz spent the better part of the 1980s putting on punk rock shows, bringing some of the most influential bands of that era to Sacramento and was also a successful boxing promoter. In addition to his contributions in civil rights law, Katz helped win the acquittal of the “Sacramento 23,” a group of disabled people who were arrested in 1994 for protesting Social Security cuts outside the state Capitol. That same year, he got the city’s homeless “anti-camping” ordinance declared unconstitutionally vague.
A stalwart community activist and longtime advocate for alternative energy, Peter Keat was elected to the SMUD board of directors in 1988 and has been re-elected to four-year terms in 1992, 1996 and just recently in 2000. Along with former SMUD director Ed Smeloff, Keat was crucial to the fight for closure of SMUD’s dangerous Rancho Seco nuclear power plant in the ’80s. The consummate citizen-politician, Keat has also served on the boards of the Environmental Council of Sacramento and Sacramento Natural Foods. He also owns and operates Time-Tested Books in Midtown Sacramento that sells new, secondhand and out-of-print books.
Dan Kennedy has schmoozed with the cream of Sacramento’s political and entrepreneurial elite since May 1985 when he was named publisher of the Sacramento Business Journal. A consistent advocate for a community-minded business ethic, Kennedy’s publication—bought out a few years back by American Cities Business Journals—is known for its tough-but-fair reporting style. Kennedy has served on the boards of the American Leadership Forum, the Business Volunteers for the Arts, the Make-A-Wish Foundation and more. Kennedy, who reads daily business news reports on KXJZ during NPR’s “Morning Edition,” once told the SN&R his greatest fear: “That too many people will actually think I’m as serious as I often look. Hey, it’s the suit.”
A California native, Mike Kenny was appointed executive officer of the California Air Resources Board in 1996, with its 1000-member staff and $100 million budget. Under Kenny’s leadership, the ARB boasts programs such as the Clean Cars program (which included the zero emission cars), the Clean Fuel program (which required reformulation to cleaner gases and diesel fuels), as well as establishing emission limits on jet skis and other ozone-damaging products. Before heading the ARB, Kenny practiced law as general counsel for the organization he now heads as well as for the Fair Political Practices Commission. A Sacramento “soccer dad,” Kenny is ultimately responsible for maintaining healthful air quality across California. “Clean healthful air is a public health and civil right,” says Kenny. “It’s also something we owe our children.”
Long vilified by environmentalists and slow-growth advocates (and some SN&R writers) for being part of a politically powerful juggernaut of Greek-American developers that created the haphazard urban sprawl that surrounds Sacramento, Kolokotronis is now the darling of the “smart-growthers.” Much of the substantial development resources at his disposal have now been aimed at urban infill projects in Sacramento’s central city, the very types of projects lauded as the antidote for the sprawl he is accused of creating. His recent projects include the innovative Fremont Building and Capitol Park Homes, and there are other Midtown projects in the pipeline. Yet rather than an environmental convert, Kolokotronis is what he has always been: A smart and visionary businessman who knows a good opportunity when he sees one, and who doesn’t mind helping his community in the process.
Raised in Sacramento by Greek immigrant parents, artist Gregory Kondos studied at Sacramento City College and CSUS. He taught at Sac City College for 27 years, and founded the campus gallery. A trip to his ancestral homeland in 1963 triggered an interest in landscapes and simplicity, often focusing on riverside subjects reflecting the Sacramento and Central Valley. Kondos says, “If you look at my work, you will find qualities of quietness and cleanliness, but, above all, you’ll find that I’m a loner.”
Nina Boyd Krebs
This longtime Sacramento therapist wrote a book called Edgewalkers a few years back that was considered groundbreaking in the world of psychology, sociology and cultural anthropology. Edgewalkers brought national attention to the expanding group of people who belong to two or more ethnic, cultural or spiritual worlds. According to Krebs, it is the “edgewalkers” who are slowly moving society toward a new way of accepting and embracing diverse races, religions and attitudes. Prior to Edgewalkers, Krebs wrote Changing Woman: Changing Work.
As a child, Krum took violin lessons, but switched to string bass, appearing with a group on the Ted Mack Amateur Hour in 1954. After a career in state government, Krum joined the Sacramento Traditional Jazz Society as executive director in 1988. He quickly became the driving force behind the group’s main event—the Sacramento Jazz Jubilee. The weekend jazz fest basically takes over downtown Sacramento and features over 100 bands annually, and claims to be “the world’s largest traditional jazz festival.” “We’re very pleased with the Ken Burns series on PBS, and believe it will have a positive impact on jazz in this area and around the country,” says Krum.
It may be impossible to find the nerve center amid the Diaspora that is Sacramento’s environmental movement. But Vicki Lee comes close. As chair person of the Motherload Chapter of the Sierra Club, and a board member on the Environmental Council of Sacramento, Lee seems to show up in just about every skirmish, major and minor, between local environmentalists and their developer foils. Newspapers seek her out because she’s always ready with a shoot-from-hip remark about which shopping mall gives her heartburn or which developer is a “big burly bastard.” More important, Lee recognizes that environmentalism is too often the province of white, middle-class, middle-aged folks with little interest in the needs of other, less white, less economically advantaged citizens.
In 1983, Art Luna (along with his sister and partner, Chris Luna) created a business meant to attract those involved in the local art scene. Today, the Luna Cafe is a blend of equal parts gallery and performance space for primarily Chicano and Native American visual and musical artists. It also serves as the stage for community and political functions. “Communities are like circles, and if we could help connect the circles, network the people from the various circles, then maybe you would have a bigger circle, more connection and get more things done,” says Luna. His own artistic endeavors include photography, writing and participation in Burning Man, an annual artists’ extravaganza held in the remote Black Rock Desert.
Father Dan Madigan
Starting at the bottom more than two decades ago, Father Dan Madigan founded the Sacramento Food Bank Service in the basement of the Immaculate Conception Church in Del Paso Heights. Since moving to its new locale in Oak Park, the nonprofit operation now feeds 1,500 needy Sacramentans on a daily basis and provides a lunch program, a clothes closet, a community learning center, a transition living program for families with children and a mother-baby program. Father Madigan is renowned locally for his intelligence, humility and wisdom.
Joe and Gavin Maloof
Before 1998, the word “maloof” would have struck most in Sacramento as the sound a cartoon character makes when kicked in the stomach. Now, in 2001, should the Kings succeed in a good playoff showing, Joe and Gavin Maloof will become the first pair of 40-something bros in American history to be knighted by a municipality. Joe and Gavin grew up with dad owning the Houston Rockets and they went on to run a profitable conglomerate of hotels, casinos, banks and a Coors Beer distributorship. Now they’ve come to Sacramento and turned our previous pumpkin of a basketball team into royalty. After doing a number of very smart things, these down-to-earth-millionaires are now poised to bring Sacramento a national spotlight that the city has craved. One can only bow one’s head and note, in short, that the Maloofs rock. Thank goodness the Denver Nuggets weren’t for sale.
The blame for Sacramento’s most intriguing business fiasco—the crash of the Money Store (a local sub-prime lender that made risky consumer loans)—rightfully belongs to those who inhabit the executive offices at First Union Corp. headquarters in North Carolina. But one First Union executive in particular, James Maynor, oversaw the Money Store’s death and burial. First Union paid $2.1 billion to buy the local company, known for its gold, pyramid-power headquarters on the Sacramento River. But it cut the deal just before the sub-prime market went into a free fall. Oops. Plus experts agree that First Union paid way too much and had no real experience in the business of loaning money to borrowers with high risk credit records. Ultimately, the purchase was a disaster from start to finish, with Maynor having to oversee lawsuits and thousands of layoffs.
Sister Bridget McCarthy
When Sister Bridget McCarthy took the helm as president of Mercy Healthcare Sacramento in 1987, the organization had just posted a $20 million loss. After McCarthy slimmed the organization down and hired a chief financial officer to get things under control, income improved markedly. As head of Mercy Healthcare Sacramento, a division of Catholic Healthcare West, McCarthy supervised four hospitals and 5,100 employees. Having recognized that the health of a community is best served when wellness and prevention is a priority, McCarthy challenged her staff to get involved in the community—she also said no person was to be turned away from a Mercy facility for lack of insurance. “I see myself continuing to promote health and healing no matter where I am in the world,” says McCarthy, who in 1996 took the post of executive vice president of Northern California Operations at Catholic Healthcare West.
Cake front man and Sacramento homeboy John McCrea used to make a living here selling hand-screened T-shirts. Now McCrea, hands down the most widely hailed singer-songwriter to have risen out of Sacramento’s alternative rock scene, is still pushing hand-screened T-shirts (and progressive politics) off his Cake Web site. Consistent guy! McCrea’s scornful, mantra-like vocals on the single “Rock ’n’ Roll Lifestyle” sent Cake’s debut album through the roof in the mid-’90s. Next, the band went on to the platinum-selling Fashion Nugget which featured the altie-rock hit “The Distance.” Band infighting almost destroyed Cake, but the group reformed and McCrea came out on top. The new Cake is “more cohesive, both musically and socially,” according to Spin Magazine. Cohesion must be good … it didn’t take long for the 1998 Prolonging the Magic to go gold.
A Canadian by birth, veteran arts administrator Brian McCurdy has opened three facilities over his career. As director of UC Davis Presents, he’s now working on a fourth—the new $53.5 million Center for the Arts at UCD, currently rising skyward on a site adjacent to Interstate 80 in Davis. When the new center opens in 2002, it will feature a 1,800-seat main hall and a 250-seat studio theater. With a $2 million budget, UC Davis Presents is a major arts presenter in the region, and McCurdy has expanded the classical, jazz and dance offerings and added the upcoming Edgewise festival, devoted to contemporary music and theater. When he isn’t organizing concerts and raising money for the new Center for the Arts, McCurdy can be found playing an under-appreciated instrument—the bass trombone.
The Don Quixote of California campaign finance reform, Tony Miller has devoted his life to ridding state government of the sleazy and corrupting influence of money in politics. A big job. Labeled a “malcontent” by those who fight against serious campaign contribution limits, the former acting secretary of state is smart, courageous and ready to do open battle to push his clean government agenda. Miller, who had the guts to be “out” as a gay man while holding a top state office, remains in the reform fight for the long haul. That’s a good thing, since his quest remains an uphill battle.
A Sacramento architect, urban planner and real estate developer who now leads the Environmental Council of Sacramento, David Mogovero has long been a local cheerleader for environmentally sound planning. Mogovero’s role has usually been that of town crier, convincing those in power that “growth is a resource, not necessarily a bad thing.” That is as long as it doesn’t translate into local government subsidizing new housing in outlying areas and growing a transportation infrastructure that promotes single occupancy automobiles. Among other things, Morovero has proposed that Sacramento build a new underground beltway for the region from I-80 in Roseville, along Sunrise Boulevard and down to Highway 50 in Rancho Cordova, serving as a 50-80 connector so as to relieve traffic congestion and improve air quality.
Raised in New Mexico and educated at the California College of Arts and Crafts, Jose Montoya is probably Sacramento’s most well-loved, all-around artist, musician and poet. A local legend for his ability to merge an artistic sensibility with a fierce dedication to social justice, Montoya was founder a few decades ago of the Royal Chicano Air Force, a group of radical artists who drew murals and created poster art focusing on Chicano culture. Montoya played a major role in developing several community programs and resources, including La Raza Galleria Posada and the Barrio Art Program. Having retired from CSUS in 1977 after 27 years in the art department, Montoya now focuses on his poetry, painting, music and family. One of his recent works is a bilingual volume of verse titled El Sol y Los de Abajo, which translates as The Sun and the Downtrodden.
Now in his second season as conductor and music director of the Sacramento Philharmonic, Michael Morgan began conducting at age 12, studied at Tanglewood under Seiji Ozawa and Leonard Bernstein, and served as assistant conductor of the St. Louis Symphony and the Chicago Symphony. Morgan has since taken on two “fixers,” the Oakland East Bay Symphony (now in its eleventh season), and the Sacramento Philharmonic—both orchestras that formed after their longtime predecessors went bankrupt. Morgan says that many people are still surprised to see an African-American wielding a baton, and thinks he’s just now coming into his own: “I don’t think a conductor’s even an adult until he’s 50.”
Grunge vocalist Chino Moreno is the centerpiece for the Deftones—a hard-hitting, adrenaline-pumping Sacramento band that’s received tons of national acclaim in recent years. Moreno wails to the accompaniment of guitarist Stephen Carpenter, drummer Abe Cunningham and bassist Chi Cheng—each of whom emerged from Sacramento’s music scene in the 1990s. In 1995, the Deftones landed a deal with Maverick Records to release their 1995 debut, Adrenaline. Much of the album was recorded live, capturing the energy of the band’s angst-ridden sound and Moreno’s trademark howling. The Deftones’ next effort was Around the Fur and their latest, White Pony, was released in June 2000. “I don’t want to be a spokesperson at all,” Moreno told Heckler Magazine. “ I just like the music I make, and if people dig it, that’s fresh.”
When Michael Nelson was teaching history and language arts at Samuel Jackson Middle School, fate took a hand. As Nelson was assigned a computer lab with access to the Internet, he built a Web site. Then another. Lightning struck around 1995, when Nelson decided to go into business building, designing and “hosting” Web sites for a range of customers. Now president of SacWeb, one of the region’s leading Web-development firms, Nelson’s business has 30 employees and services clients that range “all over the board,” from large government agencies (the state lottery) to the Sacramento Rotary Club to the California Grocer’s Association.
Trong Nguyen and Mai Pham
It is no understatement to say that this husband and wife team of Vietnamese immigrants took Sacramento’s food establishment by storm during the ’80s and ’90s. Trong Nguyen, founder of the La Bou chain of bakery/cafés, opened his first Sacramento restaurant in 1981 with his a store at 14th and J streets. Now with 21 company-owned stores and franchises through the region, Nguyen is known for his hard-work and balanced philosophy. Mai Pham, a teacher and writer, achieved local culinary fame of her own when she opened the Lemon Grass restaurant in the late ’80s, which focused on Thai-inspired and Vietnamese cuisine.
Marvin “Buzz” Oates
Self-made millionaire Marvin “Buzz” Oates started out in business in an 8-by-7-foot key shop in Oak Park. Now he’s one of the most well-known real estate developers in the region, accounting for more than 50 million square feet of space in buildings in the greater Sacramento area—and still counting. Oates and partners, who control thousands of acres in the Central Valley, continue to build 2 to 3 million square feet a year. Oates’ landmark deals include the old State Fairgrounds along Stockton Boulevard which later became the UC Davis Medical Center complex, the Senator Hotel on L Street and the Libby McNeil & Libby cannery on Stockton Boulevard, both of which were renovated into office space. Also a philanthropist, this developer lends financial support to churches and colleges.
Senator Deborah Ortiz got her feet wet in politics by serving on the Sacramento City Council. Elected to the state Assembly in November 1996 and two years later to the state Senate representing District Six, Ortiz’s interests are in health, seniors, the environment and education. “We’ve made a college education a reality for thousands of kids in Sacramento,” Ortiz says of last year’s Cal Grant expansion bill to dramatically increase state-funded scholarships for college. “Now, for the first time, we can tell students, that if they get the grades, their college education is paid for.” Notable among Ortiz’s legislation: the Michelle Montoya School Safety Act, in response to the tragic murder of a Rio Linda High School student by a substitute school janitor. The law requires private and public schools to complete criminal background checks on all employees before they are hired.
Rev. Bob Oshita
Born in a Japanese internment camp in Iowa during World War II, the Rev. Bob Oshita proceeded to become a “long-haired Berkeley radical” in the ’60s. But his thoughts eventually turned to his spiritual heritage—Buddhism. Now the popular minister of the Betsuin Buddhist Church of Sacramento, Oshita has helped tens of thousands of local Buddhists practice the religion, with an emphasis on “changing with the times without disrespecting the past.” Oshita is confident that Buddhism, if carefully nurtured, will eventually become a major religion in the United States. “Buddhism has spread in its history into many countries, made adjustments and taken on the flavor of the people there, but the basic teachings have remained the same.”
Julie Padilla has an interesting mix in her life: education, theater and politics. Daughter to infamous local bounty hunter Leonard Padilla, Julie grew up in Sacramento, graduated from Stanford and returned to the region with a one-woman tour de force theater piece, “You Don’t Look Mexican.” Exploring her political side, Padilla ran for mayor in the most recent election. A straight-talking, lefty community activist, Padilla is a leader in the Sacramento Green Party movement and was a key organizer in the local Ralph Nader for president campaign. Mother of a 3-year-old named Rio, Julie’s mayoral campaign focused on children, education and “smart growth” as the city’s top priorities.
One of Sacramento’s premier restaurateurs, Randy Paragary is the man behind the menus at such local popular eateries as Cafe Bernardo (named after his dog), Centro and, of course, Paragary’s. A Sacramento native (at least since age 9) and graduate of CSU Sacramento and McGeorge School of Law, Paragary opened his first restaurant in 1969. The rest is history. He once told the SN&R his motto in life: “Don’t forget to have fun.”
Sacramento’s own music man, Jerry Perry (whose aggressive coffee consumption keeps at least one local coffeehouse in business) has had his finger in a lot of pies over the years. The rangy, 37-year-old music promoter has been booking bands since 1979. He’s run music clubs—the Vortex from 1983–84, the Cattle Club (with Brian McKenna) from 1989–95—that not only booked a lot of rising national and international acts way ahead of the curve, but had a policy of pairing them with local bands, many of which have since become star attractions themselves. He’s published Alive & Kicking, a monthly paper that actively promotes Sacramento musicians, since 1991. That paper always enters a good-sized team for the annual Capital AIDS Walk, and Perry has also staged more than a few fund-raisers for Loaves & Fishes, the Mustard Seed School and other charities.
When David challenges Goliath in court, the job usually goes to the senior partner at Poswall & White, attorney John Poswall. Representing a firm that tends to represent individuals against powerful interests, Poswall’s litigation has included suits against SMUD (to close Rancho Seco), and Foundation Health and other HMOs that denied women breast cancer treatment. Poswall takes his mission to serve the community a step further with the Poswall Family Foundation and philanthropy targeting causes for women and minorities. He presently serves as president of the board of directors of Women Escaping a Violent Environment and is on the steering committee of a coalition that seeks to end homelessness in Sacramento. “Anyone can, in their own way, make a difference in the Sacramento community. Just by choosing to do something, to act, causes a ripple,” Poswall says.
Greg and Nancy Purcell
Greg and Nancy Purcell fell in love while attending Sacramento’s Kennedy High. The pair grew up, got married and pursued duo careers as educators. Greg always knew he wanted to be an educator, so he went after a teaching credential from the get-go. Along the way, he did a stint at (and fell in love with) Sutter Middle School, so he returned there eight years ago as principal. Nancy became principal at south Sacramento’s Woodbine Elementary and then, last year, was named principal at Sam Brannon Middle School. Both educators have been hailed for their high standards, exceptional dedication and innovative leadership approach, as well as for the strong student achievement levels at their schools. “There’s something incredible about middle-school kids,” exudes Nancy.
Webcam pioneer Jennifer Ringley, (she who puts the “Jenni” in JenniCam) moved to Sacramento last April. Say what you will about this exhibitionist and her past appearances on Late Night with David Letterman and the Today Show, if nothing else, Jenni’s got guts. In early July, the ditzy blond became romantically involved with Dex, her close friend Courtney’s boyfriend. (Courtney’s the one who helped Jenni relocate to her current Sacramento residence. Uh oh.) So now viewers get to watch the soap opera play out live on Jennicam.com. Anyone can visit the jennicam site free of charge to be treated to real-time camera views with a 15-minute refresh rate, including (at least one morning) images of Jenni and her new beau lying on the sheets in repose.
Kim Stanley Robinson
Born in California, nationally known sci-fi writer Robinson lived in the nation’s capital and Switzerland before settling in to the Village Homes solar community in Davis. He was fascinated early on by the novels of science fiction writer Philip K. Dick, but his own writing style is more often compared to Ursula K. Le Guin. Robinson says, “I like mountains above the tree line, desolate coastlines, deserts, and wilderness generally. Mars gives you a lot of that.” Robinson is noted for his trio of futuristic novels set in California, and his vast Mars trilogy (published in the ’90s as Red/Green/Blue Mars). He is a winner of both the Hugo and Nebula awards and his short stories are collected in the underappreciated book Remaking History.
Davis resident Beth Rodden, 20, is a risk-taking legend in the national rock climbing community, having traveled the world climbing and making waves as the youngest woman to tackle such peaks as “Lurking Fear” at Yosemite—a three-week effort up the most difficult face of El Capitan. Rodden, who appears tiny, shy and soft-spoken in person, attracted national attention last Fall after her abduction by a group of Uzbek Islamic separatists in the central Asian country of Kyrgyzstan. She and three other climbers, including her boyfriend Tommy Caldwell, were held hostage for six days and escaped by pushing their guard off a cliff. Not surprisingly, she and her boyfriend have been besieged with offers from publishers and movie producers who want to tell their story.
Rick Rodriguez began his newspaper career as an intern at his hometown newspaper, the Salinas Californian. After graduating from Stanford, he returned to that paper, then went on to become a reporter at the Fresno Bee. Rodriguez jumped Bees, joining the Sacramento daily in 1982 as a reporter covering state government and politics. In 1998, he replaced longtime Bee editor Gregory Favre as executive editor. Now serving as diversity committee chair of the American Society of Newspaper Editors, Rodriguez has built a reputation in Sacramento for his commitment to diversity and an increase in local investigative reports.
Ruth Rosenberg helped build a dance community in Sacramento where there wasn’t one. She began her dance training at age 10 through the Sacramento Ballet and advanced under several teachers in San Francisco. She later studied under Mark Morris and David Parsons, and was a member of the Capital City Ballet in the ’80s, and also appeared as a guest artist with the Sacramento Ballet. Her company—the Ruth Rosenberg Dance Ensemble—has championed modern dance regionally since 1991, and earned a loyal following. Last year, Rosenberg decided to dissolve her company: “I’m looking to do something interesting and fulfilling … just not so all-consuming!”
In his first year in business, Art Savage led the minors in wins and fans. As the Sacramento River Cat’s president and CEO, Savage was recently selected by Sporting News as the minor league’s top executive. His team managed to win the Western division title with a 90–54 record as well as lead the Pacific Coast League with a record 861,808 fans attending games. It was October 1998 when the River City Baseball Association, a West Sacramento group headed by Savage, bought the Oakland A’s Pacific Coast League team, the Vancouver Canadians. Savage then announced plans to move the Triple-A team to West Sacramento for the year 2000. The competition was fierce to bring minor league ball to town, but Art Savage somehow won out. And he’s still winning.
Jan Schori is responsible for overseeing SMUD, one of the largest community-owned electric utilities in the nation—one that has drawn attention during the energy crisis as a model of a MUD (municipal utility district). Schori went to work for the Sacramento Municipal Utility District in 1979 as an attorney and served as general counsel for five years prior to being appointed to the general manager post in February 1994. As general manager, Schori has directed the utility’s preparations for entering a competitive marketplace for electricity providers. Under her direction, SMUD was the first electric utility in California to offer customers a choice in energy suppliers.
There are two ways to get into farming in California: marry or inherit. So the saying goes, though Sacramentan Steve Schwartz is doing his best to prove the old adage wrong. Schwartz grew up on a family farm in the former Czechoslovakia, studied sustainable agriculture and worked as staff for state assembly members and the Community Alliance with Family Farmers. He founded the nonprofit California Farmlink in 1998 as a way to save farms and farmland. A young and innovative organization, Farmlink hooks up retiring farmers with aspiring ones and has also helped former farmworkers become farmers.
Jan Scully was first elected to the office of Sacramento district attorney in November 1994 and ran unopposed for re-election in June 1998. One of Scully’s first policies as district attorney was to try as adults, all juveniles age 14 and older who use a gun to commit murder or other violent crimes. The move drew criticism (including on SN&R’s own editorial pages) but indicated Scully’s willingness to take heat to promote her “get tough” posture on crime. During her tenure as district attorney, Scully has launched a countywide arrest sweep of parents who repeatedly failed to send their children to school.
The ghost of Joe Serna
Even in death, Serna remains a huge presence in the hearts and minds of the citizens of this city. The son of Mexican immigrant farm workers who would not settle for a life in the fields, Joe Serna worked his way through school to become a college teacher, city councilman and, ultimately, a beloved mayor of the city of Sacramento. Serna was a passionate, strong-willed leader who pushed hard for the things he felt strongly about—jobs, justice, safety, good schools, strong families and compassionate treatment for the poor. Serna’s diagnosis and eventual death from cancer in 1999 sent Sacramento reeling and it is still recovering.
Artistic director of the Sacramento Theatre Company, Peggy Shannon studied acting in London and directed in Seattle, Atlanta, Los Angeles and elsewhere. When she took the reins at STC three seasons ago, the organization was reeling from accumulated debt and declining subscriptions. Shannon brought in popular playwright Velina Hasu Houston (Kokoro) and actress Aviva Jane Carlin (the long-running Jodie’s Body), and put the shopworn production of Christmas Carol into rotation with Cinderella (which sold out most nights in December). “The arts scene in Sacramento is one of this region’s best-kept secrets. People don’t have to drive to the Bay Area to see good theater.”
Shawn and Jeff
Shawn Cash and partner Jeff Jenson started “spouting trivial nonsense” on KWOD 106.5 in May 1993, and the pair have been a dynamic DJ duo ever since. Shawn’s pre-radio history includes a stint playing Bugs Bunny at Magic Mountain (he got in trouble for riding the roller coaster in the bunny suit) and a 1989 scholarship to National Broadcasting School. But he quit school to go on-air at KZAP, then KWOD. Jeff was born and raised in Stockton, “the cultural center of the state,” and went on to attend UC Davis. An internship at KWOD led Jeff into his high-profile partnership with Shawn. A recent turn of events allowed the team to bring their show to 100.5 The Zone.
As CEO of the Sacramento Urban League, James Shelby is the most prominent leader of a multicultural organization in the region. Now getting set to lead the Center for Workforce Development in its new Del Paso Heights digs, Shelby also serves on the African-American Leadership Council, Mercy Healthcare Sacramento’s board of directors and the CSUS Community Advisory Board. Among Shelby’s favorite Urban League projects are the group’s Welfare-to-Work trainings and its Project Success, wherein his group works with Grant High students doing dropout education and employment skills.
Pulitzer-award winning poet Gary Snyder was active in the Beat poetry movement in the 1950s. He moved to Japan and studied at a Zen monastery (climbing mountains all the while), returning to the U.S. in 1970 and settling in the foothills near Grass Valley. Now a professor of English at UC Davis, his 18 books and environmental consciousness have earned comparisons to Thoreau and Japanese haiku masters. Noted for his long poem “Mountains and Rivers Without End” (begun in 1956, published 40 years later), Snyder has been featured on both BBC and PBS. At an outdoor poetry reading at UC Davis in 1996, he commented on the “river of cars” passing by on nearby Interstate 80, and added, “there may be a poem in that.”
Russ and Michael Solomon
Founded by Russ Solomon in 1960, Tower Records is the stuff of local business legend. The company has grown to be one of the largest music retailers in the country, with more than 180 stores in the United States, Japan, England, Mexico, Hong Kong and more. The Sacramento-based global enterprise began when, as a youngster, Solomon the elder, convinced his own father (who ran a local drugstore) to loan him $5,000. Now that Russ is in his mid-70s, son Michael runs the empire, competing against online music sellers in a fast-evolving industry. Though profit margins have become tight and some critics see Tower’s strength on the decline, the two Solomons are confident they’ll stay on top.
Former Sacramento City Councilman Darrell Steinberg has distinguished himself in the state Assembly as one of its best, brightest and most hard-working members. One of his top priorities has been to build a community mental health system, sorely needed in a state with more than 50,000 mentally ill and homeless on any given night. It’s no stretch to say that Steinberg’s hammering on this issue, and his ability to build coalitions across the aisle, has been key to the state taking a giant step forward in funding community-based mental health treatment. Steinberg’s other major focus in the Legislature is to improve teacher quality by, among other things, paying teachers more money to teach in poor school districts.
Artistic director for Celebration Arts, the city’s African-American theater group, Myrtle Stephens came to Sacramento from Berkeley in 1984, to help her sister with child-care. “I was emphatic that I couldn’t stay more than two months.” But she never left. “My first day here, I got on the bus, and thought ‘It looks better than I thought.’ ” Stephens got into local theater through Sacramento City College, CSUS (Medea), and the Sacramento Theatre Company (Having Our Say). She got involved with Celebration Arts in 1995, and co-directed their current production, Twilight. “We’re just at the surface of discovering the talent that’s in this community. We have people who are at the genius level for what they do.”
Dr. Alexei A. Stuchebrukhov
A Russian physicist transplanted to the UC Davis chemistry department, Dr. Alexi Stuchebrukhov is considered Nobel-worthy for his work in figuring out how light turns into life at the quantum level. Stuchebrukhov has gained world renown for his research effort to understand the fundamental principles of electron and proton transport in proteins that takes place during photosynthesis. The goal of the research, ultimately, is to develop a molecular understanding of photosynthesis, an awareness of why light equals life, which might one day lead to the development of artificial photosynthetic systems. This development would constitute a huge medical and scientific breakthrough.
The undisputed king of Sacramento talk radio, Tom Sullivan hosts the number one rated talk show in Sacramento (KFBK, AM 1530) where he reports on current business (and other) news. A one-time Washington state highway patrolman, Sullivan was something of a late-comer to radio and didn’t begin his talking career until 1981. Sullivan, who also serves as financial anchor/editor for KCRA-TV, took over the KFBK morning talk spot from another conservative fellow who used to grace Sacramento with his presence (you guessed it!), Rush Limbaugh. A hard act to follow, but Sullivan pulled no punches and eventually soared in the ratings.
As superintendent of the Sacramento Unified School District, Jim Sweeney initiated the “high standards, great results” plan designed to systematically reform district schools and improve student achievement. “We still have a long way to go,” Sweeney says of tripling the district K-8 students’ average gain in reading and doubling it in mathematics during the 1999–2000 school year. “Failure is not an option.” Sweeney’s efforts to step up parent involvement have included making personal home visits and a partnership with Sacramento Area Congregations. The district has been awarded a $250,000 planning grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York to reinvent its high schools.
A key player in the attempt to revitalize Sacramento’s downtown, David Taylor is president of Lankford & Taylor, a commercial real estate development and management company in Rancho Cordova. Taylor moved to town 14 years ago and immediately set his sites on development of several large downtown projects, including One Capital Center and the Esquire Plaza. His upcoming developments include the new $50 million city administration building behind City Hall which should be completed in spring 2004.
Joyce Raley Teel
From Raley’s Field to Raley’s superstores, the Sacramento region is more than familiar with the name behind the hugely successful West Sacramento-based company founded long ago by magnate Tom Raley. Today Raley’s, with its 150 supermarkets and revenues over $2.2 billion, is also famous for its work in the community. That’s thanks to Joyce Raley Teel (the only child of Tom, who died in 1991) who now serves as chairwoman of the board, together with her chairman-husband Jim Teel. She is the founder of Food For Families, a program that has raised more than $7 million in cash and donated more than 3 million pounds of groceries to local food banks. Teel is also actively involved in raising money for breast cancer research and served on the board of the Crocker Art Museum. Teel regularly makes Forbes Magazine’s annual ranking of the 400 richest Americans, with her fortune estimated at $900 million.
Hands down the most important visual artist ever to emerge from Sacramento, Wayne Thiebaud is famous for his sensuously drawn, intensely colored still-life paintings of cake and pie wedges, lipsticks and deli cases. Thiebaud earned an undergraduate and master’s degree from Sacramento State University, then went on to become a hugely popular art teacher at UC Davis. He first grew to fame in association with painters Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, though he never went in for their cynicism about popular culture and its “things.” After experimenting with painting the human form, Thiebaud went on to create vertigo-causing landscapes of San Francisco and impossibly-colored fields of agricultural crops. Last year, a major retrospective of his work was lauded widely as it traveled across the country: “Painting is alive for me.” Thiebaud said. “Painting is life for me.”
Sacramento attorney Tina Thomas, who has practiced law with Mike Remy for the past 21 years, has played a pivotal role in many of California’s most notable environmental legal battles, often representing neighborhood and environmental groups. A few years back, she drew the spotlight again for her role as lead counsel (pro bono) for Loaves & Fishes, the downtown homeless support organization that was sued by the city of Sacramento for not playing by its zoning rules. Thomas also sits on the board of the Sacramento Food Bank and La Raza Galeria Posada. Asked to name her motto in the SN&R a few years back, Thomas quickly replied in lawyer-like fashion: “Winning is everything.”
UC Davis student David Thornton died last April 3 of alcohol-related causes after doing “21 for 21” (21 shots of alcohol on his 21st birthday) in a downtown Davis bar. In doing so, Thornton, a member of Phi Delta Theta fraternity, put the national spotlight on the climb in incidents of high-risk alcohol consumption by adolescents and young adults. Thornton’s death was marked memorably by his girlfriend Lauren Tobin who wrote for UC Davis Magazine that she still sometimes “forgets and looks for [David] among the hundreds of faces I see every day. The wound feels even more raw when I think about how senseless his death was—how frightening. I miss him every day, I feel his presence all the time.”
Now general manager of KCRA-TV, Elliott Troshinsky began his broadcasting career as a sales guy at WKAP-AM in Allentown, PA, in 1971. Then it was off to Philadelphia, where Troshinsky began a climb in his television management career that eventually landed him in Sacramento. In 1987, he joined KRBK-TV as VP general manager. (That station has, since 1987, had two ownership changes and two call letter changes, and is now KMAX-TV, Ch. 31.) The man who brought the region the Good Day Sacramento broadcast on weekdays, Troshinsky was then hired away by Channel 3 and in December 2000, he became president and general manager of KCRA-TV/KQCA-TV, both Hearst-Argyle owned stations. He currently serves on boards of directors for the River Oak Center for Children, Families First, Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce, SACTO and UC Davis Children’s Hospital.
As editor of the Old City Guardian for the last ten years, Brooks Truitt has been a dogged enemy of Sacramento developer-driven boondoggles and a champion of people-power in city hall. He led the successful fight to save the old Memorial Auditorium, and was instrumental in staving off developers’ plans to turn the R Street Corridor into a wasteland of office buildings. These days, Truitt is using the pages of the Guardian to agitate against the Union Pacific railroad company and its plans to move Amtrak operations out of Sacramento’s historic rail depot. When asked why, at 75, he still puts in all those hours, publishing the paper, going to public meetings, and hassling public officials, Truitt remarked, “It keeps me from peeing in the gutter with all my wino buddies.” More likely, he keeps up his steady regimen of hell-raising because he likes it, and because he’s good at it.
Sacramento’s most prominent developer and philanthropist, Angelo Tsakopoulos is founder and chairman of AKT Development Corp., an outfit that’s been involved these last 30 years in the build-out of dozens of (mostly suburban) projects all over the region. Often blamed by slow-growth activists for increasing sprawl in the region, Tsakopoulos has simultaneously won admiration by setting the bar for charitable, political and civic giving, including to the Crocker Art Museum, the Galleria in Sacramento’s Public Library, the Sacramento Tree Foundation and various projects at UC Davis and CSUS. He’s also attracted attention as a major Democratic Party donor and is both a Friend of Bill and a Friend of Phil (Angelides.)
Sacramento’s Top Cop Arturo Venegas Jr. has as many detractors in Sacramento as he has supporters. But no one can deny that this often controversial figure is a dedicated public servant. A high-school drop-out, Venegas served in the Army during the Vietnam War (an experience he says turned his life around), went into law enforcement and eventually became deputy chief of the Fresno Police Department. Appointed Sacramento Police Chief in 1993, he admits that crime is down locally because of a strong economy and burgeoning neighborhood associations. But Venegas, a strong proponent of community policing in Sacramento, gets some of the credit too. Venegas is despised by marijuana advocates for his support of high fines and penalties for marijuana users.
He’s befriended, interviewed, sketched, slept with and smoked crack with prostitutes all over the world. He’s also done a bit of writing. While living low-profile in Sacramento, journalist/author William Vollman has emerged as a powerful literary presence, worthy of comparisons to the likes of Thomas Pynchon and Williams S. Burroughs. A true eccentric, Vollman is afraid to drive a car on the streets of Sacramento, but has no fear of being a globe-trotting war zone journalist for magazines like Spin, Esquire and the New Yorker. He once told SN&R: “In literature, in extreme situations, people tend to become more human.” His first book You Bright and Risen Angels was followed by dozens more, most of them drawing their subject matter from the gritty back streets and steamy jungles of the world.
Originally from Los Angeles, Carl Watanabe started in radio at the campus station at San Francisco State. He spent 14 years in public radio and TV in New Hampshire before moving down to Boston FM station WGBH. In 1998, Watanabe came to Capital Public Radio in Sacramento as station manager. With the addition of Stockton’s KUOP, CPR now has five frequencies and is heard from Merced up to Marysville, and from East Bay over to Reno. Watanabe still fills in occasionally as a classical music host. “We’re your radio lifeline to classical and real jazz. Capital Public Radio connects you with the issues important to your life, issues that involve the arts, politics, the environment or business.” And don’t forget those popular NPR news programs.
Webber, who was 1994’s Rookie of the Year, arrived in Sacramento in 1998 after playing with the Washington Bullets, now known as the Wizards. As of this writing, Webber leads the winningest team in Sacramento King’s history. But soon our most gifted King will enter that precarious stage in our relationship called free agency, that period where either party can Date Somebody Else. Let us review then, as a matter of municipal necessity, all the ways by which One Whose Love Is True can stop their loved one from dating somebody else: bribery, blackmail, flowers, lawn mowing, lavish gifts, “I can change, I swear,” sexual favors, steal their cars, handcuffs, slavish begging or practice active listening. There is no shortage of such tactics. But for Joe and Gavin Maloof, the options are simple: (a) Win an NBA championship, or (b) Provide this man bushels and bushels of money.
Co-poet laureate of Sacramento, Weinberg has published three books of poetry (in addition to poems printed on prayer flags and posted on the Internet), and written a “poetic stage piece.” She’s also a lover of baseball, and last year wrote a poem praising the “abundant, verdant greens, dazzling and fresh, perfume of grass” at newly-opened Raley Field. She says “the beautiful thing about Sacramento’s attitude toward poetry is that every kind of style, every genre is accepted—from Hip Hop to free verse to narrative to language poetry. Almost every night you can hear poems at public readings.” She urges the curious to attend the “Favorite Poem” readings on second Mondays at noon in the Sacramento Main Library. “It’s almost always packed.” A new collection of poems, Natural Magic, is forthcoming.
A one-time shoe salesman who became a successful retail entrepreneur, Mike Ziegler walked in the door of PRIDE Industries about 20 years ago as a mere volunteer. Now the Roseville organization’s president and CEO, Ziegler has dedicated his life to creating jobs—mostly for people who have disabilities. Under Ziegler’s leadership, PRIDE Industries has grown from a $250,000 business with 65 employees, to a $60 million-a-year business with 3,000 employees working in 10 West Coast cities.
Head of a new state department charged with regulating the state’s behemoth health insurance industry, longtime patient-advocate Daniel Zingale is now director of the Department of Managed Health Care. His goals are to work vigorously to bring managed care back to its original purpose and to keep health care costs down by emphasizing illness prevention. Charged with protecting the 23.5 million Californians covered by HMOs, Zingale’s department was created as part of Gov. Gray Davis’ sweeping health care reforms in 1999. The former national director of AIDS Action in Washington, D.C., Zingale says he’s “more interested in solving problems then seeing a fine being levied.”