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September 16, 2020

News last week that the state had put the brakes on Marin’s plans to more widely reopen its economy was largely met with a collective shrug from business owners and church leaders on the Tiburon Peninsula, many of whom said they hadn’t planned to expand their operations even if the county had been able to move forward with relaxing restrictions. After many flips and flops — several business sectors allowed to reopen in June were then shut down by the state in July, then the county announced new reopenings Sept. 4 before being halted again — Marin was finally allowed to reopen indoor personal-care services, indoor dining, indoor gyms, movie theaters and indoor houses of worship at reduced capacity, as well as expanded capacity at indoor retail establishments and malls, starting Sept. 15. The reopenings coincide with the county’s planned move from California’s purple tier-1 status, or “widespread” risk of coronavirus transmission, to red tier-2 status, or “substantial” risk under the sta...

September 16, 2020

Jamie Scardina knows he’s stepping into the role of Tiburon’s interim police chief during a divisive time, as the community continues to deal with the fallout over last month’s tense interaction between police and the Black owner of downtown clothing store Yema. Scardina, Marin County’s undersheriff and a former officer in Tiburon, was hired to temporarily take over for Chief Michael Cronin, who last week announced his retirement effective Sept. 13. Though town officials have said Cronin, who held the top police job in Tiburon for 13 years, had been planning to retire for some time, the move came amid increased scrutiny of Cronin’s leadership and the Tiburon Police Department’s handling of the early morning Aug. 21 interaction at Yema, owned by Tiburon residents Yema Khalif and Hawi Awash.

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September 16, 2020

The Tiburon Playhouse, a fixture of downtown social life for more than 60 years and host of the Tiburon International Film Festival, has closed permanently after going six months without customers due to coronavirus-related public-health restrictions. “Tiburon Playhouse a casualty of the pandemic,” owner David Corkill said in a Sept. 11 interview, adding that he has negotiated out of his lease with ACV Argo Tiburon LP, which owns the 40 Main St. building. ACV Argo Tiburon did not respond to inquiries about its plans for the space. (Elliot Karlan photo / For The Ark).

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September 9, 2020

Tiburon Police Chief Michael Cronin will retire from the department’s top job Sept. 13 — a move town officials said has been in the works for “some time” but comes amid public scrutiny over the way Cronin and his department handled an August exchange with a Black business owner and reacted to a June Black Lives Matter rally held in Marin City. Days earlier, the town announced that Tiburon police Sgt. Michael Blasi, the officer seen on video in a heated encounter with the business owner, voluntarily resigned from his post effective Sept. 1.

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September 9, 2020

Prohibition had just been enacted in the U.S. when Sam Vella began slinging drinks on Tiburon’s shoreline. His bar — a wooden plank over a pair of sawhorses under a tent on the beach — would lay the foundation for the town’s landmark businesses: Sam’s Anchor Cafe. A century later, the bar and restaurant is the peninsula’s longest continuously operating eatery and a mainstay on Tiburon’s Main Street waterfront for locals and tourists alike, a place to see and be seen with its twin dining rooms and massive rear deck offering expansive views of the bay.

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September 9, 2020

Marin officials have abandoned a countywide task force created to investigate tips about businesses violating COVID-19 health orders and will instead leave it up to cities and towns like Tiburon and Belvedere to handle local complaints and issue warnings or citations. The decision, effective Sept. 1, comes after difficulties streamlining the complaint system, county officials said, specifically problems with managing and following up on the hundreds of complaints the county has received since mid-July. That includes nearly 20 complaints about businesses on the Tiburon Peninsula, including at least nine in Tiburon, two in Belvedere and eight in Strawberry. For more than half of those, the county either never followed up or couldn’t say what actions were taken, if any.

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September 2, 2020

Strong rebukes of racial injustice and calls for police reform were countered by staunch support for law enforcement at a special Aug. 27 online community forum, which drew more than 450 listeners and dozens of commenters about the recent late-night encounter between three Tiburon Peninsula police officers and a Black business owner working inside his downtown store. 

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September 2, 2020

The Reed Union School District has abruptly dropped its long-term distance-learning program just one week into the 2020-2021 school year after discovering several of the platform’s lessons contained “inappropriate content expressing racism or sexism,” according to district Superintendent Nancy Lynch. Lynch said the district late last week began hearing reports and seeing social-media posts from educators and parents across the country highlighting offensive content within the curriculum of the Acellus Learning Accelerator. 

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September 2, 2020

More than 200 people gathered at the Tiburon Police Department Aug. 29 to challenge officials to take steps to end systemic racism within the community and in law enforcement. The protest was a public show of support for two Black business owners who say they were racially profiled by police while recently working after hours in their downtown clothing store. (Elliot Karlan photo / For The Ark)

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August 27, 2020

Tiburon officials have released body-camera footage from the first officer at the scene of a late-night confrontation between police and Black business owner Yema Khalif, who asserts he was racially profiled when questioned at his downtown shop.

The nearly 11-minute recording includes about 5 previously unseen minutes of the incident, which occurred about 1 a.m. Aug. 21 at Yema, the “action fashion wear” boutique at 10 Main St. owned by Khalif and partner Hawi Awash, Tiburon residents who are also the designers and models for the brand. The couple say they had received a large shipment of merchandise and that they and a visiting friend and business associate had been restocking the store to prepare for the weekend shortly before a patrol officer knocked on the door and questioned why they were there. The encounter escalated when the supervising sergeant arrived on scene. 

About 6 minutes of cellphone footage of the encounter with the supervisor, Tiburon police Sgt. Michael Blasi, was pos...

August 25, 2020

A video showing three Tiburon Peninsula police officers repeatedly questioning the identity of a Black business owner working in his Fountain Plaza clothing store about 1 a.m. Aug. 21 has sparked widespread outrage within the community and prompted town officials to order an independent investigation into the conduct of two of the officers. 

A 6-minute video of the incident was posted to Instagram and Facebook by Yema Khalif, the co-owner of the “action fashion wear” boutique Yema at 10 Main St. In it, the officers, who first note that Khalif is in the store at 1 a.m., past the typical 9 p.m. shut-down time for activity on the street, can be heard repeatedly demanding that Khalif prove his ownership of the business, either by showing identification or putting his key in the shop’s door. Khalif continually declines to do so, stating numerous times that he owns the business and asks, “What’s the problem? There are three Black people in the store — what’s the problem with that?”

Watch the v...

August 19, 2020

Reed Union School District Superintendent Nancy Lynch confirmed late last week the district will not immediately seek a state waiver that would speed up students’ return to the classroom. In an Aug. 14 email to parents, Lynch said a preliminary survey showed there was not agreement among parents and teachers in favor of applying for the waiver; county and state public-health officials have said consensus among parent, labor and community groups is necessary for a waiver to be approved. Lynch said she sent a survey out to district parents and staff on Aug. 10. Of the 593 parents who responded to the survey, about 60 percent wanted the district to apply for a waiver. Of the 94 employees who responded, only about 12 percent were in favor of applying. 

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August 19, 2020

There’s a race after all in the Reed Union School District board election. In a deadline surprise, Tiburon residents Chuck Hornbrook, who currently serves on the Tiburon Parks, Open Space and Trails Commission, and Jacqueline Jaffee, executive director of Adopt A Family of Marin, filed their nomination papers on Aug. 12 — the final day for nonincumbent challengers to get their names on the Nov. 3 general-election ballot.

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Despite state and local surges in coronavirus cases and growing evidence that donning a face mask could drastically reduce transmission rates if done universally, some on the Tiburon Peninsula continue to shrug off the science and let their coverings hang loose, while local officials continue to pursue an educational approach. Some four months into the mandate — and a month after decriminalizing the penalty and reducing fines for violations — no citations have been issued in Tiburon or Belvedere, despite police receiving regular complaints. Models show that adoption by at least 80 percent of the public would prevent further resurgence, with the CDC chief saying that “if all of us would put on a face covering now for the next four to six weeks, we could drive this epidemic to the ground."

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August 19, 2020

Tiburon Peninsula disaster-readiness officials have been working behind the scenes to prepare community hubs that will provide internet, power strips and medicine refrigeration in the event of public-safety power shutoffs this fire season. And due to the pandemic and physical-distancing mandates, the spaces will be configured to keep people safe as coronavirus cases continue to climb in Marin. Two locations on the peninsula — Tiburon Town Hall and the Belvedere Community Center — will serve as temporary community hubs if power is preemptively shut off by Pacific Gas and Electric Co. to prevent its equipment from sparking a wildfire during extremely dry, windy and hot weather in the region.

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