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Did you know how the dominant North Bay print media company was OWNED by the cannabis lobby? Read.

Did you know how the dominant North Bay print media company was OWNED by the cannabis lobby? Read.

Darius Anderson, in addition to being a premier lobbyist in the State (representing folks like PG&E) and being an owner of the Press Democrat and the Sonoma paper, he represents the pot industry (registered lobbyist for CannaCraft) and may very well be personally invested in some of the very grows ruining your neighborhood. His brother Kirk Anderson is the Chief Operating Officer of CannaCraft, a large marijuana corporation. He founded the group Restore North Bay after last years fires and hired Susan Gorin’s former aid Jennifer Gray as its executive director.  Does he “own” Susan Gorin and would she go against his interest?

BIO

Darius Anderson is the Founder and CEO of Kenwood Investments, a California Opportunity Fund seeking new ventures to build upon the unique brand of California, and Managing Member of Sonoma Media Investments that publishes the Santa Rosa Press Democrat and the Sonoma Index-Tribune.

Darius is a talented political strategist who also understands the hard-charging working dynamics of big business and big government. He spearheaded a series of innovative ventures and private/public partnerships in the high-tech, real estate and retail fields. Currently, a key project is the Treasure Island Development Project, a $6 billion economic redevelopment of the former Naval Station Treasure Island located in the San Francisco Bay.

In addition, Darius Anderson is also the Founder and CEO of Platinum Advisors, a full-service government affairs firm that ranks in the top five of California government advocacy companies.  With offices in Sacramento, Orange County and San Francisco, Platinum Advisers provides lobbying, real estate project development, procurement, public affairs and strategic consulting to corporations, governments, trade associations and non-profit groups.

Widely recognized as one of California’s most effective political strategists and fundraisers, he continues his long streak of advising many of California’s highest-ranking political and business leaders. In 2010, Darius was appointed to California’s Political Reform Act Task Force.

Between 1993 and 1998, Darius Anderson served as Chief of Staff for The Yucaipa Companies and as Vice President of External Affairs for Ralphs Grocery Stores, Inc., a Fortune 500 company. During that time, Darius was responsible for business development for The Yucaipa Companies, including property acquisition and development, and for government affairs, community relations, external corporate communications and public relations for Ralphs Grocery Stores. He also served as the Executive Director for the Ralphs/Food 4 Less Foundation.

Philanthropy is important to Darius, and he is involved in a variety of charitable activities. He previously served as the Chair of the National Advisory Council for the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies (IGS) and is currently a member of the Board of Directors of the George Washington University Graduate School of Public Management’s Council on American Politics, Californians Building Bridges, Sonoma State University Green Music Center and Co- Chair of the Friends of the UCSF Center for Reproductive Health (CRH) Advisory Board.

He is a passionate art collector and owns world-class collections of both baseball and Jack London memorabilia. Darius Anderson holds a Bachelor’s degree in Communications from George Washington University in Washington, D.C. and currently lives in Sonoma.

Some Anderson’s tentacles (from the North Bay Bohemian :

As he sets out to lead the way in rebuilding the North Bay after the October wildfires, Sonoma County developer, newspaper owner and Democratic Party power broker Darius Anderson’s Platinum Advisors is also lobbying on behalf of PG&E’s post-fire interests in Sacramento.

According to the California Secretary of State (see graphic above), Platinum Advisors was hired by the utility on March 28, just as a Senate bill that’s squarely targeted at PG&E’s fire liability was scheduled to make its way through the committee process in the Senate.

Sponsored by a quartet of state senators, including North Bay pols Bill Dodd and Mike McGuire, SB 819 sets out to limit the extent to which electric utilities can pass off fees and fines to ratepayers.

According to the Legislative Counsel’s Digest, SB 819 enhances the state’s current ability to regulate rate hikes; California law already gives the state Public Utilities Commission leverage to “fix the rates and charges for every public utility and requires that those rates and charges be just and reasonable.”

The current regulations prohibit gas corporations from “recovering any fine or penalty in any rate approved by the commission,” and SB 819 extends that prohibition to gas and electric corporations such as PG&E, which is based in San Francisco, provides power to some 16 million California residents and is the dominant investor-owned utility in the state.

SB 819 would in effect head off PG&Es attempt to convince Sacramento lawmakers that fallout from the “new normal” of wildfires shouldn’t fall on the utility, even if its equipment is determined to be the culprit. Two state agencies are investigating the fires and no final determination has been made about PG&E’s ultimate responsibility for the fires, if any.

PG&E is opposed to SB 819.

The bill was set for its first committee meeting today, April 17, before the Senate’s Energy, Utilities and Communications committee. McGuire’s a member of the bi-partisan committee. The bill was introduced on Jan. 3 and the Senate set today’s hearing date date on March 12. Platinum Advisors was hired by PG&E two weeks later.

The company was founded by Anderson, a Sonoma resident who is also the principal owner at the Sonoma Media Group (which owns the Press-Democrat), and the founder of the Rebuild Northbay Foundation, a nonprofit he created after the fires.

The Rebuild North Bay Foundation’s board includes Steven Malnight, a senior vice president at the PG&E Corporation and Pacific Gas and Electric Company. According to the Rebuild website, Malnight until recently served as PG&E’s senior vice president for regulatory affairs, “where he oversaw PG&E’s regulatory policy efforts at the national and state levels, including interaction with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC)….”

The utility has come under intense scrutiny following the wildfires last fall as state investigators set out to determine what caused the fires which destroyed thousands of homes and buildings, killed dozens of people, and prompted around 300 lawsuits against the utility—including a suit by Sonoma County itself. Sonoma County Supervisor James Gore’s wife, Elizabeth, is the chair of the Rebuild North Bay Foundation.

The North Bay fires caused an estimated $9 billion in so-called “insured damage.” Numerous press reports have noted that PG&E carries about $800 million in liability insurance. The takeaway: The investor-owned utility is facing one of the more severe existential crises in its hundred-plus year history, and says that SB 819 could not have come at a worse time for the utility or its ratepayers—especially given its commitment to participating in the state’s climate-change reduction strategies.

At issue for PG&E is the principal of “inverse condemnation,” whereby a utility can be held liable for damages from a wildfire, as PG&E noted in a press release on Jan 3, “even if the utility has followed established inspection and safety rules.”

PG&E put the heavyweight Sacramento lobbying group Capitol Advocacy on its payroll as of Jan. 1. It added more lobbying firepower with the addition of Platinum Advisors about two months later, as the legislative session got rolling.

Anderson is the registered lobbyist for CannaCraft and likely is personally invested in the industry:

Fast-growing Santa Rosa cannabis manufacturing firm CannaCraft has tapped William Silver, the former dean of Sonoma State University’s School of Business and Economics, as its new CEO.

Silver led the business program during a decadelong period of growth, increasing student enrollment by about 40 percent, raising $20 million in donations and scholarships and carving a name for the school as one of the few programs focusing on the business and entrepreneurial aspects of the wine industry.

Silver’s move to the cannabis sector — particularly to a high-profile company like CannaCraft, which was thrust into the public eye in 2016 when police raided its manufacturing operation — comes as cannabis companies are proliferating in Sonoma County.

Silver said CannaCraft’s revenues have doubled every year for three years and he hopes to help the company continue growing, with an eye toward replicating the CannaCraft brand in other cannabis-friendly states. He also will seek to further its mission to be a responsible corporate player in Sonoma County’s economy.

“It’s time to rip apart false stigmas and look at the facts about how the industry contributes to our communities and what the plant can do,” Silver said.

Silver made his first appearance as CEO of CannaCraft at an all-staff meeting Tuesday. Headquartered on Corporate Center Parkway in west Santa Rosa, the company employs about 180 people and has about 140 products under five brands, including AbsoluteXtracts cannabis oils, Care By Design medicines and Satori chocolates. CannaCraft has three state licenses for its medical cannabis manufacturing operations, distribution company and its retail dispensary in Hopland, Emerald Pharms.

CannaCraft founders Dennis Hunter and Ned Fussell said they asked Silver to join the company after learning in mid-December he was leaving Sonoma State. Hunter said they got to know Silver after seeking his advice on CannaCraft’s corporate structure and executive team. Bringing Silver in to run the company will enable them to focus on innovation, Hunter with manufacturing and Fussell in cultivation.

“We’ve known this company has outgrown us, and we want Bill to take us to the next level,” Fussell said.

Silver had planned to take a year off and then return to the university as a professor of leadership and management. The CannaCraft offer was too interesting to refuse, he said. He still plans to teach.

Lisa Vollendorf, Sonoma State University provost and executive vice president of academic affairs, said Silver “brought a spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation to the school and the university.”

She said his work is best illustrated by the newly minted $9.2 million Wine Spectator Learning Center, a new home for the Wine Business Institute he helped shape. The center is expected to open its doors in May.

Over the last year, Silver has advised SSU as it developed a series of seminars focused on the cannabis industry launched by the School of Extended and International Education.

“With regard to the cannabis industry, certainly Bill Silver has helped us stay abreast of the changing economy in the region and that’s something we are proud of and he should be proud of,” Vollendorf said.

Silver, 53, lives in Santa Rosa with his wife, Kaiser Permanente pediatrician Adrienne Silver, and their three teen boys.

Silver came to Sonoma State in 2008 after serving as senior associate dean of the University of Denver’s Daniels College of Business, where he had held various positions since 1999.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor in the 1980s, a city early to reduce penalties for marijuana possession, he said. That was his informal introduction to cannabis, but since then he learned about its potential health benefits when cancer struck multiple family members, including his mother-in-law, mother, best friend and one of his children.

But his true interest is the evolution of the sector, a once-clandestine backwoods business now emerging as a complex industry that could rival the wine industry in prominence on the North Coast.

Silver brushed off CannaCraft’s previous trouble with law enforcement. In July 2016, Santa Rosa police joined by federal drug agents raided its facility, seizing its extraction machines for making cannabis oils, taking cash intended for payroll and later arresting Hunter. Following a tip from a disgruntled ex-employee, investigators suspected the company was producing cannabis oils using then-prohibited methods with butane gas.

But the company soon resumed operations and was among the first in the city to receive a license to do the type of manufacturing police were concerned about.

The case is not yet resolved, Hunter’s attorney, Chris Andrian, said Tuesday. Hunter is working with the Sonoma County District Attorney’s office on a civil settlement related to several building code issues on site at the time, he said.

Silver said he was aware of the issue and believed it to be a thing of the past. Today, the industry is taking off, armed with legalization and new regulations allowing its operations. California’s recreational marijuana marketplace launched Jan. 1.

“I think Sonoma County will be the business headquarters for cannabis, not only in California but also nationally,” Silver said.

Darius Anderson, a managing partner of Sonoma Media Investments, which owns The Press Democrat, is a registered lobbyist for CannaCraft.

 

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