Freedom is the ability to believe as you wish. Tyranny is forcing others to believe your thoughts.
The California Coast is good for residents.
On February 5, 2023 Edith “Edie” Ceccarelli of Willits turned 115 years old. A month prior Edie became the oldest living American after a senior in Iowa died at the age of 115 years and 57 days. A few years ago Edie was asked the secret to remaining so vital. She advised “Have a couple of fingers of red wine with your dinner---and mind your own business.” Probably good advice for all.
Healdsburg Gets a Road Fix
The city of Healdsburg will receive a $11.8 Million grant to fund construction of protected bike lanes and pedestrian improvements on Healdsburg Avenue. The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) approved the Active Transportation Program grant that will partially fund construction along a nearly 2-mile stretch of Healdsburg Avenue between Powell Avenue to just south of Passalacqua Road.
The number of driving lanes on Healdsburg Avenue will be reduced from five to three lanes and will include landscaped buffers alongside the protected bike lanes. The 10 foot wide bike lanes will also serve as a vehicle lane in the event of large-scale evacuations.
Gina Cuclis Elected President of the California County Boards of Education
Gina Cuclis has been a trustee of the Sonoma County Board of Education for many years. On the board she represents east Santa Rosa, Sonoma Valley and Oakmont. She has been elected state Board of Education President and as such she will be helping over 58 Boards of Education throughout the state.
County Boards approve salaries for county superintendents; serve as governing boards for the juvenile halls and alternative learning schools; serve as an appellate body for expulsions and interdistrict transfers.
Ms. Cuclis serves on the California School Board Association Board of Directors. She is a former vice president and board member of the Sonoma League for Historic Preservation. From 1997 – 2006 she served on the City of Sonoma Planning Commission. Gina Cuclis and her family have lived in Boyes Hot Springs since 1986 where her children attended local schools.
Moral Principles do not depend on a majority vote. Wrong is wrong, even if everybody is wrong. Right is right, even if nobody is right. Bishop Fulton J. Sheen
Return of the Ruth Asawa Fountain to Courthouse Square
The Asawa fountain was installed in Courthouse Square in 1987. Asawa had suggested that the friezes on the side of the fountain be cast in bronze. However, the city cast the friezes in concrete. The concrete deteriorated. The reintroduction was originally set for 2021. However, going through all of the groups needed for approval has been a four year process. The Hugh Futrell Corporation is managing and funding the fountain. Funding is also being provided by the Downtown Action Organization. Mr. Futrell stated that the fountain can be completed in 135 calendar days although the time required to attach the panels to the fountain is unknown. In 2021 the Santa Rosa City Council approved $300,000 of PG&E settlement funds for the panels.
Change at Rincon Valley Union School District
Superintendent Tracy Smith, leader of the Rincon Valley Union School District is leaving her post for the job of Superintendent of the Novato Unified School District. She will start this position on July 1st.
Help for Highway 37
A coalition of state traffic and environmental agencies will be working together to redesign Highway 37 which is the North Bay’s main east-west route. New lanes will be added in each direction and there will be fixes to address chronic flooding problems. The work will focus on the 21 mile state highway which links Marin, Sonoma, Napa and Solano counties from Interstate 80 in the east to Highway 101 at Novato. This road has 40,000 vehicles on it every day.
The project aims to add a lane in each direction on the easternmost 10 mile stretch. An existing lane will be converted into an HOV lane. The cost of the widening is expected to be about $500 Million and take five years to complete.
Big Decisions in Petaluma
At the end of 2023 the Petaluma City Council will assume management of the Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds.
The Council directed City Manager Peggy Flynn to negotiate a transitional use agreement with California’s 4th District Agricultural Association enabling the state agency to continue operating its annual 5 day fair within a specified footprint. The City of Petaluma will assume control of managing and maintaining the 55 acre property.
To begin negotiations the city of Petaluma requested some basic information including exactly how much space was needed to operate the fair apart from the other enterprises subleasing space from the fair district.
Surprise! Fair Board members stated they would provide no information unless and until they were granted a face-to-face meeting with the City Council. Why was this done? It appears that the board’s goal is to bring political pressure to force the council to rescind its earlier action and instead adopt a new lease that basically maintains the status quo. There have been three new members elected to the Petaluma City Council. However, a four member majority is necessary to keep the past policy of having the Fair maintain control of the area. Tawny Tesconi, the board’s CEO stated that the board will pursue this goal. She states that the fair board can do a better job managing the fairgrounds property because the city staff does not know the facility like the fair board does.
Now of course the issue comes to money. The fair has a $1 a year lease. The City Council is looking at the Fair Grounds as a municipal nest egg. Because Petaluma tax payers voted for a sales tax increase that stabilized the shaky financial situation in the city, the fairgrounds property was not put up for sale once the lease expired.
The fair board which is state appointed has no explicit accountability to the voters. City Manager Flynn is continuing to move ahead to enact the City Council’s directive.
Stay tuned for the next event in the continuing saga.
Life is meaningless when the right to utter one’s thoughts and opinions has ceased to exist.
California Public Records Act
Did you know that the California’s Public Records Act was passed by the Legislature and signed by Governor Ronald Reagan in 1968. This legislation gives the public the legal right to examine governmental documents with a few specified exceptions. In 2004, voters strengthened the Act by passing a constitutional amendment. Sounds like the law has real teeth.
Wait! Even though there is a law on the books, making state and local officials comply is a totally different matter. Some agencies and local governments comply with PRA requests. Others use different techniques to avoid compliance. Here are some ways avoidance happens.
1) String out responses
2) Demand more specificity
3) Try to charge exorbitant fees for copying documents
4) Stonewall, thereby forcing those seeking information to file lawsuits
Consumer Watchdog has been battling Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara from when he first took office. In 2020, Consumer Watchdog sued Lara’s office on a particular issue. The important issue here is that the department responded by saying that it was unreasonable to ask for records of a broad nature and insisted that it had released all the records it could identify as pertinent. Recently, the case was heard by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff. He issued a ruling almost fully favoring Lara. Jerry Flanagan, litigation director for Consumer Watchdog responded to the decision. “Access to information concerning the conduct of the people’s business is a fundamental right of every person in this state and is a critical weapon in the fight against government corruption.” There is question about how transparent Consumer Watchdog is but the point of the case is that the Public Records Act can be unwieldy when an agency chooses to fight instead of complying with the Public Records Act.
Governmental entities have an unlimited ability to fight legal battles because they have armies of tax-payer financed attorneys. People seeking information must hire their own legal talent.
Republican Assemblyman Vince Fong has introduced legislation that would create an ombudsman within the state auditor’s office to settle such disagreements without involving judges.
Go to Prison and Cast Your Vote!
Assembly member Isaac Bryan has proposed an amendment to the state constitution that would allow persons in prison on felony convictions the right to vote. The proposal does not include any exemptions based on the crime committed.
Two thirds of each chamber of the legislature must vote yes for the bill for it to appear on the ballot as a proposition. For the measure to become a constitutional amendment voters must approve it by a simple majority. 21 states including California allow felons to vote as soon as they are released. A 2020 constitutional amendment removed the requirement that felons complete their parole period before getting back the right to vote.
A two thirds vote of the legislature will be difficult to obtain. Assemblyman Tom Lackey opposes the bill and said Wednesday it is a “betrayal” of crime victims.
North Bay Water
Supervisors Chris Coursey and James Gore are holding a special Sonoma Water board meeting on Monday February 28th at 8:30 a.m. in the Board of Supervisors chamber in Santa Rosa to learn about proposed wholesale water rates and infrastructure challenges.
Sonoma Water is responsible for the regional water system. The system provides water to Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park, Petaluma, Sonoma, Cotati, Windsor and the North Marin, Marin Municipal and Valley of the Moon water districts. These districts distribute water to more than 600,000 people. Most of this drinking water comes from the Russian River supply system. Water is stored in two major reservoirs: Lake Sonoma and Lake Mendocino. It is then pumped from large wells on the banks of the river near Forestville, treated and delivered to communities through nearly 80 miles of underground pipes.
Currently Sonoma Water charges the local water provider approximately $0.003 (about 1/3 of a penny) a gallon, which costs a typical household about $25 a month. The revenues collected do not adequately fund the needs of the drinking-water infrastructure. Therefore, Sonoma Water is proposing to increase wholesale water rates by one-tenth of a cent per gallon to pay for upgrades such as (cathodic protection which keeps steel pipes from rusting, pump and valve replacements, water treatment improvement projects and storage tank maintenance). New rates would also help pay for emergency response planning and training, reduce impacts on endangered fish and increase investments in hazard mitigation. All of this work is identified as a priority of Sonoma Water as identified in the five year strategic plan.
This just might be a good meeting to go to.
I GET MOST OF MY EXERCISE THESE DAYS FROM SHAKING MY HEAD IN DISBELIEF!