January 2024

“A society that puts equality before freedom will get neither.  A society that puts freedom before equality will get a high degree of both.”               Milton Friedman     

It is election time.  Welcome to the Race for Assembly District 2 in the California Legislature. 

Assemblyman Jim Wood announced that he was not going to run for reelection in 2024.  That announcement brought forward a plethora of candidates running for the seat.  There are 6 Democrats running and 1 Republican.  District 2 includes Trinity, Del Norte, Humboldt, Mendocino and part of Sonoma County.  Some of the Democrats running have been in politics in various positions and for various periods of time.  The local newspaper has covered the race in depth and has given the Mayor of Santa Rosa who is one of the candidates a great deal of print. They have basically ignored the Republican candidate. However, the lone Republican is a very interesting man. Michael Greer has a background in special education and taught elementary school.  He taught school in Yuba City and was very active at the state level for the California Teachers Association.  Michael was on the Board of Trustees for the Paradise Unified School District for 14 years.  Michael and his family lost their home in the Paradise fire in 2018.  He understands fire dangers and what needs to be done to prevent them.  Currently, Michael is a trustee of the Del Norte school board and is a resident of Crescent City.  Two top issues of his campaign are Water and Community Safety.

Throwing a monkey wrench into the expected Assembly outcome would be a wonderful thing.


New Ambulance Service for Sonoma County

On January 16th the Sonoma County Fire District took over the county’s 5-year ambulance contract which had been held for three decades by American Medical Response locally known as Sonoma Life Support. The fire district’s subcontractor, Medic Ambulance will now be the name appearing on the new fleet of boxy red and white-trim transports.  The new company plans to deploy more ambulance vehicles and shorten response times in the more rural areas of west Sonoma County.                                                                                                        

The new contract is worth about $30 Million a year in revenue according to the fire district’s bid proposal.  Sonoma County Fire District Chief Mark Heine stated that he expects the partnership with Vallejo-based Medic Ambulance will meet and even exceed the current needs of the community with new services. 

The new fleet of Emergency Service Vehicles also includes:

Off-road, all terrain ambulances for serving remote areas such as parks.
A “medical ambulance bus” capable of transporting up to 22 patients.
An EMS mobile command vehicle


More News on the Gun Front

The California legislature passed a law that barred licensed gun holders from carrying their firearms in many public places.  Legal challenges were immediately filed.  The California law bars concealed-carry permit holders and those with open-carry permits in more rural parts of the state from carrying their firearms into spaces that California lawmakers deemed “sensitive.”

Here is a list of the prohibited places. 

  • Anywhere that sells and serves liquor.
  • On public transportation
  • In many parking lots
  • Public gatherings
  • Special events
  • Playgrounds
  • Stadiums, arena and casinos
  • Medical facilities
  • Religious and financial institutions


  • A federal district judge halted major portions of the law calling it “repugnant and unconstitutional.”
  • An administrative panel of judges in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals stayed that judge’s ruling on December 30th letting the law take effect on January 1st as planned.
  • On January 6th, another 9th Circuit appellate panel issued its own order reversing the administrative panel and restoring the lower court’s judgment while the proceedings continue. The appellate panel will be considering the state’s appeal in April. 

Alano Club needs help

The purpose of the Alano Club is to help people achieve and maintain sobriety.  The club has been in Sonoma County for over 30 years.  The club’s income consists of membership dues, coffee and snacks and monthly dues.  The pandemic affected the club since physical meetings had to stop.  Zoom meetings were set up but it was not the same result.  Income also dropped. 

Today, the rolls show an unofficial tally of 115 paying members.  Those numbers do not reflect the need.  Dues are $30 a month and the club charges fees to host recovery meetings.  Those fees are $38, $25 and $15 per hour depending on the size of the room.

Many people with addiction issues have been able to restore their lives at the Alano Club. 

Naivete in grownups is often charming; but when coupled with vanity it is indistinguishable from stupidity.”      Eric Hoffer              


Cotati Police Chief Retires

After 13 years of service to the city of Cotati, Chief Michael Parish has decided to retire.  Chief Parish left office on December 29th.  The Chief has had a 37-year career in law enforcement.  He started his career in law enforcement in the Merced County Sheriff’s Office in 1986.  He then moved on to the brand new police department at the new University of California campus in Merced.  He was the founding lieutenant and also had to create a police department. 


California Primary Election

The California primary election is on March 5th and ballots will be mailed at the beginning of February.  There are six recognized political parties in California (Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Peace and Freedom, Green and American Independent).  Three of them have a closed primary which means you must be a member of that party in order to vote for their nominees. The three parties with a closed primary are the Republican Party, the Peace and Freedom Party and the Green Party. 

Here is a definition of some of the terms that might appear on your ballot.

Proposition:  This is a term used for any ballot measure to be voted on by the people.  It can be an initiative or a referendum.

Initiative:  A brand new law or constitutional amendment voted on by the people. 

Constitutional Amendment:  All constitutional amendments must be approved by a vote of the people.

Referendum:  A vote by the people to approve or reject an existing law.

Read your ballot carefully. Vote early. The new system of mail in ballots has changed the election process. Voting on election day means that some ballots might not be banked.  If for any reason a voter cannot get to the polls on election day or there is a malfunction at the polls the vote is lost.  This is what happened in Arizona when the voting machines for entire precincts did not function.  Voters need to understand and function with the new system of voting whether they like it or not.    

“No change of circumstances can repair a defect of character.”               Ralph Waldo Emerson


Indian Casino in Windsor

A bit of a battle is going on in Windsor between two local Indian tribes.  The Koi Nation is making a bid to build a large casino-resort in the unincorporated Shiloh area near Windsor.  Major opposition is coming from the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria.  In response, Koi leadership has announced support from a broad coalition of 18 California tribal governments and one very important ally in state government: California Treasurer Fiona Ma.

The Koi Nation are a southeastern Pomo band.  Several other recognized bands of Pomo are now either for the project or against.  Five bands are in favor of the project.  Four bands are against the project.  Graton Rancheria which owns Graton Casino and Resort in Rohnert Park is the Bay Area’s largest gaming facility and is against the Windsor plan. 

Objections to the casino include the fact that the proposed site is 49 miles from the Koi original reservation.  The Department of the Interior has never restored lands into trust further than 15 miles from the original rancheria.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs is evaluating an environmental assessment.  The BIA will determine if the development will result in significant environmental impact to the surrounding area.  There are different public officials against the project.  There are public groups in favor of the project including other California tribes. This project is not settled.   Stay tuned.


New Housing Planned

Alameda based Pacific Development Company has proposed nearly 800 homes on 35 acres in Santa Rosa.  The project is based off Guerneville Road and Lance Drive.  The property is vacant and is within walking distance to the Santa Rosa North Station and adjacent to Hilliard Comstock Middle School.  The project will include family-focused market-rate and affordable apartments and for-sale homes.  A previous plan for the area was opposed by neighbors concerned about the scope of the development and the impact on traffic, public safety, water resources and noise. 

The Design Review Board has met and will make any necessary changes to the plan before submitting an application to the city.  That application will be analyzed by city departments and the county for compliance with various development standards including state environmental laws. 

The project which is within the North Santa Rose Station development area can be approved through a streamlined process by the city’s zoning administrator, though city code allows the planning chief to require a more thorough review. 


Need for Resource Officers

After the death of a student at Montgomery High School last year, the school district provided resource officers on campus.  However, that only lasted until the end of the year.  On January 16th there was a fight in the girl’s bathroom at Montgomery.  This has accelerated the calls for resource officers on campus.  Cost is a problem.  The school district was charged approximately $37,000 for the two weeks at the end of the year when five officers and one sergeant were split among the district’s five high schools and five middle schools. 

Superintendent Trunnell states that mental health and restorative resources are available on campus.  Of course, the ultimate need is to have adults on campus who can actually intervene when a fight breaks out.

“If you drink from a bottle marked “poison” it is certain to disagree with you sooner or later.”         Lewis Carroll 


Staff Shortages at County and Medical Offices

Providence Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital has a 29 bed emergency department.  When the number of psychiatric cases soars, everyone is squeezed into the hallways, waiting rooms and

whatever remaining safe space can be found. Dr. Ferrari, Medical Director of Providence emergency department states that there are more appropriate place to care for psychiatric patients in crisis.  However, a county run emergency department for psychiatric patients often sits empty because of staffing shortages.

Sonoma County has 4,400 employees and has long been the largest employer in the North Bay.  However, there is an inability to hire and retain employees.  Staffing shortfalls cost millions of tax dollars while at the same time overburdened county workers are pushed to their limit.

The Sentinel will continue to monitor the employment situation in the county.

Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.”        Mark Twain

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