|Thompson, Landman meet public
Crowd hears from elected officials on variety of issues at Cotati forum
U.S. Fifth District congressman Rep. Mike Thompson (D), of St. Helena and Cotati Mayor Mark Landman as best they could answered questions ranging from national issues such as Obamacare, the situation in Syria and NSA spying to local topics like the impact the Graton casino will have on Cotati and what can be done about sharp debris in bicycle lanes on the Cotati streets.
Thompson answered the national questions, while Landman handled questions about Cotati or Sonoma County. Unlike some town hall meetings in other cities and states where shouting at the top of the lungs is the norm, the standing room only crowd in the Cotati Room at Cotati City Hall on Sept. 3 was respectful and polite even when they were not pleased with the answers they got.
The national issue that resonated with the majority of the audience was the crisis in Syria. Many wondered where Thompson stood in terms of giving President Obama congressional approval for a military strike against Syria, which has been accused of using chemical weapons on its own people.
He was asked point blank if he would vote for granting the president the approval.
“I’m against going to war with anybody,” Thompson said. “I am appalled that anybody would use chemical weapons on anybody, let alone their own people. The idea that 1,400 Syrian civilians many of whom were children were gassed by the Assad regime is appalling. It is clearly against the world norm, every treaty we and other countries have signed and if there’s a way to stop that from happening, I think that needs to be debated. I think we need to know all of the information. The president has left it in congress’ lap to take vote and I believe that vote will be based upon those facts. But I’m not going to tell you how I’m going to vote one way or another until I hear all the facts, and I don’t think you would expect me to.”
One woman lamented how the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) would push her insurance premiums to ridiculously high levels. She rattled off how the costs of certain medical procedures in California were much higher than those in other states. Because he didn’t know her specific situation, Thompson was unable to give her a definitive answer, but he instructed members of his staff to work with her to see if there was a way to help.
Landman tackled the question about what types of businesses would be drawn to Cotati in the wake of the Graton casino opening. Rohnert Park’s council currently is in the process of dealing with undesirable businesses, such as illicit massage businesses. But Landman said that’s something Cotati has already dealt with.
“The good news is we already have that in place,” Landman said. “Over the past few years, one of the last little pieces we had to tidy up was our massage ordinance. We use to have a lot of massage parlors tucked away in tiny corners of our shopping centers. There’s nothing wrong with getting a massage…as a former fireman, I have problems with my back and it’s one of the best thinks you can do. But there is a problem with illicit massages that are not exactly what you think. Thanks to the help of our Chief of Police (Mike Parish) we were able to put an ordinance together that essentially dealt with that. You don’t see than anymore. We were waiting to see if it was successful or if people would find a way around that. But so far, it’s holding strong.”
Other subjects that were touched upon were Thompson taking the lead in the fight to curb gun violence, a possible ban in Cotati on plastic grocery bags and Cotati’s amendments to the formula-based business ordinance. For more of Thompson and Landman’s comments on the aforementioned subjects, go to www.thecommunityvoice.com.