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November 11, 2019
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Fire management assistance granted The evacuation through her eyes Firefighters called to the front Giving students added support School district seeks new superintendent Coming together to have fun and help others So. Co. is here to connect with you RP voters overwhelmingly renew open space protections Immigration appointments rescheduled Family Justice Center Sonoma County receives grant awards State Fund offers extended credit to policyholders Fire - Community - Businesses Promotions in the Rohnert Park Department of Public Safety Homelessness spikes in RP Home delivery changes SMART will run limited service Fresh faces on the CRPUSD board 73rd Miss Sonoma County competition held at Spreckels Straus Family Creamery moving to RP TAG building grand opening Take one, leave one – New free library in Cotati Newsom’s vision “cradle to career” RP Downtown project underway Schools, facilities and bonds: Plans but no money DUI driver crashes into 7-1 Teen arrested for shooting at RP RP votes to restrict fireworks CANCELLATION Bad air quality cancels sports Official election winners as projected by the VOICE  RP swears in new council member 2018 local stories which made history ArtStart brings art to the RP Senior Center Holocaust piano now in Cotati CRPUSD seeking a new superintendent Superintendent search begins Cotati Council moves ahead Planning Commission approves hotel The Salvation Army expands response to Kincade Fire Fun family Christmas events in Cotati Cougars’ season comes to a tearful sad conclusion CalFresh clients get Feb. benefits early Rohnert Park Station Ave. update Cuts suggested for school district The “Healing Wall” comes to Sonoma County Cotati memorializes victims Rohnert Park considers firework restrictions CHP to check motorcycle safety in local area Cotati honors and appreciates SoCo post offices forced to close Dr. Dominguez and Hawkins named as director and co-director for Hanna Institute University Elementary School to host Maker World at SSU Animal Shelter League of RP receives grant Cotati Council reshuffles seats Help save lives by donating blood New laws on purchasing and concealing handguns Fencing in Sonoma County School district leaders tackle 1.9m deficit School district seeking new superintendent Cotati protests CASA compact School district balances budget More high density in Rohnert Park Put down your phone April is distracted driving awareness month SSU Police make arrest in sexual assault case CRPUSD district’s good news in May When the power is off, treat signals as stop signs The Community Voice endorses candidates DA’s office awarded DUI Prosecution Grant Rohnert Park kid joins TCU El Camino graduates Rohnert Park Council says we don’t need another agency Rancho students excel in Poetry Out Loud  SC public safety heroes of the year Don’t drive with an open container Traffic concerns top RP survey SSU Equestrian looks to go national Brace yourself for mosquitos Station Avenue project An offer has been made and accepted on Rohnert Park’s corporate yard SMART to offer free rides... SOMO Village overrun by CHP party Stay indoors to reduce smoke inhalation Frightful, fun, free Halloween activities Cougars crush Ukiah Election projected winners November 6, 2018  Sonoma Clean Power offers no-cost energy upgrades Rancho advances to semifinals RP’s n­ew Director of Public Safety A stand-off with barricaded, suicidal woman ends safely in RP RP has a new director of public safety Mackenzie leaves SMART RP officers spent Sat. car chasing A shimmer of hope against the angry heavy sky SSU to host North Bay Women of Color conference Rancho’s TAG building, now a reality Mayors of So Co write angry letter Dodd’s college student food bill passes Rohnert Park caregiver arrested Sheriff’s canine apprehends convicted felon Latino Alliance promotes first festival Consumer alert on price gouging Public invited to give input on Downtown RP Site School board candidates voice opinions Woman stabbed on west side of RP LandPaths connects people to protected land Tech High Girl's Soccer Undefeated champions! AG Becerra issues consumer alert on price gouging in fire-affected communities Learn to docent at the SSU Fairfield Osborn Preserve New signs point in the right direction Where are the ski lifts? Is Cotati being targeted? New alcohol fees for Rohnert Park Sonoma State president testifies for tax relief for disaster victims Fixing Cotati’s roads RP driver identified Burglary suspect found with firearms Special education funding complicated Structure fire displaces family State Farm property steams forward to Station Avenue Scrappers Steal Win RP Foundation issues grant Cotati allows second dispensary New residential building lands approved In Singapore Strait aboard a missile destroyer PG&E has a prediction model USCIS presents free training on how to apply for citizenship RP investigates new site for Corp. Yard Two arrested in RP motel for mail theft  Is Juuling the new norm? Cotati considers $15 min. wage No criminal charges filed against PG&E in northern Ca. wildfires  RP decides on west side Vintage race cars on Sonoma raceway track May CalFresh month celebration Keeping California history alive Voters urged to return vote by mail ballots early Rancho Cotate Band fundraiser BBQ Jessica Holman: Thirty-five years of Rancho Spirit Titans crush Mustangs Station Avenue gets final approval Cotati Council reviews trash plan Baseball League receives donation from local motorcycle club Cotati Police Chief Parish swears in new officer Garber A Sunday afternoon with retired football players Injury collision closes Golf Course Dr. Giving Kids Smiles in Rohnert Park Neighborhood watch meeting scheduled New Executive Director at SSU RP man sentenced to prison 23 years for robbery Adolescent birth rate continues to decline Campaign targets vaping-related illness New interim superintendent Krispy Kreme Doughnuts comes to Rohnert Park  Cougars blow past Gauchos  Rohnert Park honors its Veterans and Servicemen CHP reminds all of increased crimes Cougars beat Bulldogs More than 276,000 Dreamers have renewed DACA White receives Matt Walsh Memorial RP and Sunday festivities SSU fraternity banned for five years Name correction: Grand Jury report on SoCo jail system Former Rancho student convicted Sonoma County 2020 campaign headquarters opening Cotati Chamber of Commerce Oktoberfest Rancho crushes Analy CA Homemaker Association needs volunteers Active duty honorees at the RP Veterans Day program Santa now knows her secret CPI receives funding to offer counseling in schools Caltrans works toward decarbonizing California transportation The Rancho Cotati Rotary Club hosts Humanitarian Award dinner SSU and SCOE offer high school internship Illegal robocalls and spoofing Farmers’ Market party on the plaza RP Foundation to reinstate Small Grants Program Reported sexually transmitted diseases reach epidemic level Early voting center opens RP’s new interim police chief Big changes to big project in Rohnert Park A possibility for Snyder Lane to have four lanes soon Rohnert Park road updates Sheriff’s Detectives arrest SR man after controlled delivery of ecstasy pills. Cotati comes out against CASA Llamadas ilegales y spoofing Music alive in Cotati Sept. is suicide prevention month Three arrested; stolen items recovered Celebrating National Hispanic Heritage month Paper Delivery Update The USCIS application support center in Santa Rosa closed Penngrove Community Church celebrates 120 years Cotati approves tree lighting City of Cotati has apartment housing parking problems Operators ordered to pay for false advertising violations Becerra urges Ca. businesses resources to help prevent human trafficking Possible change to parking rules Enroll in Transportation Security Administration Elder abuse rising in So Co U10 Cal Ripken champions say Aloha New start at school board meeting In memory of Greg Beedon City of Cotati urges governor to sign affordable housing bill First Annual Latino Festival draws a large crowd USCIS updates fee waiver requirements Students at University Elementary discussing the labyrinth Rohnert Park City Council Candidates NHTSA reminds motorists to drive sober this season Cotati’s code of conduct School board follows its policy Free school supplies RPDPS receives grant to fight alcohol-related crime Winners of “Discovered: Emerging artists of Sonoma County” Cotati Oktoberfest on the horizon Carrying another on a recovery path Ca. Senate Fellows Program application period opens R P Foundation gives grants to NOAH and Petaluma Bounty Summit State Bank annual report FEMA awards Sonoma Water grant RP moves to curb false alarms Doggone hot days are here! Warnings weren’t enough! ‘Stuff the van’ with school supplies Wake up to social crisis Cannabis cultivation and more projects Downtown RP infrastructure project Ca. Dept. of Public Health issues Public Health advisory 'Team Trevor' A football team with a heart March for the blind highlights need for more accessible sidewalks Cougar to Bear — Simmons’ new pelt SRJC picks up local quarterback The Cougars defeat the Jaguars at homecoming New laws take effect Jan. 1 Boards approve plan to offset proposed groundwater fee Technology High School construction on schedule Groundwater sustainability fee adopted in Santa Rosa Plain Rohnert Park City Council all about safety Accordion Festival San Francisco Mime Troupe to perform in Cotati Rep. Thompson speaks at SSU on climate change RP to vote on protecting open space and preventing sprawl Pedestrian jumps into path of SMART Train RP Council talks about fast trains and lawsuits Kids and firefighters compete in RP RP local, Petri Alva, 14, a nationally recognized athlete SSU named one of the best universities Verity is hiring to work with survivors RP City Council, not business as usual A young child making a big difference Cotati’s first homicide in 24 years Veterans’ housing to open in 2020 RPPS encourages public to drive sober Issues and recognition but no council meeting RCHS Mascot at Welcome Back Rally Raising awareness on the dangers of SIDS King and Queen SweetPea celebrates 31 years Seawolves serve up a victory Students almost ready for kindergarten Would you make a great foster parent? Grand Jury recommends improvements for So. Co. Water City of Cotati switches to 100% renewable electricity I’m ready, bring ‘em on! Tech High School celebrates 20 years PG&E Wildfire Assistance Program accepting applications for aid Learn to become a naturalist Police and housing topics discussed at Council Coursey on the campaign trail Reckless driver resists arrests, with help from K-9 Max Cardinals rout Cougars SSI and SSP recipients eligible for CalFresh benefits Five vehicle crash shuts down Golf Course Dr. Happenings at Cotati City Council Trades Intro Program (TIP) leads to career RP City Council: from safety to striping Girls explore STEM possibilities at Tinker Academy Spring Lake Water Bark kickoff Sozo Student Center opens Credo ladies in Trashion show Cougars win behind roaring defensive performance Another long evening at Cotati City council How to help victims of wildfires Polynesia celebrated at annual Pacific Islander Festival Fire storm anniversary New fire station gets final direction Undercover operation identifies prostitution at local massage parlors Red flags fly at all fire stations during “Red Flag” warnings L J principal promises open door policy DUI driver arrested after collision on RP Exp Contact information needed from about 150,000 PG&E customers A satisfied smile Cotati Council makes it short Cotati is open to new county wide voting system RP Improvements Update week of October 21st Plan approved for Station Ave. park Football in full swing, 3rd win Arrests and charges target Apple stores Cotati fills Planning Commission The long summer grinds Alert resident foiled attempted burglary of neighbor’s home All about the roads Third DUI driver arrested in RP in three days Santa Rosa doctor overprescribing New leadership delivers new start at school board meeting Man takes own life Bound for a peaceful resting place After sluggish start, Cougars explode Annie Rasmussen Celebration of Life School district set to begin new year Wrong way bicyclist rides into path of SMART train City, county reach agreement with Homeless Advocates Our words are not enough: Educators call for action First day of school and new friends PG&E Wildfire Assistance Program distributes first checks to victims  Credo Kaplan-Kinsey semi-finalist Focusing on finances... Revisiting those who lost it all: October wildfire victims still on the road to recovery Rohnert Park residents awarded law degrees School Year 2019-2020 for free and reduced-price meals Cattle drive comes to SR Man dies in custody Home-based learning on the rise Home invasion robbery, suspects still at large Travis Jenkins Merit Scholar Semi-Finalist Years to launch SMART celebrates a year of service RP Public Safety report card Joint Legislative Wine Committee to meet at SSU Ca. Dept. of Justice announces ammunition regulations Fatal bicycle vs. vehicle collision RPPS investigating sexual assault A slow and painful wait for a downtown RP improvement updates RP road improvements update Penngrove native set for amazing voyage Cotati votes opposition to oil leases DMV offices will close for half day Social Security – Care and Beware Urban growth boundary benefits RP Council looks at serious close-to-home issues Fight the flu... get immunized SC neighborhood sues illegal pot grower Reckless vehicle ends in DUI arrest Do you know the relationship between low impact development and water quality? So. Co. Behavioral Health and Health Services in the county jail Cotati City Council of Aug. 13 USCIS clarifies special immigrant juvenile classification to victims of abuse Water Conservation Car washes and water waste Equifax provides $600 million in consumer restitution Cotati sees its first homicide in 24 years New Column Things to know about PG&E’s Public Safety power shutoff Penngrove grassfire destroys buildings Cotati Accordion Festival still a hit after 28 years RP residents provide input in police chief search Forum hosted by WLV for RP City Council candidates Stray sways the crowd Showing off rope tricks Sonoma County Fair reviews safety protocols Gun violence in the U.S. and globally Beautifying Magnolia Park Supply giveaways lend a hand to families Police officers inspect inside of car Lowerys help with campaign Yes on Measure W will keep fire stations open Skating during Cotati Kids Day parade Watenpaugh returns to lead CRPUSD Join CASA of So. Co.’s commitment to helping victims of child abuse Safety and power outages RP to host community forum for public safety director search Emergency Alert System Test Sept. 10 & 12 Spreckels and Alchemia connects community Vehicle crashes into house Call to action in Ca. Passenger killed fleeing crash Help with citizenship It wasn’t an easy fight but Rancho wins again RP Safety Dept. climbs in remembrance of 9/11/18 Suicide leading cause of death in youths Impersonating pharmacists Pesticide residue consumed by infants and children Ayuda con ciudadanía Back to school for Rohnert Park and Cotati Another tough break for roller derby PG&E to conduct inspections by helicopter in Sonoma County Correction to the July 26 issue SSU student receives prestigious CSU Trustees’ Award RP waits to make update to emergency alert system Cougars slay Dragons Deputy saves overdosing man using department-issued Narcan SR theft suspect caught after lengthy chase Cotati City Council recommends several adoptions Third pedestrian struck by SMART train Enjoying ribs Rohnert Park’s Black Blear Diner gets sued Penngrove wastewater pipeline overflows Vote by mail ballots now available for the Nov. 5, consolidated elections Little ones with big Polynesian dancing spirit Sidewalk repair gets big break from City of RP New safety power shutoff zip code alerts RP Health Center celebrates anniversary Imitating major leaguers Rohnert Park waiting for approval for canine program The California Highway Patrol implements a regional effort to save lives

A New Experience – Coffee with the Congressman

By: Cassandra May Albaugh
October 11, 2019

Are you like me in that you often follow your politicians from afar? That you keep your politics at arm’s length from the rest of who you are? That what you know about them is likely just what you read in the paper or see on television? I think many of us might know something about our local representative such as their party affiliation, perhaps one or more of their hot topic issues. I think we know that when Congress is not in session, they often make home district visits and host town halls to hear directly from the voters who elected them. That they have offices in our community, and you can contact their staff for assistance if needed. But if you’re like me, you might never have ever attended a town hall to see and hear from your representative directly.

I finally got to experience what that was like. Congressman Mike Thompson held a “Coffee” at the Redwood Café in Cotati on Tuesday morning. Congressman Thompson has served for two decades and represents the 5th Congressional District of California. Like me, you may have seen him at other events and functions because he’s very active in the local community. But his coffees are a town hall by a different name and format. It’s not just an appearance at a parade, charitable event, or brief public appearance with a few prepared remarks on the topic or event of the day.

Congressman Thompson started his “Coffee” events almost by accident a few years ago in Sonoma. A meeting was unexpectedly cancelled so he and the staff decided to use the opportunity to have coffee with his constituents. It seems to fit his folksy style, wit, and self-perspectives. Scheduled to speak at 10AM, folks gathered in the café for breakfast and a chance to perhaps talk with the Congressman one-on-one well before the official start time. His Santa Rosa District Office Senior Aide, Mr. Stephan Gale was also present to meet and greet the crowd and to help answer any questions folks had. 

If you ever visited the Redwood Café you already have a visual of the setting for this coffee. The crowd was in excess of 50 folks but grew as time went on with standing room only and likely in excess of a hundred attendees. I would estimate the average age of attendees was somewhere around 50 years old.  The official event kicked off a few minutes late with Cotati Mayor John Dell’Osso introducing the Congressman and explaining the format. The format was simple. The Congressman would make a few, very limited remarks then open a Q&A session. As he explained, these events are for him to listen to the folks he represents and although he got in some partisan quips along the way it certainly was not a campaign event.

The Q&A lasted approximately 90 minutes. Folks would raise their hands and an aide to the Congressman would walk around the room and hand them a microphone. About 20 folks had an opportunity to ask him questions with a few of the questions being two or more parts. Often, not unexpectedly, the question was preceded by a short issue speech or plug. Then the Congressman would try to address their question or issue. Also, not unsurprisingly, the answer might include what the Congressman had done in the past, is attempting to do now, or plans to do in the future.

The topics of the questions varied but certainly the hot topic was the “Impeachment Inquiry” underway in the House. Another was Climate Change. Yet a third focused on Veterans Issues.  Also, addressed were questions on immigration and DACA, PG&E Public Safety Outages, and Corruption in Public Service. Trustee Tim Nonn of the Cotati-Rohnert Park School District also asked the Congressman about how we can get affordable housing to help the school districts in Sonoma County recruit and retain teachers, many who have to work multiple jobs in order to live and work in their districts. 

The Congressman assured Trustee Nonn that “I will do whatever I can from Washington” to address this need. Linked into this issue was an earlier response to the DACA question that he used as an example. According to the Congressman, California is already 7 thousand teachers short. We also have approximately 5 thousand teachers who are currently protected by DACA. If that gets overturned by the courts, the 7 thousand shortage may become 12 thousand further impacting education of our children.

I liked how the Congressman sprinkled his answers with real stories about real people who are impacted by many of these issues. Two in particular stood out to me. 

The first was about how he and his staff do constituent services. He explained when you bring an issue to his office, they have you fill out an Advocacy Form. This form basically gives them permission to research and seek solutions for your issue(s). The example he used was a homeless veteran. The vet had been homeless for 10 years. A friend of the vet approached the Congressman for assistance. They signed the form and the Congressman, and his staff went to work. 

This was about 4 years ago.  They started with addressing medical issues. That resulted in positive outcomes for other issues and now the Vet is healthy, employed, and he and his spouse have their own home. Obviously, the Congressman who is a combat wounded vet, and who founded and co-chairs the Veterans Caucus in the House has a passion for his fellow Veterans.  As a fellow vet myself I appreciate both his service then and now for that community.

The next story, in response to the affordable housing shortage in Sonoma County both before and after the fires of 2017 was when he rented out his house in St. Helena to a nurse and a teacher. He got a firsthand look into how hard these folks worked to serve their communities and how important it is for folks in these professions as well as many other service professions to be able to live and work in our communities.

Congressman Thompson currently serves on the Ways & Means Committee, he chairs the General Revenue sub-committee and is the second ranking member on the Health sub-committee. He also serves on the Speaker’s Policy Committee, an appointed position by the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, so is part of the leadership team in the House. He has initiated or co-sponsored many bills to address the needs of his district and of the country.  He views that as his role and his passion as our Congressman.

There are too many questions and answers to include in this write up.  You might not agree with every issue or response given at an event like this, but if you take nothing else away from my report, I hope that it is perhaps you should plan to attend the next coffee event and experience it for yourself. To find the date and location of the next Coffee with Congressman Thompson, you can contact the Santa Rosa Office at (707) 542-7182 or visit his website at: https://mikethompson.house.gov/contact/offices/santa-rosa-district-office. Office hours at 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.