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January 26, 2020
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Another astral performance Public hearings held for school district Reducing disposable bottle waste at Hahn Elementary How the County of Sonoma shares housing Separating with Reconciliation and Grace Redwood Credit Union celebrates 70 years of service A 1905 up in the air CA women’s to men’s earnings RP has public hearing for “by-district” School Board goals for the future Volunteers needed for Superbowl Sunday tamale benefit School District elections “by-trustee” Public Hearing Digital Bookmobile to visit RP-Cotati library New Cotati mayor introduced Bella Creek, a new housing project CRPUSD announces next steps in new election process Helping homeowners with energy efficiency PG&E offers hundreds of college scholarships Cougars prevail in all time classic ‘Fog Bowl’ SMART launches an expanded service schedule Healthy food given by NOAH Interception seals the deal Some strange new laws 49er Pet store closes its doors Emotions were running high Heading to Hawaii Fresh faces on the CRPUSD board December gets festive in Cotati Johnson picks up Las Lomas fumble Sonoma Raceway is hosting John’s march Newsom’s vision “cradle to career” Promotions in the Rohnert Park Department of Public Safety Visit the Arts and Craft Faire in RP Rancho eliminates Benicia Bad air quality cancels sports Official election winners as projected by the VOICE  RP swears in new council member Homelessness spikes in RP FEMA grants Santa Rosa $1M to ensure effective evacuation routes Not in my backyard... 36 New Graduates from El Camino High School Fun family Christmas events in Cotati Cougars’ season comes to a tearful sad conclusion Home delivery changes Another death in California and investigation into E-Cigarette use Annual holiday gift and toy drive Callinan receives RP mayor gavel 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 73rd Miss Sonoma County competition held at Spreckels 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 Nomination period opens for March 3, 2020, primary election Orangeco settles case for price gouging Rohnert Park storm drains getting a whole new look 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 Straus Family Creamery moving to RP 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 Worn American flags laid to rest Penngrove man receives life sentence School Board initiates election process change 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 TAG building grand opening Rohnert Park caregiver arrested Sheriff’s canine apprehends convicted felon Latino Alliance promotes first festival Discussions on the care facility and apartments PG&E meteorologists forecasting a major winter storm Dark gloomy skies, rain, mud and Timberwolves could not stop CIF 3A NorCal Champions, Cougars AG Becerra reaches settlement alleging anticompetitive practices by Sutter Health 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 RP Downtown project underway 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 Students housing and voting Flu activity widespread 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 Schools, facilities and bonds: Plans but no money 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 Cube satellite built by SSU students set to orbit the Earth  So. Co. DA Ravitch announces consumer protection settlement 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 DUI driver crashes into 7-1 RP man sentenced to prison 23 years for robbery Adolescent birth rate continues to decline November is Native American Heritage month... Thank you for an exciting season 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: Teen arrested for shooting at RP Grand Jury report on SoCo jail system Former Rancho student convicted A New Experience – Coffee with the Congressman Monitoring wells provide picture of underground water New laws written by Dodd take effect 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 RP votes to restrict fireworks Illegal robocalls and spoofing Farmers’ Market party on the plaza RP Foundation to reinstate Small Grants Program Reported sexually transmitted diseases reach epidemic level Fire management assistance granted Levine applauds investigation into power shut offs New year, new laws, legislation authored by Assembly member Marc Berman to take effect on January 1, 2020 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 evacuation through her eyes So Co DA office awarded grant 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 2018 local stories which made history 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 Firefighters called to the front 100 birthdays and more to go Students at University Elementary discussing the labyrinth Rohnert Park City Council Candidates NHTSA reminds motorists to drive sober this season ArtStart brings art to the RP Senior Center 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 Giving students added support A day of celebration and tribute to our veterans R P Foundation gives grants to NOAH and Petaluma Bounty Summit State Bank annual report FEMA awards Sonoma Water grant Holocaust piano now in Cotati 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 School district seeks new superintendent 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 CRPUSD seeking a new superintendent 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 Coming together to have fun and help others Kids and firefighters compete in RP RP local, Petri Alva, 14, a nationally recognized athlete Superintendent search begins 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 So. Co. is here to connect with you SweetPea celebrates 31 years Seawolves serve up a victory Cotati Council moves ahead 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 RP voters overwhelmingly renew open space protections Cardinals rout Cougars Planning Commission approves hotel 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 Immigration appointments rescheduled 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 Family Justice Center Sonoma County receives grant awards Plan approved for Station Ave. park Football in full swing, 3rd win Arrests and charges target Apple stores CalFresh clients get Feb. benefits early 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 RP Improvements Update week of October 21st State Fund offers extended credit to policyholders Annie Rasmussen Celebration of Life Rohnert Park Station Ave. update 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... Fire - Community - Businesses Revisiting those who lost it all: October wildfire victims still on the road to recovery Cuts suggested for school district 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 will run limited service SMART celebrates a year of service RP Public Safety report card The “Healing Wall” comes to Sonoma County 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 Take one, leave one – New free library in Cotati Penngrove native set for amazing voyage Cotati votes opposition to oil leases Cotati memorializes victims 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 CANCELLATION SC neighborhood sues illegal pot grower Rohnert Park considers firework restrictions 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 The Salvation Army expands response to Kincade Fire CHP to check motorcycle safety in local area 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 SoCo post offices forced to close 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 Cotati honors and appreciates 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 When the power is off, treat signals as stop signs 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 Stay indoors to reduce smoke inhalation RP to host community forum for public safety director search Emergency Alert System Test Sept. 10 & 12 Spreckels and Alchemia connects community Help save lives by donating blood Vehicle crashes into house Call to action in Ca. Passenger killed fleeing crash Help with citizenship Consumer alert on price gouging It wasn’t an easy fight but Rancho wins again RP Safety Dept. climbs in remembrance of 9/11/18 New laws on purchasing and concealing handguns Suicide leading cause of death in youths Impersonating pharmacists Pesticide residue consumed by infants and children Ayuda con ciudadanía Structure fire displaces family Back to school for Rohnert Park and Cotati Another tough break for roller derby Fencing in Sonoma County PG&E to conduct inspections by helicopter in Sonoma County Correction to the July 26 issue SSU student receives prestigious CSU Trustees’ Award Voters urged to return vote by mail ballots early RP waits to make update to emergency alert system Cougars slay Dragons School district leaders tackle 1.9m deficit Deputy saves overdosing man using department-issued Narcan SR theft suspect caught after lengthy chase Cotati City Council recommends several adoptions Campaign targets vaping-related illness USCIS updates fee waiver requirements Third pedestrian struck by SMART train Enjoying ribs School district seeking new superintendent Rohnert Park’s Black Blear Diner gets sued Penngrove wastewater pipeline overflows Vote by mail ballots now available for the Nov. 5, consolidated elections Sonoma County 2020 campaign headquarters opening Ca. Senate Fellows Program application period opens Little ones with big Polynesian dancing spirit Sidewalk repair gets big break from City of RP Cotati protests CASA compact New safety power shutoff zip code alerts 'Team Trevor' A football team with a heart King and Queen Early voting center opens RP Health Center celebrates anniversary Imitating major leaguers Rohnert Park waiting for approval for canine program School district balances budget The California Highway Patrol implements a regional effort to save lives RP Council talks about fast trains and lawsuits Reckless driver resists arrests, with help from K-9 Max The USCIS application support center in Santa Rosa closed

New year, new laws

January 3, 2020
Legislation authored by Assembly member Marc Berman effective Jan. 1, 2020

Assembly member Marc Berman (D-Menlo Park) authored 16 bills this year that were signed into law. The legislation addresses a variety of issues, including gun violence prevention, deep fakes, sexual assault survivors, elections, poverty, the environment, education, transportation, consumer protection, and business.

Gun violence prevention

Assembly Bill 521 tasks the UC Davis Firearm Violence Research Center (Center) with establishing first-in-the-nation gun violence prevention education and training programs for medical and mental health providers. In addition to authoring the measure, Assembly member Berman secured a one-time $3.85 million appropriation in the state budget for the Center to research, develop, disseminate, and evaluate the programs. Through the course of regular patient care, physicians have opportunities to assess patients for risk, provide evidence-based counseling, and intervene when necessary. Regrettably, many medical professionals cite lack of knowledge regarding when and how to discuss firearms with their patients as a principal barrier to action. This new initiative follows the emergence of the #ThisIsOurLane movement in 2018, in which doctors shared their experiences treating victims of gun violence on Twitter in response to a tweet from the NRA telling them to stay in their lane.

Deep fakes

Assembly Bill 602 requires consent to be obtained prior to depicting a person in digitally produced sexually explicit material (i.e. a deep fake), allows that consent to be rescinded within three business days unless certain conditions are met, and creates civil remedies. An exposé in The Washington Post explained how deep fake technology is disproportionally being used to harass and humiliate women by scraping photos of women from the internet and manipulating them into nonconsensual porn. Filmmakers can also abuse the technology during post-production of mainstream content by depicting an actor in the nude or engaging in sexual activity.

Assembly Bill 730 prohibits a person, committee, or other entity, within 60 days of an election, from distributing, with actual malice, materially deceptive audio or visual media (i.e. a deep fake) of a candidate with the intent to injure the candidate’s reputation or deceive a voter into voting for or against the candidate. Deep fakes are a powerful and dangerous new technology with the potential to sow misinformation and discord among an already hyper-partisan electorate. Earlier this year, a manipulated video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi demonstrated that even videos modified using rudimentary editing tools can be harmful. The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace notes that deep fakes have the potential to incite violence, alter election outcomes, and undermine diplomacy.

Sexual Assault Survivors

Assembly Bill 538 improves the availability, efficiency, and quality of medical evidentiary examinations (“rape kits”) for sexual assault survivors. After enduring a sexual assault, timely access to trauma-informed and evidence-based care is necessary to prevent adverse health outcomes and for the proper collection of evidence. Unfortunately, California has a shortage of trained forensic examiners, with only 49 exam teams serving all 58 counties. 

Elections

Assembly Bill 504 streamlines and clarifies the process for keeping the state’s voter registration database up to date. It also allows voters to keep their voter registration active by logging in to the Secretary of State’s “My Voter Status” website. This provision does not take effect until the Secretary of State updates the VoteCal database so that county elections officials are notified when a voter confirms their address on the “My Voter Status” site. 

Assembly Bill 566 requires elections officials to regularly update the Secretary of State on the remaining number of unprocessed ballots during an official canvass period. As Californians continue to embrace voting-by-mail and transition to vote center voting, the number of ballots that need processing during the official canvass period will continue to grow. Current law does not require counties to provide regular updates to the Secretary of State on the number of ballots still to be processed following an election.

Assembly Bill 623 enhances the voting experience by providing elections administrators more flexibility to design ballot layouts that are user friendly and compatible with new voting systems. Specifically, the new law requires the Secretary of State to establish a ballot design committee and work with county elections officials and ballot design experts to make recommendations for better ballot design and format. The law was inspired by a constituent from the 24th Assembly District who, when discussing an upcoming election with Assembly member Berman, was under the impression he could only vote for one city council candidate, not the three votes that were permitted.

Assembly Bill 693 allows Californians who register to vote on Election Day to cast a regular (non-provisional) ballot if the county elections official uses VoteCal to confirm the voter’s eligibility, verify that the voter has not already voted in that election, and confirm that the voter is not included on another county’s roster. The county elections official is also required to update the VoteCal record to indicate that the voter has voted in the county. VoteCal, which was established in 2016, allows a county elections official to access and update the statewide voter registration database in real time. By allowing county elections officials to offer non-provisional ballots to eligible voters that meet the above requirements, the new law will improve voter confidence and reduce wait times to vote.

Assembly Bill 1707 allows voters to use a cell phone or tablet at a polling place, provided that the use of the device does not violate other provisions of existing law such as photographing or recording a voter entering or exiting a polling place with the intent of dissuading another person from voting. Doing so will allow for voters to access the state voter information guide online or retrieve information or notes about how they planned to vote. In addition, many counties are taking steps to modernize the voting experience. For example, Los Angeles County is rolling out Voting Solutions for All People (VSAP). One of the innovations to be incorporated within VSAP is the ability for voters to load sample ballots from their cell phones or tablets onto the new voting terminals. 

Poverty

Assembly Bill 494 maximizes food benefits for low-income families by simplifying how they verify their housing costs. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), known as CalFresh in California, provides monthly food benefits for qualified, low-income households to purchase food. CalFresh serves over four million Californians and plays a crucial role in reducing the short and long-term impacts of poverty.

Environment

Assembly Bill 782 allows a public agency to fund and acquire property to preserve open space, habitat, or historical resources without first going through a California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review. The new law builds upon existing CEQA guidelines, in which transfers of land ownership to preserve existing natural conditions and historical resources are exempt. In doing so, the law removes barriers such as cost, time, and legal challenges that could prevent the acquisition from ever occurring.

Education

Assembly Bill 988 helps address the special education teacher shortage by streamlining the credentialing process for out-of-state teachers to teach in California. Specifically, the new law allows out-of-state special education teachers to use two years of teaching experience in California, earned while holding a Preliminary credential, to demonstrate the teaching experience requirement needed to obtain a Clear (full) credential. The teaching experience requirement has been a barrier that discourages trained and qualified out-of-state special education teachers from teaching in California, exacerbating the already alarming teacher shortage.

Transportation

Assembly Bill 1671 allows for the California Department of Transportation to continue on-road testing of Driver Assisted Truck Platooning (DATP) technologies by extending the current sunset to January 1, 2024. DATP allows trucks to safely follow each other with less than 100 feet of following distance by syncing acceleration and braking, which is known as platooning. DATP technologies can enhance safety, improve traffic flow stability, reduce congestion, and lower fuel consumption considerably. The new law continues California’s tradition of leading in innovative technologies that focus on driver safety and reducing emissions.

Consumer Protection/Business

Assembly Bill 1065 indefinitely extends the ability of insurers to offer consumers the option of electronic transactions for their insurance needs, which provides enhanced consumer choice, faster delivery, a paperless environmentally friendly option, and portability. In the aftermath of a disaster, the ability for consumers and insurers to conduct transactions electronically can accelerate the recovery process. 

Assembly Bill 1146 ensures that nothing in California’s landmark consumer privacy law – the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 – would prevent the sharing of vehicle information for the purpose of enabling repairs covered by a warranty or a manufacturer’s recall. This clarification will ensure that consumers receive important and timely vehicle safety information and retain the ability to have their vehicle repaired.

Assembly Bill 1564 requires a business that operates exclusively online and has a direct relationship with a consumer whom it collects personal information from to provide an email address for consumers to exercise their rights under the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (CCPA). The new law strikes a balance between the need for greater flexibility for exclusively online businesses and protecting hard-earned privacy protections for consumers. Providing an email address is consistent with how consumers engage with businesses online and enables these businesses to work within best practices to verify and respond to CCPA requests. Given the potential legal liability for improper disclosures of personal information, documentation of a consumer’s request, the verification process, and the information provided in response is critically important.