Letters
August 19, 2017
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Backpacks and books, students start their first day of school A new school year Chess ‘Queen of Katwe’ visits RP Airbnb homes no longer allowed in Rohnert Park Brothel found Construction on schedule at Rancho Rancho Cotate High School bomb threat up date Japanese students enjoy visiting Rohnert Park Congressman Thompson holds town hall meeting in RP New team, new coach, new method of practice Rohnert Park and Cotati citizens come out for safety tips and fun at annual National Night Out RP City Council one step closer to vision of downtown Local team sets goal of $100,000 for Leukemia and Lymphoma Ribbon cutting event introduces the new and improved Richard Crane Elementary School 54 miles of road work to cause delays for some local roads Cotati’s K9 unit comes out for annual Coffee with a Cop event Update from March 8 Bomb Threat Reducing city debt Self-Proclaimed “Downtown L.A. Predator” in Rohnert Park Cotati City Council votes to join Climates Mayors Initiative Rohnert Park and Cotati hope to take part in Bike Share Program April Paul becomes an honorary lioness From the Publisher’s desk: Media preview ride offers sneak peak of SMART train Dancing the night away with Moonlighters Cypress School and UCP visits Stinson Beach for surf camp Local smoke shop employee pleads not guilty For RP city, some fireworks are illegal Out of a crime comes kindness Cotati City Council to attempt to get quicker start time for quiet zone establishment Trend in car smash and grabs significantly rises RP City Council audience reminded to keep it safe and sane Citizens Public Safety Academy accepting applications Jazzed it up with love and music Cal Ripken’s U 10 team gets higher up nod Credo High School’s special day 25th Annual Cotati Kids' Day Celebration Bikes become the equalizer at UCP day camp Rohnert Park water rates to rise with little to no resistance Skate park project a possibility for parks and rec Free lunch for any child served at La Plaza Park SMART and safe 'Hail to the chiefs' a fitting title for annual Penngrove Parade Nurse’s strike in Petaluma Breakfast and safety tips at annual Penngrove pancake breakfast Sutton takes oath of Eagle Scout The Kut-Ups’ final curtain call after 45 years Shows are icing on the cake Bugles Across America First Rohnert Park student to visit sister city in Japan brings back gift RP summer camp brings pets and kids together Fun after school Get ready Cotati - water and sewer rates are rising Petaluma teachers hold one-day strike Gift of $1,000,000 to the Sonoma County Fair Foundation Cotati woman pleads: consider the salamander PG&E contractors to inspect gas meters in Sonoma County Rohnert Park moves to make medication disposal easier Protestors show up, affordable housing gets closer Caps being tossed after graduation at Tech-High Rancho Cotate Graduation 2017 Safreno, 2017 Veteran of the Year Now that the dust has settled, is the CRPUSD ready for the next project? A sea of flags Cyber tip leads to Cotati man arrested for possession of child pornography Nominations are now being accepted for the 2017 Employer Best Practice Awards Breakfast! Place receives Girl Scout Gold Award.

Trash is an eye sore

The Community Voice

I have noticed that the streets, specifically the sidewalks in Cotati and Rohnert Park, have become eyesores because of trash. It seems that some people cannot hold onto their fast food wrappers, cigarette butts, beer cans, booze bottles, etc. long enough to throw them into a receptacle. Nope, just toss them to the ground, someone else will clean up after them. I frequently wonder what their houses look like and how they were raised. The area around the 76 Station at SR116 and Redwood is a mess and the pathway leading to Maple Avenue is often victimized by the slobs. Stroll northbound on Redwood Drive and spot the garbage all the way up to the shopping center at the Expressway. Making a southbound trek on Commerce and the trash seems to increase markedly all the way back down to 116. The walking paths are just as bad. Does anyone care? 

And then there are the shopping carts pushed into bushes or bunched together in various places, notably at the entrance of the mobile home park on Redwood and the entrance to the walkways adjacent to Copeland Creek. I won’t mention the names on the carts but they are from a number of stores in the area. On the west pathway on Commerce (just south of Alison Avenue) I counted five Target carts stacked atop a huge pile of garbage. You think that the respective cities could contact the stores and make a request that employees canvass the area a few times a week to recover the carts? And it that didn’t work, how about some muni code enforcement actions to be levied against the offending owners of the carts with a fine for each cart recovered by city employees? Actions could also be taken against an individual pushing a cart off the store parking lots. I guess it is simply easier to push your stolen cart into a copse of trees. And I wonder if once these carts are recovered, are they sanitized before putting them back on line? Does anyone care?

Anthony Morgan
Cotati, CA
August 18, 2017

RP’s vibrant downtown

The first question that needs to be asked is will, “a vibrant local downtown” in RP add to the quality of our lives? Will this push for a downtown just push to change RP from a nice quiet community into a traffic nightmare?

The idea of 400 new homes sounds like a good way to tax our utilities. Our water when I moved here 16 years ago was a flat rate, no meters. I just don’t see that a downtown adds anything to the quality of our lives.

The “SMART” train hasn’t added anything except a lot of noise and further taxation. Plus, irritating the people who live close to the tracks. What is the bright future of the train? We moved here from Marin County 16 years ag. This is a great place to live, I never thought of living anyplace else when I lived in San Rafael, but after moving up here I have changed my mind.

With the idea of 400 new homes, all I see is some developer will make a fortune and the residents of RP will be on the losing end. Think about it folks before you vote in another tax grab.

Richard Cole
Rohnert Park, CA
August 18, 2017

Japanese students visit to RP

The Community Voice

I read with interest the front-page article in your 11 August edition regarding the visiting Japanese students. I was amused at how glib they were in generalizing to all of America their experiences with just a few Americans.

We are a country of 50 states and over 300 million people, with vast differences among regions and among sub-cultures. We are not alike! Even in Rohnert Park we’re not all alike. It’s one of the consequences of being a culture forged from many cultures.

Case in point: Student Nagomu was quoted as saying, “Something that surprised me here in America is that families where their shoes in the house.” Well some do, some don’t. In Hawai’I it is virtually universal that people are expected to remove their shoes when inside a home – largely because of the red dirt, which is impossible to get out of carpets. Similarly, in Alaska it is generally expected that people will remove their shoes before entering a home, because whatever the season there will probably be something unpleasant on the shoes. There’s often a special room at a home’s entrance for shoes and other outer-wear.

Even here in Rohnert Park I have many friends who have a rule of no shoes in their homes.

So, there’s a moral to this story: Be careful not to generalize wildly from a very small sample!

Rick Luttmann
Rohnert Park, CA
August 18, 2017

Reflections on CRPUSD

The Community Voice

The other day on a FB group page I belong to, posts were made of how things can deteriorate rather quickly when people have opposing views. One thing that stood out to me, was someone used the term that those questioning Superintendent Haley of the CRPUSD, were acting with a "mob mentality". There is no mob here and I think that was a very inflammatory choice of words. We are just people from the community that have now, or in the past, had various degrees of interaction with the Superintendent. To the extent, they are able to speak to those experiences (without violating any confidentiality), I think we owe it to them to listen to what they experienced. For many, it has not been pleasant. Some of us are just concerned community members. As it is our tax money that is being spent, I feel we have a responsibility to speak out on issues that affect us all. 

Since the Superintendent has been here for about six years, the legal fees in this district have soared to total over a million dollars. That is a fact, as the checks written are on the public warrant lists. This is more than is spent in our neighboring districts by three to four times as much. This is a fact. Board Members from the St. Helena School District have said in public and on the record, that this was part of the reason the board there was unhappy with his performance. This is a fact. Why are the legal fees so high? Tim Nonn’s case was only one of many. Union contract terms have been repeatedly violated, causing unnecessary litigation. There is documentation to prove that. The Superintendents position appears to be, winning at all costs and litigating against anyone who files a complaint with their union. These are facts. Anyone who says that they do not know why the legal fees are so high, is either being disingenuous or flat out lying. 

As for the gas leak, an employee of PG&E felt it was serious enough to shut off the gas, pending corrective actions. That is a fact. Whether parents were aware, concerned or knowledgeable, does not matter. It was an issue that needed to be addressed. The fact that there were leaks, posed a hazard to students, staff and the neighboring community members. Who can know if there would have been an explosion, illness or maybe nothing for a day, a week or if ever? It was eventually taken care of but not with the sense of urgency that some community members would have expected. 

I have spent hours pouring through the budget, the warrants and asking questions of the Superintendent and CFO. I can tell you for a fact, there is wasteful spending that is occurring. For example, spending hundreds of thousands of tax payer bond money on computer equipment one to two years ago and then throwing it out this year and buying new equipment. Who does that? Why would they do this? Poor planning? Incompetence? Lack of storage space? I asked the Superintendent, face to face over five weeks ago, when they were going to replace the IT Director position. I was told the job was posted. As of five minutes ago, no it is still not posted. Who is running the IT dept.? The Maintenance Director? Half of his salary is being paid out of bond money because he is supposedly managing the TAG and RC projects. He is not an IT professional, nor does he have the qualifications. 

If you look through the money being spent on outside contractors, you have to ask, what is going on here? Why are independent contractors being hired to do the jobs that should be employees? Hours were cut to food service workers so they did not have to pay benefits. That is a well-publicized fact. I have had people private message me and text me with concerns. The phrase that keeps coming up? "The Superintendent is spending money like a drunken sailor". I have concerns. 

That second bond money of 80 million? 55 million on the TAG building at the high school and 17.4 million on Richard Crane (which currently only has 132 students enrolled)? That money is almost gone. Then what? Another bond in 2018? After he assured this community that no, they would not ask for more? Can anyone tell me where the money is going to come from for maintenance on the TAG building? Utility costs? There is no way that he can defer maintenance on a 55-million-dollar building. 

There has been so much of that going on over the last 6 years, many school sites are in disrepair. Bond money is being used for some of that but again, what happens when that is all spent on shiny new baubles and there is no more money? At the last board meeting, we were told that the district expects to be operating at a 600k deficit by 2019. Bargaining members were told the district expects enrollment to be down by up to 100 students. So, we have all these elementary schools not even close to capacity and we have no plan for what happens when the money is gone. We are behaving as if we are flush with operating cash. We are not. Add to this: By a 3-2 vote, the Superintendent just got another 3.2 percent raise. (Yes votes, Wiltermood, Farrell and Orloff. Voting No, Nonn and Brown). In the past, the board has had to approve any increases. Suddenly this year, the Superintendent is now on a step salary schedule. A schedule that never existed 

 

fore in this district. Starting next year, he will get an automatic step increase which will NOT require board approval. I do not care who the Superintendent is, this is unacceptable and stinks. What are the metrics of his performance goals? There are none. That is the Board of Trustees job. To oversee the Superintendents performance. This is just the tip of the iceberg in a district that is going to be in deep trouble financially if we do not turn this around and stop wasting the tax payer’s money.

The budget needs to be gone through line by line and wasteful spending needs to be eliminated. That money could then be put towards teachers and students, where it needs to be. I know for a fact that nonunion staff got their step increases. This is another example of screwed up priorities. In Union negotiations this year, the initial discussion was that the district cannot afford any salary increases. ZERO to the teachers and the staff that supports them. The last I heard the offer teachers got was at 1%. How is this negotiating or valuing the people on the front lines every day? How can the Superintendent say this to the 3 Unions with a straight face? He got a 3.2 percent salary increase, the Maintenance Director got almost 12 percent. So, when it comes to teachers suddenly there is no money? I call baloney.

This after years of no increases and cuts in pay to teachers and support staff? For all the talk of we are a team and teachers are important, the actions of admin show just how undervalued and unappreciated our teachers and support staff are. Very disappointing.

Chrissa Gillies
Rohnert Park
August 11, 2017

Reflections on CRPUSD
The other day on a FB group page I belong to, posts were made of how things can deteriorate rather quickly when people have opposing views. One thing that stood out to me, was someone used the term that those questioning Superintendent Haley of the CRPUSD, were acting with a "mob mentality". There is no mob here and I think that was a very inflammatory choice of words. We are just people from the community that have now, or in the past, had various degrees of interaction with the Superintendent. To the extent they are able to speak to those experiences (without violating any confidentiality), I think we owe it to them to listen to what they experienced. For many, it has not been pleasant. Some of us are just concerned community members. As it is our tax money that is being spent, I feel we have a responsibility to speak out on issues that affect us all.

Since the Superintendent has been here for about 6 years, the legal fees in this district have soared to total over a million dollars. That is a fact, as the checks written are on the public warrant lists. This is more than is spent in our neighboring districts by 3-4 times as much. This is a fact. Board Members from the St. Helena School District have said in public and on the record, that this was part of the reason the board there was unhappy with his performance. This is a fact. Why are the legal fees so high? Tim Nonn’s case was only one of many. Union contract terms have been repeatedly violated, causing unnecessary litigation. There is documentation to prove that. The Superintendents position appears to be, winning at all costs and litigating against anyone who files a complaint with their union. These are facts. Anyone who says that they do not know why the legal fees are so high, is either being disingenuous or flat out lying.

As for the gas leak, an employee of PG&E felt it was serious enough to shut off the gas, pending corrective actions. That is a fact. Whether parents were aware, concerned or knowledgeable, does not matter. It was an issue that needed to be addressed. The fact that there were leaks, posed a hazard to students, staff and the neighboring community members. Who can know if there would have been an explosion, illness or maybe nothing for a day, a week or if ever? It was eventually taken care of but not with the sense of urgency that some community members would have expected.

I have spent hours poring through the budget, the warrants and asking questions of the Superintendent and CFO. I can tell you for a fact, there is wasteful spending that is occurring. For example, spending hundreds of thousands of tax payer bond money on computer equipment 1-2 years ago and then throwing it out this year and buying new equipment? Who does that? Why would they do this? Poor planning? Incompetence? Lack of storage space? I asked the Superintendent, face to face over 5 weeks ago, when they were going to replace the IT Director position. I was told the job was posted. As of 5 minutes ago, no it is still not posted. Who is running the IT dept.? The Maintenance Director? Half of his salary is being paid out of bond money because he is supposedly managing the TAG and RC projects. He is not an IT professional, nor does he have the qualifications.

If you look through the money being spent on outside contractors, you have to ask, what is going on here? Why are independent contractors being hired to do the jobs that should be employees? Hours were cut to food service workers so they did not have to pay benefits. That is a well-publicized fact. I have had people private message me and text me with concerns. The phrase that keeps coming up? "The Superintendent is spending money like a drunken sailor". I have concerns.

That second bond money of 80 million? 55 million on the TAG building at the high school and 17.4 million on Richard Crane (which currently only has 132 student enrolled)? That money is almost gone. Then what? Another bond in 2018? After he assured this community that no, they would not ask for more? Can anyone tell me where the money is going to come from for maintenance on the TAG building? Utility costs? There is no way that he can defer maintenance on a 55 million dollar building.

There has been so much of that going on over the last 6 years, many school sites are in disrepair. Bond money is being used for some of that but again, what happens when that is all spent on shiny new baubles and there is no more money? At the last board meeting, we were told that the district expects to be operating at a 600k deficit by 2019. Bargaining members were told the district expects enrollment to be down by up to 100 students. So we have all these elementary schools not even close to capacity and we have no plan for what happens when the money is gone. We are behaving as if we are flush with operating cash. We are not. Add to this: By a 3-2 vote, the Superintendent just got another 3.2% raise. (Yes votes, Wiltermood, Farrell and Orloff. Voting No, Nonn, and Brown). In the past the board has had to approve any increases. Suddenly this year, the Superintendent is now on a step salary schedule. A schedule that never existed before in this district. Starting next year, he will get an automatic step increase which will NOT require board approval. I do not care who the Superintendent is, this is unacceptable and stinks. What are the metrics of his performance goals? There are none. That is the Board of Trustees job. To oversee the Superintendents performance. This is just the tip of the iceberg in a district that is going to be in deep trouble financially if we do not turn this around and stop wasting the tax payer’s money.

The budget needs to be gone through line by line and wasteful spending needs to be eliminated. That money could then be put towards teachers and students, where it needs to be. I know for a fact that nonunion staff got their step increases. This is another example of screwed up priorities. In Union negotiations this year, the initial discussion was that the district cannot afford any salary increases. ZERO to the teachers and the staff that supports them. The last I heard the offer teachers got was at 1%. How is this negotiating or valuing the people on the front lines every day? How can the Superintendent say this to the 3 Unions with a straight face? He got a 3.2% salary increase, the Maintenance Director got almost 12%. So when it comes to teachers suddenly there is no money? I call baloney.

This after years of no increases and cuts in pay to teachers and support staff? For all the talk of we are a team and teachers are important, the actions of admin show just how undervalued and unappreciated our teachers and support staff are. Very disappointing.

Chrissa Gillies
Rohnert Park
August 5, 2017

Blind Trustee Settles Lawsuit

The Community Voice

Last Saturday “The Press Democrat” printed an article titled “Blind Trustee Settles Lawsuit.”  Tim Nonn, a school board trustee for the Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District, who is blind, has been asserting his rights guaranteed by state and federal laws to have a special aide to help him perform his duties.  

When he was seated on December 13, 2016, three trustees denied him the right to select and use his aide of choice, Janet Lowery, a retired special education teacher who served a teaching career helping students with disabilities from pre-school through graduate students in college.  In your article, school board president Tracy Farrell is reported as saying that “the district tried to accommodate Nonn and offered him the ‘same thing’ outlined in the tentative settlement.”  Actually the board began by having the superintendent, Robert Haley, select someone from staff and the school board to help Nonn when the Americans with Disabilities Act states that the disabled person will choose the aide.

Your article reports “Lowery, a former school employee and wife of a teacher who used to serve as union negotiator, will not be able to serve as his aide under this settlement, Farrell said.”

We are responding together because Farrell, and perhaps the school district, has cast a shadow over our personal integrity.  The implication is that one of us would use this situation to gather information that would impact bargaining and the other one would use it in bargaining.  Both of us have always performed our roles with complete integrity.  Neither of us would ever take advantage of the situation of a disabled person to further our own interests.

Janet Lowery has offered consulting services to parents who have special education students for free.  She has given many hours of help as an advocate to families in this district.  She has donated hundreds of hours to assist Trustee Nonn during his campaign and since he has been seated.  None of this time was used to obtain secret information about the district leadership.

Lanny Lowery served for 23 years as a negotiator for the teachers’ union, many of those years as bargaining spokesperson. One thing experience taught is that there is no secret information. Negotiators must understand the budget. Many times over the years people have told him things that have been discussed in close session.  None of that information was ever helpful. What was important was what happened at the bargaining table.

So, what has been the real issue regarding Tim Nonn and his lawsuit?  The school district, the superintendent and his three trustee followers recognize that Nonn is a reformer, that he says what he means, that he understands many problems in the school district that need to be reformed from leadership to safety to special education to academics.  Nonn asks the hard questions, Nonn threatens the status quo, Nonn stands up for students, parents, teachers and other employees.

We have heard many stories regarding Tim Nonn and leaders of the school district since November, 2016.  For example, a district official took Nonn on a tour of the schools.  At one school, this leader pointed to a field and then said, “Oh, that’s right, you cannot see.”  And then that person burst out laughing.  Another instance happened at a school board meeting where Nonn asked another trustee to repeat what he said.  The trustee responded by saying, “What!  Are you deaf as well as blind?”  These are just two of the most egregious examples of how Nonn has been treated.

Because of this and many other serious behaviors by leadership, we will continue to work with Tim Nonn to cause change of leadership for the Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District.

Janet and Lanny Lowery
Rohnert Park
August 4, 2017

Discrimination lawsuit settlement

 

The Community Voice

I welcome the settlement of my discrimination lawsuit because I now have an independent reader, which will provide me equal access and allow me to function fully as a school board trustee. I am also grateful that the district will pay my legal fees and that the National Federation of the Blind will be reimbursed for its support of my case.

Last November, I was elected in a landslide as a reform candidate who promised to work for improvements in student academic achievement, health and safety conditions and fiscal management. During the campaign, I made it clear that these improvements depended on changing the governance model of the school board. For the last several years, the school board has rubber-stamped the decisions of the superintendent. I called on the school board to exercise its proper role of managing the superintendent—its only employee—instead of the other way around. Consequently, after my election, the superintendent and his three supporters on the school board decided it would be advantageous in maintaining the status quo to obstruct my efforts at reform by denying my right to equal access as a person with a disability. To do so, they attempted to force me to accept a district employee as my reader. I asserted my right under the Americans with Disabilities Act to an independent reader. I attempted with the help of my lawyer to persuade the district and their lawyers that the law granted me this right. Yet, from November 2016 to April 2017 when we reached a settlement through mediation, the district continued to assert its right to impose control over my reader. This is not merely an opinion. It is a verifiable fact reflected in numerous emails between my lawyer and the district’s lawyers. For school board president Tracy Farrell to assert otherwise is simply untrue. In regard to Superintendent Haley’s claim that he supported the settlement to save the district money in legal fees, I would refer you to his lengthy record of wasting district money on unnecessary legal fees. Our district’s legal fees are three to four times higher than the legal fees of the Santa Rosa and Petaluma school districts. Superintendent Haley had ample opportunity to resolve my case without litigation. He and his three supporters on the school board decided to pursue litigation in order to assert their right to impose district control over my reader. In the end, they gave up this claim and agreed to an independent reader. However, all of this could have been settled in a one-hour conversation among people acting in good faith. But on numerous occasions, Superintendent Haley demonstrated the lack of good faith by discarding agreements we had reached and not being truthful about his statements and actions.

Their lack of good faith even went as far as ridiculing and mocking me for my visual impairment. They have had a letter from my ophthalmologist in their possession since November 2016. The letter states that I am legally blind and require a reader. Yet, for the past nine months, the superintendent and three board members have constantly mocked and ridiculed me. They have shoved papers in front of my face demanding that I read them. They have told me I am faking blindness. They have pointed to things and asked me to look at them and then laughed loudly knowing I could not see what they were indicating. They have asked me to attend meetings and stand before the audience while reading a document knowing I could not do so. Obviously, this goes beyond a lack of good faith. It is mean-spirited and unworthy of those entrusted to serve the public.

These attitudes reveal a deeper problem. If a superintendent and board members are willing to use the disability of a trustee for political advantage, imagine how they would treat students with special needs. It is not surprising that Superintendent Haley with the support of the three board members has decimated the special education program in our district. One of the reasons Robert Haley was fired in St. Helena was due to his decimation of the special education program in that district. It is a familiar pattern that we have seen played out here in our district. The denial of accommodations to students with special needs is well documented. Is it any wonder that they objected to my choice of a reader, Janet Lowery, a special education teacher with 20 years experience in this and other districts? A federal judge is expected to approve the settlement agreement very soon, but a smear campaign has already begun against me by supporters of Superintendent Haley and the three board members. I think it’s time to move forward. It’s time to end the politics of smear and divide. We need to come together as a community for the sake of our students. There are very important challenges we face for improving student academic achievement, health and safety conditions, and fiscal management. Superintendent Haley and the three board members could demonstrate leadership by calling on their supporters to end the smear campaign and accept the legal settlement which provides me with an independent reader. Clearly, there is a division on the school board with respect to the superintendent’s leadership. But it’s time to transcend this division for the sake of our students and community.

Tim Nonn
Rohnert Park
August 4, 2017

Do the Cotati Police decide who to give tickets to, Big rigs are not suppose to drive through town, my husband got one last fall for driving his truck in town. But daily I see same type of trucks go by and I am sure they aren't ticketed .If they are working in the Cotati area fine, but these are just going through town. So Cotati police lets be fare write the tickets to all of the truckers.

Susan Barrass
Cotati
July 26, 2017

KRCB provides coverage

The Community Voice

We would like to correct an error in a recent story about the North Bay’s PBS station, KRCB. The incorrect information apparently came to the Community Voice from AP.

KRCB successfully participated in the recent FCC Spectrum Auction and was very fortunate to be selected to receive a one-time $72 million payment. The vast majority of the funds will be placed in a permanent endowment. This is an incredible gift and opportunity for our community to have a stable public media outlet at a time when reliable, trustworthy news and information is so critical.

The article described our new coverage area in error. KRCB will continue to provide coverage to our core communities of Napa, Sonoma, and Marin, while also continuing coverage in the greater Bay Area. Our engineering staff is working hard to assure that there is no diminution of reception. If your readers have further questions, they should feel free to call: 707 584 2000.

Nancy Dobbs, President and CEO
KRCB North Bay Public Media
July 21, 2017

Is this my tax dollar hard at work???

The Community Voice

I’m just curious if my property on Camino Coronado has been the only one that has received damage due to the construction of Richard Crane School. Not to mention the workers starting as early as 6 a.m. on the weekends? I’ve complained to the police and the city but somehow the school is exempt from certain rules and ordinances.

 

Sue
Penngrove
July 21, 2017

Worried about health care

The Community Voice

Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell and 52 Republican senators are about to kill the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) and strip 10 million people of their health insurance. 52 Republican Senators screwing 10 million Americans out of their health care coverage. That’s either insanity or despotism as GOP politicians play to the Obama haters in the Republican Party base. This petty move should correlate into 10 million votes against Republican politicians in the 2018 midterm elections. 

Ron Lowe
Nevada City, Ca.
July 14, 2017

No written complaints?

The Community Voice

I was surprised to hear Superintendent Haley say at the last CRPUSD Board meeting (June 17, 2017) that he hadn’t received any written complaints about the impacts on students and teachers of the demolition and construction work at Thomas Page School in the Spring of 2015, as I know I was not the only person to express my concerns in writing at that time and indeed I even received a written response from him then (Email, May 25, 2015). I and others had been concerned to learn that some students and teachers became sick with breathing difficulties, coughing, asthma, headaches etc. from the dust and had difficulty concentrating due to the noise. However, now is the time to learn from past mistakes, and to ensure that the safety and health of students and teachers are top priority during the construction process at Rancho Cotate High School. I am relieved to know that this time there will be a clear written health and safety plan with guidelines for regulating construction dust and debris, noise, and traffic and including a clear and transparent protocol for receiving, processing and responding to complaints, if any, from students, teachers and parents. Thanks to the school board for ensuring that the health and safety of students and teachers will be protected this time around. 

Jenny Blaker
Cotati
July 14, 2017

Spell names correctly

The Community Voice

It would be great if the news articles mentioning the Mayor Jake spelled our last name correctly. Mackenzie.

Thanks

Barbara Mackenzie
July 14, 2017

A letter to my addicted brother

The Community Voice

Should I be mad at you or should I reach out to you. Should I reach out a helping hand and get stuck in your trap like everyone else does? Should I have to cry myself to sleep more than once a week because I worry that you won’t wake to see another day. Should I have to be up until 1 a. m. after working six-days a week while you are up because the drug inside you won’t allow you to sleep? Or maybe the drug that you are waiting to allow you to sleep deep should I have to miss lectures in class because I don’t get enough focus outside of class? Let me get this straight, please. I should teach you? Even though I am the youngest. Should I set the example for myself because you failed to do so? Should I pick you up every time even though for the last five years you have traded me for your addiction. Should I stick up for you when people ask how you have been? Or should I now just tell them the truth. Should I smile at you and hope to have my brother back or should I treat you like if I have never had one? Should I even try so desperately to understand why you chose your homies over your family when really they left you in a ditch? You see for five years I have been asking myself these questions. Most importantly I have been asking myself how we got here, how you can mistreat the only people that would care if you died. For so long I have been trying to pick up the pieces of my heart that you ripped out and threw on the ground. I know its never easy for an addict but what I am not quite understanding is that you have every opportunity to get clean and you chose not to. You can no longer blame your addictions, you can no longer blame the drug, from now on you have to blame yourself and I truly hope you know who the “real ones” are now because you sure as hell lost the only ones. I refuse to let you bring me or my parents down. We don’t deserve what you put us through on a daily basis and I hope your friends that you give all your heart to take care of you. I prayed for over five years for you cause I cared when you didn’t. But you finally broke every bit of me. I can no longer put my energy into you when you can’t even look at me for more than five minutes. Mom and Dad may be fooled but just know I never will be. I will be here when you are clean, but for now it’s good-bye, because if I stay with you it will slowly kill me too.

Anonymous
July 14, 2017

Editor,

We would like to correct an error in a recent story about the North Bay’s PBS station, KRCB. The incorrect information apparently came to the Community Voice from AP.

KRCB successfully participated in the recent FCC Spectrum Auction and was very fortunate to be selected to receive a one-time $72 million payment. The vast majority of the funds will be placed in a permanent endowment. This is an incredible gift and opportunity for our community to have a stable public media outlet at a time when reliable, trustworthy news and information is so critical.

The article described our new coverage area in error. KRCB will continue to provide coverage to our core communities of Napa, Sonoma, and Marin, while also continuing coverage in the greater Bay Area. Our engineering staff is working hard to assure that there is no diminution of reception. If your readers have further questions, they should feel free to call: 707 584 2000.

Thank you

Nancy Dobbs
President and CEO
KRCB North Bay Public Media

Nancy Dobbs
Rohnert Park
July 11, 2017

Damage due to construction

I'm just curious if my property on Camino Coronado has been the only one that has received damage due to the construction of Richard Crane School. Not to mention the workers starting as early as 6:00 am on the Weekends? I've complained to the police and the City but somehow the School is exempt from certain rules and ordinance.

Is this my tax dollar hard at work???

Sue
Penngrove
July 11, 2017

Where is the money coming from?

The Community Voice

I am a teacher here in Rohnert Park and am very concerned about what the district says to people versus the way things actually are in our everyday working conditions. The classrooms at older schools have very old furniture that breaks down daily, but we are opening new schools with new furniture. We are not allowed cost of living increases because there is “no money”, yet there is money for new schools with few teachers. There is also money to give the superintendent raises. I am concerned about the way we are led to believe that we are a team, but from where I sit; there is no team that includes those of us at the bottom. Thank you for letting me voice my concerns.

Suzie Williams
Rohnert Park
July 7, 2017

Camp for disabled children

The Community Voice

Thank you so much for the wonderful photo and article about “Cycle Without Limits,” the bike/swim camp for children with disabilities sponsored by UCP of the North Bay and Sonoma State University.  We appreciate you highlighting these children and families and also helping us spread the word to others.

 We want everyone to know that the camp is open to all children, not just those with Cerebral Palsy. The “Cycle Without Limits” campers include those with autism, Down Syndrome, sensory processing and other sensory disabilities, as well as Cerebral Palsy, and some campers have no identified disability but are just having challenges with learning to ride a two-wheeled bike. 

Our next “Cycle Without Limits” camp will be over Martin Luther King weekend in 2018, which is Saturday, January 13 through Monday, January 15, 2018, at Sonoma State University and anyone interested in more information can go to ucpnb.org/recreation.

We also want to thank our camper Ben Benitez, age 10, and instructor Tamara Davis, SSU Kinesiology graduate, who was pictured in The Community Voice article, entitled “UCP day camp,” dated June 23, 2017. 

Jennifer Whalen
Recreation Director UCP of the North Bay
July 7, 2017

Limiting writing

Community Voice

No wonder there’s never anything in the editorial (where the readers write in) because you limit the people who want to write and who are concerned about the community can only write letters every 60 days.

However; in my estimation, we have a lot of problems here in California. I contribute it all to the fact that most people have turned their backs on God. They’ve let worldly pleasures and pursuits fill the place where their spiritual life should be. The things of this world have their place and purpose. If a person puts them first in their life before God they will  not be truly happy, content and at peace. This is my own opinion. It took me 70+ years to come to this knowledge. 

Richard Cole
Rohnert Park
July 7, 2017

Inappropriate protests

The Community Voice

I am most distressed by the occurrences of protest against our Rohnert Park Department of Public Safety that have twice disrupted our city council meetings. These protests were in response to the unfortunate death of an individual after a tasering by one of our police officers. I find these protests both ill advised and inappropriate. I was not at either city council meeting, but I am fairly certain that the following applies to those persons participating in the protest: 1) Few if any of the protesters know all the facts about this incident. 2) Few if any of the protesters have had personal contact with any of our public safety officers. 3) Few if any of the protesters have taken the time to attend any of the Citizens Academies offered by our Department of Public Safety or by the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department. The most disturbing thing to me is to have learned from a reliable source that few if any of the protesters actually live in Rohnert Park! I feel that these persons are applying upsets that they have against other police departments to our department here in Rohnert Park. This is not the Fergurson, Missouri police department, the BART police, the LAPD, or the Oakland police department. Most of our officers have been serving in the department for many years. To continue serving us, all of them took a substantial pay cut during the city’s financial problems following the 2008 economic meltdown. All of them either live in Rohnert Park or in the immediate vicinity. Chief Masterson and these officers have a considerable sense of pride in our department and in our city. I’ve attended the Citizens Academy put on by the Rohnert Park Department of Public Safety twice – in 2012 and again this year. During these classes, I learned quickly how difficult it is to be a police officer. I also learned to greatly appreciate the men and women who daily put their lives on the line to protect us. I’m sure that the officers who were involved in the tasering incident feel terrible about the fact that the person died, and that certainly was not their intent. Using a taser is usually one of the least injurious means of subduing a violent individual. I would strongly suggest to those planning any future disruptive “protest” actions attend a similar Citizens Academy before wasting the time of our city council, or making the lives of our fine officers any more difficult than they already are.

Frederic Albrecht
Rohnert Park
June 30, 2017

Why water rate increase?

The Community Voice

I am strongly opposed to the proposed increase in water rates. When I moved to Rohnert Park almost 25 years ago, we had no water meters. Water was basically free. You say Rohnert Park has the lowest water rates but I remember a few years ago one of the city engineers stated we are sitting on a “lake.” So where do you propose to put the money for a rate increase and why? Citizens have already reduced water consumption. Our lawns are dry and can contribute to soil erosion to our homes. I suggest more conservation of water by the water agency when we have record breaking winters such as this past year. 

Eunice Edgington
Rohnert Park
June 30, 2017

I am a teacher here in Rohnert Park and am very concerned about what the district says to people versus the way things actually are in our everyday working conditions. The classrooms at older schools have very old furniture that breaks down daily, but we are opening new schools with new furniture. We are not allowed cost of living increases because there is "no money", yet there is money for new schools with few teachers. There is also money to give the superintendent raises. I am concerned about the way we are led to believe that we are a team, but from where I sit; there is no team that includes those of us at the bottom. Thank you for letting me voice my concerns.
SuzieWilliams
Rohnert Park
June 29, 2017

June 29, 2017 The Community Voice 100 Professional Center Drive, Suite 110 Rohnert Park, CA 94928 RE: UCP Day Camp Article, June 23, 2017 Dear Community Voice Editor, Thank you so much for the wonderful photo and article about “Cycle Without Limits,” the bike/swim camp for children with disabilities sponsored by UCP of the North Bay and Sonoma State University.  We appreciate you highlighting these children and families and also helping us spread the word to others.  We want everyone to know that the camp is open to all children, not just those with Cerebral Palsy. The “Cycle Without Limits” campers include those with autism, Down Syndrome, sensory processing and other sensory disabilities, as well as Cerebral Palsy, and some campers have no identified disability but are just having challenges with learning to ride a two-wheeled bike. Our next “Cycle Without Limits” camp will be over Martin Luther King weekend in 2018, which is Saturday, January 13 through Monday, January 15, 2018, at Sonoma State University and anyone interested in more information can go to ucpnb.org/recreation. We also want to thank our camper Ben Benitez, age 10, and instructor Tamara Davis, SSU Kinesiology graduate, who was pictured in The Community Voice article, entitled “UCP day camp,” dated June 23, 2017. Best regards, Jennifer Whalen Recreation Director UCP of the North Bay jwhalen@ucpnb.org
Michele Catrino
Santa Rosa
June 29, 2017

Inappropriate Protests against our Department of Public Safety 6/23/2017 I am most distressed by the occurrences of protest against our Rohnert Park Department of Public Safety that have twice disrupted our city council meetings. These protests were in response to the unfortunate death of an individual after a tasering by one of our police officers. I find these protests both ill-advised and inappropriate. I was not at either city council meeting, but I am fairly certain that the following applies to those persons participating in the protest: 1) Few if any of the protesters know all the facts about this incident. 2) Few if any of the protesters have had personal contact with any of our public safety officers. 3) Few if any of the protesters have taken the time to attend any of the Citizens Academies offered by our Department of Public Safety or by the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department. The most disturbing thing to me is to have learned from a reliable source that few if any of the protesters actually live in Rohnert Park! I feel that these persons are applying upsets that they have against other police departments to our department here in Rohnert Park. This is not the Fergurson, Missouri police department, the BART police, the LAPD, or the Oakland police department. Most of our officers have been serving in the department for many years. To continue serving us, all of them took a substantial pay cut during the city’s financial problems following the 2008 economic meltdown. All of them either live in Rohnert Park or in the immediate vicinity. Chief Masterson and these officers have a considerable sense of pride in our department and in our city. I’ve attended the Citizens Academy put on by the Rohnert Park Department of Public Safety twice – in 2012 and again this year. During these classes, I learned quickly how difficult it is to be a police officer. I also learned to greatly appreciate the men and women who daily put their lives on the line to protect us. I’m sure that the officers who were involved in the tasering incident feel terrible about the fact that the person died, and that certainly was not their intent. Using a taser is usually one of the least injurious means of subduing a violent individual. I would strongly suggest to those planning any future disruptive “protest” actions attend a similar Citizens Academy before wasting the time of our city council, or making the lives of our fine officers any more difficult than they already are. Frederic Albrecht 7379 Carriage Court Rohnert Park, Ca 94928 fredscifi@sonic.net
Frederic Albrecht
Rohnert Park
June 23, 2017

Eminent domain abuse

The Community Voice

I and a host of people who are possible victims and actual victims of eminent domain abuse in this county find the article, "Cotati woman pleads: consider the salamander" in very poor taste and lacking research. I have no idea who is lining her pockets to say these things, or how old your journalist Christina Molcillo is, or maybe she wasn't living in our county in 2005 when Sonoma County decided to hold a General Plan 2020 meeting where planning commissioners told people who rightfully owned rural properties and who have been stewards of their land up and down Gravenstein Highway and Highway 12 that they "should donate their properties?" That is when the late Jess Jackson (my hero) got up and said, "Donate your own properties you greedy sons of bitches." Well over 500 applauded. 

In the early 1990's there was a house, barn, out buildings, and a highly endangered organic Gravenstein apple farm where Lowe's and over 40 town homes now reside that were built at the top of the market during the Bush Reich and sold for about $500K. They were constructed on a low interest government loan because they were considered "low income housing" that the working poor could not afford.

 The former elderly organic farmer owner was told he "could not sell his apples before he left his property because of the tiger salamander and that his 20 acres were worthless and unbuildable because of the tiger salamander." A woman who owned a few county approved buildings with an environmental impact reporting (EIR) companies condemned his land and told him his 20 acres were only worth $195K. I know first-hand because he told me and my friend Jane Ulbrich (who lives in Napa now) so himself. This woman who owned the EIR company scooped it up and put it in an LLC so she cannot be sued for government racketeering as she later became a planning commissioner while living in San Francisco's Pacific Heights and reversed the slander on the elderly farmer's land. She developed the land with big money and the rest is history. She is now a childless multimillionaire living in the east bay.

The elderly organic apple farmer was forced to live out his days with his daughter as his livelihood was stolen from him (financial elder abuse), and the reduced "fair market value" would not afford him a low income town home on the land that he was forced to move off and take what price the local government named. Not to mention the people that slandered and robbed him, did not have the moral decency or an ounce of class to offer him a town home there.

I have spoken to Suzette Kelo of the Supreme Court ruling Kelo vs. New London, CT.  545 U.S. 469 (2005) who was robbed during the Bush Reich. The Ranger's Stadium was built this way. Millions of extremely under educated voters refused to watch the 2011 documentary from Scotland called, "You’ve Been Trumped." So millions of voters continue to feign complete ignorance (dumb@$$) on the subject of eminent domain abuse. Such as your journalist will when you ask her. I know the government purges/shreds all evidence of eminent domain so as to keep the public misinformed and a few filthy greedy F-ing rich at the top, so I can understand how some young thing or newcomer would not comprehend the full picture. 

Just Google "eminent domain abuse" and up will come all sorts of accounts and forums where gag orders are flushed down the toilet when victims (men, women, & children) are left financially devastated and homeless. Nine times out of ten, it starts with rezoning, then some imagined endangered species such as fairy shrimp or tiger salamanders. I call this land jacking. People get hunted down and exterminated for carjacking. When people are homeless and left with the balance of their mortgage and have great difficulty finding a landlord to rent to them with outstanding debts the sky is the limit. Such as in the state of Tennessee where a man was robbed of his home and barber shop.

When I read articles such as this one in your newspaper, it makes me wonder whose payroll are you on? Are you in favor of government racketeering or do you believe in The Constitution of the United States of America and the rights of We the People? Please clarify your position as that article was smug and written in favor of the land jackers...The Destroyers. We The People need to know.

P.S. / The only reason why car jackers are thrown in jail is because the government hates competition when it comes to Grand Theft.

Rachele Ketchem
Rohnert Park
June 23, 2017

What happened to the paper?

The Community Voice: 

Please tell me what has happened to your newspaper? The Community Voice used to be an enjoyable newspaper to read. We’d get news about what’s going on in Cotati, Penngrove and Rohnert Park as well as what’s happening with the school board and there used to be plenty of news about our kids playing sports. There’s little to no news worth reading about lately. I once was able to sit in the laundromat and find out about the local news while waiting for my clothes to wash and dry. Now, the Voice is unreadable. Such a shame.

Lori Edwards
Cotati
June 23, 2017

Jud Snyder, in your last column

The Community Voice:

“IN MY PREVIOUS column, I mentioned James Watt and his work on a steam piston engine, vital for the development of steam locomotives. Well, my contact Olga Senyk, has been doing added research herself and admits she didn’t mean to suggest Watt and his work. The Scotsman who got conked on the head and invented gravity was Isaac Newton, who lived from 1642 to 1727.

“We thank Ms. Senyk for her dogged research and if she needs an update for her Sister Cities Committee, give me a call.”

Sir Isaac Newton was English, not Scottish. The penalty in Britain for conflating England and Scotland is death by stoning.

Newton did not “invent” gravity. Gravity has always existed. What Newton did was, first, to recognize that the same force that pulled apples downward also pulls the Earth and other planets into curved orbits around the Sun, pulls the Moon into its orbit around Earth, and pulls the Earth’s oceans towards the Moon (tides); second, to quantify the strength and direction of the gravitational force. 

The story of him getting conked by a falling apple is probably apocryphal.

Rick Luttmann
Rohnert Park
June 23, 2017

Grand to see young faces

The Community Voice:

 How grand to see such a nice young face on the front page of your excellent newspaper. “Place receives Girl Scout Gold Award” on June 9. With your local coverage of all the high school graduations, the current crop of high-technology goaled graduates also have the balance of community service, i.e. Ashley Place’s gold project which benefited an elementary school. Makes me remember why this area is such a pleasant place to live. It was a pleasure to see Ashley’s smile upon completion of such an honor. Again, thank you, 

Rosalind Morino
Rohnert Park
June 23, 2017

Protest Rohnert Park water rate increase

The Community Voice

Did you receive a 6-page notice from the City of Rohnert Park pro/2017posing yet another water rate increase?  There is a lot of reading, mostly not very understandable all on top of the 9% rate increase approved just two years ago along with annual cost of living increases.  The notice included a phone number to call if you have any questions. I did.

I called 6/8 and was routed to someone (recording of course) who promised to call back.  Nothing.  I called again on 6/9. Nothing. So based on the rate increase proposals, here is what I have.

Questions:  1. Why did the average house use 7000 (exactly) gallons per month two years ago and now uses 6000 gallons exactly today (the drought was still going on then).  2.  I would like to see the calculations done for nearby cities.  3. Two years ago the city had 84 properties with NO WATER METERS paying nothing for water. I understand that a number of those properties have had their water connections removed, however, the center median on Country Club Drive still uses great quantities of unmetered water even though such use was forbidden by the state as a waste of water.  There may be other properties still receiving free water.

I have several recent pictures of water running down the street in the middle of the day.  It does the same thing late at night if you just happen to be there.  Maybe the city should remove the center median lawns and put in drought type landscaping such as the city has suggested that we do to conserve water.  

The notice suggests additional charges are to be added to your water bill for a drought charge and another charge for capital improvements. Those charges are already included in your water bill as a result of the last rate increase.  

Personally, I think that the city is raising money for some other project not related to water.  This was the case when the city raised the sewer rates years ago saying additional capacity was needed, turned around and sold that capacity to the casino and used the money for some other project not related to sewers.

So far, the amount of money taken from the sewer fund/assets amounts to about $20 million.  I wonder how much the city will take from the water fund from this next rate increase.  The proposed rate increase is already being charged so this just goes to prove that the city can spend any amount of money that you allow it to take from you.  Protest this rate increase!

The city made it difficult to protest the rate increase.  Here is what you need to do.  Write a note stating that you oppose the proposed water rates, sign it.  Add your address to the note.  Mail it very soon or deliver it in person to the city hall.  Note: the city will not accept e-mails, faxes, telephone calls or oral protests.  The “hearing” is on July 11.

Robert Grundman
Rohnert Park
June 23, 2017

Struggling with illegal dumping

The Community Voice

I have lived and worked in Rohnert Park for more than 30 years. I am employed by a family owned small business, 49er Pet. Our store and many other small businesses struggle to keep our doors open, competing with the big box stores. Over the past 5 years or so illegal dumping has become a huge problem. To have someone else’s property hauled off our property is an expense that a small business must pay out of their own pockets.. ouch ! It’s an eyesore to the residents all around. I am told it’s become a big problem in Rohnert Park. Our police department can’t cite anyone unless there’s a witness to the offense and unfortunately it usually occurs late at night. This morning we had almost an entire living room of junky furniture dumped in our back parking lot. It’s been at least once a month at our store and we are only a small portion of businesses dealing with this issue. Don’t people in Rohnert Park want a beautiful community to live in?

 

 

Patty Felix Martin
Rohnert Park
June 9, 2017

James Watt not responsible

The Community Voice

I'm fond of Jud Snyder and usually read his columns but think his ramblings should be checked more carefully. He doesn't really think James Watt is responsible for the theory of gravity, does he? A quick Google search would reveal to him that Isaac Newton was the fellow who was allegedly bonked on the head by that proverbial apple. Mr. Watt has the improvement of the steam engine to his credit, among other things, but not gravitational theory.

 

 

Lindee Reese
Cotati
June 9, 2017

Law enforcement related deaths in the last 5 years

The Community Voice

Law enforcement-related deaths refer to deaths of civilians in the presence of one or more members of the county’s sheriffs or police departments. It also includes deaths which occur at the county jail.

In 2013, there were 8 law enforcement-related deaths in Sonoma County. Andy Lopez was the 6th one that year.

In 2014, there were 10 such deaths.

In 2015, there were 3 such deaths.

In 2016, there was 1 such death.

So far, in 2017, there has been 1 such death. 

Just days ago, on Friday, May 12, Branch Wroth, probably experiencing a bad reaction to some drug, was tasered by the Rohnert Park Police. Branch immediately “became unresponsive” and was soon dead. We do not have further details at this time. However, I know of no medical authority who would recommend using a taser on someone claiming to be suffering from chemical poisoning. I also fail to understand why it was so necessary for police to arrest and handcuff someone for an outstanding warrant (unpaid traffic fines?) when the subject clearly needed emergency medical attention. Just exactly what were the priorities of these police - these so-called community servants?

It should also be noted that a week before Branch’s death, there was a near-fatal shooting in Cotati by the SSU campus police. There has been no follow-up in the local media as to the outcome for this so-called gang member who allegedly opened fire in the small hours of the morning as the Cotati bars were closing. 

Starting in 2015, there was a significant decline in the number of deaths attributable in some way to local law enforcement. Was this in response to increased, broad-based community activism on this issue? Was it related to the installation of Jerry Threat to monitor the activities of the Sheriff’s Department? Should we expect an escalation of police abuse in the law and order Trump Era?

Karen Saari
Bodega, CA
June 2, 2017

Adopt a safety plan for school construction projects

The Community Voice:

When I was in college, a professor told me that a mistake has value if we learn from it. Making mistakes is unavoidable in anything we do. Learning from our mistakes is a critical aspect of education.

In Spring 2015, many students, parents, teachers and neighbors complained about health and safety hazards during construction at Thomas Page Elementary School in Cotati.  They wrote letters to Superintendent Robert Haley describing breathing problems experienced by students and staff caused by dust during construction near classrooms. They also described safety hazards due to construction vehicles interfering with drop-off and pick-up of students. In a recent letter to me, Maria Alvarez, a Cotati resident with a child in the district, recalled the problems:

“In Spring of 2015 there was a large classroom demolition and school construction project that had very negative noise and health impacts on the teachers and children at Thomas Page Academy. We live very close to the school and observed and witnessed the project happening on a daily basis with heavy equipment on site daily including semis filled with dry dusty debris and dirt, uncovered piles, tractors, and jackhammers. We also knew many of the kids and teachers since my daughter had recently attended the school for five years. During the project, we heard from children that they were suffering from breathing difficulties and headaches. The old buildings were demolished on site during school hours, and dust and debris from the site was blown towards school classrooms, playgrounds and lunch areas.  I was particularly appalled that there was no dust control management and large piles of debris with the spring winds blowing across them, until near the end after the project was briefly halted by Cal-OSHA.”

At the April 16, 2017 CRPUSD Board of Trustees meeting, Superintendent Haley said there is no safety plan currently in place for the upcoming demolition and construction work at Rancho Cotate High School. While there are rules and regulations governing demolition and construction at school sites, many school districts also have created written safety guidelines for school construction projects. Given the history of complaints over construction at Thomas Page, it would be wise to create a written safety plan for school construction projects to protect the health and safety of students, staff and other persons.  We don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Many school districts and other public entities have already created such plans that we could use as resources.

An important aspect of a construction safety plan is a mechanism for reporting and responding to complaints about health and safety during construction. Given past experiences with controversy over reporting health and safety concerns at Thomas Page and other schools, it is crucial that people feel safe in reporting complaints. Not everyone wants to use their name. In those cases, confidentiality must be protected while accountability is maintained.

Teachers, who work with students every day, are in a unique position to advocate for the health and safety of our children. Yet, many teachers have expressed concern about retaliation by administrators for reporting health and safety concerns. In fact, the local teachers’ union, Rohnert Park Cotati Educators Association (RPCEA), negotiated a written non-retaliation agreement with the superintendent for teachers who raise concerns at school board meetings.  Maha Gregoretti, a past RPCEA president, pushed for this agreement. She personally suffered retaliation by district administrators in 2016 for reporting a leaking gas pipe at Rancho Cotate that wasn’t repaired for three months. In April 2017, a teacher at Lawrence Jones Middle School reported mold in four classrooms at the regular monthly school board meeting. In his comments, he expressed the hope that he would not suffer retaliation for reporting the health and safety problem to administrators.

Clearly, there must be a reliable mechanism that affords protection to persons making complaints about health and safety problems during construction at school sites. Such a mechanism must also provide accountability to ensure that complaints are taken seriously and those reporting the problems do not suffer retaliation. It is absolutely essential that the school board take an active role in advocating for the health and safety of students and staff. As the CRPUSD Board of Trustees, we need to direct the superintendent to create such a safety plan. We also need to monitor compliance over the next two years as construction is underway at Rancho Cotate High School. Anything less is an abdication of our primary responsibility to be advocates for all students in our school district.

Learning from past mistakes is not a sign of weakness but of strength. Let’s keep all students, staff, and others healthy and safe by adopting a new safety plan for school construction projects.

Dr. Timothy Nonn
Trustee, Cotati Rohnert Park Unified School District
June 2, 2017

Law enforcement related deaths in the last 5 years
by Karen Saari May 15, 2017

Law enforcement-related deaths refer to deaths of civilians in the presence of one or more members of the county's sheriffs or police departments. It also includes deaths which occur at the county jail.

In 2013, there were 8 law enforcement-related deaths in Sonoma County. Andy Lopez was the 6th one that year.

In 2014, there were 10 such deaths.

In 2015, there were 3 such deaths.

In 2016, there was 1 such death.

So far, in 2017, there has been 1 such death.

Just days ago, on Friday, May 12, Branch Wroth, probably experiencing a bad reaction to some drug, was tasered by the Rohnert Park Police. Branch immediately "became unresponsive" and was soon dead. We do not have further the details at this time. However, I know of no medical authority who would recommend using a taser on someone claiming to be suffering from chemical poisoning. I also fail to understand why it was so necessary for police to arrest and handcuff someone for an outstanding warrant (unpaid traffic fines?) when the subject clearly needed emergency medical attention. Just exactly what were the priorities of these police - these so-called community servants?

It should also be noted that a week before Branch's death, there was a near-fatal shooting in Cotati by the SSU campus police. There has been no follow-up in the local media as to the outcome for this so-called gang member who allegedly opened fire in the small hours of the morning as the Cotati bars were closing.

Starting in 2015, there was a significant decline in the number of deaths attributable in some way to local law enforcement. Was this in response to increased, broad-based community activism on this issue? Was it related to the installation of Jerry Threat to monitor the activities of the Sheriff's Department? Should we expect an escalation of police abuse in the law and order Trump Era?

Karen Saari
Bodega, CA
May 24, 2017

RPCUSD Legal Fees

The Community Voice

The Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District has spent more in legal fees, at least in excess of $1 million, since Superintendent Robert Haley’s term over the past 5 years. This is more than the last two superintendents have spent combined on legal fees.  Robert Haley has been contacted by media with a public records act request for information, and pursuant to the California Government Code (Gov. Code § 6250 et seq.), per the California Department of Education, Haley is required to comply with a records request.

Robert Haley has declined to respond to any public records act request sent to Haley by independent journalists. But it gets worse, because IT staff revealed that Haley has insisted upon monitoring ALL teachers’ and other school staff’s inbound emails, and blocked certain journalist emails from entering into the school’s server.

The parents and local community should be presented with an opportunity to vote for Haley’s removal. [It would appear that] Haley’s interests lie within himself, and not within the community and education system he is expected to serve. 

Name withheld
Rohnert Park
May 19, 2017

What we hear

The Community Voice 

The train makes too much noise. I wonder if the people who complain about the train are the same ones who voted it in? Personally, I can see no use for a train-just another drain on us taxpayers.

The other two recent newsletters are good old marijuana and the casino. Greed and corruption comes to mind. Gambling leads to many other problems. Families going without. The casino draws criminals, more addiction and more crime. Possibly more DUIs.

Then there’s good old Mary-Jane.  My own experience with the stuff wasn’t medical. It was to get high. (that was 40 years ago). I used it as a crutch so I could forget about my problems. When I started seeking a solution to my problems, I faced them. I didn’t need the pot anymore.

Sonoma County’s idea of heavy taxation on pot is going to back-fire on them. People who grow it aren’t going to start growing it legally. They are going to continue growing illegally. Why should they cut into their profit? Corruption breeds greed and greed breeds corruption. So far, growing pot hasn’t bred honesty. Do you think the county’s taxation scheme is going to breed any honesty? Both the casino and the marijuana legalization is making more work for law enforcement.

                                                                                                                                   

Richard Cole
Rohnert Park
May 12, 2017

How insane

The Community Voice

Donald Trump and a few hundred Republican politicians, playing to the white racist Republican base of Obama haters, have repealed the highly successful Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). Be clear about how insane this Republican action is. A FEW HUNDRED REPUBLICAN POLITICIANS have sabotaged health care coverage for 10 million people enrolled in the ACA.

Trump thinks Democrats will take the blame for the ACA failure and repeal. Have you got a brain disorder Donald?  You and your Republican compatriots control all of government and the blame falls squarely at your doorstep.

And Donald, what are you going to tell the millions of Americans who have health care coverage with the Affordable Care Act and like it. Another BIG LIE, President Trump?

Ron Lowe
Nevada City, CA
May 12, 2017

Horn too loud

The community Voice

I’m somewhat mystified by the kerfuffle over train horns and “quiet zones”. In the public discourse it seems the only two options are 1) loud horns or 2) no horns. What about a compromise: softer horns?

I see no reason why the public safety requires a train horn to be loud enough to wake people up who live two or three miles from the tracks.

From the Community Voice I learned that the trains will move at no more than 30 mph through the city. That’s 44 feet per second, tops. By federal regulation they must sound the horn 15 to 20 seconds before reaching a crossing. That’s 660 to 880 feet. The horn would have to be heard clearly at that distance, and would of course carry somewhat beyond that; but still — not nearly so loud as they are now.

Rick Luttmann
Rohnert Park
May 5, 2017

Our Story

The Community Voice:

Citadel Apartments is a 22 unit complex located at 6500 Country Club Drive. For over 20 years, the complex was family owned and managed. Over this time, the complex grew into a community. Many of us have lived there for years. We look out for one another; we care for one another; and we enjoy where we live. In August of 2015, the complex was sold to BAD Investments (yes, that was their name), an out-of-county investment company. Our rents were promptly raised by 45% and no improvements were made to the property. In August of 2016, the complex was sold again to Ridge Capital Investors, another out-of-county investment company. BAD Investments walked away with a one million dollar profit.

Ridge Capital Investors took ownership of the complex on December 28, 2016, and two days later started evicting people. Their justification for this was that they were renovating the apartments. If we wanted to stay at the complex we would need to reapply. The new rent would be $2100 a month, which is another $400 dollars more than we are currently paying.  In just over a year this represents a 100% increase in rent.

 The tenants organized to fight the evictions. We have Legal Aid assisting us and we have regularly spoken at the city council meetings. We have also started working with North Bay Organizing Project. This organization has been instrumental in bringing rent control and just cause evictions to Santa Rosa and Sebastopol. They are also working in Petaluma and Sonoma. We plan to meet with Rohnert Park clergy in the near future.

Affordable housing in Rohnert Park is disappearing. Half of the households in Rohnert Park rent, and of that fifty percent, 60% are considered “rent overburdened,” which means they spend more than half of their income on housing. The residents of Citadel Apartments are not deadbeats or slackers. We are hard-working families that are being driven out of our homes by out-of-county investment companies whose sole purpose is to make more money for their companies. They are investing in themselves and not in Rohnert Park.

By the end of April, there will be ten vacant apartments at Citadel so what was the point of evicting hard-working families who paid their rent on time? 

The Rohnert Park City Council is holding a town hall meeting on Wednesday, May 3rd, from 6pm to 8pm, at 5401 Snyder Lane.  If you are concerned about affordable housing in Rohnert Park or if you have been displaced because of rising rents, join us.  The city council needs to hear our voices.  You can also join us at the regular city council meetings that are held the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of the month starting at 5pm.

                                                                                                                               

Pam Novelly
Rohnert Park
April 28, 2017

Safe routes

The Community Voice:

Our county offers many wonderful amenities, but walking around local shopping centers is difficult for pedestrians, especially for older residents. In most local big store parking lots, pedestrians are left to dodge drivers as they walk to and from their cars. Typically, there are no safe routes between islands of stores. There is no safe route, for example, from the Rohnert Park Senior Center to the Towne Center or to the Park Plaza Center, or between these two islands and other smaller islands of stores or from the bus stop on Hunter Drive. Even under the much appreciated Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). “Accessible aisles” are limited to the “Shortest Accessible Route” from a handicapped parking space to a store. We need more pedestrian-friendly parking lots.

Sue Parker
Rohnert Park
April 28, 2017

Poor survey

The Community Voice

I think this survey is a poor representation when only a little over 2,000 out of over 40,000, respond to a stilted survey. This City is hugely reactive rather than proactive and it shows. The phony 1/2 cent sales tax hustle was supposed to go to street maintenance and neighborhood police patrols. instead, it went into the general fund. I never see a cop in my neighborhood and other than pot holing the horrible streets, nothing is done. When you only have two traffic cops patrolling five days a week, how does that make anyone safe? This City is about how it looks, not how it is.

 

 

Tim Matchette
Rohnert Park
April 21, 2017

Hi, my name is Ryan Kurada and I teach first grade at University Elementary at La Fiesta. I wanted to say thank you so much for having Emily Ferdorko write such an amazing article on my students' bird project. I can't wait to share it with my school community. I just wanted to note that my first grade teaching partner, Jessica Hayes, was also involved in the project with me.

Is there a way her name could be edited in as well?

Thanks again and I look forward to reaching out to the Community Voice in the future when we do similar projects.

Best regards,
Ryan

Ryan Kurada
Rohnert Park
April 20, 2017

Housing market

The Community Voice:

One of the best things about Santa Rosa is the sense of community we enjoy. There is great pressure on our community resulting from the housing market. Unlike many neighboring cities, Santa Rosa has no rent stabilization policy. Thus, many of our friends and neighbors are at the mercy of an increasingly hostile housing environment.

Half of residents rent, and the vacancy rate is 1%. As a result, there is tremendous competition for vacancies. Landlords are increasingly motivated to evict without cause or reason meaning that a tenant can face eviction without knowing why, allowing owners to evict for reasons illegal under the law. 

Utilizing deceitful practices, corporate real estate interests are attempting to override our duly elected city council, and kill fair rent policies. Please join me in supporting measure C. Let’s cap rent increases and stop unfair evictions.

Remember: C is for community.

Don Ingle
Santa Rosa
April 14, 2017

Remembering School Superintendent

To The Community Voice:

My longtime acquaintance, Jud Snyder, reminded me this week through his column of something that I have neglected to do these past four decades.  Speaking of Cotati-Rohnert Park superintendents, Jud said that I have been “a consistent critic of their leadership skills.”  Let me balance the record in one fell swoop and say something good about the dozen superintendents who have served our community these past forty years.

Jim Davidson, who was the leader of the old Cotati district just before it merged with Rohnert Park in the late 1970s, was highly respected and admired by many of the teachers who I knew when I first began volunteering in the schools, including my great friends Royal King and Andy Witthohn.  Robert McConnell brought Davidson into the new district, and he brought in his skills to manage a district and pull together unification.  He had the good sense to not meddle with the real educational professionals, the teachers.  Mike McLaughlin followed McConnell, helped organize the Sharing of the Green, and listened to the parents, especially when they demanded that there be only one school calendar.  (Unfortunately, the community lost the 45/15 year round schedule which my family loved.)  Terry Littleton served as an interim superintendent and during her brief tenure she helped to implement solid traditional educational programs.  

In 1987, the third permanent superintendent, John T. Haro, appeared.  During his three years at the helm, he helped unify the employees, especially the teachers and their association, as he presented the notion that the school district had a million-and-a-half-dollar deficit.  When the teachers discovered that the district was actually a million and half dollars to the good, the three-million-dollar equivocation caused them to declare a strike.  Haro was succeeded by another interim superintendent, a retired administrator from southern California, Al Morse.  His good sense and light humor helped to heal the wounds.  In the early 1990s, a Marin County man, Walter Buster, took over and convinced the school board to move away from many of the plans that voters supported in the 1990 bond.  The result was Technology High School.

A financial administrator followed Buster for some months as the third interim superintendent.  He ensured that the district budget remained stable until the fifth permanent superintendent, Janice Heffron, a former teacher and principal from the district began her tenure.  Some good educational programs were instituted under her leadership, especially in the area of reading.  Six years later number six arrived, Michael Watenpaugh.  He worked well with the different unions, and the president of the teachers’ union, Mike Schroeder and the president of another employee union, Andie McHatton.  Home grown educator, Barbara Vrankovich, led the district the next four years.  She helped navigate it through the recession, made the hard choices, and always insisted that her administrators follow the three employee contracts.  Ms. Vrankovich was replaced by an interim superintendent, Robert Haley, who, in his early years put on a friendly face even while he began his program to weaken the powers of the three unions.  When Haley became a permanent superintendent, he worked hard to sell the school district to the public, spending thousands of dollars on radio ads which allowed him to fulfill his desire to become a radio announcer.

There you have it.  In one letter to the editor, I have balanced the sheet.  While I may have been a critic of these superintendents’ leadership skills, I have also found at least one good thing to say about each.

Lanny Lowery
Rohnert Park
April 14, 2017

Cotati council needs to hear our voices

The Community Voice: 

I have lived in Hunters Ridge in Cotati four years. Myself and many neighbors attended a city council meeting last week regarding the design plans for the 46-lot neighborhood on Valparaiso and Redwood Highway. The plans are to open the end of Honor Place, which is a gated street that ends, allowing traffic to take a shortcut through our small streets to avoid the light. There is not one family in our community that doesn't think this is invasive, unnecessary and dangerous to pedestrians and children. After 2½ hours of patiently waiting to speak on this matter, many of us expressed the hazards that would fall upon our already cramped streets.

We were met with a total lack of empathy and consideration. This matter was dismissed with a general feeling that we did not matter. 

I'm very disappointed in the Cotati City Council for allowing this to happen. Having said that, I hope this letter will prompt our representatives to stand up for Hunter's Ridge and do the right thing. 

Mary Smith
Cotati
April 7, 2017

Cotati resident says his roads are bad

The Community Voice,

Kudos to Ms. Heidi Bailey, Hunter’s Ridge resident in Cotati. 

She spelled it out rather

succinctly regarding the negative impact a thoroughfare would have in her neighborhood. I also feel the council should listen more closely to the constituents in the affected neighborhood. 

And her letter leads me to comment on the conditions in my neighborhood of West Cotati Avenue. 

The street is deteriorating and it was doing so prior to the heavy rains that exacerbated the crumbling roadway. Add to the problem the speeding cars and ignoring of stop signs and it makes pedestrian and vehicular safety rather precarious.

Prior to the last local

elections, I expressed my concerns and opinions to several of the candidates that darkened my doorway asking for my vote. I pointed out various spots in the roadway that were failing. I was told that the repair of the street would be considered along with others. 

I then mentioned the traffic issue as many people use West Cotati Avenue as a speedway alternative to Highway 116. God forbid you should be backing out of your driveway or slowing to enter the driveway. Speeders behind you honk, yell and occasionally you get the “you're No. 1” finger wave. Not to mention the near collision of the morons that have to speed and be on their cell phones at the same time.

I suggested speedbumps in two sections to slow traffic down. They are successfully used on other streets in town. They slow me down to a safer speed to go over them. If they slow people down and give people a chance of crossing the street to get their mailbox or whatever, so be it. 

I was told that the police would try to put out a little extra enforcement and that the traffic trailer would be set up for a couple days. 

I am a realist. I know that the Cotati Police Dept. does not have the staffing to address the traffic issues in the morning and especially the afternoon commute hours on West Cotati

Avenue every day. 

I also know there are

enhanced traffic enforcement deployments for specific problems throughout the year involving the police departments in the area. 

Some of these are funded with grants from the Office of Traffic Safety. 

How about considering adding the issue I am writing about to the mix? Better to use the five minutes it takes to write a ticket than spend hours completing a collision report that may involve injuries. 

How about parking a marked unit in a visible spot every once in a while, kind of what is done when there is a special event being held at the local motorcycle shop on Old Red? This slows people down.

And to think that my comments started with Ms. Bailey's letter. I wish her and all the

residents of Hunter’s Ridge success in their request. I can only hope that we residents of West Cotati Avenue can get some

relief.

Anthony Morgan
Cotati
April 7, 2017

A thoroughfare not needed in Cotati

The Community Voice:

It’s been a while since I wrote for The Community Voice, but one thing hasn’t changed: Cotati City Council meetings. Tuesday night I sat with half of the Hunter’s Ridge subdivision where we listened to the proposed 46 home project at 100 Valparaiso.

We all knew the day would come when the last open field near downtown would be developed and the joy of wild turkeys meandering through our streets would be gone. We weren’t opposing the development; we are opposed to having Hunter’s Ridge opened to through traffic. 

Each of us stood, telling them we do not want a “thoroughfare.” Community Development Director Vicki Parker said we misunderstood – “It’s NOT a thoroughfare, but a two-lane street where two-way traffic will go through.” 

I don’t want to argue semantics, but that is the very definition of a thoroughfare. According to Webster’s Dictionary, a thoroughfare is “a road or path forming a route between two places.”

Equally puzzling is her vast misunderstanding of what it means for parents to have children play outside instead of inside. Hunter’s Ridge is full of children – all of whom play regularly out in front of their homes. Though Vicki admits to playing in the street herself as a child, she pointed out our “streets are not playgrounds” and if they want to be outside, there are parks to consider. 

Excuse me Vicki, but as a parent who has dinner in the oven nightly, having my children out front is vastly different than walking half a mile to Helen Putnam Park.  

Secondly, we questioned why a fire lane would go in, considering the fire station is north of the project. Vicki’s ridiculous answer was that “it’s also meant to be used to evacuate in emergencies.” What? Evacuate where? Does Vicki really believe we’d evacuate into the next neighborhood? Or are they supposed to evacuate into ours? 

Pardon my naivety, but if we have to evacuate, I’m guessing most will flee to Old Red, not the property right next to us. I’ve lived here for 22 years and haven’t had to evacuate yet.

What’s painfully clear is Cotati’s Planning Commission and Design Review Boards do not listen to the community. Our voices were an obvious nuisance to both committees and the planners and went completely unheard.  

When a Cotati Council meeting – where normally only a handful of folks attend – hold a meeting that’s standing room only, one would think our city would take note. 

Parker’s claim that “connectivity” is required is preposterous when defending a thoroughfare. Connectivity also means a walking or biking path – which we already have; both of which head straight for that development. Do we need a dictionary definition for connectivity as well Vicki?

I’ve yet to hear a viable reason why we must have a thoroughfare through our neighborhood where cars will race to beat the light at Myrtle, forcing parents to keep children inside – since we can’t take over an hour to visit the park during dinner time. 

Build your project. But please don’t force us to put up with raceway-type traffic, parking nightmares and a danger for our children just to cross a two-lane street in a closed-off neighborhood. 

And if you Vicki, seriously believe “no one is going to cut through the neighborhood to get onto Valparaiso unless they live in one of the neighborhoods” then you must be living under a rock. 

Anyone coming from Penngrove going anywhere west of Old Redwood Highway is going to cut through just to avoid stoplights. That one should be a no-brainer. 

I strongly urge the council for once to listen to your constituents. Make it another walking/biking path, or yes, even an unnecessary fire lane. But don’t force our children inside due to thoroughfare semantics.  

I recommend using a few of those sales tax dollars to buy Ms. Parker a dictionary so she doesn’t make ludicrous statements in the future. It only makes that whole committee look obtuse. 

Heidi Bailey, Hunter’s Ridge resident
Cotati
March 31, 2017

Free Speech Friday on Cesar Chavez’s Da

The Community Voice:
It’s time we take the bull by the horns and reform our fair housing laws again. 
Before the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s, segregation of neighborhoods was legal. This ended with Congress’ passing of the Fair Housing Act only after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. and the riots that followed. 
Over the years, the fair housing act has been amended as seen fit. 
Well, it’s time we amend the Fair Housing Act again to include fair housing for the middle and low-income populations in every city, starting with ours, by pressing on the issue of unfair price gouging of housing, causing a new form of segregation for the general populations who already live here. 
Our American heroes have given us the blueprint to making change happen. Groups of people banding together as one for the right to live as valued citizens in our own nation. Desegregation (by income) of our neighborhoods is the next civil rights movement and it all starts with us here in Rohnert Park. 
We can be the catalyst for change and forever be remembered as the little city that fought for justice for our entire nation.
President Lyndon B. Johnson said that the new fair housing law was now a part of the American way of life, proclaiming fair housing for all human beings who live in this country.  We must live up to this challenge together today as one united force for change. Our livelihoods depend on it. This is serious. Let’s band together for change.  
Our first of many “Free Speech Friday’s gathering for change” will take place on Cesar Chavez Day, March 31, from 5-7 p.m. at the City Center Plaza, 500 City Center Dr., in Rohnert Park. 
Visit www.LiveYourDreamsAwake.org to learn more! We can be the vessel that sends out the wake!
 
Nova Celeste
Rohnert Park
March 24, 2017

Kimberly’s mother thanks the community

The Community Voice:

Jennifer Kimberly, the mother of Kirk Kimberly, who was killed by an assailant still at large, wants to thank a number of businesses for their generous donations to Kirk' s Celebration of Life, which was held in the Cotati Room on Jan. 7. 

The Kimberly family also wants to thank all of the individuals who donated time, money, food and materials for Kirk's memorial.  

Jennifer also wants to thank Kathy Doran, who organized the whole event. It was a beautifully orchestrated reflection of Kirk's life full of delicious food and wonderful people. The following businesses donated to the cause: 

Ignacio Ruiz Catering, Rohnert Park; The Rental Place, Rohnert Park; Global Signals Group, Novato; Taqueria El Tapatio, Rohnert Park; Sonoma Mountain Foods, Rohnert Park; First Baptist Church, Rohnert Park; Friedman’s Home Improvement, Santa Rosa; Costco, Rohnert Park; Boudin SF, Santa Rosa; Lowe’s, Cotati; Spancky’s, Cotati; Home Depot, Rohnert Park; Starbucks Mountain Shadows Plaza, Rohnert Park; Starbucks 640 E. Cotati Ave, Cotati; The Union Hotel, Occidental; Socorro Lopez Cleaning, Rohnert Park; and Terra Firma Global Partners, Petaluma.

 

Jennifer Kimberly
Cotati
March 10, 2017

Masterson on RP immigrants policy

The Community Voice:

 

One of the many things that I learned when going through my constitutional law class in college was the fact that the Constitution of the United States affords citizens and non-citizens the same rights. The police who protect our communities are bound by law to afford all civilians, citizens or non-citizens (immigrants) the same constitutional rights.

 

The primary role of law enforcement, including the Rohnert Park Dept. of Public Safety, is to protect life and property. This requires that Public Safety Officers treat all people with respect and dignity. 

 

Many people who live and work in Rohnert Park are anxious and worried about recent statements in the media that talk about the federal government’s targeting of people who are in the United States illegally.

 

As the Director of Public Safety for the last eight years, we have never worked with Immigration and Custom’s Enforcement (ICE) to participate in sweeps that result in the arrest of illegal immigrants. Like many of the other law enforcement agencies in Sonoma County, Rohnert Park Public Safety is not planning to conduct coordinated sweeps for law abiding good people who are residing in our community.

 

It is my intent in writing this short letter to reduce the fear and anxiety of individuals who are living and working in Rohnert Park and are immigrants that may be undocumented; Public Safety Officers are not going to deport you. 

 

Our officers have worked extremely hard over the last eight years to build the trust of all civilians regardless of their immigration status.  We believe that diversity is good for our country and for Rohnert Park.  We will continue to respect all individuals and do everything in our power to keep you safe in our community.  We have not and do not plan to deport members of our community solely based on their immigration status.  

 

 

Brian Masterson, Director of Public Safety for Rohnert Park
Masterson on RP immigrants policy
March 10, 2017

Barich miffed about coverage of his suit

The Community Voice:

Tim Nonn is the headline story? When I sued the City of Cotati, the story was nowhere to be found in The Community Voice.  

When the federal judge ruled in my favor and lectured the city at length about the First Amendment, Jud Snyder spun the facts to make me look bad.

Then there are fake stories about me passing out campaign fliers as some scandal. Last week, on the record, Cotati Councilman John Moore refers to my lawsuit as frivolous when I gave them a chance to settle the claim for one dollar and an apology before ever filing suit.  When they refused, I sued and won big.  You read the judge's statement admonishing the city, but there was no CV story.

I drive by the designated parking spaces in Cotati last night again and the same motorhome is parked there at 2 a.m., just like the week before.  The rest of the lot is empty. (Cotati Councilwoman) Wendy Skillman says I should not be taking photos of the public parking lot, implying I am some peeping Tom for doing my job as Neighborhood Watch Captain. I guess the cops can drive through and take video, but I can't drive through and snap a photograph for the city because they are asking staff for some report, but the staff look like deer staring into headlights.

You can't make this stuff up. 

George Barich
Cotati
March 3, 2017

Students need schools to be safe havens

 The Community Voice:

At a recent public forum on safe haven and schools, Jeanne Acuna, principal of Cali Calmecac Language Academy in Windsor, said that students were suffering from stomach aches because they were afraid of their parents being deported. Throughout Sonoma County, many school districts and educational institutions have passed safe haven resolutions to assure their students that they are safe at school. Unfortunately, our own district will not even discuss the issue.

At the Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District Board of Trustees meeting in January, I had asked Board President Tracy Farrell to put a safe haven resolution on the agenda for the February board meeting. She refused to do so. At the February school board meeting, I asked her why. She said that it was her decision. Is it her decision alone to allow our students not to feel safe at school? 

Kathi Nelson, a parent who had worked for years as a campus supervisor at Technology Middle School, recently wrote on Facebook: “Before the election, I had kids at the middle school coming up to me worried about deportation and ‘the wall.’ I am sure they are so very scared now. We do have a large population of kids who would be affected, and they need to know they are safe. There can be no quality learning happening when they are that scared. They need some peace of mind.”

By law, every child has the right to a public education regardless of their immigration status. By law, every child has the right to be safe at school. It is our responsibility as trustees to be strong advocates for all students. We can't pick and choose which students we will be advocates for. But this is exactly what Tracy Farrell is doing. She is using her power as school board president to silence and marginalize a large segment of our student population. In so doing, she has abdicated her role and responsibility as a trustee to be an advocate for all students.

Because there is a 3-2 majority of school board members who consistently vote together as a bloc on agenda items, Trustee Farrell has the power to prevent a discussion and vote on a safe haven resolution. So, it is up to the community to demand that the school board fulfill its lawful duty to be an advocate for all students. Whether you support or oppose a safe haven resolution, I urge all members of our community to attend the next school board meeting on March 14 and speak out on this important issue. Together, we will stand up for every student and their right to a safe public education.

 

 

Tim Nonn CRPUSD trustee
Rohnert Park
March 3, 2017

Time for school board to accommodate Nonn

The Community Voice:

Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District Board of Supervisors Trustee Tim Nonn asked nicely. He’s blind and needs a sighted aide to assist him in accessing any visual information presented during board meetings. But the other trustees and the District Superintendent covered their ears. Now they’re facing a lawsuit.

In my 10 years working in state human resources as a web manager and training coordinator, equal access for people with disabilities was a top consideration. Human resources pros like myself understand the Americans with Disabilities Act, the need for reasonable accommodation for people with disabilities, and the importance of respecting and protecting people’s civil rights. What kind of person would take advantage of Mr. Nonn’s disability for political gain? For Cotati-Rohnert Park students, what’s the message? If you have a disability, you’re out of luck? Anyone who disagrees with you gets to take advantage? If the trustees and superintendent want to run a pro-discrimination campaign, that’s their choice. Otherwise they must accommodate Mr. Nonn.

David Gay
Sacramento
March 3, 2017

Reader actually likes SMART train noise

The Community Voice:

Dear Mr. (Jud) Snyder, with regards to the train noise complaints. I reside in a Country Club Village bungalow roughly one block away from the SMART tracks. I listen to the horns all day long, and quite frankly, enjoy them. 

That being said, I must admit that some conductors are a lot more aggressive than others when sounding the warnings, almost as if they are deliberately attempting to anger and upset the folks residing in the mobile homes along the tracks. Hope you are able to find this information useful for your delightful column. The CCVP (Country Club Village Philosopher…Joe).

Joe Warda
Rohnert Park
February 24, 2017

Online reader keeps up through The Voice

The Community Voice:

A big congratulations to The Community Voice on their 25th anniversary of keeping us all informed of the "happenings" in and around RP, Cotati and Penngrove.

Yatin, Rose, Manisha and all of the Shah family and staff continue to do a great job of providing a "hometown" newspaper to all of their subscribers/readers. They are wonderful, hard-working people...I, myself, worked with each of them first-hand when I handled the real estate advertising (for 19 years) for the Century 21 Classic Properties, Inc. office on Commerce Boulevard.

I grew up in and lived most of my life in Rohnert Park and then in Cotati before moving to Cloverdale 16 years ago.  I read The Voice weekly now online, as I don't get to RP much anymore.  I enjoy seeing the weekly "plethora" of photos and reading the news from my "hometown.”  I especially like all of the business ads (who is now working where) and the large coverage each week of all of the kids that The Voice has.

Imagine how it "lights up" and encourages all of them to see themselves pictured in the newspaper!  Also, The Voice always features positive stories about folks in the community, as well as all of the local news.  

Again, congratulations and here's to another 25-plus years for The Community Voice!

Michelle Taylor
Cloverdale
February 24, 2017

Advisory committee demands are absurd

The Community Voice:

The Citizens Advisory Committee’s (CAC) action demanding that the Sonoma County Sheriff stop cooperating with federal immigration agents is absurd.

He must obey the law when the feds have probable cause or a warrant of arrest. That is the law. And the U.S. Supreme Court stated that is the law enforcement standard for constitutional conduct by law enforcement.

The CAC is chasing a political agenda and not doing the work to improve relations with the Sheriff’s office. The CAC claims it wants justice.  Justice is for everyone including the Sheriff and Law Enforcement in general who are required to ensure that everyone obeys the law.

The CAC expects law enforcement to respect and follow the law and at the same time the CAC wants the Sheriff to ignore the laws the CAC does not agree with.  This is hypocritical and shows the true goals of the CAC to be a liberal drum beater not a real advisory group.

The majority of the public does not want law enforcement to let known criminals released if customs has warrants or probable cause.

No law enforcement officer or department in this county enforces immigration laws based on immigration status or ethnicity. Law enforcement is so busy with other issues.

Joe Romano
Retired Deputy Sheriff
February 24, 2017

It’s time for rent control in RP

The Community Voice:

It is time for rent control in Rohnert Park. Affordable housing is disappearing in the city and hard-working families are being displaced from their homes. Landlords have taken advantage of the tight housing market to increase rents that financially squeeze tenants and force them to move.

Another reason affordable housing is being lost in Rohnert Park is because out-of-county investment companies are purchasing complexes in the city and flipping them to make a profit. These companies do not invest in Rohnert Park. Their sole motivation is to make more money for themselves.

In 2015, the apartment complex located at 6500 Country Club Drive was sold to one of these out-of-county investment companies. They immediately increased the rents by 45 percent, made no improvements on the property and a year later, sold the complex to another out-of-county investment company for a $1 million profit.

This new out-of-county investment company has decided to evict the current tenants at 6500 Country Club Drive, do cosmetic improvements to the property and raise the rents to $2,100 a month. It was made clear by the owners that few, if any, of the current residents would requalify for these renovated apartments because they were hoping to attract a “better caliber of tenant.”

The new owners of 6500 Country Club Drive flip complexes for profit as well. In another year, this complex will be sold and rents will increase once again, and the citizens and the city will not have benefited from this “investment.”

The residents of 6500 Country Club Drive are working to halt what is happening to their homes. They have also decided that rent control is needed in Rohnert Park and have reached out to the groups that were instrumental in bringing rent control to Santa Rosa and Sebastopol. We are in the beginning stages of determining how best to work in Rohnert Park.

Rev. Pam Novelly
Rohnert Park
February 24, 2017

Affordable housing not affordable at all

The Community Voice:

Affordable housing is an illusion. It is not the subsidized Burbank Project either. 

Our city fathers like to claim such projects as affordable housing to ease their conscious. The facts are that developers will sell the city on that claim, yet maybe four out of 10 or 20 apartment units go for $1,200 on up for a single bedroom while the rest of the units are at fair market rates. 

The city fathers say, “Look at what we accomplished,” and the builders smile all the way to the bank.

The private, individually owned manufactured/mobile home is the last bastion of true affordable housing. 

An average three- or four-bedroom home space rent runs from $400 on up, depending on the park’s location and if the parks are privately owned or owned by a nonprofit organization such as ROP, Millennium or Caritas Corporations.

The multibillionaire corporations are buying up these parks, knowing they can become cash cows because they know how to get around most laws to maximize their profits, thus taking them out of the affordable housing category.

One example is in the City of Santa Cruz, where one company known as ELH (a Sam Zell Park) broke the city by keeping it in court to get rid of its rent control laws. The very next day of ownership, the rents went from $500 to $1,500 overnight.

Most folks who reside in these parks only rent the space on which their home sits. Most are retired seniors, veterans and disabled persons living on pensions or on Social Security alone or they are younger families just starting off. 

Most cannot afford such raises and must literally walk away, then the park grabs the home for non-payment, ginger breads them, slaps some paint on them and then rents them out under the fair market rate like any other apartment or home goes for. 

Once the park gains control of that home it takes that home out of rent stabilization (rent control) protection. Buyer beware!

Robert Fleak
Rohnert Park
February 17, 2017

Water bill concerns resident of Cotati

The Community Voice:

As a new resident to Cotati in September, I experienced the highest water bill ever received. More than 27,000 gallons of usage in two months. 

I immediately took action and realized we had a major water leak. My concern was that the City of Cotati knew that usage was averaging these amounts for more than a year, and never contacted the previous homeowner. This is a rental, and the water bill is the renter’s responsibility. 

So how much savings in water would the City of Cotati have, if they spot checked all water bills against average usage for a family of two or four, etc.? 

My experience shows me that the City of Cotati does not need as much water, if they tried to help property owners conserve. 

They seem to be ignoring the obvious, which is waste not, want not!

Just my opinion.

Joel Kauffman
Cotati
February 10, 2017

Rohnert Park doesn’t need another hotel

The Community Voice:

Has the Rohnert Park City Council gone mad? Just what we need…another hotel!

What we do need is for the city council to help developers to get their buildings filled. There are too many empty buildings that need to be filled. There are two on Redwood Drive that could go for a good restaurant like Hometown Buffet, a Red Robin or a Golden Corral. In the Food Maxx shopping center there are too many empty buildings that could be filled with restaurants or other shops. 

I know if I were on the city council I would ask the council to give business owners an incentive to want to come to Rohnert Park. Also, I would see to it that Rohnert Park would help the homeless (but we can only help those that want to help themselves) and also be more adamant on low income housing, But I am not on the city council, and I don't have a fancy law degree or a big business or lots of money. 

I am just your average Joe. In all aspects, we as Rohnert Park citizens need to replace the city council with new blood. In other words, out with the old and in with the new. I have lived in this city for more than 20 years and I have seen change on the council only a couple of times.

Dan Hunter
Rohnert Park
February 3, 2017

Garbage by Green Mill a toxic hazard

The Community Voice:

I live in Penngrove and near the Old Green Mill Restaurant. Recently there was flooding all over in Sonoma County. 

On the north side of the Green Mill are unhealthy humans living on the Green Mill premises. 

Because of their garbage clogging up the unkempt drainages, there was major backup of water that flooded over to the opposite side of the road. 

My point here is that I went to the Sonoma County website, called the county and reported that there are a few large refrigerators in the roadside where water flows. 

This is a toxic substance that is pouring into our waterways. It has been weeks, and all of the garbage sits spread out all along the side of Old Redwood Highway by the Green Mill. 

I don't know who to talk to, who to go to. Why are no county officials doing anything about the garbage in our waterways?

I’m hoping someone buys the property and does something beneficial for this part of Sonoma County and that the waterways are treated better than they are by the county. Thank you for taking the time to read my rant.

Name withheld upon request
January 27, 2017

It’s time to stop hating and unite

The Community Voice:

I am 75 years old and I’ve been through a lot of elections. I went for many years not caring who was elected. Then I went from not caring to being a conservative because of God.

What is going on now after Donald Trump won the election is unbelievable. It seems to me people are going crazy and are so filled with envy and hate. The Bible says “Love thy neighbor as thyself” (the Second Commandment). 

People need to get back to the basics. They can’t go on hating things and people with whom they don’t agree. That attitude is not healthy. Everyone has good in them. We have to try to bring out the good in them instead of hating them and poisoning our whole system in the process.

American needs to be strong and united. We will not survive if we are not.

 

Richard Cole
Rohnert Park
January 20, 2017

Clearing up a couple of inaccurate points

The Community Voice:

The Community Voice is essential. That's why I feel I have to call you out on a couple of points.

First of all, the mural of the Cougar at Rancho Cotati High was not dedicated to the Class of 2015. Apparently, “staff” took the painting on the bench to mean something else. The mural has been at the Ranch the 10 years I have taught there. Another issue is the article by Brian Masterson (Director of the Rohnert Park Dept. of Public Safety) on the consequences of cannabis. 

The history of cannabis, in the eyes of law enforcement does not need be supported by scientific fact or citation. If you write an article you need to cite your sources. If we just say, “hey, war on drugs," we can look past objective science and spew. 

Cannabis can be used to enhance the quality of life. It has been done so for eons. Spend more time on what RP needs to focus on – child exploitation and prostitution, alcohol and gambling. I just think that the community's voice needs an accurate Community Voice.

Brian Abbott
Petaluma
January 6, 2017

Reader, teacher supports district

The Community Voice:

I wish Judd Snyder had all the facts before going to press with this one-sided story about the Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District not accommodating (Trustee) Mr. Timothy Nonn. If one reads the statement the district released regarding his accommodations, one would understand the factualness.

It seems as though Mr. Snyder continues to listen to the few of the disgruntled employees/constituents of our school district. As a teacher in CRPUSD, I along with many others was opposed to our union’s support of this candidate. And certainly not for reasons regarding his disability, but in the way the union “muscled” his endorsement. In addition, I along with many other teachers, support Superintendent Dr. Robert Haley and the current administration. I encourage Jud Snyder talk with some of us.

Janice Little
Rohnert Park
January 6, 2017

Just give Nonn his needed aide

The Community Voice:
The incompetence of higher ups at the Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District has never ceased to amaze me. What would be simple to the average person is never more complicated than in the hands of our “educators.”
It should not take “a series of meetings” to determine that a board member needing accommodations...needs accommodations. Furthermore, if Tim Nonn needs an aide, good gosh, let him have one! It shouldn’t matter who it is so long as they can assist him adequately and he would be the person best to decide what constitutes “adequate.”
While I’m certain other board members and the secretary can sufficiently explain or help, their primary task is to be involved in the meeting and their own tasks. Someone who can half-heartedly help is not the same as an aide dedicated to helping said person; nor would their interest be in the meeting topics at hand, thus it really shouldn’t matter who helps Mr. Nonn, so long as they're adequate to do so as he needs and not as predetermined by Superintendent Dr. Robert Haley who apparently needs a “series of meetings” to figure this out.
 

 

Bianca May
Rohnert Park
December 30, 2016

I wish Judd Snyder had all the facts before going to press with this one sided story about CRPUSD not accommodating Mr. Nonn. If one reads the statement the district released regarding his accommodations, one would understand the factualness. It seems as though Mr. Snyder continues to listen to the few of the disgruntled employees/constituents of our school district. As a teacher in CRPUSD, I along with many others was opposed to our union's support of this candidate. And certainly not for reasons regarding his disability, but in the way the union 'muscled' his endorsement. In addition, I along with many other teachers, support Dr. Haley and the current administration. I encourage Judd Snyder talk with some of us.

Janice Little
Rohnert Park, CA
December 30, 2016

District should do right by Tim Nonn

The Community Voice:

Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District Trustee Tim Nonn, who is severely and permanently visually impaired, was elected on Nov. 8, 2016, by a landslide. 

During the campaign, he criticized district leadership for creating a hostile working environment for educators and employees and for not effectively addressing student academic achievement. Many believe that Superintendent Dr. Robert Haley is currently dragging his feet about providing lawful accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to hinder Trustee Nonn’s efforts to reform district leadership and improve conditions for students and educators and staff.

Under the ADA, “reasonable accommodations” must be provided through an “interactive process.” 

However, in Trustee Nonn’s case, the superintendent appears to be attempting to unilaterally oppose accommodations. How can there be an interactive process without interaction?

At his first school board meeting on Dec. 13, after the superintendent refused to honor the written memorandum on accommodations, Trustee Nonn asked his aide for assistance. (I was that aide.)

I am highly qualified to assist people with disabilities as I have had a career working with disabled adults and children in colleges and secondary schools.

Superintendent Haley then called for the meeting to be adjourned early because I was there to help Tim Nonn.

Trustee Nonn has been forced to fight for a legal right that should have been provided rapidly and willingly. It is the legal and the decent thing to do.

 

Janet Lowery
Rohnert Park
December 23, 2016

The Voice is essential. That's why I feel I have to call you down on a couple of points. First of all, the mural of the Cougar at the Ranch was not dedicated to the Class of 2015. Apparently, 'staff' took the painting on the bench to mean something else. The mural has been at the Ranch the 10 years I have taught there. Another 'issue' is the article by Brian Masterson on the consequences of cannabis. The history of Cannabis, in the eyes of law enforcement does not need be supported by scientific fact or citation. If you write and article you need cite your sources. If we just say that, hey-"war on drugs'" we can look past objective science and spew. Cannabis can be used to enhance quality of life. I has been done so for eons-so-spend more time on what RP needs to focus on. Child exploitation and prostitution, alcohol and gambling. I just think that the community's voice needs and accurate Community Voice.
Brian Abbott
Petaluma
December 22, 2016

Blinking lights should be installed at the crosswalk along the rail road tracks on Southwest. You don't see people waiting to until you are right in front of the crosswalk. I was driving toward the high school and saw the young man that was waiting to cross. The truck on my left did not see him and sped through the crosswalk. Had there been a car behind me I would have been rear ended.

Concerned Citizen
Rohnert Park
December 8, 2016

Flag folding story resonates with reader

The Community Voice:

Thank you so much for the article on Nov. 11, by Irene Hilsendager, “United States ritual: flag must be folded 13 times,” especially the reasons for each fold.

I have my husband’s flag from the United States Navy, and I am delighted to know about the  folding ritual.

They should teach it in school.

Also, the Nov. 18, 2016 article written by Steven Campbell was absolutely wonderful. I pray we all fall on our knees in prayer for our wonderful country.

I also would love to commend Laney Riddle and Samantha Ramirez for their messages of hope and positivity. We all need to follow their example. God bless them.

I enjoy reading The Community Voice, particularly when you single out some of the people in our community who reach out to help others. I love doing the word search puzzle. Jud Snyder is my neighbor.

God has blessed him and his ability to write.

Carol J. O’Donnell
Rohnert Park
November 25, 2016

Sooner or later emotions will ebb

The Community Voice:

I held my nose and voted. I can now let go of my nose but now I need ear protection due to the tantrums being thrown by those who didn't get their way. Hopefully it will all calm down soon and we can get on with living.

Chuck Thayer
Rohnert Park
November 25, 2016

Election results show liberals’ true colors

Well, the elections are over and the left is showing their true colors with rioting, burning and vandalism. 
Where did all that talk of unity go?
It was all talk…all talk to win the election. What a bunch of poor losers! This didn’t happen when Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were elected. Wake up Democrats. 
The people who you for many years have forgotten to serve are still here. Now they have spoken.
I knew that Donald Trump was going to win. The polls were bogus. All the news people on TV were touting all of Hillary Clinton’s accomplishments and experience and downplayed what Trump will do.
The people of this country want change. The Democrats had eight years to do the people’s will and all they did was further their liberal agenda and run the country further into debt. 
It has to stop if we are going to survive as a nation.
 
Richard Cole
Rohnert Park
November 18, 2016

Winter averaging can cost you plenty of cash

The Community Voice:

Rohnert Park continues to bill its citizens using the wrong “winter averaging” data, claiming a problem with their software.  “Winter Averaging” is used to calculate your sewer bill. Well, after all of this time you would think that they would have been able to fix the problem. Until then we must all continue to pay the wrong amount.

The “winter averaging” uses average water meter readings for December, January and February when, as the city says, “all of the water goes down the sewer.” It is important to note that the months noted are not the same as actually used.

According to the city, meter reading actually occurs near the middle of the month.  In this case, the December reading starts in the middle of November.  

To keep the city from overbilling you, stop using water outside of the house after Nov. 13 and through Feb. 17. 

FYI the basic cost of water is $3.76 per 1,000 gallons. The cost of sewer is $10.94 per 1,000 gallons. So, for every 1,000 gallons of water you use outside of the house (“winter averaging”) you will pay $10.94 each month.  This means, that 1,000 gallons of water use will cost you $131.28 per year.  That is very expensive water.  

Do you wonder why your sewer bill is high and why the city never told you this?

 

David Grundman
Rohnert Park
November 11, 2016

Remember to support our local businesses

The Community Voice:

This is not a letter against Starbucks, big box stores, the casino or big hotels, this is just a message and hope that as a community – Rohnert Park, Cotati and Penngrove – we support all of our locally owned businesses, craft fairs and eateries 365 days a year, not just during the holidays. For an example, Honey Badger Coffee near Mary’s Pizza and Hana’s has been supporting our Gateway Christian Men’s Bible study for a while now. And recently I went in there and saw on their walls an exhibition of the early years of Rohnert Park (my family moved here in the fall of 1959). So, if you’re out and about, stop in and check it out. Say hi to the lovely young women who run the business, and remember to support our local businesses.

Michael Brown
Rohnert Park
November 11, 2016

I held my nose and voted. I can now let go of my nose but now I need ear protection due to the tantrums being thrown by those who didn't get their way. Hopefully It will all calm down soon and we can get on with living. (?)
Chuck Thayer
Rohnert Park
November 10, 2016

Don’t be fooled by plastic bag industry

The Community Voice:

I was recently in Reno and was shocked at how much plastic bag litter I saw. There were bags blowing in the streets and caught on bushes everywhere. Since Sonoma County instituted its bag ban, I see very little plastic bag litter in our area. So, I urge a yes vote on Proposition 67 to reduce litter, protect wildlife and reduce costs of waste cleanup. Let the bag ban go statewide.

I also encourage a no vote on Proposition 65. This is a deceptive measure put forth by the plastic bag industry claiming the grocers are making a money grab. In fact, grocers do not support Proposition 65 and it would create a new state bureaucracy. I see no reason why grocers should not be able to charge customers for a bag they have procured for them. We don’t expect them to give us milk they buy for our consumption. Don’t be fooled by the plastic bag industry.

Vote yes on Proposition 67 and no on Proposition 65.

Laurie-Ann Barbour
Cotati
November 4, 2016

Money doesn’t grow on local citizens’ trees

The Community Voice:

As a teacher now retired, as a Rohnert Park resident, and as a past officer of the Rohnert Park Cotati Educators Association, I have supported every parcel tax and bond measure that has been put on the ballot to benefit our students.  Unfortunately, I will have to draw the line with respect to Measure C.  It feels that homeowners in Rohnert Park and Cotati are seen by the leadership of our district as a fruit tree that on a yearly basis can continue to produce more and more dollars for this district’s leadership team to spend.

It should be noted that homeowners are still paying for the 1990 bond, the Measure B 2014 bond, and the parcel tax that was extended in 2015 for another 10 years.  Homeowners should take a look at their property tax bill, and they will find that these three measures increase their base property tax by approximately 20 percent, and with the passage of Measure C, homeowners will be hit with another significant tax increase and renters may well see their rent rise as well.

Before voters approve another costly bond measure, the community should see how well Measure B funds are addressing the infrastructure needs of the district, including the construction of the of the theater arts/gymnasium (TAG) building on the Rancho Cotate High School campus.

It should be noted that questions have been raised about no-bid contracts, and companies that are making campaign contributions that will directly benefit from the passage of Measure C.  Stephen Bossio in his Guest Op-Ed column that appeared in the October 28 edition of The Community Voice pointed out that Measure C is asking homeowners to shoulder $500 million-$1 billion in debt when there has been questionable oversight over previously approved bond measures.  He also pointed out that under the current district leadership, legal fees have skyrocketed, and expenditures for professional and consulting services have increased by 550 percent.

This past week I received a very slick mailer promoting Measure C, paid for in part with campaign contributions from architectural and construction firms that will profit from Measure C, that falsely listed Trustees Leff Brown and Ed Gilardi as supporters of Measure C.  Both trustees have announced their opposition to Measure C.  The citizens of Rohnert Park and Cotati deserve better, and we can begin to set our school district on the right course by opposing Measure C and by supporting Chrissa Gillies and Tim Nonn, the two candidates for the Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District Board of Trustees who will insist on financial accountability, and that our tax dollars be spent in a manner that maximizes student success.

Richard Neffson
Rohnert Park
November 4, 2016

If student scores are stellar why give schools more money?

The Community Voice:

One of your readers recently wrote to inform us that test scores in our local schools are abysmal and was incredulous that nonetheless the school board wants us taxpayers to give them more bond money.

Say, what? If test scores were stellar then we wouldn't need more money for our schools, would we? If test scores really are abysmal, then obviously that's precisely the time we should stop starving the schools for money.

Rick Luttmann
Rohnert Park
November 4, 2016

Measure C another sleight of hand trick

The Community Voice:

School bonds again?

The next big pile of school bonds is on the ballot again. It appears that, like the last multimillion dollar bond, this new $80-million bond will be used to build new buildings replacing 40-year buildings for a variety of very thin reasons.

By the same reasoning, I should replace my 40-year old house as should most of the residents in Rohnert Park and Cotati. However, most of us know that we have to take care of our 40-year old houses because no one else is going to give us “free” money to replace them.

The school district needs a new board and superintendent that understand that taking care of what you have costs less than buying a new building just because it got old and the district is failing to take care of the existing buildings. By the district’s current maintenance program, any new building will probably need to be replaced before the new bonds are paid off.

Besides, how does a new building add to the quality of classroom instruction? With the county’s record assessed valuation for property taxes, the schools have never had so much money and with all of the new building going on, there will be lots of school impact fees arriving.

I posed a question to our State Assemblyman, Bill Dodd, about how much school funding from the state will be restored (the state is also awash in a budget surplus) and received silence. Maybe you recall the pledge of the state lottery to greatly increase funding for schools. True? But, the state took away an equal amount that it would have made available for education so there was no actual increase in funding for education. I believe this same sleight of hand is being used for this bond issue and many of the other bond and tax propositions appearing on the ballot.

Vote no for this double taxation.

David Grundman
Rohnert Park
November 4, 2016

Consider low-income residents when voting on tax measures

The Community Voice:

I suggest there is an unrepresented population segment in Rohnert Park, those who are retired, on fixed (and limited) income, who bought a house here without Proposition 13 tax protection.

We see nothing but what to us are large property tax hikes every year. Those who have owned property here for many, many years, protected from taxes by Prop. 13, do not see that, and of course, a couple bucks increase is not burdensome. To us not protected, we bear the majority of the burden of property tax on fixed and low-income residents. I am pleading that those folks not be so burdened. Think about us a little when issues of tax increases appear on ballots.

Also, SMART seems like it is not so much. Now, these diesel engines from Cummins throw connecting rods through the crankcase. Now, service will not start for six to eight months after all this confident prognostication about November 2016.

Now, nobody knows whether they can sue for lost revenue they never had. Plus, who do you sue...and for what? Now, those folks who voted in this pile of money are going “what the…?” You seriously didn't think that train whistles and noises were going to occur?  What did you have for breakfast...dumb flakes?

I’m curious.  What, exactly, is SMART?  Another government agency?  And who does the work on these safety checks…government workers or contractors?

This is a big mess.

David Carlson
Rohnert Park
November 4, 2016

Get ready for more George Barich bashing

The Community Voice

Every election, it’s the same story. My friend George Barich runs for Cotati City Council, and the same people try to smear him with the same innuendo and outright lies. I can almost guarantee there will be a few examples in this week’s letters.

Here are the usual accusations, and here are George’s responses from his social media posts, Accusation: George is a felon. Response: In 1998, I was arrested on a pot charge caused by my roommate. I paid a $200 fine and had two years of probation.

Accusation: George is a money launderer: Response: I was conned out of my money by several parties who said the money was going to the Coalition to Protect Cotati's Future. They said they no longer had a bank account and asked for cash. I was never part of any money laundering scheme and was in fact the victim. Check the FPPC records if you want their names.

Accusation: George kept guns illegally. Response: My brother, a police officer, stored a couple of guns in my outdoor shed with his other stuff. Based on a report that someone smelled pot in my house, the police searched my house. There was no pot but they found the guns. They dropped the charges against me and my brother got his guns back.

 • Accusation: George is a racist because he once wore blackface at a Halloween party. My response: I had the pleasure of working with George on his newspaper. For more than three years, we met at least eight hours a month to discuss editorial content. Not once, in hundreds of hours of meetings, did he ever speak of any race in other than positive terms.

My conclusion: Support George’s views on financial responsibility, limited government, and making Cotati business-friendly. Or support a City Council that continually raises taxes, tried to choke Old Red with roundabouts, and kept Oliver’s from building a beautiful new store. But don’t believe the lies and smears that his opponents bring up every election.

Greg Karraker
Unincorporated Sonoma County
November 4, 2016

Simon says vote for anyone but Barich

The Community Voice:

So, who would possibly support George Barich when there are five other options? Ken Coleman of the Committee to take Back Cotati neither lives nor votes in Cotati, so one wonders where he plans to take Cotati back to. Orinda perhaps?

As the widow of a decorated Marine who Barich denigrated, I urge all to vote anyone but Barich. His lies are an insult to every veteran and caregiver in the country. But veterans aren’t the only objects of Barich attacks. Businesses that advertise as Spanish speaking, in his words “Se Habla Stupido.” His actions so insulted the black community that the NAACP protested. His contempt for women is legendary – oppose him and you are a busybody, an abusive mom, a crybaby and worse. As for the elderly – as he once wrote in this paper – they aren’t entitled to opinions because “they'll be dead soon.”

His “record” includes participation in the biggest political money laundering case in Sonoma County history! He was exposed by the press as the source of an anonymous hit piece filled with bogus quotes. Legal records show felony and misdemeanor pleas, including breaking probation. Yes folks, someone who has broken multiple laws wants to make the laws for you and me!

Joan Simon
Cotati
November 4, 2016

Susan Adams asks for your trustee vote

The Community Voice:

The past few months I’ve been going door to door as a candidate for school board, meeting with voters in Rohnert Park and Cotati, handing out campaign literature and talking about my vision for our schools. I have talked with many parents who, like me, have children who attend our schools. This has been the highlight of my campaign. As your school board trustee I will support innovative programs in science, engineering, math and technology; attracting and retaining the best teachers; programs that prepare students for college and careers; and ensuring all schools and classrooms meet current education and safety standards.

My parents moved our family to Rohnert Park in 1961 when I was three years old. I graduated from John Reed Elementary School, Rohnert Park Junior High School and Rancho Cotate High School. After graduating from college with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communications, I eventually married and began working in the family insurance business.

My husband and I live in Rohnert Park because of our great community and our excellent schools. Our children are in the 6th, 8th and 11th grade and attend Lawrence Jones Middle School and Rancho Cotate High School. We have seen firsthand the benefits of having gifted, passionate educators teach our three sons.

As a longtime resident I have had the opportunity to serve alongside many dedicated community volunteers. I’ve served most recently as a Planning Commissioner, PTA volunteer, and Vice President of the Cougar Boosters. Over the years I have led and volunteered in many other campaigns to support our schools.

If elected I will work tirelessly to ensure our students and teachers have the tools and support needed to succeed in the classroom. I would be honored to receive your vote to be a Trustee for the CRPUSD.

Susan Adams
Rohnert Park
November 4, 2016

Voting to re-elect Trustee Wiltermood

The Community Voice:

Why am I voting for Jennifer Wiltermood and Yes on C? In 2011, the school district was on the verge of being taken over by the State of California, there were not the required reserve funds in the budget, each year the budget was experiencing a shortfall, teacher salaries were frozen, libraries were closed, facilities were in disrepair and five teaching days had been dropped from the school year.

Superintendent Dr. Robert Haley was new to the district but he had ideas to turn this district around. In spring of 2012, the board of trustees approved putting Measure D on the ballot and it passed, putting $1.2 million a year back into the budget.

In 2013, it was decided it was time to put a bond measure on the ballot and Measure B, an $80 million bond, was passed in 2014, and in 2015 Measure D was passed extending the parcel tax. An extraordinary amount of work in just four short years. What did all this work mean? Additional funds for the general fund and for facilities.

Who helped to lead those campaigns? Jennifer.

She’s a hometown girl with a lot of pride in her community. After working with the district on the Measure D committee, Jennifer decided to take the next step to work within the school district. She ran for school board trustee in 2012 and won a seat at the table. I am a close friend of Jennifer’s, and I might be biased, but for the last four years I have watched Jennifer work tirelessly with the district, meeting with teachers and staff, visiting school’s sites and attending countless meetings.

It hasn’t always been easy, as there have been many times when she feels she’s hitting her head against the red tape of bureaucracy, but she has persevered and I am very proud of the things she has been able to accomplish. With the funds generated from the measures passed, the district no longer has to worry about the state taking over as there is a positive budget with a 4 percent reserve. They have reinstated class size reduction, re-opened closed schools, opened up libraries, updated technology district wide, remodeled Thomas Page Academy and added new safer playground structures at all the elementary schools.

They have also reinstated the five teaching days, restored teacher’s salaries and given raises; and students are staying in our district because of the variety of programs that are being offered. And instead of cutting programs they are expanding them. There is still plenty of work to be done. With the construction of new homes for the first time in 10-plus years, it looks as if our district may grow, how much they can’t be sure, but our schools still need attention and they need trustees like Jennifer Wiltermood who understand hard work and dedication and who is fiercely dedicated to making decisions that continue to put the students first, while also maintaining the financial health of the district. Join me on Nov. 8 and vote to re-elect Jennifer Wiltermood and yes on Measure C.

 

Shari Lorenz
Rohnert Park
November 4, 2016

Vote to keep Cotati safe and civil

The Community Voice:

There are three seats open on Cotati City Council. John Dell’Osso, Susan Harvey and Wendy Skillman have a proven track record, are known for their volunteerism and involvement with Cotati city life and have all picked up a range of endorsements.

The new candidates are Eris Weaver, who is on the Design Review Committee, has her own small business as a professional mediator, has been with the Chamber of Commerce, and as a volunteer with search and rescue; and Jason Goebel, a building contractor, who is quoted as saying that the current Council is doing a pretty good job. Barich was voted onto the City Council in November 2008 by a five-vote margin. He was recalled a year later in a special election by 65.7 percent of the voters because he ignored the fact of the Great Recession which impacted Cotati's finances.

Ever since then, George has focused on negative, hostile and often very personal attacks, speaking at any opportunity without regard to the subject matter. So be sure to use all three votes and keep Cotati fiscally responsible – and civil.

 

Neil Hancock
Cotati
November 4, 2016

Every election, it’s the same story. My friend George Barich runs for Cotati City Council, and the same people try to smear him with the same innuendo and outright lies. I can almost guarantee there will be a few examples in this week’s letters. Here are the usual accusations, and here are George’s responses from his social media posts, Accusation: George is a felon. Response: In 1998, I was arrested on a pot charge caused by my roommate. I paid a $200 fine and had two years of probation. Accusation: George is a money launderer: Response: I was conned out of my money by several parties who said the money was going to the Coalition to Protect Cotati's Future. They said they no longer had a bank account and asked for cash. I was never part of any money laundering scheme and was in fact the victim. Check the FPPC records if you want their names. Accusatiion: George kept guns illegally. Response: My brother – a police officer -- stored a couple of guns in my outdoor shed with his other stuff. Based on a report that someone smelled pot in my house, the police searched my house. There was no pot but they found the guns. They dropped the charges against me and my brother got his guns back. Accusation: George is a racist because he once wore blackface at a Halloween party. My response: I had the pleasure of working with George on his newspaper. For more than three years, we met at least eight hours a month to discuss editorial content. Not once, in hundreds of hours of meetings, did he ever speak of any race in other than positive terms. My conclusion: Support George’s views on financial responsibility, limited government, and making Cotati business-friendly. Or support a City Council that continually raises taxes, tried to choke Old Red with roundabouts, and kept Oliver’s from building a beautiful new store. But don’t believe the lies and smears that his opponents bring up every election.
Greg Karraker
Sonoma County
November 1, 2016

Why am I voting for Jennifer Wiltermood and Yes on C? In 2011 the school district was on the verge of being taken over by the State of California, there were not the required reserve funds in the budget, each year the budget was experiencing a shortfall, teacher salaries were frozen, libraries were closed, facilities were in disrepair and five teaching days had been dropped from the school year. Dr. Haley was new to the district but he had ideas, ideas to turn this district around. In Spring of 2012 the Board of Trustees approved putting Measure D on the ballot and it passed putting $1.2 Million Dollars a year back into the budget. In 2013 it was decided it was time to put a bond measure on the ballot and Measure B and an $80 bond was passed in 2014, and in 2015 Measure D was passed extending the parcel tax. An extraordinary amount of work in just four short years. What did all this work mean? Additional funds for the general fund and for facilities. Who helped to lead those campaigns, Jennifer Wiltermood, a longtime community volunteer and advocate for children who was born and raised her and is raising her family here…she’s a hometown girl with a lot of pride in her community. After working with the District on the Measure D committee, Jennifer decided to take the next step to work within the school district, she ran for School Board Trustee in 2012 and won a seat at the table. I am a close friend of Jennifer’s, and I might be biased, but for the last four years I have watched Jennifer work tirelessly with the district, meeting with teachers and staff, visiting school’s sites and attending countless meetings. It hasn’t always been easy, there have been many times when she feels she’s hitting her head against the red tape of bureaucracy, but she has persevered and I am very proud of the things she has been able to accomplish. With the funds generated from the Measures passed the district no longer has to worry about the state taking over as there is a positive budget with a 4% reserve, they have reinstated class size reduction, re-opened closed schools, opened up libraries, updated technology district wide, remodeled Thomas Page Academy, added new safer playground structures at all the elementary schools, given school sites funds for supplies and Rancho Cotate High School received a much needed facelift and is in the planning stages of a Theater Academic Gymnasium Building (TAG) that will be a benefit to the students and community. They have also reinstated the 5 teaching days, restored teacher’s salaries and given raises; and Students are staying in our district because of the variety of programs that are being offered and instead of cutting programs they are expanding them. There is still plenty of work to be done. With the construction of new homes for the first time in 10+ years, it looks as if our district may grow, how much they can’t be sure, but our schools still need attention and they need Trustees like Jennifer Wiltermood who understand hard work and dedication and who is fiercely dedicated to making decisions that continue to put the students first, while also maintaining the financial health of the district. Join me on November 8th and vote to Re-Elect Jennifer Wiltermood and YES on Measure C to keep the positive forward momentum!
Shari Lorenz
Rohnert Park
November 1, 2016

So who would possibly support George Barich when there are 5 other options? Ken Coleman of the Committee to take Back Cotati neither lives nor votes in Cotati, so one wonders where he plans to take Cotati back to? Orinda perhaps? As the widow of a decorated Marine who Barich denigrated I urge all to vote Anyone But Barich. His lies are an insult to every Veteran and caregiver in the country. But Veterans aren’t the only objects of Barich attacks. Businesses that advertise as Spanish speaking, in his words “Se Habla Stupido.” His actions so insulted the black community that the NAACP protested. His contempt for women is legendary- oppose him and you are a busybody, an abusive mom, a crybaby and worse. As for the elderly- as he once wrote in this paper- they aren't entitled to opinions because " they'll be dead soon." His “record” includes participation in the biggest political money laundering case in Sonoma history! He was exposed by the press as the source of an anonymous hit piece filled with bogus quotes. Legal records show felony and misdemeanor pleas- including breaking probation. Yes folks, someone who has broken multiple laws wants to make the laws for you and me! And although he promised not to take a salary if elected, he took every dime- and cost the City more in benefits than anyone else. With 5 other choices running in Cotati, who would possibly vote for George Barich?
Joan Simon
Cotati
November 1, 2016

Editor, I was recently in Reno, NV and was shocked at how much plastic bag litter I saw. There were bags blowing in the streets and caught on bushes everywhere. Since Sonoma County instituted its bag ban, I see very little plastic bag litter in our area. So, I urge a Yes vote on Proposition 67 to reduce litter, protect wildlife and reduce costs of waste clean up. Let the bag ban go statewide. I also encourage a No vote on Proposition 65. This is a deceptive measure put forth by the plastic bag industry claiming the grocers are making a money grab. In fact grocers do not support Proposition 65 and it would create a new state bureaucracy. I see no reason why grocers should not be able to charge customers for a bag they have procured for them. We don’t expect them to give us milk they buy for our consumption! Don’t be fooled by the plastic bag industry. Vote Yes on Proposition 67 and No on Proposition 65. Thank you, Laurie-Ann Barbour Cotati
Laurie-Ann Barbour
Cotati
October 29, 2016

Cotati committee makes its choices

The Community Voice:

The Committee to Take Back Cotati is a large group of concerned citizens who endorse George Barich and two others for Cotati City Council.

Rather than allow candidates to outright lie, talk out of both sides of their mouths and tell us what we want to hear to get our endorsement, the committee decided to endorse candidates based on our own observations of their track records.

George Barich is a proven leader who has exposed the corruption, waste, and fraud at city hall. For 18 years he has stood on principles, poked political correctness in the eye, provided logic and common sense to city hall when there was none. He walks door to door answering questions and even held office hours at City Hall for walk-ins when he served on the council.

Barich has proven he will not go along just to get along. He has never taken a dime from anybody, unlike the current five council members. Is it no wonder that so many residents and local business owners in Cotati support Barich? He even started Cotati's only newspaper, "The Cotati Independent" in 2011 and gave everyone, including the socialists, a chance to submit articles and letters before his advertisers were shaken down and intimidated by Councilman Mark Landman.

Cotati is in a clear state of decline and needs responsible leadership. The current crop of do-nothing, dishonest, lazy, foul-mouth city council members must be replaced by transparent, common sense, longtime, honorable residents who actually own and run real businesses. The current incumbents Susan Harvey, John Dell’Osso, and Wendy Skillman have done irreparable damage to our town. They have all been found guilty in a federal court of violating Barich’s civil rights during a city council meeting in 2014, and they are currently under investigation by the Sonoma County District Attorney for violating California open meeting laws.

We want to do everything possible to see that Cotati is not forced to merge with Rohnert Park in the coming years because of ongoing mismanagement of our town. Therefore, we endorse the challengers in this race.

Ken Coleman
Cotati
October 28, 2016

Reader tired of wasteful spending

The Community Voice:

I, too, looked over the items I am being charged for on my property taxes.  I was appalled to see over $600 in school bonds dating back to the 1990s.

A couple of things we must vote for:

• Vote no on Measure C: If you are a homeowner, think about your property taxes going higher; if you are a renter, your rent will go sky-high to cover the landlord's sky-rocketing property tax.

 • Vote for common sense people for Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District Board Trustees like Timothy Nonn and Chrissa Gillies.  We need to stop supporting curriculum, such as common core, the dumbing-down of the grading system and start teaching about what makes America exceptional, like our history, our founders and our Constitution.

Don’t be fooled again! Vote no on Measure C.

Lino Zamacona
Rohnert Park
October 28, 2016

Buildings don’t make an education great

 

The Community Voice:

Rohnert Park voters are faced with another request for construction funds for schools. Mailers in support of the “Yes on C” vote are polished public relation pieces with significant campaign contributions from architectural and construction firms.

The mailers pitch that the $80 million bond measure, actually more than $160 million with interest, is to promote quality of education, but quality of education does not depend upon buildings. Quality education depends upon curricula, courses, and teachers.

High schools in the United States are regularly evaluated for the quality of education by US News and World Report. The evaluation includes graduation rates, quality of courses and college entrance examination performance, adjusted for socioeconomic and minority status. When Rancho Cotate High School is compared to other California schools and nationally, it is unranked because the school’s combined scores are too low to qualify for ranking. As determined by the California High School Exit Examination, 50 percent of the students are not proficient in Mathematics and 57 percent not proficient in English.

Technology High School fares better. The school is ranked 492nd among California high schools, and nationally ranked as 2,614 among high schools.

The California High School Exit Examination finds 89 percent of Technology students proficient in mathematics and 92 percent proficient in English. This is far higher than regional averages and the results are higher than the 19th, 20th, and 21st ranked high schools in California.

Given Technology’s outstanding test results and outstanding student body, why is the school not ranked in accord with its California High School Exit Test results? The answer is twofold: First, Technology does not provide sufficient Advanced Placement (AP) courses so that students may be compared on a national level, and second, the curriculum does not accord with California’s A-G course requirements for admission to the University of California or California State Schools. Therefore, Technology students are often left scrambling to take make-up courses at Santa Rosa Junior College. Similarly, Rancho Cotate’s poor standing is, in part, a function of its course offerings and curriculum guidance. Can the Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District do better? Yes, it can by putting money and resources where it counts, into courses, curricula, and rewarding teachers who deliver education. A school building facelift diverts attention from the central task of a school district. As the late Hiam Ginnot might have quipped, “Buildings do not education make.”

Emeritus Professor of Psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies and former Visiting Professor at Teachers College, Columbia University.

Leland van den Daele
Emeritus Professor of Psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies
October 28, 2016

Say no to big money, vote Gillies and Nonn

The Community Voice:

I would like to ask the voters of Rohnert Park to please vote for Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District Board of Trustee candidates Chrissa Gillies and Tim Nonn. They are No. 2 and No. 4. They have been endorsed by the teachers’ union and Trustees Leff Brown and Ed Gilardi. Please do not vote for Susan Adams, as she was the person behind the negative mailers and Robo-calls against my husband, Leff Brown, in the 2014 election and before that against Karyn Pulley. She spread falsehoods and innuendos against both of them. After 30 years of volunteering in our community, my husband was very hurt by such lies. He is an honest and trustworthy man of integrity, not the person she tried to sully with lies. He did not run 800 students out of Rohnert Park, the recession did!!

Thankfully, the voters saw this as unsavory and untrue and voted him in for another term. Susan Adams was fined for her behavior during that election. We were a better community than that.

We have had fair and positive school board elections for at least the last 30 years. If you notice, Susan Adams and Jennifer Wiltermood have many large signs around town in places where campaign signs have never been placed before. Many on Codding properties and city properties. She has ads on TV! They must have very deep pockets to afford all those signs and TV ads!

Perhaps they are getting money for pay to play from the builders who stand to make millions if they build new school buildings voted on and supported by these two candidates. Only wealthy people will be able to run for a trustee seat from now on to be able to compete with big money from builders, lawyers and whoever else stands to make money off the school district. Yes sir, right here in little ole Rohnert Park, nasty campaigning is happening. Just say "no" to lies and big money and vote for Tim Nonn and Chrissa Gillies, No. 2 and No. 4 on your Nov. 8 ballot.

Janice Brown
Rohnert Park
October 28, 2016

Teacher voting for Nonn and Gillies

The Community Voice:

We have a very important choice for school board in this election. As a teacher and parent in the Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District, I am supporting Tim Nonn and Chrissa Gillies for school board trustees.

Together, they will bring the necessary transparency and accountability to our district to improve student achievement, to ensure that we have safe learning and working conditions for students and employees, engage teachers and the community to end top-down decision making, and they will ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent on students and not wasted paying San Francisco attorneys and outside consultants whose contributions have been questioned by many classroom teachers.

When Ms. Gillies and Mr. Nonn become trustees, the citizens of Cotati and Rohnert Park will no longer read in their local paper about the administration ignoring a gas leak at Rancho Cotate High School for three months; a grading fiasco that made our district look utterly incompetent in our community and beyond, and never again will a superintendent improperly intrude in a student body election involving his or her child.

The Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District claims that it seeks to attract and retain the very best teachers, but under our current leadership we have seen an unprecedented turnover of teachers and school psychologists. Not only have we seen a high turnover, multiple legal actions have been filed against the district because of its abusive behavior towards teachers and support staff. This will stop with the election of Ms. Gillies and Mr. Nonn who will insist that all employees and their elected representatives are treated with respect and dignity. When Ms. Gillies and Mr. Nonn are elected, citizens will no longer have to file requests under the Freedom of Information Act to get access to basic information about how our district operates.

Transparency will be the guiding principle for our district when Ms. Gillies and Mr. Nonn become trustees.

During the past two years when all of the problems described above have taken place, Jennifer Wiltermood has been the board president. She has failed to provide the necessary oversight and has failed to hold accountable the behavior of our current superintendent and his leadership team.

Susan Adams, who is running to replace retiring trustee Ed Gilardi, has participated in two smear campaigns against former trustee, Karyn Pulley, and current trustee, Leff Brown, because they dared to question the leadership of our superintendent.

Trustees Gilardi and Brown have endorsed both Ms. Gillies and Mr. Nonn because they understand that we need fresh leadership in our school district. Please join me and others in our community who want the very best learning environment for our students and the very best working conditions for the employees in our school district by voting for Tim Nonn and Chrissa Gillies on Nov. 8. Thank you.

Maha Gregoretti
Rohnert Park
October 28, 2016

Tax bill prompts vote of no on Measure C

The Community Voice:

I believe it’s time for Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District to look beyond the property owners to raise funds for the schools in their district. After looking at my current property tax bill and getting some additional information from CRPUSD, I realized these bonds that have been passed will continue to cost property owners for as long as 36 years.

The 1990 bonds will be on our tax bills until 2026, the 2014 bonds until 2049, and the Cotati-RP direct charge of $89 until 2024.

We currently have another one on the ballot and the district was unable to tell me how long we’d be paying for that one. Also, I have heard they would like another bond measure on the ballot in 2018.

Enough is enough with these taxes! Vote “no” on Measure C.

Lorie Gomes
Rohnert Park
October 28, 2016

Measures K and Q deserve our votes

The Community Voice:

Measure K, for community separators in Sonoma County, and Measure Q (for Cotati’s urban growth boundary) are complementary. Both are designed to protect farmlands and open space from urban sprawl.  

Urban Growth Boundaries (UGBs), passed by individual cities, and community separators, throughout the county, were created by ballot measures more than 20 years ago. The UGBs are expiring and will be renewed on various different timelines independently for each city. Cotati voters will be voting on Measure Q this fall to renew its existing urban growth boundary for another 30 years.

Measure K if approved will help protect 53,576 acres of rural lands from urban development throughout the county. Not only does this help maintain the unique identity and distinct character of each city or town, it also helps to protect agricultural land, open space, watersheds, groundwater recharge areas, wildlife habitat and corridors, and by protecting our air, water and soil helps to provide a better quality of life for all Sonoma County inhabitants.

For further information on Measure K,  go to www.KeepCommunitySeparators.com.

For information on Measure Q, go to www.CotatiUGB.org

As a 20-year resident of Cotati, I love our small town and also the beautiful diverse ecosystems of Sonoma County from oak woodlands and redwoods to meadows and wetlands, and enjoy the wide variety of foods available from local farms. 

I urge you to help protect Sonoma County’s greenbelts and vote Yes on K!  If you vote in Cotati, vote Yes on Q, too!

Jenny Blaker
Cotati
October 20, 2016

Sounds of train revive memories

The Community Voice:

About the train…although the tracks are only two blocks from my home, I do hear the whistle and I love it so far.

It reminds me of many times of my past. Hopefully, we won’t have bad accidents because of foolish decisions from people who don’t respect the ability of the trains to stop on a dime. OK, I’m almost 90, so that has to factor into my opinion.

Shirley Templin
Rohnert Park
October 20, 2016

Nonn, Gillies are not backed by big money

The Community Voice:

Do you see those big signs all over Rohnert Park and Cotati pushing for Susan Adams and Jennifer Wiltermood to be elected as school board trustees?  Big signs equal big money but do not equal the best choices for trustees.

Do you wonder why the other two candidates' signs are not on those big business street corners?  Big business will not permit them to be there.

You will find small signs of Tim Nonn and Chrissa Gillies throughout neighborhoods.  These two candidates represent the residents of Cotati and Rohnert Park.  There has been a grass roots movement during the past year to get new board members who will represent the interests of our students, not the superintendent and his agenda.  Nonn and Gillies will ask questions and represent students, not buildings and facilities.  They will help to stop the wasteful spending and curb the rising taxes created through never-ending school bonds.

Tim Nonn and Chrissa Gillies lay out specific plans in their websites.  They both tell it like it is.  Take 90 minutes and watch how these two articulate and educated candidates responded at the Rotary Forum for School Board Candidates on Oct. 13. See one of the other candidates tell you how most things are resolved behind closed doors before school board meetings occur.  Listen to these opponents tell you how wonderful everything is in our school district.  Then consider how Chrissa Gillies has done extensive research regarding wasteful spending and mismanagement.  Hear how Tim Nonn discusses the need for the focus to be on student achievement.

Vote for change, transparency, fiscal responsibility and student success.  Vote for Tim Nonn and Chrissa Gillies for Trustees of the Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District.

 

 

Lanny Lowery, English teacher
Rancho Cotate High School, Rohnert Park
October 20, 2016

Tax bill from school bonds is outrageous

The Community Voice:

Its an outrage the schools are asking for more money. I got my property tax bill today. Theres already a total of $834 in school bond charges.

The largest one is from 1990 for $397 for the Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District. I’m on a fixed income and I can’t afford another increase in my property tax. From what I’ve read, we pay back three times the amount that is borrowed over the life of the bond. That doesn’t sound like good business to me.

I’m paying more in a month in property tax than I paid for a mortgage payment. My house is a basic 1977 tract home. I’ve put eight children through school. I think I’ve done my duty. It looks like we need another 1978 Prop. 13 tax revolt so us seniors won’t get taxed out of our homes. Vote no new taxes or bonds.

Richard Cole
Rohnert Park
October 20, 2016

Wiltermood should be re-elected to board

The Community Voice:

Our absentee ballots came earlier this week and everyone in my family voted for Jennifer Wiltermood and Yes on Measure C. 

I met Jennifer after Goldridge Elementary School was closed and our PTA was combined with Evergreen Elementary’s PTA. 

Jennifer was very welcoming to the teachers, parents and students, helping to make it a smooth transition.  She is gracious, kind and works her heart out for our kids.

I have first-hand experience working with Jennifer and know how hard she works for all of the children in our district.

She is dedicated to ensure parents have choices in the education that works best for their students, the students have the tools they need in the classroom and the teachers have the supplies and technology they need for teaching.

She has served the past four years on our school board and is the same, hardworking Jennifer I first met on the Evergreen PTA. 

I am proud to call her my friend and I hope you will join me in re-electing Jennifer Wiltermood, School Board Trustee.

Kim Franzini
Rohnert Park
October 20, 2016

Reader says enough is enough; No on C

The Community Voice:

I received my tax bill last week. Five different charges are listed for supporting our school districts. It added up to 17 percent of my property tax bill.

In fact, 26 years later we’re still paying for the 1990 bond. At what point do property owners stop becoming the ATM for school districts? When is enough really enough? Now the Cotati Rohnert Park School District is asking for another $80 million bond (Measure C) even though they have millions of dollars left from the $80 million bond (Measure B) we passed in 2014. And we passed Measure D to give them a steady stream of income by way of a parcel tax.

If Measure C passes, school district taxes will represent 20 percent of my property tax bill! And I’m one of the lucky ones because I bought my house three decades ago. Those newer homeowners with higher assessments are paying hundreds if not thousands of dollars more than I am. Oh, and if Measure C passes, the district has already stated they’ll be coming back in a few years with yet another     $ 80 million bond request. Again, when is enough really enough?

They say they need this money to upgrade schools, yet they spend thousands of dollars on slick informational propaganda, legal fees, political consultants, bond marketing fees that you and I pay for with our taxes. Why aren’t they using the millions they have more wisely? Money that could be purchasing needed classroom supplies and providing required maintenance and repair?

Well, I and many of my neighbors are saying enough is enough. We’re voting NO on Measure C. We’re also voting for the two candidates who’ll bring transparency and fiscal oversite to our Board of Trustees – Mr. Tim Nonn and Ms. Chrissa Gillies, so that the board can provide proper oversight to the district superintendent and the district office instead of being a rubber stamp for them. Stop no-bid contracts. Stop excessive legal fees. Stop the insider wheeling and dealing in our school district. Vote No on Measure C and Vote for Nonn and Gillies.

David Albaugh
Rohnert Park
October 20, 2016

Check tax bill before you vote

The Community Voice:

I just got my property tax bill for the upcoming year and noticed how much I am already paying for school bonds. I recommend that you check your bill before voting.

Michelle Lua
Rohnert Park
October 20, 2016

Stuttering Awareness Day is October 22

The Community Voice:

October 22 is International Stuttering Awareness Day. Did you know that 70 million people worldwide stutter--more than the population of France?

For nearly 70 years, the Stuttering Foundation has offered free information about stuttering and its treatment.

To mark this year’s awareness day, we’ve compiled information for all ages from speech-language pathologists around the world who specialize in the treatment of stuttering. This invaluable info can be found at www.StutteringHelp.org.

We hope to reach everyone with accurate and informed information about stuttering.

 

 

Jane Fraser, president
The Stuttering Foundation
October 20, 2016

Nonn, Gillies for school board

The Community Voice:

The big signs are now up around Rohnert Park. Measure C, Susan Adams and Jennifer Wiltermood for Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District Board of Trustees.

Big signs on every major corner. There are two others running for the school board – Timothy Nonn and Chrissa Gillies. No signs on major street corners.

Nonn and Gillies signs are in front yards. They are not supported by the district but they are supported by the teachers’ union.

Timothy Nonn had a letter to the editor in The Community Voice stating the myths of Measure C.

How refreshing to have someone running for office that speaks the truth. Could the problem be Superintendent Dr. Haley?

He has a history. The St Helena school district has warned us of him.

Big money and big signs are irrelevant this election year.

Michelle Millsap
Rohnert Park
October 18, 2016

It’s time to change stripes on board

The Community Voice:

A well-known saying suggests leopards are born with a designated number of spots and as such, can’t change these spots.

Unlike the leopard, elections allow voters to change the spots of those in leadership roles, be it national, state or local elections. 

Specifically, we are referring to the election of School Board Trustees for Cotati Rohnert Park Unified School District.  Time has evolved, challenges remain, effective collaborative leadership is visibly lacking. It’s imperative to create change within CRPUSD School Board leadership.

Change for the students, teachers, parents and stakeholders of CRPUSD can come with the election of Tim Nonn and Chrissa Gillies. 

Tim and Chrissa are being endorsed by trustees with 54 years of experience that embraced effective leadership. Ed Gilardi, Leff Brown and Karyn Pulley believe the leadership of Tim and Chrissa will provide CRPUSD outstanding governance focused on creating an excellent and effective balance between school to career and extracurricular activities. 

They will focus on creating programs and experiential learning environments that will meet and exceed the common core standards, higher test scores, providing opportunities for all students to achieve success. 

Their mission is setting direction and focus in the district based on four basic principles; transparency, accountability, communication, and collaboration.

Effective leadership is currently remiss within CRPUSD. While viewing the board live streaming, it can easily be witnessed that existing board leadership is inverted. The sole concern or cause is from an individual who worries if three votes, the effect, will be garnished to reach his own personal goals and objectives.  The Board of Trustees has one employee, not that employee, the superintendent, directing the board.  

Tim Nonn and Chrissa Gillies will not allow that to continue, but instead govern through effective leadership.

School boards govern through effective leadership.  School boards in collaboration with staff, teachers, students, parents, stakeholders, work to set the direction for the school district, remembering to keep the focus on the students and their learning. School boards prioritize school finance; work with all aspects of human resources and personnel, working towards effective collective bargaining. 

School boards maintain effective communication and transparency in everyday work within the district. The school board hires, fires, and supervises the superintendent, their one employee. 

This is a partial list of the roles and responsibilities of effective leadership of a School Board trustee, all of which can and will be included in the leadership of Tim Nonn and Chrissa Gillies.

There is another saying that describes close relationships between apples, trees, and people.  In this district, there are two other candidates, who from all outward observations haven’t fallen far from the direct influence and direction of the superintendent.

Their tendency will be to comprise two of three votes needed, therefore, the status quo will remain. The property owners of the district will continue to accrue indebtedness, tests scores will remain at lower levels, there will be no collaboration among the trustees, and effective leadership will be lacking.

Governance will not be by a board, but instead by in name only, where they will be of service not to the community, as elected and took the oath of office to uphold and do, but to that of only the likes, needs, planned expenditures, and more of the superintendent.

That influence and direction will not allow them to think independently.  

Independent thinkers could generate transparency, accountability, effective communication and collaboration. 

The election of these two candidates will not help the educational model needed for our students and their future. 

The communities of Rohnert Park and Cotati deserve the best educational model available, a model where the student’s successes are put first.

 

Karyn Pulley
Rohnert Park
October 18, 2016

Reader supports Nonn and Gillies

The Community Voice:

After reading Livia Prado’s letter, Monday describing reasons why Susan Adams is qualified to become a school board trustee for the Cotati Rohnert Park School District, I felt that some additional facts should be shared with voting parents and community members in Rohnert Park and Cotati.

In the 2012 school board election, Ms. Adams was accused of initiating hateful Robo-calls disparaging and denigrating Trustee Karyn Pulley. The Fair Political Practice Commission fined Susan Adams for falsifying legal documents and using a fictitious name. Adams refused to apologize to the community for her actions. 

In 2014, Susan Adams wrote a letter to the Editor of the Press Democrat stating that, 65-year-old Leff Brown was too old to continue to serve as a board member after giving 20 years of service as a trustee to Cotati Rohnert Park.  In spite of Adams’ ageist remarks, Leff was reelected to the board.  This was in large part due to the teachers’ supporting efforts. Leff remains the only board member who questions the current superintendent.

I urge you to demand a high degree of transparency and discussion from this board of trustees.  Electing Susan Adams will only serve to assure that the present superintendent will continue his top down agenda.

Vote Tim Nonn and Chrissa Gillies for school board. They are both ethical, knowledgeable about school budgets and accounting, practice transparency and both are highly capable of questioning district leadership.

Janet Lowery
Rohnert Park
October 17, 2016

Reader encourages a vote for change

 The Community Voice:

Change is badly needed on the Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District Board of Trustees. Current Trustees Leff Brown and Ed Gilardi, and former Trustee Karyn Pulley, have joined local teachers in endorsing Chrissa Gillies and Tim Nonn. They will work to reverse five years of declining enrollment, graduation rates and test scores, and to end wasteful spending.

Presently, district leadership is inverted. The superintendent is managing the school board instead of the other way around, as intended.

Board President Jennifer Wiltermood, who is running for re-election, has shown an irresponsible lack of concern for transparency and accountability. She has refused to answer parents’ questions about gas leaks and a lack of school safety plans, high legal fees, untested grading systems, inoperable teacher-student-parent software, improper administration intervention in a high school student election, and more.

Her running mate, Susan Adams, directed two smear campaigns in 2012 and 2014 against independent candidates who asked tough questions of the superintendent. The status quo candidates will bring four more years of declining student achievement, high property taxes and wasteful spending.

Chrissa and Tim will restore fiscal responsibility, collaborative leadership, transparency and a focus on student success. Vote for change!

Laurie Williams
Rohnert Park
October 17, 2016

Kudos to Giovenazzo on Glendi fest story

The Community Voice:

In your, Sept. 23 edition, there was a story (“Good food, good vibes rule Glendi Festival) that was so very well written that I wanted to give a shout out to the writer, Isabella Giovenazzo.

Of course, the ending with the fine quotes from the homeless man was surprising and inspiring, as were the quotes from the various “saintly” volunteers. It made me proud to be in a county where such events can be pulled off year after year, “even if it’s only held for two days on a small piece of property off a short country road.”

The first time I went, we asked the young priest at the entrance what the word Glendi meant: “Enjoy” he explained, with vim and vigor, and that is what everyone does there.

Thanks, Isabella Giovenazzo and thanks also to The Community Voice. The photo of Father Lawrence by Robert Grant was handsome too!

J.J. Wilson
Penngrove
October 17, 2016

Adams’ leadership needed on board

 The Community Voice:

I’m helping elect Susan Adams to the Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District Board of Trustees because she has worked tirelessly as chair of The Committee to Protect Cotati-Rohnert Park Schools, which has provided nearly $100 million in locally controlled funds for our students.

Susan’s leadership resulted in the modernization of Cotati’s Thomas Page Academy and added two state of the art buildings with 12 new classrooms and a science lab; the installation of safe, modern playgrounds designed for exploring and learning at all elementary campuses; modernization of Rancho Cotate High School’s exterior; modernization of classrooms on multiple campuses; and the development and installation of district wide technology infrastructure to enable 21st century learning and important safety upgrades on all district campuses.

Please join me in voting to elect Susan Adams, School Board Trustee.

 

Pam Stafford
City Councilwoman, Rohnert Park
October 17, 2016

Retired teacher makes his preference known

The Community Voice:

As a retired teacher who began his career in the Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District back in 1985, and as a past president of the Rohnert Park Cotati Educators Association (RPCEA), I was pleased to learn that RPCEA, which represents over 300 teachers, counselors, nurses, school psychologists, and speech therapists has endorsed Chrissa Gillies and Tim Nonn for the school board.

 

It is essential we elect two new trustees who are independent of the current leadership team to ensure the very best learning conditions for our students and the very best working conditions for teachers and support staff.

 

Ms. Gillies and Mr. Nonn believe very strongly that our school district must make wise use of taxpayer dollars so that every available dollar is spent in the classroom helping our students achieve a quality education. Scarce dollars should not be spent paying unnecessary legal fees to a San Francisco law firm, to outside consultants and on faulty grading software. Hundreds of thousands of dollars that could have been spent helping our students have been unnecessarily squandered. For every $100,000 that is spent on unnecessary legal fees, on outside consultants, and on faulty grading software, we could provide 3,333 hours of tutoring for students outside of the school day to help these students be successful at the elementary, middle and high school level.

 

This could be done by paying our teachers at the contracted rate of $30 per hour to provide such tutoring services, and you could provide even more assistance by having aspiring teachers from Sonoma State University tutoring our students. We should remember not every child has the benefit of living in a home where one or both parents has the time or means to provide their children with the necessary support and enrichment that is essential for student success. The more one-on-one assistance that can be provided for our students, the better. If Ms. Gillies and Mr. Nonn are elected, we know we will have at least two trustees who are committed to providing every available taxpayer dollar to helping our students.

 

If our students are going to be successful, teachers, staff and the administration at both the district level and the site level truly need to be working together in a collaborative manner, and it is essential that we have trustees who will insist that this collaboration takes place.

 

On more than one occasion educators in our district have been polled on this subject, and their overall morale as reported in The Community Voice has been less than desirable. The results of these surveys should be a concern for all of us. Ms. Gillies and Mr. Nonn are committed to improving the morale in our district, eliminating top-down decision making, and engaging the community so conditions can be created that will improve student performance.

 

In my final years as a teacher and as RPCEA President, I was deeply disturbed to hear from a number of teachers and support staff who feared they would face retribution if they spoke up and respectfully voiced their concerns. Fear and intimidation have no place in any school district, and we must have trustees who will insist that such a working atmosphere will not exist in our district. Never again should a teacher or any other employee be fearful or experience any form of reprimand for sharing their concerns about safety or other issues that impact our students. Ms. Gillies and Mr. Nonn will insist the voices of our educators and the concerns of all of are respected.

 

 

Richard Neffson, Retired teacher
Rohnert Park
October 17, 2016

Don’t hold breath on State Farm property

The Community Voice:

I will never live long enough to see the State Farm property developed by the City of Rohnert Park. Possibly by 2020 they might have the plans ready so don't hold your breath. I won't.

 

 

Ernest Giono
Rohnert Park
October 13, 2016

Council candidate sets record straight

The Community Voice:

I am running for the Cotati City Council. It has just been drawn to my attention that someone calling themselves The Committee to Take Back Cotati is distributing a flier titled “Dump the Incumbents,” endorsing me along with two other candidates.

To set the record straight:

• 1. I have never heard of The Committee to Take Back Cotati, and I did NOT authorize them to use my name.

• 2. I do NOT agree with all of the allegations made in the flier.

• 3. I have made a pledge to say NOTHING negative about any of the other candidates, and have stayed true to that promise as I campaign, speaking only about my own positions and thoughts and NOT those of any of my opponents.

• 4. The flier should NOT be interpreted as my endorsement of the two other candidates listed. I have neither publicly endorsed nor criticized ANY of the other candidates.

 

Eris Weaver
Cotati
October 13, 2016

Measure C another unnecessary tax

The Community Voice:

As a homeowner in Rohnert Park and a parent whose children have attended our schools, I strongly oppose Jennifer Wiltermood and Susan Adams for the Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District Board of Trustees. They are working hard to raise our taxes with yet another school bond this election. Measure C, an $80 million bond, is only one of five bonds and parcel taxes, passed or planned for the district. Enough is enough!

Is Measure C even necessary? No. A massive building program is misguided. The district’s own studies show expected enrollment will only rise by less than 200 students over the next five years. Are higher taxes and a huge debt burden improving student achievement? No. Student test scores, graduation rates and college/career preparedness are declining. We should restore a focus on student success instead of unnecessary building programs. Buildings don’t teach students. Teachers do. Put resources into classrooms. I’m voting for Chrissa Gillies and Tim Nonn to restore fiscal responsibility.

Sam Diamond
Rohnert Park
October 13, 2016

Adams the right choice for board

The Community Voice:

Vera and I (Dan Blanquie) are supporting Susan Adams in the election for Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District Board of Trustees.

Susan has lived in and served our community for many years. She and her husband, Sean, have three boys who are currently enrolled in our schools. Vera and I are both past presidents of the Education Foundation, an organization which has raised over $1.5 million in support of students and teachers.

Susan has always been supportive of our efforts by giving of her time and financial support to the Education Foundation. On another note, I have served personally with Susan on the Parks and Recreation Master Plan Committee and as a member of the Rohnert Park Planning Commission for many years. During the years I’ve served with Susan I’ve found her to be both insightful and decisive. Susan is a consensus builder and an excellent communicator. Frankly, I find Susan to be one of the brightest people in our community. Our school district would be well served by having Susan Adams serve as our school board trustee.

 

 

Dan and Vera Blanquie
Rohnert Park
October 13, 2016

All candidates for CRPUSD are flawed

The Community Voice:

The one thing that this general election will be known for most is that so many races require a choice of the lesser of two evils. The candidates for the Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District Board of Trustees are a perfect example.

On the one hand there is the pro-Superintendent Robert Haley camp consisting of Sue Adams and Jennifer Wiltermood. Their identification with the person whom they are supposed to be supervising and managing constitutes a clear conflict of interest.

On the other is the pro-union camp of Chrissa Gillies and Timothy Nonn. Their endorsement by the unions, which represent the teachers and staff will make them beholden to those interests when it comes to making decisions. Where is a candidate who has no conflict of interest when it comes to representing the people who should be the board’s No. 1 constituency – the parents and taxpayers? Why would people want to spend thousands of dollars to win a job that doesn’t pay anything and requires lots of hours of meetings?

Look at the full page ad in The Community Voice and the answer is clear – power. The CRPUSD Board controls money and policy. The corruption that such power works in our state and national politics has the same effect in little old Cotati and Rohnert Park.

So next month, hold your nose, close your eyes and vote. It will not make much difference because most of the choices are bad.

Richard Armerding
Rohnert Park
October 13, 2016

Voting to renew community separators

The Community Voice:

For the last 20 years Sonoma County community separators have kept green buffers between our cities, freeing us from urban sprawl and strip malls that plague so many other areas in California.

With a yes for Measure K in November, our community separators will be renewed for another 20 years. The separators complement the urban growth boundaries (UGB) around our cities by safeguarding rural/agriculture landscapes in adjacent county lands.

Let’s not risk losing more farm lands and rural landscapes. Greenbelts preserve our economy, environment and public health. Even better news is Measure K is a tax free initiative so there is no cost to taxpayers. A vote for Measure K in November will ensure land protections for ours and future generations.  It will also help keep Sonoma County the beautiful place we so enjoy.

Christina Meyer
Rohnert Park
October 13, 2016

Maybe SMART could turn down the horn

The Community Voice: I understand the need for the horn to blow...that being said I am not sure it is necessary to be so loud. The folks on Snyder Lane and Petaluma Hill road are in no danger and therefore do not need warning that the train is approaching. It would seem reasonable to lower the level of the horn. It is far louder than necessary to warn of an oncoming train.  

Janice Raridon
Rohnert Park
September 26, 2016

Five myths about CRPUSD Measure C

The Community Voice: • MYTH: There is only one $80 million bond. FACT: Measure C is the second of three $80 million bonds. (Measure B, the original bond, was passed in 2014; a third bond is planned for 2018.) Total bonds issued will be $240,000,000. Total annual homeowner taxes will be $49/100,000 in home value times 3, or $147/100,000. This does not include the debt obligation for the 1990 bond and the 2015 parcel tax. (http://crpusd.schoolwires.net/cms/lib6/CA01001831/Centricity/Domain/42/2016%2006%2028%20Agenda%20Packet.pdf) • MYTH: There is an urgent need of $240 million for building improvements to cope with an expected influx of new students. FACT: The District’s current building capacity can already accommodate an influx of approximately 2,800 new students. Enrollment is currently stagnant and the District predicts new enrollment at just 184 students over five years. (http://www.crpusd.org/Page/4518 - Developer Fee Study dated March 2016, Table 8, Page 9). • MYTH: The total cost to taxpayers – principal plus interest – will be $492 million. (http://crpusd.schoolwires.net/cms/lib6/CA01001831/Centricity/Domain/42/2016%2006%2028%20Agenda%20Packet.pdf) FACT: Independent analysis puts the average total cost to taxpayers at nearly $1 billion. The figure of $480 million used by the district is the lowest possible cost. (http://hechingerreport.org/controversial-school-bonds-create-debt-for-the-next-generation/) • MYTH: Quality education is achieved by constructing big new buildings. FACT: Quality education is achieved by retaining good teachers at competitive salaries and fully funding necessary programs for students to improve declining academic achievement and graduation rates. MYTH: Homeowners on a fixed income can opt out of new bond taxes. FACT: This option only applies to a parcel tax, not bonds. These bonds hurt seniors and fixed-income residents alike.

(Editor’s note: Timothy Nonn is a candidate for the Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District Board of Trustees.) 

Timothy Nonn
Rohnert Park
September 26, 2016

Former colleague has praise for Bricker

The Community Voice: Kim Bricker is one of the most amazing, brilliant, energetic and compassionate employees to grace the halls and rooms of Rancho Cotate, Mt. Shadows, Creekside and the CRPUSD. Those of us who were lucky enough to work with her were/are blessed. The positive impact she had on her students and colleagues was a beautiful thing. 

Donna McKenna
Rohnert Park
September 26, 2016

Barich takes issue with Snyder’s column

The Community Voice: Is Jud Snyder ignorant, senile, jealous, or just an aspiring comic? Each election cycle it’s the same old song. If I, George Barich, don’t run for Cotati City Council I will surely be labeled in this newspaper as a quitter and/or a coward. If I do run for city council and actually give local voters some real hope for change in the right direction, Snyder gets his panties in a knot. Look, the jig is up. The voters need to see this newspaper for what it is, a mouthpiece for the status quo and cheerleading squad for more loony leftist local government gone wild. If it wasn’t for George Barich, there would not have been a Cotati council race at all the past eight years. Jud Snyder has boldly exclaimed to me that Cotati is so screwed up that he won’t cover Cotati news anymore. But like always, he will soon endorse the incumbent candidates who are well financed by local interests who always stay far under the radar. Snyder is not doing voters any favors by bashing any challengers, never returning my emails, and refusing to be objective. Who would dare run for city council when up against such bullies and the political goon squads doing the dirty work behind the scenes intent on holding onto power at any cost? It’s clear that this newspaper wants to see only democrats on these city councils who all vote in lock step with one another. Don’t be fooled. For the 100th time, please take note, Mr. Snyder. Anyone who actually wants to serve on the Cotati City Council, knowing what I know, needs to have his/her head examined. If you, the voters, want more bought and paid for candidates who have their hand out for anyone who will grease it in exchange for special favors, vote Susan Harvey, John Dell’Osso, and Wendy Skillman who are marching Cotati ever closer to the need to merge with Rohnert Park to reduce costs. Last, and it bears repeating. I have always wore the recall as a badge of honor, a price one pays for exposing this city for its criminal, unethical, irresponsible, racist, intolerant conduct and its bully tactics. No one ever said taking back Cotati was going to be easy or come without a price. Until Cotati citizens stop begging me to run for Cotati city council, the socialist democrats here will just have to deal with me and my supporters who want their voice on our city council.  

George Barich
Cotati
September 15, 2016

Boutique contributes LJMS drama club

 The Community Voice: I would like to publicly thank Second Wind Boutique, located in the Crossroads Center in Cotati, for their continuous, generous contributions to the Lawrence E. Jones Middle School Drama Club. Last year they donated to our spring production a large couch in excellent condition, and I can’t wait to use it again. This year, Alice called me and had me come over and go through an entire garage full of possible costumes. I took with me an assortment of poodle skirts, uniforms, formal gowns and even a wedding dress. My van was full of clothing for this fall’s musical, as well as performances to come. I am so appreciative to Alice and Mary for their generosity, and am always amazed at the interesting antiques and collectibles they have at their shop, along with all the vintage clothing. Please stop by Second Wind Boutique to thank them for supporting our schools.

Jill Zschach Drama Teacher
Lawrence E. Jones
September 15, 2016

Reader not on side of 49ers quarterback

The Community Voice:
Sorry Kapy (49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick), while I totally agree with your freedom of speech and expression, and while I agree that in the United States, it is almost like a process of osmosis to get laws changed legally and morally, I can't sit with you on this one.
As terrible the loss of any life under any adverse situation is, isn't it somewhat hypocritical for you and thousands of other educated African-Americans who make thousands and millions of dollars in your professions while thousands of your brothers and sisters are profiling each other by killing each other every day?
Why are you not marching in the neighborhood areas protesting these senseless slayings showing what you can do to change the profiling? Give the police and public reason not to profile, leading by example is the best teacher.
No Mr. Kaepernick, as a combat veteran, I cannot sit with you on this one.
While dishonoring all who fought and died for your/my right to do so. Even if you just stand and not salute, it would show at least respect for what is possible and what must happen for change.

Robert Fleak
Rohnert Park
September 8, 2016

RP resident slams unnecessary whistle

The Community Voice:
Recently there has been some discussion in the newspaper about the noise made by the train whistle or horn on the new SMART train.
Some persons have complained that the noise disturbs them.
The trains are running in test mode now, but when they begin the planned commute runs in December, there will be a lot more trains passing by and sounding their whistles or horns.
This noise is going to become a regular and frequent occurrence in our environment. I have given this subject some thought.
I can plainly hear the train whistle in my house about one-half mile from the train tracks in Rohnert Park. In fact, I just heard the whistle as I write this letter.
And I have heard the whistle from at least three quarters of a mile from the train tracks. I have often walked to the train tracks and beside the train tracks.
Lately, I have walked on the new bike and pedestrian paths and have biked along the paved portions of the pedestrian paths. I enjoy doing this and always look forward to catching a glimpse of the train as it rolls along during the current testing phase.
During these outings I have noticed that at every vehicle and pedestrian crossing in Rohnert Park there are signal lights that flash, bells that sound and gates that lower when the train approaches and then passes by. Those warning lights and bells seem quite adequate to warn the driver, biker or walker that the train is coming.
So it occurs to me that the train whistle is not needed. The whistle disturbs a lot of people but is not needed to warn anybody approaching the train tracks – the signal lights, bells, and gates seem adequate to this task.
The local residents do not need to hear a train whistle. It serves no purpose. Accordingly, I suggest that the train whistle not be sounded on a regular basis.
It should only be used in an emergency, that is, when someone is on the tracks or not staying behind the gates.

Ira Freed
Rohnert Park
September 8, 2016

Former player says thanks to coach

The Community Voice:
I played for Ed Conroy in 2004 and 2005. He certainly was a coach that Rancho (Cotate High School) was lucky to have.
He had a great feel for the game and instilled a lot of core values that I use today. Sad to see him go.
Can't imagine what the program would have been without him and hope it can continue to thrive when he retires.
Thank you Conroy for the many years of service.

Jason Key
Rohnert Park
September 8, 2016