October 19, 2021
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Budget, enforcement and bonds

By: Paul Matli
July 31, 2020

July must be enforcement month in Cotati. Last week’s city council meeting featured Police Chief Michael Parish and citizens discussing everything having to do with the police. Tuesday’s meeting had the same feel, except with a different topic discussed: the enforcement of face coverings.

The meeting started with Chief of Police Michael Parish awarding two of his officers, Anthony Garber and Mohamad (Mo) Hamade, the MAAD Award. MAAD is the acronym for Moms Against Drunk Driving and is the most notable anti-drunk driving group out there.

Chief Parish’s presentation consisted of him touting Cotati’s record of DUI arrests. In 2019, the Police Department arrested 100 plus DUI offenders with Garber and Hamade combining for 56 of them. Garber had 31 and Hamade had 25. Parish explained that officers need at least a 75 percent conviction rate to qualify. 

Another aspect of his presentation was talking about AB 47, which will take effect July 2021. This law says that anyone cited for distracted driving and has a previous record of conviction for distracted driving within 36 months will get one DMV Point on their record.

The final piece of information Parish shared was a grant given to them by the Office of Traffic Safety (OTS). This grant is for $28,000, and will split up in two ways. $15,000 will go towards DUI Enforcement overtime, and $13,000 will go towards traffic enforcement for accident contributing factors like speeding, cell phone use, etc.

 Next was Angela Courter, Director of Administrative Services who gave an update on the refinancing and restructuring of the 2001 and 2004 bonds which gave the county considerable savings. According to Courter, the present value savings are 23 percent and the county received $492,844 or 18.6 percent back.

The next presentation was the most lively discussion of the night. It was City Manager Damien O’Bid’s presentation on enhancing public education and potential civil compliance tools to enforce county health orders. This presentation centered around mask and public safety.

For those who don’t know, the county has said they will fine people $100  if they are caught by police not wearing a face mask in public when they are unable to social distance. O’Bid’s presentation focused on the most efficient ways to do this and some changes in the education and enforcement. One idea brought up during the education meeting was centralizing a hotline for violation of the county wide health order. The belief is with more education, people will be more willing to comply with the order. A notable change was infractions don’t always have to be issued by a police officer. O’Bid described how other public officers could now enforce the safety laws along with the police. He finally concluded by saying the city added three new administrative staff members to help with the enforcement.

The council had an intriguing discussion about this. Council member John Dell’Osso brought up the point about one individual having multiple infractions and asked if $100 is enough. Council member Mark Landman followed Dell’Osso’s lead by saying the county should follow Mendocino and Napa by issuing citations upwards of $5,000 to $10,000. He thought a more strict punishment would help people follow the laws better. Vice Mayor John C. Moore liked that this would free the police up for more day to day functions.

The last important note from the meeting was the Measure G. Extension Resolution. This is the resolution that keeps construction happening, recreation services and police department running. Without this grant, all of those things would go away. As council member Landman noted, we experienced it in 2010, so we don’t want to go back.

July focused heavily on public safety while June was about the pandemic lockdowns. The next council meeting is August 11 so it will be interesting to see what the theme of that one will be. It starts at 7 p.m. and community members can join in online.