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October 19, 2021
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Cotati New year, new council, new agenda

By: Paul Matli
January 15, 2021

With 2020 officially in the past, it’s time to look forward to what 2021 will provide. For new Mayor John Moore and the rest of the Cotati City Council it was time to get to work. Tuesday marked the first council meeting of the new year. With this came the welcoming of two new council members.

Laura Sparks and Ben Ford were welcomed by members of the community along with returning council members Moore, Vice Mayor Mark Landman and Susan Harvey. After that Mayor Moore got the meeting started with a moment of silence for those who have lost loved ones to Covid and for what happened last Wednesday at the U.S Capitol.

After the opening events, community members had the opportunity to speak. Most of the comments were about how the events happening nationally will affect the City of Cotati. These comments were mostly about people of color and making sure no one in Cotati engages in the violent rhetoric seen on the news.

The major agenda item of the evening was focused on Art Ibleto, known more formerly as the “Pasta King.” 

City Manager Damien O’Bid put forth the resolution to rename the Cotati Post Office in honor of Art Ibleto. O’Bid said if the council approved of the agenda item, the City of Cotati would write a letter to Representative Mike Thompson requesting the renaming of the Cotati Post Office in honor of Art Ibleto, known in Sonoma County as the “Pasta King.”

O’Bid went through Ibleto’s life story, his accomplishments and about his love for Sonoma County.

As Vice Mayor Landman put it, Ibleto is the perfect example of the American Dream. Ibleto left his native Italy because he was against the fascism of Benito Mussolini, moved to America, fought in World War II and made himself into a community icon through his generosity and treating everyone in Sonoma County like family.

There was some debate about renaming the post office since Ibleto wasn’t an official Cotati resident and was seen more as a Sonoma County icon rather than just a Cotati icon. The council discussed these issues but decided to pass the resolution. The city will be writing a letter to the California State Senate, so interested community members should keep an eye on the Senate’s response.

Since it was the first meeting of the year, it was time for the council to assign representatives and liaisons to various committees and commissions for the calendar year 2021. This is something the council does every year, so it was nothing new. This gave first time council members, Sparks and Ford, the ability to volunteer and take over for Landman or Harvey if they chose too.

Some examples of the various committees include: the Association of Bay Area Governance, Cotati Rohnert Park Unified School District, and Sonoma Clean Power. 

These were the only two agenda items on the docket so the meeting went straight to the City Manager’s Report. 

The report was straight forward. City Manager O’Bid shared some information on the stay-at- home-order saying it will be lifted once ICU capacity reaches 15 percent in the county. Right now ICU capacity is 1 percent, so the state and county have a long way to go. However, O’Bid was optimistic, saying February should improve, so the dark times might be coming to an end, at least temporarily.

Another key part of his report was about the vaccination program going on in Cotati. He said the City of Cotati and the county are coordinating with Safeway Pharmacies to make sure the vaccine is readily available for those who need it.

Sonoma County is also experiencing a dry spell not seen since 2013. O’Bid said Lake Mendocino is at its lowest level since 2013, which was when California had a massive drought. 

A couple of things to note are business licenses being renewed by the city because of Covid. This means any business struggling because of Covid can apply to have their license renewed. The city had a holiday food drive in conjunction with the Redwood Food Bank and a couple of Christmas events.

Even with some signs of optimism on the horizon, it’s difficult to know when the Cotati City Council will be able to meet in person. For the time being, the council will meet over Zoom.  Community members can easily join by going to the City of Cotati’s website and clicking on the Zoom link. Community members can also call in, so it’s still very easy to tune in and make your voice heard.