Op Ed
August 8, 2020
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July 26, 2019

In the last two days television and printed media has shown some appalling and disturbing news. I will have two different opinions that are nagging me in the pit of my gut.

Opinion number one justifies my thoughts and opinions for many years. Where does the money go when the collection boxes are taken behind the altar of Catholic Churches?

Oscar Diaz has proven to all congregations that there should be a watch dog at every church. Diaz was a former pastor at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Cotati but why was it not listed as one of the parishes that thousands of dollars were stolen. 

A printed article says, “Members of the Resurrection Parish in Santa Rosa expressed surprise and dismay but also forgiveness.” To me this is poppycock. A one-time reach into the collection bag could probably be forgiven, but to know he stole tens of thousands of dollars, a total of over $95,000. That is totally unforgivable. To find out he systematically stole from parish parishioners for at least the past 15 years-even a number of checks made out to the parish were deposited in his personal account. 

I am sorry but I cannot call him “father” it makes me ill to think that someone a parishioner trusted, is so evil. Where was the money going? $95,000 is not $95 being taken-what were his intentions? Why is there not enough evidence to prosecute? If I embezzled $95,000 from my employer, I would be wearing a Sonoma County jump suit. How can young people trust when a priest isn’t to be trusted?

Some parishes that put their trust in the wrong person were Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish, Clearlake; Queen of the Rosary Mission, Lucerne; St. Mary Immactulate Parish, Lakeport; St. Peter Mission, Kelseyville; St. Mary of the Angels Parish, Ukiah; St. Elizabeth Seton Mission, Philo and St. Francis Mission, Hopland.

So, the bishop removed him from Resurrection Parish and other duties-to me this is not a consequence. For the last 20 years all I have heard about Catholic Churches is priests molesting young children and stealing money. I think these do pertain to the ten commandments.

My next opinion is the homeless situation in not only America, Sonoma County but right here in our back yard.

Everyone has an opinion, but no one has a solution That is my take on it. You hear all different discussions on it and yet no one in the last 10 years has resolved this problem.

The Press Democrat had a front-page story July 22 about “Overnight parking targeted near tracks.” The Tues. night Rohnert Park City Council have it on their agenda to propose a ban on parking at the Roberts Road park and ride. Where do they go if they are being chased out?

Does the city have an open parcel of land that is available for overnight parking? Would the city be willing to make a deal with one of the less expensive motels for either overnight parking or just to get a room by the month?

Has anyone bothered to check the Roberts Rd. park and ride to see just how many commuter cars are in and use the lot on a daily basis? Could it be feasible that half of the lot could be designated for commuter parking and the other half for camper and RV parking? Would a business donate a dumpster and port-a-potty for those poor folks? 

After speaking to some homeless people, a small percentage insists on being homeless, but the majority would rather have a safe place to sleep. 

Can you imagine not knowing each evening where you will be able to lay your head down for a good night’s sleep? Yes, I have had thoughts of it every night after I became a widow. What if I would lose the house? Where would I go? Being of stubborn German descent, I would not put a burden on my children, but the thought did come to mind. If I saw a structure along Old Redwood Hwy. I would question myself if that would be my night’s bodings. 

Back to the RV and campers. Do you want them to park on city streets? Calls would come into the police station by the dozens. We would be going back to the NIMBY era. No, I don’t want them parked two feet from my fence. It’s not that these people are noisy or dirty but when old unpainted and broken-down RVs are parked on city streets, it’s a blight on the neighborhood.

If you call an agency to ask for help, they say there isn’t any money available and if you say, where and what do I do, the answer is “you have to learn to play the system.”

Having heard, Cecily Kagy, the out-reach specialist for COTS, talk she feels there are more homeless people in Rohnert Park and the Cotati area then what the survey has revealed. She indicates that the number of homeless people in the two towns is close to 300.

Let’s step back a bit and ask ourselves why are people homeless in America? Some reasons are a loss of jobs, cut in wages and some income is just not enough to cover rents or a mortgage.

Recently it has been due to the high cost of housing and wages have not kept up with the cost of housing. If checking back to the years of 2007-2009, many people defaulted on mortgages. There was an increase of evictions, unemployment and foreclosures which of course led to many homelessness.

Homeless people in the United States include Black and Native Americans, veterans, seniors, kids that come out of the foster system, families with children and men and women. A surprising fact for Sonoma County is that one third of the female homelessness is due to abuse and family violence. While homeless and living in public spaces, people are more likely to experience violence and other traumatic events and many will be fined, arrested for sleeping in a parked car or loitering.

In Sonoma County there are about 715 homeless adults. Sonoma County also has among the highest numbers of unaccompanied youth living in shelters or on the streets.

Homeless advocates say the HUD report highlighting Sonoma County underscores the local affordability crunch they contend to blame for the homeless crisis.

“The basic explanation is high rents and low wages,” said Adrienne Lauby, a member of Homeless Action, which has been critical of recent efforts by city and county officials to resolve the alarming community problem. We cannot afford to allow homeless to continue.