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RP City Council meeting after November election

By: Cassandra May Albaugh
November 13, 2020

The first city council meeting after the election last week, lasted only 90 minutes on Tuesday night November 10. For this council there are only two meetings left after this one. Mayor Joseph Callinan (District Three) and Vice Mayor Jake Mackenzie (District Four) lost their reelection bids. Councilmember Gina Belforte (District Five) was unable to run for reelection because her district wasn’t on the ballot this year. Newcomers Walter “Willy” Linares from District One, Gerard Giudice from District Three, and Jackie Elward from District Four will join returning Councilmembers Pam Stafford and Susan Adams as they reorganize the council and committees at the second meeting of December.

The first agenda item was a Mayor’s Proclamation. It proclaimed November 13, 2020 as World Kindness Day. Quoting the document, “World Kindness Day was created in 1998 to highlight good deeds in the community focusing on the positive power and the common thread of kindness...” Also “kindness is a fundamental part of the human condition which bridges the divides of race, religion, politics, gender and zip codes.” It went on to say, “by recognizing these acts of kindness, all members of our community will be made aware of the importance of being kind to others throughout the year…” Thus, the purpose of this day is to remember that “simple day-to-day acts of kindness that enable our community to be a kinder, safer, and more secure place to live, work and play…”

That was followed by some routine reports and actions. During “Department Head Briefings” Director of Public Safety Tim Mattos introduced the council and the community to promoted or new members of his department. Sergeant Matthew Snodgrass was congratulated on his promotion while Public Safety Officers Levi DeCarly, Nick Forte, Gabby Guaiumi and Ernesto Guzman were welcomed to the department and our community. 

Five items constituted the heart of the meeting. Leading off was a discussion concerning a possible merger of the Redwood Empire Municipal Insurance (REMI) Fund with the Public Agency Risk Sharing Authority of California (PARSAC). Together they would form a new agency called the California Intergovernmental Risk Authority (CIRA). Rohnert Park belongs to REMI. REMI consists of 15 North Bay small and medium sized cities that pool their funds together to purchase various types of insurance such as worker’s compensation and liability. PARSAC does the same thing. It’s a little larger and a bit more widespread throughout the state. It has 34 small and medium sized cities and one fire district as members. The hope is that this merger will give the larger 50-member pool, depth and breadth in services while spreading the financial risk out for all members. It may provide some cost savings in the long term. The new agency plans to be up and running by July 1, 2021.

The next two items were presented by Cindy Bagley, Deputy Director of Community Services.

The first was a proposal to artistically paint eleven of the city’s traffic signal control boxes on Rohnert Park Expressway. Proposed jointly by the two Rotary Clubs and connected to their scholarship efforts with Sonoma State University; they want SSU students to do the artwork as part of that program. But before they move forward, they wanted to ensure the city had no problems with the use of these boxes as their canvas. Bagley showed examples of artwork done on similar boxes in other cities and went over the themes allowed as well as what would be prohibited. The council gave their approval for that project. Bagley then described another project, this time requested by the Chamber of Commerce. The chamber normally puts on an annual “Holiday Lights Event” each year. But 2020 isn’t normal, so the chamber wants to do a Drive-Thru event at the Community Center Complex. 

The next item was a request to add a Public Works Inspector position to the Development Services Department. Director Mary Grace Pawson made the presentation with the rationale and justification for the hire. In effect, bringing a new person on staff would allow the department more flexibility and adaptability in managing the workload for inspections of projects within the city. It will allow them to reduce the need for consultant services and especially for city projects reduce the costs of those services. An authorizing resolution will be brought back at the next meeting. The final item was City Manager’s Darrin Jenkin’s regular COVID-19 update. The meeting ended with various councilmembers making “outside agency” reports.