Tuesday, August 17, 2004


Polo, politics, and pinatas

The Sonoma County Republican Party held its fifth annual Celebrate America Fiesta August 15, at the Trione Polo Field in Oakmont. The polo grounds are at the Wild Oak Saddle Club, in the posh Wild Oak community behind Oakmont, adjoining Annadel State Park. The Wine Country Polo Club's online Tournament Schedule Calendar reads, "Club Polo Aug 14 - 15 [Republican Party picnic Sunday during polo]".

Now 84 and retired, Henry Trione himself was for many years (or was thought to be) the richest man in Sonoma County--which is to say, its leading citizen and #1 Republican. He made millions from mortgage banking in the post-WWII building boom; owned the Empire Building on Courthouse Square; sold Geyser Peak Winery for $100 million in 1998; and his sons run the family bank, Luther Burbank Savings.

Trione has clout. Press Democrat columnist Chris Smith wrote 8/19, "If you call UC Berkeley to invite the 200-member Cal marching band to your neighborhood, it'll help if you have a name like Trione. Cal's storied band will march through a bit of Oakmont on Aug. 28, then perform at the Wild Oak polo field largely because grad Henry Trione asked it to."

But the Trione name and Wild Oak polo field may not be enough to bring Latino immigrants to the local Republican Party. The Press Democrat said (8/15, "GOP courts Latino voters with fiesta") the purpose of the event was "to introduce Latino voters to the party platform and attempt to lure them away from their longtime relationship with the Democratic Party."

We might expect the Republicans to fete the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce at the Wild Oak Trione Polo Field. But to hold five years of fiestas for rank and file Latinos?

The PD quoted Fiesta Chairman John Flitner as saying more than 250 people attended last year's event, and reported Monday ("Politics a distant second at GOP fiesta") 160 came this year. The PD's subhead was "Goal to acquaint Latinos with Republican values thwarted, but mood festive".

Carol Benfell's tongue-in-cheek story reported, "People sat in small groups, chatting with friends and family and listening to music by Mariachi Jalisco. The barbecue, with its hamburgers and hot dogs, corn chips and guacamole, was cleaned out down to crumbs."

But as a political event, the party was a flop:

"The featured speaker--Mario Rodrigues, vice chairman of the California Republican Party--didn't show up. And two workers from Catholic Charities, who had come to register Democratic and Republican voters, found that only two of the Latinos present were citizens and could vote."

Sunday, August 15, 2004


Letter to the Council: Mayor to talk to Chief Flint re officer reassignments?

Mayor Wright, and Council:

According to the 8/14 Press Democrat ("Police chief shifts most school officers to patrol"),

"Santa Rosa Police Chief Ed Flint announced a major reorganization that includes transferring three of five officers who patrol the city's schools. Flint also is eliminating downtown bike patrols and units dedicated to catching career criminals and protecting neighborhoods, and reducing the number of detectives investigating gang crimes."


"Mayor Sharon Wright said Friday that Flint didn't brief the City Council and that she learned about his plans to cut school officers and the bike patrol only after running into the chief on Wednesday. 'I want to sit down with him and talk about his logic, and how we're going to communicate this to the public,' she said. 'It doesn't sound like we did a good job of it at the front end.'

She said Flint told her that morale in the Police Department is low and that he was having to make tough decisions and cuts that would be hard for the community to swallow. 'No question they're dramatic changes and they're ones that are going to be hard for us to accept,' Wright said. 'I need to take a look at it.' " [emphasis added]

As you know, the City Manager and City Attorney are the only City employees the Council appoints, and who work directly for the Council. Section 40 of the City Charter, "Interference With Manager", reads:

"Sec. 40. Interference With Manager. Neither the Council nor any of its members shall in any manner control the appointment or removal of any City administrative officer or employee whom the City Manager or any subordinate of the City Manager is empowered to appoint, but the Council may express its views and fully and freely discuss with the City Manager anything pertaining to appointment and removal of such officers and employees. The Council or its members shall deal with City officers and employees who are subject to the direction and supervision of the City Manager solely through the City Manager, and neither the Council nor its members shall give orders to any such officer or employee, either publicly or privately. Notwithstanding the above, the Council acting as a body may make investigations into the affairs of the City and the conduct of any department, office or agency." [emphasis added]

Since the City Charter expressly requires the Council and Councilmembers to deal with City officers and employees "solely through the City Manager," I trust that Mayor Wright will take her concerns to City Manager Kolin, and will not violate the Charter, as she told the Press Democrat she intended to do.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004


Who says we want high-density housing?

An editorial in Tuesday's Press Democrat (8/3, "Balancing act") said, in recommending approval of the Creekside Village project adjacent to St. Eugene's Cathedral,

"Yes, the project will put more cars onto busy Montgomery Drive--but through a variety of public policy decisions (including urban growth boundaries) Santa Rosa residents have made high-density housing a priority, even when it means traffic inconveniences."


The local developers, City Hall, and the PD keep arguing that if the public doesn't want perpetual urban sprawl, we must want all the proposed future growth to be within the city limits, high-rise, and high-density

In fact, Santa Rosa residents have said time and time again that we don't want the damned growth and its impacts at all!

Sunday, August 01, 2004


Chaaban says Supe to host "business leaders" for County sales tax surcharge

There's a letter to the editor in the 8/2 North Bay Business Journal, headlined "Chime in about transportation". It's signed "Jim Chaaban, PG&E, Santa Rosa".

Chabaan is PG&E's local governmental and PR coordinator, president of the Sonoma County Alliance, and a director of the Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce.

His letter reads:

"Supervisor Paul Kelley, as chairman of the Sonoma County Transportation Authority, is hosting a meeting for business leaders to learn about the November sales tax measure. The informational meeting will be held on Monday, August 9 at 10 a.m. at Fountaingrove Inn.

The Traffic Relief Act for Sonoma County calls for a quarter-cent sales tax measure to pay for local street and road improvements, U.S. 101 widening, development of passenger rail projects in Sonoma County, enhanced local bus service, and safe bike and pedestrian routes.

If passed, the measure will enable Sonoma to become a 'self help' county and leverage competitive federal and state transportation dollars.

Businesses interested in participating in the campaign can RSVP to Supervisor Kelley's office at 707-565-2241."

According to Chaaban's language, Supe/SCTA Chair Kelley is holding the informational meeting exclusively for "business leaders" who are "interested in participating in the campaign" for the measure.

It might be fun to call the number and say you're only a citizen, taxpayer, and voter, not a "business leader'', and you're not necessarily in favor of the measure, but you'd like the SCTA Chair to explain the Supes' November ballot measure to you, too...

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