Saturday, October 30, 2004


Santa Rosa belongs to SCA

The Sonoma County Alliance's PAC (SCAPAC) sent me an election mailer card this week. It asks on the front,

"What does the Sonoma County Alliance PAC have in common with the Press Democrat, the Santa Rosa Police Officers and Firefighters Associations?"

And it answers on the other side,

"We all support these four candidates for Santa Rosa City Council!"

Below are pictures of campaign signs for Jane Bender, Mike Martini, Lee Pierce, and John Sawyer .

I don't know how much the mailer cost, or how the four Council candidates reported SCAPAC's contribution. But the mailer posed a very pertinent question.

So what does SCAPAC have in common with the PD, the Santa Rosa Police Officers Association, and the Santa Rosa Firefighters? And what do they have in common with the four Council candidates listed, including the two incumbent Councilmembers?

The short answer is that almost all of them belong to the Sonoma County Alliance.

The Press Democrat is not an SCA member, nor is Council candidate John Sawyer. Councilmember Jane Bender was listed as a member this April, but no longer is listed. But Martini, Pierce, and both the SR Police and Firefighters associations, are all current SCA members.

The Sonoma County Alliance is the principal countywide lobby for growth and development. It's a sort of Sonoma County Chamber of Commerce--the Santa Rosa Chamber itself is just one of its members. Its leading members are developers and business leaders who stand to make money from continuous growth and development in Santa Rosa and Sonoma County.

The SCA was almost a secret society until this April. If you wanted to know about it, you pretty much had to be a member, or know one well enough to borrow its Membership Directory. But in April it completed a website that had been "Under Construction" indefinitely. Jim Chabaan, PG&E's governmental and PR coordinator for the North Coast, is the current SCA President; and the site is "sponsored by a generous donation from PG&E".

Go here to learn more about the SCA and its members: . You can learn about the SCA's Leadership, and search the Membership by Business Type, Company Name, or Last Name.

One Business Type is Elected Official. Listed officials who belong to the SCA are Sonoma County Supervisors Valerie Brown, Paul Kelley, and Tim Smith; Sheriff Bill Cogbill; Santa Rosa Councilmember Bob Blanchard; SR School Board member Wally Lowry; and Healdsburg Councilmember Lisa Schaffner.

But that list is not complete. Three other SR Councilmembers belong to the SCA along with Blanchard. Mayor Sharon Wright is listed as both a Developer and an Individual member, employed by Aegis Senior Living. Janet Condron is an Individual member. Mike Martini is listed under Taft Street Winery, his private business in Sebastopol.

City staff members also belong to the SCA. Listed under Association are Eric Goldschag and the Santa Rosa Police Officers Association. So are Mike Jones and the Santa Rosa Firefighters. And so are Tony Alvernaz and the Santa Rosa City Employees Association. In fact, Goldschag, Jones, and Alvernaz are all on the SCA Board of Directors; and Goldschag and Alvernaz are on the Board's Executive Committee!

It's no surprise that a majority of the City Council, and the City's Police, Fire, and Employees Associations, belong to the Sonoma County Alliance. Current Mayor Sharon Wright, retiring from the Council in December after 12 years, was the SCA's paid Executive Director from the late '80s until 2001. The SCA hired Mike Martini as Executive Director about a year later--when he was Mayor--and he worked for them until this summer.

It looks like the City of Santa Rosa belongs to the Sonoma County Alliance--and SCAPAC is paying to keep it that way.

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