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Sonoma County Gazette
Camp Meeker Beat

Hear Ye! Hear Ye!

Mar 1, 2018
by Tom Austin


I look on my column as sort of the “Town Crier” of Camp Meeker. It’s an important task, and I must confess I haven’t been as on top of things as I would like to be.

Minimally, I would have the time and energy to walk the streets of Camp Meeker, getting the low down, the buzz, and the gossip regarding anything and everything, and dish it out here in thick slabs.

Ideally, I would give you a little lead time on important matters that affect Camp Meeker: legal, environmental, political, and financial. Failing that, my usual fallback is homage: I try to be the poor man’s Gaye Lebaron, Jim Murray, or Herb Caen (not necessarily in that order) to fill in the sleepy slow-news times with tidbits of local history, philosophical musings, or just plain good writing. Now I DID say “poor man’s” by which I mean a mere metaphorical pauper compared to the luminaries just mentioned. Google Jim Murray if you didn’t grow up a sports fan in LA like I did.

Today I will get over myself, journalistically speaking, and touch on some hard news subjects.

As you may know, there will be an election for Sonoma County Sheriff this November. What is unusual about this year’s race is that it will be more than an incumbent or anointed successor from within the department running unopposed, as has been the case for lo these many years – 24, to be exact.

I’m not going to get into the endorsing business – I’ve never met any of the candidates, and it’s all a very slippery slope to start taking sides on scant research. I will point out, however, that this is a chance to have a real conversation about the way we want to be policed.

As an unincorporated community, the County Sheriff is the car that responds to our crime-related 911 calls. As of now, two of the three remaining candidates (retired Santa Rosa PD Police Lieutenant Ernesto Olivares and Sonoma County Sheriff’s Captain Mark Essick,) are Sonoma County veterans and the third, retired LAPD Captain John Mutz, comes from outside the Sonoma County Law Enforcement community.

All three of them appeared at a candidate’s forum in September and essentially agreed that reform is needed in the Sheriff’s office. If you’re a fan of the Coen Brothers classic movie “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?”, you are now remembering when the brain trust of incumbent Pappy O’Daniels was feeling threatened by reform candidate Homer Stokes and had the bright idea “Hey, we should get us some reform.”

In all seriousness, pay close attention to this race and decide for yourself whose reform ideas are expressed in concrete and practical policy proposals.

Now say that last three times without spitting and you win the prize.

On Monday, MARCH 5, from 5pm - 8pm at the Rio Theater in Monte Rio - the Russian River Chamber of Commerce is hosting a forum so you can get to know the candidates running for Sheriff.

Private Public Works: Speaking of spitting and not winning prizes, I’m sure you have noticed the handiwork of the local anonymous wag painting pithy comments on the surface of Bohemian Highway’s more notorious pavement buckles. Whether you find those comments humorous, constructive or both/neither, you’ll have to admit the skulking paintster has a point: Bohemian is getting worse.

Fortunately, the brain trust in charge of the County has had a change in their thinking since 2012, when the Transportation and Public Works Director rather fatalistically predicted that budget woes would force the County to let many west county roads return to gravel.

That 2012 comment raised some hackles, and as a result, things are getting done. Slowly. Cazadero Highway got a complete rebuild down to the foundation, and is now smooth as silk. Bohemian Highway is on the facelift schedule, but nothing specific has been announced for either the timing of the road work (sometime in 2018 or 2019 is the most specific information we have) or the depth of the repair, which could be anything from the full-depth reclamation Caz Highway got, down to a more low-budget fog or slurry seal.

Slurry seal? Full depth reclamation? What the heck are those?

I’d love to go into boring detail about that, but I seem to have talked myself into a corner this month. I will return to that subject in a future column.

Until then, stay warm and dry!



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