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Sonoma County Gazette

LETTERS from Gazette Readers - June 2017

May 24, 2017


THANK YOU Readers,

Guess what…..Tierno is getting adopted next week.

A sweet couple came in to meet him this week, filled out the paperwork and will be taking him home next week..

The woman said that they had recently lost their kitty.   Then last week, when they were moving something off the counter, the paper fell onto the floor open to a picture of Tierno and they knew it was a sign and they had to meet him and take him home, not caring about his pre-existing medical conditions.

Thank you for publishing the pictures of our kitties and helping them get adopted (and constantly reminding me to get you pictures). His adoption is 100% because of what you do for us. 

-Shannon Carr, Forgotten Felines

Deputies Overtime Pay

As a new Sonoma County homeowner, I was pleased to read the April 15 headline story in thePress Democrat. It confirmed my observation that Sonoma Sheriffs are highly dedicated peace officers.

Deputy Turney essentially works an extra 1.25 jobs keeping peace, covering the Sonoma Sheriff shortage. How exhausting! That six of the top ten paid County employees are Deputies is remarkable and clear devotion to duty and public service.

The story quietly lauds Turney, doing justice to his humble and modest personality. Most would have accepted the opportunity to comment.

Keep up the good work Sonoma Deputies and Press Democrat.

-Christopher Patrick Murphy Berkheimer, Guerneville

Response to TOT OpEd by SOS Roads on Gazette website

This letter is in response to incorrect information presented in the May 9th OpEd,“Transient Occupancy Tax can Help Fix Our Roads.”by SOS Roads volunteers by Michael Troy and Craig S. Harrison.

In this article, the authors state that “75 percent of the revenue has been spent on advertising to lure tourists to Sonoma County or to support events that visitors, as well as residents, might enjoy.” This statement is just plain wrong.

The Board of Supervisors is committed to using Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) revenue to fund local community priorities while also supporting the tourism industry, which is responsible for bringing millions of dollars in local spending and creates nearly 20,000 jobs in Sonoma County.

In FY 2016-17, the Board of Supervisors dedicated 75% of Sonoma County’s Transient Occupancy Tax revenue to the Advertising Program, in line with our Board’s policy. The other 25% goes into the General Fund and is used to fund a host of local county services, including roads infrastructure and improvements.

Of the funds dedicated to the Advertising Program, about 25% have been used to promote local cultural and arts events and to fund marketing and efforts by local Chambers of Commerce and Visitors Centers. It’s important to note that these funds are used by many small non-profits to help make their local events to make them a success, in addition to the funds that are dedicated to the County’s designated marketing organization, Sonoma County Tourism. While these organizations have the goal of increasing tourism and enhancing this sector of our local economy, they also are deeply interested in providing events and activities that benefit the local community as well.

Less widely known, and arguably even more critical, is the fact that the lions share of the remaining available funds are used for a wide range of needs that directly benefit the community or mitigate the impacts of tourism. The Program funds a large portion of our beautiful local Regional Parks network and our Economic Development Board, which supports local business and economic growth and Creative Sonoma, whose mission is to support and enhance the arts community here in Sonoma County. Advertising Program also funds everything from agricultural promotion, veterans’ halls marketing and building upgrades, workforce development and scholarships, historical commissions, homeless services, and public safety grants that allow local fire districts to purchase critical life-saving equipment. And last year, we dedicated $1 million of TOT to support workforce housing initiatives.

The list goes on, but one thing is for sure, our Board prioritizes creating balance in how TOT funds are used to support a wide variety of local needs. In light of Measure L passing last November, and with anticipated new revenue of nearly $5 million going into the new fiscal year, our Board has a great opportunity to dedicate these new funds to further enhance services and programs within the Advertising Program, and to fund other critical needs of our community, such as emergency services, affordable housing and roads.  We are listening to your concerns and are committed to representing your priorities through our budgeting process with these funds.

-District 1 Supervisor Susan Gorin

Thanks for responding to the OpEd to clarify perspectives. I connected Craig Harrison with Tim Zahner and they each came to the conclusion that they would have to agree to disagree, which is the simplest way to put it.

Craig did revise his original OpEd, so we posted the revised version on our website, and have it included in this print edition n the OpEd section.

I think there’s one area we can all agree on…our roads need help. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a tourist or a resident who is driving our storm-damaged and budget-torn roads, we all hit potholes and broken pavement.

We applaud the efforts the Board of Supervisors is doing to put as much money into fixing roads as is available to the county. In budget hearings coming up, this topic will continue to scream for attention. And the districts that generate the majority of TOT tax revenue will continue to ask for their fair share to fix roads and support essential services that benefit everyone. ~ Vesta

Law Enforcement Use of Excessive Force

On May 12th, our son, Branch Wroth, died at the hands of Rohnert Park Public Safety officers, after they deployed a Taser on him. Branch was unarmed. We want to thank each and every one of our fellow-activists in the fight against local law enforcement’s use of excessive force over the past three decades. Your sympathy and condolences, after the tragic and unnecessary death of our eldest son, give us strength.

Both of us greatly appreciate the work of the Police Brutality Coalition (PBC), a local citizens coalition formed in response to the brutal attack by correctional officers on men incarcerated at the county jail on May 28, 2015.

Presently, Sonoma County doesn’t have any effective oversight of law enforcement use-of-force policies and practices. The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors built a faux oversight agency (IOLERO), with no subpoena or independent investigative powers. It is clear that elected officials, who depend on law enforcement’s support to be reelected, are unwilling to insist on accountability from local law enforcement. 

As past members and supporters of PBC, we would like anti-brutality activists to work with us to investigate the death of our son, Branch. We would like to achieve the following objectives:

1) An end to the use of tasers by Rohnert Park Public Safety (RPPS);

2) Mandatory training for all sworn personnel at RPPS in management of assaultive behavior and therapeutic crisis intervention techniques;

3) The adoption by RPPS of widely-accepted methods of safe restraint of unarmed adults that are currently in use at licensed residential facilities for the mentally ill;

4) A transparent and humane procedure for autopsies by the County Coroner;

5) A complete understanding of the critical incident of Branch’s death on May 12;

6) Elevation of public awareness of the value of citizen’s independent oversight of police policies, procedures, and practices.

From our perspective, it is not premature for any oversight committee to demand the discontinuance of taser use by law enforcement personnel. No further study is needed, as the accumulated evidence is clear - taser use is causing many unnecessary deaths. Everywhere in California, unarmed staff persons routinely use state-approved restraint techniques to subdue unarmed large males in residential facilities. RPPS uses tasers, instead, to subdue unarmed members of the public who are experiencing a mental health crisis.

The beginning of the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement (NACOLE), in 1997, gave hope to many that civilian oversight of law enforcement would become a reality. Twenty years later, we see no improvement in police practices. Instead, we have seen a severe worsening of police policies and practices. We have been betrayed again and again by elected officials, who create impotent ‘oversight’ agencies that soon become another layer of justification for bad police work. 

Unlike impotent NACOLE-sponsored government ‘auditors,’ we will work with the PBC to learn more about the death of Branch, the policies and practices of RPPD and the County Coroner, and much more.

-Marni & Chris Wroth, Mt. Shasta

NO on Measure C

While supporters of Measure C have made vague promises about the positives of Measure C, anyone who does their homework and sees the voluminous data questioning policies like Measure C should come to the conclusion that Measure C is the wrong solution to our rental housing crisis.

When Santa Rosa first began discussing rent control, economist Chris Thornberg noted “it’s a terrible idea.” His conclusion is supported by research outlined in a recent report by the State Legislative Analyst’s Office, a non-partisan fiscal watchdog, which notes policies like Measure C does “very little to address the underlying cause of California’s high housing cost: a shortage of housing.”

The Economist magazine notes rent control policies do not work. And a poll amongst economists, outlined in a New York Times column, notes 93 percent of economists oppose policies like Measure C.

Supporters of Measure C continue making bold but unsubstantiated claims about benefits the measure would provide for renters, but the fact is, renters will continue facing rental increases without a broader policy solution that provides more affordable housing.

Measure C was devised by politicians, not those who use data and statistics to come up with sound policies that actually lower rents over time and improves the quality of life of low-income residents.

As a citizen of Santa Rosa who is a renter I urge you to Vote No on Measure C.

Michael Monroe, Santa Rosa



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