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Sonoma County Gazette
SMART - NO TRAIN HORN sign at Crossing
SMART - NO TRAIN HORN sign at Crossing

A Bit of a Euphemism Tangle for SMART Train

Jul 30, 2017


Here it is the first of August and we Leos can beat our chests with futile fists unless we are truly hung up with astrological symbols. There are a lot of thank yous to be delivered and one that’s almost slipped below the public’s horizon is the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria and the City of Rohnert Park.

Now admittedly, talking about MOU’S isn’t exactly an “Oh look at this item in this issued piece of news.” But this item deals with QUIET ZONES of the SMART commute train scheduled to run regular Sonoma-Marin routes very soon. I wanted to know the name of RP’s city attorney for all I knew she was a lady attorney from Napa and the first break came when I was having lunch in Marvin’s Restaurant in Cotati with Pete Callinan, RP’s first elected mayor and first city manager. He remembers the name Betsy Strauss as the RP City Attorney who was handling the debates between the city and the proposed casino.

I called Carl Leivo who was city manager during these debates when they had to move them from City Hall to Spreckels Performing Arts Center’s big stage because city hall was much too small to hold the amount of people waiting to protest the Graton Casino. RP City Hall seemed to be riding along uneasily with this surprising Federal Commerce Dept’s friendly attitude towards quiet zones, which the Dept. of Transportation of the Commerce Dept. bureaucracy decreed commute train bells and whistles are only controlled by the SMART commute train engineer.

Now they’re saying cities can create QUIET ZONES and I’m saying what’s going on? We haven’t heard yet. It appears the Commerce Dept. gurus are floating the idea for city-created quiet zones as a way to soften the blow and try to find a compromise for this fragile euphemism they’re clinging to.

Does Sonoma County Second District Supervisor David Rabbit have a have a clue as to what the Feds are up to now? The odds are against a quick and clean explanation. There’s an inflexible newspaper deadline getting in the way of collecting stories and making city hall-speak prose readable to average newspaper readers.

 The City and Graton Casino publish a budget every five years or so as ordered by the MOU which Betsy Strauss legally analyzed and presented her conclusions to the RP City Council. A city hall memo said the Graton Casino has contributed $37.5 million to RP since the last MOU was published. Some of the details provided in Mary Grace Pawson’s, director of community services report are interesting and not exactly widespread news.

The MOU contributions are mostly paying for a new Department of Safety headquarters west of the 101 freeway on Labath Avenue. It will be across the creek from California Highway Patrol headquarters. Part of the MOU package will be hiring of more police officers, construction of new headquarters, more patrol cars and fire trucks.

It’s a unique step in relations between the few native tribes remaining after a century of persecution from Mexicans, Yankees from east of the Rockies and gold-seeking intruders to present tribal status. But no one’s saying the job is over. MOU creators fervently hope their work has been imitated by other tribe-city organizers, but we have no way of finding out in this upside down world.

Rohnert Park Ripples by Jud Snyder


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