What ever happened to elections?
EDITOR: Imagine if the Sonoma City Council were appointed by some government official instead of being elected by city residents?
That’s the situation we’re now facing in the Springs, and other unincorporated towns in Sonoma County.
On the surface, the Municipal Advisory Councils the Board of Supervisors is creating to provide local government input for unincorporated areas sound like they’ll provide a voice for residents. But the reality is, the model Sonoma County is using is anything but representative.
In many other counties, the members of the MAC truly represent their communities because they are elected. In Sonoma County, the MACs will be appointed by the area’s county supervisor. This allows a supervisor to have complete control of the situation and appoint individuals who will advance his/her particular agenda or point of view.
Also troubling is the fact there was no public, inclusionary process in the Springs, not even a community meeting, for all those interested in local governance to be able to give input into how we want to be represented.
Yes, elections cost money. But if the point is to give unincorporated residents a true voice in local government, then the MACs should be chosen via elections by the people they are supposed to represent.
‘Drama in time’
“A city is more than a place in space, it is a drama in time”. – Patrick Geddes (1854 – 1932) pioneering Scottish town planner
Being unable to attend or watch the live stream of the special City Council meeting on July 19, I watched the recorded meeting on the City’s website. I watched it the day after the meeting and again two days later – all 2 hours 17 minutes and 30 seconds of it.
Patrick Geddes’s “drama in time” was very much on my mind as I watched the meeting.
This particular drama – Hotel Project Sonoma - has been running for five years. The cast of characters has grown and changed somewhat, but the core ensemble remains the same – the “credits” for this long in the tooth and tiresome show can be found on the signature page of the Appeal of the Planning Commission’s certification of the Hotel Project Sonoma Environmental Impact Report (EIR).
This small but dedicated band purports to speak for most if not all of our citizens. They don’t.
Over the five year run of their show, the naysayers have promulgated specious arguments against the hotel project – hazardous chemical contamination from the property’s former use as a newspaper printing plant (found to be groundless), alleged “piecemealing” of the project (found to be groundless), attempts to saddle the project with the green house gas impacts of the flights hotel guests take from their towns to visit Sonoma and stay at the hotel, etc. In other words - a lot of attempts to throw s**t at the wall hoping something sticks.
The naysayers are also adept at proactively refuting information from independent experts hired by the City to prepare the EIR. This is best demonstrated by the ramblings of their leader, Larry Barnett, in one of his more bizarre columns in the Sonoma Valley Sun posted on July 5.
While the naysayers come out in force to speak and write letters against things happening in town, I’ve yet to see them appear in an advocacy role for what they say they would like to see in Sonoma. Their channel is tuned to what they don’t want and why they don’t want it.