Editorial: Sonoma waiting for ‘full story’

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One of the flaws of the human condition is that we can’t un-say things we wish we hadn’t said.

On the other hand, one of our virtues is that the truth can have an uncanny way of slipping past a guarded tongue.

Both those things happened to Sonoma City Councilmember David Cook last Friday. That’s when he declared on his Facebook page: “Tuesday when I am officially off the council I will tell you all the full story,” he wrote, before adding cryptically: “You won’t like it.”

Cook posted that message Nov. 9, along with an announcement of his intention to resign his city council seat the following Monday. He blamed “political games” for the disillusion that led to the decision, clearly referring to his fellow council colleagues but also possibly to the recent election, the results of which will bring a new progressive majority to the council, putting the moderate Cook in the minority on several key issues.

By Monday, Cook had undergone a change of heart and told the Index-Tribune that after discussing the matter with other members of the council he would continue into the last two years of his term.

Well, that’s that then. Nothing more to see here, folks.

Kindly, turn the other way and move on…

Well, not so fast. There’s still that odd little matter of promising to tell Sonomans “the full story.” A story, Cook ominously predicts, we won’t like.

It’s a safe bet to say that pretty much all Sonomans would still really like to hear that full story, even if – no, especially if – we won’t like it.

The multiple emails the Index-Tribune has received this week from residents calling for transparency on the matter can attest to that.

Among the questions: What sort of “political games” are taking place that disgust the councilman to the point it nearly brings him to resign his seat? Machiavellian political tricks? Brown Act violations? One wiseacre predicted collusion with the Russians.

But the overall sentiment from readers has been: Now that he’s professed knowledge of such unlikable acts behind the scenes at City Hall, isn’t it fair for the citizens of Sonoma to know precisely what he means?

Cook wrote in the original Facebook post that once he was “officially off the council” he would tell all – but we at the Index-Tribune are unaware of any law preventing anyone “officially on the council” from calling out the misconduct of other elected officials. Unless there’s some sort of city stipulation about “whatever happens on First Street West, stays on First Street West,” then, outside of Brown Act open-meeting restrictions, Cook should feel free to explain. If there’s a full story to tell, Sonoma should hear it. If there really isn’t, he should say.

A message left with Cook asking for further elaboration on the “full story” was not returned by press time.

David Cook is perhaps the council’s most low-key member. Of all the council members, he’s the most openly appreciative of the work of city staff, always the first to acknowledge the diligence of others in city business. He’s warm and likeable and typically the least-confrontational councilmember behind the dais. (Though he’s no pushover either.) It was for many of these reasons the Index-Tribune endorsed him two years ago when he ran for re-election.

It’s also why his consideration to resign raised so many eyebrows and left so many people wondering what’s going on.

“Everybody knows that corruption thrives in secret places, and avoids public places,” wrote early 20th century President Woodrow Wilson. “And we believe it a fair presumption that secrecy means impropriety.”

The councilman last week publicly insinuated impropriety. And now silence.

Sonoma deserves the full story.

Email Jason at jason.walsh@sonomanews.com.

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