By Gabe Meline
Jim Wilkinson's legacy
Who Rules Santa Rosa and Why It Matters is an ambitious title for a book, and yet within just 192 pages, author Jim Wilkinson summarizes in gripping detail the forces that guide—and misguide—the North Bay's largest city. Wilkinson moved to Santa Rosa just over a decade ago and became quickly immersed in local politics, eventually cofounding the city's Neighborhood Alliance and keeping a blog about the city council.
Who Rules Santa Rosa focuses on said city council and its historically pro-development stance, swinging into the current era of the progressive majority which took over in 2008. In exacting detail, Wilkinson uncovers developer financing, Chamber of Commerce/Press Democrat recommendations and the unified establishment players behind the city's incessant "growth machine." Planning failures such as the Santa Rosa Plaza and the bisecting routing of Highway 101 are covered—along with aborted projects such as the Comstock tower and Lowe's—while much of the book's second half spotlights numerous progressive movements in the city and looks toward a future not entirely cluttered with big-box stores.
That's a future that Wilkinson, sadly, will not see. The author died at his home in April, just after sending Who Rules Santa Rosa to the printer. Former councilman Steve Rabinowitsh and Neighborhood Alliance member Jenny Bard read from and discuss Wilkinson's book on Thursday, July 15, at Copperfield's Books. 2316 Montgomery Drive, Santa Rosa. 7pm. 707.578.8938.
Bob Burke's legacy
An award ceremony for Bob Burke will be held this week to commemorate the Forestville man whose enduring outreach to disabled children earned countless friends and admirers. In addition to operating Burke's Canoe Trips at his family-owned resort on the Russian River, Burke, who died at 63 of a heart attack in his home on June 10, provided weekly activities for children stricken with illnesses through his organization Bob Burke's Kids.
"He touched people in such a profound way. He was such a wonderful man with such a generous heart," says Burke's sister Linda Burke. Fishing trips, pizza parties and barbecues with "Bobby's kids" were as much a part of Burke's life as personal visits to the hospital and encouraging phone calls and letters to families. "I'm terribly proud of him," Linda says. "I always will be."
Linda promises that the weekly Wednesday barbecues for children at Burke's resort will resume once the family regains its balance. In the meantime, the public is invited when Burke receives a posthumous Independent Living Legacy Award from Santa Rosa's Disability Service and Legal Center on Friday, July 23, at DSLC, 521 Mendocino Ave., Santa Rosa. 6pm. 707.528.2745.
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