[MetroActive Features]

[ Features Index | North Bay | MetroActive Central | Archives ]

[whitespace] Wet & Wild

Petaluma council reverses key policy

By Greg Cahill

CALLING the Jan. 29 special meeting "a sham," former Petaluma City Councilman David Keller blasted the council's new conservative majority after their unexpected decision to reverse the city's opposition to a controversial regional water-expansion contract. The 4-3 decision leaves in doubt the future of Petaluma's role in the planned expansion, which could cost the city tens of millions of dollars.

The decision came at the end of a contentious meeting--called just six days ago by Mayor Clark Thompson--as opponents charged foul play, alleging that the council failed to provide adequate advance notice that they planned to act this week to switch policy on a key issue.

"We have a process with no end in sight," said City Councilman Mike Healy. "We have to make it clear that Petaluma is a team player."

Last year, in a bid to coerce the then progressive council majority, county and city of Santa Rosa officials threatened to cut water supplies to Petaluma unless the city agreed to sign on to the project known as Amendment 11. If completed, the $175 million project would increase the diversion of water from the Russian and Eel rivers by 40 percent for water utility users in Sonoma and Marin counties.

Petaluma officials had opposed the project from the start, saying that the county had failed to implement conservation measures or recognize that unchecked growth eventually would outpace water supplies.

The Petaluma City Council had won a moral victory of sorts last year when the county capitulated, announcing that Amendment 11 was dead in the water. A county consultant recently began drawing up a new plan. This spring, federal regulatory agencies are expected to announce a cut in water diversions from the Eel River, because increased residential, commercial, and agricultural demands are endangering fisheries on the waterway.

It's unclear how Monday's decision by the newly elected conservative City Council will affect that process.

Thompson, Healy, and newly elected councilmembers Mike O'Brien and Bryant Moynihan voted in favor of the expansion. Councilmembers Matt Maguire, Pam Torliatt, and Janice Cader-Thompson opposed it.

Keller, a strong environmental advocate who chose for personal reasons not to run for re-election in November, until recently had been a member of the former environmental majority.

Lock Down

LESS THAN A WEEK after the Sonoma County Law Enforcement Association complained that faulty cell locks contributed to the Jan. 14 attempted escape of six inmates from Juvenile Hall in an incident that sparked a riot and led to injuries of several guards, jail officials disclosed that repairs will be made within the month.

"The breakout and assault on Juvenile Hall employees and injuries to police is merely the latest manifestation of a problem that the Probation Department has been aware of for the last 10 years," noted SCLEA spokesperson Shaun Du Fosee in a press release. "The problem lies not only with an outdated facility, but [with] the refusal of top management to do something about repeatedly identified problems."

"Why is it probation officials admit that cell-locking mechanisms were less than secure and have done nothing about it?"

Evidently the squeaky wheel, er, cell door, does get greased.

[ North Bay | MetroActive Central | Archives ]

From the January 25-31, 2001 issue of the Northern California Bohemian.

Copyright © Metro Publishing Inc. Maintained by Boulevards New Media.

Foreclosures - Real Estate Investing
San Jose.com Real Estate