Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Employee Free Choice Act & us

A lot of our members are expressing ignorance of or unfamiliarity with the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), also informally referred to as the card check legislation. If passed by Congress, the EFCA would take away the right of employers to demand secret-ballot elections by workers before unions could be recognized. Under the EFCA, unions could gain representation if a majority of workers sign cards authorizing it.

Passage of this bill could very well spur a renaissance in the US labor movement. The days of workers being discouraged from organizing due to employer intimidation would be over. Pro-US business groups hate the EFCA. In response to pro-EFCA claims that it would disempower employers, these groups counter-claim that it would deprive workers of secret ballot voting and subject employees to union bullying. This position is interesting in that pro-business interests are opposed to unions bullying their employees, but by golly will spend gobs of lobbying money to protect their right to bully their employees themselves.

Given America's difficult and controversial history around union organizing, and given the very different worker climate that existed during the times that businesses successfully lobbied for legislation to force workers to use secret ballot voting instead of openly signing cards, it really makes sense for all of us to do some homework about the EFCA, where and how it originated, and how today's worker climate in America is vastly different from the one that resulted in the federal targeting of unions decades ago.

Barack Obama is a strong supporter of the EFCA, and campaigned strongly on getting it passed. He is so preoccupied with the economy right now, though, that it's unclear as to when he will pick this issue back up and run with it. It's still not out of the question for passage of the EFCA to become one of his accomplishments during his first 100 days in office, but we can't count on that happening within this tight time frame.

You may recall that Obama had originally planned to delay health-care reform for a year, while he takes care of other issues such as US workers' rights. However, he has since changed this tack, since it's become increasingly evident that health-care reform must precede a lot of the other reform measures on his to-do list, including entitlement reform and passage of the EFCA, in order to turn around our economy, since current health-care costs are such a huge component of our federal deficit.

What we do know is that America's unions are in ongoing negotiations to put aside recent animosities and join forces to get this bill passed. We also know that the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) has been rapidly hiring a significant ground effort to work in labor union battleground states as organizers for this bill's passage.

If you run across anything that you feel would help the rest of us get up-to-speed on this bill, before we're asked by the Obama administration to help him get it passed, please pass it along to us so we can share it with the rest of our member base.

Read what the AFL-CIO writes about the EFCA.

Read what Change to Win, an umbrella organization of seven unions, writes about the EFCA.

Obama's Budget Director Orszag

We're not in Kansas anymore, fellow Munchkins!!! President O's Budget Director, Peter Orszag, blogs! Yup, he actually reads 30-40 blogs every morning to prevent his decisions from being formulated within a White House bubble.

You can visit OMB Director Orszag's blog at:

Be sure to set aside four minutes to watch this video at of Director Orszag providing clarification on Obama's 2010 budget.

This lack of secrecy almost hurts! Kinda like being let out into a yard in full sun after being locked up in a dark dungeon for eight years.

Don'tcha love it?

Obama's weekly address

President O takes on powerful lobbyists in his weekly address. Hallelujah and amen, Brother Barack!

We will never change health care, energy, and education unless and until we change the legislative status quo that provides ringside seats for corporate interests, leaving us with our pathetic e-mail messages to our national representatives that are answered in robo-fashion by aides and computer-generated spam response systems.

2/28/09: Your Weekly Address from White House on Vimeo.

Watch Sarah Gibson represent P4C at a City Council meeting

Sarah did a terrific job during the public comment period at the Feb. 23rd City Council meeting, informing councilmembers of our upcoming Petaluma Spring Cleaning Day event on Mar. 21st.

To watch her presentation, click on this link, and then, under Archived Videos, click on the video link to the right of Regular City Council/PCDC Meeting, Feb. 23, 2009. Fast forward to about 30:54 for her 2:12-minutes-long announcement.

Important conference call for California community organizers

From California's Volunteer Liaison to Organizing for America:
I need your help. As leaders of our amazing activist network, I would like you to join me on a conference call SUNDAY NIGHT MARCH 1 at 8:30 p.m. to discuss how to fix California's broken budget process.

I've been talking with some other CA organizers and we decided we'd like to gauge - and then garner - support for a ballot initiative that would restore majority rule to CA's budget process and hold our government more accountable for its actions. California is one of only three states that has the two-thirds rule. The other two states are Arkansas and Rhode Island, whose budgets are a fraction of CA's. The two-thirds vote requirement has made California's budget negotiations drawn-out affairs almost every year. Lawmakers have missed the June 15 constitutional deadline to approve a budget in 28 of the last 32 years.

Restoring majority rule could be one of the most important political activities in the state over the next year. The organizers who helped change the way Washington works should be on the front lines of the battle to change the politics in our home state.

If you'd like to help, or just hear more about our idea for bringing about change in California, please join me and other CA leaders on a conference call Sunday night:

When: Sunday, March 1 at 8:30 p.m.
Call in info: 712-432-1100 access code 1015319

You may forward this email to anyone you think would be interested in being on the call.

I look forward to talking with all of you. Please feel free to email me with any questions.

Thanks for all you do.

Mary Jane

Our local Petaluma water situation

It's obvious that the writing is on the wall for water rationing in Petaluma. Unless we experience a Noah's ark-like weather pattern between now and the summertime, it's unlikely we won't be hit with either a reduction mandate based on prior usage, or a per capita allotment. There are no other alternatives to a water shortage of the magnitude of our current one.

On Mon. Feb. 23rd, Mike Ban, Petaluma's director of water resources, gave a report to our City Council on Petaluma's upcoming water outlook. Many water-consumers weighed in with our councilmembers before that meeting. You can read about our anticipation of this meeting at this link, where you will find another link to read some of the responses given by Councilmember Glass, Mayor Torliatt, Councilmember Healy, and Vice Mayor Barrett.

P4C member Sarah Gibson attended Monday's meeting to listen to Mr. Ban's report and to our Council's responses to that report, as well as to inform the Council of our upcoming Petaluma Spring Cleaning Day event/project. To watch a video of the Council meeting, click on this link, and then, under Archived Videos, click on the video link to the right of Regular City Council/PCDC Meeting, Feb. 23, 2009. If you're extremely wonkish, by all means watch the entire video. If you aren't, you can forward to about 10:00 to listen to Ban's excellent report. To hear David Glass' remarks following the report, forward to about 28:00. Don't be put off by the fact that the video starts out identified as being from Feb. 18; it is not.

Here are Glass' comments:
I think that every councilmember has received e-mails ... from various people, but the concern that I get overwhelmingly ... is that [those water consumers who have] done everything they can to conserve on their water, they're in the lowest possible tier, and they're concerned that with either voluntary or mandatory water cutbacks coming on a per capita basis, that they're going to be unduly impacted. I don't think that it's designed to work that way. Could you address that?

Mike Ban:
We've been getting similar calls, and what we've been explaining to our customers is that what we'll be doing in a stage 1 is reminding people about what they can do to be efficient, make sure they irrigate and the water doesn't run down the sidewalk, but basically to be efficient with their water use. At this point, we're not talking about water rationing or going to per capita usage. It's really to remind people of what they can do to be efficient with their water use.

This was a clear explanation of what we're being asked to do "at this point." What we still don't know, however, and what we want to make sure is addressed equitably and with the health, safety, and welfare of all water-consumers in mind, pertains to what we will be asked to do at the point where a stage 1 voluntary conservation effort leaves off and the peak summertime flow picks up, where we will potentially be required to reduce our water consumption by a stated 22% below last summer's usage, keeping in mind that, since our water situation is very dynamic, it is not unreasonable to predict that that 22% could become 30-50%.

An across-the-board water use percentage reduction mandate works great for those who over-consumed last summer, who conserved marginally or not at all, for those who maintained grassy lawns and backyard swimming pools, but it most certainly unduly impacts those who conserved last summer to the maximum extent possible.

The next date to keep on our calendars is April 6, when our water resources officials will revisit this issue with our City Council and introduce an emergency water resolution based on their water forecasts at that time.

If you are so inclined to e-mail our city councilmembers about Ban's water report and/or Councilmember Glass' comment at its end, you may easily do so by clicking on the Petaluma City Council link on the right-hand side of this blog.

Woolsey blasts Iraq pullout plan as not enough

From the Feb. 28th Press Democrat:
Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma, blasted Obama’s centrist approach to the troop drawdown. In a statement released Friday, Woolsey called the plan to leave up to 50,000 troops in Iraq “unacceptable.”

“Call such a troop level what you will, but such a large number can only be viewed by the Iraqi public as an enduring occupation force,” Woolsey said. “The faster that we can promote unification and reconciliation, the sooner we can bring all of our troops home.”

Read the whole PD news article here. Haven't been able to locate her full statement yet. Will post it when we do.

Click on the link for Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey on the right-hand side of this blog if her comments inspire you to send her your two-bits.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Gingrich: The Employee Free Choice Act "is a mortal threat to American freedom"

Once again, you simply cannot make this stuff up.

Political reporter/White House correspondent Sam Stein verifies that, yes indeed, ole' Newtie absolutely did make this absurd, ridiculous comment about the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), the latest terrorist threat to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness by some members of the Republican party.

But don't take my word for it. Read it here.

Kinda makes ya wonder ... If Republicans take back Washington in 2012, or god forbid, 2010, will they reopen Gitmo and send GOP Sen. Arlen Specter there for treason, for meeting the Obama administration halfway?

Endnote: We'll be on the lookout for information to pass along to our members re the EFCA, because we're predicting that the Obama administration will be calling on us in the near future to help secure passage of this bill through Congress.

Cash-strapped communities suffer as corporations target water systems

Ran across a web site today that seems very well-suited as a resource for those of us who are interested in water resources and water allocation.

From Food & Water Watch:
"A new report released today by Food & Water Watch, a national consumer advocacy group based in Washington, D.C., reveals that many cash-strapped communities across the country are experiencing rate hikes and a decrease in public services after selling their water and wastewater systems to private corporations. Money Down the Drain: How Private Control of Water Wastes Public Resources highlights cities and towns across the country that have sold their water systems to private companies to offset budget deficits in an increasingly unstable economy, and the negative economic and environmental impact of water privatization on those communities ..."
Read the entire press release here.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Free foreclosure workshop in Oakland

When: Mar. 14th 10am-12noon
Location: Merritt College
Address:12500 Campus Drive, Oakland 94619
Contact: 510.759.2491


Stop the Foreclosure Epidemic in our communities
Find out how the Recovery Package benefits you!

Saturday March 14
10am to 2pm

Merritt College, Room P 307
12500 Campus Drive, Oakland 94619

Organized by “United for Change” a grassroots group supporting
President Obama’s mission for change


Fidelity Title Co - The role title companies play in loan modification, short sales and REO’s

Acorn Housing – Foreclosure prevention assistance

Operation Hope – Programs available to assist and educate foreclosure homeowners

Councilwoman Desley Brooks – Work being done on behalf of foreclosure victims in East Oakland

Oakland City Attorney’s Office – Tenants Rights in foreclosed properties

Refreshments served
Wheel Chair Accessible

For additional information

New PAC challenges Congress to side with constituents, and NOT with corporate interests

Many are expressing concern over President Obama's willingness to sacrifice true reform for bipartisanship, especially when his efforts to reach across the aisle result in our giving up reform measures in pieces of legislation, while those to whom Obama is reaching out end up voting against legislation even when it includes their concessions.

Ran across a new grassroots organization that seeks to address this problem. This new PAC may help us respond productively to our giving up critical parts of the progressive position we struggled all those months during the campaign to get, when those whose support we seek are unwilling to settle for anything less than continued tax cuts for America's wealthiest, at the expense of our working middle-class.

Accountability Now PAC is a grassroots organization supported by citizens devoted to compelling real accountability in Washington and closing the gap between citizens and their elected representatives in Washington, DC.

Salon's Glenn Greenwald, Jane Hamsher of Firedoglake, and others are launching a union-backed group called Accountability Now PAC to pressure Democrats from the left, including primary challenges against members of Congress.

“We’re going to be about targeting incumbents to make space for Obama to be more progressive,” said Glenn Greenwald, a blogger on the online magazine Salon who is part of the effort. “There may be other times when the Democratic Party, as led by Obama, is being unresponsive, so yeah, we have the potential to push back against that as well.”

You Are Invited to Get-to-Know-the-NoCal-Obama-Team!

Date: Mar. 7th
Time: 5:30pm
Location: Lucas Taproom & Lounge, Oakland

Team Obama-

Sorry for the late notice. Oakland is on and all No Cal cities are Welcome.

Your live Hosts for the evening will be Ms. Peggy Moore and Ms. Hope Wood.

The purpose of this gathering is to actually get to know the folks you have worked with these last couple of years.

We all know each others politics, but do we know each other. For example, did you know Mitchell has a real white picket fence, and his wife Lizzie is due on March 1st, or that Laura knits to insanity and she and Chaz are coming up on their 11th Anniversary?

We know many of you are coming a long way and hope you will make the journey to Oakland. We would like to do a few of these and can rotate the location to accommodate our various teams.

So come meet some new friends and see some old ones. The only rule, no organizing! Just for one night.

Join us for some tasty beverages and great company!

And yes... we will have name tags!

We will be with you in spirit and will raise a toast our awesome team up North!

Mitchell Schwartz & Laura Velkei

PS - We have poured over our lists a several times, but if you see we missed someone, please have them send me a note so we can add them for next time and by all means, FORWARD the invite. No one is meant to be left out so please share.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

In Obama's 2.24 speech: "health-care reform this year"

In Obama's speech last night, he did a terrifically intelligent job of framing some key policy positions in ways that can be embraced by all Americans, and not just by progressives.

Because I have taken up the single-payer cause, I took the liberty of outlining the points he made around health-care reform, adding some of my thoughts about how we progressives might speak to health-care reform skeptics in the wake of his speech.

I hope this outline proves helpful to many of us in the upcoming months, and I also hope that others in P4C will do for energy and education what I have done here for health-care. If you do, send it along to me and I'll post it under your byline.

-- Linda Carpenter Sexauer
community organizer, P4C

The problem with current health-care system:

  • "crushing cost of health care"
  • results in a bankruptcy in America every one-minute or so (Obama's claim of a medical bankruptcy every 30 seconds is incorrect)
  • will potentially "cause 1.5 million Americans to lose their homes" ... "by the end of" 2009
  • health insurance "premiums have grown four times faster than wages" ... over "the last eight years"
  • "one million ... Americans have lost their health insurance" every year over "the last eight years"
  • a main causality of problem of small businesses going under
  • a main causality of problem of corporations outsourcing US jobs
  • "one of the largest and fastest-growing parts of our budget"

Therefore, current health-care system is bad for household budgets, is bad for federal budget, is bad for US business, is bad for US workers, and is unsustainable.

Immediate reaction to problem:

Delaying health-care reform is not an option, due to the seriousness of the problems (see above points) created by our current health-care system. Talking about this problem for another year while 1.5 million more Americans lose their homes due to medical debts is unacceptable.

Obama administration health-care accomplishments in last 30 days:

Health insurance for 11 million American kids with parents who work full-time.

Three main points included in Obama's economic recovery package that address current health-care problem:

  • investment in electronic health records & other new technology
Why is this a good investment?
  • reduction in medical errors
  • reduction in medical costs
  • assurance of personal privacy around medical histories/diagnoses
  • reduction in loss of human life
  • larger investment in biomedical research and cancer research/treatment
Why is this a good investment?
  • reduction in loss of life
  • largest historic investment in preventive care
Why is this a good investment?
  • reduction in illness
  • reduction in loss of life
  • reduction in medical costs

Framing of Obama administration's solution:

  • historic commitment to comprehensive health-care reform
  • "quality affordable health care for every American"

Note: These ideas have nothing to do with the predictable "It's socialism!" argument that'll be coming out of the right-wing media shills in the days ahead. When they run around like a bunch of Chicken Littles screaming, "It's socialism!", we say, "It's in the best interests of our nation for all of us to make a firm commitment to comprehensive health-care reform, so that all Americans have access to "quality affordable care." Don't be lured into their shark-infested "It's socialism!" waters.

Funding of solution:

  • Funded in part by addressing/eliminating inefficiencies in current health care delivery system. (Not in 2.24 speech, but subsequently revealed in Obama's 10-year budget outline): Proposed cost savings in Medicare, Medicaid and other health programs, savings that are predicted in part to be a result of investment in electronic health records & other new technology.
  • (Not in 2.24 speech, but subsequently revealed in Obama's 10-year budget outline): Proposed reductions in Bush tax cuts on households with incomes over $250,000/year; would reimpose previous tax liabilities on corporations and America's richest taxpayers. Specifically, would more strictly limit itemized deductions of taxpayers in the 35 percent bracket, who now get a bigger tax break than middle-income people. This proposed Bush-era tax cut reduction for the wealthy would result in high-income people getting the same tax break as middle-income people for claiming the same deductions or making the same charitable contributions.
  • (Not in 2.24 speech, but subsequently revealed in Obama's 10-year budget outline): Proposed requirement for drug companies to give bigger discounts to Medicaid. Currently, drugmakers provide a discount to Medicaid of a minimum 15.1 percent of the average manufacturer price for a brand-name product. Obama's proposal would increase Medicaid's minimum discount by drugmakers to 22.1 percent.
  • (Not in 2.24 speech, but subsequently revealed in Obama's 10-year budget outline): Proposed cut in Medicare payments to health insurance companies that receive private premium payments from Medicare beneficiaries for private coverage outside of Medicare. In other words, Obama wants to disallow health insurance companies from being able to receive full Medicare payments for their private premium-paying Medicare beneficiaries.

Note: The costly inefficiencies in our current health-care system have become increasingly worse despite their being increasingly controlled by free market forces over the past 40 years. The increasing control over our health-care costs by private industry is the result of deregulation of the health-care industry beginning with Nixon in the 1970s. While it would not be fair to blame all health-care cost increases on private industry, it is absolutely fair to hold them accountable for the increasing control over these costs.

Other desirable consequence of comprehensive health care-reform:

  • reduction in federal deficit

What fiscal conservative wouldn't like this consequence of Obama's plan for health-care reform?!

Who will participate in the decision-making process for health-care reform?

  • businesses
  • workers
  • doctors
  • health care providers
  • Democrats
  • Republicans

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Health-care activist training in El Cerrito

March 6-7, 2009, El Cerrito, CA

Health Care Activist Training

This training is for people who want to become informed activists for real healthcare change. It is also for people who are already activists but who want to help recruit and train more people. $5 donation but no one turned away.

When: Friday March 6th from 7:00 to 9:30 pm and Saturday March 7th from 10:00 am to 4 pm.
Where: Hillside Community Church, 1422 Navellier St., El Cerrito, CA 94530, Between Potrero Av. and Moeser Lane.
RSVP: 510-526-0972

Sponsored by Healthcare-NOW!

Watch live health-care hearings

Watch live the joint hearing in Washington, D.C. on the Massachusetts model for health-care.

This will be a rare opportunity to watch and listen to testimony from physicians, nurses, patients, labor leaders, insurance brokers, and state legislators on the failures of "Individual Mandate" policy features adopted by the Massachusetts plan, flawed features that are now being included in current discussions to overhaul our national health-care policy.

FYI, the current national health-care policy discussions are being held secretly in a Senate hearing room, and are being limited to participation by pharmaceutical and industry lobbyists, big labor unions, and other special interests.

Petaluma SPRING into ACTION

Due to a perfect storm created by the enormous success in Petaluma of the recent National Day of Service projects, and by the ongoing critical needs of local organizations that address local poverty, needs that are increasing at alarming rates due to the current economic crisis, P4C member Sarah Gibson is organizing a local Day of Service in Petaluma, which she has named Petaluma SPRING into ACTION. When? Sat. Mar. 21st.

Complete these steps to be an event organizer/host:
  1. Choose a need for which you would like to host a drive. For ideas, review the needs successfully addressed by the local National Day of Service projects hosted in Jan. If you click on this link, you can read a couple of blog posts about these prior events. You can also go back into our blog archives and read about them, here, here, and here.
  2. Post your event on Organizing for America.
  3. Let us know that you have posted an event. We will promote it among our members, and we will ask the Argus Courier to collectively promote all of P4C's events. There will be other ways we will promote these events, ways that will become increasingly clear as our awesome members, that's you!, AKA agents of change, step forward with suggestions and offerings.

Notes from P4C leadership meeting 2.23

Our third steering group meeting, Mon. Feb. 23rd, was attended by four P4C members: Sarah Gibson, Linda Sexauer, Mavis Anderson, and Connie Madden. Sarah's husband, Rich, popped in for a brief period and contributed, as well. The meeting was very productive, likely in part due to its smaller attendance, which we totally attributed to the meeting time. Our previous two meetings were attended by roughly 25 and 12, respectively.

One of the reasons for posting this account is to provide all of our members the opportunity to join with others in our group in these endeavors. Be the change our community, our nation, and the world needs right now!

A huge thanks to Sarah for creating our meeting agenda! Way to go, Gibby!!!

What we discussed:
Funding -
We have decided to become a nonprofit organization. By doing so, we will be able to better fund our web site, our events, and any general expenses that come up such as flyers, copies, and postage. Rich Gibson-Lopez will oversee the 501C3 process. Linda Sexauer has a Nolo Press CDRom to loan to Rich that will hopefully expedite this process.

Web site -
Our web site is under construction. Sara B. is off to a great start with it. We anticipate that it will replace our temporary blog at within a month or so. We are deciding now how many years in advance we will pay to have this site.

Mission statement -
We decided that it's essential for a core group of us to make this a high priority and to schedule a meeting where we will sit down and work hard on this until it is complete. Because of our decision to set up P4C as a 501C3, our mission statement and declaration of goals must be hammered down. I will be sending out word of this meeting to our core group soon.

Guidelines for adopting issues -
We decided that this will become clear when we hammer down our mission statement and declaration of goals. This specifically pertains to how we decide our role in issues and how we make public statements.

Recruitment -
Lots of ideas, many will be put into action soon, many are already in action.
  • Social events
  • Phone bank for local membership recruitment
  • Facebook
  • Aqus

P4C Board positions -
Identifying needed positions & setting guidelines for nominations/voting is postponed until our March leadership meeting.

Issues-specific sub-groups within P4C -
Many other community organizations all up and down California that came out of the Obama campaign and that are now working together to achieve the exact same things we are achieving and attempting to achieve have set up issues-specific committees, usu. headed up by one/more individuals with an interest in that issue. We want/need to do this. Issues include things like health care, education, local poverty, civil rights, local government, the list is endless and totally depends on who steps forward with what level of willingness/eagerness to get the ball rolling on their pet issue.

Our ears are open to any of our members who would like to discuss this item further, or to begin a process of setting up an issue-specific group.

Upcoming dates -
  • Wed. Mar. 18th ... next steering group meeting. 7-9pm. Host: Connie Madden. 215 Water St.
  • Sat. Mar. 21st ... Local Petaluma Day of Service. Patterned after the recent highly successful National Day of Service in Jan. Renamed by Sarah Gibson as Petaluma Spring Cleaning Day.
  • Sun. Mar. 22nd-Sat. Mar. 28th ... six phone banks to recruit new P4C members, as well as to activate more fully our existing base. Info forthcoming.
  • Apr. ... monthly steering group meeting hosted by Janice Kearns. Info TBA.
  • May ... P4C social event. Initial organizing by Connie Madden. Downtown location. Open to public.

Organizing for America (OFA) -
We discussed the likelihood that the first, next ask of us by the Obama team may very well be to phone bank in an effort to build a national campaign to support passage of the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA). This bill is one of the cornerstones of the Obama/Biden platform, to bring labor back into the national discussions that determine wage rates, employer-provided benefits, which jobs are outsourced overseas, worker safety, employment discrimination, just to name a few policy areas that concern/affect all of us.

We make this prediction based on recent job postings all across the country by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) to staff up the ground effort to work in legislative battleground states for this purpose. Those of you who have traveled recently to a battleground state, such as Nevada, may have noticed that the anti-EFCA effort is well-organized and functioning effectively in the media, promoting false perceptions among targeted demographics that the EFCA will erode individual rights and turn America into a communist nation. You simply can't make this stuff up! Just for kicks, read this HuffPo piece with Gingrich saying, "This bill is a mortal threat to American freedom and we will never forgive somebody who votes for cloture or for passage."

Now is a great time for all of us to take the initiative to become better-informed about this piece of legislation.

Feb. 23rd Petaluma City Council meeting -
Sarah Gibson agreed to attend this meeting with two purposes: (1) To publicly announce our upcoming Petaluma Spring Cleaning Day/Local Day of Service, and (2) To listen to and report back on the water resources report.

About P4C member Connie Madden -
Connie is very involved in Sonoma County GoLocal Cooperative Contact Connie to learn more or to become active in our local-area efforts to "build a durable local economy and take steps to reclaim our local economic power."

Our current economic situation provides a perfect time to join this effort, on whatever level suits your life. With businesses going under, how they are replaced, whether they be with entities like WalMart or with entities that chart a course back to building local economic power, will be our local legacy to future generations of Petalumans.

Contact info:
707.781.9311 (c) 364.7627

Endnote: We threw this summary together in about 30 minutes, so judge its transcription accordingly, por favor! Suggestions on improving this communication? Send 'em in!

Monday, February 23, 2009


Hey P4C friends. . . looking for the next way to stay involved and active here in our community?
Well get ready to roll up your sleeves and pitch in with a LOCAL SERVICE PROJECT on Saturday March 21st.

P4C is sponsoring a day of service right here in our City thanks in great part to the overwhelming generousity and response from the National Day of Service on MLK Day in January. We have every expectation that our local day of service will be a sensation and hold high hopes that we can make it an annual event.

Keep checking online with us for a listing of projects in which you can be a part.

Got an idea for a project?? GREAT! Let us know by sending us an email and we will help you organize and run your service project!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Supportive words from a P4C member

We received the following message this morning from one of our members who's been involved for awhile now and who is hanging in there with our group while we transition from a long campaign to an even longer period of legislative change:
Just a quick note on a Saturday morning to let you and all the folks working so hard on this website and other activities, that I truly appreciate your efforts. You make it possible for many more of us to stay more informed and to do "at least something."


Here is our response to this support:
We can't tell you how good it feels to get an e-mail like yours. Thank-you so much. We're going to share it with the others in our core group who are working so hard to keep everyone engaged meaningfully.

We have a terrific group in Petaluma. Only a very small handful have dropped out, and those drop-outs were predictable. They were either those who got involved right at the very end of the campaign, who seemed to be interested because they wanted to see what was going on and to be able to tell others they participated in it, or those who complained during the process that things weren't going as they thought they should be.

Thanks again. Very, very soon, the Obama administration is going to have specific legislative tasks for us, to get the change we all voted for through Congress. This kind of work is not as glamorous or as sexy as the work to elect a "hero," but it is way more meaningful.

We have to keep reminding one another why we worked so hard for the 2008 presidential campaign. We didn't do it out of hero-worship, out of some sense that some dude (or dude-ette) was going to ride into the White House and save us from the mess America finds itself in at this moment in our history. We did it out of a belief that we could bring about change with the right person as our President.

We so greatly admire all of our friends, neighbors, co-workers, and even strangers who remain committed to this arduous civic project we are all a part of. Petalumans4Change, you/we rock!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Get the facts on Dutra's latest ad in the Argus Courier

We note that the Dutra Group has paid for yet another full-page ad in the Argus Courier, boldly making many claims on p. C8 of the Feb. 19th issue that simply do not stand up to scrutiny.

Rebuttal from Friends of Shollenberger Park
Dutra's claim: The proposed asphalt plant and barge offloading facility is nothing more than a "relocation" of its previous operations.
Fact: "Haystack Landing is a new large plant. Dutra's temporary small operation was shut down Nov. 1, 2007 by Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) for operating without a permit and failing to meet Best Available Control Technology."
Dutra's claim: "The new location is in an industrial area ..."
Fact: "The Haystack Landing parcels would have to be rezoned from commercial to 'industrial' to accommodate the plant, with amendments to the recently adopted Sonoma County General Plan."
Dutra's claim: "[The Dutra Haystack Landing Project] is subject to more than 140 conditions ... that will ensure protection of air quality, the ecology of the Petaluma River, aesthetics and the environment."
Fact: "Dutra has a record of non-compliance in Petaluma and in Marin Co. (See Marin Co. Grand Jury Report.) BAAQMD has issued numerous violations to Dutra in Petaluma for noxious emissions.
Two 70-ft. storage silos and a large industrial plant would greet visitors to Sonoma Co. and Shollenberger Park. They would create a negative, stunning sight adjacent to the view corridor protected by Measure D in 1998 by a super-majority of Sonoma Co.'s voters, as well as across from Shollenberger Park."
Dutra's claim: "Normal operating hours will be Monday through Friday from 7:00 AM to 5:00 PM."
Fact: "Use Permit allows 24/7 operations for Cal Trans and other government projects, their target customers. They will operate 24/7."
Dutra's claim: "Emissions from the plant will be contained ..."
Fact: "Fugitive blue gases outside the plant (carcinogenic PAHs) will enter the air from trucks loaded with hot asphalt. It is easy to say emissions will be contained. The risks to the public are too great and Dutra's record of noncompliance is of great concern. Diesel exhaust from trucks, loading every three minutes, all day long, is a health hazard to nearby residents, visiting schoolchildren at Shollenberger Park, and wildlife."
Dutra's claim: "[The Dutra Haystack Landing Project] includes over 19 acres of restored wetlands and habitat that will remain as open space."
Fact: "These so-called wetlands would contain toxic water: runoff from dust control and the operation. Open stacks of aggregate and crushing of rock and recycled asphalt create toxic dust."
Dutra's claim: "Noise from operations will also be contained ..."
Fact: "The EIR states that noise levels to sensitive receptors (people) using Shollenberger are unacceptable and cannot be mitigated. As loud as a rock concert (112 decibels)."

Check out Save Shollenberger Park for links to documents supporting this rebuttal.

Click on this link for a tool box of action items for you to use to be productively involved in this effort.

Read how our County Supervisor Mike Kerns sold us down the river on this one.

Petaluma's water resources director to give water outlook report to City Council

We notice in the Feb. 19th Argus Courier that on Mon. Feb. 23rd, Mike Ban, Petaluma's director of water resources, will give a report to our City Council on our city's upcoming water outlook. With cutbacks forecasted to be between 30% and 50% this summer, now is the time to weigh in on this issue with our City Council members.

What you can do:
  • Attend Monday's City Council meeting. Mr. Ban is scheduled to present his report at 7pm. Listen to what is said, and provide your own public comment. City Hall, 11 English St.
  • Write a letter to our City Council members. Links to get their e-mail addresses located on the right-hand side of this blog. Read one of the letters already sent. At the end of the letter, you will find the responses by councilmembers received so far. All have responded positively to it.
  • Ask your friends and neighbors to attend Monday's meeting, and/or to send their own e-mail.

Now is when we need to let our public officials know how we feel about this important issue that will affect all of us especially during the upcoming summer months.

From Torliatt:
The City of Petaluma purchases its water from the Sonoma County Water Agency (SCWA) which is the Board of Supervisors. The Sonoma County Water Agency delivered 58,000 acre feet of water last year to the 10 contractors including the City of Petaluma. SCWA is proposing to only deliver 45,000 acre feet this year. The City of Petaluma does not really have a choice when the Agency reduces the amount of water consumed. Petaluma is working with the other contractors to increase the amount of water up to the 58,000 acre feet again this year.

Let's do all we can to make sure that whatever water rationing program is handed down for us to follow is one that addresses effectively those who are using more than others by choice, and not out of any real need during a critical drought season. Otherwise, those of us who currently practice strict water conservation practices may find ourselves in a situation where we are forced to give up safe hygienic practices in our homes, while those who do not currently practice these strict measures are required to give up their private pools.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Stop the outrageous and irresponsible obstructionist behavior of the CA GOP!

Looking for one really quick action to take to shake the California state budget impasse? Do this.

And if you're looking for more to do, go to the front page of Community Organize and read Marta's post about the hostage crisis in Sacramento and what we can do to stop it.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Reinforcing CHANGE. . . .

NOW is the time that we make sure we are enforcing the values which we HOPE will dominate our Government and our Country. Sure, there may be plenty left for us to work on towards the path to CHANGE, but how about these simple action items you could complete in five minutes of your day that promote some of the positive steps made right here in our county:


2. EMAIL SHIRLEY ZANE and thank her for VOTING AGAINST the General Plan ammendments made for the Dutra Asphalt Plant.

3. Send Second District Supervisor MIKE KERNS a photo of your favorite local bird, flower, or animal which calls Shollenberger Park or our local Riverways home. Remind him that he still has the time to CHANGE HIS VOTE in support of the Dutra Asphalt Plant.

4. Learn how our local voting process works at an informational lecture this week! Sign up here.

Our positive actions will help this next Administration find the courage to continue to create the CHANGE we need .


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Local Petaluma forum on homelessness in Sonoma County

John Records, the Executive Director of Committee on the Shelterless in Petaluma, will discuss homelessness in Sonoma County and social action, the current state budget and our new Democratic presidential agenda. Please come and get informed about what this vital organization is doing in our area and learn about opportunities for involvement.

Click on this link for more event info.

For more information, please email This event is hosted by the Democratic Club of Southern Sonoma County.

National Call-In Day for single-payer health-care

Today, Thu. Feb. 12th, is the third National Call-In Day to support single-payer health-care, HR676. This event is organized by Healthcare-Now!, not to be confused with Health Care for America Now, an organization which supports incremental reform that would leave insurance companies in control of the system.

And btw, did you read where Blue Cross is raising premiums beginning Mar. by a whopping 31% on 80% of its individual policy-holders. This comes right on the heels of their agreeing to pay $1 million for wrongfully rescinding insurance for 2,330 patients after bills were submitted for them for expensive care, and after having to pay $10 million last summer.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A personal account from a P4C member re one of the two Feb. 8th economic recovery house parties in Petaluma

From Ted & Anne-Marie Nordquist. Ted & Anne-Marie open with a personal message about their impressions of the meeting, and then outline the ideas that came out of it:

Summation of Our Meeting:

[We] deeply appreciate [Helaine] holding this meeting ... The following is my attempt to summarize our meeting and an attempt to encompass some of the ideas that were discussed:

1.We were impressed with the concern that all seem to have regarding education, community services such as firemen and police, and programs for the needy. It appears that everyone at the meeting felt that our government (our tax money) should be spent immediately to support existing employment rather than laying off employees in these areas. There are existing programs connected to improving the environment that employ youth that will help these youth toward employment opportunities in the future. Cutting these programs now will put these youth back on the streets and most likely increase the already growing crime rates.

2. Develop "child care" centers, day care and after school activity centers to help single parents and youth. This is an investment in future generations. There are already local boys and girls clubs that "if supported" can serve many more youth.

3. Extending unemployment insurance to the unemployed is a priority, but there are many unemployed who are victims of these times that are not on this list. The government must initiate programs to help these people also!

4. All seemed to agree that our government programs (tax money) must be spent without any discrimination for ethnicity/ race, religion, sexual preferences or physical handicaps. We must move towards a society that truly invests in fairness and distribution of our natural resources for all. It is time to end the corporate greed that has taken hold of our national and international markets. Corporate law that allows corporations to exploit employees throughout the world for the limited gain of shareholders must be regulated. Hiding behind "free market values" at the expense of "human dignity and fairness" must be addressed.

5. The banks are not helping the common citizen with home, car or business loans. We wonder why the banks (with our tax money) are charging high interest rates on loans when the federal interest rate is close to zero? The government should force a special loan program through the local banks that are tied to low interest rates when these loans are applied to energy efficient housing, cars and business.

6. Although the Obama campaign is tied to communications via the internet, email, etc., there are many American Citizens who do not have access to this technology and do not use this technology. How are you going to reach them? How do you include them in your communications and informational feedback?

7. It was pointed out that California already has senators "on track" and supportive of your recovery package. However, there are many "Red" communities that need to be reached. It was suggested that we all contact our governors, mayors, city council members and legislators and let them know that we support this recovery plan and also look forward to considerable change in how our resources are allocated going forward.

8. Just a note, although I am very supportive of the Obama Administration I am not a member of the Democratic Party. I am a member of the Green Party. I hope that you include all political parties, Green, Independent, Socialist, and Republican in your gathering of information. I would also strongly recommend that you contact indigenous tribal representatives still living on this land to get their opinions and ideas. Many of these ideas and values are much more "sustainable" than those we have developed from our European cultural values. After all, "we" are the ones destroying the earth, streams, rivers and oceans, not the indigenous people we supplanted.

9. Finally, this was not discussed in our meeting but I want to throw it out anyway. Europe experienced enormous "immigration" issues with many southern European citizens migrating to wealthier northern European countries. Europe finally formed a "European Union" where residence and work permits are open to all within the EU countries. Eventually, Canada, the USA, Mexico and South America will need to form such a union. It is just a matter of time. We should begin planning immigration laws, work permits and residence regulations towards this eventual Union to avoid excessive waste in the future. Building a Berlin wall between the USA and Mexico is such a waste of time and money.


Ted & Anne-Marie Nordquist

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Look what these citizens did while we were having house parties!

I just found a very heartening video of hundreds of homeowners rallying in matching "Stop the Loan Sharks!" t-shirts, carrying posters, outside the Connecticut McMansions of some of the bankers who fleeced mainstream America and who are now complaining that they can't live off of $500,000/yr. provided to them compliments of us taxpayers.

Click on this link to go to NBC New York News, and then click on the video that's on the lower left-hand side of your screen. Those marchers could be any one of us!

Be sure to click on the slideshow that's just below the video for a roll call of the sheisters who made off with all the subprime mortgage booty and who now are struggling to pay their nannies, chauffers, and groundskeepers, without tapping into their offshore accounts made possible by lax financial regulations during the Bush administration.

Looks like the foxes are about to be evicted from the hen house!

CEO bailouts or aid to working middle-class homeowners?

This video is especially poignant after reading Lynn Woolsey's letter to Pelosi and the Appropriations Committee about Senate cuts to Obama's economic stimulus bill, including cuts to zero out $2.25 billion in aid to states and localities to stabilize home abandonments/foreclosures.

To those of us who don't think this foreclosure crisis affects us, think again. Every time someone loses their home in this bank-created fiasco, the home values for every homeowner in America go down. Just because you haven't lost your home in this greed-frenzy doesn't mean you're not losing equity/wealth you have spent years of hard work earning.

While CEO's are screaming about their salaries being capped at $500,000, and corporate America is claiming that CEO salary-capping will discourage America's best and brightest from continuing to do the "terrific jobs" they've been doing these last few decades for American business, GOP Senators are engaging in Capitol Hill histrionics about the "pork" in the stimulus package. Apparently, salary assistance for hedge fund managers will pull us out of this recession, while financial aid for communities to address home foreclosures is "pork."

Lynn Woolsey is listening to her progressive base!

Read Congresswoman Woolsey's letter to Pelosi and the Appropriations Committee, in response to the Senate's beheading of Obama's American Recovery & Reinvestment Bill's funding for "green" technology, veterans, sustaining prevailing wages, school construction, early childhood education programs, state and local government financial asistance, the housing crisis created by our banking system, preventive health-care, and providing health-coverage for laid-off workers.

There's a link on the right-hand side of this blog if you care enough about this letter to send our US representative an e-mail.

A personal account from a P4C member re one of the two Feb. 8th economic recovery house parties in Petaluma

From Lee Strauss. Lee opens with a personal message about her impressions of the meeting, and then outlines the ideas that came out of it:
At the Dorenfeld's yesterday, we all agreed to submit a summary of the discussion. The bulk of it was the background and problems of the participants and each one''s current concurrence or displeasure with the state of the stimulus package.

Bottom line...there was no agreement of any type of action that we as a group or individuals could undertake.

There were several good suggestions presented that could be acted upon (beyond the philosophies that we all talk about).
To list a few: (and not in order of importance or preference)

1. Consumer Affairs Dept. (in D.C.) oversee a rebate program on large tickets items i.e. washers, dryers, refrigerators, water heaters, furnaces ETC. to stimulate purchases for persons with a definite NEED, but not the available finances to make the purchases.

2. Require large businesses to bring outsourced services back to US and hire locally.

3. Explore the first-hand knowledge with Ted Nordquist, CEO of a corporation in Sweden (American Citizen) who is intimately familiar with incentive programs, to save natural resources. I have his contact information.

4. Organize local volunteer projects to help the local economy (ie food for animal shelters, goods and services for persons who are no longer independent (newly unemployed) ETC, ETC, ETC.,

5. Talk to Betty Ann Bruno, retired Broadcast Journalist, about getting media coverage for the various projects. (She was at the meeting and very knowledgeable.)

I believe that if a meeting was announced and an agenda included that addresses how to start and manage these projects (amongst others), it would result in action. The people on the attendance list should be notified so that they feel that their participation is valued and needed. That's what gets and keeps volunteers!

Lee Strauss

A personal account from a P4C member re one of the two Feb. 8th economic recovery house parties in Petaluma

From Elaine Larson. Elaine opens with a personal message about her impressions of the meeting, and then outlines the ideas that came out of it:
Hi All.

Yesterday, after an incredible Mystery School weekend, I went to a local house meeting about the Economic Recovery Plan. There were 12 in attendance who, except for couples, had not met before. We watched the videos and then discussed ideas we had. It was a great experience and a summary of our ideas is below.

One idea that was left out is that US car makers have overseas operations that build small, fuel-efficient cars for other countries. Why can't those be made for the US market asap?

I bought my last new car in 1976. After that I made a vow that I would not buy another new car until I could buy one that got at least 100 mpg and was totally non-polluting. That was 33 years ago and the technologies were available then; I was disgusted that major auto makers were paying enormous sums to inventors so they could keep the technologies from coming to market.

It is a wonderful experience to meet other locals who want humans to survive as a species on the planet and who want the US to be in the forefront of creating solutions to make that possible.


Ideas from 301 6th St. Petaluma Meeting:

February 8th, 2009

· Make a commitment to advocate among our community about the need for Recovery Plan to friends and neighbors- demonstrate our support for the Recovery Plan

· Donate our tax relief for projects and services that are being cut and are important to us

· ? Tax cuts do they make sense? Isn't that what has gotten us to where we are today?

· Moody's grade report for best spending says it is in aid- -unemployment, food stamps; health insurance etc.

· Long term tax cuts- allow people to create business plans that create for which they can get a loan.

· Credit? For business that hire people? That feels like a tough sell? Couldn't we create stimulus (reward) for hiring?

· Universal Health care-that could be a big boon for the country

· Infrastructure projects need to be shovel ready (ready to go)

· I'd like to see more manufacturing built in the US- but not to use protective tariffs- and not initiate a global trade wars. What can we do about it? How can we rebuild the manufacturing industries in the US?

· Are we addressing the mega watts issue? California uses a third less energy than other states because we conserve energy. - How can we help spur renewable energy across the nation?

· We need a whole different way of thinking than what we've had

· What is a healthy economy anyway? What does it look like? We need to ask ourselves this question in a new way. This is an important questions to ask ourselves as we embark on the biggest spending package we've ever seen

· Parks and the arts-don't appear to be in this package and they are both key to building a healthy community and economy.

· Can we insure that new technology in building materials are used in the infrastructure projects- i.e. concrete and asphalt that do not rely solely on petrochemicals etc. .are used in the infrastructure projects that are on the docket

· I want to weigh in to the admin – and those who are working on how to influence the choices are made so that we move ourselves toward a more sustainable economy.

· Can we get a list of what is being proposed to be spent on Infrastructure projects locally? Call Lynne Woolsey? We might be able to influence choices that will be made.

· Can we influence?

Elaine Larson

Sunday, February 8, 2009

It's about time our press exposes the stupidity of the comments in opposition to the stimulus package!

In an op-ed today, the WaPo's Steven Perlstein really lays into the economics-ignorant rantings coming out of Capitol Hill and their minions in the right-wing press who are out railing against President Obama's American Recovery & Reinvestment Plan. Last week, in an NPR news spot, I was really struck by the jaw-droppingly stupid comments about the part of the stimulus package that Obama wants to use to purchase hybrid vehicles for official use by our government workers. Listening to our basic economics-challenged legislators strut and crow that this is wasteful pork is almost unbearable.

Good gosh almighty. In all their legislative glory, they are unable to see how this would stimulate that part of the auto industry that needs to be stimulated right now. I can't think of a better way for our tax money to be used to set a new standard in auto purchases by US consumers, to jump-start greater research into the new technology that will get us off the oil that's contributing so greatly toward global climate change, and that will have a relatively immediate impact on reducing our overall consumption of foreign oil, a consumption that everyone knows fuels global jihadist terrorism.

Listening to these clowns and their economic proclamations reminds me of the first week I spent in Calculus 301 at the University of Florida 35 years ago, before the drop/add process weeded out the dozen or so students who really weren't up to the level of math discussion, and who insisted that the problem was with the instructor's inability to set the lectures at their level of comprehension, rather than at the level that was needed to move forward with the course.

Not only does this op-ed do a good job outlining their specious arguments, it's entertaining to boot. And it goes a long way towards making all of us realize what a difficult task lies ahead for President Obama, the task of overcoming the ignorance of those elected to national office by constituents raised and nurtured on right-wing teevee and radio.

Let's all say a prayer for President O, to give him the strength and patience to deal with these numbskulls without making them look like total idiots.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

TARP oversight panel chair Elizabeth Warren on The Rachel Maddow Show

Be one of a very small handful of Americans who watch this video clip about accountability for the public hand-out already given to our banks by Bush/Paulson, and the upcoming one they hope to get from Obama's economic stimulus package, the one that Obama/Geithner is now asking us to support. This is a must-see before attending one of those economic recovery house parties on Sun. Feb. 8th.

Are we listening? Demand transparency, accountability, a coherent story about what's going on. Let's make sure the economic stimulus bill we get is good for our economy and for our families, and not just good for special interests, like the banks.

Sen. Feinstein has her Intelligence Committee mojo up-and-running!

Sen. Dianne Feinstein ... wrote to Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Wednesday to urge him to look into the improper concealment of the permanent placement of two former Bushies within the Department of Defense.

This is a terrific opportunity for us to thank our senior US Senator for working to prevent the burrowing of Bush appointees into permanent career positions where they would be involved in sensitive political debates over Gitmo. It almost, but not quite, makes up for her Aug. 2007 vote to support the FISA bill that undid the warrantless surveillance restrictions placed on our executive branch and its political appointees, and that disallows America from prosecuting the Bush administration for its retroactive breaking of this federal law.

Send her a thank-you note! Links to send an e-mail to Dianne Feinstein on the right-hand side of this page. I sent her a note, and it only took me 30 seconds!

Obama's weekly address

This is a must-watch for those of us participating in this weekend's economic recovery house parties. P4C member Helaine Dorenfeld's event is full, but as of this writing, Robert Hudson still has three spots available for you to sign up for:

And if you're so inclined to travel with a small group of us to Oakland on Sunday for the Community Organize Bay Area meeting hosted by Pam Coukos, you can sign up here. Let me know if you want to carpool with others. I can probably help you out.

Linda Carpenter Sexauer

Friday, February 6, 2009

Mike Lux: The Progressive Revolution

"The progressive activist base is always going to want more, and they should."

Obama's speech about the economy before this weekend's grassroots efforts to help him get his stimulus package passed

Please take the less-than-10-minutes it takes to watch President Obama speak on Feb. 5th before House Democrats about his economic stimulus plan:

You can go here to watch a four-minute MSNBC video clip from his speech, and to read his speech in its entirety.

"This isn't some abstract debate."

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Time to rev up our "Yes We Can" mojo!

There is an organized right wing fringe campaign to stop Obama's economic stimulus. Despite thousands of phone calls that mainstream Americans (Yes! We're in that group!) have made to our US Senators since Tue. Feb. 3rd, insisting on passage of the American Recovery & Reinvestment Plan, Rush Limbaugh's playing ideological political games with his right wing radio fan club base, and their calls are outnumbering ours 100 to 1. As a result, our US Senators are getting the false impression that America does not support Obama's economic stimulus package when, indeed, we do!

What can you do?
(1) Visit the front page of Community Organize for a toolbox to use to take action. Choose for yourself which actions you support, and support them.

(2) Sign up for and attend one of the following events on Sunday:

P4C member Helaine Dorenfeld's economic recovery house meeting in Petaluma

Pam Coukos' Community Organize Bay Area meeting in Oakland

Robert Hudson's economic recovery house meeting in Petaluma

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Mr. Dutra...will you respect me in the morning?

This is a first-hand account, by P4C member Sarah Gibson, following the Sonoma County Board of Supes meeting on Feb. 3rd that decided whether the Dutra asphalt plant proposal will receive a higher prioritization than Shollenberger Park and Petaluma's water and air environment:
When I pulled into the Santa Rosa Courthouse parking lots today, I could not easily find a single parking spot ... and for very good reason. The lots were filled to the brim by opponents to the Dutra Plant.

In front of the Supervisor's Chambers, I found the cutest protest line one could ever hope to chance upon: rows upon rows of children and moms holding hand-made signs reading "Save Shollenberger Park" and "I love wild birds"... the sight brought a sincere smile to my face.

Inside the hallways of the chambers, my smile quickly faded. Rows of metal fold-up chairs were filled intermittently with constituents wearing flourescent green "YES" stickers on their plaid collar work shirts, intermixed with rows of citizens wearing "No Dutra Asphalt" badges upon work-out wear and suits.

The open General Public Comment period began somewhere around 3pm. In the meantime, we stood in line against the walls of the chamber, hoping to get our voices heard by the Supervisors. High-heel pain was no longer an excuse to quit at this point. I was committed!

As it turned out, there was an astonishing number of people there to be heard in opposition to the Dutra Plant. Intermixed with the anti-Dutra crowd were the well-appointed "YES"-to-Dutra people, who consisted mostly of the North Bay Construction Management Co., Ghillotti Construction, and the random construction employee in search of a job. The one surprising exception to this was one Mr. Dolcini from Liberty Road.

Mr. Dolcini felt it important to point out that the "mere 3,000" signatures collected by the opposition movement were "only 2 %" of the population of Petaluma. He also felt further inclined to add that this number adds up to only 1.5 signatures per person/pothole in Sonoma County.

Unfortunately, Mr. Dolcini only did retrospective math .... not prospective. As things turn out, we're staring down 8,400 signatures AGAINST Dutra's proposed plans per year at our current rate. And here's one of a few important facts to ponder at bedtime ...

WHY would the Board of Supervisors amend the current General Plan to allow permanent structures within a flood plain when part LU-7 of the General Plan clearly spells out in no uncertain terms, "NOT TO AMEND THE GENERAL PLAN TO ALLOW PERMANENT LIMITED INDUSTRIAL BUILDINGS ON A FLOOD PLAIN"??

Perhaps every sentiment in the room, without going into every detail, was described by a sweet silver-haired lady, who couldn't quite understand how she could find herself and her favorite park suddenly the object of an overnight industrial disaster, and who asked quite clearly to the hushed room, " Mr. Dutra ... will you still respect me in the morning?"

Her stunning message was loudly awash in metaphor -- shouting out to the Board of Supervisors as only a sweet lady of experience could, spelling out in a web of words, " Watch out, because we're all about to get (bleeped) by Dutra".

Obama asks us, the volunteers who worked so hard for so long to get him elected, to stump for his economic stimulus package

From today's SFChron, by Chron political writer Carla Marinucci:
... [Obama] is on the stump in the virtual world, heading what political and tech experts say represents Act II of the groundbreaking, tech-savvy political organizing effort that helped take him to the White House ...

"I need your help to spread the word and build support," Obama told [his netroots supporters] Monday, urging Americans to lobby their legislators on behalf of the package.

... He is also urging them to host house parties and events to help spread the word. The parties will be held Friday through Sunday, and supporters will be able to visit an Internet site that arms them with the ammunition they need to make Obama's case: downloadable reports, statistics, talking points and state-specific information.
Read the whole shebang here.

Watch Obama tell Americans why he wants our support in a series of TV interviews Tue. evening Feb. 3rd:

Monday, February 2, 2009

A personal message re Dutra Asphalt Plant

From P4C member Connie Madden:
Honorable Sonoma County Board of Supervisors:

I am Connie Madden, author, blogger and activist living in Petaluma - and I very strongly oppose the request of Dutra Materials to locate an asphalt plant at Petaluma's gateway on 101 South and just exactly across from our most popular walking trails - a real tourist draw - Shollenberger Park and bird sanctuary.

If Dutra could somehow convince me they would truly enclose this new plant and operate during the day, that could possibly be a mitigation - but we know they have not kept their side of the bargain at their site in San Rafael (operating 24/7, building docks and other structures without permits, noise and air pollution). Their record is not at all good at that facility.

As you know, Petaluma is a major tourist destination in our County and that draw is greatly enhanced by the presence of Shollenberger and its extended wetlands, just now coming into use! Birding enthusiasts come from all over to share the experiece of spotting the hundreds of varieties of migratory birds that depend on this place for nesting, for resting en route.

This is a very beautiful park, treasured by so many. Our Rowing Club Regatta draws 600 participants each year - but this plant would end that by blocking the River so the Regatta could not take place. One wonders if OTHER boats could get past the huge barge Dutra intends to dock in a narrow part of the River as well!

The idea of placing two huge smoke stacks right alongside the freeway as our gateway view is, as Council member Mike Healy said, disheartening! Let alone the likely presence of additional pollution making its way into the park and into residential neighborhoods.

As you will hear, former Petaluma Council member, David Keller, and Friends of the Petaluma River Director, David Yearsley, were invited to view Dutra's "state of the art" facility in LA and found to their dismay BLUE SMOKE PLUMES exiting the "state of the art" plant - and more of same rising from trucks that were supposed to be covered with tarpulins but were not. Yuck!

It just doesn't make business sense to insult the eyes, ears and nose of people coming to Petaluma for a get-away, business trip, trip to Sonoma's wonderful wine country - by first offering them a view of smoke stacks, smell of asphalt, noise of the very loud plant.

If there is any way of convincing Dutra to move this plant further from our bird sanctuary or at least demanding any facility be fully enclosed - and regulations honored - we might still be able to add this asphalt plant to our landscape. But Dutra's record is not good - and we have managed for 150 years without an asphalt plant at the gateway to our postcard pretty River City. At this time, I would deny their request!

Thank you for your consideration.

Yours, Connie Madden