News Briefs

News Briefs

Ihde Case Update

SANTA ROSA A Municipal Court judge on Wednesday ordered Sean Ihde, the 24-year-old son of Sheriff Mark Ihde, to surrender March 3 at the Sonoma County Main Adult Detention Facility to complete the remainder of a 90-day sentence for abusing his ex-girlfriend and using drugs. The case has become a cause célèbre among local women’s rights groups, many of which sent representatives to Wednesday’s court hearing. Ihde, a Windsor resident, served 15 days in jail and spent an additional 31 days at a residential treatment program. He was then released even though he had 44 days remaining on his mandatory sentence. No order had been issued remanding the original court order. That has led to intense criticism that Ihde has received special treatment because of his relation to the sheriff, who is responsible for keeping track of county inmates when they are sent into treatment programs. Sheriff Ihde has said that he understood the early release was allowed because his son caused problems for jail security owing to the protection he needed. “No one has accepted responsibility for releasing Sean to the street,” says Tanya Brannan of the Purple Berets. Lee Phillipson, a Napa County prosecutor assigned to the case to prevent conflict of interest on the part of the local District Attorney’s Office, was “furious” about the release and that he was not notified that Ihde had been sent back home. On Wednesday, Judge Frank Passalac-qua described Ihde as “a very successful probationer.” It is expected that Ihde, who is submitting to regular drug testing, will finish the remainder of his sentence at a local residential drug treatment center.

Pfendler Cuts a Deal

PETALUMA Business tycoon and Moon Ranch owner Peter Pfendler, who wants to acquire “mountain jewel” and city-owned Lafferty Ranch in a controversial land swap, won an expected deal last week. The Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space Authority board voted 4-1 in favor of Pfendler’s latest proposal, which erases some earlier swap conditions (including simultaneous escrow closures for both the Moon Ranch payment and the transfer of the Lafferty title to Pfendler). Now Pfendler will get an early $1.2 million payment and remains obligated to the trade for a limited time. If the swap isn’t done in 12 months, Pfendler will get $240,000, and if the deal still isn’t done in 24 months, he stands to get another quarter million dollars plus permission do what he pleases with Moon (within certain open space restrictions). This puts deadline pressure on the City Council to get the deal done; but first it must somehow appease citizens who are substantially opposed to the trade.

Pesticide Warning

SANTA ROSA The city’s widespread use of toxic pesticides in parks, playgrounds, and other public areas is an invisible hazard, two environmental groups charged this week. Noting that 31 different compounds are used by the city’s Recreation and Parks Department, Green Corps and the Pesticide Watch Education Fund warned that “21 are suspected of causing cancer, 14 have the possible ability to cause chronic damage, and 13 have the possible ability to alter genetic material.” Giving the city a C-minus on their pesticide report card, the groups called for actions to substitute less hazardous materials and reduce overall pesticide use, and for greatly increased public notification before and after the spraying of public lands. City representatives noted that the most toxic compounds are used sparingly, and in full accordance with applicable laws and regulations.

Hospital Lease Unveiled

SANTA ROSA The terms of the county’s proposed lease with Sutter/CHS to assume operation of Community Hospital were released Jan. 26. According to the county, the new pact will continue the current level of operations for the hospital and its mental health, HIV, and family practice clinics. Indigent care will also be maintained “at . . . current levels” at no additional cost to the county, and all current employees will be offered jobs. The hearing before the county Board of Supervisors will begin at 1:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 9.

Home Depot Plans Store

SANTA ROSA Thoroughly rejected in its first bid to locate in northern Santa Rosa, Home Depot is eyeing a vacant site at the southwest corner of Mendocino Avenue and Bicentennial Boulevard. Last week, an official of the giant hardware chain store asked representatives of the Journey’s End Mobile Home Park if residents there would support the store’s new plans. The first Home Depot proposal, to displace the mobile home park and build on that site, was roundly defeated with the help of the park residents. Dolly Cress, president of the Journey’s End Homeowners Association, says the group is still unhappy with Home Depot and will oppose the company’s efforts to locate in either Santa Rosa or Windsor, but they support the plans of Petaluma-based Yardbirds to build a new 100,000-square-foot store directly across the street from the site Home Depot is now eyeing.

Tainted City Well

SEBASTOPOL One of the city’s four water-supply wells was taken off line last week, after monitors detected traces of a gasoline additive in a nearby well. Tests of the municipal water supply found no contamination from the chemical dichloroethane.

More Sewer Bonds

SANTA ROSA Another $21.9 million in municipal bonds will soon be sold to upgrade the regional sewer plant, but the additional funds will not be applied to the eventual new wastewater storage and disposal system that is still under study. A portion of the money will be used to refinance some of the $123 million in previously issued bonds that have also been allocated to improve and expand the sewer plant over the past 11 years. The new disposal system is estimated to cost between $46 million and more than $400 million, although critics say the higher range of costs has been inflated and exaggerated.

Raiders May Return

ROHNERT PARK The once-again Oakland Raiders have expressed an interest in coming back to Sonoma County for their summer training camp. The team has asked the city to participate in building playing fields and a locker room adjacent to the Red Lion Hotel, and a City Council subcommittee has been formed to examine the idea. Several other Northern California cities are also reportedly courting the team, including Fairfield, Vallejo, Alameda, and Stockton. The Raiders trained at the El Rancho Tropicana in Santa Rosa for 20 years before the team moved to Los Angeles in 1982.

Mixed Crime News

SANTA ROSA Overall crime dropped in the city in 1995, but violent offenses surged by 12 percent, according to police statistics. The number of homicides was steady, at five on the year, but robbery and assault increased 10 and 21 percent. The biggest jump was in the number of arsons, which shot up 39 percent, from 49 in 1994 to 68 last year. Burglary, auto theft, and rape all declined, burglary by 26 percent, to account for the numerical crime reduction. Police Chief Sal Rosano says gang-related incidents are responsible for many of the violent offenses, which sometimes occur at a rate of two a day.

Cop Kills Assailant

SANTA ROSA A Windsor man was shot and killed by a Santa Rosa Police officer early Tuesday morning in the lobby of the police station. Sgt. James Carlson fired from just five feet away as Dale Robbins attacked him with a three-foot metal bar. Prior efforts to halt Robbins with pepper spray and a wooden baton were ineffective, officers said. Police Chief Sal Rosano said the incident appeared to be a case of justifiable self-defense. Robbins, 40, was the fourth person killed by a Santa Rosa police officer in the past nine years.

From the Feb. 1-7, 1996 issue of the Sonoma Independent

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