News Briefs

News Briefs

Grand Jury Reports

SANTA ROSA A combination of undertrained personnel and poorly enforced building standards leave Rohnert Park residents at risk to higher than acceptable fire danger, the 1995 Sonoma County grand jury concluded in its annual report. The 28-page report, distributed throughout the county this week, was also critical of the county’s juvenile detention facilities and the Sheriff’s Department’s procedures for handling citizen complaints. It called on the Valley of the Moon Water District to adopt written accounting and emergency procedures, and endorsed the creation of a regionalized wastewater treatment system in the lower Russian River Area. After a careful examination of the Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District, the grand jury concluded that the complex process through which the county acquired a conservation easement over a large portion of the McCord Ranch “asked and answered a lot of questions about what Sonoma County wanted in its Open Space Policy,” but did not violate any established rules or policies. The jury also encouraged citizens to attend the meetings of the Open Space Authority.

Campaign Initiatives

SANTA ROSA A new effort to curtail “fat cats writing fat checks” in California political campaigns was launched this week at a series of simultaneous press conferences, including one outside the downtown State Building. The Anti-Corruption Act of 1996, sponsored by the California Public Interest Research Group, proposes to limit 75 percent of a candidate’s contributions from within the district they will represent, bans donations from corporations and unions and restricts individual and PAC contributions, and sets tight limits on total spending from all sources. It must now gather more than 430,000 voter signatures by April 19, to win a place on the ballot. Meanwhile, another campaign reform measure was announcing that it has already gathered enough signatures to qualify for the November election.

Violent Crime Up

SANTA ROSA There were fewer killings, but more assaults, rapes, and robberies in unincorporated Sonoma County last year, according to statistics compiled by the Sheriff’s Department. Murders dropped from 11 to eight, while the number of assaults shot up by 101, or 26 percent. There were 40 rapes reported, up from 34 in 1994. But the number of burglaries dropped by 120, or 7.6 percent. Figures from local cites will be released later.

Hospital Talks

SONOMA The last unaffiliated hospital in Sonoma County is considering a partnership with the largest. Sonoma Valley hospital administrator Dennis Burns has held preliminary talks with representatives from Memorial Hospital of Santa Rosa, but said that any linkage between the two would be limited to joint insurance contracting, not the more extensive combining of resources planned for Memorial and Petaluma Valley Hospital. Another of Memorial’s sister facilities, Queen of the Valley Hospital in Napa, could also be part of a bloc with the other three local hospitals, allowing them to combine forces in competing with larger health-care companies, such as Sutter/CHS, which is preparing to take over Community Hospital, and Columbia/HCA, which owns smaller hospitals in Healdsburg and Sebastopol.

SHORT TAKE Comedian Bill Cosby is reportedly negotiating to buy a share in a local winery. The talks regarding the 3,000-case Lake Sonoma Winery are expected to conclude by the end of the month.

From the Jan. 18-25, 1996 issue of The Sonoma County Independent

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