Public Eye

Public Eye

The Anti-Grinch

“I’ve never done anything I enjoy more,” says Gene Crozat, the instigator of the merry band of “meter beaters” who have once again taken to the streets of downtown Santa Rosa, determined to stay a step or two ahead of the city’s parking patrols. The owner of G & C Auto Body, Crozat has been bankrolling the elfin crew for six years now, earning the enmity of the city and the affection of a city-full of shoppers. The eight meter beaters began their seasonal duties last Saturday, and will continue through Dec. 23, spending $600 to $800 a day in small change to ward off parking citations for the unwary. “They’re actually getting pretty good at it,” Crozat says of his current crew, which includes a number of repeat student workers. “They’re getting on their walkie-talkies to stay ahead of those gals.” As a lighthearted way of expressing his contempt for city hall, Crozat says, “You can’t have more fun for $600 a day.”

Be Prepared, cont.

A planned emergency information forum, set to be held in Guerneville last Wednesday, was canceled on one day’s notice when the first heavy storm of the season triggered flood warnings. “It was a judgment call as the river rose,” said David McGahee, a social worker for Project Recovery, one of the sponsoring agencies. The meeting, to provide information about “services that may or may not be available in the event of another flood” and “how to prepare for and respond to the next disaster,” according to a flyer announcing it, will now be rescheduled.

Battle Stations

Monica Marvin has issued a call to arms in her declaration of candidacy against Rep. Frank Riggs. The Democratic challenger paints the Republican incumbent as “a general in Newt Gingrich’s army,” who “has taken his marching orders from Georgia, not from the people of the 1st District.” After blasting Riggs at length, Marvin’s initial campaign salvo comes out unabashedly for education, fair taxes, and affordable health care, all in a single sentence. The final paragraph of her two-page written assault reveals that Marvin is a former school teacher turned attorney who lives in St. Helena. Red alert!

Let There Be Lights?

As the days get their shortest, and that holiday we keep hearing so much about gets closer, colored lights and other seasonal decorations are appearing just about everywhere we turn. Everywhere, that is, but at city halls. Through the central core of Sonoma County, municipal headquarters manifest small showings of holiday cheer inside, where the public employees toil, but offer scant Yule spirit externally. Windsor’s Town Hall does have painted windows, and there is a decorated tree in a corner of the smallish lobby at Rohnert Park’s City Hall, but there is zippo outside there, just like Cotati, Petaluma, Healdsburg, Cloverdale, and Santa Rosa. “It’s probably because there’s no money to fund it,” confided one city worker. Yet away from the freeway corridor, Christmas cheer blooms in colorful lights outside Sebastopol’s City Hall, at least now that the power is back on. Over in Sonoma, not only is the upper half of their City Hall alight, but in the Plaza there is a decorated Hospice Tree that is also ringed with plywood panels painted by local schoolchildren. “We’d like to do more,” said a Sonoma staff person. “but people always mess it up.” That’s why there are no lights on the lower half of City Hall.

Felled Giant

The fierce storm that last week blackened the North Coast and sent PG&E spin doctors whirling also toppled a landmark tree in west Sonoma County. The familiar giant oak– with a painted yellow ribbon encircling its trunk–that stood at the corner of Furlong and Occidental roads west of Sebastopol is gone. “It was like watching the goddess be upturned and taken away,” observes Occidental merchant Charlyn Stetson about the removal of the fallen oak.

From the Dec. 21-27, 1995 issue of the Sonoma Independent

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