Usual Suspects

Progressive rally in Petaluma

By Greg Cahill

PROGRESSIVES don’t carry nearly as much clout in Sonoma County–or the rest of the North Bay, for that matter–as they once did. Even the hardcore draconian gang that once ruled Bolinas on the Marin County coast as if it were their private fiefdom have been caught asleep at the wheel with the recent revelation that yuppie queen Martha Stewart plans to relocate to that remote burg (and that other millionaires are buying up key chunks of real estate in the area).

But that hasn’t stopped local lefties from flocking to Walnut Park in Petaluma for an annual bash that draws a few hundred folks (though this year, the faithful mingled with patrons of Art in the Park, so it’s unclear who was on hand for political glad-handing and who was present to ogle the art). On Sept. 10, the Progressive Festival featured speeches by peace activist Daniel Ellsberg and a handful of other dignitaries. The global human rights group Amnesty International used the third annual event to bestow an award on Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma, for her work with the Santa Rosa chapter of the organization to free Zhang Jie, a Chinese prisoner of conscience who has been jailed since his arrest in connection with the 1989 uprising in Tiananmen Square in Beijing.

“Lynn Woolsey’s commitment to human rights is clear, and that’s why we’ve chosen to honor her,” noted Margo Miller, congressional liaison for Amnesty International.

I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry

SPEAKING of progressives, the Santa Rosa City Council–which is dominated by a conservative bunch, to put it mildly–has put City Councilwoman Noreen Evans in a twist by allegedly directing City Hall staff members to notify folks about public meetings “in such a way” as to exclude Evans from attending and participating in city business.

In a Sept. 7 letter to the City Council, Evans–a progressive politician who failed in her bid earlier this year to win a seat on the conservative county Board of Supervisors–claims that she was told by members of the Board of Public Utilities Liaison Committee that the City Council “had given direction” that Evans was not allowed to participate in the meeting, an apparent violation of the state’s open-meeting law.

In the wake of that fiasco, Evans says she has discovered that the city failed to notify her properly about at least three other key city meetings, including a general plan management team of which Evans is the chairperson.

Hmmm. What was it underground FM radio reporter Scoop Nisker used to say? No matter how paranoid you are, they’re always doing something worse than you imagined.

Cry Me a River

SPEAKING of underappreciated, the Russian River–long regarded as Santa Rosa’s unofficial cesspool–could use a few good friends. And that’s exactly what the eighth annual Russian River Appreciation Festival–Saturday, Sept. 16, from 3 to 6 p.m.–is all about. The event, co-sponsored by the Friends of the Russian River, the Russian River Environmental Forum, and the Sonoma County Conservation Council, will be held at the Hop Kiln Winery (owned by longtime vintner and environmentalist Marty Griffin), 6050 Westside Road, Healdsburg. State Assemblywoman Virginia Strom-Martin–who this week hosted an eco-economics hearing–Supervisor Mike Reilly, and Fred Euphrat will share the emcee duties.

The Petaluma City Council will be honored for taking a stand against county growth interests by refusing to sign an agreement increasing the diversion of water from the river. Both the county Board of Supervisors and the Santa Rosa City Council have threatened retaliation for that act of conscience.

And that’s enough to put those Sonoma County progressives into action once again.

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From the September 14-20, 2000 issue of the Sonoma County Independent.

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