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‘Progressive’ politics in Sonoma County

Assemblywoman Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa, speaks with Napa Valley College student Alex Pader after a candidates forum at the college Thursday. Evans is seeking the 2nd District state Senate seat being vacated by the retirement of Pat Wiggins, her political ally.

By DEREK MOORE
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Pat Wiggins was asked four years ago if she was running a “political machine,” given that nobody was challenging her in the Democratic primary for the state Senate seat that encompasses Santa Rosa and a vast swath of the North Coast.

“The machine is the miles I have put on my car — that is the machine,” Wiggins quipped.

Four years later, the political movement that Wiggins helped bring to power shows no signs of rust. The outcome of the June 8 primary is almost certain to lock in place two of Wiggins’ closest allies in the state Senate and Assembly for elections to come. It also would further their grip in Sacramento around a “progressive” agenda that favors unions, social and environmental advocacy and limited growth.

Both Noreen Evans, who is seeking the 2nd District Senate seat, and Michael Allen, who is running for the 7th District Assembly slot, which covers Santa Rosa, Napa and Vallejo, are political acolytes of Wiggins and have generous financial backing and Democratic Party support that observers say virtually guarantees their election.

To critics, they also share a too-cozy bond with unions, particularly those representing public employees, at a time when taxpayer-funded salaries and pensions are under scrutiny for adding to California’s massive budget woes and when polls show only 11 percent of voters give state lawmakers a favorable rating.

Both Evans and Allen, who are raking in labor contributions, said they can be independent of these interests. “I’m beholden to nobody but voters,” Evans said.

Worries over special interests

But even some fellow Democrats fear the party locally is being co-opted by special interests that have the power to anoint preferred candidates and discourage other, perhaps more moderate, candidates from entering the fray.

“The game is rigged to begin with,” said Doug Bosco, a former North Coast congressman and assemblyman. “Anyone with any sophistication, that is capable of winning, will not run, unless they have half-a-million dollars of their own money to spend. They won’t collect it from the public, and the unions that will contribute it have already made up their minds.”

The elections for the Senate seat that Wiggins is leaving after one term for health reasons, and for the Assembly seat held by Evans for six years, are especially important because it is unusual to have both seats open at the same time. The winners in the Democratic primary are almost assured of victory in November and in subsequent elections because the districts are heavily Democratic.

But in a political season marked by highly visible campaigns for Sonoma County district attorney and for two open supervisorial seats, the Senate and Assembly campaigns are virtually unseen.

The only appearance for either Evans or Allen with a challenger present was a state Senate forum last Thursday in Napa, where Evans won the Democratic endorsement, and an April 12 forum for Assembly candidates held in Santa Rosa.

Big war chest no guarantee

But having the largest campaign war chest and most organized campaign doesn’t always translate into victory, as Allen can attest.

An attorney, he is the former general manager of the Service Employees International Union Local 707 and executive director of the North Bay Labor Council. He also was Wiggins’ district director for two years.

Despite having labor support and spending more money than anyone else in the 2008 race for Santa Rosa City Council, Allen finished in seventh place.

He now is the fundraising leader for the Assembly seat over his opponents, Vallejo Councilman Michael Wilson and former Santa Rosa Councilman Lee Pierce, who has made Allen’s donations from special interests an issue in the campaign.

Allen has raised more than $225,000, with more than $82,000, most of it from political action committees tied to labor, coming in since the most recent filing date of March 18.

His nearest challenger, Wilson, has raised a total of about $90,000, according to state campaign finance records.

Allen’s fall and quick rise again through the political ranks is held up as Exhibit A of what some say is a political machine at work in Sonoma County. But he said it’s “been anything but an anointment.”

Instead, he said he’s had to go through the same process of seeking endorsements that every other candidate has gone through. He also noted that he’s not the first person to seek office after having lost a previous campaign.

“It’s a matter of whether you decide to give up or continue building name recognition with a broader base,” he said. “That’s how you eventually get elected to public office.”

Allen’s trajectory is different from that of Evans, who was elected to the Assembly in 2004, and from Wiggins, who held the seat before her for six years. Both women were elected to the Santa Rosa City Council prior to ascending to state office.

Shared interests

Evans said she and Wiggins developed a bond while serving on the council over their shared interests in open government, the environment, city-centered growth, education and the labor movement.

She said the fact they have complementary political careers is evidence of nothing more than two friends helping each other out.

“When you find someone in politics who shares your values, you tend to work with them and support them when they run for other offices,” Evans said.

Wiggins, who went on to serve three terms in the Assembly before she was termed out of office in 2004, was elected to the Senate in 2006. Evans, in the meantime, ran for the Assembly seat and won.

Wiggins’ decision to not run again opened the door for Evans to seek the Senate seat.

Evans also has received sizeable amounts from special interests, including those with ties to labor, Indian tribes and trial attorneys. Since March 18, she’s taken in more than $82,000, bringing her total raised to date to more than $260,000.

Her opponent in the June 8 primary, Sonoma Councilwoman and business owner Joanne Sanders, said despite her background and raising more than $100,000, she feels like she hasn’t been taken seriously by Democratic Party members locally.

“There are all these doors that should be open that were closed before the campaign filing period was even open,” she said.

“A foundation of our country is to have healthy contests and elections, and not have them pre-decided,” she said. “Senator Wiggins ran unopposed four years ago. This is a huge district and it’s an important place in a huge state. Why would there not be a contest for this seat?”

Sanders, who touts her business experience, is critical of Evans for voting to cut education spending and for “balancing the budget on the backs of local government to fund state programs.”

Sanders also supports Proposition 14, which would allow for open primaries. If in force, it would have meant that the two top vote-getters on June 8 would face each other in the general election, effectively setting up a race between two Democrats.

Also running in the Senate race is Sonoma County Planning Commissioner Tom Lynch of Guerneville, who lags far behind in fundraising.

Against open primaries

Both Allen and Evans are opposed to open primaries, saying they don’t want voters from other political parties to have a say in choosing which Democrat goes forward.

“Why be part of a party if you’re going to open it up to whoever wants to influence that election?” Allen said.

Evans said the system in place now does not discourage other Democrats from entering the race. She said she’s raised more money and garnered more endorsements than Sanders for the basic reason that she is working harder in the campaign.

“It sounds to me like people who don’t understand how the Democratic process works,” she said. “A lot of people think they can collect a few signatures and the world will beat a path to their door. That’s not how it works.”

Only hours after Wiggins announced in August that she would not run for re-election, Evans announced her intention to run in a press release that included the names of several powerful Democrats who are endorsing her.

Terry Price, Evans’ campaign manager, said her intentions should not have come as a surprise, given that she’d formed a committee to run for the Senate seat in 2014 in anticipation that Wiggins would retain the seat until then.

Candidates normally try to line up endorsements and tap into funding sources as early as they can to discourage others who might be interested in running.

But the concern raised with Allen and Evans is that they benefit from inside Legislative connections that create a line of uncontested succession.

Term limits enacted by California voters were intended to open up seats that were held by individuals for, in some cases, decades. But according to former county supervisor and Democrat Eric Koenigshofer, what was once a marathon has now turned into a “relay,” with politicians handing the baton off to their desired successor.

“It’s their club,” he said of the North Coast’s progressive coalition.

Assemblyman Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, said Sonoma County Democrats are more organized than their counterparts in Marin County.

“That begins with organized labor, but includes the Democratic Central Committee and Democratic clubs. It’s very, very different in the two counties,” he said.

But Huffman said the Democratic apparatus that exists here regionally is nothing like it is in San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles and other centralized seats of power. And he uses himself as an argument that someone outside the system can legitimately have a shot at winning.

“I didn’t get here by being a part of any system,” he said.

Having amassed a sizeable war chest, Huffman is now viewed as a virtual shoo-in to win another two-year term in November.

Machine accusation ‘hooey’

Price said “the accusation that we somehow shoved others aside and machine politics took over … is such hooey. The facts just don’t support it.”

Progressive Democrats in Sonoma County used to level the same accusation at local government leaders who were perceived to be in the pocket of business interests.

The tables are now turned.

Herb Williams, a Santa Rosa-based political consultant who has worked for many candidates with business and developer backing and was a main target of this criticism, said “if anyone has ever been a tool of anyone in this county in the last 20 years, it’s Michael Allen.”

Williams said Allen’s ties to unions do not bode well for him being independent on the issues.

Those ties include Allen signing a pledge with SEIU Local 1021 when he was a candidate for the Santa Rosa City Council promising to “publicly support and actively encourage” the union’s organizing efforts and to encourage other employers to quickly reach labor agreements once workers vote to unionize.

Records show that on April 7, the union donated $7,800 to Allen’s campaign — the most allowed by state law.

“I think being beholden to those kinds of unions is not a good thing for anyone, where you have to say up front that you are going to support their entire agenda and their agenda is making more money for employees — which isn’t bad, unless it breaks government,” Williams said.

Evans and Allen make the argument that the special interests that are supporting them are representing constituencies that voters on the North Coast support — teachers, for example, or police officers — and that to support these unions merely reflects the will of the voters.

“They certainly don’t want candidates who are in favor of oil drilling or taking money from oil interests,” Allen said, referencing a $1,500 donation that was made to Wilson’s campaign by Chevron.

The company has contributed $3,900 to Sanders’ campaign.

Target of FPPC probe

But besides Allen’s controversial ties to labor unions, he also is being investigated by the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission to determine whether he violated conflict-of-interest laws while he was a member of the Santa Rosa Planning Commission.

The probe centers on Allen’s vote in August to approve an overhaul of the city general plan that changed the land-use designation for property owned by the Sonoma County Water Agency. Allen at the time was under contract to the Water Agency to lobby for that change in the general plan designation.

Allen has denied any conflicts and says he can be independent of any interests that are seeking his vote.

“I don’t think I’m a tool of any particular interest,” he said. “I think I’m an independent thinker. But if someone asks, ‘Do you support education, opportunities for Californians and social mobility?’ then I’m going to be in favor of those things.”

If elected, Allen is likely to have a bully pulpit to promote that agenda.

“These are folks who don’t have to compromise very much,” said Brian Sobel, a Petaluma-based political consultant and registered Republican who has contributed $500 to Sanders’ campaign. “They know where they’re going. They know the drill. And I would argue, it makes them less accountable to their entire constituency.”

Given the political leanings on the North Coast, this area is likely to continue electing Democrats to Legislative seats, as it has done for decades.

Registered Democrats now outnumber Republicans four-to-one in Sonoma County, a trend that is mirrored across the North Coast.

“What people aren’t acknowledging is the fact that the community became more progressive over the last 20 years,” said Jim Leddy, Evans’ opponent in the 2004 Democratic primary for the Assembly and now the county’s governmental affairs coordinator.

“Do the elected officials reflect that, or did they seize the power and turn the electorate that way?”





62 Responses to “‘Progressive’ politics in Sonoma County”

  1. Ben Boyce says:

    Here’s a modest recommendation to improve the quality of the dialog on this site: Let’s settle on calling one another conservatives or progressives or independents. There may be other categories, but that covers the main ones. I won’t call you a fascist, and you won’t call me a communist. That seems fair to me. Everyone keeps their dignity and their integrity. Deal?

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  2. Beef King says:

    I see the quote of the day is referencing Mr. Boyces’ dislike of the 2/3 vote approval process of our state budget system.
    The attack on the 2/3 requirement by ‘Progressives’ is bad strategy. Remember, liberals fought for this provision when they were outnumbered in Sacramento.
    The 2/3 provision is good because it forces the majority party to draft budgets that consider EVERYONE in the state, not just the supporters of one party.

    And Ted, since you are being asked to moderate, please consider that the term ‘teabagger’ is a sexual slur with no other value, and falls in the category of name calling you protested in your post.
    So far, the only ‘name calling’ I’m reading are the slurs thrown by Lisa and Ben.
    Can you two can write passionately without the name calling, please?

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  3. Lisa says:

    Well, Mr. Appel,
    I can see your admonishment asking people to not attack or call names is working (NOT) Frankly after seeing the first “climate change is a hoax” post, as well as a “you employ illegal aliens” post I am sure that a demand for Obama’s birth certificate can’t be far behind. I think it’s too late and Ben is right that the teabaggers have migrated over here. While I personally don’t mind being called a “communist” and “ugly” and a “union hack” by people who are too scared to name themselves, it does seem that a once promising idea is falling prey to lax monitoring. Between that and the tweet window so full of contrived campaign pr tweets…well it’s not too fun anymore.

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  4. Beef King says:

    I disagree with Ben Boyce. Censorship is wrong, and is precisely my complaint with ‘progressivism’, which happens to be the topic of this article.
    It is not a crime to be a communist in America. And it is not a crime to discuss their presence in America. It is my opinion there are ‘progressives’ in our county who have communist ideals, and that those ideals are bad for Sonoma County, and they are bad for America.
    I am not in favor of ‘Progressivism’ in our county government.
    Please Ben, speak your mind.

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  5. Ted Appel says:

    I’m all for a vigorous debate, folks. Much of it has been very illuminating so far. It’s clear there’s a lot of passion in this community, which frankly is good to see amid so much apathy about public policy in some corners of our society.

    But I am starting to get a little uncomfortable with the personal attacks in some of the posts. I know politics is not pretty. And the actions of public officials who seek to represent us are always fair game for comment. So is the newspaper, for that matter. It’s okay to skewer weak points that you perceive in someone’s argument. But please focus your attack on the argument, not the person.

    As for real names: If you want to make Quote of the Day, then use your full name.

    And thanks to everyone who’s helped raise the level of political awareness in our community by contributing to these discussions. Sunday marks our two-month anniversary. So far, you’ve posted more than 1,600 comments in these threads. It takes a lot of work to moderate these discussions, but I think the are a terrific way for you to educate and influence other members of our community. Thanks for participating in the conversation.

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  6. Ben Boyce says:

    Note to site moderator Ted Appel:

    I was very glad to see that the PD invested the resources in putting up a moderated site, which would finally allow sane, decent people to participate in an on-line forum without coming away feeling like you needed a shower. The old unmoderated PD forum was so toxic that it finally devolved into a dozen vile wing-nuts attacking a couple of angry moonbats. No one else wanted to come near it, is was so foul.
    Now we have a fresh start, so let’s not make the same mistakes. Here are a couple of recommendations:
    #1) Anyone who refers to a political opponent as “communist/socialist/fascist” should be automatically edited out. They are practicing a form of hate speech that prevents genuine discussion.
    #2) Real name entries rule. Anyone using a bogus and absurd handle should not expect to be responded to. They can rave on, but I’m under no moral or intellectual obligation to reply. Go ahead and post them, if they are civil, but we should not take them seriously.
    So please, Ted, we have a fresh start here. Don’t let the trolls pollute this nest, too. If they’re out of line, edit them out.
    Thank You

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  7. Mac says:

    I look forward to receiving the hit pieces that will soon come from NBL. As far as I am concerned, it does nothing but hurt the candidate they are trying to protect.

    Time for change – enough of the progressives!

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  8. Richard Canini says:

    CALM !!!!!!
    PLEASE, PLAY NICE WITH THE OTHER CHILDREN.

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  9. Pete says:

    Allen = status quo

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  10. Beef Queen says:

    Beef King:

    Keep your privacy. Maldonado appears to be obsessed in a number of ways and makes the exchanges on this site personal, mean, and an excuse for revenge. Lisa Maldonado is obsessed with your name and all the names of all the other unwary commentators because she wants to conduct a hate campaign and find ways to hurt you. Like if you have a business, she just might organize a boycott; have a job, she’ll go after you there; and you would have to watch your back with your friends too. Her intimidation tactics are as ugly as the photograph (thanks for the link!)and her politics. She is an officer of some obsure Sonoma County group that the unions fund to mail out hit pieces at election time.

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  11. @Beef King says:

    To answer your question, none. Not one of those is emblematic of the United States government. Not fascist. Not socialist. Not communist.

    And you want me to point to a “progressive” society that you would like to see the U.S. emulate? No.

    I want a progressive United States based on innovative ideas and not stuck-in-the-mud conservative ideas. We don’t need to wait for other countries to employ these policies before we try them out. We should be able and prepared to adapt to the changes around us, not restricted to following another society.

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  12. Beef King says:

    Thank you Lisa for affirming everything I have written in my previous posts regarding the ‘Progressive’ strategy of changing the subject by name calling, demonization and distraction.
    Your obsession with my name is telling.
    Let’s take this conversation to an adult level.
    Earlier, my knowledge of political systems was challenged. Below are definitions of fascism, socialism, and communism. Please tell me which of these best describes you and the American term of ‘Progressivism’. And please point out a ‘progressive’ society that you would like to see the U.S. emulate.
    #1. Fascism- a governmental system led by a dictator having complete power, forcibly suppressing opposition and criticism, regimenting all industry, commerce, etc., and emphasizing an aggressive nationalism and often racism.
    #2. Socialism- a theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole.
    #3. Communism-a system of social organization in which all economic and social activity is controlled by a totalitarian state dominated by a single and self-perpetuating political party.

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  13. lisa maldonado says:

    Dear Mr. “I am covering up some serious masculine inadequacies” Beef King. It’s the apex of arrogance and cowardice for you to keep calling out others while you hide behind a (deeply embarrasing) fake name. It’s also hypocritical to accuse people of unfairly targeting you as a Fox News ditto head, and then spout anti-union anti-progressive rhetoric straight off the Glen Beck whiteboard. Finally it’s beyond reason for someone who doesn’t see the ridiculouslness of their own lame, fake porno inspired moniker to keep asking for “adult” discussion. I have already spent way too much time trying to have a grown up conversation with someone who calls them self “beef king” Please get some help.

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  14. Beef King says:

    From Lisa Maldonado….
    “They choose to support the union with a small portion of THEIR wages”…

    Thank you Lisa. That is an excellent point. Your union is behind a law that takes away the right to choose whether or not a union members’ dues can be used to support union politics.

    Isn’t that the source of all the opposition to your union/democrat/mainstream media cabal?
    The right to choose is central to what makes America great, and you and your union want to take that away.

    You can love your union, that’s OK.
    It’s not OK to try to force it on the rest of us.

    I’m still waiting for an adult level response to the many criticisms of your union and your opinions from the many posters to this thread.
    Where’s the beef?

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  15. Beef King says:

    It appears that rather than respond to the debate, Ms. Boaz is employing the same failed tactics as her friends Lisa and Laura.
    Demonizing me as a ‘Fox News’ watcher, hater of gays and abortion wingnut is a failed strategy. (By the way, you forgot to call me a rascist).
    What does any of what you wrote have to do with the topic of an entrenched ‘Progressive’ (i.e. American Communist) political machine here in Sonoma County that this article talks about? Noreen Evans wants to be the new Queen of Sonoma Communists, that’s the topic and the source of fear and anger on the part of those who view ‘Progressivism’ as a threat to American freedoms.

    Another typical lib- can’t win the debate so change the argument. This doesn’t work anymore kids. People are on to the deception.

    So Cynthia, let’s see your response to the many posts in this thread that approach the topic with thoughtful posts rather than more junior high diversions.

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  16. lisa maldonado says:

    Peter M. You are wrong. Unions are not publicly “funded”. To draw the “trickle down” analogy out as far as you do is simiilar to saying that Safeway is publicly funded, since the money from wokers wages goes to buy food. People are paid for their work. They choose to support the union with a small portion of THEIR wages (which pays for union advocacy and contract bargaining and other services). The public doesn’t FUND the union. A basic logic course (instead of trolling anonymously on web sites might be a good use of your time.

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  17. Cynthia Boaz says:

    Beef King,

    Before I would begin to engage in a serious debate with you or Mic Orton, we’d have to come to some agreement on basic definitions. For starters, it is ridiculous and oxymoronic to conflate the terms socialist and fascist. Until you come to a basic understanding on those simple concepts, there’s not much to talk about. But I’m happy to wait while you do your research.

    That being said, it is mind-boggling to me that people faced with the reality of corporate culture and corruption (enabled by both viable political parties) in the United States over the past several decades are still willing to attribute our fiscal woes to unions, labor and an amorphous group of communist/socialist/fascist/progressives who’s sole mission (in your view) seems to be to take your hard-earned tax money and give it to gay illegal immigrants to have abortions. You need to turn off the FOX news and step away from the television. You are being poisoned. Rather than write a dissertation about the deep and vast challenges in the system, I’ll shorthand it and just challenge you to sit through 90 minutes of “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room.” If you have the integrity to commit to that (and to consult Britannica on the definitions of the terms I mentioned above), I’d be happy to engage you and/or Mr. Orton in any debate.

    Last point: Mr. Orton’s “facts” are erroneous. It was neither progressive nor conservative politics that put our budget in the toilet, it was corporate plutocracy. Although I am bemused and almost heartened by the idea that you think progressives carry that much power in California (or any state’s) politics. If only.

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  18. Educated voter says:

    The article quotes Terry Price saying “the accusation that we somehow shoved others aside and machine politics took over … is such hooey. The facts just don’t support it.”

    Except Michael Allen has been quoted in the media saying that Evans asked him to run for the Assembly. If Evans orchestrated the Allen candidacy, what does that say about her and her judgment? Why doesn’t she trust the voters to make a choice? When a pol insists on creating her own “apprentice” or replacement and a major investment of time and money is invested, it is natural for them to view others as threats to their best laid plans.

    If there is no local political machine then it must be just a coincidence that Wiggins brought Allen out of retirement to take a job in her Santa Rosa office. The local pols gave Allen years of on the job training on the state’s dime. The revolving door between staff jobs and managing campaigns is fairly common. Mr. Price himself was working in Evans office last year and this year he’s “campaign manager.”

    It appears Mr. Price actually helps with the shoving he denies takes place while Ms. Maldonado justifies the shoving.

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  19. Peter M says:

    Lisa Maldonado said, “First,unions are not publicly funded. Do some research and educate yourself before making such wildly incorrect assertions.”

    Wildly incorrect huh? There are unions and then there are public employee unions which are made up of people who depend on the taxpayers dollars to fund their agencies. A portion of the wages of public employees go to fund their unions, right? That’s public/taxpayer funds trickling down to the employee unions and then those unions join the North Bay Labor Council and fork over some money so that Lisa Maldonado can while away the hours justifying her existence by “kicking ass” on Watch Sonoma County and covering for Michael Allen. Public employee unions like SEIU are obviously not funded by private donations or grants. So Maldonado why don’t you “educate” yourself about the source of your own salary.

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  20. @Beef King says:

    You have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about. You keep referring to Progressive Democrats as communists but do you understand the term?

    A communist is someone who wants the complete destruction of the class-based system. MOST Progressive Democrats (though not all) want protection for the diminishing middle class.

    The party that has done the most to get rid of the middle class through tax breaks and deregulation (under the auspice of capitalism) is the Republican party.

    So which is more like communism? The class-destroying Republicans. (Also fittingly enough, they have no class and their colors are red)

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  21. Beef King says:

    Quote of the Day
    “It is amazing to me that people here are blaming all our financial woes on unions and public employees. Have these people been in a coma for the last 2 years? Ever hear of Wall Street? Goldman Sachs?”
    — Laura Gonzalez

    Let’s not forget to add some facts…

    Obama says that the repeal of Glass-Steagel and loosening risk regulations on Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae are the root causes of the ‘mess he inherited’. These changes occurred during the Clinton administration.

    Nancy Pelosi has been in charge of the money since 2006. Our problems come from corrupt legislators more than from Wall Street.

    It’s the same old commie stuff from Laura. If you can’t win the argument, change the debate.
    This debate is about Pat Wiggins demise, and the effort of the local ‘Progressives’ i.e. American Communists, to continue efforts to ram your power grab down the throats of Sonomans.

    You can love your union, but when it sucks up all the taxpayer dollars and leaves the city or county broke from contracts crafted by union thugs and corrupt politicians you can expect opposition.

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  22. Beef King says:

    From Laura Gonzales-
    “I can, of course, see your counter-argument coming from a mile away: The Commies aren’t answering my questions, because they know they are wrong.”

    Well said.

    And again from Laura-
    “It is amazing to me that people here are blaming all our financial woes on unions and public employees.”

    Amazement often is mistaken for enlightenment.

    And finally, from Laura once more-
    “I will not engage with you on this anymore, except to call you out.”

    In turn Laura, I am calling you out. I am calling on you to provide me with any fact that will support the notion that your union is beneficial to taxpayers in general, or me specifically.
    Well, what good is your union for the rest of us? What does your union do to benefit the taxpayer who pays your wages, and subsidizes your contribution to the union leaders?

    Laura, unions aren’t bad. It’s bad people in the unions that ruin it for everyone.

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  23. Beef King says:

    Lisa and Laura,
    Thanks for the passionate posts regarding my questions for you as vanguards of local unions.
    Your responses are what I expected. More anger, more name calling, no answers.
    It is telling that Laura considers the label “American Communist” an ad hominem attack, when in fact it is an accurate description of the ideological portrait of “Progressives”. I never said being a communist was bad, I said we’ve already seen that act and as a nation we do not accept it, nor do we accept the attack on personal liberties that come with your political viewpoint.
    As an example, your union wants to conduct votes without privacy, solely for the purpose of harassing and threatening the employee/voter for not following the ‘party line’.
    This behavior is what most Americans are opposed to as am I.
    Thanks for engaging me, I look forward to more of your posts pointing out how great unions are.

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  24. Robert says:

    It’s time to dump the progressives that have contributed to the mess we are now in. Vote out Evans and don’t vote for Allen. Allen lost his bid for City Council and hasn’t ever served in elected office. He’s just a Union guy. However, he’s had his fingers in the cookie jar getting improper payments from the Water Agency while on the SR Planning Commission. Wysocky, a virulent progressive, appointed him. Don’t forget, Allen and his sidekick, Nick Caston, led the Accountable Development Coalition when they hired an attorney to help kill the Lowe’s project. Allen and Caston both voted on that project. That was another conflict of interest for Allen and Caston as well. It’s sad that progressive and democrat are now used together. The democratic party has been taken over by idealogues pushing new urbanism, a.k.a. smart growth. Unfortunately, smart growth didn’t work. It’s really just another name for Redevelopment which has saddled most California cities with huge debt, that is the biggest untold story. Smart growth promotes urban development that is SUBSIDIZED. Santa Rosa now has five redevelopment areas which siphon off property taxes for decades. Evans, Wiggins, and Allen are all big promoters of Redevelopment and new urbanism. In Santa Rosa, the Station Area plan has rezoned nearly the entire downtown area mixed-use, the darling of smart growth. Now, no other kind of development is allowed. That’s why we’re not seeing any commercial development in the downtown area. It’s not allowed. Progressive politics is killing the economy and the question is, will they ever admit they were wrong?

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  25. Steve says:

    Laura Gonzalez,

    Just got a phone request from the Democratic National Committee for a donation, I have been a regular supporter. I told them to go ask their new friends at AIG and Goldman Sachs for a handout.

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  26. Laura Gonzalez says:

    It is amazing to me that people here are blaming all our financial woes on unions and public employees. Have these people been in a coma for the last 2 years? Ever hear of Wall Street? Goldman Sachs?

    The Guv got big handouts from Chevron and kept an oil extraction tax from passing. Just one of many corporate tax breaks that will cost the state billions in revenue. It was union money doing that lobbying.

    And as Lisa pointed out, deregulation has not worked out so far.

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  27. Laura Gonzalez says:

    Beef King,

    Your questions have been answered, more than a few times. You choose to ignore those responses, because they don’t conform to your opinions.

    I will not engage with you on this anymore, except to call you out. When you call my friend a Communist, you only expose your deep ignorance and propensity for ad hominem attacks: sure signs there is no substance to you. I will also not be bullied by someone who isn’t even brave enough to go by their real name.

    I can, of course, see your counter-argument coming from a mile away: The Commies aren’t answering my questions, because they know they are wrong.

    “It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

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  28. Ravitch Watch says:

    I find it interesting that all the “conservatives” on this board heap scorn on “progressives”and “liberals” for “destroying” the economy and leading California to “bankruptcy.”

    Especially since there has been a Republican Governor for the past seven years and a budget can be stymied by a minority of the Legislature who will not even consider any form of tax increase, even on corporations that exploit our natural resources.
    California has drastically cut back the social safety net but the Republican minority refuses to even consider a tax on oil exploration and extraction.

    Not to mention that in the past thirty years of Republican executive rule California has gone from the top to the bottom of the education ladder in the nation.

    Or that our infrastructure is crumbling because the past three governors have raided local revenues.

    I’ll give it to conservatives. You all do a great job of setting up the destruction of government and then blaming the other side. You have learned the Karl Rove playbook very well.

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  29. Mac says:

    Ben Boyce, the reason Petaluma became an unfriendly council this past year is exactly thanks to your progressive groups taking control. What you consider a new progressive majority coalition emerging, I consider a take-control approach. You tell me how many citizens were happy this past year besides the same 4 groups that showed up at every meeting and persuaded our Mayor.

    I support the editors of the PD, the Chamber, the Sonoma County Alliance, and the Builder’s Exchange.

    Your progressive view is only your view.

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  30. Lisa Maldonado says:

    Mr “Beef King”
    No one has called you a name. I told you that I prefer not to have arguments with people who hide behind an anonymous name ( this is especially true for those who call me fascist from behind an extremely silly fake name) I will correct just two of your many inaccuracies.First,unions are not publicly funded. Do some research and educate yourself before making such wildly incorrect assertions.Second the county and city unions (as have many other unions over the state) have made large concessions, givebacks and taken furloughs (that’s unpaid days off) to help save other workers jobs and to “share the pain” which was caused, not by them, but by Wall Street uber-capitalist CEO’s playing Casino. We haven’t seen any Management or Administrator types “share the pain” in this way.
    That’s my last answer to your “challenge” until you man up (or woman up) and stop hiding behind a fake (and extremely ridiculous) name

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  31. Beef King says:

    To make it simple for Lisa M. and her fellow ‘Progressive’ thinkers…
    Let’s take one question that you can answer for the rest of us who are afraid of your power games….

    Mick Orton broached the problem of unfunded union pension liabilities. What is the position of your union on this topic?

    Do you agree with the City of Vallejo and other California cities that the union contracts and pensions are not affordable, are unsustainable and are the root cause of their bankruptcies?
    Or do you disagree? What does your union say?

    Do you think unions and their members have an obligation as public taxpayer funded entities to share the pain of a down economy?

    Lisa, let’s see your response to these questions, and any recommendations that your union might have for us.

    Thanks for sharing.

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  32. Beef King says:

    Lisa Maldonado is a classic American Communist aka ‘Progressive’.
    I have challenged Lisa to give us more than rhetoric regarding her views of the fact-based post of Mick Orton.
    Instead, she has called me names (#1 on the lib cheat sheet), demonized me as a coward for using my name (demonization is important for libs), and then she affirmed my post by responding with her own challenge to me rather than produce a factual response on this topic.
    Lisa, we’re waiting for you to take on the facts as quoted by Mick Orton in a responsible and mature manner. After all, this is your opportunity to enlighten the rest of us who see your fascist/communist new world as a pile of power grab that we’ve already seen in China.
    For that matter, Laura Gonzales and Cynthia Boaz have not responded, and yet I would be interested to hear their rebuttal.
    Maybe Ben Boyce can answer the call.

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  33. Ben Boyce says:

    The Press Democrat has its thumb firmly on the scale in the reporting on this election. They are clearly operating under the influence of the “free-market” fundamentalists who run their editorial page. They are not hard-line right-wing Republicans (who don’t poll well in this region), but are what we in the progressive circles call “Bosco Democrats”. These are blue dog Democrats with liberal social views and pro-corporate, fiscal conservative economic policies. That used to be the winning formula for the North Bay, but the progressive movement has done a lot of public education in the area over the last decade, and a new progressive majority coalition has emerged. Groups like the ADC,SCCA, and the NBLC have converged on a platform of smart growth with shared prosperity. That entails policy goals like urban growth boundaries, transit-oriented and in-fill development, living wage ordinances, project labor agreements, green bulding standards, and support for union organizing. This is a very different world than the editors of the PD and their corporate backers in the Chamber, the Sonoma County Alliance, and the Builder’s Exchange have envisioned. We have a contest of visions for the future of the region, and that is reflected in the emergence of a new class of leaders like Michael Allen and Noreen Evans, who represent this new paradigm. I predict that within the decade, these policies will be the norm, and “progressive” will lose the scare quotes.

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  34. Jim Stewart says:

    I read the finacial reports. Anyone who quotes the pension tsunami or the Debunked, fraudulent, Stanford Report, that Stanford renounced, is less than credible.

    Anyone who can read knows that there isn’s a cop on the planet whocan retire at age 50 with over $100k a year. Keep the class war flames burning people… Hype it all and keep the attention away from the 52% Welfare budget for CA…

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  35. Lisa Maldonado says:

    Our state is bankrupt because of the Governor’s stupid decison to repeal the VLF and his millions in tax breaks to Chevron and other rich corporations who don’t pay taxes. The myth that companies are fleeing California because of taxes and regulations has been proven false (look at the calitics website) and I can’t believe that with billions of gallons of oil gushing in the Gulf because of relaxed and “streamlined” regulations as well as the economy and Wall Street tanked because of “deregulation” that Mr Orton has the chutzpuh to try to sell us the same free market snake oil that Bush used to destroy this country over the past 12 years. Yeah, let’s get some more of that! It really worked out well for us!
    Sheesh!

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  36. lisa maldonado says:

    I challenge “Beef King” (hello paging Dr. Freud!) to come out from behind his somewhat revealing anonymity and make the same challenge. My policy is I don’t argue publicly with people too scared to sign their real name.

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  37. Zuma says:

    If you like having schools that are broke and cant teach, if you enjoy breaking your butt so cops can retire at 50 with over 100,000 per year, if you like having a state govt that is driving down the federa govt, if you like the most corrupt court system in the US,if you like susidizing downtown businesses, etc as the list goes on and and on!

    How about a train to nowhere when every other transit authority in the Bay Area is broke and asking for handouts>

    Then keep the same politicians in office.

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  38. Beef King says:

    I challenge Lisa Maldonado, Laura Gonzales, or Cynthia Boaz to respond in a factual manner to the post of Mick Orton, with no hyperbole, party bullet points or outright fabrications.
    Go ahead, and name your sources.
    Show us what you’ve got besides empty rhetoric.

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  39. The real question is... says:

    Why is the PD running this editorial on the cover of their Sunday paper? Clearly they have their own agenda.

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  40. Cynthia Boaz says:

    Miles, that is an excellent point and it should not be easily dismissed by the readers, editors, or publisher. It is a clear intent to frame the word “progressive” as something of which we should be both skeptical and suspicious.

    If it weren’t for progressive policies, the United States (and every other democracy, for that matter) would still be living in the dark ages in terms of social and economic justice. Has Derek Moore never heard of FDR??

    If there is any integrity in this venue, an apology should be made on that basis alone. Not to speak of the fact that to call this opinion piece an “article” is totally disingenuous. For all intents and purposes, it’s a personal blog that is being posted on a (legitimate?) media website.

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  41. Noah says:

    I look forward to the day when the word “economy” does not mean “Wall Street,” “affordable housing” does not mean a $400k stacked apartment, “community” does not mean business interests, and Sonoma County once again has a newspaper that represents all of its people.

    Oh yes, and the business of government is to promote the welfare of its citizens. Government was never meant to be a business, and it does not need to operate like one.

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  42. Tom Lynch says:

    I know hundreds of government employees, many whom I’ve asked if, in order to save the jobs of the younger less senior workers would they be willing to accept a graduated, salary based paycut…similar to what they’re doing in Ireland; with massive loss of government revenue Ireland is cutting public employee salaries 5-15% based on income. Every single worker in schools, the cities, the county and state that I posed this question to said yes. This is the context of the paycuts I suggested.

    As to the pensions…go to http://www.pensiontsunami.com and see how these massive unfunded obligations (with public pensions, not the trade unions) are collapsing around us. At the debate I said these pensions are paid not only by the taxpayers themselves but also the active rank and file. Is it fair the first wave of retiring baby boomers bankrupt this system to the peril of those that follow, and those retired?

    Since 2000 the average household income in Sonoma County has been declining while the public sector salaries and benefits have almost doubled, much of it to the upper tier, not as much the rank and file. These increases have been funded by increased taxes in better times, but that has not been enough as year by year we’ve seen more and more cuts to the essential services we rely upon government to provide.

    As Barack Obama says, “We must have the courage to face these issues honestly and solve these problems.” As most of us in the private sector we have had to reinvent ourselves…so to must government. We cannot continue with business as usual, government and our political leaders need to reinvent themselves, we need a new deal, a new operating system.

    Tom Lynch

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  43. Robert James says:

    A vote for Noreen Evans or Michael Allen is one way for us to finish this Bankruptcy were in and with the Unions support of these people your not going to have much support from the Taxpayers, too save some of the Pensions your going to lose. These people promise Pie in the Sky but they can not deliver what we dodn’t have.

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  44. Laura Gonzalez says:

    Council Watcher writes: “Voting for any candidate other than Evans and Allen will help perverse (sic) hope for balance at the local level.”

    LOL! Too good.

    BTW, if you love big box stores and all the revenue they bring with them, you should move to Rohnert Park. Tons of big boxes, tons of revenue and tons of beauty.

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  45. Laura Gonzalez says:

    Joanne Sanders said “she feels like she hasn’t been taken seriously by Democratic Party members locally.”

    Joanne Sanders was invited to apply for an endorsement from a local Latino PAC. She was sent the information and a due date, which came and went. Her campaign manager finally contacted the PAC and asked that another questionnaire be sent to him. His request was denied. If this is typical of how she’s running her campaign, who *would* take her seriously?

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  46. [“I think being beholden to those kinds of unions is not a good thing for anyone, where you have to say up front that you are going to support their entire agenda and their agenda is making more money for employees — which isn’t bad, unless it breaks government,” Williams said.]

    Unless it breaks Government? Unless? California is BROKE. P-town is BROKE! Santa Rosa is BROKE ! The only reason Gov workers are getting paid is because of FED cash keeping State and Local afloat. Can you smell Greece cooking? Once those bennies dry up, (and it’s coming soon) union members (not leaders) will be taking to the street. Watch what happens in the UK tomorrow, it’s not going to be pretty. Credit is going to get really tight. Pull your head out people and wake up. Government is the problem and the progressives have the power. Send them packing Nov 2nd

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  47. Mick Orton says:

    What angers me is that these “progressives” are the same ones who have put California in the hole. We are have some of the highest unemployment numbers in the nation and our state is bankrupt, yet we need the same people who broke it to fix it? One thing they need to solve is the unfunded liabilities of the Government Employee Unions. Promises have been made that can not be sustainable. Our bond rating is in the toilet because of liberal politics and there is no money to be had. Our nation is over $13 trillion in debt. Where will our bailout come from? The only way to solve this crisis is to ease regulations, lower taxes and make it attractive for businesses to come back to California, plain and simple. With the help of Jim Judd who is running for Congressional District 6, we can bring California and our country back from the brink that “progressives” have driven us to!

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  48. Mac says:

    I’m tired of all the progressives around this county. With Evans having that title, I will absolutely not vote for her. She reminds me too much of the political nonsense we have gone through in my own town this past year. These people do not look out for ALL citizens, they only look out for certain groups of citizens — usually the ones who give the most money during their campaigns to get their demands. Forget everyone else.

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  49. gerry2280 says:

    Your incessant drumbeat against public employees has become repetitive, self-serving and boring. Do you really think that editorializing in your news, as well as your editorials, will restore your lost readership? I have subscribed to this paper for the entire 35 years I have lived here, but your slaming of public employees at every opportunity is making me reconsider. Give it a break! The high point was running the close to home attack on firefighters by Mr Ritchie-Rich winemaker from his mansion. You won’t even accept Close-to-Home articles from the president of the county retirees association, but you print his ignorant diatribe. What’s the matter? Are you afraid to print anything that does not fit with your party line? That sounds like just what you are accusing the Democrats of doing. Ever since Golis left, the paper has become increasingly anti-union. Do you really think that catering to tea partiers will help you circulation?

    You are way out in right field and you should quit quoting Doug Bosco everytime you run an article about local politics. In case you newbies in the Press Democrat editorial room don’t know it, Bosco lost his job as Congressman because he was a crook. Everytime you quote him, you are displaying your ignorance of local politics. I know you are trying to make the paper relevent in local politics, but forget about it. You missed your chance on that long ago.

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  50. Geoff Johnson says:

    Noreen Evans and Michael Allen are the visible leaders of the local Labor/Democrat “progressive” coalition. The Coalition for a Better Sonoma County website says,

    “In March of 2002, Santa Rosa Councilwoman Noreen Evans, with others, convened a meeting of Labor Union representatives, environmental groups and civic organizations that were active in Sonoma County. All these groups were frustrated by the failure of local governments to act on the issues that concerned them, such as: living wage ordinances, project labor agreements, local land use planning, affordable housing, local representation for minorities, availability of health care options, water resource issues, and campaign finance reform. …

    Over the next few months, they reached agreement on a statement of principles by which to measure candidates, and formed a political support group – the Coalition for a Better Sonoma County.”
    http://www.bettersonoma.com/who_we_are.html

    The CBSC claims 25 elected officials are members, including Wiggins, Evans, Supe Shirlee Zane, and 22 city councilmembers.

    Have Wiggins, Evans, and Allen assembled an effective new “political machine”? Or is the CBSC just a reaction to decades of economic and political domination by the local Developer/Business machine, led by the Sonoma County Alliance and Santa Rosa Chamber?

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  51. lisa maldonado says:

    Union members ARE tax payers Dan and Council Watcher…and in fact they have already given millions in concessions and furloughs to city and county to help deal with deficits (caused by poor planning and economic policies not of their making BTW) No word on high level managers and administrators taking pay cuts or furloughs to help out but somehow this seems to bother people like yourselves less than the average rank and file worker getting paid a decent salary.
    As far as political machines go ..no one worried when the business and developers ran the town….talk about sour grapes! Oh and “Council Watcher” the scary prospect of energy efficiency and limits on big boxes is so frightening….What kind of people would advocate those horrible positions??

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  52. Dan says:

    It has to make you wonder. If all these elected officials and wannabe elected officials are looking out for the unions, who’s looking out for the taxpeyers?

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  53. Council Watcher says:

    The concern I have regarding this “new political machine” is that it has reached down to local City and County elections. The partisan State seats have been filled with Democrats and this reflects Sonoma County and that makes sense. If Michael Allen and Noreen Evens are elected to State Office, there will be no votes on the Santa Rosa City council or Board of Supervisors to stop the likes of groups like the Accountable Development Coalition and Conservation Action from setting local policy. Both Evens and Allen will make key staffing choices that will be directed at keeping the machine strong and alive here in Santa Rosa and Sonoma County. These staffers will participate with the City’s and County’s majorities to implement new energy efficiency requirements on existing homes, policies to remove parking from city streets, block all “Big Box” retailers, and raiser fees and taxes to pay off local labor groups. Please look at who sits on the boards and commission for Santa Rosa and the County, then look at who is endorsing the State candidates. Follow the money of this new machine and it is clear that this machine is well crafted and well funded. Voting for any candidate other than Evans and Allen will help perverse hope for balance at the local level.

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  54. Wow... says:

    This is an absolute DISGRACE by the Press Democrat. You run an endorsement piece against one candidate on Saturday and a hit piece against him on Sunday? Since when did the Press Democrat engage in the electioneering process?

    There is a reason Michael Allen is supported by:

    -Workers and their families (AKA, Unions)
    -Police
    -Fire
    -Teachers
    -Young Democrats
    -Santa Rosa Democrats
    -Vallejo Democrats
    -Napa Democrats
    -and thousands of more (Check his website at http://www.Allenforassembly.com

    Why don’t you ask the people who have worked with Mike Wilson on the city council in Vallejo who they think is better?

    The answer: Michael Allen. He has support from the Vallejo newspapers, Democrat club, and more members of the city council than Mike Wilson.

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  55. lisa maldonado says:

    Herb Williams is a tool of the developers and business interests that have nearly destroyed our county and he seems to be suffering from a serious case of “sour grapes”. I guess it’s a drag to not be able to overbuild, cut down trees and make gobs of money without having to deal with the petty concerns of those of us who actually live and work here. I”m sure he and Mr Bosco would love to go back to the old days when a rich business old boys network ran the county and working people and environmentalists just shut up and did what they were told. Sorry Doug and Herb, you don’t have it like that anymore!

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  56. Miles Kurland says:

    In all the years I’ve read the Press Democrat, I’ve never seen it put scare quotes around the word “conservative” like it just did in this article for “progressive”.

    Isn’t that interesting?

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  57. Laura Gonzalez says:

    And btw, while I think the PD made the right decision in again backing Ravitch, weren’t you troubled by her ties to unions? I didn’t read the usual disparaging remarks….hmmm not very consistent, are we?

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  58. Mike says:

    Another Press Democrat hatchet piece on progressives. No wonder you’re going under, you don’t understand your readers.

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  59. Laura Gonzalez says:

    Another day, another anti-union tirade from the PD. Ho hum.

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  60. Leslie says:

    Evans and Allen is the worst combination I can think of. Allen will never act independently of his close labor ties and promotes the Rohnert Park casino, and Evans is taking money from gambling interests right and left, including Station Casinos, the NV company that wants to build a casino in my neighborhood. These two make me ashamed to be a Democrat. I think Dems need to get a reality check fast. If labor and gambling are driving our local “progressive” Democrats, then we are in for big trouble in the years ahead.

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  61. Beef King says:

    Noreen Evans has no understanding of the reality that the American Communist i.e. ‘Progressive’ ideology she is trying to force on us cannot work without a capitalist system to support it. China anyone?
    She has been and continues to be a barrier to real progress in Sonoma County, standing in the way of sustainable jobs.
    Just ask our tax assessor Rod Dole if he supports a communist at the helm.

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  62. Victor Chechnover says:

    It’s o.k. to be funded by real estate and business interests but not by unions? Unions have done more for the majority than have these others.

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