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VIDEO: Sept. 30 Cotati City Council debate

Cotati City Council candidates George Barich, Pat Gilardi and Mark Landman participated in a debate on Thursday organized by the League of Women Voters of Sonoma County and the Cotati Chamber of Commerce. The three candidates are running for two seats on the council.

Which candidate made the strongest case? Watch the debate and post your comments below.

12 Responses to “VIDEO: Sept. 30 Cotati City Council debate”

  1. Diogenes Sinope says:

    Have you seen http://www.whoisgeorgebarich.org yet?
    I went lookin’ for the truth about Barich’s character and I found the mother lode there about his past criminal record, the current state investigation into his campaign finances and more.

    You know, it ain’t gossip or dirty tricks when you got hard core court documents to back up your claims. Then I believe the judge calls it “factual evidence.”

  2. Voice Of Cotati says:

    Greg, I wish you lived in Cotati so you could vote here. I know that our Mayor has publicly made fun of you because you don’t live in our fair town. One day we will be able to incorperate your property into Cotati, so you may run for office too.
    Regarding our city councilmemebr Pat Gilardi. She answered a question from the citizenry which was have you ever stolen any signs from your opponents. She answered no, but if you look back at a previous podcast she states” It’s silly season” regarding the removal of signs.
    Mark Landman is only thinking about having harmony on the council. Regardless of what is brought up, he wants to see 5-0 votes constantly. If you want a follower who is the mayors puppet, vote for Mr.Landman.

    If you want diversity, accountability, someone who will work for you and a real voice, vote for George Barich for City Council.

  3. Greg Karraker says:

    It is encouraging to see that Mark Landman is so enamored of facts. So here are a few undisputable ones for him to consider.

    1. City records show that Peet’s Coffee submitted a Planning Application in January 2008. The site is still vacant today. Depending on the day of submittal, that is 32 or 33 months with no tax revenue to the City, just another vacant building.

    2. A podcast of a recent City Council meeting has Council Member Landman uttering the following, in response to the City’s delay to act on repairs to Rancho Adobe Station #1: These things move at a glacial pace, and I’m comfortable with that.”

    3. A podcast of a City Council meeting over a year ago will show Council Member Gilardi responding to criticism of Downtown Cotati’s vacant businesses and weed-grown lots with the following: “We like our weeds.”

    If you are fond of government that moves at a glacial pace, and a downtown area where weeds are inevitable, vote for these two, who value smugness more than prosperity.

  4. Voice Of Cotati says:

    Phil, very well put my friend. The corrupt side of the political machine want’s to bring out the worse in people. It’s people like you Phil that point out the true facts. I am sure we will get a rebuttal from the Other side, but they will only spin it. Phil’s facts are true and factual. Although George has been beaten down, he still stands up, brushes it off, and keeps on moving forward. All I ask of people is to weigh the facts, not the spin tactics of the other side who lied to the people regarding the recall campain promise to pay for the costs for the specail election. The other side should be ashamed of themselfves for putting an undue monitary cost in the tune of $20,000 added to our sliding budget. I urge you to vote for one canidate for City Council, George Barich.

  5. Phil Maher says:

    I first wanted to reply to Mark’s comment on Peet’s: Coffee isn’t taxable. Some of their food is, but the premise behind it being an anchor is questionable. Maybe in name recognition, but certainly not as a revenue generator of any great magnitude. And yes, if and when they do open, it’ll be after years of being run through the wringer of City Hall’s “vision”. Fantastic, add another coffee shop…second only to bars (less than 1% of the tax base) and nail/hair salons.

    On to the “twisting”- Edwin infers that the allegations of money laundering came from one of George’s supporters. Since all that came about by my hand, I’ll assume he’s referring to me. I’ll categorically state that I never believed that George laundered anything, and made no allegation alluding to it. To this day, I believe he made a contribution to what he thought was a cause that represented the best interests of Cotati’s future, but that others misappropriated to serve what they felt was best. The two don’t necessarily align. As for allegations that he failed to disclose or report campaign contributions- He funds his own campaigns, always has, and probably always will. It bothers those who wish to help, including me, but his convictions are strong in that regard, and I respect them. His faux pas with the FPPC is primarily due to clerical errors. In the myriad regulations of campaign finance, certain accounting technicalities need to be followed. Examples of these would be things like having to take your own self-funded campaign and transfer funds between accounts earmarked for specific purposes, then close the account at the end of the elections cycle, then reopen another for the next…more typical of an overly burdensome regulatory process than a deep, dark conspiracy. We also have to remember that it’s easy to file a complaint with the FPPC. It’s a rampant political game, and the recall was far from the exception.

    We also have these purported “costs” that George allegedly racked up during his tenure on the council. I actually reviewed the summary of those costs, and even went so far as to have my CPA go over them. If you can somehow extrapolate legitimate, quantifiable costs from essentially blank pieces of paper, I want you to do my books. My accountant’s exact words when I showed him the documentation was, “What the hell am I supposed to do with this, Phil?” Just like in polls and surveys, anybody can make the numbers do what they need them to do to support their case. City Hall had it out for George because he was a threat to the status quo and vocally called them to task on their wasteful spending and fiscal trickery to cover it up. Threats must be mitigated by whatever means necessary. Also, many of the expenses were for the City Attorney and salaried staff. The attorney is on a fixed retainer, and staff is, well, salaried. You can certainly quantify how their time is being spent, but it was in no way outside of their job description, or responsibilities, and, there was no additional expense to the city for their time.

    As far as his paychecks and health benefits go- All council memebers are entitled to both. George was the only member to not enjoy the benefits of an employer sponsored package. You know, the only council member with any real, practical business training or experience. Just like anyone, he needed some form of health coverage. It was offered, he was entitled to it, and he welcomed to chance to have it. As far as his paychecks go- until he was ousted in what basically amounted to a coup, he didn’t accept or cash any of them during his time in office(the records will also show this as a fact). Not until he was recalled and humiliated did he accept anything. Personally, I would have done the same, and I don’t know too many people who would have gone through the psychological and reputational crucifixion that he did who wouldn’t also. We’re talking a paltry $3000 or so. That much easily went out defending himself during the recall, and from what I understand, he donated all or most of it to local charities. Bottom line: What any councilmember does with his or her money is their business. It’s a brutal job, they all earn it, regardless of whether we agree with their policies or direction.

    As far as his arrest record goes, George leased what I remember as about 5000 square feet of light-industrial space. He anticipated the need, but when it proved to be much more than he needed, and business began to slow down, he sub-leased about half of it. As it turned out, his tenants used it to grow pot. As the lessee of record, obviously George was the one contacted by the authorities. When he refused to give names, and from what I’ve heard through the grape-vine, because of his vociferous nature where city politics were concerned, he was arrested. Big deal! So what? The “weapons” charge was trumped up. The gun in question was a 22 rifle that belonged to his brother, a cop in San Jose, that was found after extensively searching through a storage container on George’s property. Hardly the insidious tale of drugs and weapons that Edwin and Joan would like to think it is.

    Lastly, I just want to say that I’ve never met anyone from Cotati that cares so much about the city. It’s freaky how dedicated he is. Currently, George’s business is hurting, his life is on hold, and he’s running out of money to live life, much less spend it to run for office. Yet he’s the candidate that still goes out and knocks on every door he can to spend time listening to the people he wants to represent. Twelve years of council meetings in Cotati will do that to someone. George is involved, he cares deeply, and whether you agree with his politics or philosophy or not, he’s the best hope the city has for its future. Maybe scary, but true.

  6. Voice Of Cotati says:

    Mark Landman got his seat because he was a very strong supporter of the recall. He never showed up to City Council prior to that. Now he is trying to feed us comfort food to make us feel good about peets, which was pushed away because” there was no real tax generator for another coffee shop in town”. Edwin, your as piece of work all by yourself. Don’t quit you day job.

  7. Mark Landman says:

    Peet’s is not only opening in Cotati, but has chosen to invest more in our city, deciding to do a more extensive remodel of the old Frank’s Freeze building than originally planned.

    It should also be noted the success of signing Peet’s to anchor our Northern Gateway is in large part due to our city manager’s efforts in economic development.

    I’m reminded that we are all certainly entitled to our own opinions, but we’re not entitled to our own individual set of facts. With that I’m happy to be able to set the record straight.

    Thanks to Ted and the crew at WSC for posting the video, an informed public is a good thing.

  8. Political Scientist says:

    Phil: Do you have examples of how Edwin is just “twisting the facts”? I would be interested in another perspective.

  9. Greg Karraker says:

    In the debate, Pat Gilardi claimed that the City could not trim one more bit of waste from its budget. This is amusing, given the fact that Cotati currently employs four people, whose salary/benefit packages total approximately $600,000, to manage a total of 27 employees.

    Worse, one of those people is a city planner who makes it nearly impossible for legitimate businesses to open here. Case in point: Peet’s Coffee, who first applied to the city in January 2008, and have still not been able to open their business in the former Frank’s Freeze location.

  10. Jason Valez says:

    The attack on George Barich was a modern day lynching against an elected person. I sincerely hope he regains a seat on the council. This type of persecution has no place in a civilized society. I watched the video and George Barich was the clear winner in my opinion. The nasty people who led the charge against him should hang their heads in shame.

  11. Phil Maher says:


    You’re twisting the facts, just as your partner, Joan Simon, did during the recall. I know the basis for your personal hatred for George, but let’s all just let untainted public opinion run its course in this round, shall we? Out of respect for the citizens of Cotati, I would much rather not feel compelled to get into all the ugliness and destruction again.

  12. Edwin Patterson says:

    George Barich has no positive record of accomplishment to run on. City Records show that in 10 months in office he cost Cotati tens of thousands in unheard of demands on staff & city attorney time and thousands more in health insurance benefits ( which the other candidates don’t take). Yet he voted against accepting $400,000 in grant money to fix Cotati’s streets. Apparently Barich doesn’t like government help, except when it applies to him.

    He currently claims elsewhere on this website that he refused a Council salary – and actually campaigned on that pledge in 2008. So why do City records show that he cashed every his city paycheck- and that he did so while the City was still facing a deficit?

    Barich is currently under investigation by the state FPPC for making illegal campaign contributions and money laundering – allegations made by his own supporters. He’s also being investigated for failing to properly report the sources of his own campaign finances. And then there’s his criminal record- resulting from felony arrests for drugs and guns.

    And, contrary to his candidate statement on this website, he does not appear to have the official endorsement of the Sonoma Republican Party if you look at their website. In fact, among the supporters of his recall in 2009, some of the biggest supporters were Cotati resident Republicans.

    In light of the above (and so much more) why would you believe anything he says?