By JEREMY HAY
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Robert Coleman-Senghor, the Cotati councilman and former mayor who died April 9, continues to be a flashpoint in the city’s contentious, often sharply personal political scene.
An ideological foe of the former mayor has accused Councilman Mark Landman of violating the city’s ethics code by disparaging people who criticized Coleman-Senghor when he was the council.
Greg Karraker, who often confronted Coleman-Senghor over issues from patriotism to the budget, filed his complaint with the city Wednesday. He singled out Landman for comments he made on The Press Democrat’s Watch Sonoma County website.
Landman wrote, among other things, that Coleman-Senghor accomplished what he did “while being constantly harassed, reviled and attacked for the most base and political of motivations by this small (in all senses of the word) and bitter group.”
Karraker said Landman violated a section of the code that says councilmembers “shall refrain from…written…attacks on the character or motives of…the public.”
He said Landman also is “smug and arrogant” during meetings and asked the council to reprimand him “and demonstrate to the public that City Council is a place where differences are welcomed, not sneered at.”
The council did not respond officially at the Wednesday meeting where Karraker spoke.
But Landman, after asking Mayor Janet Orchard’s permission to comment, later said from the dais, quoting New York Yankee great Yogi Berra: “It feels like déjà vu all over again.”
Coleman-Senghor was himself accused of violating the ethics code by residents who said he verbally attacked them, belittled others and used ethnic slurs — he freely acknowledged the latter, saying he was making a point about the power of language.
The council did not act on those complaints until Coleman-Senghor dumbfounded his colleagues by pushing for an investigation into the charges.
He was found not to have violated the code, which he helped write.
At that time, Landman said: “Personal attacks — that is what I am seeing here tonight and that’s what we have to get past.”
This week, the day after the complaint was filed, Landman said he didn’t really want to talk about it.
Asked if he might do as Coleman-Senghor had done and request an investigation, he said: “You’ll remember that Bob Coleman got to that point after he’d been harassed for months and hopefully we won’t need to get to that point.”
Orchard on Thursday said the complaint would likely be placed on a future council agenda, and the council would decide how to proceed.