WatchSonoma Watch

Santa Rosa hires community engagement coordinator

Georgia Pedgrift, a community engagement coordinator with the City of Santa Rosa, shows an Occupy Santa Rosa protester his camping spot on the lawn of City Hall in November 2011. KENT PORTER/PD


Santa Rosa is trying to improve the way it supports community groups with a newly filled job in the city manager’s office.

Georgia Pedgrift, formerly coordinator of the police department’s graffiti abatement, now is the city’s community engagement coordinator.

Pedgrift, 32, was hired in October and has been reaching out to neighborhood associations, volunteer groups and faith-based organizations in an effort to build relationships with them.

“The new program we are launching is aimed at helping residents organize, supporting neighborhood projects, encouraging volunteerism and providing a conduit for civic participation,” Pedgrift wrote in an email to local groups.

She has created a Facebook page containing photographs of volunteers cleaning up parks, painting murals and promoting the work of the Mayor’s Gang Prevention Task Force.

Pedgrift was “tenacious” in her previous role of helping neighborhoods combat graffiti, said Tanya Narath, chairwoman of the Community Advisory Board. “We expect great things from her in her new post,” she said.

Pedgrift was hired in response to budget cuts earlier this year that eliminated a deputy director of community services position held by long-time city employee Ed Buonaccorsi. That post handled a range of duties, including being a liaison to neighborhood groups, coordinating the city’s volunteer programs, and working with the city’s Community Advisory Board.

Several years of budget cuts left Buonaccorsi a one-man department, and his position — including its $130,000 salary — was eliminated from the current budget.

City Manager Kathy Millison promised to create a new position in her department that would handle many of the same tasks. She also noted that it made more sense for the 14-member Community Advisory Board — created to give community-wide feedback to the City Council — to be staffed by someone in her office.

Buonaccorsi was rehired by the city a month later to be the “emergency preparedness coordinator” for the Santa Rosa Fire Department, a one-year position making $87,000, he said. Pedgrift is making $67,000. Her previous position has not been filled.

Her role will be broader than Buonaccorsi’s, Assistant City Manager Jennifer Phillips said. “We’re trying to step it up one step and have a real coordinated program,” Phillips said.

Pedgrift said she had been impressed with the level of commitment and engagement of many of the city’s volunteers and neighborhood groups, and hopes to reach out to new community leaders, as well.

“I think to have a really engaged program there’s a trust-building phase that has to happen,” Pedgrift said.

Lea Barron-Thomas, president of the West End Neighborhood Association, said she’s encouraged that Pedgrift will be working out of the city manager’s office, which she said is a sign the program has a high priority.

“It’s my hope that it’s a true attempt, on the city’s part, to really make a connection to the neighborhoods,” Barron-Thomas said.

19 Responses to “Santa Rosa hires community engagement coordinator”

  1. Phil Maher says:

    This is what happens when you tell people that are fiscally irresponsible by nature that they have 9% more money to use as they see fit.

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  2. irritated by stupidity says:

    To all you negative people out there with your negative comments about the Community Engagement position: why don’t you try going out and serving your community instead of sitting on the computer bitching about things that are not getting done. Georgia has been hired to assist in the “engagement” of people like you, and to bring grass roots and local government community programs together for collaboration so that people don’t waste money to re-invent the wheel.
    Open your mind, educate yourselves, and serve the community if you want to make this county a better one. It all starts here, locally. Oh, and have a nice day, neighbor.

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  3. Em Five says:

    $130,000 paid to a city employee to engage with communities (what are the rest of city employees paid to engage with…the Moon?) who is “downsized” to a job and makes $87,000 helpping the fire department handle disasters (Sorry, I thought firemen were always ready for disasters…go figure) and who is in turn replaced in his old job by a person paid $67,000 (but expects her employees to volunteer I.E. work for free) to re-engage with communities who were, presumably, un-engaged when the other person was downsized to teach firemen something they already should know.

    Wow, and I thought Japanese TV game shows were bizarre.

    Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  4. Missy says:

    Unbelievable WASTE OF MONEY!

    Thumb up 7 Thumb down 4

  5. The Fish Speak says:

    This is more government attempt at directing grass roots organizing and getting neighborhood groups to walk the city walk and talk the city talk.

    Be careful of city outreach, it can come back to collect and direct.

    Thumb up 10 Thumb down 2

  6. Court Watch says:

    What a waste of OUR TAX dollars. Who approved this?

    Thumb up 18 Thumb down 4

  7. Social Dis-Ease says:

    Pay attention to what these
    ‘neighborhood groups’ and ‘visioning’ meetings seek to orchestrate.

    They are not forums for genuine, organic input from citizens.

    Like our ‘charter’, these activities are not benign or without goals.

    Show up at Finley Center on the 9th, you will be amazed.
    Insist your admission, or a reschedule at a larger venue.

    These times require our involvement.

    Thumb up 12 Thumb down 3

  8. Bradley Miller says:

    Santa Rosa wants to be just like Portland and Seattle. This job was created to manage neighborhood associations and make sure that none of them are independant of the city’s influence. The Santa Rosa Neighborhood Coalition has never been respected or recognized by the city because it’s independant and can’t be controlled. An enormous amount of city resources and staff time have been expended in trying to create a city controlled network of neighborhood associations.

    For the last two years there have been Neighborhood Summits, organized by the city in which people have been recruited to start or takeover neighborhood associations that will support the city’s objectives. Jim Diers from Seattle was brought in to talk about ABCD, asset-based community development. They want to inventory people for their assets to see what they can contribute, by volunteering, to the community. They have an 11 page very detailed survey they intend to get everyone to fill out. Just say no to this unless you’re down for ‘mandatory volunteering’.

    Something’s rotten in Santa Rosa and this new job is more than it appears to be. Information will be gathered and put into a giant data base just in case the government needs it for something. Watch out for these nosey neighbors when they start coming around.

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  9. Jim says:

    And not only is this position a complete waste of money, she’ll most likely stay on long enough to “earn” a lifetime pension. So the taxpayers are paying for a useless position now, and will for decades.

    This isn’t even funny any more. After Congress handed out millions of dollars of bonuses to their staff because they HAD TO use ALL the money in their budget, the endless waste is atrocious. Every day there is another example of how dysfunctional every level of government is yet they so easily manipulate the IDIOT voters into thinking it is the other party’s fault.

    We get exactly what we deserve. Liars. Crooks. Thieves. Can’t wait until November so we can re-elect the same scum.

    Thumb up 22 Thumb down 3

  10. Patrick says:

    Bureaucracy hard at work here.

    Thumb up 20 Thumb down 3

  11. Tony says:

    Maybe the new Community Engagement Coordinator can setup a team, or better yet teams, in Santa Rosa to get Repeal SMART signatures on the petition. A good start for a great project staffed by all volunteers. Right up the alley for this new eager coordinator.

    She can call the Repeal SMART office for an appointment to get started.

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  12. Greg Karraker says:

    Come on, you nattering nabobs of negativity, look at the bright side:

    If she keeps this job for 18 months or so, she’ll be qualified to run for President, and couldn’t possibly be any worse than the current Organizer-In-Chief.

    Thumb up 12 Thumb down 6

  13. Graeme Wellington says:

    Another useless job that adds to the problem with no possibility whatsoever of solving anything. What are the people we elected doing other than creating BS jobs to shift the blame/responsibility to? This job is total BS

    Thumb up 31 Thumb down 3

  14. The Fish Speak says:

    Santa Rosa would have provided a better community service hiring a real engagement coordinator who would plan for weddings. Think of the falling divorce rate and public service that would provide.

    Organizing more special interest groups, not so much.

    Thumb up 22 Thumb down 4

  15. Social Dis-Ease says:

    A good first task for Georgia would be to make sure the ENTIRE TOWN knows about the ABAG ‘visioning’ meeting Jan. 9th at the Finley Center.
    Over a quarter million citizens effected.
    I think our new ‘public engagement coordinator’ should see to it that more than 100 installed shills be present (engaged), don’t you?
    The capacity of this important meeting has been kept to only 100 citizens.
    It was filled in ONE DAY!
    I promise you that AT LEAST 90 of those on ‘the list’ were installed.
    Think some of the serfs may want to know how our local government plans to reconfigure the landscape to a model of Smart Growth containment and oppression?
    Undermine Free Market, real estate, and small business speculation.
    Violate the property rights of those in the ‘transportation corridor’.
    Divert our money away from public services.
    Provide for the loss of our local sovereignty.

    See, it’s not about genuine public input in an ICLEI town.
    It’s about creating the illusion of public buy in…
    AFTER it’s a done deal, and the people realize they’ve been screwed.
    They can show photos of citizens present later (looking ‘engaged’) and say ‘look the public was there and invited’ and have a paper trail to that effect.
    However the Delphi technique will be emplyed ‘steering’ the room to a predetermined outcome.

    The burdon of notification should be on the City.

    Did you know about this important meeting? No?
    You’re not supposed to.

    This violates the true spirit of public service and bona-fide engagement.
    It probably is in violation of the Brown Act as well.

    Anything this heavy should be taken to a vote, or at least be publicized for months and be at the Wells Fargo Center.

    Wonder if the Santa Rosa Neighborhood Coalition was invited?

    Betcha they’ll show anyway…
    as should all of us.

    Thumb up 15 Thumb down 2

  16. Jim says:

    What a waste of money. This is typical government waste.

    Thumb up 28 Thumb down 2

  17. Just Me says:

    Let’s see…the City is BROKE financially but they have money to create new “feel good” jobs? How about hiring another street maintenence worker instead and take better care of our deteriorating streets?

    Or perhaps the City would prefer to pay for the repairs to all our vehicles caused by their broken, potholed streets?

    Thumb up 32 Thumb down 2

  18. Money Grubber says:

    Another pointless government “job” created at taxpayer expense.

    Thumb up 27 Thumb down 3

  19. The Writing Is On The Wall says:

    Santa Rosa needs a graffiti abatement program a lot more that they need another advocate for local special interest groups and so called nonprofit groups wanting a larger piece of the city financial pie.

    This is another pet project for some on the city council who want more special interest group influence when too many of these groups already have too much influence.

    Graffiti abatement is too mundane for too many on the city council but it sure isn’t for those that have to live with it in the neighorhoods and commerical areas where gangs and crime are prevalent.

    If you can’t beat them, ignore them is the new motto.

    Thumb up 29 Thumb down 2

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