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Occupy wades into Petaluma City Council race



The activist group Occupy Petaluma jumped into the political fray this election with a list of questions for City Council candidates, and some of the responses — and a question about surveillance drones — have sparked quite a discussion.

Occupy Petaluma, the 1-year-old organization that calls itself “a diverse group standing ground for the 99 percent,” posed nine queries to the six candidates seeking election on Nov. 6. The questions and replies are posted in a “virtual forum” on the group’s website.

Incumbents Tiffany Renée, Mike Healy and Gabe Kearney are seeking to retain their seats while Alicia Kae Herries, Jason Davies and Kathy Miller are challenging. With three seats on the seven-member council up for grabs, the results could install a solid majority in either direction or establish a moderate mix.

Candidate questionnaires often ask some of the same questions, like those about economic goals, budget priorities and views on development.

But Occupy folks asked an unusual pair: “Would you oppose the use of drones by the Petaluma Police Department?” and “Would you support an anti-drone ordinance for Petaluma?”

One candidate, Healy, answered with almost a giggle: “We would only need drones if the Taliban are spotted in Penngrove.”

He went on to write that there are several higher priorities for police funding than unmanned flying surveillance devices. Other candidates agreed, saying they oppose the use of drones and/or had privacy concerns.

Amy Hanks, a leader of Occupy Petaluma’s Democracy working group, acknowledged that the question was not taken seriously by every candidate.

“Some of the candidates actually were kind of dismissive,” she said. But she defended the unusual question.

“We don’t know” if it’s a realistic possibility in Petaluma, she said. “But there are enough privacy concerns that I think it’s reason to broach the question.”

(The federal government must approve the use of drones and it has for a few large police departments nationwide. The Alameda County Sheriff’s Department recently asked for federal approval and funding to become the first California agency to use the devices, which can cost six figures and require extensive special training.)

Another question that sparked strong opinions was whether the candidates would “commit to respecting the will of the voters by appointing the next-highest vote getter(s)” from a recent election when mid-term vacancies occur.

That issue became divisive last year when Kearney was appointed to fill the remainder of David Glass’ term. The vacancy was created when Glass, then a mid-term councilman, was elected mayor in 2010.

Kearney had finished sixth and Davies fourth among nine candidates during the 2010 election. After lengthy discussion and several rounds of voting by councilmembers, Kearney won compromise support from the more progressive Renée and members of the pro-development bloc.

Only Davies and Herries said they’d approve of appointing the next-highest vote getter.

Renee said she’d prefer rank-choice voting, which would better indicate voters’ preferences. She also appeared to respond to those who have withdrawn their support for her, including Glass, because of her Kearney vote.

The “appointing council should not be held accountable for (the) voting record of the appointee councilmember,” she wrote. “This accountability should be placed on the electorate. Yet that undue standard of accountability seems to apply to some council members and not others in past appointments.”

Occupy also ran into the same problem others experience when trying to pin politicians down to firm answers, Hanks said.

“Some of the questions were answered adequately and others, they could have been much more specific and addressed the question much more directly,” she said.

Read the candidates’ responses at the Occupy Petaluma Virtual Forum at http://www.occupypetaluma.com/city-council-candidate-virtual-forum

16 Responses to “Occupy wades into Petaluma City Council race”

  1. Snarky says:

    I notice, amusingly, that nothing much is being posted about the CNN article that discusses how even Congress is concerned about civilian law enforcement getting their hands on Drones.

    I say, heck, why not let the cops have their drones.

    After all, they already run around playing “army” anyway… with their military assault weapons, their military armored cars, their military Nazi styled helmets. Allowing the boys to use Drones to video women in their backyards won’t hurt anything, right?

  2. Snarky says:

    Bob Dryer:

    Put down those sporting pages and read this CNN article on DRONES flying around the country…

    Even the fools in Congress are worried about police using Drones and violating our personal privacy under the excuse of “crime fighting.”


  3. Tiffs Gotta Go says:

    The occupy group is Tiffany Renees people. If you have ever been to a city council meeting when the occupy group was routinely coming to council meetings you would have seenher communicating with the members of the occupy group with some goofy hands gesture similat to make horns above their heads. Very sad out of a public official..Petaluma voters get out and vote for the economic future of Petaluma. Healy, Kearney and Miller in 2012.

  4. Grapevines says:

    Ah, some of the things that just cause me to wonder how some groups can fight each other over showing how stupid they are.

    The signs one sees when one drives into Sebastopol, “Sebastopol, Nuclear Free Zone” and the hopefully soon to be recognised “Petaluma, Drone Free Zone”

    Many years ago I was living in Santa Barbara, early 70′s, and two residents there were arguing over how stupid people were. One of them claimed that you could come up with the most outlandish idea, and he could get people organized, funded, and self supporting enough to promote it.

    A bet was made and the deal sealed. The proposal was to promote the concept that animals were embarrassed by the fact that they were brought into the world naked as we all are, but remain that way throughout their lives. It was our duty as responsible people, to spare them from this shame.

    That’s right, cloth animals and thus give them a sense of decency, dignity, and greater purpose in life. Why who knows what they could accomplish then?

    Sounds outlandish you think? They had to put guards around the fairgrounds when it was time for the county fair. There was leagues of people with over sized farmer John’s trying to get them on the goats, sheep, pigs, cows, you name it. Chickens were the worst offenders because they could fly and that wasn’t fair.

    So if you think I find these people (occupy folks) to be foolish and easily misguided, your right, I’ve seen it before and probably will see it again. Prescribe an antipsychotic for them and send them off to play with each other to their hearts content.

  5. Snarky says:

    Bob Dryer:

    Perhaps you should read more than the Press Democrat and the sporting news?

    Just a thought.

    Civilian police departments across the USA are actually interested in using a civilian version of drones for, at least initially, un-manned aerial video & photography.

    And,,, the company that makes those civilian drones for such purposes… says their product is nearly ready for actual sale.

    Just thought I’d help you catch up to the current reality.

  6. Steve says:

    It’s a good thing that we no longer have any real issues like unemployment, bad roads, empty store fronts, home foreclosures, or failing schools and can now focus on the threat of the police using Drones.

    Keep up the good work Occupy ……

  7. quan lee says:

    The movement is over and no longer relevant or news worth. Sloppy journalism

  8. Terry says:

    The embodiment of Tiffany Renee in Santa Rosa is Susan Gorin. Both have a world view that is built upon fantasy, a deep abiding love of all things union, only supporting environmental causes if they will help them get elected, claiming some sort of neighborhood superiority and ignoring the fact that a healthy economy must mean supporting businesses, not opposing them at every opportunity.

    Both Renee and Gorin (and add Julie Combs) fail to heed the example of the Lucas Valley Home Association and how they drove out hundreds of good paying jobs, and destroyed an environmentally balanced project. What about this neighborhood association? They cling to the “neighborhood” mantle, but their heart is far from it.

    Petaluma and Santa Rosa voters need to sit up and take notice of these so called “neighborhood” candidates. They are anything but.

  9. Bob Dreyer says:

    Schools? Roads? Crime? Who cares about that stuff? What about non-existent drone aircraft? That’s the real issue.

    Is it any wonder nobody takes these people seriously?

  10. ron says:

    Non story!
    Come on, PD. This as the top news article today? We do definitely need a legitimate local news source since the pd is not.

  11. BigDogatPlay says:

    Karma would dictate that Tiff should finish seventh when all the ballots are counted. She is a loose cannon firing off fantasies of rainbows and pixie dust in response to the real issues that face the city. Not even Mayor Glass is willing to swallow hard enough to support her for another term.

    As to Occupy, don’t they have something important to protest?

  12. Over Easy says:

    Tiffany Renee’s comments and rants future illustrate her sad decline into La La Lithium land.

    It borders on absurd Kabuki theater with her notion she knows best what voters would want to select a mid term candidate?

    “Wow” is about all that can be said.

  13. Snarky says:

    Occupy… the movement brings back memories.

    For one thing, the entire Oakland, CA, police department is under Federal Court supervision due to corruption and crimes against citizens.

    Were it not for that, the Oakland cop who intentionally shot a protestor in the head with a bean bag (non lethal projectile).. causing brain damage… would not have been investigated.

    And then, there was Lt John Pike, of the Davis, CA, police dept… who was fired for assaulting seated, non violent, un-armed protestors by way of a brand of pepper spray that was not even authorized by his own dept. HE just decided it was okay. Taxpayers have now been ordered to pay off the protestors… yet the good Lt John Pike was not prosecuted. Of course.
    Today’s News Headline is a winner. Look below:

    By Joseph Serna
    Los Angeles Times, Online

    October 25, 2012, 2:06 p.m.

    “A New York City police officer has been arrested in a plot to to kidnap, cook, and cannibalize women, law enforcement officials said Thursday.

    Gilberto Valle, 28, was arrested Tuesday at his home in Queens, N.Y. by FBI agents and NYPD’s internal affairs after a two-month investigation. He is scheduled to appear in Manhattan federal court Thursday afternoon.””

    Despite the criminality, cops still insist and demand that we “obey the badge.”

  14. Terry says:

    Would Tiffany Renee support an anti-drone ordinance for Petaluma?

  15. Ridiculous says:

    Seriously? Drones? No need to marginalize the Occupy group, they are doing a fantastic job of that all by themselves.

  16. Petaluma Dave says:

    How many of these dissidents are residents of Petaluma? How many are registered voters in Petaluma?

    Would a group of regular citizens in Petaluma get the same ink if they ask questions of the city council on a Website?

    Why did the Petaluma council members break the Sonoma County code of silence by answering these bizarre inquries? Just attend a council meeting and ask a question. See if they even the civility to pay attention to you.