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Jury selection to start Monday in Efren Carrillo peeking trial

Sonoma County Supervisor Efren Carrillo, center, talks briefly with his parents, Margarita and Efren Carrillo, Sr., after being arraigned on a misdemeanor charge in Sonoma County Superior Court in Santa Rosa on Friday, Nov. 1, 2013.  (CHRISTOPHER CHUNG / PD)

Jury selection will begin Monday in Sonoma County Supervisor Efren Carrillo’s misdemeanor peeking trial and witness testimony should start mid-week, a judge said Wednesday.

The schedule was set as both sides in Carrillo’s much-publicized criminal case announced they could not reach a settlement and were prepared to try the matter in court.

Judge Gary Medvigy ordered Carrillo’s lawyer and a prosecutor for the state Attorney General to appear Friday to argue any pre-trial motions. They would return Monday to begin the task of selecting impartial jurors to hear an estimated two days of testimony.

Mike McGuire turns down county board chairmanship

Sonoma County Supervisor Mike McGuire turned down the chairmanship of the board. (BETH SCHLANKER / The Press Democrat) File July 2013

Sonoma County Supervisor Mike McGuire turned down the chairmanship of the board Tuesday, saying the demands on his time are too great.
“The bottom line is that the county and the residents of the fourth district are my priority,” he said after his surprise announcement.
McGuire, 34, is running for an open state senate seat, but he declined to tie his decision directly to that campaign, though he did admit that was a draw on his limited time. He said he reached his decision last week after several weeks of thought.

Fisherman’s Sonoma Valley pond at center of airport dispute

Josh Frazier, owner of Leland Fly Fishing Outfitters, walks with his daughters Elle, 4, left, and Kohl, 6, at the edge of the two-acre pond on his Leland Ranch property, in Sonoma on Sept. 27, 2013. (Alvin Jornada / The Press Democrat)

At Leland Fly Fishing Ranch south of Sonoma, owner Josh Frazier sat on a deck overlooking a pond that he built and stocked with trout, but one that he is barred from casting a line in.

Concerns that the pond could attract birds and pose a threat to pilots taking off and landing at Sonoma Valley Airport, which is adjacent to the Arnold Drive ranch, are at the center of Frazier’s long-running land-use dispute with county officials and the airport owners.

Healdsburg’s Jim Wood gets Wes Chesbro endorsement in Assembly race

Jim Wood.

Healdsburg City Councilman Jim Wood announced Friday that his campaign for the state Assembly seat representing the North Coast has been endorsed by the incumbent, 2nd District Assemblyman Wes Chesbro.

Wood’s early entry into the race and strong fundraising have already made him a frontrunner among several Democrats vying for the seat. Chesbro’s endorsement could bolster that status.

Petaluma weighs public power agency

power lines

Petaluma’s city leaders Monday night dug into the structure and risks of the planned Sonoma Clean Power Authority, an alternative to utility giant PG&E promised to bring a greener product to county residents.

Healdsburg budget gets boost with accounting change

Healdsburg (PD FILE)

Healdsburg’s financial fortune seems to have reversed overnight Monday. A new look at the city budget shows a $1 million ending balance in this year’s general fund, instead of an anticipated deficit.

Former North Coast congressman Don Clausen turning 90

Former Rep. Don Clausen, a North Coast Republican for 20 years, sits at his desk at the Ferndale Historical Museum on Thursday, April 25 as he signs family cookbooks in preparation for his 90th birthday in Ferndale this Saturday. Born in Ferndale, Clausen now lives in Fortuna near his family. The desk was moved from his office to the museum. (Kent Porter / PD)

The broad smile, a trademark of his 20 years of representing the North Coast in Congress, still flashes across Don Clausen’s face.

A toxic legacy in downtown Santa Rosa

Cleanup efforts continue at a site of a former gas production plant near Santa Rosa Creek, in downtown Santa Rosa, on Tuesday, March 12, 2013. (Christopher Chung / The Press Democrat)

Downtown, on the north bank of Santa Rosa Creek, a large mural of a fish graces a concrete retaining wall along the Prince Memorial Greenway.
The colorful artwork is meant to celebrate one of the key goals of the $25 million public works project — the restoration of the creek’s aquatic habitat.
But the health of the creek remains threatened by what lies hidden behind that retaining wall — soil and groundwater contaminated with a toxic brew of oil and other poisonous byproducts left behind at a former manufactured-gas plant.
Pacific Gas & Electric Co. closed the plant in 1924 and now is spending tens of millions of dollars to clean the site at First and B streets, now mostly covered by the parking lot of the Westamerica Bank building.
But 26 years after regulators ordered the property cleaned up, it still hasn’t been and won’t be for years.

Sebastopol, PG&E face off over SmartMeters again

Smartmeter 3:2

The city of Sebastopol’s uneasy stalemate with PG&E over the installation of SmartMeters faces another test today when the two sides meet again.

SMART train seeks more federal money


Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit officials are seeking $6.6 million in federal funds to buy more train cars, money that otherwise would be used for local pedestrian and bicycle paths.
‘SMART is committed to go to Cloverdale and to Larkspur and as you go farther, you need more vehicles,’ said Farhad Mansourian, SMART’s general manager.
SMART’s request is drawing fire from bicycle advocates because the rail agency would be taking the lion’s share of $9.9 million that Sonoma County is getting for such projects as bike lanes, sidewalk improvements, traffic lights, Safe Routes to Schools programs and even construction of SMART’s own pedestrian and bicycle path.