Despite having a massive financial advantage and the backing of powerful Democratic Party and union allies, Santa Rosa Assemblyman Michael Allen lost his bid for another term to a relative political unknown.
Nine years after the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria announced plans to open a casino in Sonoma County, inciting opposition and controversy, the tribe has cleared its last governmental hurdle. In a quiet milestone, the federal government Friday let an agreement between the state and the tribe, known as a compact, take effect by acting neither to reject or approve it. The compact allows the tribe to operate a Las Vegas-style casino with slot machines and banking card games.
When Ernie Carpenter entered the race two months ago to challenge first-term incumbent Efren Carrillo, he both shocked the district and pleased one of its biggest constituencies — the conservation and environmental community. Environmentalists had been concerned that Carrillo’s opponent, former Santa Rosa City Councilwoman Veronica Jacobi, was no match for Carrillo’s four years in office and his ability to raise money. Carrillo rejects attempts to characterize him as pro-development at the expense of the environment.
The head of the Indian tribe that plans to build a Las Vegas-style casino outside Rohnert Park said Tuesday its agreement with the state allowing the project to start will be good in a ‘new and novel way’ for all involved, including the larger North Bay community. ‘We created something that will indeed benefit Indian and non-Indian alike,’ said Greg Sarris, chairman of the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, during a three-hour state Senate committee meeting.
Occupy Santa Rosa protesters brought their demonstration to the City Council on Tuesday, calling for the withdrawal of public funds from major financial institutions such as Bank of America and Wells Fargo. They also brought a list of more mundane requests, including an amendment of an ordinance that prohibits camping at City Hall and permission to install a portable toilet.
More than 2,500 people marched through downtown Santa Rosa Saturday, protesting the concentration of wealth in America. The Occupy Santa Rosa event, modeled on Wall Street protests that began last month, was twice as large as organizers expected, suggesting it is gaining mainstream momentum.
The Occupy Wall Street movement is spreading across the United States. Protests against the influence of the superwealthy have taken place in more than 100 cities. On Saturday, organizers expect up to 1,000 demonstrators at a rally in Santa Rosa to call attention to the economic pressures on working Americans.
Eighty-four percent of the nearly 6,000 city and county employees in Sonoma County are represented by unions or associations that bargain for wages and benefits, a process at the crux of a national debate. With school employees added to the mix, the share of the nearly 27,000 public workers in the county who are covered by collective bargaining agreements is about 90 percent.