WatchSonoma Watch
Month after opening, Rohnert Park casino’s impact hotly debated

A month after the Graton Resort & Casino opened to applause and trepidation and uncertainty, early reports likely provide fodder for both critics and supporters of the 3,000-slot-machine casino on Rohnert Park’s flank.

Petaluma buys high-tech license-plate readers

Petaluma motorists who dawdle while downtown may want to invest in some timers. The city is preparing to purchase two GPS-aided, license-plate readers for its parking enforcement officers to more efficiently ticket vehicles parked longer than the two-hour limit.

Healdsburg wrestling with pot-growing guidelines

In the heart of Wine Country, where harvest time produces pungent scents of fermenting grapes, the conversation these days is about another odor — that of skunk-like budding marijuana plants.

The harvest is still months away, but wine-centric Healdsburg is wrestling with guidelines for medical marijuana cultivation and whether to confine it indoors.

The intent behind keeping cultivation indoors is not only to suppress the smell, but to discourage burglaries and even violence.

Petaluma police seek new rules on massage businesses

Massage therapists in Petaluma may have wondered what decade they were in following discussion of a proposed ordinance regulating their profession. Police Chief Pat Williams presented the proposed new ordinance to the City Council this week, noting that occasional investigations have exposed prostitution operations masquerading as legitimate massage businesses.

Petaluma police crack down on abandoned cars

Hundreds of vehicles throughout Petaluma have been abandoned or otherwise left on the street longer than the law allows. On Wednesday, Petaluma police fanned out in an effort to scour every city street to find them and either warn owners or tow violators.

Petaluma police chief proposes tougher rules for eyesore properties

Weedy, overgrown front yards. Junked appliances piled outside. Boarded up doors and windows. All spell ‘distressed property,’ and to some, an opportunity to illegally squat or vandalize a building forsaken by its owners. Petaluma’s new police chief is hoping to clean up city neighborhoods scarred by these abandoned, run-down houses.

Pension, pay cuts for Healdsburg police department

Healdsburg police employees have a new labor contract that will require them to pay more toward their pension and medical benefits. The City Council late Monday adopted the new two-year union contract that which will require all employees to pay 10 percent of the cost of their medical coverage by 2014, in contrast to the last agreement where the city covered the full cost.

Review of alcohol in public sought in Sonoma

Sonoma’s police chief is asking the City Council to consider new restrictions on consuming alcohol in public following a raucous Fourth of July celebration that resulted in more than a dozen arrests. In a memo to City Manager Linda Kelly, Chief Bret Sackett attributed the unruly behavior to large crowds, warm weather and Sonoma’s ‘liberal alcohol laws.’

New Petaluma police chief named in intimidation lawsuit

The man selected as Petaluma’s next police chief is leaving his job in Desert Hot Springs in the midst of a federal lawsuit filed recently by a female officer alleging she was harassed and fired because she testified against two rogue colleagues.

Fired Santa Rosa police captain wins round in federal court

A former Santa Rosa police captain whose four-year wrongful termination suit so far has cost the city nearly $1 million has won a round in federal court. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals sent the case back for further hearings, ruling that a federal judge improperly ordered Jamie Mitchel to pay some of the city’s legal costs.

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