Got a burning need to contact your state senator? For more than 50,000 residents of unincorporated Sonoma County, that number currently is disconnected.
Voters favored incumbents in three state legislative races representing various parts of the North Coast. Final returns gave veteran lawmaker Wes Chesbro, D-Arcata, almost three times as many votes as Guerneville activist Tom Lynch in their race to represent the revamped 2nd Assembly District.
The state Senate on Thursday approved two bills authored by Sen. Noreen Evans that seek new strategies for keeping state parks open. SB974 would require more public involvement in decisions about closing and re-opening state parks. And SB1078 would encourage the state Department of Parks and Recreation to create an ‘innovation team’ that would take a more entrepreneurial approach to raising revenue.
The state Senate is set to vote Monday on the governor’s agreement with the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria that the tribe needs to start work on a $700 million casino next to Rohnert Park. It would be the latest in a series of developments in the past month that have moved the tribe’s controversial casino plans — in the works for nine years — to the verge of fruition. Political and Indian gambling experts suggested on Friday that the road is virtually clear for the tribe.
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.
State Sen. Noreen Evans, who has expressed frustration publicly with how much lawmakers are compensated, resumed practicing law two years ago and in that time generated thousands of dollars in extra income, records show. The Santa Rosa Democrat won’t say how much extra money she earned on top of her $95,291 annual state salary, not including a per diem and other benefits. The senator, who was an attorney prior to being elected to office, reported earning between $20,000 and $200,000 last year from two Santa Rosa firms.
For the first time, the Legislature on Friday released expense records for each individual senator and Assembly member. The data didn’t contain great revelations on the spending patterns of North Coast legislators. But the release was deemed a historic step forward for those seeking more transparency in government.