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WatchSonoma Watch
Sonoma County auditors to target employee credit card use

The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors next week is set to authorize an internal audit and tighter oversight of employee credit card use, a move prompted in part by recent public records requests by The Press Democrat. The plan includes a call for improved ‘internal controls’ on who gets county-issued credit cards and how they are used.

SMART to buy more rail cars, increase schedule

Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit officials Wednesday approved spending $6.6 million on an additional two-car train, improving service and raising the possibility of extending service to Airport Boulevard near Windsor. With the extra cars, SMART officials said they will have enough trains to run passenger trains at 30-minute intervals to the Guerneville Road station in Santa Rosa, a station that will serve the most riders.

Repeal of medical marijuana guidelines rejected by Sonoma County supervisors

Two members of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors failed to push through a proposal to repeal the county’s guidelines on medical marijuana cultivation and possession. After listening for nearly two hours to medical marijuana lawyers, patients and advocates lambast the lack of outreach on the repeal effort, the board voted 5-0 to set it aside.

Colleagues honor retiring Sonoma County Supervisor Brown

Sonoma County supervisors Tuesday morning honored one of their own, Valerie Brown, who is set to retire at the end of this year after 10 years on the county board. Chairwoman Shirlee Zane called Brown, the county’s only current two-term supervisor, a ‘historian, mentor and role model’ for the board.

Sonoma County supervisors vote to continue redevelopment project

The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday allocated $450,000 to continue one of its major redevelopment projects: Street and sidewalk improvements along Highway 12 north of Sonoma.

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.

Sonoma County adding 54 social services jobs

An influx of overdue and unexpected state cash means Sonoma County government will soon be adding about 54 jobs in various welfare and aid programs.
The wave of hiring is a change for the county of late. Since the recession hit government coffers four years ago, the county has been focused more on shrinking its workforce or holding staff levels flat.
But the slow financial turnaround has recently unleashed some money due to the county for state and federally-funded programs administered at the local level. Those include services that assist and protect seniors and children, provide food stamps and oversee Medi-Cal and other health care programs for low income residents.

Record number of vote-by-mail ballots expected in Sonoma County

Sonoma County has issued nearly 185,000 vote-by-mail ballots for Tuesday’s election, a new record that represents 71 percent of registered voters.
But it also means that any close race — such as the 1st District supervisorial contest between Santa Rosa City Council members Susan Gorin and John Sawyer — may remain unresolved for up to four weeks after the election.
The burgeoning number of absentee voters, along with high voter participation and a lengthy ballot in the presidential election, virtually guarantees that officials will need the full 28 days allowed by law to tally the vote, county elections chief Janice Atkinson said Thursday.

Candidate endorsements rolling out

If the campaign signs springing up around town are the most visible sign of the current election season, and the robo-calls and mailers its constant drumbeat, then the routine roll call of endorsements is the background noise.
While rarely revelatory, they are a signal to voters and thus a required part of any bid for public office, political experts say.
‘It is incumbent that you have them,’ said David McCuan, a Sonoma State University political scientist. ‘Do they sway voters? No. But they point voters in a direction.’
In announcing their latest endorsements last week, Susan Gorin and John Sawyer did some more pointing to voters.

Brown endorses Sawyer in supes race

Sonoma County Supervisor Valerie Brown has endorsed John Sawyer in his bid to become her replacement on the county board. Sawyer earned the endorsement over Susan Gorin, who also is seeking the supervisor’s seat for the First District, which encompasses east Santa Rosa and Sonoma Valley. Both Sawyer and Gorin serve on the Santa Rosa City Council.

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