Friday, May 25, 2018

Cal-Fire Says PG&E Downed Power Lines the Culprit in Four 2017 California Wildfires

Posted By on Fri, May 25, 2018 at 4:17 PM

TOM GOGOLA
  • Tom Gogola

Cal Fire has just announced its investigation into four of the wildfires that hit California last year has ended, and that the fires were caused by downed PG&E wires coming into contact with trees. The state agency determined that fires in Butte and Nevada counties—the La Porte fire, the McCourtney Fire, the Lobo Fire and the Honey fire were all caused by the power lines. In a statement, Napa State Sen. Bill Dodd says, “It confirms what we’ve known all along—that downed power lines can be the source of devastating fires." Dodd has pending litigation that would compel utility companies to strengthen their infrastructure. "We have an obligation to ensure the utility companies do what’s right to protect Californians," he says. "This determination by Cal Fire underscores the need to take protective measures now.” No word as yet from Cal Fire on the cause of the Nuns, Tubbs, Adobe and Pocket fires that tore through the region last October.

Here's the complete statement from PG&E sent to the Fishing Report late Friday after this news broke:

"Based on the information we have so far, we believe our overall programs met our state’s high standards. Under PG&E’s industry-leading Vegetation Management Program, we inspect and monitor every PG&E overhead electric transmission and distribution line each year, with some locations patrolled multiple times. We also prune or remove approximately 1.4 million trees annually. Following Governor Brown’s January 2014 Drought State of Emergency Proclamation and the California Public Utilities Commission’s Resolution ESRB-4, PG&E has added enhanced measures to address areas particularly affected by drought and bark beetles including:

• Increased foot and aerial patrols along power lines in high fire-risk areas;
• Removed approximately 236,000 dead or dying trees in 2016 and 140,000 dead or dying trees in 2017; these tree removals were in addition to approximately 30,000 trees removed per year prior to the drought;
• Launched daily aerial fire detection patrols during high fire season to improve fire spotting and speed of fire response;
• Since 2014, provided $11.4 million to local Fire Safe Councils (FSCs) for fuel reduction projects in communities; and
• Provided $1.7 million to local FSCs for 28 highly programmable remote-sensing cameras for critical fire lookout towers.

PG&E meets or exceeds regulatory requirements for pole integrity management, using a comprehensive database to manage multiple patrol and inspection schedules of our more than two million poles. Years of drought, extreme heat and 129 million dead trees have created a “new normal” for our state, and we must continue to adapt to meet these challenges. Extreme weather is increasing the number of large wildfires and the length of the wildfire season in California. According to CAL FIRE, in 2017 alone, CAL FIRE confronted 7,117 wildfires, compared to an average of 4,835 during the preceding five years. Five of the 20 most destructive wildfires in the state’s history burned between October and December 2017.

In the case of these Northern California wildfires, we saw an unprecedented confluence of weather-related conditions, including: years of drought resulting in millions of dead trees, a record-setting wet winter that spurred the growth of vegetation that then became abundant fuel after record-setting heat during the summer months, very low humidity and very high winds.

The state, first responders and California’s utilities are all in agreement that we must work together to prevent and respond to wildfires and enhance climate and infrastructure resiliency.

Following last year’s fires, we are bolstering wildfire prevention and emergency response efforts, putting in place new and enhanced safety measures, and doing more over the long term to harden our electric system to help reduce wildfire risks and to keep our customers safe.

We want to work together to share information, provide resources and help our customers and communities prepare for and stay safe during extreme weather events. This challenge requires us all to come together in order to be successful. We need to look at the full range of solutions. These should include utility practices as well as:
• Forest management to reduce fuel;
• Better management of building in the wildland urban interface;
• Fire-resistant building codes;
• Defensible space practices; and
• Insurance coverage for those homeowners and businesses located in elevated fire areas.

In addition, we strongly believe this must include addressing California’s unsustainable policies regarding wildfire liability. California is one of the only states in the country where the courts have applied inverse condemnation liability to events associated with investor-owned utility equipment. This means PG&E could be liable for property damages and attorneys’ fees even if we followed established inspection and safety rules. Liability regardless of negligence undermines the financial health of the state’s utilities, discourages investment in California and has the potential to materially impact the ability of utilities to access the capital markets to fund utility operations and California’s bold clean energy vision.

Extreme weather events driven by climate change are causing unprecedented wildfires and creating a “new normal” for our state. We are committed to advocating with legislative leaders and policymakers across the state on comprehensive legislative solutions for all Californians, as we collectively seek to meet the challenge of climate change, and position the California economy for success.


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Friday, May 4, 2018

GOP Senate Candidate and Holocaust Denier Patrick Little Lists UC Berkeley Student Apartment as Address in State Filing

Posted By on Fri, May 4, 2018 at 4:03 PM

Patrick Little
  • Patrick Little

Republican U.S. senate candidate and Holocaust denier Patrick Little has filed paperwork with the California Secretary of State that lists his address as an apartment located in a student housing complex owned by UC Berkeley.

The address under file with the Secretary of State is in the city of Albany, which is just north of the city of Berkeley and where the university owns an apartment complex called University Village.

A spokesperson at Berkeley says that no person named Patrick Little is currently enrolled at Berkeley, nor has anyone ever been enrolled at the university who has that name. The spokesperson could not identify the person who lives at the Berkeley-owned apartment associated with Little’s campaign. Little’s Twitter account says that he lives in Albany, CA. He was thrown off the social media site on April 29 over his denial of the Holocaust and wrote that "Hitler saved more jewish lives than any man in history."

His campaign slogan is: “Liberate the U.S. from the Jewish Oligarchy.”

If he doesn't live there, then who does? And what's his connection to Berkeley? “We didn’t find any name matching that name either now or in the past,” says university spokeswoman Janet Gilmore, who added, “I can’t talk about who may or may not live there because of state privacy laws.”

Gilmore sent along information about who may qualify to live in the University Village complex: full-time graduate or undergraduate university students, and their families.

Little, who is married, jumped from obscurity into the national news this week when it was revealed, in Newsweek, that he is the top-running Republican candidate in the race to unseat Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

With no apparent campaign staff or apparatus to speak of, he came in with 18 percent support in a recent statewide poll, and was number two after Feinstein. If the polling numbers hold and are reflected in the primary vote on June 5, Little would face Feinstein in the general election in November.

An assistant city manager at the city of Albany declined to comment on the specter of a Holocaust denying anti-Semite in their midst. “We’re not going to comment on this,” says Assistant City Manager Isabelle Leduc. “We really don’t know where that person lives.”

A spokesman at the Federal Election Commission says that candidates for higher office don’t have to reveal their home addresses, and only need to provide a mailing address to the FEC.

“The FEC has no jurisdiction over any residency requirements (i.e. a candidate running from a particular state or Congressional district within a state),” says Myles Martin, public affairs specialist at the commission. “The Statement of Candidacy that a candidate files with the [FEC] requires that a candidate provide a ‘mailing address,’ but this need not be their actual residence address.”

Little has not filed a Statement of Candidacy, or any other disclosure reports with the FEC, says Martin. He may not need to. The FEC only requires financial disclosures from candidates who haven’t eclipsed a $5,000 threshold in contributions, or expenditures related to the campaign.

The FEC has assigned a candidate ID to him, says Martin, which it may do if a candidate “is qualified for the ballot in a state but has not filed a Statement of Candidacy with the FEC.”

Little has said that he’s told his supporters to not contribute any money to his campaign, given that those contributions, and who made them, could be subject to public scrutiny.

The Maine native's blatant anti-Semitism is fully on display on his campaign platform. Among other promises, the former U.S. Marine says he'll “introduce a bill to the U.S. Senate making it illegal to raise funds for any foundation related to the perpetuating of propaganda related to a ‘holocaust’, formally making US’s stance on the holocaust to be that it is a Jewish war atrocity propaganda hoax that never happened.”





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Thursday, April 19, 2018

City and Santa Rosa Fire Department Announce Contract Talk Impasse

Posted By on Thu, Apr 19, 2018 at 4:54 PM

TOM GOGOLA
  • Tom Gogola

Santa Rosa declared an impasse this week in its ongoing contract negotiations with Firefighters Union Local 1401. According to a release (see below), the city and union have been in negotiations since last March but after twenty-one meetings, they couldn't hash out a deal. According to the city, it offered a two-year package with a 7 percent pay hike spread across bonuses, costs of living adjustments and other incentives, but that offer was turned back by the union.

Santa Rosa firefighters' total compensation package (including benefits, overtime, and bonuses) averages more more than $235,000 a year. According to salaries.com, the average base salary for a Santa Rosa fireman, as of March of this year, was $49,951. Local salaries at SRFD range from $37,000 to $62,000 a year.

According to 2016 stats from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Santa Rosa base pay lines up with American firefighters' average wage of $48,030. But in California as a whole, the average salary is $71,790. Oakland and San Francisco offer the highest wages in the state, according to the BLS, each coming in at around 90k a year.

The city says its offer is competitive with other salaries in the city, and that it can't afford the raise—in no small measure because of fiscal fallout from the October 2017 wildfires.

The next step according to the city release dated April 18, is further mediation or forced arbitration via a third party. Let's hope they get it squared away before, well. 



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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Sonoma Power Broker Darius Anderson Signs on as PG&E Lobbyist

Posted By on Tue, Apr 17, 2018 at 4:04 PM

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As he sets out to lead the way in rebuilding the North Bay after the October wildfires, Sonoma County developer, newspaper owner and Democratic Party power broker Darius Anderson’s Platinum Advisors is also lobbying on behalf of PG&E’s post-fire interests in Sacramento.

According to the California Secretary of State (see graphic above), Platinum Advisors was hired by the utility on March 28, just as a Senate bill that’s squarely targeted at PG&E’s fire liability was scheduled to make its way through the committee process in the Senate.

Sponsored by a quartet of state senators, including North Bay pols Bill Dodd and Mike McGuire, SB 819 sets out to limit the extent to which electric utilities can pass off fees and fines to ratepayers.

According to the Legislative Counsel’s Digest, SB 819 enhances the state’s current ability to regulate rate hikes; California law already gives the state Public Utilities Commission leverage to “fix the rates and charges for every public utility and requires that those rates and charges be just and reasonable.”

The current regulations prohibit gas corporations from “recovering any fine or penalty in any rate approved by the commission,” and SB 819 extends that prohibition to gas and electric corporations such as PG&E, which is based in San Francisco, provides power to some 16 million California residents and is the dominant investor-owned utility in the state.

SB 819 would in effect head off PG&Es attempt to convince Sacramento lawmakers that fallout from the “new normal” of wildfires shouldn’t fall on the utility, even if its equipment is determined to be the culprit. Two state agencies are investigating the fires and no final determination has been made about PG&E's ultimate responsibility for the fires, if any.

PG&E is opposed to SB 819.

The bill was set for its first committee meeting today, April 17, before the Senate’s Energy, Utilities and Communications committee. McGuire’s a member of the bi-partisan committee. The bill was introduced on Jan. 3 and the Senate set today’s hearing date date on March 12. Platinum Advisors was hired by PG&E two weeks later.

The company was founded by Anderson, a Sonoma resident who is also the principal owner at the Sonoma Media Group (which owns the Press-Democrat), and the founder of the Rebuild Northbay Foundation, a nonprofit he created after the fires. 

The Rebuild North Bay Foundation’s board includes Steven Malnight, a senior vice president at the PG&E Corporation and Pacific Gas and Electric Company. According to the Rebuild website, Malnight until recently served as PG&E’s senior vice president for regulatory affairs, “where he oversaw PG&E’s regulatory policy efforts at the national and state levels, including interaction with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC)….”

The utility has come under intense scrutiny following the wildfires last fall as state investigators set out to determine what caused the fires which destroyed thousands of homes and buildings, killed dozens of people, and prompted around 300 lawsuits against the utility—including a suit by Sonoma County itself. Sonoma County Supervisor James Gore’s wife, Elizabeth, is the chair of the Rebuild North Bay Foundation.

The North Bay fires caused an estimated $9 billion in so-called "insured damage." Numerous press reports have noted that PG&E carries about $800 million in liability insurance. The takeaway: The investor-owned utility is facing one of the more severe existential crises in its hundred-plus year history, and says that SB 819 could not have come at a worse time for the utility or its ratepayers—especially given its commitment to participating in the state’s climate-change reduction strategies.

At issue for PG&E is the principal of “inverse condemnation,” whereby a utility can be held liable for damages from a wildfire, as PG&E noted in a press release on Jan 3, “even if the utility has followed established inspection and safety rules.”

PG&E put the heavyweight Sacramento lobbying group Capitol Advocacy on its payroll as of Jan. 1. It added more lobbying firepower with the addition of Platinum Advisors about two months later, as the legislative session got rolling.

Anderson was not immediately available for comment via email or phone.

On Jan. 3 PG&E issued this statement in opposition to SB 819:

“While there has been no determination on the causes of the Northern California wildfires that took place in October, it is clear that California needs much broader reforms that recognize the mutual interests of customers, utilities, investors, insurers and others as we work together to address the impacts of climate change including more frequent and more damaging wildfires. California is one of the only states in the country where the courts have applied inverse condemnation liability to events caused by a privately owned utility’s equipment. This means that if a utility’s equipment is found to have been a substantial cause of the damage in the event like a wildfire—even if the utility has followed established inspection and safety rules—the utility may be liable for property damages and attorneys’ fees associated with that event. Allowing essentially unlimited liability undermines the financial health of the state’s utilities, discourages investment in California and has the potential to materially impact the ability of utilities to access the capital markets to fund utility operations. All of these are bad for customers and bad for the state of California. And, at a time when California is asking privately owned utilities to invest billions of dollars to meet the state’s greenhouse gas reduction goals, these risks pose real consequences for the state’s environment, economy and communities.”







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Friday, April 6, 2018

As High-Profile Policing Stories Pile Up, Santa Rosa PD Still on Fence over "Cops" Contract

Posted By on Fri, Apr 6, 2018 at 12:45 PM

Badge boys, badge boys, whatchoo gonna do when Langley comes for you?
  • Badge boys, badge boys, whatchoo gonna do when Langley comes for you?

A spokesman at the Santa Rosa Police Department says the agency has not yet decided whether it will sign off on a contract with Langley Productions, the Santa Monica–based company that produces the controversial reality-show Cops.

“We are still evaluating the proposed contract,” says Captain Rainer J. Navarro via email. “As soon as we have an answer one way or the other, we will provide that information to the press.”

Langley Productions approached SCSO and SRPD back in January about signing on with the 31-year-old program, decreed by the criminal-justice news-site the Marshall Project that same month as the most polarizing reality show in America. The Sheriff’s Office signed on with Langley Productions, but SRPD did not, even as local news outlets blared with the news that SCSO and SRPD would be rolling with the TV crews, complete with the requisite and repeated cueing of the Bad Boys theme. 

Based on interviews with elected city officials, it was anticipated that SRPD Chief Hank Schreeder would have made a decision by the end of last week. City officials told the Bohemian two weeks ago that he was doing his “due diligence” and meeting with individual members of the City Council and taking the pulse of the community before he made a decision.

The Bohemian has a records request in with Sonoma County to ascertain the range and extent of SCSO's communication with county officials or before Sheriff Rob Giordano signed the Cops contract in March.

In the meantime, days after the Cops films crews started following around swing-shift deputies with the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office, a man died after SCSO deputies detained him in a City of Sonoma mobile-home park, on March 28 at around 10 p.m.

The “fatal incident protocol” at SCSO requires the department to hand off the investigation of the man's death to the SRPD, which issued a statement on March 29 detailing the incident and what would happen next. 

Forty-four year old Roderic Cameron was naked and smashing streetlights at the Sonoma Oaks Mobile Home Park. The City of Sonoma has a contract with SCSO to provide police manpower there.

The SRPD statement said that the suspect was Tasered and that “maximum restraints were used to detain Cameron,” who went into a medical crisis after being detained with a cord around his ankles, according to a report in the Press Democrat.

After being treated by deputies and paramedics on the scene, Cameron was rushed to Sonoma Valley Hospital and pronounced dead.

Neither the SCSO or SRPD, or the producers of Cops, responded to inquiries sent last week about whether the Cops crews were on hand during the fatal incident, which led to the administrative suspension of several SCSO deputies and the independent investigation by SRPD, which is ongoing. 

Whether the Cops film crews were there or not, the Sonoma incident has served to underscore a longstanding critique of Cops that it has historically depicted a biased view of policing that emphasizes the public-relations benefit for local police forces that sign on to the program—without addressing some of the systemic issues around police bias that plague departments across the country. The program has also been blasted for its uneven depiction of policing, to the extent that it focuses on high-action sequences over the mundane and routine public-safety work that officers engage in most of the time. 

In its three-decade history, Cops episodes have been filled with events similar to the scenario that unfolded in the City of Sonoma. A large and irrational screaming naked man who is bleeding and smashing lighting fixtures in a motor-home facility? That's ratings gold for the program.

But scenes of detainees dying while in custody do not typically make it onto the program, if for no other reason that the suspects have to sign a consent form before the footage can be aired. And, the police forces who sign on with Cops are typically given veto power over any clips that the producers propose to air.

“I have concerns and thoughts about Cops being filmed with SCSO and SRPD in Sonoma County” says police-accountability activist Frank Saiz, who decreed the program “garbage” as he took a shot at city- and county-police spokesmen for hyping the program and its public-relations benefits when the Press Democrat reported on its arrival in the county a few weeks ago.

"This reality show is supposed to showcase law enforcement’s good, hard work that deputies do, per [SCSO spokesman] Sgt. [Spencer] Crum, while SRPD Lt. Rick Kohut says that it is ‘good publicity for the city.’ Is the morale that bad,” says Saiz, “that law enforcement needs to get juiced up and pretty for a reality show?

Kohut subsequently told the Bohemian that Schreeder was aware of  the historical critiques on the program, and said it was a possibility that he wouldn’t sign the contract, even after the Press Democrat reported that the SRPD would be participating, beginning in May.

Meanwhile, the local death of Cameron occurred against an explosive backdrop in Sacramento where Stephon Clark was recently shot eight times by police officers there, prompting demonstrations and calls for greater police accountability in the capital city.

Clark, 22, was killed after a helicopter and foot chase, and while he was in his grandmother’s backyard. Officers claimed he was coming toward them with a gun, a claim which is now being investigated by the California Department of Justice, since a subsequent autopsy and fact-check of the officers' claims revealed that Clark was shot six times in the back while carrying only a cellphone.

Again, the first part of the story would make for great television: With a helicopter overhead, a foot chase that ends with a suspect in handcuffs and the cops saying things like, “Why’d you run, man?” is the Cops gold standard for gripping reality TV. The foot chase that ends with an unarmed 22-year-old black man getting shot six times in the back, in his grandmother’s backyard, typically does not make the editing-room cut in Cops-land.


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Thursday, March 29, 2018

SCSO Spokesman Spencer Crum: I Never Praised Cops

Posted By on Thu, Mar 29, 2018 at 7:55 AM

SCSO swerves around questions about its decision to sign contract with Cops. - SCSO
  • SCSO
  • SCSO swerves around questions about its decision to sign contract with Cops.

Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Sgt. Spencer Crum says his comments in the Bohemian this week mischaracterized his views on Cops and that he never offered praise for the program.

His statement comes a day after the Bohemian reported that the Santa Rosa Police Department had not signed off on a contract with the controversial reality show. The SCSO signed a contract with the Cops producers, Langley Productions, earlier this month and the program started filming last week in Sonoma County.

Crum was sent a set of questions about SCSO’s decision to sign a contract with the Cops producers earlier this week, and one asked whether the spokesman could provide SCSO’s view of the critique of Cops that was laid out in a recent Marshall Project report.

The criminal-justice investigative website called Cops the most polarizing reality show in America in a report that ran in January, the same month that Langley was emailing SCSO and SRPD to solicit interest in Cops.

The inquiry sent to Crum, and to SCSO public-affairs specialist Misti Harris, noted that the show had been dropped by Fox in 2013 over longstanding concerns about its racially-biased depiction of policing.

Crum didn’t address any of that. Instead, he sent the following response:

"COPS provides a platform to provide information to the public on the good work being done by Sonoma County deputies and the challenges they face on the streets."

That sure sounds like praising a show instead of addressing legitimate questions about it.

In an email, Crum now says that “I was praising the good work of our deputies and only stating COPS provides a platform to show our good work. I wasn’t praising the television show and I think your article mischaracterized my statement. That’s all I wanted to point out. In none of my answers did I praise the show.“





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Thursday, March 22, 2018

Former KSRO Host Melanie Morgan Soars into Flamingo

Posted By on Thu, Mar 22, 2018 at 2:35 PM

tweet tweet
  • tweet tweet

Hard-right media militant Melanie Morgan will soar into the Flamingo Conference Resort & Spa tonight for a talk sponsored by the regional NorCal nest of the Eagle Forum, where birds of a particular “family values” feather, have flocked together since 1972.

Morgan, the former KSRO talk show host, was spotted not long back in Marin County, where she had been a long-time resident. In 2017 the Marin I-J reported that she and a small group had gathered to push a hardline immigration message at a Novato school meeting called by the principal to try and reassure the children and parents that they’d be safe from immigration raids.

The Eagle Forum is itself opposed to any budget-wall “deal” that includes a DACA renewal, according to its website, along with its historical opposition to gay marriage, reproductive rights, and the Equal Rights Amendment.

Morgan’s also been going after a corrupted liberal media and its flights of fact-challenged fancy, through organizations called Media Equalizer and Stop The Scalpings, the latter of which seems to exist solely for the purpose of making sure Sean Hannity is never fired from Fox. 7 p.m.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Sonoma County Supervisor Gorin in D.C. Today, Talking Fire

Posted By on Tue, Mar 20, 2018 at 1:27 PM

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Sonoma County Supervisor Susan Gorin was in Washington D.C., today, giving a presentation before the House Transportation & Infrastructure Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management. The subject: the October wildfires and how they impacted Gorin and her District 1 constituents. Gorin lost her Oakmont home to the fires and offered a poignant detail to the committee about seeing an "ironing board sticking out of the ashes" where her home once stood. She was invited to speak by U.S. Rep. Jared Huffman, the North Coast congressmen who represents parts of Sonoma County. Gorin and her husband lost everything to the fire that consumed their home and thousands of others.

"And you magnify my experience and my husband’s, by 5,000 or more, and you get some scale of the needs of my community and more," she said, highlighting a critical county need to upgrade its early-warning system and the need for better disaster preparedness overall. "We need to prepare our community for the unfolding disasters in the future," she said.
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Friday, March 9, 2018

Sen. Dodd: Yountville shooter is a veteran terminated from a VA program

Posted By on Fri, Mar 9, 2018 at 12:30 PM

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State Senator Bill Dodd was at a meeting about emergency alerts this morning when his emergency alert went off, along with those of Sonoma County Supervisor James Gore and District 4 Assemblywoman Cecilia Aguiar-Curry. The alert they'd just gotten was about the active shooter situation at the California Veteran's Home in Yountville, located in Dodd's district. He says he's just had a briefing with the governor's office and that the shooter has been identified, though his name is not yet being released. "This was a veteran who has PTSD that was in a program and apparently terminated from that program and came back with body armor and an automatic weapon. They know who he is," Dodd says. The Napa Valley Register is reporting that the hostage-taker is a 36-year-old man who was part of a program on the facility called the Pathway Home, a non-profit that's on the grounds of the veteran's center, and is licensed by the state, according to its website, which describes the 501-c3 thus:

"The Pathway Home (TPH) is an innovative, sustainable, residential program that serves post-9/11 Veterans affected by deployment-related stress. Many of these Veterans have seen multiple combat deployments, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, mild-Traumatic Brain Injury, depression, substance abuse, and other post-deployment issues often impede their re-entry to civilian life. The costs to them are high: derailed academic careers, professional frustration, and stress on personal relationships. We recognize this, intervene early, and provide a structured community that helps overcome the stigma of more traditional settings by integrating wraparound mental health services and community support in a residential setting."

Dodd says that there are no known injuries within the facility, "not as of this time," and reports that 20-30 shots were fired. "It's still pretty active," he says as of about 12:15pm.

News photos from the scene are showing up on the Twittersphere with lots of ambulances lined up. Reports are emerging that the hostage-taker may have been a veteran of the U.S. Army who had served in Afghanistan. CNN is on the story.

As of 2:30pm, the Napa Sheriff's office says three hostages are employees of Pathway Home. Law enforcement would not provide any details about the shooter except to say that they had his cell phone number and tried to contact him through the day to no avail. The FBI is on the scene along with U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson, whose Congressional district encompasses Yountville.

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Friday, March 2, 2018

Petaluma Sheraton Workers to Hit the Bricks for Better Wages

Posted By on Fri, Mar 2, 2018 at 2:48 PM

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Hotel workers  at the Petaluma Sheraton will take to the streets at the s emi-ungodly hour of 7 a.m. tomorrow (March 3) to demand better wages and affordable health care for housekeepers, desk clerks and kitchen workers. The workers, who are members of UNITE HERE Local 2850, say they are getting jammed hard by the Sonoma County's spiraling cost of living—and have been negotiating a new contract since last July, to no avail.

The union notes that the wages are not of a livable variety, as housekeepers start at $12.50 an hour. The Sheraton is operated by Pyramid Hospitality, which also runs the Doubletree in Berkeley where those same workers start at $15.90, according to UNITE-HERE. The company runs hotels around the country.

In a statement, Sheraton housekeeper Maria de la Luz Tostado says, "With the wages I make now, I barely make ends meet—we live in a city where cost of living is really high. We work very hard all day every day to make this hotel run smoothly, and it makes good profits; we deserve a piece of that."

The Petaluma workers are also being asked to shoulder $560 a month for family health coverage offered by Pyramid, while those Berkeley workers' families plans cost $0, according to UNITE-HERE.

“We know Pyramid can do better,” says Local 2850 President Wei-Ling Huber in a statement. “Sonoma County workers deserve to live with dignity too.”

Should you care to blow the car horn in solidarity, the Petaluma Sheraton is located at 745 Baywood Drive, Petaluma.


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