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Logan Harvey
Reality Check
Logan Harvey

Government works

It’s weird to think that in one of the first democratic nations on the planet that a statement like “government works” is now controversial. But the belief that government is incompetent, wasteful, and lazy has been going on for years, and it’s part of our conditioning as Americans. I bet many people driving down West Napa Street in Sonoma these days have had a series of predictable thoughts, such as “Why the heck are they ripping the road up again?” or “There goes the government wasting money on something we don’t need.” While we automatically assume the worst, the reality of this project is the exact opposite. The water main replacement along West Napa Street represents the best of government. This was an intelligent and deft move by the City to do necessary infrastructure repair, the replacement of a leaky, 60-year-old water main, at no cost to the city. The job will save the money and water, two precious resources. It was a smart decision, one that included careful consideration at City Hall. Another charge often leveled at government workers is that they don’t care, they don’t listen and that any venue for public comment or interaction is a falsehood where no serious consideration takes place. Their minds are already made up to screw us, so what’s the point of trying? But in my experience, that’s simply not true. Recently, during the appeal of the environmental impact report for the Sonoma Hotel Project, city councilmembers read through 150 pages of documents dumped on them just two days ahead of the vote. Councilmembers and staff took the time to take meeting after meeting with constituent after constituent as well as, I’m sure, developers and other interested parties. They sat attentively through a four-hour session that included over and hour of public comment. They then unanimously agreed that it was important to take more time to digest the information, and sat through another public meeting to finally agree to do it all again, because the appeal motion on behalf of concerned citizens proved the EIR didn’t meet the necessary standards. That decision means, ultimately, they’ll have to go through the entire process yet again. If that isn’t hard work for what are essentially public volunteers, I don’t know what is. If that doesn’t meet the standard of taking time to consider the opinions of the constituency, what does? For most, our noticeable interactions with government are almost always negative. We get pulled over by police for ridiculous infractions and charged hundreds of dollars we can’t afford. We have to account for “onerous” regulations when running businesses. We have to stop at that new stop sign that’s been put there for “no reason”. We pay taxes that go “nowhere”. We drive over roads that are unpaved and send our children to troubled schools. When this is the face of government, it’s easy to see why we’re downtrodden, uninterested, and pessimistic. We don’t recognize that the city just saved us money and energy production by changing our streetlights to LEDs. We don’t see that the local police chiefs are meeting with immigrant community members to help calm fears of abuse and deportation. What we have to recognize is that the government is us -- it’s directed by the people who engage with it. Not enough people do. If “didn’t vote” was a candidate in 2016, it would have won 41 states and 471 electoral votes. If government is something we dislike, it’s completely our fault, and it’s important to recognize that in a representative democracy. With a little effort, a little time set aside for the issues you care about, you can actually have a big effect. When we continue to focus on the negative aspects of government, we support belief that government action is always wrongheaded and corrupt. This, in turn, leads us to believe the situation is hopeless and we, as citizens, take ourselves out of the process. As a result, our voices aren’t heard and the community is ran by the small percentage of people who do engage, who do demand change. The decisions made by officials are influenced by this small minority; the masses who chose to stay silent are handed a decision they had nothing to do with. Which, in turn, leads them to believe that government action is always wrongheaded and corrupt. The self-fulfilling cycle begins again. We face a lot of challenges in the next 50 years as a community, a state, and a country. If citizens don’t start appreciating and harnessing the power and success government can have and work to direct that power, then the future will remain in the hands of the businesses and small batch of citizens that do. Government is good, and it is the best tool we have to dress problems of housing, inequality, and environmental concerns. It’s time again to ask not what the government can do for us, but what we can do for our government.  
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Message and info from Pets Lifeline Message and info from Pets Lifeline

Thank You Sonoma! Pets Lifeline is finally back at our Eighth Street East location and cleaning up from... Continue

Emergency food for evacuees Emergency food for evacuees

A note from Rich Lee: The Springs Fire Relief Food Pantry will be open from 4 to 7 today and tomorrow... Continue

• Fire update: press conference summary
• Update from Teen Services; counseling available
• Beware of hazardous ash, debris
• Assistance to farmers and livestock available
• Next Sun print issue: October 26
• A message from La Luz
• Resources for Sonoma Valley Residents
• Evacuations lifted across Sonoma Valley
• School re-opening planned for October 23rd.
• Leadership Council to honor Teen Services Sonoma
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Public Citizen - Larry Barnett
Before It's Too Late - Eric Gullotta
The Sonoma Garden - Karen Boness
Progressive Majority Coalition - Ben Boyce
Snark Infested Waters - Bob Edwards
Board Walk - Susan Gorin
Nonprofit Matters - Dr. B.J. Bischoff
What's Up With That? - Katy Byrne
Connecting the Dots - Fred Allebach
Voices of the New Majority - Mario Castillo
Creative Arts - Sonoma Valley Sun
Sun In-Depth Report - Sonoma Valley Sun
Under the Sun: Interviews -
Rude Awakenings - Catherine Sevenau
Taxpertise - Bonnie Lee
The Green Tara - Serialized Novel - Sonoma Valley Sun
Reality Check - Logan Harvey
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What We're Following
Stories of interest from around the Web
Keep using your mask; air quality is still poor
> Napa Valley Register - October 19th, 2017
Why October wildfires are infernos
> - October 19th, 2017
> Marin Independent Journal - October 19th, 2017
Disaster aid for undocumented immigrants?
> New York Times - October 19th, 2017
Whole Foods Sonoma to host free community pasta feed on October 21
> Whole Foods - October 19th, 2017
County’s promise to protect against price gouging 
> Sonoma County District Attorney's Office - October 18th, 2017
$565,000 distributed by Napa Valley Community Foundation in grants for fire relief
> Napa Valley Register - October 18th, 2017
Understanding the language: what does “contained” mean about a fire?
> KQED - October 18th, 2017
Senator Kamala Harris gets assurance of no ICE raids in our fire disaster area
> Twitter - October 18th, 2017
The air quality today is Unhealthy – reduce prolonged or heavy outdoor exertion
> Weather Underground - October 17th, 2017
Survivor’s guilt is real for those whose homes were spared
> East Bay Times - October 17th, 2017
Glen Ellen remains under mandatory evacuation; check address on this site
> Cal-Fire Forestry Maps - October 17th, 2017
Countywide school sites have burned, others are still shelters, 212 staff lost homes: how to open up schools?
> - October 17th, 2017
40,000 fire evacuees in North Bay still await order to return – to home or to ashes
> Marin Independent Journal - October 17th, 2017
In CA’s biggest clean-up crisis in years, environmental and health hazards are huge
> New York Times - October 17th, 2017
Fires will exacerbate an already difficult housing situation in Sonoma County
> New York Times - October 16th, 2017
Evacuation orders removed in many, if not all, areas in the county
> Santa Rosa Press Democrat - October 16th, 2017
Eighty-eight people are still listed as “missing” in Sonoma County
> Sacramento Bee - October 16th, 2017
The weather is cooperating with crews in gaining control over the wildfires
> KQED - October 16th, 2017
The fires in Napa Valley are also coming under control
> Napa Valley Register - October 16th, 2017
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