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Politics, crime and power (shutoffs)

Posted on August 20, 2020 by Sonoma Valley Sun

The Sonoma City Council race is already over, and it’s not even September. Two seats were to be contested, but only two candidates declared, so both Amy Harrington, incumbent, and Jack Ding ‘win’ the race. (Ding will be sworn in probably in December, replacing David Cook, who chose not to run again.) Congratulations to both — for winning, and for saving all that money on lawn signs. 

Unlike, say, religion or politics, the topic of weather is no longer polite conversation. It’s horrible, and everyone is taking it personally. Lightning storms and brutal heat leading to fires, downed internet, and loss of power… PG&E wants you to know the difference between a ‘rotating power outage,’ which is what we saw recently, and the dreaded Public Safety Power Shutoff, employed to great distress last October. The former is ordered during peak electricity demand by the state’s electric grid operator. Since that agency is “independent,” PG&E must comply. But when winds and weather look to create a fire hazard, like in 2017, PG&E has full authority and autonomy to call a PSPS. The distinction may be lost on you, particularly when alone in the dark, but the utility feels it’s important. 

Prolific wordsmith and frequent Sun contributor Jonah Raskin has a new book out, the new-age noir Dark Day, Dark Night. When murder jolts Sonoma Valley’s bucolic wine and weed country, private eye Tioga is on the case… Raskin may have a new sub-genre here, or at least a good name for the film: Hemp Fiction.

Meanwhile, true crime with Sonoma home delivery, as an attempted murder suspect was arrested in Sonoma after attacking deputy with car. James Freeman, 37, of Sonoma, was arrested in the 200 block of Andrieux Street after allegedly fleeing the scene of an August 15 stabbing in Sebastopol. He was later spotted in Sonoma and pulled over. But before the deputy could get out of the car, Freeman put his car in reverse and rammed into the patrol car. Once detained, Freeman was charged with attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, violation of parole, and possession of a controlled substance. 

Then there’s the case of a man tasered and handcuffed at the Santa Rosa scene of an alleged domestic dispute who “died in custody after a physical altercation with deputies” on August 15. The unidentified man was pronounced dead on the scene by emergency medical personnel. The Sheriff’s Office said it will do a full incident review to determine if the deputies followed use-of-force policies. “Any time force is used, the Sheriff’s Office takes it seriously.”… The incident comes as the Board of Supervisors placed a measure on the November ballot to strengthen the citizen oversight process (see Ben Boyce’s column). Sheriff Mark Essick doesn’t like the idea; in fact, he requested $50,000 from the Board to campaign against the measure… There’s a provision for such a request, but it feels awkward, like asking your parents for money to go out after curfew. 

— Val Robichaud, [email protected]

 



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