The same, only worse

Posted on January 21, 2021 by Sonoma Valley Sun

How old is old Sonoma? Not as old as it used to be. The passing of two true locals lends some context to how generational time in a small town moves ever onward. Not all may remember Jeanne Lamb Markson-Artson who died this month, at age 92. But she was a civic force in the ‘80s, volunteer extraordinaire and a two-term City Councilmember. Bob Midgley also died this month, far too young, and the impact is deeply felt. Among the many outpourings of tribute and grief is the lovely comment from Ellen Ann: “Mr. Midgley was an incredible educator and leader. I was fortunate enough to have him as a teacher in middle school and high school, and as a wrestling coach. He had a tough exterior but had a heart of gold. At the end of the day he was just a big teddy bear that wanted to see all students succeed. He gave me great life advice over the seven years I had him. He will be deeply, deeply missed.” His full obit.

It’s not easy, in fact in many ways it’s harder than ever, but life goes on. The outlook for a masked, locked-down 2021: The same, only worse. 

Supervisor Susan Gorin spent last year chairing the Board of Supervisors. Though it was an honor and an incredible challenge, she admits that “for the past few months, I counted the days until the position rotated to Vice Chair Lynda Hopkins.” The transition came, Gorin said, with wonderful thank-yous, good wishes and “a bold agenda articulated for a focus on climate change, equity, and widespread distribution of COVID vaccines.” Read her column.

There’s been a huge uproar, if you can hear it above all the street noise, over obnoxiously loud cars tooling around town. Police Chief Orlando Rodriguez has his deputies looking (and listening) into it. Under modified exhaust laws, five vehicles have been cited, and two have been towed.    

The Sonoma Valley Unified School District has selected a new firm to search for a superintendent. Seems members weren’t thrilled with the last two recommendations, the last being Socorro Shiels, unceremoniously dumped in November after two and a half years on the job… Meanwhile, the board is taking a hard look at its Special Education program. The district sends 42 Individualized Educational Plan students to special placements outside the district. That’s a high number (it was 27 in 2018) and it’s expensive… There are also a disproportionate number of Latino kids in special ed. That may be because the curriculum is often not accessible to English learners; for example, the math curriculum of the past few years is word-problem heavy. A curious choice for a district that is over 50 percent Latino.

 — Val Robichaud, [email protected]


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