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Sonoma Valley Sun


Hate speech in public; traffic woes; big cake; and more

Posted on October 1, 2023 by Sonoma Valley Sun

It’s called Zoom-bombing, and it’s out of control. Streamed meetings of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors have been so bombarded with hate speech that the county is shutting off the public microphone at most all public meetings. Through the end of the year, public comments can only be made in person or over email. “We will take a break from virtual comments while we try to figure out a solution to the racism, the antisemitism and the hate that has been spread online over the last several weeks,” said Supervisor Chris Coursey, board chair. “Until we have a better way of doing that, we will only allow public comment within the Board Chambers.” … Sonoma City Council meetings will be handled a bit differently, Mayor Sandra Lowe told The Sun. Statements from the public will be allowed, but the instant they go off on a hate tangent, the call will be cut off. Lowe  said she won’t let the prospect of a bad call shut the public-comment process down. 


The master plan for the Sonoma Developmental Center looks to be a done deal, give or take a lawsuit or two. But what exactly the terms of that deal are between the seller (the State of California) and the development-team buyer are unknown, other than the former is allowing the latter to change the plan at will and for maximum profit. Self-described safety advocate Stewart Saunders of Sonoma has maintained a specific objection: residents of the 900-plus new homes will be unable to evacuate the new neighborhood in an emergency. “The County found that adding that many homes and a hotel at the SDC would add an average of 12 seconds to a mandatory evacuation.” Foolish, fraudulent, and bad math, he says. Instructive is the recent, temporary detour caused by a Caltrans closure of Highway 12. “Now, the public sees, again, that Arnold Drive can’t even handle a simple lane closure, turning a five minute drive into an hour long slog. It will be a standstill with added density.”… One element of the SDC not talked about much is a new connection between Arnold Drive and Hwy 12, as in ugly roadway offramp and probable stop light. That will help the egress, says the County. The viewscape, not so much. 

In two lanes of good news about roads – not easy to come by right now – traffic on Watmaugh Road is back to full capacity. Work on the Fowler Creek bridge, the foundations of which have been reinforced, is now complete. Enjoy! 


Santa Rosa writer Maia Kobabe has the odd distinction of being the most controversial author in America. The American Library Association documented 1,269 demands to censor books at U.S. public schools and libraries in 2022, and her book, Gender Queer, is the most challenged book nationwide since 2021. (Thanks, Florida). Predictably, the ALA found that most targeted books were for a teen audience and were by or about LGBTQIA+ persons and Black, Indigenous, and people of color. That challenge count is the highest number of attempted book bans since ALA began compiling such data more than 20 years ago. Sonoma County Library is raising awareness about censorship and the freedom to read during Banned Books Week, October 1 to 7. “This week is about celebrating the freedom to read,” says Jaime Anderson for the Sonoma County Library. “We encourage community members to read a banned book or any other book of your choosing. Our collection includes a wide variety of views and expressions.” Check out the list at

Sonoma Valley Hospital is taking a long look at expanding its Physical Therapy Program. Currently, the service is operating at 100% capacity, and wait times for appointments exceed six weeks. The program “is a cornerstone of our healthcare services, benefiting primary care patients, aiding in post-operative recovery, and supporting individuals with occupational health needs.” And to be unseemly, it’s a money-maker. Seems like an easy call, though fundraising is in order for upgrades and staffing. 

A touch of improvisation on the local theater scene, as Sonoma Arts Live announces a change in its season programming. The winter show was to be It’s a Wonderful Life, directed by Emily Cornelius. But Cornelius just took the job as executive director of Sixth Street Playhouse, in Santa Rosa. Her SAL peers are thrilled for her, but decided to swap in a new production,  Nuncrackers – The Nunsense Christmas Musical. It will run December 1-17 at Andrews Hall. 

We’re going to need a bigger cake. Two big-time anniversaries coming up, as Sonoma’s Swiss Hotel and Eraldi’s, both on the Plaza and both still in the founding families, celebrate 100 years in business. Impressive! That’s the power of shopping local – and having dinner and a cocktail afterwards. 


– Val Robichaud, [email protected]


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