John Brodey
Trouble in River City
Yep, we’ve got problems right here in our own little piece of paradise. Times may have changed but so has the scope, depth and urgency of critical problems. Increasingly, it seems that our collective consciousness is now dominated by a checklist of what’s wrong and getting worse. Now, I love to complain and grumble as much as the next guy or gal, but it doesn’t really get us anywhere. The basic fact remains that in order to find solutions, one has to fully understand the various facets of the problems. Okay, that’s not our job, right? Well, in a way, it is. Having discussions with our elected officials serves a purpose. One of the things I love the most about Rotary is that it provides the opportunity for us to learn and more understand what it will take to find meaningful solutions. Most recently, our meeting speaker was the newly appointed member of the Santa Rosa City Council, Dianna MacDonald.
She was selected to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Jack Tibbetts, CEO of the Catholic Charities. Jack is an amazing community activist with seemingly endless energy and dedication. Rare qualities to be sure, but the realities of what it really takes to handle that much responsibility can be overwhelming. This is compounded by the fact that, as a city council member, you end up making about the same pay per hour as a Walmart greeter. Yes, you must have another job to support yourself and then there is family time, household duties , etc. If you saw the nice piece on Dianna in the Kenwood Press, you know some details about her background. As she talked about the challenges in playing catch up with her new job, it was clear that she is on a mission and relishes the opportunity to continue her years of community service, much of it with the various school boards in Sonoma Co.
She has been in office just short of two months and will be running to retain her position this November. Dianna ran through a list of all the meetings, organizational breakdowns, research and interaction with her constituency here in the 3rd district. It was exhausting. The big issues are familiar to us all; homelessness, mental health, affordable housing and crime. Speaking of each in detail, she discussed the issues with the Sam Jones homeless shelter and the proposal to develop additional low income housing at the lot on Calistoga Rd. and Hiway 12. She covered wildfire and vegetation management (Caltrans, PG&E etc) and the need for updating long standing protocols. In addition, there is also the ongoing conversation about more effective egress from Oakmont during an emergency which ties into proposals for more developments like Elnoka. Dianna’s previous experience on school boards and PTAs led to a question about the sadness of the teachers strike and why salaries are lagging so far behind. She really laid out the involved school district budget processes that determine salaries. It’s not simple. No question, we have the right woman for the job and it will be a pleasure to see her blossom in her new role. Go get-’em Dianna!

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