Monday, June 29, 2009

Local daycare offers evening & weekend hours

Spread the word! Teri Foster's Loving & Learning Center (childcare & preschool for ages 0-5) here in Guerneville now offers evening & weekend hours by appointment for local residents, visitors, & folks hosting parties & special events who need childcare arrangements for the little ones. The Loving & Learning Center is a fully-licensed facility & is normally open from 7:30am-5:30pm weekdays. Sliding scale & other funding are available for low-to-middle-income families. Ask Ms. Foster &/or the folks at River to Coast Childcare Services for details. I hope this helps the many parents I know who work evenings &/or weekends. I also hope that the availability of evening & weekend childcare helps draw more events & visitors to the restaurants, hotels, & other venues around here. For more information, see my previous post, New preschool & daycare center launched.

Interesting article on redevelopment

The Press Democrat has run an interesting article on Redevelopment:

Future of Russian River area redevelopment becomes clearer at:

Though it still doesn't seem terribly clear to me. Actually, our future seems rather murky, considering that the Russian River will be clogged with algae once low-flow starts in earnest after the July 4th weekend.

As my Klingon friends would say, "GA-A-A-GGHHH!"

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Save Sonoma County Jobs! Stop the $40,000,000 County Raise!

Good grief! The County plans to lay off 150 workers & provide $10K per year raises for the remaining workers which will total $40 million! Just what we need here in Sonoma County -- 150 MORE unemployed people competing for even FEWER jobs! Not to mention all of the businesses who provide products and services to these workers, whose owners and employees will suffer.

Below, please find a letter that Tom Lynch (from the Sonoma County Planning Commission and the Russian River Redevelopment Oversight Committee) posted to the West County Bulletin Board ( & sent to the editors at the Press Democrat, with an introduction. Thank you for all of this information, Tom.

I join Mr. Lynch in strongly urging EVERYONE to call the Board of Supervisors' office at 565-2241.

Dear Friends...

The County is about to layoff 150 workers to fund raises for those that remain. Everyone I know at the County is opposed to this.

Thought I would share with you the below oped piece that I'm hoping will appear in the Press Democrat tomorrow or Tuesday in the Opinion section. Please call the Board of Supervisors office (565-2241) and ask to speak to Valerie Brown, Mike Kerns, Shirlee Zane or's ok to ask them to "Stop The $40,000,000 County RAISE!!!".

Pass this on to your e-mail list as well

Tom Lynch
p.s. I've also created a Google Site with lots of info if you are so inclined at [NOTE from Russian River Rattina: Tom's new Web site is an informative collection of statistics and links about what the County's retirement system is costing us]
Dear Editor, Press Democrat:

While State employees face 15% salary reductions, and local City Governments bear loss of wages, jobs and services; the Sonoma County Association of Retired Employees state that County administrators are giving all 4000 County staff $10,000 annual raises in salaries and benefits. A $40,000,000 raise, that saves $20,000,000 the first year, through Draconian cuts in employee health care. The additional $20,000,000 is funded from attrition of those retiring without rehiring, numerous cuts throughout many departments as well as to nonprofit and volunteer organizations, and layoffs of 150 County staff. For the eighth year in a row; a continuing diminishment from that of the previous year, of essential services Sonoma County taxpayers used to rely upon the County to perform with their hard earned tax dollars.

This $40,000,000 is from a $28,000,000 “cash allowance” of $600 per month; plus $12,000,000 toward the County’s 40-50% match on wages funding retirement benefits of all employees and elected representatives. For every dollar in salary, there is an additional 7.5% going toward the unfunded retiree medical obligation, another 8% for payments on $275,000,000 of Pension Obligation Bonds, an additional 16% to the Sonoma County Employee Retirement Association’s (SCERA) retirement fund, plus 7.65% in Social Security and Medicare, and 4-11% for management and elected officials 401(a)s. On the horizon a recent Segal actuarial sturdy projected County contributions to the retirement fund will double over the next 5 years.

The “cash allowance” raises are causing major cuts throughout the County with profound social consequences. The $28,000,000 raise increases the unfunded portion of the County pension portfolio by 40% as well. Why are we going through all these machinations in order to fund the additional $20,000,000 needed for this raise? Wouldn’t we all be better off simply freezing the health benefit as it is and negotiating some higher deductibles and generic medicine? Must we start laying off our less senior workers so soon, for such specious reasons? Are there not alternatives before we start eating our seed corn by cannibalizing our County work force?
The average salary and benefit for the top 1000 (25%) of County staff is now over $170,000 per year. Employees are paid annually for 2080 hours, while working on average 1680 hours….400 hours, 10 weeks, 1 out of 5 days off paid for sick leave, vacation, holidays, etc. Dare we ask County workers to forgo raises, or take a little cut in pay, perhaps reduce the amount of paid time off so that we may keep other staff from losing their own jobs? Cuts in County staff are cuts in essential services; during unprecedented economic conditions, we need government workers to help tend to the least of thee in our society.

County staff work very hard for a sometimes difficult public, and their efforts are often unappreciated. Every one of them would gladly participate in reduced hours, furloughs, salary cuts, etc. in order to help fellow workers avoid losing their jobs. Why are the unions and management not pursuing these other options.

Contra Costa County’s CEO is warning his Supervisors that in order to cover unfunded obligations, the County will have to lay off 25% of their 8000 person workforce over the next three years. Santa Barbara County is having joint Supervisor and Pension Board meetings to discuss major pension portfolio losses. San Mateo County is working collaboratively with all stakeholders toward making government services more sustainable. Locally Mead Clark Lumber, Aaction Rents, Agilent, and numerous other businesses have tried to avoid lay offs with across the board 10% pay cuts. Where is the leadership and vision commensurate with the challenges ahead? So much of the solution is a temporary cut, and Sonoma County is giving raises?

Have we become the proverbial frogs sitting in a pan of water over an open flame doing nothing while the water comes to a boil? Has County government become so insular and jaded to what’s happening that they would seriously consider laying off less senior workers, many of them “front line”, in order to provide raises to those who remain? Our Board of Supervisors has within them the political courage and wisdom to put the brakes on the “cash allowance” health care reform. The hope of many rests on their willingness to reopen negotiations; toward finding consensus on a more creative, innovative and sustainable solution to some of our budget challenges.

Tom Lynch

(Tom Lynch is a Guerneville builder, community activist, and one of Supervisor Efren Carrillo’s appointees to the Sonoma County Planning Commission. For more info go to:

Monday, June 15, 2009

Summer programs at the Guerneville Library

The Guerneville Public Library offers some fun & interesting summer programs for children, teenagers, & their families.

Summer Reading Program for Children: Children visit the library each Monday, writes down the title of the book they read each week on a special form kept on file at the Reference Desk. On the last day everyone gathers for a special reading and ice cream social. Children receive books and other gifts, and have a chance to win one of many fabulous prizes in a raffle.
  • Monday June 8th 11am-12pm, Summer Kick-Off: Crafts projects & signing up for the Summer 2009 Reading program
  • Monday June 15th 11am-12pm, Drummm: Woo hoo! Drum circles for the Milkshake set! Kids & adults of all ages can get into the groove with percussionist Jeni Swerdlow and Drummm for a fun, interactive rhythm experience. For more information, visit (oh, so THAT explains the 3 m's -- the dinaub must have been taken!)
  • Monday June 22nd 11am-12pm, Mae Lin and the Magic Brush: See the classic Chinese tale of a pint-sized artiste whose paintings literally come to life in Randall Metz and the Puppet Company's stylishly whimsical production.
  • Monday June 29th 11am-4pm, Museum on the Go: Don't miss this opportunity to see how the itinerant Children's Museum of the North Bay (self-described as "a museum without walls") transforms the Guerneville Library into an interactive, hands-on science exhibit for the day. I applaud this creative & tenacious team of scientists, artists, educators, & dreamers for finding such a clever way to pursue their dream of establishing a children's museum in the North Bay, despite their difficulties in finding a permanent site (hey, why can't we give them a site here on the lower Russian River as part of the Russian River Redevelopment project!)
  • Monday July 6th 11am-12pm, Temporary Tattoos for Kids: Woo hoo! We can entertain ourselves for the rest of the summer by watching our kids' temporary tattoos slowly flake off.
  • Monday July 13th 11am-12pm, Python Ron's Reptile Kingdom
  • Monday July 20th 11am-12pm, Owen Baker-Flynn
  • Monday July 20th 11am-12pm, Summer Reading Program Grand Finale!

Teenagers: Alas, the library doesn't offer quite so many events for teenagers, but the ones below seem worth checking out.
  • Saturday June 20th 3pm: Henna Art for Teens
  • Tuesday July 7th 2pm: Bleach T-shirts for Teens

Saturday, June 6, 2009

New anti-Low Flow blog

A local resident who goes by the handle "Katherine Graham Cracker" has started a new anti-Low Flow blog called Stand Up for the Russian River. Her most recent post is amusingly titled "All Beach, No River". For more information, or to send low-flow related information, stories, & photos, visit (