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Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sonoma County Energy Indpendence Program

Sonoma County Energy Independence Program Created
What you can do to become more energy independent and how Sonoma County is helping in this process. We have more information coming on this subject and will keep this item updated as it comes in - please scroll down for recent additions to this information.

By Jim Toomey
The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors adopted a Resolution of Intention to create the Sonoma County Energy Independence Program (SCEIP). Sonoma County is the first county in California to create a program using authority granted under Assembly Bill 811. Formal adoption of the program is expected to take place at the Board’s meeting on March 24th. The program is expected to play a key role in the County’s efforts to combat climate change, with the added benefit of promoting “green” jobs and businesses.

SCEIP enables property owners to fund renewable energy, energy efficiency, and water efficiency upgrades to their business or residential properties through the property tax system.

Participants enter into contractual assessments, which are paid back along with their property taxes over a period of up to twenty years. The SCEIP assessment is tied to the properties, not the owners, and is therefore passed from one owner to the next. A list of acceptable water and energy improvements is attached as Appendix A of the SCEIP report. Projects not on the list will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

“This program is an innovative new way for people to make energy saving improvements to their homes and businesses,” said Supervisor Valerie Brown. “The improvements will add value to their properties, provide energy and cost savings throughout their lifetimes, and help the environment,” she said. “It’s a triple whammy.”

“For years, Sonoma County has made efforts to reduce the climatic effect of county operations,” said Supervisor Paul Kelley. “This program is exciting because it extends far beyond county government. It enables residents throughout the county to take positive steps toward combating climate change. Yet another benefit of this program is that it will generate “green” business and new “green” jobs,” Kelley said.

At first, only residents of unincorporated areas will qualify for SCEIP. However, all nine cities in Sonoma County have expressed a desire to participate, and are working on agreements with the County to make it possible. The agreements are expected to be completed in the near future. Property owners interested in taking advantage of SCEIP may place their names on an interest list by calling 547-1981. Applications will be made available on line and at the SCEIP storefront located at 404 Aviation Blvd. in Santa Rosa.


Water Conservation Measure

Residential Indoor Water Conservation Measures
• High Efficiency toilets (Average flush volume of 1.28 gallons or less)
• Showerheads (1.75 gpm or less)
• Bathroom aerators (1.5 gpm)
• Hot Water Delivery Options, as defined by the Energy Star “Volumetric Hot
Water Savings Guidelines”
* Hot water recirculation systems - use a hot water circulating pump to pump hot water from the water heater, through the hot water piping, and on back to the water heater through an additional length of pipe that runs from the furthest fixture back to the water heater.
* Demand initiated hot water systems- use a recirculation pump to rapidly pull hot water from a water heater while simultaneously sending cooled-off water from the hot water lines back to the water heater to be reheated.
* Whole house manifold system- A manifold connected to the water heater from which individual pipes are connected to each water fixture.
* Core plumbing system- Hot water distribution system where water volumes in the pipes are reduced by a combination of smaller pipe diameters and shorter pipe runs due to a centrally located water heater.
• Demand initiated water softeners (Energy Star rated)
• Hot water pipe insulation (minimum of R4)

Residential Outdoor Water Conservation Measures
• Irrigation Control systems, with “Evapotranspiration” based controllers or Smart irrigation controllers- irrigation controllers that automatically adjust based on the weather conditions, plant material, slope, etc.
• Rainwater cisterns
• Matched precipitation rate sprinkler heads- multi-stream spray head that provides high uniformity and a low application rate sprinkler with matched precipitation, even after arc and radius adjustment.
• Highly Efficient Outdoor irrigation

Commercial Water Conservation Measures
• All applicable water conservation measures listed for “Residential Indoor”
• Pre-rinse spray valves (1.2gpm or less)
• Urinals (1 Pint or less)
• Waterless Urinals
• Bathroom aerators (0.5 gpm)

Commercial Custom Measures
• Industrial Process Water Use Reduction
• Recycled Water Source
• Deionization
• Filter Upgrades
• Cooling Condensate reuse
• Foundation Drain Water
• Cooling Tower Conductivity Controllers
• Highly Efficient Outdoor irrigation
• Irrigation Control systems, with “Evapotranspiration” based controllers or Smart irrigation controllers- irrigation controllers that automatically adjust based on the weather conditions, plant material, slope, etc.

Energy Efficiency Measures
The Sonoma County Energy Independence Program provides services and funding for a wide range of Energy Star-rated efficiency measures, including many Energy Efficiency measures for which property owners can get rebates as well as SCEIP funding. Excepting

HVAC equipment as noted below, efficiency measures must meet the performance criteria stated in the list of Eligible Improvements or the Energy Star minimum efficiency levels.

For all packaged and central air conditioning systems funded in this program, the minimum efficiency levels shall be as required by the current minimum requirements set forth in List of Eligible Improvements.

All other proposed efficiency measures will be considered in the Custom Measure Track.

The County of Sonoma anticipates that Energy Star requirements will “ratchet up” to greater efficiency levels over time. Energy Star will also become more inclusive of technologies over time. Thus the SCEIP will evolve with Energy Star and the market for energy-efficient technologies.

The following Energy Star measures – among others – are eligible in the Efficiency Track.

Residential Energy Efficiency Measures
• Geothermal Exchange Heat Pumps
• Minimum Efficiencies
• Ground source exchange open loop system 17.8 EER or higher
• Ground source exchange closed loop system 15.5 EER or higher HVAC Systems
• HVAC Systems
• Minimum Efficiencies
• Split systems with 14 SEER and 12 EER or higher rating
• Natural Gas Furnaces of 90 AFUE or higher
• Package systems with 14 SEER and 11 EER or higher rating
• Home Energy Management Control systems
• Whole House Fan Systems
• Duct insulation, meeting Energy Star guideline
• Evaporative Coolers
• Cooler must have a separate ducting system from air conditioning and heating ducting system
• maximum 5 gallons/ton-hour cooling
• Natural Gas Storage Water Heater, EF of 0.62 or higher and Energy Star Listed
• Tankless Water Heater, EF of 0.82 or higher and Energy Star Listed
• Solar Water Heater Systems, rated by Solar Rating Certification Council
• Cool Roof System as defined by the 2005 California Building Energy Efficiency Standards (also called the California Energy Code). Roofing replacement eligible under this program shall be:
• Tested and rated through the Cool Roof Rating Council (CRRC);
• Be labeled for its initial reflectance and initial emittance as determined in the CRRC tests and be labeled that the product meets Title 24, Section 118(i);
• Achieve at least a 0.75 initial emittance and 0.70 initial reflectance or, if the initial emittance is less than 0.75, have an initial reflectance of at least [0.70 + {0.34 x (0.75 – initial emittance)}];*and. if applied as a liquid coating in the field, be applied at a minimum dry mil thickness of 20 mils* across the entire roof surface and meet performance requirements listed in the table shown immediately below:
• Reflective roofs and coatings
• Attic and Wall insulation, minimum R value 30 and Energy Star Listed
• Reflective insulation or radiant barriers
• Attic Fans
• Windows and Glass Doors, U Value of 0.40 or less and Solar Heat Gain coefficient of 0.40 or less
• Window Filming, in compliance with the NFRC glazing attachment ratings for solar heat a gain and visible transmittance
• Weather-stripping, following Energy Star guidelines
• Skylights, U Value of 0.60 or less and Solar Heat Gain coefficient of 0.40 or less
• Solar Tubes
• Additional building openings to provide addition natural light, Windows and Doors must meet the Energy Star rating U Value of 0.40 or less Lighting , Energy Star Listed (no bulb only retrofits)
• Pool Equipment - Pool circulating pumps (must be Variable Flow and/or Multi-speed with controllers)

Residential Energy efficiency Custom Measures
• Passive Solar (heating/cooling)

Commercial Energy Efficiency Measures
Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning Systems (“HVAC”)
• Minimum Efficiencies
• Split systems with 14 SEER or 12 EER
• Package systems with 13 SEER or 11 EER
All applicable energy efficiency measures listed in “Residential” section

Commercial Custom Energy Efficiency Measures
• Building Energy Management Systems,
• Lighting Control Systems, which shall include occupancy sensors and other energy saving measures
• HVAC duct zoning control systems
• Motors and controls (processing or manufacturing equipment)
• Geothermal Exchange Heat Pumps
• High Efficiency electric hand dryer
• Customer Electric vehicle plug-in station

Solar Equipment

Solar Track funding is available for a wide range of solar equipment. SCEIP funding will be available for photovoltaic equipment and installers listed by the California Energy

Commission. Solar thermal equipment must be rated by the Solar Rating Certification Council (SRCC). As with efficiency measures, the property owner maintains the discretion as to whether to prepay a portion of the gross assessment with any solar rebates and tax credits.

Eligible solar equipment for both Residential and Commercial properties include:
• Solar thermal systems (hot water)
• Photovoltaic systems (electricity)
• Battery back-up systems will be allowed
• Funding for off-grid systems will be allowed
• PV systems can be sized to accommodate plug-in electric vehicles
• Plug in stations
• Emerging Technologies – following the Custom Measures Track
• Nano/thin film photovoltaic
• High intensity (parabolic solar panels)

Custom Measures
The County of Sonoma encourages innovation in saving energy to meet its energysavings goals. Custom Measures will only be funded for SCEIP funding if sufficient proof of energy savings is provided to the SCEIP staff/Auditors Office that the measure will reduce usage by 20%. The SCEIP staff/Auditor reserves the right to defer funding until he deems the evidence sufficient to verify this performance requirement.

The following types of measures – among others – will be considered for SCEIP funding through the Custom Measure Track:

Energy Efficiency Custom Measures
• Alternative energy generation (other than photovoltaic)
• Building Energy Management controls
• HVAC Duct zoning control systems
• Irrigation pumps and controls
• Lighting controls
• Industrial and Process Equipment motors and controls

As these “Custom Measures” become Energy Star rated they will be included in the List of Eligible Improvements.

Energy Generation Custom Measures
• Fuel Cells
• Natural Gas
• Hydrogen fuel
• Other Fuel sources (emerging technologies)
• Co-generation (heat and energy)

UPDATE - STOREFRONT NOW OPEN: $100 Million Sonoma County Energy Independence Program (SCEIP) Storefront Location in Santa Rosa

SCEIP , 404 Aviation Blvd. Santa Rosa, CA

The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors officially opened the Sonoma County Energy Independence Program (SCEIP) at the program’s storefront. SCEIP is the first county program of its kind in California. Sonoma County and its partners have pledged $100 million to start the program. Upon adoption, the storefront is now “open for business” and program staff are available to take applications and answer questions.

SCEIP is a program to finance energy efficiency and water conservation projects for business and residential property owners. The program provides initial financing, and the property owners repay the program through an assessment on their property taxes. The program is expected to have a profound impact on energy and water conservation efforts throughout Sonoma County, and is also expected to provide an economic boost to the “green” building industry.

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Friday, March 13, 2009

BIG Water Mess - Sonoma County Water Shortage Alert

Sonoma County Water Agency Declares Critical Water Shortages While Holding Meetings on Increased Water Allocations
This issue and others will be discussed at an important meeting in
Guerneville (Vets Building) on
March 18 at 6:30 PM.

By Brenda Adelman
Critical water shortage alerts have bombarded us in the media lately. Mother nature was scaring us good until a few weeks ago, when the winter rains finally poured down and reservoirs started to fill. Not enough, said County Water Agency staff who alerted everyone to the critical need for stringent conservation even while the crisis diminished. They plan to ask the State Board to declare a state of emergency that would allow the Agency to limit Guerneville flows to 35 cubic feet per second, (normally at least 125). At those flows, there would be no lower river recreational season this year and a great deal of environmental harm could occur.

Ironically the Water Agency recently held six formal hearings around the County on a proposed project intended to increase the amount of water they could withdraw from the river. They recorded public comments on the 3000-page Water Project Environmental Impact Report (EIR) that few people knew about or read. At the Guerneville, Santa Rosa, and Sonoma meetings, there were fewer citizens attending than Agency staff present, even though the Agency claimed extensive publicity had occurred.

The public comment period for the complicated 3000-page Water Project Environmental Impact Report (EIR) recently ended. The Sonoma County Water Agency failed to act on a request to extend the comment deadline even while claiming at a recent meeting that responses to comments are not likely to occur.

According to General Manager Randy Poole, the Agency has no funds to move forward on this project. It is unheard of that an Agency would go through an expensive and time-consuming environmental review process, take comments, and then refuse to respond. Thousands of staff hours and huge amounts of money have been spent on this document, and making such an announcement before the comment deadline may have been just a ploy to throw the public off guard. It’s hard to make a major effort on something that may be a total waste of time though it’s still important to get concerns into the record. If few people respond, it would make it much easier for them to utilize the document for future projects.

It is also true that this EIR process began many years ago in a very different climate when new growth and inflated housing values provided an unending bonanza for local government. Since then, things have been unraveling quickly. Housing prices are plummeting and many people are stuck with mortgages that far exceed the current value of their homes. Suddenly government is faced with giant shortfalls in revenue and are cutting back wherever feasible.

Water Project Background
There are eight major water contractors who buy water from the Sonoma County Water Agency (Windsor, Santa Rosa, Cotati, Rohnert Park, Petaluma, Sonoma, Valley of the Moon, and North Marin Water District). They have legal contracts with the Agency to provide them with certain water allocations as long as water is available. During drought periods the contractual allocations get cut way back and the contractors need to rely on conservation and local supplies (usually groundwater) to provide as much as half of their supply. There are many power games that get played by both sides in the course of negotiating terms.

The Agency has a permit from the State Water Board allowing them to withdraw up to 76,000 acre feet a year (AFY), from the Russian River at various points. (Each acre-foot has about 325,000 gallons. 76,000 AFY is about 25 billion gallons.) For the last fifteen years the Agency has been trying to get that amount increased to 101,000 AFY to no avail. (In fact, previous documents assumed they would get this amount, and much of the growth in the Santa Rosa plain was based on that assumption.) This current EIR is the most recent attempt to obtain this increased allocation.

Project Components
There are three main components to the proposed project: advanced conservation, infrastructure improvements on the South pipeline to Petaluma and North Marin, and a potential pipeline down Dry Creek to bring Lake Sonoma water into the Russian River for water supply diversions. We have no problem with the first two and believe they should have been addressed separately. (The pipeline to South County and North Marin is in very bad shape and may be a disaster waiting to happen.)

It is the latter project that is the most problematic, both because it would be extraordinarily expensive and politically difficult to build and because it flies in the face of Federal directions in the Biological Opinion needed to save the threatened salmon and steelhead in our Russian River. Those directions require that the Agency first spend ten to twelve years improving habitat in Dry Creek in order to provide favorable conditions that would allow them to release the flows needed for water supply while still protecting the threatened fish. Many feel this will not work and don’t want to wait that long to start planning the pipeline, which is likely to take at least that long to get built. It’s a quagmire, especially when many property owners on Dry Creek don’t want to cooperate with any of these agencies.

Needless to say, the situation is even more complicated by extensive water use by wineries and other property owners, some of whom have their own water rights, yet many are guilty of illegal water diversions because there is a fifteen year backup in the State Board’s water permit allocations and little enforcement. There is nothing to be lost by simply taking the water.
The complexities of the Eel River diversion and the Potter Valley Project involve power generation by PG&E, and Native American water rights, have resulted in 33% less water being delivered to Lake Mendocino, from which most of our supplies come, and further complicates the situation.

Some water contractors are thinking about revising their growth ambitions. At a recent community meeting, Rohnert Park Council member Jake MacKenzie told citizens that government should focus more on conservation and not on large expensive pipeline projects. Rainwater harvesting, retention basins, some groundwater use, and fixing leaky pipes are beginning to look a lot more attractive. For some of us, that’s music to our ears.

Permanent flow reductions in lower river may be required
The Biological Opinion also demands that flows in the lower river be permanently lowered in order to maintain a closed river mouth at Jenner to supposedly improve estuary habitat for the fish.

This issue and others will be discussed at an important meeting in Guerneville
(Vets Building) on
March 18 at 6:30 PM.
The National Marine Fisheries Service is calling for permanent flow reductions in the lower river. This March 18th meeting is extremely important if you are concerned about this issue. You can call Brad Sherwood at 547-1927 for more information about the meeting. We urge you to attend.

Russian River Watershed Protection Committee is an independent nonprofit corporation funded mostly by individual private donations. You can contact us at if you have questions or want to be on our supporter list.

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Guerneville Labor Center Opens for Business

Suzanna Mayo, Director, teacher and community liaison for the Guerneville Day Labor Center, talks with laborers standing on the street looking for work. Guerneville merchants are trying to solve the problem of laborers on the street before the summer tourist season starts. Store owners are concerned that so many laborers right downtown will discourage people from doing business in their community.
Plea to Employers of Day Laborers
By Suzanna Mayo
Yes, we are new on the block. Maybe you have passed our table, tarp and sign on your way west or east. The Park ’n Ride is our new place until we can get a permanent Guerneville Day Labor Center.

After convincing workers that the Day Labor Center is a good idea for the town AND the workers, Suzanna moves with them down to the west end of town to the Park n' Ride.

Skilled workers for hire
Yes, we are day laborers but we gladly accept work for more than one day and offer both basic laborers (neck down) and neck up (skilled in painting, carpentry and landscaping.)

We serve all Guerneville/West County in two ways: thru community service projects like the MD liquors/American Savings beautification project … (Please go by and see the succulent garden if you haven’t noticed it yet.)

Offering a safe and secure way for you to employ folks to help you.
It has amazed me, a volunteer community liaison myself; to see Guerneville people turn out to support this all-town effort. People seem to always end the conversation with the question: “What can I do to help?

You can help the effort. Only hire from the Park ’n Ride. We are open 7-2 Monday thru Saturday.

The gentlemen who run the center will tell you who is next on the list and you see if you want to hire them. Our workers get daily instruction on English as a second language and will be happy to greet and talk to anyone who stops by the table.

Call ahead for Specific Skills
You can also call ahead and I will set you up with skilled or general labor.

My cell and the working number for the Guerneville Day Labor Center is 303-981-9938.
Please call, stop by, or just support us. When people drive by in trucks we wave, especially if you honk and give us a friendly hello. We are friendly.

If you would like to meet me I’m at the table most days from 9:30-10:30 teaching English. Another good person to meet is Lupe, Angel or Miguel Angel.

These three men have a stake in Guerneville and Guerneville Day Labor Center. They have loyalty and open communication lines to our friends at Graton Day Labor Center, (especially Community organizer Davin and Asuzena, the first woman to stand on the street looking for work in Graton.)

Lupe shared his vision with me for our wonderful community: Every last man (including every laborer at MD parking lot) will join in our efforts of creating our Guerneville Day Labor Center. He figures we are different from Graton, Fulton, Santa Rosa, Windsor and Healdsburg because we are a tourist town. We welcome tourists, respect and depend upon them for our livelihood.
From a personal standpoint, I see us all getting along just fine. This letter is just a plea for continued understanding, tolerance and support.

Please employers, continue to ”think global, act local”. We at the Park ’n Ride Guerneville Day Labor Center are a sustainable (human) resource with your practical help. Please make this work. Stop hiring off the street. You’ll be pleased with the result.

Note: If you know someone, just continue to drive up, and your former trusted employees will definitely go with you. The going fair rate is $12.00 per hour for general labor/$18.00 per hour for skilled labor.

Don’t cheat yourself out of fair value.
And after a full day’s work what can a conscientious employer expect?

Satisfaction in a job well done. Self-respect inherent in supporting Guerneville.

If you would be able to leave a quick note or comment to me in person/by phone after you’ve seen a good job done, we can see this center take off.

I am available for positive or constructive commentary at 303-901-9938 or 707-591-5518. All I ask is that you help these men make an honest day’s wage for an honest day’s work. I hope you agree with me in regards to these American values; it is the citizenry – us - that make America great.

Thank you in advance.
And, thank you to the many, many positive business owners, retired and homeless folk, charitable organizations, non-profits, sheriffs, fire fighters, media persons etc. You caring residents of Guerneville have offered hope, practical feedback, welcome, space for English as a second language to be taught, and yes even money. We at the Guerneville Day Labor Center couldn’t be more grateful.

Still need your questions answered? There will be a bilingual public forum held in town for all of you, the stakeholders, at the end of April. It will start at 6 and last until 8. Please come and share/hear about our and ultimately your successes.

Suzanna Mayo, Director, teacher and community liaison Guerneville Day Labor

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State Requirements force Sonoma County to Waste Water

Even though water storage in Lake Mendocino is only at 59% of capacity, on March 12 the Sonoma County Water Agency began releasing more water – an additional 25 cubic feet per second - from Lake Mendocino in order to comply with state-mandated Russian River instream flow requirements. Drying tributaries are sending upper Russian River flows plummeting to near state-mandated levels – 150 cfs in the upper Russian River and 125 cfs in the lower Russian River.

“We are mandated to release water we don’t have from Lake Mendocino,” said Paul Kelley, chair, SCWA Board of Directors and Sonoma County Board of Supervisors. “We are facing both a natural and regulatory drought.”

The concern about Lake Mendocino revolves around the need to have adequate water in storage for the summer and fall for all water uses in the system. These uses include municipal water supply for portions of Mendocino and Sonoma counties, water for protected coho salmon, Chinook salmon and steelhead under federal and state endangered species laws, water for recreation at Lake Mendocino and along the Russian River, and agricultural water supply. Additionally, SCWA is concerned about having to release additional water to satisfy agricultural frost protection needs in March and April. Without additional releases, frost protection diversions could harm juvenile salmonids.

Water flows into Lake Mendocino from PG&E’s Potter Valley Project have been reduced by thirty-three percent due to a 2004 decision by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The Potter Valley Project diverts Eel River water through a Mendocino County powerhouse owned and operated by PG&E into the upper Russian River Basin, and is the source of most of the summer flow in the East Branch Russian River to Lake Mendocino. This 2004 FERC decision limited the amount of water PG&E can divert from the Eel River for power production. Historically, flows through the Potter Valley Project into the East Branch Russian River would have been in excess of 300 cfs this time of year, but are currently less than 50 cfs.

Despite the continued lack of water in Lake Mendocino, the current water year became “normal” based on the requirements in SCWA’s water rights permits and State Water Resources Control Board Decision 1610. The determination of a normal, dry or critically dry year is defined by Decision 1610. Dry year conditions were in effect for the period from February 1 to February 28 and minimum flow requirements were reduced to 75 cfs and 85 cfs in the upper and lower Russian River, respectively.

SCWA is preparing a Temporary Urgency Change Petition for submittal to the State Water Resources Control Board to reduce Russian River instream flow requirements this summer. The details of the petition will not be determined until April 1, the next time the water year type (normal, dry, or critically dry) is declared. There will likely be a hearing by the State Water Board to consider the petition within a few months of its submittal.

As of March 12 Lake Mendocino’s water storage level still remains low – only 59 percent of capacity – compared to 95 percent last year.

Sonoma County Water Agency provides water supply, flood protection and sanitation services for portions of Sonoma and Marin counties. Visit us on the Web at

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Sonoma County Water Agency wants your input!


Sonoma County Water Agency
Public Hearing: Tuesday, MARCH 17@ 8:30 am
Russian River County Sanitation District
Equalization Basin Storage Project

The Russian River County Sanitation District (RRCSD) has prepared a final
Environmental Impact Report (Final EIR) pursuant to the California Environmental
Quality Act to assess potential environmental eff ects of the Equalization Basin
Storage Project (Proposed Project). The RRCSD Board of Directors will consider
certifi cation of the Final EIR and project approval at a public hearing.

PROJECT DESCRIPTION: The RRCSD proposes to construct, operate, and maintain an earthen equalization basin and appurtenant structures within the existing boundaries of the district’s Wastewater Treatment Plant.

PUBLIC HEARING: A public hearing to consider certifi cation of the Final EIR and approval of the Proposed Project will be held on:
Tuesday, March 17, 2009, 8:30 a.m.
Sonoma County Board of Supervisors Chambers
575 Administration Drive, Santa Rosa

DOCUMENT AVAILABILITY: The Final EIR is available for public review at the following locations during normal business hours:

Sonoma County Water Agency
404 Aviation Boulevard, Santa Rosa

Guerneville Regional Library
14107 Armstrong Woods Road, Guerneville

Sonoma County Central Library
211 E Street, Santa Rosa

Persons interested in reviewing the Final EIR, receiving a copy of the document, or reviewing documents referenced in the EIR are invited to contact Jeff Church, Sonoma County Water Agency, at (707) 547-1949.

The Final EIR is also available for review on the Agency’s website:

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Sebastopol Community Mapping Event

A new community organization, Transition Sebastopol, will be sponsoring a Community Mapping event on March 11, from 7:30 – 9:30pm at the Sebastopol Community Center.

On January 15th, the group sponsored a talk at Sebastopol’s Aubergine by Jennifer Gray, a British graduate of Schumacher College in Devon. Jennifer explained to a standing-room-only crowd of about 162 the Transition model. Initiated by permaculture teacher, Rob Hopkins, in Totnes, Devon in 2006, the idea is to bring together all aspects of a community to envision together the future we desire --and then ‘backcast’ to the steps needed to get there.

The impetus for this in the UK was concern about the possibility of coming dislocations in economic or climactic systems. The idea is to tap into the genius of the whole community to come up with fun projects that lead to greater community resilience and local self-reliance. Building optimistic enthusiasm for positive shared goals can result in mutually created social events, and on-the-ground projects.

For example, in Totnes the community built a natural-materials bus shelter, organized produce-preserving parties, and sponsored a municipal nut tree planting, storytelling events, a local currency, and an elder wisdom oral history project, among many other programs. See The idea has spread with amazing speed. Now there are more than 400 towns and cities doing the model in the UK, and so far 8-10 in the U.S.

The purpose of the March 11th Community Mapping event at the Community Center is to figure out what groups are already working on the many areas of life –water, food, transportation, jobs, wellness, energy, et al. We’ll also find out where there might be gaps and therefore new opportunities to invent the preparations we’d like to make for thriving in our place no matter what challenges lie ahead. See

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Sunday, March 8, 2009

Happy Spring Forward Day!

"Some luck lies in not getting what you thought you wanted but getting what you have, which once you have got it you may be smart enough to see is what you would have wanted had you known." - Garrison Keillor

I'm passing Garrison Keillor's essay (below) along to you in memory of my brother who was killed in an accident, May of 2007. And today is my sister Chrissy's birthday. She's alive and well. All the family members who are alive, and all those who are dead, are part of every cell in my body - even the members with whom I share no DNA. We are family!

And when it comes right down to it…the family of our community with whom we share daily life, is as much a part of who we are as those with whom we share genes.

Life is exactly how it should be.

Philip and the delicate art of brotherly love


Published: Sunday, March 8, 2009 at 3:47 a.m.

My brother Philip died in Wisconsin last Friday while I was in Rome, and after I got my ticket changed to fly back for the memorial service, I went into a church off the Piazza Navona and lit candles for his aching family and stood in the piazza beside a fine fountain, with lots of splashing and nudity, the Fountain of the Four Rivers, which made me think of the Mississippi, where he and I used to skate in winter and once when the wind was whistling down the valley he opened his jacket and held the corners taut and the wind blew him away beyond the island and he didn't come back until after dark.

He died while skating. He fell backwards and hit his head and died 12 days later. A heroic thing for a man of 71, dying in action at sport, though I believe he would rather have been in Rome, looking at Bernini churches. He and I almost died together once, canoeing on Lake Superior. We paddled into a deep cave under one of the Apostle Islands, possibly Judas, and explored it, ducking our heads under the low ceiling, and emerged a half-minute before the wake of a distant ore boat came crashing into the cave, which would have busted our heads but good, no need for the EMTs.

He was an engineer, having grown up at a time when boys were still romantic about machinery. Our dad and uncles loved cars and knew how to fix them and also do basic plumbing and wiring and carpentry, so he grew up admiring competence. The incompetent stood and cursed the problem and kicked it and caused more problems. The engineer studied the problem, devised a solution, and when it failed he made intelligent revisions. I never heard my brother curse anything or anybody.

Of all things mechanical, he loved sailboats the most, planing into the wind with a sheet of canvas, a centerboard and a tiller, which he picked up from perusing the Horatio Hornblower novels. When he was a kid, he rigged one of dad's dropcloths to a toboggan and sailed it at tremendous speed down the ice of the Mississippi, a death-defying feat. He switched careers from mechanical to coastal engineering so as to get himself out on boats on Lake Superior and Lake Michigan, purportedly to study thermal runoff from nuclear plants and shore erosion, and he owned a swift sailboat named the Dora Powell after our grandmother.

My brother was her first grandchild and so he was well loved and extensively photographed, a curly-haired boy with dimples and a modest smile, taken against many backdrops since our family moved often in the decade after he was born (1937), renting here and there, squatting with relatives, moving on, which maybe stimulates a keen love of family in a kid, as you keep waving goodbye to your friends, and Philip practiced the delicate art of brotherly love.

He always knew what you were doing, and he kept his critical opinions to himself. He called me once to ask how I was doing and I knew without his saying so that he knew about some nonsense I was up to and wanted me to stop it and I did stop it without his ever mentioning it. That's how he worked, no motor, just angles. His ties to family went back to his ancestor Elder John Crandall, who preached religious tolerance and peaceful coexistence with the Indians in colonial Rhode Island, and it included his hockey-playing granddaughters and fundamentalist cousins and his lawyer brother and his Chinese granddaughter who was skating with him when he fell.

When your brother dies, your childhood fades, there being one less person to remember it with, and you are left disinherited, unarmed, semi-literate, an exile. It's like losing your computer and there's no backup. (What it's like for the decedent, I can't imagine, though I try to be hopeful.) If I had died (say, by slipping on an emollient spill and whacking my head on a family heirloom anvil), I believe Philip, after decent mourning, would've gone about locating a replacement.

If your brother dies, improvise. Someone you run into who maybe doesn't fit the friendship profile but his voice is reedy like your brother's, the gait is similar, he takes his coffee black and his laugh is husky, he starts his sentences with "You know," and the first words out of his mouth are about boats. I didn't run into him in Rome, but I'm sure he's out there someplace.

© Garrison Keillor (
Garrison Keillor's "A Prairie Home Companion" can be heard Saturday nights on public radio stations. His column is distributed by Tribune Media Services.)


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Friday, March 6, 2009

Protecting Water & Environment Rights with Democracy

Promising signs of Democracy
Shapleigh, Maine gave the natural environment rights. Arcata and Point Arena passed a similarly intentioned resolution in 2004 (link) which is not legally binding.
This could be a concept whose time has come!

Maine Town Passes Ordinance
Asserting Local Self-Governance
and Stripping Corporate Personhood
Sun, 2009-03-01 18:08.

Today the citizens of Shapleigh, Maine voted at a special town meeting to pass a groundbreaking Rights-Based Ordinance, 114 for and 66 against. This revolutionary ordinance give its citizens the right to local self-governance and gives rights to ecosystems but denies the rights of personhood to corporations. This ordinance allows the citizens to protect their groundwater resources, putting it in a common trust to be used for the benefit of its residents.

Shapleigh is the first community in Maine to pass such an ordinance, which extends rights to nature, however, the Ordinance Review Committee in Wells, Maine is considering passing one in their town. These communities have been under attack by Nestle Waters, N.A., a multi-national water miner that sells bottled water under such labels as Poland Springs.

Communities have opposed the expansion by Nestle Waters, but the corporation will not take no for an answer. The town of Fryeburg, Maine has been in litigation with Nestle for six years. Nestle wants to expand and the town's people say no to the tanker trunk traffic which has disrupted their quiet scenic beauty, so Nestle's tactic is to wear them down, and break their bank.

Nestle is the world's largest food and beverage company and has very deep pockets. However, we won't back down, we are the stewards of this most precious resource water, and we want to protect it for future generations.

Activists in Maine are well aware that the Nestle Corporation is not just interested in expanding for the purpose of filling their Poland Springs bottles today, they are interested in the control of Maine's abundant water resources for the future. They are expanding in many parts of this country from McCloud, California to Maine. Nestle is positioning themselves to capitalize on the emerging crisis of global water scarcity.

The right to water is a social justice issue and we believe that it should not be sold to those who can afford it, leaving the world's poorest citizens thirsty. Citizens will do a much better job of protecting this resource than a for-profit corporation.

The concept of a rights-based ordinance was pioneered by environmental attorney Thomas Linzey, founder of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund of Gettysburg, PA. Linzey has assisted the town of Barnstead, New Hampshire with their rights-based ordinance, which was passed in 2006 and with another in Nottingham, New Hampshire, which passed in 2008.

To date there have been no legal challenges to these ordinances. Linzey also crafted Ecuador's new Constitution, which also gives the ecosystem rights. Ecuador is the first country in the world to protect its natural resources from corporate exploitation.

Activists have learned the hard way that trying to protect their communities and the environment by going the route of fighting a typical regulatory ordinance, which is written by corporate lobbyists, will fail to protect communities from harms done.

The multi-national corporation's allegiance is never to the communities where they do business, as that could conflict with their fiduciary responsibility to make a profit for stockholders.

People throughout the country are saying "enough is enough, large corporations have too much power." Constitutional Rights were granted to corporations from the bench in the 1800's and it is time to rectify a wrong! People are saying let's dismantle the neo-colonial corporate power by starting with their right to personhood.

In Maine, we are tired of Nestle behaving as if they are a Colonial power with a right to our water resources. We decided that we will behave as if we have the power and ignore the naysayers who said that people will never vote to take rights away from corporations or to give rights to nature. We want to encourage other communities join us. The time is now!

Copies of the The Shapleigh, Maine Town Warrant calling for a special town meeting and The Shapleigh Water Rights and Local Self-Government Warrant are available from the Contact Person, below.

For more information on attorney Thomas Linzey and the Community Environmental Defense Fund, please visit:

For more information about the battle to protect ground water in communities in Maine, please visit: . Click on the LEGISLATION tab and go to ORDINANCES to read the important new Shapleigh ordinance.

CONTACT PERSON: Jamilla El-Shafei Save Our Water steering committee member and organizer steering committee member of the Maine Water Allies (state-wide coalition) 603.969.8426

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Monday, March 2, 2009

Efren Carillo: "Politics, Values, and Tamales"

This editorial is meant to provide your readers some insight into Efren Carillo and his family.

Pedro Villela Toledo, JD MA
Director of Community and Government Relations
Redwood Community Health Coalition

A man stood on the corner of Sebastopol Road in Roseland, the sign he held was bigger than both he and his daughter together. A silent rally of two, their heads popped above the sign and their outstretched arms greeted drivers with a reminder to vote for their candidate. After weeks of door to door campaigns, luncheon fundraisers and rallies small and large, his candidate had a chance.

It was a candidacy borne on hard work and fed by tamales. Margarita started early and cooked up her signature dish for a different group of donors each month. She made them for volunteers as needed. How else can you prepare for twelve hours of door to door campaigning and telephone calls necessary to sustain a bid for County Supervisor? The supporters and donors came to rely on chile verde tamales, a source of energy in a sometimes draining campaign.

The heat in the kitchen radiated into the living room on a sunny Saturday morning during the campaign. Efren Carrillo Sr. quietly nodded and shook hands as his proud son enthusiastically introduced him to their guests. Margarita, clad in an apron and armed with serving tongs, shuffled between the oven and the living room, filling plates as soon as they emptied. Back in the kitchen, she filled bags of tamales for the volunteers, a lunch she would pass out as they rushed out the door to work.

The campaign was not a campaign of chance; it was borne from an exceptional work ethic and strong family values. Mopping floors during the day, Efren Sr., a janitor, instilled in his children with an appreciation for the American Promise - that through hard work and sacrifice, each of us can pursue and realize our dreams. Walking the streets at night, he worked to rid his neighborhood of insidious drugs and gangs. A playground monitor, Margarita blew the playground whistle at a local school and tended to the crosswalks when school let out. Community members and community servants, Efren Sr. and Margarita set the stage for their son, Efren Carrillo Jr., well before the 5th District Board of Supervisors seat became vacant.

In 1991, Efren Sr. and his family cemented their place in Sonoma County when Habitat for Humanity poured the foundation and helped the family build their house from the ground up. Only ten years earlier, Efren Sr. and Margarita had packed up their few worldly possessions and journeyed to the United States from Southern Mexico in search of a better future for their family. An opportunity to own a home sparked a lifelong commitment to their neighborhood, their community, and our nation.

Since the days of patrolling the streets and blowing the playground whistle, Efren Sr. and Margarita, have been able to weave a web of action that expanded from neighborhood support to the community at large. Armed with an elementary school education and common sense, their effect echoes from the halls of Southwest Community Health Center to the Sonoma Chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness where they have been longtime volunteers. Through their service, Efren Sr. and Margarita have been able to find meaning in something greater than themselves. Their presence and participation in civic life keeps our elected officials and civil servants honest. Ensuring opportunity for their children sparked a commitment to community that evolved into a commitment to ensure that all people have an opportunity to achieve the full measure of their potential.

The Carrillo’s embody the concept that investing in families strengthens community. An entire village of volunteers helped to build the Carrillo family home and the dividends have been accumulating for decades. An army of compassionate neighbors sparked a torch that passed to a new generation months ago with a sign on the road and a steaming pot of tamales. Efren Carrillo Jr., the newly elected Supervisor for Sonoma County is now positioned to continue and expand a family legacy of service to our community.

Congratulations, Efren Sr. and congratulations, Margarita. You embody the spirit of service that American families have been celebrating for generations.

Pedro Toledo is a resident of Rohnert Park. He is the Director of Community and Government Relations for Redwood Community Health Coalition of Community Clinics in Marin, Sonoma, Napa and Yolo counties. E-mail comments to

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Forestville Roundabout - Concerns about safety

Hi Vesta:
I went to the traffic circle meeting last Thursday and saw your report on Friday. I guess you heard Ramona's concerns, but you didn't hear mine.

I was alarmed by the sloppiness and lack of concern for safety by the county road planners. Their proposed design creates a blind T intersection at Hidden Lake Rd onto a state highway filled with gravel and garbage trucks. This is deadly. The designers seem to be concerned about sight-line issues at the traffic circle but they completely ignored the other intersection, Hidden Lake Rd, impacted by the new design. The sight-line issue at this blind intersection is critical because when cars enter Hwy 116 at Hidden Lake Rd they do so from a dead stop. When headed east, the drivers need to see far enough west to judge whether they have enough time and space to get up to the speed of the traffic flow on Hwy 116. Currently, turning vehicles can see a long way down the hill westward so that drivers can judge if they can safely make it. When the designers carelessly revised this intersection, Hidden Lake Rd drivers will now have to enter Hwy 116 from the inside of a curve, creating a blind intersection. The turning drivers won't be able to see further than a hundred feet down the hill. I believe these drivers need to see much further down the road, probably 300 to 400 feet more for this to be safe.

I brought this to the attention of the engineers and our supervisor. I was told that the design we saw was "conceptual" but that doesn't make me any happier. So often, these conceptual things become carved in stone and then we become stuck with something that is totally inappropriate. I don't understand how some safety basics weren't covered from the get-go.

Let me explain. Most drivers coming up the hill, headed east are going, at least, 45 MPH. Even though there is a speed reduction sign slightly before Hidden Lake Rd, no one seems to slow down until they get to the top of the hill. At 45 MPH, a car will travel 660 feet in 10 seconds. A turning car, from Hidden Lake Rd, typically takes 10 or more seconds, going from a dead stop, to get up to the 45 MPH speed of the traffic flow. In that 10 seconds, the turning car will travel about 330 feet. In that 10 seconds, a vehicle coming up the hill will close up about 330 feet on the turning car. If the turning car can't see, at least 330 feet (preferable 400+ feet), the vehicle coming up the hill will only have a second or so warning of the turning car and have to brake severely to avoid hitting it. This is a recipe for disaster and I am not going to sit by quietly while the highway designers push ahead on a death trap.

This problem can remedied by maintaining the current alignment of Hwy 116 and not changing the Hidden Lake Rd intersection. It would be still possible to build the traffic circle. It will may not be the cheap alternative that the county seems to prefer but my life, my loved ones lives and my neighbor lives are worth it. I don't want to be a victim of the county's carelessness and cut rate attitude.

Ken Brown
Hidden Lake Rd

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REAL Change - Health Care, Taxes, Energy, Education, Regulations

Vesta: I hope you have the courage to read and print my comments. If I sound angry, it is because I AM. REAL CHANGE means real change coming out of my pocket going into people like yours. - T. Mark Fay

Well, Mark - with a challenge like that - how could I resist! I can't imagine much money will make it into my pockets from political change - but I can hope I guess! I certainly work hard for what I earn! Here ya go Mark.

1.) Health CARE is not broken; we have the best system in the world. Ask people from Canada who come here to get their MRIs that they would wait 6 months for. The problem is Health INSURANCE, and having the government take over the system will make going to your doctor feel like getting your driver's license renewed. Come on, what government service is done better then the private sector? People like you just want people like me to pay for your medical treatment. How is that good for you or me - have you no self respect?

Aren't you the same blog that agonized over Bush's wiretaps of terrorists? And you want Obama having access to your pap smear?

2.) Tax rates have not been reduced! The tax tables have not been changed! How can you reduce taxes on people when THEY HAVE PAID NO TAXES?

You are talking about a one time tax rebate that is a welfare payment that amounts to about $15 per week - and it is taxable income! And, there is no way even I and the other 2% ers, even if you take every dime I make, can pay for all of this spending. Your taxes are going up - or haven't you noticed that every promise Obama makes comes with an expiration date? "I'll only take government campaign financing"; "No lobbyists in my administration"; on and on. Get yourself a calculator and do some math - he'll be coming for the middle classes' cash next. There's no other way.

3.) The only economical clean energy is nuclear and it is no where in this plan. You'll need to suspend a couple of Newton's laws or impose a huge series of taxes on energy to make wind and solar viable. These jobs may not be outsourced but they are not sustainable because the underlying technology is not cost effective without huge cash transfers to them.

4.) When will any of you people say "Thank you George Bush"?

5.) Taxes went DOWN for all people who pay taxes under the Bush tax cuts. Does the truth even matter to you? The average family making $60K a year has some $2,000 more in their pockets annually. Also, since you are so big on the word "progressive", I and and the other rich's share of taxes went UP. Do you have any idea what percent of the income taxes we pay? The top 1% pay 39%, up from 37% when Bush took office. The truth is that you are taking money from me to give to you - that's what you mean by "strengthening the middle class". Why don't you stop blogging and get second job - I work 65 hours a week, maybe you could move up from 30.

6.) Obama's cap and trade plan will crush all of us under oil and gas taxes. He has made it his mission to drive up all energy prices to make the wind and solar boondoggles "affordable". Do you know that the government already makes twice as much money on gas taxes then the oil companies do in profit?

7.) Why can't the liberal colleges reduce their tuitions? Harvard for example has a $60 Billion endowment. All the tuitions they collect in a year are only $30 Million. They could GIVE THEIR EDUCATION AWAY FOR FREE if they could just make a 5% profit on the endowment. Why must you always reach for my wallet through the strong arm of government - Harvard is a TAX FREE institution!

8.) You will be Waiting for Godot for the economy to recover. It is people like me that move this economy and there is no way I am going to continue to work the 65 hours so I can feed your kids, educate you, pay for your medical care, subsidize low income women's abortions and birth control pills, and support unnecessary fees on energy.

Even the Associated Press has said the numbers don't add up. Do you remember stagflation under Jimmy Carter? You think we had malaise then... By the way, have you heard of Johnson's War on Poverty? Carter's move to improve Human Rights? These miserable failures are what your side will be repeating under Obama. Why don't you go back and read some of Martin Luther King's speeches, or John Kennedy's. It is through liberty, free markets and free people, that our country will prosper, not through socialism which HAS FAILED EVERY WHERE IT HAS BEEN TRIED.

9.) Have you heard of Sarbanes Oxley? Have you heard of Grahm Leach Bliley? Have you heard of McCain Feingold, for crying out loud? No additional amount of regulation would have prevented these problems. You are fooling yourself to think government can fix the problems they are causing. Read Ayn Rand.

10.) He only won 54% of the vote, and did he tell it to us straight in the campaign? Does he stick to his promises or do they all have expiration dates?

I intend to follow up with you in four years to see which one of us is right. I hope you will have the integrity at that time to look at the facts, and have stopped drinking - and passing out - the Kool Aid.

T. Mark Fay
Beleagured Taxpayer

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Sunday, March 1, 2009

Obama's Economic Plan Needs Our Support

Want to see what change looks like? Real change?

Well, here it is. Last week, President Obama unveiled his budget—his blueprint for America—and it's ambitious, amazing, and unapologetically progressive. As Paul Krugman said, it will set America on a "fundamentally new course."-1 - these numbers refer to resources for this information listed below.

President Obama called his budget "a threat to the status quo," and trust me, the status quo noticed. Oil companies, big banks and insurance companies are already mobilizing to stop it.-2

Unfortunately, most folks don't realize how far-reaching and progressive the plan is—that's where we all come in.

Here are 10 really incredible things about Obama's plan. Check them out and then send them on to your friends and family so that millions of people will have the information they need to fight to make this vision a reality.

10 things you should know about Obama's plan (but probably don't)

The plan:

1. Makes a $634 billion down payment on fixing health care that will go a long way toward paying for a more efficient, more affordable health care system that covers every single American. -3

2. Reduces taxes for 95% of working Americans. And if your family makes less than $250,000, your taxes won't go up one dime. -4

3. Invests more than $100 billion in clean energy technology, creating millions of green jobs that can never be outsourced. -5

4. Brings our troops home from Iraq on a firm timetable, finally bringing the war to a close—and freeing up almost ten billion dollars a month for domestic priorities. -6

5. Reverses growing income inequality. The plan lets the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans expire and focuses on strengthening the middle class. -7

6. Closes multi-billion-dollar tax loopholes for big oil companies. -8

7. Increases grants to help families pay for college—the largest increase ever. -9

8. Halves the deficit by 2013. President Obama inherited a legacy of huge deficits and an economy in shambles, but his plan brings the deficit under control as soon as the economy begins to recover. -10

9. Dramatically increases funding for the SEC and the CFTC—the agencies that police Wall Street. -11

10. Tells it straight. For years, budgets have used accounting tricks to hide the real costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Bush tax cuts, and too many other programs. Obama's budget gets rid of the smokescreens and lays out what America's priorities are, what they cost, and how we're going to pay for them. - 12

This is the change we voted for.
President Obama has done his part, now we need to do ours.

P.S. Turns out there are way more than 10 amazing things in Obama's budget and we couldn't resist sharing just a few more.

1. Stops unnecessary government subsidies to big banks, health insurance companies and big agribusinesses. -13,14,15

2. Expands access to early childhood education and improves schools by investing in programs that make sure every child has a qualified, strong teacher. -16

3. Negotiates for better prescription drug prices using Medicaid's tremendous bargaining power. -17

4. Expands access to family planning for low-income women. -18

5. Caps the pollution that causes global warming, and makes polluters pay to support clean energy innovation. -19


1. "Climate of Change," The New York Times, February 27, 2009

2. "Obama Calls His Budget Sweeping, Needed Change," The New York Times, February 28, 2009

3. "Obama Offers Broad Plan to Revamp Health Care," The New York Times, February 26, 2009

4. "Obama Expects Fight Over $3.55 Trillion Budget Plan," Bloomberg News, February 28, 2009

5. "Energy Budget Is Sunlight After Eight Years of Darkness," Center for American Progress, February 26, 2009

6. "The Economic Cost of War in Iraq and Afghanistan," The New York Times, March 1, 2009

7. "Tax Cuts," The New York Times, February 26, 2009

8. "Energy Budget Is Sunlight After Eight Years of Darkness," Center for American Progress, February 26, 2009

9. "Student Loans," The New York Times, February 26, 2009

10. "Obama unveils budget blueprint," CNN, February 26, 2009

11. "Obama budget would boost SEC, CFTC, FBI," Reuters, February 26, 2009

12. "Obama's budget," Los Angeles Times, February 27, 2009

13. "Student Loans," The New York Times, February 26, 2009

14. "Health Insurance Stocks Dive on Medicare Advantage Cuts," The Wall Street Journal, February 26, 2009

15. "Agriculture," The New York Times, February 26, 2009

16. "Investing Wisely in Our Children," Center for American Progress, February 26, 2009

17. "Obama Offers Broad Plan to Revamp Health Care," The New York Times, February 26, 2009

18. "Obama Offers Broad Plan to Revamp Health Care," The New York Times, February 26, 2009

19. "Setting 'Green' Goals," The New York Times, February 26, 2009

Can you pass this on to your personal network and then click here to let us know how many people you told, so we can track our impact together:

Thanks for all you do.
–Daniel, Tanya, Peter, Justin and the rest of the team

PS: I'm passing this information on to WCG Extra! readers because I feel it's important to be informed about our economy. Whether you agree or not, information and education is key to our survival. if you don't know about a subject you have no influence or control over it. The Economy impacts our lives on every level! - Vesta

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