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Welcome to the Sonoma County Gazette ARCHIVE of PAST EDITIONS. Our NEW WEBSITE is up and running, so GazExtra is serving as your path to archived articles. Thanks for being part of our Sonoma County community...stay in touch...e-mail me - VESTA

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Our Sonoma County by Efren Carrillo

Please join us for a public meeting to discuss PG&E’s SmartMeter installation program on Wednesday evening, April 21st from 5:30 to 7:30 at the Sebastopol Veteran’s Memorial Building. A panel discussion will take place, followed by time for public comment and questions of the panelists. We hope that this conversation will allow concerns ranging from meter accuracy, health and environmental risks, security and privacy issues, to fire safety to be aired and addressed. Panelists will include representatives from PG&E, California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), TURN (Utilities Reform Network), and an authority on health risks associated with the meters.

Join the iWalk challenge which began March 15th…30 minutes of walking a day, 5 days each week for better fitness and overall health. Sign up (I did!), get fitness tips, and find walking groups today at

Many of you have received your 2010 Census forms in the mail by now. Returning your Census form promptly helps reduce the need for canvassers to go door to door seeking compliance. If you receive mail at the Post Office instead of your home, you will be contacted by a canvasser as each form is specific to your household address. If you are not contacted, please obtain a blank form from the Census office and file before May 1st.

Our local Census headquarters is at 1403 Corporate Center Parkway, Santa Rosa.

Our current economic struggle highlights the importance of each and every person being counted this year. Important funding allocations, political and social decisions are made every year based on the data resulting from the US Census. These factors affect how more than $400 billion dollars of federal funding are allocated to our local economy.

Census information determines everything from the number of seats that California occupies in the US Congress to the infrastructure funding for hospitals, schools, senior centers, emergency services, and public works projects like our poor West County roads. Everyone living in the United States is required by law to file for the Census regardless of immigration status. But that’s not the reason you should file your form…the resources allocated to our community are directly affected by the results of the Census.

Some have concerns that the data collected might be used against individuals. Nothing could be further from the truth! Your information is protected in a number of ways…including the oath that everyone employed by the Census Bureau takes to protect individual information…not only during their employment with the Bureau, but for the rest of their lives. Individual census records are not shared with anyone, including other federal agencies and law enforcement entities. By law, the Census Bureau cannot share respondents' answers with anyone, -- not the IRS, not the FBI, not the CIA, and not with any other government agency. There are steep penalties for violating or sharing information on individuals-- from heavy fines up to $250,000 to prison sentences or both.

So, please, for your community and yourself, complete your census form and return it as soon as possible!

Early March, I traveled to Washington, DC with colleagues to attend the National Association of Counties Conference. Leaving several days early allowed time for meetings with Congressional and Senate staff members to request funding for local projects and infrastructure needs. Our meetings played a major role in thwarting a proposed $2.1 million cut in our Geothermal revenues. The funding was restored during the time we were in Washington, DC directly as a result of our efforts. We made requests for increased funding for Community Health Centers, Emergency Operations Center, perinatal alcohol and drug treatment, clean natural gas buses, and fire mitigation due to Sudden Oak Death. The Bodega Bay Bicycle and Pedestrian Trail project has been in the planning stage for years, and we hope our meetings will pay off in Federal dollars to augment State Coastal Conservancy, Measure M, and State Transportation monies allocated to this project.

Both Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods and Gold Ridge RCD are recipients of California Department of Fish and Game fisheries restoration grants. Stewards will use their grant to improve fish passage and remove barriers in Willow Creek, and Gold Ridge plans to improve and protect critical Coho habitat in Green Valley and Purrington Creeks…both projects are critical and it’s exciting that this important work will move forward this year.