Don Cobb
Communism in California?
By Don Cobb
April 13, 2013

On Wednesday, March 13th 2013, I witnessed the most arrogant, blatantly unfair act in which I have ever seen a local city council engage. Which local city council, you might ask? That would be the openly Liberal Progressive (I'm not name-calling – they describe themselves this way, proudly) Cotati City Council in Sonoma County, CA.

The issue at hand? It was a vacant seat on their city council. For some reason, the very Liberal Sonoma County city councils refuse to honor voters and prefer to appoint new members rather than drawing from the candidates who had gleaned the next highest votes during the most recent elections. Instead of honoring the 1,274 Cotati citizens who voted for politically Moderate/Conservative George Barich in Cotati's most recent election, for example, the Cotati City Council decided to ignore all of those voters, effectively deciding their 4 votes trumped 1,274 Cotati residents' votes and choose a new member who represents their interests – the city council's interests.

Rather than respect the 23,238 residents' votes cast for Santa Rosan Don Taylor, the Moderate/Conservative businessman who garnered the next highest vote tally in the last election, the Santa Rosa City Council opted to appoint someone to fill the seat vacated by another local Progressive recently, as well.

What's going on here? Both Sonoma County city councils could have honored and respected the thousands of residents who cast votes in their respective recent past elections by appointing the next highest vote-getter to the empty seats. Instead, both the Santa Rosa City Council and the Cotati City Council decided that their collective ten votes were more important than the 24,512 votes which were cast for the candidates with the next highest votes in their respective past elections. I just shake my head.

Not exactly the American way, although I'm sure these councils had already given themselves permission to handle empty seats in the same way that Communists choose their leaders – by appointment, rather than by allowing the voters to choose. If the Cotati City Council were interested in fairness and if it was important to them that the citizens of Cotati were all to be represented, they would have taken the advice and suggestions of the multitude of speakers who addressed them that Wednesday night. Apparently they are more interested in control than in the democratic voting process; for what they did was insure that there are no Moderate or Conservative members on that City Council now. This means that there is now absolutely no balance on Cotati's City Council, and the more than 1,274 Moderate and Conservative Cotati citizens who cast their votes for George Barich are now officially without representation, despite having cast their votes for the only Moderate/Conservative candidate on the ballot during Cotati's last election.

I watched that March Wednesday night as people addressed the City Council and pleaded with the council members not to ignore the 1,274 Cotati residents and voters of Cotati, by a margin of nearly 10 to 1. Again and again, people implored the Cotati City Council not to insult Cotati's voters by choosing one of their friends and asked the council to give the seat to the candidate with the next highest number of votes in the past election. Folks asked the council to appoint the man who had actually worked for the seat, who had campaigned with his own money and time and walked the city's precincts to introduce himself to residents who might have been misinformed about who George Barich actually is.

I watched the Cotati City Council sit blank-faced while they refused to reply to all of these folks, sitting and looking at us as we addressed them and letting us all go through the motions of asking them to "do the right thing," person after person, citizens of Cotati and of neighboring Santa Rosa and Petaluma. The Cotati City Council did let everyone have their say, but certainly, when all was said and done at the end of the evening, probably never intended to even consider what the scores of speakers had to say, opting instead to appoint a new member to the city council, who, I understand, is a personal friend of some of the Progressives on the city council and a fellow Progressive Liberal.

Despite ex-City Council member George Barich having the desire to serve Cotati, and spending his own money on his campaign this past year, walking precinct after precinct after precinct to talk to Cotati voters, to ask Cotati residents what their concerns were and even producing his own bumper stickers and flyers, investing in himself in his effort to serve the city of Cotati, the Cotati City Council chose one of their friends, another Left-leaning Liberal, just like the other four members of the city council.

The man they appointed, John Moore, hadn't gotten even one vote in the 2012 election. George Barich had the support and the votes of 1,274 Cotati voters. John Moore didn't invest one minute in campaigning for his seat, didn't walk to even one house to campaign for himself, didn't invest even one penny in his own campaign in 2012 because he had no interest in running for City Council in Cotati...that is, until he learned that his friends were going to appoint one of their friends to the empty seat. That's when the 5 other people stepped up, hoping to be appointed by this Liberal Progressive Cotati City Council, a la Communist style.

Those other 5 candidates, rather than joining with the scores of voices who pleaded with the Cotati City Council, imploring them to do the right thing, chose to throw their hats in the ring and hope they were going to be appointed – not elected – to the empty seat...and one of them got lucky. He was appointed by his friends to that seat.

Of course, the Cotati City Council had to make a decision. They had to decide if their individual votes – 4 of them in all – were more important than the 1,274 votes cast for George Barich just a few months ago. Their decision? They decided that their 4 votes were more important than the votes of 1,274 other voters in that town. It was more important to these 4 city council members to appoint a like-minded Progressive to the Cotati City Council rather than do the right thing and honor and respect the 1,274 votes of Cotati citizens who cast their votes for Mr. Barich last November.

Of course, in their defense, if there even is a defense that holds water, the Cotati City Council may have simply been following the lead of another largely Leftwing Progressive city council who had just done the exact same thing when it came time to fill a vacancy in January/February 2013, shortly after the city of Santa Rosa's last election. The Santa Rosa City Council, rather than honoring 23,238 Santa Rosa voters* who had voted for Moderate/Conservative business owner Don Taylor, chose to appoint one of their like-minded friends.

Despite Don Taylor's heart and desire to serve Santa Rosa, after investing who knows how much money and time in this campaign effort to win a seat on that city council, the largely Progressive Santa Rosa City Council opted to disrespect Don Taylor and every voter who voted for Mr. Taylor and instead appoint one of their Progressive friends to that vacant seat.

That is what Communists do: they appoint leaders. They go through the motions and pretend to have open elections, but they are not free and open elections at all, and typically result in just one Communist appointing another. That's how it works under dictators and in nations where the citizens have no real right to vote.

But this is the United States of America, for goodness sake! What happened here that 23,238 votes are ignored by the 6 city council members who appoint one of their own friends instead of someone who worked for the seat, who fought for the seat, and for whom more than 23,000 Santa Rosa voters submitted their votes, yet 6 people believe that their 6 votes count more than over twenty-three thousand other citizens' votes?

Is this what Americans find acceptable today? Are we going to allow our leaders to appoint other leaders in the same way Communist countries appoint their leaders? Have any of Santa Rosa's more than 169,000 residents gathered together to let the Santa Rosa City Council know how unacceptable it was to ignore more than 23,000 votes and appoint another like-minded Progressive to the empty seat?

If Santa Rosans aren't going to complain about Communist-style appointments being adopted by the Santa Rosa City Council instead of honoring the next top vote-getters, guess what: The SRCC will likely continue to adopt more Communist approaches to leadership.

What really should happen, if we the people still run this country, is that Santa Rosa residents should be circulating petitions to have all of the members of the city council who participated in that appointment removed from leadership and should be showing up en masse at city council meetings. All council members who ignored the 23,238 votes cast for Don Taylor should be shown the door, and Santa Rosa should hold a special election in order to seat a new city council who honors the ballot box, who honor the voters and the votes cast for candidates.

No city in America should put up with Progressive politicians using Communist methods of seating leaders in my opinion. I support every American's right to subscribe to whatever political philosophy resonates with them in their heart of hearts. If you believe Communism is the best form of government, you have that right as an American to believe that, but you do not have the right to ignore America's system of electing leaders at the local, state or national levels. No city council in America has the moral or ethical right to ignore 23,238 votes while choosing to appoint one of their friends to a city council seat, even if they have given themselves permission through prior edict.

It's just not right. But then, politics in America just aren't right nowadays, are they?

Please let the Santa Rosa and Cotati city councils know how you feel about their choice to ignore the voters and appoint like-minded friends to vacant seats on their respective city councils. Email, fax and telephone the Mayors' offices and the offices of each city council member who ignored thousands of Sonoma County voters during these appointments.

Better yet, the Santa Rosa City Council meets every Tuesday at this time & address. I couldn't find meeting days/times on their website. The Cotati City Council meets on the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month. Call your friends and make it a night out and let these largely Progressive Sonoma County city council members hear it from you personally.

I did find this statement on the Santa Rosa City Council website: "The City Council Members are elected officers identified in Government Code Section 87200 and file statements of economic interests with the City Clerk's Office." That statement simply isn't true. Santa Rosa also APPOINTS it's members. Perhaps the city of Santa Rosa should be honest and change their website to acknowledge that some members are appointed.


© Don Cobb


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
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Don Cobb

Don Cobb, RAS is an addiction recovery professional and serves as Executive Director for North Bay Recovery Services in Sonoma County, CA. Don recently published a book entitled 12 Steps: NOT For Dummies... (more)


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