Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Who does the City Council work for?

[This was posted at my first blog The Other Santa Rosa 5/12/04]

The Sonoma County Alliance is a private, politically active, countywide business lobby. It also has a political action committee (SCAPAC) that donates to local political candidates.

The Alliance has 233 members, of whom the largest number (30) are developers. Many more are involved in growth and development-related professions and businesses, including lawyers (15), engineers (13), real estate firms (12), bankers (10), architects (9), and consultants (7).

Would it disturb you to learn that some Santa Rosa Councilmembers are SCA members? Would you wonder whether those Councilmembers were working for all 150,000 Santa Rosans, or just a handful of developers and businessmen? Be disturbed.

In fact, no fewer than five of the seven Councilmembers belong to the Sonoma County Alliance: Jane Bender, Bob Blanchard, Janet Condron, Mike Martini, and Sharon Wright. The good news is only one Councilman is actually on the Alliance payroll at this time. The SCA hired Mike Martini to be its Executive Director in August of 2002, when he was our Mayor, at a salary of about $70,000 a year.

Sharon Wright, our current Mayor, was the SCA's Executive Director from 1986 to 2000. The Alliance now lists her as a member twice, under Wright & Associates, her management firm; and also under Aegis Senior Living, a company owned by developer/businessman William Gallaher, where she is reportedly Director of Marketing.

The Alliance has been almost a secret society. They have had a website, but it has been "under construction" for the last couple of years, and provided very little information about the influential organization.

Now the public can check out the SCA Leadership and Members at their new website: . The new (5/1/04) site is sponsored by a donation from PG&E.