Should Small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Be Part Of Journalism’s Toolset?

Video screengrab of initial construction of the Graton Casino in Rohnert Park in 2012 - taken from amateur suas footage.

Video screengrab of initial construction of the Graton Casino in Rohnert Park in 2012 – taken from amateur suas footage.

A great deal of reporting is being done lately on the value of “drone journalism”. Coupled with the FAA’s legal wrangling over the actual legality of such newsgathering, we’ve got ourselves a First Amendment issue, folks.

This video was gathered by yours truly in June 2012 to document the progress of SMART working on improving our local railroad infrastructure:

The FAA thinks this should be illegal.

They also think this should be illegal:

What do you think? Do you have archival or newsworthy “suas” (small unmanned aerial systems) video to share with a larger audience?

Commercial Drone Pilots Cheer Judge Overturns Fine Against Pilot

Media line up to oppose drone ban –

Drone Journalism: Media Groups Raise First Amendment Concerns

AMICI Brief by Media Industry

STRAVA Releases New Annadel Park Map

STRAVA Releases New Annadel Park Map

Not actually a new park map… but an actual representation of how the public is using the park.

STRAVA’s reasons for providing the data will strike a chord with many:

“We are providing this information in anonymous aggregate form to help improve infrastructure and safety for cyclists, runners and pedestrians.”

Check out your favorite park, and learn where the secret trails are. Do it quick – I suspect State Parks and other private organizations will put the kibosh on this amazing tool in short order.

CHRP is asking …

CHRP is asking the Board of Supervisors to regulate Ratna Ling, enforce the General Plan and protect rural Sonoma County.


March 2013

Dear Friends & Neighbors

Thank you for your previous support of the community efforts to oppose Ratna Ling’s industrial printing operations. This is an update regarding the status of CHRP’s opposition to Ratna Ling’s Use Permit Application. The issue has not gone away.

In 2008, Ratna Ling Retreat Center applied for a General Plan Amendment, and proposed building a 108,300 sf complex of two, two-story, underground book storage caves and an exhibition hall. In response to this proposal, neighbors organized and circulated a petition in opposition to the expansion. As a result of this petition, Ratna Ling dropped their proposed GPA and abandoned their proposed building plans. This was an important victory and it was your 170 signatures that stopped this “big box” sized facility from being built in rural Sonoma County.

Previously however, in 2007, the entire Dharma Publishing (DP) book manufacturing, storage and distribution operation, the “largest publisher of Tibetan books in the world”, was moved from an industrial area of Berkeley to the Ratna Ling Retreat Center. Industrial scale printing is now the primary land use of Ratna Ling Retreat Center, which violates their “Retreat Center” Use Permit and defies RRD zoning regulations and the Sonoma County General Plan.

A Complaint of Code Violations was filed in 2010 by CHRP. RL was found to be in violation but PMRD required RL to either comply with their 2004 Use Permit or apply for a new use permit. RL’s new use permit application, PLP08-0021, seeks to legalize all violations of their 2004 use permit and triple the size of their printing and storage facilities, quadruple the number of press workers, remove any numerical limit on book production and double the permanent population of the Retreat Center.

Those of you who attended the Board of Zoning Adjustments Hearing in April 2012, and/or signed a petition against the massive expansion of Ratna Ling’s printing operations, are well aware that CHRP was not given a fair chance to present its case opposing the expansion. The BZA made the wrong decision. At that time, CHRP filed an appeal with the Board of Supervisors, which will be heard sometime in the next few months. (It has not yet been scheduled)

CHRP is asking the Board of Supervisors to regulate Ratna Ling, enforce the General Plan and protect rural Sonoma County. CHRP has a strong case for having the industrial printing operations scaled back to their 2004 Use Permit conditions, based on the following issues:

1. Numerous unresolved violations of their 2004 use permit
2. Breach of County general plan & land use policies
3. Ancillary use vs. industrial printing plant
4. Expansion of printing facility from 20,000 sq ft to 60,000 sq ft
5. CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) violations
6. Inadequate mitigated negative declaration in lieu of the required EIR

An attorney who is experienced in CEQA and Land Use issues has been hired to assist with the case. She’s been paid $2,500 as a retainer, which emptied the CHRP account. $10,000 is needed to wage this appeal – that is 100 people donating $100. Any amount is welcome!

Here’s how you can help:
• Send a check for any amount to: Betsy Anderson/CHRP, P.O. Box 618, Gualala, CA 95445 (donating this way is not tax-deductible)
• Make online, tax deductible donations through our sponsor,
the OWL Foundation – Open Space, Water Protection and Land Use (Tax Deductible)
Scroll down to Coastal Hills Rural Preservation CHRP
• Go to our blog or website for a more detailed summary of our position and actions.
• Share this information with friends and interested people


The worldwide discussion of “drones” seems to have so many tangents, we’re all losing the forest for the trees.

Thus, I’m impressed that The Huffington Post, as gruesome and brutal as it is, has the bravery to attempt to refocus the discussion on drones of wartime – and their heinous effects:

droneshuffpoThis is the discussion we SHOULD be having.  “Privacy Advicates” be damned.  The drones we need to address are the ones that kill in the name of MY country.

YOU NEED TO DO IT: Depression Buddy Check.

Surprised the hell out of myself in a private chat just now.

Commiserating with a coworker over instant message about the passing of Jonathan Glass… sad as hell. Also HEARTBREAKING that *we* didn’t have a chance to help him. Depression is usually such a secret – but it really doesn’t need to be!!

In my sad rage I typed: “people need to talk more! Help each other. Do you suffer from depression? I’m AOK, myself…”

Coworker replied: “Yes”

….fascinating, healthy, trusting, caring discussion ensued. We now have code words, and a tacit understanding that if this person is in a DARK TIME, or a MELANCHOLY PERIOD, I’m going to be *perfectly comfortable* and EMPOWERED to try and help.

Jonathan Glass. Already missing you.

Folks who suffer depression need a SAFETY NET. YOU, good friends, need to ask around… Buddy check. Please? Losing Jonathan was too much.

Depression Buddy Check. It’s high time.

Rest in peace, Jonathan.  We’ll all be looking after the family you left.


Catherine Barnett and Much Ado About Meddling

Black, White and Red all over.

Black, White and Red all over.

Given the fragile state of print media and our new local ownership which may need to shake things up a bit, I can easily imagine why publisher Catherine Barnett might want to make a fuss beyond the already over-sold “As Santa Rosa Turns”.

But, really?  It’s not OK to keep an application process for a job selection secret – even given that the selection and interview process will be 100% open to the public?

I think you have bigger fish to fry than this, Ms. Barnett.

We can’t help but wonder who might really have an interest in meddling with the Political Process in our great community… Mr. Bosco?  Is that your influence there?

Santa Rosa won’t identify council applicants, for now |



Someone needs to find something more constructive to do.
Apparently the unsigned article may have had something to do with Mr. Guillixson having a stick in his craw:

Spreading Sunshine


The Sunflower Project needs your help!

Original Article by Jo Anne Cohn:

Let’s all plant sunflowers outside!

Sunflowers represent the sun, good health, happiness; all the wishes for Santa Rosa neighborhoods.  What better way to spread good cheer all over town than with a sprinkling of golden yellow?  Wouldn’t it be great if we had sunflowers growing in front of places where we live and work this summer?  I love the idea and hope you do too!  It could bring a smile to each of us as we pass them on the street.  Let’s spend time getting to know each other as we watch our flowers grow.

Join me and my friends in kicking off the Sunflower Project in Santa Rosa!  Let’s spread cheer and community in all parts of Santa Rosa by planting and distributing sunflower seedlings! We’ll need some seeds, some greenhouses to grow some seedlings, some Dixie cups to put them in, and some people to distribute them.  Or for some of us, maybe we’ll just need some sunflower seeds that we can plant them directly into our front yards.

I admit it.  I have no idea how this whole thing is going to work but I’m volunteering to help make it happen.  I’ll be glad to help organize the project but I certainly can’t do it alone.  This is where you all come in!

Help!  It’s going to take a village!

These are some of the things we will need to bring sunshine to all of Santa Rosa:  School class projects and Girl Scouts projects to grow and distribute sunflower seedlings, green house space to cultivate starts, sunflower seeds, little cups to put seedlings in, soil, community garden space and lots more.

We also need your creativity to design an instruction sheet on how to plant the sunflowers and create a distribution plan for seedling.  Maybe you’d like to video the project so others can see how sunflowers are springing up all over sunny Santa Rosa. Whatever time or other resources you have to contribute will be greatly appreciated.

Now is the time to get in touch with me so that we can figure out how we can grow sunflowers throughout Santa Rosa.  Let’s see…my email is and my cell is 707-206-8489.  I think that this will be a fun way to meet our neighbors and build community in Santa Rosa. I know that I can’t do it alone.  It’s going to take a village.  Give me a call so you can be part of the (sunny) village!!!

via Santa Rosa Snippets – January 2013.

Vanity or Polio?

Santa Rosa Mayor Scott Bartley would like to end Polio.

Mayor Scott Bartley wants to end polio...

Mayor Scott Bartley wants to end polio…

Funny, though, that when PressDemocrat readers click this ad, they’re directed to Santa Rosa’s Rotary page which touts Mayor Scott Bartley…

…Rather than the Rotary International “End Polio” campaign page… That’s another click away – if you can find it.  (it’s in the upper right corner of the 5130 page:

With the threat…

Image courtesy

Norman Solomon

“With the threat of a President Romney gone and the continuing scarcity of a progressive moral core in the Oval Office, millions of progressives who understood the tactical wisdom of supporting Obama’s re-election should now recognize that the time has come to renounce his leadership.”

Not being one to shy away from the fore, Norman Solomon has thrown the progressive gauntlet down.

See the full article: New Year, New Era for Progressives and Obama.

SEELEY: Santa Rosa City Council agenda highlights for 3/20/12

March 20, 2012 Agenda
From: Anne Seeley

Date: Sun, Mar 18, 2012 at 7:34 PM
Subject: City Council agenda highlights for 3/20/12

Friends: The big deal on the Council’s agenda is the new proposal for Police salary and pension changes. But first…

3:00 Special joint meeting of the Council with the Planning Commission.
3.1 Annual Review of the General Plan and the Growth Management and Housing Allocation Ordinances. The review of possible changes to the latter seems to have stalled, and since there hasn’t been much building activity, growth management certainly hasn’t been called into play.

4:00 Regular meeting
Staff Briefings
6.1 Transit Mall Relocation. This summer, the section of 1st Street between Santa Rosa Avenue and D Street will become the Transit Mall while the real location is being renovated.

10.2 Award of Transit Mall Renovation to Santa Rosa contractor RE West Building for $1,882,308.00.

10.4 Improvements to City Bus. The thing to report here (that I didn’t know) is that the City has a "Southside Transit Transfer Station" at Southwest Community Park. Maybe you knew.


11.1 Approval of Amendment 4 to the Memorandum of Understanding for Unit 2 – Fire Fighters. They agreed to Implementation of a new 2nd tier retirement formula for new hires: 3% at 55 and a 36 month final compensation under CalPers rules. These new hires will also pay a 9% of salary Employee Paid Membership Contribution 9EPMC) to CalPers for their pension, which is the same amount the city will contribute.

11.2 Approval for 2 years of the Memorandum of Understanding for Unit 5 – Police Officers. It’s asserted that the City will save $631,000 over 2 years, with $530,000 of savings to the General Fund. The agreement has many elements but the results are these:

a) Over 2 years, the Police Officers will start to pay the Employee Contribution to CalPers in a step-wise manner, with the city compensating them more at each step to make up for their payment responsibility. Since the City has been paying for not only the 9% EmployER contribution, but also for the 9% EmployEE contribution for several years, the net result after 2 years is the city will be paying only the 9% EmployER contribution and paying the Police 8% more than today’s salary. Their conclusion is that the City comes out 1% ahead. There’s also a puzzling 12.452% EPMC reporting cost which the City will be free of at the end of 2 years.

b) The Unit agreed to a 2-tier retirement system in which new hires will have to pay their own 9% contribution to CalPers, and their "First Step" of salary will be reduced by 5%. Their pension will pay 3%at 55, as compared with the current 3% at 50. That means that a Police Officer can now retire at 50 years old and get a pension of 3% of his last year’s salary (it might have been changed to an average of the last 3 years of employment) multiplied by the number of years worked.

c) Agreement to reduce "Persable" compensation by reducing their 144 hour annual holiday payment to 121.5 hours.

Public hearings
11.3 Downtown Rezonings. This is part of the Economic Development planning work, with the City initiating rezonings to prepare more available sites for trouble-free reoccupation or development. The 47 parcels located between 2nd and 3rd Streets between E Street and Brookwood are proposed to have their zoning changed to Office Commercial to bring them into compliance with the General Plan land Use Diagram.

See you there! Anne