Open Trench

Talking Trash, Part 1

Columnist: Bob Andrews
Jul, 2017 Issue

There’s really no end to the ways our various governments can extract more money from us, either directly or indirectly. I looked at my last two property tax bills and found the tax had gone up 6.5 percent from one year to the next, with a Prop 13 annual adjustment and two new school bond payments. The number of “voter approved taxes, taxing agency direct charges and special assessments” increased from 8 to 10, and we can look forward to number 11 when the whopping big Santa Rosa J.C. bond ($400+ million) hits the next round of tax bills.


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The Not So Smart Train

Columnist: Bob Andrews
May, 2017 Issue

Quite a few people have told me about being caught in traffic waiting at SMART’s 63 grade crossings as trains have been tested for the past months. It’s mid-March and I’m wondering (again) whether SMART will be providing train passenger service anytime soon. Will SMART’s latest prediction of “late Spring 2017” come true? It’s been almost eight-and-a-half years since voters approved Measure Q on the November 4, 2008 ballot.


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The Real Story Behind Tiny Homes

Columnist: Bob Andrews
Apr, 2017 Issue

For me, the very mention of tiny homes triggers alarm bells.

 I often wonder how much of “the real story” we get about various government projects. More than a year ago Sonoma County officials floated the idea of putting a cluster of “tiny homes” on county land in Santa Rosa for use by homeless veterans. For me, the very mention of tiny homes triggers alarm bells. Let me explain how this connects to “the real story.”


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Termination Liability Blues

Columnist: Bob Andrews
Jan, 2017 Issue

What happens if the CalPERS investments don’t earn 7.5 percent, as they haven’t in recent years?


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Are You Feeling Disabled

Columnist: Bob Andrews
Dec, 2016 Issue

Our lawmakers started with the laudable goal of making things more convenient for truly disabled persons.


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Its Time to Talk About Taxes

Columnist: Bob Andrews
Nov, 2016 Issue

With almost every request for tax increases, our leaders promise to spend the money on public safety, roads, schools and other community benefits.


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SMART versus the A Line, Part 2

Columnist: Bob Andrews
Oct, 2016 Issue

There's a monumental difference between the number of A Line trains actually running each day and the proposed number of daily SMART trains.


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Waiting for SMART? Take a Ride on the A Line.

Columnist: Bob Andrews
Sep, 2016 Issue

I don't think the proposed fare structure is SMART's biggest issue.


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Captain Obvious Researches Homelessness

Columnist: Bob Andrews
Jul, 2016 Issue

Homelessness was much less obvious in Sonoma and Healdsburg, our county’s most high-profile tourist destinations. I wondered why.


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Billion Dollar Potholes in Sonoma County Roads and Pensions

Columnist: Bob Andrews
Jun, 2016 Issue

And then there’s the truly gut-wrenching fact that Sonoma County has essentially guaranteed a 7.5 percent investment return on pension assets exceeding $2 billion.


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Sonoma County’s Unsustainable Pension Costs

Columnist: Bob Andrews
Dec, 2014 Issue

Bob Andrews’ last “Open Trench” column tackles Sonoma County’s ongoing pension cost problem.


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Moments of Clarity

Columnist: Bob Andrews
Nov, 2014 Issue

Bob takes a look back at some of his column’s “say what?” moments.


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Just Say “No” to the SRJC Bond Proposal

Columnist: Bob Andrews
Oct, 2014 Issue

Sonoma County tax proposals are getting out of control.


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Nothing Propinks Like Propinquity

Columnist: Bob Andrews
Sep, 2014 Issue

The “in crowd” has its hands firmly on Santa Rosa’s fiscal resources.


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A Few Voters Have Spoken

Columnist: Bob Andrews
Aug, 2014 Issue

Low voter turnout can be quite costly.


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A Never-Ending Story of Dysfunction

Columnist: Bob Andrews
Jul, 2014 Issue

A questionable verdict in the Efren Carrillo trial.


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The PISA Zone

Columnist: Bob Andrews
Jun, 2014 Issue

Why is the city of Santa Rosa rezoning properties to PISA status?


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The Ugly Underbelly of Zealous Regulation (Part 2)

Columnist: Bob Andrews
May, 2014 Issue

Bob Andrews continues his investigation of USDA inspection methods.


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The Ugly Underbelly of Zealous Regulation (Part 1)

Columnist: Bob Andrews
Apr, 2014 Issue

Bob Andrews investigates USDA inspection methods.


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Who Governs?

Columnist: Bob Andrews
Mar, 2014 Issue

What it takes to “lead” and what it takes to “govern” are often very different skills.


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Public Employee Pensions: Part 54

Columnist: Bob Andrews
Feb, 2014 Issue

Public employee pensions are out of control in Marin County, too.


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Taxes, More Taxes and Debt

Columnist: Bob Andrews
Jan, 2014 Issue

Sonoma County sure loves taxes and debt.


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More of the Same

Columnist: Bob Andrews
Dec, 2013 Issue

Is local government trying to pull the wool over our overtaxed eyes?


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A Tale of Two Counties

Columnist: Bob Andrews
Nov, 2013 Issue

Pension costs are bringing on the season of Darkness.


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Connecting the Dots (Part 2)

Columnist: Bob Andrews
Oct, 2013 Issue

Should fire departments become privatized?


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In this Issue

The Ancient Practice of Biodynamic Farming

Seeking stronger relationships with the Earth and ways to express truly unique terroirs, winemakers and vineyard owners across Napa and Sonoma are embracing biodynamics —“organics on stero...

Budding Business

The legalization of the cannabis market is predicted to generate more than $20 billion in U.S. sales, but rules and regulations are still in a state of flux....

Rocking the Wine World

Sonoma Cast Stone in Petaluma has been making concrete fermentation tanks for eight years. Owner Steve Rosenblatt started his company 20 years ago to create concrete for custom walls, countertops an...

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