Redwood Cafe needs your love

Over the past 30 years the Redwood cafe has hosted 100’s of fundraising events for others. Now is the time to help them.

Swearing in of new Petaluma City Council Members is tonight

A new city council makeup. Participate and encourage others to be civically engaged.

Turkey Trot & food drive a huge success – raffle winners announced

Dear Trotters!

First we thank our Sponsors who led the way for our excellent fund drive. SOMO Village, Traditional Medicinals, Lagunitas, Strauss Organics, Brewsters Beer Garden, Petaluma Market, Athletic Soles, ZFA Structural Engineers and Petaluma Oddfellows.

This virtual event and fundraiser was brought to you by MAD architecture, Aqus Community and the City of Petaluma.

You helped raise $5000 that went directly to the Redwood Empire Food Bank!
The canned food drive at Aqus Cafe was also a huge success bringing in 6 huge bins of food.

From a random online generator, the participating names were entered and multiplied if over $10 donation. The prizes are available for pick up at Aqus Cafe at 189 H Street, Petaluma and open from 8am to 6pm everyday.

Announcing this year’s winners!

Jessica Notheis – Lucy O’conner – Rene Casilli – Mellisa Byrne – Jared Vollmer – Jill White  – Kathleen O’Donnell  – Daniel Mulkey – Jeannette Dow  – Judy Lynch  – Jen Moratta  – Laura Grandcolas  – Cedony Farrar  – Pennylee Christensen  – Carlin Finke  – Marlene Cullen  – Elizabeth Manning  – Candice Aguirre  – Paul Siri

And if you are looking to have more fun please join us for this
year’s carol singing event on the 23rd….just a little different this year:

Mary, Chris, Kevin, Diane & John

Petaluma Postcard Pod – Glimpsing the Light

Howdy Podsters —  I suspect we are all at the end of our emotional ropes, trying to cope  with all the unknowns and broken routines that continue to frame our existence. That the Republican Enablers continue to challenge the un-contestable result of 2020 election is worrisome, though I think it will ultimately reflect very poorly on them.

But Biden and Harris won, and now we are have the arrival of a COVID-19 vaccine: these are the bright spots that glimmer as we try to navigate our daily lives. The holidays will be so different, tinted in shades of  Charlie Brown — but we glimpse the bright flashes of hope and light at the end of the tunnel. And so we hang on.

Then of course, soaking up whatever is left of our brains and energy, there’s the Runoff in Georgia, a scant four weeks away. The best way to help Biden and Harris succeed is to have a Blue Senate that’s on their side.

Not all of us have the bandwidth to write postcards right now, but here a few other ways to help out:

1).  Join this  this dynamite Zoom concert,  Georgia Voices for A BLue Senate, shared with us by Sue Sullivan and the group, 1,000 Grandmas ,-at  5 p.m. PCT, Sunday, Dec 13th join in the songs, sing along with  the chorus, donate what you can to keep fighting in Georgia, This is a joint venture with Stacey Abrams and so the money will be put to good use.  LInks: and here’s the link to the live feed on Facebook.
Bonnie Raitt, Rhiannon Giddens, our own Maria Muldaur — oh my gosh, it’s gonna be good! 5 p.m. PCT, Sunday, Dec 13th. I imagine you can view it afterwards, if you can’t make the time

2) Join in the phone banking — Julie Sherman writes “another way people can help GOTV for Georgia is phone banking.  …. Check out Indivisible Marin.

I’m surprised at how easy it is.

~ Julie

3) Or donate to these organizations, even a few shekels can help. Funds are used to support voter-outreach workers, who need PPE. room & board, and purchase billboards. advertising time. The whole ball of wax. Following info is retrieved from Gloria Bealer’s Postcard Sonoma County Newsletter:

However, if you are still eager to write postcards, there is time for one last round.   The turn-around is tight- cards need to be mailed by Friday,  Dec 18th — or in one case, by Dec 20th.

  • Writers can continue to contact for up to the deadline, quick service online addresses. Text JOIN to Abby The Address Bot at 484-275-2229‬
  • Or they can contact Indivisible Marin, which has a campaign for Georgia Voters with an extended deadline of Dec 20h.
  • OR if you prefer to work with The Pod, please email me right away  for addresses: Let me know if you want to pick up packets on The Porch (cards, stamps, addresses, script) — or if you’d like addresses delivered to you by email. We’ll work to get addresses and cards ready for you by the end of the weekend, either way.

We have no idea what campaigns will come up after the Georgia Runoff. Perhaps there’ll be a slowdown in political activity. a quiet time to rest and rejuvenate. But for sure, at some point, we’ll rev back into action to help secure Democrat wins at the polls in 2021.

This newsletter will be the way we reach out to you when the next campaign comes up. If you no longer want to receive emails, there’s an Unsubscribe button at the very bottom of this newsletter.

Here’s to a Happy Hanukkah, full of light and conversation, even if virtual — and
stay warm, stay writing, light some candles, dance in the rain when we get it and  let’s Flip the Senate BLUE!
Lakin & The Wranglers, Alice, Julie, Nancy and Sue

p.s. if you have any questions or concerns, please reply to this email. ~ LK

p.p.s — if you have any photos to share — of your current writing station or from Before Times at Aqus, send them to me! I’d like to put together an end-of-the-year photo album to share.

2021 is the year you are going to get solar!

Converting the sun’s energy into electricity is no longer a “thing” hobbyists, electrical engineers or early adopters do.  The solar industry has matured and landed in a place there if you want clean, cheaper, safer energy then get solar.

You are invited to an evening of Q&A all about Solar, hosted by John Crowley.
Learn about all of the options available to you.

“Within 8 to 10 years I predict that at least 80% of homes will have their own power system; solar panels with a power storage battery and will no longer be completely  dependent on PGE.”
– John Crowley


This is a virtual meeting via Zoom.   Please RSVP below. I will then send you the zoom link.

John Crowley, co owner, Aqus Cafe, for The Floathouse Petaluma

There is something truly amazing happening in the heart of Petaluma, something that is changing how our community and our cherished river interact. But it will take a little community input:

 Be part of the turning-base transformation!!!


River Town Racers are up to the challenge!

The annual Autumn Challenge, that is, where each boy and girl sets a goal for miles paddled in October, and then gets in the kayak and goes. Team members challenge you to sponsor your favorite athlete, or the entire club at
Funds raised every year support team travel to races, skills clinics, and new equipment for our growing club. At the same time, miles logged by athletes in the fall are important groundwork for developing young athletes’ strength and speed next spring. Please pledge now!

Martin J. Bennett – COVID-19 and California Farmworkers at Risk

A deepening COVID-19 crisis–now surging in most California agricultural counties–puts farmworkers in the pandemic’s crosshairs. Thousands of farm and packinghouse workers have contracted the virus in the agricultural counties of Imperial, Kern, Kings, Tulare, Merced, Stanislaus, San Joaquin, Monterey, Ventura. Farmworkers in the North Bay are at risk too.

These workers are the foundation of our food system. To avert catastrophe for workers and consumers, the federal and state governments must quickly adopt policies protecting the state’s farmworkers’ health and safety.

Even before COVID-9, farmworkers were amongst the state’s most vulnerable and impoverished workers.

Ninety percent of California farmworkers were born in Mexico, seven out of ten have just one employer, most farmworkers are married parents, and few migrate between California’s agricultural regions according to the 2018 Department of Labor National Agricultural Workers Survey.

The Economic Crisis and California Farm Labor

UC Davis economist Phillip Martin reports that the average California farmworker works 36 weeks annually, earning barely $20,500 per year; and only one-third received employer-provided health insurance. Half of those eligible rely on at least one public program, such as Medi-Cal or Food Stamps, but 60 percent of the state’s farmworkers lack work authorization and cannot receive any social safety net benefits, unemployment insurance, workman’s compensation, or federal stimulus checks.

The cost of housing is a major expense for California’s farmworkers. The vast majority rent from someone other than their employer, and for most, housing is unaffordable, taking 30-60 percent of their gross monthly income for rent.

A new PBS Frontline documentary about farmworkers, “COVID’s Hidden Toll,” aired in July—simultaneously, the California Institute of Rural Studies (CIRS), in Davis, published a new report analyzing COVID-19’s economic and health impacts on the state’s estimated 800,000 farmworkers.

The CIRS study is based upon 900 farmworker interviews in 21 counties, including Napa, Mendocino, and Lake counties. The investigation’s final report will include 600 more interviews.

CIRS researchers found that 100,000 agricultural jobs were lost by June–a 23 percent drop in total farm employment–due to lower demand from restaurants, schools, colleges, hotels, and sports arenas. Nearly half of all farmworkers experienced decreased work time and loss of income after the COVID-19 pandemic began in mid-March.

A San Joaquin County orchard worker told researchers: “We were out of work for two months … were evicted … had to find another place to live. We visit churches to also receive food … children studying at home… can get behind, and the cost of childcare has increased.”

COVID-19 Pandemic and Farmworker Health and Safety

Farmworkers are vigilant about the disease but daily confront dire challenges.

Ninety percent of farmworkers surveyed indicated that they were social distancing outside of work, wearing facial masks, washing hands frequently, and showering and changing clothes to prevent infecting their families. Yet the report estimates that Monterey County farmworkers are three times more likely to contract the virus than workers in other industries.

More than half of all farmworkers statewide reported that employers did not provide masks; one quarter indicated they received neither information about social distancing and best safety practices, nor if other workers were infected at their workplaces.

One-fifth of the farmworkers interviewed are indigenous (Triquis, Zapotecs, Mixtecs), who report not receiving COVID-19 information in their native language. A 2010 California Rural Legal Assistance study estimated that 165,000 indigenous farmworkers and their family members live in California.

Most farmworkers have underlying health conditions–such as persistent musculoskeletal injuries, diabetes, coronary artery disease, and respiratory illnesses like asthma and chronic bronchitis—due to years of strenuous physical labor and pesticides/toxic chemicals exposures, which may predispose them to contracting COVID-19.

One Salinas broccoli picker, and single mother of two, who is coping with cancer and diabetes told Frontline: “I have concerns about where I work because I don’t know if someone is sick and I feel insecure. If they were checking people before going to work, that would help me feel more safe and could work without worry. In these times, it’s necessity that makes us work despite the fear we have.”

Should they contract the virus, more than half of surveyed farmworkers indicated that their lack of health insurance and paid sick leave would be barriers to receiving medical treatment. A quarter suggested that their undocumented status prevented them from providing their name, address, and telephone to a clinic or physician.

A Kern County orchard worker stated, “I would be afraid to go to the hospital with my daughters because I could be blamed for neglect if I didn’t take them sooner. Then they would separate us and deport us.”

CIRS researchers concluded that poverty-level wages; the inability of farmworkers to social distance in crop work on broccoli, lettuce, and celery; inadequate workplace protection; minimal access to affordable health insurance; the cost of car ownership and the necessity to often carpool in packed vans; plus, overcrowded and unaffordable housing are the main causes for high infection rates among farmworkers.

A separate 2018 CIRS study found that two-thirds of Monterey farmworkers live in overcrowded conditions (more than one occupant per room whether a detached house, apartment, or mobile home). Dr. Max Cuevas, Salinas Clinica de Salud del Valle CEO, told the Fresno Bee: “If a farmworker gets sick, it can be difficult for them to isolate if they live in a house with multiple families and housing is a huge issue.”

Public Policy to Protect Farmworkers

Governor Gavin Newsom’s April Executive Order mandates two-week (80 hours) paid sick leave for all food sector workers affected by the virus—including farmworkers. In July, the Governor also announced new policy initiatives to protect farmworkers, including funding for free hotel rooms to
isolate and quarantine farmworkers; expanded access to workman’s compensation; and stepped-up agricultural Cal-OSHA enforcement, including interagency strike teams and random inspections.

But much more must be done to halt the spread of COVID-19 in California’s farm counties.

The CIRS report recommends urgent policy changes, including releasing county level data by occupation and industry; free farmworker testing; increased healthcare access regardless of immigration status; mandatory personal protective equipment supplied by farm operators; and health and safety training for workers in their primary language.

Also, expanded unemployment benefits, income supports for the undocumented to offset lost wages, and housing and childcare assistance are essential to curtail COVID-19 in agricultural counties.

Letters in July and August to the Governor from the legislature’s Latino Caucus explained that addressing the COVID-19 crisis in California farm communities requires establishing mobile testing stations near rural worksites, expansion of telehealth services to all agriculture regions, and prioritizing farmworker testing. Also, the state’s personal protective equipment surplus stockpile must be directed to the farm sector, immediate rental assistance is needed particularly for undocumented farmworkers, budget allocations for the California Farmworker Housing Assistance Tax Credit and the State Low-Income Housing Credit require substantial increases to fund farmworker housing, and Cal-OSHA must aggressively expand farmworker COVID-19 popular education and improve tracking of farmworker complaints. Assemblymen Robert Rivas (Democrat – Hollister) and Eduardo Garcia (Democrat – Coachella) have introduced the ‘Farmworker Relief Package’ to address these issues.

Moreover, Cal-OSHA enforcement efforts must be greatly expanded beyond the Governor’s recent request. Most importantly, according to Garret Brown, a retired Cal-OSHA staffer and coordinator of the Inside Cal-OSHA website, the agency is understaffed and has 53 unfilled compliance and safety health officers out of 246. California has one inspector for every 99,000 workers. In comparison, Oregon has one for inspector for every 22,000 workers. Cal-OSHA chief Doug Parker insists the agency is currently hiring but cautions that scaling-up to full capacity will take time.

California legislators are also urging the Governor to expedite the development of Cal-OSHA emergency COVID-19 health and safety standards “to set clear, enforceable metrics for employers to meet and compel reluctant businesses to take appropriate action to protect workers and the public.”

Furthermore, the CIRS farmworker interviews revealed widespread fear of employer retaliation if workers speak out about unsafe working conditions.

The Frontline documentary replays the cell phone video of an HR manager addressing a group of Salinas food processing employees, who had walked out after news spread that an employee tested positive. The manager tells the workers, “What’s happened here is not to be taken lightly. It is serious,” and if they did not return to work…”you could be fired.”

The North Bay has not yet experienced the widespread virus outbreaks among farm workers of the San Joaquin Valley, the Central Coast, and elsewhere. Still, troubling signs have appeared: according to Dr. Sundari Mase, Sonoma County’s health officer, seventy-five percent of all confirmed infections are Latinx, and 20 percent are Latinx agriculture and food processing workers. By late July two Sonoma County wineries had seen major outbreaks and 134 farmworkers had contracted the disease. Two of three County of Napa farmworker housing complexes closed due to confirmed COVID-19 infections, and dozens of Lake County farmworkers have tested positive.

Growers should study the CIRS report to ensure that they have implemented all possible measures to protect farmworkers and operate safely. These precautions include: free and frequent testing; daily access to facial masks that meet National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Standards (NIOSH); worker access to sanitary stations with sufficient soap and water and time-off every thirty minutes for hand washing; plus organizing the flow of work such that worker social distancing in the vineyards is possible.

The hundreds of ferocious wildfires ignited by lightning and thunder storms across the state in August only compound the precarious health and safety conditions of farmworkers. Cal-OSHA has approved a temporary standard for outdoor workers (extended through November). This rule requires that when the EPA Air Quality Index for fine particulate matter reaches an ‘unhealthy’ level (above 150) for more than one hour, growers must relocate workers indoors with filtered air or to another outdoor area where air quality is below 150, or workers must be trained and provided NIOSH approved respirators such as the N-95.

Enforcement of the Cal-OSHA wildfire smoke rule is challenging given Cal-OSHA understaffing, most farmworkers lack work authorization, and many do not speak English.

The United Farm Workers (UFW) polled their members on August 23rd, and 84 percent responded that they had not received N-95 masks from their employers. Agricultural commissioners in Monterey, Merced, and other farm counties reported shortages of N-95 masks.

Paid Sick Leave and Hazard Pay for Farmworkers

In addition to the Governor’s Executive Order for the food sector that mandates paid sick leave, both the City of Santa Rosa and the County of Sonoma recently approved two weeks emergency paid sick leave for any resident affected by the virus. Growers should inform all workers about the paid sick leave benefit and encourage employees to isolate or quarantine if they have symptoms or test positive.
The UFW sent a March open letter to growers, calling for hazard pay for farmworkers due to the health risks and potential virus exposure. The UFW pointed out that all Safeway workers, in 900 stores in 18 states plus distribution centers, received a $2 an hour hazard pay increase (ending in mid-June). No statewide organizations representing growers, such as the California Farm Bureau Federation, responded.
The wealth of wine country depends on farmworkers, who are at considerable risk. This Labor Day, as the historic pandemic harvest gears up, growers should honor and recognize farmworkers with a hazard pay raise of $2 an hour or more. Vintners must strictly comply with CDC guidelines, the Governor’s Executive Orders, Cal-OSHA standards, and the County’s health officer orders to protect farmworkers’ health and safety.

Martin J. Bennett is Instructor Emeritus of History at Santa Rosa Junior College, a policy and research analyst for UNITE HERE 2850, and a member of North Bay Jobs with Justice. Contact him at

Do you know that Petaluma has our own television and radio stations? We do!

Petaluma Community Access (PCA) has been running our television stations, manning the broadcast of our city meetings, and broadcasting content provided by our neighbors for nearly 25 years!
In 2017 we added radio to our repertoire, providing 24/7 broadcasts of music, health & wellness, and commentary on local issues.
There is NOWHERE else that you can listen to LOCAL voices on LOCAL issues and nowhere else that you can have your voice heard by THIS community.  Better than that, we don’t censor!
Our television and radio outlets are the voice created BY Petaluma FOR Petaluma.  PCA has a brief survey asking questions about what you know about us, what you like about us, and how we can serve you better.
Please answer these questions for us, but more importantly, share them with your friends and neighbors so that we can continue to strive to be the BEST we can be.
PCA loves Petaluma!!
Please take the survey: