Editor's Note: Solutions Journalism is a way of looking at problems and issues with an eye toward uncovering and explaining ways that communities have moved toward solving those problems. Find out more here.

Driven by community input, our current work is focused on the November 3 election. A key local issue in the election is a proposition supported by some community members to strengthen police oversight in Sonoma County.

That's why we were attracted to this story of a new approach to policing the police in Kansas City, Kansas and its surrounding Wyandotte County.


On October 1, the newly formed Community Integrity Unit in Wyandotte County, Kansas will begin to oversee investigations into police misbehavior. Nobody knows if it will be effective. Its budget is limited, its purview constrained. But the story of the creation of this office within the office of District Attorney Mark Dupree is instructive and provides a possible roadmap for other communities seeking to investigate and rein in police misconduct.
 
As communities throughout the country seek ways to make police accountable, the story in Kansas helps illuminate common issues, including: Who will conduct investigations into police misbehavior? When will those investigations result in criminal charges or disciplinary action? What is the role of police unions in shielding police from investigation and punishment?
 
What’s happening in Kansas fits into a national movement, with outposts from Philadelphia to San Francisco, where progressive and activist district attorneys are challenging police unions and others who believe that police can and should continue to monitor themselves, with limited oversight.
 
And here in Sonoma County, it brings into relief our own evolving solution to police misconduct. On the November 3rd ballot, the community can vote on a set of changes to strengthen the Independent Office of Law Enforcement Review and Outreach, a civilian review board that now has limited powers and funding.
 
Kansas City, Kansas: A Tale of Two Cities
 
Before spending a year in Kansas and Missouri in 2015, I wouldn't have known that Kansas City, Missouri and Kansas City, Kansas (KCK) are twin cities. KCK is smaller and has fewer resources, as well as higher rates of poverty. KCK and surrounding Wyandotte County, Kan. are governed as a unitary whole. The mayor also holds the title of CEO of the unified government. The county is made up of about 60 percent people of color, similar to the city. In a phrase that is of less and less utility, the city and county are said to be "majority minority."
 
As elsewhere, the tidal wave of reform to the justice system in Wyandotte County emerged out of a horrific set of circumstances, which are still playing out in court. The story starts with two men: Roger Golubski, a 35-year veteran of the Kansas City, Kan. police department; and Lamonte McIntyre, charged with a double murder in 1994 at age 17, and exonerated after serving 23 years in prison.
 
On April 15, 1994, two men are shot as they sit in a car on a KCK street.
 
Lamonte SmilingUndated photo of Lamonte McIntyre in prison. Credit: Cheryl Pilate/Midwest Innocence ProjectThe investigation of that double homicide, as described by the Midwest Innocence Project (MIP), was “hasty and superficial… [P]olice spent less than 20 minutes interviewing witnesses.” 
 
Lamonte McIntyre was scooped up within hours. The four-day trial was held that fall when he was 18, an adult in the eyes of the law. McIntyre was sentenced to two life terms. Summing up the deficiencies in the case, the MIP outlined the following circumstances:
 
• No physical evidence ever linked McIntyre to the crime.
• Lamonte McIntyre did not know the victims.
• The state presented no evidence of motive.
• No weapon was found linking McIntyre to the victims.
• No requests were made for search warrants of Lamonte’s home, person, or clothing.
 
Why was McIntrye arrested at all? According to Lamonte McIntyre’s mother, Rosie, Kansas City, Kan. detective Roger Golubski had “forced her into a sexual act in his office years before the murders, threatening to arrest her boyfriend if she refused. She had rebuffed his efforts at a continuing relationship.” Her son was arrested to punish her, she claims.

Apparently, this was detective Golubski’s pattern and practice. In court filings connected with the McIntyre case, multiple women have come forward to name Golubski as a serial predator, who demanded sex from women on the street, while threatening to charge them or their loved ones with prostitution or drug offenses if they didn’t submit. 

Who else knew about Golubski’s conduct? Many others, on the force and in the community.

Before he knew the extent of Golubski’s misbehavior, Kansas City, Kan. pastor Rick Behrens, of the Grandview Park Presbyterian Church, acting as a volunteer chaplain, stood by the side of the detective as the officer delivered news of the death of a loved one to a grieving mom. Rather than comforting the woman, the detective berated her as “part of the system” that led to the death of her son in police custody.

Behrens quit as chaplain soon after, affronted by Golubski's abusive approach. And he heard more about the cop in the years that followed.

rick behrensKansas City, Kan. pastor Rick Behrens. Courtesy: Rick Behrens"The corruption runs pretty deep," Behrens told me by phone. “[E]veryone in the department knew about what [Golubski] did, which is, he would extort sexual favors from young Black women. Abused and raped Black women. And subsequently put a lot of young Black men in jail as retaliation for women who wouldn't curry his favors." 

As if the pileup of mistakes and malfeasance in the McIntrye trial wasn’t enough, the presiding judge had had a previous romantic relationship with the prosecutor, a fact which was never disclosed at trial. And McIntyre's representation, including at his original trial, was feeble.
 
The first elected Black DA in Kansas
 
The McIntryre case “met us at the front door,” says Mark Dupree, when he began work as district attorney of the Wyandotte/KCK unified government after his election in 2016. Dupree is the first African American to hold the position of elected district attorney in the state of Kansas.
 
For seven months Dupree reviewed the case, and investigated whether his office, under previous management, had violated McIntyre’s rights by withholding evidence or other essential information or threatening witnesses. In the end, Dupree dropped the charges, asserting that a “manifest injustice” had been done to McIntyre during the trial and in the more than two decades of his incarceration that followed.
 
McIntyre walked free on October 13, 2017. In 2020, he was awarded $1.5 million from the state of Kansas for his wrongful incarceration, based on a formula that pays those wrongfully imprisoned about $65,000 per year. Civil lawsuits filed by his family are ongoing.
 
This summer, 26 years after the murder and trial, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation turned over information it had uncovered about detective Golubski to the FBI, since most of his alleged crimes had taken place outside the state statute of limitations. Golubski had retired at the rank of captain (with a full pension) from the KCK force in 2010. He went on to work for a nearby police department for an additional five years.  
 
dupree typing smWyandotte County DA Mark Dupree. Credit: Jonathan Carter“When [the McIntyre] case was done,” said Mark Dupree in a phone interview, “it dawned on me — having grown up in this county my entire life in the inner city, I knew that there were concerns of corruption, and there were concerns of mishandling of cases. At the end of the day, my thought was, if there is one individual that is wrongfully incarcerated, there have to be more.
 
“Sadly, it is something the numbers show us with the amount of exonerations we find in our country. That is what launched the Conviction Integrity Unit,” in 2018.
 
In short, the DA’s Conviction Integrity Unit seeks to avoid more cases like that of Lamonte McIntyre. Its key goal is, according to Dupree, “to build trust with the community, who, many of them came out during this McIntyre time, to say: Look, the streets talk, we know he didn’t do it; the victim’s family said they know he didn’t do it; and everyone knew about some of the allegations of corruption concerning this office and the police department.
 
“That is what launched the Conviction Integrity Unit, to give the community and the family members of wrongfully accused individuals an outlet to be able to bring forth these claims.”
 
After all, the McIntyre case had been considered by courts numerous times since his conviction. Reopening the case was always avoided on procedural grounds, with the core issues never presented or discussed.
 
The Conviction Integrity Unit gives those seeking to reopen cases that might be tainted by misconduct, by either the police or prosecutors, the chance to “present your case, present that information to our office, so we can review it, we can investigate it, and we can come to a determination on whether or not we are in agreement with the defendant that there may have been some kind of foul play or manifest injustice,” says Dupree. The unit has examined about 60 cases as of this summer.
 
“And that thought process has moved us from just looking at old cases, to transparency, integrity and community trust.”
 
But there was more work to be done, Dupree knew, after the spring and summer of 2020. “The George Floyd situation opened up our county and country to a reality that there are some very systematic divides within our communities, particularly communities of color.”
 
Investigating bad convictions was one thing. But what would the community do in a case like that of George Floyd, or to bring it closer to home, how could it rein in an officer who acted with the apparent impunity of a Roger Golubski?
 
And as the Conviction Integrity Unit began to see some success, activists in the community, including a powerful progressive group called the Metro Organization for Racial and Economic Equity (MORE2) sensed an opening. 
 
According to reporter Katie Bernard of the Kansas City Star, the group presented officials with three demands:
 
• The firing of KCK police chief Tony Ziegler, a former partner of Roger Golubski, who many believed knew about the detective’s crimes;
• The creation of a bilingual (Spanish/English) hotline to report police misconduct; and
• The need for an independent office to evaluate claims of police misbehavior.
 
Ziegler didn’t give the county administrator, his boss, the opportunity to fire him. Retiring in 2019, he said proudly: "Serving as a police officer is one of the noblest callings a person can answer and I encourage our citizens to consider a career in law enforcement with our Department. Be the change you want to see!" 
 
After Ziegler left office, progressive groups shifted their demand to ask for a voice in the selection of the next police chief.
 
And with the death of George Floyd on May 25, the Kansas City, Kan. DA knew it was time to accelerate his plan that the Conviction Integrity Unit should become an office that could also field and investigate complaints against police officers.
 
After all, says Mark Dupree, “the George Floyd situation opened up a reality that there is a complete distrust — I shouldn't say complete — there is a lack of trust, specifically when you're dealing with communities of color and law enforcement.
 
“And here's the reality — when we say law enforcement that includes police, that includes district attorneys, that includes judges and so on and so forth. And it behooves all of us to play a part in that.” 
 
Simply put, he could no longer do his job if there was no way to improve police accountability.
 
dupree lawbook smWyandotte County DA Mark Dupree. Credit: Jonathan CarterCurr Currently, in Wyandotte County, a community member’s complaint about a police officer goes to the agency that employs him or her, which makes a determination about what to do next. (In addition to KCK, several communities in Wyandotte County have their own law enforcement agencies.) There are Internal Affairs units that investigate police misconduct. And when they need outside help, nearby police agencies are called in, with the thought that they will be neutral.
 
Dupree’s main thought was this: How could the community feel confident that complaining to the police agency that employs a rogue law enforcement officer would result in a fair investigation? 
 
“Going back to George Floyd – we find the main officer in that case [Derek Chauvin] had more than a dozen excessive force and community complaints, but nobody knew about these things. 
 
“Here it is: you cannot hold officers accountable for their actions if their actions are hidden by their agency. And so these complaints, and the excessive force that these agencies bring to light, if this interoffice or internal affairs process shields the community from knowing all of what's happening on these things, we are not able to hold this officer accountable.
 
"And maybe, just maybe, if the community knew there in Minnesota about this officer, maybe George Floyd would not have died,” Dupree says.
 
His solution? A “transparent and clear process to give everyone the opportunity to know what's happening, to deal with what's happening, but also to give safeguards to our officers, because we don't want them to feel they are continuously being jumped on. We just want them to feel what everyone else feels, which is accountability for your actions.”
 
And so Dupree developed a plan to turn the Conviction Integrity Unit into the Community Integrity Unit, adding a mandate to investigate police misconduct. 
 
“With that process,” he says, “we do the investigation. We have certified law enforcement we are hiring to actually do that investigation. The agency may get the complaint — we have multiple agencies here in our county. They will have the opportunity to sit in on the investigation. They will be able to look over the shoulder to see what's happening and going on, and ultimately, we will provide [a] report — based off the recordings, any video footage, any witnesses.”
 
The new unit will file its report, and at that point, "if there is a crime that is committed, my office will file charges, as we usually do.
 
“But if we don't find there is a crime, however, if we find this was some kind of misconduct, that information is given to the chief of whatever agency, for that agency to deal with them administratively.”
 
The focus is on the unit's independence, so the community "can hopefully trust that the outcome holds integrity rather than the 'home cooking' of someone in that same agency doing that investigation."
 
Is this a comprehensive solution to the problem of police misconduct in Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas? Hardly. The budget, though approved unanimously by the county Board of Commissioners, is modest. County leaders agreed to 1.5 new positions for the office, allocating $48,000 for the last quarter of 2020 so the unit can begin work on October 1, and $165,000 in 2021.
 
Further, once an investigation passes the threshold of misdemeanor conduct by a police officer, the Community Integrity Unit still plans to bring in help. When asked about this by email, Dupree says: “The CIU will investigate all cases that come in the door; however, when the evidence shows a possible felony crime, we will follow the protocols of the police agencies to bring an additional investigating agency alongside us to investigate the situation.  Oftentimes that is agencies such as KBI (Kansas Bureau of Investigation), Topeka police department and others.”  
 
In other words, not so different from before the new unit was created.
 
Another inherent weakness of the system is that, as an elected DA, Dupree needs to face the voters every four years. I spoke with him just after his success this summer in the Democratic primary, where he defeated Kristiane Bryant, a candidate backed by the local police union, with 54.5 percent of the vote. Since no Republican has filed to run against him, he'll be sworn in for his second term in January.
 
I asked, perhaps infelicitously, whether his attempts to rein in misconduct by the police put a “target on [his] back,” subjecting him to a challenge at the ballot box. 
 
It did, he said. "But I would simply add that target has been on my back since I won the first term. And it became more apparent to the community with George Floyd and with this election because, you’re right, there is no doubt if someone else was in this position, they would go back to that good old boy way where officers can investigate themselves. Officers can deal with their own investigations concerning shootings; there is no real transparency; we just trust each other."
 
Since he took over the DA's office, Dupree says, "I've had to fight in private with the Fraternal Order of Police [the local police union], who came out against me on multiple times throughout the first term, writing the attorney general, trying to strip me of my power, saying I need oversight.
 
[Multiple requests to the Kansas City, Kan. Fraternal Order of Police for comment received no response.]
 
"Everything that they threw at me has never been done to any prosecutor in the state of Kansas, ever before. But when you have someone who is being disciplined and focused on justice and transparency, that target doesn't go anywhere.
 
"So, do I think I continue to have a target on my back, absolutely, but that target is a target I wear proudly for justice.
 
"Because we have to make sure that the community members – not just the police, not just those who are friends with the mayor, not just those who are the rich and powerful in our county, but everyone from the inner city to the suburbs – feel they are being treated fair and just and protected by the entire criminal justice system."
 
In looking at Mark Dupree's prospective solution to police accountability, we need to ask: is this something specific to circumstances in Kansas City? I called the newly-elected San Francisco DA Chesa Boudin to ask him that question.

A new district attorney in San Francisco takes the lead on police accountability. He knows this will affect his relationship with local cops, and warns that police unions must be kept from meddling in DA races

Chesa Boudin smSan Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin. Courtesy: SF DA“There is not a simple answer. There is not a one size fits all solution. There is not a magic bullet… And what will work in San Francisco is very different than what will work in, say, Sonoma County or in a different state,” says Chesa Boudin, in a telephone interview.

“You need someone who has the meaningful capacity to investigate" possible crimes committed by police. "And in most jurisdictions, as in San Francisco, the police - the very subject of investigation in this category of potential crime — are the body that do probably 99 percent of the investigative work for the District Attorney’s office.

"And so, having an independent District Attorney, with the political will or courage, to consider filing charges against a police officer, against someone from the very department they rely on as investigators and witnesses in virtually every case they file, is not enough. 

"You still need someone to show up at the scene and do an independent investigation and preserve evidence." This is possible in the 47 square miles of the City and County of San Francisco in ways it would be difficult in any larger jurisdiction, Boudin says. (The area of Wyandotte County is about three times larger)

[Related: San Francisco DA Describes Dilemma When Investigating Law Enforcement]

Just since he was sworn in as DA in January 2020, Boudin has instituted the following reforms:

  • Prosecutors must review evidence before charging anyone with resisting or obstructing an officer;
  • Officers who have committed serious misconduct will not be the lone voice in testifying against defendants;
  • Victims of police violence, just like victims of violence not involving police, will be compensated by San Francisco.

 “We had a very ambitious campaign platform and we made a lot of specific, concrete promises. We have been able to implement many of the things we committed to do, many of the things that the voters of San Francisco elected me to do. I’m a glass half full kind of guy, but I also focus very much on the things we promise we would do that we haven’t had time or the ability to do.

“It’s been a very productive first eight months or so in office, and we’ve implemented a number of policies that are very important to this issue of police accountability. And supporting victims, even victims of police violence.”

Hanging over it all is the role of police unions.

"I think up until recently [this was] an under-appreciated issue," says Boudin. "I’ve been spearheading, in partnership with a couple of other elected DAs and former district attorney George Gascon, an effort in California to persuade the state bar to implement an ethical rule prohibiting district attorney candidates from accepting direct contributions or political support from police unions to cure this conflict of interest that your question is getting at. 

“We know that about 95 percent of elected district attorneys in this country have the support, financial and political, of local police unions when they win their election. And we know that if you don’t do what the unions want there is a very serious price to pay. They spend huge amounts of money, they engage, in some jurisdictions, in really dubious electoral practices, and they are a critical partner in being successful as an administrator of an office.”

Police unions, says Boudin, have a "literal stranglehold on the political process, especially when it comes to district attorney races. And it’s a huge problem when it comes to both the actual independence and the appearance of independence in investigations into police officer misconduct.

“And so it’s not just the threat that they will spend money against you, or endorse your opponent. It’s not just the threat of the millions of dollars in attack ads that are a reality in places like Los Angeles." During his campaign, Boudin says, "[t]hey spent nearly a million dollars attacking me in San Francisco."

What's at stake, according to the DA, is his ability to do his job. And he sees evidence that local police unions are interfering in his office's work, "divid[ing] my office from one of our critical partners in investigating criminal conduct and presenting evidence of criminal conduct to courts and to juries."

"It’s a problem on a wide range of different fronts," he says, "all of which collectively and individually undermine the public trust in these critical institutions that we lead and that we are required to guide towards justice."

-------
Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled the name of Roger Golubski.
 
 
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Sonoma County teens design quarantine mural

by Tessa Paoli
Santa Rosa-based art organization Artstart's Shelter in Place Mural. (photo courtesy of Jennifer Tatum). COVID has affected everyone, old and young. But for teenagers, being stuck at home has been especially challenging and often painful. That's why…
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Mar 29, 2021

COVID-19 easing, while vaccine distribution hits bottleneck

by Marc Albert
By Marc Albert Improving data suggests vaccines are gaining the upper hand and COVID-19 related restrictions across Sonoma County may be eased as soon as next week. Yet troubling signs elsewhere suggest the pandemic is far from over. Among those 75…
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Mar 24, 2021

New Data Shows an Uptick in Fatal Drug Overdoses

by Tessa Paoli
COVID-19 numbers are on the decline after Sonoma County moved into the state’s red tier a week and a half ago, but communities are facing other types of loss since the start of the pandemic. Sonoma County’s made progress in keeping case numbers low…
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Mar 19, 2021

Abalone season cancelled, at least until 2026

by Marc Albert
By Marc Albert With wild abalone populations decimated by a string of environmental setbacks, besides over-fishing. State officials reiterated Friday that recreational abalone fishing will be entirely forbidden this year. And that the fishery will…
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Mar 19, 2021

Sonoma likely facing challenging drought

by Marc Albert
One of the driest winters on record locally, may cause serious water issues this summerBy Marc Albert The rainy season has hardly been generous. California’s two largest reservoirs are less full than they should be. While the statewide situation is…
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Mar 17, 2021

Sonoma County schools planning April return to campus

by Greta Mart
About 70,000 school students across Sonoma County are heading back to classrooms in April. So far, 47 schools across Sonoma County have the green light to reopen soon to a hybrid model, said county supervisor Susan Gorin. “A list of local schools…
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Mar 12, 2021

Covid Restrictions to Ease Sunday

by Tessa Paoli
As predicted, declining new COVID-19 infections and other metrics will allow Sonoma County to ease pandemic-related restrictions this weekend. KRCB's Marc Albert has our story: The County will move into the so-called ‘red tier’ from the more…
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Mar 12, 2021

The Power of Art for Vaccine Outreach

by Tessa Paoli
Advocates, artists, healthcare professionals and residents gathered in Santa Rosa's Roseland Neighborhood on Valentines Day to showcase and pass out art about the Vaccine. (Photo courtesy of Isabel Lopez) West County Health Centers hired Isabel…
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Mar 10, 2021

Some COVID-19 restrictions may be lifted as soon as Sunday

by Marc Albert
By Marc Albert Sonoma County is on the brink of being able to lift some pandemic-related restrictions….as soon as this weekend. That could mean cinemas, gyms, museums, zoos, and restaurants could reopen, though none at full capacity. Orders limiting…
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Mar 10, 2021

Sonoma schools readying classrooms for resumption of classes

by Marc Albert
Sonoma County schools are preparing for students’ return to campuses. Credit: “Courtesy of SCOE With vaccines more available, cases waning and the ink dry on a 6.6 billion dollar state plan, Sonoma County schools are preparing to resume in-person…
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Mar 05, 2021

Santa Rosa Public Schools Plan Return To Classrooms April 1

by Tessa Paoli
Santa Rosa’s public school district and its teacher's union have agreed on a plan for getting kids back into classrooms on April 1. The tentative deal includes schedules, safety protocols and a timeline for teachers to access both​ doses of the…
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Mar 03, 2021

Inching closer to the red tier

by Tessa Paoli
Since August, Sonoma County’s been stuck in the state’s most restrictive tier in terms of COVID-19 recovery. But the possibility of opening up the economy a bit more is finally possible. Sonoma’s one of four Bay Area counties still in the purple…
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Mar 02, 2021

Santa Rosa Clears a Large Homeless Encampment

by Tessa Paoli
Dozens of people living in Santa Rosa’s largest homeless encampment were forced to pack up and leave Tuesday morning. It marks Santa Rosas’s second encampment clearance in the past week. Activists showed up before sunrise to protest the clearing of…
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Feb 26, 2021

County Postpones Vaccine Appointments Due to Scarcity

by Tessa Paoli
Next week, Sonoma County is suspending all first dose vaccine appointments due to supply shortage. But the county will keep second dose appointments for both the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines. Sonoma County has been allocated 7,680 doses for…
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Feb 24, 2021

The County is Nervous about Blue Shield's Vaccine Takeover

by Tessa Paoli
On March 7, Blue Shield of California will start administering Sonoma County’s vaccine rollout. The nonprofit insurer will take over the data collection and decide how many doses each provider receives. They’ll also streamline the sign-up process,…
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Feb 19, 2021

County Shifts Vaccine Priority to 65 and Up and Food Workers

by Tessa Paoli
On Monday, residents 65 and older, along with food manufacturing, grocery store and restaurant workers will be eligible for a vaccine at one of the county-supported clinics. Prioritization will be given to those with server illnesses, such as cancer…
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Feb 17, 2021

The County Still Faces a Vaccine Shortage

by Tessa Paoli
Two months into Sonoma County’s vaccine rollout, 19% of the adult population has received at least one dose. The county is keeping up with other Bay Area counties in vaccinating residents and has opened up dozens of clinics, but the biggest problem…
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Feb 10, 2021

The County Reaches for More Vaccine Data

by Tessa Paoli
Officials say Sonoma is administering vaccine doses at a faster rate than similarly sized counties. On February 10, officials announced the county has vaccinated nearly 50 percent of its residents who are 75 and older. But because of holes in…
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Feb 09, 2021

The County Compromises on Eviction Limitations

by Tessa Paoli
On February 9, Sonoma’s Board of Supervisors voted to place more limitations on evictions during COVID-19. The amendment limits evictions to extreme circumstances, like when landlords can prove their tenants pose an imminent threat or danger, or…
Feb 06, 2021

Sonoma County Extends Stay-At-Home Order

by mark prell
State public health officials have extended a Stay-Home Order for the 11-county Bay Area region, including Sonoma County. The move comes as COVID-19 cases continue to rise and ICU capacity for the larger Bay Area region remains below 15%. The order…
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Feb 03, 2021

The County Promises an Equitable Vaccine Rollout

by Tessa Paoli
Earlier this week Sonoma County reaffirmed its commitment to vaccinate the oldest seniors first, those 75 and older. Younger seniors were told to be patient, along with essential workers whose communities have been gravely affected by COVID-19. The…
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Feb 03, 2021

What We Need to Know: COVID in Sonoma County

by Tessa Paoli
What are the current county restrictions? Sonoma County is currently in the orange tier of the California’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy. This is the second least restrictive tier and indicates that COVID-19 transmission is moderate. In the orange…
Nurses protesting outside of Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital. Photo courtesy of the California Nurses Association.
Jan 31, 2021

Santa Rosa Nurses Demand Safe Staffing

by Tessa Paoli
UPDATE: Earlier this week California’s Department of Public Health halted the staffing waivers. The State says they will not accept any new applications and all approved waivers will expire February 8, unless a hospital can prove “unprecedented…
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Jan 27, 2021

Sonoma County Opens its First Clinic for Oldest Seniors

by Tessa Paoli
Sonoma County is following the state’s guidance to prioritize seniors ages 75 and up in its vaccine rollout. While there’s progress and hope in the air, there’s also a lot of confusion and frustration about when and where people can actually get a…
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Jan 21, 2021

County Strategizes Reopening Schools

by Tessa Paoli
Covid-19 is rampant in Sonoma County and spreading faster than ever, which means kids are still stuck at home. While vaccines are being rolled out, the question about when kids will be able to go back to school is still up in the air. KRCB’s Tessa…
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Jan 13, 2021

PBS Employee Makes Controversial Statements on Hidden Camera

by Darren LaShelle
Julian Wyllie of CURRENT news reports in a story entitled "PBS Distances Itself from Former Staff Attorney Ensnared in Project Veritas Sting," that Project Veritas, a group founded by conservative activist James O’Keefe, has released a video of a…
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Dec 06, 2020

Understanding the New Regional Stay-At-Home Orders

by Darren LaShelle
Regional Stay Home Orders will go into effect within 24 hours in regions with less than 15% ICU availability, and prohibits private gatherings of any size, closes most businesses and services except for critical infrastructure and retail, and…
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Nov 20, 2020

Radio Special: Democracy In Santa Rosa's First District

by Adia White
In 2020, for the first time, residents of Southwest Santa Rosa voted for a city council member to represent their community. The election gave more power to historically disenfranchised neighborhoods in Santa Rosa. How will decades of inequity be…
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Nov 11, 2020

Rohnert Park Welcomes Three New Council Members

by Adia White
Rohnert Park has three new city council members. The wins also mean there will be more diversity on what was formerly an all-white council. One of the newcomers is Jackie Elward who won against long-time council member Jake Mackenzie. KRCB News…
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Nov 09, 2020

‘She’s From Oakland!’ Photos Capture Bay Area Celebrations of Biden-Harris Win

by Adia White
By Anne Wernikoff November 8, 2020 In the corner of California where Vice President-elect Kamala Harris grew up and launched her political career, residents cheered, danced, honked horns, donned American flags and popped champagne to celebrate the…
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Nov 05, 2020

California Protects Homeowners From Having Fire Insurance Dropped — Again

by Adia White
By James Bikales November 5, 2020 As this year’s historic wildfire season winds down, Californians living in fire-prone territory got temporary relief from another threat: they can’t lose their homeowners’ insurance policies for another year.…
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Nov 02, 2020

Slated For Deception? Beware of All Those Glossy Mailers Telling You How to Vote

by Adia White
By Ben Christopher, CalMatters Updated: Nov. 2, 2020 Amid the torrent of laminated campaign ads churning through the postal system this season, the slate mailer stands out as a perennial — and many say unseemly — California political tradition that…
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Oct 21, 2020

Election 2020: Results, Voter Guides and More

by Adia White
By NorCal News Staff Looking for election results? We've put together key resources to help you find the information you need past election night. Find local news updates, live updated results, and interviews with experts looking ahead. California…
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Oct 16, 2020

Santa Rosa Metro Chamber Hosts City Council Candidate Forum

by Adia White
NorCal News Team Oct. 16, 2020 At the end of September, the Santa Rosa Metro Chamber hosted a forum with city council candidates from districts 1, 3, 5, and 7. Listen to the forum below. Participating candidates: Eddie Alvarez - District 1 Duane De…
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Oct 13, 2020

Annual State of the Latino Community Covers Gaps in Home Ownership

by Adia White
Sonoma County leadership organization, Los Cien, hosts an annual forum on the state of the Latino community. The topic this year was "Re-imagining Sonoma County Post Pandemic". Panelists focused on equity gaps in homeownership and how to fix them.…
Oct 02, 2020

SCHOOL CLOSURES for Thursday, October 1 & Friday, October 2, 2020…

by mark prell
The following school districts are confirmed to be closed through Friday, October 2, due to fire threat and evacuation: Bennett Valley Union School District (no distance learning) Kenwood School District (no distance learning) Rincon Valley Union…
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Oct 01, 2020

Photojournalist Describes Monday Night's Firefight

by Adia White
Firefighters, law enforcement and others working to evacuate residents were all on the scene as the Glass fire made a fast run toward the city of Santa Rosa on Sunday night. Also out during those late hours was Erik Castro, a freelance…
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Sep 30, 2020

Evacuation Orders Lifted for Some Santa Rosa Neighborhoods

by mark prell
Cal Fire announced Tuesday at 3:15 pm, evacuation orders are lifted for the following areas in Santa Rosa: All of Summerfield All of Spring Lake Northeast 1 Northeast 3/Middle Rincon Certain parts of the Calistoga-South/Skyhawk communities: west and…
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Sep 29, 2020

Sonoma County Learns From Past Botched Care Home Evacuations

by Adia White
Sonoma County Supervisor Shirlee Zane has led the outreach effort to ensure that residents are getting the mental health support they need. She’s also been working to ensure that those housed at care facilities are evacuated safely and with ample…
Sep 29, 2020

Watch Cal Fire and Sonoma County's Glass Fire Updates

by Adia White
Sonoma County and Cal Fire host a joint press conference on the Glass Incident every evening at 5 p.m. Watch the press conferences here at 5 p.m. or on our facebook page @norcalpublic. . This article will update with the most recent press conference…
Sep 29, 2020

Sonoma County Glass Fire Evacuation Map: Updated Live

by Adia White
Monitor evacuation warnings and orders for the Glass Fire burning in Sonoma County. Please note that the map below is typically updated 15- 20 minutes after a Nixle evacuation alert is sent out. Sign up for Nixle by texting your zip code to 888-777.…
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Sep 11, 2020

Sonoma County Supervisors Vote on 2020-2021 Budget

by Adia White
The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors is expected to finalize the county’s 2020-2021 budget today. Supervisors faced a 46-million-dollar deficit and spent Wednesday discussing where to make cuts. KRCB’s Adia White spoke with Board Chair Susan Gorin…
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Sep 02, 2020

Conversations on Race Series Addresses Policy Reform (Aired: September 3, 2020)

by Adia White
Community Action Partnership of Sonoma County has been hosting weekly conversations to discuss racism in our community. In Monday’s conversation, CAP's Communications Manager, Marcus Clarke, spoke with Sheba Person-Whitley, Executive Director of the…
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Aug 28, 2020

The West Is Burning, So California Struggles To Find Help Fighting Its Wildfires

by Adia White
BY JULIE CART , CALMATTERS AUGUST 28, 2020 California’s wildfire resources are the envy of the world: It owns the most extensive fleet of firefighting aircraft, and the largest and best-equipped crews. Yet, already this year, CalFire can’t keep up…
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Aug 27, 2020

Kaiser Begins Phase 3 COVID-19 Vaccine Trial in Northern California

by Adia White
Northern California residents can now join the efforts to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. Kaiser Permanente began recruiting participants for an advanced clinical vaccine trial at the beginning of August. Dr. Nicola Klein, Director of the Kaiser…
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Aug 26, 2020

Crew Shortage Reveals California's Reliance on Incarcerated Firefighters

by Adia White
California’s efforts to fight destructive fires across the state were hampered this year by an unexpected circumstance. Coronavirus precautions made inmate crews a less reliable source of labor. This system has long been criticized, as their pay…
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Aug 24, 2020

Farmworkers Risk Hazardous Air to Continue the Harvest

by Adia White
The LNU Lightning Complex Fires broke out in Napa and Sonoma Counties during this year’s peak grape harvest season. Reports are now surfacing that vineyard workers are being asked to continue the harvest despite poor air quality. KRCB’s Adia White…
Aug 21, 2020

Timely Film Tells Story of Napa, Sonoma Essential Workers

by Steve Mencher
In a film now available on the web and through KQED's series Truly, CA, Eva Rendle explores the aftermath of the 2017 Wine Country Fires, and their impact on agricultural workers and others at the bottom of the pay scale in our divided and unequal…
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Aug 20, 2020

Concern Workers Are Being Asked To Harvest Despite Smoke

by Adia White
By NorCal News Staff August 20, 2020 During the 2019 Kincade Fire and 2017 Wine Country Fires, workers were asked to continue to work outdoors despite hazardous conditions. Often, they were not given masks. This concern is again surfacing as the…
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Aug 19, 2020

Sonoma County Reassures Voters Ahead of Election

by Adia White
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has agreed to suspend changes to the USPS as 20 States announced plans to file a federal lawsuit. The states behind the lawsuit say these changes would disrupt mail service ahead of the November Election. KRCB’s Adia…
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Aug 19, 2020

In Sebastopol, Out in the Streets for the Post Office

by Steve Mencher
Our roving photographer Diane Askew was in Sebastopol Monday, recording the demonstration there at the local post office. Those who showed up are watching carefully as the president says he may be delaying the mail to thwart voters. Hearings are…
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Aug 18, 2020

Sonoma County Celebrates Centennial Of Women's Suffrage

by Adia White
Tuesday marked the centennial of the ratification of the 19th amendment, granting women the right to vote. But there is still much work to be done to increase voter enfranchisment. Events are planned throughout the week. KRCB’s Adia White spoke with…
Aug 18, 2020

Make Your Voice Count! Community Meeting Sept. 9, 7:00 pm

by Steve Mencher
In cooperation with Community Action Partnership, Sonoma County; the League of Women Voters, Sonoma County; and Los Cien; Northern California Public Media is helping lead a virtual Town Hall on Wednesday, September 9 from 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm for…
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Aug 17, 2020

Officials Urge Residents to Prepare for High Fire Conditions

by Adia White
As the dog days of summer roll by, residents of Sonoma County can't help but worry about fire season. This year’s conditions are especially concerning, with recent temperatures soaring into the triple digits. KRCB’s Nate Charles has the story. We…
Aug 17, 2020

Trump Withheld Calif. Wildfire Aid Says Former DHS Official

by Steve Mencher
In a new video released on the eve of the Democratic convention, a top ranking former official in the Trump Department of Homeland Security says that the president told FEMA to withhold aid to California during the 2017 wildfires. "He was so…
Aug 17, 2020

Vox Video on Changing Approaches to Election Coverage

by Steve Mencher
In July, Northern California Public Media had the chance to attend a workshop on how journalists are abandoning "horse race" election coverage (Who's Up? Who's Down?) in favor of a more nuanced approach to elections that talks about what the…
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Aug 13, 2020

Board of Supervisors Rejects County Sheriff's Request to Fund Legal Services

by Adia White
Sonoma County Sheriff Mark Essick requested $50,000 from the Board of Supervisors on Wednesday for legal services. Essick intended to explore the legality of a ballot measure aimed at strengthening oversight of his office. KRCB’s Adia White reports.…
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Aug 12, 2020

Community Action Partnership Hosts Discussion on Law Enforcement Accountability

by Adia White
We're in the midst of a national debate about law enforcement oversight and accountability. That was the subject of this week's edition of the virtual "Community Conversations on Race". These interactive panels have been presented by local nonprofit…
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Aug 11, 2020

Health Officials Warn Against Ending Protections For Renters

by Adia White
Housing and tenant advocates are concerned the State’s current eviction moratorium could end Friday, causing a wave of homelessness that would worsen the current public health crisis. On August 3rd, San Francisco Assemblymember David Chiu held a…
Aug 10, 2020

CEO Discusses Racism and Starting a Sonoma County Business

by Adia White
Every Monday, the Community Action Partnership of Sonoma County hosts a community conversation on race. On July 27, the conversation focused on the experience of local Black business owners and influences. In this excerpt, moderator Joy Dehnert…
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Aug 07, 2020

Changes to Police Oversight Set for November Ballot

by Steve Mencher
In an epic meeting of more than nine hours, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors covered a number of controversial topics yesterday. Among them, an agreement to put significant reforms of IOLERO, the police oversight office, on the ballot in…
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Aug 05, 2020

Local High Schoolers Are Finalists in NPR Podcast Contest

by Steve Mencher
Back for its second year, the NPR Student Podcast Challenge wrapped up in June. Among two thousand entries in grades 5 thru twelve, the story of Popo the Clown, a local entertainer, rose to be one of only 25 finalists, although it didn't win one of…
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Aug 04, 2020

Sonoma County School Districts Move Carefully To Reopening

by Steve Mencher
Our friends at Sonoma West Publishers are a unique local resource. For years, they produced newspapers that reflected life in the towns of Cloverdale, Healdsburg, Windsor and West Sonoma County. Now only the Healdsburg paper continues in print,…
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Jul 30, 2020

Sonoma County Report Finds Santa Rosa Police Violated Protesters' Rights

by Adia White
At the beginning of July, The Sonoma County Human Rights Commission published a 40-page report titled, “Human Rights Violations in Santa Rosa California - Policing the Black Lives Matter Protests.” The report alleges numerous violations by law…
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Jul 30, 2020

Sebastopol Celebrates Black Lives Matter in Art - Photos

by Steve Mencher
Photos and Text by Diane Askew On Friday evening, July 24, several hundred people came out to create Sebastopol’s Black Lives Matter mural. The mural was painted across the sidewalk in the town plaza. It consists of the words “Black Lives Matter,”…
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Jul 29, 2020

Could Looser Cannabis Permit Requirements Help Boost Tax Revenue?

by Adia White
When Sonoma County shut down this spring, cannabis businesses, deemed essential, were allowed to stay open. Now that the county is wrestling with a plunge in tax revenues, marijuana growers and sellers see an opportunity. Loosen permitting and other…
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Jul 28, 2020

Local Organization Works To Get Everyone Counted On The 2020 Census

by Adia White
By Adia White, Nor Cal Public Media Posted July 28, 2020 The State of California is suing the Trump administration over an order that aims to block undocumented immigrants from being counted in the census. The effort is likely to fail. But some fear…
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Jul 28, 2020

Board of Supervisors To Vote On Ordinance To Strengthen Sheriff's Office Oversight

by Adia White
Next Tuesday, The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors is set to vote on an ordinance intended to strengthen the county’s law enforcement watchdog agency. The ordinance is named after the late activist Evelyn Cheatham. Its proponents say that The…
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Jul 23, 2020

KBBF Informe: Licencia Por Enfermedad Remunerada, Paid Sick Leave

by Adia White
Por Edgar Avila, KBBF Radio This episode was produced by Edgar Avila, KBBF Radio This article is a summary of a KBBF informe special loosely translated by NorCal Public Media. Listen to the original version in Spanish below. Puedes escuchar este…
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Jul 22, 2020

Lawyer in Voting Rights Cases Faces Death Threats

by Steve Mencher
News director Steve Mencher spoke with Malibu lawyer Kevin Shenkman this spring about his work convincing localities in California to move to district-based rather than at-large elections. He cites the California Voting Rights Act as the basis for…
Jul 22, 2020

Cómo postularse para ocupar un cargo para el consejo municipal en su ciudad o pueblo

by Adia White
Este video explica cómo postularse para ocupar un cargo de ayuntamiento. Según la ciudad de Santa Rosa, "El período de nominación de candidatos para las elecciones del Consejo de la Ciudad de Santa Rosa del 3 de noviembre de 2020 para los distritos…
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Jul 20, 2020

BLM @ SRJC - July 11, 2020 - Photo Essay by Diane Askew

by Steve Mencher
Text and photos by Diane Askew On Saturday afternoon, July 11, several hundred people showed up for a rally on the campus of Santa Rosa Junior College. The event was sponsored by the school’s Black Student Union and Uplifting Black Leaders, a newly…
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Jul 20, 2020

Santa Rosa Activist Describes What Defunding The Police Could Look Like

by Adia White
The national movement for racial justice following George Floyd’s killing has found a stage in Sonoma County. Libby is a local activist working with the grassroots group Love and Light. Libby, who is biracial, queer, trans, and gender-nonconforming,…
Jul 16, 2020

Filing Period For Running For Santa Rosa City Council Now Open

by Adia White
We provide local news updates on The North Bay Report Tuesday-Friday at 6:45, 8:45 a.m., and 5:30 p.m. on KRCB radio 91 and 90.9. Here's our North Bay Report episode for Friday, July 17. Subscribe to The North Bay Report podcast to listen on the go.…
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Jul 15, 2020

Board of Supervisors To Consider Ordinance Strengthening Law Enforcement Oversight

by Adia White
We provide local news updates on The North Bay Report Tuesday-Friday at 6:45, 8:45 a.m., and 5:30 p.m. on KRCB radio 91 and 90.9. Here's our North Bay Report episode for Thursday, July 16. Subscribe to The North Bay Report podcast to listen on the…
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Jul 14, 2020

San Francisco Mime Troupe Pivots to Radio This COVID Summer

by Steve Mencher
For more than 50 years, one of the pleasures of summer life in the Bay Area has been the outdoor performances of the San Francisco Mime Troupe. This summer, of course, the season is cancelled. And so the Mime Troupe brings its progressive politics…
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Jul 09, 2020

Sonoma County Reports 14 Covid Related Deaths With Five Tied To Skilled Nursing Facilities

by Adia White
We provide local news updates on The North Bay Report Tuesday-Friday at 6:45, 8:45 a.m., and 5:30 p.m. on KRCB radio 91 and 90.9. Here's our North Bay Report episode for Friday, July 10. Subscribe to The North Bay Report podcast to listen on the go.…
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Jul 09, 2020

Independence Day? How About Interdependence? Photo Story

by Steve Mencher
Photos by Diane Askew Saturday's July 4 holiday came in the midst of unprecedented upheaval in our community and in the world. Members of our community are continuing to come together and imagine what our society might look like if everyone had an…
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Jul 07, 2020

Lawsuit Against County Sheriff's Office Points to Numerous Brutality Cases

by Adia White
We provide local news updates on The North Bay Report Tuesday-Friday at 6:45, 8:45 a.m., and 5:30 p.m. on KRCB radio 91 and 90.9. The following is a two-part interview that aired Thursday, July, 2nd and Wednesday, July 8. The full-length interview…
Jul 07, 2020

Santa Rosa City Council to Vote on Emergency Sick Leave

by Steve Mencher
We provide local news updates on The North Bay Report Tuesday-Friday at 6:45, 8:45 a.m., and 5:30 p.m. on KRCB radio 91 and 90.9. Here's our North Bay Report episode for Tuesday, July 7. Subscribe to The North Bay Report podcast to listen on the go.…
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Jul 06, 2020

Hope, Strength, Protest. Another Story in Photos

by Steve Mencher
Photos and Text by Diane Askew On Thursday, July 2, a daylong rally was held at Santa Rosa’s Old Courthouse Square to protest systemic racism. The protest was organized by president Rubin Scott of the Sonoma County chapter of the NAACP. From a small…
red head rainbow
Jun 30, 2020

Cycle for Life Celebrates Black Lives Matter and Pride

by Steve Mencher
Photographer Diane Askew has long worked locally as a wedding photographer. That work is on hold due to the pandemic. Instead Askew has been documenting the stories of our community as we work through grief and anger. In her recent essay Askew…
Jun 30, 2020

Applications for CalFresh Double During the Coronavirus Pandemic

by Adia White
We provide local news updates on The North Bay Report Tuesday - Friday at 6:45, 8:45 a.m., and 5:30 p.m. on KRCB radio 91 and 90.9. Here's our North Bay Report episode for Wednesday, July 1. Subscribe to The North Bay Report podcast to listen on the…
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Jun 29, 2020

DACA Recipient Reflects On Supreme Court Decision to Uphold Protections for Dreamers

by Adia White
We provide local news updates on The North Bay Report Tuesday-Friday at 6:45, 8:45 a.m., and 5:30 p.m. on KRCB radio 91 and 90.9. Here's our North Bay Report episode for Wednesday, June 24. Subscribe to The North Bay Report podcast to listen on the…
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Jun 26, 2020

Informe en Español: KBBF Hosts Special On Black Lives Matter Movement

by Adia White
This article is a translated, partial summary of KBBF’s 30-minute special. Listen to the complete version in Spanish below. In this thirty-minute special, KBBF’s Edgar Avila speaks with Sonoma County residents about racism in our community and the…
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Jun 26, 2020

Could Racially Motivated 911 Calls Become Hate Crimes?

by Adia White
By Elizabeth Castillo, CalMatters Barbecuing at Lake Merritt in Oakland. Selling water without a permit. Both instances in which a Black person was doing something deemed criminal by a white person. Both instances in which a white person called the…
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Jun 25, 2020

Community Action Partnership Hosts Conversations On Race Series

by Adia White
We provide local news updates on The North Bay Report Tuesday-Friday at 6:45, 8:45 a.m., and 5:30 p.m. on KRCB radio 91 and 90.9. Here's our North Bay Report episode for Thursday, June 25. Subscribe to The North Bay Report podcast to listen on the…

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