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GOLIS: One step forward and one step back

  • Scott Bartley, Santa Rosa's new mayor, quickly found himself in a flap at City Hall. (JOHN BURGESS / The Press Democrat)

Just in time for Christmas, there is peace on Earth, good will toward men in Rohnert Park.

Good will toward women, too. The new mayor in Rohnert Park is Pam Stafford, who was elected unanimously last week.

“Something that's different about this year is how seamless this will be,” Stafford told Staff Writer Jeremy Hay. “There's no contentiousness.”

Not long ago, it seemed as if everything was contentious in the town that likes to call itself “the friendly city.” Rival factions took turns claiming narrow majorities on the council, making 3-2 votes as commonplace as shouting matches and name-calling.

What changed?

The economy changed. Jobs went away. Tax revenues plummeted. In Rohnert Park, the hard work of balancing budgets compelled council members to recognize that they were all in the same (sinking) boat. They could either work out their differences or wallow in their acrimony while the city traveled down the road to municipal insolvency.

They chose to be grown-ups, and that made all the difference.

Which brings us to the Santa Rosa City Council, a disharmonious band of people who could learn a thing or two from their brothers and sisters in Rohnert Park.

You may have read last week that Councilman Scott Bartley chose to introduce himself as the city's new mayor by insulting a political critic.

Responding to criticism from neighborhood activist Jack Swearengen, Bartley might have said, I have a different point of view than my friend, Jack.

Instead, Bartley chose to say that Swearengen is “clueless.”

Being Santa Rosa, the usual huffing and puffing ensued. It was an attack that could only set in motion what my colleague Chris Coursey described as the latest round of tit-for-tat.

As Staff Writer Kevin McCallum recounted, new Councilwoman Julie Combs joined the chorus by suggesting it was time to review the City Council's code of conduct — and many of us learned for the first time that the City Council has a code of conduct.

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