|Composite of Paul Hobbs in front of the Jenkel property he clear cut on the 116.|
I saw quite a few friends there on both sides of the issue. There were parents of children that have been and currently are in my children's class. There were activist stalwarts that exercise their right to Free Speech on a regular basis. And there were people I've met and have worked with in the wine industry.
In fact, in attendance was the gentleman who oversaw the installation of my vineyard - a 3/4+ acre of Point Noir. And I'll say now what I told everyone at the meeting tonight: If I knew then what I know now, I would have planted apples.
Sonoma County has shifted from an agricultural community that benefited all, to a monoculture that benefits a few, namely the wine industry. Here are a coupla facts I learned this evening...
There are 60,184 acres of wine grapes in Sonoma County.
There are 12,863 acres of all other food crops of which 7,520 are organic.
There are 12,000+ acres of organic dairy and cattle land.
There are only 2300+ acres of apples remaining in Sebastopol (over 50 varietals).
Less than 600 acres of Gravensteins are left.
Food for thought? Not really. Food crops are on their way out. And considering the blasé approach to issuing permits for vineyard development by our Ag commission, Sonoma County will soon be bulldozed into one giant vineyard. The Paul Hobbses of the world will win.
Which brings me back to the meeting...
Paul Hobbs mouthpiece, Tara Sharpe was there to "answer questions" as a concerned citizen/mother. What she did, or attempted to do was to put the spin on something that really is inevitable. She bobbed and weaved in her responses actually claiming that "our winery will soon be certified sustainable." As I mentioned, I work in the wine industry. When you hear the word "sustainable", you can bet that that winery is doing whatever it wants as far as farming is concerned. There is no such thing as "sustainable certified". Believe me, there was only one person in the room that believed anything that came out of Sharpe's incessantly grinning mouth - Sharpe (maybe).
If you read between the lines, Paul Hobbs will, once again, be doing whatever he wants, regardless of community concerns. His lies and deceptions are on the record. He will have Sharpe go through this dog and pony show, only to resume business as usual in the backyard of 3 different schools that range from kindergarten through 8th grade.
But what really bugged me was that Barbara Bickford, Twin Hills Superintendent chose to drop the ball when it came to being the self-appointed liaison between Hobbs and the community. A woman entrusted with the well-being of our children neglected to inform the community, parents and surrounding schools of the status of the conversion. So many parents stated that they just recently heard about this. "I heard it on WACCOBB", "I heard it in the parking lot", "I heard from a friend." The teacher at Tree House Hollow said she had just heard about it today!
Superintendent Bickford has had closed-door meetings with Hobbs' henchman since the very beginning when the winery was in escrow way back in 2012. Ms. Sharpe expressed surprise that Ms. Bickford hadn't informed anyone. She said she would get to the bottom of that.
So it's happened again. Paul Hobbs will be doing what he wishes at the expense of the community, in this case, our children. I'm afraid it is as criminal as it is legal. And people are very angry.
So I'll leave you with this...
We need a moratorium on new vineyard development in Sonoma County to assess the damage it's done to our environment.
We need more stringent rules and buffer zones to adhere to when new vineyards are applied for. More concern about our eco system and how a vineyard works within - or doesn't.
We need to conduct an EIR.
And we need a new Ag commission across the board to put the community and the environment first and enforce current and future code. Because, right now, it sure seems as if they're in the back pockets of the wine industry.
Please forward this to as many people you know who may be interested in protecting their children.