North Bay Fire: Where to Get Help and Where to Give Help

NBLC grieves the devastation of our region.  The fires have touched all of us.  We mourn the lives lost, the homes destroyed, the businesses ruined, and the impact on the North Bay’s flora and fauna.  We want to help those who have lost their homes, jobs and/or businesses recover as quickly as possible.  NBLC looks forward to partnering with other leaders on the recovery and finding ways to heal the damage wreaked by this catastrophe.

To begin the recovery, we are offering two types of information.  The first is where people can go for help for housing.  Given the housing crisis before the fire, NBLC expects housing to be one of our biggest challenges in this recovery.  The second is a list of ways YOU can help.  The North Bay is a caring community – working together, we will take care of our own.

Be safe!  At this writing there are 670 missing people.  With communications spotty, many are anxious to hear from loved ones and colleagues.  Please Register Yourself as “Safe and Well”, or search for loved ones at  NBLC sends its deepest appreciation to all of the first responders who are saving lives under terrible duress.

Need Housing Help?

Sonoma Raceway Opens 50 Acres Campground to Evacuees

SONOMA, Calif. (Oct. 10, 2017) – Sonoma Raceway opened its 50 Acres campground to evacuees seeking temporary refuge from the Northern California fires.

The raceway, which is equipped to handle up to 2,000 campers during its major event weekends,  opened its largest campground to evacuees in RVs Tuesday afternoon. The 50 Acres campground is located directly across from the raceway on Highway 121 and has not been affected by the fires.

Those in need of RV camping at Sonoma Raceway should enter the campground at Gate 6 on Highway 121, a quarter-mile north of Hwy 37. The raceway will team up with United Site Services to offer basic RV services, including water/sewage service, to campers during their stay. The campground is dry with no hookups.

For on-site assistance or directions, visit the Sonoma Raceway main office or front gate at 29355 Arnold Dr. in Sonoma. For more information, contact Sonoma Raceway at 800-870-7223 or email


Airbnb has launched its Open Homes program for those seeking shelter free-of-charge at a residence outside of but near the affected area. The company is also looking for those willing to volunteer space at their local home for evacuees.


Persons willing to host an evacuated individual or family in your home for a few days, few weeks or few months may contact the Petaluma People’s Services Center SHARE Sonoma County at An information sheet and application will be sent to you.


The Permit Sonoma Planning Division and the Sonoma County Community Development Commission have joined together to offer housing resource assistance for people who have been displaced by the wildfires in unincorporated Sonoma County. We will be providing information about disaster-related housing opportunities and upcoming ordinance changes. Link

Want to Help?

We hear from local relief agencies that cash donations are their primary need.  Most have sufficient supplies right now for the people they are helping.  Exceptions are noted below.


Sunny Hills Services:

The incredible devastation due to the fires that hit Sonoma and Napa counties has affected tens of thousands in our community. The evacuations and loss of homes and businesses are crushing tragedies for anyone to deal with.  Sadly, among those who lost their homes were some of Sunny Hills clients. The young people that we serve already face difficult challenges in their day-to-day lives and the uncertainties and loss from the fires are additional hurdles that they didn’t need.

Could you also lend a helping hand?  A donation to Sunny Hills today will enable us to provide additional counseling services, as well as help fund any immediate needs our clients and staff might have. It’s times like these when standing together is so important.Our Sonoma County staff will be helping to link our clients to the resources that they need to start putting their lives back together. And we’ll also be there to provide extra counseling as they confront the destructive impact of the fires.


United Way:

All gifts made through our website will be directed to area fire relief and recovery efforts until further notice.


Sonoma County Resilience Fund at the Community Foundation of Sonoma County:

After the frenzy and chaos of a devastating disaster like this one passes, the long road to recovery and rebuilding begins—and it is here that philanthropy can play a distinct and critical role. With our deep relationships with local nonprofits, government officials, and community leaders, community foundations are often in the best position to hold funds, make grants, and support our communities.

In recognition of our critical role, Community Foundation Sonoma County has launched the Sonoma County Resilience Fund to address the mid to long-term needs of our community. Learn more about the purpose of the Resilience Fund.


North Bay Fire Relief Fund:

The Press Democrat has again partnered with Redwood Credit Union, Senator Mike McGuire and numerous business leaders to raise funds to directly help fire victims. We have lost hundreds of homes, dozens of businesses along with thousands of jobs. Every donated dollar will go directly to fire victims – all costs will be covered. To donate,


PPSC SHARE needs your help. We are processing background checks on all our Shares and we are outspending our budget. Each background check is $10.00 so even a little bit helps. You can donate online and identify the donation as Share Fire.


Donate to local animal shelters, which are helping people keep their pets safe. Humane Society of Sonoma County:, Humane Society of Napa County:, and Yuba-Sutter SPCA:


Make a a cash donation by texting “Red Cross” to 90999 or visiting


The Red Cross is in immediate need of volunteers to assist evacuees. To volunteer, sign up at


Interested volunteers may also contact the County Office of Emergency Services at 565-3856.


The Center for Volunteer and Nonprofit Leadership has also been called in to help. If you wish to donate or volunteer, you can register on their website at


Food donations need to be packaged. No homemade food can be accepted.


Food pantries of Sonoma County, various locations,


Food pantries of Napa County, various locations,


The Salvation Army at 721 South McDowell Blvd. in Petaluma is welcoming ready-to-eat, non-perishable food donations. They are also in need of volunteers. Call them between 9 am and 5 pm at 769-0716.


The Redwood Empire Food Bank in Santa Rosa is accepting packaged, ready-to-eat, non-perishable food donations at 3990 Brickway Blvd., Santa Rosa. Cash donations are also welcome. 100 percent of your gift will be used in support of the relief efforts. Their website:

NBLC Endorses Denise Athas for Novato City Council

NBLC is proud to endorse Denise Athas for the Novato City Council.  Athas has served ably for two terms and earned a third term in office.  She has proven that she is balanced, not afraid to tackle the tough issues and a champion for good government.  We appreciate Athas’ commitment to bringing jobs and workforce housing to Novato and look forward to seeing her build on her accomplishments in her next term.

Please remember to vote on November 7th!

Link to Website:

Exchange Bank Joins NBLC

North Bay Leadership Council (NBLC) announces that Exchange Bank is its newest member.  Headquartered in Sonoma County, and founded in 1890 with assets of $2.2 billion, Exchange Bank is a premier community bank providing a wide range of personal, commercial and trust and investment services with 18 branches in Sonoma County and a commercial and SBA lending office in Roseville and San Rafael.  They have 386 employees. NBLC’s chair, Patty Garbarino, said “This community bank epitomizes the values of supporting and strengthening the community in a perfect alignment with NBLC’s mission and goals.  We are delighted to have Exchange Bank add their commitment to the North Bay’s people and economy to our work.”

For 127 years, Exchange Bank has been serving the local community, not only through trusted banking and financial services, but by focusing 100% of its charitable giving on the communities it serves. In total, Exchange Bank contributes to more than 300 charitable organizations and nonprofits each year.  In 2016, Exchange Bank and its employees contributed more than $665,000 to the community.

In addition, 50.44% of the Bank’s cash dividends go to the Doyle Trust that funds the Doyle Scholarship at Santa Rosa Junior College. Since 1948, the Doyle Scholarship Fund has provided $83 million to over 127,000 students.  Exchange Bank made the first Lead Challenge gift to kick-off the SRJC 100th Anniversary Campaign in 2016.  For the past three years, Exchange Bank has funded The Reinking Scholarship Program at Montgomery High School, providing two scholarships a year.

Exchange Bank’s Alan Aranha, Vice President and Business Development Officer, Marin County office, will be the member representative. Howard Daulton, Senior Vice President, Manager of Corporate and Business Development will be the alternate.  Daulton said “We appreciate NBLC’s shared commitment to education, community resiliency and economic competitiveness.  We look forward to joining with the other members to make the North Bay an even greater place to live and work.”

Exchange Bank is an 11-time winner of the North Bay Business Journal’s North Bay Best Places to Work survey and received the 2016 Healthiest Companies in the North Bay award. NorthBay biz magazine named Exchange Bank 2016 Best Business Bank. Exchange Bank can also be found in the North Bay Business Journal’s listing of leading SBA 7(a) Lenders, Wealth Management Advisors and Wine Industry Lenders.

Since 1994, the Volunteer Center of Sonoma County has named Exchange Bank the corporate champion in its division for raising the most money for the Human Race. The Bank provides employees paid time-off to participate in bank-sponsored fundraising events, and time to serve on boards of local nonprofits and share leadership talents. In 2016, it was the first financial institution in Sonoma County to become a “HeartSafe” business, installing Automated External Defibrillators AEDs) at most Exchange Bank locations and training employees in CPR.

Sonoma County Office of Education Joins North Bay Leadership Council

North Bay Leadership Council is pleased to announce that the Sonoma County Office of Education (SCOE) is its newest member.  Education is the top public policy priority of NBLC and the addition of SCOE strengthens its public policy work by bringing more focus on and understanding of the K-12 educational system.

NBLC’s board chair, Patty Garbarino, said “There is great alignment between the mission of SCOE and NBLC.  Both organizations want to foster student success so there is a well-educated, career-ready workforce.  We are excited to be able to work more closely with the K-12 educators on this important mission.”

SCOE is a partner to the county’s 40 districts, providing services and oversight that help them serve roughly 71,000 students.  The day-to-day operations of each public school district are overseen by a district superintendent and an elected board of education. Like the other 57 county offices of education in California, the Sonoma County Office of Education’s role is to provide leadership, support, and fiscal oversight to the county’s school districts.

Sonoma County is divided into 40 school districts for kindergarten through twelfth-grade (K-12) educational services. There are 31 elementary, 3 high school, and 6 unified districts. Unified districts operate both elementary and secondary schools for the students residing within their boundaries.

The county’s school districts vary in size, serving both rural and urban areas. The smallest district in the county, Kashia, is located in a rural area and has about 11 students. The largest district, Santa Rosa City High, enrolls over 11,000 students in the county’s most populous city.

The member representative is Steven D. Herrington, Ph.D., who was elected Sonoma County Superintendent of Schools in 2010. He believes that one of the best ways to maximize support for education is through community-linked collaborative projects.  Dr. Herrington said, “Given SCOE’s interest in community engagement and desire to collaborate with employers on improving student success, it is a good fit for us to join NBLC and work together on these goals.”

As County Superintendent, he received on behalf of SCOE a special recognition by the White House for SCOE’s Maker Certificate program for teachers and serves as state officer in the California County Superintendents Educational Services Association (CCESA).

Keep SMART Going to Larkspur Landing

SMART train service will begin in a few months and we couldn’t be more excited! The start of the new passenger rail service has seen its challenges but the big day is almost here. The latest challenge is to delay the extension of the SMART route to Larkspur Landing. There is a group looking to hold up the completion of the railway to SMART’s southern terminal that must not prevail. Please write or call SMART to let them know that you voted for SMART to go to Larkspur Landing and you want construction to start right away so train service can begin by the end of 2018! We can’t afford to risk losing the $41 million in federal funding due to delays.
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NBLC Principles

NBLC’s Endorsements for November 2016 Election

The election in November ends a contentious Presidential campaign and some hotly contested races in the North Bay.  The volume of propositions requires voters to do a lot of homework to decide what is best.  NBLC urges you to vote this year and resist voter fatigue and/or dismay.  Your vote counts – never more so then this election cycle!

Here is who/what NBLC is endorsing:

State Senate:

3rd District:  Bill Dodd 


10th District:  Marc Levine

Marin County Supervisor:

4th District:  Dominic Grossi

Sonoma County Supervisor:

5th District:  Lynda Hopkins

City of Santa Rosa:

Ernesto Olivares

Chris Rogers

Don Taylor

City of Petaluma:

Mike Healy

Kathy Miller

Ballot Measures:

Marin County

Measure A – Marin Strong Starts for Children (PreK and Services):   SUPPORT

Sonoma County

Measure J:  Regional Parks and Water Improvement Tax:  SUPPORT

Measure M:  Transgenic Contamination Prevention Ordinance/Anti-GMO:  OPPOSE


Prop 51 Schools Bonds:  K-12 and Community College:  SUPPORT

Prop 52 State Fees on Hospitals. Federal Medi-Cal Matching Funds:  SUPPORT

Prop 53 Revenue Bonds – Requires Statewide Voter Approval – Initiative Constitutional Amendment:  OPPOSE

Prop 54 California Legislative Transparency Act:  SUPPORT

Prop 55 Tax Extension to Fund Education and Healthcare:  Extends temporary tax enacted during the recession for 12 more years.  Taxes higher income people: SUPPORT

Prop 64 Marijuana Legalization:  SUPPORT

“I believe that voting is the first act of building a community as well as building a country,” said John Ensign.  It would be a great sign of healthy civic engagement if the North Bay has a very high voter turnout this election.  Let’s be the leaders!

Close to Home: Reject Voting Pledges in Local Elections

A former state Assembly member once said that the biggest problem in state politics is the serious decline of independent thought by elected officials. Sacramento politicians usually toe the party line — whether Republican or Democrat — or suffer the consequences, which often includes their party finding a new candidate who will follow voting orders.

There is a similar trend in politics in the North Bay that is equally troubling. It is the growth of voting pledges or similar commitments that some special interest groups require candidates for local office to sign in order to get that group’s endorsement and funding.

Increasingly during campaigns, candidates are being asked for more than just their general views on broad topics such as education, transportation, health care, affordable housing, taxation, environmental quality or economic development.

We agree that on important issues like these, learning a candidate’s beliefs and positions is the public’s right and is an important part of the election process. How else can voters determine which candidate would best represent their own interests?

But that is not what is happening. Instead, candidates are being asked to make a firm pledge in writing or verbally as to exactly how they will vote on very specific issues if they are elected. In effect, they are being made to pre-commit their vote.

Some of the voting pledges or commitments we’ve seen insist on a candidate agreeing when elected to oppose any form of tax increase, impose so-called living wage Ordinances, walk picket lines, create district elections in cities, support labor agreements on public works projects that benefit one employer over another and make mandatory the public financing of local political campaigns. Sadly, these are only a few examples.

This is wrong. A candidate has a right to express his or her view on important issues like these and an obligation to voters to do so. But it is not right for any group or individual to demand that a candidate give a guarantee how they will vote on a specific issue in order to get a group’s funding and endorsement.

If every candidate pre-committed their vote on an issue, why would a city council or board of supervisors bother to conduct extensive studies or hold public hearings to get input on an issue? In essence, the vote by some candidates who become elected officials has already been determined before all the facts are presented — or worse yet, their vote has been promised to a special interest group. Their mind is made up or their mind has been made up for them.

Because we believe so strongly in the detrimental effects on the public when candidates sign voting pledges during campaigns, the North Coast Builders Exchange and the North Bay Leadership Council have both agreed that their organizations will not endorse or provide funding to any candidate — even ones with whom we may agree on many issues — who has signed or committed to such pledges.

We encourage local voters to take their own action. When candidates knock on your front door, ask them the following question: “Have you signed any kind of voting pledge on behalf of any group — be it business organizations, environmental groups, neighborhood associations, unions, or other special interest groups — or will you remain independent-minded if elected?”

If a candidate has signed a pledge of any kind, politely thank them for dropping by and slowly close the door. This damaging political practice must come to an end.

Greg Hurd is chairman of the North Coast Builders Exchange Political Action Committee. Cynthia Murray is CEO and president of the North Bay Leadership Council.

Preserve the Full Deductibility of State and Local Taxes

Russell Goldsmith’s writes “For the 141 million Americans who live and work in the nine states with the highest state and local taxes, the debate in the fiscal cliff negotiations whether to raise revenue for the federal government by raising tax rates versus limiting tax deductions is an important issue – especially regarding deductions for state and local taxes.

The way to generate more federal tax dollars should not be by limiting the deductibility of state and local taxes.

2012 The Year Of The Big Lie

2012 was a banner year for campaigns of misinformation, which is striking as many say we are living in the Age of Information.  How can people lie so boldly when there are so many ways to check the facts?  Why do so many refuse to believe the truth regardless of the science and evidence presented?

Whether it be political, health-related, science-related (global warming) or a disaster, we have experienced lies that would not quit no matter how often refuted or proven untrue.  There are reasons why people lie from narcissism, self-delusion, egomania, trying to spare others from the “hurt” of the truth, etc.  Politicians are prone to lying says Jim Taylor, Ph.D. in “Six Reasons Why Politicians Believe They Can Lie,” (Psychology Today, September 24, 2012), because, “Ultimately, politicians lie because … the cost/benefit ratio for lying is in their favor.  Politicians run this calculation when they create or shift a damaging narrative, attack an opponent, or respond to indefensible claims against them.  So politicians lie when they believe that dishonesty is the best policy for getting elected.”

In awarding Mitt Romney the award for the “2012 Lie of the Year,” Politifact pointed out in this case, the lie told about Jeep moving jobs to China, may have backfired on Romney.  Politifact said, “A flood of negative press coverage rained down on the Romney campaign, and he failed to turn the tide in Ohio, the most important state in the presidential election.”  The organization also points out how even though Jeep refuted the lie, the lie continued to pick up steam by being turned into a TV ad, which increased the outcry.  The more the pushback, however, the more Romney’s supporters held fast to the lie as it reinforced their world view.

Understanding how the mind works can be helpful in why lying works more often than not, even with the ability to easily check facts.  In “Diss Information:  Is There a Way to Stop Popular Falsehoods from Morphing into ‘Facts’?” by Carrie Arnold (Scientific American, October 4, 2012), she says, “Psychologists call this reaction belief perseverance:  maintaining your original opinions in the face of overwhelming data that contradicts your beliefs.”  Another form of this is known as confirmation bias, where people tend to screen out information that conflicts with their beliefs and believe information that is consistent with their beliefs.  Says Arnold, “Accepting a statement also requires less cognitive effort than rejecting it.  Misinformation is a human problem, not a liberal or conservative one.”

Given the decline in critical thinking coupled with the inundation of data, it is easy to see how discerning the truth is difficult for some.  Throw in the speed at which “news” travels and we can see how minds can be made up before the real facts are known.  If information is currency, let’s hope that people decide in 2013 to try to be more open-minded, not form opinions until the facts are known and embrace that in a fast-paced world, new information is continually developed that might require a different mindset.  Here’s to all of us focusing on building our critical thinking skills so we can be better citizens and community members.