Bruce Robinson

On Air Host, Former News Director

Bruce Robinson is former KRCB-FM News Director and host of Flashback, heard Fridays at 7pm. 

Ways to Connect

Congressional Republicans have long clamored for change in federal health care laws. Now that their actual proposals are moving toward a vote, Health and Finance officials in Sacramento have been able to detail how the replacement plan would affect California. And it’s not a pretty picture.

Hops were once a major agricultural product in Sonoma County. Now they’re starting to come back, but mostly as a specialty crop for the craft beer market.

 It's not hard to get started growing hops,  says Mike Stevenson of the NorCal Hop Growers Alliance. And its even easier to keep them going once the field has been established.

Making beer is by far the primary use for hops. But not, says Stevenson, the only one.

Santa Rosa Gold Diggers

An ounce of gold is worth a little more than $1300 these days, enough to keep even casual prospectors interested and active, especially here in northern California. Today we hear from a Santa Rosa group dedicated to keeping the search alive.

In the great gold rush of the mid-1800s, hydraulic hoses and extended wooden sluice boxes were used by some big operators, but simple metal pans were the most common tools. Today, says Randy Ricci of the Santa Rosa Gold Diggers, that’s just about all that is allowed.

The man behind the arch-gothic Lemony Snicket books for young readers says the Peanuts comic strip was an important influence on his writing.

The deeper he delves into the world of Peanuts, says author Daniel Handler, the darker it seems to him.

 Handler’s most recent novel, We Are Pirates, also features a teenaged girl as its central character. But he says the story itself was inspired by his life in San Francisco.

California Department of Education

The California Department of Education today  made public its new system for evaluating how local school districts are performing. Local educators say it is more complex but also more helpful.

Cliff DeGraw, the Petaluma City Schools Assistant Superintendent, likes the five-colored grids that are used to track districts’ progress in each of the areas being analyzed.

State Education Department spokesman Robert Ochs, notes that some additional focus areas will be added to the Dashboard in the months ahead.

Bruce Robinson / KRCB-FM

Ag Days returned to the Sonoma County Fairgrounds this week. The annual event, hosted by the local Farm Bureau, gives thousands of elementary school students some first-hand exposure to this region’s agricultural heritage and its products. 

A fired up crowd eager to defend the Affordable Care Act filled the Marin Civic Center, to hear a panel led by Congressman Jared Huffman detail the problems they foresee in the new, Republican-sponsored alternative.

While much of the testimony focused on the anticipated harms that would befall the North Bay should the Affordable Care Act be replaced with “TrumpCare,” Marin County Director of Health and Human Services Grant Colfax also noted that the Republican alternative would also slash funding for health care at the national level.

Homeless With Pets

Pet owners are deeply attached to their dogs, cats, birds and other animals, and that doesn’t change if they become homeless. But their ability to care for their pets may. That’s where an unusual and specially focused non-profit steps in to help.

More than two thirds of the pets kept by homeless people locally are dogs, says Gillian Squirrell, founder of Homeless With Pets. But that other third encompasses considerable variety.

With new tax rates approved by Sonoma County voters on Tuesday, the local cannabis industry is gearing up to enter—and pay for—their new era of legitimacy.

After a year getting acquainted with the inner workings of Sonoma County's Department of Health Services, Barbie Robinson is starting her new job as the department's head with plans for some ambitious collaboration at the top of her agenda.

As Barbie Robinson takes the helm of the Sonoma County Department of Health Services, she is keenly aware that the biggest challenge she will face in the near future is the possible repeal of the nation al Affordable Care Act.

Training new teachers for local schools isn’t enough. The Sonoma County office of Education is also partnering in efforts to help secure housing for them.

Learn more about the Housing Land Trust of Sonoma County here.

To meet the persistent shortage of teachers locally, a new program is recruiting and training would-be educators who are already here, but doing something else right now.

One of the re-entry members in the current cohort is Amanda Park, who already has teaching experience, but decided to change course after moving to California last year.

Derek DiBenedetti has long enjoyed being a high school baseball coach. Now he’s joined the teacher internship program in order to be on campus even more of the time.

Donald Trump, both personally and politically, is deeply unpopular with a wide swath of Americans. That’s not a basis for impeachment, but there does appear to be one in the US Constitution.

With a strong Republican majority controlling both houses of Congress, it may not be surprising that no individual representative has yet come forward to argue for impeachment. But Norman Solomon, co-chair of the Mill Valley-based Grass Roots Coalition for Grass Roots Progress, says there has been one preliminary step taken.

Sonoma County is grappling with the many complexities of legalizing cannabis, bringing a fast-growing, largely free-wheeling industry under governmental control. Opponents of Measure A, which would tax cannabis businesses here, fear it will cripple the small-scale operations it is out to regulate.

Sonoma County Republicans have officially opposed measure A. The Sonoma County Taxpayers Association took no position, but their Executive Director, Dan Drummond, says he personally is inclined to favor it, despite some misgivings.

Living With Autism

Feb 23, 2017

While Temple Grandin has become a well-known exemplar of a person with autism, attaining that status required overcoming a daunting series of challenges. It was a journey begun and largely shared with her mother, Eustacia Cutler, who has become an ardent advocate for families that include children on the autism spectrum. She has her own story to tell.

Activists and citizens in Sonoma County seeking to oppose the Trump administration are finding support and gleaning tactics from the Indivisible Guide, and the local chapters that are promulgating it.

A key to the growth of participation in local Indivisible groups—now estimated at more than 1500 people county-wide—is how it is structured to allow a gradual entry, observes  Rebecca Hachmeyer from the Petaluma group.

Raymond Baltar, Sonoma Biochar Initiative

In centuries past, bio-char helped grow food for the indigenous people of the Amazon basin for hundreds, maybe even thousands of years before the first Spaniards arrived. Now it could help the 21st century world to slow global climate change.

The Sonoma Biochar Initiative is hosting a workshop on the process this Friday at Circle Bar Ranch south of Sonoma. Find details here.

An informational meeting about the expanding business of agri-tourism drew an intensely interested cross section of farmers, promoters and others to the Petaluma Community Center yesterday. 

Tim Zahner, Chief Marketing Officer for the Sonoma County Tourism office, says that the agricultural and culinary diversity of Sonoma County is one of the area’s greatest attractions.

Nancy Fiddler sees expanding operations to bring more visitors to her Rollin’ F Ranch near Sebastopol as a critical step to maintain her business viability.

The records made by the Beatles have sold millions of copies, and their songs have been heard exponentially more often. Yet there are details and surprises within that familiar music that can be revealed through careful deconstruction.

Producer George Martin not only supported the Beatles' studio experimentation, says Scott Freiman, he sometimes had a hand in the innovations himself.

As school budgets shrink and curriculum requirements tighten, are Sonoma County students still getting taught about the arts? Creative Sonoma is trying to assess the situation, with an eye toward boosting those efforts going forward.

Creative Sonoma Director Kristen Madsen says the plan to address shortcomings in local arts education will be as comprehensive as possible—and give priority to areas where the needs are greatest—but implementation will have to proceed in stages.

KRCB-Television has come out a winner in an auction of broadcast spectrum rights conducted by the FCC. While most viewers will not notice the resulting technical changes, the station’s long-term economic health has gotten a significant boost.

At the conclusion of the FCC spectrum auction process—which took more than three years to play out, North Bay Public media CEO Nancy Dobbs says the organization was able to accomplish the goals it established at the outset.

Bruce Robinson, KRCB

It’s hard to miss The Big Chair, a large, whimsical piece of public art alongside Highway 116 south of Sebastopol. But it has some serious intentions behind it.

Because the original chair was exposed to the elements for ears, it required some repairs before being seet up at its new home, explains Kenny Forrest.

The installation of a formal memorial to Lars Speyer next to the chair is planned for later this spring.

  

It’s true:  Big Brother IS watching us. And listening, and reading our emails and more, while we are making it easier for our data to be captured and sold.

The ever-expanding corporate and governmental intrusion into private personal communications and activities should be of concern to everyone, contends cyber security analyst Bill Blunden. It’s not whether or not one has something to hide, but a matter of protecting vital Constitutional rights.

Bodega Bay’s beleaguered salmon fishery will get a boost from the release of thousands of smolts there this spring. But the fishermen will have to wait another two years for the fish to grow, mature and return before they can be caught.

In the past five years, one Bay Area city has placed a soda tax measure before its voters, passed a strong rent control measure, and rejected a big-money city council campaign from its biggest employer. And no, it wasn’t Berkeley.

The notable misstep by the Richmond Progressive Alliance, says writer Steve Early, was their backing of a hotly contested soda tax on the city’s ballot in 2012, a defeat that took down their two candidates as well.

Some of the young people who most need mental health services have been conditioned to avoid them. A new youth-led initiative hopes to use peer outreach to overcome that.

This new collaboration, says VOICES Director Amber Twitchell, is especially timely, as the need for these services continues to mount.

VOICES—an acronym for the organization’s founding name  “Voice Our Independent Choices for Emancipation Support” –is more than 10 years old now. In that time it has welcomed and served hundreds of transition youth, and Twitchell says most of them have stayed in touch.

California’s major public institutions would be required to weigh greenhouse gas emissions into their budget analyses when purchasing materials for large infrastructure projects, under a proposed new bill unveiled this week.

Ann Hancock, Executive Director of the Center for Climate Protection in Santa Rosa, Was cheered by the proposed legislation's approach, and its intent to include transportation costs in the assessments to be required.

Once prolific in San Francisco Bay, but now scarce, Olympia oysters are getting some human help in building new reefs—and helping their benefactors, too.

Linda Hutner, Executive Director of The Wild Oyster Project in San Francisco, says this area is following in the footsteps of other like-minded efforts elsewhere.

A call to radically rethink how homeless services are structured and provided locally found a generally receptive audience in Santa Rosa this week.  Now the challenge is to implement those ideas.

The Homeless Solutions Summit was well attended by a full spectrum of people concerned about homelessness in Sonoma County. Jennielynn Holmes of Catholic Charities says she thinks the event will mobilize changes.

To cure homelessness, give priority to the most challenging individuals. That radical rethinking of the issue served as the starting point for the two-day Summit on Homeless Solutions that began Monday  in Santa Rosa.

 Using a triage process--similar to that employed in a hospital's emergency room-- to determine who among the homeless is in the greatest need may seem like a resource-intensive approach.  And in some ways it is. But in the big picture, says Iain De Jong, it is also surprisingly cost-effective.

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