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Close to Home: Putting the trials of Efren Carrillo in perspective

  • 9/20/2012: A1:

    PC: Efren Carrillo spoke at the beginning of Tuesday's Board of Supervisors meeting about his trip to Russia.

A young man's foolish escapade has spawned dozens of sensational articles in this newspaper. In fact, Supervisor Efren Carrillo stood public trial with the full power of the California attorney general prosecuting and was acquitted by a jury of 10 women and two men.

That should place the incident in its proper perspective — and yet, on the same day as the not-guilty verdict, editors of The Press Democrat chose to judge him in absentia, pronounce him guilty and proclaim he should resign ("Efren Carrillo should step down," Editorial, Tuesday).

The verdict is history. The Press Democrat will now need some other news to fill its columns. Here are a just a few of the many storylines available.

How about describing how Carrillo almost single-handedly put together the deal with the state Coastal Conservancy and the Sonoma County Agriculture and Open Space District to permanently protect 20,000 acres of coastal wilderness known as Preservation Ranch? He turned a seething controversy over proposed vineyard development into a bilateral victory.

Another article could tell about the hundreds of phone calls and personal meetings Carrillo initiated in raising tens of thousands of dollars for the Santa Rosa Health Center. Today, more than 40,000 disadvantaged people, young and old alike, receive quality health care — more than 180,000 visits per year. This is one of many examples of his fundraising efforts to benefit children and vulnerable citizens of our county.

Carrillo envisioned Sonoma Clean Power and did the heavy-lifting to make it happen. The Press Democrat could write about how he put together the financing for this innovative effort at a crucial time when its fate was at the tipping point. Many politicians take credit for Sonoma Clean Power, but one dedicated public servant secured the funds to make it happen.

Carrillo's focus and tenacity have kept redevelopment of the Roseland Shopping Center on track. This project will provide public space, small-business opportunities and affordable housing in the heart of the historic Roseland district.

He led opposition to the state's proposal to charge parking/access fees on the Sonoma Coast. He secured funding for a future homeless services center in the Russian River area. He helped arrange the public and private financing for the Graton Day Labor Center, ensuring higher wages and dignity for some of the hardest working among us.

Last fall, in our community of Forestville, Carrillo was instrumental in bridging a deep community divide. He brought together opposing factions to permanently protect open space and a future Forestville town square.

We applaud Carrillo's response to politically motivated calls for his resignation. There are many solid reasons The Press Democrat readership named Carrillo the "best committed politician" and the "best inspiring leader" in 2012. The Press Democrat editors are out of touch. In their inexplicable haste to act as an ad hoc judge and jury, they seem to ignore the huge value Carrillo has contributed to our community.


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