Concerns over immigration raids, gun control, North Bay fire relief funds, health center funding, offshore oil drilling and last week’s government shutdown were among the topics discussed during a town hall meeting Wednesday hosted by Rep. Mike Thompson.
“I can’t tell you how sad we are about the tragedy that befell all of us,” said Thompson, referring to the October firestorms.
Thompson, D-St. Helena, said he and other legislators were “working hard” on a disaster aid package that would bring $4.5 billion to communities affected by the North Bay fires.
The bill would also reduce state and local governments’ cost share of Federal Emergency Management Agency dollars to 10 percent, rather than the usually required 25 percent.
“If we don’t get that federal ratio, it’s going to be a very bad situation,” he said. “I feel confident it will pass.”
Some 200 people attended the 90-minute forum at the Santa Rosa Veteran’s Memorial Building.
Thompson blasted Congress’ inability to come up with a long-term budget rather than interim budget resolutions that he said “kick the proverbial can down the proverbial road.”’
But one local resident, Bob Proctor, 71, of Rohnert Park, criticized Democratic senators for holding the American public “hostage” and not negotiating in good faith with Republicans.
Thompson said it was the GOP’s responsibility to come up with a bill that had enough votes to pass both houses of Congress and get the president’s signature. Republicans control both houses and the White House.
“If you’re going to bring a bill to the floor for a vote, you better have the votes,” he said.
The issue of border security and legislation protecting Dreamers, undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children, was also discussed. Thompson said he believed some compromise could be reached that would both increase border security and allow Dreamers to stay in the country.
But he said he opposed the construction of a wall, calling it a “fool’s errand” and a waste of taxpayer money.
“I don’t believe a wall is money well spent,” he said, adding that President Trump is merely trying to “fulfill a stupid campaign promise.”
Thompson also addressed U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ ongoing feud with states and counties that have restricted cooperation between federal immigration officials and local law enforcement.
Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Justice sent letters to 23 “sanctuary cities” threatening subpoenas if they did not provide documents pertaining to local law enforcement officials’ cooperation with federal immigration agents. The letter warned Sonoma County that its current “sanctuary” policy could be violating the terms of a federal grant for law enforcement programs.
After the town hall, Thompson said Sessions’ campaign against Sonoma County is putting at risk the local community, creating a rift with immigrants.
As people are allowed back into their homes in Sonoma, Napa and Mendocino counties, there are several safety issues to remember.
•Do not touch debris. Ash is a hazardous waste. Other hazards could include asbestos, heavy metals, byproducts of plastic combustion and other chemicals. Do not transport ash or debris to landfills or transfer stations. To be eligible for state-funded debris cleanup by CalRecycle, residents cannot move or spread debris. Any action by residents to remove debris may force CalRecycle to declare a site ineligible for the program.
•Wear protective clothing: closed-toed shoes, long pants, eye protection, a face mask and gloves.
•Do not rely on dust masks for protection. Paper masks found at hardware stores are designed to trap large particles like sawdust and will not protect your lungs from the smaller particles found in wildfire smoke. If you want to wear a mask, look for one with a particulate respirator, labeled NIOSH-approved, marked N95 or P100. Look for them on Amazon, Home Depot or other hardware retailers.
•Keep indoor air as clean as possible. Keep windows and doors closed.
•Avoid activities that increase indoor pollution like smoking, burning candles or using fireplaces. Vacuuming stirs up particles inside your house, contributing to indoor pollution.
•Do not turn PG&E service on. Either PG&E has been there and turned the gas on or homeowners must wait for them to do so. Customers without gas service should stay as close to home as possible so service can be restored when a PG&E representative arrives. If no one is at home, the representative will leave a notice with a number that customers can call to schedule a return visit. PG&E can be reached at 800-743-5000.
•If you see downed power lines near your home, treat them as if they are “live” or energized and extremely dangerous. Keep yourself and others away from them. Call 911, then notify PG&E at 800-743-5002.