John Necker column photo

John Necker

For the last several years, John Necker has attended Sebastopol City Council meetings and written up his impressions in Necker’s Notes, a satirical take on the city council in action. He has kindly allowed us to reprint an expurgated version of his column. For the full (and uncut) version, see  


Sebastopol City Council Meeting January 5, 2021 – Synopsis and Commentary


  • All council members were virtually present.


  • Having been pent-up due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the council let loose a salvo of recognitions aimed at city employees. These stalwart employees, who have given years of service to the city, are as follows:  Henry Minkus (Engineering Manager (5), Police Officers Villanueva Salvador (5) and Joseph Furry (10), Reserve Officer Maria Pennacchio (20), Police Dispatcher Christopher Mooney (25),  Volunteer Firefighters Thomas Leach (10), Michael Elson (30), Jack Piccinini (40), Maintenance Worker Michael Iraola (5), Laborer Juvenal Reyes (15), Administrative Assistant Pattie Murphy (20) and Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Mary Gourley (25).  Outgoing Planning Commission Patrick Wilson  was also recognized for his recent servitude.

Public Comment (aka Open Mike):

  • Ah, what COVID-19 has wrought. Instead of getting the always entertaining wackadoodles, who are probably curled up in a 55 gallon drum, wrapped alternately in ungounded aluminum foil and antiseptic wipes because someone on social media told them it was the surest way to preserve their health, we get instead an apparently rational speaker from Sebastopol World Friends encouraging us to sign-up for their virtual Friendship Dinner 2021January 23, 2021 6:30-8 p.m. “where sushi meets borsch.” So get out of your barrel and sign up. The other public speaker thanked those in public service and did it in under 60 seconds.

So join us on ZOOM Jan. 19 and tell us about your latest abduction by aliens.  Our reputation is at stake here!

Regular Agenda Items:

  • After an earlier interview, Cary Bush and Ted Luthin were denied a pardon and will remain incarcerated in the Design Review Board, and may God have mercy on their souls.

Consent Calendar:

  • The minutes for the December 15, 2020 meeting were approved and will appear here shortly. Scroll down to Past Council Meetings. Not all minutes are available on the website.
  • It has a different name, but admissible evidence of what your council did last year was verified.
  • 2021 council meeting dates were approved.
  • The council approved a not to exceed a $68,200 contract to AFelix General Engineering (dba WestPac Construction) to install “Infiltration Resistant Sewer Manhole Cover Replacements.” When storm water leaks pass the manhole covers, the city is charged by the Santa Rosa Waste Water facility as if it is raw sewage. These covers, mostly in our low lands, will reduce those charges.

Informational Items/Presentation:

  • An applicant requested a conditional use permit to operate an automatic car wash at 6809 Sebastopol Avenue (Benedetti Tire Service.) All council members appeared to be in favor of this. (Council Member Slayter, recused himself because he is the architect for the project.)  Unlike most automated car washes, this one is touted as “environmentally friendly,” meeting high standards of noise suppression, water capture and recycling, biodegradable chemicals and solar arrays. It claims to use less than five gallons of water per car wash. Well, you know it’s our city council so they want to futz around with it a little even though it meets all city requirements. Staff will organize some of the council’s scatter-shot thinking and present it to the council in an organized fashion at the Feb. 16 meeting where certainly something will be changed. Allowing a car wash next to longtime, locally owned, tire/auto repair shop in a commercial district was best summed up with a one-liner from Mayor Glass: “If not here, where?” A 4:0 straw vote for general acceptance was taken.


Regular Agenda Items:  

  • The properties at 726 and 732 Robinson Road asked to connect to the city water and sewer system. Though each property has a different owner, they were being considered together to potentially lower the cost of such a project to each. Both properties are outside the city limits but are within the “Urban Growth Boundary” and so qualify for a hookup. Approved 5:0.
  • The council considered amending the Zero Waste Committee and did so to avoid running afoul of the Brown Act.


A Parting Shot:

  • The following is unrelated to anything you may have read above: Even if you are a heathen like me, this is a good time to pray for the USA.


Elapsed Time: 5:00 hours (6–11 p.m.)

Next regular city council meeting is January 19, 2021 via ZOOM

Your can view this meeting and others at:


 You can view the unexpurgated version of this column, complete with links to the relevant documents, at

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