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Sonoma County News

Oversight division will red flag egregious pricing in state averaging $4.82 a gallon

State of California to price-gouging oil companies: We’ve got our eye on you. That was the message this week when the state legislature approved a bill authorizing the formation of a new Big Oil watchdog commission charged with tighter oversight of the oil industry. The bill, SBX 1-2, passed 52-19 in the state Assembly on March 27 and allows for the creation of a watchdog body—aka the Division of Petroleum Market Oversight—to be operated under the umbrella of the California Energy Commission, which could fine or penalize companies for price gouging if profits exceed certain margins capped by the DPMO. Some gas prices in the state neared $6.50 a gallon last summer; as the legislation was being considered in the Assembly this week, gas prices averaged $4.82 in California. Oil companies have for years shrugged off allegations of price gouging in California, where prices can run as much a dollar higher than other states, arguing that environmental regulations and higher taxes are what drive up the price in the Golden State. While legislators concede regulation and legislation can lead to higher gas prices, they say even with that factored in, California’s per-gallon prices are 30 to 40 cents higher than they should be. It’s a gap they say remains unexplained by the oil companies, which regard pricing and operating costs as trade secrets. The new watchdog body will have subpoena powers and the potential to elicit more information about oil-refinery operations. For those wondering if the legislation could tamper down prices in time for the travel-heavy summer months, don’t get your lead boots out just yet—the formation of the DPMO could take several months.

Nicole Mann Honor

Petaluma Native and astronaut Col. Nicole Mann is one of USA Today's Women of the Year. The commander of NASA's Space X Crew-5 mission and first Native American Woman in space is recognized as some who has made a significant impact on their community and across the county. Other winners this year include Sandra Day O'Connor, Michelle Obama, Goldie Hawn

Paltrow Not Guilty

A jury dismissed the complaint of a retired optometrist who sued Gwyneth Paltrow over injuries he sustained when the two crashed on a beginner run at Deer Valley ski resort in 2016, siding with Paltrow after eight days of live-streamed courtroom testimony. {Photo courtesy of Rolling Stone}

Safeway Robbery

Santa Rosa Police responded to a robbery at the Safeway on Yulupa Ave last night at 8:10pm when three black men stole over $1,000 in goods. They threatened an employee with gun outside of the store before hopping into a waiting black sedan. Police chased the car onto southbound HWY 101 at speeds over 100 mph. Spike strips were used and the car eventually came to a stop after running on flat tires. Police recovered the merchandise and evidence linking them to other robberies. The three suspects are from Vallejo and San Francisco and are all under 24 years old.

Republican Response

A grand jury in New York voted to indict Donald Trump, the first time a former President has been charged with a crime. Now, his actual and would-be 2024 Republican rivals are lining up to support him, criticizing the Manhattan district attorney. Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley says the indictment is all about revenge than justice, Ron DeSantis called it un-American and an effort to weaponize our legal system. Former VP Mike Pence and Senator Tim Scott both say it is an outrage.

Crab Season

Crab lovers... you only have until April 15th this year to enjoy Dungeness Crab from the waters of Sonoma county, as the already shortened season will shut down early. The move is to protect humpback whales from becominng entangled in trap and bouy lines. It will still be allowed in the waters off Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte counties.


Sonoma County will be conducting a test of the SoCoAlert emergency notification system at noon in northwest Sonoma County on Thursday, March 30. The County Department of Emergency Management and partners have collaborated on planning the exercise and conducting outreach in the targeted areas. Testing the efficiency of messaging to Spanish speaking residents was a priority for the exercise planners. Starting at noon, SoCoAlert messages will be sent to addresses within northwest Sonoma County south of Mendocino County, west of Highway 101, east of the Pacific Ocean and north of the Stewarts Point–Skaggs Springs Road/Canyon Road. This area encompasses in part the neighborhoods of Sea Ranch (zones 1A1 and 1A2), Annapolis (zones 1B1 and 1B2), Mount Tom and Kelly Road (zone 1B3) areas around Lake Sonoma (zones 1B4, 2A2, 2A3, 2A4), and north and south of Cloverdale (zones 2A1 and 2F1). The incorporated city of Cloverdale will NOT be in this exercise at this time. Exercise activity is limited to participating agencies and communities. Residents in the area who are not registered with SoCoAlert may still receive an alert because the alert system uses phone numbers from utility records and other public sources. The exercise on Thursday is targeted to specific evacuation zones, with the opportunity for the community to provide feedback. All SoCoAlerts are sent in English and Spanish. If you live in northwest Sonoma County and would like to participate in the exercise, please sign up with SoCoAlert at SoCoAlert.com. Registering for SoCoAlert is important for all community members. In a real emergency, an alert would be sent to registered phones or emails registered with SoCoAlert. More information about the exercise and the post-exercise survey: https://socoemergency.org.

Russia Arrest

Russia has arrested a reporter for the Wall Street Journal on espionage charges. Evan Gerskovich was taken into custody by the Russian Federal Security Service in the Ural Mountains. Russia says he could face 20 years in prison. {photo courtesy of The Wall Street Journal}


Pope Francis is hospitalized with a lung infection after experiencing difficulty breathing in recent days and will remain in the hospital for treatment. The 86-year-old pope does not have COVID-19, but does suffer from diverticulitis.

Loaded Gun

Santa Rosa Police were on routine patrol on Sendero Lane when they came across a group of juveniles in front of a residence consuming alcohol. One was a noted gang member on parole. When officers attempted to make contact, they all ran and tried to hide behind a car in the garage. After a search, they found a 16-year old with a loaded 9mm handgun and a high-capacity magazine. He was arrested on multiple charges.

Dutch Bill Bridge

The 70-year old Dutch Bill Creek Bridge in Monte Rio suffered significant damage in the most recent storms, when one of the support columns holding up the east bound side of the bridge was knocked out of place by floating logs. A detour for east bound traffic is in place, westbound is not affected. Engineers are trying to come up with a fix, but a permanent one may take several years. {photo courtesy of The Press Democrat}


Sen. John Fetterman, a Pennsylvania Democrat who has been hospitalized for depression since February, will return to the Senate after the April recess. His treatment for depression came as he was still recovering from a stroke that required the use of a closed captioning to help him communicate on the campaign trail and now in the Senate. {photo courtesy of Reuters}

Disney Master!

Nathan Firesheets from Atlanta has done the impossible... he rode every ride at every Disney park in the world in 12 days. That's 216 rides, 12 parks, four countries and three continents. He says the hardest part was the logistics of travelling between parks. Once inside he had a plan to knock out rides in a specific order. The trip cost him a little over $12,000, which included several new pairs of shoes.

Pony Chase

The most adorable slow speed foot pursuit took place when Knight, a 4-year old therapeutic pony escaped his pen in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Police tried to offer him pizza and peppermint to try and catch the pony, but he continued to "resist arrest". After 2 hours of a mostly hysterical chase, he was caught. Police took a mug shot of Knight- who they called Ginuwine before they found out his real name, who was charged with resisting arrest and disorderly conduct before heading back home to his owners.

Happy Cow

A Holstein cow in Australia is guaranteed to live a happy and long life. Happy the cow was born with a smiley face on the side of his body. Random markings lined up to create two eyes, a nose and a mouth. You can see happy for yourself, we have a cute photo up on our website under news at KZST.com.

Resource Hub

The Sonoma County Human Services Department and local nonprofits have launched a resource hub that quickly connects older adults and people with disabilities to an array of critical services. The Aging & Disability Resource Hub simplifies access to health, transportation and nutrition services offered by federal, state and local government agencies and their nonprofit partners. To access the hub, call (707) 565-INFO (4636) or go to www.socoadrh.org and click on the chat icon to start a conversation with a social worker. Assistance is available for older adults, people with disabilities, their family members, caregivers, social workers and direct service providers who need help identifying and accessing support services. The Aging & Disability Resource Hub is a collaboration of the county Human Services Department and the Disability Services & Legal Center, a Santa Rosa-based nonprofit. In Sonoma County, 28% of residents are 60 years and older and 25% have a disability. Many need similar types of support services to help them remain in their homes and live independently. To aid this population and their caregivers, the county and partner agencies provide a host of services, including food assistance, case management, transportation coordination, caregiver support and more. Trained staff at the new hub will help connect residents and their caregivers with resources they are eligible for. Sonoma County was just designated an Aging and Disability Resource Center by the California Department of Aging. This designation comes with $348,102 in state support this year to fund four core services offered by the hub: Enhanced Information and Referral Services: Comprehensive information and referrals to services that support older adults and people with disabilities. Options Counseling: Assistance in identifying an individual’s goals and unique needs, then connecting them to public and private-funded long-term services and supports. Short-Term Service Coordination: Assistance gaining access to public services and supports for individuals at risk of placement in a nursing home. Transition Services: Assistance for people who are currently in a licensed care facility and wish to return home or move into a community-based setting. The Aging & Disability Resource Hub has developed partnerships with local organizations including Petaluma People Services Center and Earle Baum Center of the Blind. The hub will be expanding its network by partnering with many other community organizations this year.

Manatee Appreciation Day

Today is National Manatee Appreciation Day! the cute, huge 1,200 pound sea cows spend their days munching on sea grass, they have no natural enemies, other than man. Manatee Appreciation Day was started by the world’s leading manatee conservation organization, Save the Manatee Club, founded in 1981 by singer Jimmy Buffet and former U.S. senator Bob Graham.

Musk Kids Name

Elon Musk is making news again, but not about Tesla. Musk and the singer Grimes welcomed a baby girl via surrogate in December, and originally named her EXA DARK SIDERAEL MUSK.... but have now decided to change the 4 month old girls name to Y. Yes, just the letter Y, or Why. They wanted to use a question mark, but the government, thankfully, would not recognize that.

Pepsi Logo

Pepsi is turning 125 years old this year, and to celebrate, they are changing their logo. The current red, white and blue logo has been in place since 2008. The new one harkens back to the classic 1970's and 1980's, with stacked red white and blue with the word PEPSI in the center written over the white stripe. The new logo will start appearing by this fall. {photo courtesy of CNN}


The Federal Reserve’s bank supervisors warned Silicon Valley Bank’s management as early as the fall of 2021 of risks stemming from its unusual business model. A Fed official said the interest rate model the bank used “was not at all aligned with reality.”


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