The ongoing struggle with Demon Rum

Yesterday’s press release from the Petaluma Police Department updating the efforts of the current DUI campaign is another chapter in the long story about our “relationship” with alcohol.

Monday, August 29, 2011 DUI Campaign UPDATE

Community: 20 Arrested on Sunday During DUI Warrant Sweep 141 Arrested by DUI Task Force
Day 10 of 18 – Through Sunday, August 28, 2011
Total Arrests 141
DUI Arrests 111
DUI Probation Arrests 7
DUI Warrant Arrests 23
Total DUI Collisions 4
DUI Fatal Collisions 0
DUI Injury Collisions 4

In the 19th Century, abstinence was believed to be the solution.  An artifact of this movement may be found in downtown Petaluma…

© Frank Simpson

The abstinence campaign eventually led to Prohibition, which of course, failed.  At least today’s DUI campaign presents some real consequences for those who get behind the wheel.

Soberanes statue sports spiffy straw Stetson…

As many readers of this blog live outside of Northern California, a little back story is in order.

Every city or town has its local legends and traditions, which at times spread far beyond the local borders. In Petaluma, we are nationally known for our Ugly Dog Contest and, at one time, for serving as the home of the World Wristwrestling Championship.

The prime mover behind Petaluma’s wrist-wrestling “tradition” was a local newspaper columnist, Bill Soberanes.  

A statue honoring Soberanes and the wrist-wrestling contest is located at a prominent spot in Petaluma’s downtown. For a fuller account of this history, see the New York Times/The Bay Citizen article by Hank Pellissier…Wrist-Wrestling Statue

Turning now to the statue….

Over the years I must have walked or driven past it thousands of times and never gave it much notice…until last Thursday. I was riding in the passenger seat and noticed something different as we drove by.  I quickly grabbed a camera off the floor of the car and fired off a quick frame, with no time for focus, composition, etc.  In other words, a quick and dirty snapshot…

© Frank Simpson, Petaluma, California

I have no idea whether the hat is still there, although I would like to think it is.

  • Perhaps the profile in the window (upper right hand corner) is the spirit of Bill Soberanes. 
  • Perhaps the spirit, in a whimsical moment, is responsible for the hat. It would be in keeping with the “spirit” of the man.

Perhaps the Emperor of Petaluma will consider lending his top hat to the other figure in the statue.  You really have to be a local to get this one…Not enough time or space to explain.

Petaluma’s Police K-9 Trials 2011

Once again the Petaluma Police Department hosted the Annual Police K-9 Trials in Lucchesi Park on August 13, 2011. This was the fourteenth year for the event. As usual, K-9 teams from around Northern California came to demonstrate the skills of their “K-9 Officers.”

Of course, I showed up, as in years past, to make a few photos. 

As a reminder, no Petaluma public funds are expended in the production of this competition…

According to Dan Fish, Chief of Police, Petaluma Police Department:This event is not augmented by any public funding, as all proceeds are raised through donations, t-shirt sales and sponsors, as well as staffed by law enforcement volunteers and their families.  All proceeds beyond the cost of presenting the trial are returned to the Petaluma Police K-9 program in the form of training and equipment….K-9 teams account for thousands of suspect apprehensions every year, but also protect officers, search for missing persons, and perform numerous presentations to schools and service groups.”

Now on to the photos!

This year I have added photo captions, which at times are a touch whimsical.  For example…

"Hey! Watch the tail! © Frank Simpson


Note: To stop the slideshow and focus on a particular photo, simply place the cursor over the slideshow frame or window.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.




The Drug Problem in Your Medicine Cabinet

The proper disposal of leftover or out of date pharmaceuticals is receiving more attention as part of a national concern over contamination of our water tables.

Think this is not a problem in your household? Just for fun, check your medicine cabinets, dresser drawers and cupboards to determine how many pill bottles and medications are in your home…

  • How many are current?
  • How many are out of date?
  • How many are no longer being used?

In Sonoma County, local officials from many jurisdictions and agencies have developed a joint program to remedy the problem by creating recycling locations around the county–The Safe Medicine Disposal Program.


According to the Centers For Disease Control: Almost 50% of the US population has taken at least one prescription drug in the last month. In the United States, 2.34 Billion prescriptions are issued annually. 

Add the volume of over the counter (OTC) drugs and household inventories can build up dramatically.

While most drugs and pills are consumed, many are not due to changes in treatment, recovery, or death. If discarded drugs and medicines are not kept out of our landfills and waste-water systems, they will contaminate our water table by leaching out from the landfills or passing through (in whole or in part) even the most sophisticated waste-water filtering systems.

So, what do we do with the household inventory of out of date or unused medications and drugs? In the past, the advice and practice was to simply throw them in the trash or flush them down the toilet. Today, such disposal practices are not recommended–if not illegal in some jurisdictions.

The better practice is to gather all of your unused or out of date medications, pills, lotions, liquids, etc. and take them to a location that will ensure their safe disposal.

Sonoma County water agencies are now providing such convenient disposal options…

Sonoma County Safe Medicine Disposal Program

The Safe Medicine Disposal Program is a countywide pharmaceuticals recycling program jointly managed by several agencies providing convenient locations for you to safely dispose of unwanted medicines without charge. It has been in operation since 2008. For more infomration on the program and disposal sites, go to Safe Medicine Disposal and Sonoma County Drop-Off Locations

Heather Johnson, Santa Rosa Environmental Compliance Inspector, provided numbers measuring the growing effectiveness of the program: 

Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park, Cotati, Sebastopol

  • 2008–2552 pounds
  • 2009–4492 pounds
  • 2010–7475 pounds
  • 2011–4612 pounds to date

To fully appreciate these numbers, note that they are exclusive of bottle or container weight.

In Petaluma, Jamil Harb of The Medicine Shoppe advises that his take back program is currently processing 100 pounds a month.

In addition, an official of Petaluma’s Water Resources & Conservation Department advises that they are setting up a disposal site program at “…two public building locations (one to serve the western sections of the community and one to serve the eastern portions)…Our goal is to have the full-time program in place by the end of the summer in time to be announced in the fall newsletter.” 

The Department recently sponsored a one day take back program at the Petaluma Senior Center that recovered 114 pounds.

Below are related links providing additional information on medicine disposal and related recycling issues.

Sources & Reference Links