Petaluma’s Founding Documents…Decomposing in the Basement

In this busy era we tend not to reflect upon our history and the documents from our past. In many instances government documents–records from the “pre-digital days”– sit decaying in boxes stored in backrooms, basements, or attics. (1)

And so it is with the City of Petaluma’s Archives in the basement of City Hall.  The preservation of some of these original documents and records must be given high priority.

Two original documents should be attended to now

Articles of Incorporation from 1858, signed by the California Secretary of State, Ferris Forman…*


  City Charter of 1876, signed by Secretary of State, Thomas Beck…*

If action is not taken, the above photos may be your first–if not the only–opportunity to view what I call the Founding Documents of our fair city.

These documents need to be properly treated and preserved in safe storage so that they do not continue to deteriorate. A documents archivist suggested…

“Digital replicas can–or should–be made to display in the Council Chambers or the Petaluma Museum…perhaps even in time for Petaluma’s 160th anniversary in 2018.”

  • If we take action now, we can ensure that they will still be here for the celebration.
  • If we don’t do anything………..Well, time is not on our side.


  • The City of Petaluma should immediately consult with a documents expert as to the best means to preserve the City’s founding documents and make them available to all of us in the future. (2)
  • The consultant should also be asked to advise as to the preservation of the rest of the important historical files in the City Archives.
  • If for some reason the City is not able to proceed, then it should immediately look to other agencies or institutions that are capable of preserving this history.

I have conducted some preliminary research in this area with the assistance of a few “sources” and have secured recommendations as to possible area candidates for this task.


*Photos from a January 2011 visit to City Hall  gathering information for Petaluma’s Charter–A Little Civics Lesson

(1) Care, Handling, and Storage of Works on Paper

(2) On the Preservation of Books and Documents in Original Form

Petaluma’s Leaky Water Infrastructure Blues


The water mains and lines in Petaluma are, shall we say, a bit long in the tooth.  On one street in our ‘Hood, the main blows about once a year and the section is replaced.

Last week the line feeding the water meter to the house next door started flooding the yard.  Fortunately it was noticed before too much water escaped and the Water Department fixed it in short order.

Tonight, a water main or the line from the main that feeds a fire hydrant blew at the house across from us. It was a big one–flooding the surrounding streets and pushing up the pavement in front of the home.  It was late in the evening and was not noticed until a homeowner next to the line came home and noticed a large volume of water in the streets.

To say that it attracted a lot of attention is an understatement. Don’t expect too much sleep tonight given the expected and necessary work that will be required to patch it.

A few photos may give you a sense of the scene…






“Thankfully, there’s Healdsburg”

Two different worlds, if you will, separated by mere inches on the sidewalk...

“Thankfully, there’s Healdsburg” proclaims the sign on the Healdsburg Chamber of Commerce window

Healdsburg in Northern Sonoma County has changed with gentrification* and $400 a night hotel rooms; however, there are still a few places where one can get a nice lunch for less than a mortgage payment.

On a recent Friday afternoon there were the usual downtown crowds…

  • The sidewalk in front of the Healdsburg Bar & Grill patio was filled with people.
  • A Dickensian figure sitting on the public bench next to the sidewalk was holding a sign…“Poverty 2015”  

Given the tendency for readers to only look at the first image in a post, I first present an image to give you a sense of the scene…

Two different worlds, if you will, separated by mere inches on the sidewalk...

Two different worlds, if you will, separated by mere inches on the sidewalk…

 Photos in the slideshow below…


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*Further information on the changes in Healdsburg are reported in this recent San Francisco Chronicle article…How wealth is making Healdsburg a miniature San Francisco

Critical Legal Documents In A Flash…On A Flash(Drive)!!!

Flashcard on right. Business Card on left

So you are prudent and finally visit a lawyer to create or update your will, trust, or other critical documents such as powers of attorney, medical care directives, etc.

At the end of the process, you receive a collection of legal documents with instructions as to how and where to keep them…


If you used attorney Bridget Mackay, you now get something in addition to the paper documents…A white plastic card the size of a business card that is really a flash drive containing all of the documents in pdf format…

Flashcard on right. Business Card on left

Flashcard on right. Business Card on left

So where is the flash drive?

Well, if you press on the card. it pops open…


Trust me, there are times when it is VERY convenient to have these documents available on this easy-to-carry card when it becomes necessary to work with a financial institution or a medical facility.  You can leave the large folder of paper documents in your safe or safety deposit box.