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COURSEY: A soap opera at Santa Rosa City Hall

Published: Wednesday, January 16, 2013 at 12:47 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 16, 2013 at 12:47 p.m.

On this week's episode of “As the Council Turns,” Gary gets dissed by his colleagues once again, and Erin delivers the decisive vote.

The old soap opera with the similar name has been off the air for more than two years now, but fans of serial drama need only tune in to the Santa Rosa City Council to get their fix these days.

Will Scott bring peace to the family at the dais? Can Erin successfully operate on both sides of the fence? How will Gary exact his revenge?

And, for the cliffhanger: Who will the council adopt into the fold next month?

On Tuesday, the council reverted to a tired old script when the shifting majority flexed its power to strip Gary Wysocky of his position as the council's representative to the Sonoma County Transportation Authority. It's a plum position on a board that controls tens of millions of dollars of transportation funds and deals with issues that Wysocky, a founding member of the Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition, holds dear to his heart.

But using the appointment as a political bludgeon has become a standard plot line in the ongoing drama at City Hall. When Wysocky was elected four years ago and the majority tipped his way, he and his colleagues bumped former Councilman John Sawyer off of the Transportation Authority to replace him with Wysocky.

Tit for tat, and back at you.

But this year that story comes with a new twist that may keep fans tuned in for at least a few more episodes to see how it plays out. Erin Carlstrom, who was elected in November with the support of progressive voters but also with a promise to work with the more business-friendly wing of the council, joined Mayor Scott Bartley and council members Jake Ours and Ernesto Olivares to provide Tuesday's decisive vote against Wysocky.

And even though Wysocky touted his effectiveness on the Transportation Authority and asked his colleagues to reappoint him, the vote was 4-2 to replace him with — cue the dramatic musical flourish here — Carlstrom.

Is Erin flexing her new political muscle as the swing vote on the reconfigured council? Is she exercising some political payback for Gary's refusal to vote for her for vice-mayor (after she didn't support him for mayor)? Is this a sign that the majority will remain on the business side, with an alliance of Erin, Scott, Jake and Ernesto, no matter who the council chooses to fill a vacant seat next month?

Stay tuned to “As the Council Turns.”

Chris Coursey's blog offers a community commentary and forum, from issues of the day to the ingredients of life in Sonoma County.

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