General Crime

* About 50 Cars Vandalized at Sonoma County Center

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The windshields of an estimated 50 cars were broken in at least three locations at the Sonoma County Administration Center overnight, county officials said today. Most county offices are closed today until Jan. 4. The vandalism of approximately 16 vehicles was discovered between 7:30 a.m. and 8 a.m. today by an employee of the county’s Transportation and Public Works Department at La Plaza at 2300 County Center Drive, said Dave Head, manager of the county’s Fleet Operations. More vehicles with broken windows were found in the parking lot of the county’s Permit and Resources Management Department across from the County Administration Building at 575 Administration Drive, which houses the Board of Supervisors and County Administrator’s Office. All the vehicles with broken windshields had “California Exemption” on their license plates and most also read, “For Official Use Only.” The windshield of an electric vehicle parked at a charging station in front of the County Administration building at 575 Administration Drive also was broken. A rock about the size of a softball that was broken into two pieces lay near the rear right tire of the vehicle. Sonoma County Auditor, Controller, Treasurer and Tax Collector Rod Dole surveyed the damage this morning. He said the security company that patrols the complex got off duty at 9:30 p.m. Wednesday. There is speculation that the vandalism could be related to the well-publicized removal Monday of angels and stars from Christmas trees in county buildings after community activist Irv Sutley complained the religious symbols violated laws regarding the separation between church and state. Acting County Administrator Chris Thomas ordered the stars and angels removed after he consulted with the county’s legal department. On Wednesday Thomas rescinded his order after he consulted with county Supervisor Shirlee Zane who defended the ornaments. Dole said someone could have been angry about the reduction of county services during the county employees’ furlough until Jan. 4. He and Head had the same response, “Who knows?” Head estimated it will cost between $250 and $1,000 to replace each windshield depending on the vehicle. Healdsburg Auto Glass has the contract for that replacement, Head said. A pamphlet from the New Hope Baptist Church in Santa Rosa was placed under the windshield wipers of cars in the parking lots of the county complex Wednesday before the end of the business day. In the pamphlet Dr. Arthur Maricle, the church’s pastor, and Tricia Maricle criticized Thomas and the removal of the stars and angels from the Christmas trees. Maricle this morning condemned the vandalism “I believe that Chris Thomas touched a nerve in the community. People are tired of autocratic actions that rob them of dearly heldtraditions. It was a wrong action but the outrage is understandable,” Maricle said. Maricle said the pamphlet was written before Thomas rescinded his ban on the stars and angels but they were distributed after Thomas lifted the ban.

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