Author: Wayne Freedman

Nationwide wireless test passes in hard-to-reach west Sonoma County

WASHINGTON (KGO) —

If there is one place in America that would not want a message from the president of the United States, it would be left-leaning Guerneville in western Sonoma County.

RELATED: Presidential alert test sent by FEMA; new system lets presidents send notifications to your phone

“He has nothing to say that I want to hear,” said resident Karen Devan as she sat in a coffee house.

Americans with mobile devices had no choice Wednesday, even if they weren’t aware of the president’s nationwide wireless alert test.

“Never heard of it,” said Mo Munroe.

And yet, at 11:18 a.m., a concert of tones from phones in tune filled the air around Guerneville — whether they liked it or not. The alert reached out-of-town tourists like Jill Grill from Atlanta. “I have faith in our federal government,” she said.

VIDEO: Didn’t get the nationwide alert? This might be why, and here’s how to fix it

And it reached locals. “They should have posted his tax return and everybody would have paid attention to it,” said Patty Hallstead, who works in a local real estate office.

In fact, the national test worked much more efficiently than another test conducted by Sonoma County on September 12. One year after the firestorm, with citizens demanding a better warning system, areas like Guerneville still reported more bugs than notifications.

That disappoints Supervisor Lynda Hopkins. “Unfortunately, it felt like 10 percent received a wireless alert that was supposed to go to everybody.”

Not even Guerneville’s local fire station received the alert. Blame steep topography and weak wireless for part of the problem. Residents do not want cell towers anywhere near them for fear of health concerns.

Instead, many would prefer returning to an old-school approach. They want to reconnect an existing siren system.

“I mean if it works, it works,” said Devan.

She is not alone.

(Copyright ©2018 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.)

Man who allegedly stole rainbow flag twice from Guerneville appears in court

GUERNEVILLE, Calif. (KGO) —

A man who allegedly threatened to harm the LGBTQ community with explosives and twice stole a rainbow flag from the Guerneville Chamber of Commerce made an appearance in court Tuesday.

It began with a pride flag stolen, and then tossed into the Russian River. Today, the story entered a new phase in Sonoma County Superior Court. It has been symbolic from the start. “Every time he is in court, I will be here,” said Beth Sheets, who joined several other people in watching proceedings.

RELATED: The mysterious case of the Guerneville disappearing rainbow flag

The flag, symbolizing LGBTQ pride, was stolen on April 26 from the building at 16201 First Street in the unincorporated area of Guerneville in Sonoma County.

The building arranged for a replacement, but the flag was again stolen on May 5. According to Sonoma County’s website, Guerneville became a “welcoming resort area for Bay Area gay men and lesbians” in the 1970’s.

A man named Vincent O’Sullivan, 55, is seen in this undated image.

This marked the first appearance of Vincent Joseph O’Sullivan, Jr. following his arrest last weekend. He pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor charges Tuesday of stealing a pride flag from the county flagpole in Guerneville, and also to felony charges of a hate crime by threatening to blow up gay people, a grocery store, and sheriff’s substation with a pipe bomb.

RELATED: Arrest made after community threatened, rainbow flag stolen twice from Guerneville

“It is a terrorist threat. He did not take action to carry out that act,” said Sonoma County Sherriff’s Department spokesman, Sgt. Spencer Crum.

In open-minded and permissive Guerneville, both alleged crimes resonate disturbingly. Hence, a large group who came to court today. “We’re here to protect ourselves from people who want to blow us up,” said Guerneville resident Jennifer Wentz.

“It is about a community of people who have been discriminated against,” added Beth Streets.

RELATED: Man who created rainbow flag for gay rights has died

Beth Streets had lobbied with the county to place that pride flag in the town square, beneath the American and California flags. A surveillance video from last week shows two men. One of them covers the camera’s lens, and then the flag disappears. The thieves reportedly left a warning signed in the name of veterans. David Juarez told us today that the notes certainly do not speak for him. “I was leery of coming here. My husband said as a veteran and openly gay person you have to do that.”

So he did, and they did.

They will continue to be on hand as the cases move forward.

You might call it a matter of pride and principle.

Click here for more stories, photos, and video on LGBTQ rights.

(Copyright ©2018 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.)

Man who allegedly stole rainbow flag twice from Guerneville appears in court – KGO-TV

GUERNEVILLE, Calif. (KGO) —

A man who allegedly threatened to harm the LGBTQ community with explosives and twice stole a rainbow flag from the Guerneville Chamber of Commerce made an appearance in court Tuesday.

It began with a pride flag stolen, and then tossed into the Russian River. Today, the story entered a new phase in Sonoma County Superior Court. It has been symbolic from the start. “Every time he is in court, I will be here,” said Beth Sheets, who joined several other people in watching proceedings.

RELATED: The mysterious case of the Guerneville disappearing rainbow flag

The flag, symbolizing LGBTQ pride, was stolen on April 26 from the building at 16201 First Street in the unincorporated area of Guerneville in Sonoma County.

The building arranged for a replacement, but the flag was again stolen on May 5. According to Sonoma County’s website, Guerneville became a “welcoming resort area for Bay Area gay men and lesbians” in the 1970’s.

A man named Vincent O’Sullivan, 55, is seen in this undated image.

This marked the first appearance of Vincent Joseph O’Sullivan, Jr. following his arrest last weekend. He pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor charges Tuesday of stealing a pride flag from the county flagpole in Guerneville, and also to felony charges of a hate crime by threatening to blow up gay people, a grocery store, and sheriff’s substation with a pipe bomb.

RELATED: Arrest made after community threatened, rainbow flag stolen twice from Guerneville

“It is a terrorist threat. He did not take action to carry out that act,” said Sonoma County Sherriff’s Department spokesman, Sgt. Spencer Crum.

In open-minded and permissive Guerneville, both alleged crimes resonate disturbingly. Hence, a large group who came to court today. “We’re here to protect ourselves from people who want to blow us up,” said Guerneville resident Jennifer Wentz.

“It is about a community of people who have been discriminated against,” added Beth Streets.

RELATED: Man who created rainbow flag for gay rights has died

Beth Streets had lobbied with the county to place that pride flag in the town square, beneath the American and California flags. A surveillance video from last week shows two men. One of them covers the camera’s lens, and then the flag disappears. The thieves reportedly left a warning signed in the name of veterans. David Juarez told us today that the notes certainly do not speak for him. “I was leery of coming here. My husband said as a veteran and openly gay person you have to do that.”

So he did, and they did.

They will continue to be on hand as the cases move forward.

You might call it a matter of pride and principle.

Click here for more stories, photos, and video on LGBTQ rights.

(Copyright ©2018 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.)

The mysterious case of the Guerneville disappearing rainbow flag

GUERNEVILLE, Calif. (KGO) —

If not for the insult, they say it might almost be beautiful. A rainbow flag, stolen, then tossed from the Guerneville Bridge to the bottom of the Russian River.

“If this were an American flag everyone would be in an uproar,” said Beth Streets, who has already reached that point after six rainbow flags have disappeared from the county flagpole in Guerneville’s town square.

RELATED: Man who created rainbow flag for gay rights has died

Beth fought for and gained county approval to raise those banners beneath the American and California flags. But someone keeps taking them and leaving threatening notes, supposedly signed by veterans.

A local chapter from the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence maintains the flagpole. Jesse Hughes, aka Sister Peghan Ritual, does some of the work. “It is a flag about unity and being respected for who you are.”

“I was angry because it is a slap in the face of the community,” said Beth.

The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department has begun an investigation. Technically, it’s a misdemeanor for vandalism. However, investigators have a surveillance video showing the thieves covering up the camera before taking a flag last Wednesday night. The Sheriff’s office may already have a suspect.

RELATED: San Francisco creator of gay flag share stories of strength, pride

Suzy Kuhr owns that camera and believes one of the culprits may be a local homeless person who she and others have helped in a local shelter. “I think he needs to realize that most of the people who took care of them and served and sheltered them were gay.”

All this in a rainbow-themed town, where a stolen flag beneath the water under a bridge feels more troubling than a mere misdemeanor.

Click here for more stories, photos, and video on LGBTQ rights.

(Copyright ©2018 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.)

The mysterious case of the Guerneville disappearing rainbow flag – KGO-TV

GUERNEVILLE, Calif. (KGO) —

If not for the insult, they say it might almost be beautiful. A rainbow flag, stolen, then tossed from the Guerneville Bridge to the bottom of the Russian River.

“If this were an American flag everyone would be in an uproar,” said Beth Streets, who has already reached that point after six rainbow flags have disappeared from the county flagpole in Guerneville’s town square.

RELATED: Man who created rainbow flag for gay rights has died

Beth fought for and gained county approval to raise those banners beneath the American and California flags. But someone keeps taking them and leaving threatening notes, supposedly signed by veterans.

A local chapter from the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence maintains the flagpole. Jesse Hughes, aka Sister Peghan Ritual, does some of the work. “It is a flag about unity and being respected for who you are.”

“I was angry because it is a slap in the face of the community,” said Beth.

The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department has begun an investigation. Technically, it’s a misdemeanor for vandalism. However, investigators have a surveillance video showing the thieves covering up the camera before taking a flag last Wednesday night. The Sheriff’s office may already have a suspect.

RELATED: San Francisco creator of gay flag share stories of strength, pride

Suzy Kuhr owns that camera and believes one of the culprits may be a local homeless person who she and others have helped in a local shelter. “I think he needs to realize that most of the people who took care of them and served and sheltered them were gay.”

All this in a rainbow-themed town, where a stolen flag beneath the water under a bridge feels more troubling than a mere misdemeanor.

Click here for more stories, photos, and video on LGBTQ rights.

(Copyright ©2018 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.)