"As a Sonoma County resident involved with the criminal justice system, I have had my criticisms of District Attorney Jill Ravitch. That said, I am completely against the effort to recall her."
Keep up with the latest news on our effort to defeat the recall:
The recall campaign seeking Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch’s ouster has revamped its allegations against her in a flurry of new mailers days ahead of the Sept. 14 election that criticize the three-term prosecutor and single out elected officials supporting her.
The new flyers, which hit voters’ mailboxes Friday, feature photos and names of over a dozen lawmakers in the county including state Sen. Mike McGuire, Supervisors Lynda Hopkins, Chris Coursey, Susan Gorin and James Gore, as well as mayors and council members in Santa Rosa, Petaluma and Sebastopol.
The flyers accuse the lawmakers, who have rallied to Ravitch’s side and oppose her recall, of “blindly following” her.
Ravitch and some of those lawmakers in Friday interviews denounced the new political ads, bankrolled by wealthy Sonoma County developer Bill Gallaher. He has poured at least $1.7 million to the recall effort, according to campaign finance reports.
“It's him dropping a horse's head in every bed of an elected official,” Ravitch said.
Coursey and Hopkins, who aren’t up for reelection until 2024, said they understand how some might see the flyers as Gallaher’s “shot across the bow.”
“It could be just that he realizes that he has spent $1.7 million or more on what’s a losing cause for him and he wants to cause as much damage as possible,” Coursey said.
EDITOR: Why has Bill Gallaher wasted so much money on this recall?
A. To recall District Attorney Jill Ravitch and show her who’s boss.
B. To humiliate Ravitch and spare no expense.
C. To intimidate all public officials so they know who is boss.
D. All of the above.
I will leave it to readers to decide.
On Sept. 14, when voters all over the state submit their ballots in the gubernatorial recall, Sonoma County voters will have the chance to decide whether or not to remove District Attorney Jill Ravitch from office as well.
The question of whether to recall Ravitch can be found on the backside of the same ballot concerning the recall of Gov. Gavin Newsom. Voters will be asked to answer two questions: should Ravitch be recalled; and if so, who should replace her.
There are no official candidates to replace Ravitch listed on the ballot, however, the Sonoma County Registrar of Voters lists two qualified write-in candidates, Omar Figueroa and Joey Castagnola.
Assuming a majority of voters elect to remove Ravitch from office, whichever write-in candidate wins the most votes would assume her office for the remainder of the current term, which concludes at the end of 2022. Another vote will be held in 2022 to select the district attorney for the term beginning in 2023.
Ravitch, who took office in 2011 as Sonoma County’s first female district attorney, is currently serving her second term.
The recall effort is considered by many to be the result of a grudge held against Ravitch by wealthy developer Bill Gallaher. Companies controlled by Gallaher, the sole contributor behind the recall campaign, faced large fines after Ravitch investigated the abandonment of disabled senior residents at various senior care facilities in Santa Rosa during the 2017 Tubbs Fire.
A March 2021 resolution adopted by the Sonoma County Democratic Party states that Gallaher filed the recall against Ravitch in October 2020, less than a week after Ravitch had announced she would retire after her second term ends, meaning the recall effort was begun with the knowledge that Ravitch would be retiring from office in less than 18 months.
Less than two months prior to his filing of the recall, Gallaher paid $500,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by local and state prosecutors over the allegations of abandonment of seniors under his corporations’ care during the Tubbs Fire.
EDITOR: Not much more can be said about the attempt to recall District Attorney Jill Ravitch. We all know the campaign is driven and financed by a moneyed and self-centered individual; one who accepted the fact that he and his employees were responsible for leaving scores of helpless senior citizens to fend for themselves as the Tubbs fire bore down on their assisted living facilities. He now perversely and petulantly focuses his wealth and attention on the prosecutor who held him accountable.
I had the pleasure to work with Ravitch for many years. Her work ethic is beyond reproach, and she demands the same from her staff. Most important, she demands honesty. Every prosecutor in the Sonoma County DA’s Office knows their primary responsibility is to ascertain the truth and seek justice. That is what every citizen of Sonoma County deserves and expects, and that is what occurred in the case against Bill Gallaher. She did what we elected her to do.
I’ve received the flyers and heard the ads supporting the recall. Ignore them; all are misleading, inaccurate, defamatory and deceitful. Ravitch is a brilliant prosecutor, a tireless advocate for crime victims and an excellent DA. She deserves your support. Vote no on the DA recall and send your ballot in today.
EDITOR: Oh, the irony. Bill Gallaher says his reason for pursuing a recall of District Attorney Jill Ravitch is that she “repeatedly abused her powers to pursue personal vendettas.” This is the man who has a spare million or so to try to destroy a woman for doing her job, which in this case included suing Gallaher’s company for morally corrupt treatment of the elderly at Villa Capri. Please reject this blatant attempt to buy the legal system to do his “personal vendetta” bidding. Vote no and send a clear message: We are a county that will not let bullies prevail.
EDITOR: I have worked with Jill Ravitch since I was a Santa Rosa police detective in the 1980s. She is a strong prosecutor committed to victims’ rights and making sure criminal cases are properly based on solid evidence. I continued to work with her as supervisor of the violent crime unit, and later I served as her chief investigator. Ravitch is demanding of law enforcement and her staff because she is committed to the ideal of fairness in the criminal justice system.
When Ravitch was first elected, one of her priorities was getting the Family Justice Center up and running. It was an innovative approach at the time to supporting victims by housing many support services in one location. From the onset, she demanded the best people to operate the center. Her prosecutorial decision-making has always been made within the framework of the law and in the interest of the victims. Many decisions have been difficult but were made with the utmost care and deliberation.
Please send a message of support to our district attorney as well as a message of disdain to the pompous, misogynistic multimillionaire developer whose companies abandoned more than 100 elderly people during the Tubbs fire.
Vineyard Creek Apartments sits not far from Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport, “nestled among the vineyards” beside an aging mobile home park.
The 232-unit complex, which includes a community garden and balconies overlooking a swimming pool, is marketed as offering the luxuries of Wine Country, with units named for Syrah, Malbec, Riesling and Zinfandel.
When the county was considering approving the project in the early 2000s, it was under pressure to comply with a court order to greenlight more affordable housing. County officials rezoned commercial space near the airport to clear the way for Vineyard Creek. In exchange for zoning and permitting concessions, Sonoma County developer Bill Gallaher agreed to designate 47 units at the complex for low-income tenants.
But a whistleblower lawsuit filed by a former employee in June 2019 raises questions about Vineyard Creek’s compliance with the deal. In her complaint, Mariah Clark, a former property manager at the complex, accused companies owned by Gallaher of extensive affordable housing fraud at Vineyard Creek, including overcharging low-income tenants for rent and leasing out some affordable units to those who did not qualify.
The Press Democrat has reported that Clark and five companies named as defendants in the lawsuit have agreed to a $500,000 settlement over claims of retaliation and other alleged California labor code violations. The settlement also would lead to the dismissal of the fraud claims.
The campaign opposing the recall of Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch Saturday called for the county to investigate allegations of housing fraud contained in a whistleblower lawsuit brought by a former employee of an apartment complex built by developer Bill Gallaher.
In a statement emailed to Ravitch’s supporters Saturday morning, the campaign called on supervisors “to conduct a full inquiry into Vineyard Creek (Apartments) and the alleged violations,” contained in the lawsuit brought by whistleblower Mariah Clark.
The statement outlined key elements of Clark’s complaint and linked to a copy of it online.
A Press Democrat investigation into Clark’s complaint, published first at pressdemocrat.com Saturday afternoon, found she and five companies named as defendants in the lawsuit have agreed to a $500,000 settlement. It applies to Clark’s claims of retaliation and labor code violations, but would also dismiss any claims of housing and insurance fraud.
Clark alleged Vineyard Creek violated insurance law and affordable housing agreements that were key to the approval and financing of the apartment complex, which opened near Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport in 2006.
Gallaher is the sole donor to the campaign to unseat Ravitch, who sued one of his companies, Oakmont Senior Living, for abandoning elderly residents at two Santa Rosa senior homes during the 2017 Tubbs fire.
Gallaher has spent $1.6 million to bankroll the Sept. 14 recall, according to the latest public findings.
Gallaher companies to pay $500,000 to settle claim from whistleblower who alleged affordable housing fraud
Companies owned by Sonoma County developer Bill Gallaher have agreed to a $500,000 settlement in response to a whistleblower lawsuit with a former employee who claimed she was fired after uncovering extensive affordable housing fraud at an apartment complex Gallaher developed, The Press Democrat has learned.
While the fraud claims are being dismissed, the case raises questions about how closely state and county government agencies have monitored the complex’s compliance with low-income housing requirements tied to tax incentives.
The June 2019 whistleblower suit filed in Sonoma County Superior Court involves Gallaher’s Vineyard Creek Apartments, a 232-unit complex with 47 units of affordable housing in an unincorporated area just north of Santa Rosa.
- Developer William Gallaher received $35 million in tax-exempt bonds to finance the construction of Vineyard Creek apartments near the Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport. In return, he agreed to devote 47 units to low-income housing.
- Whistleblower Mariah Clark, a former Vineyard Creek employee, claims that rent-restricted apartments were leased to family and friends of Gallaher’s even though they made too much money to qualify.
- She also alleged the companies overcharged low-income residents for rent while at the same time gouging government agencies over rental subsidies.
- Clark claims she was subjected to verbal abuse and retaliation and eventually fired after raising questions.
- Gallaher’s companies have agreed to pay Clark $500,000 to settle her employment-related claims, which were kept under seal for more than a year.
EDITOR: Livid best describes how I felt when I heard that a local developer was trying to recall District Attorney Jill Ravitch. She has performed honorably for the people of Sonoma County, and it's shameful that she needs to deal with this bogus recall as she serves her last year in office. I only hope the people of Sonoma County will send a clear and strong message that they are wise to the antics of one spoiled, vindictive man by handing him a resounding defeat. Please join me in voting no on the district attorney recall.
EDITOR: As a lifelong resident of Sonoma County who is politically astute, I'm disgusted by the retaliatory attempt to recall our highly respected district attorney, Jill Ravitch, by a local millionaire businessman.
For those who aren't aware, he owns Villa Capri, an assisted living where dozens of seniors were abandoned during the 2017 fires. Thankfully, they were rescued by family members before it burned to the ground. He was sued by the state and the DA, resulting in a $500,000 fine. Now he's bankrolling a recall against Ravitch for doing her job. Don't let this mega buck bully influence your vote. Vote no on the recall.
Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch and her supporters on Wednesday criticized what they said was a “grotesque” and “immoral” ad that targets her family in the recall campaign against her.
Her comments came as developer Bill Gallaher, the sole donor in the effort to unseat her, donated another $536,000 to the recall campaign over five days, bringing his total to more than $1.6 million.
Gallaher launched the campaign after Ravitch’s office sued one of his companies, Oakmont Senior Living, for abandoning elderly residents at two Santa Rosa senior homes during the 2017 Tubbs fire.
The recall campaign’s finances dwarf the Ravitch campaign, which reported $108,702.75 total donations year to date.
As of Monday, the pro-Ravitch effort has received 539 individual donations with an average contribution of $201.67, the campaign said.
EDITOR: As a concerned senior, looking at the upcoming recall of our district attorney has me puzzled. It seems District Attorney Jill Ravitch did her job because a rich developer did not do his. Think about the seniors who were left high and dry when they were promised safety and security by the developer. The rich developer promised to help build a Boys and Girls Club, but backed out — promises made, promises not kept. When your ballot arrives, take a moment to think of the terror those seniors experienced during the Tubbs fire. Seniors deserve better. When your ballot arrives, think of all those thousands of boys and girls who will not have their clubhouse. Sonoma County deserves better. I’m voting no. Join me.
There’s more at stake in Sonoma County’s upcoming recall election than the tarnished reputation of senior living mogul Bill Gallaher.
If voters remove District Attorney Jill Ravitch from office, it will send a dangerous message to other public officials: Holding wealthy people accountable can end your career.
The path to the Sept. 14 recall election begins with the Tubbs fire in 2017, when employees fled Villa Capri and Varenna, assisted-living complexes owned by Gallaher’s Oakmont Senior Living in Santa Rosa’s Fountaingrove neighborhood. About 100 elderly residents got left behind, according to the state Department of Social Services. If not for a rescue effort organized by relatives and first responders, the state’s investigation concluded, about 20 residents at Villa Capri “would have perished when the facility burned to the ground.”
In the aftermath, California enacted new protections for seniors in assisted living, and Oakmont Senior Living negotiated a settlement with state regulators that allowed the company to keep its license and avoid a public hearing. Oakmont also settled with residents and their families.
In September, the company settled a lawsuit filed by the Sonoma County district attorney and the state Justice Department, paying $500,000 and, perhaps more important, agreeing to hire an independent monitor to ensure compliance with court-ordered disaster planning and training requirements crafted to protect residents at Varenna and a rebuilt Villa Capri.
Then, in October, less than a week after Ravitch announced plans to retire next year, Gallaher launched a recall campaign. So far, he has invested more than $1.5 million of his own money in the recall. There are no other donors.read more
EDITOR: In Buddhism, the three poisons of greed, hatred and delusion are the basic mental states that cloud one’s mind and manifest in unwholesome actions. This dynamic appears to be what’s playing out in Bill Gallaher’s singlehanded effort to recall District Attorney Jill Ravitch. As best I can determine, Ravitch has done nothing that remotely merits being recalled. I propose that voters reframe this election in their minds. Instead of viewing it as a vote to recall Ravitch, look at it as a vote against Gallaher and his personal effort to subvert the electoral process and intimidate elected officials. That should make it very easy to decide how to vote. Let’s go for a crushing landslide.
Less than a week before mail-in ballots are sent out in the recall election of Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch, campaign finance filings show a wide gap between her supporters and the drive to unseat her.
The Recall Ravitch campaign reported receiving $865,243.62 in contributions from local developer Bill Gallaher between Jan. 1 and July 31, according to the most recent finance report filed with the county. Gallaher is the organization’s only contributor.
EDITOR: I remember so clearly hearing that seniors were abandoned in an assisted living facility as the Tubbs fire approached. I thought to myself, what kind of person owns a facility like that without a solid, detailed evacuation plan and employees trained to keep residents safe during a disaster? Well, it seems I have my answer. The same person who gets so angry that his company was investigated by District Attorney Jill Ravitch for this epic catastrophe that he single-handedly mounts a recall against her in a quest for revenge. Let’s send a clear message to this wealthy developer that we will not help him get his revenge. Vote no on the district attorney recall.
KATY ROSE LUSSON
EDITOR: I was fortunate enough to have worked directly for District Attorney Jill Ravitch and I know firsthand the office has thrived under her leadership. Well respected by her staff, she ensures justice is served, victims receive the services they need, and the guilty are held accountable. The Family Justice Center went from concept to reality under her leadership and has become the gold standard as a one-stop shop for victims of violent crimes.
The public spoke when they voted DA Ravitch into her third term (which she is currently serving) and she announced publicly, long before this recall, that this would be her last term in office. So, why would one man spend over a million dollars to recall someone with just over a year left in office? The answer is simple, revenge. We cannot allow a man who was angry that he was held accountable for leaving our most vulnerable population stranded during the Tubbs fire to use his money to control the politics of our county. Vote no on this recall and send the message loud and clear that money cannot buy our vote!
EDITOR: I have trouble understanding why Bill Gallaher would want to spend so much money recalling District Attorney Jill Ravitch when she is not running for reelection. And another big question for me is why would he want the news media to continue to bring up the issue that led to his petulant action: namely the abandonment of residents at his retirement homes during the fire. Every time the recall election comes up in the news his abandonment of these confused and elderly residents is brought up. Again and again. If he was hoping that the public would forget his negligent behavior, his continued spiteful recall election has continued to spotlight this in the news.
Six weeks before the September special election, Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch and her supporters are fighting back against efforts to recall her, saying politics and petty revenge are behind the drive to oust her from office.
Ravitch’s supporters say the recall, led by the Recall Ravitch campaign and its backer, local developer Bill Gallaher, is not about removing a DA who is mishandling the job.
Instead, it’s about embarrassing Ravitch, her supporters say.
At a Sunday fundraising event for the pro-Ravitch campaign, Maddy Hirshfield, one of the campaign’s leaders, accused Gallaher of unfairly targeting Ravitch. Addressing a crowd of local and state elected officials, prosecutors and friends gathered at Sally Tomatoes in Rohnert Park, Hirshfield questioned if Gallaher even cares if Ravitch is recalled.
He just wants to humiliate her, Hirshfield said as rapt audience members nodded in agreement.
The looming question behind the recall asks what Gallaher’s motivation is for launching the recall. Ravitch and her supporters say the only explanation is that Gallaher wants to punish Ravitch for a previous lawsuit brought by her office and state prosecutors over the abandonment of frail, elderly residents in two of Santa Rosa senior homes during the 2017 Tubbs fire.
EDITOR: So, a wealthy developer whose company was prosecuted by the district attorney for abandoning defenseless seniors in the midst of horrendous firestorms seeks his revenge by bankrolling a recall of the very district attorney who prosecuted him.
District Attorney Jill Ravitch did the job she was elected to do and made the hard decision to prosecute a high-profile influential member of our community. Doing otherwise would have been an abandonment of her responsibilities.
Kudos to Ravitch for standing tall.
EDITOR: A local developer is spending too much time swimming in his gold coin tower. How many additional firefighters could our community have, or potholes filled, for the nearly $1 million in taxpayer money that the developer has forced us to spend on his revenge recall?
EDITOR: I’m growing tired of hearing about this attempted recall of District Attorney Jill Ravitch. I’ve had the ability to get to know her for several years, having worked on her campaigns, and I’ve learned firsthand about her exemplary integrity, character and professionalism. She did her job by holding a wealthy developer to account and, in turn, she has to deal with this nasty, bogus, revenge recall attempt.
Stick with Ravitch
Should a pouting man be permitted to bring down a tough and successful prosecutor using bogus and retaliatory actions? No. Who thinks it will stop with Ravitch? This may be a warning to other public officials: Don’t try to stop him from doing as he pleases. You either do as I say, or you will be recalled. Win or lose, it will cost you.
This recall election isn’t really about Ravitch’s phantom misdeeds as district attorney. It’s about one very wealthy man’s brute-force attempt to control local politics.
Boys and Girls Club Sonoma-Marin CEO Jennifer Weiss said the Gallahers pledged to cover the construction cost, but at a meeting last fall said they would no longer pay for the building. The Gallahers told her only their priorities had shifted, Weiss said.
EDITOR: The executive committee of the Sonoma County chapter of the National Organization for Women need to express our great displeasure and disappointment regarding the recalls of Gov. Gavin Newsom and District Attorney Jill Ravitch. Both recalls are an exceptional waste of money and completely unnecessary. Ravitch is ending her term next year, and there also is an election for governor in 2022.
EDITOR: President Joe Biden won. Gov. Gavin Newsom won. Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon won. Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch won. Republicans simply cannot accept the results of elections.
EDITOR: Anderson Thomas captured the truth of the matter regarding the campaign of one selfish and self-serving individual who can’t and won’t accept the truth (“Vengeful recall,” Letters, June 21).
Family Justice Center Sonoma County's longest serving Director Wes Winter is speaking out against the revenge recall:
EDITOR: I am a retired Sonoma County public defender, and I represented hundreds of clients who were prosecuted by the office of District Attorney Jill Ravitch. While I often disagreed with decisions made by her office, that is how the system is supposed to work. I at all times believed Ravitch to be highly competent and ethical.
EDITOR: The effort to recall District Attorney Jill Ravitch funded by Bill Gallaher illustrates the difference between amorality and immorality. Capitalism is amoral. It is unconcerned about the rightness or wrongness of an act. Immoral refers to conscious rejection of moral standards — ideas and beliefs about how to behave in a way that is considered right and good by the majority of people.
EDITOR: The petulant, narcissistic Gallahers have once again inserted themselves into Sonoma County politics. It’s not bad enough that scores of elders were nearly killed in their senior centers in the Tubbs fire, and then they squelched any reasonable discussion of the SMART issue. Now they’re going to extract another $600,000-$900,000 from Sonoma County for this vendetta to recall a competent district attorney because they have the money.
"A countywide special election will not be cheap. It is estimated to cost public coffers between $600,000 and more than $909,000", according to Sonoma County Registrar of voters Deva Proto.
EDITOR: I was so grateful when I found out the Sonoma County district attorney was investigating what happened at the Villa Capri assisted-living facility during the 2017 Tubbs fire. But I went from grateful to disappointed when I found out there was a settlement with Oakmont Senior Living and the victims would not get their day in court. I know firsthand the epic failure at Villa Capri that night because I was there.
Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch filed criminal charges Tuesday against PG&E, alleging it recklessly caused the 2019 Kincade fire that ignited in the mountains near Geyserville and burned nearly 78,000 acres.
Ravitch charged PG&E with five felony crimes and 28 misdemeanors that deal with the company’s role igniting the a blaze that menaced the county, destroyed homes, businesses and forests, and injured six firefighters.
The case, filed in Sonoma County Superior Court, also lodges environmental crimes against PG&E for the pollution generated by the blaze.
EDITOR: During her 10 years as district attorney, I have disagreed with numerous decisions made by Jill Ravitch. Her position on the death of Andy Lopez tops my list. But I can’t think of a recent issue tied to Ravitch that justifies the cost and effort behind the recall attempt.
Extraordinary spending in the recall campaign to oust Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch is turning into a clash over local limits on campaign contributions.
Sonoma County developer Bill Gallaher has reported spending just over $295,000 on the recall campaign he and his family launched in October against Ravitch, according to a Jan. 27 public filing by the Recall Ravitch campaign. The sum is about 88 times above the $3,350 limit for individual contributions to recall campaign committees, according to Deva Proto, the county’s registrar of voters.
EDITOR: As a Sonoma County resident involved with the criminal justice system, I have had my criticisms of District Attorney Jill Ravitch. That said, I am completely against the effort to recall her.
Ravitch was right to sue Bill Gallaher after vulnerable senior citizens in one of his senior homes were left on their own during the Tubbs fire. As a result, Gallaher had to pay a $500,000 settlement. It is particularly ironic that Gallaher’s recall petition cites “social justice” as one of the reasons he wants to oust Ravitch. He admitted to his negligence to settle the case and his concern is social justice? The hypocrisy is shocking.
"PG&E received a search warrant from the District Attorney’s Office compelling the utility to produce documents and other information related to the Kincade fire"
"Beware. People are outside local storefronts being paid a premium to con us into signing a petition to recall Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch, who already announced she will not seek reelection. The petitioner who approached me brazenly admitted his home even isn’t even in Sonoma County, but Redding."
EDITOR: I am vehemently opposed to the recall effort against District Attorney Jill Ravitch for a few reasons related to cost. First, there is the cost of a special election of at least $500,000. This isn’t a time to burden taxpayers, particularly when Ravitch has announced she won’t run again, and there will be a regular election in June 2022 for the next district attorney.
"(Jill's) character is beyond reproach — that means her honesty, integrity, grit, loyalty to oath and resolve for justice. She is an asset who should complete her term."
“I think it raises questions why a multimillionaire family would spend over a half-million dollars to take down the SMART train and take away transit options from people who are reliant on it,” said Novato Councilman Eric Lucan, board chairman of SMART. “It's not just concerning to me or the campaign, but should be a concern to voters, and it should be a concern to democracy.”
"Unmentioned (by signature gatherers) was the official purpose of the petition: recalling Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch."
Gallaher and his daughter, Molly Gallaher Flater, were the first and second of 27 signatures on a petition notifying Ravitch of their intention to oust her from the office she’s held since 2011. The list of signatures includes several current and former business associates and employees of Oakmont Senior Living, a Windsor company founded by Gallaher.
When the ominous beep of an emergency alert roused Mark and Kathy Allen out of bed in Sebastopol on Oct. 9, 2017, the Tubbs Fire was heading toward Santa Rosa.
So the Allens did too. They knew the assisted living facility where Mark’s mother lived was in the path of fast-moving flames. They sped toward the facility, called Villa Capri, the air smoky, the care home dark at two in the morning.
The building had no power. Almost all of the 62 elderly residents were still in their rooms. The Allens found the few overnight staff still left in the building.
“We asked them if they had an evacuation plan, and they said ‘No,’” Kathy remembers.
Lawsuit accuses Oakmont Senior Living of slandering staff to cover up problems with evacuations during 2017 wildfires
A group of former caregivers and maintenance workers at two Santa Rosa senior care homes are suing Oakmont Senior Living, accusing their former employer of publicly blaming them for abandoning residents during the 2017 firestorm and trying to silence workers during a state investigation into problems with the evacuations.
Two former residents at one of the facilities, Oakmont of Varenna, joined the suit, alleging that Oakmont Senior Living failed to provide them with adequate care during and after the fires.
Managers at Varenna and an adjacent facility, Oakmont of Villa Capri, “abandoned the residents and staff to deal with the disaster and emergency on their own, in their own way and at risk to their lives and safety,” according to the 39-page complaint seeking unspecified damages filed Tuesday in Sonoma County Superior Court.
The plaintiffs include four former employees, a spouse and one current maintenance worker at Varenna and Villa Capri, two Fountaingrove facilities operated by Windsor-based Oakmont Senior Living.
They claim the company’s top managers conspired to cover up its failures during the Tubbs fire and blame a skeleton crew of low-wage, overnight workers who were left to rescue more than a hundred residents without emergency lights, flashlights or generators and had no evacuation training or even keys to a van they could have used to drive people to safety.