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Who was Robert Coleman-Senghor, the politician?

To understand Bob Coleman, the politician, we must begin by peeling back the many layers of the man.  To say Bob was "complicated" would be an understatement.  I must preface my analysis of Bob, the politician, by stating emphatically that I cannot speak to Bob as a father, a teacher ( who was certainly not a PHD), a son, a U.S. Marine, or "the victim" which was a role Bob loved to play so well and so often.

Bob and I were friends for many years. Both of us found common ground in the fact we both had deep roots  in the San Francisco East Bay.  I was born and raised in Richmond, CA and I know the East Bay like the back of my hand.  Both of my parents grew up poor and on the poor side of town.  Bob Coleman spent many years in the east bay in his youth as well but was not born there.  Bob and I both received college degrees from USF.  I am one of those people who listened to Bob tell stories twice and sometimes three times because he simply reached a mental state of where he could simply not remember who he told his stories to.  I came to know Bob as a fellow citizen in Cotati who fought along side me many times at City Hall against the corruption in local government.  I personally witnessed Bob's slow, yet methodical evolution into an ambitious politician in his final years in life.  I personally believe this evolution had a profound negative affect on his health, unfortunately, which I will talk about later.

In 2006, Bob asked his neighbor Phil Maher and I to meet him for breakfast to talk local politics as I remember.  Bob was actually seeking political support as I came to find out later.  While talking about the bizarre antics at City Hall and the upcoming local election, Bob suddenly stated to me, "You know George, I have political ambitions of my own".  I reacted to Bob by saying, "Really? Well I won't hold that against you, Bob", and I smiled.  Bob remained straight face and didn't find my statement humorous one bit.  I then explained to Bob what I said many times before in the newspaper and during candidates debates. "Anyone wanting to be a city council member needs to have his/her head examined".  Bob quickly changed the subject because at that point, Bob knew he as not going to get my support for his possible candidacy in 2006.  How many other people Bob approached to begin building a campaign committee is anyone's guess.  But as an "outsider" , Bob was not well liked in town, and had no real support.  So, Bob did not run in 2006 and stepped aside in that race.  In fact, when I went to Houston, Texas in 2005  to volunteer to do disaster relief work for the Red Cross after Hurricane Katrina, I told Bob about it before the city council, but Bob never acknowledged my efforts to help people of all colors. I found that very disturbing.

I actually met Bob Coleman ten years before Councilman Mark Landman even knew where the bathroom was inside City Hall, and that's the truth.  Bob went simply by Bob Coleman back in 1997.  Robert Coleman was his real name and the name on his California driver's license.  I never understood why he added "Senghor" to his name just a few years ago. Conversations between Bob and I began back in 1998 during my first run for a seat on the city council.  in 1998, I did nothing but put my name on the ballot and did little more just to offer the town a common sense candidate where there had not been one before.  Bob and I engaged in long conversations on the front steps of City Hall after many city council meetings and we liked each other because at that time, we respected our differences and agreed to disagree, like adults.  This was to change in Bob's final years when big government was falling out of favor with a growing segment of the voters.

Bob and I were both disgusted and extremely frustrated with the overspending and lack of accountability and transparency by the incompetent local city leaders at the time.  The situation at City Hall just never seemed to get any better in time.  Bob was particularly hard on council member Harold Berkemeyer at council meetings, and Bob was instrumental in getting the first recall petition against Harold started.  The petition subsequently got dropped on the recommendation of me and others in town who learned how much money it was going to cost the city to get Harold recalled.

 Bob railed against City Hall many times over the years for not doing their jobs, and I was able to witness Bob's attacks and tantrums firsthand which makes me sort of a Cotati historian in my own right, circa 1997 forward.

But it was in 2007 when Bob addressed the council on the record from the audience and asked the city council to place on the agenda how the city should take an official stand on the genocide in Darfur and the civil war in Sudan that Bob had people standing up and taking notice.  I nearly fell off my chair as Bob requested the council to "take action" about an issue in Africa of all places.  I stood up and said, "Why in the world would Cotati spend precious staff time and limited city resources in such international matters Cotati had no control or jurisdiction over?".  The city couldn't fill the potholes in town or televise it's own town meetings, yet the genocide in Africa was Bob's idea of city business?  This embarrassing incident continued to haunt Bob in the years that followed as proof that Bob had no concept of the city's jurisdiction and who the city actually was established to represent, the people of Cotati.  It was not within the city's purview to discuss on the record the suffering people in Sudan. Bob also never took up a collection for these victims.  After Bob's spoke I also suggested and offered to rent the Cotati Community Room at my own expense for a public discussion on the matter so the council could move onto official city business.  No one touched the issue of genocide in Africa with a ten foot pole, and to this day nothing was done about Bob's request. It fell on deaf ears.   Bob was humiliated in public and never brought up the issue again.  I had challenged Bob's logic on the record in front of his peers.  To Bob, I had crossed the line and made him look foolish, and he never forgot that.  It was a score Bob needed to settle someday, and I always knew it was coming my way in due time.

In 2008, shortly after Bob was elected to the Cotati City Council, Bob sent me a long letter informing me that he planned to appoint me to the Cotati Planning Commission.  I was a bit surprised and thought it might be a set up of some kind.  I was Bob's first choice in 2008 for a seat on the Planning Commission because Bob felt I was the best and most qualified person in town for the job.  The fact that I was not a registered Democrat made no difference to Bob who at that time believed in diversity and tolerance for people of other viewpoints.  Bob felt strongly that I could not be bought, would act in the best interest of the town, would be prepared 100% for every meeting, would follow the law, and could work well in a group setting despite the fact I would speak the truth at every opportunity.  He felt the Planning Commission needed honesty and integrity to continue on in his absence.  However, in the days that followed the election, we learned that after a final vote count in the 2008 election, I too, had become elected to the city council just 200 votes shy of Bob's vote count.  This was a game changer.  Now, Bob had to treat me as an equal, not as a subordinate as he had first planned.  Bob understood quite clearly that my fiscal conservatism could fly in the face of Bob's progressive political agenda. Bob got elected by hanging on the shirt tales of Obama and the wave of liberals that were elected in 2008.

To set the pecking order of who was going to be in charge before Bob and I were sworn into office, Bob asked me to go to lunch to set me up for what was to come.  So, we met at Redwood Cafe for lunch, at the recommendation of council member John Guardino as well, to lay out a strategy for moving the city forward. Barack Obama had also won the presidency and huge amounts of federal money ( borrowed or printed by the FEDs) were about to be unleashed on the nation and would be coming down to local municipalities through a Stimulus Package of some kind.  Remember, it's all about the money and Cotati getting her "fair share" to the progressives on the council.  At the end of our lunch at the Redwood Cafe, we both walked towards our cars.   Bob stopped in mid-stride and out of the blue turned to me and said, "And George, let's get one thing straight before we're sworn in.  No one is going to make a fool out of me", and in doing so stared me down and did not blink an eye.  Shocked to be threatened in such a rude manner for no reason after just having lunch and listening to Bob tell the same stories of his childhood that I heard in the past, I said to Bob, "I feel exactly the same way, Bob.  We should be respectful, yet be sure we respect our constituents and do the people's work openly and honestly in full public view and let the chips fall where they may".  This was not the response Bob was looking for, but the only response I was willing to give after campaigning door to door for months and having the blisters on my feet to prove it.

After Bob passed away from a condition that could have been easily diagnosed, according the story in the Press Democrat, very few citizens and close friends came to City Hall on 4-13-11 to pay their respects to Bob Coleman and I was not surprised one bit  Bob was liked by many, but disliked by many, many more, in my opinion. Bob had played the race card in Cotati so many times to his detriment, used racial slurs repeatedly at City Hall, refused to pledge allegiance to the flag, reduced the time citizens could speak down to a maximum of three minutes, rattled the Chamber of Commerce and publicly humiliated them for not doing their job, tried to find ways to tax the local pubs out of existence, and more. The local press wrote about all of these incidents to Bob's detriment causing him more frustration and anxiety than one can imagine.   Bob had burned a lot of bridges in the community and had become his own worst enemy.

I spoke with other SSU professors who knew Bob well. Some admitted that they were simply thrilled that Bob had become a city council member to get him out of their hair because they said he was very difficult to work with on a professional level.  At SSU faculty association meetings, Bob was famous for asking needless questions and dominating the discussions to the shear boredom of others.  One professor told me they couldn't get anything done because Bob made it so difficult to move the process forward, and Bob "liked listening to himself talk".  Bob brought his own form of madness to Cotati City Hall which almost brought the decision making process to a complete standstill because often times Bob over-analyzed things until they became simply painful for most people to be in the same room with him.  Even the City Attorney stated publicly on 4-13-11 that Bob not only wanted to know what the law was, but why the law was what it was.  This took up a lot of City Attorney time and cost the city thousands of dollars in legal fees it could not afford to spend.  Bob was too cheap to go to law school or do his own research online.  So, he often wasted city resources and asked the City Attorney to teach Bob as best he could about the law at the taxpayer' expense.

Despite the claim by councilwoman Susan Harvey to the contrary, Bob Coleman was, in fact, a real politician.  Bob took money from anyone who offered.  This made Bob a bonafide politician in his own right.  Bob played traditional hardball politics whereby he took pride in talking out of both sides of his mouth, making promises he could not keep, doing whatever was necessary to consolidate power and destroyed any and all adversaries.  Some would find these qualities very admirable, one in particular that comes to mind is Saul Alinsky, author of one of Bob's favorite books, "Rules for Radicals".

Bob was also a racist and race hustler in the first degree who denounced groups like the Aryan Nation and ignoring hate groups like the New Black Panther Party.  Even though I accused Bob of being a race hustler on the record for calling me "White" and shouting out the N-word in public, Bob never disputed my claim, not once, not ever.  Being a racist was like a badge of honor to Bob Coleman, and he seemed quite comfortable with it, actually.

Numerous ethics complaints were filed against Bob for using the N word and other ethnic slurs within the walls of City Hall , but these charges were whitewashed by his colleagues on the council who were all fellow Democrats.

Many people did not come to City Hall to pay their respects to Bob Coleman on 4-13-11. Members of Bob's 2008 campaign committee volunteers Linel Hardy and John Guardino were not there either. Other people who surprisingly did not show up and did not send a letter to be read aloud on the record of  4-13-11 were notable radical leftists such as Michelle Berman and Adrienne Lauby, bar owner Cheryl Nixon, longtime ex-mayor and committed liberal John Delosso, former Police Chief Robert Stewart to name just a few, and last but not least, none of the rank and file city employees.  In fact, none of the recently formed business group members who Bob had been meeting with in recent month came out to pay their respects either.  They sure gave Bob an earful in private about their complaints with the Cotati planning department and City Hall's lack of business sense.

Bob had bargained in bad faith with Cotati's three bargaining units in 2009 when I was on the council.  We had argued about this fact at length in private.  Bob argued that he wanted to give the bargaining units a bottom line number in cuts in salary and benefits in early negotiations and promised me that he was not going to move from that point.  These small cuts did not balance the budget and we continued to run a deficit. So, I vehemently disagreed with Bob's number.  I warned Bob in private that by making an ultimatum like that to the bargaining units gave the the city no wiggle room whatsoever and was also clear and convincing evidence of bad faith bargaining, was clearly illegal, and could set the city up for unwanted litigation.  But Bob did not care about any of that nonsense.  He told me that it was a take it or leave it offer and Bob and the council were not going to negotiate further down from that point.  I thought we should start with a higher number and negotiate down in good faith because that is how the process works and what the unions were expecting from an honorable city. But Bob could not understand the legal ramifications of what he was doing and set the city into dangerous territory many times by his hardball approach and unwillingness to compromise. Councilwoman Pat Gilardi alluded to this on and off the record that Bob's stubbornness was an obstacle to overcome at City Hall for everyone involved. Bob stressed out a lot of people because he was so inflexible and imposed his will onto others at every opportunity.

Bob supported flying the United Nations flag at City Hall and upset a lot of people in town who failed to see the logic in that.  Bob repeatedly ignored the numerous requests to fly the American flag on a barren flag pole in the center of town at Memorial Park until the pressure from the community simple became too much for Bob to handle and the press picked up on the story.

During one conversation with Bob, I explained that over the years I had deprogrammed many friends and voters in Cotati who were devout Liberals and he took great offense to my remark. Bob was a better teacher than he was a student.  He had a listening problem and put up walls that were at times impossible to break through.   Bob would challenge people academically, but ran from challenges made to him by others.   I remember attending a Chamber of Commerce meeting where Bob filled in for John Guardino as the guest speaker.  At one point Bob challenged the CCC to do more in his usual intimidating style.  Well, this was no group of gullible 19 year old kids at the university.  These were adults and business owners who took great offense to Bob's telling them how to spend the city's $35,000.00 of money they receive to survive.  This was CCC money and they were not gonna have Bob tell them how to do their job; no way.

At the next city council meeting, the Chamber, in a highly orchestrated move, came hunting for Bob and wanted his head on a platter.  Andre Morrow stood up and accused Bob of being  irresponsible for having the audacity to insult the CCC by challenging them the way he did and in doing so asked the entire membership to stand in support of Andre's scathing speech against Bob Coleman.  It was reported that Bob Coleman was the second hated man in town besides yours truly for speaking from the heart and challenging the power structure in Cotati.  From that point on Bob decided to play politics and felt the wrath of criticism he simply could not handle. It was a low point to see Bob coward down to a bunch of far left business owners, many who were struggling to survive.

Bob made enemies at the Rancho Adobe Fire District as well, none of whom came out to say anything good about Bob on 4-13-11.   Police and fire personal were all absent.  Letters and requests from the RAFD to the City had been ignored for years, and Bob was no help in addressing their concerns.

Bob made enemies by eliminating Cotati's  Recreation Department over my vocal objections.  Instead of making across the board budget cuts, Bob lead the charge to decapitate the Recreation Department at the request of City Manager Thompson. Bob was known as the "slasher" by supporters of the Rec. Dept.  Terry Dutra didn't show up to pay her respects to Bob either after he died.

Bob never returned my emails, never returned my phone calls, never held office hours to meet with citizens, never went on a police ride-along, never balanced a budget that did not hide future unfunded liabilities, and continued to let Cotati's infrastructure crumble underneath our feet.   Bob spent down the precious general reserves, and refused to address the city's looming unfunded liabilities that poses the greatest threat to Cotati remaining a municipality.

Despite Bob's constant attacks regarding my voting record, my personal website, and brutal honesty, Bob and I remained civil and cordial off the record.  It was just politics.  For example, one evening in March 2009 at the height of the personal attacks  from the far left radicals and racists in Cotati, Bob left the building after our closed session meeting to find out he had left his headlights on in his car and had drained the battery down.  Bob did not hesitate to come find me and asked me for a "jump".  I graciously and immediately obliged and drove my car over to Bob's car and jump started his car.  Bob thanked me, and he quickly went on his way.  I stood there in the parking lot and wondered if Bob would have done the same for me.

Things changed between Bob and I when my base of support began attending the city council meetings in April 2009 and got up and spoke in support of my right to publish my Halloween photos whether the racists on the city council and the CCC liked it or not.  Bob just could not deal with the fact that there were actually conservatives and independents in Cotati, and elsewhere, who had the unmitigated gall to stand up for someone's Constitutional rights to be who you want to be on Halloween.  When I stood steadfast to my campaign pledge that Cotati did not have a revenue problem but instead a spending problem, and I failed to vote in favor of a sales tax increase that would hurt the community, Bob became increasingly hostile, confrontational, and Hell bent on removing me from public office for nothing more than standing on my principles.  

Even though I held office hours each week on Monday nights and sent Bob numerous emails to sit down and discuss our differences like men, Bob refused to meet like an adult and responsible city leader and instead set out to destroy a fellow council member.  Even though the liberals had a majority on the city council, that was not enough for Bob.  City Hall had to be cleansed of the likes of someone like me who believed in volunteerism and balancing a budget through deeper cuts in spending.  Even when the Democrats needed my vote to pass an emergency tax measure in order to place the issue on the ballot, no one asked me for my support, no one offered me anything for my vote, and surely no one expected me to vote yes and spend money on an election we had not budgeted for.  A general election was right around the corner and there was no "emergency" only a lack of leadership.  For months, I argued a tax increase on the backs of the citizens and businesses in town could not handle it.  Yet the council was so indignant, they refused to ask for my support.  Bob, through his blatant hostility for my politics and my constituents in town which included many business owners, refused to offer a compromise and refused to ask what I might want in exchange for my vote. Had they begun to televise the meetings with the $36K the cable company gave us to televise the meetings years ago, I might have given them my vote.  But compromise was not part of Bob's vocabulary.  It simply was not. To Bob, bullying was far more effective.

Bob disagreed with the importance of emergency preparedness and refused to offer his support to address the lack of preparedness at City Hall and that Cotati had not had an emergency drill in over 30 years.  Emergency preparedness was as far off Bob's radar screen as having his heart tested for defects.  For some reason, Bob was incapable of thinking into the future and you can make up your own mind why this was the case.  Bob was very much in the present, probably because the city was in fact on the verge of a crisis and the day to day operations were based on crisis management principles and still are.

On Volunteerism, to Bob, anything a volunteer could do, a city employee could do better, at a higher cost of course.  When I continued to bring up the need for at least some volunteerism at City Hall given the huge resource of good people in Cotati and to have that issue placed on the agenda, Bob said on the record, "George, until volunteers are breaking down the doors at City Hall, I am not interested".   Bob had a special knack of ending a conversation even before it began. If it wasn't Bob's idea, it wasn't a good idea.  A year later, Bob offered to get a paint brush and get up on a ladder and help paint the fire station despite the city's strong and vocal policy that city council members could not engage in such activities because of the legal liabilities involved not to mention the work it would be taking away from the city employees.

I think that the Yes on A (Cotati's sales tax increase tax measure) and the Yes on Recall campaign also had a devastating affect on Bob's health as well.  Bob had asked his radical left supporters to put incredible pressure on me to resign for voting against a sales tax increase ballot measure in July 2009 and insisting on balancing the city budget.  It further infuriated Bob that I personally ran the No on Measure A campaign in 2010 after I left office. Bob had walked door to door to have me recalled in the heat of the summer.  No one knows with any certainty what affect that had on Bob's heart or arteries, but it could not have been good.  My efforts to stop raising sales taxes during the worst recession the town had ever suffered through infuriated Bob and drove Bob to walk door to door for weeks on end to see me defeated on this issue.

Many feel Bob was simply not physically or mentally up to the task of being a city official along with his other professional and family obligations.  But Bob's respect and admiration for me over the years had turned into blind hatred and was eating him up on the inside.  Few people will deny this fact.  Cotati residents told me on the campaign trail that Bob went over the top in an attempt to damage my reputation going door to door.  When Bob was repeatedly met with anger from residents regarding the audacity of a city wanting to raise sales taxes during a recession, and then slandering me which was met with outright disgust by many voters, (40% to be exact) could only have demoralized Bob and raised his stress levels to dangerous levels.  Bob was also upset that he was forced to go door to door himself on Measure A and was short on volunteers.  He recruited people like Mark Landman months earlier with a promise that if Mark worked hard to get me removed from office, Bob would see Mark get appointed to John Guardino's vacant seat that was coming up.   John had plans to step down and Bob knew it.  The recall effort was all Bob's idea to purge City Hall of anyone who dared to stand for the minority view in Cotati and had the audacity to not play politics as usual.  Bob tried to stay behind the scene during the Recall and instructed other to do his bidding for him to a large extent to look like he had cleans hands in the eyes of  the press.

Bob claimed he was an African American.  Bob felt people could be anything they aspired to be in Cotati except an African American which I thought was simply disgraceful.  I had been brought up to believe you judge a man by the content of his character, not by the color of his skin. My parents and my teachers instilled in me the teachings of Martin Luther King.  Somehow, Bob never got the memo.  Despite the fact that Bob and the other racists in town were the only ones who saw Bob as black, Bob continued to play the victimized black man time and time again.  Bob had so many chips on his shoulder at one point I  lost count.  Bob spoke about how he felt he had been discriminated in the Marine Corp.  Bob spoke out passionately that he had been discriminated against in his application being denied in the San Francisco Fire Department in the 1960s.  Bob complained that he had been racially profiled by the Cotati Police Department during one evening when he and his wife were driving through town and were pulled over by a Cotati police officer for no reason other than Bob felt it was because Bob was "black", according to Bob by his own admission.  The stories go on and on.  Bob was filled with hatred and resentment for the injustices he felt he endured in his life.  Whenever I explained the times I was passed over for promotion in my life, the time I was mugged in a parking lot, the time I had my car broken into, or how I became a victim of reverse discrimination of an entrance panel at the USF School of Law, Bob wanted to hear none of it. To Bob, that was different.  This selfish side of Bob was apparent to anyone who ever got to know Bob even superficially.  It was always about Bob.  Bob played the race card like a fiddle and played it well.  Whenever Bob found it to his advantage to capitalize on a story to make a point or to achieve his personal, professional , or political advantage, Bob never hesitated.   Did Bob ever embellish his numerous life stories?  Nobody knows the answer to that but Bob himself.  But many have said Bob loved to hear himself talk and that's pretty normal for a politician.

I once asked Bob what proof he had that he was any more African American that I was.  We had both studied at USF.  He knew Dr. Lane who taught Physical Anthropology at USF and knew that the good professor had been teaching hundreds of students for decades that we all descended from Africa, the origin of mankind.  Dr. Lane instilled in his students to challenge anyone to prove we American students were not all, in fact, African Americans and make them prove we were not !   Bob refused to answer the question and in turn said this, "George, answer me this.  Were any of your ancestors actually slaves, George?"  I said, "Of course, Bob. During the time of the Roman Empire, I suspect many of my ancestors were in fact slaves. Some were forced to fight wars as slaves or thrown to the lions for entertainment...  Doesn't that count, Bob.  Can you deny that?"  Bob refused to acknowledge that we both were descendants of slaves and that our skin color had nothing to do with this fact.  Bob and I never fully recovered from that conversation and he never treated me with any respect from that moment on.  Someone had finally challenged him on this fact to his face, (that didn't need a passing grade from him) and Bob couldn't handle it.

Talking about self proclaimed African Americans that are really amusing, Andre Morronw described Bob in some detail at the city council meeting on 4-13-11.  Andre said that Bob would show up at Andre's office unannounced, sit down and start talking away, asking questions, and carrying on as if Andre had nothing better to do than listen to Bob take up a couple hours of his time.  Bob used his influence as a city official to intimidate local business people to stop what they were doing and engage in Bob's fact finding missions and even debate politics if needed.  The truth is Bob was thrown out of many businesses in town who didn't want to hear him and did not like the man.  Many residents also closed the door in Bob's face on the campaign trail for Bob's part in sales tax Measure A and the recall election.  Bob upset a lot of folks in town and made enemies. That's what real politicians do.  Adrienne Lauby who worked on Bob's campaign in 2008 told me that Bob was very difficult to work with.  She said for an intelligent man he was difficult to understand and would often talk in circles.  Shelly Berman just despised Bob Coleman and wanted nothing to do with him for be being self centered, rude, and "just another empty shirt" as she called him.  Berman actually campaigned against Bob in 2008 and supported me instead.

Bob spent many hours in private meetings with City Manager Dian Thomson on what appeared to be official business.  I don't think a lot got done short of story telling, but Bob's car was seen at City Hall many afternoons and nights and the city manager's office light was the only one on in the building.  My guess is that hundreds of man hours were spent  planning and strategizing how to make Cotati more dependent on the State of California and the federal government for handouts and bailout money.  This was paramount to the city's only real plan to stay financially afloat, beg for outside help.  During city council goal setting sessions in 2009, Bob agreed with the majority of the council to make "Finding money wherever it might be hiding the town's number one priority..."  This was the freeloader mentality that still remains in place today at City Hall.  For a man who prided himself as a self made man who carried little or no personal debt and ran a tight ship at home by his own admission, I found his political desire to milk the state and the feds of money that was borrowed from the Chinese to be particularly troubling to me.  But Bob was a political animal and worried that fears of impending bankruptcy had to be overcome at any cost, even if it meant getting on his hands and knees like a dog and beg someone else to help pay the city's bills.

Bob also hated Roberts Rules of Order and had no use for it whatsoever.  Bob did not know how parliamentary procedures work and just acted as mayor by governing by the seat of his pants.  Bob never realized his role as Mayor also included the role of Sergeant of Arms during city meetings and often called on police officers to do his job, police officers the city could not afford to spare being at city meetings.  Bob did not know how to properly open and close a meeting with the proper instructions to the community at large, and took liberties to speak out of order so often citizens simply stopped complaining about it anymore.

I will miss Bob and wish with all my heart and soul he could have lived to see the true damage that he and his cohorts have set in motion as they moved our town "forward" on a path to financial insolvency and an infrastructure that continues to deteriorate before our eyes.  Bob tried to hijack my idea to put forth a Capital Improvement Plan to rebuild the city's crumbling infrastructure and I was okay with that as long as they were actually doing something about it.  The CIP plan was swept under the rug after his death and all subsequent workshops in were cancelled.  It seems it was all a big show for the press anyway and a big lie.   I will miss Bob's public apology for him thinking that spending down the reserves, ignoring sound business practices, and letting public employees rule the town with an iron fist was not leadership, but actually destructive.

Bob was not a city leader, in my opinion.  There is a difference between being a city leader and being a mere city official.  City leaders lead.  Bob, on the other hand, allowed the City Manager to lead Bob around like a dog on a leash.  I tried to warn Bob that the City Manager had no interest in balancing the budget, public safety, or re-building the city' cash reserves anytime in the near future.  Bob simply would not heed my advice.

Bob claimed he respected all people's views but that was hardly the case.  Bob resented the TEA Party movement and everyone associated with it.

Bob claimed he was a man of great faith and made that statement on the record at City Hall. But Bob was an atheist.  Maybe Bob felt he was going to get some political mileage out of saying he was a man of faith.  Who knows?.  As a devout atheist, Bob's belief system was based on the fact that there is no God, no supreme being, and was as secular a human being you would ever meet. This apparently worked to Bob's political advantage in Cotati where his religion of no God at all was quite popular.  Bob was quite comfortable in his religious belief in the nonexistence of the afterlife.

I particularly found it interesting when Bob objected to six houses being proposed on the large vacant lot next to his house.  We all knew Bob objected in public to this project because he wanted no development on that property to protect his privacy and serenity.  When Bob objected more recently to that parcel of land be designated for low income housing, I was taken back, quite frankly.  Bob was a NIMBY, not in my backyard, as anyone I had ever met.

Bob became notable around the county for not joining in on the Pledge of Allegiance at city council meetings and avoided looking at the American flag in the room.  Many people read this story in the Press Democrat and disliked Bob over that issue.  Everywhere I still go and I tell people I am from Cotati people ask me, "Isn't that where that Colman guy won't say the Pledge of Allegiance?  That's crazy.  Sounds like Cotati..."   Although many citizens questioned Bob's reasons for his resistance to pledging his allegiance to the flag and United States of America, Bob offered no explanation and further commented that he needed not offer the public any explanation.

So the question people want answered that cannot be answered with any kind of certainty is what really killed Bob Coleman, and were the news report just another whitewash of  the real story of Bob's passing.  There is little doubt Bob was a tortured soul who had many personal and professional issues he carried as a politician.  Did he take on too much for man of his age and a man of modest economic means?  Did Bob neglect his health to his detriment?  Did he neglect his civic responsibilities by failing to be civil and failing to respect people of other viewpoints?  Or did he just do what he was set out to do for his constituents, destroy the opposition no matter what the cost, even if it came at the cost of his own health?   Did Bob die a committed soldier to the "cause"?  Did Bob's ego and obsession for political power and notoriety get the best of him?  Or did Bob become the essence of everything he had come to hate in local government by giving lip service to change, and not being able to deliver on his promise of change?

Regarding Bob's health, I am not a doctor or health professional, but Bob had not looked good for some time before his death.  He was obviously out of shape or ailing from something by one look at the man. Even by watching Bob walk one could see his walk to be awkward and a bit out of step for a seventy year old man in good health.  Bob treated his own body with the same sort of complacency he treated the city he claimed to have loved so much.  Bob was struck down by a health problem that could have been detected by a simple medical test.

Bob said as mayor,  "In time, everything would be fine... No matter what happens, someone will be manning the office at City Hall".  Bob defied the fears that the town might go belly up and the state or county would be forced to step in and take over.  This kind of blind faith was odd for a man who claimed to be an atheist and knew the death of a city meant just that, game over, no resuscitation, and that faith was all the city had to help address the growing unfunded liabilities the city was facing with each passing day.

I will miss Bob, but not for his many acts of misconduct while on the council, his ongoing mismanagement of city affairs and city lawsuits, not for his disdain for those who disagreed with him and challenged him in a public forum that he could not control like one of his university classrooms.  I regret the fact that Bob will not be able to see that a town that does not pick itself up by the bootstraps and manages it's affairs in a timely and responsible manner will eventually have the effect of a steady decline in the quality of life for it's citizens and their children who will be left holding the bag.  I am sad Bob won't be able to take full responsibility now for doing absolutely nothing to plan for a disaster in Cotati.  City Hall currently has no supplies, no fuel, no guarantee our police officers will even come into work from miles away, and no volunteers ready, trained, and able to save lives and protect lives in Cotati should the town be faced with a real disaster.  Our town's lack of planning and lack of resources will cost lives and will cause great human suffering as a result of lost priorities and political pandering to special interest groups in town over public safety and emergency preparedness.

I will miss Bob not being able to see a day when City Hall is finally colorblind, where there will be zero tolerance for racism by those like Bob who defined one's race with a color chart.  I will miss Bob's lame excuses for a city budget that are months late and a dollar short, budgets that fail to show what the city truly owes it's employees in way of future retirement and benefit packages that are not currently reflected in the current city budget which makes the city's financial condition appear to be better than it really is.  I will miss emailing Bob and getting silence in return proving what I already knew about the man.  Bob made me look good as a city leader in comparison and he will be hard to replace.   Bob was a lightening rod for controversy and good for the local press who always appreciated the little town with the dysfunctional little town government where scandals were as common and as numerous as our local festivals.

Bob was great at covering up for others and a team player in that respect.  In doing so, Bob tried to put a good face on Cotati no matter what the problem the city had gotten itself into or the Chamber of Commerce for that matter.  Whether it was costly lawsuits, personnel issues, union busting efforts, emergency/crisis budget meetings, or cover-ups for illegal acts of his colleagues on the council that were forced to resign from office and leave town to avoid further embarrassment, Bob was the Go-To man in a pinch who insisted on taking the leading role in hoodwinking the public if that was in the best interest of the city.  It was always less important how healthy the town was at the end of the day than how the town appeared in the eyes of public opinion.  Bob felt that image was everything even when it came to Cotati City Hall and why the city staff kept Bob in their back pocket at all times despite the fact he was hard to get along with.  

Bob was both a fighter and a coward who ran from many fights until he was up against the wall.  Then he would either capitulate or fight.  Citizen Ken Coleman came before Bob no less than ten city meetings requesting and begging the city to hear his ethic's complaint against Bob for threatening to step down if George Barich retained his seat on the city council.  This violated two sections of the the Cotati City Council Ethics Code Bob helped enact.  Yet Bob ignored the complaint until he Ken would not take no for an answer.   Bob loved this town and hated it the same breath.  Anyone who knows Cotati from the inside understands how Bob felt. That's what made him such an interesting person.

These are just some of my honest experiences with, and assessments of, Bob Coleman the politician.  There are always those who will hate my honesty here with a passion; but in my own defense, Bob was not a private person but in fact a public official on a city payroll.  As a public official, Bob belongs to the people of Cotati for the ages. The far left in Cotati clearly lost one of their own with the passing of Bob Coleman. Bob made that choice to step into the public limelight.  No one forced him.  In fact, no one I that I know of asked Bob to run for public office; no one.  All public officials, dead or alive, are fair game for criticism.  We should not ignore this fact.  Feel free to write about your own experiences with Bob Colman.  But these are my experiences, and I believe they deserve to be shared with the public who are left with the task and expense of picking up the pieces of this poor excuse for a municipality going forward.


  1. Mr. Barich, Mr. Barich.

    Where to start. An honest analysis, from an honest man. This is brutally honest, George. As usual, this took a lot of guts. No wonder you were recalled, George. The council members couldn't handle your honesty and your voice of reason, especially Bob Coleman.

    You have always spoken the truth and called them as you saw them at City Hall. I was shocked one evening to hear you complain before the council that the city manager and especially Bob had orchestrated the recall from behind the scenes. Coleman sat there and smiled. Coleman set out to destroy you George because you bucked his political agenda to become another freeloading city. You never backed down from your principles and never flinched. You outclassed the council by holding regular office hours at City Hall and put your A-board sign out on the street corner inviting citizens to come in. Coleman despised you for that one, George. I thought it was great and it was the talk around town. Bob was never your friend, George. Bob simply kept his friends close and kept his enemies closer. You should have never supported Bob's candidacy in 2008 and ran your own race.

    Academically, Coleman would have appreciated your analysis but said it was in bad taste. But Coleman did not practice tolerance, peace and love. He could be ruthless and vindictive when he wanted to be. So, I think you're being fair here. To see Bob crucify you going door-to-door for no other reason than your political views and principles was a low point for Cotati. Bob didn't want you to get along with the council, George. They wanted you to go along with the nonsensical far left progressive agenda and showed you what happens to people who don't.

    I hope the council wakes up and takes some responsibility for the mess they have made of this town. Move on, George. Don't let what happened to Coleman happen to you. It's not worth it. Thank you for your service to Cotati. You've done enough. You gave us hope and opened our eyes to the inner workings of a city in decline. Let someone else step up now and pick up where you left off.

  2. Remembering Bob, a Civil Rights Activist, a College Professor, a Defender of Truth - Rest In Peace.......

    Robert was a Civil Rights activist.

    Kudos/applause/thanks to him for speaking Truth.


  3. Much condolences to Bob's family, his wife, Drew, his two young sons, and Michael....met Drew a long time ago, such a cutey....Bob will continue to be part of our prayers and memories....Bob was very supportive in encouraging me to move towards a PhD....he was an active Civil Rights speaker who went to Russia, etc. in support of Martin Luther King's works, etc. He had awards from Oxford University in England, and was one of the few alpha males I've known. His son Michael has some of his looks and qualities as well. Was glad to have known him, and in Hawaii we have a saying "Aloha" means hello, love, good-bye (until we meet again --- hope his next assignment isn't as taxing (we believe in life after)..aloha.

  4. Didn't like your lynching words for your "friend" and I think that was wicked.

    Shame on those who made his life miserable.........apparently he cared enough for the Cotati, etc. people to take part in a political process of a pirate government that is falling apart.

    Was that fun to lynch your old friend?
    Did you know that in American history,when LYNCHING blacks/people of color, the whites went to Church to PRAY before their violent mobs lynched innocents?....They PRAYED BEFORE THEY LYNCHED......

    In the case of our deceased friend Bob, the LYNCHING UPON LYNCHING has been done,and continues.... time and time again....the only thing different is that there were NO PRAYERS?!

    He was a good man. Thanks for allowing me to share my thoughts.

  5. Good man? Debatable. Good politician? Not. Shame on Councilman Coleman for injecting race into city politics and his unsportsmanlike conduct. RIP.

  6. Glad to hear back from you George and a link to this story. I am not going to apologize for not being disappointed in the demise of your antagonist. He will be most welcome in hell. Unfortunately there are alot of people like him in Sonoma county. Don't let them bother you. Your principles are correct.

  7. Very poor article and poor in taste. Let him rest in peace. I hope that you are happy that you got your last words in.

    Remember that he was a father, husband and an honorable man.

    I completely understand the differences that you may have, and talking about someone who has a chip on his shoulder or feels that he was slighted, you definitely let those feelings out in your long blog post.

    I hope you can turn your city around, because now its in your hands along with all the other "living" council members.

  8. Frankly, I find your "honesty" disturbing. This blog is hateful and disrespectful not only to those that loved Mr. Coleman as a friend but most especially his family. He has two young sons, Mr. Barich, and you obviously did not think of them when you wrote this blog. Mr. Coleman is dead - he may not have touched your life and he may not have been liked by many as you claimed, but he was a friend to many, a husband, a father, a role model to many other people. Human decency is a basic - shame on you for writing this blog, Mr. Barich.

    T. McCoy

  9. The right to free speech is to protect offensive speech the last time I checked. Even Bob Coleman knew that. These liberals kill me and obviously did not know Robert Coleman. We still hear hateful comments about Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon from these progressive hypocrites and these presidents have been dead for decades. The unmitigated gall to hold conservatives to a higher standard than liberals is simply pathetic. Coleman was a public figure. Deal with it. History will write the final chapter on Coleman, but to condemn George for writing his own chapter on his own blog for the sake of history. Shame on you people.

  10. Like I told you before, George. You are much more effective on the outside of City Hall than within. Two down and four to go. Guardino was exposed and flew out of town on the heels of a political scandal. Coleman took on too much and self destructed. He was as much a victim of City Hall as he was a victim of his own ambitions, big government philosophy that were under constant attack, his many intolerances, and sorry sense of self importance and ego mania. I never experienced Bob respecting other people's viewpoint. He went to great lengths to persuade others to change their views when he personally disagreed with them.