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Sam Spooner, Former Sebastopol Council member

Police chief Weaver with his Ford Escape hybrid.

Toyota Prius hybrid.

Spooner's Stand:
One Council Member makes a Difference for Sebastopol

Vehicles for the City of Sebastopol Police Department now include two hybrids, thanks to the tenacity of former City Council member Sam Spooner.

When the Police Department was considering the purchase of new vehicles at the end of 2004, it initially selected the Crown Victoria, a common choice for such vehicles. Unfortunately, Crown Victorias' mileage is very low, so much so that it jeopardized Sebastopol's chance for achieving the bold greenhouse gas reduction targets it set for its internal municipal operations, 30% below 2000 levels by 2008.

Realizing this, Spooner embarked on a mission to research and advocate for alternative vehicles. After several months of investigation and deliberation, the Council decided to purchase two hybrids for the City, a Toyota Prius and a Ford Escape. This result was a win for public safety, the City's fiscal responsibility and its environmental responsibility, too.

Epilogue: After the Council made the decision to purchase the hybrids, Police Chief Jeff Weaver prepared a letter that was sent to car manufacturers by the Sebastopol City Council, as follows:

Chairman of the Board
Daimler-Chrysler Motor Company
Ford Motor Company
General Motors Company
Honda Motor Company
Toyota Motor Company

Dear Sir:
The City of Sebastopol requests that your firm build a more fuel-efficient police vehicle. The City passed a resolution last year that set a target of a 30% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from municipal operations by the
year 2007. Achieving this goal requires that more efficient vehicles be used in our vehicle fleet. After conducting an inventory, the City found that a police patrol vehicle currently in use is one of the top five single
emissions sources for all city operations.

Our research indicates the most fuel-efficient standard police package vehicle on the market gets only about 20 MPG. We find that this level is inadequate to meet our emissions reduction goal. We also find that we are not alone among municipalities in the United States that are seeking better alternatives than what your firm offers today.
According to studies by the Union of Concerned Scientists the technological means exist today to make an affordable non-hybrid vehicle that meets all police patrol package specifications, and gets up to 40 MPG.

If your firm made a quality, fuel-efficient police patrol package vehicle, there is no question that it would be incorporated into our purchasing policy. We find that many other local governments share our concerns, and
that a large, untapped market for this type of vehicle exists. It seems that there is a healthy environment for manufacturers to compete for this business.

Therefore, we are directing our chief of police to share our concerns with the chiefs of other municipalities in our state. We are advocating the position that auto manufacturers need to produce a competitively priced, fuel-efficient police patrol vehicle. We believe that the millions of dollars of expenditures on police vehicles should be sufficient motivation for a manufacturer to invest the effort to capture this market.

Our community is asking us to improve efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in our municipal operations. We are asking you to work with us to both satisfy this requirement and still provide safe, workable vehicles for our police force.

Sebastopol City Council


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