Oct 30

Welcome to our website

WELCOME

This website is a work in progress, but we certainly hope you will like and enjoy our efforts. In particular, please Website-Construction1-300x169[1]see who we are, where we are and what we do.

We really hope you come to one of our monthly meetings – no obligation whatsoever.

If you’re interested in what we do, we hope you’ll help the club by paying dues – our annual dues (for a calendar year) are only $20.00.

Our goals include having a lot of fun while educating and informing the citizens of Windsor, California, and the surrounding area. So no, you do not have to live within the Town of Windsor to attend a meeting, or even to become a member.

Sep 30

Tenant’s Rights Attorney Speaks at Windsor Democratic Club

Making the case that substandard housing is a public health issue, long-time tenant’s rights attorney Edie Sussman advocated for rent control and just cause eviction in her presentation to the Windsor Democratic Club on September 28. She noted that substandard living conditions can often lead to respiratory conditions, including asthma, and other health issues, which impact the level of health in our communities.

Ms. Sussman represented thirty- six former tenants of the Bennett Valley Townhomes in a lawsuit against the current and former owners of the property. The renters were low income, primarily Latino, some of whom were undocumented. The plaintiffs recently agreed to a Sonoma County record $2.7 million settlement. Frequent complaints by the tenants of mold and rodent infestation, as well as leaking roofs and defective plumbing and heating systems, were not addressed by the property managers.

The renters complained to the City of Santa Rosa Code Enforcement department, who after inspecting the property directed the owners to remediate the conditions in which the tenants were being forced to live. On the follow-up visit, the Code Enforcement officer signed off on the complaints without physically inspecting the property after the managers told him that the problems had been corrected. This proved to be untrue and the tenants joined together in seeking legal assistance from Ms. Sussman, who has been involved in this aspect of legal practice since the mid- 1980’s. She applauded the courage of the tenant group who persevered through the hardships of the long process.

In addition to the financial award to the tenants, Ms. Sussman noted several other positive outcomes to the case. The city of Santa Rosa, which had reduced the number of code enforcement personnel because of budget reductions caused by the 2008 recession, has significantly increased those numbers. The city is now working to create a program of yearly inspections to all rental properties to ensure that adequate standards are being met. A rental inspection program, if implemented in Santa Rosa, may become a model for the entire county.

Ms. Sussan feels that the city of Santa Rosa is way out in front of other county municipalities and the county itself on the issue of substandard housing. She is optimistic that a rent control measure and a just cause eviction proposition will be on the 2018 ballot in Santa Rosa. With the very tight county housing market driving rent increases, low-income renters are forced to accept substandard, fringe housing because the alternative is seen as eviction and inability to find another living place.

The Windsor club meets next on Thursday, October 26, at 7 p.m. The speaker will be Captain Mark Essick, a candidate for the office of Sonoma County Sheriff.

— Barry Hirsch

Sep 28

Speaker Rendon Calls on Assembly Committee to ‘Get to Yes’ on Health Care for All

Thursday, August 24, 2017

SACRAMENTO — Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) today announced that Dr. Joaquin Arambula (D-Fresno) and Dr. Jim Wood (D-Healdsburg), the chairs of the Assembly Select Committee on Health Care Delivery Systems and Universal Coverage, will hold ongoing hearings beginning in the legislative interim so the committee can develop plans for achieving universal health care in California.

“The fight to protect the Affordable Care Act helped galvanize the principle that health care is a basic right,” Rendon said. “There are several different approaches being proposed, including Medicare for all, single payer, hybrid systems and ACA expansion. I have called for these hearings to determine what approach best gets us there – what gets us to ‘yes’ when it comes to health care for all.”

Speaker Rendon stressed that the hearings would not simply go back over information covered in the past, but will provide a new opportunity to determine the best and quickest path forward toward universal health care. Overcoming potential federal and constitutional obstacles, ensuring delivery of care, and examining funding mechanisms will all be part of the committee’s purview.

“It’s not a question of debating whether we move toward health care for all – it’s a matter of choosing how best and how soon,” Rendon said. “The committee’s work will help fill the void of due diligence that should have been done on SB 562 or any universal health care bill that so profoundly affects so many Californians.”

“It is my direction that these hearings be focused and thorough, and produce real results,” Rendon said. “In addition to the oaths they took as legislators, Dr. Wood and Dr. Arambula have also taken oaths to protect and defend patients’ health, so I know they will take a vigorous approach to this challenge, and the committee will begin the heavy lifting needed to advance serious proposals for health care for all.”

Website of Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon: https://speaker.asmdc.org/

Sep 20

Tenant’s Rights Attorney To Speak to Club

As rents increase, as a result of the county’s severe housing shortage, lower-income tenants are being forced into substandard housing. In her presentation, tenant’s rights attorney Edie Sussman, the featured speaker at the Windsor/North County Democratic Club meeting on September 28, will share her vast knowledge on this issue.

Ms. Sussman completed her undergraduate studies at Sonoma State before attending law school. She represented 36 former residents of the Bennett Valley Townhome apartments, primarily low income, Latino residents, who sued the owners in 2015 after complaints about mold and vermin infestation were not addressed. Ms. Sussman negotiated a record $2.7 million settlement on behalf of her clients. She commented after the award, “The lawsuit didn’t just help the clients. It helped the community. It reorganized Santa Rosa’s code enforcement and brought attention to the housing crisis in the county.”

The meeting, at the Windsor Round Table Pizza, 8499 Old Redwood Hwy, begins at 7 p.m. It is free and open to all. Pizza will be served.

— Barry Hirsch

Aug 14

August Presentation – Creating Public Banks

After hearing from district elected officials in the last several meetings, the club will host an issue-based presentation by public banking advocate Shelly Browning on Thursday, August 24, at 7 p.m. at the Windsor Round Table Pizza, 8499 Old Redwood Highway. Ms. Browning has been involved in the public banking movement for the past five years, working with the organization Friends of Public Banking Santa Rosa.

Public banks, banks owned by a government entity, have been around since at least 1408, when the first known institution was established in Genoa, Italy. In general, public banks are intended to operate for the public interest.

Currently, the only public bank in the U.S. is the Bank of North Dakota, which has operated since 1919. North Dakota’s assets are used to capitalize the bank, and state revenues are mandated to be deposited in the bank. Dividends are paid to the people.

Public banks are now being considered in several California cities, as well as in other states throughout the U.S. Shelly Browning will present the case for public banking. The meeting is free and open to all. Pizza will be served.

— Barry Hirsch

 

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The club will also discuss, briefly:

  • The proposal by the developer of Vintage Oaks to pay the Town $750,000 in order to avoid having any moderate-rate housing units in the development. President Rick Massell would like to send a letter from the club, expressing the opinion of the club, if there is consensus on the matter.
  • Setting up tables for Tuesday, September 26, to help with National Voter Registration Day, and asking for volunteers.
  • Deep canvassing in one of Windsor’s precincts, and how people are interested in helping.

Jul 29

Supervisor James Gore Chats with the Club on July 27th

First-term District 4 Sonoma County Supervisor James Gore spoke at the Windsor/North County Democratic Club on July 27. Speaking informality, the 39-year-old Gore, who will become chair of the board of supervisors in January, offered insights to a broad range of issues he faces daily. Gore said that he enjoys the challenges of his position, whether those are complaints about potholes, meetings with constituents, passing the current county budget, or otherwise.

Gore noted that the recently-passed county budget provides more funding for road improvements than any other county in the state. He expressed hope that the twelve-cent-per-gallon state gas tax increase, which takes effect on November 1st, will provide additional funding to accelerate the rebuilding of deteriorating county roads.

Gore is considering proposing a measure to require a six-month per year residency requirement for homes in the county, to counteract the increase in vacation homes. He sees such a measure as a possible partial solution to the housing dilemma facing the county and the entire state.

Gore discussed the development of the Chanate Road property in Santa Rosa, calling the project approved by the supervisors as “imperfect”, but noting that 69 of the 85 acre site will be preserved as green space. Lessons learned from the Chanate process will taken into account as the board begins the development process for the former Sonoma County Water Agency parcel on West College Avenue, which the county now owns. Fifth District Supervisor Lynda Hopkins is leading leads the exploration of uses for this property, which is within her district. Gore said that a workforce housing component, possibly for area teachers, is receiving serious consideration.

On the political front, Gore continues to encourage people to get involved and to consider running for elective office. He hopes to see more women and Latinos running for office, and is open to meeting and mentoring potential candidates. He hopes that the trend of younger candidates continues, though he noted the challenge of serving on city councils or school boards: the workload and involvement is great, with a very low salary, making it necessary to have other employment, unless someone is retired or is independently wealthy.

Supervisor Gore said that he hopes to bring together the many non-profit organizations who are doing great work on numerous significant county problems, notably homelessness and the environment, theme he has touched on in previous visits with the club. In particular, he hopes to facilitate increased communication and coordination between organizations working in parallel in these areas. He termed this an effort to move into a world of greater “collective impact.”

Barry Hirsch

Jul 21

Single-Payer Activists Confront Assemblymember Jim Wood at July 20th Meeting

District 2 Assemblymember Jim Wood (D-Healdsburg) was the featured speaker at the July 20th meeting of the Windsor Democratic Club, discussing his 2017 legislative activities. He covered the highlights of the recently passed $183 billion state budget, with expanded support for K-12 education and additional funding for preschools. Wood reported that gas taxes have been increased to pay for repairs to our highways, the condition of which is costing motorists approximately $700/year in repair costs to their individual vehicles. He touched on other legislation in which he is engaged, including Assembly Bill 1433, which proposes using funds from the recently passed Cap and Trade Extension for carbon sequestration through better management of our forests and natural and working lands.

After his initial remarks, it became very clear that the most people in the audience were interested in only one piece of legislation, Senate Bill 562, the Healthy California Act, a bill to create a single-payer health care system in California. The progressive flank of the Democratic Party has been electrified by this issue, and are vocal in support for the bill, authored by State Senators Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) and Toni Atkins (D-San Diego).

In late June, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Paramount) decided to hold the bill indefinitely in the Assembly Rules Committee, calling it, as written, “woefully incomplete.” Rendon said that the bill failed to adequately address “financing, delivery of care, cost controls, or the realities of needed action by the Trump Administration and voters.” Wood, the chair of the Assembly Health Committee and a career dentist, said he supported a single payer system as a goal, but supported Rendon’s decision to ask the bill’s authors to come up with some solutions to the areas that had not been covered in the current bill.

Numerous speakers in the audience expressed dissatisfaction with Wood for not working to move the bill forward. Wood patiently reiterated the difficulties of supporting such a major overhaul of our healthcare supply system without adequate details, particularly when funding for our current system is under attack by the Trump administration and GOP-controlled congress. Currently, the federal government supplies approximately $200 billion yearly to help fund the California health care. Given the attacks to President Obama’s signature legislative achievement, the Affordable Care Act, this federal funding is now very much in jeopardy.

Concerns about the federal situation were not expressed by the single-payer activists in attendance. Several activists said that Wood was an impediment to single payer legislation despite his seemingly logical objection to the current bill. The single-payer folks didn’t seem to want to accept Wood’s statement that the bill is alive, but requires more collaborative work to arrive at a final product that will address the real concerns raised by Speaker Rendon and others. Wood did commit to speak with Rendon to ask him to publicize the bill’s progress and status.

Assemblymember Wood was the first speaker in a three consecutive Thursday program sponsored by the club. Supervisor James Gore will speak to the club on July 27 at the Windsor Round Table Pizza and State Senator Mike McGuire will speak on August 3 at the Cloverdale Vets Building. All meetings are at 7 p.m. and are open to the public.

— Barry Hirsch

Jul 15

Upcoming meetings – July 20, July 27, and August 3

We’ve had the opportunity to schedule meetings with all three of the state and county elected representatives for Windsor, Healdsburg, and northern Sonoma County. The downside: we’ve had to schedule this back-to-back for three weeks. But if you’re around, this is a great opportunity to find our what our elected representatives are doing, and there will be plenty of time for questions.

The meetings:

* Thursday, July 20: state assemblyman Jim Wood will speak to our club at the Windsor Round Table Pizza restaurant from 7 to 9 p.m.
• Thursday, July 27: county supervisor James Gore will speak to our club at the Windsor Round Table Pizza restaurant from 7 to 9 p.m.
• Thursday, August 3: state senator Mike McGuire will speak at a joint meeting of the Windsor/NC club and the newly-formed Cloverdale Democratic Club. The meeting will be in Cloverdale at the Vets Building from 7 to 9 p.m.

 

Jun 17

Windsor/North County Democrats at the County Fair!

Every year at the Sonoma County Fair, the Sonoma County Democratic Party (SCDP) has a booth. This year it’s incredibly important to engage the public about the issues facing our country. Democrats have always fought for the rights of everyone and for better living conditions. But we face an onslaught of big money and propaganda that has lead to Republicans controlling the Presidency, Congress, and most state governments. That’s why it’s more important than ever to have a fully-staffed Democratic booth to talk to people about what can and is being done to elect more Democrats and to protect Democratic-supported policies now in effect.

The Windsor club has volunteered this year (as in past years) to staff the booth on two days. Those days are Thursdays, August 3rd and August 10th, with three shifts each day (11 a.m. to 3 p.m., 3 to 7 p.m., and 7 to 10 p.m.), and three volunteers per shift. The SCDP will handle booth set-up and take-down, so there is no need to be early for the 3 p.m. shift or to stay late if doing the final shift. Volunteers will be provided a ticket for free entry for their day of volunteering.

If you’re interested in helping staff the booth, please email or phone Rick Massell, the club president, at rickm@sonic.net or 707-696-9364. If you want to volunteer for a specific shift or shifts, and you email Rick, please include the date(s) and time(s) in your email.

Detailed information on the Sonoma County Fair can be found here: http://www.sonomacountyfair.com/fair/sonoma-county-fair.php

Jun 10

Hispanic Leaders to Speak at the Windsor/North County Democratic Club

Jenny Chamberlain and Herman J. Hernandez, prominent leaders of the Sonoma County Hispanic community, will speak at the Windsor/North County Democratic Club on Thursday, June 22 at 7 p.m. at the Windsor Round Table Pizza, 8499 Old Redwood Hwy.

Ms. Chamberlain currently serves as the President of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Sonoma County. The chamber was founded in 1988 with the mission supporting business and civic opportunities, while promoting the significance of the Hispanic community and its impact on our society. Ms. Chamberlain was formerly the Vice President of Los Cien – Latino Leaders Sonoma County. Additionally, she is the District Director for Fourth District County Supervisor James Gore.

Mr. Hernandez is the founder and chairman of Los Cien, Sonoma County’s largest Latino leadership organization, which promotes civic involvement and voter registration within the Latino community. Los Cien, started in 2009, works to empower Latino youth to become more active community leaders.

The presentation will focus on Latino community issues including education and economic disparity, immigration rights, civic engagement, voter registration, and collaborative efforts. The meeting is free and open to all. Pizza will be served.

May 31

Journalist Michael Levitin Speaks at Windsor/North County Democratic Club – May 25th

Journalist Michael Levitin shared his perspective on Donald Trump’s war against the media at the May 25th meeting. With mainstream media now being portrayed by Trump as the “enemy of the American people,” Levitin outlined three suggestions for journalists in the current, overcharged environment. He urged journalists to continue to report facts and the evidence of corruption, to report on the resistance to the administration, and to report on positive solutions and fresh ideas.

Mr. Levitin grew up in Forestville and is a 1994 graduate of El Molino High School, where he took classes in the (since closed) journalism department. After graduating from the University of California at Santa Cruz, he went to Bolivia in 2000 as an English language instructor. While there, he began covering the Bolivian Water Wars, an attempt by an American corporation to privatize the Bolivian water system, for the LaPaz English language newspaper, The Bolivian Times. From 2005-2009, in Berlin, he covered politics, the environment and culture. During a 2011 visit to the U.S. he found himself in the midst of the Occupy Movement in New York City. The Occupy Movement shifted his perspective on mainstream journalism; he joined the protest and co-founded the Occupy Wall Street Journal, which reported with a political activist’s point of view, providing a voice for the 99%. He now feels that this type of advocacy journalism has largely been co-opted by the right, giving rise to platforms like Breitbart and even more extreme media outlets of the Alt-Right. But he feels that mainstream fixtures, led by The New York Times and the Washington Post, have again become more significant in defense of our democratic institutions.

Mr. Levitin now lives in Berkeley and is a contributing voice on KPFA radio’s Project Censored program. Additionally, he is active in the resistance organization Indivisible Berkeley. Violence at Berkeley civil demonstrations concerns him and, more generally, he sees few solutions for the partisan divisions in the U.S. He feels that politicians like Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have adopted the platform of the Occupy Movement. This approach of reducing the wealth and influence of the American oligarchs, the 1%, is the key to returning power to the American people.

The next meeting of the Windsor Democratic Club will be on June 22 will focus on Hispanic issues with speakers Jenny Chamberlain and Herman G. Hernandez.

Barry Hirsch