Oct 30

Welcome to our website


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.

Apr 02

Maureen McSorley describes U.S. immigration system at March 22 meeting

At its March 22 meeting, the club heard from Maureen McSorley, a Windsor immigration attorney, about the intricacies of becoming a legal resident.

McSorley said that there are approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. Half are those entered the United States without inspection/authorization and the others are visa overstays – they entered the United States legally and then never returned.

According to McSorley, it can be very difficult for undocumented individuals to obtain legal status in the United States. Even for those who are married to U.S. citizens, the process is quite onerous. Unless you entered the U.S. with a valid visa, someone filed a petition for you before April 30, 2001,  or your family member is in the military, you have to go back to your home country to get a green card through a process known as consular processing.

The moment you step foot on your home country’s soil to do consular processing, you have a 10-year bar; you can’t come back for 10 years, if you lived in the U.S. for more than one year without authorization. This is called the unlawful presence ground of inadmissibility. You can apply for a waiver for this but only if you can show that your U.S. citizen or U.S. legal permanent resident spouse or parent would suffer extreme hardship should the undocumented family member not be admitted to the United States.

Surprisingly, children are not “qualifying relatives” for this waiver. So hardship to the children is not per se a factor. If the waiver is approved, the person goes to the U.S. consulate in their home country to be interviewed, undergo a background check, and get a medical exam. If they are approved, they can come back to the U.S. as a legal resident.

However, other grounds of inadmissibility could be found by the consular officer once the applicant is abroad. One such ground of inadmissibility which is being regularly encountered is that of “alien smuggling.” This is an issue if the applicant coming to the United States brings their child or other family member with them when they come here. McSorley often sees cases where a mother, often fleeing abuse, has brought her children here, not wanting to leave them behind because there was no one to care for them in Mexico or their lives would be in danger if left in the hands of the abuser. That mother would be deemed inadmissible due to alien smuggling, which would require another waiver.

If you go to the interview in Mexico after getting a waiver for unlawful presence, and you are found to have brought your children through alien smuggling, you will have to file a second waiver. It is currently taking USCIS close to 1.5 years to adjudicate these waivers. The applicant would have to remain in their home country until this waiver is approved, meaning that the family is separated for this very long period of time. During that wait period, the family has to make the decision either to leave the children in the U.S. or take them to the home country to wait for the decision with their parent.

Along with other stress factors, going to the home country, such as Mexico, can be dangerous. If you relocate to Mexico from the U.S. many are targeted by criminals who believe that they have money or have family members with money in the U.S.

McSorley says that consular processing is extremely stressful on the family members, most of whom are U.S. citizens and U.S. legal permanent residents. Not knowing if your loved one will return causes the family excessive fear and anxiety. If something goes wrong and a waiver is not approved, the family member could potentially not reenter the U.S. for 10 years.

The anxiety surrounding how to handle the financial hardship of raising a family as a single parent, often after losing the income of the primary breadwinner in the family, is daunting. The emotional trauma of trying to cope with their children’s trauma at losing their loving parent is terrible. This complex process of getting legal residence is the best-case scenario for the undocumented.

“Comprehensive immigration reform,” long sought after by public interest groups and politicians, should provide fairer and more humane solutions. However, a consensus has not emerged on what those reforms should be.

To contact Maureen McSorley, send an email to: maureen at mcsorleylaw.com

— Rick Massell

Feb 26

Candidate John Mutz Speaks to Club about Changing the Law Enforcement Culture of the Sheriff’s Office

At the club’s meeting on February 22nd, John Mutz told the Windsor Democrats that he believes the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office needs to change its culture. He said that law enforcement today is generally is rooted in a status quo that has negative impacts not only on citizens but also on the officers themselves.

Mutz, in his presentation, the third in the club series by the declared candidates for Sheriff (the other two presentations were by candidates Mark Essick and Ernesto Olivares), said that the impacts of the Sheriff’s Office on many other areas of our society are too important to ignore. By urging deputies to open themselves to training and assistance from outsiders, we can impact education, mental health issues, homelessness, domestic abuse, and immigrants, to name just a few areas.

Mutz, who rose through the ranks of the Los Angeles Police Department to become station commander, was asked to implement a new form of policing after the Rodney King riots in 1992. He was successful in getting relations to improve between the police and the community they served, in mostly Latino and immigrant areas. Unfortunately, a new LA Police Chief told him that they needed to go back to the old ways, where quotas and numbers of arrests, and how long they could extend sentences, were the measure of success. So Mutz left the department, becoming a consultant nationwide.

Mutz and his family moved to Sonoma County six years ago. He never intended to go back into law enforcement work directly. But after the Andy Lopez shooting and the retirement of Sheriff Freitas, many members of our community urged Mutz to run for office, knowing about his background in the theory and practice of quality police work.

Mutz believes that police officers and sheriff’s deputies are best served by openness and transparency. This allows them to become exposed to criticism and complaint, but it also allows them to grow as humans. Through actively soliciting input from the community, the sheriff’s department can change to meet the community’s needs. Such practices also gradually increase trust within the community.

Mutz believes that our Sheriff’s department, like most other law enforcement agencies, relies on the status quo to protect the agency, closing ranks when problems arise. Failures are hidden; the system continues relatively unchanged. Even the attempt by the County to establish an oversight agency could not use the word “oversight,” because the Sheriff opposed that. The new agency was named the Independent Office for Law Enforcement and Outreach.

Since our elected Sheriff is independent of the county board of supervisors in everything except budget, he/she alone determines policy and procedures. The sheriff must welcome change, or it won’t take place. And the voters are the only ones who can hire and monitor the sheriff, unless he/she invites oversight

More information about John Mutz and his campaign is at http://johnmutzforsonomasheriff.com.

— Rick Massell

Feb 19

Sheriff Candidate John Mutz to speak to club

Sheriff candidate John Mutz will speak to the club at its February 22nd meeting, at 7 p.m., at the Windsor Round Table Pizza restaurant on Old Redwood Highway. His presentation will be followed by a question and answer period.

John Mutz started as a Deputy Sheriff/Coroner in 1971 in Sutter County, moving to the Los Angeles Police Department in 1974. He eventually became Station Commander in the LA stations of Wilshire Area and Newton Area. Since 2000, after his retirement in 1999 from the LA police department, he has worked as a leadership consultant and as a certified mediator and facilitator for the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office. His website is http://johnmutzforsonomasheriff.com/ .


Jan 29

Sheriff Candidate Ernesto Olivares Speaks to Club

Ernesto Olivares, currently a Santa Rosa City Council member and a former Santa Rosa Police Department lieutenant, spoke to the Windsor/North County Democratic Club on Thursday, January 25th. Olivares main point of emphasis was that 21st century policing requires excellent community engagement, hence his slogan “Olivares for Our Sheriff.”

Olivares was the second of the three declared candidates for sheriff to speak to the club. Mark Essick spoke on October 26th; John Mutz will speak on February 22nd.

Olivares began his career as a police cadet at Yuba College in the Sacramento Valley. From there, after a few years, he moved to Santa Rosa in 1979 to take a police job. In his career, he moved up in the ranks to eventually become a lieutenant. He served in a number of special assignments including detective, crisis negotiator, and field training officer.

After being promoted to Sergeant, Olivares supervised a number of units, among them Sex Crime and Family Violence, Internal Affairs, and the police Public Information Office. He also served as an Acting Commander in the Special Services Division.

In 2004, Olivares was promoted to Police Lieutenant and served as Watch Commander overseeing the deployment of officers in the Field Services Division. In 2006 he became the head of Santa Rosa’s new gang prevention and intervention services, where he established and built partnerships with a number of community-based organizations.

Olivares retired from the police department in 2008 and was elected to Santa Rosa City Council that same year, the council’s first Latino member. He served as the city’s mayor from 2010 to 2012. In keeping with his work with the police department, he was the chair of the Santa Rosa Violence Prevention Partnership for six years.

As well as being a councilmember, Olivares is currently the Executive Director of the California Cities Violence Prevention Network.

If elected, Olivares would focus on several areas in the sheriff’s department:

First, each of the more than 28 separate communities in Sonoma County should be in continual interaction with the sheriff to determine what is currently working or not working, through focus groups and community meetings.

Second, hiring and promotion practices should be revamped to recruit a more diverse group of sheriff’s deputies. Olivares thinks this can be done by reaching out to other areas of the state, going to schools and conferences, and encouraging local youth to become police officers. After applications have been winnowed, there should be a group of community members as well as the usual committee of sheriff’s department personnel, who should hold parallel interviews to give their input before the final decision is made on hiring or promotion.

A third area of emphasis would be the total commitment of all members of the sheriff’s department to community policing, rather than having a small separate unit specializing in this.

For more information on Olivares, go to www.olivaresforsheriff.com.

— Rick Massell

Dec 31

Remaining Two Sheriff Candidates to Speak in January and February

By the end of February, all three of the declared candidates for Sonoma County Sheriff will have spoken, individually, at a Sonoma/North County Democratic club meeting.

  • Captain Mark Essick was first, in October.
  • On January 25, Santa Rosa City Councilman and retired Santa Rosa Police Lieutenant Ernesto Olivares will speak at the club’s 7 p.m. meeting.
  • On February 22, retired Los Angeles Police Captain John Mutz will speak at the club’s 7 p.m. meeting.

These are great opportunities to hear the remaining two candidates speak at length, and answer questions. The January and February meetings are at the usual place, the Round Table Pizza restaurant in Windsor, on Old Redwood Highway.

The primary election for Sonoma County Sheriff is in June 2018, with any runoff in November. The current Sheriff, Rob Giordano, will retire in January 2019, when his appointed term ends.

Oct 28

Mark Essick Makes His Case for Sheriff to the Windsor Democratic Club

Mark Essick, one of four candidates running for Sonoma County Sheriff, says that his experience and goals for the Sheriff’s department make him the best choice. In his presentation to the Windsor Democratic Club on Thursday, October 26th, he made the case for his election .

Captain Essick, whose appearance was first in a series of conversations that the club plans to have with all the candidates for sheriff, said that one of his major goals was changing the composition of the department to look more like the community. Currently, 95% of the deputies are white males. Essick believes that the department should resemble the population of Sonoma County, with its minorities of blacks, Asians, and LGBTQ individuals, ans which is 26% Latino and 50% female. That requires changes to the departments culture, including promotions up to positions of leadership.

Homelessness and related mental health problems are a top issue for Essick. He explained the fiscal and ethical implications of the ways in which we currently deal with the homeless. Arresting them costs $153 per day at the jail. Sending them to the emergency room costs $1500 for the ambulance and $3500 per day for treatment at the ER.

Essick agrees that the currently active program of Housing First (putting the homeless in their own apartments) is the best solution but believes that it has to be accompanied by counseling and treatment. He would wholeheartedly agree to a reduction of $153 per day in the Sheriff’s Department budget for every inmate diverted to treatment and housing. This would free up funding from the county and cities for such programs.

Essick represented the former Sheriff, Steve Freitas, on the CALLE task force, created after the Andy Lopez shooting. He explained to the audience how the process of oversight now works. Incidents are reviewed by IOLERO, headed by Jerry Threet. Essick likened this process and recommendations that follow to that of a grand jury. There is no legal necessity to follow the recommendations but the sheriff’s office would be neglectful and subject to public and press criticism if they ignored them.

In the question period that followed, Essick was asked about immigration. He stated that it is “none of my business” in reference to knowing the immigration status of residents of our county or those arrested or in the jail. He feels that the trust and cooperation of everyone in our community is essential to good law enforcement and the feeling of security of all residents.

Mark Essick was born and raised in Novato. He now lives in Cloverdale and has close connections to Sonoma County with all of his near relatives living in the region.

— Rick Massell and Val Hinshaw

Note: The Windsor Democratic Club will hold a business meeting from 1 to 3 pm on Saturday, November 11, at the Windsor Round Table restaurant. Regular meetings, on the fourth Thursday of the month, will start again in January 2018.

Oct 20

Sheriff Candidate Mark Essick to Speak at October Meeting

Captain Mark Essick, a candidate in the upcoming election for Sheriff of Sonoma County, will speak to the club at the meeting on Thursday, October 26th, at 7 p.m. at the Windsor Round Table restaurant. The club will also elect four voters and two alternates for the regional pre-endorsement conference in January 2018. This allows the club to have input into the California Democratic Party endorsements for our representatives in Congress and in the state legislature.

Captain Mark Essick grew up in Marin County. He attended California State University, Sacramento where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice in 1993.  He began his career with the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office in 1994. Starting in the Detention Division as a Correctional Deputy, he joined the Law Enforcement Division in 1996 as a Deputy Sheriff, where he worked a variety of assignments, including main office patrol, Roseland substation, the contract Town of Windsor, Field Training Officer, and Property Crimes Detective. In 2002, he earned a Master’s of Business Administration from Golden Gate University, San Francisco.

In 2007, he was promoted to Sergeant, working as a main office patrol supervisor, Windsor Police Department supervisor, and Bomb Squad supervisor. In 2014 he was promoted to Lieutenant. In addition to working as Patrol Watch Commander, he managed a variety of specialized units, including the Helicopter Unit, the Bomb Squad, and the Marine Unit. In 2015 he moved to the Administrative Division, managing the Sheriff’s Office Personnel and Internal Affairs units. In 2016, after being promoted to Captain, he returned to Field Services Division, where he is responsible for overseeing and managing the Patrol Bureau, Dispatch Bureau, Court Security / Transportation Bureau, and the contract cities of Windsor and Sonoma.

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