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

May 28

Sustainability Advocate Lauren Lum Speaks to Windsor Democrats

At the April 27th meeting of the Windsor/North County Democratic Club, Sonoma County program specialist Lauren Lum described opportunities offered by the county to support energy efficiency upgrades to both residential and commercial properties. The Sonoma County Energy Independence Program offers a variety of options to save energy, lower utility bills, and to make a structure more comfortable.

County property owners can begin with an energy assessment done using strict diagnostic testing performed by a participating contractor who can be chosen from a list on the Energy Independence Office’s website, www.sonomacountyenergy.org. Ms. Lum suggested that efficiency upgrades can range from do-it-yourself installation of low flow showerheads to energy efficient replacement windows and furnaces, as well as rooftop solar panels. Improvements costing more than $2,500 may be eligible for Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing through the county’s Energy Independence Program. Sonoma County will fund the upgrades for a loan term of 10 or 20 years at an interest rate of 7 per cent. Loan payments are included as part of the property tax assessment.

Ms. Lum came to Sonoma County as an Americorps CivicSpark fellow after her graduation from Regis University with a B.A. in Environmental Studies and a B.A. in Peace and Justice Studies. As a CivicSpark fellow she worked in the Sonoma County Energy and Sustainability Division. At the end of her fellowship, she was hired as a fulltime program specialist in that division. In addition to this work she is very engaged as a volunteer with Daily Acts, a Sonoma County non-profit organization.

The mission of Daily Acts is to create more self-reliant communities by transforming homes and landscapes into sustainable and resilient ecosystems. The organization provides the skills and resources to support people to plant a garden, harvest rainwater, install a greywater system, convert a lawn, and/or start a compost bin, as well as many other projects that help to make our community more environmentally friendly. The organization, headquartered in Petaluma, was founded in 2002 by Trathen Heckman, a former professional snowboarder. More information on Daily Acts and the annual Community Resilience Challenge can be found at www.dailyacts.org.

In addition to Lauren Lum, Windsor Town Councilman Sam Salmon was on hand to share updates on several Windsor issues. He addressed ongoing negotiations concerning a new contract for garbage collection services in Windsor. The awarding of a contract to current bidders has become complicated by the threat of CEQA-related litigation by one of the bidders. Mr. Salmon is hopeful that the services can be awarded to a company that can process the waste locally, reversing the environmental costs of shipping waste to locations outside the county. He also shared the progress on the ongoing project to improve infrastructure to better connect central Windsor on each side of US 101.

Alos, Val Campbell updated the group on the next planned meeting of the group Indivisible Windsor, and Betsy Mallace reported on a bill recently introduced in Congress by Representative Jeff Denham to require the U.S. government to take land west of Windsor into trust for the Lytton Band of Pomo Indians. The bill is not supported by our local Congressman, Jared Huffman.


Barry Hirsch

May 14

Journalist Michael Levitin to speak at May 25th meeting

Michael Levitin, a Forestville native and editor-in-chief of Occupy.com, will speak on “The Media Renaissance: Is Our Fake President Pushing Journalism into a New Truth-Telling Frontier?,” at the Windsor Democratic Club on Thursday, May 25, at 7 p.m.

Mr. Levitin worked as a Newsweek correspondent in Berlin for many years, covering European politics and culture, before returning to the Bay Area, where he reports on politics, climate and activist movements that are reshaping America. As a member of Indivisible Berkeley and a contributor to the KPFA Project Censored program, he will discuss ways that the anti-Trump protests have ignited a new politics of resistance, starting with the media.

Mr. Levitin will share his perspective regarding how a new generation of journalists have been energized to report the truth in an environment in which the current president regularly makes statements that are verifiably false. An atmosphere reminiscent of the Nixon Watergate scandals has motivated journalists to continue to report the truth of the administration’s involvement with Russia during the 2016 campaign.

The meeting is at the Windsor Round Table Pizza, 8499 Old Redwood Hwy. The program is free and open to all. Pizza will be served.

Apr 23

April 27th presentation: Saving energy, water, and money

Lauren Lum, the Program Specialist at the Energy and Sustainability Division of Sonoma County, will speak on Thursday, April 27th, about the Sonoma County Energy Independence Program, and answer questions. She works with home owners and business owners as they make building improvements and behavior changes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, save water, prevent pollution, and divert waste.

SCEIP includes financing to property owners for energy efficiency, renewable energy generation, and water conservation upgrades, payable back to the County through the owner’s property tax bill, as well as other resources and tools. Lauren’s colleague Jose Landaverde, the Information and Communications Analyst in the Sonoma County Energy and Sustainability Division, will join her to co-present on SCEIP and the services offered by the division.

Lauren will also speak about the Sonoma County non-profit organization Daily Acts and its offerings, including the Community Resilience Challenge.

We’ll also hear brief presentations by representatives of State Senator Mike McGuire, County Supervisor James Gore, and the new organization Indivisible Windsor.

The meeting, which begins at 7 p.m., at the Windsor Round Table Pizza restaurant, 8499 Old Redwood Highway, is free and open to the public. Pizza will be served.

Mar 24

Deb Fudge Speaks to the Windsor/North County Democrats

At a March 23 meeting presided over by club president Rick Massell, Windsor Mayor Deb Fudge touched on a variety of topics during her presentation. She began by discussing the reaction to the United Community Resolution passed by the Town Council at its March 1 meeting. Similar in intent to a sanctuary city declaration, the resolution was cited on CSN News, an alt-right commentary website founded in 1998 by Brent Bozell III, whose motto is “the Right News. Right Now.” Following the story on CSN, numerous hate-filled e-mails were sent to Ms. Fudge, which surprised her; she now considers those to be a “sign of the times.”

Mayor Fudge discussed Windsor’s Urban Growth Boundary, which will be placed on this November’s ballot. The proposed boundaries will be generally unchanged from those in place for the past 20 years, with only an insignificant expansion. She also reported that the SMART train opening is quite close with the permitting and testing process nearing an end. Trains will be running on real-time schedules without passengers in the coming days as a final “dry run.” A parking lot of 42 spaces has been created at the airport station, although she conceded that station parking is a work in progress. Riders are encouraged to use bikes and services such as Uber to get to stations, or to just walk. The Bay Area Clipper card is the encouraged means of payment for SMART travelers; that card can be used on many Bay Area transit systems including BART and the Golden Gate ferry.

Ms. Fudge spoke about her work as a Climate Reality leader with the Climate Reality Project, founded in 2006 by former Vice President Al Gore, with the mission of “moving the climate revolution forward with action.” She introduced Sonoma County Democratic Chair and former Sonoma City Councilperson, Laurie Gallian, who recently completed training as a Climate Reality leader at the organization’s Denver leadership training in early March. Mayor Fudge continued with the environmental theme by discussing a Windsor area business, BamCore, which has developed a unique building system using naturally sustainable bamboo as the key component for its hollow wall system. The system was invented by BamCore founder William McDonald as an environmentally-friendly replacement for traditional lumber.


In addition to Mayor Fudge’s presentation, club member Denise Dixon reported on a “Know Your Rights” seminar on March 22, which was co-sponsored by the Town of Windsor, Fourth District Supervisor James Gore, and the Sonoma County Public Defender’s Office. The seminar, held at the Furth center in Windsor, was intended to get the word out that everyone has rights, including our undocumented community. Instructions were shared on how to deal with an encounter with representatives of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. (A full explanation of these rights is on the National Immigration Law Center’s website at www.nilc.org ).

Barry Hirsch