WDC business meeting on November 21st

The Windsor Democratic Club will have a business meeting on Saturday, November 21st, from noon to 2 p.m., to discuss possible programs and speakers for our regular fourth-Thursday meetings in 2016. The meeting is at our regular place – Windsor Round Table Pizza.

Everyone is welcome – bring your ideas! And if you can’t make the meeting, and have suggestions, please send them to Barry Hirsch: bdh1288 (at) gmail.com.

Santa Rosa Democratic Club Dinner and Meeting – September 23rd

The Santa Rosa Democrat Club meeting, at the Veterans’ Memorial Building, 1351 Maple Ave, Santa Rosa (across from the Sonoma County Fairgrounds), will be from 6:00 p.m. until approximately 9:00 p.m. The featured speaker is Carole van Aelstyn, BSN, of Compassion & Choices
6:00 pm—Mix & mingle, no-host bar
6:30 pm—Club Business Meeting:
Election of At-Large seat
Linda Hemenway, OFA
7:00 pm—Dinner (optional; $15 cash or check; RSVP no later than 11:00 a.m. on the 23rd)
7:30 pm—Program

For more details, see the club’s September newsletter.

September meeting – Is drought the new normal?

On September 24, 2015, at 7 p.m. at the Windsor Round Table Pizza, 8499 Old Redwood Hwy, the Windsor Democratic Club will hear from two speakers who are engaged in conserving our water resources.

Paul Piazza, the Town of Windsor Water Conservation Analyst, will give some helpful information on water saving strategies, as well as rebate incentives for water saving appliances. Mr. Piazza will also explain how Windsor is using recycled water and how this may be expanded. The impact of the proposed Lytton Tribal trust land on Windsor water and sewer will be discussed.

Update (September 24): Paul Piazza will not be speaking at tonight’s meeting.

Ryan Pedrotti, Sonoma County Water Agency Water Education Programs Specialist, will present information on the agency that diverts, pumps, and treats the water delivered to more than 600,000 residents in portions of Sonoma and Marin counties. The Water Agency is expanding its energy and sustainability projects, including solar panels and ground source and pond loop geoexchange heating and cooling systems. The agency is committed to getting 100% of its electricity from renewable and carbon free resources. Right now 55% of this electricity is coming from Sonoma County landfill gas.

There will be plenty of time for questions. The meeting is free and open to the public. Pizza will be served.

Senator Mike McGuire’s Sonoma County Chili Feed – October 1

Senator Mike McGuire invites everyone to attend his 2015 Sonoma County Chili Feed on Thursday, October 1, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at Jackson Family Vineyards, 3575 Slusser Road in Windsor.

This year’s chili feed will be bigger than ever – more farm animals in the petting zoo, more games for the little buckaroos and the first-ever Sonoma County celebrity pie-eating contest. Music will be by Chris Rovetti and the Meatballs.

Tickets are $25 per person in advance or $30 at the door. There is free admissions for kids under the age of 10.

More information, including on-line purchase of tickets, can be found here.

Report on the August 27th meeting – Gore calls for greater public dialogue

By Barry Hirsch

During his candid presentation to the Windsor Democratic Club on August 27, Fourth District Sonoma County Supervisor James Gore called for greater dialogue with the community as future policies are considered by county supervisors. Gore stressed the need for exhaustive public input and greater community outreach when issues like the Lytton Tribe of Pomo Indian trust land are considered.

Supervisor Gore gave a brief history of the Lytton tribe’s efforts to purchase 500 acres of private land west of Windsor, and to put the land into federal trust so the tribe could operate as a sovereign nation not subject to local and state laws and regulations. The process began long before Gore’s election last November, but during his seven months in office he has been actively engaged in negotiations with the Lyttons to mitigate some potential negative consequences of the tribal development. Negotiations have resulted in an agreement to ban casino development anywhere in the County, and a commitment by the tribe to pay $6 million in mitigation fees. Negotiations still ongoing; Gore hopes to limit the scope of winery and resort development on this land. He said that he and the other supervisors believe that land going into federal trust is inevitable, and an agreement with the tribe is the best course for the county.

Supervisor Gore described the ongoing study of new regulations for wineries and vacation rentals. Expansion in these areas is moving very rapidly, and the board is working address these situations in a smart way. Gore openly shared the difficulties that have arisen in the present process. As a new supervisor with previous experience in government at the federal level, he wants to change some aspects of the ways in which the board is supported by County staff.

Gore mentioned, for example, that publishing an agenda on a Thursday for a Board of Supervisor’s meeting taking place the following Tuesday is problematical. The timing limits the work that can be done by supervisors to prepare to address the complexities of items on the agenda. Although he was quick to defend the ability and commitment of the staff, as well that of his fellow supervisors, Gore feels there should be some long-range improvements. He described the process to create a county budget every two years: the $1.5 billion budget is presented to the board by staff only a couple of weeks prior to a vote, allowing for minimal consideration. Less than $7 million dollars of the budget, as presented, is completely discretionary, making it difficult to choose which of many deserving programs will get additional funding.

Supervisor Gore promised to continue to work to make county government transparent. His candor was refreshing and somewhat unexpected. He promised to return to the club on a regular basis.

Jim Wood’s Second Annual Salmon Barbecue – September 13

On Sunday, September 13, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., Assemblyman Jim Wood is hosting his second annual salmon barbecue, featuring fresh local salmon paired with wine and beer from some fantastic Sonoma County vintners and brewers. The barbeque will be held on the grounds of the Villa Chanticleer in Healdsburg. Tickets start at $30 per person. More details: http://www.jim-wood.com/sbh15

Senator McGuire Speaks to Windsor Democrats

District 2 State Senator Mike McGuire addressed a wide range of concerns during his presentation at the Windsor Democratic Club on July 23. The senator impressed the capacity audience with his work to date in his first term in Sacramento. On of his high priorities was to reverse the trend that has left our state ranked fiftieth in per pupil funding in the country. This year’s budget gives schools the greatest infusion of funds in many years.

Senator McGuire’s district includes rural counties that are often ignored. He has worked to secure money to replace an antiquated fleet of rural school buses, state-wide, which are costly to maintain, pollute the environment, and contribute to high rates of asthma in area students. Other education-related highlights in the budget are funds to add 60,000 community college slots statewide, 10,000 in the state university system, and 6,000 in the UC system. He has also targeted increases to career technical education for those high schoolers who are not planning to attend college.

With additional revenue generated as our economy improves, $35 billion in recession-era bonds have been retired, allowing for reinvestment to begin the improvement of our degraded infrastructure. Senator McGuire placed the backlog in maintenance of our California roads at $59 billion. $64 million has been allocated for repaving of Highway 101 from Windsor to Geyserville. He is continuing his effort to extend the SMART train to Cloverdale and to complete the third lane of 101 through the Novato narrows.

As a dedicated environmentalist who has 40% of the California coastline within his district, Senator McGuire wants to pass legislation to permanently ban offshore oil drilling. With roughly two-thirds of Democratic Assembly members receiving donations from oil companies, his efforts are likely to be obstructed.

Senator McGuire shared his work to regulate the state’s $40 billion marijuana industry, which is largely centered in Humboldt, Mendocino, Lake, and Trinity counties, all within his district. The lack of rules regarding the medical marijuana industry has resulted in degradation of our environment and has endangered public safety. The use of pesticides in cultivation effects wildlife; illegal diversions from rivers and streams exacerbates the limited availability of water. Legislation is needed for product testing, particularly in the edibles market, which has greatly expanded as a vehicle for marijuana ingestion.

The hard-working senator is also introducing legislation to legalize end of life decisions, modeled on Oregon laws that have been in place for 18 years. He is working to reintroduce redevelopment funds, which were a large support for affordable housing construction. Also on the housing front are bills to require reporting of vacation rentals.

During an extended question period, Senator McGuire was candid and knowledgeable in even the most obscure areas. Those in attendance left knowing that our state senate district is extremely well represented.

At our next meeting, on August 27, Supervisor James Gore will speak on the Lytton Tribal issue and other topics.

— Barry Hirsch

August 22nd – BBQ!

On Saturday, August 22nd, from noon to 3 p.m., the Sonoma County Democratic Party will hold its annual barbeque at Howarth Park in Santa Rosa. Tickets are $15 per person, or $40 for a family (two adults and two or more children). More information can be found here.

July 23rd Meeting – featuring State Senator Mike McGuire

District Two State Senator Mike McGuire will bring his unique brand of enthusiasm and engagement to the Windsor Democratic Club on July 23 at 7pm at the Windsor Round Table Pizza, 8499 Old Redwood Hwy. The Senator will discuss his sponsored legislation including bills to expand career and job skills education, to protect our old growth redwoods, to find solutions for the challenges of online vacation rentals, and to create regulations for the medical marijuana industry.

First elected at the age of nineteen to serve on the school board of his home town of Healdsburg, Senator McGuire went on to serve as a councilman and mayor of Healdsburg prior to his election as District Four County Supervisor. He was elected to the state senate last November. He brings this understanding of local government at all levels to his work in Sacramento.

Mike is a founding member of the Windsor Club. The program will allow for plenty of time for questions and discussion with the audience and will be an opportunity for the community to engage with our state senator.

The meeting is free and open to the public. Pizza will be served. For more information contact Barry Hirsch at bdh1288@gmail.com or 707-292-5896.

Report on the June 25th meeting

A report by Barry Hirsch:

Outside groups spent more than $640 million on ballot measures in our state in 2012 and 2014.

When you turn on the tube and stretch out to watch, you’ll find yourself presented with interesting lifestyle choices in those polished commercials spots that pay the freight for your favorite shows. Who wouldn’t want to be more like the world’s most interesting man? Well, just down a bottle of Tecate and you’ll be on your way. And who can say no to the family values portrayed in the lovefest of a McDonalds happy meal promo? These slick TV commercials, as well as those found in print and on the radio, send sophisticated messages in effort to get us to part with our dollars for an ever-widening array of consumer goods and services. Is this a form of Orwellian mind control? Maybe so, but at least we know who is paying for the ads and why.

That’s not the case with the equally polished ads that flood our media during election season. In 2010 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, in the case of Citizens United vs. the Federal Election Commission, that the First Amendment prohibits restrictions on spending by corporations, labor unions and other associations including so-called political action committees. Since then the floodgates have been opened for spending on campaigns by donors, often acting with anonymity, hiding behind misleading organizational names, and not divulging the actual funders.

On June 25th, the Windsor Democratic Club heard from David Schmidt, Northern California Director of the California Clean Money Campaign, who is working to pass Assembly Bill 700, the California Disclose Act of 2015. This law would mandate a straightforward disclosure of the true sources of campaign advertising. The Disclose Act requires that the two or three largest funders (the number depends on the media) be prominently and clearly displayed in TV, radio, and print ads, as well as in mass mailers and robo calls, in support or against state and local ballot measures. The Disclose Act stipulates that the actual, true name of the sponsors be shown, rather than the name of some misleading committee or non-profit. Although the Act does not stop big money spending, it will help neutralize the power of money by allowing voters to see who is buying ads.

Thanks to the Citizens United decision, big money interests can spend unlimited amounts of money to affect the outcomes of our elections. The Disclose Act will stop the hiding of the identity of those who fund the messages that bombard people during election seasons. If you’re interested in helping to get this bill passed – it is now working its way through our legislature, visit the California Clean Money Campaign website at www.CAdisclose.org.