Report from the May 23rd meeting – universal health care

MEDICARE FOR ALL

Health care is a human right and a public good, like public safety, schools, and roads, and should be paid for with public money, Maria Behan of Sonoma County for Single-Payer said Thursday, May 23, at the Windsor Democratic Club’s regular monthly meeting at the Windsor Round Table Pizza.

Currently health care is treated as a commodity, like cars, cosmetics, or other consumer goods. Access to treatment is rationed by an individual’s ability to pay.

About half of people in the U.S., 150 million, have private insurance through an employer. Another 50 million are covered by Medicare. Medicaid covers 70 million. Those who do not receive health insurance through their work or from Medicare or Medicaid, typically those who are fully self-employed, must buy individual insurance if they can afford it. About 17 million people receive government subsidized private insurance through the Affordable Care Act, but many people who do not have employer-paid insurance make too much to get any subsidies.

In 2017 an estimated 28.5 million people were uninsured. One major reason is that the cost of healthcare insurance has risen faster than wages and inflation for most of the past decades.

This patchwork of private and government-funded insurance is inefficient, wasteful, and cruel. Since 2016, the U.S. has been spending roughly 18% of its GDP on health care, the highest percentage in the world, by far. Despite this, an estimated 48,000 people die prematurely every year from preventable causes because they lack access to health care. And significant number of bankruptcies result from high medical expenses, even though many of those going bankrupt had health insurance.

The United States is the only major country in the world that does not have some form of government-mandated, tax-funded universal health care access.

Countries as diverse as the UK, Spain, Sweden, New Zealand, and Cuba have government-run healthcare systems. In the U.S., Veterans Administration and Indian Health doctors are employed directly by the government. Other countries have some combination of government and private insurance, coupled with government regulation of costs.

In a single-payer system the government is the insurer. Medical care remains private but is paid for by the government, eliminating the insurance industry as middleman between caregivers and patients. Canada, for example, has a single-payer system.

Overall most developed countries spend about 9% of GDP on healthcare. We cannot afford not to have single-payer, Behan said.

In March, Pramila Jayapal [D-Wa] introduced HR 1384, to create a single-payer system, with 108 cosponsors including local congressmen Jared Huffman and Mike Thompson. Bernie Sanders [I-Vt] introduced the Senate version, SB 1129, with fourteen cosponsors, including presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand and Cory Booker.

Medicare for All offers a detailed blueprint for government-funded single-payer health insurance. The government would provide universal health care coverage. Health care would remain privately operated and owned. Unlike current Medicare, M4A would cover dental, vision and long-term care.

Behan encouraged people to go to the Facebook page for Sonoma County for Single-Payer, or the websites of the National Nurses United or Physicians for National Health Program, to educate themselves and others about the financial and social benefits of Medicare for All.

We need to drown out the lobbyist’s voices, Behan said. Let our leaders know that we need equitable, universal-coverage healthcare. In the end, Behan said, single-payer is about more than money – it reflects the kind of society we want to be.

–Shirley Johnston

May 23rd Meeting: Is Universal Healthcare Imminent?

There’s a lot of talk about healthcare reform, but what would the Democrats’ bills in Congress—and the proposals being floated on the campaign trail—mean for you and your family? At the May 23rd meeting, writer Maria Behan will share her take on various reform proposals as well as some ideas for getting involved in the movement for universal healthcare.

Maria’s published work includes political columns, travel pieces, and fiction. Two years ago she founded the local grassroots group Sonoma County for Single-Payer, which does door-to-door and crowd canvasses, lobbies our state and federal representatives, and promotes single-payer healthcare reform at both the state and federal level. She’s also part of Indivisible Healdsburg’s leadership team and a proud veteran of the Sonoma County canvassing caravan that helped get Orange County’s Katie Porter elected to the U.S. House of Representatives last November.

To find out more, come to the Windsor Democratic Club meeting on Thursday May 23, 7-9 pm, at the Windsor Round Table Pizza restaurant. Free pizza! (The meeting is free and open to all.)

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For more information on Sonoma County for Single Payer, go to their Facebook page: SonomaCounty4SinglePayer.

Report on the WDC meeting of April 25th – Green New Deal Forum

An overflow crowd of more than fifty people, including Town Council members Debora Fudge, Esther Lemus, and Sam Salmon, turned out to learn about the Green New Deal at a Windsor Democratic Club forum Thursday April 25 at the Windsor Round Table Pizza restaurant.

Doug Nunn, a retired Mendocino high school English teacher who recently finished a training program given by Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project, gave a presentation on the global warming crisis.

Since 1800 the carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere has risen from 280ppm to 405ppm. Global temperatures have increased 1.5 F from 1880 to 2018, the fourth hottest year on record. We cannot afford not to act.

In response to the crisis, the Green New Deal calls for a national mobilization to guarantee full employment at living wages through an upgrade and overhaul of infrastructure, transportation, manufacturing, and power generation, with the goal of 100% clean, renewable, zero-emission power. Representative Ocasio-Cortez introduced a non-binding resolution in support of this in Congress in February 2019.

Debora Fudge reported that she is working with Pete Gang of Petaluma, who was in the audience, on a countywide Green New Deal resolution. She mentioned the Town Council’s recent success in getting the developer of property between Old Redwood Hwy and Merner to agree to build 32 all-electric units. She encouraged people to replace old gas appliances with electric ones, and to sign up for Sonoma Clean Power’s EverGreen program, offering 100% of energy from renewable sources.

In the forum that followed, Mary Mariani of the Windsor Garden Club spoke about the health and ecological benefits of organic gardening. She invited the public to the Windsor Community Garden’s Saturday Work Party on May 11 at 10:30 am.

Justin Wilcox of Sonoma County Refuse and Recovery said that China, the major purchaser of recyclable waste, now insists on lower contamination levels; SCRR’s dual stream carts help meet this demand.

Les Proteau, co-director of North Bay TIP, spoke about their free 120-hour pre-internship program that prepares participants for five-year apprenticeships in one of 17 building trades, leading to lifelong union-wage jobs. Anyone is welcome as long as they are willing to learn and work. “We don’t just turn them out,” Proteau said. “We make a lifelong commitment to their success.” The first 40 hours of classes (“boot-camp”), covers basics, including workplace safety and math. Subsequent weeks focus on a specific trade. About 50% of participants go on to apprenticeships.

Proteau, rebuilding his Coffey Park home after the Tubbs fire, is having first-hand experience learning about new energy-efficient technologies, most recently a solar-generating window glass that uses the aluminum frame as the conduit.

Doug Nunn reported that the Mendocino Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 to approve a Climate Action Advisory Committee. Sonoma County should consider doing the same.

Debora Fudge said that each jurisdiction is different. But the most important thing is for people to show up at public forums to support programs that combat global warming as well as promote social justice. Remember, she said, “The world is looking to California.”

–Shirley Johnston

Windsor Town Hall: The Green New Deal and You

Our earth is warming quickly. Every year the rate of increase is faster. The earth is in critical condition. One goal of the Green New Deal is to cut carbon emissions in half in 11 years – by 2030! It’s all about reversing current climate change trends. This requires, among other things:

— Retrofitting older buildings so they use much less energy
— Constructing all new buildings so they use zero net energy
— Investing in green energy production: solar, wind, hydro
— Zero emissions for autos and trucks (powered by batteries or fuel cells)
— Improved and expanded mass transit

What can we do in Windsor? Come to the Windsor Democratic Club’s town hall on Thursday, April 25, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Windsor Round Table Pizza restaurant to find out. Windsor’s elected officials will discuss the Town’s policies, programs and the goals for reducing emissions. PLUS we will have local leaders from sustainable enterprises and community organizations, who will report on what they have been doing and plan to do in the future.

The meeting is free and open to all; pizza will be served.

The Green New Deal – websites for more information

For those interested in the Green New Deal, here are some websites with more information:

International

United Nations Environment Programme – “Global Green New Deal: Policy Brief”, https://www.unenvironment.org/resources/report/global-green-new-deal-policy-brief-march-2009

 

National

House Resolution 109, “Recognizing the duty of the Federal Government to create a Green New Deal”,  https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-resolution/109/text

The New Economics Foundation, “A Green New Deal” – https://neweconomics.org/2008/07/green-new-deal

Data for Progress – “Policy Report: A Green New Deal”, https://www.dataforprogress.org/green-new-deal

 

Local

https://350sonoma.org/ , part of 350.org, a worldwide organization to end the age of fossil fuels and build a world of community-led renewable energy for all

Climate Action Planning by the City of Santa Rosa – https://srcity.org/1634/Climate-Action-Planning

Regional Climate Protection Authority – “Climate Action 2020 and Beyond”, https://rcpa.ca.gov/projects/climate-action-2020/

Sonoma County Conservation Action: “Climate Action 2020”, http://www.conservationaction.org/climate-action-2020/

Sonoma County Democratic Party Endorses Green New Deal Resolution – https://sonomademocrats.org/2019/04/08/sonoma-county-democratic-party-endorses-green-new-deal-resolution/

 

 

Youth vs. Apocalypse calls for a Green New Deal

On March 28, four high school students from West Sonoma County presented the case for a Green New Deal to the Windsor Democratic Club.  These students are part of a group called Youth vs. Apocalypse. Because of an increase in greenhouse gases, the earth is warming rapidly. Older generations have not taken adequate actions to minimize climate change, but our students have decided they can’t leave this cause to others. They feel that they must rally the rest of us so their generation and the earth doesn’t suffer an apocalypse.

U.N. and U.S. scientific reports point to 2030 as the critical point. If we can’t sharply reduce carbon from the atmosphere, as well as methane and other gases, we will see and experience far more fires, floods, droughts, disastrous storms, and widespread damage to homes, cities, forests, and agricultural lands. Widespread tragedies will increase dramatically, including, globally, famine, mass migration and civil war.

A resolution for the Green New Deal, recently passed in the House of Representatives but defeated in the Senate, combines the fight against climate change with 1930’s New Deal type programs which put people back to work during the depression. Currently, most workers in this country have seen their wages stagnate while the wealthy and top income earners have taken ever increasing percentages of national income.

To combat this, the Green New Deal would employ millions of workers to develop an infrastructure based on sustainable energy, renewable sources, retrofitting older buildings, innovative methods for new construction, and better transportation and agricultural systems. The goal is to reduce carbon emissions to a net increase of zero.

Because many communities suffer now from the impacts of global warming and/or environmental degradation, the Green New Deal will focus on them as well as other communities which may not be seriously impacted yet but must climate-proof themselves. For sufficient economic well-being, workers throughout the country under the Green New Deal must be paid high enough living wages to allow them to raise families, so their futures are hopeful rather than depressing.

 

In answer to the question whether we can afford the Green New Deal, young people say we can’t afford not to do it. Each day we don’t act makes the ultimate cost even greater.

Next up is a Climate Action Night on Wednesday, April 24th, from 4:30 – 7:15 pm at the Santa Rosa Junior College Student Center, cosponsored by the SRJC Student Sustainability Committee, 350 Sonoma and the Center for Climate Protection Youth Advisory Board. Here the public will learn about how to advocate for effective climate legislation with state and local elected leaders in attendance.

The Windsor Democratic Club has decided to take up the cause as well. The club will hold a Green New Deal Town Hall on April 25, focusing on local and county measures that could be taken now and in the near future. To promote the town hall, the club will staff a table at the Earth Day and Wellness Fair on Sunday, April 14, from 10 to 1, at the Windsor Town Green, alongside the Windsor Farmers Market.

— Rick Massell (707-696-9364)

Youth activists to speak about the Green New Deal

A group of passionate, knowledgeable high school students, most of whom are part of the 350 Bay Area’s Youth Vs. Apocalypse activism group, will present the Green New Deal to the Windsor Democratic Club on Thursday, March 28. (More information about this local student movement is here.)

The Green New Deal is a movement which has the support of young people nationwide. In a resolution recently introduced in Congress, the proposals making up the Green New Deal address climate change and good jobs for all as interconnected issues to be solved together. The Green New Deal outlines the kind of social, political, and economic mobilization which will enable the United States to achieve net-zero carbon emissions in 12 years.

Youth are demanding that elected officials take immediate action to end dependence on fossil fuels, support this resolution locally, and secure a future with a livable climate for generations to come. The presenters at the March 28th meeting will explain—in depth—the goals of this resolution, how mobilization for climate justice could look like in our community, and why support for the Green New Deal is crucial in these trying times.

The Windsor Democratic Club meets on the fourth Thursday of every month at the Windsor Round Table Pizza, from 7 to 9 pm. Free pizza is provided, and the meeting is open to all.

Report from Indivisible Sonoma County – Changing the California Delegation in Congress, 2018

In a detailed, data-driven presentation, Larry Martin, the chair of Indivisible Sonoma County’s Out of District committee, demonstrated the importance of voter turn-out in electing Democratic candidates in close elections. The presentation was at the Windsor Democratic Club’s regularly scheduled meeting of February 28.

In the 2018 mid-term elections, Indivisible focused its energy on flipping U.S. congressional districts in California held by Republicans. Thirteen of the fourteen Republican districts were targeted; the fourteenth, District 8 (Inyo County), where two Republicans were running against each other, was a lost cause.

For the primaries, Indivisible stressed getting people to vote. In California first-time voters are more likely to vote for Democrats, given the proper encouragement. The other major targeted group was irregular voters registered as Democrats, those who voted in Presidential elections but not at mid-terms.

In response to a question, Martin said that voter registration drives should be held in places or events where large number of people were likely to gather, such as county fairs, Cinco de Mayo celebrations, at high schools during assemblies, and on college campuses. By contrast, alongside Highway 395 in Lone Pine was not a good place to register new voters, Martin said.

For the general elections, irregular and first-time voters were encouraged to vote specifically for the Democratic candidate running in their district..

Volunteers manned phone banks, canvassed the target districts, and sent postcards and texts. Martin noted that postcards have a personal touch that is missing in most communications, and that postcard writing parties also give activists a chance to get together. Gloria Bealer, who hosted a series of postcard writing parties at the Round Table Pizza in Montgomery Village which attracted as many as 68 people, helped send out 31,000 postcards during the general election.

Using texts to get out the vote is a new strategy. Texts are faster, easier and more reliable than traditional phone banking for encouraging people to register to vote, to apply for mail-in ballots, and to vote.

Canvassing, which requires volunteers to travel, is not practical in rural areas, Martin said. But no single get-out-the-vote strategy was decisively better than another. Continuing to push up until election day in the thirteen districts was vital, Martin said, because last-minute voters tend to vote for the challenger, not the incumbent.

Seven of the targeted thirteen districts, in southern California and agricultural San Joaquin Valley, were flipped in November, sometimes by narrow margins.

In district 21, which includes parts of Fresno, King, Kerns, and Tulare counties, the margin was 50.4% to 49.5% in favor of the Democratic Party challenger. In district 39, which runs along the coast between Los Angeles and San Diego, the Democratic candidate won 51.6% to 48.4%. The entire coast of California is now blue, Martin noted.

Martin expressed optimism that additional California House districts could be flipped in 2020, particularly district 50 in rural San Diego County, where Duncan Hunter is under indictment for election fraud. Hunter won 51.7% to 48.3%. District 1, stretching from Yosemite to the Oregon border on the rural eastern side of the state presents a greater challenge.

Martin also expressed confidence that Indivisible and allied activist organizations such as Swing Left will have a positive effect on the 2020 national elections. But he warned that Republicans will use countermeasures, such as gerrymandering and purging voter rolls, as well as targeted voter messaging and soliciting small donations in imitation of Democratic party activists in 2018.

–Shirley Johnston

Will Democrats build on 2018? A view from Indivisible

At the February 28th meeting of the Windsor Democratic Club, Larry Martin, a member of Indivisible Sonoma County, and head of its Out of District committee, will provide his analysis of the 2018 House of Representatives elections. His focus will be on what has been learned, and what Democrats can do to continue to gain ground in 2020.

Born, raised, and educated in Kansas, Larry Martin spent most of his life working as an electronics engineer. He started his own company, and has done research and development for numerous companies throughout the U.S. He is a serious amateur photographer.

Typical of many Indivisible members, he was never active in politics until after the 2016 elections, although he always voted. He has dedicated the last two years to electoral politics, working with the Indivisible organization to change Congress.

The Windsor Democratic Club meets the fourth Thursday of every month except November and December. This month the meeting will be on the last Thursday of the month, February 28. The club meets at Windsor Round Table Pizza restaurant from 7 to 9 pm. The meeting is free and open to all, and pizza is provided.

November 2018 final results

Here are the final election results for all the candidates and ballot measures that appeared on Sonoma County ballots, where either the California Democratic Party or the Sonoma County Democratic Party took a position or endorsed a candidate. Yellow-highlighted items are where the results matched the position or endorsement of the CDP or the SCDP.  For example, two of the three endorsed candidates for Windsor Town Council won, as did two of the three endorsed candidates for the Windsor school board.

Also notable is the turnout in Sonoma County – 78.1 percent of those registered to vote actually did vote. That’s an amazing turnout. By contrast, only 60.0% of those registered to vote in November 2014 actually did so.