Making a difference in Windsor on June 5th

The Windsor/North County Democratic Club voted, at its meeting on April 26, to actively campaign for two June 5th ballot measures:

* Regional Measure 3, which will (among many other things) provide funding to (finally!) eliminate the Navato Narrows on Route 101, and funding for the SMART train system to bring trains to Windsor (by 2021).

* State Proposition 68, which authorizes issuing $4 billion in bonds, state-wide, for parks, environmental protection, and water infrastructure in California.

The club leadership has come up with two immediate actions for the club’s campaign, because mail ballots should start arriving next week, and once people have voted, it’s too late to make a difference. Those two actions — for which we’re looking for more participants — are:

* On Sunday, May 6, we’re going to hand out flyers (see attached) at the Windsor Farmers Market, between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. (meeting at Cafe Noto at 9:45 a.m.). You can help by joining in for as little as a half-shift (90 minutes).

* On Saturday, May 12, we’re going to have a training session on canvassing, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., followed by lunch (provided by the club – pizza and salad and drinks; both training and lunch are at the Windsor Round Table restaurant), and then two hours of actually canvassing in Windsor neighborhoods. The canvassing will be asking voters to help bring the SMART train to Windsor by voting for Regional Measure 3, and — if they respond positively to the first topic — asking for their support for Prop 68, as well as generally encouraging them to vote.

The May 12th activity has another purpose: canvassing in other Congressional districts is one way for those of us in “blue” Sonoma County to help the Democratic Party to become the majority in the House of Representatives in January 2019. We’ll be announcing opportunities, possibly as early as next month, for canvassing and other ways to get involved in specific Congressional campaigns elsewhere in California; in the meantime, what we do on the 12th is both training and practical application of that training.

If you’re interested in helping on May 6th or participating on May 12th, let Rick Massell, the club president, know: email to rick @ sonic.com, or call 707-696-9364.)

Here’s our chance to do something great, locally, and to show that the Windsor/North County Democratic Club is going to be a factor in the June election.

Club Endorses Five of Six Ballot Measures in June, to Actively Campaign for Two

SMART expanding to Windsor? State parks made safer and drinking water made cleaner? Rainwater-capture systems not being added to your property tax? Ballot propositions going into effect five days after all votes are counted? Revenues generated from transportation fees and taxes going only to transportation funding?

These seem like easy choices to make, but for them to happen, voters must vote YES for each of five ballot measures of the upcoming June 5 primary election. (Vote-by-mail ballots go out May 7.)

To better understand these issues, the Windsor/North Sonoma County Democratic Club listened on Thursday to presentations on each of the six ballot measures on the ballot. Maureen Middlebrook, a former member of the board responsible for the Golden Gate Bridge, presented Regional Measure 3. John McCaull of the Sonoma Land Trust spoke on Prop 68. Club officers summarized the other measures, Props 69, 70, 71, and 72. The club voted to endorse five of the measures and to oppose one, Prop 70.

Regional Measure 3 would increase tolls on state bridges in the Bay Area, with revenues used to relieve traffic and improve public transportation. For Sonoma County and Windsor, the direct impact would be $40 million of funding for SMART (enough to bring the train system to Windsor, and begin working on getting to Healdsburg), widening of Highway 101 in the Novato Narrows to include carpool lanes, planning for improvements to State Route 37 from Vallejo to Novato, expanding ferry services, and upgrades to bus routes and bicycle lanes.

State Prop 68 authorizes the issuance of bonds for park expansion and improvements, natural resources protection, climate adaptation, water quality and supply, and flood protection. The $4.1 billion in bonds will be paid back over 40 years; the $200 million of interest and principal payments each year would be about 1/5 of one percent of the state’s budget.

After the club’s unanimous vote on all six measures, the club decided that to take action to promote Regional Measure 3 and Prop 68, including tabling, phoning and canvassing. To participate, please call 707-696-9364 or rickm@sonic.net

The other three measures endorsed by the club were (1) State Prop 69, which requires that certain new transportation revenues be used only for transportation purposes; (2) Prop 71, which sets the effective date for ballot measures to be five days after the Secretary of State certifies the results of the election, a reflection of the widespread adoption of mail balloting by voters; and (3) Prop 72, which excludes newly constructed rain-capture systems from property-tax reassessment, thus avoiding higher property taxes.

Prop 70, the one the club opposed, would make it harder for the state to use cap-and-trade revenues by requiring, as of 2024; that revenues sit in the fund until a bill specifying spending is passed by at least a 2/3 vote in each house.

To get info on the state propositions go to http://voterguide.sos.ca.gov. Information is also available at https://ballotpedia.org/California_2018_ballot_propositions 

— Rick Massell

Windsor Dems Get Ready for the June Primary

At its April 26th meeting, the Windsor Democratic Club will discuss six ballot measures (one local, five state) to be voted on at the upcoming June 5th election. The club will decide whether to add its endorsement for measures that have already been endorsed by the California Democratic Party or the Sonoma County Democratic Party (five of the six), and the extent to which the club will actively campaign in support or opposition to the measures.

The club will also discuss the extent to which the club wants to be involved in Congressional races outside of our own district, between now and the November election.

The California Democratic Party has endorsed state measures 68, 69, 71, and 72, and opposes measure 70. (Details of these measures are at https://ballotpedia.org/California_2018_ballot_propositions; this includes the official arguments that appear in the voter information pamphlet.)

Regional Measure 3, which includes funding to extend the SMART train system to Healdsburg, has been endorsed by the Sonoma County Democratic Party; information is here: https://ballotpedia.org/Bay_Area,_California,_Regional_Measure_3,_%22Traffic_Relief_Plan%22_Bridge_Toll_Increase_(June_2018) and here: https://mtc.ca.gov/our-work/advocate-lead/regional-measure-3 

If you’re not registered to vote, or know of someone who isn’t but wants to be registered, information on registering is here: https://www.dmv.org/ca-california/voter-registration.php . The deadline for registering for the June 5th election is May 15.

The April 26th meeting is free and is open to the public; pizza will be served.

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.

Ms. McSorley said that there are approximately eleven million undocumented immigrants in the United States. Half of 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 Ms. 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 brought 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.

It is currently taking U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) close to 1.5 years to adjudicate these waivers. The applicant is legally required to remain in their home country until this waiver is approved, meaning that the family might be 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., separated, 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. Those who relocate to Mexico from the U.S. are often targeted by criminals who believe that they have money or have family members with money in the U.S.

Ms. 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 ten 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

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

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/ .

 

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

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.

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

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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.

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.

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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.