July meeting focused on California’s Transportation issues

trans cal logo

What is the future of transportation in California? A lot has been made of the high speed rail project, which is moving forward through lawsuits and objections, and important funding issues. But there is obviously more than rail to be concerned about.

Our roads, highways and bridges are in constant need of maintenance and upgrades, and even when they happen, we see issues of safety and oversight, as in the Bay Bridge issues.

Our July meeting, on Wednesday July 16, will focus on the wide ranging issues of transportation and infrastructure, and feature guest speaker Will Kempton.

Folsom residents may remember Kempton as the Assistant City Manager from 2002 to 2004, after which he became Director of Caltrans until 2009. He has held numerous positions related to transportation and infrastructure, and currently is Executive Director of Transportation California.

Transportation California is a diversified, non-partisan, non-profit coalition representing a broad spectrum of business, labor, and planning agencies which have united to create the state’s leading transportation advocacy and public education group. Their stated mission is to develop adequate, dedicated and sustainable funding to properly maintain California’s transportation infrastructure and build the transportation system of the future.

Join the American River Democrats Wednesday, July 16 to learn more about the future impact of transportation issues, especially as they relate to budgets, the environment, and quality of life in our state.


The America River Democrats July Meeting will be at Samurai Sushi, Wednesday, June 18, 12251 Folsom Bl, Rancho Cordova. We begin our gathering at 6:30 for social time and a chance to order food or drinks. The official meeting will begin at 7:00 pm.

Samurai Sushi is near the Hazel exit from the 50 freeway on Folsom Blvd.

Guests are always welcome!


June Meeting will focus on Restore the Delta


Do you stand with Governor Brown on the proposal to install large tunnels at the San Francisco Bay delta to divert more water south to support California’s farmers and the population of Southern California?

Or are there better alternatives to California’s water issues as we face frequent droughts, a warming climate, and lower and lower reservoir levels and water supply?

Join the American River Democrats Wednesday, June 18 to learn more about this issue and what you can do.


The America River Democrats June Meeting will be at Samurai Sushi, Wednesday, June 18, 12251 Folsom Bl, Rancho Cordova. We begin our gathering at 6:30 for social time and a chance to order food or drinks. The official meeting will begin at 7:00 pm.

Samurai Sushi is near the Hazel exit from the 50 freeway on Folsom Blvd.

Guests are always welcome!


Secretary of State Candidate will Speak at May Meeting


The American River Democrats will welcome Derek Cressman, candidate for California Secretary of State, at the May meeting, on Wednesday, May 21 at 6:30 pm.

The current Secretary of State is Deborah Bowen, who was re-elected in 2010, and is ineligible for another term. Mr. Cressman is a Democrat, and is running against the more widely known Senator Alex Padilla. (Senator Leland Yee is still on the ballot, but for obvious reasons is no longer campaiging…)

Other notable candidates are Republican Pete Peterson and undeclared Dan Schnur. The two candidates, regardless of party, who receive the most votes in June will face each other in the November election.

Cressman states on his websiteI’m running for Secretary of State to make sure your vote counts and your voice is heard. The voices of the people should not be drowned out by corporations or billionaires. When secretive, out-of-state groups funneled $11 million into California’s 2012 elections, I blew the whistle and got record fines for two front groups in the Koch Brothers big money political network.”

Please join us for the May meeting to hear more about Derek Cressman and his candidacy, and ask questions to learn more about what his goals as Secretary of State will be.


The America River Democrats May Meeting will be at Samurai Sushi, Wednesday, May 21, 12251 Folsom Bl, Rancho Cordova. We begin our gathering at 6:30 for social time and a chance to order food or drinks. The official meeting will begin at 7:00 pm.

Samurai Sushi is near the Hazel exit from the 50 freeway on Folsom Blvd.

Guests are always welcome! Feel free to join us to meet Derek Cressman, or to learn more about the American River Democrats.

April Meeting to focus on Money in Politics

“Corporations are people, my friend”. That sentence was probably the most repeated quote from Mitt Romney in the 2012 Presidential Election. And with the Citizen’s United decision, and now the McCutcheon ruling, Romney’s corporate people, and a few individuals will be able to spend virtually unlimited funds to insure their candidate are not only elected, but beholden to them for the position.

E.J. Dionne pointed out on NPR that only 519 people actually hit the previously established limits that McCutcheon eliminates, which means this ruling, in practical sense, applies in large part to that very small segment of the population!

James Forbes

James Forbes

Does money equal speech, and therefor fall under the first amendment? the American River Democrats will be welcoming James Forbes to our meeting this month to discuss that and all of the issues surrounding the titanic changes to America’s previous efforts to level the campaign playing field so citizens will have a great voice in their government.

Jim Forbes is from a small farming town in Illinois.  He moved to Sacramento to attend law school, because it made a lot of sense to him to trade Illinois for California.  After finishing law school in 1978, Jim moved to Oregon where he was a deputy DA for 5 years.  Jim got married in Oregon, and the couple moved to Anchorage, Alaska, where they stayed for 15 years. Besides having two great kids in Alaska, Jim worked for the Alaska AG’s office for about 9 years and had a private law practice for about 6 years.

Jim and his family returned to Bend, Oregon in 1999, where Jim worked as City attorney, handling land use cases.  When the housing crash hit in 2008, the land use law practice crashed along with it, and Jim stated handling personal bankruptcy cases for clients who had lost jobs, homes and savings.  Jim became interested in the reasons for the housing crash and he started seeing that Wall Street’s large donations to politicians had resulted in new economic rules that created the housing bubble, and the crash that followed. (And the bailout that followed the crash.)   When the Supreme Court decided the Citizens United case in 2010, Jim decided that he wanted to spend time doing something to reduce the influence of big money in politics.

Jim moved back to Sacramento in 2012, where he got remarried — this time to his childhood sweetheart — they had known each other since attending 7th grade together in 1964.

Jim is now an attorney in California, but is semi-retired, and is volunteering his time trying to reverse the Citizens United case to restore balance to the political system.


Please join us for the April meeting to hear what Jim Forbes has to say, and what we as ordinary citizens whose last name isn’t Koch can do about reforming our political process.

The America River Democrats April Meeting will be at Samurai Sushi, Wednesday, April 16, 12251 Folsom Bl, Rancho Cordova. We begin our gathering at 6:30 for social time and a chance to order food or drinks. The official meeting will begin at 7:00 pm.

Samurai Sushi is near the Hazel exit from the 50 freeway on Folsom Blvd.

Guests are always welcome! Feel free to join us to hear about money in politics, or to learn more about the American River Democrats.

Peter Kirkup speaks on the Climate Reality Project

Peter Kirkup speaks to the American River Democrats

Climate Change Deniers seem to fall into the same general category as our old friends the “Birthers”. Despite overwhelming proof that their position is wrong, it simply “feels right” that their position is correct. After all, if you admitted to yourself that the planet you are leaving to your kids and grandkids is going to be a vastly altered environment with droughts, floods, famine, and disappearing coastlines, how could you go on without doing something about it? and people like things the way they are.

Peter Kirkup, representing The Climate Reality Project, an organization founded by Vice President Al Gore to “unleash a global cultural movement to demand action on the climate crisis”, spoke at the March meeting of the American River Democrats. He presented an abridged slide show of the current state of change in the world.

climate real logo

Some deniers like to point out events like the unusual snow storms that hit the East and Southeastern US this year, and their favorite quote seems to be “where’s your global warming now, Al Gore!?” Peter pointed out that “The cold snap we had this winter was like the freezer door being broken off. It may have felt cooler in the kitchen for a little while, but it doesn’t mean the whole house is cooling down.” You would of course be insane to think that a broken freezer door was great for your house in a hot summer, but what does it mean for the planet?

Peter shared that the famous “Polar Vortex” was actually pushing the cold from the north to the south, so the freak storms were actually a result of our ongoing climate change, not proof against it. 2013 joined the other recent years as being one of the 10 hottest on record. Changes to the jet stream are cooling some places on the planet, while others face debilitating heat and drought. Increased heat, and subsequent flooding usually means devastating landslides as vegetation is no longer there to absorb the rains.

Meanwhile, the oceans continue to be affected. Along with increased acidification, sea levels are rising, not just because glaciers are melting, but the increase in temperature causes the water to expand.

Is there any room for optimism? Well, there is some. Peter said that if we get on it now, we can limit our temperature increase to a manageable 2 degrees this century. If not, we are looking at a 7 degree increase, which would lead to a variety worst case scenarios.

Opportunities are there, such as our increasing solar and wind power projects, ideas such as “Fee & Dividend” plans or “Cap & Trade” plans, which put a cost to carbon and spend the money on efficiency and paybacks to people for conservation.

Even India and China, which loom large as countries that could tip us over the edge, are working aggressively to reduce emissions and pollution.

What can you do? Educational opportunites are there by exploring websites such as The Climate Reality Project, Skeptical Science, this story in the Huffington Post and others. Then joining these groups and electing representatives who support action on the environment, energy and climate change is crucial to getting things done. Meanwhile, plant trees, use LED and CFL lightbulbs, and ride your bike…

March Meeting to address Climate Change

American River Democrats welcome speaker Peter Kirkup from the Climate Reality Project to the March Meeting

climate reality

For years now, we have been told that the carbon we have been pumping into the atmosphere at unprecedented rates is creating a greenhouse effect that is altering the natural climate cycles of the earth and will, if unchecked, result in massive catastrophic changes globally, such as drought, sea level rise, frequent weather events such as hurricanes, and the acidification of the oceans. And also that the effects, such as reducing of the ice caps and glaciers, would only accelerate the warming as less heat is reflected and more permafrost melted, releasing more carbon and methane gas into the air. And as forests are leveled, less carbon is absorbed by nature.

Al Gore in 2006 did his best to bring the message to us nationally and globally with his film An Inconvenient Truth. Our response, as a people, has been mixed. Some countries got on the bandwagon right away, and made immediate progress to reduce emissions. Others, like China and India, thought it was a good idea, but didn’t want to sacrifice their growth, when the West and US had already done most of the damage. And we in the US mostly argued back and forth about whether the scientists were right or not. (Look at this snowstorm! Where’s your global warming now, Al Gore?!!!)

And even the most progressive states, such as California, made efforts, but mostly to reduce back to targets such as 1990 levels of carbon emissions. (Of course it is 1990 type levels that got us into this situation – we need to get back to, say, 1500 levels…)

So now we are rapidly and seemingly unstoppably rushing towards and past the famous “tipping point” where the damage will be done and irrevocable; where even reducing to totally zero emissions would have no positive effects. Where the only answers will be global engineering projects to reduce warming – does that scare you even more?

climate real logo

The American River Democrats will be welcoming a speaker from The Climate Reality Project, an organization founded by Vice President Al Gore to “unleash a global cultural movement to demand action on the climate crisis.” Peter Kirkup, volunteer for Organizing for Action and the Climate Reality Project, will be on hand to update us on what the organization is doing and how you can be part of it.

Please join the meeting at Wednesday, March 19 at Samurai Sushi in Rancho Cordova. Guests are always welcome!


The America River Democrats January Meeting will be at Samurai Sushi, Wednesday, March 19, 12251 Folsom Bl, Rancho Cordova. We begin our gathering at 6:30 for social time and a chance to order food or drinks. The official meeting will begin at 7:00 pm.

Samurai Sushi is near the Hazel exit from the 50 freeway on Folsom Blvd.

Guests are always welcome! Feel free to join us to hear about the Climate Reality Project, or to learn more about the American River Democrats.

Patrick Stelmach speaks about early childhood education

Patrick Stelmach addresses the club.

February 19, 2014 – Patrick Stelmach, a member of the American River Democrats and State Organizer for California Fair Share addressed the club on issues focused on gaining support and financing for pre-school education for all of California’s children.

“90% of a child’s brain is developed by age 5″ Patrick shared, pointing out that kids who miss that nurturing and development at an early age miss an opportunity to get a head start in learning and development, and set them up to succeed in school and life.

On a pure dollars and cents outlook, Patrick pointed our that every dollar invested in pre-school and early childhood education pays off at $7.00 down the road – even more for children from low income background.

The savings comes as these kids grow older and are less likely to need remedial education classes in school, state sponsored job training, public assistance for food, housing and medical care, and even law enforcement and incarceration costs, as poorly educated youth and adults are far more likely to end up in trouble with the law.

Getting kids off to an early good start most often results in better achievement and social development as they progress through school, which will give them more opportunities and choices in their lives, especially if they are also struggling with low income or poverty in their families.

To learn more about the work the California Fair Share is doing, and to find out how you can support their efforts, please see their website.

February meeting features California Fair Share speaker Patrick Stelmach


Many members of the American River Democrats have started hearing about California Fair Share for the first time, and club member Patrick Stelmach, who is a state organizer for the organization, will be speaking this month about the goals and accomplishments of California Fair Share. He had this to say:

In his state of the union speech, President Obama said, “One of the best investments we can make in a child’s life is high-quality early education.” California Fair Share is a grassroots group working to make sure everyone gets a fair shot at a good, productive life. That starts with every child having access to high-quality, affordable early childhood education and child care. Unfortunately, far too many children in California are not enrolled in preschool, due to the high cost of private preschool and the limited slots available in state-funded early learning programs.

Patrick will discuss the state of early childhood education in California, current legislation in the Congress and the California legislature to expand early learning programs, the impacts of preschool on children’s future academic success, and the significant return on investment for society.

The America River Democrats January Meeting will be at Samurai Sushi, Wednesday, February 19, 12251 Folsom Bl, Rancho Cordova. We begin our gathering at 6:30 for social time and a chance to order food or drinks. The official meeting will begin at 7:00 pm.


Samurai Sushi is near the Hazel exit from the 50 freeway on Folsom Blvd.

Guests are always welcome! Feel free to join us to hear about California Fair Share, or to learn more about the American River Democrats.

Richard Pan speaks at American River Democrats meeting

Dr. Richard Pan speaks at the American River Democrats' January meeting.

Assemblyman Dr. Richard Pan spoke at the January 15 meeting of the American River Democrats club at their monthly meeting at Samurai Sushi. Dr. Pan represents the 9th district, which covers south Sacramento, Elk Grove, and down to Lodi. He was elected to the Assembly in 2010, and for two years served the 5th District, which covered Folsom and parts of East Sacramento County, before redistricting.

Pan stressed his message from 2010 was investing in jobs for middle class people with benefits, as well as in education, people and healthcare. He shared that the work of local clubs like the American River Democrats was crucial to the success of candidates and issues that are important to those goals.

Dr. Pan shared some of what he had been working on since being elected, such as enhancing the benefits of the Affordable Care Act by sponsoring a bill to allow people to keep their providers when plans change due to the ACA. He wants to work on eliminating fraud in the drug rehab program, while preserving the program and its benefits.

He spoke about the issue of hydraulic fracking, and how the recent bill to regulate the practice was perhaps not enough to cover the whole issue, but was at least a good start to provide a framework for regulation.

Education was also on the forefront of his mind. He wants to insure that new funding for the U.C. and C.S.U. systems goes toward reducing tuition and establishing middle class scholarships. Early education was also crucial. He stressed that the importance of universal preschool often is not shown in improved test scores, but in social skills that help keep kids on the right path throughout their educational careers.

Back to the topic of the Affordable Care Act and its impact over the years, he pointed out that the first few years may see an actual increase in some problems because many of the new people in the system could put a strain on resources, as they seek help for delayed issues they have been living with. There may even be an increase in emergency room visits as people with new insurance plans will now have easier access. It will be important to educate these new customers to use their primary care doctor for early help and checkups. It may take a few years to overcome this backlog, and efficiencies will be needed to help, but in the end the outcome will be much better.

Dr. Pan pointed out that in the old system, health care organizations were often most successful by denying care and avoiding having sick people in their systems. A true measure of success will be when health care companies advertise how well they can help sick people and treat disease – and actually try to bring in patients who need help, because they can deliver treatment best. There are features in the new system that reward successful and efficient treatment that will help spur this concept on.

Dr. Pan was warmly greeted by the crowd, and said that even though he no longer represented most of the people there, he always had fond memories of the help he got when running in 2010, and he would always try to help out when he could, even though his district had changed.

President’s message 2014 ­‐ Into Another Election Year!

ARD logo

From Barbra Leary, President, American River Democrats

I want to start this year’s message with a big thank you to all of our board members for helping to keep our club vital through some difficult times in 2013. Each person provided support in various areas. Jen Jacobs has provided ongoing insight as an at large board member from her long campaign experience; Ken Kiunke provided timely and informational notices via our Facebook page, website, local newspapers and club emails; Debbie Martinez has done a skillful job as Secretary and also served as Parliamentarian and Bylaws Chairperson; Frank Martinez stepped up to take on the Treasurer position when it was vacated and LaTanjia Robinson will be stepping up to take on the Bylaws subcommittee after serving as an at-large board member. We are fortunate to have two new Board members join us, Betty DiRegolo as an at large board member and Andrea Targos who has agreed to take on the Parliamentarian position.

I’m looking forward to continued club growth through outreach to the Northeastern area of Sacramento County and to give support to Democrats in areas where they have previously felt isolated. More members will mean that the club can participate effectively in voter outreach, campaigning, fundraising and other activities that will aid Democrats in achieving a stronger presence in our area.

One specific goal I have for the club for 2014 is to continue to educate our members on the many political issues that face us and to introduce Democratic candidates to the group in an effort to fulfill our mission of promoting Democratic candidates and ideals. I am hoping that our members will become engaged in the various candidate and initiative campaigns by participating in voter contact and advocacy, some of the keys to successfully promoting the principles and values of the Democratic Party. Each candidate and initiative campaign committee will be looking for volunteers and will provide training in voter outreach and advocacy specific to that campaign such as phone banking, precinct walking, fundraising and getting out the vote.

Another goal I have for our club is to continue to provide up-to-date information on the key Democratic issues through hosting expert guests to speak on a variety of topics, enabling our members to pass on accurate and helpful information to others in our community.

I am also looking forward to increasing member participation in our subcommittees as needs arise. Subcommittees are being formed to establish candidate endorsement guidelines and complete bylaws amendments. The club can also use additional expertise in fundraising, voter registration activities, and campaign outreach.

And finally, I hope that our new members will get involved by taking on more active roles on the board. Right now our club has immediate openings for the Vice President position and an alternate representative to the Democratic Party of Sacramento County that involves attending some or all monthly meetings in Sacramento. In July the club will be electing a new board, so please consider a position there as well!

Barbara Leary, 1/11/2014