Archive for August 8, 2017

Consumer Protections Highlight August Meeting

The American River Democrats August meeting will feature guest speaker Noemi Esparza, a practicing attorney at the firm Dreyer Babich Buccola Wood Campora in Sacramento. Noemi is very active with Consumer Attorneys of California (CAOC) and she is an officer on CAOC’s Diversity Committee. Noemi has testified before the legislature numerous times and she is a former legislative staffer, so she is extremely knowledgeable about policy and the legislative process and the Capitol’s political dynamics. She will be speaking about consumer issues, and specifically two pending bills in the California Legislature.

Senate Bill 33 (Bill Dodd) addresses the “forced arbitration” agreements that we all sign with literally every purchase for goods and services. This agreement does not allow us to sue or pursue other legal means of recourse.  For example, if we have AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, etc., we signed this agreement with them at the time we signed up for service. The recent issues with Wells Fargo Bank brought the need for this bill to prominence.

Senate Bill 632 (Bill Monning) would set a precedent for deposition of terminally ill patients who are involved in lawsuits when their illness is a result of a product/workplace or other harmful exposure. The asbestos exposure case is one of the best examples as litigation has been drawn out for so long, with lengthy depositions, that the patients often succumb before all information is gathered.

Several documents have been provided to give us more background on these two measures, including editorials and resolutions in support of them, and a format letter example to send to your representatives.

SB33: SB 33 (Dodd) Fact Sheet 7-25-17 SB 33 Reso August 2017 for DPSC Sac Bee editorial supporting SB 33 SB 33 (Dodd) text as amended 7-3-17

SB632 SB 632 (Monning) Fact Sheet 7-26-17 DPSC – SB632 Reso 7-12-17 BEWARE THE FINE PRINT Parts 1-3 w cover SB 632 (Monning) as amended 7-10-17 SB 632_Model Support letter

Join us on Wednesday, August 16 to hear more about these important consumer issues. The American River Democrats will meet at 6:30 pm, at Samurai Sushi, 12251 Folsom Blvd (Hazel at Hwy 50) in Rancho Cordova. Guests are always welcome!

Congressman Ami Bera Staffer Visits American River Democrats

Matthew Ceccato speaks to the American River Democrats

Matthew Ceccato is Congressman Ami Bera’s District Director at his California office, for the 7th Congressional District. Ceccato is a military veteran who was wounded in Iraq, and returned to attend grad school thanks to the G.I. Bill, and began work with Bera as a caseworker on veterans’ issues. He shared a lot of information with the club in a 2015 visit regarding help for veterans in need. Since then, he has been promoted to District Director overseeing the office, and as a guest speaker at the June meeting, shared more information about the operations and what is available to constituents through the Congressional office.

Ceccato said that there were three main categories of staff that he oversees in the office. Caseworkers are the heart and soul of the office. They are there to help people who have problems or issues with any federal government, such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid issues, veterans’ issues, immigration and more. Field Representatives are there to represent the Congressman at various events and meetings he is unable to attend himself, to get feedback and share information with his constituents. The interns are a hardworking group who take calls, meet visitors, and process correspondence and social media feedback, and record all the information that comes in. It is all shared with Congressman Bera, who is then able to act on it—including making personal callbacks when possible. Ceccato said it is an amazing team, and your connection to the federal government, on anything from a denial of benefits to a visit to Washington D.C.

Meanwhile, he said that it was a whirlwind going on in Washington. They get about 1000 calls a week, and sacks of mail. And voices are being heard—calls about health care are making an impact. Ceccato said that even if the Senate had passed their version of the “Trumpcare” bill, it was dead on arrival at the house. Now tax reform is on the table, and the same kind of feedback can stop the kind of spending cuts that would be needed to give a tax break to the wealthiest. He said that calls and letters help even if your representative is already on your side. Reaffirmation helps, and feedback contributes to debate.

Ceccato also highlighted some real accomplishments made on veterans’ issues. A Post-9/11 Veterans Memorial is now underway. “Blind scheduling”—medical appointments made without confirming dates and times—is being eliminated. The National Guard overpayment problem has been resolved. Bera is also working to improve woman veterans’ care. Homeless veteran women with kids is a growing problem that needs addressing on a national level.

In conclusion, Ceccato urged the club, and anyone in the Seventh Congressional District to contact Bera’s office for any federal government issues people would need help with. Stalled tax refunds, students in need of financial aid, homeowners needing loan modifications, immigrant citizen applicants, small business loans, stalled passport issues, veterans medical or educational benefits, and Social Security and Medicare problems are just examples of assistance they can offer.

Contact the Sacramento office at 916-635-0505, or visit during office hours of 9 am to 6 pm at 8950 Cal Center Drive, Building 3, Suite 100, Sacramento CA 95826. Send a letter, or contact them online at bera.house.gov. The Washington DC office can be reached at 202-225-5716; 1535 Longworth House Office Building, Washington DC, 20515.