Archive for Announcements

2018 Physicians for Social Responsibility Scholarship Essay Contest

Physicians for Social Responsibility is an organization many of the members of the American River Democrats belong to. Dr. Bill Durston, club member and vice president of the Sacramento Chapter of PSR recently announced their scholarship essay contest:

We’re pleased to announce that the 2018 PSR/Sacramento Scholarship Essay Contest is now open to high school seniors in Sacramento and surrounding counties (Alpine, Amador, Calaveras, El Dorado, Nevada, Placer, San Joaquin, Solano, Sutter, Yolo, and Yuba). A total of $15,000 in scholarship money will be awarded to 12 students. The prompt for this year’s contest, chosen by a vote of our members, is the following quotation by the Iranian women’s rights activist, Mahnaz Afkhami:

“The connection between women’s human rights, gender equality, socioeconomic development, and peace is increasingly apparent.”

To enter the contest, high school seniors must submit an original essay of 500 words or fewer describing their thoughts about Ms. Afkhami’s statement. The deadline for essay submission is midnight on Saturday, March 24, 2018. Students should submit their essays and contact information via the Scholarship Essay Contest Page of the PSR/Sacramento website.

We would appreciate your help in bringing the 2018 essay contest to the attention of any high school seniors with whom you have contact. We would also appreciate your help in choosing the 10 finalists by being an essay reader. Each essay reader is invited to read and rank an initial batch of ~30 essays in mid March in the initial screening process; to read and rank another batch of ~30 semifinalists’ essays in late March or early April in the second phase of the finalist selection process; and to participate in an in person discussion at our house on the evening of Sunday, April 15, at which we will make the final decision on the 10 finalists and two alternate finalists.

Being an essay reader provides an intereting perspective on the thinking of today’s youth. In past years, most essay readers have found the finalist selection process to be an enjoyable and inspiring one. Given the timeliness of Ms. Afkhami’s statement, the essays should be particularly interesting this year. Please contact us by email or call us at (916) 955-6333 if you would be willing to be an essay reader. Note that you don’t have to participate in all three phases of the finalist selection process to be an essay reader. You can just participate in one or two of the three phases if you like.

Please save the date of Sunday, May 6, to attend the essay contest finals dinner at which the 10 finalists will present their essays orally and a distinguished panel of judges from the community will select the first, second, and third place winners. First place will win a $3,000 scholarship, second place a $2,500 scholarship, and third place a $2,000 scholarship. The other seven finalists will all receive $1,000 each, and the two alternate finalists will both receive $250. We’ll be sending out detailed information about making dinner reservations in the near future.

This is the 14th consecutive year that PSR/Sacramento has offered the scholarship essay contest. With this year’s awards, we will have given out over $165,000 in scholarship money since the inception of the contest. It’s through the generosity of supporters like you that we can continue to offer the scholarship essay contest every year. Tax-deductible contributions toward the scholarship fund can be made online via the donations page of the PSR/Sacramento website or sent by regular mail to PSR/Sacramento, 10 Dumfries Court, Sacramento, Ca., 95831. One hundred per cent of contributions made to the scholarship fund go directly to the students.

Thanks for your support of PSR/Sacramento and our annual high school scholarship essay contest. I hope you’ll consider helping choose the finalists in this year’s contest by being an essay reader, and please remember to save the date of Sunday, May 6, to attend the 2018 essay contest finals dinner.

Bill Durston, M.D.
Vice President, Sacramento Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility

American River Democrats make several endorsements

The American River Democrats’ September meeting was filled with information about upcoming issues, and the club made several endorsements for the November ballot.

Andrew Kehoe, an advocate for Sacramento’s Measure B was on hand to introduce us to the measure and the benefits it would bring to the area. Measure B is a half-cent sales tax targeted to transportation projects and maintenance in the county. Kehoe pointed out that with the current quarter cent tax expiring, the effect would be just a quarter cent above the current rate.

Mike Penrose of the Sacramento Transportation Authority was also on hand to provide more information about the impact and status. Measure B would adopt a “Fix-It-First” approach in the first five years of implementation-“filling pot holes” and making needed repairs and improvements to existing roads, distributing the money to Sacramento County communities and unincorporated county areas. It would also provide future funding for some larger scale projects, such as the Capital Southeast Expressway, a highway connecting Folsom, Rancho Cordova, and Elk Grove south of the 50 Freeway. Also, widening the Capital City Freeway between downtown and Interstate 80, extension of light rail service to the Natomas area and the airport, and much more.

There is still much concern about the environmental impact of some potential projects, especially Discovery Park if light rail is extended. Penrose pointed out that any new projects still have to go through environmental review and public approval process, and that Measure B only provides a funding mechanism.

The club voted to endorse Measure B. for more information visit

Melissa Romero of Californians Against Waste also joined us to discuss Proposition 67, the plastic grocery bag ban.

A state-wide ban one single use plastic grocery bags was passed by the state legislature in 2014, in an effort to reduce the overwhelming pollution caused by these lightweight, throwaway plastic bags, which end up trashing our streets, neighborhoods and parks, and often end up in our waterways and eventually the ocean (where waste plastic has become a huge problem.) The state was set to join dozens of individual communities (like the city of Sacramento) in banning their use, replacing them with re-usable bags. However, the plastic bag industry rushed to gather signatures to force the law into a ballot measure, delaying its implication, possibly nullifying it entirely.

The devastating environmental impact of the millions of bags we use daily is well-known, but visit to learn more. The club voted to endorse a Yes vote on Prop. 67.

Another measure on the ballot that looks like a companion bill is Proposition 65. This measure, at first glance, may seem like an environmentally friendly move. It will establish that IF a plastic bag ban is passed, the money stores collect to provide re-usable bags will go to the Wildlife Conservation Fund.

There are a number of problems with this initiative, which was placed on the ballot by the same industry that is trying to kill the plastic bag ban. First of all, the reusable bags the stores may provide are not free—they will cost considerably more than the current bags, and more than the 10 cent minimum fee they will be required to charge. The stores will incur a loss every time a reusable bag is sold, both discouraging them to provide them, and forcing them to pass the loss on to consumers in higher prices for groceries—whether the customer bought a bag or brought their own.

Worse still, if passed, this measure will be in place even if Proposition 67 fails, waiting for the next time it is tried. And it is entirely possible that if both measures pass, and Proposition 65 gets more votes, its provisions could in effect nullify Proposition 67 entirely! (If both pass and 67 gets more votes, 65 will be nullified.)

The club voted to endorse a No Vote on Prop. 65.

Another guest at the September meeting was Brandon Rose, who is running for SMUD Board, District 1 (covering the eastern Folsom, Fair Oaks, Orangevale and Citrus Heights area.) Brandon is an Energy Specialist in the California Energy Commission’s Renewable Energy Office, Air Pollution Specialist with the California Environmental Protection Agency, and an elected official on the Fair Oaks Recreation and Park District for the past 8 years. He has also served as Chair of the Sacramento County Treasury Oversight Committee and President of the Environment Council of Sacramento. He has the endorsement of six current SMUD Board members, including Nancy Bui Thompson of District 2 (Folsom/Rancho Cordova.) Visit to learn more about him and his goals and background.

The club voted to endorse Brandon Rose for SMUD Board of Directors.

For a list of all official endorsements by the American River Democrats, see our Endorsement Page on this site.

American River Democrats endorse Rob Rowen

Rob Rowen speaks at the American River Democrats' May meeting.

Rob Rowen speaks at the American River Democrats’ May meeting.

Rob Rowen, candidate for California Senate District 1, visited the American River Democrats at their May meeting, and received their official endorsement in his race to unseat Ted Gaines. The large district represents Folsom, El Dorado County, including El Dorado Hills and Lake Tahoe, Placer County, including Rocklin and Auburn, and all the further north counties-Shasta, Lassen, Modoc, Siskiyou, Nevada, Plumas, Sierra, and Alpine.

Rowen shared some of his interesting history. He attended Shasta College, and was a pitcher in the Los Angeles Dodgers minor league system in the mid 1980’s. He then joined the Army, and followed that by starting his own business – a trucking company out of Redding, California. An accident resulted in back injuries requiring five surgeries, and the possibility that he would never walk again. “I’m a fighter” Rowen said of overcoming those injuries.

Rowen describes himself as a lifelong “moderate” Democrat, who grew up in a union household, understanding the working class struggles. His father was a teacher, and his brother is a 20-year veteran of the police. His moderate stance stems from his support of gun rights. He is a gun owner, as many of the rural citizens from his area are, but he does support the level of gun control currently in place in California, including background checks, and assault weapon restrictions.

One of Rowen’s key issues is health care, and mental health. Homelessness seen in cities in the first district like Redding, and beyond to the rest of California and the U.S., is the result of a broken mental health care system. Income inequality is also contributing to homelessness, and hasn’t been this bad in a century.

Rowen said he’d like to invest in mental health treatment, and expand availability by allowing more treatment from Nurse Practitioners. It used to be that County Hospitals all had mental health care available, but that has gone away over the past 30 years. While he applauds the progress of the Affordable Care Act, the problem is that it didn’t make more doctors available, especially in high poverty areas. He supports moving to a single payer system.

Meanwhile, the incumbent, Ted Gaines, has had eight years to help bring changes and help to the district, but has instead measured his success in his ability to raise money for his campaigns. Gaines has raised $360,000 from the insurance industry (and ran for Insurance Commissioner last election.) Rowen said he will not take corporate money for his campaign, because he doesn’t want to be beholden to their interests.

Rowen has participated in debates in the campaign, but since Ted Gaines was not willing to join in, they have been “Tea Party” events featuring Rowen and Republican Steven Baird. Rowen said that he has learned that Gaines is very unpopular in the rural north. He has only been to Siskiyou County once in his eight years, and has accomplished little to support his district. In fact, when Rowen was first urged to run for office, it was suggested that he challenge Brian Dahle, the Assemblyman from the same area. But Rowen said that despite their many differences, he could see that at least Dahle cared about getting things done for the people of the area, something he has not seen Gaines work for.


Rowen said that he is centered around doing for others, and is “fiscally constrained”, wanting to insure that taxpayer money is spent carefully and where it makes sense. He wants to support improving fire, water, infrastructure, jobs, veterans issues, and healthcare for the Northern California constituents of the first district.

After his visit to the American River Democrats, the club voted unanimously to endorse him. He will need to get enough votes to be in the top two of the three candidates in the June 7 election in order to appear on the ballot in November. (If he doesn’t, District 1 voters will have a choice between a business conservative and a tea party/state of Jefferson advocate.)

To learn more about Rowen, visit

American River Democrats to consider two measures

At this Wednesday’s meeting, the American River Democrats will voting on whether to support two proposals. Members should become familiar with the ideas to better know how to vote.


The California Democratic Party is considering the following to place on the official platform:

And here is the language for the proposed CADEM change –
The final version of the water proposal developed by the caucus was submitted to the platform committee.
Add to platform preamble:

We believe that the health, safety, and well-being of the people are the highest priorities for government.

Add to platform provisions:
Urge state legislature to enact, governor to sign legislation, and agencies to implement and enforce rules that

  • Guarantee each Californian sufficient safe, clean water for basic needs
  • Motivate all users to support efficient, sustainable, safe use of available water
  • Fully protect all water sources from contamination
  • Ensure allocation and management of sufficient water for environmental purposes as determined scientifically, since we depend on the environment for our prosperity and life itself
  • Require all end use to be metered
  • Regulate groundwater use in a fair and sustainable manner

Rationale for change to Party Platform
Water affects everyone on many levels, from simple survival to social equality, economic prosperity, recreation, fish and wildlife, and fiscal responsibility. How to manage water is one of the core issues of the century. Water deserves to be recognized as such in the platform.

Water is a complex issue in California. Because current policy is not sustainable, it will require comprehensive reform. But the proposed points are not revolutionary; they are just common sense. The party is already committed to fairness and sustainability. We simply want to make this commitment explicit with respect to water.


SacRideHuman has reached out to the American River Democrats to ask for our support in urging the Sacramento Regional Transit to end its contract with security company G4S.

Sacramentans are asking Sacramento Regional Transit to not extend their contract with G4S, a global private security company that is profiting from and complicit with human rights violations around the world, including operating privatized juvenile prisons in the United States in which inmates have been abused. 

We are also asking that Sac RT develop social responsibility criteria to be included in the request for proposals (RFP) for the next contract to exclude companies that are involved in human rights violations.

For detailed information about their reasons for this action, please visit their website.

Endorsements and recommendations

For the September Meeting of the American River Democrats, we were honored to have present three candidates for Folsom City Council, as well as guest speaker Rick Bettis from the League of Women Voters.

Folsom Mayor Kerri Howell, and new candidates for council Jennifer Lane and Sandra Lunceford each introduced themselves and spoke for two minutes at the meeting. Each had previously filled out candidate questionnaires for endorsement consideration. After they spoke the club voted by secret ballot, and endorsed all three. There are three spots open on the council this year, and three incumbents, including Howell are running for re-election.

Howell spoke of all the accomplishments the city has made since she has been on the council, including the only bridges over the American River built since then, and the upcoming opening of the Johnny Cash trail. Lane stressed her opposition to new development without more planning and water considerations. Lunceford spoke of the historical value of Folsom, and hopes it can become more of a destination for travelers.

Rick Bettis speaking to the club

Rick Bettis speaking to the club

Rick Bettis helped us to understand two of the initiatives on November’s ballot, and provided some more info on all of them as supplied by the League of Women Voters. Proposition 1, the water bond, may seem like an obvious choice, since California is suffering a major crisis and drought. However, there is a lot of opposistion along with support from various entities. Opponents say to much is spent on dams, which do little to increase supply, and endanger pristine wilderness areas. They say action is needed, but this bond is not the answer. Though “tunnel neutral”, it does pave the way for future delta tunnels, and is a giveaway to Southern California from the north. Supporters say that is is a needed solution to many of our agricultural and drought problems, building more storage capacity. There is also funds to protect wetlands and improve water quality and flood protection. The League of Women Voters has not taken a position on this proposition. The California Democrat Party has endorsed it.

The other initiative Bettis spoke about was Proposition 47, which reduces criminal sentences, and changes some non-violent and non-serious felonies to misdemeanors. The goal here is to reduce prison and jail populations, and provide more opportunities for offenders to get better educational and employment opportunities. Despite some concern that released offenders will have more opportunities to go back to victimizing law abiding citizens, both the League and the California Democratic party support the proposition. The thought is money now spend incarcerating low level drug and other offenders is better spent getting them back to being productive members of society.

The League of Women Voters also supports Proposition 2, the rainy day fund. They have taken no stand on props 45, 46, and 48.

The California Democratic Party also endorses Propositions 1 and 2. They also support proposition 48, approving Indian Gaming compacts. They recommend and No vote, however, on Proposition 46, which requires random drug testing for doctors, and raises the cap on malpractice lawsuits.

Melanie Ramil

Melanie Ramil

Proposition 45, which gives the State insurance commissioner approval power on health insurance rate increases, is also supported by the CalDems. Melanie Ramil was a guest at the August meeting of the club, and she gave us more detail about the initiative, which she and Insurance commissioner Dave Jones strongly supports. It would give the commissioner the same power he or she has over home and car insurance, and may help control increasing costs of health care.

The American River Democrats have made no official endorsements of these initiatives, but are glad our members have had a chance to learn about them. Documents attached here from may also provide further details about each one:

Prop 1 Prop 2 Prop 45 Prop 46 Prop 47 Prop 48


Ami Bera House Party & Reception in Folsom

Congressman Ami Bera

Congressman Ami Bera

Ami Bera made history in many ways in 2012. He won election to our district, defeating Dan Lungren who had seemed unbeatable in several prior elections, he was one of just a few Democrats to take over a Republican seat that year, and one of the first Americans of Indian descent in the US Congress.

Dr. Bera is running for re-election this year and needs a lot of support from voters, volunteers, and of course financially. You are invited to attend a house party reception in Folsom to help him early on in those efforts.

Please see the attached flyer for details of this event on Tuesday, January 21st. Please be sure to RSVP if you are able to attend this event.

1.21.13 Folsom Bera reception

Your suggestions welcome for the California Party Platform

ca demsReview the 2012 California Democratic Party Platform and take the opportunity to provide input into the 2014 Platform. Region 3 delegates will be meeting on October 19. The site actually has a link to add your suggestions for changes to the platform and the committee will consider all information submitted!

CA Dems Platform Committee

American River Democrats Endorse Campaign to Control Insurance Rates

Club Votes to Endorse Rate Justification Initiative

At our April 17, 2013 meeting, the American River Democrats voted to endorse the proposed ballot initiative known as The Insurance Rate Public Justification and Accountability Act, as requested by California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. This initiative would empower the state of California to require home, health and automobile insurers to disclose rates and justify proposed rate increases, while also prohibiting unfair pricing for health, auto and home insurance based on prior coverage and credit history. Learn more about the initiative, including full text, at the Consumer Watchdog Campaign website.

The American River Democrats is a chartered club of the Democratic Party of Sacramento County, representing communities through which the American River flows, including Folsom, Orangevale, Rancho Cordova, and Gold River. Learn more at our website:

The American River Democrats look forward to working with Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones to advance this ballot initiative.

Inclusionary Housing Settlement to Be Considered By Folsom City Council March 26

Encourage Folsom City Council to Settle

As reported in the Sacramento Bee, the Folsom City Council will consider a proposed settlement to legal challenges to its handling of inclusionary housing requirements at its March 26 meeting. Inclusionary housing goals seek to ensure that some percentage of new home and apartment construction be set aside for persons with lower incomes. You can read more in Section 10 of the Housing Element of Folsom’s General Plan, starting on page 102.

Folsom enacted an Inclusionary Housing Ordinance in 2002 requiring that a total of 15 percent of units in new housing developments be set aside for lower-income persons; 10 percent for very-low income (50 percent or less of the county’s median income) and 5 percent for low-income (80 percent or less of the county’s median income). There are a wide variety of methods by which developers can achieve these targets, including providing land for other developers to build affordable housing elsewhere in the city. Responding to pressure from developers during the economic downturn, and in response to the Palmer vs. Los Angeles decision that invalidated Los Angeles’ Inclusionary Housing Ordinance on rental properties, the Folsom City Council acted in 2011 to eliminate any such set-asides.

Various affordable housing advocates challenged the Folsom City Council’s actions, and a Superior Court judge invalidated their attempt.

Read more

Welcome to the American River Democrats!

We’re pleased and excited that our club, the American River Democrats, is the newest chartered Democratic club of Sacramento County. Watch this space for more information as we build our website.