Archive for Meetings

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!

Senate Candidate to visit American River Democrats

Ever since the redistricting of State Senate and State Assembly boundaries, residents of Folsom have been represented in the state legislature by someone named Gaines. The assembly district (No.6) covers Folsom, Fair Oaks and Orangevale, along with parts of El Dorado and Placer Counties. Beth Gaines is the current representative. She is not running for re-election due to term limits*.

Rob Rowen (courtesy

Rob Rowen (courtesy

Senate District No. 1 includes Folsom as the only Sacramento County portion, along with El Dorado and parts of Placer County, and the vast region to the northeast, including Shasta County up to the Oregon border. Ted Gaines, Beth’s husband, is the current State Senator for District 1, and, having failed to win the state Insurance Commissioner position last election, is running to be re-elected. Another Republican is challenging him, along with Democrat Rob Rowen.

Though the district is about 43% Republican, compared to 28% Democrat, there are also about 22% independent voters, and Rowen believes he has a good chance. “I truly believe Ted Gaines is vulnerable this election cycle; in his 8 years he has established a voting record of “no” on virtually every proposed legislation proposed by the Democrats in both the Assembly and Senate. Gaines cannot author any meaningful legislation because he will never get any cooperation from the Democrats he has opposed for 8 years” said Rowen.

“While having never held office, I have been involved with the state party for the past 4 years; both as a County Chair and as an executive board representative for Shasta County to the state party. I am not a career politician, what I am is an educated individual that understand the importance of cooperation and compromise that is missing in Sacramento from this district. I look forward to meeting all of you and I hope I will earn your support.

Rowen will be the special guest speaker for the American River Democrats’ May meeting, held on Wednesday, May 18 at Samurai Sushi in Rancho Cordova. Samurai Sushi is located at 12251 Folsom Blvd (Hazel at Hwy 50). The meeting is usually held in the back room of the restaurant. (The meeting starts at 7 pm, you may arrive at 6:30 to order any food or drinks if you wish.) The club welcomes guests and prospective members to attend.

*Brian Caples is running for Beth Gaines’ Assembly seat as a Democrat.

Two great candidates visit the American River Democrats

She is a well known politician with expertise in many aspects of government, and a well connected, business friendly Democrat. He is more of a political outsider who is running as the more progressive candidate. Either one will have to beat a larger pool of Republicans to take office. Hillary versus Bernie? How about Kerri versus Gary?

In our February meeting, the American River Democrats welcomed two candidates for the upcoming open Sacramento County Supervisor seat currently held by Roberta McGlashan. The two known Democrats running for the office are long-time Folsom City Council member and sometime Mayor, Kerri Howell, and High School social studies teacher Gary Blenner.

Blenner introduced himself as a teacher at Rio Americano High, as well as a Union Representative, school board member, central committee member, and part of both the Town and Country Democrats and the JFK Club. This is his second time running for the County Supervisor seat; in 2012 he won 23% of the vote, but Roberta McGlashan held the seat by getting just over 50% in the June primary that year.

Blenner emphasized “People Before Profits”, noting the Gibson Ranch deal that gave the lease to Doug Ose for $1 a year in exchange for a profit share to run the county park, a deal Blenner calls an example of a cash giveaway to greedy developers.

Blenner supports the $15 minimum wage to support economic growth, supporting small business over “big box” stores using a vacancy tax to encourage empty strip mall and other commercial property owners to lower their rents to encourage small business, and a county owned community bank to support them.

Blenner also stressed government reform, cutting the pay of the supervisor position, changing the meeting times away from normal business hours when many people are at work so they are more accessible, and adding six additional positions to better represent the people, and not just developers.

Blenner believes it is important to find local solutions for homeless people, much in the way Salt Lake City has done, building housing that will actually save money, and providing access to mental health, drug and alcohol treatment, and job training programs, while taking away the criminalization of homelessness.

Blenner wants to ensure there is “smart growth” in the open lands in Sacramento County. He vows to make sure developers pay their fair share for the services needed (water, sewer, electric…) and guarantee enough open space. New developments should follow the “community neighborhood model” to reduce traffic and pollution, and encourage small business. Bike trails, parks, and access to light rail and mass transit are crucial.

To learn more about Gary Blenner, visit his website

Speaking next was Kerri Howell, a very familiar face to Folsom residents as a City Council member for over 17 years. But she is also a practicing engineer with her own firm, and a member of the Regional Sanitation district, the Sacramento Transportation Authority, the Folsom Lake College Foundation, and many other current and past positions, giving her established relationships with many elected officials. She believes she is the most qualified candidate for the Supervisor seat.

Howell said that public safety is a crucial issue. When citizens call 911, they need to get an immediate response. While this usually happens in cities like Folsom, in unincorporated areas of the county, such as Orangevale, Fair Oaks, and the rural areas in the south, response can be delayed.

Howell believes the county needs to better market the area to attract new residents and businesses, and make the process for licensing more streamlined. She wants to encourage high-tech Bay Area businesses to locate here. She also wants to expand light rail service to the airport, a logical way to bring travelers into the communities, especially after the success in expanding to Folsom. She also believes the southern county roadway expansion from El Dorado to Interstate 5, along Grant Line Road, needs to be completed to relieve traffic along the 50 Freeway.

Howell also believes we need more transparency in govenment, especially as it relates to campaign financing.

When asked about rural area development, notably south of the 50 Freeway, Howell was very familiar with the issues. She said that the land owned by the private individuals had already been planned for development as long as 30 years ago. As the prospect of it happening got closer, the city of Folsom began the effort to include that area in the city’s sphere of influence. While preventing the building was not a possibility, the city would be able to control how it was developed, insuring at least 30% open space, preserving the current oak tree groves, and including sufficient schools, parks, trails, and transportation. She also said that despite the ongoing drought, there was enough guaranteed water to support the additional homes and business, and that more efficient water systems required in the structures and properties would help make that possible.

To learn more about Kerri Howell, visit her website at

With two great candidates in the running, area Democrats can be confidant that we will have at least one make it to the November ballot. Perhaps even two. . .

Images courtesy and

Ken Kiunke, Communications Secretary

April Meeting to focus on Mental Health

The American River Democrats will be welcoming Rose King, a special guest speaker who will educate update us on the progress and status of mental health care in California, especially in light of 2004’s Proposition 63, which was intended to dramatically improve the situation in California.

Ms. King has an extensive background in California government and politics, going back to the 1970’s, working with figures such as Nancy Pelosi, Leo McCarthy, and Bill Lockyer.

She was a principal co-author of Prop 63, a family member of individuals with serious mental illness, and served on numerous Boards of Directors related to community mental health, including the National Alliance on Mental Illness of California. As a consultant to then-Attorney General Bill Lockyer, Rose worked to establish the structure and role of the new Prop 63 Commission during Lockyer’s term on the OAC, and to analyze and promote effective MHSA/Prop 63 implementation policies.

She is an active mental health advocate, political advisor, and an outspoken critic of the state’s mental health policies—specifically advocating an end to discrimination against mental health in MediCal insurance that denies parity with physical health care. She is an independent lobbyist for an equal right to treatment and ethical implementation of Prop 63, the Mental Health Services Act.

In November 2009, she filed a Whistleblower Complaint with the California State Auditor, documenting unlawful implementation of Prop 63, subsequently lobbying for an Audit Committee report, alleging incompetence, waste, potential conflicts of interest, and noncompliance with the law.  With partner Teresa Pasquini of Contra Costa County, Rose established Mental Illness FACTS-Family And Consumer True Stories—to promote activism and public awareness of mental health policy.

SamuraiThe America River Democrats March Meeting will be at Samurai Sushi, Wednesday, April 15, 12251 Folsom Bl, Rancho Cordova.

We begin our gathering at 6:30 for social time and a chance to order food or drinks.

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

Guests are always welcome!

Fracking!? Learn more with our Special Guest at the March Meeting

If you took all the major environmental issues and rolled them into one big one, it would come out Fracking.

Hydrolic Fracturing to obtain gas and oil wastes water, pollutes water, pollutes the air, causes earthquakes, and is an extreme measure to squeeze more carbon fuel from the earth to be burned and enhance our already stellar race to change the earth’s climate in a hurry.

The American River Democrats are proud to welcome a very special guest to our March meeting, who will tell us more in detail of the damage fracking is causing, and what we can do about it.

Damien Luzzo

Damien Luzzo

Damien Luzzo is probably the most active and prolific organizer of the anti-fracking movement for the Environmental Caucus of the California Democratic Party.

He studied physics and philosophy at UC Santa Barbara. He is an Assembly District 4 delegate for the CA Democratic Party. Since 2012, he has been the President of SaveWithSunlight; a non-profit organization working to streamline rooftop solar installations. He is a member of the Progressive Democrats of America’s Climate Action Team.

For the past few years, Damien has been very active in the movement to ban fracking in California. He has worked to change the California Democratic Party’s platform into a platform that now calls for an immediate moratorium on fracking. He helped organize and plan an anti-fracking protest at the 2014 democratic convention during Governor Jerry Brown’s keynote speech.

He has also been working with Californians Against Fracking, Food & Water Watch, and many other organizations to put pressure on Governor Brown, the State Assembly, and the State Senate to place a moratorium or ban on fracking in California. He is a Facebook admin for a page called “Stop Fracking California State”. With more that 5,160 followers, it is the largest online community of anti-fracking activists in California.

Join the American River Democrats us as we welcome Damien to the March meeting.


The America River Democrats March Meeting will be at Samurai Sushi, Wednesday, March 18, 12251 Folsom Bl, Rancho Cordova.

We begin our gathering at 6:30 for social time and a chance to order food or drinks.

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

Guests are always welcome!

Bill Durston is the Special Guest at the January meeting

When Dr. Ami Bera won the 2012 election to represent the 7th District in the US House of Representatives, it was after he had lost once to incumbent Dan Lundgren. But that defeat set in motion the tools, momentum, and organization needed to win the next election. But you could say the process had already begun in 2006 and 2008, when another medical doctor, Bill Durston, challenged Lundgren for the seat. Dr. Durston energized the Democratic base in the 7th District, and gave people someone to root for, and a feeling of hope that our voices might be heard, a hope that was finally answered, and then narrowly held onto in the last two elections.

durston 2

But of course, those who know Bill, know that he is so much more than a politician. You might never guess it from talking to him, but he is a Vietnam war veteran and emergency room doctor. (I think of him more as the kindly pediatrician type…)

He is also the President of the Sacramento Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility, an organization concerned with reducing violence – both on a world-wide and person-to-person level, protecting the environment, and insuring good affordable healthcare for all. (Natural goals for professional healers, and worthy aspirations for anyone!)

Bill also authored a hard hitting essay on the country’s response to the Sandy Hook tragedy – or actually our political system’s total LACK of a response. Bill will be bringing that conversation to the American River Democrats’ monthly meeting for January. Everyone is encouraged to come, and bring friends!

Join the American River Democrats us as we welcome Dr. Durston to the January meeting.


The America River Democrats January Meeting will be at Samurai Sushi, Wednesday, January 21, 12251 Folsom Bl, Rancho Cordova.

We begin our gathering at 6:30 for social time and a chance to order food or drinks.

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

Guests are always welcome!

What is Common Core and why are people upset about it?

The American River Democrats will be focusing on Common Core at the November Meeting, to be held Wednesday, Nov. 19 at 7 pm. Club members, guests, and anyone who wants to learn more about it and the objections that have been raised is encouraged to attend.

The idea behind Common Core, which is supported by President Obama and Education Secretary Duncan, is to establish a set of goals or benchmarks in math and English that students at each grade level should achieve. By having a common set of standards, students from different states, and even school districts, will be more likely to be equally prepared to score in college entrance exams and enter higher education with similar skills. American youth would also be encouraged to perform up to the higher levels most other developed nations already achieve.

But some of the concepts introduced with the common core are confusing, especially to kids already schooled in math, and parents trying to help them, who look at some of the methods as if they were written in ancient Greek.

Our guest speaker is a Folsom teacher who is very knowedgable about these issues and has a lot to share with us. Parents and concerned citizens can get a better idea of what is going on, and how they should encourage their school boards and elected officials on how to approach Common Core.

Join the American River Democrats Wednesday, November 19 to learn about these issues and ask questions of our guest speaker.


The America River Democrats November Meeting will be at Samurai Sushi, Wednesday, November 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!

October Meeting will be in Support of Ami Bera

It has been said that Republicans win elections because wealthy people spend lots of money convincing poor people to vote for them, and Democrats win elections because passionate people work hard educating people about leaders who will work for them.

That of course is wildly oversimplified, but the truth is Barack Obama and other Democrats largely succeed when grass roots efforts are made to support them. We’ll just never be able to outspend the likes of the Koch brothers.

As a Democratic club, we are committed to working hard to do what it takes to spread the word and support our candidates. Sometimes that means knocking on doors, registering voters, and reaching out at events. But one of the easiest and most effective tools if making calls to voters.

Many are uncomfortable at the idea of calling strangers and talking them into something, but there are all kinds of calls to make, and we have agreed to devote this month’s meeting to calling Democrats in the area just to remind them of how important it will be to vote in this election. Calling someone who is already very likely on your side is a piece of cake compared to calling a Sean Hannity fan and telling them the affordable care act is a good thing that can only get better…

Even in a district like ours where Democrats are slightly ahead of Republicans in registration, and where Bera won the seat two years ago, a mid-term election can be lost when people don’t bother to vote.

So we are asking club members to show up to the October meeting, bring a charged phone, and go down a list of local Democrats and ask for support. Remind them how important it will be to show up on election day, or mail their ballot in, and support Ami Bera and other Democrats.

This is Congressman Bera’s seat to lose – and he will lose it without hard work and dedicated support. Just listen to the nonsense in the next Doug Ose ad to see how important your efforts will be.

Join the American River Democrats to pitch in and do your part to re-elect Dr. Ami Bera to Congress. Food will be provided to help make it a fun and productive event!


The America River Democrats October Meeting will be at Samurai Sushi, Wednesday, October 15, 12251 Folsom Bl, Rancho Cordova.

We begin our gathering at 6:30 for introduction and food.

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

Guests are always welcome!

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


September Meeting focus on ballot initiatives

It has been reported lately that most Californians who are considered likely to vote this Fall still know very little about the propositions, even the very significant Water Bond.

The American River Democrats will be focused on the upcoming fall election again this month, with a focus on certain ballot initiatives.

Rick Bettis, from the League of Women Voters, will be on hand to share some information on Proposition 1, the Water Bond. We all know that California is in a historic drought, but is the water bond before us the right answer for farmers, the environment, smart growth, and people in our region? Get educated and make a smart vote in November.

We will also discuss the measure, Proposition 47, that intends to reduce sentencing for non-violent crimes, and make many of them misdemeanors. Will this increase crimes, such as burglary, vandalism, auto theft, etc., in order to save money in prison and jail maintenance? Or is it a good idea to stop locking up people whose crimes might be considered minor?

If we have time, we will also discuss Proposition 46, which affect the medical profession in malpractice judgments, and many other ways.

Join the American River Democrats Wednesday, September 17 to learn about these issues, and consider some candidate endorsements as well.


The America River Democrats August Meeting will be at Samurai Sushi, Wednesday, September 17, 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!