The Lamorinda Democratic Club’s next meeting on Thursday, April 14, will feature Common Sense Kids Action Co-Director and Vice President for California Policy Craig Cheslog, who will report on the release of the Right Start Commission’s blueprint for a child-centered system that nurtures every child from the beginning of life.

The Right Start Commission, a team of business, education, health and early childhood experts convened by Common Sense Kids Action, will release a report the day before our next meeting detailing gaps in California’s early childhood services, including recommendations to improve delivery and provide more resources to create a “child-centered” and streamlined system of early learning and care for children ages 0-5.

The Commission is co-chaired by former Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and Dr. Nadine Burke Harris of the Center for Youth Wellness. Former Congressman George Miller is one of the Commission’s members.

In California, millions of children face challenges that could put them at a disadvantage later in life. Our state has the second-worst standard of living for kids in the nation. In families with young children, a single minimum wage earner cannot afford both rent and child care—the two largest expenses for most California families.

Common Sense Kids Action convened the Right Start Commission based on the fundamental principle that every California child deserves the right start. High-quality early learning and care, supportive family environments, and preventive health care are essential to ensuring every child has the opportunity to thrive in school and in life.

Craig served as the staff director of the Commission that has worked over the last several months to develop strategies to better serve California’s 9 million children, with a particular focus on the 3 million children age 0–5. This report will serve as a foundational document, reflecting the commission’s ideas and priorities for a more child-centered approach to our workplaces, our policymaking, and our civic life.

Craig joined Common Sense Kids Action (www.commonsensemedia.org/kids-action) in January 2015 as its Co-Director and Vice President for California Policy. Based in Common Sense’s San Francisco office, Craig is the co-director of the organization’s advocacy platform and is responsible for California-specific policy development and legislative campaign execution across all of Common Sense’s policy areas.

Craig previously served as the Principal Advisor to California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson at the California Department of Education for four years. Before joining the California Department of Education, he served as Torlakson’s district director for his Assembly and State Senate offices for eight years. A past president of the Lamorinda Democratic Club, Craig was elected the California Democratic Party’s Region 2 Director in April 2013 and re-elected in May 2015. He is a member of the Planned Parenthood Northern California Action Fund’s Board of Directors. Craig also serves on the Leadership Council, and is a past chair, of CREATE CA: California’s statewide arts education coalition.

The Lamorinda Democratic Club’s Nominations Committee, in accordance with the Club’s by laws, announces its slate of club officers for 2016-17. The officer elections happen at our Club’s June 9 meeting.

President Katie Ricklefs, Vice President Tom Duckworth, Treasurer John Hall, and Secretary Mike Rusk have all been nominated for another term. Nominations can also be taken from the floor.

The LDC met Thursday, March 10 at the Lafayette Library.  About 35 people heard about BART improvements, labor relations, future plans, and a proposed bond measure from BART Director Rebecca Saltzman.

Saltzman shared some interesting statistics about recent growth in ridership and BART’s importance in Lamorinda. This February, BART ridership grew to an historic high of 446,000 riders per weekday.  The benefit to Contra Costa County is illustrated by the fact that nearly as many people travel on BART into Oakland as through the Caldecott tunnel on a weekday morning peak hour. Another example of the benefit is that residential property values are 12.8% higher 1/2 mile from a BART station compared to 3% higher within 2 to 5 miles.

Saltzman described a number of areas where BART is making improvements.  A $1 billion project is underway and under budget that will make BART safe in an earthquake and reduce recovery time afterwards. Other current projects include improved station access and signage, additional bicycle storage (which is always fully utilized), canopies above entrances to underground BART stations, and the system extension to Antioch utilizing Diesel Multiple Unit (DMU) technology. 

There is a significant need to update BART’s infrastructure, some of which is 45-years old. Projects to address aging infrastructure include 775 more comfortable and efficient cars with additional doors and a new train control system for a 25% increase in traffic through the transbay tube. It is interesting to know that the new train control system will allow closer spacing between trains, because the location of trains will be more precisely known.

A $3.5 billion bond measure is one potential funding source for the estimated $9.6 billion cost of these infrastructure projects.  There will be benefits of reduced crowding and delays as well as increased safety.

Saltzman received many questions from the audience were many about labor relations. She responded that steps are being taken, which she believes ensure negotiations, to start next year, will be successful.  She said there has been a recognition of the mistakes made and the management inexperience that led to the strike. There are also joint labor-management efforts this year to build trust and a common understanding of BART data. She also explained that the right-to-strike for BART workers was established by state law and is therefore not up to the Board.

Saltzman also received questions about station conditions, parking, late night hours, and expansion around the bay. Generally what the Board can do is limited by funding and may also require action by others.

The Lamorinda Democratic Club’s next meeting on Thursday, March 10, will feature Rebecca Saltzman, District 3 BART Board Member. Saltzman will provide her perspective on current issues and future directions for BART.

The meeting will be held at the Lafayette Library and Learning Center, 3491 Mt. Diablo Blvd, in Lafayette. The Club’s social time will begin at 7:00 p.m., with a short business meeting beginning at 7:30 p.m. There is a $5 requested donation at the door to help the cover meeting expenses.   A donation is not necessary for members with paid-up 2016 membership or students.

Among the topics that Saltzman will address are:

  • BART improvements to meet future transportation needs
  • Steps being taken to improve labor relations and prepare for labor negotiations
  • The proposed BART bond measure

Rebecca Saltzman was elected to the BART Board in 2012. She represents District 3, which includes Lafayette (partial), Moraga, Orinda, and other portions of Contra Costa and Alameda Counties.

Saltzman chairs the BART Labor Negotiations Review Committee and the Administration Committee, and she co-chairs the BART-AC Transit Interagency Liaison Committee. She also serves on the Alameda County Transportation Commission, the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority, the BART Environmental/Sustainability Committee, and the BART Strategic Finance Committee.

Before she was elected to the BART Board, Saltzman spent years as a public transit and policy advocate, coalition builder, grassroots organizer, and manager with local, state, and national issue-based organizations.

Saltzman served as Vice-Chair of the Oakland Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee from 2011-2013, where she advised the City of Oakland on pedestrian and bicycle policy and infrastructure. In 2011, Saltzman received the League of Women Voters of Oakland’s Making Democracy Work Award in recognition of her work and commitment to increasing citizen engagement in local government.

The Lamorinda Democratic Club’s next meeting on Thursday, February 11, will feature SEIU Local 1021 Chapter President Dan Jameyson who will talk about Standing Together: SEIU 1021 in Contra Costa County. The club’s meeting will be held at the Lafayette Library and Learning Center, 3491 Mt. Diablo Blvd, in Lafayette. The club’s social hour will begin at 7 p.m., with a business meeting beginning at 7:30 p.m. The program begins at 8 p.m.

Jameyson’s presentation will cover what SEIU 1021 is and how it is organized,  He will also disscuss labor myths and facts, the state of the Contra Costa County labor community, SEIU 1021’s member-driven political program, and an update on SEIU’s strategic campaign around raising the minimum wage.

Jameyson currently serves as SEIU 1021’s Chapter President and as the Co-Chair of the SEIU 1021 Contra Costa Community on Political Education. He is also the Concord Naval Weapons Station Steering Committee Chair for the Contra Costa County Central Labor Council (AFL-CIO), the President of the Concord Democratic Club, and a member of the California Democratic Party’s Credentials Committee.

The Lamorinda Democratic Club during its January 30 meeting voted to endorse Cheryl Cook-Kallio in her campaign for our 16th Assembly District seat currently held by a Republican.

Cheryl Cook-Kallio has dedicated her life to public service and volunteerism. A celebrated public school teacher, respected Pleasanton City Councilmember, and tireless community activist, Cheryl has fought to enhance public education, increase affordable housing options, improve streets and roads, and make our community safer.

As a teacher Cheryl provided our youth with the best foundation possible to be successful in the 21st century. She spent 39 years educating our youth in the areas of Advanced Placement U.S. History and U.S. Government, and Honor Economics.

During this time her professional accolades include the American Civic Education Teacher Award, the Fremont Education Foundation Excellence in Education Award, Irvington High School’s Teacher of the Year, State Senator Liz Figueroa’s Woman of the Year, Assemblymember Alberto Torrico’s Citizen of the Year, Teacher of the Year by the Sons of the American Revolution and a James Madison Memorial Fellowship.

Cook-Kallio served eight years on Pleasanton’s City Council. During her time as Vice-Mayor and Councilmember, she led the way to increase affordable housing, expand parkland and implement curbside recycling. Working with regional transportation agencies Cheryl improved streets and roads finding solutions to traffic gridlock.

Cheryl earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in History from the University of North Carolina, Charlotte and her Masters of Arts degree in U.S. History with an emphasis on the U.S. Constitution from San Jose State University. She holds teaching credentials in Social Science and English, with a supplemental credential in Spanish.

In 2002, she was selected to serve as a James Madison Congressional Fellow for United States Senator Diane Feinstein on the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. In 2005 Cheryl was selected to serve as a James Madison Federal Courts fellow in Washington D.C.

For more information about her campaign, please visit www.cook-kallioforassembly.com/.

Holding our State Legislators Accountable

By Mike Rusk | Comments Off

The following was written by Brodie Brodie Hilp, President of the San Ramon Valley Democratic Club. It is reprinted here for your information and action.

As active Democrats, we know it is very important to hold our legislators accountable.  We have two new legislators at the State level – Assemblymember Catharine Baker and State Senator Steve Glazer.  Do you know how they are voting on legislation? 

The Democrats of Rossmoor have done an excellent job at compiling the voting record of these two legislators.  It is worthwhile to study.  One particular vote by Assemblymember Catharine Baker stands out.  She voted against allowing undocumented children to receive Medi-Cal.  These children are attending our schools, and it makes sense to insure their health for a wide range of reasons:  to insure they  are inoculated against disease, to test for visual and hearing deficits, to insure their health for learning.

The voting record is on page 5 and 6 of the Democrats of Rossmoor's Newsletter.  CLICK HERE to view the newsletter, then scroll down to page 5 and 6.

To make our legislators accountable, please attend their Town Halls and ask pertinent questions.  To learn when and where their Town Halls are, sign up for their emails.  To sign up for Senator Glazer's emails, visit the e-Newletter Sign Up.  To sign up for Assemblymember Baker's emails, visit the Newsletter Sign Up page

The Lamorinda Democratic Club’s next meeting on Thursday, June 11, will feature Craig Cheslog, our Club’s past president and current California Democratic Party Region 2 Director, leading a conversation about recent election results in order to start preparing for the 2016 elections.

The discussion will include an analysis of the recent Senate District 7 special election. What impact did the new top two primary have? Were you angered by the influx of mailers and phone calls—and want to learn why they are still an important part of voter outreach? Are you depressed by wins the Republican Party has had in other recent local elections?

Cheslog will also talk about how the Democratic Party is organized and how grassroots clubs like the LDC can have a larger impact and elect more Democrats in our communities, county, and region.

Cheslog was the LDC president from 2008-2013. He has been the California Democratic Party’s Region 2 Director since 2013. Regional Directors are officers of the California Democratic Party and are responsible for assisting the state party with developing, supporting, and coordinating the County Central Committees, Clubs, and other Democratic organizations within each region. Region 2 includes Assembly Districts 4, 11, 14, and 16. He maintains the Region 2 website, which includes a regional calendar of Democratic events, at www.cademregion2.com.

Cheslog is also the California Democratic Party’s Children’s Caucus Treasurer and the Rural Caucus’ Bay Area Vice Chair.  He recently joined Common Sense Kids Action (www.commonsense.org) as its Co-Director and Vice President for California Policy after serving as the Principal Advisor to State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson from 2011-2015.

At the May 14 meeting, the Lamorinda Democratic Club approved new By-Laws.  This enables the club to endorse one Democrat over another Democrat in a top two candidate run-off.   With the new By-Laws in effect, the club members then endorsed Susan Bonilla by unanimous vote.

The Club also reelected the current slate of officers:  Katie Ricklefs – President, Craig Cheslog – Immediate Past President, Tom Duckworth – Vice President, John Hall – Treasurer, and Mike Rusk – Secretary.

After the short business meeting, Helen Grieco gave an update on the efforts by Common Cause to build a sustainable democracy.  She highlighted same day voter registration, on-line registration and increased registration at the DMV as immediate goals for improving voter participation.  With the current deluge of campaign literature sent by various PACs to influence the Senate District 7 special election, Helen’s comments about corporate campaign spending and “dark” money were very timely.  She said that Common Cause's long-term goal is public campaign financing.

The Lamorinda Democratic Club’s membership will be asked at the May 14 meeting to approve new Club By-Laws as recommended by the Board of Directors. (Click here to read the proposed By-Laws.) There were several factors that led to the Board’s decision to replace the By-Laws adopted in 2008.

First, in the nearly seven years since the Club’s last By-Laws revision, the Board found several provisions that needed to be made more explicit for the sake of clarity and efficient Club operations. For example, stating correctly that the Club is chartered by the Democratic Party of Contra Costa County and not affiliated with that organization, removing the office of Corresponding Secretary, and reducing the quorum requirement for Board meetings from 7 to 5 (or a majority of Board members, whichever is less).

Second, because of changes in the California Democratic Party’s By-Laws, the Club needed to conform to new rules for the party’s pre-endorsement conferences to be held in January 2016. In order for the Club to have voting representatives at the pre-endorsement conferences for State Legislative and Congressional races (1 vote for every 20 members in good standing in an Assembly District), the Club needed to define member in good standing and a process for selecting pre-endorsement conference voting representatives. The proposed revised By-Laws would allow a person to become a member in good standing 21 days after the payment of Club dues.

Third, a Lamorinda resident pointed out just a few hours before the Club’s April meeting that we had not updated the By-Laws to permit an endorsement under the state’s new top two candidate open primary structure when the top two candidates are Democrats. After a review of the situation, the Board agreed. President Katie Ricklefs explained this at the Club’s April meeting and committed the Board of Directors to offering a remedy for the Club membership’s consideration at the May 14 meeting. The proposed By-Laws would permit the Club to make an endorsement in these situations.