The Lamorinda Democratic Club will host a Brunch Reception to Honor Our Past Legislative Champions on Saturday, January 10, from 10 a.m.-12 noon, at the Lafayette Library and Learning Center, 3491 Mt. Diablo Blvd, in Lafayette.

The event will honor recently termed out State Assembly members Joan Buchanan and Nancy Skinner, retiring Congressman George Miller, and outgoing State Senator (and incoming Congressman-Elect) Mark DeSaulnier.

Skinner represented Lamorinda prior to California’s last legislative redistricting in 2012. Since 2012, Buchanan represented our area until she termed out of office at the end of the 2014. Miller has represented Lamorinda, depending on redistricting, during portions of his 40-year career in Congress. DeSaulnier has represented our area in the State Senate since 2008, and will continue to serve our area as our new Congressman beginning in January 2015.

There will be limited seating for this special event, so please RSVP as soon as possible with John Hall at The event will be free, but a $5 (or more) donation is requested to help cover the club’s costs in hosting this meeting.

Following the club's endorsement process, the Lamorinda Democratic Club's membership has voted on the following endorsements for the 2014 general election:

Local Candidates:

  • Moraga Town Council: TERESA ONODA and KEN CHEW
  • Pleasant Hill City Council: SUE NOACK and MICHAEL HARRIS
  • Orinda City Council: CARLOS BALTODANO, DEAN ORR, and AMY WORTH
  • Moraga-Orinda Fire, District 1: KATHLEEN FAMULENER
  • CC Board of Education, Area 2: RAYMOND ANDERSEN
  • Acalanes Union High School District: ROBERT HOCKETT
  • Orinda Union School District: HILLARY WEINER and CAROL BROWN

Federal and State Candidates:

  • 11th Congressional District: MARK DESAULNIER
  • 16th Assembly District: TIM SBRANTI
  • Governor: JERRY BROWN
  • Lieutenant Governor: GAVIN NEWSOM
  • Secretary of State: ALEX PADILLA
  • Controller: BETTY YEE
  • Treasurer: JOHN CHIANG
  • Attorney General: KAMALA HARRIS
  • Insurance Commissioner: DAVE JONES
  • Supt. of Public Instruction: TOM TORLAKSON
  • State Board of Equalization 2: FIONA MA

State Propositions:

  • Prop 1: Water Bond. Funding for Water Quality, Supply, Treatment and Storage Projects: VOTE YES
  • Prop 2: State Budget. Budget Stabilization Account: VOTE YES
  • Prop 45: Healthcare Insurance. Rate Changes: VOTE YES
  • Prop 46: Drug and Alcohol Testing of Doctors. Medical Negligence Lawsuits: No Recommendation
  • Prop 47: Criminal Sentences. Misdemeanor Penalties:  VOTE YES
  • Prop 48: Indian Gaming Compacts: VOTE NO

The Lamorinda Democratic Club membership approved the following endorsements at the Club's September 11 meeting:

Tim Sbranti for Assembly
Yes on State Proposition 2
Yes on State Proposition 45
Yes on State Proposition 47
No on State Proposition 48

The LDC Endorsements Committee has not completed its analysis of State Proposition 1. The Club takes no position on State Proposition 46.

At the September 11th meeting the Club also heard from eight Democrats running for local offices. Eight more candidates are schedule to speak at the October 9th meeting.  Additional endorsements will be presented to the membership for approval at the October meeting.

The next Lamorinda Democratic Club meeting will be on Thursday, September 11.

Come and meet many of the Democratic Candidates for our local City Councils, School Boards and Regional Districts. These elections are important because these officials make decisions that directly affect our lives and often run for higher office. These candidates run for office out of civic duty; they look forward to working long hours without salary and yet they will represent our values. Thus, it is our civic duty to understand each Democratic candidate we endorse and to help them win in November. Click here to see a list of Candidates that will speak at our September 11th or October 9th meeting.

At the meeting we will also be voting on the recommendations of our Candidates and Issues Endorsement Committee and the Club's Board of Directors, including an endorsement of Tim Sbranti for Assembly District 16. Click here to see a list of Board recommendations.

The meeting begins at 7:00 pm and will be held at the Lafayette Library and Learning Center, 3491 Mt. Diablo Blvd, in Lafayette. There is a $5 donation at the door to help cover meeting expenses.

Please invite your friends and family to join in the fun of an old-fashioned Independence Day celebration.

Members of the Lamorinda Democratic Club will be walking in the annual Orinda Fourth of July Parade to display their patriotism. Each parade participant is asked to wear a “Democratic” T-shirt and bring a “Democratic” banner. Arrive early to receive a new Lamorinda Democratic Club T-shirt to proudly demonstrate that BLUE really is the new black!

Please join us on Friday, July 4th between 8:45 am and 9:30 am at the parade staging area: BART parking lot on east side of Camino Pablo. Coffee & bagels while they last!

The parade begins promptly at 10 am and lasts about an hour, ending at the Orinda Community Center Park and Library, where there will be games, food, music, and even a petting zoo! Following the parade, stop by the LAMORINDA DEMOCRATIC CLUB BOOTH in front of the old Orinda Library on the way to the park.

To volunteer to participate in the parade or to help staff the Lamorinda Democratic Club booth, please send an email to

Contra Costa Auditor-Controller: Ayore Riaunda

Ayore is well qualified to be our Auditor-Controller. He has a Master of Business Administration (MBA) and is a Certified Government Financial Manager (CGFM).  He is an 18-year U.S. Navy veteran and is now a Navy Reserve officer.

Yes, he is a Democrat and his opponent is a Republican who ran unopposed in 2010.

The MOST IMPORTANT election this June is for Auditor-Controller.


State Superintendent of Instruction: Tom Torlakson

Tom has worked hard to begin fixing the California Education System.  We want to keep Education on the right track.


U.S. Congress CD 11: Mark DeSaulnier

Mark has been our loyal and accessible State Senator.  As George Miller is retiring, he has endorsed Mark and we expect Mark to be as well respected and influential in Washington as George.


State Propositions: Yes on 41 & 42

Proposition 41 is a bond measure to provide affordable multifamily housing for low-income and homeless veterans. What is not to like about fulfilling our obligation to our VETERANS!

Proposition 42 requires local governments to comply with state public-access laws.  It also eliminates state reimbursement for the cost of such compliance. Public-access is the law for all levels of state government.  Each level should shoulder the cost of the statewide law.

VOTE for YES on 41 & 42

Contra Costa Community College District: Yes on Measure E

• Construction of new science and allied health center
• Modernization of campus buildings
• Modernization of gymnasium and physical education facilities

VOTE YES on Measure E!

The Lamorinda Democratic Club’s next meeting on Thursday, May 8, will include presentations by Tiffany Whiten from End Poverty and Inequality in California (EPIC) and Ben Grieff from Evolve as well as presentations by three local candidates, presentations for one state-wide candidate and two state propositions, club member vote on endorsements recommended by the Board, and election of club officers for 2013-14.

The meeting begins at 7:00 pm and will be held at the Lafayette Library and Learning Center, 3491 Mt. Diablo Blvd, in Lafayette. A $5 donation is requested to help cover meeting expenses.

Three candidates for Contra Costa County positions have agreed to speak to the club, Karen Sakata and Linda Delehunt, candidates for County School Superintendent, and Ayore Riaunda candidate for County Auditor-Controller. Vicki Gordon, Contra Costa Community College Governing Board Secretary, will speak for bond Measure E.  Craig Cheslog will speak for Propositions 41 and 42 and on behalf of Tom Torlakson candidate for State School Superintendent.

Club members will vote at the recommendation of the Board to endorse Ayore Riaunda, Tom Torlakson, and Propositions 41 and 42. Club members will also vote on officers for the coming year. The Board has nominated: Katie Ricklefs – President, Tom Duckworth – Vice President, John Hall – Treasurer, and Mike Rusk – Secretary. 

The Lamorinda Democratic Club’s next meeting on Thursday, May 8, will include presentations by Tiffany Whiten from End Poverty and Inequality in California (EPIC) and Ben Grieff from Evolve with a focus on state funding and services for our kids, our poor, and our communities.

The meeting begins at 7:00 pm and will be held at the Lafayette Library and Learning Center, 3491 Mt. Diablo Blvd, in Lafayette.  There is a $5 donation at the door to help cover meeting expenses.

Tiffany Whiten will provide background information on EPIC – a state legislative caucus initiated by Senator Mark DeSaulnier. EPIC’s mission is to reduce the number of people living in poverty and to increase economic opportunity for all Californians. EPIC partners include state legislators, business, labor and non-profit organizations throughout the state.

Evolve’s Campaign Director, Ben Grieff, will give a presentation on his organization's efforts to take on the "third rail" of California politics, reforming Prop 13. Evolve, a member funded community organization based in San Francisco, is advocating for a change to the way commercial property is reassessed. Ben will describe the unintended consequences of Prop 13 and his group’s exciting campaign.

Attendees will have the opportunity to learn more about EPIC and Evolve and how they can get involved with both efforts.

Support School Measures A & B

By Mike Rusk | Comments Off

If you live in the Acalanes Union High School District or the Lafayette School District or both, you have received a ballot in the mail for Measures A and B.

Measure A sustains critical funding to maintain academic programs and support services in the Acalanes Union High School District schools by renewing and extending the parcel tax that is expiring, without raising tax rates. Measure A will continue to provide ongoing, local funding to preserve excellence in our schools.

Measure B will continue an expiring tax to pay for core academic programs including math, science and technology for schools in the Lafayette School District.

The LaMorinda Democratic Club has endorsed both measures and is urging you to vote yes on both Measure A and B.

As Democrats we must unite to pass these measures to maintain our excellent schools, so please mail in your yes vote immediately.

As a result of the recession, California state revenues declined by $15 billion from 2007 to 2008. While the state’s spending cuts in education made many headlines, you may be unaware of the massive budget cuts to the judicial system, much less the impact it has had on those without the resources to navigate our underfunded courts. At our March club meeting, Mark Simons, Justice, the State of California Court of Appeal and Barry Goode, Presiding Judge, Contra Costa County Superior Court, spoke about how budget cuts have led to justice denied.

 Justice Simons explained that the judicial system has seen better days. In 1998, the superior and municipal courts were placed under the supervision of the county superior court presiding judge. The resulting significant efficiencies and additional state funding enabled more judges to be deployed to handle family and juvenile courts in Pittsburg and Richmond. Our county went from one courthouse to approximately five facilities in just two years. However, from 2000 to 2008, things changed. As Justice Simons noted the “quality and availability of justice was declining at this point in time.” The recession was the final straw.

 Judge Goode pointed out the current, grim state of the California judicial system. Since 2006, the judicial branch’s portion of the state general fund expenditures dropped from 2%, typical across the country, to 1%. At the low point this was a $1.2 billion reduction before inflation. Judge Goode stated that the 2014-15 state budget proposed by Governor Brown provides a net increase of about $30 million. Unfortunately, the courts need hundreds of millions more.

 Judge Goode made a survey of presiding judges across the state and presented a summary. Since 2008, 61 courthouses and 205 courtrooms across the state have been closed. In Contra Costa County, court house staffing has been reduced by 30% and management by 40%. All of these spending cuts have generated delays, prompting hours and even days of waiting as citizens struggle to access court services. Furthermore, access to self-help services, restraining orders, and civil trials has been impacted, severely hampering the courts’ ability to deliver justice.

 One result has been the increased use of arbitration to avoid the court system. Employees and consumers may find arbitration is mandatory. If they can afford it, litigants who have civil issues to settle in court can utilize private judges, as allowed by state law. Decisions made by private judges are not necessarily made public.

 The California Courts are in danger, and the quality and availability of justice is declining. It is a time for action. The county bar association is providing volunteers to preside over small claims courts. Judges, wanting to remain non-political, are communicating the problem. We as California citizens need to make our concerns known to the legislature. By making this a more visible issue, we can eventually provide a more equitable court system to everyone, regardless of financial resources.

 This post was updated on April 9. Bryan Wang, a Miramonte High Junior, contributed.