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People's Climate March: A Good Start

Craig Dunkerley's picture

The pitiful coverage by the corporate media notwithstanding, Sunday September 21, 2014 was the day of the largest Climate Crisis demonstration in history. With almost 400,000 attending the very long, very humid march through the streets of downtown New York City, it was even bigger than the gathering in Washington DC in 1963, made famous by Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech.  I was privileged to attend... and all of us have a dream too, of a planet whose human inhabitants regain their sense of connection with the earth and all other living things so we can all survive and thrive.

The adventure started a week earlier in Emeryville where 120 fellow activists -- off all ages, colors and proclivities -- held a short rally before boarding the People's Climate Train for a 4 day journey across the U.S., heading for New York City and picking up activists along the way.  Our numbers grew by 50% by the time we got there. Each day there were more interesting people to share stories with, and many had areas of expertise to share.  There were workshops on everything from organic farming and the chemistry of climate change to transportation alternatives, the future of clean energy,  the divestment movement and other strategies to bring about change. 

I gave a well-attended talk on how money in politics is the single biggest obstacle to legislation dealing with the climate crisis. That opened a few eyes and explained some of the "bruises" we've all been getting beating our heads against the walls of Congress in futile attempts to provoke needed action.  Being on a train gave rise to the useful metaphor of parallel tracks, representing the need to work on fixing the money-in-politics problem along with whatever else anyone in the audience might rate as their #1 priority, for the simple reason that little if any progress will be made on whatever the latter might be until we deal with the former.  

The night before the big march several of us went to an event featuring speakers like Bill McKibben (founder of, Lester Brown (famous author of many books on the environment), Mary Robinson (President of Ireland and long-time anti-poverty activist), and several others. All had inspiring and sobering things to say about the need for immediate action to stop the damage being done by the cabal of "rogue" fossil fuel companies hell-bent on short term profits, regardless of the costs to the planet and the rest of us.

One of the more radical suggestions which highlighted how serious the problem really is, was that President Obama treat these rogue companies like any other terrorist group threatening humanity and issue an executive order freezing all their assets. I'm not sure if the President could actually do that, or what worldwide economic ripples might emanate from such an action, but I must confess the idea has great appeal.  That would certainly get a lot of people's attention and show both the leadership and  seriousness of purpose that've been sorely lacking to this point. And just start to imagine all the positive things that could be set in motion with such a bold move:  the redirection of assets into renewable energy development and deployment (FDR did something similar with the auto industry at the beginning of WWII), the subsidizing of whole new green industries and the jobs that would come with them, and aid that could be made available to those poor countries already being devastated by the climate change we here in the United States are primarily responsible for causing (China recently surpassed us in annual green house gas emissions, but the vast majority of all the global warming gases that have accumulated up there in the last 200 years came from the USA).

Whatever we do, we better do it fast and since the forces arrayed against humanity have most of the money, we're going to have to rely on our numbers to win back a viable future. That means each of us is going to have to be willing to be uncomfortable and inconvenienced, to move outside our comfort zones and take action when called upon.  Nothing we hold dear is guaranteed...and democracy is not a spectator sport.  "Let's roll."

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Judy Pipkin Honored as Woman of the Year by State Senator Jim Beall

rachel's picture

If you’re a Democratic Party activist in Santa Clara County, you know Judy Pipkin. If you’ve ever visited Democratic Party headquarters here, you know Judy Pipkin. If you’ve needed volunteers to register voters, walk precincts, or help at an event, you know Judy Pipkin. Our own Judy Pipkin, heart and soul of the SCCDP headquarters office, was honored as Woman of the Year at a ceremony held in State Senator Jim Beall’s Campbell office on February 21st.

Well-wishers packed the Senator’s office, a testament to the impact Judy has had. Never one to crave the spotlight, Judy stood quietly next to Sen. Beall as he praised her as “a person of the community” and passionate advocate for social justice. “Judy runs the Democratic Party office with a heart. A big heart – that’s what her whole life’s about,” he said.

A mother of six, Judy has worked a variety of careers over the years, from retail to nursing to mentoring foster kids. But there was always one thing in common: “Since I was young, I always wanted to feel that I am contributing something to the world,” says Judy. “I want to help give back what people have given to me.”

Steve Preminger, SCCDP County Chair, commented, “Judy is the anchor for the Santa Clara County Democratic Party.  She is the one who selflessly staffs the headquarters day after day taking calls from the public, usually intense calls, as well as from Democrats who want to get involved and don’t know how.  She does this with efficiency, empathy and humor, and as a result has built a cadre of volunteers who keep us as the center of Democratic life in the county.”  He added, “We all join Senator Beall in saluting this great woman, who, by the way, would rather be doing ANYTHING other than being acknowledged for her contributions.”

Congratulations, Judy!

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Help Typhoon Haiyan Survivors in the Philippines

rachel's picture

The Santa Clara County Democratic Party is sponsoring a relief effort to help those suffering the devastating effects of the recent Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.  Survivors are in dire need of our support as the country tries to recover. As is usually the case, the best way to help is a donation to one of the many organizations with the training and resources to get aid quickly and effectively to those who most urgently need it.

WHERE: The SCCDP will collect your checks, along with other donations, at our Party Headquarters, 2901 Moorpark Avenue, Suite 110, in San Jose

WHEN:  Drop-off times are 10 am to 3 pm daily, as well as from 10 to 4 this Saturday, November 23rd. Our last day of collecting non-monetary donations is Wednesday, November 27th.

WHAT: Checks to the organization of your choice are preferred, but we are also collecting cargo boxes, clothing, toiletries, and unperishable food items.

The organizations listed below are all providing aid to those affected by Typhoon Haiyan:

World Food Programme
The UN's hunger-fighting organization has allocated an immediate $2 million for Haiyan relief, with a greater appeal pending as needs become apparent. The UN organization is sending 40 metric tons of fortified biscuits in the immediate aftermath, as well as working with the government to restore emergency telecommunications in the area. Americans can text the word AID to 27722 to donate $10 or give online. Learn more here.

Red Cross
The humanitarian and disaster relief organization has sent emergency responders and volunteers to provide meals and relief items. Already, thousands of hot meals have been provided to survivors. Red Cross volunteers and staff also helped deliver preliminary emergency warnings and safety tips. Give by donating online or mailing a check to your local American Red Cross chapter. Learn more here.

The Philippine Red Cross has mobilized its 100 local outposts to help with relief efforts. Learn more here.

The emergency response and global health organization is sending medical aid for 20,000 survivors, including antibiotics, wound care supplies and pain relievers. AmeriCares is also giving funds to local organizations to purchase supplies. Learn more here.

World Vision
The Christian humanitarian organization that specifically supports families living in poverty is providing food, water and hygiene kits at the evacuation centers. World Vision was also still actively responding to last month's earthquake in Bohol, which fortunately was not struck by the eye of the storm. Learn more here.

ShelterBox, an emergency relief organization, provides families with a survival kit that includes a tent and other essential items while they are displaced or homeless. Learn more here.

Anticipating that children will likely be among the worst affected by the typhoon, UNICEF is working on getting essential medicines, nutrition supplies, safe water and hygiene supplies to children and families in the area. Learn more here.

Salvation Army
The Christian hunger and poverty-fighting organization is allocating 100 percent of all disaster donations for relief efforts "to immediately meet the specific needs of disaster survivors." Text TYPHOON to 80888 to Donate $10 or give online. Learn more here.

Save The Children
The organization, which prioritizes kids' needs, has sent relief kits for children and families, including household cleaning items, temporary school tents and learning materials. Learn more here.

Doctors Without Borders
The international medical humanitarian organization is sending 200 tons of medical and relief items, including vaccines, tents and hygiene kits. Learn more here.

Operation USA
The Los Angeles-based nonprofit is sending much-needed water purification supplies to victims and seeking corporate partners to help with delivery. Donate $10 by texting AID to 50555 or give online. Learn more here.

American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee
The humanitarian assistance organization, which fights global poverty in 70 different countries, is sending disaster and relief development experts to aid in recovery. The organization is also empowering local partners in their efforts. Learn more here.

The Lutheran World Relief
LWR, which fights poverty by improving global health and ensuring basic human rights are met, is working with local partners to provide water, shelter, financial resources and recovery efforts. LWR is appealing for $2.5 million for its typhoon relief fund. Learn more here.

Catholic Relief Services
CRS will provide shelter, water, toilets and more. The charitable arm aims to provide temporary housing for 32,000 families in three areas. Learn more here.

Team Rubicon
The nonprofit, which galvanizes first responders and veterans to help in times of crises, has sent a group of specialists to aid in search-and rescue, medical triage and medical relief. A second team will be deployed Nov. 12 to create a supply chain for field work. Learn more here.

International Medical Corps
The emergency response team is providing infection control, clean water and food to families in the hardest hit areas. Learn more here.

The International Rescue Committee
The organization, which specializes in humanitarian crises, is sending a relief team to help provide water and sanitation systems. Learn more here.

Action Against Hunger
The international poverty-fighting nonprofit, which provides sustainable global food and water solutions, is distributing drinking water, buckets, soap and chlorine tablets. It's also providing sanitation equipment to help prevent waterborne diseases. Learn more here.

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I’m Covered, California!!

rachel's picture

Written by Jordan Eldridge

On October 1, 2013 the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s California health exchange, Covered California, went live. Obamacare has officially moved beyond a political talking point and has now officially become a part of our everyday lives. Personally, I couldn’t be any more excited! It eluded past presidents and Congress for nearly 100 years, but President Obama finally achieved what seemed impossible: affordable access to healthcare. While many can agree that the ACA is not ideal, it has drastically moved the goal posts toward a universal health care system that is long overdue in this country.

I signed up for health care insurance through Covered California on October 8th. I am excited about this opportunity because I have been without health care insurance for four out of the past five years. During this time I have had to deal with major health problems associated with my body rejecting mesh from repeated hernia surgeries dating from 2007. I currently have $20,000 in health care debt because I have not had insurance. Covered California will not help me out of debt; however I am finally relieved to be able to participate in California’s health exchange and obtain great health insurance at an affordable rate for my future health needs.

Based upon my income, I was able to sign up for the Anthem Blue Cross, Silver 70 PPO plan. With a low-income subsidy drastically reducing my $250 premium, I am going to be paying $41.73 a month with zero deductible and $3 co-pay. Wow! Now that is affordable! While this premium price will vary depending on your income level, I have found that this new program is indeed geared towards the middle class.

I was pleased with my experience. I highly recommend that everyone who does not have health insurance through their employer sign up for Covered California and see what savings you can get. It has certainly given me a new perspective!


Jordan Eldridge
Director, Rancho Rinconada Recreation and Park District Board of Directors
28th Assembly District Delegate, California Democratic State Central Committee
Twitter: @jordaneldridge


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The Republican Assault on America

rachel's picture

Well, they've really done it:  After 41 attempts at repeal, Republicans have finally made good on their promise to shut down government rather than let uninsured Americans have affordable access to health care. Just how unconscionable is this move? Let's look at who is affected:

  • More than 2 million federal workers will be impacted with delayed paychecks; 800,000 are furloughed. Whether or not these workers receive any back pay is an open question.
  • Children with cancer will be turned away at the National Institutes of Health.
  • Thanks to President Obama, those who serve our country will continue to be paid, but tuition assistance, promotions, and bonuses will be impacted, as will services on base, making life harder for military families.
  • The Centers for Disease Control will halt its flu program, just in time for flu season.
  • Food safety inspections will be suspended.
  • The FAA will furlough 3,000 airline safety inspectors.
  • Thousands of poor Head Start kids will be sent home.
  • Important scientific research will grind to a halt.
  • NASA has been shuttered.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg. This stunt by a party that fancies itself a bastion of fiscal rectitude will cost the country $300 million a day. It's not just disappointed visitors to national parks and the National Zoo's Panda Cam that are impacted. This shutdown means real pain to real people -- in some cases it could mean literally a life or death decision. And why? Let's repeat: to prevent people from having access to affordable health care.

Don't ever let anyone tell you that there is no difference between our two political parties.

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Don’t Wait – Make a Difference in Your Community TODAY!

rachel's picture
Active Democrats want to make their neighborhoods, their communities – their world – a better place. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to get involved and be the change YOU want to see.

Know your District and Your Representatives
You can be a more effective advocate for your community when you know your district and your local representatives. Find them at the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters, here.
Board and Commissions
Be a leader in your community by joining a board or commission. Check for vacancies here.
Work for a cause you believe in. Join hands with others in advocating on behalf of important issues that affect us all.

South Bay Labor Council

Planned Parenthood

BAYMEC (LGBT community)

CA DISCLOSE (campaign finance reform)

San Jose Parks Foundation

Committee for Green Foothills

Open Space Authority

Ready to throw your hat into the ring? These organizations provide training for candidates:
Leadership Training

Be the most effective advocate you can be. Hone your leadership skills with training programs from these organizations:


Working Partnerships USA


New Leaders Council Silicon Valley


Have something to add? Please send resource suggestions to Rachel Sumi at

Have an event you would like to share? Add it to our calendar!



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SCCDP Supports Responsible Fair Trade

rachel's picture

This month, the Santa Clara County Democratic Party passed a resolution opposing the Trans-Pacific Partnership TPP); the California Democratic Party recently passed a similar resolution. Local representatives Mike Honda and Zoe Lofgren have joined the opposition and are urging their colleagues to oppose the TPP and the Fast-Track negotiation process. Congress may vote on the TPP as early as October 1st this year.

The precedent set by NAFTA and other more recent trade agreements illustrate the problem of hastily sacrificing our domestic sovereignty to the tribunals set up by so-called “free trade” institutions like the World Trade Organization. Under NAFTA, for example, important health and safety safeguards have been sacrificed, while multi-national corporations enjoy the benefits of a race to the bottom in terms of wages and worker protection. The supposed economic benefits are also a sham: Under the last three free trade agreements (with Korea, Colombia and Panama), combined U.S. exports to these countries actually fell by four percent. Our bilateral trade deficit with South Korea actually increased by 30 percent its first year.  And jobs? These free trade agreements have proven as adept at creating new jobs as massive tax cuts were at sparking the economy. Just look at the latest unemployment figures to see how that’s worked out.

Even worse, Wall Street has pushed for financial services agreements within TPP that limit necessary regulation like firewalls between different types of banking, protections against “too big to fail,” and banning risky financial products – the same type of banking practices that blew up the world economy in 2008 and whose fallout we still suffer today. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has slammed the TPP for extending restrictive intellectual property laws across the globe and for its lack of transparency.

Indeed, TPP’s lack of transparency is a huge concern, especially under a “Fast Track” negotiation process.  Fast Track allows the executive branch to complete negotiations in secret, sign the pact, and present it to Congress as is, with no avenue for meaningful public input or debate.

What would be better than a Fast-Tracked TPP? A new trade agreement negotiation and approval process that restores a robust role for Congress, secures prosperity for the greatest number of Americans, and preserves the vital tenets of American democracy in the era of globalization.

Here’s a great place to start if you’d like to learn more about TPP and what it means for our country – and our democracy.

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It’s finally here: Obamacare ready to launch

rachel's picture

October 1st marks a date many of us have been dreaming about – it’s the moment when consumers will be able to shop for health insurance on the long-awaited exchange made available by the Affordable Care Act. Consumers will be able to compare their health insurance options and select the choice that works best for them and their families. Small business owners will also have options for their employees. Subsidies will be available for those who qualify, bringing our country closer to the goal of affordable, accessible health care for every citizen. After all, no one should face financial ruin because of an illness or accident. 

Of course, don’t tell that to Republicans in Congress, who have voted to block the Affordable Care Act no fewer than 40 times, as well as taking steps to sabotage its implementation. Expanding Medicaid, a critical part of covering millions of uninsured patients, has also been thwarted by Republican governors and/or legislatures in 22 states, which means that individuals who might have qualified for Medicaid under an expanded program will now be denied not only Medicaid but their eligibility to qualify for subsidized private insurance through the federal health care exchanges.

Such mean-spiritedness will likely backfire. Unfortunately for Republicans, Obamacare is working, and it’s popular. We already know that the growth in healthcare costs has slowed since Obamacare was adopted. And early analyses of the health insurance exchanges show that the cost of coverage for most consumers will be lower than originally anticipated. While the GOP continues its relentless fear-mongering over the ACA, its individual elements – keeping young adults on their parents’ plan, preventing the denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions, etc. – are extremely popular. A large majority (57%) opposes the GOP’s attempts to cut off funding for Obamacare.

Fortunately, California has been at the forefront of making the ACA a reality for its citizens, and those of us in Santa Clara County are smart enough to have elected members of Congress who are committed to accessible health care for all. Reps. Anna Eshoo, Zoe Lofgren, and Mike Honda all have information on their websites for those interested in learning more about Covered California, the health exchange program set up in our state. In fact, Mike Honda recently held a town hall meeting for those in his district who needed answers, an event he has repeated several times over the years. State Senator Jim Beall has two health care forums scheduled for October 5th  and October 19th for those who want to learn more.

Affordable health care for all – it’s a dream that’s finally coming true, a dream made possible by Democrats.

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Victory for Campaign Finance Reform

rachel's picture

On Tuesday August 20th, the San Jose City Council listened to the concerns of voters and campaign finance reformers and accepted the San Jose Election Commission's recommendation to leave in place the candidate campaign contribution limits.

It's no secret that the flood of private special interest money has been threatening the integrity of our electoral process for decades, or that this situation was exacerbated by the now infamous Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United case.  That decision reasoned that all political speech was sacrosanct and that the source of the speech was irrelevant. In perpetrating this absurdity it not only overturned a century of law and court precedents, but virtually handed the keys to our democracy over to the wealthy institutions and individuals which make up the burgeoning plutocracy that debases and masquerades as our republic.

In last November's municipal elections more independent expenditure money inundated our system in one particular Council race than was spent in all the other Council races combined. Mayor Reed was right to be concerned, and all who value government intent on and capable of acting in the public interest should share his concern and fan it into outrage.

The question then becomes what to do about this sorry state of affairs. Maybe, the Mayor reasoned, we need to consider lifting the contribution limits so candidates could at least try to raise the additional funds necessary to respond to this torrent of attack ads and hit pieces. He wisely referred this to the Election Commission for public hearings and further study.

Fortunately those hearings helped bring to light the downside of inviting even more private money into the political process:  the increased time candidates would end up having to spend on raising money, the increased potential for undue influence by those contributing it, and the increased cynicism of voters as they watched the whole unseemly process, wondering more with each election whether their vote counted for anything at all. They also brought to light possible alternatives involving more disclosure of the root sources of all this private money, the driving purpose of bills like the California DISCLOSE Act (SB 52) now working its way through the state legislature, a bill specifically referenced by the Commission's report.

And that brings us back to the recent Council meeting which began this discussion. The public hearings helped inform the Commission's recommendation to leave the current candidate contribution limits in place, and the Council's unanimous decision to accept that recommendation represents a small but important victory in our quest for a more functional democracy.  May we see many more, and soon.


Craig Dunkerley
Southbay Coordinator
California Clean Money Campaign
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Zoe Lofgren and Anna Eshoo Issue Joint Statement on Syria

rachel's picture

Two of Santa Clara County's Representatives in Congress, Zoe Lofgren (CD 19) and Anna Eshoo (CD 18), issued this joint statement last week regarding the Congressional debate and the potential authorization of military action in Syria:

We are pleased that President Obama will seek Congressional authorization before engaging in any military hostilities against Syria.

That authorization is legally and constitutionally required – the President cannot legally act alone without the U.S. Congress. This construct is part of the genius of our nation’s democratic system and our Constitutional checks and balances.

We welcome the opportunity to listen to the facts of this matter in the most public forum. While a review of the evidence, both classified and unclassified, as to the use of chemical is important, we are already inclined to believe that these horrific weapons were used based on public and social media accounts. We believe that the question before the U.S. Congress is not “can the Obama Administration prove that the Syrian government used chemical weapons?” Rather, the paramount question is, if that is true, “what is the best course for the United States to take, and why?”

Here are just a few of the questions that are at the heart of what Congress must debate as we and our colleagues determine the best course for the United States to take:

What role should the United States play in enforcing international treaties prohibiting the use of chemical weapons?

International treaties are frequently violated by various nations. What precedent does it set if the United States acts in this case? Will the U.S. be  placed in a position where we must respond whenever treaties are seriously violated? If not, why?

Civilian massacres have occurred in other countries without U.S. military intervention and are occurring today in Egypt, for example. Would action in Syria set a precedent for action in other parts of the world? If not, why not?

Should the U.S. take action when international bodies, including the UN and NATO, have declined to do so?

Should the U.S. take action when the United Nations has asked  that we not do so?

Should the U.S. act when other nations decline to participate with our country in taking such action, including Great Britain? Arab nations?

If action is taken by the United States what impact will it have on the future behavior of the Assad regime? On what basis are we concluding that Syria will change its behavior based on a U.S. attack on Syrian targets?

If the U.S. attack is limited in scope and time, what message will that give to Syria as well as other nations such as Iran? If the action is protracted in scope and time, what are the potential costs in American lives and U.S. taxpayer dollars? For U.S. prestige in the world and in the Middle East?

How would U.S. military action against Syria make the American people safer? The Syrian people? The people of Israel?

If a U.S. attack assists the rebels in  overthrowing the Assad regime, who takes over in Syria? If the Assad regime falls, will further civil war ensue between competing rebel factions? What role will Al Qaeda play?

The Syrian civil war is also a proxy war for other powers, including Saudi Arabia, Iran, Russia and other non-state actors such as Hezbollah and Al Qaeda. What impact would U.S. action have on these other actors?

Will the unrest in Syria spread in the region if the U.S. acts? If the U.S. does not act?

What impact would U.S. action have on our closest ally in the region, Israel? Would a U.S. attack on Syria lead to retaliatory attacks against Israel or others? What will the reaction of Israel be in that case? What U.S. action would then be required?

If our country decides that some action by the U.S. is required, what should that action be? Should further diplomatic efforts, as opposed to military action, be considered? Are there feasible sanctions that could be put in place? Other actions?

If military action is proposed, what are the targets, the scope and the cost? What is expected to be accomplished and how will that serve the interests of the United States? Syria? The Middle East? The World?

What is our strategy for Syria (and for the Middle East generally) and how would military action support or damage that strategy?

If the Assad regime, or even the rebels, were to engage in actions that appear to violate international treaties including the use of chemical weapons in the future what action would the  U.S. take? What would be the consequences of further action or inaction in such a case in terms of spread of war, entanglement of the U.S. in the Syrian civil war, U.S. reputation around the world, and the perception of American strength and resolve by Iran and North Korea? To what extent is the U.S. “painting ourselves into a corner” by attacking Syria now? Will that force us to attack again in response to further violations? If not, why?

What impact would U.S. military action have on relations between Russia and our country? What are the short and long term implications for Russia and the U.S., including efforts to continue the reduction of nuclear arms by our two nations?

What are the possible adverse results of U.S. military action in Syria? What steps have been taken to address those potential adverse impacts? What is the “end game?”

We hope the Congressional debate will be carried out at the highest level, with the result that the United States acts, or does not act, after the most deliberative consideration. In that regard, we ask the President to make his case in the light of public scrutiny, not by “classified” briefings that are kept from the American people and which Members of Congress are prohibited from discussing publicly. This debate will have its needed effect only if it is fully transparent.

We pledge to our constituents and fellow Americans that we will carefully weigh the facts and options that face the United States at this juncture. We look forward to debating and hearing answers to these questions, and other relevant ones that may emerge, as we examine the facts and further hear from our constituents on this very serious issue facing our country.


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