At our July 26, 2016 meeting, in addition to voting on the propositions, we will be voting on two changes in the Club’s standing rules. The first is to correct what appears to be a typo, but just to be sure, we’ll vote on the correction since the typo has been on the website for a few months. All subsequent votes, including the second change to the endorsement rules, can proceed once the endorsement rules are corrected.
At our January meeting, we voted on a change to the standing rules that had been carried over from November, 2015. This was to add a limitation to state that only those members who live in El Cerrito would be eligible to vote for endorsements of El Cerrito City Council candidates and measures that were specific to El Cerrito.
Two club members have objected to this change. One member complained that there was no advance notice, as required, that there would be a vote on the standing rules. And Royce Kelley, our regional director and an ECDC member, pointed out that to reduce rights of full-fledged club members with a simple majority vote was highly irregular.
Although the motion to limit voting rights passed with a simple majority, our standing rules require a two-thirds majority to change the standing rules, and 10-day notices. Neither of those requirements were met. Since I had just been elected Club President and presided over that vote, I must apologize for the error in procedure. I have to admit I didn’t anticipate that I would face such a complex matter less than an hour after my election as president and just wasn’t fully prepared.
Obviously, we could just remove the limitation from our endorsement rules, since it was included in violation of the standing rules themselves. But I feel it is important to allow our club members to be heard on this issue before we do so.
The executive board concluded that both objections have merit, and voted unanimously to provide our members with the opportunity to reconsider this matter. Therefore, please consider this as the notice for this advisory vote. (Note: Mister Phillips did not vote on this decision.)

Hilary Crosby
President, ECDC


As our first order of business, we voted by a large margin to support lifting the ban on marijuana dispensaries in El Cerrito. ECDC President Crosby has sent a letter to the El Cerrito City Council to notify them of this action.
Our June program focused on education. Our first speaker was Chela Delgado, graduate of UC San Diego, who has a Ph. D in education from UC Berkeley. Her presentation was informed by the research she did for her dissertation Framing the Gap: Education Reform and Conceptions of Racial Equality.
She is a graduate of Oakland public schools, a teacher at Oakland Tech High School, and the parent of two children enrolled in Oakland public schools. Her first teaching job was in a charter school in Palo Alto.
She asked, “Do we have same Democratic control of charter schools that we have over the traditional public schools?” She pointed out that since charters are run by private organizations there is no assurance of transparency.
Overall, charter schools in Oakland have lower test scores than the traditional schools, even though the pathway for entrance – entering a lottery for instance – provides a de facto screen for parent involvement. In addition, there is no safeguard preventing charter schools from developing idiosyncratic participation and discipline standards that can provide the basis for expulsion. There is a great deal of truth to the charge that charter schools “cherry pick” students.
Dr. Delgado pointed out that the education budgets of our nation’s school districts are a target for profiteering and privatization. A lot of people are making money off education.
The current state of public education; a few of the problems plaguing our schools include the achievement gap between Caucasian and Asian students relative to African American and Latino students, campus safety issues. We do need to improve schools, especially for students of color. That truth of failure of the schools has been used to fuel charter school explosion
The push back against charter schools comes from unions and liberals. Often the charter schools do not have to abide by the contracts the unions negotiate with schools districts. In addition, charter schools discipline kids more harshly. And as the charter schools proliferate, the data indicates that charter schools don’t perform better than other public schools overall, although there are exceptions.
Those in favor of charter schools are often very critical of the contracts with union teachers; they believe that charter schools allow school administrators and teachers to do what works.
Unfortunately, as the charter schools expand, they take more and more resources from the regular district schools, which exacerbates conditions in those schools. There are fixed costs for every district; in West Contra Costa these costs include contractual obligations for health care for teachers who were teaching through 2010. Since school funding has been allocated by pupil, when students leave the district schools for charter schools, the fixed costs have to be covered by fewer students. That eats into the funds available for attracting and retaining teachers, providing updated instructional materials, field trips, special services, etc.
This leads to a self-perpetuating downward spiral; Dr. Delgado cited a study by the Journey for Justice Alliance, Death by a Thousand Cuts: Racism, School Closures, and Public School Sabotage that details how pervasive underfunding of public schools and policies like mass school closures and charter expansion are harming students in low-income and minority communities. The cycle of underfunding and criticism of public schools drives families to charter school alternatives, so the conditions of public schools worsen, they lose resources and generally have smaller student bodies (albeit with a higher proportion of high needs students), so schools close, driving more families towards charter schools.
Another issue that charter schools introduce is the phenomenon of separate and unequal facilities. In many cases, charter schools are co-located with district schools, using a block of classrooms inside a regular public school building. Given that charter schools are able to attract funding and support from private foundations and affluent individuals, they have better food service, more up to date computer labs, more and more interesting field trips, and other opportunities that are not available to the non-charter students attending school in the same building.
While the expansion of charter schools was in response to real crisis; overall they underserve students. The results have been less than amazing, and a lot of the schools have been closed. This has a disproportionate impact on families in communities of color. Again, according to Journey to Justice Alliance, when schools close in communities; those closures destabilize the students which leads to diminished teacher effectiveness. This is especially difficult when charter schools just close down, and leave.
There are a lot of amazing innovations in public schools; we just need to demand better, and we have a better chance of holding district schools accountable than charter schools.
Our second speaker was Madeline Kronenberg, an ECDC member, elected to the West Contra Costa County Unified School District Board in 2006. She presented what she called A Show and Tell about the district. Our district has 54 schools for 250,000 residents. Our schools push for college and career. Of our students, 9,034 are English language learners, 3,884 have special needs kids, 50% are Latino, 19% are African American, 12 % are white, and 12% are Asian.
She also pointed out that there is a financial issue for the district with charter schools; the funding goes with the student to the school, but all of the bills don’t go with the children. As more and more children leave, they leave behind a big pot of bills to be spread among fewer students, which results in a funding drain.
That has nothing to do with quality of the school; that’s the way the economic formula work. Different states handle this different ways, but children who stay in district schools are the most vulnerable, and children of color the most vulnerable
She used slides from the District’s website to describe some of the many achievements of our district. The decrease in suspensions and expulsions was especially interesting since it highlighted the suspensions and expulsions by demographic category and provided a way to concretely quantify the narrowing of the achievement gap in our schools.
Only district is also the only one with a health center in each High School; we are going to full day kindergarten. We have made a big commitment to STEM, as well as pre-kindergarten and transitional kindergarten.
Our district has a strong focus on career academies and health academies, and has developed partnerships with businesses in the county to provide opportunities for internships. In addition, we have Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC), and opportunities for learning the hospitality and tourism industry, as well as summer law interns, and other summer professional development.
Our biggest challenge is how to recruit, develop and retain teachers; forty years ago, the starting pay was $8,000, equivalent to $49, 137 in today’s dollars. But our starting pay now is only $42,000.
We are trying to raise achievement by utilizing best practices; programs to support teachers; we have had conversations re impact of poverty; impact of racism, as well as other adverse childhood experiences. We strive to provide full service community schools, including health centers, parent education; and partnerships with Community Based Organizations.
There is a major feeding program including lunch, supper, and summer meals; and gardens in almost all of the schools.
Our district also participates in the Black Lives Matter movement; we have many BLM meetings, and a BLM orientation. Our rising scholars and African American pipeline help students fill out college applications; there is also tutoring, and trips to colleges around the country. The WCCCUSD graduation rates higher than anywhere else in the Bay Area for African American males!
Our members had a lot to say about this topic. Ruby MacDonald spoke in favor of Prop 13 reform as a way to increase funds for our schools, and Sean O’Connor spoke in favor of preserving resources for our traditional district schools as opposed to putting resources to charter schools.
Scottie Smith spoke about her concern for quality of education for African American students, making a point that she believes that spending $22 million football field instead of school facilities for more students is essentially racist in essence.
Finally everyone agrees that schools are failing students and families but disagree on how to fix things.


At our July meeting, we will vote on our endorsements for the ballot measures that will be presented to West Contra Costa County voters in the November, 2016 election.  As of this writing, there are 17 qualifying propositions.  The Executive Board of the El Cerrito Democratic Club has agreed to place 15 of these on a consent calendar, and recruit speakers for and against the other two.

Our process for voting will be to present the consent calendar to the members attending our July meeting.  Any member can request that any proposition be removed (“pulled”) from the consent calendar for specific additional debate.  

We will vote to endorse the consent calendar, then engage in debate on the measures removed from the consent calendar.  We will then hear presentations on the two measures not originally on the consent calendar. The member who requests to remove the proposition from the consent calendar will be responsible for presenting the position opposite to the executive board; a member of the executive board will present the reasons the board reached consensus on presenting to support or oppose the measure.  

At the close of debate on each debated measure we will vote to support, to oppose, or to take no position.

Below is a summary of the measures approved by the Secretary of State for the November ballot and the executive committee’s recommendation for each.


Num-ber TITLE TYPE Secretary of State Description Eboard Recommenda-tion
52 State Fees on Hospitals, Federal Medi-Cal Matching Funds Constitutional Amendment Increases required vote to two-thirds for the Legislature to amend a certain existing law that imposes fees on hospitals (for purpose of obtaining federal Medi-Cal matching funds) and that directs those fees and federal matching funds to hospital-provided Medi-Cal health care services, to uncompensated care provided by hospitals to uninsured patients, and to children’s health coverage. Eliminates law’s ending date. Declares that law’s fee proceeds shall not be considered revenues for purposes of applying state spending limit or determining required education funding.
Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: State savings from increased revenues that offset state costs for children’s health coverage of around $500 million beginning in 2016-17 (half-year savings) to over $1 billion annually by 2019-20, likely growing between 5 percent to 10 percent annually thereafter. Increased revenues to support state and local public hospitals of around $90 million beginning in 2016-17 (half-year) to $250 million annually by 2019-20, likely growing between 5 percent to 10 percent annually thereafter. 
51 School Bonds. Funding for K-12 School and Community College Facilities. . Initiative Statutory Amendment Authorizes $9 billion in general obligation bonds: $3 billion for new construction and $3 billion for modernization of K-12 public school facilities; $1 billion for charter schools and vocational education facilities; and $2 billion for California Community Colleges facilities. Bars amendment to existing authority to levy developer fees to fund school facilities, until new construction bond proceeds are spent or December 31, 2020, whichever is earlier. Bars amendment to existing State Allocation Board process for allocating school construction funding, as to these bonds. Appropriates money from the General Fund to pay off bonds. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: 
State General Fund costs of $17.6 billion to pay off principal ($9 billion) and interest ($8.6 billion) on bonds over a period of 35 years. Annual payments would average $500 million. Annual payments would be relatively low in the initial and final few years and somewhat higher in the intervening years. 
53 Revenue Bonds. Statewide Voter Approval. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.  Requires statewide voter approval before any revenue bonds can be issued or sold by the state for projects that are financed, owned, operated, or managed by the state or any joint agency created by or including the state, if the bond amount exceeds $2 billion. Prohibits dividing projects into multiple separate projects to avoid statewide voter approval requirement. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: 
The fiscal effect on state and local governments is unknown and would vary by project. It would depend on (1) the outcome of projects brought before voters, (2) the extent to which the state relied on alternative approaches to the projects or alternative financing methods for affected projects, and (3) whether those methods have higher or lower costs than revenue bonds
54 Legislature. Legislation and Proceedings. Initiative Constitutional Amendment and Statute. Prohibits Legislature from passing any bill unless it has been in print and published on the Internet for at least 72 hours before the vote, except in cases of public emergency. Requires the Legislature to make audiovisual recordings of all its proceedings, except closed session proceedings, and post them on the Internet. Authorizes any person to record legislative proceedings by audio or video means, except closed session proceedings. Allows recordings of legislative proceedings to be used for any legitimate purpose, without payment of any fee to the State. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: 
Increased costs to state government of potentially $1 million to $2 million initially and about $1 million annually for making additional legislative proceedings available in audiovisual form on the Internet.
55 Tax Extension to Fund Education and Healthcare. Initiative Constitutional Amendment. Extends by twelve years the temporary personal income tax increases enacted in 2012 on earnings over $250,000 (for single filers; over $500,000 for joint filers; over $340,000 for heads of household). Allocates these tax revenues 89% to K-12 schools and 11% to California Community Colleges. Allocates up to $2 billion per year in certain years for healthcare programs. Bars use of education revenues for administrative costs, but provides local school governing boards discretion to decide, in open meetings and subject to annual audit, how revenues are to be spent. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: 
Increased state revenues annually from 2019 through 2030—likely in the $5 billion to $11 billion range initially—with amounts varying based on stock market and economic trends. Increased revenues would be allocated under constitutional formulas to schools and community colleges, budget reserves and debt payments, and health programs, with remaining funds available for these or other state purposes. 
56 Cigarette Tax to Fund Healthcare, Tobacco Use Prevention, Research, and Law Enforcement. Initiative Constitutional Amendment and Statute. Increases cigarette tax by $2.00 per pack, with equivalent increase on other tobacco products and electronic cigarettes containing nicotine. Allocates revenues primarily to increase funding for existing healthcare programs; also for tobacco use prevention/control programs, tobacco-related disease research and law enforcement, University of California physician training, dental disease prevention programs, and administration. Excludes these revenues from Proposition 98 funding requirements. If tax causes decreased tobacco consumption, transfers tax revenues to offset decreases to existing tobacco-funded programs and sales tax revenues. Requires biennial audit.
Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: Net increase in excise tax revenues in the range of $1.1 billion to $1.6 billion annually by 2017-18, with revenues decreasing slightly in subsequent years. The majority of funds would be used for payments to health care providers. The remaining funds would be used for a variety of specified purposes, including tobacco-related prevention and cessation programs, law enforcement programs, medical research on tobacco-related diseases, and early childhood development programs.
57 Criminal Sentences. Juvenile Criminal Proceedings and Sentencing. Initiative Constitutional Amendment and Statute. Allows parole consideration for persons convicted of nonviolent felonies upon completion of full prison term for primary offense, as defined. Authorizes Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to award sentence credits for rehabilitation, good behavior, or educational achievements. Requires Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to adopt regulations to implement new parole and sentence credit provisions and certify they enhance public safety. Provides juvenile court judges shall make determination, upon prosecutor motion, whether juveniles age 14 and older should be prosecuted and sentenced as adults. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: 
Net state savings that could range from the tens of millions of dollars to the low hundreds of millions of dollars annually primarily due to a reduction in the prison population from additional paroles granted and credits earned. Net county costs that could range from the millions to tens of millions of dollars annually, declining to a few million dollars after initial implementation of the measure.
60 Adult Films. Condoms. Health Requirements. Initiative Statute.  Requires performers in adult films to use condoms during filming of sexual intercourse. Requires producers of adult films to pay for performer vaccinations, testing, and medical examinations related to sexually transmitted infections. Requires producers to obtain state health license at beginning of filming and to post condom requirement at film sites. Imposes liability on producers for violations, on certain distributors, on performers if they have a financial interest in the violating film, and on talent agents who knowingly refer performers to noncomplying producers. Permits state, performers, or any state resident to enforce violations. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: 
Potentially reduced state and local tax revenue of millions or tens of millions of dollars per year. Likely state costs of a few million dollars annually to administer the law. Possible ongoing net costs or savings for state and local health and human services programs. 
61 State Prescription Drug Purchases. Pricing Standards. Initiative Statute Prohibits state agencies from paying more for a prescription drug than the lowest price paid for the same drug by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. Applies to any program where the state is the ultimate payer for a drug, even if the state does not purchase the drug directly. Exempts certain purchases of prescription drugs funded through Medi-Cal.
Fiscal impact: It is the opinion of the Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance that the measure, if adopted, may result in a substantial net change in state or local finances. 
62 Death Penalty. Initiative Statute. Repeals death penalty as maximum punishment for persons found guilty of murder and replaces it with life imprisonment without possibility of parole. Applies retroactively to persons already sentenced to death. States that persons found guilty of murder and sentenced to life without possibility of parole must work while in prison as prescribed by the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Increases to 60% the portion of wages earned by persons sentenced to life without the possibility of parole that may be applied to any victim restitution fines or orders against them. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: 

Net reduction in state and local government costs of potentially around $150 million annually within a few years due to the elimination of the death penalty.

63 Firearms. Ammunition Sales. Initiative Statute. Prohibits possession of large-capacity ammunition magazines, and requires their disposal by sale to dealer, destruction, or removal from state. Requires most individuals to pass background check and obtain Department of Justice authorization to purchase ammunition. Requires most ammunition sales be made through licensed ammunition vendors and reported to Department of Justice. Requires lost or stolen firearms and ammunition be reported to law enforcement. Prohibits persons convicted of stealing a firearm from possessing firearms. Establishes new procedures for enforcing laws prohibiting firearm possession by felons and violent criminals. Requires Department of Justice to provide information about prohibited persons to federal National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: Increased state costs in the tens of millions of dollars annually related to regulating ammunition sales, likely offset by various regulatory fees authorized by the measure. Increase in court and law enforcement costs, not likely to exceed the tens of millions of dollars annually, related to removing firearms from prohibited persons as part of court sentencing proceedings. These costs could be offset to some extent by fees authorized by the measure. Potential increase in state and local correctional costs, not likely to exceed the low millions of dollars annually, related to new and increased penalties.

64 Marijuana Legalization. Initiative Statute Legalizes marijuana and hemp under state law. Designates state agencies to license and regulate marijuana industry. Imposes state excise tax on retail sales of marijuana equal to 15% of sales price, and state cultivation taxes on marijuana of $9.25 per ounce of flowers and $2.75 per ounce of leaves. Exempts medical marijuana from some taxation. Establishes packaging, labeling, advertising, and marketing standards and restrictions for marijuana products. Allows local regulation and taxation of marijuana. Prohibits marketing and advertising marijuana to minors. Authorizes resentencing and destruction of records for prior marijuana convictions. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: 

Net reduced costs ranging from tens of millions of dollars to potentially exceeding $100 million annually to state and local governments related to enforcing certain marijuana-related offenses, handling the related criminal cases in the court system, and incarcerating and supervising certain marijuana offenders. Net additional state and local tax revenues potentially ranging from the high hundreds of millions of dollars to over $1 billion annually related to the production and sale of marijuana. Most of these funds would be required to be spent for specific purposes such as substance use disorder education, prevention, and treatment.

65 Carry-Out Bags. Charges. Initiative Statute Redirects money collected by grocery and certain other retail stores through sale of carry-out bags, whenever any state law bans free distribution of a particular kind of carry-out bag and mandates the sale of any other kind of carry-out bag. Requires stores to deposit bag sale proceeds into a special fund administered by the Wildlife Conservation Board to support specified categories of environmental projects. Provides for Board to develop regulations implementing law. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: 

If voters uphold the state’s current carryout bag law, redirected revenues from retailers to the state, potentially in the several tens of millions of dollars annually. Revenues would be used for grants for certain environmental and natural resources purposes. If voters reject the state’s current carryout bag law, likely minor fiscal effects. 

66 Death Penalty. Procedures. Initiative Statute. Changes procedures governing state court appeals and petitions challenging death penalty convictions and sentences. Designates superior court for initial petitions and limits successive petitions. Imposes time limits on state court death penalty review. Requires appointed attorneys who take noncapital appeals to accept death penalty appeals. Exempts prison officials from existing regulation process for developing execution methods. Authorizes death row inmate transfers among California state prisons. States death row inmates must work and pay victim restitution. States other voter approved measures related to death penalty are null and void if this measure receives more affirmative votes. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government:

 Increased state costs that could be in the tens of millions of dollars annually for several years related to direct appeals and habeas corpus proceedings, with the fiscal impact on such costs being unknown in the longer run. Potential state correctional savings that could be in the tens of millions of dollars annually.

67 Overturn Ban on Single-Use Plastic Bags Referendum In 2015, the State Legislature approved and the Governor signed a state law prohibiting grocery and certain other retail sotres from providing single-use plastic bags, but permits the sale of recycled paper bags and reusuable bags.  This proposition would ratify that law by a popular vote, and insure that the ban on single use plastic bags would go into effect.  A no vote on this proposition would overturn the ban.  The plastic bag industry collected enough signatures to put this referendum on the ballot. Yes

BART Capital Reinvestment Bond – please see article from our April newsletter, IT’S TIME TO REBUILD — WHY WE NEED THE BART SYSTEM RENEWAL BOND