April Meeting Preview

Club Meeting

Tuesday, April 22

6:00 p.m.

Zion Presbyterian Church

545 Ashbury Ave

We’re keeping it local for the April meeting. We’ll be hearing from candidates in County-wide (contested) races and about a number of ballot measures. We will be endorsing candidates in contested races so if you want your vote counted, please attend. The Club will also consider endorsing language opposing Citizen’s United.

We’ve all heard the shocking and disappointing news (and alleged allegations) surrounding Leland Yee. He did attend our February Endorsement Forum where the Club made no endorsement in the Secretary of State race. And because a picture is worth a thousand words, the Executive Board wanted to reflect our opinion of the matter by removing the photo of Leland Yee from our website.

Congratulations to our VP of Membership, Mister Phillips on his appointment to the California Democratic Council.


March Meeting Recap

Our new president Carla Hansen opened the meeting.  Several of our members had announcements:  ECDC is part of the New Priorities Project which has joined with the Global Day of Action to do tax day leafleting at Plaza and Del Norte Stations, and Al Miller was recruiting ECDC members to help.  On April 17, at El Cerrito Rialto Theater, there will be a free showing of award winning film Chasing Ice co-sponsored by the League of Women Voters and Supervisor John Gioia and the City of El Cerrito Environmental Quality Committee.

Ayore Riaunda, Democratic candidate for County Auditor-Controller introduced himself.  This is the only contested County office in 2014, and Mr. Riaunda is the Democrat running against the Republican incumbent.  He’s a certified government finance manager for the Contra Costa Health Department where he’s been working for 17 years.

Jim Sopor from Derek Cressman campaign and co-chair of Voting Rights Task Force of the Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club made a short presentation about Derek Cressman, candidate for Secretary of State.

Ben Grieff from Evolve made a compelling presentation about their campaign to reform Proposition 13.  Evolve is a nonprofit organization in San Francisco with 10,000+ members from around the San Francisco Bay area.

Evolve began as a way to advocate for progressive ideas, and organizes around specific issues to influence elected officials and individuals.  There are a lot of common sense solutions to California’s problems.  By organizing around specific issues and talking to people face to face, Evolve activists hope to make positive change.

Their first campaign was health care reform specifically supporting the single payer Senate Bill 10 introduced by Senator Mark Leno.  (The ECDC was an early endorser of this bill.)  It passed twice, but Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed it both times.

 They turned their attention to Proposition 30, along with many other progressive and labor organizations.  Prop 30 passed with a 10% margin – a strong indication that it should be time to talk about Prop 13 reform. We all know that Prop 30 has an expiration date; we need long term solution.

Ben Grieff noted that most people focus on the residential tax protection, and think Prop 13 keeps people in their homes.  However, it also protects large corporations.  Evolve wants to close loopholes for corporate property owners.

Even one of the original authors of Prop 13, Howard Jarvis, wanted to keep real estate taxes down for individuals; his intent was not to protect large corporations.

Evolve is proposing the elimination of property tax protections for large, non-residential property owners.  Their proposal won’t affect small business owners, home owners or apartment dwellers.  It will focus on the large corporations which currently pay an average of 5 cents per square foot in property tax per year.  In contrast, average homeowners pay 40 cents per square foot.

Before Prop 13 was passed, California’s property tax revenue was 60% residential and 40% commercial; now it’s 72% residential and 28% commercial.  Prop 13 has INCREASED property tax burden on homeowners by 12%.  Doctors Hospital parcel tax is 13 cents and will raise $10 million; in the meantime, Chevron is saving a BILLION dollars by not having property re-assessed.  Although it owns oilfields, offices, and huge refinery properties, Chevron’s taxable property values have not been re-assessed since 1975.

However, during the same 30 years, California residents have seen increases in personal tax and fees, sales tax, and parcel taxes to fund hospitals, roads, schools, parks.  All of these infrastructure and public facilities are being funded by individual small human taxpayers.  California does have a high tax burden, but the fallout form Prop 13 simply shifted the burden from big corporations to individuals.

The question is: why is Prop 13 a political third rail?

Homes change hands on an average of every 10 years and get re-assessed, but when corporate property is sold, the stock changes hands, but the property, still owned by the same corporation, is not re-assessed.

The reforms Evolve are proposing would exempt micro-businesses. Those are businesses that are owned by California residents with fewer than 25 employees with less than $2.5 million revenue, as well as residential property regardless of size.

Mr. Grieff pointed out that property taxes don’t affect prices.  For example, Disneyland has increased prices by 819% since 1980, even though its property taxes haven’t increased at all.  Consumers are sensitive to prices. Disneyland sets its admission price at the point that allows it to attract the public.   He pointed out how ridiculous it would be for Disneyland to pay the same property tax in 2075 that it paid in 1975.

Under Prop 13, when commercial property is sold, it is only re-assessed if one person buys more than 50% of the new property.  In 2006, Michael Dell bought a hotel in Santa Monica for $200 million, but put 50% of it in his wife’s name.  This was a way to avoid triggering a property tax re-assessment.  Similarly; Gallo Winery in 2001 bought hundreds of thousands of acres of Napa/Sonoma and split the property buy among multiple family members.

Evolve campaign is letting people know we have a choice in California.  They are reaching out to local elected bodies, school boards and city councils, and asking for resolution to reform prop 13 to split the roll.

Lots of local elected bodies from San Diego to Humboldt are considering reforming Prop 13 to re-balance the revenue streams for all of California.  Many neighboring legislative bodies have passed these resolutions including West Contra Costa Unified School District Board, and the Cities of Richmond and Albany.

Please be alert for this resolution to be introduced in the El Cerrito City Council Email the City Council and support its passage-councilmembers@ci.el-cerrito.ca.us



Candidates in Contra Costa County-wide Races

Learn more about the candidates in contested County-wide races:


Ayore Riaunda

Ayore Riaunda has the required knowledge of government accounting and best practices as well as the experience necessary to ensure the County is efficient and gets the most out of each dollar it uses. For over 17 years, he has performed high level accounting, budgeting, planning, auditing, and financial reporting in Health Services – the largest County department.

Altogether, Ayore Riaunda has over 28 years of professional fiscal management experience and is prepared to be a very effective Auditor-Controller.

Ayore Riaunda is a Certified Government Financial Manager (CGFM) and has worked diligently to improve communities through many socially-minded efforts, including:
military veteran with over 18 years of service at home and abroad, providing joint logistic, religious, morale and welfare support to civilians and service members during combat, peacetime, and humanitarian operations;
auditing services with ADRA (an non-profit organization) for clinics and development projects in Africa;
co-directing a non-profit organization set up to provide housing and education to homeless children;
various community projects and activities in both Contra Costa and Alameda counties over the years (including poll worker, tax return preparations for low income residents, and numerous local church community outreach programs).

Ayore Riaunda was a full time worker and student while pursuing and completing a nursing studies and Bachelor and Master of Business Administration degrees, without any financial aid or loans. He moved to California 22 years ago and lives in Contra Costa County with his wife and son.


Superintentdant of Schools

Linda Delehunt

No offical bio available

These are biographical highlights from a past race

  • Occupation: Retired Program Manager
  • Doctorate, Educational Leadership, University of Pacific
  • Masters, Cal State East Bay
  • B.A., UC Berkeley
  • Former Consultant, State of California
  • Community Volunteer History: Girl Scout Leader, EFO Board Member, Glorietta Parents Club Board, OIS Parents Club Board
  • Board Member, UC Berkeley, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute


Karen Sakata

Karen has always had an affinity for and a “special place in her heart” for students with challenges. She believes the goal of public education is to find and build upon the strengths of every student, and to find ways to support every child’s individual learning goal.

Karen received her BA from the University of California, Berkeley in Psychology and her MA from San Jose State University in Speech Pathology.  She holds credentials which include Restricted Speech and Hearing with Special Class Authorization, Resource Specialist Certificate, and Administrative Services.  She is a licensed Speech Language Pathologist and has a Certificate of Clinical Competences (CCC)-Speech Pathology from the American Speech and Hearing Association (ASHA).

Karen was the first Asian American Administrator in the Mt. Diablo Unified School District and the first Cabinet level administrator in the Contra Costa County Office of Education.  She is a candidate for Superintendent of Schools for Contra Costa County 2014.  She is the ACSA Region 6 Central Office Administrator of the Year (AOY) 2014.
Karen is a third generation Japanese-American, Sansei.  Her parents, graduates of UC Berkeley and USC were interned during World War II in relocation/concentration camps in Topaz, Utah and Poston, Arizona.  Karen was born and raised in San Francisco and currently resides in Alamo, California with her husband, Shima.  She has two sons.