August Newsletter


  1. August 27 General Meeting Agenda
  2. August Program Details – West Contra Costa Unified School District & Schools First November Ballot
  3. July Meeting Minutes
  4. ‘The Power to Heal’ – Medicare for all and the Civil Rights Revolution
  5. Environmental Sub-Committee Information

AGENDA – August 27, 2019

Meeting Location: 545 Ashbury Ave, Back Building, El Cerrito

6:00 Doors Open: Pizza available ($5)

6:30 Call to Order

6:35 Minutes

6:40 Treasurer’s Report

6:45 Other Officer Reports

6:50 Report from Club Representative to Central Committee

6:55 Report on Selection of Club Representatives to the CDP process

7:00 Upcoming ECDC Meetings/ Speakers

September 24 Tuesday Supervisor John Gioia
October 26 Annual Dinner Nancy Skinner (no separate meeting) location to be announced

7:05 Announcements

Date of Next Climate Committee Meeting

7:20 Program

West Contra Costa Unified School District

Marcus Walton- Communications Director

Marcus Walton is a communications professional with more than 15 years of experience in journalism, public relations, marketing, community outreach and engagement, advocacy, as well as strategic planning and execution for public and private sector organizations. He is an expert in utilizing limited resources to develop effective communications and marketing strategies designed to reach diverse communities.

Mr. Walton has worked with West Contra Costa Unified School District for over five years as the Communications Director. Previous to this position, he worked with the Sacramento and the Capistrano Unified School Districts in their communications departments and served as a staff reporter for the San Jose Mercury News. He is a graduate of Sacramento State University and Pinole High School.

Michael Nye and Gordon Miller

The Schools and Communities First the November 2020 ballot measure

Michael Nye, retired secretary treasurer/CFO of the California Federation of Teachers and Contra Costa County Democratic Central Committee representative for West Contra Costa County/Supervisor District 1.

Gordon Miller, retired industrial hygienist at the University of California Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and on the CARA Legislative Committee.

8:29 Good of the Order

8:30 Adjourn

Marcus Walton- Communications Director

West Contra Costa Unified School District

Marcus Walton is a communications professional with more than 15 years of experience in journalism, public relations, marketing, community outreach and engagement, advocacy, as well as strategic planning and execution for public and private sector organizations. He is an expert in utilizing limited resources to develop effective communications and marketing strategies designed to reach diverse communities.

Mr. Walton has worked with West Contra Costa Unified School District for over five years as the Communications Director. Previous to this position, he worked with the Sacramento and the Capistrano Unified School Districts in their communications departments and served as a staff reporter for the San Jose Mercury News. He is a graduate of Sacramento State University and Pinole High School.

The Schools and Communities First Measure

The Schools and Communities First measure on the November 2020 ballot will be presented at the next El Cerrito Democratic Club by Michael Nye and Gordon Miller, both from the California Alliance for Retired Americans (CARA).  This measure will require commercial and industrial property to be periodically reassessed and would therefore stop the increasing property tax shift to home owners.
Michael is the retired secretary treasurer/CFO of the California Federation of Teachers and sits on the Contra Costa County Democratic Central Committee representing West Contra Costa County/Supervisor District 1.
Gordon is a retired industrial hygienist lastly at the University of California Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and on the CARA Legislative Committee.

ECDC Membership General Meeting – July 23, 2019

Call to Order

President Janet Abelson began the meeting of the El Cerrito Democratic Club (Club) at 6.30pm.


Minutes of the June 25, 2019 meeting were not reviewed.

Treasurer’s Report

There was no report in the absence of the Treasurer.

Report from Club Representative to the DPCCC

In the absence of the Club’s representatives to the Democratic Party of Contra Costa County’s (DPCCC), Michael Nye reported on the recent meeting.  He noted the DPCCC would be making endorsements at its Fall convention, in advance of California’s March 2020 primary

Janet reported on an executive action made by the ECDC Board in which it was agreed that members of the Board serve as Club delegates to the DPCCC’s Fall convention.  Deadline for submission of delegates was prior to today’s meeting, and Janet observed the Club’s Bylaws permit the Board to act upon urgent business on behalf of the Club.  Margaret Kavanaugh-Lynch may not be eligible as a delegate because her name was not previously submitted to the DPCCC as Club officer; Janet said she has asked for a waiver of this requirement.  Janet also noted she is because she is a delegate in another capacity, she will not represent the Club.  Alternate delegates are Paul Fadelli and Rochelle Pardue-Okimoto.

Upcoming ECDC speakers

  • August 27: Michael Nye on the upcoming ballot measure for split tax role under Proposition 13 for commercial property, and a staff member from West Contra Costa Unified School District to present the change to district elections for WCCUSD Board members.
  • September 24: Contra Costa Supervisor John Gioia


El Cerrito Parcel Tax special election ballot measure

A special election will be held November 5, 2019 to consider the following question:

To maintain El Cerrito’s quality of life, continuing local control of recreation services/parks, including maintaining/improving: swim center pools, locker rooms/restrooms; city parks, walking paths, playfields/open space; and program space for children, families, adults/seniors; shall a measure be adopted extending the 2000 voter approved measure, with no increase of the current $58.46 per single family residential unit or other rates, until repealed by voters, providing $650,000 annually, with all funds benefiting El Cerrito?

A motion to consider endorsement of the ballot measure was seconded, and approved unanimously.

Following a discussion, a motion to endorse the measure was seconded, and approved with one abstention.


Gabriel Quinto introduced Kook Huber, a longtime Democratic activist and recent El Cerrito resident.  Kook requested $250 from the Club to help sponsor the all-day Rock the Congress East Bay training event “A Day of Progressive Organizing to Win in 2020” on September 7, 2019 at Berkeley City College.  The event has a $14,500 budget.

A motion to waive the Club’s notice requirement to consider this request was seconded, and approved unanimously.

A motion to budget $250 from the Club’s reserves for this request was seconded, and approved unanimously.

A motion to provide Rock the Congress East Bay with $250 for the proposed purpose was seconded, and approved unanimously.


Presentation – Diana Becton, Contra Costa County District Attorney

Diana Becton, Contra Costa County District Attorney, provided an overview of the office’s staff, budget, number and types of cases prosecuted, and its various community programs.


The Club adjourned at 8.10pm.



“Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.”   – MLK. – in a speech to the Medical Committee for Human Rights, 1966

Saturday, September 14, 2019

10:30 AM – NOON

Rialto Cinemas Cerrito

10070 San Pablo Ave., El Cerrito

Free of charge

10:15 AM Doors open
10:30 AM Introduction and Movie Screening
11:30 AM Q&A with Rochelle Pardue-Okimoto, Mayor of City of El Cerrito

– -Myrtle Braxton, Chair, Richmond Commission on Aging

— Alireza Rezapour, Internist, Physicians for a National Health Program

Brought to you by Health Care for All – Contra Costa and Alameda County Chapters.  Co-sponsors: NAACP El Cerrito Branch, Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia

Register at

Questions: contact Jonee Grassi (HCA) 510-681-6021 or 

THE POWER TO HEAL is an hour-long public television documentary that describes a poignant chapter in the historic struggle to secure equal and adequate access to healthcare for everyone.

Climate Change Article from Environmental Subcommittee

First of many articles that the Subcommittee can contribute

The ECDC  (El Cerrito Democratic Club) recognizes the importance of reducing Global Warming, the need for more efficient use of clean energies and it wishes to help our population recognize take many steps that can be taken to save our environments from the worst threats humans have ever experienced.  This information is in addition to our brochure which provides basic information on the Climate Crisis, why we need to reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and how we can accomplish that task.

The City of El Cerrito is committed to taking action to reduce the pollution that causes global heating and to help El Cerrito residents respond to the effects of the climate crisis.  The city government has called for our adopting modes of living that will lead to strategies that the City and the community can use to help reduce GHG emissions (

The three areas in which we can help the residents of El Cerrito and surrounding communities to supplement the efforts of the city of El Cerrito are: (1) Home Energy Upgrades (how to save energy or use it more efficiently), (2) Add Solar Panels – Be your own renewable electricity generator – while saving yourself a lot of money, and (3) Buy & Drive an Electric Car – helps as more and more energy on the grid comes from renewable source. It is important to point out that in each case we want to inform the residents that they save money initially (through rebates, tax credits, etc.) and then they save money on their ongoing costs (electricity bills, gas bills, driving costs, etc.).

  1. Home Energy Upgrades

The types of energy efficiency steps described below can all be taken separately.  In almost all cases this will result in not just more efficient energy use but just money saved over the lifetime of the particular item.  In the approaches described below, residences are provided with new devices/appliances for what is done now or for correcting situations of energy loss due to aging of old houses. Rebates for increased home energy efficiency are available from the Bay Area Regional Energy Network (BayREN). BayREN is a collaboration of the nine counties that make up the San Francisco Bay Area. Led by the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG), BayREN supports regional-scale energy efficiency programs.

Rebates are currently available for air sealing, duct sealing, insulation, high-efficiency furnaces and air conditioners, high efficiency water heaters, and others (13 in all) (see:  Houses built before 2001 are qualified. At present, the simplest way of taking advantage of the rebate opportunities offered under the BayREN Home+ program are given on the web page:, “Get a Quick Online Evaluation”. This is a short (5-10 questions) that provides a basic picture of how energy efficient your house is.  The result is a numerical result between 0 and 5 along with a set of recommendations about what you can do to make your home more efficient, more comfortable, safer and less expensive to simply be in.

As an incentive to continue, you will be offered an Energy Savings Kit to use in taking a step forward in making your home more energy efficient (see lower left of main web page and picture just above).

As a third and probably most important step, you are encouraged to communicate with a Home Energy Advisor.  This person is a specialist in home energy efficiency and will be able to provide you with advice on your next steps, among others, the benefits you would have from taking steps toward increasing your home’s energy efficiency.  See lower right of main web page for contact information: 866-878-6008 and

It is important to recognize that even if you have identified aspects your house that need energy efficiency improvement that are not on the rebate list, it could still easily be the case that you will save money just by investing in increased energy efficiency.  The Home Energy Advisor can also be of great help with such issues. Given that you are interested in investing in home energy improvements, the final step is to contact contractors for estimates on the cost of the improvements.  A list of approved contractors is here:  Any rebates will be included in estimates prepared by approved contractors.  It is almost always wise to get 3  estimates.

What if your house is in really bad shape or you are considering making very extensive improvements? Then you should consider having a thorough investigation of your home.  This can be done by someone trained in doing an “Energy Audit”. These inspections take several hours and use sophisticated equipment capable of identifying situations that would not be identified otherwise.  In most cases, it would be appropriate for the homeowner to discuss the option of doing so with a Home Energy Adviser.

Some specific ways to save energy (more detailed information to follow):

  1. Electric Heat Pumps and Induction Cookstoves

Electric Heat Pumps: The electric heat pump can replace your furnace and air conditioner and works on the same four step principle as your refrigerator. The process is very much the same with air conditioners except that the colder side of the AC is inside the house and the heat-releasing side is outside the house.  In the case of the house heater, the warm side is inside the house and the cold side is outside of the house. Because these “heat pumps” need only to move heat instead of generating it, the result is that they are very energy efficient (more info in future).

Induction Cookstoves:The situation with heating of a frying pan or pot is different.  In that case, the heat is actually generated within the bottom of the pot or pan.  Alternating electric current at high frequency is conducted through copper wires just under the pot/pan.  This generates a magnetic field that shakes the iron molecules in the bottom of the pot/pan, making them hot.  Because the heat is confined to the pan/pot bottom and the food, the process is much more efficient than regular stovetop cooking. In addition, it is very simple to adjust to a constant temperature.  Professional cooks are finding this process to be quite superior to both gas and regular electric cooking.

  1. Other Energy Efficiency Upgrades (More detailed info in future articles)

There are many other areas that you can save energy and save yourselves money like: seal air leaks around house; add insulation; install more energy efficient windows, door and skylights; install and operate programmable thermostats; seal air ducts; install an energy efficient hot water heater; and install energy efficient lighting. Lighting changes are usually easy to do as one can get dimmable and undimmable LED light bulbs that simply replace what you need. Only buy new appliances and electronics that are Energy Star rated (a rating system established by the government) – insist on buying only the most energy efficient appliancesuch as new refrigerator, dishwasher, clothes washer and clothes dryer.

  1. Energy Saving Guide From the US Government

At 50 pages, The Energy Saving Guide provides considerable information about energy efficiency and renewable energy that you can use to save money and energy at home. The advice ranges from directions on doing projects yourself to having a sophisticated all-house audit done by outside experts.  In addition to the tips in this guide, you can learn how to make short- and long-term changes to save now and in the future.  Produced by the U.S. Department of Energy,  Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, it is available at:

  1. Getting Solar Panels

Become your own Solar Energy Producer: It is certainly very good to sign up for 100% renewable energy (MCE- Marin Clean Energy) but if you want your electric bill to go to nearly zero, the only way is to get your own solar panels on your own roof!

Benefits:Whatever you pay you get a 30% federal tax credit next year

And, the only charge on the bill is a minimum electric delivery charge of $ 7.55


The process is very simple and almost all handled by your solar contractor:

  • Contact a solar contractor and provide them with the latest copy of your electric bill, (2) Typically they will come to your house and do a site survey and then provide you with a quote – you need at the very least some east, south or west facing roof, (3) A for profit solar contractor typically will not install a system if your average per month bill is less than $ 75-100, (4) If your average monthly bill is less than $ 75-100, then your best bet is to go with a non-profit solar contractor that will also cost you about 30% less, (5) Then, after you approve and sign the contract with whomever you choose then they will schedule to install the system (solar panels and inverter) and hook it up electrically with your house electric panel – most companies have a schedule of payments, (6) The contractor will also get you the permit that you must have with the city, (7) The contractor will also schedule with the city or county inspector (as applicable) so that your system is inspected to make sure it is as per the building code, (8) The contractor will also apply for your NEM (Net Metering) agreement with PG&E, that establishes your agreement with PG&E as a solar energy supplier – this can now be done electronically to get your signature, (9) The contractor will also help you get set up for Web Monitoring, so basically your inverter will transmit over your WiFi to your smart phone or laptop or computer, so you can continuously monitor how much solar energy your system is producing, (10) You will get a letter from PG&E and your bill will be completely different. If you produce more than you consume (like in summer) you get a credit that keep accumulating. This accumulating credit gets used up in winter months when solar production is lower and consumption is higher. Annually, PG&E will do a “True-Up” and balance the sheets. If you have no credits, you will be charged for the excess use, and if you have credits, you will be paid the wholesale electricity rate of $ 0.03-0.04 per unit or KWH.

Simple Example: Hari Lamba, a subcommittee member has an average electric bill of about $ 75 per month. He got about a 3.5 KW (kilo-watt) size system (slightly oversized as he plans to get an electric car – 11 panels on his roof of 315 watt size and a 3.8 kW inverter in his garage) that cost $ 8,300 with a nonprofit solar contractor. He will get a 30% or $ 2,490 federal tax credit next year (2019 taxes), and for two months his only electric charge was $ 7.55 per month for electric distribution charge and he can monitor his solar power production on his iPhone. The True-Up on his bill will occur in June 2020.

Following Google Website Provides Excellent Specific Information to most Potential Buyers

One just has to enter one’s address and one’s estimated average electric monthly bill and it provides you with a whole lot of important information.

A Convenient solar panels calculator, see Google Project Sunroof at:

There are several sites for calculating the cost of solar panels over time.  We liked the Google program because it looked like it provided the largest amount of information and seemed to recognize the uncertainty of cost over time.  The programs all give long term gains, but Google was that included a place to choose different rates.  That is, the relative cost and hence the long term savings depends on what the future costs of buying electricity.  The projected cost is important because most potential customers will want to know what the net cost of  panels is expected to be.  In any case, please note that this information is mainly intended to give you an idea. Google also provides a straightforward description of processes (‑a‑provider)

  • Buy & Drive an Electric Car

If you gotten solar panels or are signed up for the MCE renewable energy option on your electric bill, then owning and driving an electric car (Battery Electric Vehicle of BEV) is a good option for you. Not only do you stop burning fossil fuels, you also save yourself money on a cents per mile driven. If gasoline is $ 4.00 per gallon and your car gives you 25 mpg (miles per gallon), then your energy cost per mile is $ 0.16 ($ 3.50 per gallon at 30 mpg gives a cost of about $ 0.12 per mile). For an electric car the KWH (kilo watt hour – energy unit) consumed per 100 miles varies from 27-30 for most vehicles available today. So, at 30 KWh, with a cost of electricity at $ 0.20 per KWH, the cost per mile is $ 6.00 per 100 miles, or $0.06 per mile. As you can see, your cost per mile is less than half with an electric car.

Electric vehicle charging locations have now become very frequent all over California and one can find one close to you no matter where you are travelling. Also, at home for the electric car one can have a slow charge installation or a fast charge installation (the latter may require an upgrade of part of your electric panel as it takes more amps or electric power). More information will be provided on this later.

The next step up is a Plug In Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV). It has a smaller battery pack than most electric vehicles and on that it can run about 20-25 miles on pure electric power each day (assuming you plug it in at night). The advantage with a PHEV is that it can mostly charge through a regular 110 volt plug outlet, and typically needs only 4-6 hours of charging at night. With a PHEV, your range is much higher as you can still travel to other parts of the country, your local travel is usually almost all electric and your cost per mile is somewhere between an electric and a gasoline car.

Information sources about Electric Cars and Plug In Hybrids

Currently,  about 50 electrical vehicles are available.  A number of older models are hybrids that have gasoline engine powering a generator that delivers power to electric motors that drive the wheels.   More and more new car designs are all electric with batteries that provide the electricity that powers the wheels.  Generally hybrids have longer miles per gas tank fill-up that electric cars have miles per full battery charge, however a large  number of  fully electric cars are coming off the assembly lines and EVs with 200-300 miles will soon be common. Here are some websites:

InSide EVs:  A concise and useful summary of the many advantages of electric cars is:

Also, the home page of this article ( provides an abundance of useful information about almost all characteristics of EVs.

The SierraClubhas a web site that provides quite detailed information on 48 EVs.  The site,  gives anual fuel cost, money saved, and of particular value, EV Rebates and/or  Tax Credits. As part of California’s Clean Vehicle Rebate Project, rebates of up to $5,000 are available for residents and business owners who purchase or lease EVs. Californians with lower incomes can receive up to $1,500 in further rebates.

Article based on information provided by Bob Macdonald with some editing and additions by Hari Lamba

Submitted by the Environmental Subcommittee:

  • Bob Macdonald
  • Janet Abelson
  • Betty Brown, and
  • Hari Lamba