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It’s finally here: Obamacare ready to launch

Post date: Thu, 09/12/2013 - 10:08am

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.

Submitted by: rachel

Victory for Campaign Finance Reform

Post date: Mon, 09/09/2013 - 2:15pm

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
Submitted by: rachel

Zoe Lofgren and Anna Eshoo Issue Joint Statement on Syria

Post date: Thu, 09/05/2013 - 11:33am

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.


Submitted by: rachel

Build our Party's Future: Serve on a Board or Commission

Post date: Mon, 08/26/2013 - 12:58pm

Active Democrats looking to make a positive impact on their community should seriously consider joining a local board or commission. These voluntary positions play a key role in advising local governments on important issues, from consumer affairs to housing and health care and more. Volunteers are usually appointed by an elected official to serve a specific term and represent a specific district. There are boards and commissions that serve individual cities as well as those that are county-wide.

Serving on a board or commission offers a unique opportunity to influence the dialogue in an area you care about or one in which you have a particular expertise, enabling you to develop and hone your skills in a specific policy area. From the Democratic Party's perspective, those who serve on boards and commissions can provide the kind of fresh insight and new ideas that keep our party closely attuned to how we can best serve those in our local communities and beyond. And, of course, the party often turns to board and commission members when opportunities arise to seek elected office.

The links below take you directly to the boards and commissions that serve Santa Clara County as well as vacancies within individual cities.


San Jose

Palo Alto

Mountain View

Los Altos

Los Altos Hills



Santa Clara




Los Gatos

Submitted by: rachel

Cindy Chavez Sworn in as County Supervisor

Post date: Wed, 08/21/2013 - 2:16pm

An overflow crowd came out to see Cindy Chavez sworn in as County Supervisor August 20. In fact, it was a double overflow crowd – not only were people turned away from the actual ceremony in the County Chambers, but they were also turned away from the Isaac Newton Auditorium, where hundreds had been redirected after fire marshals declared the County Chambers full. No matter. With two large halls stuffed to capacity, dozens of supporters also gathered in the hallways, clustered around monitors to watch – and cheer – the proceedings.

The occasion was a festive one, with ChCindyinese lion dancers, young mariachis, and a Girl Scout troop who led the Pledge of Allegiance. Representative Zoe Lofgren, who administered the Oath of Office, recalled knowing Chavez as a constituent (“always ready to go to bat for people who needed her”), a representative (“an advocate for things that matter”), and as a mother, noting, “It’s good to have a mother on the Board of Supervisors!”

In remarks following the ceremony, Chavez thanked her family as well as a number of current and former local officeholders –  including Jim Beall, Susanne Wilson and Dave Cortese – who have been personal mentors. She celebrated “this dynamic, multi-cultural community” and expressed her gratitude to those who work for the county for their “dedication and for continuing to fight for the neediest among us.” Promising to be an advocate for those who “haven’t given up on government,” Chavez pledged to work with the community to “create an environment where people thrive and prosper.”

Submitted by: rachel

Welcome to our new headquarters!

Post date: Mon, 08/12/2013 - 12:24pm

Our new Santa Clara County Democratic Party Headquarters is now up and running. With space for meetings, events and campaign activity, HQ is guaranteed to be a busy place for the next couple of years. The building is located at 2901 Moorpark Avenue in San Jose. Our suite, #110, is easy to find: it's on the first level and faces Moorpark.

Want to schedule an event or club meeting? It's easy: just call the office at 408-445-9500 or email Judy Pipkin at to coordinate the time and date.

We look forward to seeing all our fellow Democrats -- stop by for a visit, and let's make a difference!

Submitted by: rachel

Special Election Today -- Help Cindy Chavez Get Out the Vote!

Post date: Tue, 07/30/2013 - 11:03am

Attention fellow Democrats!  Please come out today to volunteer for the only candidate endorsed by the Santa Clara County Democratic Central Committee - Cindy Chavez. The Republican Party has been working overtime to ensure that their chosen candidate makes it out on top in tomorrow's election for County Supervisor. In fact, they sent out an email just days ago asking for volunteers for "the only candidate officially supported by SVGOP": Teresa Alvarado. As John Burton told us this weekend, this is our opportunity to "send a message to the big money Republicans: you shouldn't try to mess with us in our own back yard!" We will be phone-banking and walking precincts for Cindy Chavez all day from 8AM-8PM at the South Bay Labor Council, 2102 Almaden Rd., San Jose, CA 95125. Let's get to work electing the best candidate for County Supervisor in District 2 -- Cindy Chavez!

Submitted by: rachel

Democratic Clubs: We Need You!

Post date: Fri, 07/26/2013 - 2:34pm

Every year, the Santa Clara County Democratic Party hosts booths at a variety of community events to register voters and talk to our neighbors about local Democratic issues and candidates. The more volunteers we have, the more events we can cover, and the wider we can spread the Democratic message. We're asking our wonderful Democratic clubs to sponsor one or more events -- it's a fun way to share time with your fellow club members and support your local party. It's also a great way to participate in the Democratic Party's bounty program for registering new voters! Here's a list of upcoming fairs and festivals through October. HQ has all the materials you need, including tables, swag, and voter registration forms. All your club needs to do is pick a date! Check out the list below, then contact Judy Pipkin at 408-445-9500 or via email at to sign up. 

September Events
Lexus of Stevens Creek Teen Fair
Date: September 28,
Time: 9:00am-12pm
Location: 3333 Stevens Creek BLVD. 95117
Objective: Register Teen Volunteers
October Events
Day In The Park
Date: Saturday, October 5
Time: 10:00am-3:00pm
Location: 2305 So. White Rd. (Lake Cunningham Park)
Objective: Register Voters

Harvest Fair & Exposition
Date: Saturday, October 5
Time: 10:00 am to 4:00 pm
Location: Emma Prusch Farm Park, 647 S. King Rd., San Jose
Objective:  Register Voters
Pumpkins In The Park
Date: Saturday Oct.12,
Time: 10:00am-4:00pm
Location: Discovery Meadows (Guadalupe River Park)
Objective: Register Voters

Day On The Bay
Date: Sunday October 13,
Time: 10:00am-3:00pm
Location: 1196 Hope St. (Alviso Marina)

Objective: Register Voters



Submitted by: rachel

Join the Club: Santa Clara County Democratic Club

Post date: Mon, 06/24/2013 - 11:45am

One of the first Democratic clubs chartered by the SCCDP, the Santa Clara County Democratic Club got its start more than 30 years ago during Ted Kennedy’s presidential primary campaign. Initially launched as part of the Draft Kennedy Movement in the fall of 1979, the group became one of the first in the United States to be sanctioned by the National Kennedy for President Campaign and gained the support of the International Association of Machinists, the United Farm Workers, and the AFL-CIO. After the campaign, and reluctant to break the ties that brought them together or abandon the cause that galvanized them to action, volunteers voted to form an activist grassroots political club. The organization held its first election of officers on April 26, 1981, and, on May 7th, the Santa Clara County Democratic Central Committee approved the new Santa Clara County Democratic Club (SCCDC).

Since its inception, the club has honored its credo, providing “a grassroots channel for the participation of like-minded people" and dedicating itself to "progressive policies and programs, based upon liberal principles." In addition to its grassroots activities, SCCDC's regular monthly meetings feature guest speakers, including local elected officials as well as community leaders focusing on vital issues. The list includes Representatives Don Edwards, Zoe Lofgren, and Norman Mineta, author Gore Vidal, State Democratic Party Chair Art Torres, author and filmmaker Norman Solomon, Watergate whistleblower John Dean, author and columnist Robert Scheer, and many others.

Over the years, SCCDC members have involved themselves in a number of causes, ranging from the civil war in El Salvador to single-payer healthcare. And, of course, they are always at the forefront of action every campaign season, walking precincts, flooding the Mercury News with letters to the editor, and contacting voters to support progressive candidates at the local, state and national levels. The SCCDC also has a long history in active voter registration, making the news in 1986 when club members were challenged by park employees for trying to register voters at the Santa Clara Art and Wine Festival. Club members stood their ground, however, and ultimately prevailed, even receiving  an apology from the city council.

These days, the SCCDC is very focused. Rather than dispersing its energies over a wide range of issues, the club decided in the late 90's that it would be more effective if it channeled its efforts into one area they felt  would have the most positive and far-reaching effect on our political system: campaign finance reform. As a result, the club has become a leading supporter of the California Clean Money Campaign, whose long term goal is public financing of all campaigns. Its immediate priority is passing the California DISCLOSE Act, SB 52 which will require the disclosure of the top 3 funders of all political the ads themselves.

The SCCDC meets the third Monday of every month at Harry’s Hofbrau in Saratoga. To find out more, including how to join, visit the club’s website. Learn more about the California Clean Money Campaign here and, how to join locally, here.

Submitted by: rachel

Cindy Chavez Wins Special Election; Run-off Slated for July 30th

Post date: Wed, 06/05/2013 - 10:23am

Former City Councilwoman Cindy Chavez won handily against Water District spokeswoman Teresa Alvarado in the June 4th special election to replace District 2 County Supervisor George Shirakawa. Chavez, who received the SCCDP's sole endorsement, beat Alvarado by a full 10 points, 41% to 31%. (Check out this great page at the County Registrar of Voters to see complete results. Make sure to click on the map!) 

Because neither candidate received more than 50% of the vote, the two will meet in a run-off July 30th.  Our phone-banking and precinct-walking had a real impact in getting out the positive message about Cindy's commitment to the district and her record of accomplishment, especially in the face of a concerted barrage of negative attacks. But our hard work isn't over. Let's make sure that Santa Clara County gets a strong progressive voice. Let's make sure that Cindy wins again on July 30th. Call (408) 445-9500 to find out how you can volunteer today!

Submitted by: rachel