Archive for December, 2010

Update: Warrant Issued for Suspect in Murder

Monday, December 20th, 2010

Michael Banks is suspected of murder

On December 20 at 5:13 p.m.  Antioch police responded to a report of a man down on Rockspring Way. Police found Arnold Muckleroy, 24, lying in the street, who appeared to have a suffered a gunshot wound to the head. Life–saving measures were taken, and he was transported to a local trauma center where he later died.

Police have determined the victim was driven to the location to meet some people who were in a ’90s era dark green Ford Escort with two doors, which was very dirty. The victim entered the vehicle, which contained several black males, according to police. Almost immediately upon entering the vehicle, shots were heard and the victim was pushed out of the car, which fled the area.

Michael Elijah Pulliambanks, aka Michael Banks, who is 18 years old, 6-foot-2, 164 pounds, is a suspect. A warrant has been issued for his arrest for attempted murder. The bail has been set at $500,000. The arrest warrant was issued prior to the victim dying. Detectives will be seeking an amendment to the warrant charging murder.

Banks is known to frequent the greater Bay and Sacramento areas and should be considered armed and dangerous. Anyone who observes this suspect should call the local jurisdiction or the Antioch Police Department at (925) 778-2441. Anyone with information regarding this investigation should contact Sgt. Steve Bias at (925) 779-6929.

The murder is Antioch’s 11th homicide this year, which may be a record in this city of 105,000 people.

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Council Threatens to Kill eBART if Station Lacks Facilities

Monday, December 20th, 2010
 

City officials may nix eBART if the Hillcrest Station doesn't include an agent, escalator and restrooms.

By Dave Roberts

The plan to construct an eBART line to Antioch in five years could become derailed if the station planned at Hillcrest Avenue and Highway 4 does not include a station agent, restrooms and an escalator. That threat was made by Councilman Brian Kalinowski at the December 14 council meeting, backed strongly by former Mayor Don Freitas, and not questioned by other council members.

BART Board Member (and former Antioch Mayor) Joel Keller told the council that there is not enough money in the $462 million project budget to provide the same amenities at Hillcrest as other BART stations, which have station agents, escalators and restrooms (although the restrooms in underground stations have been closed for national security).

But Kalinowski argued that the cost of a full station won’t be known until it’s designed and placed out to construction bidding. “It has to be the full option, and we see what the bids reveal and move from there,” he said. “If it can’t be included in the bid document, I direct city staff to bring back to the City Council a resolution to request the BART Board to not approve the bid to go out.

“At the end of the day if the project and facility doesn’t meet the needs of the city of Antioch, then it’s the wrong project for Antioch and it should not be a project built in Antioch. I get that there’s $462 million (in authorized funding) and we lose all that money and if MTC (Metropolitan Transportation Commission) hears this they will never give us money for anything again. I get all that political risk.

“But the message that has to be delivered to BART is: You underestimated the (Hillcrest) platform facility. I’m not willing to punt on this item as we move forward. That bid document must contain those provisions. It’s one time to get it right. If we don’t get it right, we’ll never revisit it, and we’ll always wish that we did it. My request is that this council have the action item to ask the BART board not to send the project to bid.”

Keller responded, “Fair enough. You’ll make eight (other BART) directors very happy.”

Freitas, who represented Antioch (and East County) on transportation issues from 1998-2008, made a rare appearance at a council meeting to blast the barebones station plan presented by Keller.

“I cannot believe at this stage we are talking about a station agent, an escalator and a bathroom,” said Freitas. “It just boggles my mind. The concept of eBART is that we would always, always, always build the extension to classic BART standards – and in the interim we would have the eBART standard. So to see a design that doesn’t have some of the basic components of a station is absolutely unbelievable and, frankly, unacceptable. This council should say ‘no.’

“I’m just appalled that this is the type of discussion that we are having. These elements are basic to a station. We’ve all been to a city park after an event when the bathrooms are closed and they smell like urine. This station should not smell like urine.

“And there is a safety issue. You want to see a station agent that you can run to if there is an emergency. Having something 10 miles away (at the Pittsburg/Bay Point BART Station) on congested Highway 4 is not going to make it. This council should say ‘hell no’ to this project unless these elements are in the overall bid. I can’t understand why you can’t have alternative bidding. Design it, put it in the bid and then make a decision.”

Keller said he and BART staff would do their best, but he declined to commit to sending a full station project out to bid without knowing the potential cost and whether it would put the entire project over-budget.

“BART is not paying for the station,” Keller said. “CCTA (Contra Costa Transportation Association) and MTC are paying for the station. Both of our partners have said there is no more money. I understand how passionate you all feel. If your decision is that nothing is better than compromise, that ultimately will be your decision. 600 people won’t go to work (constructing eBART), 10,000 people won’t have the opportunity to use (eBART) transit in East Contra Costa County. If you say, ‘Don’t build it,’ you won’t get any of those funds.

“We have adopted a resolution that BART will be responsible for the operating subsidy once it’s built. We are on the hook. We will try to do our best to be responsive to what you said. I fight for the city. I sat in one of those (Antioch City Council) chairs for 12½ years, lived in the city for 30 years. I’m not about to turn my back on the people of Antioch. We live in a fiscally restrained environment. If we had all the money in the world I would be very happy to stand before you and say we will fix these problems.”

BART Police Operations Commander Dan Hartwig, who’s been with BART for 28 years, told the council that there probably should not be restrooms at the Hillcrest Station if there is no station agent on duty to monitor them.

“I’m the bathroom expert,” he said. “We’re the only transit agency in the United States that provides bathrooms at every station. It works well in most spots. In some spots it doesn’t work well at all. Our bathrooms are designed like the bathroom in your home – you can lock the door behind you. If you talk about a station that’s not going to be staffed and it provides that room for privacy, it’s going to turn into a magnet that none of us are going to want to deal with at that station – much like (restrooms in) city parks and Amtrak stations.”

Keller reminded the council that BART’s tight fiscal situation is similar to Antioch’s. BART needs to find an additional $3-4 billion to purchase about 1,000 cars to replace older ones, despite a budget so tight it has had to lay off car cleaners.

“We will do the best we can on behalf of the riders, the commuters,” he said. “We represent the same people. I don’t like standing up here and hearing what I’ve heard this evening. It’s not fun for me. But I have to be realistic about what’s affordable. We are all in the same boat. Pointing fingers is an easy way to resolve issues, but I’m not sure it gets us anywhere. I’m one vote on a (nine-member BART) board. We have their support (for eBART), but there is a limit to how much people are able to support.”

Keller agreed to come back to the council in early 2011 with the updated Hillcrest Station plan. An eBART station is also planned at Railroad Avenue in Pittsburg, but it is being solely funded by that city.

In other action earlier in the meeting, council members balked at the million-dollar cost to upgrade the police communication system to a regional digital network, but they deadlocked on whether to pull out of the agreement. The issue will come back at a future meeting.

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UC Berkeley Mismanaged

Monday, December 20th, 2010

The signs of UC Berkeley’s relative decline are clear: Cal tumbles from 2nd best in the world. In 2004, for example, the London-based Times Higher Education ranked UC Berkeley the second leading research university in the world, just behind Harvard; in 2009 that ranking had tumbled to 39th place.

When UC Berkeley announced its elimination of baseball, men’s and women’s gymnastics, and women’s lacrosse teams and its defunding of the national-champion men’s rugby team, the chancellor sighed, “Sorry, but this was necessary!”

But was it? Yes, the university is in dire financial straits. Yet $3 million was somehow found to pay the Bain consulting firm to uncover waste and inefficiencies in UC Berkeley, despite the fact that a prominent East Coast university was doing the same thing without consultants.

Essentially, the process requires collecting and analyzing information from faculty and staff. Apparently, senior administrators at UC Berkeley believe that the faculty and staff of their world-class university lack the cognitive ability, integrity, and motivation to identify millions in savings. If consultants are necessary, the reason is clear: the chancellor, provost, and president have lost credibility with the people who provided the information to the consultants. Chancellor Robert J Birgeneau has reigned for eight years, during which time the inefficiencies proliferated. Even as Bain’s recommendations are implemented (“They told me to do it”, Birgeneau), credibility and trust problems remain.

Bain is interviewing faculty, staff, senior management and the academic senate leaders for $150 million in inefficiencies, most of which could have been found internally. One easy-to-identify problem, for example, was wasteful procurement practices such as failing to secure bulk discounts on printers. But Birgeneau apparently has no concept of savings: even in procuring a consulting firm, he failed to receive proposals from other firms.

Students, staff, faculty, and California legislators are the victims of his incompetence. Now that sports teams are feeling the pinch, perhaps the California Alumni Association, benefactors and donators, and the UC Board of Regents will demand to know why Birgeneau is raking in $500,000 a year despite the abdication of his responsibilities.

The author, who has 35 years’ consulting experience, has taught at University of California Berkeley, where he was able to observe the culture and the way the senior management operates.

Milan Moravec
Chief Executive Officer
Moravec and Associates
http://www.Moravecglobal.com

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Officer’s Daughter Needs Help in Cancer Fight

Monday, December 20th, 2010

Walnut Creek PD Sgt Tom Cashion’s 5 year old daughter is fighting cancer. She has already had surgery at Kaiser and is now taking chemotherapy. She has been referred to Stanford Medical Center for follow up.

The out of pocket expenses for the family have reached crisis stages not to mention that they have 4 kids and only one income. We have put together an event to assist the family with those expenses. Could you please help us pass the word?

Also if you want to participate the family would greatly appreciate it. To purchase tickets or make a tax deductable donation please go to: http://www.ismcnorcal.com/ISMC/Events.html. Some businesses and POA’s are purchasing an entire 9 seat table for the event. We really need to sell this out, the family really needs our help.

Mike Schneider
mcschneider@comcast.net

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Free Sandbags at Fairgrounds

Saturday, December 18th, 2010

The County’s Office of Emergency Services is preparing for the winter’s first big rain. The National Weather Service expects the rain to last into next week. The series of storms will bring strong winds and as much as five inches of rain to the Bay Area.

“That’s a lot of rain in a short period of time,” said Contra Costa County Supervisor Federal Glover. “Flooding can occur suddenly in some parts of the county along streams and near the Delta.”

As a result, the county is providing free sandbags at three East County locations, including the County Fairgrounds, 1201 West 10th Street in Antioch.

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PUC OKs Power Plant at Antioch-Oakley Border

Saturday, December 18th, 2010

The Public Utilities Commission recently approved placing a  natural gas-fired power plant on 22 acres of the old DuPont property on Bridgehead Road in Oakley near the border with Antioch.

Contra Costa County Supervisor Federal Glover joined Oakley officials at the PUC meeting Dec. 16 to speak in favor of Oakley’s bid to approve the PG&E power plant proposal. “The City of Oakley will benefit greatly from the revenue generated by the energy plant,” said Glover, “and strengthen its financial foundation.”

Oakley, the newest city in Contra Costa, has struggled since its incorporation about 11 years ago because of its low tax base. The current recession exacerbated its financial situation.

The proposal was initially rejected by the PUC in the summer, but the project gained new life when the plant’s completion was delayed by two years to 2016.  The plant would have a generating capacity of 586 megawatts. PG&E contracted with Danville-based Radback Energy for the project.

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Man Injured in Suspected DUI Crash

Saturday, December 18th, 2010

On December 18 just after 2 a.m., Antioch police dispatch received a call of a solo vehicle accident in the area of East 18th Street east of Hillcrest Avenue. Officers found a vehicle had crashed into a tree and a fence on the south side of the road. One of the occupants of the vehicle, a 19-year-old male Antioch resident, appeared to have suffered major injuries as a result of the collision.

He was transported to John Muir Medical Center and listed in serious condition. The driver of the vehicle, Robert Kilcourse, 18, was treated at Sutter Delta Medical Center for a minor injury and immediately taken into custody upon his release for suspicion of felony DUI, according to police. The other two passengers in the vehicle were uninjured. The cause of the accident is still under investigation.

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Police Union Warns of More Officer Layoffs to Come

Saturday, December 18th, 2010

In a posting on the Antioch Police Officers Association website titled “6 Police Officers Less in Antioch is Just the Beginning,” APOA President Tom Fuhrmann
discusses the recent layoffs and potential for more:

APD had an authorized 126 sworn officers and 22 CSO’s.  In the last year and a half we have seen all 22 CSO laid off and our police officer numbers depleted to 104.  With the 6 laid off come the first of January we will be at 98.  Add in the Chief, a lieutenant, and a sergeant retiring we will be at 95 sworn the first of the year with more to come.  We have officers that are preparing to move on to greener pastures and indications of more lay-offs to come in the near future.

The individual officers affected were notified today by Chief Hyde.  We will not be releasing the officers names as this is a personnel matter and we will respect their privacy.

To those officers affected, know you and your families are in our thoughts and prayers.  We cannot express our gratitude and respect enough for the Admirable job and sacrifices you have made for this community.  It has been an honor walking the thin blue line with you.

95 sworn from 126 is so unacceptable it is beyond… I don’t know what to say.

Officers left behind- watch over each other and keep yourselves safe.

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