Archive for the ‘Contra Costa County’ Category

County Supervisors begin recruitment for interim District Attorney

Saturday, June 24th, 2017

Board seeks input; goal to fill position in September

The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors met Friday, June 23, 2017, to determine the process for filling the vacant office of the District Attorney.  When a vacancy occurs in an elective county office, the Board of Supervisors has the responsibility to appoint a successor to serve for the duration of the unexpired term.   The June 14, 2017 resignation of Mark Peterson from the position of District Attorney created a vacancy that would extend until the current term of office expires on January 7, 2019.  The next election for the District Attorney will take place in June of 2018, with a potential runoff election in November of 2018.

The Office of District Attorney is provided in the State Constitution.  The District Attorney represents the people of the County in prosecuting all public offenses in the Superior Courts, including all felonies, misdemeanors, juvenile criminal offenses, and certain civil offenses, including high-tech crimes, environmental crimes, and many instances of fraud.

Although the Board of Supervisors has discretion in how to fill the position, there are some minimum requirements for the job.   To qualify, a candidate must be at least 18 years old, a California citizen, a registered voter in Contra Costa County at the time of appointment, and admitted to practice law in the California Supreme Court.   The Board of Supervisors is seeking candidates with experience in criminal law, familiarity with criminal justice issues in California, and the ability to effectively manage a County department with an annual budget of $19.5 million and more than 200 employees.

All applicants must apply online at and submit the information as indicated on the job announcement no later than 5:00 p.m. on Friday, July 21, 2017.  NOTE that a background investigation/fingerprint exam will be conducted on all finalists, and a permanent job offer is additionally contingent upon the successful completion of a thorough background investigation, which will include a criminal records investigation and an economic disclosure (FPPC Form 700).

The legislature does not specify a deadline for making an appointment like this, but according to the California Attorney General, the appointment should be made within a “reasonable time.”   With applications due July 21, the Board of Supervisors will select finalists in early August.  The Board of Supervisors will host a moderated candidate forum at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, August 15, 2017.  Members of the public will be invited to submit questions for consideration that may be asked of the finalist candidates.   The Board will interview those candidates during a public meeting on Tuesday, September 12, with the goal of making a selection in September as well.

The June 23 meeting of the Board of Supervisors is available online in the video library found on the County’s homepage at   It will also be replayed in its entirety on Sunday, June 25, at 6:00 p.m., Monday, June 26, at 5:00 p.m., and Thursday, June 29, at 6:00 p.m. on Contra Costa Television (CCTV.) CCTV can be viewed on Comcast Channel 27, Wave Channel 32, and AT&T U-Verse on Channel 99.


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Santa Clara County Deputy DA to challenge embattled Peterson for Contra Costa District Attorney

Monday, May 22nd, 2017

Patrick Vanier

By Allen Payton

On Thursday, May 4th, Patrick Vanier, Supervising Deputy District Attorney for the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office Narcotics Prosecution Team, announced his campaign for Contra Costa County District Attorney. He was was joined by supporters at the Amador Rancho Community Center in San Ramon and will take on embattled incumbent D.A. Mark Peterson.

Vanier has been a prosecutor for almost 20 years and has prosecuted hundreds of criminals; both in the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office and now in the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office.

“Today, prosecutors are not just trial attorneys,” said Vanier.  “They are investigators, problem solvers, innovators, and community partners in combating crime.  I have proven to be a prosecutor with fresh ideas and a willingness to institute best practices to bring the criminal justice system into the 21st Century.” 

Earlier this year, Vanier was awarded the 2017 San Jose Police Department’s Excellence in Prosecution Award and in 2015 he was named California Narcotics Officers’ Association State Prosecutor of the Year.  Vanier is an experienced prosecutor whose area of expertise is wiretap investigations, especially in major narcotic and gang crime investigations. 

Peterson has been under fire, including pressure to resign from both Contra Costa Deputy District Attorneys and more recently the Contra Costa Grand Jury, following his $45,000 fine, last year for the illegal, personal use of campaign funds totaling over $66,000 between 2011 and 2015.

“I am running for District Attorney because I believe we should expect more and deserve better from our elected District Attorney,” said Vanier.  “My priorities are to enforce and prosecute laws fairly to ensure offenders who threaten public safety are locked up, utilize the latest technologies, data analytics, and community prosecution models to address rising crime rates through crime prevention and enforcement, and hold myself and the attorney’s in the office to the highest ethical standards.”

According to Vanier’s bio on his campaign website at, “Patrick has spent more than half of his career working with law enforcement agencies investigating and prosecuting major narcotics cases with a particular emphasis on Mexican National drug cartels operating within California.  Patrick’s area of expertise is in the area of wiretap investigations.  He has utilized his expertise by collaborating with federal, state and local law enforcement on more than 100 wiretap applications targeting major drug traffickers, street gangs and murders.

Patrick has trained law enforcement and attorneys for the California District Attorneys’ Association, California Narcotics Officers’ Association, Northern California High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) and various law enforcement agencies within Santa Clara County. Patrick has taught on the subjects of wiretap investigations, legal updates in search and seizure law, California Electronic Communications Privacy Act and most recently Proposition 64 (Adult Use of Marijuana Act).

Working a variety of jobs during the day, Patrick completed law school at night and was awarded his Juris Doctorate in 1998 by John F. Kennedy University School of Law.  He received a B.S. in Business and Accounting from San Francisco State University in 1995 and a B.A. in Political Science from University of California, Irvine in 1991.

Patrick and his wife, Anaite, live in San Ramon with their three daughters where he has coached soccer for more than a decade.”

The election is in June, 2018.

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Love is in the air at County Clerk’s office

Friday, February 3rd, 2017

Appointments now available for couples to get married on Valentine’s Day

wedding ringThe Contra Costa Clerk-Recorder Division is taking appointments for couples who wish to exchange wedding vows on Valentine’s Day.  Because of the popularity of this day, the division is also extending ceremony hours and accommodating additional appointments.

There are 47 appointment times available from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.

“Valentine’s Day is the most popular day at our office for marriage ceremonies,” said Contra Costa County Clerk-Recorder Joseph E. Canciamilla. “Additional appointments give more couples the opportunity to get married on what many consider is the most romantic day of the year.”

Interested couples are encouraged to make an appointment online at  using our new appointment system.  Walk-in couples are welcome and will be accommodated based on availability of ceremony rooms.

One of the two wedding rooms at the Contra Costa County Clerk's office.

One of the two wedding rooms at the Contra Costa County Clerk’s office.

A civil marriage ceremony is $60.  Couples can obtain a public marriage license for $86 or a confidential license for $90.  To save time, marriage license applications are available for completion online at prior to visiting the office and may also be purchased before the ceremony date.

The Contra Costa Clerk-Recorder Division features two beautifully appointed ceremony rooms adorned with handcrafted stained glass windows.  The largest ceremony room accommodates up to 24 guests. The smaller ceremony room seats 17 guests. Learn more at

For more information, contact Elizabeth Gutierrez, Clerk-Recorder Services Manager at (925) 335-7920.


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Coalition upset County Supervisors eliminated Community Choice Energy option

Tuesday, January 31st, 2017

Following is the letter submitted by a coalition of supporters of the Community Choice Energy program:

The CCE Draft Technical Study and the Need for Fuller Consideration of All Studied Options

Dear Members of the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors:

We, the undersigned, represent organizations that have been following the progress made by the cities and County of Contra Costa as they decide how to implement Community Choice Energy. We do not share a preference for any one of the three options outlined in the Draft Technical Study, but we do share the following concerns about the adequacy of that study and the public process that has unfolded in its aftermath.

1) We are highly critical of the current Draft Technical Study prepared by MRW, as well as the very cursory presentations made by the county and the consultants. Neither the study nor the presentations include enough necessary information or the specificity of detail required in order for the cities and the County to make fully informed decisions with lifelong consequences. To cite one such example, when addressing the very basic question of risks associated with the startup costs, the study actually neglects to mention that to date, all CCEs in California have paid back their loans in less than a year.

2) We are, moreover, extremely troubled by the premature decision of the Board of Supervisors on January 17, 2017, to eliminate the stand-alone Community Choice Energy option, which the draft study identified (in Table ES-5) as offering the “greatest” amount of local governance and local economic benefit. The decision to exclude the in-county (stand-alone) option unnecessarily limits the choices offered to residents and businesses in unincorporated areas of the County, and preempts input from leaders, residents, and businesses in the incorporated cities before they have had the opportunity to question and comment on the study. Seven cities contributed to the study’s cost and are entitled to one that fully addresses the impacts to their respective cities—e.g., what amount of buildout is reasonably possible in the Concord Naval Weapons Depot over a ten-year period, and what its economic impact would be. We therefore urge you to reconsider your decision to remove the in-county option from consideration.

3) We would like to know why neither the Contra Costa study nor the presentations have answered this fairly simple question: Why did the study for Alameda County done by the same MRW Consulting firm give a much more robust analysis of the economic benefits of local buildout?

4) We would also like to know why, if the technical studies of six other Bay Area counties (Sonoma, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Alameda, and Yolo) show the stand-alone option to be superior, this would not also be the case in Contra Costa.

5) Unfortunately, the Draft Feasibility Study does not enable the reader to determine which option, in the choice between MCE and EBCE, might result in the greater buildout and job development within Contra Costa. In fact, the study does not indicate that any such buildout or job development will occur by joining either MCE or EBCE. We strongly encourage the county to communicate with both MCE and EBCE about these issues.

Attached is a letter from Scott Rafferty addressing in much more detail some additional concerns about missing or misrepresented facts in the current Contra Costa Draft Technical Study, including the paucity of current information about MCE. This is not an attempt to indicate that MCE is a bad choice, but rather to point out that relevant information about MCE that is available to the public is not included in the draft study. We understand that information about both a stand-alone option and EBCE is necessarily limited because neither yet exists.

Here are some of the points that Scott Rafferty makes:

a) He agrees with MCE’s criticisms that the analyst provides “scant analysis of MCE’s operational program,” and “no analysis” of MCE’s local renewable program, customer-sited solar, job creation, and other benefits. But despite some impressive claims about past performance, MCE doesn’t really provide much insight into its forward-looking plan. He suggests that MCE may bring more legacy costs than synergies to our county.

b) MCE wants credit for $4.6m in subsidies from the CPUC for energy development (that have already been fully committed to programs in Richmond or outside CCC). An independent CC-CCE program would probably be better positioned to seek equivalent subsidies from CPUC than MCE would be in getting them increased proportionally, which MCE does not suggest is likely.

c) He argues that the Supervisors have relied too heavily on the consultant’s analysis of the more obvious “first order” effects of piggybacking on MCE—less “effort” and greater risk on “start-up costs,” which the consultant concedes are small. The risk to which the BOS is averse, therefore, might be political. If things go awry, they can share responsibility with the existing local bodies.

d) He also rejects MCE’s notion that El Cerrito and Richmond have an identity of interests with the rest of CCC or that there will be brand confusion. On the contrary, they share the climate and rate structure of Marin and Oakland, which is very different from the rest of Contra Costa County and Alameda east of the I-680.

e) Neither MCE nor, at this stage, our BOS has clear direction on how to weigh competing objectives—low electric rates, GHG mitigation, progressive rate design (including low-income and residential preferences), job creation and economic benefits, worker and public safety and service reliability. MCE is self-regulating and subject to very significant shifts in voting power.

f) The jury is still out on MCE’s effectiveness in dealing with regulators. It settled very quickly with PG&E in a pending rate case, with limited concessions for clean energy or consumer rate relief. At the state level, two voices will likely have more clout than one—a statement MCE itself has made.

g) As the Governor’s attempts at CAISO regionalization have made clear, larger geographic scale does not always increase the GHG benefits. Neither MCE nor the consultants have yet developed a measure of environmental benefit that accurately accommodates displacement to PG&E and other utilities.

For all the above reasons, we strongly urge the Board of Supervisors to reconsider what we believe was a premature narrowing of the choices. We request that more complete information be shared in future presentations, especially as regards the potential for local buildout and the economic benefits of each of the three proposed CCE choices, and that the final technical study include far more concrete information which the cities will need to make a truly informed choice.

Very sincerely yours,
Peter Ericson
Contra Costa Clean Energy Alliance
Lynda Deschambault
Generation Green / Contra Costa County Climate Leaders (4CL)
Peter Dragovich
Contra Costa Progressives
Bill Pinkham
350 Bay Area
Shoshana Wechsler
Sunflower Alliance
Péllo Walker
Pleasant Hill Chamber of Commerce Green Group
Carol Weed
Contra Costa Chapter Organizing for Action
Jan Warren
Interfaith Climate Action Network of Contra Costa County

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County Supervisors proclaim local emergency due to $18 million in road, other damage from storms

Saturday, January 28th, 2017
Damage to Alhambra Valley Road between Bear Creek Road and Castro Ranch Road. courtesy of CCCSheriff

Damage to Alhambra Valley Road between Bear Creek and Castro Ranch Roads. courtesy of CCCSheriff

Marsh Creek, Alhambra Valley Roads still closed; cleanup continues

During a special meeting on Thursday, the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors ratified a proclamation of local emergency stemming from storm damage that took place during the first two weeks of January.  High winds coupled with continued rains over a short timeframe led to an estimated $18 million in damage in a number of unincorporated areas of the County, within our cities, and at water, park and sanitation district facilities.  The proclamation, along with the State’s declaration of a State of Emergency on Monday, will put the County and local jurisdictions in line for potential recovery funding.

Alternate routes for closure of Alhambra Valley Road.

Alternate routes for closure of Alhambra Valley Road.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, (FEMA,) is doing site visits throughout the state this week, along with the State Office of Emergency Services.  It will take several months for the County, working with State and Federal authorities, to get a more firm total on the damages and what costs can be covered.

At Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, Contra Costa County Supervisor Candace Andersen praised Public Works, the Sheriff and the Sheriff’s Office of Emergency Services workers for their efforts to respond quickly to the storm’s impacts, noting that repairs are being made as quickly as possible.  Public Works Director Julie Bueren agreed, noting that months of work in advance by Public Works and Flood Control District staff helped to minimize the problems in the unincorporated area.  Two problem areas that were closed are now open:  Morgan Territory Road and McEwen Road.

Two major road closures are still in effect in Contra Costa County:

  • Marsh Creek Road between the Clayton city limits and Deer Valley Road
  • Alhambra Valley Road between Bear Creek and Castro Ranch Roads

Marsh Creek is open for local traffic only.  Caltrans and County officials are working jointly developing a plan to repair the sinkhole on Alhambra Valley Road.

With more rain expected next week, and the ground still very saturated from previous storms, you are encouraged to use any gaps in the rain to prepare for the next wave, checking rain gutters and storm drains for blockage.  If you’re concerned about flooding at your home or business, it’s not too late to visit one of the sandbag stations located throughout the county.  Please note that you’ll need to bring a shovel, but bags and sand are available for free.   Find out details regarding County sandbag sites at

County Public Works Maintenance road crews maintain the storm drain inlets through a program of annual inspection and cleaning. To report a clogged catch basin or drainage inlet please call the Public Works Maintenance Division at 925-313-7000 during work hours and after hours call Sheriff’s Dispatch at 925-646-2441.

Important phone numbers and webpages:

(925) 313-7000 Public Works Maintenance Division- For emergencies during normal business hours

(707) 551-4100 California Highway Patrol- For emergencies after hours

(925) 646-2441 Contra Costa County Sheriffs Dispatch- For emergencies after hours  – Contra Costa County Sandbag Locations

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Applicants needed for Contra Costa County Disproportionate Minority Contact Task Force

Friday, April 29th, 2016

County Supervisors are seeking residents interested in reviewing data and discussing issues regarding disproportionate minority contact within the local criminal justice system. On April 12,

2016, the Board of Supervisors approved the 17 member Disproportionate Minority Contact Task Force composed of the following members:

  • ·County Probation Officer
  • ·Public Defender
  • ·District Attorney
  • ·Sheriff-Coroner
  • ·Health Services Director
  • ·Superior Court representative
  • ·County Police Chief’s Association representative
  • ·Mount Diablo Unified School District representative
  • ·Antioch Unified School District representative
  • ·West Contra Costa Unified School District representative
  • ·(5) Community-based organization (CBO) representatives (at least 1 representative from each region of the County and at least one representative from the faith and family community)
  • ·Mental Health representative (not a County employee)
  • ·Public Member – At Large

Following passage of Assembly Bill 109, commonly known as Public Safety Realignment, significant program infrastructure, both within the County and in the community, were put into place to support returning citizens with successful reentry into the community following incarceration; however, there remain factors that contribute to minority residents experiencing disproportionate levels of arrest, prosecution and incarceration. Cities and counties across the nation are grappling with the same issue, but precipitating factors and solutions are unique to each jurisdiction.

In Contra Costa County, the Board of Supervisors has charged the newly established Task Force with identifying these unique factors and recommending solutions to improve the experience of minority residents across the County. The Board is seeking applications for seven (7) of the seats above; five (5) community based organization seats, one (1) Mental Health representative seat and one (1) Public member At-Large seat at this time. Applicants for community based organizations seats must be affiliated with a community based organization operating within the County. Applicants for the Mental Health representative seat must be involved in the mental health community within the County, but cannot be a County employee.

Applicants for the Public Member At-Large seat may be any individual that resides or works within the County.

Applicants will be interviewed by the Board of Supervisors’ Public Protection Committee (Supervisors Candace Andersen, District II and John Gioia, District I) with appointment recommendations being sent to the full Board of Supervisors for action. Below is a timeline for the recruitment:

  • · June 15th: Application Deadline (7 week application period)
  • · June 27th: Public Protection Committee Meeting: Interviews
  • · July 12th: Board consideration of PPC nominations

Application forms can be obtained from the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors by calling (925) 335-1900, or by visiting the County webpage at Applications should

be returned to the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors, Room 106, County Administration Building, 651 Pine Street, Martinez, CA 94553. Applications can also be faxed to (925) 335-1913.

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Contra Costa Fair to host 2016 Central Coast Wine Competition, entries now being accepted

Wednesday, March 30th, 2016

CCWC logoPASO ROBLES, CALIFORNIA – The Central Coast Wine Competition has announced that it  is now accepting entries for the 2016 competition, which will take place June 14-16, 2016. The competition staff strongly encourages wineries to take advantage of the opportunity to enter the competition online at The entry book, which details the entry classes and guidelines, can be found at the California Mid-State Fair webpage or the CCWC blog at

The Central Coast Wine Competition is the largest evaluation event for wines produced exclusively on California’s Central Coast and is hosted by seven fairs: The California Mid-State Fair, Contra Costa County Fair, Grand National Livestock Exposition, Horse Show and Rodeo, Monterey County Fair, San Benito County Fair, Santa Barbara County Fair and the Ventura County Fair. The 2016 competition features our new chief Judge Tim McDonald and an internationally renowned panel of judges including wine writers, winemakers, sommeliers and wine buyers.

The 2016 competition will run June 14 -16, 2016. For further information, refer to our wine blog at  Be  sure  to  follow  us  on  Facebook,  Instagram  and    Twitter @CCWineComp.

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County workers and County reach tentative agreement on lowering healthcare costs

Thursday, October 1st, 2015

Martinez, CA—On September 30, a coalition of public sector workers and Contra Costa County reached a tentative healthcare agreement affecting over 4,000 workers and Contra Costa families.

After months of negotiations, we reached an agreement that will contain healthcare costs and provide an ongoing Labor/Management partnership to continue lowering healthcare costs for the County and workers through smart plan design,” said Dan Jameyson, SEIU 1021 Contra Costa County Chapter President, bargaining team member, and Contra Costa Eligibility Work Specialist.

The proposed 2-year agreement between workers represented by AFSCME Local 512, AFSCME Local 2700, IFPTE Local 21, SEIU 1021, and the Western Council of Engineers that makes healthcare costs more affordable. Additionally, the agreement—once ratified by the County Board of Supervisors and the unions—gives workers and their families options for a number of health plans offered by the County.

Furthermore, a Joint Labor/Management Benefit Committee will continue to work on benefit plan design to save even more money in future years, and address potential excise tax issues under the Affordable Care Act. The committee will continue to work towards common-sense proposals that would simultaneously contain rising healthcare costs while maintaining quality health care for thousands of Contra Costa families.

The healthcare labor coalition will bring the tentative agreement to a vote with their members in the next week. The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors will have the opportunity to ratify the agreement at their October 6th Board meeting.

The healthcare labor Coalition represents 4,000 Contra Costa County workers who make it a safe and healthy place to live in and raise families. The members of AFSCME Local 512, AFSCME Local 2700, IFPTE Local 21, SEIU 1021, and the Western Council of Engineers nurse our sick, make our neighborhoods safer, educate our children, clean our schools, and care for our seniors and developmentally disabled.

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