Archive for the ‘Contra Costa County’ Category

On split vote by Supervisors county to temporarily stop collecting “discriminatory” adult criminal justice fees

Thursday, September 19th, 2019

At former Antioch Councilman’s urging, Supervisors direct DA’s office to reopen 2005 Lafayette murder case; approve new land development fees

By Daniel Borsuk

On a thin 3-2 vote, the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday slapped a temporary moratorium on the County’s collection and assessment of 14 Adult Criminal Justice Fees that will cost the county $1.8 million in revenue a year should the moratorium become permanent.

During Public Safety Committee meetings, Chairperson John Gioia of Richmond and Supervisor Federal Glover of Pittsburg agreed with citizen committee members the fees are discriminatory to persons of color and likely result in longtime economic or financial hardship for persons who had a criminal record.

An “aye” vote from District 3 Supervisor Diane Burgis of Brentwood meant the county will temporarily stop the collection of fees, including the Sheriff Central Administration’s Booking Fee that will generate about $40,000 in 2019/2020, and the Adult Probation Supervision Fee that potentially could have generated nearly $1.8 million in 2019/2020 revenue.

The temporary moratorium will be effective immediately with the Board expecting to reevaluate the moratorium’s progress no later than Dec. 31, 2019. Supervisors will reassess the value of the moratorium at a December meeting.

Even though the county’s coffers are plentiful, with supervisors also officially adopting on a 5-0 vote the county’s $3.6 billion 2019-2020 final budget, the county is spending funds at a rapid pace through newly inked employee-union labor agreements like a 3.44 percent pay hike for social workers, an 8 percent salary raise for county supervisors that went into effect in July, and tacking on an additional $7.5 million in costs to the new Administration Building and new Emergency Operations Center/Public Safety Building to improve the security and communication capabilities during emergencies.

During a three-hour discussion on the item, Board Vice Chair Candace Andersen consistently opposed the moratorium on grounds that by dropping the fees for all persons, individual with the financial resources will benefit the most. “There are a lot of people who are committing these crimes who have the ability to pay these fees,” said the supervisor from Danville. “There is no reason why we shouldn’t be assessing these fees.”

In arguing against the proposal, District 4 Supervisor Karen Mitchoff said the elimination of $1.8 million of criminal justice fees could financially impact social and health programs such as drug diversion programs that assist persons with criminal records. “I cannot support the moratorium at this time,” the supervisor from Pleasant Hill declared.

But there were a number of citizens in support of the proposal to eliminate the fees.

“There are many people I have represented who 15 to 20 years later did not know that they’d have their wages garnished or face the ongoing inability to pay even though they have jobs and families,” said Mary Sylla, an attorney at Rubicon Programs.

“We urge you to do the right thing,” pleaded Ali Saidi, head of the Contra Costa Public Defenders Association, “These fees impact people of color.”

Request to Reopen Lafayette Murder Case Referred to DA’s Unit

Antioch private investigator and former Antioch Councilman Ralph Hernandez’s pitch, to have the 2005 murder case of Pamela Vitale of Lafayette reopened, got the thumbs up from the board of supervisors. The case was referred to Contra Costa District Attorney’s newly created conviction integrity unit. In this instance, Scott Dyleski, who Hernandez represents, was convicted for the October 2005 murder of Vitale.

“Your assistance in directing such from your two agencies (D.A.’s Office and Public Defender’s Office) is more than warranted,” Hernandez said. “Fourteen years of Scott’s youth has already been denied him and he still faces many more if this very serious matter is just ignored by all. Pamela Vitale’s memory deserves that the truth be determined, not ignored.”

Supervisors did not comment openly about the case, but Gioia consented that at least the DA’s new conviction integrity unit review the case.

New Land Development Fees Approved

Without opposition from either supervisors or the public, supervisors unanimously approved new land development fees charged for services performed by the Department of Conservation and Development and the Public Works Department starting March 1, 2020.

Some fees like encroachment fees have not been adjusted since 1995 and in many instances, rates are decreasing “due to economy of scale,” John Kopchik, director of the Contra Costa County Department of Conservation and Development told the Contra Costa Herald.

Supervisors withheld action on a proposal to charge a $1,000 fee for the time and materials needed to submit and process applications for nomination of a building or cultural resource for consideration before the Historical Landmarks Advisory Committee.

“The Historical Landmarks Advisory Committee believes that the current and proposed fees of $1,000 deposit and time and materials required to submit and process applications to nominate historical and cultural resources to the County’s Historic Resources Inventory (HRI) are a deterrent to public participation in the program.

“The HLAC voted at their meeting held on August 8, 2019 to make a formal recommendation to the Board of Supervisors to reduce these fees to encourage organizations or individuals to nominate potential resources to be designated to the HRI,” Historic Landmark Advisory Committee staff member Dominique Vogelpohl wrote on August 26.

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Supervisors boost fire district development fees, choose chair pro tem to conduct business

Wednesday, July 24th, 2019

By Daniel Borsuk

In order to conduct business, including the approval of higher fire district development fees, the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday had to take the rare step of selecting a chair pro tempore because neither chairperson John Gioia of Richmond nor vice chair Candace Andersen of Danville were in attendance.

Supervisor Karen Mitchoff of Pleasant Hill was elected chair pro tempore by fellow supervisors Diane Burgis of Brentwood and Federal Glover of Pittsburg who were present.

Board chair Gioia was out of the area attending a meeting of the California Council for Environmental and Economic Balance at Lake Tahoe. He said he was scheduled to attend that conference because he also serves on the Bay Area Air Quality Management District and the California Air Resources Board.

Vice chair Andersen was absent because her mother had passed away in Hawaii, a representative for the supervisor said.

“I am in charge,” declared Mitchoff upon getting the 3-0 vote to serve as chair pro tempore. In the 8.5 years that Mitchoff has served on the board, the supervisor said she has never seen where the board had to resort to selecting a chair pro tempore. Mitchoff served as board chair person last year.

Meanwhile, with fire season already here, supervisors voted 3-0 to have increased Contra Costa County Fire Protection District development impact fees go into effect in November.

In reporting findings from a Willdan Financial Services study, Contra Costa County Fire Protection District Chief Lewis T. Broschard III informed supervisors the fire district service population is projected to increase by 162,100 to 892,200 by 2040 in the cities of Antioch, Clayton, Concord, Lafayette, Martinez, Pittsburg, Pleasant Hill, San Pablo Walnut Creek and the unincorporated areas of Contra Costa County.

The last time the fire district increased development fees was in 2006.

The fire district, as of August 1, 2019, will have 26 staffed stations to accommodate the current service population of about 730,000. “This situation makes for a ratio of one fire station per 28,000 persons in the service population. To maintain the existing station-to-population ratio, the projected growth would require the construction of more than five stations by the year 2040.” the Willdan Study states.

The estimated cost for a new fire station is $7,923,750 based on a $720 per square foot construction rate. Adding the cost of new fire apparatus can add $750,000 to $1.5 million per station or the cost of the station parcel which can be $500,000 to $1 million per site.

Based on cost factors, the Willdan study proposed total Fire Protection Facilities fees, including administration fees, will be $970 per dwelling unit for Residential single family, $460 per dwelling unit for Residential multi-family, $662 per 1,000 square feet Commercial, $579 per 1,000 square feet Office, and $387 per 1,000 square feet for Industrial.

Supervisors did not hear either public opposition or support for the proposed fire protection district facilities fees increases.

 

 

 

Three Fire Station Design Extensions Approved

In a related consent action, supervisors extended architectural services with Loving Campos Associates Architects, Inc. by increasing the payment limit by $75,000 to a new payment limit of $595,000 and to extend the term from June 14, 2019 to June 14, 2020 to provide architectural services for Fire Station 16 located at 4007 Los Arabis Road in Lafayette, a fire station constructed in the late 1950’s that was abandoned shortly after the Loma Prieta Earthquake. Subsequent to the station’s closure, a double-wide mobile home was used as the crew living quarters.

Supervisors also approved as a consent item an additional $300,000 payment to the architectural firm of Kimley-Horn Associates, Inc. to provide design services for new Fire Station No. 9 in Pacheco and a new Fire Station No. 86 in Bay Point. This increase raises the contract with Kimley-Horn to $1,240,000 and extends the term limit from Dec. 12, 2020 to Dec. 12, 2021.

The two new stations in Pacheco and Bay Point will include modern seismic standards, meet current ADA requirements, and have the ability to support modern equipment and apparatus. The stations will be built to provide protection for the community or the next 50 years.

Catholic Charities Wins $905,414 Contract

Supervisors approved as a consent item, Public Defender Robin Lipetzky’s $905,414 contract request with the Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Oakland DBA Catholic Charities of the East Bay to provide civil legal deportation defense and community services for Stand Together Contra Costa. The contract will be in effect from July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020. Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Oakland has provided civil legal deportation defense services for the county supported Stand Together Contra Costa since July 24, 2018.

Approve $1.4 Million Inmate Communications System

Supervisors also permitted Sheriff-Coroner David O. Livingston’s $1.4 million request to sign a contract with Global Tel Link (GTL) Corporation to install and operate Inmate communication services including a jail management system, inmate telephones, video visitation, and inmate tablets in the adult facilities for the period of July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2024. There are no net county costs associated with this contract. Under the contract GTL will pay the county $200,000 at contract start to defer the Office of the Sheriff’s expenses related to facility technology and program expenses and will pay the county $20,000 a month for county cost reimbursement which will be place in the Inmate Welfare Fund.

 

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Supervisors give green light to Habitat for Humanity Bay Point Affordable Housing Project

Thursday, July 11th, 2019

In recognition of the East Bay Regional Park District’s 85th anniversary, the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday passed a resolution acknowledging how the park district has served the residents of Contra Costa and Alameda counties since the district’s founding in 1934. At the presentation were from left, District 5 Supervisor Federal Glover, District 4 Supervisor Karen Mitchoff, East Bay Region Park District Ward 7 Board Member Colin Coffey, EBRPD Legislative Assistant Lisa Baldinger, District 3 Supervisor Diane Burgis, EBRPD Governmental Affairs Manager Erich Pfuehler and Board Vice Chair Candace Andersen. Contra Costa voters approved a annexation to the EBRPD in 1964. Soon thereafter, Kennedy Grove and Briones were developed and opened as the first regional parks within Contra Costa County. In total, the park district consists of 122,278 acres, including more than 1,330 miles of trails, 235 family campsites, 40 fishing docks and 10 interpretative and education centers. Photo by Daniel Borsuk.

SSI applications overwhelm county’s Employment & Human Services Department, hires 24 more employees

By Daniel Borsuk

A 29-unit affordable residential development planned for a Bay Point site donated to the Habitat for Humanity of the East Bay Silicon Valley got the green light from the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday to proceed with construction.

On a 4-0 vote supervisors approved Habitat for Humanity’s Pacifica Landing Project on a 2.42-acre site that was willed to the nonprofit organization with the intent to build affordable housing on the vacant Pacifica Avenue property next to the Rio Vista Elementary School. Board Chair John Gioia of Richmond was absent.

There was no public opposition aired at the Supervisors meeting, but at the County Planning Commission meeting there were concerns about the lack of off-street parking and the loss of 13 trees that the developer, Habitat for Humanity, has since addressed and mitigated.

The Bay Point affordable housing project will be the second Habitat for Humanity of the East Bay/Silicon Valley development in Contra Costa County. The nonprofit organization spearheaded the construction of a 45-unit affordable townhouse development at the Contra Costa Centre/Pleasant Hill BART Station.

Mike Keller of Habitat for Humanity of the East Bay/Silicon Valley expects construction of the Pacifica Avenue project to get underway by October or November.

“This is a good project,” said District 5 Supervisor Federal Glover, whose district includes the development site. “Habitat for Humanity does good work. I’m in favor of it.”

The project will include a mix of two-bedroom, three-bedroom, and four-bedroom residences ranging in living area from 992 to 1,442 square feet. The townhomes will be two-story, single family residential units and will be developed in tri-plex and five-plex clusters throughout the property.

The proposed subdivision will provide 51 uncovered surface parking spaces for the residences and seven additional guest parking spaces.

Elevation of one of the Pacifica Landing Project housing units.

Board Issues Bonds for Other Housing In Bay Point, Pittsburg

In related affordable housing board action, supervisors voted to approve as consent agenda items two resolutions authorizing the issuance of revenue bonds – one of not more than $19.2 million to finance the acquisition, construction and rehabilitation of an 88-unit, multi-family housing rental development called Hidden Cove Apartments located at 2921-2931 Mary Ann Lane, also in Bay Point. A second bond issuance of $42.4 million will be for offering mortgage loans or otherwise providing funds to finance the acquisition, construction and rehabilitation of multifamily rental housing, including units for lower income households and very low income households for a borrower of 200 units of multifamily rental housing units known as Marina Heights Apartments located at 2 Marina Blvd. in Pittsburg.

In the event the two bonds are issued, the county will be reimbursed for costs incurred in the issuance process. No county funds are pledged to secure the bonds. The Contra Costa County Conservation and Development Department oversees the program.

SSI Applications Overwhelms County Department

Supervisors learned expansion of the CalFresh program on June 1, has squeezed the county Employment & Human Services Department to hire 24 additional staff since July 7 because the department has received 3,562 Food Stamp applications, Kathy Gallagher, Employment and Human Services Director, reported.

Effective June 1, persons receiving Supplemental Security Income/Supplementary Payments through the Social Security Administration are eligible for CalFresh or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. This development has triggered a surge of CalFresh applications that has partially hobbled the Employment and Human Services Department’s ability to promptly process applications.

Initially, the county department expected to receive 2,512 applications for CalFresh, but the rising number of submissions is forcing department officials to reconfigure personnel needs. “We can handle this,” Gallagher assured supervisors.

“I’m glad that the SSI Cal Fresh benefit for each recipient to live on is now $900 a month,” remarked Larry Sly of the Contra Costa Food Bank.

Environmental Health Chief Underwood Leaving

The Contra Costa Herald has learned that Contra Costa County Environmental Health Department Director Dr. Marilyn Underwood will be leaving her post. It was announced during the Board of Supervisors meeting, but supervisors were unavailable to comment about Dr. Underwood’s announcement.

Dr. Underwood has led the county environmental health department since March 2011.

The Herald has learned from one source that the environmental health chief, who has overseen or been involved in the Keller Canyon Landfill/Hunters Point Naval Shipyard radiation case, the countywide anti-litter program along with other environmental health duties, has decided to retire.

Neither Dr. Underwood nor her press contact were available for comment at before the Herald’s deadline.

Supervisors Approve New Ammunition Distributor for Sheriff

Supervisors approved Sheriff David O. Livingston’s request to change its new Winchester Ammunition Distributor from Adamson Police Products to Dooley Enterprises. Winchester has informed the Sheriff’s Office that they had to change distributors in Northern California from Adamson to Dooley. The supervisors’ consent action will permit a new purchase order with Dooley Enterprises as the new Winchester Ammunition Distributor for the Office of the Sheriff. The new purchase order with Dooley Enterprises, Inc. is in the amount of $450,000 for the purchase of ammunition for the period of July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2021.

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County to hold Mental Health Services Act Supportive Housing Community Forum July 18 in San Pablo

Monday, July 8th, 2019

WHAT: Contra Costa Behavioral Health Services, a division of Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS), invites anyone interested in discussing local public mental health services in relation to supportive housing to participate in a public forum on Thursday, July 18, in San Pablo.

The forum offers the community an opportunity to discuss its needs and meet with service providers to discuss current issues relevant to supportive housing. These discussions will help to inform future use of local Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) funding.

California approved Proposition 63 in November 2004, and the Mental Health Services Act became law. The Act provides significant additional funding to the existing public mental health system and combines prevention services with a full range of integrated services to treat the whole person. With the goal of wellness, recovery and self-sufficiency, the intent of the law is to reach out and include those most in need and those who have been traditionally underserved. Services are to be consumer driven, family focused, based in the community, culturally and linguistically competent, and integrated with other appropriate health and social services. Funding is to be provided at sufficient levels to ensure that counties can provide each child, transition age youth, adult and senior with the necessary mental health services, medications and support set forth in their treatment plan. Finally, the Act requires this Three Year Plan be developed with the active participation of local stakeholders in a community program planning process.

WHO: All members of the public are welcome, including people that have or are receiving supportive housing services, their families or loved ones, and interested members of the community. RSVP online at cchealth.org/mentalhealth/mhsa – click the “Supportive Housing Community Forum” button.

Other RVSP options include emailing mhsa@cchealth.org – please include “MHSA Forum” in the subject line – or by telephoning (925) 957-2617. Attendees may also mail RSVPs to MHSA, 1220 Morello Avenue, Suite 100, Martinez, CA 94553.

WHEN: Thursday, July 18th at 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Contra Costa College, 2600 Mission Bell Drive, Room GE 225, San Pablo, CA 94806

WHY: Contra Costa County’s current MHSA budget provides over $50 million to more than 80 mental health programs and services. Forum goals include identifying service needs, priorities and strategies to inform the county’s MHSA Three-Year Program and Expenditure Plan for fiscal years 2020-2023.

The forum will include an overview of the MHSA and current funding use in Contra Costa County and will be livestreamed at: cchealth.org/mentalhealth/mhsa.

Visit cchealth.org/mentalhealth/mhsa to access the MHSA Three Year Program and Expenditure Plan Update and other information about the MHSA in Contra Costa.

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County’s Northern Waterfront Economic plan draws Supervisors MOU nod as study’s budget dwindles

Friday, June 21st, 2019

The Contra Costa County Northern Waterfront Initiative area and participating agencies.

Antioch expected to soon adopt a similar MOU

By Daniel Borsuk

The $500,000 planning study to ignite an economic renaissance designed to create 18,000 low-tech manufacturing jobs by 2035 along the county’s northern waterfront gained momentum Tuesday when the Board of Supervisors joined the city councils of Hercules and Pittsburg in approving a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on the major waterfront planning project. (See Northern Waterfront Report)

Officials expect the city councils of Antioch, Brentwood, Martinez, and Oakley to soon adopt similar MOUs that have been prepared to permit jurisdictions to participate or not participate in joint projects that will generate jobs in the industries of food processing, clean tech, bio-tech/bio-medical, and advanced transportation fuels.

The county’s MOU also authorizes Department of Conservation and Development Director John Kopchik to file and obtain trademarks for “Northern Waterfront Economic Development Initiative” and “Capital of the Northern California Mega-Region” or similar phrases on behalf of the county.

District 4 Supervisor Karen Mitchoff cautioned colleagues over the planning project’s rising costs. The county awarded a $500,000 grant a year ago, but that amount has now dwindled to $94,500.

“I’d like to know how those funds are to be spent in the future,” she said.

Mitchoff forecast there will be competition from the Association of Bay Area Governments to pay for future regional planning studies that could potentially jeopardize funding for the waterfront project. “ABAG will give some push back,” warned Mitchoff, who represents the county on the ABAG board.

“There is going to be shared funding,” District 5 Supervisor Federal Glover of Pittsburg forecast about any potential planning funding tug-of-war with ABAG. Glover, who has been instrumental in launching the NWEP continued “I’m excited about what is happening.”

Glover mentioned Bombardier Transportation’s announcement last week to use an empty Pittsburg manufacturing site on Loveridge Road to assemble 775 new BART cars that will initially create 50 jobs.

“Right now, the economy is good so we need to invest in the Northern Waterfront Economic Development Initiative and create jobs,” said District 3 Supervisor Diane Burgis.

“This is something so critical to prepare a workforce that is ready to go,” said Vice Chair Candace Andersen of Danville.

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Supervisors OK contract with county’s longtime Washington lobbyist despite committee pick of Federal Advocates

Thursday, June 13th, 2019

The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors presented resolutions at Tuesday’s meeting designating May 2019 as Older Americans Month and honors all of the individuals, organizations and agencies working to ensure that all older county residents are honored as essential and valuable members of our community. In Contra Costa County, the population of people more than 60 years old currently is 20.4 percent, and if following growth projections of California, will be at 25 percent in 2030. The resolution states “Contra Costa County can enhance the lives of older Americans in our community by promoting home-and community-based services that support independent living; involving older adults in community events and other activities; providing opportunities for older adults to work, volunteer; learn and lead; encouraging older adults to speak up for themselves and others; and providing opportunities for older adults to share their experiences.” Photo by Daniel Borusk

By Daniel Borsuk

Preferring to stick with its established Washington-based lobbyist that has represented Contra Costa County since 2001, Contra Costa County Supervisors on Tuesday voted 5-0 to extend a contract with Alcalde & Fay for one year, June 30, 2020.

The one-year contract will cost the county approximately $120,000.

The supervisors’ action did not go as smoothly as the vote might indicate because two supervisors, District 3 Supervisor Diane Burgis of Brentwood, who served on the five-person County Selection Committee (CSC), and Board Vice Chair Candace Andersen of Danville thought Federal Advocates, a firm that was founded in 2006, should have been awarded the $360,000 contract for the period running from July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2022 because it narrowly won during the screening CSC process.

Supervisors also directed county officials to develop screening measurements for the upcoming lobby renewal contract vetting process that were not put into place during the contract renewal process that supervisors had just reviewed and acted on.

In addition to Supervisor Burgis, other CSC representatives were Chief Assistant County Administrator Timothy Ewell, Employment and Human Services Director Kathy Gallagher, Health Services Administrator Joshua Sullivan, and Water Agency Manager Ryan Hernandez. The CSC convened on May 1 and the three candidates were invited for interviews on May 6.   Interviews were conducted over Skype, but the lobby firm of Smith Dawson & Andrews selected the teleconference option.

During the CSC review, Federal Advocates compiled 16.5 points. Federal Advocates topped second place finisher Alcalde & Fay that finished with 16 points. Points were unavailable for Smith Dawson & Andrews.

“It’s very disturbing,” said Supervisor Andersen. “They (i.e. Alcalde & Fay) cannot handle our platform. That is a huge disadvantage. We have not been well represented in Washington.”

“I think you are being over dramatic” warned Board Chair John Gioia of Richmond. “Each of us has his or her own choice. “I believe Alcalde & Fay is effective.”

Supervisor Karen Mitchoff of Pleasant Hill led the charge to retain Alcalde & Faye as the county’s Washington lobbyist. “There is only a one-half point difference between first place (Federal Advocates) and second place (Alcalde & Faye). During the recession Alcalde & Faye stuck with us and cut their fees.”

Appearing before the supervisors, Federal Advocates President Michael Esposito appealed to supervisors to award the three-year contract to his firm because of its qualifications and knowledge through its working relationships with cities of Pittsburg, Antioch, Concord and Richmond.

In its brochure presented to the CSC members, Alcalde & Fay executive Paul Schlesinger wrote: “over the years we have helped the county secure more than $133 million in funds from the Army Corps for dredging, channel deepening, flood control and other projects.”

“It’s a wash,” declared District 5 Supervisor Federal Glover of Pittsburg, about the professionalism of both lobby firms – Alcalde & Fay and Federal Advocates. “I’ve worked with both firms and both are outstanding.”

Authorize Assessor Waiver Fees for MTC/ABAG Project

Supervisors unanimously authorized to have Contra Costa County Assessor Gus Kramer, who is in the midst of a newly filed Grand Jury Accusation for “willful or corrupt” misconduct while serving as the county’s elected assessor, to acquire Secured Assessment Roll and Property Characteristics data for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission/Association of Bay Area Governments.

The recommendation would require a distribution of $19,700 from the County’s Contingency Reserve.

MTC/ABAG needs the one-time appropriation to complete a major data collection project with Plan Bay Area 2040 and other major planning projects. So far, fee waivers have been collected from Alameda County, $20,000; Santa Clara County, $49,700; and Solano County, $48,156. Napa and San Francisco counties are provided the data at no cost. Small fees have been paid by San Mateo County of $2,745, Sonoma County of $270, and Marin County of $80.

“We appreciate the hard work of Mr. Kramer and his staff,” said Supervisor Mitchoff moments before supervisors approved the fee waiver request.

Upon saying he will process the board of supervisors’ MTC/ABAG appropriation, County Assessor Kramer told the Contra Costa Herald, “The board of supervisors is a fickle bunch. They routinely ask me to raise the taxes of their enemies and lower the taxes of their friends. Nothing they say or they do so much as surprises me anymore.”

Increase County Street Lighting and County Landscaping District Fees

Owners of property in unincorporated Contra Costa County will see landscaping fees and street lighting fees rise.

Without hearing any public protests, supervisors increased 2019/2020 landscaping fees from a cumulative $1,440,004.23 in 2018/2019 to $1,526,180.02 in 2019/2020, an increase of $86,175.79 in 2019/2020. The 30 landscape zones consist of county-maintained irrigation, parks, recreation facilities, pedestrian bridges and landscape areas around the county.

Property assessments for county street lighting will also rise a cumulative $1,780,289.16 in 2019/2020, an increase from $1,730,356.97 in 2018/2019, an increase of $49,932.19.

On A Historical Note…

On a consent item, supervisors recognized and honored the sacrifice of the late Contra Costa County Deputy Sheriff William R. Johnson as a lawman almost 165 years after a he lost his life in the line of duty while serving a “writ of ejection” on July 31, 1852 at a house in Oakland unlawfully occupied by the suspect. Johnson was shot in the chest and he died at the scene.

Deputy Johnson, who was 34 and a husband and father of three children, was formally inducted into the National Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington, D.C. on May 13, 2019 and has been accepted by the California Peace Officer’s Memorial in Sacramento and scheduled for formal induction in May of 2020.

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Contra Costa DA files Grand Jury Accusation against County Assessor Kramer for “willful or corrupt misconduct”

Wednesday, June 5th, 2019

Gus Kramer from the County Assessor’s webpage.

Kramer welcomes opportunity to face his accusers

By Scott Alonso, Public Information Officer, Contra Costa District Attorney

Today, Wed., June 5, 2019 the Contra Costa County District Attorney Office’s filed a Grand Jury Accusation against Contra Costa County Assessor Gus Kramer for “willful or corrupt” misconduct while serving as the county’s elected assessor (Government Code §§ 3060 et seq). Contra Costa County’s Civil Grand Jury asserts that the defendant violated state law in creating a hostile work environment for multiple employees in the Assessor’s Office. Due to state law, our Office must accept, serve and file the accusation against the defendant. If a jury finds Mr. Kramer violated the law and if he is convicted, he will be removed from his position as the county’s elected assessor.

The Accusation alleges misconduct by Kramer which occurred from December 2013 through 2019. The Grand Jury Accusation alleges that Mr. Kramer made sexual comments towards female employees and his disparaging remarks targeted one of the victim’s ethnicity. The Civil Grand Jury found this alleged conduct was “hostile or abusive” against four employees. As a result, the Civil Grand Jury through its investigation found that this conduct by Mr. Kramer created a hostile work environment for his employees and is therefore a violation of the Fair Housing and Employment Act.

Due to the sensitive nature of the allegations and to protect the privacy of the victims we will not be releasing any of their names.

Earlier this morning Senior Deputy District Attorney Christopher Walpole presented the filing before Contra Costa County Superior Court Judge Theresa Canepa in Department 35. Our Office was not involved and did not participate in the investigation by the Civil Grand Jury. The District Attorney requested a judicial hearing to determine if the Office will be recused from the remainder of this proceeding.

The foreperson for the 2018-2019 Grand Jury is Richard S. Nakano. State law lists the requirements for the Civil Grand Jury and District Attorney’s Office to process an accusation against a public official.

UPDATE: When reached for comment Kramer stated, “I welcome the opportunity to face my accusers after all these years of these behind doors accusations. When the facts come out, I have had not one, I have had not two, but I have had three independent investigations done by the county and I have been exonerated for sexual harassment, hostile work environment, and retaliation.”

“The sad part in all of this, the Grand Jury Foreman refused to hear my witnesses who would have refuted their claims. Worse he refused to give me the time I requested to present my side. They gave me two hours. I requested eight hours. The other side had more than 10 hours. Nor did he share all the information I provided him” he continued.” “The Grand Jury Foreman is guilty of obstruction of justice.”

When this is all over, the East Bay Times, the Board of Supervisors and their appointees on the Grand Jury are going to be ashamed of themselves for the unwarranted prosecution and persecution of the County Assessor,” Kramer stated. “The saddest part of this is corruption in government is alive and well on our Board of Supervisors.”

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

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Supervisors ramp up sales tax discussion before approving $3.69 billion 2019-20 budget

Monday, May 13th, 2019

The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors presented resolutions of recognition to Scott Walchek, founder NS president of Trov, a Danville-based on-demand insurance company, and to Sylvia Lewis vice president of Sigray Inc., a Pacheco-based X-ray technology company, for both companies being 2019 Innovation Award finalists and winners. Photo by Daniel Borsuk.

By Daniel Borsuk

The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a status-quo $3.69 billion budget for the 2019-2020 fiscal year at Tuesday’s meeting, but supervisors made more noise about the possibility they could be pushed to propose a countywide sales tax measure to cover rising labor and health care costs averaging about 3 percent for 2019-2020.

“We need some type of local tax revenue, but there is nothing under consideration right now,” Board Chair John Gioia of Richmond told the Contra Costa Herald after supervisors approved next fiscal year’s spending plan that attracted several critics of Sheriff-Coroner David Livingston’s $10 million budget increase request over recent charges one deputy had sexually and physically abused female inmates at the West County Detention Facility. That deputy has been dismissed by the sheriff.

When County Administrator David Twa initially presented the 2019-2020 tentative budget at an April 23 meeting, supervisors had sparingly talked around the tax issue idea, but at the May 7 meeting all five supervisors were more outspoken about the potential tax idea.

Citing how Alameda County produces $150 million in annual revenue from its sales tax, Gioia said, “We struggle with less.” In addition to Alameda County, San Mateo and San Francisco counties financially benefit from revenue coming from a sales tax.

“John is absolutely right, “said District 5 Supervisor Federal Glover. “We need another revenue source. We need to continue to grow our resources.”

District 3 Supervisor Diane Burgis hinted she could possibly support a sales tax measure given the current state of the county’s inability to deliver public services while adequately fulfilling the financial and health benefit needs of employees. “We are leveraging our dollars and our employees. We can do better,” Burgis said.

Vice Chair Candace Andersen doubted a countywide sales tax measure would win voter support. “I don’t know how a sales tax measure would get passed by the voters,” the supervisor from Danville said.

Supervisors OK DA Investigators Association Labor Pact

Supervisors unanimously approved a new four-year labor contract with the District Attorney Investigators’ Association. Investigators will earn from $8,293.27 per month to $11,480.60 per month based on seniority. The contract runs from July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2023.

8-Unit Pacheco Townhouse Approved

Without opposition from the public, supervisors unanimously approved developer Andy Akay’s plans to construct an eight-unit townhouse subdivision development at 214 Center Ave. in Pacheco. The three-story development will be constructed on a vacant .49-acre parcel of property. Each unit will have a two-car garage. The two bedroom and three-bedroom units will have living areas of 2,199 square feet to 2,203 square feet each.

Chaplaincy Services Contract Approved

Supervisors also approved as a consent item a Sheriff-Coroner contract with the Bay Area Chaplains, Inc. for an amount not to exceed $162,000. The Bay Area Chaplains will provide chaplaincy services in adult detention facilities from July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020. Services will include providing materials, counseling, bible studies, worship services and responding to crisis and emergencies involving inmates or staff.

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