Archive for the ‘Contra Costa County’ Category

Election costs rise as Contra Costa Supervisors OK $3.6 billion 2020-2021 budget

Wednesday, September 16th, 2020

Source: CoCoCo

Gioia makes his support conditional on reviewing county jail facilities for closure

Includes funding for the Sheriff’s Office to hire 24 deputies for mental health duties at  Martinez jail

By Daniel Borsuk

On the same day Contra Costa County taxpayers were pinched with a new $3.6 billion 2020-2021 fiscal year budget, supervisors also unanimously approved on Tuesday  a County Clerk-Recorder’s request to boost 2021 election ballot printing and mailing costs an additional $1.8 million to a new payment limit of $6 million.

“This is going to be the costliest election year that I have experienced in my 25 year -career,” Assistant Registrar of Voters Scott O. Konopasek said in reference to the upcoming Presidential election and how the county’s contract extension with K&H Printers-Lithographers, Inc. to print and mail ballots and election pamphlets will alarmingly rise again by $8 million for elections held in 2021.

Konopasek said Governor Gavin Newsom’s Emergency Order instructing California counties election officials to mail ballots to every registered voter for the November election means an additional 160,000 Contra Costa voters, or 25 percent of all registered voters, will receive ballots in the mail thereby driving up costs linked to printing and mailing.   That Emergency Order applies to any and all elections conducted in 2021.


While supervisors ignored the Registrar of Voters expense item, they unanimously approved the $3.6 billion 2020-2021 budget that garnered the support of all the supervisors, including Supervisor John Gioia of Richmond, who several weeks ago had said he would vote against the budget when it was ready for formal adoption.  He said he now supports the budget provided supervisors study the closure of the Marsh Creek detention facility, and to have a study conducted on the future of the Orin Allen Youth Rehabilitation Facility in Byron and Juvenile Hall in Martinez.

When Supervisor Karen Mitchoff of Pleasant Hill questioned Gioia why he switched his initial negative vote on the budget, Gioia responded, “I support the county budget as a whole that is over $3 billion and as long as these three issues – Marsh Creek, Orin Allen Youth Rehabilitation Facility and Juvenile Hall are studied and come back to the supervisors for consideration.”

County Administrator David Twa said supervisors can expect Covid-19 related costs to continue to increase over the next 12 to 24 months.  The county spent $131 million overall in Covid-19 connected expenses because it operates a hospital, health services for the homeless, provides Covid-19 testing and numerous other public health services.

Twa said operating costs will increase $28.4 million because of the newly opened County Administration Building and the Emergency Operations Center/Public Safety Building, both located in Martinez.

Supervisors provided funding for the Sheriff’s Office request to hire 24 deputies for the Martinez jail to handle mental health duties, a budget item that met public criticism especially in the summer aftermath of the George Floyd murder case.

Because of rising expenses, the county has placed on the November ballot a half-cent sales tax measure, Proposition X, that county officials counts on to generate new revenues, some $81 million a year for 20 years to fund hospitals, health centers, childhood services, and other community services.

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Contra Costa Hazardous Materials Commission seeks applicants 

Tuesday, September 15th, 2020

WHAT: The Contra Costa County Hazardous Materials Commission seeks applicants for four open seats.

The commission is a voluntary body appointed by the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors that makes policy recommendations to the board and county staff regarding hazardous materials and hazardous waste.

WHO: The commission’s 14 members and alternates serve four-year terms and include representatives of industry, labor, civic groups, environmental organizations, environmental engineers, the public and the Contra Costa Mayors Conference.

The current openings are for a representative from an environmental organization and one alternate, and the Environmental Justice seat, for a member of a county community disproportionately impacted by hazardous materials releases, and one alternate.

All candidates must live or work in Contra Costa County, have a demonstrated interest in hazardous materials issues and an understanding and commitment to the principles of environmental justice as defined in county policy. Candidates must be able to commit to one to two meetings per month, or to fill in as needed for alternates.

Candidates for the Environmental seat must be nominated by an environmental organization.

WHEN: Mail completed applications to the Clerk of the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors, 651 Pine St., First Floor, Martinez, CA 94553. Applications must be received by September 30.

Interviews for qualified applicants will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on October 9, by Zoom or telephone.

HOW: For an application form or more information, contact Michael Kent, the executive assistant to the commission at 925-250-3227. Applications are also available online or from the Clerk of the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors, 651 Pine Street, First Floor, in Martinez.


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DA issues policy requiring prosecutors consider reason for looting during state of emergency before charging with crime

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2020

Policy issued by Contra Costa DA Diana Becton to Deputy DA’s. Courtesy of CCCDA.

Antioch Mayor Wright “disturbed” by and doesn’t “agree with this approach”; 3 arrested for theft of $20,000 of alcohol in San Pablo not charged as looting; more cases affected by policy

By Allen Payton

Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton issued a policy in June, that recently went public, requiring her Deputy DA’s assess the reason someone was looting during a state of emergency before filing charges against them. However, the policy doesn’t prevent police officers from arresting the looter, according to DA’s office spokesman, Scott Alonso. CCDA Looting Guidelines

In the document obtained by Red State News, and shared with the Herald today, reads:

Theft Offenses Committed During State of Emergency (PC 463)

In order to promote consistent and equitable filing practices the following analysis is to be applied when giving consideration to filing of PC 463 (Looting):

1. Was this theft offense substantially motivated by the state of emergency, or simply a theft offense which occurred contemporaneous to the declared state of emergency?

a. Factors to consider in making this determination:

i. Was the target business open or closed to the public during the state of emergency?
ii. What was the manner and means by which the suspect gained entry to the business?

iii. What was the nature/quantity/value of the goods targeted?

iv. Was the theft committed for financial gain or personal need?

v. Is there an articulable reason why another statute wouldn’t adequately address the particular incident?”

“I am not sure how they obtained the policy. But it is our policy,” Alonso confirmed. The policy is true but the article in Red State is highly misleading and frankly wrong.”

He then shared a link to an analysis of the policy and articles about it by Red State and other publications on the Snopes website devoted to fact checking, which has some of it’s own controversial history in getting things wrong, at times.

Alonso then clarified matters by writing, “Nothing in the guidelines prohibits the police from arresting someone for a crime. It is really important to underscore these guidelines are because of the COVID-19 shelter in place given Governor Newsom’s statewide order to declare a state of emergency. We look at if the theft is because there is a state of emergency – or is this simply an offense contemporaneous to the state of emergency. We wanted to ensure consistency across the Office in considering any criminal charges for alleged violations of PC 463. Historically, prior to COVID-19 – we could find no recent evidence that our Office had filed looting charges during a state of emergency.”

“As you know, when evaluating any criminal case our prosecutors look at the circumstances surrounding the incident,” he continued. “These guidelines are consistent with how we evaluate criminal cases. The policy does not say we won’t file these types of cases. The Red State article is incredibly misleading and frankly written from a slanted point of view. The author of the piece did not reach out to us prior to publication. I appreciate you reaching out in advance of publishing anything.”

Section 463 of the California Penal Code states that a person convicted of second-degree burglary or grand theft during a state of emergency is guilty of the crime of looting, which can be punishable by imprisonment in county jail for one year. However, alternative sentencing for someone on probation can be issued for 180 days in jail and 240 hours of community service. The crime of petty theft during a state of emergency is increased to a misdemeanor punishable by six months in county jail or 90 days in jail and 80 hours of community service.

Mayor Wright Responds

In an email sent from his re-election campaign account on Monday, Antioch Mayor Sean Wright wrote to Antioch residents with the subject line, “Unbelievable what our District Attorney just did.”

“I am disturbed by our Contra Costa County District Attorney’s announcement that our police officers must consider if looters ‘needed’ stolen property before they can charge them with looting,” he wrote. “Our DA is the first and only DA in the nation urging this kind of guidance.”

“Looting that takes place in times of emergency, such as we are going through, is against the law,” Wright continued. “According to our DA, if the looters ‘need’ an item in a retail shop, for example, it is OK for them to take that item without being charged. I don’t agree with this approach – do you? Please feel free to share your thoughts on this by clicking here to send me an email.”

He then provided a link to an article about the matter on The Daily Wire.

3 Arrested for $20,000 Theft of Alcohol Not Charged With Looting

One of the cases already affected by the policy includes three people arrested during the COVID-19 pandemic for stealing $20,000 from a beverage store in San Pablo but not charged with looting. Another case involved a woman attempting to break into an ATM during the pandemic, who was also not charged with looting.

The Contra Costa Deputy Sheriffs Association and police officers’ associations in the county are expected to issue a response to the policy, soon.

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Contra Costa DA issues joint statement on 11 criminal justice reform commitments

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2020

“…change needed to upend a system rooted in slavery.” – District Attorney Diana Becton

By Allen Payton

Contra Costa District Attorney Diana Becton. From CCC website.

In a joint commentary published on last week, Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton and four other district attorneys from across the country issued a statement on 11 criminal justice reform commitments. However, the commentary states they want to transform, not reform the system. The commentary was not sent to local media which cover Contra Costa County.

One of the points reiterates what Becton promoted in June, with other prosecutors in California, which is to ban political contributions from police unions to candidates for district attorney. However, questions to her about that issue, including asking if Becton would also support banning contributions from criminal defense attorneys, were never responded to.

The commentary begins with the claim, “Our criminal legal system was constructed to control Black people and people of color. Its injustices are not new but are deeply rooted in our country’s shameful history of slavery and legacy of racial violence. The system is acting exactly as it was intended to, and that is the problem. We should know: We’re Black, we’re female, and we’re prosecutors. We work as the gatekeepers in this flawed system.”

In that commentary, the five elected prosecutors also wrote, “ Each level of the legal system reflects a level of inherent bias, and unless we stop trying to reform the system and instead work to transform it, we will never achieve the kind of change needed to upend a system rooted in slavery. Working from within, we have begun the steps to rectify past wrongs. We are implementing policies that include declining to prosecute minor offenses, overturning wrongful convictions, refusing to take cases from officers with a history of racial bias and expunging marijuana convictions.”

“Now, we are pushing even further. We have decided to make the following 11 commitments, and we urge our fellow prosecutors to join us:

  1. Do not prosecute peaceful protesters. Citizens have a right to protest, and prosecutions can antagonize marginalized communities.
  2. Do not accept any funding from police unions. This will ensure our offices’ independence, and the ability to hold police accountable for injustice and misconduct.
  3. Require the review of all available evidence — including body-worn camera and other video footage — in cases that rest solely on the testimony of an officer. One officer’s perspective cannot guarantee the full truth, and therefore all available evidence must be reviewed for the cases that come across our desks.
  4. Ban “No Knock” warrants and reexamine our policies for issuing warrants. “No Knock” warrants are a violation of individual rights and represent an overreach of police power. They often result in unnecessary and tragic fatalities, as we saw in the case of Breonna Taylor.
  5. Hold police accountable by pursuing criminal charges against officers unlawfully using excessive force and other forms of state-sanctioned violence.Each member of law enforcement must do their part to hold officers accountable for unlawful practices and misconduct to ensure the safety of every person who comes in contact with the legal system.
  6. Expand our office policies on declining low-level offenses to cover decisions regarding charging and issuing warrants. By increasing our efforts to decline to prosecute certain low-level offenses, we can work to reverse the disproportionate impact the legal system has on Black people and low-income communities.
  7. Financially support and advocate for increases in funding to community-led and community-defined responses, restorative justice and violence prevention programs. Investing in community-led programs is crucial to addressing the racist origins of our legal system.
  8. Commit to using our office’s power and platform to advance discussions of divestment from the criminal legal system and toward community-led and community-defined responses to harm. Strong community support, restorative justice practices and diversion practices are key to dismantling the current legal system and shifting its focus from punishment toward justice.
  9. Develop grant-based community reinvestment programs to be administered in partnership with community-based partners. Community programs have proved to lessen recidivism and keep people out of contact with the criminal legal system, while keeping communities safer, overall.
  10. Solicit feedback from Black and brown community groups we were elected to serve through public, virtual forums in the next two weeks. Only by listening to the most impacted communities and advocates and bringing them to the table, will we truly understand their greatest needs and biggest challenges. Then, we will work together to rectify them.
  11. Commit to budget transparency.A budget is a moral document, and our constituents have the right to see how we allocate our budget and what we are funding to invest in community supports and safety.”

To read the entire commentary on Politico, click here.

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More Contra Costa businesses open following updated state recommendations

Monday, August 31st, 2020

Includes hair salons & barber shops indoors, gyms & fitness centers outdoors, and indoor shopping malls at 25% capacity

By Contra Costa Health Services

The California Department of Public Health on Friday announced new statewide guidelines to make regulations and community re-openings more standardized throughout the state. Contra Costa and most other counties are now in the purple (most restrictive) tier.

According to these new state rules, hair salons and barber shops can now operate indoors in Contra Costa County with safety guidelines in place. Indoor shopping malls may also reopen at 25% maximum occupancy as long as public congregation points and food courts are closed and the mall has approved a COVID-19 safety plan from Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS). Gyms and fitness centers may begin operating outdoors in accordance with their own state guidelines and checklist.

These new state rules do not change the restrictions on in-person education, or the state’s school waiver process in Contra Costa.

We continue to evaluate the State’s new framework and its impact on our county, and we will provide additional information as it becomes available.

CCHS encourages businesses to adjust reopening plans as needed in response to changes in air quality in the county from Northern California wildfires. The county has issued a health advisory about smoke, encouraging all residents to stay inside when possible with doors and windows shut. For air quality updates and forecasts, visit the Bay Area Air Quality Management District website. Contra Costa Health Services urges residents to continue wearing face coverings when they go out or are near people outside their households, observe physical distancing, stay home from work or school when they do not feel well and wash their hands thoroughly and often.


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Contra Costa now accepting applications for in-person elementary school classes

Monday, August 24th, 2020

Public and private elementary schools (TK – 6th grade) in Contra Costa County can now submit applications to allow in-person instruction at their campuses. In accordance with state guidelines, waivers may be granted “when requested by a local superintendent (or equivalent for charter or private schools), in consultation with labor, parent and community organizations. Local health officers must review local community epidemiological data, consider other public health interventions, and consult with the California Department of Public Health when considering a waiver request.

School districts will be asked to detail how they would safely conduct in-person classes and prevent the spread of COVID-19. Applications will go to the Contra Costa County Office of Education for an initial review before being sent to Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS) for further analysis.

CCHS and the County Office of Education have developed a checklist with safety measures schools must take in order to reopen. These measures include:

  • A plan for testing of students and staff with COVID symptoms. Schools must also show they have a plan for periodically testing asymptomatic staff members.
  • Each school must identify a person to help CCHS with contact tracing efforts if there is a positive case
  • Showing how shared surfaces will be regularly cleaned and disinfected and how use of shared items will be minimized.
  • Proper use of face coverings
  • How students will be kept in small, stable, groups with fixed membership that stay together for all activities (e.g., instruction, lunch, recess) and minimize/avoid contact with other groups

Review by local and state officials will take approximately ten days. The state will make the final decision to approve or deny requests. Schools in counties such as Contra Costa that are on the state’s COVID-19 monitoring list can’t reopen unless granted a waiver by local and state health officials.

“We feel like we’ve reached a point where it makes sense to consider requests from elementary schools to reopen,” said Dr. Chris Farnitano, health officer for Contra Costa County. “Our role will be to ensure that schools have a solid plan in place to protect their students and staff and show us how they will work with the health department when there is a case to prevent further spread of the virus.

The state outlined the waiver process for elementary schools two weeks ago. CCHS did not immediately begin accepting waiver applications because of the increasing prevalence of COVID-19 in our community at the time.

Since then, the situation has stabilized enough to begin reviewing school-waiver applications, said Dr. Farnitano. Case rates and COVID-related hospitalizations, for instance, have leveled off in August after spiking in July.

While school districts are invited to apply, waiver requests may not be granted if the plan does not meet state or local health requirements, or if data show worsening conditions in the community. Some districts may choose not to submit an application if they cannot meet the requirements outlined in local and state guidelines. Middle schools and high schools are not eligible for waivers.

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DA Becton supports closing Contra Costa Juvenile Hall, establishes Reimagine Youth Justice Task Force

Friday, August 7th, 2020

Supervisors Glover, Gioia support her efforts

By Scott Alonso, Public Information Officer, Office of the District Attorney, Contra Costa County 

Contra Costa District Attorney Diana Becton. From CCC website.

On Tuesday, Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton issued the following statement regarding the status of Contra Costa County’s Juvenile Hall and the Orin Allen Youth Rehabilitation Facility.

“These are historic times and we have an opportunity and a responsibility to re-imagine our justice system so that our youth have a greater chance to lead successful and enriching lives.

I am forming a Reimagine Youth Justice Task Force, which will include county departmental and community representatives, that will study and make recommendations on the most effective ways to invest in our justice involved youth through restorative, community-based solutions, with an initial focus on developing an effective process for closing Juvenile Hall.

Youth crime has been on a steady decline over the last twenty years, reinforcing the conclusion that moving away from youth incarceration is in the best interest of rehabilitation, public safety, and fiscal responsibility. Research has shown that youth can be better treated and rehabilitated in community contexts where they can retain ties to family, school, and their community. Programming and services which are based in the home or in the community are more successful at holding youth accountable and positively changing behavior than institutional settings.

Despite the steep decline in youth crime and consequent reduction in numbers of incarcerated youth, the money invested into the operation of youth prisons has not been reduced accordingly. Data shows that the average cost per incarcerated child in Contra Costa Juvenile Hall skyrocketing to over $473,000 per year.

The Reimagine Youth Justice Task Force will make explicit recommendations for financial investments in community-based services for youth instead of investing in youth prisons which have proven to result in worse outcomes for our children and families. Such an approach will allow for critical re-investments in basic needs such as housing, mental health services, and workforce development as well as support the creation of alternatives to incarcerating children in locked facilities.

In the meantime, we should pause and not take any actions to close the Orin Allen Youth Rehabilitation Facility until the Task Force has made its recommendations to the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors.

This transition is urgent. The Task Force should finish its efforts by the end of this year and make evidence-based recommendations for the process to close Juvenile Hall to the Board of Supervisors in January 2021. The Task Force will present a proposed timeline and transition process for closing Juvenile Hall and will identify alternative investments for our public dollars into community-based services and programming for youth. Implementing these recommendations will create a safer community and help youth get on the right track in their lives.”

“I support District Attorney Becton’s efforts to reimagine youth justice in our County,” said District 1 Supervisor John Gioia. “We need to move away from institutionalization of young people and instead invest in community based restorative justice solutions which make us safer and are more fiscally responsible.”

“I applaud District Attorney Diana Becton’s effort to examine restorative justice alternatives to simply incarcerating our county’s youth,” District 5 Supervisor Federal Glover said. “The factors that lead young people to run afoul of the law are as varied as the youth themselves. In many cases a service-oriented approach will achieve much more in rehabilitating and helping them to become productive members of our community.”


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In spite of public opposition Supervisors approve COVID-19 violation ordinance, fines

Wednesday, July 29th, 2020

“You are not being inconvenienced that much.” – Supervisor Karen Mitchoff

  • Half-Cent Sales Tax Ballot Measure Plans Hung Up in Sacramento

  • Sheriff Continues Cooperation With ICE

By Daniel Borsuk

Over citizen objections, the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors voted 5-0, Tuesday to approve fines for non-commercial and commercial public health violations in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The new ordinance that goes into effect immediately requires citizens to wear face masks in the public and in commercial settings or one can be subject to a fine, or multiple fines.

Contra Costa County Health Services Director Anna Roth told supervisors the county needs an ordinance setting down fines because as of Tuesday the county’s COVID-19 caseload is still rising with 7,304 cases. In the county there have been 108 COVID-19 related deaths, she reported, of which 70 percent occurred in long term care facilities. County health officials have observed a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases since May. Roth pointed out the county is on the state’s COVID-19 Monitoring List.

Deputy County Health Director Randy Sawyer explained there is an “urgent need” for county supervisors to adopt an ordinance establishing fees so that county health enforcement officers can enforce public health orders especially during the current pandemic.  Citizens are not wearing masks and are not practicing social distancing, Sawyer said.

Sawyer said there are about 200 businesses that the county has ongoing public health complaint issues with the department.

Similar ordinances have recently been adopted in Marin and Napa counties, and the Contra Costa County ordinance requires persons to wear masks when engaged in noncommercial and commercial activities.  In Contra Costa, for the first noncommercial violation the fine is $100, $200 for the second violation and $500 for each additional violation within one year of the initial violation.

For commercial activity violations, the fine for the first violation is $250, $500 for a second violation, and $1,000 for each additional violation within one year of the initial violation. “If a violation continues to more than one day, each day is a separate violation,” the ordinance states.

Public Opposition to Mask Ordinance & Fines

Speakers opposing the ordinance said requiring persons to wear masks violates their Constitutional rights. “I oppose this ordinance because it violates our liberties, “said Dave Sutton. “It restricts our liberties.”

Similarly, Deborah Thompson said, “I oppose the ordinance because it is an abridgement of our liberties.”

Comments like those sparked District One Supervisor John Gioia of Richmond to say, “I am shocked by the lack of literacy and scant knowledge that people have.”

The supervisor said some people don’t understand that this virus is causing a public health crisis where this county “may soon run out of ICU beds and two thirds of the people who have died in the county lived in congregant living facilities.”

“We are out to get these numbers down,” Supervisor Karen Mitchoff of Pleasant Hill said in reference to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the county. “A health order will do that. You are not being inconvenienced that much.”

Mitchoff, who noted Contra Costa County’s fines are less than other Bay Area county fines, said  the new ordinance will mean persons will now be required to wear a mask when they out of their house, even when they go to the fast-food drive thru. “If you don’t want to wear a mask then get used to wearing a ventilator,” the supervisor warned.

Richmond resident Edith Alderman supported the ordinance commenting,” I’m 100 percent in favor of the ordinance.  This can help get a handle on this disease.”

Speaking on behalf of the board, Chair Candace Andersen of Danville said “Many people are following the Health Order, but we need to increase our efforts together to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community. To further our progress, to protect lives and reopen more local businesses and activities, we need a tool to send a fair message that everyone has to adhere to health orders to prevent the spread of the virus.”

“With a 14 percent unemployment rate, this is not the time for a sales tax hike” – Board Chair Candace Andersen

Half-Cent Sales Tax Ballot Measure Plans Hung Up in Sacramento

With the legislative clock ticking in Sacramento, the supervisors plan to meet at a special teleconferenced meeting next Tuesday in order to get a status report to waive the second reading on the supervisors’ resolution calling for a Nov. 3 half cent sales tax ballot proposal.

The special meeting was called because state legislators have not convened to act on proposed legislation, especially Contra Costa County State Senator Steve Glazer’s Senate Bill 1349, a transactions and use tax law, that the supervisors need the state Legislature to pass and Governor Gavin Newsom to sign by August 18 or the supervisors’ half cent sales proposal will not appear on the November ballot.

Deputy County Administrator Tim Ewell explained without passage of SB 1349, the county will  lose $800,000 to $1 million in state revenue to cover printing costs tied to the ballot measure, but the clock is ticking and the supervisors need to have SB 1349 passed in the legislature and signed by the governor by August 18.

“I want those funds,” said supervisor Mitchoff, “but it will only move forward if the legislature acts.”

Supervisors voted 4-1, with Chair Candace Andersen of Danville casting the lone opposing vote, to move forward to meet next Tuesday.

“I will not support it” said Andersen, who also opposed the tax increase proposal at the board’s July 14 meeting.  “With a 14 percent unemployment rate, this is not the time for a sales tax hike with such high unemployment rate.”

One of the few speakers opposing the proposal Tom Townsend of El Cerrito, said, “I am taxed to the limit and I oppose the half cent sales tax.”

“I am unsure if this ballot measure will pass,” warned District 3 Supervisor Mitchoff, but she voted in favor of it anyway.

Tax proponent Supervisor Gioia said a county resident would typically pay $60 to $80 a year should the tax measure pass in November.

The proposed language for the county tax measure reads:

“To keep Contra Costa’s regional hospital open and staffed; fund community health centers; provide timely fire and emergency response; support crucial safety-net services; invest in early childhood services, shall the Contra Costa County measure levying a ½ cent sales tax, exempting food sales, providing an estimated $81,000,000 annually for 20 years that the state cannot take, requiring fiscal accountability, with funds benefitting county residents, be adopted?”

Sheriff Continues Cooperation with ICE

Sheriff David Livingston ran into criticism from the public about how the Sheriff’s Office works with the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) but is not expected to change his policies.

“The Sheriff continues to respond to ICE notification requests,” said Melanie Kim, a staff attorney for Advance Justice – Asian Law Caucus. “These practices are especially cruel given that COVID-19 is running rampant inside ICE facilities.  People in ICE custody are vulnerable to grave illness or death.”

The sheriff told supervisors that because of the COVID-19 hygiene practices that his officers and the inmates use at the West Contra Costa facility in Richmond and Martinez jail, there have been no reported COVID-19 cases.

The sheriff reported that in the past year his office detained for ICE enforcement purposes, 72 were Hispanic prisoners, 18 were Asian prisoners, one was a Black prisoner, three were white prisoners, and two “other” prisoners.

Sheriff Livingston said of the 95 prisoners reported to ICE, 71 were charged for miscellaneous felonies, four for penal or murder, five for robbery, two for car jackings, and for 11 for assaults with deadly weapons.

While there were a number of critics of the Sheriff’s Office asking that the Board of Supervisors to reduce funding for the upcoming 2020-2021 fiscal year, Karen Clarkson was one of few backers of Sheriff Livingston’s department requesting that funding remain unchanged. “I support the Sheriff,” she said. “It is an unsafe practice to defund the Sheriff.”

“This county should be safe for everyone, whether they are documented or undocumented,” said Anisha Walker, who requested that supervisors cut funds to the Sheriff’s Office.

“I have no sympathy for those who break the law and are violent criminals, “said Supervisor Mitchoff. “I support the sheriff. And I support social justice and equality at a time we are in a COVID -19 pandemic.”

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