Archive for the ‘Finance’ Category

Construction workers’ organization unhappy with “discriminatory and costly” PLA in Antioch’s desal plant contract

Tuesday, January 5th, 2021

Note: The following letter was sent via email to the five members of the Antioch City Council on Thursday, Dec. 24.

Antioch City Councilmembers,

When you placed a discriminatory and costly Project Labor Agreement (PLA) on the Brackish Desal Plant in 2018 we warned you not only what it would do to discriminate against local construction workers but what it would do to your costs. Judging by the manner in which you snuck the approval for the contract to build it through on a Friday night before Christmas with no public notice, you obviously did not want us to remind you.

But here we are.

A reminder of the bigotry you approved: Your welfare for local union bosses in the form of a PLA forces all workers to pay union dues, pay into union pensions they’ll never vest in (that’s wage theft) and explicitly discriminates against young men and women in state approved non-union apprentice programs by banning them from working at all. Any union-free contractor who worked on the job would only be allowed a few of their own employees period with all others coming from union hiring halls. The result? Reduced bidders and increased costs. 85% of the local workforce is union-free, as is the state’s construction workforce. That number holds true for your contractor base as well. These companies simply don’t bid work with PLAs on it so the results are higher bids from those who do, as every major study conducted proves and as you just learned firsthand.

So, a project that you had estimated would cost $60 million before the PLA has now been awarded for $86,689,000. BUT THAT OF COURSE IS NOT ALL. There is a 5% contingency of $4,334,450 in case of “unforeseen costs” (count on it) for a total of $91,023,450. BUT THAT IS NOT ALL EITHER. In addition, you authorized city staff to increase the total budget for the desalination project to $110 million.

In 21 years of fighting PLAs we have never seen a PLA come in this far over budget. Ever. Congrats.

Of course, a body who took their fiduciary responsibility to ratepayers seriously would have rebid this with no PLA and compared costs but your canine affection for big labor special interests wouldn’t allow for this. So here we are.

We will continue to monitor this debacle and make sure citizens are kept updated. The story that recently ran in the East Bay Times about this last-minute cram down before Christmas did not mention the PLA. We will make sure the next one does.

Merry Christmas.

Eric Christen

Executive Director

Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction

 

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Kaiser Permanente awards $1.1 million in grants to non-profits, to improve community health

Monday, December 7th, 2020

Antioch’s Brighter Beginnings, Opportunity Junction and school district among recipients

Grants increase access to health care, improve economic security and address mental health and wellness

By Kerri Leedy, PR and Media Relations Manager, Kaiser Permanente Northern California

WALNUT CREEK, Calif., Dec. 7, 2020 – To address the health needs of the community, Kaiser Permanente in the Diablo Area has awarded $1.1 million in grants focused on increasing access to health care and coverage, improving economic security and addressing mental health and wellness.

The Kaiser Permanente funding to 28 non-profit organizations will help low-income, at-risk communities in Central and East Contra Costa County, and the Tri-Valley area of Alameda County. The Antioch Unified School District, as well as Brighter Beginnings and Opportunity Junction, both located in Antioch, were among the recipients of the grants.

The 28 grants are aligned with Kaiser Permanente’s mission of improving the health of our members and the communities we serve. Kaiser Permanente recognizes that many factors impact health including social, economic and environmental conditions in the community. Through support of local non-profit organizations, Kaiser Permanente is working toward improving health for all.

“Our communities are facing significant and unprecedented challenges,” said Marty Ardron, Senior Vice President and Area Manager for Kaiser Permanente’s Diablo Service Area. “These organizations are committed to helping by providing vital health and mental health care, housing, and food assistance. We are proud to support them.”

The following nonprofit organizations received support from Kaiser Permanente:

Increasing Access to Care:

Axis Community Health Supporting Complex Patients with Case Management Services
Brighter Beginnings Increasing Access to Healthcare in Antioch
Contra Costa County COVID-19 Ambassadors Project
District Council Contra Costa County Society of St. Vincent de Paul RotaCare Pittsburg Free Medical Clinic at St. Vincent de Paul
La Clinica de La Raza, Inc. Connecting Families to Health Care
Planned Parenthood: Shasta Diablo Inc., DBA Planned Parenthood Northern California (PPNC) Promotores: Increasing Access to Health Care
RotaCare Bay Area Provision of Healthcare to Contra Costa County’s Uninsured Population

Improving Economic Security:

Alameda County Community Food Bank Farm Fresh Produce Program
Contra Costa Crisis Center Thrive Local Contra Costa: Follow up services for homeless 211 callers
Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano Food Distribution in Contra Costa County
FRESH APPROACH Access to Nutritious Foods in East Contra Costa County
Hope Solutions (formerly Contra Costa Interfaith Transitional Housing, Inc.) Key steps: Path to Permanent Housing and Healing
Loaves and Fishes of Contra Costa Nourishing Lives Through Food
Monument Crisis Center Ingredients for a Healthy 2020-21
Open Heart Kitchen of Livermore Inc Hot Meals Program
Opportunity Junction, Inc. Administrative Careers Training to Improve Economic Security for Low Income Adults
SHELTER, Inc. Supporting the Behavioral Health of Homeless Families
Trinity Center Walnut Creek Youth Wellness Advocacy

Addressing Mental Health and Wellness:

Family Justice Center of Contra Costa Thrive Local Contra Costa
Antioch Unified School District Mental Health & Wellness Initiative
Counseling Options & Parent Education, (C.O.P.E.) Road to Recovery
Fred Finch Youth Center Contra Costa County School Based Services
Lincoln Trauma-Informed Care
Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District Parent Outreach Coordinator
Mindful Life Project Countering ACE’s with Innovative Mindfulness Programming in East Contra Costa County
Monument Impact Mentes Positivas En Acción
Rainbow Community Center of Contra Costa Educating the ARC of ACEs within out LGBTQ+ Communities through and Intersectional Lens
Rubicon Programs Inc. Wellness, Work, and Mobility

About Kaiser Permanente

For 75 years, Kaiser Permanente has been committed to shaping the future of health and health care — and helping our members, patients and communities experience more healthy years. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Since July 21, 1945, Kaiser Permanente’s mission has been to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve 12.4 million members in eight states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal Permanente Medical Group physicians, specialists and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and the support of community health. http://about.kaiserpermanente.org.

 

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Senator Glazer calls BART labor contract extension “premature”, “big mistake”, Board VP Foley supports, Director Allen oppose

Friday, December 4th, 2020

State Senator Steve Glazer and screenshot of BART Board meeting, Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020.

Board approves contract “after secret negotiations were held during BART Directors’ campaign elections” he said.

“…giving space to someone who can’t pronounce our past GM’s name or spell eBART correctly and someone who makes false claim after false claim is a disservice to the public and spreads lies.” – BART Director Li

“These agreements offer BART budgetary stability as we plan our recovery from COVID-19.” – Board V.P. Foley.

“The contract extensions come seven months before the contracts are due to expire, locking in employee costs at pre-pandemic levels…at the level that it was when we were carrying 410,000 riders each week day and now we carry about 50 (thousand).” – BART Director Allen

By Allen Payton

In an attempt to get them to reconsider the proposed labor contract with employee unions, State Senator Steve Glazer challenged the BART Board during their meeting on Thursday, Dec. 3. He asked why they were considering the contract long before it’s set to expire, and more is known about the impacts of COVID-19 next year. In response, he was called a liar by one director.

Nevertheless, the BART Board voted 7-2 in favor of the contract, with Directors Debra Allen from Contra Costa County and Liz Ames from Alameda County casting the votes against. Board Vice President Mark Foley who represents Antioch on the board voted in favor of the contract extension.

Glazer issued a statement earlier this week about BART’s announcement “on Thanksgiving eve…(about) a tentative labor contract with their represented groups, after secret negotiations were held during BART Directors’ campaign elections.”

“Along with other specific contract changes, this tentative agreement is premature and a big mistake and will likely harm BART riders, commuters and taxpayers through fare hikes and service erosion,” his statement continued.

Glazer read most of the statement during the Thursday meeting, but offering additional comment.

“I want to be clear what I have to say reflects my views of accountability and trust that the public expects from all of us,” he said. “I think we all agree that BART is in a financial meltdown due to the pandemic and it’s not clear to me that you have a clear plan for recovery. The district’s own financial analysis projects a shortfall of tens of millions of dollars by next summer amidst the steepest decline in ridership in your agency’s history. My view, the district needs all the flexibility it can to avoid a financial disaster. Yet, BART is tying its hands with this agreement.”

“In the first half of 2021 BART will have a clearer idea about the COVID-19 vaccine availability, ridership improvements, any potential financial bailout assistance from the federal government, and the results of your early retirement incentives that have already been offered to existing employees,” Glazer explained. “All of these potential outcomes will provide important budgetary insight that should shape any new contract terms. But instead of waiting for that information, you are now rushing to approve a contract, negotiated behind closed doors, with no public notice and it will prevent you from making any kind of targeted salary reductions if your revenues do not recover. This will likely lead to service reductions and fare increases which will hurt the very people you are here to serve.”

His statement issued on Monday adds, “BART is leaving few options but to lay off employees and curtail the number of trains, which would further depress ridership and deepen the agency’s financial crisis.

“So, I come here with a question,” Glazer continued during the meeting. “The current labor contract with your representative employee groups doesn’t expire until July 1st, 2021. So, why did the district make an early agreement with so many economic unknowns?”

“It’s my understanding that BART has not even done a salary survey of other transit districts and public agencies to determine if the current salaries called for in this agreement are needed to recruit and retain qualified employees, basic data needed to inform any effective negotiation,” he said. “I question whether the failure to conduct a salary survey is keeping with board policy and procedures.”

“Now, the public was never told when your negotiations started. I’m told these negotiations were initiated by the Board in September and October. If true, that means that directors were negotiating with BART unions on their salaries and benefits on one hand, while asking the same unions for campaign contributions with the other hand. This is an outrageous injection of politics in a hugely consequential employer-employee agreement. And by setting the terms of the agreement at three years rather than four years based on past contract durations, the future contract will be negotiated during another election year.”

“You know that, Board members, before you came to this board for the most of you, had worked for a long time to ensure the contract negotiations would not be immersed in politics and election year circumstances. So, that four-year duration was done purposely. You unravel that in this proposed contract before you.

“In this agreement, for the most part, you’ve abandoned any of the work rule changes that were central to the 2013 contract negotiations. Where have those work rules been laid out, publicly disclosed and discussed, so that we can understand why they’ve been abandoned in this agreement.”

“You know, when the strike happened in 2013, BART management was clear that the work rules were probably more important than the salaries and benefits being negotiated. It had that kind of consequence and impact on the agency. But there’s a complete void of understanding or knowledge about what efforts were made to negotiate those work rules.”

It reversed important e-BART reforms that were instituted by former General Manager Grace Crunican. Again, BART, the board members, and the management (were) very involved in establishing those eBART reforms which you’re throwing out in this proposed contract.”

So, it’s not surprising to me, that you are moving forward with due haste to approve these negotiations and rush this contract through with very little public review, and I think that it’s because the details and the consequences are uncomfortable.

“I would hope that you will reconsider what you are doing, today and take a more deliberate and cautious approach to these negotiations as you consider the full impact of the pandemic on our economy. It would be best for your financial well-being and more importantly for BART riders throughout the Bay Area.”

“In conclusion, let me just say that the foundation of your service as board members is to ensure that this transportation system is able to function during good times and bad times. This contract continues the limitation against training management to run the trains during a work stoppage. So, all of BART riders, many of them low-income people who can’t afford to stay home, will be prevented from getting to work under this contract provision. We’re talking about teachers and nurses, social workers, grocery clerks and other essential workers, who will all be left stranded if your trains stop running because you created this self-inflicted problem.”

“This strike protection provision is an abdication of your sacred duty and will limit future boards from helping the commuters when matters cannot be worked out at the bargaining table. And listen, we all would strongly hope that all matters can be worked out at the bargaining table.”

In  his issued statement, Glazer included, “BART’s management doesn’t want the public to see what they are doing because they know that BART riders and other Bay Area residents would not support this agreement if they understood its details and its consequences.”

The BART Directors then took up the issue of the labor union contract.

General Manager Robert Powers responded to Glazer, saying, “I was the one…negotiating these tentative agreements with our labor partners. There were no elected officials in those discussions. I was supported primarily by our chief labor negotiations officer as well as our AGM of Operations. I wanted to be…crystal clear that it was me leading these negotiations under the authorization granted to me by the BART Board.”

During public comments, Sal Cruz, president of AFSCME Local 3093 said, “Our work has accelerated during this pandemic at great risk to our employees, as we position ourselves for the recovery we know will come. Proper positioning will be critical for the survival of all transit and for the Bay Area economy that is now linked to BART. Thank you for your leadership during these challenging times. Every transit agency in the country is in the same position as you are, now. The decision before you, today, is not an easy one. But it allows us to focus on rebuilding o ur system, continuing to provide safe transportation for our essential workers and preparing for the return of our riders. The workforce is behind you, the riders are behind you and the Bay Area is behind you.”

BART Director Li. Video screenshot of board meeting, Dec. 3, 2020.

Li Calls Out Glazer

BART Director Janice Li, who represents District 8 which includes portions of San Francisco, spoke next calling out Glazer for lying, mispronouncing the past general manager and misspelling eBART (it was spelled “e-Bart” in his statement from earlier in the week.

“I am proud to vote yes on this action, today. A yes vote, today is a yes vote for BART, is a yes for our riders and a very, very important yes for our workers,” she said. “Voting no makes BART an enemy to our workers and our riders.”

“There has been a lot of talk about this decision coming forward as too early or as a result of private meetings. I just want to be very clear that this claim is factually not true,” she stated. “First, I’m a member of the board’s labor negotiations review committee. We have been meeting since May of this year, then again in July, then again in August. These meetings are open to the public. They are publicly noticed and at subsequent board meetings we always give updates during board reports.”

“Second, we have held multiple closed session meetings regarding labor relations in recent months, and once again they have always been noticed as part of our board agenda,” Li continued. “Third, people who are saying that this is too early are saying that because the financial situation ahead is so unclear and that the board should wait until more is known. The truth is that things will inevitably change. But our staff has been doing excellent work in scenario planning and being transparent about all the potential futures, both good and bad. Furthermore, this contract is not one in the same as our budget revisions. In fact, this does not mean layoffs can’t or won’t happen. So, saying that by voting, yes it ties our hands or limits our options is incorrect.”

“And fourth, respectfully, I strongly refute the false claims made by Senator Glazer. Honestly, giving space to someone who can’t pronounce our past GM’s name or spell eBART correctly and someone who makes false claim after false claim is a disservice to the public and spreads lies. The idea that this was timed with elections is wrong and I will speak for myself, I was not up for election, re-election and I have not raised a cent for re-election, this year and I was not even endorsed by unions when I first ran in 2018.”

“So, what we actually have before us is a result of an incredible collaboration between BART management and labor unions and at the end of the day, who benefits?” she asked. “It’s our riders.”

She then thanked “the entire BART team for rebuilding trust with our labor unions and of course I want to thank our labor union partners for being collaborative at an incredibly difficult time.”

“As a board member I’m incredibly grateful that this decision is coming to us sooner rather than later so we can get back to focusing on running a safe system for our essential workers and implement a successful recovery plan during and through the pandemic that has raged every public transit agency, every public institution and every aspect of our lives. Let’s vote yes on this, today and if you remember our new slogan from the board workshop, earlier this year which, I know feels like years ago, ‘Let’s Go,’” she concluded.

Foley Speaks in Support

Board Vice President Mark Foley speaks on the matter during the meeting on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. Video screenshot.

Foley shared his thoughts in support of the contract.

“There was a lot of hard work that went in to making this happen. I am fully in support of this prudent approach to labor negotiations during the pandemic,” he said. “These agreements offer BART budgetary stability as we plan our recovery from COVID-19. A wage freeze, next year, coupled with two years, of at most, very modest increases, increases that are directly tied to returning ridership and BART’s financial recovery, is a responsible course of action to take.”

“More importantly, you know these contracts provide language to allow us to reopen negotiations, a necessary safety net during these challenging times,” Foley continued. “These proactive steps are being taken to hopefully avoid further service cuts, like closing stations, eliminating weekend service or laying off employees, employees that will be needed when we ramp up service.”

“And to those employees I say thank you. You are BART’s most important asset,” he stated. “We wouldn’t have been successful if not for the collaboration of your union leadership and union partners.”

“And lastly, I’d like to thank the district secretary’s office for bringing this item, publishing this agenda to the board, two days early rather than publishing it during the Thanksgiving holiday. This gave us additional transparency around this action. I urge my fellow board members to vote in support of these tentative agreements and I fully support this motion,” Foley concluded.

Allen Offers Arguments Against Contract

BART Director Debora Allen speaks during the board meeting on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. Video screenshot.

Director Allen spoke against the contracts and supported what Glazer said.

“First, I want to touch on the private meetings because that seems to be a contentious little dialogue. I believe that is absolutely how these contracts come to be,” she said. “It is unfortunate the board discussion about these agreements doesn’t happen in public session. I believe we shouldn’t be discussing the contract extensions in closed door sessions where board members may say things that they would not say in public. In addition, I really do believe not enough of our own closed board discussion has occurred prior to this day of ratification.”

“There’s so much operational uncertainty, right now for BART and I’m not comfortable that the financial projections and plan give us the data we need for this decision,” Allen continued. “It’s really hard to say whether these are fair contracts. But despite having received $377 million in federal CARES Act subsidies already, this year, BART  projects another $210 million deficit over the next 18 months and that is the case after we slashed the capital and pension funding allocations from the Fiscal Year ‘21 budget, along with the load shedding to the capital budget that has occurred throughout this year.”

“From my view we should be receiving regular updates of projected deficits for three years…and that information should be part of any decision by this board to extend labor contracts for three years out. They go together. Labor is 80% of our budget,” she stated.

“So, now we are all hopeful that another $377 million will come to us from D.C. and we’re hopeful that the retirement incentive will induce enough people to retire from exactly the right positions that we can afford to eliminate which we know is not really a reasonable assumption. We already know that some people are retiring from positions that we are going to have to turn around and refill,” Allen said. “We shouldn’t be budgeting to hopeful or aspiration. This is what we did back in June when we passed the budget, and it didn’t work out. We really projected far more revenue than we have. But, if even if those other things come true…it will likely only fund another three-quarters to one year of operating deficits. And it won’t do anything to make up for the lack of capital funding and pension funding that we put aside in ’21 and are likely to do, again in Fiscal Year ’22.”

“The contract extensions come seven months before the contracts are due to expire, locking in employee costs at pre-pandemic levels even as revenue projects remain wildly uncertain well into the next couple of years,” she explained. “Costs will be locked in at the level that it was when we were carrying 410,000 riders each weekday and now we carry about 50 (thousand).”

Other board members spoke, mostly in favor of the contract extension and they then voted 7-2 to approve.

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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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Antioch School Board approves pay raises for top three district staff on split vote

Wednesday, August 26th, 2020

By Allen Payton

During their meeting on Wednesday, August 26, 2020, the Antioch School Board approved compensation agreements for the top three staff in the district to comply with changes in state law.

AB 1344 makes changes to the Elections Code and Government Code concerning city charter elections, employment contracts for local agency executives, new notice requirements for open meetings, and penalties for misuse of public office. The law impacts principal entities and K-12 education agencies. These contracts incorporate the necessary provisions under state law.

Employment contracts for senior management must be approved at a regularly scheduled board meeting. The amendments to the contracts include a one-year extension and a step increase effective July 1, 2020.

Retroactively to July 1, 2020, Superintendent Stephanie Anello will be paid $270,585; Deputy Superintendent Jessica Romero will be paid $250,651; and Associate Superintendent Christine Ibarra will be paid $216,135.

Trustee Ellie Householder, “I was hoping Ms. Romero could explain to us how this is related to what we voted on at the last board meeting.”

“No, it’s not the same. The last one was looking at the ’19-20 school year. This is for the ’20-21 school year,” Romero explained.

“At the last meeting it was retroactive, although we have the management listed, it’s not saying it’s guaranteed for the next three years. Whoever was in these roles would get this over the next t three years,” Householder said.

“No. The three of us were not at the top step and this takes into account our years of service,” Romero shared. “Your step is generally based on the amount of years with the district.”

“How does this compare with similar positions in neighboring districts?” Householder then asked.

“I think you’ll find it’s in the ballpark of neighboring districts,” said Romero.

“Were these calculations taken into consideration in the budget revise we looked at?” Householder asked. “I’m just concerned about our longevity over the next three years.”

“It was taken into consideration when we looked at the budget,” said Romero. “We calculate a 1% increase across the board for all employees.”

“I will be saying ‘no’ on this…I’m just worried about us being able to afford it. It’s nothing personal. I just don’t think we can afford it,” Householder said.

Trustee Crystal Sawyer-White spoke on the matter next, saying, “I echo Trustee Householder. I review other districts. Parents are unemployed. To extend this contract out until 20-23 we can’t predict the future. Why we can’t take into account the new

“Each year on July 1st, our right to a step increase

“Yes, but we’re in a pandemic, and other districts are required to present a performance review which we haven’t done for the past two years or so,” Sawyer-White said. “I will be voting ‘no’, too. This is not appropriate use of state funds.”

“If you’re going to use that argument, we could use it for every…employee,” said Trustee Gary Hack. “There is precedence on this. It’s brought to us every year. It’s been an agreement for a long time.”

“I’d have to disagree. Classified and certificated employees are not making six-figure incomes,” Sawyer-White responded.

Hack moved approval and Trustee Mary Rocha seconded the motion.

It passed 3-2 with Board President Diane Gibson-Gray voting along with Hack and Rocha.

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Antioch projects tax revenue decrease of almost $3 million, council will have to adjust budget

Tuesday, August 25th, 2020

$1.1 million drop in 1% sales tax revenue from Measure W

By Allen Payton

During the budget workshop on Tuesday night, the Antioch City Council was presented with the 2020-21 Budget Update from staff showing a projected decrease of $2,960,435 in tax and other revenue. That includes a decrease in regular city sales tax revenues of $1,671,239 and a decrease in the 1% sales tax from Measure W of $1,105,833, and a $270,196 drop in property tax revenue.

According to the staff report, “as of May, California has had a 20.1% decline in sales tax revenue. The financial implications are still a moving target for the City with a lot of uncertainty and no end date for the crisis in sight.”

Antioch’s projected drop in Measure W sales tax was 7%, but the City only experienced a 5.2% decline in both sales and property tax revenues, from a budgeted $62,447,821 to a projected $59,200,553.

Also, according to the staff report, the council will be asked to adjust the budget in the future. The City operates on a two-year budget. The next one will be approved in June 2021.

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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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Contra Costa Supervisors move forward half-cent sales tax increase for November ballot, extend rental eviction moratorium

Thursday, July 16th, 2020

Andersen only one to vote against tax increase measure; support Martizians for Black Lives and mural; approve Grand Jury report on wildfire preparedness; finalize recruitment process for new County Administrator

By Daniel Borsuk

Just as Contra Costa County’s top public health official Anna Roth informed the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors  on Tuesday the number of COVID-19 positive cases has risen to 2,586 cases, an increase from 92 cases three weeks earlier, and with 79  COVID -19 stricken patients in county hospitals, up from 35 patients in county hospital six weeks previously, Supervisors reacted swiftly by extending a county-wide ordinance prohibiting rental evictions and rental increases until September 30.

Supervisors received overwhelming telephone citizen support to extend the ordinance’s benefits to renters and small businessowners two and half months during Tuesday’s teleconference meeting.  The ordinance that had protected tenants from evictions and rent increases would have expired on Wednesday, July 15.

The new ordinance won unanimous support from supervisors.

“The emergency is not over with the COVID 19 pandemic.  The economic impact our residents face has not subsided, said Board Chair Candace Andersen in a statement.  “We sincerely hope passage of this new ordinance to extend the eviction protection of rent freeze will continue to protect renters and small businesses even as landlords and renters work together to have tenants pay what they can over a longer period of time.

The ordinance contains a no-fault provision that landlords cannot increase the rent on a residential property until Sept. 30, Andersen said in her statement. It applies to all 19 cities in the county as well as all unincorporated areas.

Support Placing Half-Cent Sales Tax Increase on Ballot on Split Vote

The Supervisors, on a 4-1 vote, also flashed the green light to allow county officials to proceed in drafting a county-wide ballot measure possibly for the November election for a half-cent sales tax increase to support county services.

Supervisors reviewed findings from a poll that cost $10,000 and conducted by FM3 Research that found  among 666 persons who were polled, “To keep Contra Costa’s regional hospital open and staff; fund community health centers; provide timely fire and emergency response; support crucial safety-net services; invest in early childhood services; protect vulnerable populations; and for other essential county services, shall the Contra Costa County measure levying a half-cent sales tax, exempting food sales, providing an estimated $81,000,000 annually that the State cannot take, requiring fiscal accountability, with funds benefitting County residents, be adopted?”

The FM3 Research poll found that 62 percent of the respondents would possibly support a tax measure, 31 percent oppose, and 7 percent had no response.

Board Chair Candace Andersen, who represents District 2, cast the lone no vote against the sales tax proposal saying she had “serious concerns” about the measure.  The supervisor from Danville said “it would add further tax burdens to families now stressed by the economic impacts of the  COVID 19 pandemic restrictions.”

“A sales tax is the most regressive form of taxation for those who can least afford it. I think the timing is really, really off,” she added.

But District 1 Supervisor John Gioia of Richmond, who has constantly defended the need for a countywide sales tax to support county services, said, “The need is more apparent now that county services are underfunded and need additional tax support.”

 

The tax increase would require support of a 50% plus one simple majority of voters to pass. The Supervisors have until August 7 to place the measure on the November ballot. According to the Contra Costa County Elections website, supporters and opponents would have until August 19 to file Arguments in Favor or Against and until August 24 to file rebuttals.

Support Martizians for Black Lives & Mural

Supervisors approved, without opposition, a resolution “supporting Martizians for Black Lives in their legal public commentary through their ‘Blacks Lives Matter’ mural, and strongly condemns those who illegally deface this mural as a racist and illegal act.”  The resolution is in reference to the Black Lives Matter mural that was painted and temporarily defaced in front of the Martinez court house with black paint by a woman and assisted by a man, who said they were defacing the mural with comments such as “Racism is a lie,” “There is no racism,” “This is not happening in my town, “ “No one wants Black Lives Matter,” and “All lives matter.”

Contra Costa District Attorney Diana Becton stated, “The mural completed last weekend was a peaceful and powerful way to communicate the importance of Black lives in Contra Costa County and the country.  We must continue to elevate discussions and actually listen to one another in an effort to heal our community and country.”

Grand Jury Report on Wildfire Preparedness

A Grand Jury Report, “Wildfire Preparedness in Contra Costa County,” was approved as a consent item, but among the panel’s recommendations were:

“The Board of Directors of Contra Costa County Fire Protection District, East Contra Costa Fire Protection District, Rodeo-Hercules Fire Protection District, and San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District should consider directing their Fire Chief to update wildfire evacuation plans and incorporate pre-determined polygons and advanced routing technology, by June 30, 2021.”

The Grand Jury Report also states directors of the five county fire districts “should consider identifying funds to adopt or expand the use of new technologies, such as ground sensors, drones, satellites, and fire spotting cameras, to help detect fires in high-risk areas by June 30, 2021.”

Additionally, the report recommends that directors of the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District, East Contra Costa Fire Protection District, Moraga-Orinda Fire Protection District and Rodeo-Hercules Fire Protection District should review and consider an ordinance similar to the one the San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District passed that would enable their fire district to recover labor and equipment costs from PG&E for overseeing electrical utility work that presents a high fire risk by June 30, 2021. “

In other action, supervisors approved the sale of two parcels of county owned land at 1750 Oak Park Blvd. and 75 Santa Barbara Road, that is the site of the former Pleasant Hill Library, for $13.8 million to developer Davidon Homes. The site is part of a proposed development calling for the construction of a new City-owned library, 34 single-family homes, and open space.  No one spoke either in opposition or in favor of the sale.

Finalize Recruitment Process for New County Administrator

Supervisors also authorized recruitment consultant Peckham & McKenney, a Sacramento firm that supervisors had hired to recruit a new County Administrator to replace David Twa, who will retire at the end of this year to begin the recruitment process.  The supervisors had approved a $30,500 contract last month with Peckham & McKenney.

The successful candidate could earn an annual salary of as much as $381,000.

The recruiter has proposed a schedule that includes resume deadline of Sept. 22, preliminary interview running from Sept. 23 through Oct. 9, Recommendations of Candidates on Oct. 13, Interview – First Round the week of Oct. 26 and Second Round the week of Nov. 2.

The recruiters work is slated to be completed with the successful replacement of a new county administrator before Jan. 31, 2021, the end of the contract with Peckham & McKenney.

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