Archive for the ‘Government’ Category

Antioch Homeless Encampment Task Force to hold second of four hearings Monday

Sunday, June 9th, 2019

Wants to hear from local, community-based organizations, residents, volunteers, non-profits and faith ministries about alleviating homeless encampments.

WHAT : As part of a four-part series of public testimony gatherings, the Antioch Homeless Encampment Task Force will meet for a second time to gather public testimony specifically from community-based organizations, residents, volunteers, nonprofits and faith ministries who are currently assisting individuals experiencing homelessness.

This is a follow up to the May 30, 2019, public testimony hearing where the Task Force received testimony about the impacts of the growing homeless crisis including homeless encampments on city departments, county and regional agencies, and community-based organizations.

Part 2 of the series will be a roundtable discussion to elicit testimony about how to better align city services to alleviate homeless encampments on public and private properties including the consequences associated with encampments like the accumulation of rubbish, needles and human feces.

WHEN: June 10th, 2019, 6:00 pm

WHERE : Antioch Community Center, 4703 Lone Tree Way, Antioch

LIMITED SEATING : RSVP here.

WHY : In March of 2019, Mayor Pro-Tem Joy Motts and Council Member Lamar Thorpe requested the establishment of a Homeless Encampment Task Force, which was unanimously approved by the Antioch City Council. The purpose of the Task Force is to study the growing homeless crisis in Antioch, the effects of homelessness including encampments on the community and temporary measures to alleviate homeless encampments until the completion of the Contra Costa County Care Center.

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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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Tickets available for Antioch’s annual State of the City lunch Friday, May 17

Friday, May 10th, 2019

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Supervisors review proposed $3.7 billion budget, discuss potential new tax

Thursday, April 18th, 2019

By Daniel Borsuk

The Contra Costa County Supervisors were presented Tuesday a proposed $3.69 billion budget for fiscal year 2019-2020 that sparked dialogue among supervisors of potentially developing a new tax source in order to support the county’s growing service needs, especially in the areas of health, medical, employment and human services.

The proposed 2019-2020 budget consists of $1.7 billion in county imposed general fund revenue that is approximately the same level of local tax revenue budgeted for the current 2018-2019 fiscal year. State and federal funds make up the other $2 billion in budget revenue.

Supervisors voted 4-0 to instruct county administrator David Twa to present the budget for adoption at its May 7 meeting. Vice chair Candace Andersen of Danville was absent at the time of the vote.

“After several years of relative stability, we now enter a period of needing to adjust our county budget to meet challenges due to uncertainties to countywide revenue streams (especially in the Health Services and the Employment & Human Services departments), compounded by sharply rising wage and benefit costs,” County Administrator Twa wrote in his 2019-2020 budget presentation. CCCo Budget Presentation 19-20 Draft

In the 2019-2020 fiscal year county officials plan to wrap up labor negotiations with the Physicians and Dentists Organization that represents workers in the Health and Human Services and at Contra Costa Regional Medical Center and Clinics, the District Attorney Investigators Association, the Deputy Services Association and the In-Home Supportive Services Association.

Even in a good economy, Contra Costa County employees find themselves underpaid on average 5 percent to 8 percent of what their counterparts earn at similar jobs in the Bay Area. Supervisors listened to a number of speakers representing the county’s health care system, Contra Costa CARES, that the county needs to boost salaries of its healthcare workers 8 percent if it expects to retain employees.

For next fiscal year, county medical director Anna Roth proposed that the supervisors approve a 3 percent cost of living adjustment, designate $135 million in county general funds, count on $1.6 billion in revenues, but expect expenses of $1.8 billion. The department plans to expand the West County Behavioral Health Center next year, she said.

“We’ve got some work to do,” said District 4 Supervisor Karen Mitchoff of Pleasant Hill upon noticing a projected a combined general fund deficit from health services and human services of at least $30 million.

Noting how other Bay Area counties like San Francisco, Alameda, and San Mateo can adequately pay county workers because of additional tax revenues streaming in from property and sales tax sources, board chair John Gioia of Richmond said, “Other counties have robust tax revenue resources. We don’t have that.”

“You say we need more money,” said District 5 Supervisor Federal Glover of Pittsburg. “We have to be creative.”

Employment and Human Services Director Kathy Gallagher said to balance her department’s budget for 2019-2020 she will have to eliminate 67 positions. For next fiscal year, EHS will have 1,904 fulltime positions in order to operate its diverse operations such as Adult Protection Services that has undergone some criticism for alleged financial abuse of its clients.

Sheriff-Coroner David Livingston has proposed a $7 million increase for salaries and benefits for his 685 sworn officers and 350 non-sworn personnel. For next fiscal year, the sheriff plans to hire three additional sworn officers. Planning for a proposed 128 bed mental health facility for the West County Detention Center in Richmond is back on track after being sidelined for rising construction costs, mostly related to steel tariffs.

With $44 million proposed for the District Attorney’s Office, District Attorney Diana Becton plans to increase staffing in the human trafficking unit by $1 million. The DA Office has 222.5 positions on the payroll of which 102 are attorneys, 33 are investigators, 17 are victim/witness experts, and 70.5 are administrative support.

A $3.7 million project at Buchanan Air Field is one of the big tasks on drawing boards for the Public Works Department next fiscal year, department director Brian Balbas said, but the biggest challenge is retaining staff. With a $254 million budget and 545 employees, Balbas said his department is hampered by a high turnover rate of more than 20 percent when workers find better paying jobs at other counties or in the private sector. “The focus for 2019/2020 will be in recruitment and retention,” he told supervisors.

Public Defender Robin Lipesky said in addition to handling 6,900 misdemeanor cases, 3,747 felony cases, and 450 bail hearings, her department handled 600 Stand Together Contra Costa legal consultations, a new duty of her department. Citing a decline in the county’s juvenile population and a decline in the juvenile hall population, the department plans to cut 22 juvenile justice positions, she said.

Supervisors Salary Ordinance Approved

On a 3-2 vote, with supervisors Candace Andersen of Danville and Diane Burgis of Brentwood casting the dissenting votes, supervisors approved an ordinance that will raise their salaries at an established percentage, 65 percent of the annual salary of the Office of Superior Court Judge, effective January 1, 2021.

Effective June 30, each supervisor will earn a monthly base salary of $9,736.75, equivalent to an annual salary of $116,841.

From July 1, 2019 through Dec. 31, 2019 supervisors will each earn an annual salary equal to 60 percent of the annual salary for the Office of Superior Court Judge as prescribed by the state legislature. Supervisors will receive another salary boost effective January 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020 at a base of 63 percent of a Contra Costa County Superior Court Judge. A third and final salary hike equal to 65 percent of the annual salary for the Office of Superior Court Judge in Contra Costa County would go into effect after January 1, 2021.

In addition to the pay increases, each supervisor will receive reimbursement for “reasonable expenses incurred in the conduct of such office” and “eligibility for an eighty-five-dollar monthly contribution to the county’s deferred compensation plan in the same manner as other exempt management employees.”

Each supervisor will also receive an automobile allowance of $600 per month and, in addition to the automobile allowance, mileage at the rate per mile allowed by the Internal Revenue Service as a deductible expense, for all miles driven by the supervisor on county business outside that supervisor’s district.

Supervisors OK Revised WCCTAC Transit Mitigation Fee

In other business, supervisors unanimously approved revised property transportation mitigation fees developers in unincorporated parts of the West Contra Costa Transportation Advisory Committee area of El Cerrito, Hercules, Pinole, Richmond, and San Pablo that have been in place since 1997.

No one spoke either in favor of or in protest against the fees that are assessed to go towards construction of transportation projects.

Since the inception of the WCCTAC transit mitigation fees in 1997, $11.6 million has been raised to help alleviate transportation impacts from residential, commercial or industrial development, said John Cunningham of the Contra Costa County Conservation and Development Department.

Revenues from the transit mitigation fee cover 19 percent of the construction costs of transit projects in the WCCTAC area. Some of those projects include $9,672 towards a $50,903 San Pablo Avenue complete streets project, $156 for the I-580/Harbour Way Interchange pedestrian and bicycle access improvements, $10,175 for the Hercules Regional Intermodal Transportation Center, and $20,749 for capital improvements to the I-80 Express Bus Service.

Accessory dwelling units are exempt from the revised transit mitigation fees that will go into effect July 1, 2020 and will increase or decrease every July 1 thereafter based by the annual percentage change in the Engineering News Record Construction Cost Index for the San Francisco Bay Area for the 12 month period ending with the February index of the same year in which the increase or decrease will take effect

The new WCCTAC transit mitigation fees are multi-family residential, $5,439 per dwelling unit; senior housing, $1,469 per dwelling unit; hotel, $3,481 per hotel unit; retail/service, $6.59 per square foot; office, $8.12 per square foot; industrial, $5.56 per square foot; storage facility, 0.76 per square foot; and other, $7 per square foot.

Red Cross Community Services Award Recipients

As a consent items, supervisors adopted resolutions honoring Bryan Canty of Antioch as recipient of the 2019 Red Cross Good Samaritan Award, Samantha Barhouse, also of Antioch, as recipient of the 2019 Red Cross Disaster Service Award, and the San Damiano Retreat Center of Danville, as the recipient of the 2019 Red Cross Community Service Award.

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Rep. DeSaulnier to host two “Conversation on Race” Town Halls with Special Guests Rep’s. Bass and Lee

Friday, April 12th, 2019

Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11) will host a pair of town halls to engage in a “Conversation on Race” on Tuesday, April 23rd and Saturday, April 27th. These town halls are the latest in a series of discussions on race hosted by Congressman DeSaulnier and are intended to facilitate more understanding, healing, and progress to help us move forward as a nation.

“A Conversation on Race” Town Halls
Tuesday, April 23rd

Special Guest: Congresswoman Karen Bass (CA-37), Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus and first African American woman Speaker of the California Assembly

6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Diablo Valley College Cafeteria

321 Golf Club Road, Pleasant Hill, CA 94523

RSVP: https://desaulnier.house.gov/town-hall-rsvp

Saturday, April 27th

Hosted With: Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13)

12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Black Repertory Group Theater

3201 Adeline Street, Berkeley, CA 94703

RSVP: https://desaulnier.house.gov/town-hall-rsvp

These events are open to the public, press, and photographers.

Please RSVP at https://desaulnier.house.gov/town-hall-rsvp or by calling 925-933-2660. To request ADA accommodations or for more information, please contact Congressman DeSaulnier’s Walnut Creek or Richmond office.

Congressman DeSaulnier launched his first town hall of this series on February 3, 2018 and information on it can be found here.

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County Supervisor Diane Burgis schedules surgery to repair heart valve

Friday, February 22nd, 2019

Supervisor Diane Burgis. Herald file photo.

In an open letter to District 3 residents, Supervisor Diane Burgis, who has served the district since 2016, issued the following statement regarding her health.

“When I count the things I am grateful for, representing you is right up there with my family, friends and good health. I am humbled and honored for the trust that you have placed in me, and I take the responsibility that comes with that trust very seriously.

That is why I want you to know that I am having heart surgery on February 25 to replace an aortic valve due to aortic stenosis, or a narrowing of my aortic valve. What some don’t know is that when I was seven years old, I had this same procedure, and my surgeons told me then that I would likely need another surgery later in life. The good news is that due to my overall health, the operation is happening much later than they predicted.

My doctors, who have performed hundreds of these procedures, assure me that my prognosis is excellent and that I will be better than new after the surgery. I will be in the hospital for approximately one week and then at home for recovery.

In the meantime, I promise that you will receive the same high level of service, sound decision-making, and representation as always. My staff and the County staff will keep me updated on the issues, and my office will continue the vital work that we are doing, in consultation with me, and under the leadership of my Chief of Staff, Mark Goodwin.

I also want to put everyone on notice – if you think it’s hard to keep up with me now, just wait!! I look forward to continuing our work together to create opportunities and find solutions to our challenges in Contra Costa County.

I also can’t wait to ride my bike on the Marsh Creek trail, hike up Mount Diablo, kayak on the Delta, chase my beautiful grandson, and get back on the tennis courts!

I am ready for more adventures in this terrific life!

Thank you for your support, and well wishes.”

Mark Goodwin, Burgis’ Chief of Staff will be the primary point of contact during Supervisor Burgis’ surgery and recovery. Well wishes may be sent to Supervisor Burgis at her main office, 3361 Walnut Boulevard, Suite 140, Brentwood, CA 94513.

Supervisor Diane Burgis represents District 3, the largest of the five Contra Costa County Board of Supervisor districts, which includes Antioch, Bethel Island, Brentwood, Byron, Discovery Bay, Knightsen, and Oakley in East Contra Costa County and Blackhawk, Diablo and Tassajara Valley in the southern portion of the district.

 

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Antioch Senior at UC Davis interning for California State Senator Glazer

Friday, February 8th, 2019

His only intern from Contra Costa County

Sasha Jordan. Photo courtesy of Mark Jordan.

University of California Davis senior, Sasha Jordan is interning for State Senator Steve Glazer (D-Orinda) this spring.  Glazer, who represents the 7th Senate District including most of Contra Costa County and portions of Alameda County in the East Bay, currently has three interns but Jordan is the only intern from Contra Costa County.

Jordan is an Antioch resident and graduated from Deer Valley High School in 2015.  She began attending UC Davis that same fall.  While at Deer Valley she was active in the Performing Arts Academy. Jordan will graduate in June this year with a degree in Political Science and minor in Communications.

She had worked as a teen and young adult for the real estate company owned by her parents Mark and Cynthia Jordan, a local Certified Public Accountant and a local Attorney.  She also had worked for the University as a resident advisor during her sophomore year at the Tecero Dorms on campus.

Jordan is currently applying for fellowships at the State Capital in Sacramento and is looking forward to a career in government.

“I think it is a good thing to help other people and government is just one way to make a difference” she said.

Asked about what she’s doing for the Senator, currently, Jordan said, “Right now, I’m working at the front desk greeting visitors. I’ve done some research projects.”

Her internship will last until March 15, which is the end of the Winter Quarter.

After Jordan graduates, her “plan is to work at the Capitol.”

As for her long-term plans, she said, “If you ask my dad, it’s to be governor of California.”

On a more serious note, Jordan stated, “My hope is to make as much change and improvement in the lives of individuals in California.”

Asked about her Communications minor, she said, “Right now, I’m learning about media messages. I’ve taken some classes on political communication, which I think is important. Because if you want to make change, you need the public to know about the issues that are going on.”

Jordan will graduate at the end of the Spring Quarter in June.

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

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