Archive for the ‘Government’ Category

Oh my heaven, on 7-11: New county health order bans indoor church services again, outdoor diners must wear masks except when eating and more

Saturday, July 11th, 2020

More than 8% of Contra Costa COVID-19 tests now positive

From Contra Costa County Health Services

Due to a sharp rise in the percentage of COVID-19 tests returning positive in the community, Contra Costa County Health Officer, Dr. Chris Farnitano today, Saturday, July 11, 2020 amended its social distancing health order to temporarily tighten face-covering requirements and prohibit indoor gatherings where there is elevated risk of spreading the virus. (See details, here and CCC Full Health Order 07-11-20)

Local data show that 8.04 percent of COVID-19 tests administered over the past seven days were positive, a sign that the virus is spreading rapidly in the county and that the community must take immediate steps to prevent our healthcare system from becoming overwhelmed.

Contra Costa is especially concerned about the risk of COVID-19 transmission in indoor gatherings, and in gatherings that involve removing face coverings for eating and drinking.

When Contra Costa received authorization (variance) from the California Department of Public Health in June to allow the reopening of some businesses and activities, the plan we submitted indicated that an 8% testing positivity rate would trigger the review and reconsideration of reopening activities in the county.

Other indicators show COVID-19 is on the rise in Contra Costa communities. The seven-day average number of new cases identified in the county rose from 38 on June 8 to 146 on July 8, while the seven-day average number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients rose from 17 to 54 during the same period. As of Saturday morning at 11:30 a.m. there are no 77 COVID-19 patients in Contra Costa County hospitals. (See more statistics on the CCHealth Coronavirus Dashboard)

The 209 adult intensive care unit beds in Contra Costa County hospitals are on average a little more than half-full on a given day, including COVID-19 patients and patients with other health concerns.

Given the rapid spread of local cases, Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS) is concerned that the number of patients needing intensive care could quickly exceed capacity.

According to the new health order, indoor worship services are temporarily prohibited, effective on Sunday at 11:59 p.m. Services held earlier on Sunday, July 12, are not subject to this change.

Certain categories of outdoor gatherings, including worship services and social protests, are permitted at any size in Contra Costa so long as state health guidelines are followed, including physical distancing and appropriate use of face coverings. (State guidelines for outdoor worship services and protests)

In outdoor dining settings, staff and customers must now observe face covering requirements at all times, except when putting food or drink in the mouth. The new order also increases guidance for businesses that serve alcohol with meals to better align with state guidelines.

Members of extended family “social bubbles” must now always use face coverings when together, except when putting food or drink in the mouth.

Contra Costa County hopes to ease these enhanced, extraordinary safety measures as soon as possible, and will review available health system data daily to determine when it is safe to do so.

CCHS urges everyone to continue taking simple steps to protect themselves from COVID-19: Follow the social distancing order, and wear a face covering when you go out or are near other people. Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently, and always stay home from work or school if you are not feeling well.

In response, the following questions were sent to Contra Costa County Health Officer Dr. Chris Farnitano, Board of Supervisors Chair Candace Andersen and the county health communications staff:

Why are indoor church services being shut down, again?

What statistics can you show that they were the direct cause of the spike in the recent COVID-19 cases in our county? Especially since those who attend worship services have been required to social distance and wear masks while attending an indoor service.

Might it be from other activities such as swimming or a variety of other activities?

Is everyone who gets tested given a questionnaire in which they report what their activities have been for the previous 14 days? If so, can you please provide a copy of the questionnaire?

If not, how do you know and are you merely making assumptions and an arbitrary decision to once again unfairly target people of faith who have the most First Amendment protections while exercising their freedom of religion than any other activity in our nation, since they also have the freedom of peaceful assembly?

Finally, how many of the positive cases in our county are from people outside of the county being brought into our county from elsewhere?

Please check back later for answers to these questions and more.

Visit cchealth.org/coronavirus to read the new health order, and for local information about Contra Costa’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

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Regional agencies seek input on the future of the Bay Area

Friday, July 10th, 2020

For transportation, housing, economy and environment for next three decades

Plan Bay Area 2050’s Draft Blueprint is available for public comment through August 10, 2020

SAN FRANCISCO, July 10, 2020 . . . The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) are inviting the Bay Area public to provide input on the newly released Plan Bay Area 2050 Draft Blueprint, a 30-year regional vision that seeks to create a more affordable, connected, diverse, healthy and vibrant Bay Area for all. The Draft Blueprint is being released today for a public comment period that will run through August 10, 2020.

Given the myriad challenges the COVID-19 pandemic poses to the Bay Area, MTC and ABAG will hold virtual workshops and telephone town halls through August 7, 2020. Both organizations want to hear from all Bay Area residents in order to incorporate diverse voices from across our region. Input received by the agencies will be used to further refine the Final Blueprint to create a more resilient and equitable Bay Area for future generations. The Final Blueprint is slated for approval in late 2020 and will be integrated into Plan Bay Area 2050 prior to its adoption in 2021.

The Plan Bay Area 2050 Draft Blueprint weaves together transportation, housing, economic and environmental strategies, alongside an expanded set of growth geographies, to advance critical climate and equity goals. Designed to accommodate the 1.5 million new homes necessary to house future growth and address overcrowding, as well as 1.4 million new jobs, the Draft Blueprint integrates critical strategies to address our severe and longstanding housing crisis. With infrastructure investments in walking, biking and public transportation – as well as sea level protections designed to keep most Bay Area communities from flooding through 2050 – the Draft Blueprint makes meaningful steps towards the adopted Plan Bay Area 2050 Vision.

Plan Bay Area 2050 is a joint initiative of MTC and ABAG. For more information on Plan Bay Area 2050 or to provide comments on the Draft Blueprint, visit: www.planbayarea.org. The entire list of public events can be found here: www.planbayarea.org/meetings-and-events/upcoming-public-events.

See previous plans here – Plan 2040  Plan Bay Area

MTC is the transportation planning, financing and coordinating agency for the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area. ABAG’s mission is to strengthen cooperation and collaboration across local governments to build healthier, stronger communities.

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Secretary of State Padilla assigns numbers to November ballot measures, invites ballot arguments

Monday, July 6th, 2020

Two tax increases included in Props 15 and 19; Prop 18 lowers voting age to 17

SACRAMENTO, CA – Secretary of State Alex Padilla on Wednesday, July 1, assigned proposition numbers to the legislative, initiative, and referendum measures set to appear on the November 3, 2020 General Election ballot. Secretary Padilla also invited interested Californians to submit arguments to be considered for inclusion in the Official Voter Information Guide. The guide is mailed to every voting household in California and posted on the Secretary of State’s website.

The propositions are listed below, along with the Legislative Counsel’s digest or the Attorney General’s official circulating title and summary.

Proposition 14

AUTHORIZES BONDS TO CONTINUE FUNDING STEM CELL AND OTHER MEDICAL RESEARCH. INITIATIVE STATUTE. Authorizes $5.5 billion in state general obligation bonds to fund grants from the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine to educational, non-profit, and private entities for: (1) stem cell and other medical research, therapy development, and therapy delivery; (2) medical training; and (3) construction of research facilities. Dedicates $1.5 billion to fund research and therapy for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, stroke, epilepsy, and other brain and central nervous system diseases and conditions. Limits bond issuance to $540 million annually. Appropriates money from General Fund to repay bond debt, but postpones repayment for first five years. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local governments: State costs of $7.8 billion to pay off principal ($5.5 billion) and interest ($2.3 billion) on the bonds. Associated average annual debt payments of about $310 million for 25 years. The costs could be higher or lower than these estimates depending on factors such as the interest rate and the period of time over which the bonds are repaid. The state General Fund would pay most of the costs, with a relatively small amount of interest repaid by bond proceeds. (19-0022A1.)

Proposition 15

INCREASES FUNDING FOR PUBLIC SCHOOLS, COMMUNITY COLLEGES, AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT SERVICES BY CHANGING TAX ASSESSMENT OF COMMERCIAL AND INDUSTRIAL PROPERTY. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT. Increases funding for K-12 public schools, community colleges, and local governments by requiring that commercial and industrial real property be taxed based on current market value. Exempts from this change: residential properties; agricultural properties; and owners of commercial and industrial properties with combined value of $3 million or less. Increased education funding will supplement existing school funding guarantees. Exempts small businesses from personal property tax; for other businesses, exempts $500,000 worth of personal property. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local governments: Net increase in annual property tax revenues of $7.5 billion to $12 billion in most years, depending on the strength of real estate markets. After backfilling state income tax losses related to the measure and paying for county administrative costs, the remaining $6.5 billion to $11.5 billion would be allocated to schools (40 percent) and other local governments (60 percent). (19-0008.)

Proposition 16

ACA 5 (Resolution Chapter 23), Weber. Government preferences.

The California Constitution, pursuant to provisions enacted by the initiative Proposition 209 in 1996, prohibits the state from discriminating against, or granting preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting. The California Constitution defines the state for these purposes to include the state, any city, county, public university system, community college district, school district, special district, or any other political subdivision or governmental instrumentality of, or within, the state.

This measure would repeal these provisions. The measure would also make a statement of legislative findings in this regard.

WHEREAS, Equal opportunity is deeply rooted in the American ideals of fairness, justice, and equality. Programs to meet the goals of equal opportunity seek to realize these basic values. Equal opportunity not only helps individuals, but also helps communities in need and benefits our larger society. California’s equal opportunity program was upended by the passage of Proposition 209 in 1996; and

WHEREAS, Proposition 209, entitled the California Civil Rights Initiative, amended Article I of the California Constitution to prohibit race- and gender-conscious remedies to rectify the underutilization of women and people of color in public employment, as well as public contracting and education; and

WHEREAS, Proposition 209 invalidated a series of laws that had been enacted by the California Legislature over the 20 years prior to it that required state agencies to eliminate traditional patterns of segregation and exclusion in the workforce, to increase the representation of women and minorities in the state service by identifying jobs for which their employment was underrepresented due to discrimination, and to develop action plans to remedy such underrepresentation without effectuating quota systems; and

WHEREAS, Proposition 209 also overshadowed other landmark civil rights and antidiscrimination laws. In 1959, after a 37-year campaign by labor and civil rights groups, the Unruh Civil Rights Act was passed, which was the forerunner of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; and

WHEREAS, As a result of the passage of Proposition 209, women and people of color continue to face discrimination and disparity in opportunities to participate in numerous forms of association and work that are crucial to the development of talents and capabilities that enable people to contribute meaningfully to, and benefit from, the collective possibilities of national life; and

WHEREAS, The State of California has provided employment opportunities for people of color and women of all races. However, lingering, and even increasing, disparity still exists, particularly for Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, Black Americans, Latino Americans, Native Americans, and women, and should be rectified; and

WHEREAS, Proposition 209 has impeded California’s continuing interest in supporting the equal participation of women in the workforce and in public works projects, in addressing the historical and present manifestations of gender bias, and in promulgating policies to enforce antidiscrimination in the workplace and on public projects; and

WHEREAS, In the wake of Proposition 209, California saw stark workforce diversity reductions for people of color and women in public contracting and in public education. Studies show that more diverse workforces perform better financially and are significantly more productive and focused; and

WHEREAS, Since the passage of Proposition 209, the state’s minority-owned and women-owned business enterprise programs have been decimated. A 2016 study conservatively estimates that the implementation of Proposition 209 cost women and people of color over $1,000,000,000 annually in lost contract awards. Most procurement and subcontracting processes remain effectively closed to these groups due to the changes brought on by Proposition 209; and

WHEREAS, Women are vastly underrepresented among firms receiving public contracts and the dollars awarded to certified women-owned business enterprises fell by roughly 40 percent, compared to levels before Proposition 209. In addition, only one-third of certified minority business enterprises in California’s transportation construction industry are still in operation today, compared to 20 years ago; and

WHEREAS, Women, particularly women of color, continue to face unequal pay for equal work. White women are paid 80 cents to every dollar paid to white men doing the same work. Black women are paid 60 cents for every dollar paid to white men doing the same work and would theoretically have to work an extra seven months every year to overcome that differential. This persistent gender wage gap continues to harm women, their families, and communities; and

WHEREAS, Despite a booming economy with almost full employment, a persistent racial wealth gap remains rooted in income inequality. Improving minority access to educational and labor market opportunity reduces the wealth gap and strengthens the economy; and

WHEREAS, Proposition 209 has had a devastating impact on minority equal opportunity and access to California’s publicly funded institutions of higher education. This violates the spirit of the California Master Plan for Higher Education by making it more difficult for many students to obtain an affordable and accessible high quality public education. While federal law allows schools to use race as a factor when making admissions decisions, California universities are prohibited by Proposition 209 from engaging in targeted outreach and extra efforts to matriculate high-performing minority students. This reduces .the graduation rates of students of color and, in turn, contributes to the diminution of the “pipeline” of candidates of color for faculty positions; and

WHEREAS, Since the passage of Proposition 209, diversity within public educational institutions has been stymied. Proposition 209 instigated a dramatic change in admissions policy at the University of California, with underrepresented group enrollment at the Berkeley and Los Angeles campuses of the University of California immediately falling by more than 60 percent and systemwide underrepresented group enrollment falling by at least 12 percent. Underrepresented group high school graduates faced substantial long-term declines in educational and employment outcomes as a result of these changes; and

WHEREAS, Among California high school graduates who apply to the University of California, passage of Proposition 209 has led to a decreased likelihood of earning a college degree within six years, a decreased likelihood of ever earning a graduate degree, and long-run declines in average wages and the likelihood of earning high wages measured by California standards. The University of California has never recovered the same level of diversity that it had before the loss of affirmative action nearly 20 years ago, a level that, at the time, was widely considered to be inadequate to meet the needs of the state and its young people because it did not achieve parity with the state’s ethnic demographics; and

WHEREAS, The importance of diversity in educational settings cannot be overstated. The Supreme Court of the United States outlined the benefits that arise from diversity, as follows, “the destruction of stereotypes, the promotion of cross-racial understanding, the preparation of a student body for an increasingly diverse workforce and society, and the cultivation of a set of leaders with legitimacy in the eyes of the citizenry”; and

WHEREAS, Federal courts continue to reaffirm the value of diversity in favor of race conscious admissions, as exemplified by United States District Judge Allison D. Burroughs who stated, “race conscious admissions programs that survive strict scrutiny have an important place in society and help ensure that colleges and universities can offer a diverse atmosphere that fosters learning, improves scholarship, and encourages mutual respect and understanding. Further, Judge Burroughs recognized that there are no race-neutral alternatives that would allow a university to achieve an adequately diverse student body while still perpetuating its standards for academic and other forms of excellence; and

WHEREAS, It is the intent of the Legislature that California remedy discrimination against, and underrepresentation of, certain disadvantaged groups in a manner consistent with the United States Constitution and allow gender, racial, and ethnic diversity to be considered among the factors used to decide college admissions and hiring and contracting by government institutions; and

WHEREAS, It is further the intent of the Legislature that California transcend a legacy of unequal treatment of marginalized groups and promote fairness and equal citizenship by affording the members of marginalized groups a fair and full opportunity to be integrated into state public institutions that advance upward mobility, pay equity, and racial wealth gap reduction; now, therefore, be it Resolved by the Assembly, the Senate concurring, That the Legislature of the State of California at its 2019-20 Regular Session commencing on the third day of December 2018, two-thirds of the membership of each house concurring, hereby proposes to the people of the State of California, that the Constitution of the State be amended as follows:

That Section 31 of Article I thereof is repealed.

Proposition 17

ACA 6 (Resolution Chapter 24), McCarty. Elections: disqualification of electors.

The California Constitution requires the Legislature to provide for the disqualification of electors while mentally incompetent or imprisoned or on parole for the conviction of a felony. Existing statutory law, for purposes of determining who is entitled to register to vote, defines imprisoned as currently serving a state or federal prison sentence.

This measure would instead direct the Legislature to provide for the disqualification of electors who are serving a state or federal prison sentence for the conviction of a felony. This measure would also delete the requirement that the Legislature provide for the disqualification of electors while on parole for the conviction of a felony. The measure would provide for the restoration of voting rights upon completion of the prison term.

Resolved by the Assembly, the Senate concurring, That the Legislature of the State of California at its 2019-20 Regular Session commencing on the third day of December 2018, two-thirds of the membership of each house concurring, hereby proposes to the people of the State of California, that the Constitution of the State be amended as follows:

First-That Section 2 of Article II thereof is amended to read:

SEC. 2. (a) A United States citizen 18 years of age and resident in this State may vote.

(b) An elector disqualified from voting while serving a state or federal prison term, as described in Section 4, shall have their right to vote restored upon the completion of their prison term.

Second-That Section 4 of Article II thereof is amended to read:

SEC. 4. The Legislature shall prohibit improper practices that affect elections and shall provide for the disqualification of electors while mentally incompetent or serving a state or federal prison term for the conviction of a felony.

Proposition 18

ACA 4 (Resolution Chapter 30), Mullin. Elections: voting age.

The California Constitution authorizes any person who is a United States citizen, at least 18 years of age, and a resident of the state to vote.

This measure, in addition, would authorize a United States citizen who is 17 years of age, is a resident of the state, and will be at least 18 years of age at the time of the next general election to vote in any primary or special election that occurs before the next general election in which the citizen would be eligible to vote if at least 18 years of age.

Proposition 19

ACA 11 (Resolution Chapter 31), Mullin. The Home Protection for Seniors, Severely Disabled, Families, and Victims of Wildfire or Natural Disasters Act.

The California Constitution limits the amount of ad valorem taxes on real property to 1% of the full cash value of that property, defined as the county assessor’s valuation of real property as shown on the 1975–76 tax bill and, thereafter, the appraised value of the property when purchased, newly constructed, or a change in ownership occurs after the 1975 assessment, subject to an annual inflation adjustment not to exceed 2%. The California Constitution authorizes the Legislature to authorize a person over 55 years of age or any severely and permanently disabled person residing in property eligible for the homeowner’s exemption to transfer the base year value of that property to a replacement dwelling of equal or lesser value located in the same county, or another county that has adopted an ordinance allowing base years value transfers from other counties, as provided. The California Constitution also provides that the purchase or transfer of the principal residence, and the first $1,000,000 of other real property, of a transferor in the case of a transfer between parents and their children, or between grandparents and their grandchildren if all the parents of those grandchildren are deceased, is not a “purchase” or “change in ownership” for purposes of determining the “full cash value” of property for taxation.

This measure, beginning on and after April 1, 2021, would authorize an owner of a primary residence who is over 55 years of age, severely disabled, or a victim of a wildfire or natural disaster, as defined, to transfer the taxable value, defined as the base year value plus inflation adjustments, of their primary residence to a replacement primary residence located anywhere in the state, regardless of the location or value of the replacement primary residence, that is purchased or newly constructed as that person’s principal residence within 2 years of the sale of the original primary residence. The measure would limit a person who is over 55 years of age or severely disabled to 3 transfers under these provisions.

The measure, beginning on and after February 16, 2021, would exclude from the terms “purchase” and “change in ownership” for purposes of determining the “full cash value” of property the purchase or transfer of a family home or family farm, as those terms are defined, of the transferor in the case of a transfer between parents and their children, or between grandparents and their grandchildren if all the parents of those grandchildren are deceased. In the case of a transfer of a family home, the measure would require that the property continue as the family home of the transferee. The measure would require that the taxable value of the property be determined as provided. In the case of property tax benefits provided to a family home under these provisions, the bill would require the transferee to claim the homeowner’s or disabled veteran’s exemption within one year of the transfer. The measure would specify that the above-described provisions relating to transfers between parents or grandparents and children or grandchildren would apply to transfers occurring on or before February 15, 2021.

The measure would establish the California Fire Response Fund in the State Treasury. The measure would require the Controller to annually transfer a specified amount, based on calculations by the Director of Finance, of the additional revenues and savings that accrued to the state from the implementation of this measure’s provisions from the General Fund to that fund. However, the measure would provide that, if the amount required to be transferred to the California Fire Response Fund exceeds the amount transferred for the previous fiscal year by more than 10%, that excess amount would not be transferred to the California Fire Response Fund. The measure would require the Legislature to appropriate moneys in the fund solely for the purpose of funding fire suppression staffing by the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and underfunded special districts that provide fire protection services, as provided.

The measure would also establish the County Revenue Protection Fund and continuously appropriate moneys in that fund for the purpose of reimbursing eligible local agencies, as provided. The measure would require the Controller to annually transfer a specified amount, based on the above-described calculations by the Director of Finance, from the General Fund to that fund. The measure would require each county to annually determine the gain of the county and any local agency within the county resulting from the implementation of this measure and, if that amount of gain is negative, provide that specified eligible local agencies may receive a reimbursement from the County Revenue Protection Fund. The measure would require the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration to provide a reimbursement to each eligible local agency that has a negative gain, determined every 3 years based on the aggregate gain of the eligible local agency, as provided, and require the Controller to transfer any remaining balance in the County Revenue Protection Fund to the General Fund at the end of each 3-year period, to be available for appropriation for any purpose.

Proposition 20

RESTRICTS PAROLE FOR NON-VIOLENT OFFENDERS. AUTHORIZES FELONY SENTENCES FOR CERTAIN OFFENSES CURRENTLY TREATED ONLY AS MISDEMEANORS. INITIATIVE STATUTE. Imposes restrictions on parole program for non-violent offenders who have completed the full term for their primary offense. Expands list of offenses that disqualify an inmate from this parole program. Changes standards and requirements governing parole decisions under this program. Authorizes felony charges for specified theft crimes currently chargeable only as misdemeanors, including some theft crimes where the value is between $250 and $950. Requires persons convicted of specified misdemeanors to submit to collection of DNA samples for state database. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: Increased state and local correctional costs likely in the tens of millions of dollars annually, primarily related to increases in penalties for certain theft-related crimes and the changes to the nonviolent offender release consideration process. Increased state and local court-related costs of around a few million dollars annually related to processing probation revocations and additional felony theft filings. Increased state and local law enforcement costs not likely to exceed a couple million dollars annually related to collecting and processing DNA samples from additional offenders. (17-0044.)

Proposition 21

EXPANDS LOCAL GOVERNMENTS’ AUTHORITY TO ENACT RENT CONTROL ON RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY. INITIATIVE STATUTE. Amends state law to allow local governments to establish rent control on residential properties over 15 years old. Allows rent increases on rent-controlled properties of up to 15 percent over three years from previous tenant’s rent above any increase allowed by local ordinance. Exempts individuals who own no more than two homes from new rent-control policies. In accordance with California law, provides that rent-control policies may not violate landlords’ right to a fair financial return on their property. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local governments: Potential reduction in state and local revenues of tens of millions of dollars per year in the long term. Depending on actions by local communities, revenue losses could be less or more. (19-0001.)

Proposition 22

CHANGES EMPLOYMENT CLASSIFICATION RULES FOR APP-BASED TRANSPORTATION AND DELIVERY DRIVERS. INITIATIVE STATUTE. Establishes different criteria for determining whether app-based transportation (rideshare) and delivery drivers are “employees” or “independent contractors.” Independent contractors are not entitled to certain state-law protections afforded employees—including minimum wage, overtime, unemployment insurance, and workers’ compensation. Instead, companies with independent contractor drivers will be required to provide specified alternative benefits, including: minimum compensation and healthcare subsidies based on engaged driving time, vehicle insurance, safety training, and sexual harassment policies. Restricts local regulation of app-based drivers; criminalizes impersonation of such drivers; requires background checks. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local governments: Increase in state personal income tax revenue of an unknown amount. (19-0026A1)

Proposition 23

AUTHORIZES STATE REGULATION OF KIDNEY DIALYSIS CLINICS. ESTABLISHES MINIMUM STAFFING AND OTHER REQUIREMENTS. INITIATIVE STATUTE. Requires at least one licensed physician on site during treatment at outpatientkidney dialysis clinics; authorizes Department of Public Health to exempt clinics from thisrequirement due to shortages of qualified licensed physicians if at least one nurse practitioner orphysician assistant is on site. Requires clinics to report dialysis-related infection data to state andfederal governments. Requires state approval for clinics to close or reduce services. Prohibitsclinics from discriminating against patients based on the source of payment for care. Summaryof estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local governments: Increased state and local health care costs, likely in the low tens of millions of dollars annually, resulting from increased dialysis treatment costs. (19-0025A1.)

Proposition 24

AMENDS CONSUMER PRIVACY LAWS. INITIATIVE STATUTE. Permits consumers to: (1) prevent businesses from sharing personal information; (2) correct inaccurate personal information; and (3) limit businesses’ use of “sensitive personal information”—such as precise geolocation; race; ethnicity; religion; genetic data; union membership; private communications; and certain sexual orientation, health, and biometric information. Changes criteria for which businesses must comply with these laws. Prohibits businesses’ retention of personal information for longer than reasonably necessary. Triples maximum penalties for violations concerning consumers under age 16. Establishes California Privacy Protection Agency to enforce and implement consumer privacy laws, and impose administrative fines. Requires adoption of substantive regulations. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local governments: Increased annual state costs of roughly $10 million for a new state agency to monitor compliance and enforcement of consumer privacy laws. Increased state costs, potentially reaching the low millions of dollars annually, from increased workload to DOJ and the state courts, some or all of which would be offset by penalty revenues. Unknown impact on state and local tax revenues due to economic effects resulting from new requirements on businesses to protect consumer information. (19-0021A1.)

Proposition 25

REFERENDUM TO OVERTURN A 2018 LAW THAT REPLACED MONEY BAIL SYSTEM WITH A SYSTEM BASED ON PUBLIC SAFETY RISK. If this petition is signed by the required number of registered voters and timely filed, a referendum will be placed on the next statewide ballot requiring a majority of voters to approve a 2018 state law before it can take effect. The 2018 law replaces the money bail system with a system for pretrial release from jail based on a determination of public safety or flight risk, and limits pretrial detention for most misdemeanors. (18-0009.)

Ballot Arguments

Arguments may be submitted for or against the measures. Arguments selected for the Official Voter Information Guide will be on public display between July 21 and August 10. If multiple arguments are submitted for a proposition, state law gives first priority to arguments written by legislators in the case of legislative measures and to proponents of an initiative or referendum; subsequent priority goes to bona fide citizen associations and then to individuals. No more than three signers are allowed to appear on an argument or rebuttal to an argument.

Ballot arguments cannot exceed 500 words and rebuttals to ballot arguments cannot exceed 250 words. All submissions should be typed and double-spaced.  Arguments may be hand-delivered to the Secretary of State’s Elections Division at 1500 11th Street, 5th Floor, Sacramento, California 95814; faxed to (916) 653-3214; or emailed to VIGarguments@sos.ca.gov. If faxed or emailed, the original documents must be received within 72 hours.  The deadline to submit ballot arguments is July 7 by 5:00 p.m. The deadline to submit rebuttals to the ballot arguments is July 16 by 5:00 p.m.

Candidate Statements in the County Voter Information Guide

Candidates for the United States House of Representatives, California State Senate, and California State Assembly have until August 7 to submit candidate statements to their county elections official for the local sample ballot in the county or counties in which the district lies.

For more information on ballot measures, candidate filing requirements, and election deadlines, please visit: https://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/upcoming-elections/general-election-november-3-2020/

 

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Hold that beer: Contra Costa to postpone COVID-19 reopening timeline due to spike in cases, although expected

Monday, June 29th, 2020

Decision on bars made Sunday; gyms, nail salons, bowling alleys, arcades, hotels, museums, plus massage, body waxing and tattoo businesses will also remain closed

As Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS) warned the public of the possibility on Friday, they have decided to delay the opening of businesses and activities previously planned for July 1 until the COVID-19 outbreak in Contra Costa is better contained.

The county is closely monitoring recent data showing COVID-19 activity increasing in the community, as it is statewide and throughout the country.

On Sunday, Gov. Gavin Newsom recommended that Contra Costa County, along with several other counties in the state, not reopen bars. Contra Costa is one of 15 counties on the state’s County Monitoring List. The county’s timeline had previously cleared bars (with or without food), gyms, fitness centers, personal training, massage, nail salons, tattoo, body waxing and other personal services not involving the face, indoor dining, limited indoor leisure (arcades, billiards, bowling alleys, etc.), indoor museums and hotels for tourism & individual travel to reopen July 1.

When asked Sunday about the impact of Newsom’s recommendations, Kim McCarl, Communications Assistant for Contra Costa Health Services responded, “As you know, we released a statement on Friday indicating that we would make an announcement about our timeline going forward on Monday. That is still our plan.  Bars are not currently open in Contra Costa County. We appreciate the governor’s recommendation and will certainly take it into consideration as we determine next steps. We’ll have more tomorrow.”

However, Board of Supervisors Chair Candace Andersen told KPIX5 CBS News, on Sunday that “We were slated to open them on July 1, but given the governor’s announcement, we will definitely not be opening bars on July 1st,” citing contact tracing as one of the biggest challenges. “It is very difficult in a bar where you have lots of people interacting,” she continued. “Whereas in other settings, a workplace, even a hair salon where you know who’s coming, who’s going, where you can then alert them when they have been exposed to someone with COVID-19.”

Asked if she and the board had the authority to make that decision or if it was still in the hands of County Health Director Dr. Chris Farnitano and why it wasn’t shared with all the media, yesterday, Andersen responded, “I spoke with Dr. Farnitano yesterday and he told me that while we were not making a determination about the other July 1 activities until today, he was going to recommend that we follow the Governor’s guidelines regarding not opening bars. Based upon that information, I responded to the media inquiries received.”

With the sharp rise in community spread and hospitalizations, it does not make sense at this time to open additional business sectors that could further accelerate community transmission. These businesses and activities will remain closed in Contra Costa until county data indicate that the spread of the virus has slowed, as measured by at least a week of stable case numbers, hospitalizations and percent of tests that are positive. Trends will be monitored and evaluated daily.

Decision Based on Statistics

The seven-day average number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals in the county has increased by 75% from June 15 to June 29.

The seven-day average number of newly identified COVID-19 cases has increased from 38 a day to 87 a day. The percentage of COVID-19 tests that came back positive has also increased from 4% to 6%. This suggests the change is not simply due to more testing, but a true increase in community spread.

More Young People Testing Positive

We are also seeing a shift with more young people testing positive. In June, 55 percent of people testing positive in Contra Costa were 40 years and younger, compared to 38 percent for that group in April. It’s a sign that younger people are playing a major role in driving the increase in new cases and potentially infecting vulnerable individuals.

Many people who carry and spread the virus have no symptoms themselves. That is why it’s important for everyone to avoid social gatherings, observe physical distancing and wear masks or face coverings when around others.

Widespread testing is necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19 so we can safely reopen the economy. Testing is the only way to find out if you are carrying the virus and interrupt its spread. People can spread the virus without knowing they are sick.

While Contra Costa have seen an increase in the numbers of people being tested over the past several weeks, we highly encourage everyone who lives and works in the county to get tested, even if they have no symptoms.

This morning, CCHS opened its eighth community COVID-19 testing site at Kennedy High School in Richmond. To make an appointment for a fast, convenient, no-cost test at any site in Contra Costa, call 1-844-421-0804 or visit cchealth.org/coronavirus – online scheduling is available at most sites.

The following questions were sent to Board Chair Andersen and county health services communications staff immediately prior to publication time:

Can someone please ask Dr. Farnitano, with all the recent reopening and protests, in which many more than 100 people were in attendance and clearly not social distancing was not practiced, during the previous three weeks, wasn’t the increase in cases and percentages expected?

If so, then why punish everyone for the actions of a few?

Also, since the new cases aren’t overwhelming our hospitals and health care industry with only 38 hospitalized, today – which was the issue we were told from the beginning was the major concern in the need to flatten the curve – and we all know that cases will increase once more businesses are reopened and activities are allowed to resume, why the delay?

UPDATE: In response, McCarl wrote, “New cases are a precursor to increased hospitalizations. We’ve seen the number of people in hospital go up as the percent of tests coming back positive have gone up. The goal is to lower the percent of positive cases before they overwhelm the healthcare system. We do that by staying home, wearing face coverings, maintaining social distance and washing hands.

You are correct that we expect to see numbers go up. It’s the rate in which they are raising that concerns us. A month ago, the percent of positive tests was in the 2-3% range. As of this morning, it’s about 6%. Our goal was under 5%, the criteria for the state monitoring is 8%. The trend is concerning.

In the past three weeks, our contact tracers have identified only a very small number of people who attended any sort of large gathers. Small being low single digits. We are seeing it spread throughout the community so pointing to one group or activity gives others a false sense of security. We all have a part to play in stopping this trend.”

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

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Contra Costa Health Services evaluating COVID-19 reopening timeline

Friday, June 26th, 2020

Timeline for July and August now contains qualifier

Friday, June 26, 2020 – Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS) is evaluating whether the county should continue its current reopening timeline, due to recent data showing COVID-19 activity is increasing in the community. The timeline for the reopening of businesses and activities scheduled for July 1st and 15th, as well as the school reopening scheduled for July and August include an asterisk and the following qualifier: “In light of rapidly increasing case numbers and hospitilizations, anticipated re-opening dates may need to be postponed. Our community’s actions are more important than ever to stop the spread.”

CCHS is closely monitoring key data indicators that show how the virus is spreading in the county and will announce a decision about the timeline Monday.

During the past seven days, the number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals in the county has increased 42%.

The seven-day average number of newly identified COVID-19 cases has increased from 39 a day to 68 a day. The positivity rate of test results – the percentage of COVID-19 tests that came back positive – has also increased. This suggests the change is not simply due to more testing, but indicates a true increase in community spread.

We are also seeing a shift with more young people testing positive. In June, 55% of cases were 40 years and under compared to 38% for that group in April. It’s a sign that younger people are playing a major role in driving the increase in new cases and potentially infecting vulnerable individuals. This highlights why it’s important for everyone to avoid social gatherings, observe physical distancing and wear masks or face coverings when around others.

CCHS encourages all residents to get tested. Increased testing for COVID-19 is a critical part of the community effort to slow local spread of the virus, and necessary to continue reopening in the future.

Contra Costa’s data are consistent with increases in COVID-19 activity now being experienced in communities across the state and the nation. To view the Contra Costa Health Services Coronavirus Dashboard for more statistics, click here.

There is concern that these increases may lead to a surge in very ill people that could overwhelm the local healthcare system. We realize many people are eager to resume normal activities. However, if we adjust the reopening timeline, it will be because we have a chance to prevent the pandemic from getting out of control in the county.

Any change to the timeline would immediately affect businesses and activities that are currently scheduled to resume July 1, including indoor dining, bars, gyms, hotels and some personal care services, including nail salons and tattoo parlors.

CCHS is releasing this information today to provide businesses and residents as much time as possible to prepare for a potential change to the timeline.

With the Fourth of July weekend approaching, CCHS also reminds everyone that it’s a healthy choice to observe physical distancing when outside the home – maintain six feet of space whenever possible – and to wear face coverings. Anyone who feels sick should stay home. People should also wash their hands frequently.

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

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Antioch Council votes down ad hoc committee on police reform, will hold study sessions with all five members and Police Crime Prevention Commission

Thursday, June 18th, 2020

Antioch Council Members, City Attorney Thomas Smith and City Manager Ron Bernal listened as city staff members read the final 200 public comments during the continuation of Tuesday night’s special meeting on Thursday, June 18, 2020. Screenshot from City website.

“this is too big, too important for our community (to settle for a two-member ad hoc committee). What I see is a series of forums…but it would be inclusive of everyone on the council.” – Mayor Sean Wright

By Allen Payton

During the second of two special meetings this week and after listing to seven hours of public comments from over 700 people, the Antioch City Council voted on a split vote Thursday night to oppose the formation of a two-person ad hoc committee on police reform as Councilman Lamar Thorpe had called for. He and Councilwoman Monica Wilson voted for it while the other three members voted against. Instead the council agreed to have Mayor Sean Wright call the first, of what is expected to be a series of public study sessions to discuss the matter as a whole, that will include the Police Crime Prevention Commission, and set it for Tuesday night, June 30.

At the first session, Antioch Police Chief T Brooks is expected to speak first, followed by those who have had issues with the police department, as Wright put it.

The meeting ran much smoother than Tuesday’s, as the various form letters submitted by several people on both sides of the issue were read once by city staff members, while just reading the names of all those who submitted the same letters. Wright opened the meeting saying there were about 200 public comments left to read.

Dan Stills was the first of only two members of the public available on Zoom to speak. He said, “now that we get staff, along comes the notion of…defunding police and the ad hoc committee. I am one of the silent majority, opposed to the ad hoc committee. We will be voting in November. I implore all of you to work with the police chief to make any necessary changes. We don’t need to dismantle…now is not the time to tear it down and rebuild it.”

City Finance Director Dawn Merchant then read some of the form letters and mentioned the names of all those who had submitted them.

One comment quoted the city’s Vision Statement and wrote in favor of forming the ad hoc committee.

“Chief Brooks has explained that the department has already implemented six of the eight reforms” read one letter opposing the ad hoc committee.

“Why do we need another politician run committee? We’re tired of your committees and lack of action,” wrote retired Antioch Sergeant Larry Hopwood and five others.

Another letter asked for a community forum led by Chief Brooks and submitted by several people.

“Racism is something that needs to be discussed by the entire community,” wrote one letter submitted by several members of the public

“I’ve been in Antioch since 1965…this is just a kneejerk reaction to what’s going on,” read a letter by one resident.

Carol Allen wrote, “We need our police not a committee of grandstanding politicians.”

Matt Vargas wrote, “Have you ever been burglarized, assaulted? I have. You defund our police and it takes longer to respond. We’re already understaffed.”

“I’ve seen no improvement in my neighborhood and it’s only gotten worse,” read another letter.

“Now is not the time to cut funding. Measure C is scheduled to sunset in 2021,” read another. That last part is not correct. Measure C’s half-cent sales tax was replaced by a full cent sales tax with the passage of Measure W.

“Please do not follow the cities of Oakland and San Francisco that have citizen boards run the police department,” read another letter by a Mr. Crum.

Michael Gobel wrote opposing the ad hoc committee, “We need to support these men and women who lay their lives on the line for us.”

Gary Shu opposed the ad hoc committee writing, “Do not defund our police. If we do our peaceful world as we know it will end. What about the school kids with no protection?”

“If you defund the police in Antioch, I want every dollar back I paid in taxes,” read another letter from a member of the public.

Wayne Butler wrote, “Leave the police alone. We still don’t have enough cops in this crime-ridden city. 97.3% of cops don’t even fire their gun in their entire 30-year career.”

“I would like to defund the police, they are fat and only go after women and minorities,” read another letter in support of the ad hoc committee.

“Antioch police activity must remain at the current level,” wrote another member of the public.

Nancy Green wrote, “I think APD is doing a good job.”

Sal Sbranti wrote, “I do not believe that the actions of the Antioch Police Department require us to support a witch hunt sponsored by Lamar Thorpe and Monica Wilson. Lamar’s comments and endorsement of “8 can’t wait” displays his bias and that alone should eliminate him from being a member of any ad hoc committee. The statements that Lamar has made, makes Antioch and our stellar police department look bad. Stellar?- violent crime down 15% from 2015 to 2019, citizens complaints down 40% from 2017 to 2019. Antioch Citizens passed “Measure C” in November of 2013 and “Measure W” in November of 2018, and it was April of this year when we finally met the goal number of Police that this City Council Authorized. If a committee is to be formed, it should not be called “Police Reform Committee” as again, that displays Lamar’s and the City Attorneys bias and the pre-judgement of this council.”

“I’ve personally heard stories of police brutality by people, here in Antioch. I expect the city council to put their full effort into this,” read another letter.

“I’ve seen the quality of life in Antioch deteriorate every year I’ve lived, here. Because the members of the committee will not be held accountable, I’m against it,” read another.

Megan wrote, “Countless lives have been taken. Antioch is not an exception. You must disarm and dismantle the police. We want a new community not cops.”

Steve Libator wrote against the ad hoc committee but in favor of a community forum, “You want to bring attention to yourself. Please stop.”

“Maybe you can teach officers how to love people who don’t look like them. While I do support the police, I was disappointed with the way the chief handled the COVID-19 situation and left us to fend for ourselves,” wrote another member of the public in favor of forming the ad hoc committee.

Sara Gubeer, a 2018 graduate of Dozier-Libbey wrote supporting the ad hoc committee about the deaths of people across the country. “The police don’t actually serve or protect anyone. First, we must start with our own community.”

Robert Pohl wrote against forming the ad hoc committee. “We voted twice to increase funding for police Now people want to defund it, which doesn’t make sense. Antioch has a diverse and progressive police department.”

Luis Crockett wrote “I don’t support our chief and police officers, they are racist and constantly profile black and brown members of our community. This has to stop now.”

Victor Wen, a DVHS alumni class of 2020 submitted the same form letter making accusations against the police department and called for it to be defunded and disarmed.

Beverly Knight who opposed the ad hoc committee wrote, “The police portrayed on the national news are not the Antioch Police Department. Chief Brooks works hard to make community policing an imperative. I will believe APD will embrace positive change. Don’t try to fix something that’s not broken.”

Sarah Laughlin, a 2015 DVHS graduate who is getting her law degree wrote, “I’ve seen this community’s ability to lift people up but also tear it down. I’ve seen how the local school system that targets black and brown students.”

Vanessa Helmann wrote, “I don’t believe a special committee will serve our community.”

John Fischer wrote, “This attempt…is a slap in the face of the police department. The letter sent out by Chief Brooks was well written. I don’t agree with all that he wrote.

“I do not agree with an ad hoc committee…there is a need to begin a comprehensive approach…to build trust between the police and the community,” wrote another member of the public, citing new legislation introduced in Congress.

Tina Gillette wrote, “I live in District 1…that is represented by Joy Motts. While most of us support the protesters” and called for community forum.

Lucy Meinhardt wrote, “Our entire country is in a state of upheaveal. Continiuing to improve our policing is what is needed. There’s no reason Antioch cannot be part of this national movement” and asked that representatives of color lead the effort.

“Antioch PD works with people of all races in the community. We all need to live together as one. Focus on our real problems,” wrote another.

Harry Raymond wrote, “The City of Antioch is blessed by a very well run police department. The citizens of Antioch…twice agreed to more taxes. APD finally reached the target minimum after a number of years.”

Ariana Edwards wrote, “This community needs care not cops. It’s time for reform” and supported the ad hoc committee.

“It’s time to defund the police…and invest in the community and schools, instead,” another letter read.

“The council can look past the current hysteria” wrote another person who called for a standing committee of three council members. But that would violate the state’s Brown Act open meeting law, which is why sub- and ad hoc committees

NAACP East County Branch submitted a comment calling for, “wholly and unequivocally a police oversight committee in the City of Antioch…that will mete out discipline.”

Mike Barbanica wrote, “What we don’t need is more political grandstanding by members of our city council. Vote no on the ad hoc and look at alternatives that will involve the entire community.”

Willie Mims, a Pittsburg resident and member of the NAACP East County Branch, wrote, “Since the murder of George Floyd, the whole country and the world are protesting police brutality, white racism and white supremacy.  You, who live in the City of Antioch, must not place your heads in the sand and put a mask over your eyes in order to cover up the fact that you have not experienced some of these same incidents here in your own town.  You had and still do have some officers operating under the Color of Law.

This city must not be afraid to welcome a thorough review and reevaluation of the police department’s excessive force policy, an examination of its accountability component, and its use and misuse of its canine unit when dealing with non-aggressive citizens.  Not only that, but there should be some serious ongoing training in racial profiling, racial bias and de-escalation techniques, especially when dealing with mental health issues, black people, and other peoples of color.

A civilian oversight commission would be best for the city of Antioch and should be put in place to address any complaints against the police department.

And lastly, I stand with the city council as they grapple with this American racial problem.  I take issue, however, with the police association and their attack upon certain council members.  Their resistance to either review or to even consider a citizen oversight committee is quite troubling.  Whatever the case, the issue of race is placed back on both Antioch’s and America’s table of destiny. I hope that the council will do what is right. Know this, that I stand with those people wanting change at this time in our history.”

Joel Firstenberger praised Chief Brooks and wrote, “I don’t support the political views of Black Lives Matter. I do not want the council to take on this agenda to please two board members.”

“Antioch can be a beacon of how to operate the police department. This isn’t political. It’s personal. I have black sons and want to know this town embraces their beautiful lives,” wrote one resident.

Another member of the public wrote about “an instigator and a follower…is this leadership we need…? Absolutely not.”

Gary Walker wrote, “My husband and I would like to support an ad hoc committee…to give voice to the people…and has a laser focus agenda. We only see positive change from this initiative.”

Zoe Jones wrote, asking for the council to defund the police and spending it on other things in the community.

Ruth Pastor wrote, “We don’t have enough police as it is, now.”

Sandy McGee wrote, “I think an ad hoc committee is a slap in the face” to the police department. Councilman Thorpe needs to pick something else to help your campaign.”

“I am a rare species of a Republican in this town, but I support the formation of an ad hoc committee…” wrote another member of the public.

Edward Piller wrote, “We must listen to our hearts and the youth. Please support the ad hoc committee.”

“Being a roofing contractor is four times more dangerous” than being a police officer, read another letter.

Community Development Director Forrest Ebbs continued to read the remainder of the emailed public comments.

One of the form letters, mainly submitted by recent, local high school graduates, called for the implementation of 8 to Abolition which claims the 8 Can’t Wait effort won’t work and instead, wants to simply abolish police departments and prisons.

According to their website, Campaign Zero released its 8 Can’t Wait campaign, offering a set of eight reforms they claim would reduce police killings by 72%. As police and prison abolitionists, we believe that this campaign is dangerous and irresponsible, offering a slate of reforms that have already been tried and failed, that mislead a public newly invigorated to the possibilities of police and prison abolition, and that do not reflect the needs of criminalized communities.”

“The end goal of these reforms is not to create better, friendlier, or more community-oriented police or prisons. Instead, we hope to build toward a society without police or prisons, where communities are equipped to provide for their safety and wellbeing.” The organization wants to Defund the Police and city officials to, “Reject any proposed expansion to police budgets. Demand the highest budget cuts per year, until they slash police budget to zero. Slash police salaries across the board until they are zeroed out.”

“Our police should be part of the solution,” read one letter. “Let’s create a community-based committee…not an ad hoc for a political agenda.”

“I support the ad hoc committee for police reform…if you believe the Antioch PD. The entire institution of police is based on racism. I can almost guarantee that the top level of police in Antioch have not taken a class on diversity,” read another letter.

Andrew Johnson wrote, “this is a political stunt. There are other issues the council should be focused on. More action and less political propaganda. It’s a dumpster fire of an idea.”

Jim Lanter wrote, “I believe Chief Brooks and the department would take a big step back if this committee was formed. Do we need conversation? Yes. Can it be done in another form? Yes…in a peaceful, open forum…”

“All cops are thugs…of a racist, capitalist system. Shame on all of you,” read another letter.

“Mr. Thorpe, a lot of the items you told us you would work on when you were elected haven’t gotten done,” read another letter.

Another member of the public wrote, “Thank you for supporting the police…in brutalizing the poor. All hail capitalism. All hail our ruling class.”

Theresa Householder wrote, “we need more police training…police reform. Period.”

Antioch School Board Member Ellie Householder wrote, “There’s no reason our community can’t have a conversation about police reform. I respect our police. It’s not a political action to call for police reform. Don’t listen to the voice of the minority.”

“Please for the safety of our residents, defund the APD,” read another letter.

Linda Reilly wrote, “You already moved funds from Measure W against the will of Antioch voters. Quit fighting the race war.” However, the funds from Measure W cannot all be spent on police, as that would violate the law, since it was passed as a general tax requiring only a majority vote to pass, and not a special tax, which would require a two-thirds vote to pass. So, some of the funds – as was written in the language of the measure – must be spent on other things in the city, such as youth programs.

Shagoofa Khan wrote, “People are finally realizing change needs to happen, now. This ad hoc committee is not an attack on the police department. All I want is to see Antioch to thrive and be the best it can be. It’s not just the police that can keep us safe, but all of us, together.”

Former Antioch Mayor Pro Tem and Planning Commissioner Manny Soliz, Jr. wrote, “I am categorically opposed to the creation of an ad hoc committee to review Police and Public Safety issues. In light of events at the state and federal level, this proposal is a politically motivated gimmick, a trick to portray certain city leaders as concerned about the public. They are motivated by the upcoming election in November, and nothing else. These committees have a long history of weakening public safety, creating an environment where criminal elements can thrive and endanger citizens, private property and precious business interests. We have a police Chief and department dedicated to protecting the city, and doing so in accordance with accepted ethical policing practices. Our police department is already adopting the measures outlined to avoid the recent events happening in other communities. So, I ask, what problem are we trying to solve?”

“Focus on the issues Antioch is facing: crime prevention, code enforcement, homelessness and economic development,” he continued. “Just a final thought, what do you think a manufactured problem says about our image? Weak leadership leads to a weak community. Abandon this ill-conceived, politically motivated committee. Let’s not create problems where they really don’t exist.”

Kerry Ingvardsen opposed the ad hoc committee writing, “We already have a Police Crime Prevention Commission.”

Former Police Crime Prevention Commissioner Harry Thurston wrote, “The Antioch Police Department, as with all city police departments, has been granted by the citizens of Antioch extensive rights, including the use of deadly force, to apprehend and detain citizens accused of violating federal, state, county and city laws, ordinances. It imperative, within a democracy, community oversite and control is fully implemented over any department that has been granted such rights.

Within the city of Antioch, a significant percentage of the City’s citizenry feel they have little to no oversight control on the development, implementation or changes to the Antioch Police Department policies and associated departmental funding. In addition, there is a feeling of a lack of accountability by the Antioch Police Department, including the administration of grievances pertaining to the excessive use of force, racial and/or ethnic profiling and police misconduct.

Whether or not these perceptions are correct, they are real within various communities of Antioch. Thus, with input from the community, these perceptions need to be examined and when found valid, addressed to the satisfaction of the Antioch citizenry.”

Nichole Gardener wrote about a cleanup of a homeless encampment. “I witnessed the city spending $50,000…defund the Antioch Police Department and start funding services for the homeless on our streets.”

“The police are a stain on our city. People feel unsafe by their presence. Antioch spends over 60% of the budget on police. (which is false) Redirecting at least 50% of the police budget to other programs would give our children a city we can be proud of,” read another letter.

Antioch School Board Trustee Mary Rocha wrote, “I do not support the ad hoc committee. It is a conflict of interest if council members sit if it the committee is established.”

Frank Sterling wrote of his own attack by APD in which he passed out. “When I awoke, I was kicked in the face. After two years I was cleared.”

Retired Antioch Police Chief Allan Cantando wrote, “I have to question the motives of councilmember Thorpe in calling for an ad-hoc committee especially as it comes on the heels of Mr. Thorpe sending out a press release regarding APD practices that he knew contained incorrect information. What was your motive in misleading the citizens of Antioch then Mr. Thorpe, and what is it now? It appears that Mr. Thorpe is planting those proverbial weeds in his backyard, just so he can pull them and appear to be a hero.

This is the epitome of political grandstanding and a disservice to the community you are paid to serve. If the city council decides to move forward with this, it should not be an ad-hoc committee, but rather a conversation with our community. Complete a community survey with our residents and then have a community discussion with our residents about the things Antioch police are doing well as well as the things they can improve upon. Once again, Councilman Thorpe, you continue to show that you are nothing more than an opportunist intent on dividing the City of Antioch.”

Jim Becker supporting the formation of an ad hoc committee wrote, “I would support forming it with transparency.”

“Funding police will only increase crime,” another member of the public wrote.

“I do stand with the blue. Without them this city would be hell,” read another letter.

Velma Wilson wrote, “I’m against forming an ad hoc committee…it undermines the leadership of Chief Brooks. T is a black man who has black sons and deals with the same issues as the black community. Let’s not be divisive…that will lead to bitterness in our community. No to the ad hoc committee and yes to a community forum.”

“Every person of color is affected by this system. We need change in this city,” wrote another resident.

The final comment read was by someone named Amber who wrote, “The money taken from the APD budget can be used for more important funds.”

Bill Bunting was on the Zoom call and wanted to know what do police officers have to know to be hired.

However, City Attorney Thomas Smith explained to him, that “Public comment is the time for people to make comment not for Q and A.”

Council Discusses Matter Votes Down Ad Hoc Committee

The council then took up the matter.

“This is obviously a very important topic. I don’t believe we’ve ever had this many comments form the public on a topic,” said Mayor Wright. “I wish we could have allowed three minutes each but that would have taken three times long. There was a lot shared over the seven hours of listening. We heard from both sides. The common thread was that we want to have a discussion. It’s important we have a conversation. Tonight, we’re not talking about what reforms that need to take place. Just what

Mayor Pro Tem Joy Motts was called on, first and attempted to make a motion, but it was disallowed.

“If this is a conversation you want to hold, what is the vehicle you want to use?” Attorney Smith asked. “There is an option of a study session. The ad hoc is outside of the Brown Act, so, there isn’t a public notice required. If the council decides to use that” they would have to decide “who are the members, who would sit on it. It could go on as long as nine months, or even a year. The council would decide the scope of what to be discussed.”

“The study sessions would be the entire city council with reports from the ad hoc,” he explained. “You could have both. You could also add panelists. There would be checklists for the public to have input. This study session is an idea by Mayor Wright. You’d have the entire public involved in the dialogue. If you decide you don’t want to use the tools listed on the agenda, the mayor could call a special meeting to decide the tools you want to use.”

“I just wanted to thank the community for sharing their views,” Motts continued. “This is an important issue. I see Pittsburg already held a town hall in which the police department and the entire council participated. It’s too important of an issue to not include the entire council. I’d like to make a motion that we hold a town hall or community forum as soon as possible and bring the full council together, the police department and community, rather than doing an ad hoc at this time.”

“This is just a process point…the agenda doesn’t identify a town hall as an option,” Smith said. “What you’re calling for if it includes the council as a whole, you can decide tonight…it’s letting the mayor know, then the mayor can call that special meeting.”

“Are you saying that motion is invalid?” asked Wright.

“If it’s the will of the council, you can call a special meeting at any time, mayor, you have the authority to do that,” Smith stated.

Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock said she seconded the motion and then said, “I’ll ask Joy that you include the Police Crime Prevention Commission handle that as a special study session.”

However, Smith reiterated that the motion was invalid because that option wasn’t on the council’s meeting agenda.

“It’s on here, formation of a police ad hoc committee. If she changes it to a study session with the police commission,” Ogorchock responded.

“I don’t think this is something that can be handled by the Police Crime Commission,” Motts said. “I think it’s something we all need to be involved with.”

Smith said the mayor can call a special meeting at any time without this motion.

“When we discussed the motion… it was some sort of ad hoc committee,” Wright said. “The first and the second is a motion they can’t make?”

“We know there are two members that want to have a meeting such as that, if there is a third, which could be you, you can go ahead and take that into consideration and call a special meeting,” Smith reiterated to the mayor.

Thorpe Reads Prepared Speech

“Normally when someone suggests an ad hoc, the person who suggested it gives their two cents,” Councilman Lamar Thorpe said. “I like what Mayor Tem Motts suggested. But not absent the ad hoc committee. All our meetings were public, but they were workshops.”

He then read a prepared statement.

“I’m somewhat blown away,” he said. “I do want to apologize to Councilwoman Wilson. I’m the one who suggested the ad hoc committee. You had nothing to do with that. So, I’m somewhat blown away by that.”

He then said, “I’m not a politician, I’m a father, a homeowner…”

“How long anyone has lived here does not give their voice any more power than anyone else,” Thorpe stated. “Because I love my city, I’m willing to have difficult conversations. I want to make a difference and serve all the people of Antioch. All the people of Antioch,” he repeated.

“I want to just have a conversation about reform. That doesn’t mean a negative,” he continued.

“I find it ironic that a small group of special interests are fighting to keep this from happening,” he said. “Isn’t that why people are protesting on the streets of our nation, today?”

“Let me be clear, I have not attacked the police department. Why is the police department so above us all we can’t ask questions in a public setting?” he asked.

Thorpe then called for the formation of the ad hoc committee.

Councilwoman Monica Wilson spoke next, saying, “All of us tried really hard to hear everyone. The world is changing and communities all over the world are having these discussions.”

“I’m also amazed at the resistance to have this conversation,” she continued. “I always wanted to begin a dialogue with our community. The desire to have an ad hoc committee is because our city can always do better.”

“For those in our community who feel everything is fine, I want them to recognize there are some in our community who don’t feel the same way,” Wilson said. “When we do have these town halls…show up and make your voices be heard.”

Ogorchock, Wright, Motts Push for Study Sessions With All Council Members Present

Ogorchock then said, “I thank everyone for all their emails and phone calls. There is one common thread…everyone wants their voices heard. All council members want to be heard. An ad hoc committee would only allow two council members. We don’t want just one. We need quarterly meetings. I personally want to see us all sit together, so everybody’s voice gets to be heard.”

“To have 700 citizens share how much they care how important this is, and to have a community to want to be a part of it,” Wright said. “To be on an ad hoc committee is very powerful, to go out and do the research. When I wasn’t on an ad hoc committee I didn’t get all the information. Everybody in their own way, everyone of these five council members have let me know they want to be on this ad hoc committee.”

“To be honest, this is too big, too important for our community,” he continued. “What I see is a series of forums…but it would be inclusive of everyone on the council. That’s how big this moment is. Let’s do something that would include all of us to have this conversation. This is a bigger moment, not that ad hoc committees aren’t good and can do a lot of research.”

“We tried to do that before with the cannabis, but it didn’t work, no one showed up. It was too formal for people,” Thorpe said. “I think it limits folks’ participation.”

“When we tried cannabis, we tried to get people to make comments, no one did,” Wright said. “But we had 700 people participate. If we don’t get anyone to participate, we can then go to the ad hoc committee.”

Thorpe then made the motion to create the police reform ad hoc committee. Wilson seconded his motion.

“I just think it’s too big to have an ad hoc committee,” said Wright.

“I was encouraged what Pittsburg was able to pull off,” Motts said.

“What did they do?” asked Thorpe. “They had a meeting and looked at their budget. They didn’t make any change to their police. They didn’t do anything.”

“That’s what I read,” Motts said. “Nevertheless, I do have faith we as a council can handle it. The community has expressed themselves like never before. I can’t see moving forward without their participation and have everyone at the table. I’d really like to try this first and come together as a community.”

The motion failed on a vote with Ogorchock, Motts and Wright voting no.

“Now that we’re talking about an open forum, I really don’t want to wait on that,” Ogorchock said.

“If we look at the next Tuesday, as a fifth Tuesday, we could have our first session,” Wright said. “We really need to have a conversation…what our series of panelists we want to hear. Who should be there?”

“Faith leaders, NAACP,” suggested Ogorchock.

“Let’s make sure it’s a broad group of people,” Wilson stated.

“It’s a series,” Wright explained.

“I think police reform advocates, the 8 Can’t Wait, what are the changes they really want to see,” one of the council members said.

“Crime commissioners,” added Ogorchock.

“I think the Police Crime Prevention Commissioners should be added to it,” Wright agreed.

“We need to hear from the chief, what changes are already being made,” Wright said. “At some point we need to hear from the community, what are our blind spots.”

“I’d like to hear from members of our community who have had issues with the police,” he added. “Maybe an hour for the chief, first. Then members of the community.”

“The sooner, the better, we’re wanting to hear what everyone wants to say,” said Ogorchock.

“So, Thomas I’m going to look to you, if this is what the majority wants to do,” Wright then said wrapping up the discussion.

“Yes. I think you have substantial direction from the council for you to call a special meeting,” City Attorney Smith said. “At the end of that meeting you can have a time for council to discuss items moving forward.”

“I just want to thank everyone for their comments,” Ogorchock reiterated to conclude the meeting. “We want all those 700, there.”

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Contra Costa Road Ahead update: more projected reopenings – indoor dining & gyms July 1st, movie theaters July 15th

Wednesday, June 17th, 2020

Following are the businesses that will be allowed to reopen and the activities that will be allowed to resume based on Contra Costa County’s updated Road Ahead issued Wednesday, June 17, 2020.

July 1st – Personal services not involving the face (massage, nail salons, tattoo, body waxing, etc.) • Indoor dining • Bars (with or without food) • Indoor religious services • Gyms, fitness centers & personal training • Limited indoor leisure (arcades, billiards, bowling alleys, etc.) • Indoor museums • Hotels (for tourism & individual travel)

July 15th – • Personal services involving the face (skin care, permanent makeup, facial waxing, etc.) • Movie theaters

However, although “These openings are a direct response to your patience and observation of the health order” as is written on the new Road Ahead, and they “hope to continue opening up the county” the county health officer “may need to reconsider openings based on the course of the pandemic.”

Download a copy of the latest Road Ahead, here.

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Antioch Council approves new way to choose mayor pro tem, makes it a one-year term

Monday, June 15th, 2020

By Allen Payton

During their meeting on Tuesday, June 9, 2020 the Antioch City Council voted unanimously to change the way the mayor pro tem is selected, in response to the new district elections that will go into effect in November, and limit it to just a one year term. In other cities the position has the title of vice mayor and the holder acts in place of the mayor, represents the city and chairs the council meetings when the mayor is absent or unavailable.

Currently the highest vote-getter in the most recent council election has served as mayor pro tem for the following two years.

But, now, according to the language in the new ordinance, “the Mayor Pro Tempore shall serve a one-year term at the pleasure of the Council and until his or her successor qualifies for office. No Council member shall serve consecutive terms as Mayor Pro Tempore unless no other Council member eligible in accordance with section 2-1.401 is willing to serve as Mayor Pro Tempore.”

In addition the new ordinance reads, “If all Council members have previously served as mayor pro tempore, or if the Council members eligible…decline, the City Council shall select the Council member who received the highest percentage of votes in his or her district in the most recent general municipal election at which the Council member was elected.”

So, the position will still be given to the highest vote getter for the year following the most recent election. But, during the second year the position will be decided by a vote of the city council.

The change is “to conform with the by-district election process commencing at the November 2020 general municipal election so Council members from all districts have the opportunity to serve as Mayor Pro Tempore.”

Antioch’s current mayor pro tem is Joy Motts who has held the position since being elected in 2018 but, ends this year along with her council term. The next mayor pro tem will take their position most likely during the council reorganization meeting on the second Tuesday of December.

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