Archive for the ‘Government’ Category

Antioch Mayor-elect Thorpe introduces his transition advisory team of councilmembers, commissioners, staff, residents

Saturday, November 21st, 2020

Antioch Mayor-elect Lamar Thorpe (at podium) is joined by some of his Transition Team members, including Councilwoman Monica Wilson, Parks & Recreation Commission Chair Marie Arce, Con Johnson, Antioch School Board Trustee-elect Antonio Hernandez, Nichole Gardner, Harry Thurston and Antioch School Board Trustee Ellie Householder at the start of the press conference on Friday, Nov. 20, 2020.

“The Antioch of yesteryear is over” – Lamar Thorpe

Tells police officers their union leader and political consultant “gotta go”

Offers additional comments not included during press conference

Questions to City Attorney on possible open meeting law violations and conflict of interest for him

By Allen Payton

In a unique move, Antioch Mayor-elect Lamar Thorpe was joined by several members of what he’s labeling his transition team, during a press conference held Friday afternoon, Nov. 20, and announced how each of them and others will help advise him in eight priority areas. The presentation was streamed via Facebook Live on a special page Thorpe set up for the event.

Re-elected Councilwoman Monica Wilson started things off by saying, “thank you for those who are out here watching us…and those watching via live social media.  I’m excited to continue representing our community and thankful for the overwhelming support of the vote of confidence shown for my work. It is critical that we come together and understand what the future holds for us.”

“I’m delighted to introduce Mayor-elect Thorpe,” she concluded.

Thorpe said the team members are “representing the grand diversity of our community.”

“Some have asked why a transition team, because we haven’t done that in our city, ever. Because anything less would fall short of the significance of our city and the symbolism of November 3rd, when our City’s residents spoke loudly and clearly, the Antioch of yester-year is over,” he explained.

“Antioch is Contra Costa County’s second largest city and growing. 115,000 plus people call it home,” Thorpe stated. “It is on track to be home to the third largest indoor cannabis cultivation firm in our country.  Out of the 482 cities, Antioch sits atop 50th of the largest cities of California.”

“Antioch is a serious city filled with serious opportunities to raise our profile to match that of our residents,” he said. “Right here alone, in South East Antioch, over 50% of the adult population have earned bachelor’s degree or above. 30% have earned an advanced degree. And the medium household income soars above $100,000 plus a year.

In prepared remarks which he didn’t share live, Thorpe wrote, “Traditionally, a transition in Antioch looks like this, the city manager calls you into a conference room in City Hall to tell you about the budget. He or she then goes on to learn about your priorities and how those priorities may or may not fit into the legislative process. While some elected officials have appreciated this tradition, I do not, and reject it 100%. Today, is about our collective agenda that will be developed through a community led transition team.”

“Some have argued the city was divided. It was not,” he continued in his public comments. “In fact, it was maturing because people have different points of views. That creates conflict. But at the end of the day they come to resolution. They cared about our city, those with different perspectives, so much so that they worked quietly to shape and develop the direction of our city. We cannot deny that some were made to feel their point of view did not matter.”

“Today, I am joined by different cross sections of our community that will work collaboratively to develop and shape an agenda for our city’s future regardless of social, economic background, race, gender, so on. They will all make all of us feel valued in our community,” Thorpe shared. “And so today belongs to all of us. The doors of City Hall are open and the journey toward our collective vision has begun.”

The 8 Priorities and Team Members to Work on Them

“The purpose of this transition advisory team is simple: explore and debate ideas that will serve as the foundation of our legislative priorities for the next four years, as we work to maintain a balanced budget, increase community safety, promote economic growth, protect our natural environment and build a sustainable city with a high quality of life,” Thorpe announced.

“I have asked a few of our fellow citizens to help me in that process,” he said. “The transition advisory team will focus on the eight following areas:

Neighborhood Safety and Blight

“I have asked longtime resident Harry Thurston to lead the development of these ideas,” Thorpe stated. “Harry has served on the Antioch Crime Prevention Commission, the Contra Costa County Advisory Board on Public Safety Realignment, and the Contra Costa County Sustainability Commission. He will be joined by District 2, Councilmember-Elect Mike Barbanica. Mike is currently a local business owner and a retired police lieutenant. I know Mike will become an invaluable colleague on the Antioch City Council. Beyond this transition work, Mike and I will be working together on issues of blight, police reform and city beautification. In my short time knowing Mike, I can already see we are going to have a productive and meaningful working relationship.”

“I’m delighted to know Mike and work together with him,” Thorpe added.

Homelessness

“You can’t have a conversation about homelessness in Antioch without the name of Nichole Gardner. In just a few short years Nichole has taken city hall by storm which is not always a pleasant experience. She will be joined by Councilwoman-elect Monica Wilson and Monica will bring her expertise in human trafficking and mental health. I am delighted to announce she will be leading that transition work. She will be joined by Councilwoman-re-elect Monica Wilson. And Monica will bring her expertise in human trafficking and mental health; and Antioch resident Ricka Davis-Sheard of Health Right 360’s Reentry Network and Co-Founder of SHARE COMMUNITY. They will also be joined by Nattie Flores…a community member who has had personal experience with homelessness.”

Gardner then spoke reading from prepared remarks thanking Thorpe and sharing about a man and daughter who she had worked with in the past to help homeless in our community, who informed her that morning that they had become homeless.

She spoke about “residents and business owners who are affected by the homeless issue. Now, we all know that homelessness is a complicated issue. But we also know that simply depending on the county as we have in the past over the years has gotten us nowhere. I believe county has let Antioch homeless people down. Although we need to work with the county, it’s time for Antioch people to do something different to help all residents affected by homelessness and that is exactly what I have faith that our new mayor and council will do. I look forward to the opportunity and I’m so excited about the future of Antioch.”

Police Reform

“The next issue is police reform which has been a hot topic issue in Antioch before the campaign and during the campaign,” Thorpe stated.

He introduced “Co-chair Con Johnson a retired San Francisco Police Department Captain and our current City Attorney Thomas Lloyd Smith to work on this important endeavor.”

Johnson quoted Robert Pill who was the father of modern policing from England who said, “’The police is the community, and the community is the police.’ That rings true today. We have to work together in order to create a community that is safe. I am honored…to be part of this team, here. I look forward to the future in sharing my expertise, knowledge and skills.”

Climate Change, Environmental and Smart Growth

Liz Kain will lead this effort, Thorp shared. “She’s no stranger to the city council. She was an instrumental activist in the Let Antioch Voters Decide initiative. She will be joined, of course, by another Antioch resident and Antioch city employee, Environmental Coordinator Julie Haas and environmental activist, and I will go out on a limb, here and say City Clerk-Elect Ellie Householder. She is ahead by 34 votes and we’re excited.”

“I’ve asked City Clerk-elect Householder to sit on that because I know the environment is something she’s passionate about,” he added.

Householder then offered her remarks saying, “to me climate change, climate action and climate justice is the number one issue facing our society and world today. I don’t have a science background but what I do have is a policy background. Tides are rising including along the San Joaquin Delta in our downtown.

The next generation of leaders. They’re the ones who are going to have to pay for the mistakes that we’re doing right now.”

“Those are the top priorities we are going to start moving on, today,” Thorpe stated.

Recreational and Youth, Programming Services

Thorpe said the area will be “led by our Parks and Recreation Commission Chair Marie Arce” who will be “joined by the city’s Tasha Johnson. I’ve had other parents reach out to me about this particular area and share their ideas.

Arce said, “I’m really excited to be here and be part this wonderful team…to do a better job for the youth in our community. I look forward to working with Mayor Elect Thorpe.”

Economic Growth and Downtown Revitalization

“I’ve asked outgoing Councilmember Joy Motts to help me on that effort,” Thorpe shared. “She was not able to join us, here, today.”

City-School District Relations

The school district and the city have not had a great relationship for a long time,” Thorpe stated. “So, I see great promise with newly elected school board members, Dr. Clyde Lewis and Antonio Hernandez and have asked them both…to work with me…to continue to lead us in the right direction

Hernandez then shared his thoughts, saying, “I’m really excited about these partnerships that are forming. Because school and our youth they are the future of our city. With over 70% of our students in this district being on free and reduced lunch the school district alone will not be able to solve all the challenges that affect education. That’s why it’s important to have strong partnerships and great teams like the people you see behind me.”

He spoke of equity. We need to be talking about the way how we can bridge the gap in achievement for our Black, Latinx, homeless and foster youth students of our community. Again, I can’t say it enough that I’m very excited about the team I have behind me and it’s that factor that’s going to help our youth become the future leaders of our community.”

He then offered his message in Spanish.

“Muchas gracias,” Thorpe said to him.

“The last one is, and these are just the eight priorities for now and are certainly not the only priorities,” he stated, and the spoke of COVID-19 and the city’s response to i.

Government Efficiency & Streamlining

“I will be working on that with City Manager Ron Bernal, Ellie Householder and Assistant City Manager (Rosanna Bayon Moore),” Thorpe stated.

“These aren’t silos,” he continued. “There’s cross pollenization…in these working groups so we’re thinking about these issues. These are working groups and we want to make sure we are not just talking to ourselves. There’s a lot to do.”

“I will end this. There are more bridges that need to be built, and more residents to engage and relationships that need to be prepared after a grueling campaign season. I’m not naïve to that. I recognize that,” Thorpe stated. “But at the end of the day the people have spoken and they have spoken clearly. This has never been about me. It’s been about us. As your mayor I will work to ensure everyone feels equally connected to our city.”

“I will end with, I think all of us, I’m sure there is none of us here who doesn’t have great admiration for the men and women who put on uniforms to protect our community. So, I offer them a round of applause for the work you do, day in and day out.”

Thorpe Challenges Antioch Police Officers to Choose New Leaders

“But I want to speak at this time directly to the men and women of our police department. It is clear, you need to send a resounding message to your police union representatives,” Thorpe said. “That is, it is time for new leadership that is aligned with the values of the people of Antioch.”

“Thank you very much everyone for taking the time to visit with us, today to talk about this transition,” Thorpe concluded with his public remarks.

Asked if the working groups will be ad hoc committees, Thorp responded, “they’re advisory teams.”

Asked if they will be working in private or take public Thorpe responded, “If the work group wants to have their meeting on Facebook Live. They’re not committees. They’re not meant to be forever. They’re to gather expertise that we know exists here, in Antioch. We have talent right here in this city.”

Meetings Will Be Private, But Members Will Accept Public Input

Asked if there will be a list of transition team members with their contact information so residents can give their input, Thorpe responded that they will.

Asked about parks, specifically about the complete Prewett Park Plan from 1992, if there will be an effort to complete it, including the new library, and if they will work on finding a funding source, such as an assessment or fee on new homes, like all the existing homes paid Mello-Roos, Thorpe responded, “I don’t want to get into the details, I’m sure Marie will put that on her list.”

Thorpe Sends Additional Message to Antioch Police Officers and Leader, Says He and Their Political Consultant “Gotta Go”

In prepared remarks Thorpe didn’t offer during the press conference but shared later with the Herald, he wrote “We are going to do police reform with or without you. I still believe we can achieve this with our police union representatives at the table but not under the current circumstances. Our officers, like the people of Antioch, deserve an opportunity to be represented by new leadership and an opportunity to sever ties with Mary Jo Rossi the union’s political consultant who has only served to destroy relationships Antioch. She’s gotta go along with Corporal Steve Aiello so that we can begin working towards positive change.”

Questions to City Attorney on Possible Open Meeting Law Violations and His Potential Conflict of Interest

A phone call to City Attorney Smith, late afternoon Friday,  asking about any possible violations of the Brown Act, the California Open Meeting Law, with three council members serving on the committees that will have “cross pollenization” as Thorpe stated, and about Smith’s role with police reform and any potential conflict of interest, was  not responded to. Please check back later for any updates to this report.

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Contra Costa Health Services and cities launch community Behavioral Health Crisis Response Initiative

Friday, November 20th, 2020

Contra Costa Crisis Response Team including all 19 city managers in the county.

To connect residents with the most appropriate resources

Working in partnership with cities across Contra Costa County, Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS) has launched a comprehensive review of existing behavioral health crisis response services to develop a vision for how to connect residents with the most appropriate resources where and when they are needed.

In close collaboration with city leaders through the Contra Costa Public Managers Association, community stakeholders, service providers and staff from across the county participated in a multi-day workshop to identify current resources and next steps. Workshop participants included those working in crisis response, community-based organizations, schools, police and dispatch, as well as clinicians and persons and family members with lived experiences. The team spent the past two weeks observing, analyzing and interviewing subject matter experts and looking at data about the current state of crisis response in Contra Costa County to develop a vision for the future and identify areas for improvement.

Statistics

  • Behavioral health issues are widespread
    • About one in five adults are currently experiencing behavioral health issues
    • About 13% of all EMS calls address mental health issues
    • There are between 10,000 and 11,000 involuntary psychiatric holds (5150s) in our county each year

Existing Resources

  • CCHS provides a variety of behavioral health services. A limited number provide crisis response, however none provide emergent response like 911.
    • Crisis Intervention Training (CIT)
    • Homeless Services (H3 & HCH)
    • Alcohol & Other Drug Services
    • Medical and Psychiatric Emergency Services
    • Behavioral Health Crisis Teams
  • Existing crisis response resources serve a small number of residents
    • Mental Health Evaluation Team (MHET) serves 293 people annually at a cost of $2 million
      • Designed to reduce law enforcement repeat calls for service and violent encounters, reduce visits to Psychiatric Emergency Services, increase community and police safety, and increase appropriate use of mental health services.
    • Mobile Crisis Team (MCRT) takes about 1,600 calls per year at a cost of $2 million, serves adults only
      • MCRT is designed to have mental health providers respond in the field to de-escalate crisis, provide stabilization, and prevent psychiatric hospitalization. If the situation cannot be de-escalated in the field, the MCRT will assess for 5150 criteria and, if criteria are met, the Mental Health Clinical Specialist can initiate a 72-hour 5150 involuntary hold.
      • In addition to responding in the community to the immediate situation that led to calling the MCRT, the team provides a 30-day period of follow up during which they focus on linking individuals to a variety of services to help them stabilize and prevent ongoing crisis experiences.
    • Mobile Response Team (MRT) receives about 1,000 calls from youth each year, budget is $2.2 million
  • MRT provides risk/safety assessments, crisis intervention, follow up services, collaboration with existing treatment team members and linkage for youth in their natural settings. The CCC MRT aims to provide same day services and/or services as close to 24 hours of immediate crisis.
  • We have researched models from other communities
    • Regardless of what model we choose, the key to success is alignment with our cities and community partners across the county.

Contra Costa Crisis Response Team Timeline.

The public is invited to hear the key findings and recommendations during a public report to be shown on Contra Costa Television (CCTV) on Saturday, November 21 at noon and 7 p.m., and Sunday, November 22 at 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. The event can also be seen online at contracostatv.org during those scheduled times.

The process prioritized these areas of focus for the next steps:

  • Identifying a single number to call for behavioral health crisis response
  • Establishing a mobile crisis 24/7 response
  • Evaluating non-police mobile crisis team composition
  • Identifying alternate destinations for those experiencing a behavioral health crisis

Using the Lean Process Improvement Model, the team will spend the next several months planning for rapid improvement workshops to test potential strategies based on the four areas of focus. Results of this process will be presented to the Contra Costa Mayors Conference in February 2021.

For more information on CCHS Community Crisis Response, visit cchealth.org/bhs/crisis-response.

 

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President Trump approves major disaster declaration for California to help wildfire victims

Friday, October 16th, 2020

Includes grants for temporary housing, home repairs, low-cost loans for uninsured property losses, more

WASHINGTON – Oct. 16, 2020 – 9:20 PM EST – FEMA announced that federal disaster assistance has been made available to the state of California to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by wildfires from Sept. 4 and continuing.

The President’s action makes federal funding available to affected individuals in Fresno, Los Angeles, Madera, Mendocino, San Bernardino, San Diego and Siskiyou counties.  Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.

Federal funding is also available to the state, tribal and local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency protective measures in Fresno, Los Angeles, Madera, Mendocino, San Bernardino, San Diego and Siskiyou counties.

Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.

Willie G. Nunn has been named the Federal Coordinating Officer for federal recovery operations in the affected area. Additional designations may be made at a later date if warranted by the results of damage assessments.

Individuals and business owners who sustained losses in the designated area can begin applying for assistance by registering online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621- 3362 or 1-800-462-7585 TTY

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Gov. Newsom signs exec order phasing out gas-powered cars, passenger trucks sold in state by 2035

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2020

To “drastically reduce demand for fossil fuel in California’s fight against climate change”

Transportation currently accounts for more than 50 percent of California’s greenhouse gas emissions   

Zero-emission vehicles are a key part of California’s clean, innovation economy – already California’s second largest global export market  

Order also directs state to take more actions to tackle the dirtiest oil extraction and support workers and job retention and creation as we make a just transition away from fossil fuels  

SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom today announced that he will aggressively move the state further away from its reliance on climate change-causing fossil fuels while retaining and creating jobs and spurring economic growth – he issued an executive order requiring sales of all new passenger vehicles to be zero-emission by 2035 and additional measures to eliminate harmful emissions from the transportation sector. (The text of today’s executive order can be found here and a copy can be found here.)

The transportation sector is responsible for more than half of all of California’s carbon pollution, 80 percent of smog-forming pollution and 95 percent of toxic diesel emissions – all while communities in the Los Angeles Basin and Central Valley see some of the dirtiest and most toxic air in the country.

“This is the most impactful step our state can take to fight climate change,” said Governor Newsom. “For too many decades, we have allowed cars to pollute the air that our children and families breathe. Californians shouldn’t have to worry if our cars are giving our kids asthma. Our cars shouldn’t make wildfires worse – and create more days filled with smoky air. Cars shouldn’t melt glaciers or raise sea levels threatening our cherished beaches and coastlines.”

Following the order, the California Air Resources Board will develop regulations to mandate that 100 percent of in-state sales of new passenger cars and trucks are zero-emission by 2035 – a target which would achieve more than a 35 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and an 80 percent improvement in oxides of nitrogen emissions from cars statewide. In addition, the Air Resources Board will develop regulations to mandate that all operations of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles shall be 100 percent zero emission by 2045 where feasible, with the mandate going into effect by 2035 for drayage trucks. To ensure needed infrastructure to support zero-emission vehicles, the order requires state agencies, in partnership with the private sector, to accelerate deployment of affordable fueling and charging options. It also requires support of new and used zero-emission vehicle markets to provide broad accessibility to zero-emission vehicles for all Californians. The executive order will not prevent Californians from owning gasoline-powered cars or selling them on the used car market.

California will be leading the nation in this effort – joining 15 countries that have already committed to phase out gasoline-powered cars and using our market power to push zero-emission vehicle innovation and drive down costs for everyone.

By the time the new rule goes into effect, zero-emission vehicles will almost certainly be cheaper and better than the traditional fossil fuel powered cars. The upfront cost of electric vehicles are projected to reach parity with conventional vehicles in just a matter of years, and the cost of owning the car – both in maintenance and how much it costs to power the car mile for mile – is far less than a fossil fuel burning vehicle.

The executive order sets clear deliverables for new health and safety regulations that protect workers and communities from the impacts of oil extraction. It supports companies who transition their upstream and downstream oil production operations to cleaner alternatives. It also directs the state to make sure taxpayers are not stuck with the bill to safely close and remediate former oil fields. To protect the health and safety of our communities and workers, the Governor is also asking the Legislature to end the issuance of new hydraulic fracturing permits by 2024.

The executive order directs state agencies to develop strategies for an integrated, statewide rail and transit network, and incorporate safe and accessible infrastructure into projects to support bicycle and pedestrian options, particularly in low-income and disadvantaged communities.

This action continues the Governor’s commitment to strengthening California’s resilience while lowering carbon emissions – essential to meeting California’s air quality and climate goals. In the last six months alone, the California Air Resources Board has approved new regulations requiring truck manufacturers to transition to electric zero-emission trucks beginning in 2024 and the Governor signed an MOU with 14 other states to advance and accelerate the market for electric medium- and heavy-duty vehicles. Last fall, California led a multi-state coalition in filing a lawsuit challenging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s attempt to revoke portions of a 2013 waiver that allows the state to implement its Advanced Clean Car Standards.

Last September, Governor Newsom took action to leverage the state’s transportation systems and purchasing power to strengthen climate mitigation and resiliency and to measure and manage climate risks across the state’s $700 billion pension investments. To mitigate climate threats to our communities and increase carbon sequestration, the Governor invested in forest health and fuel reduction and held utilities accountable for building resiliency. The Governor also directed state agencies to develop a comprehensive strategy to build a climate-resilient water system and made a historic investment to develop the workforce for California’s future carbon-neutral economy.

 

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

Wednesday, September 16th, 2020

Source: CoCoCo

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

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

By Daniel Borsuk

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Contra Costa Hazardous Materials Commission seeks applicants 

Tuesday, September 15th, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Antioch Council approves $435,000 small business relief package

Wednesday, August 26th, 2020

$15,000 for outdoor dining in downtown Rivertown; $15,000 for Chamber of Commerce to administer

By Allen Payton

During their meeting on Tuesday, August 25, 2020, the Antioch City Council approved allocating $300,000 in CARES Act funds allocation of $300,000 in CARES Act funding and reprogramming of $120,000 in the Economic Development Department budget towards COVID-19 small business relief including $15,000 for the Antioch Chamber of Commerce for the purpose of administering the small business grant program.

Economic Development Director Kwame Reed provided the staff presentation.

The Business License Tax Relief will be allocated as a reduction or as a rebate (after the full cost of the renewal has been paid) of $100 on the renewal of existing Antioch businesses.

To be eligible for the relief the business must meet the qualifications below:

  • Have a current/active business license as of March 17, 2020
  • Have paid or will have paid for a renewal prior to March 16, 2021
  • Have no more than 50 employees
  • Do not have a national-brand affiliation

This is a one-time relief and only eligible to one owner per business.

Small Business Grants will be funded by the City’s CARES Act allocation. The CARES Act states that payments from the Fund may be used to cover costs associated with the provisions of grants to small businesses to reimburse the costs of business interruption caused by required closures. Businesses will be able to apply for $5,000 grants. This amount will allow 60 grants to be provided to support eligible Antioch small businesses.

To be eligible, business must:

  • Have a physical location in the Antioch city limits
  • Hold a current Antioch business license for one (1) year prior to January 1, 2020
  • No more than 25 employees
  • Demonstrate they were unable to operate due to the Shelter Orders or sales were down more than 25% from the previous quarter or the same quarter last year Priority will be given to retail, personal service businesses, restaurants, and businesses that have not received federal assistance (PPP, EIDL, etc.).

No public comments were received.

Mayor Sean Wright recused himself, since he’s both a small business owner and the COO of the Antioch Chamber of Commerce. Mayor Pro Tem Joy Motts then acted in his place in overseeing discussion of the item.

Councilman Lamar Thorpe said, “I’m excited about this, and particular that the Chamber plays a role. My only question is oversight. Where does that rest? I appreciate the Chamber. But they do have some ideologues, out there. So, I want to make sure the oversight is the city and not those who have a political agenda.”

“The economic program manager and I will have oversight of the funding,” Reed said. “The funding will come from the City not the Chamber.”

“I am happy to hear this will be for all businesses that fit the criteria not just Chamber members,” Wilson said. She then asked if members of the Economic Development Commission will be involved.

The EDC was the commission to develop the program and made a presentation on what they labeled the “COVID-19 Recovery, Retention, and Thriving Plan” to the City Council on August 11, 2020.

Reed responded that he will check with the EDC Chairman to decide. “But we don’t want to slow down the process.”

Wilson then asked about the timeline.

“Ultimately it will be two weeks once the information has been established and created,” Reed said. “We are pushing for the applications to be due early October.”

Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock thanked, “Kwame and the commission for doing this.”

She asked about those businesses, such as hair salons and barber shops, that aren’t open, “can they still apply and hold on to those funds?”

“Yes,” Reed replied.

Motts said she was concerned that all businesses receive the information. “Did you say a one-week application period?”

“Yes,” Reed responded.

“I’m going to request council will consider an amendment…and that is for an establishment for outdoor dining for downtown,” Motts then asked. “It’s $15,000 from the CARES Act in emergency funds that I’m asking for…for barricades. We have a private investor investing millions of dollars in downtown…we have some significant wins. It would be great if the city could support their efforts.”

Thorpe then asked about outdoor dining in downtown. “It seems to me they’ll have to block off some parking. I don’t think that will cost $15,000 to the city.”

“I’ve checked with the city manager and it does require the purchase of barricades,” Motts said. “It might require the closing of one of the streets. But, for the streets that are open, we have to make sure there are barricades.

Ogorchock then asked, “that’s going to be coming up on the agenda (under Item 11), can we be discussing this, now Attorney Smith?”

“I was thinking whether this fit within the scope of the discussion, but I hadn’t come to a conclusion,” City Attorney Thomas Smith said.

“This should come under the Waterfront Committee later in the agenda,” Ogorchock said.

“That’s just about dissolving the Waterfront Committee,” Thorpe stated. “I’m not sure if this fits within the scope of this discussion.”

“To the extent that this creates barriers to accommodate outdoor dining it would be legitimate for the discussion of the CARES Act,” said City Manager Ron Bernal.

“Given that, it can fall within that scope…the talk about the expense of $15,000,” Smith said.

“It’s not my desire to take away but to add,” Motts shared.

“To spend $15,000 to block off some parking spaces…but if it does, it does,” said Thorpe.

“I just wanted to add that as City Manager Bernal mentioned, if a business wants to apply for a grant for putting out barriers for outdoor dining they can,” Reed explained. “At this time, I don’t believe there has been any additional funding allocated for this particular venture.”

“This came out of a committee, out of our Waterfront Committee,” Motts explained. “We’re already half-way through August and this won’t happen until October. There will come a time when outdoor dining won’t be feasible. I think this request is pretty reasonable.”

Thorp then asked Bernal, “assuming a restaurant in downtown came to the city and asked to set aside parking spaces in front of their business, you have a right to do that, right?”

“Yes,” Bernal responded. “The cost Mayor Pro Tem Motts came up with is to put out water filled barrels in case cars might run into them. The cost of putting out barriers of about 120 feet in length is about $10,000. I put in another $5,000 for putting them out, as a conservative estimate.”

“I didn’t think we were going to go purchase barriers,” Thorpe stated.

“I’m personally fine with Joy’s recommendation,” he added.

“I’m fine with the idea of outdoor dining,” Wilson said. “With the recommendations that the Economic Development Commission brought forward that it doesn’t take away from that. I’m concerned if we carve away it will impact their recommendations.”

“If the $15,000 is in addition to not part of this funding from the CARES Act, I’m unclear about that,” said Attorney Smith.

“So, the increase in funding from $300,000 to $315,000 does exist in the CARES Act,” Bernal said. “Director Reed brought back a budget $60,000 more than what he had originally.” So, the council can add the $15,000 to the budget.

“My recommendation would be to increase it to $315,000,” Motts said.

“Is it something that we’re going to have to come back and look at,,,which restaurants are going to get it, or will it be out of the $5,000 grant?” Ogorchock asked.

“I believe this would be a separate thing,” Motts said.

Thorpe then said, “the resolution is for $315,000, we’re not taking it from anywhere else. With that I will make a motion.”

“I’m not done with my question,” Ogorchock said.

“You can’t continue once a motion is made,” Thorpe said.

“It doesn’t matter,” Ogorchock responded.

“Yes, it does matter,” said Thorpe.

“The city would actually go out and purchase the barricades,” Reed said. “It would be coming through the CARES Act that the city could utilize.”

“Thank you,” Ogorchock responded.

“I will read the motion,” Thorpe then said. He then moved approval of allocating $315,000 for the business relief program.

Ogorchock seconded the motion and it passed on a 4-0 vote.

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Antioch Council changes homeless coordinator position from consultant to city employee

Wednesday, August 26th, 2020

Position still not filled 11 months after creating it.

By Allen Payton

From the Antioch Homeless Encampment Task Force Facebook page.

After approving a resolution 11 months ago to allocate up to $120,000 to hire an Unhoused Resident Coordinator as a consultant, during their meeting Tuesday night, Aug. 25, 2020, the Antioch City Council approved changing the position to a part-time city employee, instead. The change allows City Manager Ron Bernal to hire someone to fill the position, rather than send out another request for proposal (RFP).

The city had put out an RFP last fall, but only received one response, which was from Focus Strategies. The council awarded them the contract on January 28, 2020 in the amount of $73,500.

But the organization’s president, Megan Kurteff-Schatz, said they don’t do the hands-on work that the city was looking for in a coordinator.

“They won’t be able to do everything in the RFP. But they’re very capable,” said Nickie Mastay, City Finance Director, during the January 28th meeting.

So, one of the tasks assigned to Focus Strategies by the City Council was to work with staff on the Unhoused Resident Coordinator class specification. The salary range and part-time annual cost of the position was reduced by $20,000 to $100,000 maximum, but at the same rate of $50-$60 per hour. The coordinator will be under the general direction of the City Manager or the City Manager’s designee.

Mayor Pro Tem Joy Motts said, “as homelessness continues to be a problem in our community…I just think, I want to make a comment, how important this is to have a person on staff, even part time…helping people to transitional housing.”

Councilman Lamar Thorpe then made the motion to approve the motion.

Far too much of our city manager’s time has been spent…this position will have someone specifically focused on this…I think this is well worth the investment,” Mayor Sean Wright said.

The motion passed on a 5-0 vote.

Asked if he had someone in mind for the position or if it will be advertised, and if so when he hoped to have the person on staff, Bernal responded, “This will be advertised and go through the normal hiring process. I don’t have a time frame at this time but want to move on this as quickly as HR can facilitate.”

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