Archive for the ‘Government’ Category

Rep. DeSaulnier to hold Town Hall meeting in Pittsburg Tues., Oct. 1

Saturday, September 28th, 2019
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On split vote by Supervisors county to temporarily stop collecting “discriminatory” adult criminal justice fees

Thursday, September 19th, 2019

At former Antioch Councilman’s urging, Supervisors direct DA’s office to reopen 2005 Lafayette murder case; approve new land development fees

By Daniel Borsuk

On a thin 3-2 vote, the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday slapped a temporary moratorium on the County’s collection and assessment of 14 Adult Criminal Justice Fees that will cost the county $1.8 million in revenue a year should the moratorium become permanent.

During Public Safety Committee meetings, Chairperson John Gioia of Richmond and Supervisor Federal Glover of Pittsburg agreed with citizen committee members the fees are discriminatory to persons of color and likely result in longtime economic or financial hardship for persons who had a criminal record.

An “aye” vote from District 3 Supervisor Diane Burgis of Brentwood meant the county will temporarily stop the collection of fees, including the Sheriff Central Administration’s Booking Fee that will generate about $40,000 in 2019/2020, and the Adult Probation Supervision Fee that potentially could have generated nearly $1.8 million in 2019/2020 revenue.

The temporary moratorium will be effective immediately with the Board expecting to reevaluate the moratorium’s progress no later than Dec. 31, 2019. Supervisors will reassess the value of the moratorium at a December meeting.

Even though the county’s coffers are plentiful, with supervisors also officially adopting on a 5-0 vote the county’s $3.6 billion 2019-2020 final budget, the county is spending funds at a rapid pace through newly inked employee-union labor agreements like a 3.44 percent pay hike for social workers, an 8 percent salary raise for county supervisors that went into effect in July, and tacking on an additional $7.5 million in costs to the new Administration Building and new Emergency Operations Center/Public Safety Building to improve the security and communication capabilities during emergencies.

During a three-hour discussion on the item, Board Vice Chair Candace Andersen consistently opposed the moratorium on grounds that by dropping the fees for all persons, individual with the financial resources will benefit the most. “There are a lot of people who are committing these crimes who have the ability to pay these fees,” said the supervisor from Danville. “There is no reason why we shouldn’t be assessing these fees.”

In arguing against the proposal, District 4 Supervisor Karen Mitchoff said the elimination of $1.8 million of criminal justice fees could financially impact social and health programs such as drug diversion programs that assist persons with criminal records. “I cannot support the moratorium at this time,” the supervisor from Pleasant Hill declared.

But there were a number of citizens in support of the proposal to eliminate the fees.

“There are many people I have represented who 15 to 20 years later did not know that they’d have their wages garnished or face the ongoing inability to pay even though they have jobs and families,” said Mary Sylla, an attorney at Rubicon Programs.

“We urge you to do the right thing,” pleaded Ali Saidi, head of the Contra Costa Public Defenders Association, “These fees impact people of color.”

Request to Reopen Lafayette Murder Case Referred to DA’s Unit

Antioch private investigator and former Antioch Councilman Ralph Hernandez’s pitch, to have the 2005 murder case of Pamela Vitale of Lafayette reopened, got the thumbs up from the board of supervisors. The case was referred to Contra Costa District Attorney’s newly created conviction integrity unit. In this instance, Scott Dyleski, who Hernandez represents, was convicted for the October 2005 murder of Vitale.

“Your assistance in directing such from your two agencies (D.A.’s Office and Public Defender’s Office) is more than warranted,” Hernandez said. “Fourteen years of Scott’s youth has already been denied him and he still faces many more if this very serious matter is just ignored by all. Pamela Vitale’s memory deserves that the truth be determined, not ignored.”

Supervisors did not comment openly about the case, but Gioia consented that at least the DA’s new conviction integrity unit review the case.

New Land Development Fees Approved

Without opposition from either supervisors or the public, supervisors unanimously approved new land development fees charged for services performed by the Department of Conservation and Development and the Public Works Department starting March 1, 2020.

Some fees like encroachment fees have not been adjusted since 1995 and in many instances, rates are decreasing “due to economy of scale,” John Kopchik, director of the Contra Costa County Department of Conservation and Development told the Contra Costa Herald.

Supervisors withheld action on a proposal to charge a $1,000 fee for the time and materials needed to submit and process applications for nomination of a building or cultural resource for consideration before the Historical Landmarks Advisory Committee.

“The Historical Landmarks Advisory Committee believes that the current and proposed fees of $1,000 deposit and time and materials required to submit and process applications to nominate historical and cultural resources to the County’s Historic Resources Inventory (HRI) are a deterrent to public participation in the program.

“The HLAC voted at their meeting held on August 8, 2019 to make a formal recommendation to the Board of Supervisors to reduce these fees to encourage organizations or individuals to nominate potential resources to be designated to the HRI,” Historic Landmark Advisory Committee staff member Dominique Vogelpohl wrote on August 26.

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Reps. DeSaulnier and McNerney to hold joint Town Hall in Antioch Thursday night

Tuesday, August 27th, 2019

Congressmen Mark DeSaulnier and Jerry McNerney who represent Antioch in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Congressmen Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11) and Jerry McNerney (CA-09) will host a joint town hall at on Thursday, August 29th at 6:30 p.m. in Antioch. The City of Antioch is split between the two representatives.

During the town hall, DeSaulnier and McNerney will provide an update on news of the day and will take questions.

Antioch Town Hall with Congressmen DeSaulnier & McNerney

Thursday, August 29

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

Antioch Community Center

4703 Lone Tree Way, Antioch

Doors Open at 6:00 p.m.

This event is open to the public, press, and photographers.

Please RSVP by visiting https://desaulnier.house.gov/town-hall-rsvp or calling 925-933-2660. To request ADA accommodations, translation services, or for more information contact Representative DeSaulnier’s office in either Walnut Creek or Richmond.

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Supervisors raise salaries for Auditor-Controller, Clerk-Recorder, Treasurer-Tax Collector, exclude Assessor

Thursday, August 8th, 2019

The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors presented a resolution recognizing National Health Center Week, August 4-10, at its meeting on Tuesday. Supervisors recognized the work of Community Clinic Consortium consisting of Lifelong Medical Care, La Clinica de La Raza, and Planned Parenthood of Northern California that provide high-quality, affordable. Comprehensive primary and preventive health care in the county’s underserved communities regardless of their ability to pay, insurance or immigration status. Health centers serve more than 160,000 patients in Contra Costa County a year. Attending the resolution presentation were from left, Board Chair John Gioia of Richmond, Supervisor Federal Glover of Pittsburg, Lifelong Medical Clinic Executive Director Lucinda Bazile, Supervisor Karen Mitchoff of Pleasant Hill; Community Clinic Consortium Executive Director Alvaro Fuentes, Board Vice Chair Candace Andersen of Danville, and Supervisor Diane Burgis of Brentwood. Photos by Daniel Borsuk

Glover postpones youth summit to ensure safety following recent mass shootings

By Daniel Borsuk

Supervisors unanimously approved cost of living increases to three major elected office holders but withheld a salary boost for county assessor Gus Kramer citing “a salary adjustment for the Assessor will be considered at a later date once other issues in the Department have been resolved.”

That citation is in reference to an ongoing sex harassment case lodged against Kramer by county employees. Kramer would have been in line to have received a 1.96 percent cost of living adjustment increase that would have increased his pay to $208,013.

In compliance with a Dec. 11, 2018 Board Resolution, County Administrator David Twa said his office conducted a salary comparison of analysis of elected office officials in Alameda, Marin, Napa, Sacramento, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano and Solano counties and discovered in order to bring the salaries up to Bay Area average, the salary of Auditor-Controller Robert Campbell will rise 8.45 percent to an annual salary of $225,594. The annual salary of Clerk-Recorder Joseph Canciamilla will increase 5.48 percent to a yearly salary of $210,686. The yearly salary of Treasurer-Tax Collector Russell V. Watts will rise 4.77 percent to a yearly salary of $235,611.

There was no discussion from either the supervisors or public on the topic.

Blackhawk Country Club Donates $40,000 Per Year for 10 Years for Police Services

Notching a political victory in the tony enclave of Blackhawk, District 3 Supervisor Diane Burgis of Brentwood played a role for steering the Blackhawk Country Club to donate $40,000 a year over a 10-year span to help cover police services provided by the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Department.

A dispute had erupted recently when the Blackhawk Homeowners Association, led by association president Ron Banducci, who had called on county supervisors to intervene in urging the Blackhawk Country Club to contribute funds towards the community’s police force that consists of three deputy sheriffs and one lieutenant. Up until now, the country club had not provided funds for police services since formation of County Service Area P-2A in 1985.

Since the creation of P-2A, homeowners have shouldered the financial costs for police protection, but the county club has never provided any financial assistance for P-2A coverage. Last May, Banducci, who also serves as chairman of the Blackhawk Police Advisory Committee, warned supervisors of “any backroom deal” like the one Burgis and the country club were then discussing, the 10-year, $40,000 a year donation.

Banducci did not return a Contra Costa Herald phone call to respond to the $40,000 a year donation consent agenda item at Tuesday’s board of supervisors meeting. There was no comment from either the public or supervisors on the item.

“I appreciate the Blackhawk Country Club’s donation to the county to support supplemental law enforcement services in the Blackhawk community,” Burgis said in a statement to the Herald. “I look forward to continuing to work with the Blackhawk Police Advisory, the Sheriff’s Office and other community shareholders to support the level of police service that the community wants.”

In a July 26 letter, sent to Burgis, that lays out details about the donation, Country Club President Scott Batiste states that this is a donation, not a tax.

“Residents of P2-A have authorized a special tax for police protection services in this area,” he wrote. “The BHCC does not pay this tax. The BHCC Board of Directors has authorized making a donation to the County of Contra Costa of $40,000 per year to support the Sheriff’s law enforcement services in P-2A each year for a ten-year period.”

Over the next 10 years, the county will receive a donation totaling $400,000 from the country club.

The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors recognized two recent high school graduates who are recipients of Comcast Leaders and Achievers Scholarships. Overall 192 California college bound high school graduates were awarded scholarships in recognition for their academics and community work. At the presentation on Tuesday were from left Board of Supervisors Chair John Gioia of Richmond, Supervisor Federal Glover of Pittsburg, Freedom High School graduate Amara Payne who will attend Los Medanos College, Concord High School graduate Assal Bastani who will attend the University of California Los Angeles, Supervisor Karen Mitchoff of Pleasant Hill, Supervisor Candace Andersen of Danville, and Supervisor Diane Burgis of Brentwood.

Supervisor Glover Postpones Youth Summit Over Mass Shooting Concerns

Citing the series of weekend deadly shootings triggered by ultra-right shooters in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, Supervisor Federal Glover of Pittsburg announced that the Youth Summit, a one-day event that he co-sponsors at Los Medanos College in Pittsburg has been postponed.

Originally slated to be held this Saturday, August 10 to draw thousands of youth in Contra Costa County, Glover announced at the supervisors meeting, “I will convene a meeting of the stakeholders, including law enforcement, to make sure we are ready to deal with active shooter scenarios and other public safety emergencies that may arise. The Youth Summit brings together a number of youth and I need to be confident as well as be able, to assure their parents that we have taken all reasonable measures to ensure their children’s safety at such a large public event.”

“As we review our protocols and formulate our plans, we will notify members of the public of our plans for a future youth summit,” Glover said in a press statement.

Approve $19.2 Million Multifamily Housing Revenue Rehab Bonds for Bay Point Apartment Building

Keeping in mind the county’s affordable housing shortage, supervisors approved a resolution authorizing the issuance of $19.2 million in Multifamily Housing Revenue Bonds to finance the costs for the acquisition and rehabilitation of 88 units of rental housing known as Hidden Cove Apartments at 2900, 2911, and 2921-2931 Mary Ann Lane in Bay Point. The apartments will be initially owned at the time of the financing by Hidden Cove Apartments, LP, a California Limited Partnership.

OK Contract With Canine Companions for Independence

In another consent act, supervisors approved an agreement with Canine Companions for Independence to provide a dog to the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office. The dog offers comfort and assistance to victims of crimes during interviews, in-court testimony, and other traumatic situations. The cost of expenses for the care and feeding of the facility dog is estimated to be about $5,000 a year and will be covered from the District Attorney’s general fund budget.

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Supervisors seek members for Independent Oversight Committee for the Regional Measure 3 bridge toll increase

Wednesday, July 24th, 2019

In 2018, voters passed Regional Measure 3 (RM3) which increased bridge tolls in the Bay Area and also established an Independent Oversight Committee. Each of 9 Bay Area counties appoint two members to the Committee. The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors is seeking two members of the public to serve.

The RM3 Independent Oversight Committee (oversight committee) will be established by the Bay Area Toll Authority (BATA) pursuant to Senate Bill 595 (which placed RM 3 on the ballot). The purpose of the Oversight Committee is to ensure that any toll revenues generated pursuant to the RM3 toll increase are expended consistent with the applicable requirements of the RM3 expenditure plan set forth in Streets and Highways Code Section 30914.7. The Oversight Committee shall annually review the expenditure of funds by BATA for the projects and programs specified in Section 30914.7 and prepare and submit a report to the transportation committee of each house of the Legislature summarizing its findings.

An individual interested in serving on the Committee must be a resident of Contra Costa County and meet the Streets and Highways Code Section 30923 (h) (3) restrictions below:

  • A representative appointed to the oversight committee shall not be a member, former member, staff, or former staff of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) or BATA.
  • A representative appointed to the oversight committee shall not be employed by any organization or person that has received or is receiving funding from MTC or BATA.
  • A representative appointed to the oversight committee shall not be a former employee or a person who has contracted with any organization or person that has received or is receiving funding from MTC or BATA within one year of having worked for or contracted with that organization or person.

The RM3 Oversight Committee is subject to open public meetings (The Brown Act). Meeting dates, frequency, and length of meetings will be established by the members of the committee. The location of meetings will be in San Francisco at the Bay Area Metro Center. BATA anticipates a stipend to members for meeting attendance. The term length for representatives is four years, and each representative is limited to two terms.

Applications are available online at https://www.contracosta.ca.gov/3418 or by contacting the Clerk of the Board’s Office at (925) 335-1900 or clerkoftheboard@cob.cccounty.us. Completed applications are due by 5 PM on August 9, 2019, and may be completed and submitted online, emailed to the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors, mailed or submitted to 651 Pine Street, Room 106, Martinez, CA 94553.

 

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DMV to close offices statewide half-day Wed., July 24 for training on REAL ID

Monday, July 22nd, 2019

Will reopen at 1:00 p.m.

Sacramento – The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will close its offices statewide for a half day on July 24, 2019, to better prepare employees to process REAL ID transactions and reinforce training on providing excellent customer service.

Operation Excellence: DMV Training will result in more consistent customer experiences statewide and equip employees with the tools they need to handle an unprecedented volume of REAL ID applications, which are more complex and take more time to process.

The training will take place at 183 DMV field offices, Commercial Drive Test Centers and Industry Business Centers throughout the state. More than 5,000 employees will receive the training at their home offices, which will open for business at 1 p.m.

“Our employees are at the heart of every transaction we perform,” said Kathleen Webb, DMV acting director. “With this commitment to training, we can ensure they have the proper tools, knowledge, and experience to provide excellent customer service to the people of California.”

DMV Call Centers (1-800-777-0133) will remain open during the half-day office closure. Customers also will be able to:

  • Conduct transactions online, at ca.gov, including renewing a vehicle registration, changing an address, requesting a copy of their driving record or making an appointment.
  • Conduct transactions at DMV Now self-service kiosks located at grocery stores and select libraries, such as renewing a vehicle registration, filing for planned nonoperation (PNO) status, submitting an affidavit of non-use, submitting proof of insurance, and paying a $14 insurance reinstatement fee. A map of kiosks can be found online: https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv/detail/about/sst_map.
  • AAA members may visit AAA offices to conduct some transactions, including vehicle registration renewal.
  • Registration services also are available at California DMV Business Partners for a fee. Customers can search for partners with this online map: https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv/detail/bp_locator/reg_svc.

Operation Excellence is an initiative of the DMV Reinvention Strike Team, which Governor Gavin Newsom created in January to lead a comprehensive modernization and reinvention of the DMV with an emphasis on transparency, worker performance, speed of service and overall consumer satisfaction. The Strike Team was created in response to long wait times in DMV field offices, which were exacerbated by the federal government’s REAL ID requirements.

Beginning October 1, 2020, the federal government will require passengers flying within the United States to present a REAL ID-compliant driver license or identification card – or a passport or passport card – before boarding a plane. REAL ID-compliant cards or another federally approved document will also be required to enter secure federal facilities such as military bases.

“The unprecedented complexity of the REAL ID requirements is what led to the idea that we needed to take the extraordinary step of closing DMV offices for a short time to make sure all employees have consistent information in order to complete the transactions successfully,” said Government Operations Agency Secretary Marybel Batjer, who is leading the DMV Strike Team. “It is a complicated transaction and we want customers to be well prepared in order to receive their REAL ID efficiently.”

The DMV already is experiencing unprecedented demand for its services because of a greater volume of REAL ID applications, which must be done in person in the field office and cannot be processed online or via the phone. In addition, field offices are experiencing their normal summer surge of new drivers seeking licenses.

Field offices need to be prepared for at least a doubling of customer volume as the enforcement date approaches. On July 1, 2019, the DMV opened an additional 53 field offices early to handle the summer surge, bringing to 69 the total number of offices that open at 7 a.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays to accommodate the increase in customers. The DMV also now offers Saturday service at 62 offices.

Curriculum for Operation Excellence addresses the specific challenges DMV employees have identified in processing REAL ID transactions. Frontline staff will receive detailed training and a toolkit they can utilize immediately for processing REAL ID driver licenses and identification cards in the field. They also will be trained on best practices on delivering excellent customer service.

This half-day effort is the start of ongoing training around REAL ID and builds on DMV’s renewed commitment to providing sufficient training on all significant policy and procedure changes.

Operation Excellence addresses findings in a March 2019 report by the Department of Finance’s Office of State Audits and Evaluations, which determined training to be lacking at DMV. Report recommendations include more timely and comprehensive training for new hires and expanded training opportunities, particularly surrounding significant changes to policies and procedures including REAL ID.

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County to hold Mental Health Services Act Supportive Housing Community Forum July 18 in San Pablo

Monday, July 8th, 2019

WHAT: Contra Costa Behavioral Health Services, a division of Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS), invites anyone interested in discussing local public mental health services in relation to supportive housing to participate in a public forum on Thursday, July 18, in San Pablo.

The forum offers the community an opportunity to discuss its needs and meet with service providers to discuss current issues relevant to supportive housing. These discussions will help to inform future use of local Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) funding.

California approved Proposition 63 in November 2004, and the Mental Health Services Act became law. The Act provides significant additional funding to the existing public mental health system and combines prevention services with a full range of integrated services to treat the whole person. With the goal of wellness, recovery and self-sufficiency, the intent of the law is to reach out and include those most in need and those who have been traditionally underserved. Services are to be consumer driven, family focused, based in the community, culturally and linguistically competent, and integrated with other appropriate health and social services. Funding is to be provided at sufficient levels to ensure that counties can provide each child, transition age youth, adult and senior with the necessary mental health services, medications and support set forth in their treatment plan. Finally, the Act requires this Three Year Plan be developed with the active participation of local stakeholders in a community program planning process.

WHO: All members of the public are welcome, including people that have or are receiving supportive housing services, their families or loved ones, and interested members of the community. RSVP online at cchealth.org/mentalhealth/mhsa – click the “Supportive Housing Community Forum” button.

Other RVSP options include emailing mhsa@cchealth.org – please include “MHSA Forum” in the subject line – or by telephoning (925) 957-2617. Attendees may also mail RSVPs to MHSA, 1220 Morello Avenue, Suite 100, Martinez, CA 94553.

WHEN: Thursday, July 18th at 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Contra Costa College, 2600 Mission Bell Drive, Room GE 225, San Pablo, CA 94806

WHY: Contra Costa County’s current MHSA budget provides over $50 million to more than 80 mental health programs and services. Forum goals include identifying service needs, priorities and strategies to inform the county’s MHSA Three-Year Program and Expenditure Plan for fiscal years 2020-2023.

The forum will include an overview of the MHSA and current funding use in Contra Costa County and will be livestreamed at: cchealth.org/mentalhealth/mhsa.

Visit cchealth.org/mentalhealth/mhsa to access the MHSA Three Year Program and Expenditure Plan Update and other information about the MHSA in Contra Costa.

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

Sunday, June 9th, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

LIMITED SEATING : RSVP here.

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

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