Archive for the ‘News’ Category

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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Third challenger with education background runs for Antioch School Board in Area 1

Tuesday, September 15th, 2020

Alexis Medina. Photo from her campaign Facebook page.

By Allen Payton

There’s a fourth candidate running for the Antioch School Board in Area 1 and the third to challenge incumbent Diane Gibson-Gray in this year’s elections. On her campaign Facebook page, Alexis Medina writes she’s an “Experienced Program Coordinator, Classroom Educator, and Instructional Coach. Proud parent of an AUSD student.”

According to her website, Medina “has over 15 years’ experience in K-12, as an afterschool program coordinator, classroom teacher, and instructional coach. Research based culturally responsive decision making and relationship building with students, parents, and school staff have been daily practices for her in these roles. She is also the proud parent of an AUSD student. She enjoys visiting local historical sites, museums, and libraries.”

According to her LinkedIn profile, Medina worked as an Instructional Coach, Secondary Social Science and ELA/ELD for the Pittsburg Unified School District from August 2016 through August 2019. Prior to that she worked as a teacher for Making Waves Academy in Richmond,  a 5th-12th grade public charter school focused on historically underserved and socio-economically disadvantaged students. In previous positions Medina worked as a Program Coordinator for the Redwood City-based Bring Me A Book Foundation and as a Community Organizer and Health Educator for the Peace Corps.

In that role, Medina writes she, “Led (an) eight-week professional development series alongside the Regional Teacher Leadership Team for 230 primary school teachers on developing lessons addressing varied instructional needs. Designed and led pre-service training 35 Peace Corps trainees in pedagogy i.e. classroom management, basic lesson planning, adult education, multiple intelligences, experiential learning, and the Swaziland school system. Designed and conducted workshops for over 70 pre-school community caregivers and primary school teachers on basic pedagogy and sustainable teaching resources. Secured and managed logistic and grant funding for community events.”

In three previous positions she worked as a high school teacher in in a variety of subjects including world history, psychology, and sociology, a middle school reading tutor, and an after-school care leader for K-3 students.

Also, on her campaign website, Medina shares the reason she’s running writing, “ I remember our excitement earlier this year as we visited the dual immersion program at John Muir Elementary School. The classroom decorated with brightly colored flags from Latin America and student art for Black History Month signaling that this was a place where my child’s cultural identity would be affirmed. The teachers were enthusiastic, but also very clear that the program was limited, repeatedly advising that we get registered early.

A week later, I rushed to my school of record, receiving the vital time stamp on my paperwork. I had undertaken the research and action required to ensure that my child had access to culturally relevant and responsive pedagogy in a safe and culturally affirming environment, yet was left powerless to the odds, hoping there would be room for us in the program.

Programs like dual immersion should not come down to a foot race for a time stamp but instead should be thoughtfully planned for and strengthened. I am running because AUSD students, parents, and staff deserve a transparent asset-based community development approach to planning and governance. I will work with the community to strengthen culturally responsive practices, community partnerships and civic learning opportunities.”

To learn more about Medina’s campaign, contact her at medinaforantioch@gmail.com.

 

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Contra Costa DA files charges in Antioch 2015 homicide cold case, three more in Concord

Tuesday, September 15th, 2020

Result of years-long Operation by FBI Safe Streets Task Force

By Scott Alonso, Public Information Officer, Contra Costa County District Attorney

Martinez, Calif. – Today, Tuesday, September 15, 2020 the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office is announcing three homicide cold cases, involving multiple defendants who are gang members affiliated with the Sureños, were filed recently. The gang violence was focused in South Concord and near Monument Boulevard. This successful effort was due to the years-long investigation and operation led by the FBI Safe Streets Task Force and local partners, including Concord Police, FBI, U.S. Attorney’s Office of Northern California, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms along with our Office. Two cases were filed last week, and one was filed yesterday, totaling four homicides involving 11 defendants. (See related article)

One of the homicides occurred in Antioch, and the victim was from Pittsburg, (See related article). The other three of the homicides occurred in Concord.

Operation Boulevard Blues culminated in a major law enforcement operation last Thursday that resulted in the arrest of 31 individuals and involved 31 different law enforcement agencies. Thirty-four search warrants were executed in multiple locations across Contra Costa County and 42 firearms were recovered. The details of the operation were announced earlier this morning with our federal partners.

“Our local efforts working collaboratively with our law enforcement partners, especially Concord Police, will keep our community safer and take violent gang members off the streets of Concord,” said District Attorney Diana Becton. “This successful operation started with a wiretap and led to multiple gang members involved in senseless murders and violence being arrested. While these cases were not solved right away, Concord Police and the FBI Safe Streets Task Force did not give up and fortunately we can bring some closure to the victims’ families.”

Overall, the DA’s Office filed three separate homicide complaints involving the following gang members of the Sureños – all of the alleged four homicides were done for the benefit of the gang:

  • People v. Michael Valdez, Andrew Cervantes, Daniel Rodriguez, Docket Number 01-194377-8

o   Victim is Marcos Villazon of Pittsburg, Date of Alleged Murder is November 21, 2015 in Antioch

o   Victim is Luis Estrada, Date of Alleged Murder is November 30, 2015 in Concord

  • People v. Rafael Lopez & Juan Barocio Jr., Docket Number 01-194379-4

o   Victim is Victor Gutierrez, Date of Alleged Murder is April 17, 2014 in Concord

  • People v. Jose Cisneros, Marcos Ochoa, Luis Cruz, Aurelia Mendez, Antonio Mendez, Jose Ochoa, Docket Number 01-194418-0

o   Victim is Erick Cruz, Date of Alleged Murder is September 12, 2015 in Concord

The criminal investigations because of this operation are still active and ongoing. All of the defendants charged by the DA’s Office remain in custody.

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

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Kelly-Moore Paint agrees to $1.43 million settlement with 10 DA’s for illegal dumping of hazardous waste

Tuesday, September 15th, 2020

Violated state environmental protection laws

By Scott Alonso, Public Information Officer, Contra Costa County District Attorney

Martinez, Calif. – Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton announced Monday, a $1.43 million settlement against Kelly-Moore Paint Company (Kelly-Moore) to resolve allegations that the company violated California state laws governing hazardous waste by routinely and illegally disposing of paint colorants, paint, electronic devices, aerosol products, and other hazardous wastes into company waste bins destined for municipal landfills not authorized to accept hazardous waste. The lawsuit also resolves allegations that Kelly-Moore failed to shred customer records containing confidential information before disposal.

“My office will always strive to protect the environment and public health by holding companies accountable for violating our environmental laws. This settlement not only acts as a deterrent against other potential violators but more importantly contains injunctive provisions to ensure Kelly Moore will maintain environmental compliance into the foreseeable future.,” stated Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton.

Kelly-Moore is a retail paint company in North America. In California the company owns or operates approximately 106 retail stores, including nine stores in Contra Costa County as part of this settlement.

The investigation of Kelly-Moore was initiated by the California Department of Toxic Substance Control (DTSC). From March 2016 through December 2018, inspectors from the DTSC, and investigators from other district attorney offices statewide, conducted a series of undercover inspections of waste bins originating at 29 separate Kelly-Moore locations. These inspections found numerous instances of unlawful disposal of hazardous waste paint colorants, paint, electronic devices, aerosol products, and other hazardous wastes. Kelly-Moore also violated laws meant to protect vulnerable confidential consumer information by unlawfully disposing of customer records without having rendered personal information unreadable.

When Kelly-Moore officials were notified by the prosecutors of the unlawful disposals, they immediately agreed to cooperate with the People and promptly implemented measures and dedicated additional resources towards environmental compliance at its stores. Stores are required to properly manage hazardous waste and to retain their waste in segregated, labeled containers to minimize the risk of exposure to employees and customers and to ensure that incompatible wastes do not combine to cause dangerous chemical reactions. Hazardous waste produced by Kelly-Moore stores through damage, spills, and returns is being collected by state-registered haulers, taken to proper disposal facilities, and properly documented and accounted for.

The settlement requires a monetary payment of $1.43 million. This consists of $825,000 for civil penalties, $178,750 for supplemental environmental projects, and $425,000 for reimbursement of investigative and enforcement costs. Kelly-Moore gets a credit of $125,000 against the penalties if it undertakes at least $250,000 in environmental enhancement work not required by law. In addition, the settlement includes provisions requiring Kelly-Moore to employ a California-based compliance employee to oversee Kelly-Moore’s hazardous waste compliance program and to undergo a trash receptacle audit to ensure hazardous wastes and confidential consumer information is properly disposed of at all stores. The results of the audit must be shared with the public. The company must also comply with 28 injunctive requirements pertaining to environmental and confidential consumer information protection laws.

Joining District Attorney Becton in this lawsuit are the District Attorneys of Alameda, Monterey, Placer, San Francisco, San Joaquin, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Sonoma and Yolo Counties.

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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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Contra Costa updates health order to match state’s COVID-19 Blueprint – nail salons, massage can reopen indoors

Monday, September 14th, 2020

Even card rooms can open, again – outdoors, but not piercing, tattooing or non-medical electrolysis (you’ll still have to keep plucking out those hairs, yourself!)

Contra Costa County today aligned its COVID-19 social distancing health order with California’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy, so the county no longer has different reopening rules for businesses and activities beyond what the state requires or allows.

The change, effective at 8 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 16, simplifies the plan for reducing the spread of COVID-19 in Contra Costa so that residents and local businesses can better understand and identify the steps we all need to take to keep ourselves, our families, workers and customers safer during the pandemic.

The update to Contra Costa’s health order does allow some additional businesses to reopen, following the state health guidelines for their industries:

  • Personal care services that involve close contact with the face may begin operating outdoors, except for tattooing, piercing and nonmedical electrolysis
  • Racetracks and cardrooms may operate outdoors
  • Music, television and film production may resume
  • Professional sports without live audiences may resume

These changes are consistent with Contra Costa’s placement in the purple tier of the state’s blueprint, indicating that COVID-19 is widespread in the county. When the data tracked by the state show sustained improvement for two weeks, the county will move into the red tier, allowing more businesses and activities to reopen.

Information about the state’s blueprint, including health guidelines for businesses and activities, which business sectors are not currently safe to operate in Contra Costa, and how the guidelines will change as the county makes progress against COVID-19, are all available at covid19.ca.gov/safer-economy.

Contra Costa’s current health orders retain health guidelines for social bubbles and structured contact between people from different households, face coverings and physical distancing. The FAQ and Safer Social Interactions pages at cchealth.org/coronavirus have information about keeping safer during the pandemic.

Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS) continues to monitor data that show how the virus is spreading through our community, including hospitalizations and how the pandemic is impacting the county’s healthcare system. If there is a sudden surge in COVID-19 transmission in the future, the county may need to temporarily impose more restrictions to protect the public health.

One way Contra Costans can help keep our county’s healthcare system running smoothly is to get a flu vaccine – talk to your health provider about getting one. CCHS is also planning community vaccination clinics beginning in October.

Anyone who lives or works in Contra Costa can help make the county safer from COVID-19 and reopen more quickly is to get a fast, free COVID-19 test at a community testing site. The state has reduced the requirements for moving into less restrictive tiers for counties that test many people every day, and other Bay Area counties have already qualified for this benefit.

Make a COVID-19 testing appointment today by calling 1-844-421-0804 or booking online at cchealth.org/coronavirus – hit the “Get Tested” button. This site is also an official source for local information regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

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Protest sign attacking Antioch Mayor with drawings of hooded Klan members, swastikas being made for Saturday march

Saturday, September 12th, 2020

Sign making party

Posted by Shagoofa Khan on Friday, September 11, 2020

See 1:26 mark for shot of campaign sign with Klansmen and swastikas. Video from Shagoofa Khan’s Facebook page. 

“The hate and the outrageous attacks must stop” – Mayor Sean Wright says – calls on opponent, Councilman Thorpe to denounce his supporter’s actions, Thorpe declines

By Allen Payton

On Saturday, Antioch Mayor Sean Wright’s campaign for re-election issued a press release stating, “Referring to a sign making party Facebook video post in preparation for a protest in Antioch, today Mayor Sean Wright expressed outrage over a sign highlighted in the video which says ‘I’m Sean Wright I approve of this message’ and depicts people in Klan hoods wearing swastikas.

Screenshot of video showing protester Lacey Brown drawing a poster with images of Klansmen and swastikas. Source: Wright for Mayor campaign.

The post was made by Shagoofa Khan, one of the recent hunger strikers at the Antioch Police Facility, and supporter of Wright’s opponent, Antioch Councilman Lamar Thorpe. In the video (see link above), Khan pans to a sign being drawn by protester Lacey Brown which includes three characters Klan hoods and swastikas saying, “Hers is really nice.”

“I support all peaceful protest against all forms of racism, but blasting me with drawings of hooded Klan members and swastikas is absolutely uncalled for,” said Wright, who is in the middle of his campaign for re-election as Antioch Mayor.

“This has gone way too far,” he added.

A section of Thorpe’s campaign flier. Source: Wright for Mayor campaign.

Khan is prominently featured in Thorpe’s campaign brochure entitled “Leadership that Listens” as one of the women leaders supporting his campaign.

Screenshot of Shagoofa Khan video posted on her Facebook page on Friday, Sept. 11, 2020.

Wright called on Thorpe to immediately denounce Khan’s actions. “If my opponent is listening and promoting individuals who condone the use of Klan garb and swastikas, that says a lot about his character.” Wright stated. “I am extremely concerned for the future of Antioch.”

Khan said her sign will read, “Brooks hires crooks,” referring to Antioch Police Chief T Brooks. Another sign that can be seen in the video reads ACAB which is an acronym for all cops are bastards.

When asked about her sign and if the characters are Klansmen wearing white hoods, Brown admitted, “That’s what those are.” Asked why and if she really thinks Wright is a Klansman or White Supremacist she responded, “I think he knew exactly what he was doing with that email and who he was targeting. (She was referring to a previous email sent out Wednesday by Wright’s campaign about the protest at his chiropractic offices on Tuesday night. See related article) You do realize that was not only a political call to action but also a call to action for violence that he could blame on his mayoral opponent with plausible deniability? I don’t have reason to believe Sean is in the KKK himself, but he certainly condones white supremacy to run rampant in his town and harnesses their fears to benefit politically. You and I may disagree on that, but he is an enabler and even a catalyst to racism in this City.”

When reached for comment Thorpe refused to denounce Khan’s comments or the message on Brown’s poster.

Protest graphic from Facebook promo.

He responded, “These things have nothing to do with me or my campaign. What I am happy to see is that my opponent finally has a point of view. He hasn’t had a point of view on homelessness, he hasn’t had a point of view on growing jobs, and he hasn’t had a point of view on police reform. It’s not that I’m running against him, it’s he hasn’t come to work in four years.”

Wright was given the opportunity to respond but chose not to before publication time. Please check back later for any response or update to this report.

Today’s protest march entitled, “White Supremacy Out of Antioch” is supported by a coalition of mainly out of town organizations including Richmond-based Together We Stand (see their website http://www.twsrevolution.org/), East Bay Resistance based in southern Alameda County (see their Facebook page) which, according to their webpage, supports both defunding and abolishing the police, Empact based in the Sacramento area, Bay Area Grassroots, whose founder and executive director is Antioch resident Michael James,

Protest promo on the Together We Stand Facebook page.

also one of the six former hunger strikers, and Brown’s Antioch-based group Justice Advocates & Resources of East County of which Khan is a member. She is not part of Together We Stand as was stated in Wright’s campaign press release.

On the Together We Stand Facebook page announcing today’s protest it reads, “Antioch has a long history of racism and white supremacy. With a long history of racist incidents, the Antioch PD’s hiring of Michael Mallone (sic) a former SFPD cop who quit while facing disciplinary action after the shooting death of Luis-Gongora Pat, and the recent decision by the school board to put cops in schools for the first time, it is CLEAR that now more than ever we need to take a stand! Join us as we work with local organizers from Justice Advocacy and Resources of east county and local residents who need our help to affect change in this community.”

The protest is scheduled to begin at 4 PM at City Park in Antioch at the corner of A and W. 10th Streets with a march to the Antioch Police Facility at 300 L Street to meet up with the protesters who were on a hunger strike but are claiming to occupy the area until their demands are met that Officer Mellone be fired, Corporal Steve Aiello, president of the Antioch Police Officers Association step down from his position for a controversial comment on Facebook, and that the mayor hold another community forum on police reform and race relations. (See related article)

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Two gang members arrested with 1,000 pills, cocaine, illegal gun in Antioch Friday

Friday, September 11th, 2020

Drugs and illegal gun confiscated by APD on Fri., Sept. 11, 2020. Photos by APD.

By Antioch Police Department

Today, Friday, September 11, 2020, members of the APD Special Operations Unit, POP Team, and Gang Unit served a search warrant at a residence in the 700-block of Putnam Street related to a narcotics investigation involving criminal street gang members. During the search, they located approximately 1,000 counterfeit Xanax pills, half-ounce of cocaine, and an illegally possessed handgun. A 22-year-old male and a 17-year-old male were placed under arrest for possession for sales of controlled substances, firearms offenses, and gang charges.

Counterfeit Xanax is sometimes laced with the deadly opiate fentanyl, which is responsible for a significant number of drug overdose deaths across the nation. If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, there is help available. If you are a resident of Contra Costa County, you can call the Behavioral Health Access Line toll-free at (800) 846-1652 or by visiting their website at https://cchealth.org/aod If you are not a resident of Contra Costa County, you can call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) hotline at (800) 662-4357 or by visiting their website at www.findtreatment.gov.

APD is committed to keeping our community safe, but we cannot do this alone. There are multiple ways you can help, including calling our Dispatch at (925) 778-2441 (or 9-1-1 if you think it’s an emergency), emailing the POP (Problem Oriented Policing) Team at popteam@antiochca.gov or sending an anonymous text to 274637 (CRIMES) with the keyword ANTIOCH in the body of your text. All text tips are encrypted so your number cannot be traced.

Thanks for helping us keep Antioch safe! #AntiochPDCA  #APDPOPTeam

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