Archive for the ‘News’ Category

State grants $21.5 million for County to buy Pittsburg motel for homeless transitional care center

Thursday, September 17th, 2020

Gov Newsom speaks at Motel 6 in Pittsburg to announce the state’s new Homekey program on Tuesday, June 30, 2020. Screenshot from press conference video.

Motel 6 to be repurposed through a California Homekey Grant; site of Gov. Newsom’s press conference about Project Roomkey in June

A 174-room motel in Pittsburg now sheltering homeless Contra Costa residents at high risk from COVID-19 will become a permanent service hub to help county residents transition into stable living situations, thanks to a $21.5 million state grant.

Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS) rented rooms at the Motel 6 at 2101 Loveridge Road in Pittsburg to provide temporary housing through the state’s Project Roomkey program, which funded hotel rooms for residents who could not effectively isolate themselves during the COVID-19 pandemic because they had lost their housing. Gov. Newsom held a press conference at the motel about the program on June 30th. (See related article)

Homekey, the state’s follow-up program, will commit $17.4 million toward the county’s purchase and renovation of the motel, for a cost of $100,000 per room. The state will provide another $4.17 million toward staffing and operating the former motel as temporary housing for county residents experiencing homelessness, with on-site healthcare and behavioral health services, meals and assistance connecting with the services they need to regain housing.

“We are proud to partner with California in our work to provide safe, sustainable services for vulnerable members of our community,” said Candace Andersen, chair of the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors.

There were only 20 shelter beds available in East County for more than 500 people living outside there in January 2020, most in Antioch and Pittsburg. The county’s most recent homeless point-in-time count showed that 33 percent of residents living outside in Contra Costa were in East County, compared to 27 percent recorded there during the 2019 count.

CCHS will add the new East County CARE Center and interim housing program to its network of homeless service centers, shelters and outreach programs, helping to address an acute shortage of those services in the area.

“This is a great start toward the building services and resources East County needs to address homelessness,” said Contra Costa Supervisor Federal Glover, whose district includes the site. “There is a critical need for this project in our community.”

The grant includes funding for case management, housing navigation services, meals and a robust peer support program, among other services.

“The funding allows us to accelerate our efforts to provide shelter for people living without housing in the eastern region of our county,” said Lavonna Martin, CCHS’s Director of Heath, Housing and Homeless Services. “This project creates a new interim housing option that allows for a greater degree of privacy and flexibility in household configurations we can serve, with the critical services and supports they need to regain permanent housing.”

Motel 6 was one of four in Contra Costa contracted to shelter vulnerable residents who had no housing early in the COVID-19 pandemic, partially funded by California’s Project Roomkey. CCHS is now renting 494 rooms at these motels to house people experiencing homelessness, including more than 200 people at Motel 6 who will continue to receive services and progress toward self-sufficiency under Homekey.

Visit cchealth.org/h3 for recent data about homelessness in Contra Costa County. Annual point-in-time count information is available in the Data Reports section.

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

 

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Contra Costa Community College District Chancellor search narrowed to one finalist

Thursday, September 17th, 2020

Former LMC President Dr. Raúl Rodríguez withdraws from consideration; public forums via Zoom begin today

By Timothy Leong, Public Information Officer, Contra Costa Community College District

MARTINEZ, California – The Contra Costa Community College District (District) Governing Board has decided to move forward with only one finalist, Dr. Bryan Reece, for the next permanent Chancellor opportunity. The other finalist, Dr. Raúl Rodríguez, withdrew from the process after accepting an offer to extend his contract as Hartnell College’s interim President/Superintendent last night. The Governing Board agreed to complete the search process out of respect for all the hard work done over the past several months by the selection committee and community.

Public forums for Dr. Reece will be conducted via Zoom and recorded at each college and the District Office on Thursday, September 17, 2020, beginning at 12:30 p.m. The public forums will last approximately 45 minutes each, and are open to the community, students, faculty and staff. A detailed public forum schedule, links to the public forums, and information on how to submit a question to be asked will be available on the District website at www.4cd.edu.

For those who are unable to join the September 17 public forums, links to all 4 recorded Zoom sessions will be made available on the District website. A comment box has also been created to submit your input that will be shared with the Governing Board for their consideration.

Following the public forums, the Governing Board will conduct a final interview with Dr. Reece in closed session on Tuesday, September 22, 2020, and is expected to announce a decision soon thereafter. If the Governing Board decides to offer the permanent chancellor opportunity to Dr. Reece, contract negotiations will begin. At their regularly scheduled public meeting on Wednesday, October 14, 2020, the Governing Board will vote on the final contract and employ the District’s next permanent chancellor.

The Contra Costa Community College District (CCCCD) is one of the largest multi-college community college districts in California. The CCCCD serves a population of 1,019,640 people, and its boundaries encompass all but 48 of the 734-square-mile land area of Contra Costa County. The District is home to Contra Costa College in San Pablo, Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, Los Medanos College in Pittsburg, as well as educational centers in Brentwood and San Ramon. The District headquarters is located in downtown Martinez.

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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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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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