Archive for the ‘Opinion’ Category

Colleague endorses Graves for Contra Costa DA

Sunday, August 13th, 2017

Dear Editor:

Colleen Gleason, a close friend and colleague of mine has written a wonderful endorsement on Facebook. I met Colleen 15 years ago and am humbled by her words. Here are a few sentences from my colleague’s social media post that I would like to share with you:

https://www.facebook.com/pg/paulgravesforda2018/endorsements/

“I’m so excited and proud that my friend and mentor has decided to run for DA of our County. Paul was my homicide supervisor and currently runs the Sexual Assault/Family Violence unit. I also worked closely with him while he was the President of our Association – not only was he amazing at negotiating on behalf of our DAs, but he was instrumental in putting on a successful fundraiser for our local Rape Crisis/Children’s Interview Center every year.

Paul is the type of leader who inspires others; there is always a line of people seeking his solid advice born of experience and common sense. He is the type of leader that people want to follow; when he is heading a unit, other people want to work there…He has handled the pressures of our job in the public eye with grace and eloquence. But, more importantly to me, he is the type of person you can watch handling the little, every-day moments with kindness and integrity… the moments when the cameras aren’t on, when no one seems to be paying attention – the way he treats his staff, victim’s families, opposing counsel, his subordinates – those are the moments when he has impressed me the most.”

Paul Graves

Martinez

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Criminal defense attorneys support Graves for Contra Costa District Attorney

Saturday, August 12th, 2017

Dear Editor:

We are some of the criminal defense attorneys who practice in Contra Costa County.  We are the individuals who defend people accused of crimes.   We have worked with the District Attorney’s Office for decades, and are in a unique position to know what qualities are most important for the District Attorney to possess.

We believe in the Constitution, in fairness and colorblind justice, and that every person accused of a crime deserves competent and zealous representation so that the police, the prosecution, and the system are held to the highest standard.

As the top law enforcement official in the County, we believe our next District Attorney should share these values. They should keep our community safe, but also do the right thing even when it’s not popular.

We need someone honest, trustworthy, fair, ethical, diligent, and compassionate.

We need Paul Graves.

Paul Graves’ energy, ideas and fresh approach to the office as outlined in his public application to the Board of Supervisors reveals the dedicated and honorable public servant that we already know him to be.

What really sets Paul Graves apart is that he has dedicated his professional life as a prosecutor to Contra Costa County, and that he has earned the respect of all partners in the criminal justice system, because he treats every defendant as an individual and is fundamentally fair.

Paul Graves’ judgment has always made him stand out as a fair and ethical prosecutor we can trust.  Even though we represent opposing sides in the courtroom, we know Paul Graves is everyone’s partner in fair and equal justice.

Paul Graves provides the character, experience, and integrity our community needs to move forward.  We want the Board of Supervisors to know that as defense attorneys dedicated to the Constitution, fairness and colorblind justice, Paul Graves has our highest recommendation.

Blackie Burak

Derek Ewin

Dan Horowitz

David Larkin

Thomas McKenna

Tom O’Connor

Dan O’Malley

Chris Varnell

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Unhappy with Supervisors’ appointment process, coalition sends Interim DA applicants questionnaire; will hold forum Aug. 12

Sunday, August 6th, 2017

Demand transparent, qualifications-based process to avoid conflicts of interest, secret deals

A press release issued on Friday, states “a community coalition of organizations and individual voters from Contra Costa County called on all candidates for the interim District Attorney position to complete a public questionnaire about where they stand on a variety of issues that matter to the organizations, ranging from bail practices and criminal justice reform, immigrant rights, worker and consumer protection to police accountability and the environment. The coalition issued the questionnaire after the Board of Supervisors failed to adopt a fully transparent and community-first process at their August 1 meeting. This coalition is also working with local organizations and volunteers to host a candidate forum on Saturday, August 12, in Concord.”

Of the twelve applicants, the Supervisors narrowed the field to five. (See related article, here).

The responses to the questionnaire will be made public before the forum.

View the questionnaire, here: CoCo Interim DA Community Questionnaire_FINAL

WHAT: Contra Costa Interim District Attorney Candidate Forum

WHEN: Saturday, August 12, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

WHERE: Church of the Nazarene at 1650 Ashbury Dr., Concord, CA

WHO: The forum is co-hosted by the ACLU of Northern California; Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE); Contra Costa AFL-CIO Central Labor Council; Contra Costa County Racial Justice Coalition (CCCRJC); Courage Campaign; #cut50; Democratic Party of Contra Costa County; East County NAACP; Safe Return Project; and Smart Justice California

According to their website, the ACCE “is a grassroots, member-led, statewide community organization working with more than 10,000 members across California…dedicated to raising the voices of everyday Californians, neighborhood by neighborhood, to fight for the policies and programs we need to improve our communities and create a brighter future” such as raising taxes on businesses and individuals to increase funding for education, working to preserve and expand affordable housing, and “raise the floor on wages and benefits.”

On the CCCRJC website it states that the organization is opposed to the expansion of the West County Detention Center.

The Courage Campaign states on their website that it “fights for a more progressive California and country” by focusing on three priorities of economic justice, human rights, and corporate and political accountability.

The mission of #cut50 is to “making communities safer while reducing the number of people in our prisons and jails.”

The press release also states that, “at a public hearing on August 1, the coalition pleaded with the County Board of Supervisors to adopt an open and transparent selection process for choosing the interim District Attorney that includes a community selection committee. The coalition urged the Board to avoid conflicts of interest by revealing whether they have ever received an endorsement or monetary support from any of the candidates, and pressed the supervisors to develop a system for ranking the candidates based on their qualifications and alignment with local values, over a consensus-based decision-making model that could be swayed by backroom deals. The coalition had previously sent a letter requesting similar action to the Board on July 6th, which was never acknowledged.”

A spokesperson for the coalition, Director of Contra Costa County Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) David Sharples, said, “We want a district attorney who reflects the values of Contra Costa voters. The selection process should focus on whether each candidate is qualified for the job, aligns with local values, has the highest level of ethical standards, and is ready to take on the challenges faced by our community, not the candidate who is the most well-connected. If the board won’t be transparent about this process, then we will go straight to the candidates so they have every opportunity to explain where they stand on the issues and why they are the best candidate.”

The coalition’s press release concluded with the following: “Contra Costa voters have bucked the position of their District Attorney and repeatedly voted for meaningful criminal justice reform over the last several elections. In 2012, 72 percent of county residents voted in favor of Proposition 36, which reformed California’s Three Strikes Law; in 2014, 66 percent of voters supported Proposition 47, which substantially reduced the penalties for several crimes; in 2016, 69 percent voted in favor of Proposition 57, which significantly expanded early parole opportunities for people serving time in California prisons; and 61 percent voted in favor of Proposition 64, which legalized marijuana and retroactively invalidated several types of prior marijuana-related criminal convictions.”

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Groups recommend process for appointing Interim Contra Costa District Attorney

Friday, June 23rd, 2017

Following is a letter from six groups in the county to the members of the Board of Supervisors:

Dear Chairman Glover and Supervisors Andersen, Burgis, Gioia and Mitchoff,

Our community was shocked and angered last week to hear that former District Attorney Mark Peterson pled guilty to felony charges related to the illegal use of campaign funds, leading to his resignation. This unethical and dangerous abuse of power by the elected District Attorney is deeply concerning to us and we write today in the spirit of working to rebuild trust between local government in Contra Costa, including law enforcement and the District Attorney’s office, and the community they are meant to serve.

We believe a critical first step to rebuilding trust is for the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors to engage in a fully transparent and community-centered process for appointing an interim District Attorney.

On behalf of Contra Costa County voters, we urge our Board to commit to a transparent, community-first process in making its selection of an interim District Attorney. In addition, we believe it is important for the Board to only consider applicants who have not filed to run in the June 2018 primary.

The District Attorney is one of the most powerful elected officials in county government and is the most powerful actor in our criminal justice system. The decisions made by the District Attorney impact every county resident, not just those who are directly involved in the criminal justice system. From determining when and what charges to file in individual cases; to making policy decisions that affect local communities as well as county and state budgets; to holding law enforcement accountable for unfair policies and practices, the Contra Costa District Attorney holds significant power and responsibility for the protection of our civil rights and freedoms.

For these reasons and more, it is critically important that our Board protect and uphold the right of the people of Contra Costa County to an inclusive and transparent process for appointment of an interim District Attorney.

In a transparent, community-first process, the Board of Supervisors should consider the following:

  1. Publicly post a proposed process and timeline for appointment of an interim District Attorney;
  2. Allow for public comment on the proposed process for appointment, consider comments, and post final process;
  3. Only consider applications for interim appointment from individuals who are not currently running for District Attorney of Contra Costa County in 2018;
  4. Solicit applications from lawyers in the community to apply for interim appointment and make submitted applications available for review by the public;
  5. Hold public hearings at times convenient to working people with commute schedules, to receive input about nominees and other recommendations; and
  6. Hold a final public hearing to vote for the interim District Attorney.

Due to the recent resignation and guilty plea by former District Attorney Mark Peterson, the people of Contra Costa County deserve transparency and fairness in the appointment of the interim District Attorney. It is incumbent upon the Board to begin to remedy the breakdown of trust between the community and government by taking the lead to ensure a fair and community-first process. We welcome the opportunity to support the efforts of our Board of Supervisors to achieve these very important goals.

Thank you,

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Writer challenges previous letter writer to provide proof for his accusations

Tuesday, June 13th, 2017

Editor:

It seems to me that if Steven Payne has information that leads to a discovery of wrongdoing on the part of city officials, then that information needs to be made public. Implied knowledge of wrongdoing or conspiracy is just BS.

Steven, in an earlier post to the editor, implied that he knows information and inside dealings. It is just silly to yell fire in a crowded place without proof. I am not one to normally defend those who I may not agree with, however I am also not one to defend implied blackmail.

Our city is a good city, full of many citizens who care about making it better. Yes, there is so much to do, so much to fix, so much to mend. Let’s us stay focused on that and not an attempt to sling mud.

If the proof is there, I challenge you, Steven Payne to publish each, and every substantiated fact and not just innuendo. There have been too many years of rumors and not nearly enough years of trust. Your opinion, without facts, just creates more mistrust among our citizens. Let’s see your facts.

Frederick Rouse

Antioch

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Writer disagrees with positive information about Antioch shared at State of the City presentation

Tuesday, June 13th, 2017

Editor:

Exactly just what was passed off as the positives for the lifestyle for residents in Antioch, California? Was it the absolute takeover of Section 8 housing? Was it the decline in property values due to Section 8 housing? Was it the fact that Antioch police no longer respond to calls from concerned citizens, some in dire need of help? Was it that stolen vehicles parked in neighborhoods is no longer a priority? Was it that police radio channels being blocked so that concerned citizens would know what was going on in their neighborhoods has had such a positive effect? Or was it the line of B.S. that crime is way down in Antioch?

Someone is stuffing their pockets over this B.S. and I already know who. If you do not come forward on your own, I will be forced to blow the entire conspiracy all to he**. Names, dates, connections $ exchanged, promises of exchanges and not one soul will get a pass.

You cannot silence me as all files have been clouded and published. Want to try? Bring it as I owe you anyway. It would be my pleasure. Some on the other hand might find this most uncomfortable.

Game on. Who with nothing to hide would care to begin? I give you first shot, then all he** is unleashed.

Steven Payne

Antioch

Letters may be sent to editor@antiochherald.com or mailed to 101 H Street, Waldie Plaza, Suite 3, Antioch, CA 94509. Please provide your name, city where you live or work and phone number for verifying you are the one who sent the letter. Thank you.

Editor’s Note: Our policy is that we don’t allow the use of profanity in letters to the editor or comments on our website or Facebook page. Letters and comments on our website will be edited, and commenters must edit their own Facebook posts, or they will be removed. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.

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Writers concerned with dangers of new PG&E gas regulator station in Antioch

Thursday, June 8th, 2017

Dear Editor:

I submit for consideration a serious article regarding the PG&E gas regulator station located at Viera Ave. and Stewart Lane, an imposing, dangerous, and dreadful construction installed without due process or consideration to shared lot-line residents and neighbors, an upset that to this time has not been mitigated for noise, gas emissions, trespass, and damage to shared easement. Harm to property values goes without question. Our contacts with PG&E show promise in the extent they are words without deeds, and city, county and state agents have a hands-off stand, not because of the merit of our challenge, but that PG&E does as it wants. CPUC contacts appear to be formal stalling “motions”.

Understand, this East County (2B) annexation was a scheme between the City, County, and power generation on Wilbur Ave. against the vast majority of property owners. It would have been known to the powers involved that this construction and infrastructure was a necessary part of that plan, again, without due process or disclosure to residents, a serious damage to us all. Also, the payoff to annexation was to be sewer and water services, and as you may know, that money went instead

to police retirement funds. Done deed.

We think it an outrage that PG&E could oppress their neighbors with no push-back from those entitled to protect citizens of our fair City and County. We have all records, documents, and photos

in this regard. We need help.

Wayne and Shauna Eisenmann

Antioch

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Writer supporters community choice energy in Antioch

Tuesday, May 30th, 2017

Editor:

On 6/13 the Antioch City Council will decide whether to join the Community Choice Energy Joint Powers Authority of MCE Clean Energy. MCE offers to each customer in their service area a choice on how much (50% or 100%) of their electric service comes from renewable sources (solar, wind, hydro, thermal) versus a significantly lower percentage mix by PG&E.

If the City joins with MCE, the amount of Green House Gases (GHG) released into the environment attributed to the City will be lower, reducing the City’s contribution to climate change.  In addition, joining with MCE will significantly help the City to meet the target goal of 25% reduction of GHG by 2020 and 80% reduction of GHG by 2035, Antioch City Council Resolution 2009/57. There are other ways that the City could reduce its GHG impact but none are less invasive to rate payers or less expensive overall than joining with MCE.

It is estimated that the MCE monthly cost to each individual rate payer will be low. For discussion only, if the MCE rate should settle at 1% above current PG&E rates (expectation is that the rate will be lower than PG&E rates), the current PG&E monthly bill is $100, then the comparative MCE bill would be $101, an additional $1 is not much to pay in order to make an impact on slowing climate change.

It may seem that Antioch joining with MCE is an inconsequential action relative to the overall issue of global warming. However, I am reminded of how a single grain of sand, when joined collectively, lock together to form a beach against the waves of climate change.

So join me on 6/13, at the Antioch City Council Chambers, 200 H St., Antioch, 7 PM, to urge the Antioch City Council to pass an ordinance for the City to join with MCE.

If not for yourself, but for your children’s children along with all the other innocent life on this Earth.

Harry Thurston

Antioch

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