Archive for the ‘Politics & Elections’ Category

Oakley Mayor Doug Hardcastle to challenge Piepho for County Supervisor

Monday, September 28th, 2015
Doug Hardcastle

Doug Hardcastle

By John Crowder

Oakley Mayor Doug Hardcastle has decided to run for Supervisor in District 3, the seat currently held by Supervisor Mary Piepho. He sat down with Herald Staff this past week to answer questions about his candidacy.

Why are you running for Supervisor?

As a taxpaying citizen, I’m very concerned about what is going on financially in Contra Costa County, right now. Over the last few months we’ve seen tremendous controversy generated with some of the Supervisors voting themselves large raises, a decision that was only rescinded after intense public pressure was brought to bear. On top of that, there have been questions concerning the car allowance. Controversies like these cause people to lose faith in their government. We need people of integrity to lead our county, and people who know me, and have worked with me, know that is a quality that I possess.

At the same time, these issues, voting raises for themselves and such, have been distracting from more serious, and very pressing matters. The East Contra Costa County Fire Protection District is one example. We’re down to a handful of firefighters responsible for hundreds of square miles, now. There doesn’t seem to be any solution in sight.

Yet, the County has a budget of $3.6 billion. Imagine if you were able to cut back only 1%. That would free up $36 million, money that could be used, for example, to ensure adequate fire protection.”

What philosophy would guide your legislative decisions?

I’ve already mentioned integrity. That means putting the good of the citizens of the county above other concerns. It means that, as Supervisors, we can’t be guided by the latest polls, or worries about how our personal, political futures will be impacted. We have to be willing to takes stands, and to do what is right.

Equally important is using common sense. When an issue is brought forward, we need to weigh the costs and the benefits, and think about the unintended consequences of our decisions.”

What do you believe are the most important issues facing the County at present?

The biggest issues all revolve around financial matters. It’s all about the money. Unfunded retirements is probably the most important of these that needs to be faced.

The safety of our citizens is another concern. As I mentioned earlier, the fact that we are not adequately funding what is needed for public safety is a major concern. We need to make sure that we have enough firefighters and police officers to do the difficult, and often dangerous, jobs that we ask them to do. We need to make sure that they have the right resources, the equipment they need, to do their jobs.

We also need to make sure that we are maintaining our transportation infrastructure. In Oakley, where I’m currently on the City Council, we’re spending a good deal of money on street maintenance at the moment. This is money that’s well spent. It’s a lot cheaper to maintain our infrastructure on a regular basis, than it is to let it go and then have to replace it.”

What is your previous political experience?

I served on the board of the Ironhouse Sanitary District for twelve years. During that time I was involved with the building of a new water treatment center. It was a long process. As board members, we had to ensure that state regulations would be met, and we had to obtain funding. We lobbied Sacramento on behalf of the District. I’m proud to say that the treatment center came in ahead of schedule, and under budget.

More recently, I’ve been a member of the Oakley City Council. Here, I’ve continued to watch out for how taxpayer’s money is being spent. One example is the construction of the fountain. Staff originally came in with cost projections of well over a million dollars, but we sent them back to take another look, to consider other bids, and ended up saving over half-a-million dollars on that project alone.

Also in Oakley, we’re transitioning from a contract with the Sheriff to our own police department, a move expected to save the city about $800,000 per year.

One of the things that I think is very important is accessibility. Once a month I set up a table in front of one of our local supermarkets, Raley’s, Lucky, or Grocery Outlet, and spend Saturday morning meeting with members of the public. I call it, ‘Mayor at the Market.’

People in town also know that, as a local businessman, they can find me here at my business, whenever we’re open. I’m always happy to speak with my constituents about their concerns. If they raise a question, or have an idea, I go to the city staff member responsible for the area they’ve addressed, and make sure they get an answer.

I do my best to be accessible, approachable and accountable.

I also serve on the East County transportation boards including Transplan, the State Route 4 Bypass Authority and the East Contra Costa Regional Fee and Financing Authority, for which I am currently Vice Chair. I also serve on the county Mayor’s Conference.

What else have you been involved with in your community?

I was involved with the local chapter of the Lion’s Club for twelve years, having served both as President, and as Chaplain. I’ve helped out at the American Cancer Society Relay for Life for the last ten years. I’m also active in the local Chamber of Commerce and served as Vice President for two years. Most recently, I volunteered at Stand Down on the Delta, an event held to help homeless veterans in need.”

Is there anything else you’d like the voters to know about you?

I’ve been in Contra Costa County my entire life. I was born in Martinez, and lived there and in Concord, while growing up. I graduated from Ygnacio Valley High School. I spent two-and-a-half years in the army as the crew chief of a Chinook helicopter.

I’ve been married to my wife, Lyn, for 43 years, and together we’ve raised two children, a son and a daughter. We have four grandchildren. We’ve been in Oakley for 35 years.

I attend Golden Hills Community Church, and have been in their choir for fourteen years. Really, I’m the most blessed man I know.”

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Republican Dave Miller to challenge Jim Frazier for State Assembly

Saturday, August 8th, 2015
Dave Miller

Dave Miller

Fairfield, CA – Former Solano County Republican 2nd Vice Chairman Dave Miller, announced, Friday, that he will be running for the position of State Assemblyman to represent the 11th District to replace incumbent Jim Frazier (D – Oakley). Miller has a good knowledge of the district, having lived in Discovery Bay as well as Fairfield for the last five years. His wife, Amy is Director of Advanced Practice Services at NorthBay Hospital in Fairfield.

Miller retired from a 28-year career in social services finance and fraud investigation. In addition to working in New York political circles, Dave was active on the campaigns of former Governor and 2016 presidential candidate George Pataki, for the 12 years he was Governor of New York State.

Since moving to California in 2011, he has started, with the help of his associates, a nationwide premier political consulting and strategy firm, with clients in California, Wisconsin, Tennessee, New York and Nevada. He also served as California Field Coordinator to Governor Jon Huntsman’s 2012 presidential campaign and Chief of Staff to USAF Col. Rick Tubbs’ congressional campaign in Contra Costa and Solano Counties.

We are 465 days out, and 465 days from releasing ourselves from the tax and spend policies of Jim Frazier and his associates in Sacramento,” Miller said. “The policies Jim Frazier believes in, like introducing a constitutional amendment to raise property taxes on both homeowners and businesses, overriding Proposition 13, a ballot initiative overwhelmingly passed by California voters, signifies that the time for super majorities in Sacramento must end, and it’s time to return a more compassionate and conservative form of government to the people.”

Speaking of ballot initiatives, in less than three years in office, Jim Frazier has voted to increase the fees to file such ballot initiatives from a simple $200 and to a staggering $8,000,” he added. “That’s a 3,900% increase, and a sure fire way to limit, if not freeze altogether, public debate and comment on issues pertinent to all Californians.”

It recently learned that the I-10 bridge on the California/Arizona border had collapsed,” Miller stated. “You’re probably wondering: how does a bridge collapse hundreds of miles away have anything to do with the 11th Assembly District? Because Jim Frazier is Chairman of the Assembly Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. It’s his job to provide legislative oversight of Cal Trans. Last year, Cal Trans inspected the same bridge mentioned earlier, and according to the report, they gave it a 95% safety score.”

Looking deeper, in the 800+ page report, I discovered there are nearly 400 bridges and overpasses in the 11th Assembly District alone, that had worse safety scores than the I-10 bridge which collapsed,” Miller continued. “Mr. Frazier cited ‘deferred maintenance’ as the cause for the bridge collapse, but if it scored 95% on its last safety inspection, one year ago, and Cal Trans stated in its report, it required no maintenance at all, how could you now claim it required ‘deferred maintenance’?”

Just knowing that Assemblyman Frazier seems to have forgotten how important bridges and overpasses are key to our very way of life here in the Bay Area, (and all across California) is of great concern to me, not only as a Candidate, but as a Taxpayer as well,” he added. “It’s just proof that he and his Democratic associates in Sacramento are completely happy with the status quo.”

Miller offered his campaign platform

If elected I will push for big bold reforms in Sacramento that effect you every day. I will:

Cut my own personal salary and give that back money to hard working high school graduates in our district who excel in Math and Science. My only caveat: that they seek work upon graduation in the State of California I want to help your kids be successful – in California, and keep them here for generations to come. I will dole it out in the form of a scholarship program, to help offset college costs.

I will propose the first Electronic Legislature in the nation. Should drastically help California see relief in legislature costs, such as per diems, staff payroll, and greatly cripple the influence of special interests prior to a crucial vote.

Propose the California Sacred Trust Act. This amendment would greatly restore public confidence in how government operates in the future. Let’s remember we are one of the largest states in the “United States of America,” not the “Divided States of America” let’s set the standard.

Propose sweeping massive regulatory reform, including tangible prison reforms.

Get serious about our Water Crisis, but not with the current proposals being thrown around today, but with Desalination Plants up and down the coast, with the water storage to protect it.

Opposition to High Speed Rail. I’ve seen firsthand, grandiose, wide-eyed, government-funded transportation projects that looked great on paper, but crash and burn inside two years’ time. See Rochester Business and search “Flawed Business Plan sank Fast Ferry.”

Improving the Business Climate in California. We were once the world’s 5th largest economy, we’ve dropped to 12th. It all goes back to the Regulations this Government feels the need to lump on your everyday life. The good news is: “we can’t get any worse!” We are 50th in the Nation in Economic Growth, and states to succeed in business.

Propose a Guest Worker ID program. If it can be done in Kuwait, a country of 8 million people, which has 20 million Saudis working in their nation’s oil fields, it can be done here in California. Use an E-Verify system to sort out the law-abiding illegal immigrants from the ones who feel the need to survive by committing violent crimes, who harm or kill American citizens. Give these law abiding illegals the opportunity for citizenship.

Phased in Voter ID Program. Program phased in over four-year period. As a social service provider, I’ve seen what not having a photo ID can do for a person, it can keep them from doing simple things we take for granted like cashing a check or getting documents notarized. If, after four years, you haven’t applied, you must get a DMV license to conduct business.

Study the possibility of a Trimester School System, and its effects on hard working families.

Implement a two year vehicle registration cycle on all vehicles registered at DMV. Study the effects of how that impacts the work flow at the agency.”

With the advent of an electronic legislature on the horizon, I, along with all my colleagues, can be in their Assembly and Senate District offices and more responsive to the needs of its citizens more,” Miller said. “As a former social services provider, who used to see as many as 200 clients a day, that is what I look most forward too – working with my constituency, as should every elected official.”

These are just some of the sweeping changes I plan to make when elected to become your next Assemblyman. I know I can do a better job, because I have nearly 28 years of government service backing me up. I look forward to meeting as many folks as I can in the months ahead, as well as re-engaging with some old friends from East Bay,” he added. “And folks…..that’s how I roll.”

The 11th Assembly District includes Antioch. Frazier was first elected to the position in 2012.

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District Attorney files misdemeanor charge against county school board trustee Jeff Belle for lying on ballot statement

Thursday, August 6th, 2015
Jeff Belle

Jeff Belle

By Allen Payton

Following an investigation, Contra Costa District Attorney Mark A. Peterson announced today, Wednesday, August 5, 2015 the filing of a single misdemeanor charge alleging a violation of section 18351 of the California Elections Code against Jeffery J. Belle, Area 5 Trustee for the Contra Costa County Board of Education. Belle DA Complaint 08-05-15

According to a press release from Peterson, “It is alleged that Jeffrey [sic] Belle, a candidate in an election, knowingly made a false statement of a material fact in a candidate’s statement with the intent to mislead the voters in connection with his campaign for election to a nonpartisan office.”

Belle was elected last November, defeating incumbent County School Board Trustee Cynthia Ruehlig.

Voters are entitled to know the truth about their candidates when they are voting.” Peterson said, “The democratic process is fundamental to our system of government. The integrity of our elections is fundamental to that process and must be protected.”

Section 18351 of the Elections Code reads “Any candidate in an election or incumbent in a recall election who knowingly makes a false statement of a material fact in a candidate’s statement, prepared pursuant to Section 11327 or 13307, with the intent to mislead the voters in connection with his or her campaign for nomination or election to a nonpartisan office is punishable by a fine not to exceed one thousand dollars ($1,000).”

On his ballot statement Belle stated he had a “Bachelor’s degree in Political Science.” Ruehlig & Belle candidate statements

However, in an October article by Herald staff, “according to The Office of the Registrar at Oklahoma City University, although Belle did attend the school, and did study political science, he did not receive a degree from them.”

In an interview with this writer, on October 27, 2014 Belle admitted that he did not have a degree because he still had to pay some fees to the school. He explained that Oklahoma City University works with American University in a program called the Washington Semester, the hours from which applied to his degree.

I still owe American University for room and board for that semester of almost $3,000,” Belle claimed. “However, in 1989 I walked in the graduation, and they acknowledge it, but they won’t confer the degree, until then.”

I don’t have to take any more courses,” he added. “That’s why I’m able to take the Master’s degree program in Public Administration, with an emphasis in Health Policy and Public Policy, from the American Public University System.”

However, his explanation about the fees has proven to be false, as well. Earlier this year, his now-estranged wife, Carmen stated the fees had been withheld from her tax return, yet Jeff still didn’t have his degree. He was working toward a Master’s degree, last year, but Belle had to discontinue that since he did not yet have his Bachelor’s degree, which is required in order to obtain a Master’s degree.

Belle’s false claim of a college degree on his candidate’s statement and false explanation appear to be part of a pattern.

The October Herald article further stated:

“Belle has also come under fire for making false claims regarding his education. For example, at one time he claimed to have obtained a Ph.D. from Harrington University, in London. The ‘school’ is well-documented as a diploma mill, where, according to some reports, degrees could be obtained for as little as $1400, and have even been handed out to pet dogs and cats. During his October 22 [2014] press conference, however, Belle admitted he did not have a Ph.D.

Belle has repeatedly given conflicting statements regarding his education. On his application to serve as Antioch’s representative to the Contra Costa Transportation Authority – Citizen’s Advisory Committee (CCTA-CAC), received by the Antioch City Clerk’s office on July 30, 2013, Belle states that he is scheduled to complete a Masters in Public Administration (MPA) in 2014 from Grand Canyon University. On his Linked-in profile, though, he states that he received his MPA from American Public University System in 2014. At the media event he held on October 22, Belle admitted he has no Master’s Degree.

Also on the CCTA-CAC application, Belle states that he has a BS in Political Science from Oklahoma City University / American Public University.

A different statement appears on his linked-in profile, where he says that he obtained that degree from Oklahoma City University in 1988. At the media event he held on October 22, Belle was repeatedly asked by CBS Channel 5 television reporter Da Lin whether or not he had a Bachelor’s degree at all. Belle, at one point, mentioned having obtained a Bachelor’s degree from ‘Biosystems Institute,’ but then quickly backpedaled, and refused to address the question further.”

His LinkedIn profile now states next to Education, “American Public University System.”

More recently, Belle continued his pattern of making false statements with regards to his residency.

When asked where he now lives, in response to both a Facebook post by Carmen, that she and her daughter now live in Sacramento, after he and they were evicted from their rented Antioch home in April, as well as rumors Belle was no longer living in his district, he said he now lives in Brentwood. Carmen said Jeff had told her that he lives in Pittsburg. Yet, the information Belle provided to the County Office of Education was an address for a mailbox inside a mailing business in Antioch.

After emails and a phone call, last month, informing staff for the County Office of Education about the location of Belle’s address that they had on file, the following week, Katie Gaines, Assistant Superintendent, Human Resources provided a new address as reported to her by Belle. That address has been confirmed to be a residence in Antioch, within the district. But, it has not yet been confirmed if he actually lives there.

Belle represents parts of Antioch, Pittsburg, Bay Point and Brentwood, and all of Oakley, Bethel Island, Knightsen and Clyde on the board.

According to the District Attorney’s press release, the maximum penalty for a violation of California Elections Code section 18351 is $1,000.

Check back for more details as this story further unfolds.

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Harper recall organizers ran ad in newspaper, website with fake committee name, paper takes responsibility

Friday, June 12th, 2015
Recall ad in East County Times.

Recall ad in East County Times with fake committee name.

Collected money without keeping proper records; never formed committee, opened bank account or filed state paperwork

By Allen Payton

In a recent Herald article about the failure of the second recall attempt against him, Harper stated “Now that the recall attempt has ended, I am asking Mr. Buongiorno to please cancel the ‘Committee to elect Wade Harper,’ it is misleading, dishonest and it is not a committee to elect me.” That has opened up other issues regarding how the recall was handled.

Harper was referring to what appeared in an ad the recall organizers ran in the East County Times print edition and online in April.

The misleading committee was listed within an ad posted on Contra Costa Times,” Harper stated via email.

According to Buongiorno, he was told by one of the remaining recall organizers in April, the day the ad ran, that there was a type-o in the ad. He informed the organizers that it was a violation of state elections law to use a committee name that wasn’t theirs or hadn’t been filed.

By that time, Buongiorno had resigned from the effort, as he was undergoing a kidney transplant.

Recall ad that appeared on the Contra Costa Times website.

Recall ad that appeared on the Contra Costa Times website.

Closeup of recall ad that ran on the Contra Costa Times website showing the fake committee name.

Closeup of recall ad that ran on the Contra Costa Times website showing the fake committee name.

Times takes responsibility for “typo”

In an email to Harper, Times’ reporter Rowena Coatsee explained what happened:

I had looked into the bizarre wording of the ad when it first appeared and at that point contacted the account manager. I’m forwarding you her response, although I’m not sure whether it was she or someone else who actually made the typo.

She explained to me that political ads are required to identify who paid for them and as such they usually contain the wording ‘Paid for by the committee to ELECT (fill in the blank).’ But in this case, unfortunately, whoever keyed in the information didn’t carefully read the heading of the ad ‘Recall Antioch Mayor Wade Harper’ and so he/she wrote the standard verbiage.

She went on to say that yes, we can run a corrected version of the ad, but also pointed out that it might create confusion now that the recall is over — i.e., people might think there’s going to be yet another attempt (there won’t), etc.

But it’s up to you — please let me know what you’d like to do ….”

Harper responded:

You have stated that this was a “typo.” I reject the idea that this was a “typo” as my name is spelled correctly. In my opinion this was an error in judgment that does harm and discourages any fundraising by the subject of the recall (me). This is my request, 1) refund the cost of the ad to the customer(s), 2) print a retraction stating that this ad was not paid for by Committee To Elect Wade Harper and that this was printed in error. This was a BIG mistake by Bay Area News Group and should never have happened. Thanks.”

It was someone’s poor judgment,” he added.

When asked who approved the ad, and if all ads require approval before the Times runs them, Coatsee responded:

I’m afraid I have no idea…Rich indicated (and the updated story will reflect this) that a couple of members of a splinter group went ‘rogue’ and took it upon themselves to place the ad. He says he knew nothing about the wrong wording until someone alerted him — categorically denies authorizing it.

When he saw the wording at the bottom of the ad, he told me he thought it was a typo.

But yes, you’re right — any ad that we run is approved by the person/group that pays for it (obviously) and then goes through a vetting process on our end.

As for our internal processes, I have nothing to do with ads, as you know. Editorial and advertising here are two different departments that almost never intersect (for good reason). So who creates the ads we run, who signs off on them — I wouldn’t know.”

Multi Media Account Manager Karen Cortez, who handled the ad for the Times, was asked who approved it and she responded via email:

The error in the ad was not the clients fault it was ours. I can simply give the name of the committee. There (sic) contact information was in the ad.”

The ad was run both in the print edition of the newspaper and on their website, she added. “We are publishing a correction statement in the East County Times on Sat. [June 13, 2015].”

Organizers never created formal committee

The Times may have used an incorrect committee name in the ad, the organizers never formed a committee, although they were required to do so, in their effort to recall Harper, according to the Secretary of State’s Political Reform Division, if they raised or spent at least $1,000.

When Buongiorno was asked when the recall committee formed, he responded, “It is required only if you have expenses that exceed $1,000.”

Buongiorno explained what happened after he resigned from the effort, in March, due to undergoing a kidney transplant. He said he passed on the responsibility to a committee of five people who were all agreed to keep the recall going, including Antioch residents Jani Fletcher, Lisa Lacy, Paula Knight, Anabelle Gudilano Donato and Laura Allen Stewart.

They were given the information, they were given the forms and they were supposed to have done that, but they didn’t,” Buongiorno stated. “I told them I already had a name, of ‘Reclaiming Antioch’ that I was going to put on the form.”

When Paula Knight was asked about forming a committee, she responded, “No we were never informed of that by Rich. We were asked to form a committee, because he was going in for transplant surgery. But, we were never told it had to be done by law. Lie. Never happened.”

I’ve talked to Jani and Lisa and they don’t know anything about that,” she shared. “All we were told on the recall Harper page. ‘I just got a call by UCSF and I gotta go. You guys have to form a committee.’”

We only had about five or six people step up, out of 300, to lead the effort,” Knight continued. “We all donated the money for the ad to be placed in the Contra Costa Times. We were never informed we had to file any forms.”

Knight and Buongiorno were the original organizers of the recall.

Rich handled the first one,” she stated. “We started the second one and Rich, again, got all the information he needed. Never was there a request that we file any forms. Because if he did tell us, it would have been done.”

They paid $500 for the ad in the Times.

When asked if a bank account had been opened, Knight responded, “I think there might have been an account. Anabelle, she set up the ad to go in. She or someone in her family did the graphics.”

When we started the second recall, some of us donated money for the other expenses,” she explained. “I gave cash to Rich. I remember Rich saying form a committee and open up a bank account, but I don’t know if that was done.”

We put our heart and soul into this, the five or six people who stepped forward. We went door-to-door, set up tables at stores.”

She was sympathetic and understood that Buongiorno needed to back off because of his transplant.

But, he was home within three days and he was in contact with us, constantly,” Knight added. “Now he’s throwing us under the bus.”

No one is sure if $1,000 threshold was reached, no bank account was opened

We never had a bank account, because I was the only one spending money, me personally, on my credit card,” Buongiorno said. “That’s it.”

A total of $250 came in through a PayPal account in Buongiorno’s name. That is until the ad was paid for.

I made sure I had receipts for everything,” he said. “I would say at the most people gave was an additional $50.”

Other than Buongiorno, no one else contributed more than $100, he said.

Maybe Paula didn’t know,” he offered. “But, the other two did. Lisa and Jani were the ones heading things up. I told one or the other, I don’t remember, because they’re sisters and always together, that they had to form a committee once they reached $1,000.”

I was told by Arne we had to use Form 460 to report the finances,” Buongiorno stated. “That asks who everyone is and it also says ‘once you reach $1,000.’ Then once you do you have to report it. You can do it earlier, but you have to do it once you’ve hit $1,000.”

Lisa Lacy, Annabelle Donato and Laura Stewart did not respond to multiple attempts to contact them for this report.

However, when a phone number for Lisa Lacy was called, a man who would only identify himself as “one of the proponents,” but later identified as Roger Hudson, answered questions.

The stuff he [Buongiorno] got he didn’t write down and all we did was collect signatures and get money for the ad,” Hudson said. “We got the truth on our side.”

When asked how much money was raised, he responded, “We got $500. Half of that came from us” referring to the group of individuals helping to pay for the ad. “Nobody contributed $100 or more to us.”

When asked about what Buongiorno said that they had to form a committee and open a bank account, Hudson responded, “He’s lying…to you. He had the committee.”

When Jani Fletcher was reached for comment, she shared about her part in the recall effort.

I took up the $500,” she stated. “It was all cash. People would give $5, $10. I don’t think a committee was ever formed.”

It was Amy Landry, Susan Williams and Marie Crandell, that’s who we thought was the committee,” Fletcher stated. “But they dropped out of sight. I didn’t know about forming committees. I was just trying to get signatures. He [Buongiorno] never mentioned nothing about a committee.”

Rich jumped all over me because I was taking down people’s names and amounts they gave, because I wanted to be honest about it,” she stated. “He said he had no idea how much people had given. I said, ‘Are you kidding? Because this is serious.’”

When told that Buongiorno said no one had contributed more than $100 Fletcher responded, “That’s crap, because I gave him money after money. He collected money at a bar, one time, and at a park.”

I know some people with a fancy car contributed. That had to be more than $100,” she added.

In response to Fletcher’s accusation, Landry provided the following statement via email:

Based on my experience during the first recall attempt, Rich was very detailed with information about how and why a committee needed to be formed. Rich provided the information time and time again regarding fundraising and the formation of a committee during both attempts to recall.

I was a tentative member of the committee during the first recall attempt. Before we could even raise any money and finalize the formation of the committee, the first recall attempt ended abruptly (“missed” deadline). It was at that point that personal matters pulled my attention away from the recall. When the second attempt began, I signed the Intent document with the other proponents and donated money (to someone other than Rich) through my PayPal account.

The reason why this matters to me is because the comments made about the original committee are inaccurate and imply that there was some type of dishonesty or wrong doing. I assure you that the lot of us (including Rich) wanted every little aspect to go perfectly because we all knew that one little error could mean the end of all our hard work.”

State requirements for political committees

By law any political effort becomes a committee and organizers must file the required reporting forms, once the $1,000 threshold is reached, according to California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) spokesman Jay Weirenga, stated.

Candidates and other campaign committees are required to file papers with the California Secretary of State’s office and then obtain an FPPC identification number.

Regarding the committee name listed in the newspaper ad David Hoang, Program Technician II of the Secretary of State’s Political Reform Division said “We have no record of a committee with that name.”

The ad should have also included the Fair Political Practices Commission number,” he added. “You can talk to them about what legal action they can take.”

He said the information on all political committees in California could be found on the Cal-Access website, which lists only two committees with the name Wade Harper included. Those are for both Harper’s 2012 and 2016 campaign committees for Mayor. That information can be viewed, here.

Organizers may face up to a $5,000 fine

When we would receive a complaint or notice something in a media report, that would raise our attention, we would investigate,” the FPPC’s Weirenga stated. We don’t do any criminal action, here,” If the DA wants to pursue this, they can use our law.”

Violations of the political reform act can be fined up to $5,000, based on how complex the case is and how cooperative those involved are, and how egregious and how much harm it can cause the public,” he added. “Those are the kinds of things that are taken into consideration. There are penalties and there are rules to be followed in proper reporting of committee activities.”

UPDATE 6/13/15 9:45 PM: Harper considered filing complaint, but won’t

Harper had said he was considering filing a complaint against both the Times and the organizers of the recall for the misleading committee name.

I will definitely be looking into possibly filing a complaint,” Harper stated, earlier this week.

However, in an email to the Herald on Saturday, June 13, 2015, Harper wrote “After prayerful consideration I have decided not to file a complaint against the recall proponents (specifically Mr. Buongiorno). I know he has had health challenges. I wish him good health as he recovers.”

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Effort to recall Antioch Mayor Harper falls short, expected to seek re-election, another candidate announces

Monday, June 8th, 2015

By Allen Payton

According to an email from Antioch City Clerk Arne Simonsen, the recall effort of Antioch Mayor Wade Harper is dead.

This afternoon, Monday, June 8th, the proponent (Mr. Richard Buongiorno) of the recall petition of Mayor Wade Harper presented for filing all sections of the petition to the City Clerk in accordance with Elections Code 11222(a),” Simonsen’s email stated. “In accordance with Elections Code 11222(b), as the elections official I determined that the number of signatures, prima facie, did not equal or exceed the minimum number of signatures required and in accordance with Election Code 11222(b) “…the petition shall not be filed. Any petition not accepted for filing shall be returned to the proponents. All sections of the petition were returned to the proponent.”

They needed approximately 9,000 valid signatures of registered voters in Antioch.

We had a deadline to meet, which was June 8th, today,” said Buongiorno, who was the original organizer of the recall effort. “The problem that exists is I had bowed out of the recall on March 5, because I was going to get a transplant.”

He explained what occurred, further.

On March 10 a committee of five people was formed, to follow through,” he said. “I kept referring people who wanted to sign the petition to one or two of the primary committee members.”

I found out a week-ago Friday, after making numerous referrals to these two ladies, that they had disbanded the recall committee and they told me ‘we are not in the recall any more.’

That started a frenzy. I had to recruit over a dozen people to help get signatures. Even up until 3:30 p.m., today I was driving around the city to gather petitions with recall signatures to count, because I had a meeting with Arne at 4:00 p.m., today.

Simonsen immediately saw problems with the petitions. So, now I’m going to have to go through it, for my own piece of mind, to see how many signatures we have,” Buongiorno added. “But, we are done with the recall.”

However, he attempted to offer supporters a bright side.

We currently have sufficient information to continue with our efforts to replace Harper as Mayor in 2016. It’s only 515 days away,” he said with a laugh. “Not that I’m counting.”

But, it’s not just Harper,” Buongiorno added. “It’s all the council members who are up for election, next year. All those people not doing their job.”

People are tired of it. They’re sick of it. It’s all the lying. They’re not doing their job.”

In response to the recall failing, Buongiorno changed the name of the Facebook page from Recall Wade Harper to Fire Wade Harper 2016.

In a post on that page, Buongiorno wrote the following:

This is an advisory, which will be followed up on very soon.

I arranged for an appointment this afternoon with the Antioch’s Election Official, Arne Simonsen. I submitted everything I had received for the recall, including the incredible amount of signatures gathered in the last 10 days.

It would appear that there would be insufficient signatures to proceed with the filing.

First, I would like to thank all the people that worked on recall, many of who stuck it out to the very end. I do acknowledge there were a lot of hours invested in this effort and I certainly appreciate all that time invested.

Second, even though it was a blessing and I would not have changed a thing, I have not doubt that had I not been grounded by the transplant medical team and support staff, I am confident that the outcome would have been different.

Once it has been determined that the recall is definitively not proceeding, I will be receiving written confirmation. However, once the determination is made it becomes public which is why I am posting this advisory. No doubt the media will catch wind of it, as early as today.

My respect for you and the movement is my major concern and I wanted you to know before you read it elsewhere.

As indicated, I will be posting additional information since I have received so many requests.

Sincerely expressing my appreciation to all, Rich”

Harper is expected to seek reelection, next year, having held a Mardi Gras themed fundraiser, earlier this year.

The only other candidate for mayor, so far, is Gil Murillo, who announced at a Brazil Night music event at Tailgaters in March, that he organized.

Murillo posted the following on the Facebook page he created for his campaign,

What is my platform…it is simple.

First, work with the County and Local School District to design a plan to improve our schools. We are a community and before we can make it better, we need to have an inspiring environment for the children of our City. I know it is the School District that needs to be responsible for this, but this is a community issue which is all of us.

Crime – this is a tough subject and I don’t have the answer but I will work with community, ADP and consultants who can provide great insights on a long term plan. But for sure, look at expanding our mutual aide agreements with Brentwood and Pittsburg for expanded patrols. Look to see if we can engage County or State services for police services. I would work on developing a Police Reserve program for residents who want to serve once more from the heart. There is much we can do quickly.What is important, is to ensure revenue streams exist to ensure that we have a strong force.

Employment – In targeting education and crime, employers will consider Antioch once more. My goal is to bring high paying jobs to our community. By bringing these jobs, the organic change in our community will occur. If you have great paying local jobs, you will shop more in the community and it will also bring property values higher. I will work in allocating General Fund dollars to our local Economic Committee and Chamber of Commerce to promote Antioch.

Housing – With so many development plans already approved or in flight, we need to make sure that developments are aligned to the community. Important that the community style is maintained. I will also push for a local HUD office to open in Antioch with the emphasis of managing the issues that surround Section 8 housing. We have to realize that the property owner who is local or overseas, is overall responsible for their tenants. Having a local HUD office will ensure that property owners are responsible for the tenant and appearance of the property, the tenant will adhere to the regulations of their HUD agreement. I will stop development efforts on the condo complex and move forward with the community park in Downtown.

Blight and Graffiti – I will increase funding for City services to ensure that these issues are addressed quickly. I would work with the local school district to elicit students to help combat graffiti by having them paint.

This is a quick narrative but it gives you some ideas. Happy to speak with you directly.

We can make a difference in working together. I am not seeking this position for any personal agenda, but seeking this position to bring your thoughts forward for consideration. We all have the answers.

Thank you for spending your time in reviewing my thoughts and God Bless you all and God Bless our wonderful city of Antioch.”

Buongiorno added one final comment, via email to the Herald:

There were two primary goals of the recall group. First being the recall, the second being an introduction to what the City of Antioch staff, including all council members, are doing to it’s residents and constituents (where applicable).

The constant and continual ‘smoke and mirrors’ is not acceptable. After specifically expressing the lack of transparency, questionable tactics and what appears as malfeasance and possible collusion. Nothing has changed.

The people of Antioch have learned to do what they learned as children to, ‘Stop, Look and Listen.’ It is doesn’t look or sound right they have learned they have the right to question and receive a reasonable answer.

I personally believe that 515 days from now, the people of Antioch will express their voting rights and change this city, even if it takes new recalls to do it.”

Harper responded via email, with the following statement:

While I believe the recall attempt was not warranted, for me this has been a blessing in disguise; I have gained supporters that I didn’t know I had. My supporters have stated that they would not vote for, support or allow a recall; they see me out there in the community. I have continued to work hard for the citizens of Antioch. I will continue to do so, as long as I am able. We all want a safer community. We are working hard to make that happen. The recent report by Chief Allan Cantando has shown that violent crime continues to decrease. As a retired law enforcement professional, I understand that crime trends are cyclical, and as crime continues to rear its ugly head, we will continue to fight it.

Now that the recall attempt has ended, I am asking Mr. Buongiorno to please cancel the ‘Committee to elect Wade Harper,’ it is misleading, dishonest and it is not a committee to elect me. The recall events were disguised as ‘stop the violence’ rallies (I noticed online that there were photos with the recall wording covered up). I have a lifetime of community service and I will continue to work hard for the citizens of Antioch. My plan during these last few months was simply to continue to work hard in the community and continue to be visible. Let’s end the divisiveness and let’s work together to make Antioch safe and build our economy.”

The next election for Mayor of Antioch will be held in November, 2016.

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U.S. Senate candidate to speak at East County Republican Women lunch, June 11

Thursday, June 4th, 2015

East Contra Costa Republican Women Federated will be meeting Thursday, June 11, 2015, 11:30 a.m., at the Discovery Bay Country Club, 1475 Clubhouse Drive in Discovery Bay. The speaker will be Tom Del Beccaro, a contributor for Forbes and the former Chairman of the California Republican Party. Tom is publisher of, author of The Divided Era, The New Conservative Paradigm 1st Ed. & 2nd Ed., as well as a frequent talk radio and television commentator.

Everyone is welcome! For information and reservations call (925) 286-7674.

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Glazer beats Bonilla to win “hard fought battle” in special State Senate race

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015
Steve Glazer from his campaign Facebook page.

Steve Glazer from his campaign Facebook page.

By Allen Payton

Awaiting a call from Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, following the final vote count in the special 7th State Senate District election, Tuesday night, Orinda Mayor Steve Glazer was happy with his victory and said he would post a statement on his Facebook page in a few minutes.

Millions of dollars were spent by both sides in this election, with mainly business interests on one side backing Glazer and union, education and health care interests backing Bonilla.

It was a hard fought battle,” said Martin Wilson, Executive Vice President, Public Affairs for the California Chamber of Commerce’s JobsPAC, which paid to send out a variety of pro-Glazer and anti-Bonilla mailers during the campaign. “We’re gratified with the results. The voters made a wise choice. He will represent the people of this district from both parties, well.”

According to the California Secretary of State’s website, as of 11:22 p.m., with the votes from all 645 precincts counted, Glazer leads Bonilla by 60,824 to 50,569 votes or 54.6% to 45.4%. In the Alameda County portion of the district he won by 56.9% to 43.1% of the vote. In Contra Costa County, much of which has been represented by Bonilla in the Assembly, Glazer won 54.08% to 45.92% of the vote.

Glazer posted the following statement on his Facebook page at 11:07 p.m.:

Today we saw that people are more important — and more powerful — than special interests, and that’s a great message for our state to hear. Our campaign struck a chord with voters frustrated by the gridlock and dysfunction in Sacramento. They want leaders who are more pragmatic than partisan, more focused on answers than ambition.

One new state senator can’t change California government on his own, but I hope to work with my colleagues to restore confidence in public policymaking and advance progressive ideals in ways that are financially responsible.

This election offered voters a clear choice. I promised to be an independent thinker committed to solving problems and serving my district. I will work hard to make sure the voters are always proud of their decision.

I am grateful for everyone who participates in our democracy and especially for the volunteers and voters who believed in my message. Thank you!”

According to Paul Burgarino, Voter Education and Engagement Specialist with the Contra Costa County Elections Office, the ballot that have been counted, were “At this point the vote-by-mail up through today and the ballots turned in at the polls.”

Those vote-by-mail ballots postmarked by Tuesday will be counted as they are received by the two county elections offices, and are expected to be received over the next three days. The officials have 10 days to certify the results of the special election.

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Bonilla files FPPC complaint against women’s group on claims of violating Political Reform Act

Thursday, May 14th, 2015

Washington, DC-based “Independent Women’s Voice” funded by Koch Brothers trying to dictate their choice, Steve Glazer, to East Bay voters

[Concord, CA] – The Susan Bonilla for State Senate campaign called on the Fair Political Practices Commission, on Tuesday, May 11, 2015, to investigate violations of the Political Reform Act by Washington, DC-based non-profit, the Independent Women’s Voice (IWV), the latest effort in a $4.5 million barrage of political advertising by outside groups to elect Steve Glazer to the state senate.

Independent Women’s Voice is an extremist right-wing Koch Brothers’ front group, known for opposing women’s rights and for protecting tax loopholes for billionaires,” said campaign spokesperson Josh Pulliam. “This Koch Brothers’ group is affiliated with the same right-wing Super PAC that committed the most egregious violations of the Political Reform Act in California history, laundering millions of dollars in last minute attack ads right before the election.”

While the IWV has hidden their funding from California voters, investigative journalists have reported that the committee has received $250,000 from the Center to Protect Patient Rights (CPPR), a well-known Koch Brothers slush fund that infamously laundered $15 million to oppose Governor Brown’s ballot initiatives in 2012. Their illegal activities in that losing effort resulted in the biggest campaign finance violation in California history.

IRS tax filings show that Washington, DC-based Independent Women’s Voice is prohibited from making political expenditures, but that isn’t stopping this right-wing group from dumping thousands of dollars so far into the 7th Senate District,” said Pulliam. “It is imperative that the FPPC step in to require out-of-state billionaires like the Koch Brothers and Los Angeles mega developers like Bill Bloomfield to play by the same rules as everyone else.”

Bonilla’s complaint identifies four different violations of law: 1) Violating the Single Purpose Committee, failing to properly disclose the committee on campaign expenditures; 2) Misreporting attack ads against Susan Bonilla as “Support Steve Glazer” expenditures; 3) Failing to report timely political expenditures; and 4) Violating their non-profit status by making political expenditures to impact the SD7 election.

See the response from the Independent Women’s Voice in a news release from their organization, here.

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