Archive for the ‘Politics & Elections’ Category

Sean Wright is first to file to run for Mayor of Antioch in November election

Wednesday, July 20th, 2016
Sean Wright, with his wife Lani, submits his filing papers to run for Mayor of Antioch, to Antioch City Clerk Arne Simonsen on Tuesday, July 19.

Sean Wright, with his wife Lani, submits his filing papers to run for Mayor of Antioch, to Antioch City Clerk Arne Simonsen on Tuesday, July 19.

Will share his vision and message for Antioch over the next few months

Dr. Sean Wright, chiropractor and CEO of the Antioch Chamber of Commerce, officially turned in his candidate nomination papers Tuesday morning, July 19th, becoming the first candidate to file for Mayor of the City of Antioch for the November 8th election.

“I’m excited to share my vision and message for Antioch over the next few months,” Wright said. “I’m tired of watching friends move away.  I want to utilize my leadership and communication skills to focus Antioch on Public Safety, Jobs and supporting our schools so that Antioch becomes the place where our friends want to live.”

Wright’s platform consists of three planks: Leadership, Public Safety, and Jobs.

Leadership: We elect leaders to make difficult decisions and fight for us. Antioch is challenged and needs a new direction: a leader who listens, collaborates, communicates and unifies behind a common vision. My experience and passion are best suited to help Antioch succeed.

Public Safety: Measure C funds are meant to reduce escalating crime and they are being misspent. 100 percent of Measure C money needs to hire police and code enforcement officers, immediately. We’ve heard the talk, now we need the results.

Jobs: Antioch has expanded Highway 4, will extend E-BART, has access to multiple railroad lines, and a deep water port but no plan to create permanent high paying jobs. It must be easier for businesses to open in Antioch so people can live, work, play and worship in our community.

A few of his supporters shared their thoughts about Wright and his campaign.

“I’m so excited to sign today and support Sean Wright for his run for Mayor of Antioch,” said Antioch resident Susan Martinez. “He is just the type of hardworking and smart leader our city so badly needs!”

“Sean is not a politician, he is a just a resident who cares about Antioch,” said Antioch resident Jose Solario. “The job he has done in transforming the Chamber of Commerce can only be described as amazing. With a track record for getting positive results, he is the ONLY choice for Antioch.”

“I support Sean Wright and his approach to serving in local Government,” said Antioch community advocate and business owner Terry Ramus. “Voters who desire responsive, problem-solving government would be wise to support Sean also. His candidacy for Mayor is about the people who live and work in Antioch. Finally.”

For more information on Sean Wright, and his Vision for 1 Antioch, visit www.wrightformayor.com.

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Save the Yard initiative petition effort for downtown Antioch event center fails

Wednesday, July 20th, 2016

By Allen Payton

The signature gathering effort to place an initiative on the November ballot for an event center on the old Antioch Lumber Company lot in downtown failed to gather the necessary signatures to qualify.

In a July 19th letter from Antioch City Clerk Arne Simonsen to Jim Lanter, the lead organizer for the initiative, it was revealed that the 10% random count of the 5,149 signatures by the county Clerk-Record-Elections Department produced only 394 valid signatures, short of the 500 necessary to conduct a full count.

Joy Motts, one of the organizers of the effort shared her thoughts.

“It’s a bump in the road, here,” she said. “We’re going to fight on. It was one way we were going forward. The 500 random process is just the way it is. I would have preferred they did a 100% verification but they don’t. It’s not over for us. We’ll be moving forward, just in a different direction.”

Asked if the council approves the sale of the property to a developer, could the next effort be a referendum, she responded “The council could vote. We will do everything we can to stop that from happening. You still have over 5,000 people who signed the petitions who said they want a different alternative on that parcel. That’s a significant statement.”

“You would think the council and staff would have a conversation with us,” she added. “But they didn’t.”

When asked if more signatures can be gathered and added to those already submitted, Motts said “I’m not sure. We may have to submit all over again, once you submit them.”

Both County Clerk-Recorder Joe Canciamilla and Simonsen provided the bad news.

“They have to start all over and resubmit,” Canciamilla stated. “Once they submit their signatures they can’t add to them.”

Simonsen concurred, stating “They have to start all over again from scratch per state Elections Code 9115 (e).”

To read the letters from Simonsen and the Clerk-Recorder-Elections Department, click here:Letter to Jim Lanter dated 7-19-2016

 

 

 

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Assembly candidate Miller proposes nation’s first electronic legislature to save money

Friday, July 15th, 2016

Debate, Listen to Hearings, and Voting from Home District Offices

Dave Miller, candidate for the 11th Assembly District, proposed this week to make California’s legislature convert to being electronic. If adopted, it would be the nation’s first.

“Using advanced technologies that are based right here, in the Bay Area the State of California can have the nation’s first electronic legislature.” Miller said in his statement.

“If you and I can Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Marco Polo, and Periscope, why can’t we stay in our home district offices, and work from there, using social media platforms and other assorted technologies that are available to everyday America?” he asked.

An Assembly member or Senator could stay in his or her home district office, and conduct both debate and vote, using biometric technology, with his or her thumbprint. They would only need to visit Sacramento for special occasions, such as constitutionally required events, like the governor’s annual State of the State message, and swearing in ceremonies of new sessions of the legislature, Miller argues.

“The savings to California taxpayers would be incalculable at this time,” he said. “A state legislator working from his or her district office would allow him or her to conduct more business in the district, and to participate in committee debate from the home district office. It would also save the state millions in state capitol staffing, as all the staffing requirements would be directed towards the home district, not the capitol.”

This system would also allow for more public input from average citizens who desire to be heard

on various issues before hearings and committees, but cannot afford to commute to Sacramento to be heard on important legislation, he added.

It would also be harder for a legislator to ignore the pleas of their constituency, who are right outside their district office doors, vs. a group of people who have been “fenced off from the world” on the State Capitol grounds. Currently, state legislators can conveniently bypass protestors on the state capitol grounds, by leaving any number of exits.

Miller also argues that working from the Home District Office, also provides the legislator some insulation from the influence of lobbyists from around the state, on issues of all varieties, allowing him or her to be a more “free thinking” legislator.

“But, most importantly, the best benefit from an Electronic Legislature is that a Legislator can come home to his family every night, except those nights where the actual floor sessions go into the wee hours of the morning,” he stated. ‘It saves the taxpayers of the California countless millions on per diem costs for legislators staying in Sacramento, when they can be in the home district office, working from home.”

“I would even say, for those nights when the floor session is going late, a portable laptop-like system could even be set up at home, so you can vote from home,” Miller added.

Miller, a Republican is challenging incumbent Jim Frazier, a Democrat. The election is November 8th. To learn more about his campaign visit www.electdavemiller.com.

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Antioch City Clerk issues official notice for November elections, filing opens Monday

Wednesday, July 13th, 2016

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that a General Election will be held in the City of Antioch on Tuesday, November 8, 2016, for the following officers:

CITY OF ANTIOCH

Mayor

Two (2) Council Members

City Clerk

City Treasurer

 A nominee must be a registered voter residing within the City. Nomination petitions may be obtained from the City Clerk’s Office, 200 “H” Street, Antioch, CA. The Nomination Filing Period begins Monday, July 18, 2016 and shall be filed with the City Clerk’s Office in person no later than 5:00 p.m., Friday, August 12, 2016. The regular business hours for the City Clerk’s Office are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.  However, the City Clerk’s Office will be available from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Friday, August 12, 2016 at City Hall. Candidates are strongly encouraged to make an appointment with the City Clerk’s Office for obtaining and filing nomination papers by calling (925) 779-7009 or emailing Cityclerk@ci.antioch.ca.us. Please refer to the Fair Political Practices Commission website link for important information: www.fppc.ca.gov or call (866) 275-3772.

If an incumbent fails to file for election/reelection by 5 p.m. Friday, August 12, 2016, the filing period will be extended to Wednesday, August 17, 2016 for new filings.

Candidates may submit a candidate statement 250 words in length and will be responsible for the expense.

The City Clerk’s Office shall submit a certificate of facts to the City Council (1) if no one or only one candidate files for any office which is elected on a city wide basis, or (2) if the number of persons filing for offices elected at large does not exceed the number of seats to be filled.  The City Council shall adopt one of the courses of action outlined in Elections Code Section 10229.

Polls will be open Election Day between 7:00 A.M. and 8:00 P.M.

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BART’s $3.5 billion bond measure for repair, maintenance and upgrades of system on November ballot

Monday, July 11th, 2016

BART photo

By Allen Payton

In June, the BART Board voted 9-0 to place a $3.5 billion bond measure on the November ballot to provide funding for repair and maintenance of and upgrades to the existing system. The measure will appear on ballots in the three counties of Contra Costa, Alameda and San Francisco that make up the BART District, and requires a two-thirds vote to pass.

The system improvements will take 21 years to complete, according to the brochure about the measure. To see the brochure, click here: BetterBART_Brochure

“BART anticipates that the 2016 System Renewal Program Plan will be implemented over the course of twenty-one years, commencing in Fiscal Year 2017 and concluding in Fiscal Year 2038. Projects will be accelerated as practical to maximize the benefit of planned improvements as quickly as possible.”

However, the bonds will take as long as 50 years to pay off.

“We’re not likely to sell $3.5 billion of bonds in the first year or even the first 10 years,” stated BART Director Joel Keller, who represents Antioch and Eastern Contra Costa County.  “There are laws that require you spend bond proceeds before you issue more bonds. What we’ll do is sell the bonds in what’s called tranches. Let’s say the first tranche is $1 billion and it takes us five to 10 years to spend that money. That tranche will last 30 years. If we do that three or four times, that could take the final payment out years. That’s really an unknown. It could take 40 to 50 years. It will be 30 years after the last bond is sold.”

It’s similar to the Antioch Mello-Roos bonds, which were to be paid off 20 years after the last bond was sold, the final bonds of which are finally being paid off, this year.

Annual Cost Per Property

According to a BART press release, “Estimates show the bond will cost Alameda, Contra Costa and San Francisco county homeowners less than a pack of gum a week.” More specifically, the cost will increase the average property tax bill by $37.21 per year in Contra Costa County if the measure is approved, according to Keller.

The annual cost is based on the appraised of property values, both residential and commercial, similar to the BART earthquake retrofit bond measure, which is what property owners are currently paying on their property tax bills.

For the BART Earthquake Safety Measure, which voters approved in 2004 and totaled $980 million, the projected annual cost was between $4.85 and $12.65 per $100,000 of assessed value. However, the actually cost was $2.60 to $9 per $100,000 of assessed value.

“It’s an ad valorem tax with a fixed cost to pay off the bonds,” Keller explained. “So, if property values increase, the cost per $100,000 will decrease.”

The 2016 bond measure is projected to cost $8.98 per $100,000 of assessed value. So a property in Contra Costa County with an average value of $414,399 will be assessed $37.21 per year.

Use of Bond Proceeds

The use of funds from the bond measure is split into two categories, according to the BART System Renewal Program Plan 2016.

Repair and Replace Critical Safety Infrastructure – $3.165 billion, 90.43%

“We want to upgrade our computer equipment from Pong-era technology to a modern train control system—which means less waiting for trains on crowded platforms and less frustration from delays. New maintenance facilities will keep the maximum number of cars out serving customers, so that fewer cars clog our congested highways,” from “The Plan” brochure about the measure.

This category is further divided into six sub-categories, with explanations in the brochure.

Renew Power System – $1.225 billion, 35%

Replacing Worn Track – $625 million, 17.85%

Waterproofing & Repairing Tunnels & Structures – $570 million, 16.29%

Modernizing & Replacing Train Control – $400 million, 11.43%

Renovating Stations – $210 million, 6%

Renewing Mechanical Infastructure – $135 million, 3.86%

Safer Station Access – $335 million, 9.57%

Design Future Projects to Reduce Crowding & Reduce Traffic Congestion – $200 million, 5.71%

Expand Opportunities to Safely Access Stations – $135 million, 3.86%

The bond measure brochure clearly states No general operating expenditures: The proceeds of the bond measure cannot be used to support BART’s general operating needs, but must be dedicated to the capital program outlined in this Program Plan.” Therefore none of the funds can be used for employee salaries or benefits.

According to a press release from BART:

The bond measure is a key funding component of BART’s plan to rebuild and renew its aging system, which faces increasing problems as various physical parts of the 44-year-old railway reach the end of their useful lives.  The plan replaces and repairs 90 miles of deteriorating tracks and other aging infrastructure in order to maintain BART’s excellent safety record and protects our environment by keeping thousands of cars off the road.

“This bond measure is practical; it’s dedicated to fixing what we have,” said Board President Tom Radulovich. “We have a responsibility to keep our system safe and reliable while getting the maximum value out of taxpayers’ investment.”

Over the past year, BART’s community outreach department has held over 230 community meetings with local stakeholders and civic groups to ensure widespread understanding of BART’s needs, and to hear the public’s thoughts about its capital reinvestment program.

Due to record-breaking ridership, BART has been able to find funding for many of the solutions needed to increase capacity, meet modern demand, relieve crowding, and upgrade the system.  That includes the newly arriving Fleet of the Future, the Hayward Maintenance Complex, and some of the groundwork for a cutting-edge train control system.

However, the cost of the capital projects needed to repair, fix, and replace worn rail, leaking tunnels, unreliable track circuitry, and failing power transmission equipment outpaces revenue growth.  BART’s plan is to dedicate funds from the bond measure solely to fixing what we have first – without earmarks, pet projects, or frills.

If voters choose to pass the measure in November, great care will be taken to ensure the public’s money is protected and spent wisely.  An independent audit committee will be commissioned to publish regular, transparent reports on how the money is being spent, with open, frequent and public meetings.

BART has proven itself to be a prudent and effective steward of public bond funds in the past, executing its 2004 Earthquake Safety and Retrofitting effort under budget with better and more robust results than expected.

Public transportation continues to be at the intersection of many of the great issues facing cities in the 21st century – and voters were wise in choosing to build such an extraordinary work as BART back in 1962.  Since then, BART has been a staple of this region’s culture, workforce, and values. As both riders and service providers, BART appreciates and is deeply grateful for the opportunity to connect residents to the people and places they care about.

Kerry Hamill, Government Relations Manager for BART offered additional comments regarding the cost and length of the bond measure, in response to an editorial by Dan Borenstein published in the East Bay Times:

The East Bay Times editorialist’s headline – that our bond measure will cost double what we are saying – is flatly incorrect, a conclusion drawn from a selective interpretation of our analysis. In order to assist BART’s Board of Directors in making an informed executive decision, a variety of scenarios were created with different variables relevant to particular presentations. The East Bay Times piece incorrectly appropriated data from these scenarios, resulting in an inaccurate characterization of the bond’s effects. BART has long taken care to illustrate the repayment structure of this bond in a standardized way; we have been doing so through all our exhibits and resolutions since the Board discussions began in earnest this past February.

The editorial also takes issue with how staff described the bond to the Board of Directors and the public, claiming we provided inaccurate information out of either incompetence or deceit – a charge which has absolutely no merit. Bonds are issued over time in subsets called tranches, each lasting 30 years (hence the name ’30-year bond’). This is done to coordinate the timing of bond issuance as closely as possible with construction progress payments, which minimizes interest costs and keeps the annual tax rates as low as possible – a prudent and responsible financial management practice. The editorialist was given this point of clarification multiple times as he repeatedly misrepresented the meaning of a ’30-year bond’ to mean the total span of time property owners would be paying – a false claim BART has never made. We were disappointed to see the author’s misunderstanding make the final printing, despite our best efforts.

The bond measure is projected to cost between $0.80 and $17.49 per $100,000 of a property’s assessed value, for a weighted average of $8.98 per $100,000 over the life of the bond – and for further explanation, that minimum and maximum range is based on the structure of BART’s projected debt service. The editorial’s repeated point that BART made a mathematical error in not compounding the increase in AV is also flatly incorrect, based on a misunderstanding of how the cost of bonds increase or decrease over time. The more the District’s assessed value increases (as housing supply, ownership changes, improvements increase), the lower the rate property owners would pay as the cost is spread over a larger base of assessed values. Furthermore, our models and estimates are built on the assumption of a 4% yearly increase in assessed value. $3.5B Scenario C Tax Rate At 4% AV Escalation

This is not our first bond – when the Earthquake Safety measure went before voters in 2004, the District projected that rates would vary between $4.85 to $12.79 per $100,000 of a property’s assessed value. Since approval, the actual annual cost has ranged between $2.60 (current year) and $9.00 per $100,000 of assessed value. Contrary to popular opinion, we have a proven track record of responsible fiscal stewardship. $3.5B Bond Financing

Concerned property owners are encouraged to do their own math for the sake of accuracy: $8.98 per $100,000 of assessed property value. When we provide averages for particular scenarios, we run the risk of appearing to conceal changes in amounts due to the many variables that can be introduced. Our goal is to provide people with a general understanding of a complex issue based on the best information available, which we have done and will continue to do. We are a transparent organization with deep ties to the community, and have held hundreds of meetings to ensure people understand what this bond is and how it will work. In that vein, we appreciate the opportunity to draw attention to our plan to rebuild the core of the BART system for improved safety, reliability, and traffic congestion relief.

Complete details of what is in the bond and how it relates to safety, reliability, and relief of traffic congestion can be found at bart.gov/betterbart.

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Voter fraud discovered in Contra Costa, officials blame Secretary of State decision

Saturday, July 9th, 2016

Elections Division officials discover 113 voters successfully cast two ballots in June election

As a result of an emergency accommodation to the California Secretary of State’s office, the Contra Costa County Elections Division has discovered that 113 registered voters voted twice and had both ballots counted during the June 7th Presidential Primary Election.

The Contra Costa Elections Division plans to send those voter fraud cases to the Contra Costa District Attorney’s office, Registrar of Voters Joe Canciamilla said.

Elections Division staff will also send recommendations to the Secretary of State’s office requesting a change in their practices for surrendering vote-by-mail ballots.

Contra Costa County’s long standing practice in administering state Election Code 3016 has been to issue provisional ballots to all vote-by-mail voters who surrender their ballots at a polling place. Part of the reason this practice is in place is to prevent voter fraud.

The process of surrendering a ballot as it is currently written does not provide a means of detecting or preventing this type of fraud until it is too late.

The County is urging Secretary of State Alex Padilla to seek urgency legislation or work with counties to eliminate this vulnerability in the election process for the November election.

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Supporters of initiative for downtown Antioch park and event center on lumber company lot submit signatures

Thursday, July 7th, 2016

By Allen Payton

According to Antioch City Clerk Arne Simonsen, the Save The Yard initiative proponents turned in 214 petitions with 5,139 signatures on Tuesday, July 6th.

The initiative, formally labeled the “Rivertown Town Square Ordinance,” would require the Antioch City Council to preserve as a park and event center, the former Antioch Lumber Company lot, between West Second, West Third and E Streets in downtown instead of a planned, mixed-use development with both townhomes and retail space.

There were 44,365 registered voters as of March 5th when the proponents submitted their paperwork to start the process. That means they need 4,437 valid signatures of registered Antioch voters for the initiative to be placed on the ballot.

“We tossed out the ones from people who live outside the city,” Simonsen said.

He submitted the petitions to the County Elections Office on Wednesday morning. According to County Clerk and Registrar of Voters, Joe Canciamilla his office has 30 business days to count and verify the signatures.

The deadline for placing items on the November ballot is August 12th so the verification process could take it beyond that date which would place the Antioch initiative on the November, 2017 ballot instead.

There are three other initiatives that have been received before and are in front of Antioch’s, two from Richmond and one from San Ramon. Plus, they have a large quantity of voter registration cards to process, some from Antioch but mostly from Richmond.

“We’re going to be bringing extra help on board to process those on a parallel track,” Canciamilla stated.

Asked if he believes his office will be able to count all the signatures and new voter registrations by the August 12th deadline, he responded “That’s our goal.”

Signature gatherers for the initiative petitions are required to be registered voters in the county. Asked if he knew about the signature gatherers who worked on the Antioch initiative, Canciamilla responded, “I would think the firm that hired them would know that. But, I haven’t seen the petitions and I haven’t talked to the staff about them, yet. So I don’t know what they look like.”

Then he spoke about the size of the November ballot.

“We have 17 statewide ballot measures confirmed, there are still two in the hopper,” Canciamilla shared. “Plus, we have two regional measures, from BART and CCTA.”

“The potential of the state voter handbook could be 200 plus pages,” he continued. “Our local handbook we expect to be 100 plus pages.”

Save The Yard initiative leader Joy Motts was not available for comment prior to publication time.

To read the language of the ballot initiative, click here: Final Initiative Ordinance

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Ken Turnage withdraws from Antioch City Council race

Wednesday, July 6th, 2016
Ken Turnage II

Ken Turnage II

By Allen Payton

After announcing in March that he would be a candidate for the Antioch City Council, this year and holding a campaign kick-off event on Monday, June 27th, Ken Turnage has instead withdrawn from the race.

In a Facebook post on his campaign Facebook page on Wednesday afternoon, July 6th, Ken Turnage wrote:

Hello,
With much thought I have come to a decision that I will not be running for City Council. Due to a personal decision I will not be able to continue at his time. It is my full intent once this has taken its course that I will run in the future.

I want to thank you for your support and generous donation to help me along the way. I do apologize if I had caused any inconvenience.

Those that have donated will be getting a check sent to you as re-imbursement. I will close this page tomorrow thank you

Sincerely,

Ken Turnage II

A call to Turnage for further comment was not answered or returned.

Turnage is the owner of K2GC, Inc. a general contractor in Antioch and was the chair of the Antioch July 4th Parade on Monday.

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