Archive for the ‘Politics & Elections’ Category

Vote-by-mail ballots have been mailed in Contra Costa County, voting has begun

Saturday, October 18th, 2014

Joseph E. Canciamilla, the County Clerk-Recorder and Registrar of Voters, announces that vote-by-mail ballots for the November 4, 2014 Gubernatorial General Election were mailed the week of October 6, 2014. Ballots were mailed to those registered voters who previously requested a vote-by-mail ballot and to those living in precincts designated as mail ballot only.

Registered voters who expect a vote-by-mail ballot and have not received it as of October 15, 2014 please call (925) 335-7800 to request a replacement ballot.

We encourage voters to vote and return their vote-by-mail ballots as early as possible. Ballots must be received at the Elections Office by 8:00 p.m. on Election Day, November 4, 2014 in order to qualify for counting. Ballots may be returned via mail, dropped off at the Elections Office at 555 Escobar Street, or beginning the week of October 13 they may be dropped off at participating City Halls during normal business hours (Antioch, Brentwood, Concord, Hercules, Orinda, Pinole, Pittsburg, Pleasant Hill, Richmond, San Pablo, San Ramon and Walnut Creek).

Any voter who wishes to become a permanent vote-by-mail voter for future elections may obtain information from our website at www.cocovote.us/voting/vote-by-mail/ or by calling the Elections Office at (925) 335-7800 or (877) 335-7802. Voters may also sign and return the vote-by-mail application on the last page of their Sample Ballot Booklet.

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Antioch Council candidate Anthony Segovia admits to past crimes

Saturday, October 18th, 2014
Segovia Antioch Council candidate Anthony Segovia admits to past crimes

Anthony Segovia

By John Crowder

Anthony Segovia, a 27-year-old, self-described financial analyst and small business owner, and a candidate for the Antioch city council, has admitted to a criminal record that includes two felony convictions for insurance fraud, as well as grand theft.

In an interview conducted by the Herald, Segovia claimed these charges have now been dropped down to misdemeanors after payment of restitution. He said he was currently on probation for these offenses.

According to Segovia, the felony charges stem from a car accident that took place in 2010. Segovia said he was one of five people in one of the two cars involved. He said that, after the accident, he and the others in the car he was riding in filed insurance claims for injuries sustained. While his own claim, he said, was legitimate, others made claims that were not. Segovia says that the two insurance companies that were defrauded paid about $92,000, altogether, to the five people involved. He claims to have personally received payments of about $1,500.

Segovia said that his involvement in the scheme included his pretending to be two of the other people who had been in the accident, speaking over the phone with and emailing the insurers on their behalf. He said he knew all of the other four participants, and that one of them was an uncle.

Segovia said that the main reason that he got in trouble was that he knew about the inflated claims made by others in the group, but refused to cooperate with the CA Department of Insurance investigators who were looking into the matter.

I didn’t want to rat out a family member,” he said.

After being charged with insurance fraud, he says he determined to start cooperating with the investigators, and it was this decision, along with an agreement to make restitution to the insurance company, that eventually resulted in the charges being lowered to misdemeanors and a reduced jail sentence. Segovia pleaded ‘no contest’ to the two felony charges in 2012. He also said that he paid close to $90,000 in restitution, while one of the other participants paid between $10,000 and $15,000.

The grand theft conviction was for a real estate transaction involving another relative who lost $22,000 in the deal, for which Segovia said he was paid $400. He says he had a financial license, which allowed him to handle home loans, but not a real estate license, which was required.

For his crimes, Segovia says he was sentenced to nine months in jail, but actually spent only 30 days at a Marsh Creek facility, then spent another 45 days with an ankle monitor. This sentence reduction, he said, was approved by the judge in the case, after evaluating all of the circumstances.

Segovia’s version of the case, however, is disputed on almost every point by Contra Costa County Deputy District Attorney Brian Hast.

According to Hast, Segovia was the instigator of the fraudulent actions, not just someone helping out or covering up for his family. Hast also said that Segovia, still on probation, hadn’t yet paid the bulk of the restitution ordered. He said that the last time Segovia was in court was January, 2013, and that he would be on probation until October, 2017. Hast also said that the charges had not yet been reduced to misdemeanors, and that any such reduction would not happen until full restitution was paid.

Hast related a very different version of the events leading up to the fraud charges. Hast said that Segovia would submit an initial claim to an insurance company, with no proof, and if he was challenged, he would then drop the claim. Some insurance firms paid the claims without question.

According to Hast, he and an investigator from the CA Department of Insurance sat down with Segovia and confronted him with evidence of his crimes. Segovia was cooperative during the meeting, admitted his crimes, and spoke freely about the others involved. Because he was cooperating, Hast said, he told Segovia that he would request jail time of only six months, as long as he didn’t commit any more crimes prior to the trial, and withdrew any fraudulent claims he might still have open. “Then we find out he filed another claim,” said Hast, “and that is why the jail time went from six to nine months.”

Hast said that the total amount of restitution ordered was $118,236.99, and this was the amount Segovia was ordered to pay. According to Hast, the last time Segovia made a payment toward restitution was in November, 2013, when he sent in $250. Segovia had brought in other people on two different claims, and they were also ordered to pay restitution.

Segovia continues to campaign for the Antioch city council, in spite of the revelations about his criminal past. He said that, regardless of this history, he feels that he can still make a positive contribution to Antioch.

I know a crime was committed,” he said, “I think moving forward, given that I’m so young, I don’t want one mistake in my past to affect my future. I want to be an example to people that, even though I made a mistake, I can still move forward, be a positive influence on society, and contribute to my city.”

In response to his past becoming public, Segovia posted the following on his campaign’s Facebook page on October 5:

As many of the people are aware now, yes I do have a past that I am not proud of. Nobody is perfect, including the people judging me. Feeling I did the right at the time, there is no excuse to justify my choices. When one is running for public office of any kind, he/she should be a leader which he/she is seeking office for. As of now I have failed to do that. However what I haven’t failed to do is admit to my mistakes, took responsibility for my actions and moved on. There are many people with a past, they are just not trying to be a part of saving a crime stricken city. Before making a choice to run for Antioch City Council, I knew this was coming, now I have to face the comments and people passing judgment. Regardless of my past, there is a city that needs work and this is my main goal is getting Antioch back on track, getting it back to the city people loved to call hone. Many of you are probably wondering why i have no chosen to withdraw my candidacy, but let me tell you this will only make it stronger and makes me strive to change this great city. As for As the people who stuck by my side and continue to I want to thank you for your love and undying support you have shown me. NOW ITS TINE TO MOVE PAST THIS MINOR SETBACK AND GET TO WORK! ANTHONY SEGOVIA FOR ANTIOCH CITY COUNCIL.”

Segovia is the youngest of eight candidates running for the two seats up for election, on November 4. Also running are appointed incumbent Tony Tiscareno, who Segovia says is his cousin, but Tiscarano stated he only met Segovia at a candidates interview during the campaign and that he has 200 relatives in the area; Antioch School Board Trustee Diane Gibson-Gray, Lamar Thorpe, Lori Ogorchock, Karl Dietzel, Jeffrey Hall-Cottrell and Steven Bado.

Publisher Allen Payton contributed to this article.

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Ruehlig responds to letter supporting Belle

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

Strong words are but noise if not verified.

Responding to an October Letter to the Editor [published in the Antioch Herald] by Rev. Austin Miles, a supporter of my opponent Jeff Belle, on criticism of a decision I made as Area 5 Trustee for the CCC Board of Education, here are the facts.

Contra Costa is a Class 2 county office of education (COE) serving 171k students.  Of the 10 Class 2 COEs in California, Contra Costa has the 4th highest cost of living; yet has the lowest compensated county superintendent.  In comparison, there are district superintendents in Contra Costa and Class 3 county superintendents in California with higher salaries/benefits than our own Class 2 county superintendent.

Yes, I voted to give a modest 2% salary increase for the county superintendent, similar to the salary increase provided to all other COE employees to adjust to cost of living changes.  Where does Rev. Miles get his information of a $40k salary increase?

Contra Costa COE is financially healthy with a positive certification and a 6+% reserve.  Although 7 employees were given layoff notices in March 2014; two voluntarily transferred with their career tech programs to the local district while the creative move to offer the Supplemental Early Retirement Program (SERP) allowed the agency to retain the other five.  SERP prompted voluntary retirement of 51 top-step salaried employees, replacing them with 46 lower-step salaried employees.  This reorganization will bring 1.3 million in savings over the next 3 years.  Rev. Miles is misinformed in claiming “38 school staff had to be laid off due to lack of funds”.

Education is a non-partisan issue.  From school, college and county board trustee, to county and state superintendent, no elected position in education is party affiliated.  I dismiss Rev. Miles’ reference to a political party for its divisiveness. 

Common Core is a serious issue and deserves serious consideration.  Mr. Miles‘ use of political rhetoric that Common Core “is so important to the Communists that a 500 million bribe was given to Tennessee to push it in” is delirious.  Irrational criticism of a system in its infancy exploits the situation for personal and political gain.  Mr. Miles does not offer solutions; only chatter that adds to the many challenges of implementing a new standard.  There are many intelligent questions that need to be asked about Common Core.  Why resort to silly?

Focus on policies, not politics.  Passing Prop 30 in 2012 guaranteed funding.  Adopting the Local Control Funding Formula in 2014 simplified financing.  Implementing the Local Control Accountability Plan decentralized goal setting and defined ten priorities to measure success.  California is at a crux.  To create the best comprehensive educational program for our children, we need the collaborative effort of stakeholders. Let’s stick to just the facts.

Cynthia Ruehlig

Antioch

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Writer says Jeff Belle will fight Common Core

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

Governor Jerry Brown (D-CA), grabbed $1.6 billion from state funds to bring Common Core education to California. This money came from funds that the governor says are not there for assistance to homeless veterans, street repair, more police officers and firefighters.

Hundreds of classic textbooks have been thrown away and replaced with Common Core printed material. Now when facing a math problem, the student is told to figure out…now get this…“the most friendly answer.” How’s that again?

Common Core, pushed by Bill Ayers and Obama, has removed traditional history and literature, replacing it with, “information finding.” Their purpose is to dumb down our children. This is so important to the Communists that a $500 million bribe was given in Tennessee to push it in.

Fortunately, a California man, Jeff Belle, has hopped into the fray to put a stop to the madness and bring sanity back to the U.S. School system. He is running for the County School Board of the 5th District of Northern California, which includes, Bay Point, Antioch, Oakley, Brentwood and Discovery Bay. He is determined to see Common Core hit the floor and to restore sensible education.

Mr. Belle said that he is committed to “restoring academic pride for students and their futures.” He feels that no matter what neighborhood a student comes from, with the proper teachers, that student can succeed.

What happens in California is usually picked up throughout the nation. One man can trigger this very positive chain-reaction which is sorely needed at this point to get our schools back to the classical education it was in the beginning. It is to be noted that the school system in America was started by the church.

A combination teacher/philosopher, Mr. Belle, in a personal interview, stated firmly that “A child’s future should not be determined by their zip code.” He says the teachers must set an example with this thought: “If you can’t see it—you’ll never be it.” That is a valid challenge for all of us, to be a positive example. As for teachers, he cautions, “Caring must precede teaching.”

Jeff Belle has solid experiences to back him up. He worked in D.C. for a Republican Senator and a Congressman. After Washington, he worked as city manager, coordinating five towns in Oklahoma, then, served as a registered lobbyist in D.C. and Oklahoma for tribal governments, universities and banks.

He currently serves on the County Transportation Authority Advisory Council, County Emergency Medical Care Board and, the County Tobacco Prevention Coalition, as well as being active in his church.

Mr. Belle’s opponent, Cynthia Ruehlig, whom I love and her husband, Walter, has made some moves that has cost her this vote. For example, an outgoing school superintendent whose salary was – and pension will be – $220,000 a year, voted to give this superintendent an extra $40,000 a year boosting that pension, while at the same time, 38 school staff members had to be laid off due to lack of funds. This was not clear thinking.

Candidate Jeff Belle thinks much differently. We need him. California needs him. The nation, who will follow this California example, needs him.

Rev. Austin Miles

Oakley

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Writer says Antioch should require business licenses on rental properties like other East County cities

Monday, October 6th, 2014

Editor:

In June, the Antioch City Council authorized placing a measure on the November ballot to recognize the business of renting or leasing of residential property as a business subject to taxation. Landlords of single family dwellings have never paid a business license fee and apartment complex owners have not paid appropriate fees since the 1960’s in the City of Antioch.

The cities of Pittsburg, Oakley and Brentwood all require business license fees on the renting of residential property.

In 2007, the City of Antioch took severe actions to reduce costs and avoid bankruptcy, resulting in the loss or reduction of essential community services. As noted in a recent East County Times editorial, “Financial projections show a $3.4 million budget deficit in just two years that would be cut in half if voters approve a tax on rental units”.

The income from this tax will help stabilize the City’s finances. This income is sustainable, ongoing revenue, unlike the sales tax from Measure C which expires in 7 years.

We cannot afford to miss this opportunity to access the revenue generated by adding the renting of residential property to the Business License Tax ordinance. It’s only fair that these business owners pay their fair share. Our future depends on it.

For more information about Measure ‘O’, visit www.ci.antioch.ca.us or call 925-779-7011.

Carole Harrison, Antioch

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Writer supports Antioch’s Measure O

Monday, October 6th, 2014

Editor:

The voters of Antioch have an important issue to decide in this election.

Measure “O” seeks to close a loophole that has some business owners paying a business license fee while other business owners pay nothing.

The owners of residential rental units do not pay anything to the city for the right to do business here. Large budget deficits are projected for fiscal year 2016/2017, so closing this loophole will help Antioch avoid potential bankruptcy.

Before you vote, ask yourself this. “Is it fair that some businesses pay their fees and other businesses do not?”

Please vote yes on Measure “O”.

John Tiernan

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Registration deadline for voting in November election is Monday, October 20

Monday, October 6th, 2014

Joseph E. Canciamilla, County Clerk-Recorder and Registrar of Voters, announces that Monday, October 20, 2014 is the voter registration deadline for the November 4, 2014 Gubernatorial General Election. New voters, anyone who has moved, or has had a name change must register.

Voters may register online at www.sos.ca.gov/elections/register-to-vote. Voters may also obtain registration forms at government offices including City, County Offices, and DMV locations. The completed form must be delivered to the Contra Costa County Elections Office at 555 Escobar Street in Martinez no later than 5:00 pm on October 20, 2014, or be postmarked by October 20, 2014.

To be eligible to vote, a person must be a U.S. citizen who will be at least 18 years old by November 4, 2014 and not imprisoned or on parole for the conviction of a felony. Anyone who becomes a newly naturalized citizen after the October 20, 2014 deadline may register and vote between October 21 and November 4, 2014. New citizens may register at the Contra Costa County Elections Office at 555 Escobar Street in Martinez and must present his or her Certificate of Naturalization.

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Push for election poll workers continues in Contra Costa County

Saturday, October 4th, 2014

The election is just a month away, but there is still time for those interested in serving their community and making $125 in the process to sign up to work at a local voter precinct on Election Day, Tuesday, November 4, 2014.

Contra Costa County is in need of civic-minded men and women ages 16 and older to be poll workers in all areas of the county. Poll workers are urgently needed in San Ramon and Danville. Elections officials also say that bilingual poll workers (English/Spanish, English/Japanese, English/Korean, English/Tagalog, English/Chinese, English/Vietnamese and English/Hindi) are especially needed.

There is no better way to serve your community, nor a more important part you can play on Election Day than being a poll worker,” said Joe Canciamilla, Contra Costa Registrar of Voters. “It is our poll workers who serve to keep our voting process open, accessible and fair.”

No prior experience is necessary and training is provided. Poll workers receive a stipend for their service, which includes attending a two-hour required training and working 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Election Day. They will receive a special pin denoting their service. Serving as a poll worker does not have any bearing on Social Security or unemployment status, according to State law.

Poll workers don’t have to be politically active or belong to a political party, Contra Costa County Election officials said. Poll workers are required to remain neutral while working on Election Day.

County and State employees are encouraged to apply.

High School students who are at least 16 and have a grade point average of 2.5 or above may serve as poll workers. Student poll workers will receive a stipend and may fulfill community service requirements.

Those interested in being a poll worker must be registered to vote in California, or a permanent resident in the United States, according to state election law.

For more information, visit www.cocovote.us. To apply, email eo@vote.cccounty.us or call the Elections Division at (925) 335-7873.

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