Archive for the ‘Politics & Elections’ Category

Antioch School Board places $105 million school facilities improvement bond on March ballot

Wednesday, November 13th, 2019

Will benefit schools and affect properties in former Mello-Roos District

By Allen Payton

At their meeting on Wed., Nov. 13, 2019 the Antioch School Board voted 5-0 to place a $105 million bond on the March 3, 2020 ballot to pay for improvements to schools in the former Mello-Roos District. The annual cost is estimated at $60 per $100,000 in valuation. So, owners of a home valued at $500,000 will pay $300 per year. Resolution 2019-20-17 Ordering a School Bond Election in SFID No. 2

The bond measure requires a 55% vote of approval to pass and if passed, will raise an average of $7,000,000 annually for 36 years.

“This makes sense. It just makes sense. As a new homeowner I’m a bit scared by the tax,” said Velma Wilson, who was the only member of the public to speak. “I think it’s really good what Antioch High has done with Measure B. So, to see those bonds doing what they’re doing…and our schools with their upgrades, I think this is really good for our school district. Kids like to go to school with good facilities.”

The board also voted 5-0 to approve a resolution creating the facilities district. AUSD Formation of SFID No. 2

The resolution reads as follows:

“The Antioch Unified School District has formed School Facilities Improvement District #2 in the area of Antioch previously impacted by Mello Roos assessments. The Mello Roos District was dissolved in 2016. The Mello Roos Community Facilities Act of 1982 provided funds for the District to build schools during a period of rapid growth within Antioch Unified School District. The Mello Roos assessment helped pay for the construction Carmen Dragon Elementary, Diablo Vista Elementary, Jack London Elementary, Lone Tree Elementary, MNO Grant Elementary, Black Diamond Middle School, Dallas Ranch Middle School, Orchard Park K-8 School, Deer Valley High School, and Dozier-Libbey Medical High School.

This bond measure placed only before the voters in SFID#2 will provide funds to improve and maintain all of the schools within the former Mello Roos area. The funding will be provided over eight years with priorities set by the school board and monitored by an Independent Citizens’ Oversight Committee.

The Improvements shall consist of projects which: renovate classrooms, update school safety and security systems, improve technology, energy efficiency, upgrade science labs, modernize schools, and repair and replace roofs, and to qualify for state matching funds.

To meet all identified school facility needs, the District may complete projects using a combination of funding sources. These sources may include joint-use funds, contributions, developer fees, state and federal funds and any other available funds.

The specific projects authorized to be financed with bond proceeds are as follows. The projects are authorized to be financed at all current and future sites within SFID#2.

  • Update aging classrooms and District facilities to support high quality instruction.
  • Upgrade electrical, communications, safety and security systems.
  • Replace heating ventilation and air conditioning units as needed.
  • Upgrade plumbing and renovate restrooms.
  • Repair/Replace roofing systems.
  • Repair and replace damaged and uneven paving and concrete.
  • Improve accessibility to sites, classrooms and upgrade playgrounds (ADA).
  • Repair and replace floors
  • Test foundations for seismic standards and upgrade as needed.
  • Renovate, modernize and/or remodel kitchen, food service and multipurpose spaces.
  • Update and improve athletic fields and facilities.
  • Make the necessary changes to improve drainage systems.
  • Update technology infrastructure and computer equipment (paid for within its useful life).
  • Replace old classroom desks, chairs and other necessary furniture.
  • Remodel, replace and refurbish classroom interiors.
  • Replace all exterior walkway damaged canopies.
  • Add exterior lighting to improve campus safety.
  • Reconfigure parking areas to improve traffic flow and student safety.
  • Remove or replace aging portable buildings and classrooms with permanent construction.
  • Install dual pane windows to improve ventilation.
  • Replace underground infrastructure.
  • Install or repair playground equipment and play surfaces and structures.
  • Acquire and/or upgrade fencing to improve school safety.

Other Projects

  • Remove hazardous materials, such as asbestos, lead, etc., where necessary.
  • Address unforeseen conditions revealed by construction/modernization (such as plumbing or gas line breaks, dry rot, seismic, structural, etc.).
  • Other improvements required to comply with existing building codes, including the Field Act, and access requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  • Necessary site preparation/restoration in connection with new construction, renovation or remodeling, or installation or removal of re-locatable classrooms, including removing, replacing, or installing irrigation, utility lines (such as gas lines, water lines, electrical lines, sewer lines, and communication lines), trees and landscaping.
  • Rental or construction of storage facilities and other space on an interim basis, as needed to accommodate construction materials, equipment, and personnel, and interim classrooms (including re-locatable classrooms) for students and school functions or other storage for classroom materials displaced during construction.
  • All work necessary and incidental to specific projects described above, including demolition of existing structures.
  • Paint the interior and exterior of buildings.
  • Repair and replace damaged and uneven paving and concrete.
  • Provide classroom furniture and equipment as needed.
  • Improve school building safety and security.”

A request was made to Superintendent Stephanie Anello for a map of the new facilities district which was not included with the resolution. To see if your property is affected, please check the following report of parcels with streets listed in alphabetical order: Parcels for Proposed SFID 2

Please check back later for updates to this report.

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Canciamilla’s attorney responds to campaign finance violations, FPPC fines

Monday, November 11th, 2019

Joe Canciamilla

Sacramento – The Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) has announced it will recommend fines for serious violations for former Contra Costa County Clerk-Recorder-Registrar of Voters Joe Canciamilla at its next meeting on November 21st. (See related article)

“Mr, Canciamilla has resigned his position as County Clerk-Recorder-Registrar of Voters, so as to not bring undue hardship to the office while this matter is being resolved,” said Canciamilla’s attorney Andy Rockas, of the Law Offices of Andreas C. Rockas in Sacramento.

“Mr. Canciamilla has cooperated with the FPPC, has paid back all disputed amounts, and all fines listed in the proposed stipulation have been paid in full,” said

Rockas, adding that none of the violations involved the use of taxpayer funds, and were limited to campaign funds contributed by private sources.

Rockas added that Canciamilla has taken full responsibility for this situation, is humbled and embarrassed, and hopes the FPPC fines won’t severely overshadow his 46 years of public service to the residents of Contra Costa County.

Some of Canciamilla’s accomplishments throughout his years of service include: Helping to create Contra Costa County’s first Urban Limit Line to control growth; preserving 2,700 acres of park and open space at Cowell Ranch in East County; expanding the County’s Industrial Safety Ordinance to ensure the public’s safety around area oil refineries; and, helping to create Pittsburg Power, making Pittsburg one of the first cities to pursue an independent path to controlling local power and energy.

At its next meeting scheduled for November 21st, the FPPC will take up the violations and proposed fines for Canciamilla and his campaign committee.

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Martinez Planning Commissioner announces campaign for District 5 County Supervisor

Monday, November 11th, 2019

Sean Trambley

Will run against Glover who will seek a sixth term.

On Thursday, Nov. 7, Sean Trambley (Martinez, CA) formally announced his campaign for Contra Costa County Supervisor in District 5 which includes portions of Antioch north of Highway 4. The district also includes Pittsburg, Bay Point, Martinez, Port Costa, Crockett, Rodeo, Hercules, Pinole and numerous unincorporated communities. Supervisor Federal Glover is the current officeholder and when reached for comment he said he was running for reelection for a sixth term.

“Our communities deserve a Supervisor who will show up and work hard for all of us,” Trambley said. “I believe Contra Costa County, with new, active leadership, can offer better opportunities to those hoping to buy a home, start a small business, and provide for their families.”

He’s a public relations consultant and has worked on issues such as affordable housing and open land preservation. In the past he worked in Washington, D.C. as an intern for Congressman George Miller then as an aid for Congressman Dennis Cardoza. He then worked for an organization known as the Democracy Initiative.

A press release from Trambley’s campaign stated, “As a small business owner and native of Martinez, the County seat of Contra Costa, Sean has watched as stagnant leadership has failed to address the challenges holding back working families and young people. Sean’s extensive experience in government, business, and advocacy has given him the tools and understanding to make smart, creative decisions and ensure the County reaches its fullest potential.”

“For too long, the current district leadership has failed to represent working families and has yet to enact a broader set of initiatives that could give our county a stronger footing. Our county must take the lead on the environment, regional transportation infrastructure, and the local economy. My neighbors can’t even get their representative, or his office, to answer the phone, let alone fight for them. I believe we need someone on the Board who will show up. I believe I offer a strong, new voice for our district,” Trambley continued.

The press release further stated, “Contra Costa County is home to more than 1.1 million people, an economic driver that houses much of the Bay Area’s workforce. Yet, it faces a lack of family and workforce housing, an unbearable commute, long-standing challenges for small businesses, mounting homelessness, and a county government that is often too slow to respond.”

Trambley’s campaign will be focused on tackling these growing challenges in close partnership with small business owners, labor partners, community leaders and the residents of District 5.

Trambley has the support of Martinez Councilmember Noralea Gipner, Martinez School Board Member Jonathan Wright and Martinez Planning Commissioner Jason Martinez. He also has the support of former County Clerk-Recorder Steve Weir, who said, “Sean is a new voice for Contra Costa and I’m excited to support his campaign. He is smart, thoughtful, and dedicated to public service. His background in government, business, and advocacy will be a huge asset to the County.”

More information is available at www.seantrambleyforsupervisor2020.com. Sign up for his newsletter here.

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

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Former County Clerk-Recorder Canciamilla pays $150,000 fine for personal use of campaign funds

Friday, November 8th, 2019

Joe Canciamilla

By Daniel Borsuk

Former Contra Costa County Clerk-Recorder Joseph Canciamilla, who resigned abruptly on Thursday, Oct. 31st, has agreed to pay the California Fair Political Practices Commission fines totaling $150,000 for the misuse of political campaign funds for County Record-Clerk and as a candidate for Contra Costa County Superior Court Judge, the Herald has learned.

CFPPC spokesman Jay Wierenga informed the Herald on Friday afternoon that Canciamilla has paid the penalties, but the commission will have to approve the payment at the commission’s November 21 meeting in Sacramento.

“He has paid the penalties,” confirmed Wierenga. Attempts to reach Canciamilla at his Pittsburg Funeral Chapel and home were unsuccessful.

The four-person FPPC commission, currently with one vacancy, will consider at a 10:00 a.m. hearing on Thursday, November 21 the following:

“In the Matter of Joseph Canciamilla for Contra Costa County Clerk/Recorder in 2014/2018, Friends of Joe Canciamilla for Judge 2012/2014, and Joseph Canciamilla; FPPC No. 17/146. Staff: Neal Bucknell, Senior Commission Counsel and Bob Perna, Program Specialist II. The Respondents were represented by the Law Office of Andreas Rockas and the Law Offices of Wayne Ordos. This matter arose from an audit performed by the Franchise Tax Board’s Political Reform Audit Program. Joseph Canciamilla is the former Contra Costa County Clerk-Recorder and Registrar of Voters, as well as a former candidate for Contra Costa County Superior Court Judge. Joe Canciamilla for Contra Costa County Clerk/Recorder 2014/2018 and Joe Canciamilla for Judge 2012/2014 are his candidate-controlled committees. In 2011, 2014, and 2015 Canciamilla used campaign funds for personal purposes which were unrelated to a political, legislative, or governmental purpose, in violation of Government Code Sections 89510, subdivision (b), 89512, and 89513, subdivision (a) (15 counts). From 2011 through 2019 this activity was concealed on campaign statements by other reporting violations including non-reporting and overstatement of available cash on hand, in violation of Government Code Section 84211 (14 counts). Also, in 2011 Canciamilla and his judge committee commingled campaign funds with personal funds, in violation of Government Code Section 84307 (1 count). Total Proposed Penalty: $150,000 — $75,000 (Canciamilla personally) and $75,000 (Canciamilla and his committees).”

The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors voted at Tuesday’s meeting to begin its selection process of a new County Clerk Recorder beginning, today, Nov. 8 with the acceptance of applications and to appoint a new Clerk-Recorder on Feb. 4.

Canciamilla was unavailable to comment for this report.

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Supervisors will appoint new County Clerk-Recorder on Feb. 4, recruitment process begins Nov. 8

Thursday, November 7th, 2019

The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors recognized four county entities for their contributions in combatting homelessness in the county at Tuesday’s board meeting. Supervisors passed a resolution recognizing November as Homelessness Awareness Month. The county has only 28 percent shelter capacity needed for single adults. In 2018, 6,924 persons accessed homeless services in the county. At the supervisors meeting, four awards were presented by the Council on Homelessness. Ken Rickner of Shower House Ministeries was named Outstanding Volunteer. Lito Calimlin was named as Outstanding Landlord Award. Chris Celio of the Home Center was named winner of the Rapid Resolution Program and the City of Martinez was named Outstanding Jurisdiction. Photo by Daniel Borsuk.

Canciamilla retired on October 31; Ken Rickner of Shower House Ministries honored as Outstanding Volunteer by Council on Homelessness

Joe Canciamilla

By Daniel Borsuk

With the clock ticking for the June 2, 2020 California Primary Election, Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday set a schedule to appoint a new County Clerk-Recorder by Feb. 4, 2020.

Supervisors voted 5-0 on Tuesday to follow a schedule to select a new Clerk-Recorder to replace Joseph Canciamilla who surprisingly retired on October 31 after serving one year of his second four-year term.

Canciamilla, who is on record as the nation’s youngest elected School Board Trustee when he was elected to the Pittsburg Unified School District Board in 1973 at age 17, was one year in into his second four-year term as County Clerk-Recorder when he announced his retirement.

Prior to his serving as Clerk-Recorder, Canciamilla had served as a State Assemblyman, County Supervisor, Pittsburg City Council Member and Pittsburg School Board Member.

In March 2013, out a pool of 19 candidates Canciamilla was selected by the board of supervisors to complete the term of County Clerk-Recorder Steve Weir, who had resigned after serving as clerk-recorder for 24 uncontested years.

Supervisors were pressed to establish a selection process and agreed to open recruitment on Nov. 8, close recruitment on Nov. 16, interview selected applicants and select a finalist on Jan. 21, authorize County Administrator David Twa to conduct a social media check and a criminal background check of the finalist and to obtain fingerprints and an economic disclosure statement (Form 700) from the finalist. The finalist will be appointed on Feb. 4.

No one spoke in opposition or in favor of the supervisors’ selection schedule, but supervisors spent some time on whether they’d accept applicants from outside the county and whether the county can attract quality candidates from within Contra Costa County or if the pool of candidates should emanate from outside the county.

“We’re going to get good local people,” predicted Supervisor Diane Burgis of Brentwood.

But District 4 Supervisor Karen Mitchoff warned “I’m not going to vote for some who applies for this position and maintains a rental.”

Authorize Byron Airport Development Lease Negotiations

Supervisors gave county airport officials the green light to commence negotiations with Mark Scott Construction, Inc. to negotiate a long-term ground lease and development terms for three acres of vacant land at the north corner of Falcon Way and Eagle Court at the Byron Airport. The item was approved as a consent item.

The Airport Division of the Contra Costa County Public Works Department received a letter of interest from Mark Scott Construction Inc. to lease and develop the property for aviation use.

The business proposal will be presented before the Aviation Advisory Committee, the Airport Committee, and other stakeholders.

Revert 12-Year Housing Action in El Sobrante

Supervisors took the unusual action of unanimously taking a reversion of property designation that supervisors had approved nearly 12 years ago for a five-lot subdivision at Luise Lane at Hilltop Drive in unincorporated El Sobrante.

Since the developer and owner of the project site, Geoghegan Homes, Inc., has not met county requirements of installing road, drainage and other subdivision improvements as of Dec. 4, 2009 and has missed that extended deadline five times, ultimately to April 20, 2019, the county opted to exercise its reversion powers.

Now the property can only be developed into one house containing 7,000 square feet. Furthermore, the developer must go through a new county planning department review procedure, explained Slava Gospodchikov of the Contra Costa County Public Works Department.

The supervisors’ action did not please everyone especially Robert Johannessen, who lives across the street from the subject site and has seen rise of traffic accidents on Luise Lane when motorists take detours off nearby Interstate 80 when the freeway is jammed due to an accident. “It’s not a safe neighborhood anymore,” he said. Johannessen thinks any development on that site, even a 7,000 square foot house, will draw potential traffic problems to the neighborhood.

Other Board Actions

In other business, the supervisors approved five United States Department of Homeland Security Urban Area Security Initiative Grants contracts for the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District totaling $408,900. Those contracts include:

  • $295,000 for the purchase of a hook lift modular transport vehicle.
  • $10,000 for two 8,000 lbs. rated grip hoist rescue units.
  • $24,900 for Weapons of Mass Destruction rescue Personal Protective Equipment such as butyl rubber gloves, Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear or Explosive filter cartridges and adapters.
  • $38,000 for search and rescue listening devices; and
  • $41,000 for the purchase of two search cameras.
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Be Ready to Vote! Voter registration training at Pittsburg Library Sept. 21

Monday, September 9th, 2019

Want to take meaningful action for the 2020 elections? Learn how to register others to vote.

A half-hour voter registration training will be just one of many voter services featured on Saturday, September 21 from 3:00 to 4:30 p.m. at the Pittsburg Library, 80 Power Avenue in Pittsburg.

The League of Women Voters of Diablo Valley will present ways for those interested in improving our election process and educating voters to get involved. Meet Joe Canciamilla, Contra Costa County Clerk and Registrar of Voters, who will explain the County’s push for voting by mail to make it easier for commuters and others to cast their ballots. Learn about Voters Edge to view online information about candidates and ballot issues. The League trains volunteers to describe the pros and cons of ballot measures to community groups and to act as timers and moderators for TV taped candidate roundtables.

The meeting coincides with the National Day of Registration on September 24. The event is free to the public and parking is available at the Pittsburg Library. The Library is also three-tenths of a mile from the Pittsburg Center BART Station.

For more information contact the League of Women Voters of Diablo Valley at info@lwvdv.org.

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Embattled County Assessor Kramer to challenge Glover for Supervisor in next year’s elections

Thursday, August 29th, 2019

Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors District 5 Map.

Gus Kramer from the County Assessor’s webpage.

By Daniel Borsuk

Legally and politically embattled Contra Costa County Assessor Gus Kramer is “seriously planning” to run for the District 5 seat of the Contra County Board of Supervisors, a seat held by 20-year veteran Federal Glover of Pittsburg, the Contra Costa Herald has learned.

District 5 includes portions of Antioch north of Highway 4.

Miffed earlier this month when the board of supervisors decided to not award him a 1.96 percent cost-of-living increase that would have raised  his annual salary from $208,013  to $212,086, based on findings of an average salary study Contra Costa County Administrator David Tawa had compiled of nine other counties of elected officials holding the offices of assessor, auditor-controller, clerk-recorder, and treasurer-tax collector. (See related article)

“I am planning to file for the district five seat,” said Kramer. “I will file in March.”

At the early August board of supervisors meeting, Twa instructed supervisors to not award the assessor a cost-of-living increase by stating, “Currently the Assessor is 1.96 percent below the Average of the nine Bay Area comparable counties. A salary adjustment for the Assessor will be considered at a later date, once other issues in the Department have been resolved.”

Federal Glover from his Facebook page.

Kramer was re-elected to another four-year term of office in last November’s election, so he says he has nothing to lose in running for a supervisorial seat, he told The Herald.

Without going into detail, Kramer did not address the ongoing legal challenges he faces chiefly the Superior Court proceedings on allegations of “willful or corrupt” misconduct in office involving county employees.

The county assessor, who resides in Martinez, but grew up and attended and graduated from former Pacifica High School in Bay Point, said he has no problem running against veteran supervisor Glover.

“I want to reveal what is really going on during those closed door sessions.  There are many unanswered questions about the legality of those closed sessions,” Kramer said.

In the meantime, Glover told the Herald he plans to run for a sixth four-year term.

“I plan to run for re-election in 2020,” Glover said. “I have worked hard for the constituents of District 5. I will run on my strong record.”

Glover would not comment on Kramer’s prospective candidacy.

“I don’t want to read anything into it at this time,” he said.

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Antioch School Board approves map for district elections in 2020, will have to be redrawn for 2022

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2019

Antioch Unified School District Board of Trustees District Elections Map. By Cooperative Strategies.

Three seats will be up for election in 2020, two in 2022; Rocha, Householder currently live in same district

By Allen Payton

At a special meeting on Monday, July 1, the Antioch School Board approved a map for their first ever district elections on a 4-0 vote. Trustee Crystal Sawyer-White was absent at the time of the vote. The new districts will take effect during the November 2020 election. AUSD Trustee Map 4B & Statistics

The entire meeting lasted a little more than four minutes, with no members of the public speaking. The board’s vote took place during the first two-and-a-half minutes of the meeting, and Sawyer-White arrived about three minutes late. (View the meeting, on the District’s YouTube Channel, here).

According to the staff report, Board members are currently elected in “at-large” elections, where each member is elected by voters throughout the District. At its May 23, 2018, meeting, the Board adopted a resolution No. 2017-18-28 indicating its intent to transition to “by-trustee-area” elections, in compliance with the state’s Voting Rights Act, and in response to a threatened lawsuit. The same attorney who threatened to sue the District, is the same one who threatened the City of Antioch, which also changed to district elections beginning in 2020.

In May, the district published four proposed trustee area maps on the District’s website for consideration by the Board and the community. Community meetings were held on May 28, 2019, and June 1, 2019. As a result, revised scenario maps 1A and 4A were created and posted. An additional map, scenario map 5, was submitted for consideration on June 6, 2019, and posted on June 7, 2019.

At the June 12, 2019, Board of Education meeting, Trustee Ellie Householder requested revisions to scenario map 4A. Scenario map 4B was then created and posted.

A hearing was held at the June 26, 2019, Board meeting and the Board members requested an additional hearing, which occurred Monday night.

The vote also means not all trustees will be up for election at the same time, but all five seats will be up for four-year terms. Three seats will be up in 2020, those of Board President Gary Hack, Vice President Diane Gibson-Gray and Sawyer-White. None of them live in the same district as another trustee. Hack lives in District 4, Gibson-Gray in District 1 and Sawyer-White in District 3.

For the two seats up for election in 2022, the other two trustees, Mary Rocha and Householder live in District 5. So, if both choose to run for reelection, they will either have to run against each other or one would have to move to the other district. None of the incumbents currently live in District 2, which is also up for election in 2022.

The districts are based on the 2010 Census and will have to be redrawn in 2021, prior to the 2022 election and be based on the District population determined by the 2020 Census. Rocha and Householder may end up not living in the same district. But, if they end up living in the district of another trustee who was elected in 2020, they would either have to move to the other district or not be able to run.

The five districts as currently drawn have population sizes ranging from 20,810 to 22,507, and each includes at least two elementary schools.

Filing for candidates in the November 2020 election opens next July.

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