Archive for the ‘Supervisors’ Category

Contra Costa health officials to address Gioia’s complaints of COVID-19 vaccine inequity in high minority population areas of West, East County

Thursday, January 28th, 2021

Source: Contra Costa Health Services

Less than 5% immunization compared to 11-13.8% in Alamo, Lafayette and Walnut Creek where the population is older.

The county is distributing the vaccine primarily to residents 75 years and older, said Contra Costa County Health Officer Dr. Chris Farnitano – “I really do believe we are at the turning of the tide of this pandemic at this point.”

Annual Board Retreat held virtually

Photo: CC Health Services.

By Daniel Borsuk

During the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors annual retreat Tuesday, Jan. 26, the county’s top health official made a major admission, saying her department will investigate questions into claims of unequal distribution of COVID-19 vaccination injections in areas with high populations of Black and Latino residents.

Contra Costa Health Services Director Anna Roth was put in the hot seat by District 1 Supervisor John Gioia who, like last week, raised similar questions as to why the COVID-19 vaccine is being unequally distributed in the district he represents. His district includes the cities of Richmond and El Cerrito and other communities with high percentages of minorities who are more prone to be stricken with coronavirus, than in other communities that tend to be wealthier and have higher percentages of white residents.

Gioia also cited other high percentage minority communities like Antioch, Bay Point, and Pittsburg in supervisorial District 5 for exposing residents to the COVID-19.  District 5 is represented by Supervisor Federal Glover of Pittsburg who did not comment on the issue.

Gioia said the vaccination rate in Antioch is five percent, in Bay Point it is 4.3 percent, in Richmond it’s 4.5 percent, while in Alamo the vaccination rate is 11 percent, 12 percent in Lafayette, and 13.8 percent in Walnut Creek.

“You make a very important point.  The early data is showing an inequity,” Health Director Roth said.  “We hear your request for a more specific plan.”

Last week, when Gioia raised the same inequity issue, Roth did not acknowledge the Supervisor’s issue as significant enough for possible further study.

Discussion about the vaccine inequity distribution issue arose at the same time Tuesday that President Joe Biden’s administration announced it would boost the supply of COVID-19 vaccines by about 16 percent for the next three weeks.  White House officials said the order would buy enough additional doses to vaccinate most of the U.S. population with a with a two-dose regimen by the end of summer.  Contra Costa County Health officials were unavailable to comment about that development. Like all counties in California, vaccine distribution is overseen by the state.

However, during the Health Services COVID-19 Response Update to the board, Dr. Chris Farnitano, the county’s health officer, pointed out that the county is distributing the vaccine primarily to residents 75 years and older. Of 93,000 doses administered, 61,000 have been given to citizens older than 75 years, he explained.

“I really do believe we are at the turning of the tide of this pandemic at this point,” Farnitano also stated at the end of the presentation.

Retreat Highlights

During their remotely held retreat, the supervisors were presented glimpses of the 2021 budget, economic forecasts, future capital improvement projects, redistricting, economic development, and developments planned at the two County-owned airports in Byron and at Buchanan Field in Concord.

Among some of the highlights of the presentations were:

  • Supervisors expressed their preference for the potential construction of a 20,000 square foot, two-story office building with 80 underground parking spaces to be built at 651 Pine St., the former site of the 12-story McBrien Administration Building that will be demolished now that that county’s new four story $95 million administration David Twa Administration Building has been completed and is open for limited occupancy due to COVID-19.

“The economy will be roaring back,” forecast economist Dr. Christopher Thornberg. He made the prediction despite the fact that California faces a $54 billion budget deficit, “public transit like BART is going to have a tough time getting out of this thing, but electrically powered cars I see coming down the pike.”

  • Former County Administrator David Twa will oversee work on the county’s redistricting process, a process that occurs every 10 years to adjust supervisorial district boundaries. The complex process involves conducting public hearings and meeting state and federal guidelines that are dependent on when the federal government releases 2020 census data.  There is concern that due to COVID-19, the availability of census data might be delayed.
  • The two county airports at Byron and Buchanan have generated a 9% increase in revenue for the county since 2017. The Byron airport recently landed, said Airports Director Keith Freitas, a vertical take landing aviation company.  There are 10 ongoing development projects at the airports including fire station No. 9 and a new administration building at the Buchanan Airport in Concord.
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Supervisors query Contra Costa health officials queried on low vaccine locations in West County

Thursday, January 21st, 2021

Members of the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors and new County Administrator Monica Nino (top center) during their meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021. Video screenshot.

Celebrate MLK day, honor Humanitarians of the Year, appoint 11 to Racial Justice Oversight Body including Antioch Council Member Torres-Walker, increase vehicle license fees

By Daniel Borsuk

During the Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021, under the questioning of District 1 Supervisor John Gioia, Contra Costa County Public Health Director Anna Roth was asked why West County has the fewest vaccine locations, five, while other districts in the county have more sites where citizens can get vaccinated.

Gioia brought up the issue on why there are far fewer vaccination sites in the Richmond and El Cerrito area that has the highest COVID-19 incidence rates in the county because of its high percentage of Black and Latino residents. He noted that there were 10 vaccination sites in East County, 10 sites in the South County (San Ramon Valley) and seven locations in Central County.

Roth said she would report back to the Board on why West County had fewest vaccination sites, but District 2 Supervisor Candace Andersen of Danville said many of the vaccination locations in her district are drug stores or grocery stores.

Gioia brought up the disparity of vaccination locations in West County after Roth had reported that the County had given about 52,000 vaccine shots since Dec. 15.  She noted persons over 65 are now eligible to receive the vaccine and the vaccine is being distributed through Kaiser, Sutter and at Safeway stories.  The vaccine is being distributed at 960 doses a day.

“The vaccine is giving us hope” said Contra Costa Public Health Officer Dr. Chris Farnitano.  “Almost one third of the deaths in Contra Costa County were COVID-19 related.”

Velma Wilson, Kimyatta Newby Honored at MLK Ceremony

During the county’s 43rd Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration, the Board Chair Diane Burgis presented a spectacularly produced video (see 2:34:00 mark) featuring Antioch activist Velma Wilson as the Humanitarian of the Year and Howard University student Kimyatta Newby as Student Humanitarian of the Year. (See related article)

Appoint 11 to Racial Justice Oversight Body

Supervisors approved, without discussion, the appointments of 11 residents to the Racial Justice Oversight Body, a multi-agency advisory body established by the Board of Supervisors in 2018 to oversee the implementation of the recommendations made by the Racial Justice Task Force to reduce disparities in the criminal and juvenile justice systems.  The 11 new members will serve their appointment throuogh December   31, 2023.

Richmond Police Chief Bisa French will serve as the Local Law Enforcement representative.  LaShanta Smith of the West Contra Costa Unified School District will serve as the school district representative.  Also appointed are Tamisha Torres-Walker, an Antioch Council Member; Jeff Landau, a County public defender; Michael Pierson, an Antioch lawyer; Chala Bonner, a political education organizer; Stephanie Medley, an attorney; Ronell Ellis, an entertainment company owner; Cheryl Sudduth, a Goodwill Industries director; Apollo Sulse, a pastor of The Bay Church; and Noe Gudino, a coordinator at Ryse Youth Center.

Vehicle License Fee Hike OK’d

Without hearing any citizen objection, supervisors unanimously approved increasing an annual vehicle license fee of $1.00 for all motor vehicles registered in Contra Costa County and an additional $2.00 for commercial vehicles to provide additional funding for the county’s CAL-ID program.  Used by the Contra Costa Sheriff’s Office and other law enforcement agencies in the county, the CAL-ID system provides funding for the Automated Fingerprint Identification System for persons who may be involved in driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, vehicular manslaughter, or any combination of those and other vehicle-related crimes.

The fee increase will help cover a projected deficit of $1.1 million starting August 1, 2021.

Bay Point Fire Station Construction Contract Approved

Serving as the Contra Costa Fire Protection District Board of Directors, supervisors unanimously approved a $9,579,000 contract with C. Overaa & Co. to construct a new Fire Station 86 in Bay Point at 10 Goble Dr. even though the second lowest bidder for the project, D.L. Falk Construction Inc., with a bid of $9,714,000 had submitted an objection that was rejected by county officials.

No public objections were lodged about the contract during the Board of Directors meeting on Tuesday.

“Overaa’s bid is responsive and that County Public Works Department staff has thoroughly reviewed the bid and determined that Overaa has documented an adequate good faith effort to comply with the requirements of the County’s Outreach Program, as provided in the Project specifications.  Staff recommends that the construction contract for the Project be awarded to Overaa Construction Inc., the lowest, responsible bidder, in the nearly $9,579,000, as listed in Overaa’s bid,” said the Public Works Department statement.

A third bid of $10,088,000 had been submitted by Alten Construction, Inc. of Richmond.

The new Fire Station 86 will replace the asbestos-plagued, 60-year-old fire station that is so outdated and “is too small to accommodate the needs of the modern fire service,” Contra Costa Fire Protection District Chief Lewis Broschard III wrote in a recommendation to the supervisors. “The layout consists of unconnected buildings used for various purposes. This station itself is believed to contain asbestos …This project has had several starts and stops over the decades.  This fire station will serve Bay Point and the adjacent City of Pittsburg.  The Pittsburg area south of Highway 4 has seen significant growth in recent years.  This growth is anticipated to continue.”

Retiring EBRPD Director Doyle Recognized

Supervisors also recognized Robert Doyle for his 25 years of service at the East Bay Regional Park District, the past 10 years where he served as General Manager of the park district.  Among his numerous achievements at EBRPD, Doyle was instrumental in managing the parks during the current COVID-19 crisis in which park use increased dramatically.

 

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Supervisors OK election software contract extension with controversial Scytl over citizen protests

Thursday, January 7th, 2021

Bailey Road/State Route 4 Interchange Pedestrian/Bicycle Project contract approved 

By Daniel Borsuk

With threats streaming from several citizens hanging over Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors that they would be “voted out of office” unless the elected officials either rejected or further studied a request from Contra Costa County Recorder and Registrar of Voters Debbie Cooper to award a third contract extension to Barcelona, Spain-based Scytl at an additional price tag of $200,000, supervisors moved ahead and unanimously approved the contract extension at Tuesday’s meeting.

Moments earlier supervisors, who had elevated District 3 Supervisor Dianne Burgis of Brentwood to chairperson and District 5 Supervisor Federal Glover of Pittsburg to vice chairperson for 2021, were unmoved by the threats. Several unidentified speakers requested supervisors to either pull the consent item for further consideration or to disapprove Registrar of Voters Cooper’s request to extend the contract of Scytl, formerly called SOE Clarity Suite when it was acquired by Scytl in 2012.

The contract with Contra Costa County has been in effect since 2015. The supervisors’ action boosted the payment to Scytl by $200,00 to a new total contract payment of $590,000.

Scytle, whose SOE Software division was founded in 2002 in Tampa Bay, Florida, filed for bankruptcy, last May. According to an October 22, 2020 article on Scytle’s website, “Service Point Solutions, part of Paragon Group, announces the acquisition of Scytl, the Barcelona based company leader in digital voting and electoral modernization.” Service Point Solutions is also based in Barcelona.

The article further states, the “acquisition unveils Paragon’s group strategy to position Service Point Solutions as a pan-european platform for high-growth digital business.”

Scytle has been accused of being part of the effort to change votes in the November elections from President Trump to President-Elect Biden, in coordination with Dominion Voters Systems machines, which have also been used in Contra Costa County since 2018. (See related article)

“You are not providing proper oversight concerning this contractor,” said one disgruntled caller. “If you don’t improve, we’ll vote you out of office.”

Supervisors were not bullied by the threat or appeals from other anonymous speakers.  Supervisor John Gioia of Richmond said, “I will not let those promoting the election conspiracy line since 2015 to sway me.”

“We need to start to post these contracts,” said Supervisor Karen Mitchoff of Pleasant Hill, who is reportedly serving the last two years of her final term in office.  “The public needs to see these requests for proposals.”

Supervisor Mitchoff reacted to one unidentified speaker’s complaint that this contract lacked adequate public notice.

In response to questions about Scytle software, Supervisor Candace Andersen wrote that she had her staff research it and that “It appears to be a non-issue. We’re not purchasing equipment – it is renewing contract for website software. European company bought an American company that we have been doing business with them from 2007. Web hosting and election night reporting. Software where we upload our results and changes to pretty graphics seen on the website.  It does not have any impact on election integrity.”

Contra Costa County Clerk/Recorder and Registrar of Voters Debi Cooper also responded, “SOE (Scytl) does not provide any direct election services and is not connected to systems involved with tallying our election results. SOE provides our web hosting and election night reporting graphical support. Our election tally process is done separately on a system that is not connected to the internet. We take information from our tally system to upload information to the website. We originally contracted with SOE in 2007 after conducting an RFP process. SOE was the only respondent that met our needs for election night reporting. SOE was acquired by Scytl in 2014 while we were under contract with SOE. They continue to provide services to many state and local jurisdictions across this country.”

Some speakers charged the county is illegally doing business with a foreign-based company, allegedly operating out of Frankfurt, Germany, although according to Scytl’s website, “Scytl has no presence in Frankfurt, Germany.”

In response to the allegations against the company during the 2020 elections, Scytl posted information on their website stating the following: “The technologies implemented by Scytl in the US are both hosted and managed within the US, by a local subsidiary, SOE Software, based in Tampa, Florida.”

In addition, the Scytl website explains that the election data reporting company has “no political affiliations of any kind.”  The statement further rebukes statements that it provides any electronic voting machines in the U.S. and “does not tabulate, tally or count votes in U.S public elections.”

Burgis Becomes Chair, Glover Vice Chair

Earlier Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (D.- Concord) remotely administered the oath of office to District 3 Supervisor Burgis, who was sworn into office as Chair of the Board for 2021, and District 5 Supervisor Glover, who was re-elected to his sixth four-year term and will serve as vice chair.

Burgis and Glover, who commences his sixth four-year term of office, along with three other supervisors will oversee the disbursement of the county’s $3.98 billion budget in 2021.

Upon succeeding District 2 Supervisor Candace Andersen of Danville as Chair, Burgis said, “I want to bring the Northern Waterfront Plan home.

I want to see the benefits coming from it,” Burgis said as one of her key platform issues along with development of the Byron and Buchanan airports, fire department consolidation, and countywide economic recovery during the upcoming post COVID-19 era.

In a prepared statement, Burgis said:

“I appreciate Supervisor Andersen’s unwavering commitment to keeping our residents safe and keeping the county moving forward while addressing the impacts of COVID-19.  As chair, I intend to work with my colleagues to support our county health officer to get the coronavirus under control, move the county toward economic recovery for all residents and businesses, enhance mental health crisis response, reform our juvenile justice system, address racial injustice and inequality, protect the Delta, and proactively fight climate change, and, at long last, provide sustainable fire protection services to all areas of the county.  I’m excited about our year ahead and ready to get to work.”

Glover said, “Dianne, I appreciate being your wingman, even though my chief boss is Janice Glover (Glover’s wife).”  The veteran office holder said 2020 was a year where county workers, especially those in public health and first responders, had to learn on the go.  “None of this is written in a book,” said Glover.

Outgoing chair Andersen, who was given a photography book by the Mt. Diablo photographer Steven Joseph, said 2020 was “a year unlike any other” marked by citizens sickened or killed during COVID-19 pandemic, left homeless, having to shutter small businesses, and a host of economic medical and social issues fanned by COVID-19.

Bailey Road/State Route 4 Interchange Pedestrian/Bicycle Project Contract Approved 

In a consent action, Supervisors approved a $3.7 million contract with Bay Cities Paving and Grading Inc. to construct the Bailey Road/State Route 4 Interchange Pedestrian and Bicycle Improvement Project.  Bay Cities Paving and Grading submitted the lowest and most responsible bid from a field of six other construction companies competing for the federally funded project.

The Bay Cities Paving and Grading submission beat submissions from Granite Rock Co, $3,859,608; Ghilotti Construction Co., Inc., $3,930,295.50; Ghilotti Bros. Inc., $3,972,887; O.C. Jones & Sons Inc., $3,996,733; Gordon N. Ball, Inc., $4,123,732; and Granite Construction Co., $4,864,644.

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

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Following death threat, protests Supervisor Mitchoff drops COVID-19 business fines hike proposal

Wednesday, December 16th, 2020

Reads unedited profanity laced email during Tuesday meeting

Unlikely radioactive material dumped at Keller Canyon Landfill in Pittsburg

Prioritize teachers for COVID-19 vaccine

By Daniel Borsuk

Supervisor Karen Mitchoff, choking back tears after receiving an emailed death threat and listening to an avalanche of protests to her proposal to boost county public health fines on small businesses violating COVID-19 orders, requested the idea be dropped at Tuesday’s Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors meeting.

Supervisors earlier heard from a number of anonymous callers, presumably restaurant owners largely hit by county health inspections and penalty fines.  Most of the speakers protested that the current fines of $250 for the first offense, $500 for the second offense and $1,000 for each additional violation within one year of the initial violation were too extreme.  If a violation continues for more than one day, each day is treated as a separate violation.

At the Board’s December 8 meeting, Mitchoff had proposed the county dramatically increase fines in order to send a message to businessowners thinking of violating county ordinances.  At that meeting the supervisor had said, “I would like to see, $10,000, $15,000, and $20,000 fines.  We have to do something different.  If they want to stay open and spread COVID they have to pay the price.”

Prior to receiving the threatening email or listening to anonymous businessowners torpedo her proposal Tuesday, Mitchoff said “If we do not do something, we’ll lose credibility.  I see many businesses in Concord and Pleasant Hill obey county orders and are closed, but restaurants in Danville are open.”

A group of Danville and San Ramon restaurant owners have stirred up most of the protests.

“We receive 13 complaints a day including customers not wearing masks or not social distancing,” Contra Costa County District Attorney Dianna Becton told the supervisors.  The DA has assigned two inspectors for health code violations.

“Small businesses are really suffering,” said Supervisor Diane Burgis of Brentwood, who said one small busines owner pleaded with her for help because he had difficulty paying his property taxes.  “I am not going to support higher fines.  I am not in support of higher taxes. It won’t work.”

Later, Mitchoff caved into the public protests and especially upon receiving a sort of “interesting”, profanity-laced message during the meeting that she received from Ricky Gunz and read verbatimm:

“F— you Bi—. Sleep lightly. There are some bad people out there.  Karma is a motherf—r.  Keep trying to fine business and see what happens.”

“We hear the pain and the frustration,” said Supervisor John Gioia of Richmond. “It is all about saving lives and slowing the spread of COVID-19 to the 15 percent intensive care unit (ICU) capacity level.  We’re trying to save ICU capacity.”

Earlier supervisors learned from Contra Costa County Public Health Officer Dr. Chris Farnitano that Contra Costa had 181 COVID-19 patients in local hospitals, but more crucially, 133 patients were occupying ICU beds.  There are a total of 183 ICU beds in the county.

“That’s a significant increase,” said Farnitano. “Our case rate is 36 cases per day.  December will be our deadliest month.  Of 500 patients, five will die of COVID19,” he warned.

Keller Canyon Landfill Probe: “Unlikely that radiological materials were disposed of at Keller Canyon”

Supervisors also voted 5-0 to accept a two-page report on an investigation whether any radioactive materials from the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard were transported to the Keller Canyon Landfill in Pittsburg.  The report, prepared by TRC Solutions, Inc. was initiated after news reports initially published on April 21, 2018 in the San Francisco Chronicle and later picked up by other news outlets including the Contra Costa Herald about allegations of improper dumping of radioactive materials had occurred in the landfill.

“TRC’s forensic audit started in October 2018 and concluded in May 2019.  Documents reviewed by TRC included special waste authorizations, soil analytical data reports, Hunters Point work plans and reports, Standard Operating Procedures, portal monitor calibration records, and landfill data to ascertain if radiologically contaminated materials were received by KCL from Hunters Point Naval Shipyard.  In addition, site visits were performed at both KCL and HPNS in April 2019,” the report stated.

“Based on this review, of data, reports, logs, interviews, and site visits, it is concluded that it is very unlikely that radiological materials of concern (i.e., radionuclides specific to Hunters Point contaminations and in exceedance of background) were disposed of at Keller Canyon. To obtain certainty that no radiologically contaminated material from Hunters Point was received at Keller Canyon, limited environmental field sampling could be performed at Keller Canyon.”  Republic Services of Contra Costa operates the landfill.

Pittsburg City Manager Garret Evans said the city will continue to monitor the landfill based on the history of landfill’s previous issues about allegedly poor inaccurate data about air monitors and lead.

“Keller Canyon has been very cooperative.  This has been an important and thorough study that has gone through several community meetings, “said Supervisor Federal Glover of Pittsburg, whose District 5 includes the landfill.

Resolution Prioritizes Private and Public Teacher Receive COVID-19 Vaccines

Supervisors passed a resolution urging Gov. Gavin Newsom, the California Department of Public Health and all other state health officials to ensure that all public, parochial and private classroom teachers and staff receive the COVID-19 vaccine at no cost in order to assist school officials to reopen schools when it becomes safe to do so.

Two Cannabis Community Benefit Agreements Approved

Supervisors approved the community benefit agreements with two cannabis retail outlets – The Artist Tree V storefront commercial cannabis dispensary in El Sobrante and the Authentic 925 in Pacheco.  The two items acted on consent items.

The actions mean applicants for the two businesses are nearing approval of use permits whereby the owners will be required to pay the county community benefit taxes based on prospective retail sales.  In the case of SGI Pacheco, doing business as Authentic 925, the county will receive on an annual basis, $150,000 or 1.5 percent of the business’s gross profits, whichever is greater.

In the case of The Artist Tree V, the community benefit is based on percentages of annual gross sales of 2 percent or 3 percent depending on whatever will be gross sales during the operating year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Contra Costa Supervisors appoint Monica Nino new county administrator amid labor leaders’ protests

Wednesday, December 9th, 2020

Vaccine on the way to county; Mitchoff calls for tougher COVID fines

Newly appointed Contra Costa County Administrator, Monica Nino. Photo: San Joaquin County

By Daniel Borsuk

Against protests from labor organization leaders, Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 to appoint San Joaquin County Administrator Monica Nino to become the new county administrator, replacing David Twa, who is retiring after holding the powerful position since 2007.

Nino, who topped 47 other candidates for the post, will start her new position on Jan. 4.  She was given a five-year contract and will be paid $372,000 a year.

Before supervisors put their stamp of approval on an executive search firm’s selection, they got an earful of complaints from labor leaders that Ms. Nino’s labor track record in San Joaquin County, where she has overseen 7,500 employees in 26 departments and a $1.9 billion budget, since 2013 had them concerned.

When she takes over the reins in Contra Costa County, Nino will oversee a $3.6 billion operating budget for 7,500 employees and 28 departments and a regional hospital.

“Ms. Nino is a known union buster in San Joaquin County,” said labor representative John Rowe, who was one of more than 10 labor representatives blasting the supervisors for their selection of Nino.  “This person has opposed the union movement.”

“You’ll get inaccurate information from Ms. Nino,” warned Lisa Harlow of the Contra Costa County Service Employees International Union (SEIU) clerks union, whose members, she said, earn 20 percent less than most other Bay Area county unionized clerks.

Even with the poor reviews from labor representatives, Nino received favorable endorsements from the five Contra Costa County supervisors and San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors Chair Kathy Miller, who said, “She has really set a very high standard for bringing in folks with experience and new ideas and she worked “very hard alongside the Board injecting the 21st century into the county as an organization.  She is leaving the county in a very good position.”

County Administrator Twa recommended Nino based on his work with her on state association projects. “She is very professional and very engaged,” he said of Nino, who would be the first woman and Hispanic to hold the county’s post in its 177-year history.

“She’ll do an excellent job,” Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors Chair Candace Andersen said.  “We need to be held accountable.  You cannot compare us to San Joaquin County. There’s going to be some significant changes.”

“I am very dissatisfied in our labor partners.  Nothing was done in secrecy,” said Supervisor Karen Mitchoff of Pleasant Hill.  “There’s no rush to judgement.”

In a related matter, supervisors approved a three-month contract extension with Twa during the January through March transition period to assist Nino settle into her new job. The board approved a contract extension with him, as well as a Position Adjustment Resolution creating a second county administrator position, to provide for the transition during the three months, at a cost of $95,000.

“I always had a goal to be either in the Bay Area or Southern California with a bigger urban county,” said Nino after the supervisors’ vote.  “It was a goal from the time I was in Stanislaus, so I am very complimented that the Board considered me.”

Prior to her position in San Joaquin County, Nino was employed in Stanislaus County in various leadership positions from 1988 to 2013, and appointed to Chief Executive Officer in 2011. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting and a Master’s degree in Public Administration. According to her bio, Nino values “making a difference in the community, offering greater transparency within and outside the organization by ensuring local government, community, and public services are delivered efficiently and effectively.”

“I thank the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors and look forward to working with them, the employees and the residents of the county,” Nino said. “I look forward to working to address the opportunities and challenges for the next, several years.”

“I’m very excited,” she added.

Mitchoff Wants Tougher COVID Fines

An adamant Supervisor Mitchoff proposed the county look into raising code enforcement fines because there are an increasing number of businesses defying the public health shut down orders over concerns that the orders will financially shutter their businesses.

“Code enforcement and the police will have to do something different If these business owners want to illegally stay open and spread COVID.  They will have to pay higher fines,” said Mitchoff.

Mitchoff’s request should be calendared for public hearing at next week’s board meeting, the final meeting of 2020.

Currently, businesses violating county public health ordinances are subject to a first fine of $250.  A second fine costs $500 and a third fine costs $1,000.

“I’d like to see $10,000, $15,000 and $20,000 fines,” Mitchoff said. “We have to do something different.  If these businesses want to stay open and to spread COVID, they have to pay the price.”

No one from the business community spoke out either in favor or in opposition to Mitchoff’s proposal, but there are an increasing number of businesses, especially restaurants and personal care – gyms and hair salons and barbershops – that are defying health code orders willing to pay the low fines in order to stay in business.

COVID-19 Vaccine on the Way 

With more than 2,000 COVID-19 deaths a day nationwide, Contra Costa Health Director Dr. Chris Farnitano informed supervisors said that the countywide COVID-19 positivity rate will soon be at 11 percent to 12 percent, but hope is around the corner with the delivery of a vaccine as early as next week.

Dr. Farnitano said the county could receive less than 10,000 doses of the vaccine next week.  High risk health care workers will receive the vaccine, he said.  “Our health department has a vaccine branch working with local hospitals.”

It will be late winter or early spring before the vaccine will become widely available for the general public, he said.

“In the meantime, hunker down and get through this winter.  Stay home.  Stay safe.  Wear a mask,” Farnitano added.

Saranap Area General Plan Approved

Supervisors approved, with no public comment, the Saranap Area General Plan.  With the proposed Saranap Village mixed used project near downtown Walnut Creek that consists of 235 multifamily residential units, 30,000 square feet of street level restaurant, retail, and off space parking located in four buildings.  The plan also calls for revised, improved on-road bicycle lanes, trails, and signage along Boulevard Way.

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

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Contra Costa Board of Supervisors names first female, first Hispanic County Administrator to be approved

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2020

San Joaquin County Administrator and candidate for Contra Costa County Administrator, Monica Nino. Photo: San Joaquin County

By Susan Shiu, Director, Office of Communications and Media, Contra Costa County

On Tuesday, December 8, 2020, the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors will vote on a meeting agenda item for approval to select San Joaquin County Administrator Monica Nino as the new county administrator, making her the first female and first Hispanic County Administrator in the County’s 171-year history.  Ms. Nino, who was chosen out of a pool of three finalists, is replacing retiring County Administrator David Twa.

Ms. Nino’s appointment follows an extensive recruitment process, where her long and distinguished career as a public administrator, experience in pandemic response, work with County hospitals and finance background resulted in her selection as the successful candidate.

Ms. Nino assumed the San Joaquin County Administrator position in June of 2013 after serving as the Chief Executive Officer for Stanislaus County, where she began her career in local government in 1988.  As San Joaquin County Administrator, serving under the direction of the County Board of Supervisors, Nino oversaw 26 county departments, an annual operating budget of $1.9 billion, and over 7,500 county employees serving 765,000 residents.

In addition to her County Administrator duties, Ms. Nino served on the San Joaquin Health Commission, Sex Offender Management Board (appointed by Governor Brown), the Council of Governments Management & Finance Committee, and iHub San Joaquin.

“We’re fortunate to appoint someone with Monica’s professional expertise to help us lead this organization into the future,” said Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors Chair Candace Andersen.  “Her knowledge of County operations, command of county budgets, experience with county hospitals and her local leadership during the COVID-19 health crisis are exceptional.  We know that Monica is committed to continuing to build a community that is forward-thinking and inclusive of all its residents.  We look forward to having her on board.”

When reached for comment, Nino said, “I’m very excited that the board is considering me for the next county administrator of Contra Costa.”

Ms. Nino’s start date will be January 4, 2021.

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

 

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Contra Costa Supervisors extend moratorium for renters, landlords, small business owners due to COVID-19 restrictions

Wednesday, November 18th, 2020

Clash over $80,000 marketing outreach budget

By Daniel Borsuk

In response to the state moving Contra Costa County back into the most restrictive COVID-19 Purple Tier, the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday acted to deliver financial assistance in the struggling tenant, landlord and small business sectors.

Earlier Supervisors had learned that Contra Costa’s new daily COVID-19 case rate had risen to 11.4 per 100,000 with a 3.7 percent positivity rate.  As of Tuesday, 41 counties, including Contra Costa, were in the Purple tier.

Supervisors approved an amendment to the County’s Fiscal Year 2019-2020 Community Development Block Grant Action Plan to spend  an additional $4.29 million in CDBG-Coronavirus or CV3 funds under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020 to provide emergency rental assistance and tenant/landlord counseling and related legal services.

Supervisors allotted $3.2 million from a Federal CARES Grant for an emergency rental assistance program to Hayward-based ECHO Housing that would provide tenant-landlord counseling and related legal services to persons meeting eligible income requirements for the program.

Concord-based Shelter, Inc. will work with ECHO in providing rental assistance services in Antioch, Pittsburg, Concord, and Walnut Creek.

At one point, Supervisor Federal Glover of Pittsburg and Supervisor Diane Burgis of Brentwood clashed over the program’s $80,000 marketing/outreach budget that Glover supported, but Burgis preferred to cut by 50 percent. “I like to do outreach,” said Burgis, “but there is so much need and urgency out there right now.”

Despite the disagreement over the outreach money, supervisors kept intact the $80,000 for outreach.

One of the conditions to the federal program is that the county needs to spend the CARES funds by Jan. 31, 2021.

“Obviously, families are struggling to make ends meet, and some of my students have found themselves having to take some economic responsibility to make families’ ends meet,” said Luis Chacon, a West Contra Costa Unified School District teacher.

In other action, supervisors voted 5-0 to pass an urgency ordinance to continue the temporary prohibition on evictions of certain small business commercial tenants financially impacted by COVID-19.  The protection continues through Jan. 31.

“The county must act quickly to assist residents, both tenants and landlords, who are or will be in the crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Board Chair Candace Andersen of Danville.  “Providing direct rental payments to landlords on behalf of tenants is critical, and staff will work with community organizations to reach out to those in need, particularly low-income households and neighborhoods severely impacted by economic and housing instability at this difficult time.”

Contra Costa County’s Urgency Ordinance 2020-29 provides protections pursuant to Governor Gavin Newsom’s Executive Order N-80-20, which extends, through March 31, 2021, the authority of local jurisdictions to suspend the evictions of commercial tenants for the non-payment of rent if the non-payment was a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Board of Supervisors recognizes that the already struggling business environment has become even more challenging with the recent rise of COVID-19 cases,” said Board Chair Andersen. “As we follow public health orders and guidance intended to protect lives, we have to support businesses however we can.”

Supervisors voted 5-0 to impose a 45-day moratorium ordinance on industrial hemp cultivation so that the county Agriculture Commission can establish cultivation and location regulations on the crop harvested in East county.

East County resident John Cisneros, who lives nearby a hemp operation with armed guards, urged supervisors to adopt an ordinance.  “How would you like to live near a hep farm with a security force, that might turn into a cannabis operation?  Not a safe thing,” he said.  “I am not against hemp, but this is not a suitable place.”

Pittsburg Motel 6 Homeless Program Action

In a consent action, supervisors approved a lease with Azad Rahman, Riffat Rahman an Zahin Rahman, who had managed the Motel 6 at 2101 Loveridge Road, Pittsburg  that the county has agreed to buy through the state’s Homekey Program to provide housing for the homeless and social services.

The county agreed to purchase the motel for $17.4 million even though there is a question whether the county properly appraised the property that may have been over appraised by $5 million. (See related article) The county approved a lease with the Rahmans at $600 a month.

 

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Contra Costa Supervisors approve creation of Office of Racial Equity and Social Justice

Friday, November 13th, 2020

“Racism exists in our county and in our county department” – Supervisor Federal Glover

“Racism is a public health crisis” – Contra Costa Health Department Director Anna Roth

County COVID-19 ranking lowered to Red Tier as health officials warn about holiday season upsurge

By Daniel Borsuk

The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2020 unanimously passed a proposal to create a county funded Office of Racial Equity and Social Justice to address increasing concerns about rising issues of racial inequality and social injustice especially in how the county delivers health services to people of color.

The nonprofit San Francisco Foundation will provide the biggest donation of $75,000 to help launch the formation of the new office.  Other organizations providing funding are the Contra Costa Regional Health Foundation, $20,000; East Bay Community Foundation, $10,000; John Muir Community Benefits, $10,000; Dean and Margaret Lesher Foundation, $25,000; Public Health Advocates, $25,000; Republic Services, $25,000; Richmond Community Foundation, $5,000: The California Endowment, $25,000 and Y&H Soda Foundation, $25,000.

Before supervisors voted to start the planning process to potentially launch a county Office of Racial Equity and Social Justice, supervisors had unanimously approved a resolution Declaring Racism as a Public Health Crisis.  Some of the resolution’s 12 clauses were:

“WHEREAS, disproportionately higher rates of chronic disease, shorter life expectancy, maternal and infant mortality, and health inequities for Black/African Americans and other racial groups are widely recognized and documented, yet continue in particular as well as other communities of color; and

“WHEREAS the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated racial and social inequities by disproportionately impacting the Latinx community as well as other communities of color; and

“WHEREAS Contra Costa Health Services cares for and improves the health of all people in Contra Costa County, and yet as a system has perpetuated racism and anti-black racism; and

“WHEREAS the Contra Costa Health Services cares for and improves the health of all people in Contra Costa County, and yet as a system has perpetuated racism and anti-black racism.”

If Contra Costa County moves ahead in to create in the 2021-2022 fiscal year an Office of Racial Equity and Social Justice, the county will join San Francisco and Oakland that had both established similar offices in 2019.

“Racism exists in our county and in our county department,” said Supervisor Federal Glover of Pittsburg, who along with Gioia pushed for the formation of the new county office.

“I have always attacked the health disparities, particularly when it impacts our low income communities,” said the supervisor who was reelected last week to a seventh  four-year term in a runoff election last week against Contra Costa County Assessor Gus Kramer.

“Racism is a public health crisis,” concurred Contra Costa Health Department Director Anna Roth. Roth said there exist ethnic-economic-racial-social inequities in health care throughout Contra Costa County.

“This is a major issue no matter if it is intentional or unintentional,” said District 1 Supervisor John Gioia of Richmond. “We have seen it all in our own county.”

“I support the eventuality of a Contra Costa County Office of Racial Equity,” said Supervisor Karen Mitchoff of Pleasant Hill, who at one point disputed with Gioia over how to fund the operation of the proposed new office if it reaches that point by next May. Both supervisors agreed to not bring up the funding issue until May when supervisors will review the 2021—2022 budget.

County Returns to COVID-19 Red Tier With More Restrictions 

The 2020 holiday season is around the corner and Contra Costa County Public Health officials are sparing no time in ramping up efforts to advise residents to wear face coverings, maintain social distances, use disposable dining ware and stay outdoors instead of indoors during the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors were informed Tuesday. County health officials announced the public safety measure as the county’s COVID-19 tier ranking was lowered Tuesday from purple tier to red tier.

County health officials saw a 200 percent boost in the number of COVID-19 cases during the past two weeks, Contra Costa Health Department Director Anna Roth said. Even with news on Monday that Pfizer Inc. has developed a vaccine that has notched a 90 percent safety record, Roth said the county reported an increase in COVID-19 cases over the past two weeks, 20,166 cases and 46 deaths.

“With the holiday season approaching, we recommend, keep it small, keep it outside with no more than 13 persons and lasting no more than three hours,” Roth said. In addition, Roth said persons should wash hands and faces frequently, remain outside as much as possible, wear face coverings, and maintain six-feet separations.

Roth reported that a county sponsored COVID-19 test event held in San Pablo on Saturday, Nov. 7 was a success because 673 persons were tested. Eighty-five percent of the test takers were first-time participants. A majority of those participating in the free tests were residents of Latinx descent.

Count health officer Dr. Chris Farnitano said the county is prepared to store the Pfizer vaccine that has been reported to be 90 percent effective but requires extreme cold refrigeration. “The county has purchased the ultra-cold storage capability to story up to 70,000 doses,” Dr. Farnitano informed supervisors. The storage unit can keep the vaccine cold at 70 degrees below zero.

 

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