On Tuesday February 14th, 2017, Jason Judkins was convicted of possession of child pornography. He was sentenced to four years in state prison.
The conviction stems from an investigation by the Contra Costa County Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and the Antioch Police Department. On January 6th, 2016, Judkins created an internet posting that he was willing to trade his son for sex. The posting was reported to law enforcement and an immediate search for Judkins was started. He was arrested later that day in Antioch, and it was determined he did not have a child, nor did he have access to children. A search of his cell revealed images of child pornography, as well as e-mails in which Judkins distributed the images to others. The evidence indicated Judkins made the online posting to reach others who would exchange child pornography with him.
Prior to this offense Judkins had sustained two prior convictions for possession and distribution of child pornography. Judkins has been a registered sex offender since 2012 and was living as a transient in Antioch at the time of his arrest. The sentence was handed down by the Honorable John T. Laettner, after Judkins entered into a plea agreement with the District Attorney’s Office. Judkins will begin serving his sentence immediately.
“This office will hold accountable those individuals who possess and distribute these types of images over the internet,” said District Attorney Mark Peterson. “With National Victims’ Rights Week coming up in April, it is important to remember that when images of a child being sexually assaulted are distributed across the internet, the child is re-victimized each time.”
The prosecution is a result of an investigation by a multi-agency Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, which is managed by the San Jose Police Department. In Contra Costa County, detectives and investigators from the Walnut Creek, Antioch, Martinez, San Ramon, Concord and Moraga Police Departments, the Sheriff’s Office, Probation Department and District Attorney’s Office participate in the task force.Read More
By Bryan Scott
The East County Voters for Equal Protection (ECV), a non-partisan citizens action committee, is organizing a workshop later this month to discuss a proposal to correct the structural funding deficiency that is afflicting the local fire services agency, the East Contra Costa Fire Protection District (ECCFPD).
Twenty-two local government entities have been invited, including the county, the cities of Brentwood and Oakley, special districts and schools.
The proposal ECV is advocating will improve ECCFPD funding by about $7.8 million, and potentially provide for three additional fire stations, bringing the district’s total to six. There are now just three permanent stations serving 110,000 people spread over 249 square miles.
The proposal relies on the traditional growth in property tax revenues to avoid any cuts in current funding. If the proposal is adopted the increased property tax revenues that 22 government entities can expect would grow a little slower over a three or four year program implementation period.
This proposal is a significant one. It is the type of policy decision that elected officials, the chosen representatives of the public, need to make because it is the general public who will benefit from this program.
Government administrators are naturally opposed to this proposal. City Managers, schools administrators, the county administrator, have all gone on record opposing the solution because their specific government entity would lose future funds.
These government workers are not looking at the big picture. All government funds come, in one manner or another, from the public taxpayers. The money ought to be used to meet the needs of today’s taxpayer population.
That’s why the elected representatives of the people need to make this decision, not those who are paid to operate pieces of the people’s business.
The Ghost Ship Fire occurred in Oakland several months ago. It was a tragedy that took the lives of 36 people at a warehouse in the city’s District 5. Noel Gallo is the City Councilmember who represents District 5, and he stepped forward visibly during the crisis. He is a former school board member who understands the importance of fire and emergency medical response services to a community. Gallo will speak at the fire district funding workshop.
The structural funding problem that has increased response times and reduced the number of firefighters is not a new phenomenon. It has grown as East County’s population has grown, dramatically since the late 1990’s. Attempts to solve the problem with new tax measures have failed three times.
This proposal, if adopted, will address this structural funding problem. It will provide money to East County fire and emergency medical services so that ECCFPD receives an allocation rate closer to the rate that other parts of the county receive for their fire and emergency medical services. The funding allocation rate will then be at about the average for the county’s fire districts.
Shifting public money to a higher-priority service, in many cases a life-sustaining service, is the right thing to do. Three lives have been lost due to inadequate response capability, a fire department official has said.
The proposal being brought forth is not new. It has been talked about for over 15 months.
ECV was formed in January of 2016. The leaders of this group have made 19 formal presentations to public agencies, civic and social groups. They have attended over 46 meetings with elected, hired, or appointed officials, and conducted 10 public committee meetings. Over 75 articles and opinion pieces have been published in local periodicals, online, and in social media by ECV.
It is time for our elected representatives the people to do what’s best for the people.
Bryan Scott is a Brentwood resident and Co-Chair of East County Voters for Equal Protection, a non-partisan citizens action committee whose aim is to improve funding for the ECCFPD. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 925-418-4428. The group’s Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/EastCountyVoters/.
Contra Costa County will be in direct coalition to Community Choice Energy (CCE) a sustainable choice to cleaner energy usage. They are pleased to announce their plans to bring more unionized jobs that will benefit the CCCounty.
This local renewable build out scenario, would involve a significant number of mostly unionized and non-union hires. Also, a potential for 40% of the local build out will be near the Northern Waterfront in Concord area. In return this will be a huge deal for those looking to get hired in today’s economy. As the plans are underway to figure out the details there will be more to come on this future project.
Keep posted for more information regarding the Community Choice Energy (CCE) unionized jobs for hire and their announcements.
San PabloRead More
Congressmen Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11), Mike Thompson (CA-5) and Jerry McNerney (CA-9) who each represent portions of Contra Costa County in the U.S. House of Representatives, will host a joint town hall meeting in Martinez, this Saturday, February 18 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. The special topic will be Protecting the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), Medicare and Medicaid.
Those who attend will hear a presentation and legislative update. Constituents will also have an opportunity to ask questions and share thoughts on key policy issues and actions taken by the new Administration.
Joint Town Hall with Representatives DeSaulnier (CA-11), Thompson (CA-5) and McNerney (CA-9)
Special Topic: Protecting the Affordable Care Act, Medicare, and Medicaid
Saturday, February 18, 2017
10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
County Board of Supervisors Chambers, Room 107
651 Pine Street
Martinez, CA 94553Read More
Sacramento, CA – For the first time in more than a decade, California voters would have the opportunity to approve higher education bonds to improve facilities on California State University and University of California campuses under legislation introduced Thursday by joint authors Sens. Steve Glazer, D-Orinda, and Ben Allen, D-Santa Monica.
The bill, SB 483, would authorize the statewide sale of $2 billion in general obligation bonds earmarked for higher education facilities at CSU and UC campuses. The bonds would go before voters in the 2018 general election.
“For many generations, California taxpayers have been proud supporters of the greatest higher education system in America,” Glazer said. “Unfortunately, we have allowed classrooms and libraries to deteriorate, affecting our ability to educate our students. Without public support, the burden of financing facilities will be borne by students and their families through higher tuition and fees.
The most recent such bond, which provided $1.6 billion to improve higher education facilities at CSU and UC, was approved by voters in 2006. All those funds have since been depleted. The last higher education-specific bond was passed in 1994.
“California’s public colleges and universities are a source of great pride to our state, but unfortunately we’ve allowed their physical facilities to fall into disrepair,” said Allen, who chairs the Senate Education Committee. “This bond measure will provide a much-needed and overdue investment in our higher education infrastructure.”
According to CSU and UC, the two systems have capital needs of $7 billion and $10 billion, respectively, for short-term and long-term projects. The CSU and UC are able to provide their own funding for some construction programs through system-wide revenue bonds, though only half of their capital needs are met.
“We appreciate Senator Glazer’s work to secure funding for necessary repair and replacement of aging higher education buildings and infrastructure,” said CSU Chancellor Timothy P. White. “More than $2 billion in deferred maintenance – due to lack of investment during the previous recession – left our campuses vulnerable to potential failures of critical systems. Safe and up-to-date classrooms, research labs and work spaces are essential to the success of our students, faculty and staff.”
SB 483 would require universities or colleges to submit five-year capital outlay plans that prioritize seismic retrofitting needed to reduce seismic hazards in buildings identified as high priority.
David Lopez, president of the California State Student Association, said the legislation addresses the issues about needed classroom repairs that students have been talking about for years.
“We keep hearing stories of students in classrooms that need major repair,” Lopez said. “Buildings that need to be closed for safety reasons. Our campus infrastructure needs have never been greater than they are today.”
Spending choices will emerge through recommendations from governing boards for both CSU and UC systems and will be reviewed in public hearings during the legislative process, Glazer said.
“The state has failed to provide the funds needed for public higher education faculty, student services and infrastructure,” said Mel Levine, Co-chair of the California Coalition for Public Higher Education. “We can’t take in more California students without restoring and improving our classrooms and labs.”
Last November, voters approved Proposition 51, a $9 billion education facilities bond, but did not include any money for the CSU or UC.
“This measure provides important financial backing for critical upgrades to our libraries and classrooms on college campuses,” Glazer added. “And I believe voters should be given a chance to continue the proud legacy of supporting our universities and colleges.”
A December 2016 survey on higher education by Public Policy Institute of California showed broad support – 65 percent – for higher education construction projects. It represented an 11 percentage point increase in support since December, 2014 and was the highest level of support since PPIC first began asking the question in 2007. http://www.ppic.org/content/pubs/survey/S_1216MBS.pdfRead More
By Sean Wherley
State Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) introduced legislation, on Wednesday, to improve staffing at more than 550 dialysis clinics in California.
SB 349, the Dialysis Patient Safety Act, would mandate annual inspections of dialysis clinics and safer staffing levels. Current law requires inspections of dialysis clinics every six years, while nursing homes in California must be inspected every year, and hospitals every two years.
This legislation would affect 15 dialysis clinics in Contra Costa County: three each in Antioch and Walnut Creek; two each in Pittsburg and San Pablo; and one each in Brentwood, Concord, El Cerrito, Pleasant Hill and Richmond.
“Dialysis patients are grandparents, children and siblings not numbers on a balance sheet,” said Lara. “It’s time to fix the dialysis industry and improve patient care for the more than 63,000 Californians who rely on this life-saving treatment in clinics daily.”
Dialysis is necessary for people with kidney failure, who must have their blood removed, cleaned, and put back into their bodies. A typical treatment lasts three hours, and must be conducted three days a week for the rest of the patient’s life.
The two largest dialysis corporations – DaVita and Fresenius – make $2.9 billion a year in profits from their dialysis operations in the United States, but workers say the companies pocket the money rather than improve patient care or provide adequate staffing in their clinics.
Dialysis workers regularly report staffing levels so low that it threatens patient care. One worker cited an incident last March at a dialysis clinic in Anaheim, Calif. in which a patient collapsed in the parking lot. The worker said it could have been prevented if more staff were onsite at the time. Seven states already have minimum staffing levels in dialysis clinics: Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas and Utah.
Dialysis workers in California have been organizing into a union, SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW), for safer working conditions and stronger worker and patient protections. To learn more about the campaign, visit www.morethannumbers.org.
Wherley is the Media Relations Specialist with SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West.Read More
Morgan Territory Road open to local traffic only, expected to reopen Feb. 23; Alhambra Valley Road remains closed
Contra Costa County Public Works crews have been working steadily during the break in the rain to clear mud-covered roads and make repairs where flood and storm damage caused problems. On Thursday, January 26, the Board of Supervisors ratified a proclamation of local emergency stemming from storm damage that took place during the first two weeks of January. High winds coupled with continued rains over a short timeframe led to an estimated $18 million in damage in a number of unincorporated areas of the County, within our cities, and at water, park and sanitation district facilities. The proclamation, along with the State’s declaration of a State of Emergency, will put the County and local jurisdictions in line for potential recovery funding.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency, (FEMA,) and the State Office of Emergency Services have made site visits throughout the County. It will take several months for the County, working with State and Federal authorities, to get a more firm total on the damages and what costs can be covered.
Two road closures are still in effect in Contra Costa County:
- Morgan Territory Road is closed between Marsh Creek Road and Manning Road. The road is open to local traffic and emergency vehicles only and is anticipated to reopen to through traffic on Thursday, February 23.
- Alhambra Valley Road between Bear Creek and Castro Ranch Roads is closed indefinitely.
On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors declared an emergency for the repair of Alhambra Valley Road washout and authorized the Public Works Director to proceed with emergency repairs. The emergency authorization allows the Public Works Department to expedite the repair of this road. The Board of Supervisors also adopted a new resolution to proclaim a local emergency arising out of the damage caused by the series of storms in January and February 2017. This allows the County to potentially seek funding relief for response and damage repairs for emergency responses to the continuing storms during this time period.
Alternate routes for closure of Alhambra Valley Road
With more rain expected late this week, this is a good time to prepare for the next wave, checking rain gutters and storm drains for blockage. If you’re concerned about potential flooding at your home or business, it’s not too late to visit one of the sandbag stations located throughout the county. Please note that you’ll need to bring a shovel, but bags and sand are available for free. Find out details regarding County sandbag sites at www.cccounty.us/sandbags.
County Public Works Maintenance road crews maintain the storm drain inlets through a program of annual inspection and cleaning. To report a clogged catch basin or drainage inlet please call the Public Works Maintenance Division at 925-313-7000 during work hours and after hours call Sheriff’s Dispatch at 925-646-2441.Read More
In a move that would take a major step forward in addressing accountability for cases of election fraud perpetrated by candidates, Assemblymember Jim Frazier (D – Discovery Bay) announced on Thursday the introduction of AB 894, which will increase penalties in cases that determine a willful misrepresentation was made on a candidate statement.
“I introduced AB 894 in an effort to make sure voters are not deceived by candidates fabricating their accomplishments and misleading the public,” said Frazier. “We saw this occur in Contra Costa County. It is not fair and I will do everything in my power to make sure the residents I represent are protected from this injustice in the future.”
Frazier is referring to the case of Contra Costa County School Board Member Jeff Belle, who was prosecuted by the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office for lying on his ballot statement during his 2014 campaign, about earning a college degree. The DA settled the case in December, with Belle agreeing to perform community service, in order to avoid facing trial and a maximum penalty of $1,000. (See related article, here).
Currently, the penalties for a candidate lying on his or her nomination papers, which are not public documents and remain within a county’s elections office, are much greater at a maximum of $1,000 and three years in prison. Frazier became aware of that fact last year, didn’t think it made sense and decided to do something about it.
AB 894 will strengthen penalties for candidates who misrepresent facts on a ballot statement, which is public and is sent out to all the voters in a district. Specifically, this bill raises penalties to include forfeiture of office and reimbursement of all costs for the election.
“Misleading the voters about a candidate’s background on ballot statements has been a problem in our county in recent years,” said Joe Canciamilla, Contra Costa County Clerk-Recorder-Registrar. “Assemblymember Frazier’s bill is a good start in helping to ensure transparency and accountability to the voters.”
This bill is currently awaiting assignment to policy committee in the California State Assembly.
Frazier represents the 11th Assembly District, which includes the communities of Antioch, Bethel Island, Brentwood, Byron, Discovery Bay, Knightsen,, Oakley and portions of Pittsburg in Contra Costa County, as well as Birds Landing, Collinsville, Fairfield, Isleton, Locke, Rio Vista, Suisun City, Travis AFB, Vacaville and Walnut Grove in Solano County.
Allen Payton contributed to this report.Read More
Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (D, CA-11) will host a general town hall meeting on Thursday, February 23rd at 6:30 p.m. in Pleasant Hill. Since his election to Congress, Mark has hosted 33 town hall meetings and mobile district office hours throughout California’s Eleventh Congressional District.
Representative DeSaulnier invites residents of Contra Costa County to join him to listen to a presentation and legislative update. During the town hall constituents will have an opportunity to ask questions and share thoughts on key policy issues and actions taken under the new Administration.
Pleasant Hill Town Hall
Thursday, February 23, 2017
6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Diablo Valley College Cafeteria
321 Golf Club Rd
Pleasant Hill, CA 94523
Details: Parking Available in Lot 8
For more information or to request ADA accommodations, please email CA11.RSVP@mail.house.gov or call (925) 933-2660.Read More
(SACRAMENTO) – On Monday, February 13, 2017, members of the Delta Caucus of the California state legislature, including three representing Contra Costa County, released the following statement regarding the hazardous situation at Oroville Dam after news reports that previous concerns about the safety of the dam’s current infrastructure were ignored:
“We are concerned that a clear alarm raised 12 years ago about the state of the Oroville Dam’s emergency spillway was discounted. There has been more than enough time since then for upgrades and maintenance to the structure. Instead, nearly 185,000 people have been displaced, and there are still people in harm’s way. A catastrophic failure at Oroville would result in uncontrolled releases that do considerably more harm to the surrounding communities, and threaten those further downstream, including levee-protected communities in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. For now, we have a collective responsibility to ensure that people are safe and that necessary steps are taken to prevent further compromise of the entire Oroville facility. When the immediate threats have subsided, we need to clearly assess this disaster and its causes. We have a duty to ensure California’s existing infrastructure is maintained and upgraded, and not sacrificed in favor of conveyance projects.”
Caucus Co-Chair Assemblymember Jim Frazier (D-Oakley) and Assemblymembers Tim Grayson (D-Concord) and Catharine Baker (R-San Ramon) are members of the Delta Caucus, a bipartisan group of legislators whose districts include portions of the Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta. The caucus works to keep their colleagues updated on the latest scientific data, economic developments, and actions taken by the state agencies responsible for the Delta, including the State Water Resources Control Board, the Department of Water Resources, and the Delta Stewardship Council.
They and the following legislators issued the statement: Co-Chair Senator Bill Dodd (D-Napa), Senator Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) and Assemblymenbers Susan Eggman (D-Stockton) and Jim Cooper (D-Elk Grove).Read More