By Allen Payton
It was revealed on Friday that according to a copy of a draft memo obtained by TIME, the U.S. Navy is considering establishing a detention center for up to 47,000 illegal immigrants at the former Concord Naval Weapons Station. It would be one of four remote bases in California, including at Camp Pendleton, as well as Alabama and Arizona as part of the Trump Administration’s new zero tolerance policy of prosecuting and detaining all those who cross our border illegally, even for the first time.
The immigrants, including families with children, would remain in a “temporary and austere” tent city as the Navy memo describes it, according to the TIME article, until their court hearing, including those seeking asylum. The estimated cost to construct all of the facilities would be $233 million.
It’s not clear where the facility would be located on the former weapons station site. The land south of Highway 4 is now labeled the Concord Reuse Project and includes plans for as many as 12,000 homes in four transit villages, elementary school, office park and open space, with the 500-acre first phase by Lennar Urban planned for 4,400 homes. Attempts to reach Guy Bjerke, Concord’s Director of Community Reuse Planning for more details, were unsuccessful.
In the Executive Order he signed on Wednesday banning the separation of families apprehended at the border for crossing illegally, President Trump stated “The Secretary of Defense shall take all legally available measures to provide to the Secretary (of Homeland Security), upon request, any existing facilities available for the housing and care of alien families, and shall construct such facilities if necessary and consistent with law.”
Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA11) whose district includes Concord, released a statement on Friday regarding the proposed detention center.
“STOP! The Administration needs to take a time out,” he stated. “This is no way to effectuate intelligent immigration policy, including for those seeking asylum. This is absolute madness and I oppose it wholeheartedly. If the Administration wants to have a rational dialogue about fixing our immigration system, I am happy to do that, but making up immigration policy on the fly is just wrong. We will fight this in every way we can.”
In addition, Margarget Hanlon Gradie, Executive Director of the Contra Costa AFL-CIO Labor Council, released the following statement on Friday opposing the proposed detention center.
“Working families oppose the proposal to jail asylum seekers anywhere in Concord, Contra Costa County, or America.
“We have worked for a dozen years to create a new vision for the Concord Naval Weapons Station that brings benefits to our community — not prisons. We believe this land – the public’s land, belonging to the people of Concord – should be used for schools, hospitals, affordable homes and good jobs, not the criminal abuse of human rights.
We stand with Rep. Mark DeSaulnier and other elected leaders in their call to reject cynical political posturing. Our federal government needs to restore DACA for our Dreamers and create a path to citizenship in a functional immigration system that supports workers’ rights, family reunification, and the needs of local and global economies.”
Anna Roth, Director of Contra Costa Health Services also released a politically-laced statement on Friday regarding the proposed detention center.
“Contra Costa Health Services learned through media reports on Friday that the former Concord Naval Weapons Station may soon be used as a detention facility for as many as 47,000 undocumented immigrants.
As principle guardian of public health in Contra Costa County, charged with protecting all people who live here, Contra Costa Health Services condemns this dangerous, immoral proposal – not just the location of this facility, but its existence.
Whether the despicable practice of caging young children separately from their parents continues or family members are imprisoned together, there is no place in Contra Costa or any civilized society for these types of facilities.
We know as health professionals the irrevocable harm caused by family separation, a trauma that leads to higher incidence of addiction, mental illness and chronic disease among survivors. The consequences to the health of prisoners, particularly children, are not hard to predict.
The health impacts of institutional violence against immigrants also extend to residents of our county. As Health Services Director, I hear from patients and employees every day who are under duress because of recent immigration practices.
Many Contra Costa residents live in fear, documented and otherwise. Patients miss appointments because they’re afraid ICE will be waiting for them in the doctor’s office.
This climate of fear adversely affects our community’s health, and would only worsen with this detention facility pitched in the center of our county. For the health of all Contra Costans we demand that a detention camp not be located in our county.
Furthermore, we call for an immediate end to the practice of imprisoning undocumented immigrants, particularly children.”
Anna M. Roth RN, MS, MPH Director | Contra Costa Health Services”
Immigrants who cross the U.S. border illegally and are detained awaiting their court hearing, are part of a backlog of 700,000 immigration court cases according to a report by Mother Jones, including those seeking asylum. But, according to a Washington Times article, the backlog is closer to one million cases. “James McHenry, the director of the Executive Office for Immigration Review, which handles immigration cases, said Tuesday that the backlog of active cases is over 692,000 and that the courts have an additional 330,000 cases that have been put into ‘administrative closure,’ but that are still before the courts.”
The asylum process takes more time, causing the immigrants to remain in detention longer, which can be extended further if they arrive without documentation. (See requirements for being granted asylum). In order to seek asylum it must be done in the U.S., including at a port of entry, an embassy or consulate in the immigrant’s home country, or in another country, such as Mexico.
Those seeking asylum cannot work while they await the decision by the government until after 150 days have passed, according to information on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ website:
“You cannot apply for permission to work (employment authorization) in the United States at the same time you apply for asylum. You may apply for employment authorization if: 150 days have passed since you filed your complete asylum application, excluding any delays caused by you (such as a request to reschedule your interview) AND No decision has been made on your application.”
According to a 2016 report by then-Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson during the final year of the Obama Administration, there has been an increase in families from Central America crossing the border illegally and being apprehended by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol.
“Unaccompanied children and families have presented new challenges in our immigration system,” he stated.
Those figures show an increase from 15,000 families crossing illegally in 2013 to almost 78,000 in 2016.
The first time an immigrant crosses illegally they are charged with a misdemeanor. Each subsequent illegal crossing it is a felony. Previously, the parents of those crossing as families for the first time have been apprehended, cited and released, pending their court hearing. But, many of them never appeared for their court date. Instead, the Trump Administration, under Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ new zero tolerance policy, requires the arrest and detention of even those who cross the border illegally for the first time.
According to the press release by the Department of Justice, the “policy comes as the Department of Homeland Security reported a 203 percent increase in illegal border crossings from March 2017 to March 2018, and a 37 percent increase from February 2018 to March 2018—the largest month-to-month increase since 2011.”
According to the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration Statistics Yearbook for 2016, each year, on average the U.S. allows in one million “foreign nationals who are granted lawful permanent residence (i.e. immigrants who receive a ‘green card’), admitted as temporary nonimmigrants, granted asylum or refugee status, or are naturalized.”
Please check back later for updates to this report.Read More
The Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office is committed to preventing gun violence in our communities and educating youth about the dangers and consequences of gun possession. This month, the District Attorney’s Office is collaborating with the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence and the American Academy of Pediatrics in the ASK (Asking Saves Kids) Gun Safety Campaign to educate parents and children about gun safety.
Nationwide, approximately 1.7 million youth live in a home with an unlocked, loaded gun. More than one in five U.S. teenagers (ages 14 to 17) report having witnessed a shooting, and an average of seven children and teens under the age of 20 are killed by guns every day. The ASK campaign is a nationwide effort which includes numerous leading national organizations, including education, healthcare, and law enforcement groups who are dedicated to stopping gun violence in America.
“We must address the growing trends of gun violence, not only in our schools but on our streets and in our homes. Common sense gun safety laws do work along with educating parents and guardians on how they can best protect their children at home. My office will continue to partner with law enforcement, our schools, and our community to ensure we are doing all we can to keep our kids safe and to prevent further gun violence,” stated District Attorney Diana Becton.
In honor of the annual summer “ASK Day” kickoff this week, representatives from the District Attorney’s Office will host tables at the Farmers’ Markets in Pittsburg and Martinez on Saturday, June 23rd and Sunday, June 24th to provide the community with information about the risks associated with unsafely stored guns in their homes.
In partnership with the Contra Costa County Probation Department, the District Attorney’s Office will continue to teach the Gun Information for Teens (“GIFT”) Program to youth throughout the county. In 2012, the GIFT Program started as an initial pilot to educate youth about gun violence and prevention, which focused on the intersection between gangs, guns, drugs and youth in our county. The GIFT Program expanded in 2015 remains an important tool for our office to empower students to protect themselves and their communities from gun violence. Representatives from the District Attorney’s Office and Probation Department currently teach this 6-course anti-violence curriculum to approximately 1,000 students each year.
All school district administrators are encouraged to join this collaborative effort to keep our schools and neighborhoods safe; to schedule the GIFT Program at your school, please contact Deputy District Laura Delehunt at email@example.com. Courses will be tailored to address the specific needs at your school site and will provide students with valuable skills to make positive choices.Read More
On Wednesday, June 20, 2018 a Contra Costa County jury found defendant Todd Andrew Mayer guilty of two felony counts of stalking family members. The jury also determined Mayer was guilty of six misdemeanors for violating restraining orders that were issued by the court for the protection of his mother. Mayer lived out of state but, his family lived in Danville. He was arrested by Danville Police.
Contra Costa County Deputy District Attorney Chris Sansoe prosecuted the case on behalf of the People. Sansoe is a prosecutor in the Domestic Violence Unit. The jury trial lasted eight days before the Honorable Nancy Stark. Sentencing for the defendant will occur on July 20, at 9:00 a.m. Mayer could face up to 11 years in state prison.
“I am glad the jury was able to see the defendant’s actions for what they were, terrifying. I hope that the victims and their families can find some peace after this long struggle,” said DDA Sansoe.
In September 2016, after years of verbal and emotional abuse, Mayer’s wife filed for a restraining order for herself and children. She followed the procedures of the Contra Costa County Superior Court and was awarded a restraining order. Within days of receiving the order, Mayer violated the order.
Mayer then began to threaten other members of his family, including his brother and his mother. In March of 2017, Mayer’s brother had applied for and received a restraining order as well. This order prohibited Mayer from contacting his brother, or his brother’s family. Mayer’s mother would also apply for and receive a restraining order. As with his wife, the defendant violated these orders within days. Because of his violations of the restraining orders, his family members blocked his phone number and stopped responding to his violations.
After being blocked from calling or texting by the victims, Mayer switched his harassment to email form. Between March 25, 2017 and his arrest on October 10, 2017, Mayer sent his wife, brother, and mother hundreds of emails. The victims did not respond to these emails. As time passed, Mayer’s emails became more and more threatening in nature.
These threats included statements that Mayer would murder his former wife, brother, and his brother’s family. As time progressed, Mayer’s threats became more descriptive and detailed. On October 3, 2017, Mayer threatened to murder his brother’s wife and child in front of his own brother. In addition, Mayer used the film “Law Abiding Citizen” and its theme to threaten his brother. On October 6, 2017, Mayer sent an email to his family members, in which he threatened to do a Las Vegas type shooting. This threat was five days after the mass shooting occurred on the Las Vegas strip.
Stalking is a serious crime that is often an indicator of other forms of violence. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence reports that 81 percent of women who were stalked by a current or former husband or cohabitating partner were also physically assaulted by that partner; 31 percent of women were sexually assaulted. 75 percent of women murdered by an intimate partner were stalked first; 85 percent of women who survived murder attempts were stalked. Nearly 3 out of 4 victims know their stalkers in some capacity and the most common relationship between the victim and the perpetrator is a current or former intimate partner. 1 in every 6 U.S. women and 1 out of every 19 U.S. men have been staked in their lifetime.
Abusers use stalking to intimidate and control their victims and the pattern of threats and harassment can come in many forms as it did in this case. Victims can get help by reporting the conduct to the police, by calling the STAND! for Families Free of Violence 24-hour toll free crisis line at 1-888-215-5555 or visiting the Family Justice Centers in Richmond (256 24th St.) or Concord (2151 Salvio St., Ste. 201). In any life-threatening emergency, victims should always call 911.
Case information: People v. Todd Andrew Mayer, Docket Number 05-180613-2Read More
Concord woman, three children injured
On Tuesday, June 19, 2018 at 6:38 PM Concord Police Department received numerous calls of a two-vehicle collision on Concord Blvd. near 3rd Street. Officers arrived on-scene along with Paramedics and Firefighters from Contra Costa County Fire Protection District.
The driver of one of the vehicles was pronounced deceased at the scene. The identity of the deceased driver is not being released at this time pending positive identification and notification of next of kin by the Contra Costa County Coroner’s Office.
The driver of the other vehicle, a 32-year old female from Concord, was transported to the hospital by ambulance with serious injuries. Three children who were passengers in that car (ages 8 years, 8 years, and 10 months) were also transported to the hospital with serious injuries that were not believed to be life threatening.
The female driver is cooperating with the investigation. At this time, alcohol/drugs are not believed to be a factor in this collision.
The cause of the collision is still under investigation. Preliminary investigation has revealed that both vehicles were traveling east-bound on Concord Blvd. prior to the collision.
Concord Blvd. was closed between 3rd Street and Parkside Drive for approximately three hours to perform roadway measurements, collect evidence, and conduct the investigation.
Additional details are not being released at this time.
Anyone with information or who may have witnessed this collision is encouraged to contact Officer Ghaznawi at (925) 603-5931.Read More
Fun and laughter for the entire family
Finally, a comedy show that caters to the entire family. The Family Friendly Comedy Show, in Brentwood on Saturday, June 30, will be a night filled with food, fun and laughter.
Headlining will be Donald Lacy from BET’s ComicView and HBO’s Def Comedy Jam, Featuring G. King one of the nation’s funniest and fastest rising comedians, Special Guest Jay Rich straight off the Paul Mooney & Friends Tour, Hosted by Comedian and Award-Winning Actor of Stage and Screen Lenard Jackson from Antioch. Music provided by DJ Oasis.
Saturday June 30, 2018, 8:00 pm doors open at 7:00 pm. Admission $20. at Brentwood Veteran’s Memorial Hall, 757 First Street in Brentwood. Brought to you by Rick Sullivan & C.O.G.H. This is a Rick Sullivan Production.
Producer and Promoter Rick Sullivan believes that there is a desire for comedy shows that cater to the entire family and decided to fill that void. Now parents and kids can come out and enjoy a comedy event together.
For the full line up and tickets for this event, please visit: https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3475085 or contact Rick Sullivan at 510.228.7038. Food and beverages will be available to purchase at the show.Read More
WHAT: Contra Costa Behavioral Health Services, a division of Contra Costa Health Services Department (CCHS), invites anyone interested in discussing local public mental health services to participate in a public forum Thursday, June 21, in Concord.
The forum offers the opportunity to discuss current issues relevant to providing mental health care in the community. These discussions will help inform future use of local Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) funding.
WHO: All members of the public are welcome, including participants in mental health services, their family members and service providers.
RSVP to attend a forum by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org – please include “MHSA Forum” in the subject line – or by telephoning (925) 957-2617. Attendees may also mail RSVPs to MHSA, 1220 Morello Avenue, Suite 100, Martinez, CA 94553.
WHEN: 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., Thursday, June 21 at John Muir Medical Center, 2540 East Street, Concord
WHY: Contra Costa County’s current MHSA budget provides $51.6 million to more than 80 mental health programs and services. Forum goals include identifying service needs, priorities and strategies to inform the county’s MHSA Three-Year Program and Expenditure Plan.
The forum will include an overview of how MHSA works and how funding is currently used in Contra Costa.
Visit www.cchealth.org/mentalhealth/mhsa to read the plan and other information about the MHSA in Contra Costa.Read More
WHAT: Contra Costa Environmental Health and Contra Costa Supervisor Federal Glover will host a community forum to answer questions and provide current, accurate information about the alleged disposal of potentially radioactive materials from the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard at Keller Canyon Landfill in Pittsburg.
WHO: The forum is free and open to all, and residents of communities near Keller Canyon are encouraged to attend.
Technical experts from the Radiologic Health Branch of the California Department of Public Health, the United States Navy, the San Francisco Bay Area Regional Water Quality Control Board and other state and federal agencies will be on hand to answer questions following a presentation.
WHEN: The forum begins at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 21.
WHERE: Ambrose Community Center, 3105 Willow Pass Road, Bay Point
WHY: In May it came to light that potentially radioactive material from the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard in San Francisco may have been improperly delivered to several landfills around California, including Keller Canyon in Pittsburg. (See related article) Contra Costa County and numerous other public agencies have been investigating to determine what happened, and if there is any potential health impact to surrounding communities. This meeting is an opportunity to bring the public up to speed on the investigation and answer questions from community members.Read More
By Allen Payton
In the face of interim appointed District Attorney Diana Becton’s growing lead, her main opponent in the June election, on Thursday Supervising Assistant D.A. Paul Graves sent out a letter to his supporters conceding the race.
Becton now has 921 more votes than is needed to win, with 50.49% of the vote, up from 50.01% in the last update on June 8. The County Clerk-Registrar of Voters office announced on Wednesday that they have approximately 10,000 ballots left to count and that some of those might be disqualified.
In addition to thanking his supporters, during a brief interview Friday morning, Graves also thanked those who voted for him.
A Heartfelt Thank You
Dear Friends and Supporters,
Nearly all the votes have been counted, and although it is very close, it is unlikely we will have a runoff in November. This afternoon, I called Diana Becton to congratulate her on her expected election as District Attorney.
I am grateful for the support of Contra Costa’s law enforcement community and firefighters, Marc Klaas, and the support and confidence of my fellow prosecutors.
I have been especially moved by the survivors who have reached out to reconnect, and in doing so reminded me why I am a prosecutor. Most of all, I am grateful for the support and encouragement I have received from friends and my family, most of whom already knew that I was probably a better prosecutor than a politician.
I want to say to all my supporters that your dedication to this campaign has been humbling and inspiring, and I complete this chapter knowing that I would do it all over again for the privilege of fighting the good fight alongside you all. We didn’t just fight for “change,” we fought for the right change, and I know that we will continue to fight for the safety of our communities and justice for crime victims.
Most of all, we can be proud of our effort and that we maintained our integrity throughout this election, including the appointment process. The District Attorney’s office is an office built on trust, and we met our obligation to the people of Contra Costa with the type of campaign we ran from start to finish – armed with real knowledge, focused on real issues, and fueled by real, local grassroots support.
Now we must come together and support our newly-elected District Attorney for the sake of Contra Costa residents who are counting on us to put politics aside for their benefit and safety. This campaign has ended, but our worthy cause continues in our courtrooms every day.
Thank you all from the bottom of my heart,
According to County Clerk-Registrar of Voters Joe Canciamilla, the final election results are expected to be announced next Friday, June 22 by 5:00 p.m. Please check back later for those.Read More
Accept minimizing school casualties report
Two Contra Costa County Supervisors disagree with a key finding in a newly released Contra Costa County Grand Jury Report titled “The Opioid Crisis: Dying for Treatment” that reported in 2015-2016 over 100 county residents died from opioid overdoses.
Supervisors accepted the Grand Jury report as a consent item on a 4 to 0 vote. Board Chair Karen Mitchoff, who had won re-election to a new four-year term in last Tuesday’s election, was absent.
District 3 Supervisor Diane Burgis of Brentwood and District 5 Supervisor Federal Glover of Pittsburg said the actual number of deaths linked to opioid overdoses in 2015-2016 was lower. The two supervisors said there were 52 overdose deaths tied to opioids based on the information the supervisors received at a health conference that they attended last week.
Why the discrepancy? It is unclear.
Grand Jury Foreperson Mario Gutierrez told the Contra Costa Herald the Grand Jury collected its information from the Urban Institute and county senior healthcare officials in the 2015-2016 fiscal year. Gutierrez says he and the grand jury backs up the statistic. “County deaths mirror the alarming trend and the national epidemic of misuse and abuse of opioids, particularly prescription painkillers,” the report states.
Gutierrez speculates the two supervisors may have received “partial or half-year opioid death count figures” for either the 2016-2017 or 2017-2018 fiscal years. In both years, the opioid death tolls will exceed that of 2015-2016, Gutierrez predicted because that is the local and national trend with this drug crisis.
In May, Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors joined 29 other county board of supervisors in suing 19 opioid manufacturers and three major distributors for creating an opioid epidemic in California. The lawsuit seeks reimbursement of taxpayer funds that have already been spent in reaction to the opioid epidemic in Contra Costa County related to ongoing costs of continuing the fight including emergency response, prevention, monitoring and treatment, and for prospective relief to help the county undo some of the widespread damage that opioid manufactures and distributors have caused.
“The Grand Jury also found that limited implementation, lack of funding, inadequate availability and insufficient accessibility in treatment being the least supported of the strategies. There are not enough programs in place to enable first responders to provide treatment immediately when sought. There is a need for on-demand treatment, but delays in access to medical care result in missed opportunities to reduce harm, and recovery, and prevent overdose deaths,” the report said.
“Based on its findings, the Grand Jury recommends that the County Board of Supervisors consider seeking funds for expansion of addiction treatment programs. The Board may also consider encouraging more medical care providers to become Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) certified, hire more MAT clinicians, provide in-county residential treatment facilities for adolescents, and place more certified professional addiction clinicians within the county’s three detention facilities. The Grand Jury also recommends that the Contra Costa County Office of Education consider making overdose antidotes in public high schools.”
The supervisors have 60 days to respond to the Grand Jury’s recommendations. The Contra Costa County Office of Education has 90 days to respond to the Grand Jury’s recommendation that the CCCOE seek funds for the 2019-2020 fiscal year to provide free NARCAN kits in all county school districts.
Supervisors Accept Minimizing School Casualties Report
Supervisors also approved as a consent item another grand jury report entitled Minimizing School Casualties During an Active Shooter Incident.
While acknowledging “No active shooting incidents have occurred on school campuses in Contra Costa County, The Contra Costa County Civil Grand Jury conducted an investigation to determine what preparations law enforcement agencies have made to respond to such an incident in the county, should one occur. The Grand Jury reviewed current practices of County law enforcement and paramedics serving the County. The investigation focused on high schools, where most school shootings have occurred.’’
The Grand Jury report was drafted at a time when 148 students and teachers had been killed and 310 wounded during 240 school shootings nationwide.
During the Grand Jury’s investigation, it surveyed the Acalanes Union High School District’s four high schools, at one of which local police ran an active shoot exercise. “Although most teachers and students have received verbal guidance on dealing with an armed classroom intruder, they have not received specific written instructions developed jointly by the AUHSD and the local policy,” the Grand Jury report stated.
In addition, the report states: “The Grand Jury recommends that the County Board of Supervisors consider seeking funds to finance ballistic protection for Fire District paramedics. The Grand Jury further recommends that the BOS continue funding the County Sheriff’s Office active shooter training program for paramedics and law enforcement. In addition, the Grand Jury recommends that the Acalanes Unified High School District Governing Board consider requiring its four high schools to work directly with local police to develop and implement specific written guidelines for teachers and students on how to handle classroom break-ins by an active shooter.”
The supervisors have 60 days to respond to the Grand Jury’s recommendations.Read More
Don Stuart Bell, a veteran of the Vietnam War, a former Contra Costa County Sheriff Deputy, and former Antioch resident died unexpectedly on Saturday, June 2, 2018 at age 71.
He is survived by his wife, Sandy Harter-Bell; his children Don Scott Bell, Leanne Herrick, Debra Peeling, and Dawnyll Hooker; and his grandchildren, Garret, Elizabeth, Alex, Ashlyn, Michael Patrick and Elijah. He is also survived by his siblings; John Bell and Susan Hoff.
A Celebration of Life will be held on Thursday, June 28th at 2:00 p.m. at the Folsom Veterans Hall – 1300 Forrest Street, Folsom, CA 95630.Read More