Contra Costa County and Martinez officials broke ground Tuesday, May 22 for the construction of the $60 million energy efficient Contra Costa County Administration Building at Escobar and Pine streets in Martinez. The county has attempted to replace the antiquated 11-story constructed in 1965 for the past 25 years but due mainly to national financial crisis those plans were scrapped. The new administration building is expected to be completed in May 2020. The county is also building a new $40 ‘million emergency operations center near its existing EOC in Martinez. Photo by Daniel Borsuk.
By Daniel Borsuk
Contra Costa County supervisors moved closer to adopting in June a commercial marijuana ordinance on Tuesday, and unanimously increased a three-year moving contract without raising a single question.
The officials approved a $3.5 million contract extension for Metropolitan Van and Storage to provide moving services countywide through the end of its three-year contract that expires on May 31, 2019. The supervisors’ approval boosts the overall payment limit to Metropolitan from $4 million to $7.5 million.
Placed on the agenda as a consent item, none of the five supervisors had asked to have Item No. 31 pulled from the agenda for discussion and action at a meeting where the elected officials were clearly more focused on a progress report from the county Conservation and Development Department on a draft cannabis ordinance, an agenda item that drew 53 speakers.
When asked about the moving contract agenda item, board chairperson Karen Mitchoff said she was unaware of the Metropolitan contract item being on the consent agenda.
“I am informed about what consent items are to be pulled for discussion by my staff,” Mitchoff said. “This item was not brought to my attention by staff.”
County Administrator David Twa said he had reviewed the Metropolitan contract increase and found no irregularities.
The county needs to add $3.5 million to the Metropolitan Van and Storage contract in order to complete the three-year contract that expires in May 2019, newly appointed Public Works Directors Brian Balbas said.
While admitting the spending of the initial $4 million “came as a bit of a surprise” to him, Balbas said about 50 percent of the 2,266 invoices Metropolitan Moving submitted for 1,429 jobs came from, three major county departments – Assessors Department, Employment and Human Services Department and Health Department.
In addition to moving furniture and other material, Balbas said Metropolitan Moving also takes down and erects cubicles in county department offices.
When asked if the extra $3.5 million will cover the next 12 months of the contract, Balbas responded, “I sure hope so.”
Supervisors Aim for June 26 Marijuana Ordinance Adoption
Supervisors set the stage to adopt a cannabis zoning ordinance on June 26 after listening to long list of speakers, mostly opponents to the legalization of recreational marijuana. On July 10, supervisors are scheduled to consider adopting health and tax measure ordinances that will go before the voters, perhaps in November.
After nearly two hours of public testimony coming mostly from residents in Supervisor Candace Andersen’s District 2, a district widely opposed to the sale and cultivation of recreational marijuana, the supervisor commented, “In a perfect world, I’m for a moratorium.” The supervisor hinted she might vote against the county ordinance because of the overwhelming opposition from her constituency, even though the county Department of Conservation and Development has spent hundreds of manhours and attended 27 community meetings around the county to inform the public about the county’s proposed marijuana ordinance.
District 5 Supervisor Federal Glover of Pittsburg, who had earlier observed most of the proposed cannabis zoning is located in his district along Highway 4, remarked, “We need to make sure the safety measures are put in place and that won’t occur unless a tax is passed by the voters. Until that happens this ordinance will not be enforced.”
When Dr. Phillip Drum, a marijuana legalization opponent, listed butane explosions and a number of other reasons why supervisors should stop developing a marijuana ordinance even though 61% of Contra Costans approved Proposition 64 in 2016, Board Chair Mitchoff pointed out the Contra Costa ordinance will prohibit the use of butane to extract oil from marijuana plants.
The proposed ordinance will feature zones for commercial cultivation, retail storefront, delivery only, manufacturing/processing, distribution and testing.
For personal cultivation, the county is proposing six or less plants for indoor, private cultivation and not more than three plants that are more than five feet in height for outdoor cultivation.
Contra Costa County Administrator, David Twa, has proposed a $3.5 Billion ($1.6 Billion General Fund) Budget for FY 2018-19 that is balanced and will provide critical services to the residents of Contra Costa County. Twa said that “the proposed spending plan includes funding increases to community service providers, allows the County to continue building its financial reserves, provides funding for new capital projects including a new Emergency Operations Center, and supports the county workforce of over 9,500 Employees.”
Chair of the County Board, Karen Mitchoff, said that “while the County is well positioned going into the next fiscal year, there continues to be storm clouds on the horizon.” She pointed out that “State and Federal funding combined with the County’s limited discretionary revenues will continue to fall short of the rising costs necessary to provide critical services to County residents.”
While the Budget includes $13 million in additional funding for Public Works projects as a result of the Gas Tax passed last year by the Legislature, (SB 1) there is a proposed repeal effort that may be on the November election ballot. Chair Mitchoff said that “If repealed, this would substantially reduce the ability of the County to meet necessary road and bridge repair projects.”
The Board of Supervisors is scheduled to adopt the Budget for 2018-19 during its regularly scheduled session on May 8, 2018 in the Board Chambers at 651 Pine St., Martinez.
In era of federal funding uncertainty
Contra Costa County Supervisors are poised to approve on May 8 a $3.5 billion 2018-19 budget realizing that during the upcoming budget year there is the likelihood significant funding cuts out of Washington might especially hit human services programs.
“The current administration in Washington is likely to reduce funding to states and counties,” county administrator David Twa warned supervisors at Tuesday’s board budget hearing.
Even with that caution, supervisors did not blink an eye and proceeded to listen to six budget presentations from department chiefs about what is in store for the upcoming 2018-2019 fiscal year. Supervisors did not comment about the prospects of federal or state cuts next fiscal year at the hearing, but neither did any of the meager number of persons who showed up to speak about the proposed 2018-19 spending plan.
The Employment & Human Services Department is subject to perhaps the most significant funding cuts from Washington, EHSD Director Kathy Gallagher told supervisors. Since 2017, funding for the department’s CalFresh and CalWorks programs that deliver food and job training for 65,000 residents has had federal funding trimmed from $101.5 million in 2016 to $90.4 million to 2018. More cuts are expected for the two programs in the upcoming 2018-19 fiscal year, she said.
Gallagher painted a bleak federal funding fiscal picture showing a watch list of human service programs that could potentially be hit with steep federal funding cuts. Some of those programs include Medicaid, Community Service Block Grants, Child Welfare Services, and the Older American Act, which includes Meals on Wheels.
Federal funding uncertainty also hovers over County Health Services, but not as severely as what EHSD faces, Contra Costa County Health Director Anna M. Roth told supervisors, in presenting her department’s proposed $1.8 billion budget for 2018-19. Next year’s budget includes $100 million in general funds.
Roth noted that expansion of the Contra Costa Health Plan with more than 200,000 members provides the county financial support, especially when there is financial uncertainty coming out of Washington.
Addressing only the $241,271,160 in general funds proposed for 2018-19, Contra Costa Undersheriff Michael Casten, who filled in for Sheriff David O. Livingston who was out of town, said a $5.6 million vacancy factor makes it “a very difficult for the Office of the Sheriff-Coroner to operate”.
Casten said the funding deficit means for 2018019 the Sheriff-Coroner will not fill 10 deputy sheriff slots worth $2.6 million, three mental health evaluation team deputies openings worth a combined $781,000, 7 patrol deputies worth $1.82 million and six sergeants worth $1.77 million. The Sheriff-Coroner’s request for 15 recruit positions valued at $1.21 million was approved for the upcoming fiscal year.
For Diana Becton, the Interim Contra Costa County District Attorney appointed by the board of supervisors last year who is up for election June 5, budget priorities for 2018-19 include enforcement of Proposition 64 (2016 voter approval for the legalization of the sale of marijuana in California), hiring of additional clerical staff, the implementation of a case management system and pay parity.
For 2018-19, Becton wants to add 14 full-time staff worth $1 million. Those positions include five mainline prosecution assistant district attorneys, five mainline prosecution clerks, two senior inspectors and one forensic accountant.
District attorney Becton wants to also distribute resources for bail reform, the East County Anti-Violence Coalition, the West County Anti-Violence Coalition, the Safe Streets Task Force and anti-truancy initiatives.
Public Defender Robin Lipetzky plans to hire 8 staff members to her department next fiscal year. She plans to hire two attorneys, one investigator, pretrial attorneys, and clerical staff. A new juvenile office in Walnut Creek will open in the next month, she informed supervisors. Last year the public defender handled 501 juvenile cases. Her department last year also handled 3,545 felony cases.
For 2018-19, Contra Costa Public Works will be busy filling 15 positions, Brian Balbas, Public Works Director said. The department will need the additional staff as Balbas needs more staff to oversee a big increase in capital improvement projects, including the construction of a new $110 million county administration building and emergency communication center.
New West County Health Center Expansion Project Approved
On a consent item, supervisors awarded a $12.45 million design-build contract to C. Overaa & Co. for the design and construction of the West County Health Center Expansion Project at 13585 San Pablo Ave., in San Pablo.
When the project is completed, the new two-story, 20,000 square foot building will house the Behavioral Health Department, which will be relocated from a leased building. The new building will qualify for a LEED Silver rating from the Green Building Council.
Other construction firms competing for the design-build contract were Vila Construction and Boldt Co.
College District – Sheriff-Coroner Contract OK’d
Supervisors also approved the $497,250 contract between the Sheriff-Coroner and Contra Costa Community College District to provide educational course construction at the Law Enforcement Training Center at Los Medanos College for the period July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2019.
Measure AA is expected to generate $25 million annually for San Francisco Bay restoration over the next 20 years. Funding from this voter-approved measure will allow for the restoration of thousands of acres of natural habitat for wildlife, support our local economy, improve access to public lands, address flooding issues, and create thousands of new jobs.
The San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority’s Governing Board seeks six individuals to serve on the Independent Citizens Oversight Committee. The Committee has three main roles:
- Annually review the Authority’s conformance with Measure AA.
- Review the Authority’s audits and expenditure and financial reports.
- Publish an annual report of its findings, which will be posted on the Authority’s website.
The Board seeks committee members from all four Bay Area regions (North Bay, East Bay, South Bay and West Bay) with special subject matter expertise. Each member of the Independent Citizens Oversight Committee must possess expertise in one or more of the following:
- Water quality
- Pollution reduction
- Habitat restoration
- Flood protection
- Improvement of public access to the San Francisco Bay
- Financing of these objectives.
Ineligibility Factors for Membership
No person may serve on the Independent Citizens Oversight Committee who:
- Is an elected official or government employee;
- Has had or could have a financial interest in a decision of the Authority; or
- Is affiliated with an organization associated with a member of the Governing Board.
Apply to serve on the Independent Citizens Oversight Committee by April 18, 2018.
Application Submittal, Materials, and Deadline
Send your application to firstname.lastname@example.org by April 18, 2018. Electronic signatures and scanned signatures will be accepted.
For more information, visit the SF Bay Restoration Authority’s website or contact Karen McDowell, Project Manager, SF Bay Restoration Authority or 415-778-6685.
From Congressman Jerry McNerney
As your representative in Congress, I take very seriously my responsibility to be your voice in Washington. So when you called, emailed and wrote letters by the thousands, expressing your concerns about the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) plan to eliminate net neutrality protections, I took action.
Prior to the FCC’s vote to repeal net neutrality, I submitted a formal request to address the full Commission. I wanted to make the case for maintaining a free and open internet, and to share some of the stories you’ve shared with me – stories of small business owners, veterans, students and so many more who rely on the internet for nearly every aspect of daily life. Unfortunately, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai denied my request.
Thankfully, there was someone on the Commission who wanted to ensure your voice and the voices of Americans across the country were heard. FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, who stood strong and voted against the repeal, submitted a written statement on my behalf and read her own compelling dissent in opposition to the repeal of these crucial protections.
Commissioner Clyburn will be joining me this Sunday, March 4th from 3:00-4:30 PM at the Antioch Community Center for a town hall on net neutrality. We’ll be discussing your concerns and talking about how we move forward in the fight for a free and open internet.
For more information or to RSVP please call (925) 754-0716 or email McNerneyRSVP@mail.house.gov.
I hope to see you there.
Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11) announced he will host his 60th town hall and mobile district office hour since taking office in January of 2015. The town hall will be held at Ygnacio Valley High School in Concord tomorrow, Saturday, March 3rd at 11:00 a.m.
“I am proud to represent this community that is so civically engaged and invite all constituents to attend our 60th town hall to share their thoughts, opinions, and questions.”
Concord 60th Town Hall
Saturday, March 3, 2018
11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Ygnacio Valley High School
Concord, CA 94518
DeSaulnier’s regular and frequent practice of holding town halls was among the reasons his office was recently nominated by the Congressional Management Foundation as a finalist in the first-ever Democracy Awards for outstanding Constituent Service.
To confirm attendance, please by RSVP online at https://desaulnier.house.gov/town-hall-rsvp or call 925-933-2660. To request ADA accommodations, translation services, or for more information please contact one of Congressman DeSaulnier’s offices in either Walnut Creek or Richmond.
As we continue to grieve the loss of 17 innocent lives in Parkland, Florida, Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (D, CA-11) will host a gun violence prevention town hall at Stanley Middle School in Lafayette on Saturday, February 24th.
Gun Violence Prevention Town Hall
Saturday, February 24, 2018
11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Stanley Middle School, Multi-Use Room
Lafayette, CA 94549
To confirm your attendance please RSVP online at https://desaulnier.house.gov/town-hall-rsvp or call 925-933-2660. To request ADA accommodations or for more information, please contact Congressman DeSaulnier’s office.
Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11) will host a town hall at Diablo Valley College this coming Monday, February 12th at 6:30 p.m. in Pleasant Hill.
This town hall is an opportunity to discuss important issues of the day including the federal budget, the new tax law, immigration, the economy, and more. Attendees will be provided with a Congressional update and given the opportunity to ask questions.
Pleasant Hill Town Hall
Monday, February 12, 2018
6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Diablo Valley College, Cafeteria
321 Golf Club Road
Pleasant Hill, CA 94523
Please confirm your attendance, by RSVPing online at https://desaulnier.house.gov/town-hall-rsvp or call 925-933-2660. To request ADA accommodations or for more information please contact one of Congressman DeSaulnier’s offices in either Walnut Creek or Richmond.
What: Pension Reform – Bipartisan Speaker Series
Who: State Senator Steve Glazer and Assemblywoman Catharine Baker
Date: Monday, January 22, 2018
Time: 6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Citizen participation: Q & A after presentations
Where: San Ramon City Hall, Council Chamber, 7000 Bollinger Canyon Road, San Ramon
California’s growing pension liability is threatening California’s economic future, unless elected leaders show the courage to take on needed reforms, according to Sen. Steve Glazer, D-Orinda, and Assemblywoman Catharine Baker, R-Dublin, who will kick off their 2018 Bipartisan Speaker Series on the topic on Monday, January 22.
On hand will be pension expert David Crane, president of Govern for California, whose mission is to support legislators willing to tackle tough fiscal issues. Crane, also a Stanford lecturer in public policy, will speak on the economic stresses that California faces with its growing pension liabilities.
“As pension liabilities continue to soar, California faces a looming fiscal crisis that could cripple California’s ability to offer basic services,” Glazer said. “This is the sleeper issue of our time, and if we don’t act on it, we will be forced to make budgetary decisions that will create extreme hardships on families across the state.”
Baker added: “Our pension system is already crowding out essential government services, and threatening our future financial health. It is our duty to put politics aside, and find a long-term solution while economic times are better. We should not kick the can down the road, and wait until economic times are worse, and the crisis deeper.”
Over the last two years, Sen. Glazer and Assemblywoman Baker have held more than a dozen bipartisan town hall meetings in an effort to break down partisan barriers to arrive at common sense solutions to California’s problems.