April is Earthquake Preparedness Month! Feel like you’re being shaken up a bit? Over the past 6 months, you have been rocking and rolling due to a swarm of over 600 small earthquakes centered in San Ramon and Danville that continue to occur in the region. What are the latest strategies to safeguard yourself and your family in the event of a major earthquake or other disaster? It’s smart to plan ahead.
To help you and your family better prepare for a larger earthquake that could occur as well as plan for other safety challenges, attend the CIG Community Safety Saturday on April 16th. This fun, free family-friendly community safety event, sponsored by Capital Insurance Group, will provide important information about earthquake and disaster preparedness, and offer many more resources, demonstrations and important information to help keep the community safe.
Date: Saturday, April 16, 2016
Time: 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Location: Onstads Insurance Agency, 3130 Crow Canyon Place #250, San Ramon, CA 94583
The event will feature many fun activities and demonstrations focusing on child, teen, family and community safety.
Free games, prizes, food and a wealth of safety information and resources at many different booths staffed by local and regional organizations, including KlaasKids’ Foundation, CHP Child Car Seat Inspections, Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff demonstrations, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), East Bay Parks, California Office of Emergency Services, Boy Scouts, PG&E, FBI, and many more.
For more information, go to cigsafetysaturday.com.Read More
On Thursday, Contra Costa County, the Planning and Conservation League and Food and Water Watch, as well as two other Delta local agencies, Central Delta Water Agency and San Joaquin County announced they will file a lawsuit against the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (Met) over their plan to purchase several islands in the San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary.
On March 14, 2016, Metropolitan Water District had filed a Notice of Exemption under the California Environmental Quality Act for the purchase of the Delta islands, claiming the purchase was for Delta habitat restoration purposes.
However, Met’s General Manager, Jeff Kightlinger, admitted to the press at the time of the island purchase announcement that the islands could facilitate building the $15.7 billion Delta tunnels project championed by Governor Brown by “reducing eminent-domain needs and providing a storage place for construction dirt.”
At a rally in Stockton in support of the lawsuit, Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director, Restore the Delta spoke.
“Based on this improper CEQA filling, we are calling on the Metropolitan Water District Board of Directors to reverse the bad vote that they made at their General Manager’s urging to purchase the Delta islands,” she said. “Clearly, the purchase of the Delta islands is Met’s attempt to anchor the Delta tunnels in our region so that construction could begin, despite the fact that the plan is still not approved or financed.
“The $175 million purchase price for the Delta islands does not count the costs to Southern California ratepayers for the inevitable litigation that begins with today’s filing,” Barrigan-Parrilla continued. “If Met loses in court, they will not be able to ever sell these islands for the same price. That means Southern Californian water users will become owners of a very expensive duck habitat hundreds of miles to the north. Met will also be on the hook for maintenance of hundreds of miles of Delta levees, an ongoing cost that will be paid year after year by Southern California ratepayers.”
“Our 35,000 members from throughout California agree there are better ways for Southern California water agencies to plan for their water future. More than 7500 area residents have already signed letters that will be sent to Metropolitan Water District’s Board of Directors urging them to drop the Delta islands purchase and to instead invest the $175 million in solutions that build sustainability in Southern California like storm water capture and water recycling,” she added. “Met has already spent nearly $100 million on Delta tunnels planning, but the process at the State Water Board has recently ground to a halt, and there is no financial plan between Met and agricultural water districts, like the SEC fined Westlands, as to who will pay what proportion of the $15.5 billion construction costs.”
For more information on Restore the Delta and their efforts to stop the Delta Tunnels, visit www.restorethedelta.org.
State Senator Steve Glazer released the following statement, this week, about the agreement the BART has entered with its labor unions:
“About 60 days ago, 40 state and local elected leaders joined me in sending a letter to the BART Board and their unions calling on them to take steps to restore the public’s trust in the financial management of the BART system.
Specifically, we asked that BART negotiate an extension to its labor contract that would ensure that the trains would keep running without a work stoppage for the next five years and to do so in a financially responsible way.
Given what we know today, this proposed agreement takes a positive step forward in delivering on those requirements. If approved by the unions and the BART Board, we can be confident that there will be continuous train operations for the next five years without debilitating strikes.
The BART unions and management should be commended for doing this.
Strikes are too debilitating for BART riders and commuters. That is why transit strikes are banned in New York, Chicago, Washington DC, Boston and San Francisco.
There is still much more that BART should do to raise the level of confidence in the financial and operational management of the system. And I encourage them to continue the momentum with these confidence-building steps.
- Do not apply these cost of living raises to highly-paid managers. Their pay should be based on merit, not a “Me Too” clause.
- Commit to undertaking a salary study before the expiration of the next contract so that that we can closely examine each position’s compensation with the marketplace.
- Set up a capital depreciation fund so that savings for repair and replacement is funded every year rather than in a balloon payment through new bond proposals.
- Present clear projections of retirement costs and how they will be funded.
- Support legislation banning future BART strikes.
- Explore ways to train replacement managers to operate the system in the case of future work stoppages.
The financial elements of this proposed deal are not what I would have negotiated. BART workers are highly paid and system financial needs are great. However, I respect the collective bargaining process, and even if I disagree with some of the financial terms, I appreciate that compromise is required to bring all parties together.
This proposed contract represents the start of a turnaround for BART. We were going down the tracks, these past few years, in a very negative direction. The actions today have stopped that negative train and we are now heading in a positive direction. Let’s keep that momentum going with the confidence building steps that I have outlined.”
Glazer represents most of Contra Costa County in the California State Senate.Read More
The Lafayette Police Department is investigating a suspicious death that occurred in Lafayette.
On Wednesday at about 7:32 PM, officers were dispatched to the 800 block of Rosedale Avenue for a welfare check from someone who a relative had not been able to contact in days. Officers accessed the residence and found a deceased 66-year-old woman. The victim is not being identified at this time.
The investigation into this death is ongoing.
Anyone with any information on this case is asked to contact the Lafayette Police Department at (925) 283-3680. For any tips, please email: 94549Tip@so.cccounty.us or call 866-846-3592 to leave an anonymous voice message.
From the Contra Costa County Sheriff-Official Page on Facebook, posted Wednesday, April 13 at about 9: p.m. – At about 2:31 PM today, Deputy Sheriffs were dispatched to numerous reports of a shooting on the 800 block of Sandy Cove Drive in Rodeo.
Upon arrival Deputies found a female seated in the driver’s seat of a car suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. A man was located on the street next to the car. He was suffering from a gunshot wound. Deputies located a handgun at the scene.
Both subjects, who were in a dating relationship, were deceased. They are not being identified.
The investigation is ongoing. Detectives believe this to be a murder suicide.
Anyone with any information on this case is asked to contact the Investigation Division at 925-313-2600. For any tips, please email: email@example.com or call 866-846-3592 to leave an anonymous voice message.
$50K program made possible by Tom Steyer
In a bid to buck the conventional wisdom that says millennials don’t vote, the Contra Costa County Young Democrats (CCYD) today launched one of the largest youth voter engagement project of its kind in California.
“Many people in politics assume that young people don’t vote,” said Jonathan Bash, President of the Contra Costa County Young Democrats. “That assumption is dead wrong. The truth is that those running most campaigns elect not to reach out to people under the age of forty out of sheer habit. This June, we’re going to change that.”
In partnership with the Democratic Party of Contra Costa County and the Contra Costa County Democratic Clubs Council, CCYD will lead the charge to turn out the youth vote in Contra Costa County with a major voter engagement campaign. The campaign is made possible by a $50,000 contribution from NextGen Climate President and Founder Tom Steyer, as part of his ongoing efforts to strengthen grassroots democracy and boost voter turnout in California this election cycle.
In the first phase of the project, CCYD will recruit three fellows from Diablo Valley College, Saint Mary’s College of California, and Los Medanos College, establish ten incentive grants for star volunteers, host on-campus events, and coordinate volunteers throughout the county to register voters — and convince voters to become Permanent Absentee Voters (PAV) – at public gatherings like farmers’ markets, concerts and community festivals
In the second phase, CCYD will turn out these newly registered voters and reach out to currently registered voters between the ages of 18-39. Each of the voters will receive a number of contacts encouraging them to vote in the June 7, 2016 statewide primary election. Additionally, the three fellows, volunteers, project partners and additional canvassers will execute a Get Out The Vote (GOTV) campaign knocking on young voters’ front doors to convince them to vote.
In the third phase, CCYD will conduct a precinct-by-precinct analysis of its efforts to identify best practices and adapt them for the November 8, 2016 general election.
More information about the Contra Costa Young Democrats – and details for interested fellows and volunteers — is available at www.cocoyoungdems.org. Learn more about NextGen Climate at www.nextgenclimate.org.
The Contra Costa Young Democrats (CCYD) is a nonprofit organization chartered to educate young people about the political process and advocate for progressive policies. CCYD engages Contra Costa County’s many communities and empowers young people to take active roles in public life.
NextGen Climate Action is a San Francisco-based environmental advocacy organization. Founded by businessperson and philanthropist Tom Steyer in 2013, NextGen acts politically to prevent climate disaster and promote prosperity for all Americans. Working at every level, we are committed to supporting candidates, elected officials, and policymakers across the country that will take bold action on climate change.Read More
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced that 758 elementary schools in California have been selected as 2016 California Gold Ribbon Schools, an awards program which is temporarily taking the place of the California Distinguished Schools Program. The program recognizes some of the state’s most exemplary public schools. Contra Costa County is home to 37 of the elementary schools selected, most of any county in northern California. The Gold Ribbon Schools in Contra Costa County are:
- Discovery Bay Elementary, Byron Union School District
- John Muir Elementary, Martinez Unified School District
- John Swett Elementary, Martinez Unified School District
- Las Juntas Elementary, Martinez Unified School District
- Del Rey Elementary, Orinda Union School District
- Wagner Ranch Elementary, Orinda Union School District
- Alamo Elementary, San Ramon Valley Unified School District
- Bollinger Canyon Elementary, San Ramon Valley Unified School District
- Country Club Elementary, San Ramon Valley Unified School District
- Creekside Elementary, San Ramon Valley Unified School District
- Golden View Elementary, San Ramon Valley Unified School District
- Green Valley Elementary, San Ramon Valley Unified School District
- Greenbrook Elementary, San Ramon Valley Unified School District
- Hidden Hills Elementary, San Ramon Valley Unified School District
- John Baldwin Elementary, San Ramon Valley Unified School District
- Live Oak Elementary, San Ramon Valley Unified School District
- Montevideo Elementary, San Ramon Valley Unified School District
- Neil Armstrong Elementary, San Ramon Valley Unified School District
- Quail Run Elementary, San Ramon Valley Unified School District
- Rancho Romero Elementary, San Ramon Valley Unified School District
- Sycamore Valley Elementary, San Ramon Valley Unified School District
- Tassajara Hills Elementary, San Ramon Valley Unified School District
- Twin Creeks Elementary, San Ramon Valley Unified School District
- Vista Grande Elementary, San Ramon Valley Unified School District
- Coronado Elementary, West Contra Costa Unified School District
- Fairmont Elementary, West Contra Costa Unified School District
- Hanna Ranch Elementary, West Contra Costa Unified School District
- Harding Elementary, West Contra Costa Unified School District
- Kensington Elementary, West Contra Costa Unified School District
- Madera Elementary, West Contra Costa Unified School District
- Montalvin Manor Elementary, West Contra Costa Unified School District
- Olinda Elementary, West Contra Costa Unified School District
- Peres Elementary, West Contra Costa Unified School District
- Riverside Elementary, West Contra Costa Unified School District
- Sheldon Elementary, West Contra Costa Unified School District
- Valley View Elementary, West Contra Costa Unified School District
- Washington Elementary, West Contra Costa Unified School District
“The elementary schools in our county being recognized as Gold Ribbon Schools have some truly amazing programs that can serve as models for other schools around the state and country,” said Karen Sakata, County Superintendent of Schools. “The Contra Costa County Office of Education continues to coordinate verification visits to all schools that qualified for the award, and our site visit teams were very impressed with the programs they observed at each of these schools.”
Schools applied for the award based on a model program their school has adopted that includes standards-based activities, projects, strategies, and practices that can be replicated by other local educational agencies. The award is recognizing elementary schools this year and middle and high schools in 2017.
“These schools shine as bright beacons for others, putting forth an exemplary effort to ensure that every student is ready for 21st century college and careers,” Torlakson said of the 758 schools. “California teachers are developing an education model for the nation, training the students of today to be the problem-solvers, inventors, and pioneers of tomorrow.”
The Gold Ribbon Schools will be recognized later this month during regional ceremonies held in Santa Clara, Anaheim, Los Angeles, Visalia, and Sacramento.
For more information, please go to the California Gold Ribbon Schools Program Web page.
East County Shared Ministry, along with many other individuals and organizations across the country, will join the annual CROP Walk on Sunday, April 17. The walk will begin at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church, 2507 San Jose Drive, Antioch. Registration is at 2:30 p.m., and the walk begins at 3 p.m.
The CROP Hunger Walk annually raises thousands of dollars to help stop hunger and poverty here in East Contra Costa County and around the world through self-help initiatives. Up to 25 percent the funds raised here will go to local groups: The Antioch Food Pantry and Pittsburg’s Loaves and Fishes. The remainder is donated around the world to provide food and water, as well as resources to empower people to meet their needs.
From seeds and tools to wells and water systems, the key is people working together to identify their own development priorities, their strengths and their needs – something Church World Service has learned through 70 years of working in partnership around the world.
This year, Antioch and Pittsburg join well over 2,000 communities nationwide in over 1,300 CROP Hunger Walks. More than five million people in the last two decades alone have participated the CROP’s goal of “ending hunger one step at a time.”
East County Shared Ministry’s efforts are being coordinated by Judie Moore, a member and local advocate for feeding the hungry. Her advice is “Get sponsors to sign up for this great cause and get some exercise to boot!”
Church World Service is the parent organizer of the CROP Walks, which has been raising money to help stop hunger for decades, both locally and internationally. CROP actually began in 1947 and was an acronym for the Christian Rural Overseas Program. The name remains to acknowledge the efforts of the long-time commitment to feeding the hungry world.
To register for the walk or to make a donation online, please visit https://www.crophungerwalk.org/pittsburgca/.Read More
On Monday morning, BART and its major unions announced that a tentative agreement had been reached on a new four-year contract, a deal that helps put the brinkmanship of the 2013 strike behind us and five strike-free years ahead of us.
That is a welcome development, but a stoppage is still a threat. BART is plagued by $9.6 billion in deferred maintenance and a shutdown caused by equipment problems would be no better for riders than a strike.
The degraded condition of the BART system did not develop overnight and it is fair to question past decisions made by the Board and management. Ultimately, the Board is accountable for the system’s performance.
The East Bay must invest in this vital public service and demand accountability from an organization that our region needs to be at its best.
While the East Bay may not be pushed to the brink by a BART labor dispute for the next five years, its infrastructure is still at the brink of breakdown.
The EBLC has not endorsed the possible BART bond measure and will not take a formal position until the measure is approved by the Board, but we do believe it is time to face our reality and make wise infrastructure investments.
ABOUT THE EAST BAY LEADERSHIP COUNCIL
The East Bay Leadership Council (EBLC) is a private-sector, public-policy organization that advocates on issues affecting economic vitality and quality of life and represents leaders of business, industry, education, government, and the nonprofit community. For more information visit www.eastbayleadershipcouncil.com.Read More
There’s an old expression about politics that goes like this “All politics are based on the indifference of the majority.” (James Reston). Let me reword it this way – all politics are local and politicians count on the ignorance of voters.” Do your own research and remember that when candidates are endorsed and elected by unions or a particular political party, they are no longer “independent” legislators. Newspaper endorsements can also be biased. Be sure you know the rules. June 7th is a primary race. The top 2 vote getters will move onto the November 8th general election.
Speaking of endorsements, let’s look at the candidates for District 3, an open seat due to Mary Piepho‘s decision to retire and District 5, where Federal Glover is again running for re-election.
DISTRICT 3 – Includes most of Antioch, all of south side of Highway 4
STEVE BARR – Current Brentwood City Council member (term expires November 2018) Endorsed as best pick for Supervisor by the Contra Costa Times. Here are a few facts you may not know: Barr switched parties from Democrat to Republican in 2015 in time to run for the seat held by Mary Piepho, who is a Republican. He is one of two Brentwood councilmen who replaced non-elected directors on the East Contra Costa Fire District Board. The Board which gave its firefighter a 5% across the board raise, hasn’t solved the lack of fire services in Brentwood, Oakley, Discovery Bay, Bethel Island, Byron and Knightsen. They tried to pass two taxes but failed both times. My biggest beef with him is, although he was opposed to a project labor agreement the City used on its new city hall, he was seated on the council when they unanimously agreed to move forward with creating a project labor agreement to build the Brentwood library. Should we call him a “flip flopper”?
DIANE BURGIS: Executive Director of Friends of Marsh Creek Watershed, sits on the Regional Planning Committee for ABAG. Prior to being elected to the EBRPD Board in November 2014, she sat on the Oakley City Council, being elected just two years before in 2012. Burgis also served on the Delta Protection Commission, executive Board for the East Bay League of Cities and Transportation, Communications and Public Works Policy Committee for the League of California Cities representing the Woman’s Caucus. She currently serves as Ward 7 Director of East Bay Regional Park District and has incumbent Mary Piepho’s backing.
DOUG HARDCASTLE – Owner of Hardcastle RV Center in Oakley, for more than 40 years. Served as Director on the Ironhouse Sanitary District Board from 2000 to 2012 and President of Board from 2010-2011. Elected to the Oakley City Council in 2012 and just completed a year as Mayor. Endorsed by current Mayor Kevin Romick and Bill Baker, former US Representative for California’s 10th Congressional District. Small business owners are the backbone of the U.S. economy. Hardcastle is especially concerned about economic development, local jobs, public safety, improved roads and transportation and protecting the Delta and open space.
WADE HARPER – Flip flopper. In 2008 when getting appointed to the Antioch School Board he committed to running for re-election in 2010, instead he ran for City Council and then for the Mayor’s seat. In an accelerated swearing in ceremony in December 2012, held in order to allow the new mayor and council members to reverse the previously signed contract with APOA, which changed the 3% at 50 pension calculation to a 3% at 55 formula. This was done in order to avoid having to adhere to a new voter approved law which would take effect on January 1, 2012 reducing the pension formula for new police hires from 2% at 50 to 2.7% at age 55 and freezing benefit formulas for lateral hires.
After committing to being a full-time Mayor if elected, he got a job teaching for the Antioch school district. In June 2014 he implied commitment to allow a citizens group to move forward on plans for a park and event center on the former lumber yard site, then voted to sell it to a developer. In October 2015 he made a commitment to Senator Steve Glazer to not run for higher office when hired as a field rep. Two months later, he quit the job to run for Supervisor. He is endorsed by The Antioch Education Association, the professional organization and bargaining unit for all the teachers of Antioch Unified School District, Council woman Mary Rocha, and Councilman Tony Tiscareno.
ODESSA LEFRANCOIS – Retired Navy veteran, 12th year county health services employee and civil rights activist. Says her priorities are better health care delivery, especially to vets, better regional transportation infrastructure, unfair labor practices and community issues concerning seniors. She is 2nd Vice President of Local Union 1 and President of the NAACP East County Branch.
MONICA WILSON – Elected to the Antioch City Council in 2012. Her press release states her successes include helping grow local businesses and making public safety a top priority, securing local measures to hire and support more police officers. Frankly, she’s overstating her qualifications and accomplishments. Residents are now paying for two tax measures and experiencing a continuing understaffed police, code enforcement and animal control department. She has been endorsed by SEIU (Service Employees International Union and the Democrat leadership machine in the county.
DISTRICT 5 – Includes most of the portion of Antioch north of Highway 4
ANAMARIE AVILA FARIAS – current Martinez City Councilmember, elected in 2012, and current Board Member for the Juvenile Hall Auxiliary of Contra Costa County. Was a member of the Martinez Planning Commission for 8 years and served on the Parks and Recreation and Marina Commission. Employed for nearly 10 years with the San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Housing & Community development and in 2015 was appointed by Governor Jerry Brown Jr. to serve as a Board Director for the California Housing Finance Agency. She is currently a Board Member for the Latino Caucus and has numerous union endorsements.
CONRAD DANDRIDGE – Former member of the Pacheco Municipal Advisory Council, This is 2nd time Dandridge, ran for the Board. In 2006 he ran for a District 4 seat in unincorporated Martinez. Sue Bonilla won that race. Dandridge is a program analyst for the Transportation Security Administration in Oakland. Claims to know District 5 well due to having worked s a Census Bureau field operations supervisor all over Contra Costa. Doesn’t believe Glover is an effective advocate for District 5, especially the unincorporated areas.
FEDERAL GLOVER – Former Pittsburg City Council Member, Served as Mayor from 1998 to 1999 and has been on the Board of Supervisors since 2000. He’s now running for his fifth term in office (no term limits in local government but there should be). His campaign manager is Mary Jo Rossi, whose name has come up in regard to backroom deals concerning the Navy land plan. Glover is another “flip flopper”. In the past he promised voters he’d “hold the line” on growth. However, campaign finance reports show he received at least $38,000+ from groups often seen to be in opposition to environmental concerns i.e. $$20,000 from Chevron and Tosco, $56,000+ from developers (the largest $15,000 from Homebuilders Assoc, $6,830 from Alves/Paramount, $5,000 from PROPAC and from Seeno $3,175. He’s voted for over 6,700 homes – 1,500 in Alamo Creek, 200 in Discovery Bay, Oakley – sphere of influence addition for homes (2,000 acres) in addition to over 5,000 homes he approved in Pittsburg. He also told residents (Contra Costa Times 1/14/2000 ) “It’s time to stand up and own up to the fact that our ability to bring BART further east is not going to happen.” Voted to give himself a 60% raise in 2006 then another 33% in 2014. But, after county staff and residents gathered enough signatures to force a referendum in 2015, Glover voted to reverse his vote on the 33% raise. Instead, he voted for a 14% pay raise, last year although the county employees only received a 4% raise. He’s endorsed by the Democratic Party of Contra Costa.
MIKE MENESINI – Former Martinez Mayor for 18 years and Councilman for eight years. He works in San Francisco as an Assistant District Attorney. Unsuccessfully ran for County Supervisor in 1992, Superior Court judge in 1994 and Contra Costa District Attorney in 2002. Left the city with a $30 million shortfall in pension and retiree health plans and only 64 percent of the funds they should have. Also allowed for pension spiking by the city’s police force and expensive, lifetime retiree health insurance benefits from their first day on the job, for themselves, spouses and children up to age 26.
DAN ROMERO – Mayor of Hercules. Joined the Hercules City Council in 2011 following the recall of previous members. Reelected in 2012. Had to deal with the $38 million mess from redevelopment spending by previous councils. Weathered controversy and attacks by fellow council member over who should be Mayor. Supported 2004 Franklin Canyon Measure M, which down zoned the area to one home for every 40 acres. Side note for Antioch residents – Romero voted to hire Steve Duran, as City Manager, who later left to become Antioch’s City Manager. He is a business owner with an insurance agency in Pinole.Read More