On Monday, Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11) issued the following statement on the agreement between Bart and the transit unions:
“I am grateful a tentative agreement has been reached between Bart and the transit unions. If approved, there will be no interruptions in services for Bay Area commuters. I look forward to reviewing full details of the 5-year deal with an eye towards the long-term financial stability and sustainability of Bart. On the federal level, I will continue to advocate for meaningful performance standards for transit agencies to ensure the public is getting its value.”
Orinda City Councilmember Amy Rein Worth, who serves on the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) as the representative of the cities of Contra Costa County, on Monday issued this statement following the announcement of a tentative agreement between BART management and labor leaders:
“This morning BART announced a tentative agreement with its labor unions to extend BART labor contracts until 2021.I am pleased to support this financially prudent agreement that provides security to BART workers and service reliability to the BART riding public.
BART is a critical part of the East Bay economy and is relied upon by hundreds of thousands of East Bay commuters.I am hopeful that this agreement portends a future without service disruptions not just for the next five years, but sets a tone for the future beyond as well.
The critical role of BART service goes far beyond those who depend on it for a ride each day, as we have learned; the East Bay highway and transit network is not able to replace BART during a strike or a service disruption, which is why this agreement is so important.
BART, its workers and the public now can focus on the important shared task of rebuilding the system as its major priority.
I am grateful to state Senator Steve Glazer and the other local elected leaders in the East Bay who urged both BART’s management and labor to keep faith with the riding public by negotiating a new labor contract that recognizes the fiscal needs of the system and ensures that trains will keep running on schedule throughout the system.”
However, State Senator Steve Glazer, a critic of BART spending and strikes by BART employees issued the following statement on the tentative agreement:
“I have just been given an outline of the proposed 2017-21 labor agreement. I look forward to reviewing the details of the agreement and its implications to commuters and taxpayers,” he stated. “I will be consulting today with the 40 elected officials who co-signed my letter urging that BART rebuild its public trust with concrete, fiscally responsible actions before the November elections when BART is expected to ask voters for a multi-billion dollar bond.”Read More
According to an email on Tuesday, April 12, 2016, from Contra Costa County Supervisor Candace Andersen, the City of Dublin will be closing Tassajara Road/Camino Tassajara Road near the Alameda County/Contra Costa County line from May through December. The extended closure is necessary in order to replace a failing culvert which runs under Tassajara Road. The replacement of this aging culvert will provide greater safety for motorists and will reduce the likelihood of emergency road closures in the future.
All regulatory permits have been secured for the replacement of Moller Creek Culvert on Tassajara Road. Signage will soon be posted to notify drivers that the road closure will begin on May 2, 2016.
This project will require a portion of Tassajara Road/Camino Tassajara to be closed between the May 2, 2016, start date and December 2016. The closure will block access along Tassajara Road, north of Fallon Road. Drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians will be unable to use Tassajara Road/Camino Tassajara to travel between Dublin and the San Ramon/Danville area for the duration of the work and will need to take alternate routes. Alternative routes include both Windemere Parkway and Bollinger Canyon Road. While through traffic will not be permitted, local residents will be allowed to access their properties from the north.
Emergency responders and service providers have been notified and will be prepared to provide services during the road closure.
Frequently Asked Questions, a map of the closure area with alternate routes, and updates on the project can be found by clicking here.
Please contact the City of Dublin Public Works at (925) 833-6630 with any questions you may have about this project.
After serving eleven years as the Contra Costa Community College District (District) Chancellor, Dr. Helen Benjamin has announced her retirement, effective December 31, 2016.
A native of Alexandria, Louisiana, Benjamin joined the District in 1990 as Dean of Los Medanos College’s Language Arts and Humanistic Studies and Related Occupations. In her 25 years with the District, she progressed to higher level positions that included District Vice Chancellor, Educational Programs and Services, interim President of Los Medanos College and President of Contra Costa College before becoming chancellor in 2005.
“What an incredible ride this has been for me,” Benjamin said. “I could not have worked in a better place. I have been allowed to grow, develop and contribute alongside my peers as we have transformed the lives of thousands students. For that, I am grateful.”
Board members said Benjamin has left her mark on many aspects of the District’s three main campuses: Diablo Valley College, Los Medanos College and Contra Costa College. In her tenure, Benjamin managed a variety of District crises, including the 2006-07 cash-for-grades, as well as recurring dips in state funding.
During her chancellorship, the District has also benefitted from $736 million in voter-approved bond measures in 2006 and 2014. That money has paid for major improvements at the Los Medanos and Diablo Valley campuses, and similar work at Contra Costa College has started.
Among her many accomplishments, Benjamin remained committed to student success.
“She has always been a leader who wanted to make sure our success and accomplishments were done as a team,” said District Board President Vicki Gordon.
There’s been a common thread to her work, said Board Secretary Tim Farley.
“The number one concern for Helen is always, ‘How is this going to impact students?’ ” he stated.
According to the District’s website “Dr. Benjamin is passionate about maintaining an active role in a wide variety of professional and community organizations. At the local level, she is a board member of the Kennedy-King Scholarship Memorial College Scholarship Fund, a county-wide effort to provide District students financial support to continue their educational goals at a four-year or graduate institution. At the state level, Dr. Benjamin serves as the immediate Past Chair of the California Community College League Board of Directors. At the national level, she is a member of the Presidents’ Round Table, an affiliate organization of the National Council on Black American Affairs, and is a member of President Obama’s Commission on the Future. In addition, Chancellor Benjamin serves on the board of Excelsior College, located in Albany, New York.”
The Board will begin the search for a new chancellor at their meeting on Wednesday, April 20.
For more information visit www.4cd.edu.Read More
Prior to the DVC presidency, Garcia served for eight years as the president of Los Medanos College (LMC). He has also served as Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs, Dean of Economic Development, Dean of Humanistic Studies, faculty researcher, philosophy instructor, and offensive line coach during his lengthy career with the District.
“Peter has made a lasting impact on thousands of students and many employees as well as the communities served by the District during his tenure,” said Chancellor Helen Benjamin. “He will surely be missed and fondly remembered as a leader who cared deeply about our students.”
Garcia expressed his appreciation for his colleagues and experiences at both colleges.
“I’m incredibly grateful for opportunities and people that both DVC and LMC brought to my life over these many years,” he shared.
The Contra Costa Community College District (CCCCD) is one of the largest multi-college community college districts in California. The CCCCD serves a population of 1,019,640 people, and its boundaries encompass all but 48 of the 734-square-mile land area of Contra Costa County. The District is home to Contra Costa College in San Pablo, Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, Los Medanos College in Pittsburg, as well as educational centers in Brentwood and San Ramon. For more information on the District, visit www.4cd.edu.Read More
Search efforts to begin
By Allen Payton
On March 9, the Contra Costa Community College District (District) Governing Board voted to hire Mojdeh Mehdizadeh for the position of President of Contra Costa College (CCC) in San Pablo. The vote was a unanimous 4-0 of those board members in attendance. Trustee John Nejedly was absent. The same night they accepted the retirement letter from Diablo Valley College (DVC) President Peter Garcia.
Garcia’s retirement is effective this June 30th.
Then, on April 5, the Board accepted the retirement letter of Chancellor Helen Benjamin, effective the end of the calendar year on December 31st.
In addition, the Board appointed Dr. Andrew C. Jones as the District’s Interim Executive Vice Chancellor, Education and Technology, to replace Mehdizadeh. He was appointed for a one year term beginning July 2015.
At a special meeting scheduled for Wednesday, April 20 the Board will interview search firm consultant applicants.
Contra Costa College New President
As college president, Mehdizadeh will receive a base annual salary of $247,968 with annual raises based on performance, from zero to five percent, plus benefits including car allowance, according to her contract.
According to a news release from the District, Mehdizadeh began her tenure as Interim President at Contra Costa College in January 2015. Her former role was Executive Vice Chancellor of Education and Technology at the Contra Costa Community College District. With more than 25 years of experience in higher education, she began her career at Diablo Valley College in the area of student services and later institutional research. Ms. Mehdizadeh’s responsibilities included support of the colleges’ educational programs, student services, workforce and economic development, information technology, international education, research and planning, and grants.
She has also served as adjunct faculty in Speech Communications and is actively engaged in state and national associations.
Ms. Mehdizadeh holds an M.A. in Organizational and Intercultural Communications from Cal State University East Bay and a B.S. in Computer Information Systems from San Francisco State University. Mojdeh completed her undergraduate general education requirements at Diablo Valley College and is proud of her roots in the community college system.
To watch the video of Mehdizadeh during the selection process, click here.
Stories about Garcia’s and Dr. Benjamin’s retirements to follow.
The Contra Costa Community College District (District) has chosen Edward Carney as the new District Director of Police, Safety and Emergency Services.
Carney, who spent 25 years with the Cherry Hill Police Department in New Jersey, is a strong advocate of education and officer training. With more than 30 years of police training under his belt, Carney also has experience as an educator, teaching online and at the community college level on topics such as Community Policing, Terrorism and Administration of Justice.
“We are fortunate to have such an experienced law enforcement leader join the District,” said Chancellor Helen Benjamin. “His extensive background in police training, education and public safety is a wonderful combination of skills and experience that will ensure our campuses remain safe environments for our students, staff and surrounding communities.”
For the past decade, Carney worked as Executive Director of Public Safety and Facilities with Camden County College in New Jersey where he developed a Public Safety department that became a model for operations and customer service industries in the region.
“I have the unique background of being law enforcement but then having a substantial number of years in community college work that really focuses on community policing,” shared Carney. “Now, I can focus on the community and relationship sides of policing. It’s about outreach, it’s about listening, it’s about trust and visibility.”
The Contra Costa Community College District (CCCCD) is one of the largest multi-college community college districts in California. The CCCCD serves a population of 1,019,640 people, and its boundaries encompass all but 48 of the 734-square-mile land area of Contra Costa County. The District is home to Contra Costa College in San Pablo, Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, Los Medanos College in Pittsburg, as well as educational centers in Brentwood and San Ramon. The District headquarters is located in downtown Martinez.Read More
Brentwood gets higher percentage of property tax than other cities, some should go to fire district
By Hal Bray
In 1978 Proposition 13 became the law. The legislature was given the task of reallocating property taxes according to its guidelines. As usual they made a mess of it.
Oh, the original allocation may have been alright, but the state legislature put nothing in the legislation to reallocate taxes over timebased on population shifts, growth or some other equitable measure.So those entities receiving less were, and have stayed, underfunded since 1978. Hence, our issue today for the East Contra Costa Fire Protection District.
In 1978 fire fighting in East County was made up of voluntary fire districts; therefore firefighting and emergency medical services in the area received only 7.5% of our 1% ad valorem property tax. Other, established fire districts within the countyreceived, on average 12%, some much more. If East County would have received the county average or San Ramon’s allocation of 21% or even ConFire’s 14%, or if periodic adjustments had been made, the district’s budget today would be approximately double what it is today and we would not be having this severe crisis.
Where does the funding that ECCFPD did not get in 1978 go? It went to the City of Brentwood, the County, the school districts and special districts within the ECCFPD boundaries. It is time to right this historical wrong, redirecting some of our current property taxes from these entities to ECCFPD to provide for the services necessary to save lives and protect property.
We, East County Voters for Equal Protection (ECV) , want the other public entities within the ECCFPD boundaries to adjust their allocations by approximately 5% (which in many cases is only about 1-2% of their total revenue)to provide adequate funding for the ECCFPD. This would not cut any of their current programs, but would reduce their growth rate. They can keep the bonus allocations they have received since 1978, but going forward the funding is desperately needed to protect the lives and homes, schools and infrastructure of East County.
This reallocation would provide the $7.8 million that ECCFPD needs to open and operate three more stations bringing the total number of stations to six. We, ECV, would then support a tax measure on the ballot to fund beyond six stations, if necessary; but government must do their part first.
What must the community do to get the funding for ECCFPD?
The process to reallocate property taxes is clear; we know the process and the law. It is difficult, at best, and requires the co-operation of local elected officials and the concurrence by the areas residents. We recommend starting today and, in the short term, achieve this funding with a local MOU or Joint powers Agreement (JPA).
However, since our elected and appointed officials in East County are reluctant to solve this crisis, we, the residents of East County, must create the political will for these officialsto look beyond their own parochial interests and think of the common good.
This issue is, fundamentally, about fair and equitable solutions. Fire Services are funded by property taxes. Local government and school districts are among the largest land owners in East County. They are also large consumers of fire district services. However, they pay no property taxes and, therefore, do not pay their share of the costs of the services. We believe it is their responsibility to step up and share the cost of correcting this injustice.
Assemblyman Jim Frazier and State Senator Steve Glazer have said publically that they will carry any necessary legislation to Sacramento to complete the transaction, once a local agreement is reached.
Our local elected and appointed officials hold the keys to unlock the solution to our crises.Most will tell you the process is long and difficult, but will not tell you that they are the obstacle. This issue is one, long, self-fulfilling prophecy that starts with them.
This is why we have begun meeting with local elected and appointed officials and community groups. We must build the political will, break the cycle of self-interest,in our officials or, in this an election year, vote out of office any official who will not support this effort.
We need you, the community residents of East County to contact your city council, school board, irrigation and/or water district and other special districts to make this happen.
Hal Bray is a Brentwood resident and is co-chair of East County Voters for Equal Protection, a non-partisan citizen’s action committee, whose goal is to improve funding for the ECCFPD. For more information, email email@example.com or like the group on Facebook at www.facebook.com/EastCountyVoters.Read More
There are currently, approximately 8,401 teachers educating more than 174,800 students in Contra Costa County’s public schools. To recognize their efforts and bring much-deserved honor to the teaching profession, the participating school districts in the county recently named their Teachers of the Year (TOY) representatives. (See list below.) The upcoming school year’s 21 TOYs represent 16 Contra Costa County school districts, the Contra Costa Community College District, and the Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE). Most of these representatives, those who teach grades K thru 12, are eligible to compete in the Contra Costa County TOY competition. The two top teachers in the county TOY program will represent Contra Costa County in the California State TOY Program this coming fall.
“We are immensely proud of these amazing educators,” said Karen Sakata, Contra Costa County Superintendent of Schools. “They were thoughtfully chosen to represent their schools and districts, and truly represent what is best about public education.”
The county’s TOY program is directed by the CCCOE. With such a high caliber of teaching professionals to draw from, the CCCOE’s TOY program uses a three-stage selection process, with a point and percentage system to determine the final candidates as follows:
I Application Screening:
On April 8, a committee of 15 judges, representing the county’s education, business, and public-sector partners will carefully review the applications submitted by the school districts. This committee independently rates each application. After the application screening and scoring are completed, four teachers will be selected to advance to the next two phases as finalists.
II Classroom Observation and Interview:
In April and May, a small committee of education specialists and business partners observe the four finalists interacting with their students. Immediately following, the committee interviews the candidates discussing topics such as their teaching philosophy and techniques.
III Speech Presentation:
On August 15, the four TOY finalists will each give a three- to five-minute speech to another panel of a dozen educators, business, and public-sector representatives who will judge the finalists on their speech and presentation skills.
On the evening of September 22, 2016, all 21 TOYs, accompanied by their families, friends, and co-workers (an audience of close to 400) will be honored at the annual Contra Costa County Teacher of the Year Dinner Celebration, held at the Hilton Concord. Ms. Sakata, who serves as master of ceremonies, introduces the TOYs by sharing a special story that reflects her classroom visits of each teacher during the current spring and summer months. This will be followed by the four finalists giving their three- to five-minute speeches (same speeches given in August) to the filled banquet room. Finally, the night will come to a dramatic close with the announcement of the two 2016-2017 Contra Costa County Teachers of the Year.
2016-2017 Contra Costa County Teacher of the Year Representatives:
Jamie Cackler Bennetts, Knightsen Elementary School District, Knightsen Elementary
Cynthia Boyko, Acalanes Union High School District, Miramonte High
Rachael Byron, San Ramon Valley Unified School District, Dougherty Valley High
Krystal Figaroa, Pittsburg Unified School District, Stoneman Elementary
Erin Flanigan, Martinez Unified School District, Alhambra High
Daniel Yoshio Haley, Mt. Diablo Unified School District, El Dorado Middle
Shauna Hawes, Mt. Diablo Unified School District, Valley View Middle
Judy Jernigan, Lafayette School District, Lafayette SD Schools
Kristyn Loy, West Contra Costa Unified School District, Stewart Elementary
Judy Mazur, Walnut Creek School District, Buena Vista Elementary
Vicki McGuire, Antioch Unified School District, Sutter Elementary
Aminta Mickles, Contra Costa Community College District, Contra Costa College
Gina Minder-Maldonado, Oakley Union Elementary School District, Oakley Elementary
Dayle Okamitsu, Orinda Union School District, Wagner Ranch Elementary
Lawrence Pang, West Contra Costa Unified School District, El Cerrito High
Deborah Guillén Rocchild, John Swett Unified School District, John Swett High
Summer Rodriguez, Liberty Union High School District, Liberty High
Joyce Rooks, San Ramon Valley Unified School District, Creekside Elementary
Juliet Simens, Brentwood Union School District, Pioneer Elementary
Angela Taylor, Contra Costa County Office of Education, Parole Education Program Oakland Computerized Literacy Learning Center
Sarah Vieira, Byron Union School District, Timber Point Elementary
Note regarding eligible participants:
- Sixteen of the eighteen Contra Costa County school districts represented, and the CCCOE are participating in this year’s TOY program.
- Each year, one instructor from Contra Costa Community College District is submitted to the TOY program for his/her outstanding body of work with their designated college. The colleges rotate each year between Diablo Valley, Los Medanos, and Contra Costa. (These instructors do not compete in the State Teacher of the Year competition.) This year is Contra Costa College’s turn.
- Due to the larger number of students and teachers in their districts, West Contra Costa USD, Mt. Diablo USD, and San Ramon Valley USD are allowed to submit two TOY candidates.
Follow Contra Costa County’s Teacher of the Year program on Twitter: #CoCoTOYRead More
Contra Costa County Airports Welcomes JetSuiteX
Travelling from Contra Costa County to Southern California is just about to get much more convenient with the April launch of a new scheduled charter jet service out of Buchanan Field.
JetSuiteX, a new venture from private jet company JetSuite, will initially kick off service from Buchanan Field to Burbank round-trip up to three times daily later this month. A Friday flight to Las Vegas with a Sunday return will come later in April, offering a time-saving gateway for east bay residents looking for a quick weekend trip; additional routes may follow later this year.
“Contra Costa is delighted to welcome JetSuiteX to the Buchanan Field Airport, and provide our residents and businesses with a local travel option to Southern California and other desirable destinations,” said County Supervisor Karen Mitchoff, whose district includes the airport. “Buchanan Field is an important County asset, and the new JetSuiteX scheduled charter service will offer more opportunities and services to the general public.”
Additional benefits come from the pure convenience of travel in and out of Buchanan Field. Not only are long TSA lines and crowded terminals avoided, but travelers can enjoy free parking and easy access off Highway 680 in Concord. For area residents, the flights between Burbank and Buchanan Field represent a fraction of the 300 daily flights now. Neighboring communities won’t have to worry about JetSuiteX overburdening the area with significantly more air traffic, and the fleet is among the quietest.
“We’re very excited about what this will provide to the community,” said Ron Reagan, Chairman of the Contra Costa County Aviation Advisory Committee that recommended approval of the new service. “It will allow Contra Costa residents to travel by air directly to their destinations throughout California.”
The County looks forward to partnering with JetSuiteX to provide a unique high-quality experience in a more convenient and cost-effective manner. Prices will be comparable to commercial flights, but you can make a single seat purchase on a modern, 30-seat private jet, making luxury travel more affordable to more people. For more information about the new service, visit www.JetSuite.com.
Buchanan Field is one of two airports operated by the County, the other being in Byron. The Airports Division is self-funded, and actually generates revenue for the County, schools and other community-related agencies. The Airports Division works with tenants at both Buchanan Field and Byron Airport to provide the community with a wide range of services, from flight schools to skydiving to private hangar rental. To find out more about the many opportunities at Contra Costa Airports, call 844-Fly-ToUs, or visit us online at www.ContraCostaAirports.org.Read More
By John Kabateck
If one takes a quick glance at the daily schedule of events happening in and around the State Capitol all on the same Monday this week, there seems to be a peculiar political paradox taking place right under our noses. Or, in laymen’s terms: an offensive double standard.
On Monday, April 4, the Governor signed SB 3, legislation increasing the California minimum wage to $15 an hour. Never mind that a mere three months ago small businesses and voters saw it rise to $10.00 an hour, making it even then (second only to the District of Columbia at $10.50) the highest in the nation. As the Governor himself stated in January, “Raise the minimum wage too much and you put a lot of people out of work. There won’t be a lot of jobs. It’s a matter of balance.”
Also on the agenda the same day this week was a hearing to evaluate the High-Speed Rail Authority, including criticism by many on both sides of the aisle about the significant cost the rail project will be to the state and California taxpayers. Too bad constituents weren’t afforded the same formal hearing process and public discourse surrounding the minimum wage measure, which the Governor’s Department of Finance has pegged at $4 billion per year. Instead, the measure moved faster than a bullet train – from a weekend discussion with labor unions, to the legislative chambers for a party-line vote, to the Governor’s desk for a swift signature – all without small businesses and voters allowed a seat at the table and open discussion. Had that taken place, we would have clearly heard stakeholders raise concerns about these enormous recurring state costs that will affect the truly vulnerable across our state – not just “mom and pops”, but persons with disabilities, students in our schools, local governments in rural and economically disadvantaged regions, and seniors on fixed incomes, to name a few.
Add to the irony a Capitol rally on this very same Monday surrounding legislation to exempt certain personal care products from the state sales tax. While some products would no doubt be exempted, most others would not and most small businesses would still be expected to continue to levy on their products a statewide sales tax that is also the highest in the nation. To add insult to injury, legislation has also been in play that seeks to extend the sales tax to service industries. So, exempt certain businesses and taxpayers from some taxes, while insisting that other, new, struggling industries pay more. And how, exactly, is a minimum wage hike not a “tax” on our number one job creators, the corner restaurant, the book store, the retailer? According to the legislature, “You win some, you lose some – we’ll make that decision for you based on our special interest support.”
Voters deserve better than this. Fortunately, in this election year, we all have an opportunity to demand voting records and explanations from the incumbents, and specific details and pledges from the new candidates. Have they stood with small business? Will they? Don’t settle for double speak – there’s too much at stake for us this November and the generations that follow.
Kabateck is President of Kabateck Strategies with nearly twenty-five years of leadership with strategic coalition development and implementation in California’s public policy and political arenas, with an emphasis on the full spectrum of business and job creator sectors. He has served as California Executive Director of the National Federation of Independent Business, California’s and the nation’s leading organization serving only small businesses; Senior Legislative Director and Vice President of the California Restaurant Association; a Chief of Staff in the California Legislature; Director of Coalitions for Governor Pete Wilson’s successful re-election campaign, then Wilson’s Chief Deputy Appointments Secretary; and as Governor Schwarzenegger’s Director of External Affairs.Read More