On Tuesday, February 21, 2017, at about 11:40 AM, the Office of the Sheriff was dispatched to a report of harassment that occurred at a fitness center on the 2800 block of Jones Road in unincorporated Walnut Creek.
A Deputy Sheriff spoke to the male victim who was apparently secretly recorded with a cell phone while in a locker room. This happened on February 20, 2017. The video and photos were posted to Snapchat.
The Deputy contacted the 17-year-old suspect, who is not being identified. The suspect was later arrested for invasion of privacy. He was cited for violation of California Penal Code 647(j) and then released to his parents. The investigation into this incident is continuing.
Anyone with any information on this incident is asked to contact the Office of the Sheriff Investigation Division at (925) 313-2600. For any tips, call (866) 846-3592 to leave an anonymous voice message or email: email@example.com.Read More
By Allen Payton
In a strongly worded letter, judges from 49 of the 58 superior courts in California, including Contra Costa County, informed Governor Jerry Brown last week, of their displeasure with the amount of funding for the state’s judicial branch in his proposed budget. They believe the lack of an increase in their budget will have an impact on the communities they serve and are asking for an increase of $158.5 million to the $3.6 billion Brown has proposed in his budget. Courts Letter to Gov Brown 02-16-17
Each of the 58 counties in the state have a trial court, known as a superior court. The judges added their efforts to those by California “Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye and the Judicial Council of California…and support their efforts to seek additional funding for the judicial branch.”
Brown’s proposed budget projects a $1.6 billion deficit. According to an L.A. Times article, Brown told reporters at the state Capitol…as he unveiled the state’s budget, that “The trajectory of revenue growth is declining.” As a result his “$179.5-billion plan seeks to resolve the budget shortfall by slower-than-expected growth in public school funding and through rolling back a series of one-time expenses discussed during last year’s budget negotiations.”
All the members of the State Senate and Assembly were copied on the letter from the judges, which states: “We, the undersigned courts, have had the opportunity to review your proposed budget for the judicial branch for Fiscal Year 2017-18. We are seriously concerned with the lack of additional funding proposed for trial court operations and our ability to provide adequate access to justice for those in need of California’s court system,” and “…we wish to inform you and the Legislature about the impact this proposed budget will have not only on the many trial courts throughout the state but, more importantly, on the communities that we serve.”
According to Brown’s budget summary, “the Budget includes total funding of $3.6 billion ($1.7 billion General Fund and $1.9 billion other funds) for the Judicial Branch, of which $2.8 billion is provided to support trial court operations.” That is $200 million less than the $3.8 billion Brown proposed in his budget and $100 million less than was approved for the current fiscal year, which was an increase of $300 million over the previous fiscal year.
The letter cites increases in costs and changes in laws will mean Brown’s budget will have the effect of a “net decrease” to the budget for the superior courts.
“This is due to, among other things, the rising cost of doing business in California (e.g., utility costs, rents, vendor expenses, employee salaries). It also results from governmental actions such as elimination of Proposition 47 funding, additional workload from voter-approved initiatives such as Propositions 57 and 64, legislative changes such as AB 2839 that considerably increase workload without accompanying offsetting funding,” the letter stated.
“The proposed elimination of a court’s ability to place a hold on a traffic defendant’s driver’s license for failure to pay or appear, the latter of which appears to have the unintended consequence of reducing revenues to the trial courts, counties and the state. In Solano and Contra Costa, two courts that have imposed a moratorium on driver’s license holds, both courts have seen an approximate 25% reduction in collections.”
The letter concludes with the requested increase in the proposed state budget for the superior courts.
“We respectfully request that the trial courts be treated in an equitable fashion with the Executive Branch and that the trial courts be funded with a modest annual increase. An increase of $158.5 million—which is the amount requested by the Judicial Council to address baseline cost increases, but which was not included in the Governor’s Budget for next fiscal year—would allow us to keep pace with rising costs of doing business in California and, more importantly, allow courts to preserve the public’s access to justice.”
The budget is expected to be approved by the state legislature and sent to Brown for his signature by the end of June.Read More
By Allen Payton
Antioch nine-year old, Kori Margain brought home the bronze by placing third at the NFL Punt, Pass & Kick competition during the Pro Bowl weekend in Florida, on Saturday, January 27, 2017. She was one of four girls to represent the Oakland Raiders nationally, but one of only four girls in the eight- and nine-year-old age group to make it to the finals.
According to their website, NFL Punt, Pass & Kick is “the oldest grassroots initiative at the NFL” and allows children ages 6-15 “to experience the fun of learning football fundamentals in an engaging and supportive non-contact environment.”
“Kori, a fourth-grader, started last November in a local competition,” said her mother Melissa Margain, a former field representative for County Supervisor Mary Piepho. “She won first place, there and moved up to sectionals and team competition, which was held in the Oakland Coliseum before the Raiders game in December.”
Since she was the winner of that competition, Kori earned the right to go the Raiders game, later that day and of course, Mom went with her.
The scores from that day from all the sectionals across the country were then sent to the NFL for comparison.
“They took only the top four scores from each of the 32 teams for each age group to determine who would go to the national finals,” Melissa explained.
Kori competed in the competition for eight- and nine-year-old girls and was one of the top four competitors from the Raiders.
The NFL selected the top four scores in the nation for each age category and Kori’s score was one of them, earning her a spot in the final competition.
During the competition on Saturday, “she placed third in the nation for her scores,” Melissa stated
“They sent the competitors to the Pro Bowl weekend for four days, including a trip to Disney World, interviews by the football players during a media day, and they got to attend the Pro Bowl,” said Melissa.
Asked if Mom got to attend, as well, Melissa responded with a laugh, “I did.”
This was Kori’s second year competing in the contest.
“I participated, last year, too,” Kori said. She made it to the team competition but not to the finals, the first time. Then, for this year’s competition, she said “I practiced with my family” to improve her skills.
“I competed on Friday and went to Disneyworld on Saturday,” Kori shared. Then they went to the game on Sunday.
The most fun Kori said she had was hanging out with her new friends from the competition.
“One from the Oakland Raiders, one from the Chicago Bears, one from the Seattle Seahawks and one from the Chargers,” she said.
Asked if she thinks other kids should participate in the competition, Kori responded, “Yes, it’s fun, you make good friends.”
Her favorite subjects in school are math and reading, and when asked if she wants to play on the high school football team, Kori replied, “No. I’m more into basketball.” She wants to be a WNBA player when she grows up.
A message was posted on the Antioch Unified School District’s Facebook page congratulating Kori for her success in the competition.
“Congratulations to Kori Morgain, 4th grade student at John Muir Elementary, who recently competed in the National NFL Punt, Pass, and Kick competition where she placed third in The United States. Prior to the national completion, Kori beat out thousands of other children in her age category and placed first in her local, sectional, and team competitions. More than 300,000 children throughout The United States participated in the event where they represented a professional football team. Kori represented The Raiders who recognized her at a recent game. Congratulations Kori!”
For more information on the NFL Punt, Pass & Kick competition, visit www.nflppk.com.
By Jesus Cano
You don’t have to travel far to witness pro wrestling, as East Bay Pro Wrestling (EBPW) operates in Pacheco and houses bi-monthly shows as part of the independent wrestling circuit. On February 11th they held their Saturday Night Showcase, where every single one of their championships were on the line.
The EBPW Championship was at stake in the main event. Tony Vargas came into the match with the championship around his waist and left with it under his possession, as he forced Jody Kristofferson to tap out by utilizing the Cloverleaf submission hold. Kristofferson is a former World Wrestling Entertainment superstar who competed in WWE’s developmental territory Florida Championship Wrestling, which has now been rebranded to NXT.
Women’s action came alive as Shotzi Blackheart defeated Kimberly Diamond via knockout, as Blackheart had Diamond in a gruesome submission that made her become unresponsive to the referee’s drop counts. Blackheart walked away, still the EBPW Ladies Champion.
After winning the gold in the previous show, the team of Sensationally Dangerous defended their tag team titles against Fight Club, where they successfully retained the championship in their first title defense.
During the show, it was announced that EBPW will have their first ever steel cage match, where Perry Von Vicious will clash with former best friend Levi Shapiro. This all coming after Shapiro attacked Von Vicious after his victory against Buddy Royal, where wrestlers in the locker-room had to storm out separate. The steel cage match will be held on February 25th, 2017 where owner Maynard Skynard expects a sellout crowd.
The rest of the card saw Mr. East Bay Pro, Leon Ikusa, defeat Shoop Shellhammer by delivering a heckuva kick after Shellhammer was distracted by disputing with the referee about his officiating.
Shapiro was in action as well, where he stole a victory against Steven Tresario as he pinned him with a fist full of tights. He had a little help from Royal, who was a nuisance to the official while he was at ringside and obnoxiously streamed the match via Facebook live.
EBPW was established on May 16th, 2016, and is family friendly according to Skynard. General Admission is $10.00 while kids 12 and under pay $8.00.
“My main intention is to put on quality wrestling match,” Skynard said. “Come on down Saturday night and have a good time screaming and yelling.”
While EBPW offers live action, it also has its own wrestling academy where Anton Voorhees is the head trainer but Skynard also helps out with training young talent. Of course they offer pro wrestling training, but also provide help with those seeking to become referees, valets and ring announcers. Products of the academy eventually wrestle on the main roster and other promotions in the country.
To learn more about East Bay Pro Wrestling, visit their page on Facebook. They are located on 110 2nd Avenue South #B9 in Pacheco. Their next show is February 25th.Read More
On Tuesday February 14th, 2017, Jason Judkins was convicted of possession of child pornography. He was sentenced to four years in state prison.
The conviction stems from an investigation by the Contra Costa County Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and the Antioch Police Department. On January 6th, 2016, Judkins created an internet posting that he was willing to trade his son for sex. The posting was reported to law enforcement and an immediate search for Judkins was started. He was arrested later that day in Antioch, and it was determined he did not have a child, nor did he have access to children. A search of his cell revealed images of child pornography, as well as e-mails in which Judkins distributed the images to others. The evidence indicated Judkins made the online posting to reach others who would exchange child pornography with him.
Prior to this offense Judkins had sustained two prior convictions for possession and distribution of child pornography. Judkins has been a registered sex offender since 2012 and was living as a transient in Antioch at the time of his arrest. The sentence was handed down by the Honorable John T. Laettner, after Judkins entered into a plea agreement with the District Attorney’s Office. Judkins will begin serving his sentence immediately.
“This office will hold accountable those individuals who possess and distribute these types of images over the internet,” said District Attorney Mark Peterson. “With National Victims’ Rights Week coming up in April, it is important to remember that when images of a child being sexually assaulted are distributed across the internet, the child is re-victimized each time.”
The prosecution is a result of an investigation by a multi-agency Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, which is managed by the San Jose Police Department. In Contra Costa County, detectives and investigators from the Walnut Creek, Antioch, Martinez, San Ramon, Concord and Moraga Police Departments, the Sheriff’s Office, Probation Department and District Attorney’s Office participate in the task force.Read More
By Bryan Scott
The East County Voters for Equal Protection (ECV), a non-partisan citizens action committee, is organizing a workshop later this month to discuss a proposal to correct the structural funding deficiency that is afflicting the local fire services agency, the East Contra Costa Fire Protection District (ECCFPD).
Twenty-two local government entities have been invited, including the county, the cities of Brentwood and Oakley, special districts and schools.
The proposal ECV is advocating will improve ECCFPD funding by about $7.8 million, and potentially provide for three additional fire stations, bringing the district’s total to six. There are now just three permanent stations serving 110,000 people spread over 249 square miles.
The proposal relies on the traditional growth in property tax revenues to avoid any cuts in current funding. If the proposal is adopted the increased property tax revenues that 22 government entities can expect would grow a little slower over a three or four year program implementation period.
This proposal is a significant one. It is the type of policy decision that elected officials, the chosen representatives of the public, need to make because it is the general public who will benefit from this program.
Government administrators are naturally opposed to this proposal. City Managers, schools administrators, the county administrator, have all gone on record opposing the solution because their specific government entity would lose future funds.
These government workers are not looking at the big picture. All government funds come, in one manner or another, from the public taxpayers. The money ought to be used to meet the needs of today’s taxpayer population.
That’s why the elected representatives of the people need to make this decision, not those who are paid to operate pieces of the people’s business.
The Ghost Ship Fire occurred in Oakland several months ago. It was a tragedy that took the lives of 36 people at a warehouse in the city’s District 5. Noel Gallo is the City Councilmember who represents District 5, and he stepped forward visibly during the crisis. He is a former school board member who understands the importance of fire and emergency medical response services to a community. Gallo will speak at the fire district funding workshop.
The structural funding problem that has increased response times and reduced the number of firefighters is not a new phenomenon. It has grown as East County’s population has grown, dramatically since the late 1990’s. Attempts to solve the problem with new tax measures have failed three times.
This proposal, if adopted, will address this structural funding problem. It will provide money to East County fire and emergency medical services so that ECCFPD receives an allocation rate closer to the rate that other parts of the county receive for their fire and emergency medical services. The funding allocation rate will then be at about the average for the county’s fire districts.
Shifting public money to a higher-priority service, in many cases a life-sustaining service, is the right thing to do. Three lives have been lost due to inadequate response capability, a fire department official has said.
The proposal being brought forth is not new. It has been talked about for over 15 months.
ECV was formed in January of 2016. The leaders of this group have made 19 formal presentations to public agencies, civic and social groups. They have attended over 46 meetings with elected, hired, or appointed officials, and conducted 10 public committee meetings. Over 75 articles and opinion pieces have been published in local periodicals, online, and in social media by ECV.
It is time for our elected representatives the people to do what’s best for the people.
Bryan Scott is a Brentwood resident and Co-Chair of East County Voters for Equal Protection, a non-partisan citizens action committee whose aim is to improve funding for the ECCFPD. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 925-418-4428. The group’s Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/EastCountyVoters/.
Contra Costa County will be in direct coalition to Community Choice Energy (CCE) a sustainable choice to cleaner energy usage. They are pleased to announce their plans to bring more unionized jobs that will benefit the CCCounty.
This local renewable build out scenario, would involve a significant number of mostly unionized and non-union hires. Also, a potential for 40% of the local build out will be near the Northern Waterfront in Concord area. In return this will be a huge deal for those looking to get hired in today’s economy. As the plans are underway to figure out the details there will be more to come on this future project.
Keep posted for more information regarding the Community Choice Energy (CCE) unionized jobs for hire and their announcements.
San PabloRead More
Congressmen Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11), Mike Thompson (CA-5) and Jerry McNerney (CA-9) who each represent portions of Contra Costa County in the U.S. House of Representatives, will host a joint town hall meeting in Martinez, this Saturday, February 18 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. The special topic will be Protecting the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), Medicare and Medicaid.
Those who attend will hear a presentation and legislative update. Constituents will also have an opportunity to ask questions and share thoughts on key policy issues and actions taken by the new Administration.
Joint Town Hall with Representatives DeSaulnier (CA-11), Thompson (CA-5) and McNerney (CA-9)
Special Topic: Protecting the Affordable Care Act, Medicare, and Medicaid
Saturday, February 18, 2017
10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
County Board of Supervisors Chambers, Room 107
651 Pine Street
Martinez, CA 94553Read More
Sacramento, CA – For the first time in more than a decade, California voters would have the opportunity to approve higher education bonds to improve facilities on California State University and University of California campuses under legislation introduced Thursday by joint authors Sens. Steve Glazer, D-Orinda, and Ben Allen, D-Santa Monica.
The bill, SB 483, would authorize the statewide sale of $2 billion in general obligation bonds earmarked for higher education facilities at CSU and UC campuses. The bonds would go before voters in the 2018 general election.
“For many generations, California taxpayers have been proud supporters of the greatest higher education system in America,” Glazer said. “Unfortunately, we have allowed classrooms and libraries to deteriorate, affecting our ability to educate our students. Without public support, the burden of financing facilities will be borne by students and their families through higher tuition and fees.
The most recent such bond, which provided $1.6 billion to improve higher education facilities at CSU and UC, was approved by voters in 2006. All those funds have since been depleted. The last higher education-specific bond was passed in 1994.
“California’s public colleges and universities are a source of great pride to our state, but unfortunately we’ve allowed their physical facilities to fall into disrepair,” said Allen, who chairs the Senate Education Committee. “This bond measure will provide a much-needed and overdue investment in our higher education infrastructure.”
According to CSU and UC, the two systems have capital needs of $7 billion and $10 billion, respectively, for short-term and long-term projects. The CSU and UC are able to provide their own funding for some construction programs through system-wide revenue bonds, though only half of their capital needs are met.
“We appreciate Senator Glazer’s work to secure funding for necessary repair and replacement of aging higher education buildings and infrastructure,” said CSU Chancellor Timothy P. White. “More than $2 billion in deferred maintenance – due to lack of investment during the previous recession – left our campuses vulnerable to potential failures of critical systems. Safe and up-to-date classrooms, research labs and work spaces are essential to the success of our students, faculty and staff.”
SB 483 would require universities or colleges to submit five-year capital outlay plans that prioritize seismic retrofitting needed to reduce seismic hazards in buildings identified as high priority.
David Lopez, president of the California State Student Association, said the legislation addresses the issues about needed classroom repairs that students have been talking about for years.
“We keep hearing stories of students in classrooms that need major repair,” Lopez said. “Buildings that need to be closed for safety reasons. Our campus infrastructure needs have never been greater than they are today.”
Spending choices will emerge through recommendations from governing boards for both CSU and UC systems and will be reviewed in public hearings during the legislative process, Glazer said.
“The state has failed to provide the funds needed for public higher education faculty, student services and infrastructure,” said Mel Levine, Co-chair of the California Coalition for Public Higher Education. “We can’t take in more California students without restoring and improving our classrooms and labs.”
Last November, voters approved Proposition 51, a $9 billion education facilities bond, but did not include any money for the CSU or UC.
“This measure provides important financial backing for critical upgrades to our libraries and classrooms on college campuses,” Glazer added. “And I believe voters should be given a chance to continue the proud legacy of supporting our universities and colleges.”
A December 2016 survey on higher education by Public Policy Institute of California showed broad support – 65 percent – for higher education construction projects. It represented an 11 percentage point increase in support since December, 2014 and was the highest level of support since PPIC first began asking the question in 2007. http://www.ppic.org/content/pubs/survey/S_1216MBS.pdfRead More
By Sean Wherley
State Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) introduced legislation, on Wednesday, to improve staffing at more than 550 dialysis clinics in California.
SB 349, the Dialysis Patient Safety Act, would mandate annual inspections of dialysis clinics and safer staffing levels. Current law requires inspections of dialysis clinics every six years, while nursing homes in California must be inspected every year, and hospitals every two years.
This legislation would affect 15 dialysis clinics in Contra Costa County: three each in Antioch and Walnut Creek; two each in Pittsburg and San Pablo; and one each in Brentwood, Concord, El Cerrito, Pleasant Hill and Richmond.
“Dialysis patients are grandparents, children and siblings not numbers on a balance sheet,” said Lara. “It’s time to fix the dialysis industry and improve patient care for the more than 63,000 Californians who rely on this life-saving treatment in clinics daily.”
Dialysis is necessary for people with kidney failure, who must have their blood removed, cleaned, and put back into their bodies. A typical treatment lasts three hours, and must be conducted three days a week for the rest of the patient’s life.
The two largest dialysis corporations – DaVita and Fresenius – make $2.9 billion a year in profits from their dialysis operations in the United States, but workers say the companies pocket the money rather than improve patient care or provide adequate staffing in their clinics.
Dialysis workers regularly report staffing levels so low that it threatens patient care. One worker cited an incident last March at a dialysis clinic in Anaheim, Calif. in which a patient collapsed in the parking lot. The worker said it could have been prevented if more staff were onsite at the time. Seven states already have minimum staffing levels in dialysis clinics: Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas and Utah.
Dialysis workers in California have been organizing into a union, SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW), for safer working conditions and stronger worker and patient protections. To learn more about the campaign, visit www.morethannumbers.org.
Wherley is the Media Relations Specialist with SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West.Read More