(Washington, DC) – On Friday, Congressman Jerry McNerney (CA-09), who represents portions of Eastern Contra Costa County, sent a letter to the Department of Justice (DOJ), responding to the agency’s threat to withhold federal dollars from the City of Stockton, and several other cities, if local law enforcement does not notify the Department of Homeland Security regarding the detainment of illegal aliens.
In response to DOJ’s initial letter, McNerney issued the following statement:
“The City of Stockton has made significant progress combatting crime, in large part due to its highly capable police department. The Stockton PD is nationally recognized for its innovative and effective approaches to reducing crime, and in order to ensure they can best serve their communities, Stockton police and other local law enforcement must be able to decide on the best strategy to combat crime without federal interference.
“The funds DOJ is threatening to withhold come from the Public Safety Partnership (PSP), which was created to help keep cities and communities safe and to improve relationships between community members and law enforcement. These grants are essential to our local law enforcement and withholding them would be counterproductive to the progress these regions have made.
“I sent a letter to the Department of Justice, underscoring the benefits of this program and its role in the agency’s mission. If the DOJ is truly committed to public safety through federal leadership, they will seek other opportunities to support their local law enforcement counterparts, rather than handicap them.”Read More
Increases maximum fine from $1,000 to $20,500
SACRAMENTO – The Senate Public Safety Committee has unanimously approved a bill by Assemblymember Jim Frazier, D-Discovery Bay, which would impose stiffer financial penalties on candidates who lie on ballot statements when seeking political office. AB 894 would impose a fine of up to $5,000 if a candidate includes knowingly false information on statements they submit for inclusion on election ballots. If an offender is convicted of associated criminal wrongdoing, a formula that multiplies the base fine could result in as much as $20,500 in total financial penalties for those who intentionally lie to voters.
“The penalty for shamelessly lying to voters should be very painful,” Frazier said. “And right now, it’s not painful enough. Often, the only information a voter may have about candidates is what is contained in ballot statements, especially in races for local offices that might not get a lot of press coverage. AB 894 creates a strong deterrent to dishonest candidates who falsify their qualifications in an attempt to mislead voters.”
Frazier authored AB 894 after Jeff Belle, a candidate in East County who was elected to the Contra Costa County Board of Education in 2014, was found to have blatantly lied about his qualifications, background and criminal record in the candidate statement he submitted for inclusion on the ballot. The current maximum fine for intentionally misleading voters on ballot statements is $1,000. However, instead of a punishment, the Contra Costa District Attorney’s office allowed Belle to receive just an entry into a diversion program for offenders, which required he admitted he didn’t have a degree and perform 20 hours of community service. (See related article).
AB 894 has received unanimous bipartisan support in every committee and floor vote. It has been approved by the Assembly Elections Committee, the full Assembly and the Senate Elections and Public Safety committees without a single “no” vote. The bill’s final vote will be on the Senate Floor after the Legislature returns from recess. If the full Senate approves AB 894, it will go to Gov. Jerry Brown for his signature.Read More
Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11) will host a town hall meeting at Pittsburg Senior Center on Monday, August 14th at 6:30 p.m. Since assuming office in 2015, Mark has hosted 47 town halls and mobile district office hours throughout Contra Costa County.
The congressman invites residents to attend the town hall to listen to a presentation and legislative update. During the town hall constituents will have an opportunity to ask questions, share their opinions on actions taken by the Administration, and discuss issues important to their communities.
Pittsburg Town Hall
Monday, August 14, 2017
6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Pittsburg Senior Center
Pittsburg, CA 94565
Please RSVP online at www.desaulnier.house.gov/town-hall-rsvp or call 925-933-2660. For more information or to request ADA accommodations contact Congressman DeSaulnier’s office in Walnut Creek or Richmond.Read More
We are some of the criminal defense attorneys who practice in Contra Costa County. We are the individuals who defend people accused of crimes. We have worked with the District Attorney’s Office for decades, and are in a unique position to know what qualities are most important for the District Attorney to possess.
We believe in the Constitution, in fairness and colorblind justice, and that every person accused of a crime deserves competent and zealous representation so that the police, the prosecution, and the system are held to the highest standard.
As the top law enforcement official in the County, we believe our next District Attorney should share these values. They should keep our community safe, but also do the right thing even when it’s not popular.
We need someone honest, trustworthy, fair, ethical, diligent, and compassionate.
We need Paul Graves.
Paul Graves’ energy, ideas and fresh approach to the office as outlined in his public application to the Board of Supervisors reveals the dedicated and honorable public servant that we already know him to be.
What really sets Paul Graves apart is that he has dedicated his professional life as a prosecutor to Contra Costa County, and that he has earned the respect of all partners in the criminal justice system, because he treats every defendant as an individual and is fundamentally fair.
Paul Graves’ judgment has always made him stand out as a fair and ethical prosecutor we can trust. Even though we represent opposing sides in the courtroom, we know Paul Graves is everyone’s partner in fair and equal justice.
Paul Graves provides the character, experience, and integrity our community needs to move forward. We want the Board of Supervisors to know that as defense attorneys dedicated to the Constitution, fairness and colorblind justice, Paul Graves has our highest recommendation.
Chris VarnellRead More
Colleen Gleason, a close friend and colleague of mine has written a wonderful endorsement on Facebook. I met Colleen 15 years ago and am humbled by her words. Here are a few sentences from my colleague’s social media post that I would like to share with you:
“I’m so excited and proud that my friend and mentor has decided to run for DA of our County. Paul was my homicide supervisor and currently runs the Sexual Assault/Family Violence unit. I also worked closely with him while he was the President of our Association – not only was he amazing at negotiating on behalf of our DAs, but he was instrumental in putting on a successful fundraiser for our local Rape Crisis/Children’s Interview Center every year.
Paul is the type of leader who inspires others; there is always a line of people seeking his solid advice born of experience and common sense. He is the type of leader that people want to follow; when he is heading a unit, other people want to work there…He has handled the pressures of our job in the public eye with grace and eloquence. But, more importantly to me, he is the type of person you can watch handling the little, every-day moments with kindness and integrity… the moments when the cameras aren’t on, when no one seems to be paying attention – the way he treats his staff, victim’s families, opposing counsel, his subordinates – those are the moments when he has impressed me the most.”
At 3:35 AM on Friday, August 11, 2017, Pittsburg Police officers were monitoring Highway 4 following a license plate reader alert for a stolen vehicle. Officers located the vehicle on Loveridge Road in Pittsburg and attempted a traffic stop; however, the suspect vehicle fled and a pursuit ensued.
Officers located the suspect vehicle on the Contra Loma Blvd. onramp in Antioch and the suspect fled on foot from pursuing officers. The suspect was subsequently apprehended by a Pittsburg Police K9. A search of the vehicle revealed multiple firearms, which had been stolen during a burglary in a nearby city.Read More
An online petition requesting an audit of the Contra Costa Animal Services (CCAS) Department was delivered this week to the Board of Supervisors. CCAS maintains animal shelters in Martinez and Pinole.
The petition cites problems of inadequate veterinary care, unsanitary conditions, insufficient staffing, substandard behavior assessments, and cramped conditions that negatively impact the well-being of the housed pets.
Currently the shelters are experiencing outbreaks of highly contagious and often fatal diseases – canine parvovirus and feline panleukopenia. Dogs have been exposed to distemper with wards shut down to the public.
The several thousand petition signors maintain that CCAS and the County have been notified of the severe, chronic problems but have not provided or implemented a meaningful response.
An audit will identify the urgent problems, recommend immediate corrections and provide a roadmap to guarantee that the dogs and cats housed at the shelters receive adequate care.
The petition reads as follows:
“As reported on by the ABC7 Bay Area News Team on June 1, 2017 at http://abc7news.com/pets/i-team-exclusive-critics-say-contra-costa-co-animal-shelter-overwhelmed/2061936/, Contra Costa Animal Services (CCAS) is drastically failing in its stated mission to provide humane care for the dogs and other animals at its Martinez and Pinole shelters. CCAS is a taxpayer funded local public agency and its failure is both obvious and inexcusable.
- Healthy dogs are becoming sick and even dying unnecessarily due to chronically understaffed, insufficiently monitored and inadequate veterinary care.
- Stressed, scared, shy, anxious and/or untrained dogs are being deemed unadoptable due to invalid and outdated behavior evaluation methods.
- Dogs are suffering in cramped conditions and are not being provided with adequate walks, exercise, interaction or other stimulation all of which lessens their chances for adoption.
- Far too many dogs are being euthanized purely due to overcrowding and kennel stress, with inadequate steps being taken to improve or relieve these conditions.
The dog pictured at the top of this petition, Thompson #A872494, is a single example of an animal who arrived at the CCAS shelter in good health in January 2017 then was dying of untreated pneumonia only days later.
Community members, volunteers and other concerned citizens have repeatedly contacted CCAS staff, the county administrator and members of the Board of Supervisors about the severe, chronic problems and shortcomings including failure to properly evaluate animals; failure to provide animals with needed veterinary care and basic humane housing conditions; failure to institute and follow reasonable and appropriate procedures for the care and housing of animals; failure to comply with applicable State of California laws requiring the release of animals to appropriate rescue groups; and euthanizing dogs unnecessarily and arbitrarily.
As signors of this petition, we share these grave concerns about this ongoing, intractable failure to provide an acceptable level of humane treatment to the homeless animals of our county which CCAS is mandated to shelter.
We therefore request that a thorough assessment by a qualified independent third party be conducted forthwith to ensure that all animals in CCAS custody are cared for in a proper and humane manner. This assessment must include a complete audit of CCAS policies, procedures and current practices leading to specific recommendations for change, with mechanisms to ensure that the recommendations will be prioritized, implemented in a time manner and maintained in full effect going forward.
The residents of Contra Costa County need, want, deserve and demand a shelter that takes full advantage of modern methods for animal care and sheltering including appropriate efforts to save the lives of our companion animals. We the signors of this petition insist that our public officials act seriously and expeditiously to bring Contra Costa Animal Services to a place where it will be the same kind of compassionate, transparent, efficient and accountable lifesaving shelter that is being achieved in other jurisdictions.”
The petition and comments can be viewed at https://www.change.org/p/contra-costa-county-board-of-supervisors-request-for-investigation-audit-of-contra-costa-animal-services-martinez-pinole-sheltersRead More
On Friday, August 4, 2017, three homes in the community of Blackhawk were burglarized. The residences, on the 4400 block of Deer Ridge Road, Deer Creek Lane, and 4500 block of Kingswood Drive, are all located along the golf course. The home owners were not home at the time.
These burglaries bring the number to eight in Blackhawk since May 2017. Detectives say in each case the entry point to the residences appears to be rear of the home. The residences all backed up to the golf course.
The Sheriff’s Office is actively investigating all of these cases. Some surveillance photos of the suspects are attached. Anyone with any information on the identity of these suspects or on these cases is asked to contact the Office of the Sheriff Investigation Division at (925) 335-2600. For any tips, call (866) 846-3592 to leave an anonymous voice message or email: email@example.com.
All residents are reminded to lock their doors and windows, use alarm systems if they have one, and to report any suspicious people to law enforcement.Read More
By Daniel Borsuk
The first shovel may not plunge into the ground for the expansion of the Los Vaqueros Reservoir until 2022, but the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors have signed on to back state financing of the Contra Costa Water District’s reservoir project.
With District 2 Supervisor Candace Andersen and District 1 Supervisor John Gioia absent Tuesday, supervisors voted 3-0 as a consent item to send a letter of support for the reservoir to the California Water Commission to tap into 2014 voter approved $2.7 billion of state Proposition 1 funds so that the Contra Costa Water District can enlarge the reservoir’s capacity from 160,000-acre feet to 270,000-acre feet.
The Proposition 1 funding would pay 50 percent, or about $450 million of the estimated $900 million price tag with the CCWD and other participating water agencies and their customers picking up the construction price tag.
Although supervisors did not hear either opposition or support concerning their letter, the supervisors’ letter did acknowledge the reservoir project could present an environmental problem unless the CCWD takes action to address it.
Supervisors expect the CCWD to resolve an issue about a proposed alignment of the Transfer-Bethany Pipeline that could upset the environment to a portion of 13,000 acres to the East Contra Costa County Habitat Conservation Plan, a state funded part of the Natural Community Conservation Plan. Contra Costa County and the cities of Brentwood, Clayton, Oakley and Pittsburg adopted the ECCC habitat conservation plan in 2007.
“Nothing has been decided on the pipeline’s alignment, “said CCWD Public Affairs Director Jennifer Allen. “We still have a lot of steps to go through including the pipeline alignment.”
“With this being a big rain year, I think this is a great thing to move forward on,” said Supervisor Diane Burgis of Brentwood, whose District 3 encompasses much of Los Vaqueros Reservoir. “If we’re going to spend this kind of money, it’s better to build something that stores water during the rainy years.”
“This is an opportunity to invest against future droughts by adding to our water storage,” said board chair Federal Glover.
Supervisors Adopt New Cardroom License Ordinance
Supervisors also approved a cardroom ordinance that lays out a procedure to ensure that business operations are not interrupted following “an unforeseen event” including the death of the current licensee.
Under the new ordinance, the Sheriff’s Office is designated as the department responsible for licensing gambling establishments locally, is to be notified of the event within 10 days of the event occurrence and identify the appropriate party that should obtain a license. The successor party is required to obtain a license within 30 days of the event.
In Contra Costa County, the California Grand Casino at 5988 Pacheco Blvd. in Pacheco and the 19th Hole Casino and Lounge at 2746 W. Tregallas Road in Antioch are the only licensed cardrooms, according to the State Attorney General’s Office.
In other business, supervisors gave the green light for the Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff to 21 Lehr Automated License Plate Readers for $225,000 for use in unincorporated Alamo to help curb property crimes.
Automated License Plate Readers
Installation of the Lehr ALPRs will begin at the end of August and should be completed in September, said Sheriff Lt. Jason Haynes of the Alamo Sheriff Office. The ALPRs will be installed at seven intersections.
Sheriff David Livingston said while a review of crime statistics in the Alamo area does not show a significant increase in reported crime over the last several years, “there was an increase in property crime and residential burglaries specifically in the Contra Costa central 680 corridor.”
The county will not pick a dime on the acquisition of the ALRs because the funds are donated through three private sources. One unnamed contributor donated $95,000. Members of the Alamo Police Services Advisory Committee are providing $50,000 and P-6 Alamo-Las Trampas has contributed $80,500.
Alamo will join Danville, Orinda, Lafayette, Clayton and Pittsburg that have Lehr ALPRs installed on city street intersections, Lt. Haynes said.
Lt. Haynes said the license plate readers have proven to work effectively in solving especially property crimes. He said the Sheriff’s Department has made 25 arrests in connection with Danville stolen vehicle heists over a 12-month period.Read More
By Allen Payton
Speaking before the Friday Morning Breakfast Club in Antioch on August 4, Paul Graves, the Senior Deputy District Attorney for Contra Costa County, answered questions and explained why he wants to be the county’s next DA. He is one of five finalists to be the Interim DA in the Board of Supervisors’ appointment process, having made the first round cut from a list of 12 applicants.
A 22-year veteran of the Contra Costa DA’s office, Graves was the first candidate to enter the race for District Attorney in the June, 2018 election, before former DA Mark Peterson resigned. He was willing to take on his boss in response to the scandal over Peterson making false statements on his campaign finance statements about personal use of campaign funds.
“There was a cloud over the office,” Graves stated. “In the press, there was an impression something was wrong with the office. The people in that office are dedicated to the county. While that cloud was over the office, the people asked me to step up and run against the incumbent. But, I’m not going to disparage my former boss.”
“I’m not a politician,” Graves added
He announced his campaign in May following a vote of no-confidence by the Deputy District Attorneys Association and the Civil Grand Jury’s call for the removal of Peterson.
“It wouldn’t have been as big a deal if Mr. Peterson had not decided to run again,” Graves stated during the FMBC meeting. “I did not support Mr. Peterson in 2010. I was one of those who was punished. But even Mark recognized I’m a leader in this office. I was actually the solution to the problem.”
“I chose to stay when others left, because I’m committed to the county,” he shared. “We called it the ‘French Resistance’ back in 2010. We had two choices: quite or stay here and fight. I’m a fighter. So, I chose to stay and fight.”
In his brief announcement he said, “after careful consideration and consultation with my colleagues in the District Attorney’s Office and with others in law enforcement, I have decided to run for Contra Costa District Attorney in 2018. As a 22-year veteran of this office, I have a deep understanding of this community and the talented dedicated prosecutors that already serve the public. Simply put, I know I can make a difference.”
Graves expected to be demoted, again for running against his boss and planned on providing a more complete, public announcement later. But then Peterson resigned and the Supervisors decided to appoint an interim DA.
“Only two of us were candidates before the appointment process,” he said. The other one is Santa Clara County Deputy DA Patrick Vanier, who announced his campaign about a week later in May, also before Peterson resigned in June.
Graves explained to the FBMC members his plans if elected.
“I believe in a victim-centered approach,” he said. “It’s our obligation to give the best service to the victims in our office. It hasn’t changed for the past 22 years. It’s a crime-based structure. We need to look at restructuring the office.”
“People are people. Victims, witnesses and defendants,” Graves continued. He then said his overall goal is to “save lives and drive down crime in Contra Costa County.”
As to his approach in leading the office, he said, “I like to get out into the community. I like talking to the people. The office of the DA is the office of the people.”
“I will spend my time talking to the troops in my office,” Graves added.
“I’m running on my qualifications,” he continued. “No matter what happens (in the appointment process), I’m running. I do firmly believe I am the right person for the job.”
To learn more about Graves, visit his campaign website at www.paulgravesforda.com.Read More