By Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Restore The Delta
These are not good times for Governor Brown’s Delta Tunnels (WaterFix) proposal.
The twin 40-foot-diameter, 30-mile-long tunnels would harvest Sacramento River water before it flows through the San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary. A vast majority of this water would be sent to Big Ag operations like The Wonderful Company in the Southern San Joaquin Valley. It will destroy the largest estuary on the West Coast of the Americas.
But as the San Francisco Chronicle recently editorialized, “The tunnel project, now marketed to Californians as WaterFix, lacks community trust and political will and is saddled with a $16 billion (and growing) price tag that appears much larger than water agencies are willing to pay.
“Water districts, rural users, and entire cities like San Diego and Santa Monica are starting to question the wisdom or affordability of such a big project that does not deliver one new drop of new water.
“This November, a coalition of conservation and public interest organizations sent a letter to the Obama administration asking them to terminate the proposal so his legacy isn’t dragged down by a financial and environmental nightmare. The groups explain how the next administration will blame the boondoggle on Obama. They will say:
“We inherited the WaterFix from the previous administration and presumed that they knew what they were doing and had fully evaluated the project in good faith when they determined it should go forward.”
As environmental and financial obstacles continue to mount for the proposal, California water policy wonks are now scrambling for a viable Plan B.
The influential Public Policy Institute of California recently took a step back from support for the Twin Tunnels and offered a scaled back, Plan B. In an op-ed for the Sacramento Bee they offer, A Grand Compromise for the Delta.
PPIC now proposes a smaller plan they believe can settle the water wars over the Bay-Delta. Their proposal includes one-tunnel, managing water flows for entire ecosystems not just specific species, strengthening Delta levees, and letting communities tap into tunnel water supplies where local water is salty.
Restore the Delta is certainly encouraged the Public Policy Institute of California has backed down from support for the highly destructive Twin Delta Tunnels proposal. But the scaled-back project the PPIC now proposes is a completely different and new project. Before it can be analyzed, we still need to figure out how much water the Delta needs to maintain ecological health for the communities who live there and the species who depend on a healthy estuary.
The State Water Board’s flow hearings for the San Joaquin and Sacramento rivers must be completed before any project can be analyzed.
Independent fishery experts now say that the San Joaquin River needs at least 50 percent unimpaired flows to stop extinction and achieve legally required doubling goals for salmon.
Any new tunnel proposal would, we hope, include a more comprehensive public scoping process so as to include Delta environmental justice communities, made up of hundreds of thousands of residents. We would also hope for a more transparent environmental and economic review process with better science and better public debate than what was put forth for the current Delta Tunnels proposal. CA WaterFix touts hundreds of meetings over the last ten years, but most were never properly noticed to Delta communities for meaningful participation.
If, indeed, support for the Big Twin Tunnels project is fading, let’s kill that proposal once and for all. Californians who voted in 1982 against the Peripheral Canal assumed we had made that decision long ago.
In an era of climate change and shrinking snowpack in the Sierra, less snowmelt means that by the time the expensive Twin Tunnels project would be finished, it may sit empty most of the time. The same may be true for one tunnel. We don’t know yet.
Instead, we should invest in California’s water future. Southern California already taking the lead on the cutting edge of a water technology. Stormwater harvesting, conservation, water recycling, and groundwater recharging are reducing the need for imported water to the Southland. Many of these ideas can be found in a report titled A Sustainable Water Plan for California by the Environmental Water Caucus.
The Delta Tunnels, even a scaled back version, may not be the best use of limited funds. Let’s kill off the big Delta Tunnels plan once and for all. Then we can redirect those funds to create local jobs that build water sustainability by adding new water into the system. That is the path to provide real security for California’s future.
Originally published by KCET, December 19, 2016. Republished with permission. Commentaries are the opinions of their authors, and do not necessarily reflect the views of KCETLink.Read More
Says he believes he had degree at time he wrote his candidate statement in 2014; retired Dean confirms Belle completed all course work for degree.
By Allen Payton
Embattled Contra Costa County Board of Education Trustee Jeff Belle admitted in court on Thursday, December 15, 2016 that he does not have a college degree in political science, as he wrote in his candidate’s statement, when he ran and was elected in 2014. In his declaration, required as part of his agreement and signed under penalty of perjury, Belle wrote, he “believed then that the statement was true.”
“Belle submitted a letter to the court, it was filed with the court and it is an allocution of sorts,” said Deputy District Attorney Steve Moawad who prosecuted the case against Belle. “He admits he did not have a bachelor’s degree. He said he thought he did at the time and it was not his intent to mislead the public.”
Belle was approved for a diversion program in which he agreed to perform 20 hours of community service and to write the declaration saying he does not in fact have a bachelor’s degree and to obey all laws.
Once he submits proof of his community service, the case will possibly be dismissed in either June or December of next year.
“Diversion is normally a year or 18 months or something along those lines. That’s what we envisioned,” Moawad explained. “Belle asked the court for early diversion, which would dismiss the case earlier.”
However, Moawad wouldn’t commit to that.
“The judge asked if Mr. Belle does more than the 20 hours of service, would you consider dismissing in June,” Moawad continued. “I agreed to keep an open mind about that. It would be my expectation that if he wants the case dismissed in June he would do more than 20 hours of community service.”
In Belle’s Declaration, he wrote:
“I, Jeffrey Belle, state that in 2014 I filed my candidate’s statement for the office of Trustee to the Contra Costa County Board of Education. I drafted the statement to be accurate, true, and complete. I stressed my experience as an educator and also mentioned some of my educational achievements. I mentioned, among several other achievements, that I had earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. I believed then that the statement was true.
When I drafted my statement, I believed that I had earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science at Oklahoma City University (OCU). In my senior year, I was told by the Registrar’s office at OCU that I would be graduating in August of that year, however the OCU’s registrar’s office also advised me that they were waiting for the certified transcript from American University (AU) where I had spent a semester studying. I walked for my graduation at OCU on May 6, 1989. I believed my graduation was effective in August of 1989 as stated in the graduation program and as I had been told by
the registrar’s office at OCU.
However, it has now been clarified that I do not have a Bachelor’s Degree from OCU. It was not my intent to misinform the voters regarding my degree. In the future I will be more careful about my statements to ensure no misinterpretation.
I state and declare under penalty of perjury, under the laws of the State of California in Contra Costa County, that the foregoing is true and correct to the best of my knowledge.
December 15, 2016
He claimed on his ballot statement that he “earned” a “Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science.”
However in an October, 2015 interview for an article with this reporter, Belle said, “I still owe American University for room and board for that semester of almost $3,000. However, in 1989 I walked in the graduation, and they acknowledge it, but they won’t confer the degree, until then.”
Belle referred questions about his letter to his attorneys.
“Talk to Carol or Marsaane about (the) letter,” he said in a message.
By participating in the diversion program, Belle avoids a trial and the maximum penalty of a $1,000 fine. However, the case has cost the taxpayers much more than that.
The DA’s office began the investigation of Belle’s lie in early 2015 and the prosecution began six months later. The case has included multiple court dates, with Belle and his attorneys delaying the process asking for continuances, until Thursday.
The most recent delay in the case included a claim that he’s had cancer has been in the hospital for the past two months getting treatment.
Carol Hehmeyer, one of his attorneys, said, “He was charged with violating section 18351 of the Elections Code, which is not lying but making a statement that you knowingly know is false when you make it and thought it would have influenced the election.”
That section of the elections code reads as follows:
“Any candidate in an election or incumbent in a recall election who knowingly makes a false statement of a material fact in a candidate’s statement, prepared pursuant to Section 11327 or 13307, with the intent to mislead the voters in connection with his or her campaign for nomination or election to a nonpartisan office is punishable by a fine not to exceed one thousand dollars ($1,000).”
“He did earn it,” she said referring to his degree in political science.” He walked for graduation. His family members were there. They provided declarations under penalty of perjury.”
“We have the declaration from the Dean of the Department of Political Science Larry Eberhart, who retired before this exploded,” Hehmeyer continued.
“Jeff does not need the courses they’re now saying he needs,” she explained. “They’re eliminating some of the credits he did get. They’re not going to recognize the credits that were transferred from another college because the school is no longer in business.”
“The DA’s office spent a year trying to find something wrong about the candidate’s statement,” Hehmeyer added. “The first judge that heard this wanted to get rid of this and wanted diversion.”
Which is what Belle ultimately accepted instead of going to trial.
“We didn’t have the money for a trial,” she said.
The confusion in the case and accusations against Belle stem from the use and definition of the terms “earn” versus “confer” when referring to his college the degree. He only used the phrase “have earned…Bachelor’s degree in Political Science,” when Belle wrote and signed his ballot statement in summer, 2014 at the beginning of the campaign.
Belle is currently the Vice President of the county school board. His term ends in 2018.Read More
It was all part of the annual Shop with a Cop, which is a national program established to build positive relationships between law enforcement officers and the children of the community. It is also our way of recognizing deserving children.
Thank you to the YMCA in Rodeo and the many community partners that helped make this event a success.
To view the video of this year’s Shop with a Cop, click here.Read More
The remaining homicide suspects wanted in connection with the murder of William Sims on November 12 in El Sobrante are in custody, the Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff announced.
On Friday afternoon, December 16, 2016 at about 3:30 PM, Homicide Detectives from the Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff arrested 31-year-old Daniel Ortega of Novato. There was a warrant for his arrest for murder and robbery. He was later booked into the Martinez Detention Facility. Ortega is being held without bail.
On Saturday, December 10th, Office of the Sheriff Homicide Detectives were informed that suspect Ray Simons was in custody at the Monterey County jail in Salinas. He was apparently being held on a domestic-related charge and gave a false name when he was booked. A check of his fingerprints revealed his true identity. 32-year-old Simons of Hercules was transported to the Martinez Detention Facility and is being held without bail on charges that include murder, robbery, shooting at a person from a vehicle and intimidating a witness.
Earlier, Detectives arrested 31-year-old Daniel Porter-Kelly of Richmond. He was booked into the Martinez Detention Facility on November 16, 2016 on murder and robbery charges. The D.A.’s Office has formally charged him with robbery and murder, with a hate crime enhancement. He is being held without bail.
On November 12, 2016, at about 2:11 AM, a Sheriff’s Office Sergeant discovered William Sims lying in the roadway in the area of Appian Way and Garden Lane in El Sobrante. Sims had been beaten and shot and was pronounced deceased at the scene. Sims was 28-years-old and was from Richmond, where he was a musician and worked in retail. He had no gang ties and no criminal history. Detectives believe Sims was at the Capri Club on the 4100 block of Appian Way, where he was robbed and murdered.
The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with any information on this incident is asked to contact the Office of the Sheriff at (925) 646-2441. For tips, call (866) 846-3592 to leave an anonymous voice message or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tuesday morning, Dec. 20 at about 10:00 AM, the Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff was notified that the vehicle that was carjacked in Alamo on Monday was apparently involved in a multi-vehicle collision on northbound 880, near 66th Avenue, in Oakland. The unknown driver, who may have been injured, and passenger fled the scene on foot.
A Deputy Sheriff responded to the location and confirmed it was the Porsche Boxster that was carjacked.
On Monday, at about 2:30 PM, Deputy Sheriffs were dispatched to a report of an armed robbery in a shopping center located on the 3100 block of Danville Boulevard in Alamo.
The victim’s husband called in to report that his wife had been carjacked. Upon arrival, Deputies contacted the victim, who stated approximately 15 minutes earlier she was sitting in the driver’s seat of her vehicle with the door open when the suspect forced her out of the car at gunpoint. The suspect entered the car and drove away. The victim was not harmed. Law enforcement agencies were notified to be on the lookout for the stolen vehicle. The vehicle was not located in spite of an extensive search. The vehicle was a white colored, convertible, 2-door, 2015 Porsche Boxster with California license plate – 7JEE656.
The investigation is still ongoing. A photo of the vehicle is attached.
Anyone with any information on this incident is asked to contact the Office of the Sheriff at (925) 313-2600. For any tips, call (866) 846-3592 to leave an anonymous voice message or email: email@example.com.
By Allen Payton
Contra Costa County Health Services announced, today, Tuesday, December 20, 2016, that the cause of the foodborne illness outbreak reported after a Thanksgiving Day charity event in Antioch has been identified. It was caused by the bacteria Clostridium perfringens.
A laboratory at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) confirmed the presence of the bacteria in stool samples taken from people sickened by food served at the Nov. 24 holiday celebration, held by Golden Hills Community Church of Brentwood and Antioch, at Antioch’s American Legion hall.
“Clostridium perfringens is one of the most common foodborne illnesses in the U.S. It can be found in the human intestine without hurting us, but eating food containing large amounts of this bacteria can cause illness and in some cases death,” said Dr. Louise McNitt, deputy health officer for Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS).
CCHS’ Public Health and Environmental Health divisions investigated 25 related reports of foodborne illness after the event, including three people who died.
“Our investigation was not able to determine exactly what people ate that made them sick. But after extensive interviews we found most of the ill people ate turkey and mashed potatoes and they all ate around the same time. Some dishes served at the event, including cooked turkey, were brought to the site after they were prepared in private homes,” said Dr. Marilyn Underwood, CCHS Environmental Health director.
Underwood said proper food handling is essential to prevent foodborne illness, including cooking foods to proper temperatures, cooling and storing them appropriately if they are not going to be eaten right away, separating raw meats from foods that won’t be cooked, storing food properly and washing hands and cooking surfaces often.
“We’re saddened for the families that suffered losses this holiday season. We encourage anyone planning charity events where food will be served to the public to contact us to understand the permitting process and to learn about food safety,” said Underwood.
All of the reported illnesses occurred within 24 hours of the patients consuming food from the event.
“We at Golden Hills are mindful of all the people who were affected,” said Senior Pastor Larry Adams. “We will continue to cooperate with local health officials and are encouraged by the county’s speedy investigation.”
“This is a difficult season for all involved. We as a Christian community will continue to pray for those who are ill and the families of those who have died,” he added.
For more information about preventing foodborne illness or about C. perfringens, visit cchealth.org.Read More
The Board of Directors of the Brentwood Agricultural Land Trust (BALT), announced via email, Monday night, December 19, 2016 a change in their executive directors. Following is their announcement:
“We are writing to let you know about some significant changes that are taking place at the Brentwood Agricultural Land Trust. Since 2002 BALT has been working to preserve Contra Costa’s productive agricultural land and to work with farmers and the community to create a vibrant local agricultural economy.
In June of 2003 BALT hired Kathryn Lyddan as our first Executive Director. Prior to her work at BALT, Kathryn had 10 years of experience as a practicing attorney, specializing in land use and public finance law. During the past 13 years, under Kathryn’s professional leadership, BALT has permanently protected nine farms and has been instrumental in reforming County zoning to support a sustainable economic future for Contra Costa farmers.
Kathryn recently informed us that she has accepted a position Assistant Director of the California Department of Conservation, Division of Land Resource Protection. In her new role, Kathryn will be overseeing programs to protect California’s farmland and open space resources, including the Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation Program, the Williamson Act and Farmland Mapping and Monitoring Program This is an exciting opportunity for Kathryn and we know that all of you join our Board in congratulating Kathryn and wishing her well in this exciting new professional position.
While we are sad to lose Kathryn and her professional expertise, we are excited to let you know that our Board of Directors is currently engaged in the development of a new strategic planning process that is exploring a number of opportunities for ways in which BALT can be even more successful in protecting and enhancing our agricultural protection mission and in strengthening our community’s agricultural economy.
To assist us in conducting our Strategic Planning process, the Board of Directors is pleased to let you know that we have engaged Ron Brown to serve as our Interim Executive Director. Ron recently retired as the Executive Director of Save Mount Diablo where he served for over 15 years. Ron has a Master’s Degree in Management with a specialty in Marketing Non-Profit organizations.
Ron’s experience as a successful non-profit organization leader, in addition to his familiarity with Contra Costa County will assist us in maintaining our current operations and in supporting the Board of Directors, as we excitedly undertake the responsibility of planning for the next phase of BALT’s organizational lifecycle.
We value your support of BALT, so please feel free to contact Ron or any of the members of the Board of Director by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tom Bloomfield, Chairman
Janet Caprile, Secretary
Jon Harvey, Treasurer
Patrick Johnston, Stewardship Director
Jim Gwerder, Director”
BALT works with Contra Costa farmers and the community so that future generations in the Bay Area will have a local source of food. The rich agricultural lands on the urban edge of Contra Costa County include more than 12,000 acres of irrigated farmland located just fifty miles from the Bay Area. With rich delta soils, ample water and a year-round growing season, Brentwood farms have provided food for the Bay Area since the 1880’s. Today Brentwood farmers continue to grow a remarkable diversity of food, primarily fruits and vegetables.
BALT permanently protects the fertile orchards and farms in this rapidly developing region with an active farmland conservation program. BALT promotes local farming and builds new markets for farmers through the Buy Fresh Buy Local marketing program. Working closedly with local governments, BALT develops programs and policies that supports a vibrant agricultural economy for Contra Costa farmers. Together with community partners, BALT is creating food connections between farmers and their urban neighbors.
For more information on BALT, visit www.brentwoodaglandtrust.org.Read More
Among final seven honorees from 409 nominations
WHAT: The Health Science Academy at Ygnacio Valley High School (YVHS) in the Mt. Diablo Unified School District (MDUSD) has been named by the California Department of Education (CDE) as a California Partnership Academies (CPA) Distinguished California Partnership Academy. YVHS is one of seven to be conferred with the award from a field of 409 nominees and 14 finalists.
WHEN: Honored academies will be recognized at the CDE’s 30th annual CPA conference in March.
WHERE: Ygnacio Valley High School, 755 Oak Grove Rd., Concord 94519 (Directions)
The California Partnership Academies (CPAs) were established to prepare high school students to succeed in both college and careers. Each CPA frames its curriculum around one of the 15 industry fields established for Career-Technical Education by the CDE. Each year students take classes together, including core academic subjects and at least one career-technical course related to the academy’s career theme. A team of teachers works with the same group of students over their high school years, linking instruction across disciplines and over time. Employers provide internships and other opportunities for students to learn outside the classroom. Career academies have become an important part of the current Linked Learning initiative in California.
“Distinguished Academies” have earned this title by surviving a rigorous multi-round audit of all program components required by California Education Code. The audit includes site visits by CPA state leadership and extensive documentation. In its notification to YVHS of the nomination and subsequent award for the school’s Health Science Academy, the CPA state leadership stated the honor was “bestowed based on very clear criteria, including strict adherence to the CPA model, implementation of all components of the model and known best practices, and providing opportunities for your students which go above and beyond those required by statute.” The notification goes on to state that the Health Science Academy program has “consistently shown itself to be exemplary in intent and implementation.”
Ygnacio Valley High School was notified recently that its Careers in Education Academy has been nominated as a Distinguished Academy for next year; it is now preparing for the audit and site visits associated with that nomination.
To visit Ygnacio Valley High School, please contact Principal Efa Huckaby, (925) 685-8414, email@example.com, or Communications Specialist Ursula Leimbach, (760) 705-6919 (cell), or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mt. Diablo Unified, located in Contra Costa County, is honored to serve approximately 32,000 students at one of more than 50 school sites in the cities of Clayton, Concord, Pleasant Hill; portions of Martinez, Pittsburg and Walnut Creek; and the unincorporated communities of Bay Point, Lafayette, and Pacheco. As part of a richly diverse community, MDUSD families represent numerous ethnic groups, speaking nearly 50 different languages and dialects. We are proud of our award-winning staff and extensive honors and recognitions for our innovative programs in Career Technical Education; Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM); extensive visual and performing arts programs; and rich foreign language and dual immersion offerings. MDUSD is also pleased to have launched its first middle college program, College Now, and is planning to open its first International Baccalaureate program in 2017. Extensive student support services help ensure an inclusive culture of excellence and achievement for all students to help them prepare for success in college, career, and life. Learn more at http://www.mdusd.org/Read More
On Monday, December 12, 2016, the Contra Costa County District Attorney‘s Office and the Contra Costa County Public Defender’s Office stipulated to the dismissals of three felony cases, ten misdemeanor cases, and two infraction cases involving former Pittsburg Police Officers Michael Sibbitt and Elisabeth Ingram. The officers were witnesses in all of the prosecutions. Issues had arisen in three of the cases over the failure to provide timely production of information to the court concerning the officers.
The dismissed cases included infraction charges of Petty Theft and Disturbing the Peace; misdemeanor charges of Petty theft, Resisting Arrest, and Providing False Information to Police, and Possession of Controlled Substances; and felony charges of being a Felon in Possession of a Firearm, Unlawful Taking of a Vehicle, Possession of Stolen Property, and Commercial Burglary. Only one of the dismissed cases involved a prison sentence, and that individual’s time in custody was served in county jail. The remainder of the dismissed cases involved either fine penalties or county jail sentences, with the longest county jail sentence being 180 days.
It is important to note that the officers involved in this matter no longer work for the Pittsburg Police Department.
For additional information concerning this matter, please contact Deputy District Attorney Lynn Uilkema at (925) 957-8794