Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (D, CA-11) will host a tax-focused town hall meeting in El Cerrito on Saturday, January 13th at 2:00 p.m. This town hall was originally scheduled in December, but was postponed when Republican Leadership changed the voting schedule to rush the tax bill through Congress.
Since taking office in 2015, the Congressman has hosted 53 town halls and mobile district office hours throughout Contra Costa County. In his first town hall of 2018, DeSaulnier invites residents to participate in a discussion of the new Republican tax law, which was passed by Congressional Republicans and signed into law by President Trump last month. The law increases taxes on more than 5.5 million California families. Bay Area residents who own or are interested in purchasing a home, in one of the most expensive housing markets in the country, are particularly impacted by the law. New home purchasers are subject to limits on the mortgage interest deduction and current homeowners have lost the ability to fully deduct state and local taxes (SALT). It is DeSaulnier’s opinion that “the bill was jammed through Congress with little debate and no Democratic amendments in an effort to deliver a massive tax cut to corporations and the wealthiest 1%.”
During the town hall constituents will be provided with an overview of the legislation and its potential impact on Bay Area residents, and will have an opportunity to ask questions or share comments about the new law.
El Cerrito Town Hall
Saturday, January 13, 2018
2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
El Cerrito Community Center
7007 Moeser Lane
El Cerrito, CA 94530
Please RSVP by visiting https://desaulnier.house.gov/town-hall-rsvp or calling (925) 933-2660. For more information or to request ADA accommodations, contact Congressman DeSaulnier’s office in either Walnut Creek or Richmond.Read More
The City of Martinez held a final ground-breaking ceremony for the initiation of the third and final phase of the multi-million-dollar Intermodal Facility project in downtown on Friday, Jan. 5, 2018. The project has spanned over 20 years.
In 1994, the City of Martinez moved forward with the property acquisition of the old railroad yard south of the tracks. Three years later in 1997, the parking lot was constructed along with enhancements to Alhambra Creek, replacement of the railroad bridge, and the addition of two northerly tracks. Later in 2002, the Amtrak Station building, and platforms were completed and opened to the public. The City then acquired the Zocchi property in 2008, which is the parking lot north of where the tracks now exist, for the implementation of Phase 3.
This last phase of the Intermodal Facility, Phase 3, is funded by the Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA) Measure J sales tax revenues. The project is located north of the Amtrak Station and includes a 110-foot long prefabricated steel bridge to be installed over the UPRR tracks, a paved trail along the west south, and east perimeters of the site along with a 30-foot long prefabricated pedestrian bridge near Ferry Street and the UPRR tracks. The project also includes and a new entrance road at the Ferry Street/Joe DiMaggio Drive intersection which connects to the easterly side of the recently constructed parking lot. Other features include an elevator, wetland mitigation, landscaping, and street and parking lot lighting. This work is scheduled to begin this month and be substantially complete by December 2018. Once the structural supports are constructed, the placement of the 110-foot long prefabricated pedestrian bridge crossing the railroad tracks will occur between midnight and 5:00 a.m. on a Sunday morning (date still to be determined). The City awarded the construction contract to Gordon N. Ball, Inc., (Alamo) with a total bid amount of $6,150,676.00.
CCTA staff members involved in the project included Randell Iwasaki, Hisham Noeimi, and Jack Hall; the design was provided by NV5, Inc., supported by LCC Engineering and Surveying, Inc., BSK Associates, LSA, and Cynthia Easton Architects. Agencies involved in the project include EBRPD, UPRR, Amtrak, CPUC, PG&E, Shell Oil, AT&T, CDF&W, USCOE, and RWQCB.
Please visit these links to view the location map and the pedestrian bridge architectural plan.Read More
New laws to protect youth from tobacco influences went into effect this month and local health officials are enforcing the new regulations, which include prohibiting the sale of flavored tobacco products, such as menthol cigarettes and flavored e-liquids, within 1,000 feet of schools, parks, playgrounds, and libraries in unincorporated parts of the county. The sale of cigars in pack sizes under 10 is also prohibited in unincorporated areas of the county, with cigars selling for $5 each excluded from the regulations.
The Contra Costa Board of Supervisors passed new rules last summer (see related article), and retailers were given a period of time to prepare. The County’s Tobacco Prevention Project has been doing education and outreach to all tobacco retailers in recent months to help ensure compliance with the new youth protections.
A 2016 survey showed that more than 80% of stores licensed to sell tobacco that are located near schools in Contra Costa County carried flavored products, such as “watermelon” or “tropical blast” cigarillos or little cigars. Many small cigars and cigarillos are sold for less than $1, making them attractive and affordable for youth.
“These tobacco products are clearly aimed at youth and they serve as a gateway to a lifetime of addiction to tobacco,” said Denice Dennis, manager of the Tobacco Prevention Program. “These new tobacco-sales rules will help prevent our youth from tobacco influences in the community.”
The new regulations prohibit the sale of flavored “e-liquids” for use with electronic smoking devices, which also come in candy and fruit flavors that appeal to new, young smokers. A recent UC San Francisco study showed that many teens who vape would not have started smoking if only traditional tobacco products were available. Other research shows that teens who vape are four times more likely to begin smoking cigarettes a year later than those who do not.
Under the new regulations, no new tobacco retailer licenses will be granted to businesses located within 1,000 feet of schools, parks, playgrounds or libraries, or within 500 feet of another business that sells tobacco.
Another provision adopted by the Board of Supervisors that bans sales of tobacco products in pharmacies won’t take effect until July 2018 after their tobacco retailer licenses expire.
The ordinance also requires retailers to examine the identification of a person who reasonably appears to be under the age of 27 before the tobacco retailer sells tobacco products or paraphernalia to that person.
Retailers not complying with the new rules can be fined up to $500 for each day they are in violation and may face suspension or revocation of their tobacco retailer license.
The National Association of Tobacco Outlets opposed the ordinance because the retailers didn’t believe six months was enough time to sell off their inventory.
Contra Costa joins many other Bay Area cities and counties to prohibit the sale of flavored tobacco products including Santa Clara and Yolo Counties, and the cities of El Cerrito, Novato, Los Gatos, San Francisco, and Oakland.Read More
Today, Tuesday, January 9, 2018, at about 8:11 am, Contra Costa CHP was advised of a four-vehicle traffic collision in El Sobrante on San Pablo Dam Road at Lois Lane involving a School Bus with children on board. Upon CHP and emergency personnel arrival, it was determined that a school bus, a white Chevrolet Silverado, a black Volkswagen Bug, and a white Ford F-150 were involved in the collision. In total, 13 people were transported for a variety of injuries. The entire roadway was shut down for numerous hours for the investigation and clean up but has since been reopened.
In the initial investigation, it appears the Volkswagen was northbound on San Pablo Dam road in the #1 lane and the Chevrolet truck was directly behind it traveling the same direction and approaching the intersection of Lois Lane. At the same location but on the southbound side, the School bus was traveling in the #1 lane and the Ford truck was next to it in the #2 lane. For unknown reasons the driver of the Volkswagen suddenly slowed nearly to a stop and the approaching Chevrolet truck was unable to slow and avoid the Volkswagen. The Chevrolet collided with the rear of the Volkswagen pushing it to the left and into the southbound lanes, directly in front of the oncoming Ford truck. The Ford impacted the Volkswagen in a “T-bone” manner pushing it out of the roadway and subsequently causing the driver of the Ford to lose control and spin into the southbound #1 lane facing wrong way, directly in front of the School bus. Then the school bus collided head on with the wrong way facing Ford truck.
Here are the number of injured parties transported to local hospitals from each vehicle;
-Solo driver of Volkswagen transported for major injuries
-Solo driver of Chevrolet transported for minor injuries
-3 occupants of the Ford transported. 2 with minor injuries and one classified as major injuries.
-7 children from the School bus all transported for minor/precautionary reasons
-School bus driver, who is 34 weeks pregnant, transported for precautionary reasons only due to the pregnancy
Alcohol or drugs do not seem to be a factor in this collission but it is still under investigation. If anyone witnessed it or the events leading up to it, please contact Contra Costa CHP in Martinez, and contact Officer Mendoza. (925) 646-4980. Thank you.
And please be aware of the wet roadway conditions from all this rain and give yourself enough space to safely stop, SLOW DOWN, and give yourself ample time to get to your destination. Drive safe.Read More
By Luke Johnson
Najee Harris will become the first Antioch High School alum to play in a national championship game in college football.
The true freshman running back and No. 4 Alabama upset No. 1 Clemson in the Sugar Bowl on New Year’s Day, 24-6. The Crimson Tide now faces No. 3 Georgia in the College Football Playoff National Championship in Atlanta tonight at 5:17 p.m. (Pacific)
“If [Alabama] wins, it will be big, but I also think it will push him even more to get it again next year,” Harris’ personal trainer and close friend Marcus Malu said. “I think Antioch, as a city and a school, that we need to build on that, [and] make sure that we don’t have a one-hit wonder, and turnout some more kids.”
Harris has rushed for 306 yards, 5.6 yards per carry and three touchdowns this season, on top of six receptions for 45 yards. His longest reception came last week for 22 yards — a game in which he had no carries.
Alabama’s ground game has been led by juniors Damien Harris and Bo Scarbrough — who are potential prospects for this year’s NFL Draft. Damien Harris is projected to be picked in the second or third round while Scarbrough is expected to be selected between the third and fifth rounds, according to Senior Draft Analyst Charlie Campbell of Walter Football.
Najee Harris has been Alabama’s third option at running back with only 55 carries this season. However, Malu feels his limited action may be a good thing. Harris holds every rushing record at Antioch High School — including carries with 838. He played the majority of his senior year (291 carries) with a knee injury that he hid from the public, for which he underwent surgery last January.
Malu believes this was a productive year for Harris to allow his banged-up body to recover while getting acclimated to the highest level of competition in college football. Although Malu still hopes Harris is utilized and has an excellent performance during tonight’s contest.
“He understands that it’s a process,” Malu said. “If he gets in I’m sure they’ll give him a few touches. If he doesn’t, he understands that this is the business.”
With a lot of local anticipation for this upcoming game between two teams in the Southeastern Conference, Malu said that people come up to him at least three to four times per day to ask about Harris.
“They say, ‘Hey, is the kid gon’ play? Is the kid gon’ get some touches?’ And I’m like, ‘Man, you know, you should be emailing [coach] Nick Saban,’” Malu said while chuckling.
The game will air on ESPN. For more information about the NCAA National Championship football game click here.Read More
New fare information available now
By Allen Payton
According to the BART website’s East County Extension page, parking permits for the new Antioch Station which is planned to open in May along with the Pittsburg Center Station, will be available for purchase beginning January 16. According to BART Director Joel Keller there will be 1,000 parking spaces and about 124 reserved spaces available. However, he said the reserved permits don’t get you a specific spot, just one of the reserved parking spots in the lot.
The BART Board adopted the parking fees and fares at the December 7, 2017 board meeting.
BART is applying its existing distance-based fare structure to calculate fares for the new service. For the 9.1-mile trip between Pittsburg Bay/Bay Point and Antioch Station, the Clipper fare will be $2.00 (starting Jan 1, 2018 there will be a $.50 surcharge on all paper ticket trips). All BART discount programs will be applied to these fares.
The table below shows 2018 BART to Antioch sample fares using the adult Clipper card, a fare paid for with a paper ticket will be an additional 50 cents.
1/5/18 UPDATE: On Tuesday, January 16, 2018 at 11 AM, BART will open up the waitlist for passengers that would like to sign up to reserve a monthly permit, which guarantees a parking space until 10am each weekday. There will be a limited number of these permits available and they will be available on a first-come/first-served basis. The cost for the monthly permit will be $105 per month. You will only be charged for the permit if you are offered one and not until the extension officially opens. You may sign up to join when the waitlist at www.Select-a-Spot.com any time after January 16, 2018 at 11am. This website is also available through a link on the www.BART.gov/Parking webpage.
Monthly reserved permits will only be available at the Antioch Station. The Pittsburg Center Station will not offer any reserved parking permits, due to a limited number of parking spaces at the station.
There will be other parking options available as well:
Daily Fee Parking
Both stations will offer daily unreserved parking for a fee of $3. This parking is first-come/first-served in any marked “Fee” lot. Look at signs to the entrance to each section of the lot to determine if it is a “Fee” or “Permit” area. After 10am, any unused Permit spaces are open to all parkers for the Daily Fee.
The Antioch Station will offer “Permit” parking. Customers with permits will be allowed to park in the designated areas of the parking lot. Permit spaces are available until 10am each weekday morning. After 10am all unused Permit spaces are available to anyone for the Daily Fee. All permits will be available on the www.Select-a-Spot.com website. There also will be a link to that website on www.BART.gov/Parking
Types of Permits:
- Single Day reserved permits will cost $6 a day.
- Airport/Long-Term Permits will cost $7 a day.
- Monthly reserved parking permits will cost $105
By Don Martin II
ANTIOCH, CA…January 1…New Year’s Day meant the Winter Classic was happening Antioch Speedway Monday afternoon. Oval Motorsports began their 21st season of promoting the 3/8-mile clay oval with a special four division program featuring A Modifieds, B Modifieds, Dwarf Cars and Hobby Stocks.
The A Modified Main Event was won by Williston, North Dakota’s Travis Peery. Peery competed at tracks in Medford, Oregon and Yreka, California before moving to North Dakota. He took the lead from Raymond Lindeman and then had a battle with five-time champion Scott Busby during the final 10 laps.
On a restart with 8 laps to go, Busby used the inside line to take the lead from Peery. However, when Chester Kniss rolled in Turn 4, the ensuing red flag negated Busby’s pass. Peery chose the inside on this restart and withstood an outside groove challenge by Busby over the next two laps to hold the lead. As Peery brought it home to victory, 2017 race winner Nick DeCarlo made a late pass on Busby for second. Busby settled for third ahead of reigning track champion Bobby Motts Jr. and Jeff Faulkner.
Fred Ryland took the lead from his wife Patti Ryland early on and won the B Modified Main Event. F. Ryland is the reigning Merced Speedway champion, and he held off reigning Chico and Marysville champion Philip Shelby down the stretch for a well-earned victory. Les Friend finished third ahead of Craig Nieman and Mark Garner.
Reigning champion Mike Corsaro scored an impressive victory in the Dwarf Car Main Event. Two-time champion Danny Wagner led the first half of the race before overheating issues sidelined him. During the second half of the race, Corsaro led with Jack Haverty and Michael Grenert in close pursuit. Grenert made a pass on Haverty for second with six laps to go. Two laps later, Grenert made a slide job move around Corsaro in Turn 2, only to drift too high as Corsaro raced back into the lead down the backstretch. Corsaro scored a hard-fought victory ahead of Grenert, Haverty, Chuck Conover and David Michael Rosa.
The Hobby Stock Main Event featured an entertaining side-by-side battle between Chris Long and Orland Raceway star, Brad Ray. After technical inspections following the race, Ray was disqualified and Long was elevated to first. Orland Raceway champion Jeremy Langenderfer was riding along in third when he spun on the last lap, handing the position to Chris Bennett. Bennett’s third place became second with the disqualification of Ray.
The Antioch Speedway 2018 schedule should be made available shortly. For further information on what’s happening at the track, check out the official website at www.antiochspeedway.com.Read More
Help them win the award
Main Street Martinez and the City of Martinez are proud to announce that Martinez has been selected as a top-10 finalist for Season 3 of the Small Business Revolution – Main Street television series.
After considering thousands of downtowns across the country, Deluxe Corporation chose Martinez as one of the 10 communities that will compete for a chance to win $500,000 for downtown revitalization. Follow the contest and find more information at MyMartinez.org.
You can help Martinez win this award by sharing photos, stories, and anecdotes about what you love about Downtown Martinez on Facebook (@smallbizrev), Twitter (@smbizrevolution), and Instagram (@smallbusinessrevolution). Use the hashtag #MyMartinez.
Martinez residents, businesses owners, and other stakeholders are encouraged to welcome Deluxe representatives at a special Get to Know Martinez event on Friday, January 5, 2018 from 6pm-8pm at the Veterans Hall, 930 Ward Street in Martinez.
“Main Street Martinez supports the City’s efforts to make economic development a top priority,” said Main Street Martinez Executive Director Leanne Peterson. “We are delighted to spearhead this effort and partner with the City to make the case that downtown’s history and architecture combined with its new energy and momentum make it the perfect choice for Season 3 of the Small Business Revolution – Main Street.”
The competition is part of the highly acclaimed series: Small Business Revolution – Main Street. Get a sneak peek at what could be in store for Martinez by watching the first two seasons at SmallBusinessRevolution.org, Hulu, or YouTube. The hosts are Amanda Brinkman (with Deluxe and on Forbes’ Communication Council) and Robert Herjavec (entrepreneur and former host of Dragon’s Den and Shark Tank). They bring with them a crew of experts to help individual business owners and Main Street districts find their paths to success.
Deluxe representatives will visit nine other downtowns in early 2018 before narrowing the list to five finalists who will compete in a nationwide vote. The winner will be announced in late February.
Please come to the Get to Know Martinez event on Friday, January 5, 2018 from 6pm-8pm at the Veterans Hall, 930 Ward St, Martinez and let these folks get to know the authentic Martinez.Read More
By Bryan Scott
Are the children of Brentwood and Oakley worth one-fifth what the children of Orinda and Moraga are worth?
Are the retirees of Brentwood’s Summerset and Trilogy developments worth one-fourth as much as the retirees in Danville and San Ramon?
The East Contra Costa Fire Protection District (ECCFPD) receives $94 in funding per-resident to protect lives and property in East Contra Costa County, while the two fire districts protecting the just mentioned central county areas are funded at $370 and $449, per-resident.
Let that sink in for a moment: $94 versus $370 and $449 per-resident.
The San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District receives $370 of per-resident funding to protect the lives and property of residents in its community, and the Moraga-Orinda Fire Protection District receives $449 per resident to do the same thing.
This is according to Page 32 of the EMS/Fire Services Municipal Services Review of August 3, 2016, prepared for the Contra Costa County Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO).
Is this unequal funding of an essential government service fair? Is it legal?
After all, residents of East Contra Costa pay the same property tax rate as those residents of Central Contra Costa, and all fire districts are primarily funded with property taxes. Should not the benefits of the California tax laws apply equally to all citizens?
The Fourteenth Amendment to the U. S. Constitution includes this sentence:
“No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
By providing the ECCFPD with such a low level of funding, are we in East County suffering from reduced “privileges or immunities?” Of course, we are.
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that:
“When a state distributes benefits unequally, the distinctions it makes are subject to scrutiny under the Equal Protection Clause, and generally a law will survive that scrutiny if the distinctions rationally further a legitimate state purpose.” Zobel v. Williams, 457 U.S. 55 (1982)
The California Supreme Court has stated that funding of another government benefit, education, based on geography violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
“We are called upon to determine whether the California public school financing system, with its substantial dependence on local property taxes and resultant wide disparities in school revenue, violates the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. We have determined that this funding scheme invidiously discriminates against the poor because it makes the quality of a child’s education a function of the wealth of his parents and neighbors. Recognizing as we must that the right to an education in our public schools is a fundamental interest which cannot be conditioned on wealth, we can discern no compelling state purpose necessitating the present method of financing. We have concluded, therefore, that such a system cannot withstand constitutional challenge and must fall before the equal protection clause,” the California Supreme Court said. Serrano v. Priest, 487 P.2d 1241 (Cal. 1971)
The California Health & Safety Code, Section 13801, reads in part:
“The Legislature finds and declares that the local provision of fire protection services, rescue services, emergency medical services, hazardous material emergency response services, ambulance services, and other services relating to the protection of lives and property is critical to the public peace, health, and safety of the state. “
Not only is this difference of funding unfair, it is illegal. Action needs to be taken to resolve this “public safety emergency,” to use Assembly Member Jim Frazier’s description of the situation.
Lives and property are unfairly at risk, unlawfully at risk.
Brentwood resident Bryan Scott is Co-Chair of East County Voters for Equal Protection, a non-partisan citizen’s action committee striving to improve funding for the ECCFPD. He can be reached at email@example.com, or 925-418-4428. The group’s Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/EastCountyVoters/.Read More