Jesus’ Birth Foretold
Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings,favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was.
The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David;and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.”
Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. For nothing will be impossible with God.”
And Mary said, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
The Birth of Jesus
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.
From the Bible in the Book of Luke, Chapter 1, verses 26-38 NASB; and Chapter 2, verses 1-14, NIV.Read More
Forgive $5.8 Million in Library Book Late Fees Dating Back to 1995
By Daniel Borsuk
The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors flashed the green light for Contra Costa County Development and Conservation Department (DCD) officials to conduct additional studies on how solar power can be expanded, especially in the Far East environmentally sensitive Delta areas of Bethel Island and Jersey Island.
Supervisors also allowed county planners to study the feasibility of identifying underutilized parking lots countywide that could be used as solar farms in partnership with MCE, the main electricity provider for unincorporated Contra Costa County and the cities of Concord, Danville, Martinez, Oakley, Pinole, Pittsburg, and San Ramon.
Freeway cloverleafs are also on the DCD’s list of potential new sites for renewable energy.
“Fifty to eighty percent of the county could be used for renewable energy,” Jody London, a DCD official, told supervisors. London said solar energy represents 85 percent of the renewable energy that could be developed on rural land. The remaining 15 percent would be energy generated from wind power or biomass.
London said the county could also expand solar energy by issuing more permits to homeowners to install solar panels on roofs.
The house rooftop option drew the support of District 3 Supervisor Dianne Burgis of Brentwood, whose district also covers Bethel Island and Jersey Island. “I’d be open to option one,” she said. “We have so many rooftops in Contra Costa County. I’d like to work with MCE.”
Board chair Karen Mitchoff of Pleasant Hill cautioned DCD staff that she was uncertain the DCD recommendation concerning 450-acre Jersey Island as a potential solar power farm might run into opposition from the island’s owner, the Ironhouse Sanitary District.
London said she would look into that issue.
“We support development of solar energy on brownfield sites, parking lots and infill areas such as freeway cloverleafs,” Bill Chilson of the Mount Diablo Audubon Society wrote in a letter to the supervisors. The environmental organization opposes wind and solar development in the Delta agricultural and wildlife areas, Chilson wrote.
Juan Pablo Galwan, Save Mt. Diablo Land Use Manager, criticized the plan, writing:
“Advances in solar technology may increase the frequency of collocation or allow an area of land to concurrently be farmed and produce solar energy without negatively impacting or perhaps even increasing crop productivity. However, currently the most likely scenario is that solar development removes land from most or all ties of agricultural production for the duration of lease which may last several decades. Therefore, the county renewable energy policies should not encourage solar development on viable agricultural land.”
A $47,000 grant from the California Strategic Growth Council developed the energy study for the County.
Supervisors Approve $362,505 State Grant for 2020 Census
The county is getting ready for the 2020 census and took its first step when supervisors unanimously accepted a $362,505 County-Option Outreach Agreement grant from the state.
The grant will aid the county in developing communications and outreach strategies that will target both geographic and demographic populations who are least likely to respond to the 2020 census.
Barbara Rivera of the Contra Costa County Administrators Office said the upcoming census will be the first one where Californians can respond by going online, but this raised cyber security issues from Julia Marks of the Asian Law Caucus. “There is a lot fear over confidentiality,” said Marks.
Choice in Aging’s Debbie Toth Honored as Board Chair Recipient
Debbie Toth, the Chief Executive Officer of Choice in Aging, was honored by the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors Chair Karen Mitchoff, as Board Chair Recipient for 2018.
Mitchoff, of Pleasant Hill, selected Toth, who was named CEO of Choice in Aging in 2012 that serves 600 senior citizens in residential facilities at the Bedford Center in Antioch and the Mt. Diablo Center in Pleasant Hill, for being an advocate for senior access to housing, health and transit.
Mitchoff, who was re-elected to the District 3 supervisorial seat in June, cited her personal experience with her mother as a key factor in nominating the CIA’s Chief Executive Officer for the award.
After Tuesday’s meeting, it is expected District 1 Supervisor John Gioia of Richmond will be elected as Chair of the Board when supervisors reconvene at their next regular meeting slated for January 15, 2019.
Supervisors Forgive $5.8 Million in Library Book Late Fees
A week after the Board of Supervisors made the historic move to eliminate the practice of collecting overdue book and material fees, they approved on a 5-0 vote to discharge about $5,800,100 from public library patron accounts.
The agenda consent item did not attract public comment.
The bookkeeping item covers uncollected fees dating back to 1995 to the present, County Librarian Melinda Cervantes wrote in a report to the Board. “Of this amount, 73 percent is the value of materials, not cash outstanding.” There is no financial impact on the county general fund.
Last week supervisors adopted the library commission’s recommendation to cease the collection of overdue book fines beginning Jan. 1, 2019 based on the recommendations in a policy titled Project Equitable Access with the goal of ensuring everyone has access to library materials.
To view the entire meeting agenda, click here.Read More
Contra Costa County is accepting applications for the upcoming Member at Large opening on the Aviation Advisory Committee (AAC). The term begins upon appointment by the Board of Supervisors and expires on February 28, 2022. Residents of and/or employees in Contra Costa County are eligible to fill this position to represent all County stakeholders in matters related to Buchanan Field and Byron Airport.
The AAC serves as an advisory group to the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors (Board) to provide advice and recommendations to the Board on aviation matters related to the Contra Costa County Airports. The AAC typically meets once per month at either Buchanan Field or Byron Airport.
Application forms can be obtained from the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors by calling 925.335.1900 or at http://www.contracosta.ca.gov/3418/Appointed-Bodies-Committees-and-Commissi. Applications should be submitted online or returned to the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors, Room 106, County Administration Building, 651 Pine Street, Martinez, CA 94553, no later than 5:00 p.m. on Monday, January 28, 2019. Applicants should plan to be available for public interviews on Wednesday, February 13, 2019.
For more information on the Contra Costa County Airports or the AAC visit us at http://www.contracostacountyairports.org/4694/Airports or by calling (844) Fly-ToUs or 844.359.8687.Read More
Be Ready to Get Merry at ‘Tis the Symphony – Performances at 4:00 p.m., 8:00 p.m.
With a full program of holiday favorites plus mulled wine and cocoa available to sip at your seat, ‘Tis the Symphony is the perfect way to get into the spirit of the season. Performed by the California Symphony, Matinee (almost sold out) and evening shows take place Saturday, Dec. 22, at the Lesher Center in Walnut Creek. Tickets start at $42 / $20 for students aged 25 and under.
Featured artists include Music Director, Donato Cabrera and the Pacific Boychoir Academy.
Anderson—A Christmas Festival
Holiday Selections featuring the Pacific Boychoir Academy
Tchaikovsky—Selections from the Nutcracker Suite
Blake—The Snowman (Film viewing with score performed live)
Running Time: approx. 1 hour 50 minutes, with one intermission
WHAT’S INTERESTING ABOUT THIS CONCERT
- The Snowman is an animated short film about a young boy and the snowman he builds, who comes to life. The audience watches on the big screen as the California Symphony and the Pacific Boychoir Academy perform the soundtrack live.
- Nominated for an Academy Award in 1983, The Snowman lost out to Tango. (No, we’d never heard of it either.)
- Featuring an audience sing-along and festive favorites, the holiday concerts are the most popular of the year—perfect for all ages looking to get into the spirit of the season.
- Come early for mulled wine, cocoa, and free activities in the Hoffmann Lobby starting one hour before curtain, including the Instrument Petting Zoo.
To purchase tickets online click here, or purchase them at the ticket window today between noon and 7:30 p.m. or call (925) 943-SHOW (7469). The Lesher Center for the Arts is located at 1601 Civic Drive in Walnut Creek.Read More
The council is currently conducting a recruitment for the candidate who will ultimately succeed current City Manager Brad Kilger who is retiring at the end of January. The application submittal period closed on November 26th. Due to the holidays, the Council expects to choose the top candidates to be interviewed in January.
In an effort to involve the community in the process, the City has posted an online survey for residents to weigh in on the qualities they would like to see in Martinez’s next city leader.
The Martinez city manager is appointed by the City Council and is responsible for addressing the priorities established by the council, and overseeing day-to-day operations of the city. The current job description for the Martinez City Manager position can also be found here.
“The City Manager is the Chief Executive Officer of the City and it is important that the City Council choose an individual who is not only highly qualified, but also a good fit for Martinez,” said Mayor Rob Schroder. “Obtaining input from our citizens on what they feel are the important issues the next City Manager should address and the key skills and attributes they should possess, will assist the City Council in that effort.”
The survey will remain available through January 11th. If the public has any questions, please contact Rica Guidry, Executive Assistant to the City Manager at email@example.com.Read More
By Sergeant John Fortner, Antioch Police Department, Investigations Bureau, Violent Crimes Unit
During the course of this investigation, evidence was obtained that led to the identification of one of the suspects involved in the shooting homicide of the victim, and the injury of two others.
On Thursday, Dec. 20, 2018 at approximately 12:00 pm, detectives from the Antioch Police Department’s Investigations Bureau, with the assistance of Richmond Police Department officers, arrested Angel Leoncio Bautista (19 years old) at his residence in the City of Richmond. Bautista was peacefully taken into custody and later booked into the Martinez Detention Facility.
On July 30, 2018 at 1:17 a.m., Antioch Police dispatch received several calls reporting multiple gunshots at a business complex located in the 2700 block of Hillcrest Avenue. (See related article)
When officers arrived at the complex, they located two males down on the ground in the parking lot. One male victim sustained multiple gunshot wounds and succumbed to his injuries at the scene. The second male (16 years-old) was located a short distance away and he was also suffering from gunshot wounds. Officers began first aid as fire department paramedics were called to the scene. The surviving victim was stabilized and transported to a local area hospital where he was taken into surgery.
While officers were still at the scene, they were advised that a shooting victim arrived at a local emergency room for treatment. Officers responded to the hospital and determined that this was an additional victim who was related to the shooting in the parking lot. No additional victims have come forward or have been identified at this time.
At this time, evidence suggests that the victims were involved in a confrontation with another group of unknown subjects in the parking lot when gunshots were fired.
The area was designated a crime scene and cordoned off. The Antioch Police Department’s Investigations Bureau was notified and responded to the scene. This incident is currently under investigation, and evidence is being collected.
The investigation into this incident remains ongoing, and anyone with information is asked to call the Antioch Police Department non-emergency line at (925)778-2441 or Detective Colley at (925)779-6922. You may also text-a-tip to 274637 (CRIMES) using the key word ANTIOCH.Read More
Contra Costa County recently received $1.2 million under the Federal Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) to establish a new Human Trafficking Task Force. Under the three-year grant from OVC, $500,000 is going to the Employment and Human Services Department (EHSD) for victim services and $700,000 goes to the District Attorney’s Office. This federal grant will assist both departments in developing this multidisciplinary task force that will implement victim-centered and coordinated approaches to identify victims of sex and labor trafficking through services and investigating and prosecuting these trafficking cases.
The Task Force will be an enhancement of the Contra Costa County Rescue and Restore Coalition (commonly referred to as the Human Trafficking Coalition) that was jointly formed with the Office of the District Attorney, EHSD and other partners in 2009 to address human trafficking in our county and the greater Bay Area. The Task Force’s “core team” will be co-chaired by Assistant District Attorney Venus D. Johnson and the Director of the Alliance to End Abuse Devorah Levine to ensure effective and efficient collaboration between investigation and prosecution and victim support and services.
To further combat trafficking in the county, District Attorney Diana Becton recently created a Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit within the District Attorney’s Office, which will be staffed by a dedicated sex trafficking prosecutor, Deputy District Attorney Dana Filkowski.
“Our law enforcement partners will be able to focus on the growing problems associated with human trafficking in our community with this task force,” Becton stated. “We know that sharing confidential information and conducting complex investigations is challenging and resource intensive. However, with this new framework, we can prosecute those perpetrators who often times go unnoticed and provide comprehensive services to victims of trafficking. We have to keep raising awareness with the public and our law enforcement partners about the real threats that human trafficking poses to Contra Costa County.”
The Human Trafficking Task Force of Contra Costa County will be a collaboration of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies working together with victim service organizations to; 1) better identify all types of human trafficking victims; 2) enhance investigation and prosecution of all types of human trafficking; 3) address the individualized needs of all identified human trafficking victims by linking them to comprehensive services; 4) enhance awareness of human trafficking among law enforcement and service providers, as well as within the broader Contra Costa community; and 5) improve trauma-informed practices for human trafficking victims within law enforcement and victim service providers.
Task Force partners on the law enforcement side, headed by the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s office, will include agencies such as the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the F.B.I. and local law enforcement agencies. Task Force partners on the victim service side, headed by Contra Costa County’s Alliance to End Abuse, include Calli House Youth Shelter (Contra Costa Behavioral Health Services), Community Violence Solutions, Bay Area Legal Aid, International Rescue Committee, and STAND! For Families Free of Violence.
Contra Costa County is a natural corridor for human trafficking activities with its linkage to major metropolitan areas like Oakland and San Francisco via public transportation (BART) and its accessibility to Los Angeles and Sacramento via major highways such as 680, 80 and 5 (via Hwy 4). Though human trafficking is illegal, victims often do not know where to turn for help and community members may not know where to report suspicious situations.
The Contra Costa Human Trafficking Task Force, in partnership with the Contra Costa Human Trafficking Coalition will be working with local agencies to raise awareness about human trafficking in Contra Costa County throughout the month of January. The FBI has identified California as one of the nation’s top destination states for trafficked persons.Read More
By Scott Alonso, Public Information Officer, Office of the District Attorney, Contra Costa County
On December 18, a Contra Costa County jury found defendant David Michael Bufano guilty of violating California Labor Code for failing to provide workers’ compensation insurance for his employees. Bufano is the owner and operator of Grant Street Pub & Pizzeria in Concord and has at least 18 employees. Additionally, the jury found Bufano violated state law when he violated a stop work order issued by the Department of Industrial Relations.
Bufano was sentenced to two years of court probation and fined $10,000 by the Honorable Charles Burch in Department 23 at the Contra Costa County Superior Court in Martinez. Under the Labor Code, the fine is paid to the California State Treasury to the credit of the Uninsured Employers Fund. Contra Costa County Deputy District Attorney Caleb Webster prosecuted the case behalf of the People for this misdemeanor jury trial. DDA Webster is assigned to the Office’s Special Operations Division in the Workers’ Compensation Fraud Unit.
In July 2018, the District Attorney’s Office filed a criminal complaint against Bufano. The criminal filing stemmed from a joint enforcement strike force operation with the District Attorney’s Office, Department of Industrial Relations’ Labor Commissioner’s Office and Employment Development Department. Inspectors from these agencies conducted surprise inspections at Contra Costa County restaurants during the summer of 2018. These restaurants were suspected of deliberately evading the obligation to provide workers’ compensation insurance to employees.
“The jury verdict in this case underscores the importance we must place on actively protecting employees in the workplace. All too often, employees first discover their employers lack the appropriate coverage after injuries occur and the employees are stuck with medical bills to pay. Employers need to follow the law and protect their staff,” stated DDA Webster.
Bufano’s restaurant was cited on June 25 and a stop work order was issued by the Labor Commissioner until he could provide proof of workers’ compensation insurance. The very next day, Bufano’s employees were back at work at his direction in violation of the stop work order. On June 27, a follow-up inspection revealed that the restaurant remained open for business and employees were present working. Bufano still had not obtained workers’ compensation insurance at the point of the follow-up inspection. He was cited by the Labor Commissioner and fined $6,000.
“This conviction demonstrates that employers who cheat their workers — whether of wages or the protections of workers compensation — will not get away with it,” said California Labor Commissioner Julie A. Su. “The victims of such practices are not just working people but law-abiding employers and we will do everything in our power to level the playing field.”
Willful failure to provide the insurance is punishable by substantial fines and misdemeanor criminal prosecution. Employees that do not know whether they are covered can check their employer’s notices board or ask a manager. Labor Code section 3550 requires an employer to post a notice identifying the current insurance at a conspicuous location.
Anyone with information about employers who dissuade employees from filing claims after they are injured, lie to a workers compensation insurance carrier about who is employed and what jobs they actually do, or fail to provide workers’ compensation insurance coverage at all, can report that information to DA-ReportFraud@contracostada.org. Labor Code section 1102.5 prohibits an employer from retaliating against an employee who reports a violations of a California statute, rule, or regulation to a supervisor or government agency.
The misdemeanor counts against Bufano are:
- Count 1, Failure to Obtain Workers’ Compensation Insurance Coverage
- Count 2, Failure to Observe Stop Order
Case information: People v. David Michael Bufano, Docket Number 01-186535-1.Read More
State Sen. Steve Glazer (D-Orinda) today sent a letter to the Fair Political Practices Commission requesting the FPPC to levy the maximum possible fine against the Bay Area Rapid Transit district for its illegal use of public funds to campaign for Measure RR on the November 2016 ballot.
“The modest administrative penalty that the FPPC is considering would represent less than a slap on the wrist for BART after the district violated state law by using public funds to campaign for its bond measure,” Glazer said.
“In fact, this penalty is barely a tap on the wrist to BART. It would send a message to government officials in every agency in the state that they are free to break the law and use the public’s funds to wage political campaigns to sway public opinion.”
The commission, which meets Thursday in Sacramento, is considering a $7,500 penalty to punish BART for failing to properly disclose its illegal spending, which financed a video featuring Warriors star Draymond Green and text messages sent to thousands of Bay Area residents.
But the commission’s focus on the lack of disclosure ignores the far more serious offense that occurred when BART spent the money in violation of state law banning public agencies from engaging in political campaigns at public expense.
Glazer said that even if the FPPC believes its jurisdiction over illegal spending is limited, the commission could still levy a larger fine.
The $7,500 proposed penalty was based in part on the commission staff’s conclusion that BART’s text message campaign cost little because the list of residents who received the text was already in BART’s files.
But that list was compiled by BART as part of a years-long effort to build a public relations machine to further its interests. The FPPC should base its fine on the cost of that effort – not the cost of writing a mass text message and hitting the “send” button.
Even using its more limited valuation of the public funds BART spent illegally, the FPPC’s own staff acknowledged that the commission could levy a penalty of $33,375. But the commission’s proposed decision calls for a penalty of only a fraction of that amount.
“The people of California depend on the FPPC to be our watchdog over the practices of our politicians,” Glazer said. “But this proposed decision is so toothless that no government official or agency will ever again fear the consequences of spending the public’s money on a political campaign.”Read More
Beat elite private school team from So Cal
By Jesus Cano, Herald Sports Reporter
NORWALK, Calif. — As soon as then-first year head coach Ryan Partridge and his Liberty High School football team won the 2017 NCS Division I Championship, they set their eyes on the next prize. And Saturday night, Dec. 15 at Cerritos College in Southern California, the Lions’ historic two-season run came to an end with a 19-17 victory over the Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth) Trailblazers, allowing them to hoist the CIF Division 1-A State Championship.
“Every one of these kids deserve it. Every player is extremely important to this program. It’s just unbelievable, I can’t even put my thoughts into words right now.” said Partridge.
Sierra Canyon is a private pre-K through 12th grade day and boarding school where a variety of famous individuals have attended or send their children, including members of the Kardashian family, Will and Jada Pinkett Smith’s daughter Willow and Ireland Baldwin the daughter of actors Alec Baldwin and Kim Bassinger, to name a few.
Tyerell Sturges-Cofer made his last high school football game memorable, rushing for all three of Liberty’s touchdowns on his 188-yard night. With quarterback Jay Butterfield struggling, the Lions’ traditionally pass-heavy offense was forced to turn to the ground attack, with Sturges-Cofer leading the comeback from down 17-7.
“Our O-line was doing an amazing job. We just kept fighting and going for the first down.” said Sturges-Cofer. “In the beginning of the season, coach said we were going for state. We won D-one last year, so we had to take another step and we did it.”
Sierra Canyon got on the board first with an 87-yard drive, capping off with a Chayden Peery one-yard sneak. Sturges-Cofer responded one play later, escaping for a 72-yard touchdown to tie the game.
The Trailblazers went on to light up the scoreboard in the rest of the first half. Josh Bryan added a 24-yard field goal to make it 10-7 in the second quarter. Brendon Gamble tackled on a 22-yard rushing touchdown, giving Sierra Canyon the 17-7 lead heading into halftime.
Sturges-Cofer was set up with the defense’s second touchdown of game, as they forced Sierra Canyon to fumble for a second time. It only took two plays for Sturges-Cofer to score with a 31-yard touchdown run that saw him knock down a pack of Traiblazer linemen to make it 17-13.
Liberty quarterback Jay Butterfield was rattled, unable to complete passes to his receivers, but stepped up when it was necessary by hitting Adrik Lamar to set up Sturges-Cofer for his game winning touchdown drive.
“Our defense picked me up especially throughout the whole game,” said Butterfield. “You never give up anytime, you always trust your receivers. No matter if it’s your top guy or your bottom guy.”
It’s been a whirlwind for Liberty over the past two seasons. The Lions won the NCS Division I championship in 2017, and in 2018 were able to finish the regular season 10-0, and win the BVAL for the first time in school history, while beating powerhouse Pittsburg for the first time since 2005.
As the Lions arrived from Southern California, they were greeted with roaring Liberty fans in the downtown Brentwood campus.
“We have the best fans supporting us at every game.” Butterfield said.
“We have such great community support. It just means everything. We set the culture of service and love.” Partridge added.Read More