By Allen Payton
According to the Contra Costa District Attorney’s office, murder suspect, Mark Thomas was arraigned in Contra Costa County Superior Court yesterday, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020 for allegedly killing Rafael Rodriguez Lopez with a shotgun during a robbery in Pittsburg on Dec. 14, 2019. Complaint Mark Thomas February 6 2020
According to a Pittsburg Police press release issued later that day, “Early Saturday morning, just after midnight, Pittsburg Officers responded to the report of a shooting at a residence in the 200 block of Havenwood Circle. Upon arrival, officers located a 30-year-old male resident suffering from a gunshot wound to the torso. Officers provided aid to the man until medical personnel arrived. The man later died from his injuries.
Pittsburg Police Department Detectives and Crime Scene Personnel responded to the residence to conduct the investigation. From initial information, officers learned that two masked gunmen entered the residence and engaged in an altercation with the man and other people inside the residence. During this, the two suspects shot the victim and fled the residence in a gray or silver import sedan. Investigators are working to confirm information the man and the suspects knew each other, and this incident was the result of a disagreement that had occurred.”
It was the city’s seventh murder in 2019.
Thomas is being held without bail.Read More
On February 5th, at approximately 9:00 PM, an 18-year-old male called Concord Police Dispatch saying he had just killed his mother at their home located in the 3000 block of Treat Blvd. When officers arrived, the man was outside waiting for them. His mother was found deceased inside the home.
The man was arrested and CPD Detectives are currently investigating the case. There are no further details to be released at this time. We are not releasing the identity of the deceased woman at this time, pending next of kin contact.
Anyone with information regarding this case may contact Detective Greg Mahan with CPD’s Major Crime Unit at 925-603-5817. CPD Case #20-1552Read More
“Under Supervisor Federal Glover’s leadership, Contra Costa County has opened three Family Justice Centers to help victims of domestic violence, elder abuse and human trafficking and hired new deputies to respond more efficiently to 911 calls,” the announcement continued. “Supervisor Glover also fought for cameras to deter freeway shooters. Contra Costa’s Deputy Sheriffs wholeheartedly support Supervisor Glover’s re-election. We ask you to join our deputies in voting for him on or before Election Day, March 3rd.”
Glover is running for his sixth term on the Board of Supervisors, having first been elected in 2000. He faces two opponents, County Assessor Gus Kramer and Martinez Planning Commissioner Sean Trambley. If no candidate receives a majority of the vote in the Primary, the top two candidates will face off in the General Election in November.Read More
Supes finalize appointment of County Clerk, approve agriculture land use policy
Contra Costa County Health Department officials told the Board of Supervisors Tuesday that the county is “taking extra steps to control” the global Novel Coronavirus epidemic.
Dr. Louise McNitt, Director of the Contra Costa County Communicable Disease Unit, told supervisors, “We are still learning about it, but we are taking the extra steps to control it, who to test.”
As of Tuesday, there were no Novel Coronavirus cases reported in Contra Costa County while four cases had been reported elsewhere in the Bay Area. Overall, six Novel Coronavirus cases had been reported in California. There were 11 cases reported throughout the United States. McNitt reported there were 20,000 cases worldwide.
McNitt said the county checks daily with the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta to get the most recent information on how to medically combat Novel Coronavirus.
“The Centers for Disease Control answers a lot of our questions,” she said.
“What happens if in four months there are a large number of cases?” asked District 1 Supervisor John Gioia of Richmond. “We cannot build new hospitals overnight like how China does.”
“We have the tight network of health officials in the Bay Area to quickly respond to this virus should it get out of control,” said Contra Costa Health Services Director Anna Roth. “We are ready if we have a case that comes to us.
“The risk is low,” added Roth. “We are continuously updating our website and advice line.”
“I have every confidence any hospital is ready to treat patients with this disease” said District 4 Supervisor Karen Mitchoff of Pleasant Hill. But the supervisor said that citizens can get help by getting flu shots and frequently washing their hands.
McNitt agreed with Mitchoff about the flu shots. “Right now, there are more people who have the flu than have this virus,” she said.
Supervisor Federal Glover of Pittsburg, who requested that the Novel Coronavirus topic be placed on the Board Agenda, requested that the county’s health department’s website be continuously updated with information about this virus.
Finalize Appointment of Deborah Cooper as County Clerk
The Supervisors appointed Deborah Cooper as the County Clerk-Recorder to the remaining term of the office that will expire on January 2, 2023.
“The Board held an open process over the past three months to find, interview, select and appoint a new County Clerk-Recorder,” said Board Chair, Supervisor Candace Andersen. “During this time, the Board of Supervisors has strongly affirmed the integrity and the professional work of County staff in the Clerk-Recorder-Elections Division. We have every confidence that Debi Cooper will continue to move the team forward during this important election year and beyond with the utmost integrity.”
Deborah Cooper, County Clerk-Recorder, said, “Our primary purpose is to serve the public, whether conducting elections or providing Clerk and Recorder services. Maintaining the public trust while remaining impartial and neutral is crucial. I appreciate our talented and dedicated staff. We will continue to provide great customer service to the people of Contra Costa.”
Most recently, Cooper served as the Acting County Clerk-Recorder since November 1, 2019 and, prior to that, as the Deputy County Clerk-Recorder since 2012.
County Administrator David J. Twa who announced the recruitment for selecting and appointing a Clerk-Recorder, remarked, “It was important to conduct a clear and transparent process with each step. The public was able to attend or watch Board of Supervisors meetings, make public comment, and see the timeline and other key information on the website.”
Ag Land Use Policy Gets Green Light
Supervisors flashed the green light for the county planners to proceed in the development of an Agricultural Land Use Policy that envisions the transformation of agricultural land use to various types of lodging accommodations and food services.
Funded on a $150,000 Livable Communities Trust Grant since 2016, the Department of Conservation and Development presented an update to supervisors on where the study stands.
So far, more work needs to be done since there is no consensus on the study’s recommendations about different types of lodging accommodations, including short-term rentals for 9-days or less, farm stays for up to 90 days, bed-and-breakfast, and camping, yurts or little houses on wheels.
Food service use proposals include farm dinners, farm-to-table restaurants, updating the Winery Ordinance, and allowing hosting of large events. These uses may require a zoning permit like an administerial permit or a land use permit or other permits required by other agencies.
“This is not a total road map. We are checking into with the Board to see if you accept the report,” said Contra Costa County Conservation & Development Department Director John Kopchik.
“There’s tension in the farm community,” Supervisor Mitchoff said about the preliminary land use plan. “You need to work it out.”
Where once fertile farmland once stood with real estate prices might fetch $10,000 an acre, some farmland is being snapped up by developers at $100,000 an acre or higher.
The county’s Agricultural Land Use Policy is in response to the skyrocketing real estate prices shaking up the rural areas in Brentwood, Oakley, Knightsen in East County and Danville.
The planning study occurs at a pivotal time in the county’s steadily declining agricultural economy. In 2017, county crop production from corn, berries, and other crops fell to $120.4 million, a six percent decline from 2016 due mainly to crop marketplace conditions.
The planning study also includes recommendations to promote agriculture use to include equestrian and bike trails to connect farms, consider allowing equestrian facilities within additional agricultural districts, exploring funding for signage to promote farming in the county, updating the county’s sign ordinance, and working with other agencies to promote agricultural vitality in the County.
Funds for 30-Unit Pittsburg Rental Housing Project Approved
Supervisors unanimously approved as part of the consent agenda items, the issuance of $18 million in state Multifamily Housing Revenue Bonds to finance the cost of the acquisition and construction of a 30-unit rental housing development at 901 Los Medanos Street and 295 E. 10th Street in Pittsburg.
Veterans Square will provide 29 units of affordable housing and one manager’s unit. Fifteen units will be reserved for households with incomes at or below 50 percent of the area median income and 14 units will be reserved at or below 30 percent of the area median income.
The Board of Supervisors had previously allocated about $2.2 million in HOME Investment Partnerships Program funds for Veterans Square and approved the county submission of an application to the state for $3.6 million in No Place Like Home funds. On Dec. 17, 2019, the Board of Supervisors approved a Reimbursement Resolution for this prospective issuance of bonds.
When asked why it’s costing $600,000 for each of the one-bedroom apartments, county Affordable Housing Program Manager Kristen Lackey said, “That is what we are seeing in affordable housing units, and with other projects, as well. Construction costs are going up. Affordable housing is typically more expensive to develop based on the different sources of funds, which adds to the complexity and they have to pay prevailing wage, so the labor costs on it are higher, than what normal residential construction will be.”
“It’s an unfortunate reality of the housing crisis,” she added.
Allen Payton contributed to this report.Read More
By Allen Payton
William Martinek, a financial advisor and decorated combat Army veteran from Brentwood, has decided to throw his hat in the ring and take on seven-term incumbent Congressman Jerry McNerney.
After serving in the Army and doing two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan between 2006 and 2014 Martinek became a financial advisor for a major national company in 2016.
Asked why he’s running, Martinek responded, “I want to represent my home area in Congress and because McNerney hasn’t done a whole lot. He’s very comfortable in his position and just sitting there not doing much.”
“That’s a common theme among Democrats and Republicans that I speak with,” Martinek continued. “He’s not responsive at all and from what I hear, doesn’t call anyone back or respond to emails.”
Martinek is committed to being much more accessible and responsive to the people he’s running to represent. “Either I or someone on my staff will call you back,” he promised.
Martinek’s top priority if elected will be to help create jobs and continue to grow the economy.
“With an extremely robust economy we will also be able to help solve some of the social issues, such as homelessness,” he stated. “There is still a lot of room left to grow the economy. We need to continue reforming regulation that is making it difficult for small businesses to grow. I hate it when people say corporations are corrupt. In a real, free market economy corruption is stemmed because there is more competition.”
Martinek is also focused on protecting the Constitution and making sure what happens in Washington complies with it. He has a challenge with parts of the Patriot Act, which are overreaching and “violating our rights.”
He will also work to protect the agriculture industry, “making sure our farmers have the water and resources they need to continue growing crops in the 9th District.”
The congressional district includes most of Antioch, all of Brentwood, Oakley, Discovery Bay and the rest of Far East County, and most of San Joaquin County.
“Transportation is also a big issue for me, especially with having had to commute to San Francisco to work,” he mentioned. “I’m fortunate now to both live and work in Brentwood. But others aren’t so fortunate. That’s why I want to bring jobs to the area.”
Martinek grew up in Fremont and moved to Brentwood in 1998 as a teenager. He graduated from Liberty High School in 2003, where he played football and was a long-distance runner on the track and field team. Between his junior and senior year, he joined of the Army National Guard split option and did the one weekend a month training and continued that for about a year.
But it wasn’t until after he attended Los Medanos College for a few years that he decided to join the Army at age 21.
During his military service he received Army Accommodation and Army Achievement medals, Combat Infantry and Expert Infantry badges and several ribbons.
Martinek is currently a board member of the Brentwood Chamber of Commerce and Chairman of the Advocacy Committee, and a member of the Brentwood Rotary Club. He served on the Parents Club board for his children’s elementary school and is a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10789 in Brentwood.
Martinek is married to Lauren, and they have three children ages 5, (almost) 7 and 8, and his parents and two brothers still live in East County. His dad is a glazing contractor with his own commercial window business in Tracy and his mom works at Lowe’s in Antioch.
There is one other candidate in the race, Tony Amador of Lodi, the former Chairman of the San Joaquin County Republican Central Committee. He ran twice before in the 9th District and once before in another district, and once for State Assembly, all unsuccessfully. Amador filed his papers the final week before deadline long after Martinek was in the race.
Learn more about Martinek and his campaign visit www.williamforcongress.com or Facebook.com/williammartinekca9 or call (925) 238-8407.Read More
GULF OF ADEN (Jan. 3, 2020) Fire Controlman 2nd Class Michael Read, left, from Walnut Creek, Calif., and Fire Controlman 3rd Class Justin Janssen, from Crofton, Neb., perform a routine inspection on the surge antenna of the starboard close-in weapon system aboard the guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy (CG 60). The Normandy is part of the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group and is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of naval operations to ensure maritime stability and security in the Central Region, connecting the Mediterranean and Pacific through the western Indian Ocean and three strategic choke points.Read More
By Jimmy Lee, Director of Public Affairs, Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff
Earlier this month the Contra Costa Anti-Violence Support Effort (CASE) team, led by a Pittsburg Police Department task force officer, launched an investigation after receiving information from the state Armed Prohibited Persons System (APPS) that a Bethel Island resident had firearms registered to him despite being prohibited. Further investigation found he attempted to purchase silencers through the mail.
The CASE team obtained a search warrant for his residence from a judge.
On Thursday, January 30, 2020, CASE agents executed the search warrant at the residence on the 2000 block of Taylor Road in Bethel Island. CASE agents seized four AR-15-style assault rifles, nine handguns, 10 rifles, one shotgun, four lower receivers, one silencer, 20 large capacity magazines, and approximately 5,000 rounds of ammunition.
The man was arrested. He is identified as 57-year-old Jeffery Irvine. Irvine was later booked into the Martinez Detention Facility (MDF) on the following charges:
-Manufacturing an assault rifle
-Possession of an assault rifle
-Prohibited person in possession of a firearm
-Prohibited person in possession of ammunition
-Illegal transfer of a firearm
Irvine was being held at the MDF, in lieu of $240,000 bail. He has since bailed out.
The CASE Team is a joint effort by the Office of the Sheriff, California Department of Justice, California Highway Patrol, Pittsburg Police Department, Walnut Creek Police Department, Contra Costa County Probation Department, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. CASE was created in November 2011 as a collaborative effort to reduce violent crimes in Contra Costa, especially those related to illegal firearms.Read More
Earlier this week, the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office filed multiple felonies against Christopher Dopp, a transient with no known address, and Richard Lange, from Richmond, for last week’s burglary of the Walnut Creek Macy’s store at Broadway Plaza. During the early morning burglary of January 24, the defendants took $65,244 of gold jewelry from display cases.
The defendants were spotted by store employees on the first floor of the store as the pair smashed display cases. The defendants fled the scene after the employees saw the pair destroying the display cases. Ultimately, Walnut Creek Police Officers apprehended the burglars as they left the store. In total, the damage to the store totaled over $80,000 from the broken glass.
The specific felony charges are as follows:
Lange: Second Degree Burglary, Grand Theft of Personal Property, Vandalism Over $400 Damage — Special Allegation Serious or Violent Felony Prior & Special Allegation Two Prior Offenses
Dopp: Second Degree Burglary, Grand Theft of Personal Property, Vandalism Over $400 Damage
Case information: People v. Dopp, Lange, Docket Number 01-192927-2Read More