Contra Costa County voters will see an additional language on their voting materials starting this year, as the Contra Costa Elections Division adds Chinese to the current English and Spanish. This means that the official ballot and Voter Information Guide will appear in all three languages.
Voters in the East Contra Costa Fire Protection District and the Diablo Community Services District have a special vote-by-mail election on March 6 and will be the first to see the trilingual materials when they receive their ballots in the mail next week. incorporation of Chinese will appear on all voting materials beginning in June.
Written material will be in traditional Chinese and the Elections Division will provide audio language assistance in Cantonese and Mandarin.
The addition of Chinese comes as a result of the county’s population growth and corresponding shift in demographics. As the population changes, so do the language needs of local voters. When 10,000 voters or 5 percent of the county’s voting age citizens speak a specific language, the Federal Voting Rights Act requires that language be included on all election materials. At the end of 2016, the Department of Justice informed us that we crossed that threshold for Chinese.
“We look forward to meeting the needs of all of our voters,” said Joe Canciamilla, Contra Costa County Registrar of Voters.
The Contra Costa Elections Division continues to engage with local community groups to ensure language access for all voters. For more information, visit our website at www.cocovote.us.Read More
By Bryan Scott
The residents of Brentwood and Oakley, as well as of the communities of Bethel Island, Byron, Discovery Bay, Knightsen, and Morgan Territory, are being underserved by the East Contra Costa Fire Protection District (ECCFPD).
This is a fact that’s been well documented in Grand Jury reports, by a government task force, by the county’s Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO), by industry consultants, by the media, and by ECCFPD itself.
The cause is equally well known. Fire districts in California are funded with property taxes, at an allocation rate set following the passage of Proposition 13 in 1978. This rate has not changed, even though the East County area has experienced a 1,500% increase in population.
According to a LAFCO report, funding for fire and emergency medical services provided by ECCFPD is $94 per-person, while these same services are funded at a rate of $370 and $449 per-person in central parts of the county.
How does our district compare with other areas of Northern California that have experienced rapid growth? Remember, property taxes are levied at the same rate everywhere in California.
Lathrop is a valley town along Interstate-5, west of Manteca and to the east of Brentwood. It is between Stockton and Tracy, in San Joaquin County.
Because of its location it has experienced significant growth, and continues to grow. From 2000 through 2016, according to the US Census Bureau, it grew by 97%. Lathrop’s 2016 population was 22,073, and the city expects to be at 35,000 by 2020.
Lathrop is part of a 100 square-mile, mostly rural, area served by the Lathrop-Manteca Fire District (LMFD). Recently LMFD said the district served over 30,000 total area residents. The district has four fire stations, 33 career fire fighters, and 25 reserve/volunteers.
The size, population make-up, growth patterns, and staffing, all combined, make LMFD look like a smaller version of the ECCFPD, perhaps similar to what ECCFPD’s predecessor, the East Diablo Fire District, might have looked like, maybe 15 years ago, when it served just Brentwood and rural parts of Contra Costa County.
The fire and emergency medical services that LMFD provides are funded at a rate of $316 per resident (2016), compared to the $94 per-resident for ECCFPD. Let that sink in a moment.
The LMFD average response time for the city of Lathrop during 2016 was 4:23 minutes or 5:29 minutes, depending on which of two fire stations responded to the call. For ECCFPD, during the same 2016 calendar year, average response time to the Brentwood West area was 7:26 minutes, and to the Brentwood East area 7:24 minutes.
One could say that Lathrop’s total average response time (4:56 minutes) was about two and one-half minutes less than Brentwood’s total average response time (7:25 minutes). This is according to figures published on the websites of both fire districts.
A lot can happen in two and one-half minutes, 150 seconds. Try holding your breath for that long. Wait. Don’t do that, you’ll die.
East County has one State Senator and one Assembly Member. As far back as 2016, September 14, 2016, to be exact, ECCFPD sent letters to both of these elected leaders, pleading for help with this funding crisis.
The East County public safety emergency, caused by this funding crisis, is on-going, Senator Glazer and Assembly Member Frazier. It is past time to address this situation.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, or 925-418-4428. The group’s Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/EastCountyVoters/.Read More
East Contra Costa Fire Protection District prepares for its first election of directors in November, 2018
By ECCFPD Fire Chief Brian Helmick
Brentwood – – On March 6, 2018, through a special all-mail ballot election, voters in the East Contra Costa Fire Protection District will have an opportunity to approve Measure A, which would decrease from 9 to 5 the number of members of the District’s Board of Directors. Measure A, if approved by a majority of voters, will take effect later this year when the District’s Directors will be elected for the first time.
The District currently has a nine-member Board, with two members appointed by the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors, four members appointed by the Brentwood City Council, and three members appointed by the Oakley City Council.
On November 8, 2016, the District’s voters passed Measure N to transition the Board from an appointed Board to an elected Board. Board elections will be held for the first time on November 6, 2018, when all Directors’ seats will be up for election. Persons currently serving as appointed Directors will be eligible to run for seats as elected Directors. On December 7, 2018, the newly-elected Board members will take office and all of the current appointments to the Board will expire.
The District placed the measure on the ballot in hopes of increasing competition for directorships and improving the efficiency of District administration.
Registered voters of the District will receive ballots and voter information guides on or about February 5, 2018.
Voters may return their ballots by mail to the County Elections Division. Mailed ballots must be postmarked on or before March 6, 2018, and must be received by the County Elections Division in Martinez by March 9, 2018.Read More
On Sunday, February 4, football fans across the country will gather with friends and family to watch Super Bowl LII. The California Highway Patrol (CHP) is teaming up with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to remind motorists to designate a sober driver before the game begins.
“Drunk driving is completely avoidable, but continues to be a serious problem,” CHP Acting Commissioner Warren Stanley said. “We want motorists to remember that drinking and driving is a choice that can have catastrophic results. If you choose to drink, do not drive.”
According to preliminary data from the CHP’s Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System, during last year’s Super Bowl, one person was killed in an alcohol-involved collision and 41 others were injured on California’s roadways. That same day, there were 247 arrests made by the CHP for driving under the influence (DUI). Consequences of a DUI arrest are jail time, the loss of a driver license, higher insurance rates, court fees, car towing and repair, and lost wages from time off work.
“There are no excuses when it comes to driving under the influence,” Acting Commissioner Stanley added. “Have a game plan ready to avoid a tragedy. Leave your car keys at home if you will be consuming alcoholic beverages, and use public transportation, a designated driver, or a ride-hailing service to stay safe.”
If you are hosting a Super Bowl party, be a team player and help keep impaired drivers from getting behind the wheel. Make proper arrangements and designate your sober driver before the big game begins. And remember: Fans Don’t Let Fans Drive Drunk.
The public can help by calling 9-1-1 if they suspect a drunk driver. Callers should be prepared to give the vehicle’s description, location, license plate number, and direction of travel.
The mission of the CHP is to provide the highest level of Safety, Service, and Security.
By Contra Costa Health Services
Air sampling done during the Sims Metal Management fire in Richmond earlier this week, shows elevated levels of potentially harmful chemicals and smoke particulates in the area.
Air samples taken by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District at Sims in close proximity to the fire found a high presence of benzene, a known carcinogen. While long-term exposure to benzene can cause cancer, the health impacts of short-term exposure to the levels found during the fire are not known, said CCHS Environmental Health Director Dr. Marilyn Underwood.
Both the air district and CCHS’ Hazardous Materials Response Team measured high particulate readings throughout the night. Smoke particulates can irritate the throat, lungs and eyes, particularly in those with pre-existing lung disease, such as asthma. Very fine particulates can get into the blood stream.
“All smoke is toxic, and all smoke contains particulate matter. Anytime we see smoke we should take precautions in order to minimize exposure,” said Dr. David Goldstein, CCHS Deputy Health Officer.
Existing community monitors in North Richmond, Atchison Village, and Point Richmond and fence line monitors at the Chevron Refinery were also analyzed. Elevated particulate and benzene readings were found by the Point Richmond community air monitor. There were no other elevated readings of any other chemicals that were analyzed or particulates on any of the other monitors.
Dr. Goldstein said we don’t know what the long-term health impacts from the fire will be. What we do know, he said, is people with preexisting respiratory conditions such as asthma may have experienced some symptoms of wheezing and shortness of breath.
If people have concerns about the impact the smoke may have had on their health, they should contact their healthcare provider, Dr. Goldstein recommended.
The fire at Sims Metal Management, located at 600 S. 4th Street in Richmond, started on Tuesday, January 30 around 5 p.m. The Richmond Fire Department ordered residents in surrounding neighborhoods to shelter-in-place because of the heavy smoke from the fire. The shelter-in-place order was lifted the following morning around 4 a.m.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation.Read More
Worked for former CA Attorney General Kamala Harris and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf
Interim Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton today, Friday, February 2, 2018 announced the hiring of Venus D. Johnson as Assistant District Attorney. Mrs. Johnson will help shape criminal justice policy for the office, in addition to overseeing the Family Violence Prosecution units, the Community Violence Reduction Unit, and the Homicide and Gang Units. Johnson will begin her new role on Monday.
Most recently, she served as the Director of Public Safety for Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf. In that role, she served as a policy advisor to the mayor and co-led the Oakland Police Department’s working group responsible for creating the curriculum and teaching the second phase of procedural justice training for all sworn and professional staff. Johnson also worked with the California Partnership for Safe Communities, the Oakland Police Department, and city and community leaders to support Ceasefire, Oakland’s data driven violence reduction strategy. She also worked closely with Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth to promote those principles within the city, school district and criminal justice system.
Previously, Johnson served as the Associate Attorney General for California Attorney General, Kamala Harris. She managed the Attorney General’s executive team and served as a senior legal and policy advisor, focusing particularly on criminal justice, law enforcement, the interplay of technology and privacy as it relates to law enforcement, police and community relations, and criminal prosecutions, as well as criminal appeals, habeas proceedings, and cert petitions. Prior to that, Johnson was a Deputy Attorney General in the Attorney General’s Office of Legislative Affairs. As an expert in criminal law, she represented the Attorney General’s Office on a wide variety of matters before the California Legislature. Her duties included assisting in the development of the Attorney General’s legislative agenda and advising legislative staff and committee consultants on the technical and policy implications of proposed legislation.
Johnson began her legal career as a prosecutor in the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office in January 2006. She spent eight years as a deputy district attorney prosecuting a wide variety of misdemeanor and felony cases. She served as a member of both the Child Sexual Assault Unit, and the Strike Team — a two-person team charged with handling Oakland’s most violent and repeat offenders. Johnson also served as a member of the Officer Involved Shooting Team.
Prior to her departure from Alameda County, Johnson worked in the DNA Cold Case Unit, a two-person unit responsible for investigating and prosecuting unsolved homicide and sexual assault cases with the use of modern DNA technology. The unit was also tasked with working with local law enforcement agencies throughout Alameda County to reduce the backlog of untested sexual assault kits.
Johnson earned her bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Government from Loyola Marymount University in 2001, and her law degree from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law in 2005. She previously served as a member of the Board of Directors for Holy Names High School in Oakland and is a past president of the Charles Houston Bar Association. Appointed by former Attorney General Harris, she currently serves as a member of the California Commission on Access to Justice, a state commission responsible for developing solutions to improve access to civil justice for low and moderate-income Californians.
“I am honored to join the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office,” Johnson said. “As prosecutors, we are responsible for ensuring the safety of our communities, protecting victims of crime, and ensuring the scales of justice remain fair and balanced for everyone. I look forward to working side by side with local law enforcement and our community partners as we work toward creating safer communities and a more fair and just system.”Read More
Home of the Contra Costa County Fair
ANTIOCH – As part of a re-branding and improvements of the Contra Costa County Fairgrounds the Board of Directors have approved a new facility name and logo. As of February 1st, we are the CONTRA COSTA EVENT PARK, Home of the Contra Costa County Fair.
Over the next year you will see signage change, improvements to the facility, and a new 8,000 square foot event venue become available for community events. CEO Joe Brengle stated that there will be lots of changes taking place at the fairgrounds over the next few years.
Looking for a place for your next event the Contra Costa Event Park still has 2018 dates available; contact our office (925) 757-4400 for availability.
Mark your calendars for the 2018 Contra Costa County Fair May 17 – 20, with the theme “It all Happens at the Fair”.Read More
After a nationwide search, the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors chose a healthcare leader with experience in the county by appointing Anna Roth as the new director of Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS) January 30.
Roth has served as Chief Executive Officer of Contra Costa Regional Medical Center and Health Centers for nine years. She succeeds Dr. William B. Walker, who served more than two decades as Health Services Director and over three decades as County Health Officer.
“We are pleased to announce the selection of Anna Roth as our new Health Services Director,” said David Twa, Contra Costa County Administrator. “Anna is a seasoned Health Services executive working in CCHS for nearly 25 years and we look forward to her leadership in addressing the many issues facing the health department in the coming years.”
Roth holds a master’s degree from the University of California, San Francisco, and a Masters in Public Health from Harvard University. She is a registered nurse with more than 30 years of healthcare experience and is an Institute for Healthcare Improvement Quality Improvement Fellow. Roth is a renowned leader in system redesign and innovation and a strong advocate for the inclusion of patients, families and the community as full partners in the delivery of health services.
“We congratulate Anna on her appointment and look forward to working with her on healthcare issues that impact our residents,” said Karen Mitchoff, Chair for the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors.
In addition to Roth’s healthcare experience, she’s also held executive leadership roles locally, statewide and nationally as board member and chair of both the Essential Hospitals Institute and the California Health Care Safety Net Institute. Roth is also a lecturer at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health.
CCHS is the largest department of county government in Contra Costa, with more than 4,400 employees and an annual budget of $1.8 billion. CCHS includes primary, specialty and inpatient medical care, mental health services, substance abuse treatment, public health programs, environmental health protection, hazardous materials response and inspection and emergency medical services, as well as a county operated health maintenance organization, the Contra Costa Health Plan.
More information about Contra Costa Health Services is available at cchealth.org.Read More
Both suspects are 18 years old
The Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office has filed multiple felony charges against Juan Noel Vargas and Genesis Castaneda, both of Patterson, CA that stem from a street sideshow in Richmond. Charges against Vargas include Attempted Murder of a Police Officer and Assault with a Deadly Weapon. Castaneda was charged with Accessory After the Fact, Conspiracy and Falsifying a Police Report.
In the early morning hours of Sunday, January 28, 2018, Richmond Police Officers responded to the intersection of Marina Way and Regatta Blvd following calls from residents concerned about a large crowd and multiple cars spinning donuts at the intersection. As law enforcement arrived on the scene, participants in the sideshow began to disperse. An Officer exited his patrol car and approached on foot. Vargas rapidly accelerated, the Officer was hit and the force of the impact projected the Officer into the air and against the windshield of Vargas’ car.
The Offficer was transported to a local hospital where he was treated for significant injuries including a dislocated shoulder and a head wound which required staples.
The suspect vehicle was abandoned and found a few blocks away. Visual inspection revealed damage to the windshield and body panels to the vehicle.
The defendants are currently in custody awaiting arraignment on the filed charges.
See a report with video by KTVU Fox2 News, here.Read More