Only on specific routes, every weekend in November
ANTIOCH, CA – 2017 marks the 40th anniversary of local public transportation in Eastern Contra Costa County provided by Tri Delta Transit. To celebrate, the agency will be providing free rides on all weekend routes, every weekend in November.
“This will include Thanksgiving Day and the day after,” added Marketing Director Mike Furnary. “Free rides will be available on routes 392, 393, 394, and 395. No special coupon will be necessary to receive free rides. Customers simply can board any bus on the weekend and their ride will be free.”
Few services have had such an impact on our community as the introduction of Tri Delta Transit.
“Our system plays an integral role in keeping our community moving,” said agency CEO, Jeanne Krieg. “When you consider that this agency literally started as a kitchen-table-discussion in the home of long-time board member Barbara Guise, and we have grown to provide more than 3,000,000 rides each year, it is a true symbol of our community’s perseverance.”
Tri Delta Transit began service in 1977 with only two limited-service bus routes, operated by AC Transit. Since then, service has grown to 18 bus routes including express service to BART and paratransit services for seniors and disabled. Service is provided 365 days a year.
“We are excited to share our accomplishment with our customers and thank them for their support over the last 40 years” Krieg continued. “However, as important as it is to acknowledge our history, we are equally excited about our future and our commitment to our customers.”
Tri Delta Transit recently grew again, adding another weekday route in downtown Pittsburg. New Route 381 began service September 25 and travels between the Pittsburg Marina, through downtown Pittsburg, to Los Medanos College.
Tri Delta Transit provides over 3,000,000 trips each year to a population of over 250,000 residents in the 225 square miles of Eastern Contra Costa County. They operate 14 local bus routes Monday – Friday, 4 local bus routes on weekends, door-to-door bus service for senior citizens and people with disabilities, and shuttle services to community events. For additional information about Tri Delta Transit, please visit www.trideltatransit.com.Read More
Washington, DC – On Thursday, Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11) and Democratic Members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Representatives, Jim Cooper (TN-05), Jamie Raskin (MD-08), Raja Krishnamoorthi (IL-08), and Matt Cartwright (PA-17), sent a letter to the Acting Director of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) demanding answers about the agency’s failure to disclose its concerns about efforts that would make it easier for drug distributors to break the law. The letter comes on the heels of the troubling reports by The Washington Post and 60 Minutes that former high-ranking DEA officials authored and deceptively marketed legislation that undermines the agency’s ability to prevent companies from filling suspicious orders for large quantities of opioids.
“The DEA, charged with enforcing our nation’s drug laws, has not prevented the flow of opioids that posed an ‘imminent danger’ to communities across the country. This was due in large part to former DEA officials who left the agency, went to work for pharmaceutical companies manufacturing opioids, and launched a lobbying effort to slow DEA enforcement of these narcotics. Congress has a duty and obligation to fully investigate what happened, and we are calling on DEA to produce information detailing its interactions with Congress and the Administration, and disclose all ‘revolving door’ relationships between DEA and the pharmaceutical industry over the last 10 years,” said DeSaulnier.
The full text of the letter can be found here.Read More
PLEASANT HILL, CA – Diablo Valley College (DVC) has been recognized by The Campaign for College Opportunity as the state’s top community college awarding 824 Associate Degrees for Transfer during the 2015-16 academic year, granting 258 more than the previous year.
The Associate Degree for Transfer (ADT) program was created in partnership between the California community colleges and California State Universities (CSU) to make the transfer process between the two public higher education systems as efficient and seamless as possible. Following a specific 60-unit pathway that identifies almost all the courses a student needs to take, the program accelerates the length of time a student studies at a community college before transferring to a CSU. Completion of the ADT program at a community college earns students an Associate Degree, and guarantees students who meet the CSU’s minimum eligibility requirements priority admission to a CSU campus, though not necessarily to a particular campus or major.
“DVC is already the top transfer institution for students going to UC Berkeley, so our faculty and staff embraced the challenge of helping our students transfer to the CSU system,” said interim president Ted Wieden. “The ADT program helps students take only the courses they need to transfer. Kudos to our counselors and our Transfer Center for their focus and dedication to helping our students achieve their higher education goals at DVC.”
Jake Brymner, State and Federal Policy Manager for The Campaign for College Opportunity applauded DVC’s ADT success for making a clear transfer pathway for their students a priority. “The numbers confirm they are leading the way in the state,” said Brymner. “At a time when California needs a more educated workforce, DVC is stepping up to ensure their students can reach their educational goals. Congratulations DVC.”
The Campaign for College Opportunity (The Campaign) is a non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring student access and success to higher education in California. Founded in 2003 by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), the California Business Roundtable, and the Community College League of California. The Campaign’s mission is focused on substantially increasing the number of students attending two- and four-year colleges in the state and who complete their college education. For more about The Campaign, visit http://collegecampaign.org .
Diablo Valley College (DVC) is one of three colleges in the Contra Costa Community College District. For nearly 70 years, Diablo Valley College has provided quality education to the community it serves. The larger of DVC’s two campuses is located in Pleasant Hill while the newer San Ramon Campus serves the south county in Dougherty Valley. Between its two campuses, DVC serves more than 22,000 students each semester with a wide variety of program options. DVC is not only recognized as one of California’s best community colleges, but it also leads the state in transfer to four-year institutions. For more about DVC, visit www.dvc.edu .Read More
By John Crowder
John Cox is a Republican candidate for Governor of California. On Wednesday, October 18, Herald staff was invited to meet and interview him while he spent some time campaigning in Contra Costa County. Following are the results of that interview.
Herald: Why are you running for governor?
Cox: Our state has become unaffordable for many people. The business climate is bad. We’re chasing businesses out of the state, rather than attracting new business. Less businesses means less competition, and this is part of what drives higher prices.
Growth is essential for our state, and you can’t have growth unless you have affordability.
Taxes are excessive, and the money that we are giving to our government is not being used efficiently. We need to repeal the regressive, gasoline tax hike.
Yes, we need to have better infrastructure, but we can do that with existing funds. We just need to use them efficiently. That won’t happen until I’m governor. Right now, there is no interest in seeing government entities such as Caltrans run efficiently, and that’s working against the California taxpayer.
On top of this we have a homeless problem, a lot of which is related to mental health, but also an affordable housing shortage. These costs add up, housing, food, gasoline, taxes, making it harder for families to thrive.
Herald: Tell me a little about your background. You haven’t always lived in California?
Cox: That’s true. I’ve lived here for the last ten years, in the San Diego area. But, I’ve had family in California for the last 50 years.
I grew up in Chicago. My mother was a Chicago public school teacher who moved to Fresno after she retired. I came to California mainly for family, but also for the weather.
I’m trained as both a Certified Public Accountant and as an attorney. My business is real estate.
Herald: It’s expensive to run a state-wide campaign. Have you invested your own money in your campaign, and how much do you expect to have to raise?
Cox: I’ve invested $3 million of my own money in my campaign, and I think that demonstrates my level of commitment. So far, we’ve raised $350,000 on top of that, all from individual donors. We’ve just announced the members of my finance committee, about 50 people.
For the primary, we have a budget of between $8-$10 million. We’ll have to raise another $20-$25 million for the general election.
One thing I’d like to emphasize, though, is that money, as important as it is, is not the final determinant. It’s ideas. My ideas will resonate with the average Californian. We currently have over 100,000 followers on Facebook.
Herald: What is your experience? Have you ever held elective office?
Cox: I’m not a professional politician, and so I haven’t held office in the past. I am a businessman, and I believe that it is the skills I developed in that arena that are sorely needed in the leader of our state government. Many people in our country feel the same way; 19 of our governors are business people.
I built businesses. Like other business leaders, I know how to manage people, how to set goals, and how to use resources efficiently. With 40 years of business experience, I’ve also learned how to separate pretenders from doers.
No one person can have the answer to everything. But business people know how to seek advice from those that know more about their special areas of expertise.
In our current climate, all too often, decisions taken by our government are influenced by cronyism. That’s one thing I can’t stand. My career has been based on having the best people, and using the resources that I have efficiently.
People want a governor who will take care of their money. I want our state to be sustainable, for the future of my 12-year-old daughter. So, I have a strong interest in seeing our state run well.
Herald: What issues, specific to Contra Costa County, are you concerned about?
Cox: For one thing, housing costs are outrageous. We need more affordable housing, smart housing. Part of this is driven by the CEQA process. It’s become a way to hold up developers.
A lot of regulations don’t make sense, and further drive up costs.
Many people here in the Bay Area commute. As I mentioned earlier, the gas tax hike will hit those who can least afford it, the hardest. That’s why I’m chairman of Give Voters a Chance, the gas tax repeal effort.
Herald: Are you familiar with the Delta Tunnels controversy?
Cox: Yes, I am. The tunnels project is an unnecessary, pork-based project. Instead of building tunnels, we should be building reservoirs.
Herald: What are your views on education?
Cox: Education is one of my biggest issues. I was the school board president of a parish school when I was 24. As I mentioned, my mother was a public-school teacher in Chicago. She saw, first-hand, the problems that develop when cronyism takes hold.
The education system we currently have is not run for the parents or the kids. It’s run for the union bosses. We need to lessen the power of the unions to continue to push for policies that work against our children.
We need to put the parents in charge. One of the ways we can do this is to have more competition. We need more options for parents, the ability to send their kids to charter schools, or private schools. The politicians already have this ability, yet they’d deny it to the poor kid whose parents can’t afford private school, and are stuck in a failing school simply because of where they live. This is political corruption at its worst.
I support the idea of vouchers, giving the decision on where funds go directly to the parents, and letting them make the choice that is best for their child.
On the same day as the interview, during a press conference in Sacramento with the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, Cox announced his support for a ballot initiative to repeal the recently approved state gas tax increase, according to a San Francisco Chronicle article.Read More
“This election has become about the future of Contra Costa County” – Paul Graves
By Allen Payton
On Friday night, Sept. 22, about 100 people gathered in Pleasant Hill to help Contra Costa County’s Senior Deputy District Attorney Paul Graves officially kick off his campaign for DA in next year’s election.
Surrounded by colleagues in the DA’s office, two former District Attorneys, police officers, deputy sheriffs and even criminal defense attorneys who represent the people he prosecutes, Graves was showered with accolades from leaders in county law enforcement.
Deputy District Attorney Colleen Gleason was first to share her thoughts about her colleague.
“Paul is a leader. He’s right there in the trenches with you,” she stated. “Nobody works harder on Paul’s team than Paul. That’s the kind of leader Paul is.”
“You knew he had your back,” Gleason shared of her experience working with Graves. “He had only one rule. You kept in contact with your victims’ families. This is a job of service. Paul leads by example and through service.”
“He is a natural born problem solver. Paul is known as being one of the best strategic thinkers in the legal community. There’s always a line out the door of his office,” she continued. “He’s fought at every level. He knows the terrain. He knows the community, what works and what still needs work.”
“He has a plan for attacking human trafficking in our streets. He has a plan for preventing crime. He also has the ability to sell these ideas. That’s because he’s won the respect with everyone he’s worked with,” Gleason said. “Over the past few months I’ve seen him win over people who didn’t want to like him. As he put it, he kept making friends. Paul is able to bring out the best in the people around him.”
Regarding the campaign, she said, “this is a fight he needs to win not just for him but for all the community. This time he needs us to have his back.”
“Paul is not only the leader this county deserves but the problem solver it needs,” Gleason concluded.
Next to speak and share his perspective on Graves was Deputy Sheriff’s Association President Sean Welch.
The word got around and people were asking, “Did you hear Paul’s running? I knew it was all over for the others in the race,” he stated.
“We know him as a great leader for us. He’s the type of guy who takes the investigator’s hands and walks them through the process to make sure they’re convicted and go to prison,” Welch explained. “Tact, integrity, honest and truthful. Sound principles above all else. Confidence, knowledge, loyalty, endurance. These are all things I look for in a good leader and I believe that Paul represents all of them.”
“The DA has goals of keeping people safe,” he shared. “Paul respects victims of crime and their rights,” but he will “hold criminals accountable for their actions.”
“Diana Becton and another person on that list were caught plagiarizing. To think she actually got picked as the interim DA,” said Welch. “The worst thing you can do as a law enforcement officer is to lie especially on their forms. To me it is unforgivable. I would no longer have a job. For a simple copy and paste of a sentence, one sentence. It was disheartening that was looked over.”
He continued his criticism of Becton saying, “she’s never been a prosecutor. She’s never done it. The stories of people taking a nap during the day and people had to wait around. She has been a public defender. It’s kind of the opposite side.”
“One thing that was amazing to me being in law enforcement after the plagiarism, the local paper endorsed him (Graves). Even the paper’s behind him,” Welch added. “We take it very seriously when we get behind someone.”
“The majority of all law enforcement in the county are supporting Paul,” said Clayton Councilman Dave Shuey, the MC for the evening. “His amazing empathy. Even some defendants come back and tell him he did a good job. One particular defendant he put away who came back and thanked Paul for it.”
“I’ve been a defense attorney for 25-plus years,” he stated. “Paul has the unique ability to look at both sides. He never loses sight of the victims and he wants to do right by the families.”
Shuey then introduced Graves’ wife and children.
“He’s done 70 trials and had 20 convictions of people, in prison for life who are never coming out again,” he added as he introduced the candidate.
Then Graves spoke to his supporters in the room.
“I look around the room and I cannot be anything but fired up and excited about this campaign,” he exclaimed.
He introduced former District Attorney Gary Yancey, saying, “he taught me what I needed to know about being a prosecutor. It’s about appreciating people in the office. I’ve patterned my work as a prosecutor on Gary Yancey.”
“Then I got to work with Bob Kochly (who was also in attendance) who became my next DA. Honesty and integrity,” Graves stated. “It makes me feel like I’m standing in from of my dad and he’s saying ‘you done good and you got this.’”
“It’s about the people in the community,” he continued. “For years I coached a baseball team, the Bulldogs. Seeing them now as young men, I can’t tell you how much it means to have them here. These are the families a DA needs to remember, who want to be raised in a safe community.”
Then Graves spoke about his colleagues in local law enforcement.
“The vast majority of the people who are here are in law enforcement,” he stated. “They work long hours. They work late nights. To have their support is really humbling. They see me day to day.”
Graves thanked his wife and children.
“Nothing prepares you for a county wide campaign,” he explained. “I feel like a bad husband and father for it. But they want me to do what’s right.”
Speaking of his wife, Graves said, “she’s my moral compass and the greatest person I’ve ever met. I’m just trying to be half the person she is.”
He then shared how he made the decision to run, first against his then-boss, Mark Peterson.
“Back in May,” Graves started to explain then stopped. “It was actually something that started in our office last November. I had the people in our office who I respect ask me to step up and run. It was a difficult decision.”
“I talked to my wife and told her I was going to run against my boss and I will probably get demoted and if I lose my career,” he shared. “She said we’ve always tried to do the right thing. This is the right thing. So, let’s do it.”
Then Graves shared about the support from his colleagues.
“I looked to the left and to the right and everyone stepped forward with me,” he stated. “This campaign has never been about me. It’s about us. I’m not running for me. We’re running for this position together.”
Graves then shared some of the reasons he wants to be Contra Costa’s next District Attorney.
“Honesty, integrity and ethics are the primary concerns of this office,” he stated. “Who will put public safety first? Who cares that we can drive on our freeways without getting shot at, about human trafficking? Who cares about victims of crime?”
“It’s not going to be easy. But when you’re doing it for the right reason, for the right cause nothing is lost,” Graves said, encouraging his supporters. “When we go forward we need to know what this campaign is about. This election has now become about the future of Contra Costa County. The battle lines have been drawn. I’m going to keep fighting for you.”
“We need to fight together for this. I will never quit. I will fight for this county until my dying breath. Where public safety is taken first where victims’ rights are the focus and an office that people say that’s where I want to work,” Graves concluded.
For more information about Graves’ campaign, visit, www.paulgravesforda.com. The election will be held in June 2018. If no candidates wins during the Primary, the top two vote-getters will face off in the General Election next November.Read More
Advocates, Supervisors bash popular Laura’s Law mental health program report
By Daniel Borsuk
A popular county mental health program was on the receiving end of criticism from supervisors, mental health advocates and parents of persons afflicted with mental health disease who cited how the $2.25 million a year Assisted Outpatient Treatment Program needs to be repaired.
On a 5-0 vote, supervisors Tuesday approved the July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017 annual report from Mental Health Services officials on the county’s Assisted Outpatient Treatment Program, even though Mental Health Services Administration Program Manager Warren Hayes attempted to put a positive spin on the five-year old program that generated an ample amount of criticism from supervisors and mental health watchdog advocates alike.
The popular AOT program is a product of the implementation of Laura’s Law about 5 years ago. While AOT has gained its fair share of advocates, it has been tagged with criticism mostly associated with its bureaucratic regulations and time delays.
Antioch resident Douglas Dunn blasted the way county “unnecessarily duplicates” activities for applicants needing AOT services. This limits the number of people admitted to receive mental health services, said Dunn, who also serves as a commissioner on the Contra Costa County Mental Health Commission.
In the 2016-17 year, county mental health officials had 177 individuals referred to the AOT, 42 persons were determined to meet program eligibility and were referred to Mental Health Services for inclusion in the program.
The department reported that 25 AOT cases are still pending. In addition, 91 cases are closed because they are not AOT eligible due to several factors such as mental health officials are unable to contact the prospective client or the client is unwilling to cooperate with county mental health workers.
The bureaucracy involved in getting persons potentially admitted into AOT drove Sharon Madison, a parent who also serves on the National Alliance on Mental Illness, to plead with supervisors “Let’s get our loved ones into treatment. It’s taking way too long to get people into the program.”
The county report indicates it takes more than 120 days per case to reach resolution.
“A number of individual cases are taking much longer than 120 days from referral to service,” the report stated. “The program may wish to consider utilizing the court petition sooner as a means to encourage participation in mental health care.”
District 1 Supervisor John Gioia criticized the AOT report for not adequately addressing the county’s mental health problems with the homeless population.
“I want a special report on the homeless population to be prepared,” Gioia demanded. But the likelihood that such a report will materialize is doubtful because few of the supervisor’s colleagues supported his request at least publicly.
District 2 Supervisor Candace Andersen said the program needs to take into consideration those who might be eligible for AOT services are held in county’s jails.
2018 Board Calendar Approved
Without batting an eye, supervisors approved a 2018 calendar, a schedule that calls for 36 regularly scheduled board meetings and 17 canceled board meetings due to a variety of reasons such as major holidays like Christmas Day, because it will be celebrated on Tuesday, Dec. 25, 2018.
So far, this year, supervisors are scoring a solid 96 percent attendance record when it comes to conducting county business. Supervisors have canceled one regularly scheduled board meeting, the Oct. 10 meeting, mainly because there were not enough items to place on the agenda, according to Board Chair Federal Glover.
Another factor, but not necessarily an overriding reason why the Oct. 10 meeting was canceled was because Glover was in Atlanta, Georgia attending an American Public Transportation Association conference. District 3 Supervisor Diane Burgis of Brentwood was also supposed to attend the transit conference, but the Contra Costa Herald learned, Burgis decided not to attend the confab at the last minute.
In other business, supervisors unanimously approved as a consent item for $585,000 of private foundation grant funds for the Stand Together CoCo Project that the supervisors recently approved to provide legal services for undocumented residents of Contra Costa County. (See related article)
The county public defender’s office is spearheading the program on behalf of the county, but the five private foundations that are stepping up to the plate in doling out funds to support the program in its initial year’s rollout requested that the county pony up $500,000 to jump start the first year of the ambitious program.
Private donations include a $275,000 grant for 24 months from the Y&H Soda Foundation, a 12-month $100,000 SF Foundation grant, a $100,000 grant from The California Endowment, a $50,000 East Bay Community Foundation grant to go into effect July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2019, a $50,000 Firedoll Foundation grant, and a $10,000 Richmond Community Foundation grant.
In another consent action, supervisors approved the Public Defender’s Office request to fill the $94,956 a year administrative analyst position to manage cases associated with the Stand Together CoCo program.Read More
SB 751 would eliminate the limit on reserves for most small school districts and raise it to 10 percent for others
SACRAMENTO – School districts will have a greater ability to manage their own fiscal affairs under a bill that Gov. Jerry Brown signed on Wednesday.
The bill, SB 751, jointly authored by Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo and Sen. Steve Glazer, D-Orinda, eliminates the reserve cap for most small school districts and substantially reduces reserve fund obligations for large school districts.
“This measure significantly reverses an ill-advised law limiting local school reserve funds. School districts will now be able to more fully prepare for a rainy day, which may be right around the corner,” Glazer stated. “I would hope that eventually we can eliminate any type of cap on school reserves and keep the state out of micromanaging local school districts’ budgets. I want to thank Senator Hill and the California School Board Association for their leadership on this critical local control issue.”
Glazer represents most of Contra Costa County in the California State Senate.Read More
Contra Costa College, Diablo Valley College-Pleasant Hill Campus, Diablo Valley College-San Ramon Campus, Los Medanos College-Pittsburg Campus, Los Medanos College-Brentwood Center, will resume a regular class schedule and student services beginning today, Friday, October 13. Outdoor sport activities will continue to be limited until further notice, but indoor activities including theater performances will still be held as scheduled.
The weather forecast for this weekend calls for increasing winds that may hamper firefighting efforts and contribute to poor air quality. We encourage students and staff to continue monitoring email, website and social media over the weekend for any updates.Read More
Walnut Creek, CA – Today, Wednesday, October 11, 2017, Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (D, CA-11) announced he will host his 50th town hall and mobile district office hour since coming to Congress in January of 2015. The town hall meeting will be held at the Shadelands Art Center on Monday, October 16th at 6:00 p.m. in Walnut Creek.
“Town halls are one of my favorite ways to interact with constituents,” said DeSaulnier. “There is something special about traveling the district and hearing directly from residents in their neighborhoods—it is a direct display of democracy at work.”
Residents are invited to join the Congressman to listen to a presentation and legislative update. During the town hall constituents will have an opportunity to ask questions, share their opinions on actions taken by this Administration, and discuss issues import to our community.
Walnut Creek Town Hall
Shadelands Arts Center
6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
(Door Open at 5:30 p.m.)
Please RSVP online at www.desaulnier.house.gov/town-hall-rsvp or call 925-933-2660. For more information or to request ADA accommodations contact Congressman DeSaulnier’s office in either Walnut Creek or Richmond.Read More
Contra Costa College, Diablo Valley College, Los Medanos College, and centers at Brentwood and San Ramon, will be closed tomorrow, Thursday, October 12, due to poor air quality as a result of the fires in Solano and Sonoma counties.
The District will evaluate the situation and provide an update as new information becomes available. We encourage students and staff to continue monitoring email, website and social media.Read More