On Thursday, August 25, 2016, Assemblymember Jim Frazier (D – Oakley) and Senator Jim Beall (D – San Jose) introduced companion bills – ABX1 26 and SBX1 1 – in the 1st Extraordinary Session to address California’s transportation funding crisis. As mentioned in a recent article, the plan includes increases to the tax on gas by 17 cents per gallon and on diesel by 30 cents per gallon, as well as a $165 annual fee on electric vehicles.
“Over the past year, I’ve worked with my colleagues, local communities and industry experts to develop an all-inclusive plan that makes necessary improvements to our transportation system. These conversations resulted in ABX1 26,” stated Frazier. “The package that Senator Jim Beall and I put forth provides vital tools to ensure California remains economically competitive. By strengthening our trade corridors and accelerating the movement of goods, this proposal keeps business in California while simultaneously creating jobs through the advancement of crucial road maintenance and enhancement projects.”
The joint proposal provides an additional $7.4 billion annually across California’s transportation system: highways, local streets, transit, bikes and pedestrians. The plan utilizes a portfolio approach in addressing a multitude of funding needs, ensuring that everyone benefitting from California’s transportation infrastructure contributes to its continual maintenance and improvement. Additionally, important systemic reforms are included to ensure transparency and accountability in the use of funds.
“Assemblymember Jim Frazier and I have met with scores of legislators and stakeholders to craft an equitable solution that calls for everyone who drives to pay their fair share toward repairing California’s crumbling roads, bridges and trade corridors,” said Senator Jim Beall, chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee. “Our plan includes bipartisan recommendations to increase efficiency and accountability to taxpayers. By choosing to repair our transportation system now, we will have smoother and safer roads, generate jobs, and also save billions of dollars in future maintenance and construction costs.’’
The breakdown of new annual funding includes $2.9 billion for state highway maintenance, $2.5 billion for the upkeep of local streets and roads, $534 million to help regions restore cuts to the State Transportation Improvement Program, $516 million for transit capital projects and operations, $900 million to enhance goods movement, $80 million for active transportation projects and up to $150 million possible through Caltrans efficiencies for bicycle and pedestrian projects.
“This new proposal demonstrates real progress in the fight to secure needed transportation funding,” stated Bob Alvarado, Executive Officer of the Northern California Carpenters Regional Council. “Many in the labor community are already supportive of these efforts and look forward to helping secure the success of a funding package so we can put people to work.”
Asked if he and Beall had considered reallocating current spending to pay for their plan instead of the tax increases, Frazier responded with the following:
“In most circumstances, transportation funding has always come from a user-pay system. The General Fund is an unsteady and unpredictable source of revenue with regular fluctuations, resulting in constant funding and defunding of state-run programs. Therefore, this is not an ideal candidate for transportation projects, which can take years to plan and complete. Imagine the disappointment of developing a project only to have it cancelled last minute and without warning because state revenues are down and other programs were considered more important.”
“The proposal I laid out in ABX1-26 fixes the current transportation funding structure while still following the guiding principle of a user-pay system. This new plan utilizes a portfolio approach to diversify the collection of funds, ensuring that everyone benefitting from California’s transportation system is contributing to its maintenance and overall improvement. Additionally, the plan fixes the gas tax’s current structure, ending the instability and uncertainty of available revenues. It does this by resetting the revenue source to where it was before being altered in 2010. It then indexes it to keep pace with inflation so we can be confident that its buying power will remain strong into the future.”
The 1st Extraordinary Session was called by the Governor in June of 2015. The bills have until November 30th to be taken up for a vote before the session expires. To see the complete text of the bill, please click here.
Assemblymember Frazier represents the 11th Assembly District, which includes the communities of Antioch, Bethel Island, Birds Landing, Brentwood, Byron, Collinsville, Discovery Bay, Fairfield, Isleton, Knightsen, Locke, Oakley, Pittsburg (partial), Rio Vista, Suisun City, Travis AFB, Vacaville and Walnut Grove.Read More
By Allen Payton
If you’ve ever wanted to be in a movie, this may be your chance. Antioch’s own Anthony Ferrante, the director of the Sharknado films, is back in town with his crew filming a new movie entitled Forgotten Evil. And they need extras, starting tonight, Monday, August 22nd.
More about Ferrante and the movie, later. But, for now, according to Kris Wynne, Line Producer for the movie, following is the schedule for extras needed for the film:
(Please don’t wear black, white or stripes and NO logos)
MONDAY 8/22 – El Campanil Theatre 6PM-10PM
TUESDAY 8/23 – Riverview Lodge 6PM
WEDNESDAY 8/24 – Southern Cafe 8PM
THURSDAY 8/25 – Los Medanos College (Time to be announced)
FRIDAY 8/26 – Antioch Convalescent Home 3PM
If interested, please email firstname.lastname@example.orgRead More
The Alameda County Sheriff’s Office began a long term investigation regarding an enormous outdoor illegal marijuana cultivation near mile marker 18.6 on Mines Road in rural Livermore. ACSO obtained a search warrant for the 200 acre property, as well as a residence of the primary suspect in Antioch.
On Thursday, August 11, 2016, the search warrant was conducted on Mines Road with the assistance of Hayward, Fremont and East Bay Regional Parks Police. CHP Air ops and our UAV team provided aerial support. The Antioch residence search warrant was done by the Alameda County Narcotics Task. A small, illegal marijuana grow, approximately two pounds of dried and processed marijuana and $10,000 cash were located in Antioch. Two suspects were arrested at that location on Barbano Court.
The Mines Road location consisted of three separate parcels which were spread out on the 200 acres of land. Over 4,600 Marijuana plants were eradicated. Some of these plants were over nine feet tall and six feet wide. 100 lbs of processed marijuana, two firearms, and over $15,000 in cash were recovered. Eight people were detained and ultimately arrested for Cultivation and distribution of illegal marijuana at this location. A marijuana oil extraction lab was also located.
The land, gardens, and dozens of outbuildings were inspected by California Fish and Game, Zone 7 Water District, and Alameda County Code Enforcement. The Game Wardens located over 20 violations of environmental crimes. Some of the major violations were diverting natural water runoff, drilling illegal wells, and crimes of pollution which all severely impacted the environment in a negative way. Fish and Game reported there is likely over a million dollars’ worth of civil penalties for the damage caused by this marijuana grow. Cal Fire additionally evaluated the area and noted several violations regarding fire safety and endangerment to the environment.
The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office will be moving forward with the prosecution of this case.Read More
Assembly Member Jim Frazier wants to add a 17 cent per gallon tax on gas in addition to our already outrageous cost of living. He wants this tax increase to cover transportation costs. This tax would generate $7.4 billion.
Illegal aliens cost California taxpayers more than $25 billion per year. Here is a novel idea, stop supporting these illegals (in some cases they receive far more than U.S. citizens), and many problems would be solved at the same time, by the same action. Most illegals would return to their country of origin or go elsewhere. This would relieve the strain on the state budget, the strain on the water supply, the strain on the judicial system, education, jail systems to name a few.
All of these positives and more could be achieved by actually enforcing current, existing laws. By doing so, we would not need a 17 cent per gallon gas tax increase and would still have more than $17.6 billion left from the $25 billion that illegals cost California taxpayers annually.
In an honest system, we could even receive a tax cut, but I just do not see this happening. By myself, I have supported more families than I have actual family members. I, for one, am growing extremely weary of it.
We are no longer citizens or constituents, only taxpayers or dollar signs.
Steven PayneRead More
Dave Miller who is challenging incumbent Assemblyman Jim Frazier in his race for re-election issued a statement opposing Frazier’s proposal for an increase in the gas tax.
Following is Miller’s statement:
There are two undisputed facts that everyone should know: California has the highest Gas Prices of any state that is not an island. There are a number of reasons for this and all of them originated in our legislature.
Gas and Diesel taxes hurt the working poor more than any other group. The working poor are more likely to commute farther for work -that alone is enough of a burden, they have to drive more. In addition to that, increasing the Diesel tax means that it costs more to deliver goods and services. Businesses pass along the higher delivery cost to customers in the form of higher prices. Which means our dollars don’t go as far as they used to.
Assemblyman Frazier, the chairman of the Transportation Committee, knows this. He just doesn’t care. He knows that the people that will be the most affected by this are too busy trying as hard as they can to eek out a living that they don’t have the time or money to pay attention.
Knowing that, yesterday Assemblyman Frazier joined with State Senator Jim Beall, according to the LA Times, to unveil their new gas tax plan. Here are some highlights:
- Additional 17 cent per gallon tax on gasoline.
- Additional 30 cent per gallon tax on diesel.
- $165 annual fee added to the registration fees for electric cars.
The creation of a new political bureaucracy – The Office of Transportation Inspector General. (I wonder how much of the new gas tax will have to be used to pay for that…)
Assemblyman Frazier is hoping that no one notices another key point of his tax plan. It is designed to increase inflation annually thus triggering a higher tax on gasoline automatically. Inflation is calculated by looking at the Consumer Price Index. The more things cost – the higher inflation is. So he is going to increase the costs of all goods and services by increasing the cost of fuel. By tying his tax to inflation Assemblyman Frazier is taking his planned price increases for all goods and services -caused by his tax plan- and turning them into a self-fulfilling prophecy of ever increasing gas taxes and higher inflation.
This is not his first attempt to increase the tax on each gallon of gasoline. On January 6th of 2016 Assemblyman Frazier introduced AB-1591 which would have increased the tax on gasoline by 22.5 cents per gallon and 30 cents per gallon of diesel. In addition to the new gas tax AB-1591 would have increased the cost of annual vehicle registration from $38 to $165 depending on your vehicle. Like his current proposal AB-1591 would have also been tied to inflation and automatically increased annually. AB-1591 died in committee. But Assemblyman Frazier told the L.A. Times that he would try to push for a lame duck session to get his new bill passed.
The big issue with trying to force it though a lame duck session is that you may end up with enough legislators that lost their elections, or decided to retire, that might vote for something that their constituencies do not want since there is no political consequence. What Assemblyman Frazier is doing here is putting politics before people.
As many of you know Jim has skipped out on 2 scheduled debates with me. The most recent he had a fellow democrat try to come to his aide by saying that he was stuck in a committee hearing. When the truth is that he had an hour and 45 minutes after the conclusion of his meeting to get just 35 miles. Even if he hadn’t left the capitol for 30 minutes after his hearing AND got caught in traffic, and hit every red light, he still would have been able to make it to the debate.
So, I have issued a challenge, anytime, anywhere. I will debate Mr. Frazier anytime, anywhere. But, he is too scared to debate a serious contender that knows the Assemblyman’s record better than the Assemblyman does, himself.
Frazier is seeking his third term in the Assembly. For more information about Miller, visit his website at www.electdavemiller.com. The election is on Tuesday, November 8.Read More
By Allen Payton
State Assemblyman Jim Frazier (D-Oakley) and State Senator Jim Beall (D-San Jose) presented a $7.4-billion transportation plan late Wednesday, which includes an increase of 17 cents per gallon in the state gas tax, to help pay for it. The plan would also increase the tax on diesel by 30 cents per gallon and introduce a $165 annual fee on electric cars.
The Frazier-Beall plan also includes streamlining the environmental process for repairing existing transportation infrastructure and a new Office of Transportation inspector general to oversee spending.
The pair’s proposal is in response to a report about the condition of California’s roads, highways and bridges, also released on Wednesday. See the entire report, here – TRIP_Report_August_2016
Frazier issued the following statement about the report, on Thursday:
Yesterday, The Road Information Program (TRIP) released a report detailing the current status of California’s transportation system, confirming Assemblymember Frazier’s (D – Oakley) claims that road conditions will continue to worsen without passing a transportation funding plan.
“The information released in yesterday’s report further demonstrates the desperate need to repair California’s transportation system,” stated Frazier. “This cannot be accomplished without fixing the current, outdated funding structure.”
The report details the existing condition of California’s transportation infrastructure and examines future mobility needs with an increase in population and goods movement. Included in the study is the vital role our roads, highways and bridges have on economic growth and overall quality of life. The report uncovered that deteriorating roads cost Californians $56.6 billion annually in the form of additional vehicle operating costs, congestion-related delays and traffic crashes.
“I’ve spent the past year calling for a comprehensive funding fix. If we fail to act on this now, the condition of our roads will continue on this downward trajectory,” stated Frazier. “Our residents deserve a transportation system that works for all Californians. It’s time that the Legislature comes together to pass a thoughtful, sustainable plan. To that end, I’ve worked with Senator Beall to put forth a plan that will address these concerns.”
The report concluded that addressing these significant transportation issues is essential for California to remain competitive and accommodate the demands of a modern society.
Assemblymember Frazier represents the 11th Assembly District, which includes the communities of Antioch, Bethel Island, Birds Landing, Brentwood, Byron, Collinsville, Discovery Bay, Fairfield, Isleton, Knightsen, Locke, Oakley, Pittsburg (partial), Rio Vista, Suisun City, Travis AFB, Vacaville and Walnut Grove.
By Allen Payton
County School Board Member Jeff Belle, who has been charged and is being prosecuted for lying on his ballot statement during his 2014 campaign, was denied a request for participation in a diversion program in July.
In his 2014 campaign ballot statement, Belle claimed to have a college degree, but he didn’t at the time.
In July, he filed a motion to compel diversion. Belled wanted to enter a new Contra Costa District Attorney program designed to divert people from the criminal justice system. However, the DA’s office filed a response and turned him down.
Belle then requested the court to demand that the DA comply with his request, but it was also declined.
A pre-trial conference to discuss a resolution of the case was scheduled, but Belle’s attorney was unable to attend. So, it was postponed eight weeks at Belle’s request, until sometime in late September or early October.
He continues to fight the charge over which he has plead not guilty and faces trial. The maximum penalty Belle faces is a $1,000 fine and no jail time. It’s a fine only misdemeanor.
Attempts to reach Belle for this article were unsuccessful.Read More
On Labor Day weekend many will be celebrating the end of the summer. Sadly, this holiday has also become a dangerous time on America’s roads, as many impaired drivers get behind the wheel after celebrating. For this reason, the Contra Costa County Avoid the 25 anti-DUI task force is partnering with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA) to stop impaired drivers and help save lives. The high-visibility national enforcement campaign, Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over, runs August 19 – September 5, 2016.
The Avoid the 25 will deploy numerous anti-DUI saturation patrols throughout the county to stop and arrest impaired drivers during this end of summer 18-day crackdown. The Lafayette Police Department will host a DUI/Drivers license checkpoint in Lafayette on Thursday, September 1, 2016. Other operations in Contra Costa include a DUI warrant/probation sweep and a court-sting targeting suspended drivers who were ordered by a judge not to drive, but continue to get behind the wheel.
According to NHSTA, on average, over 10,000 people died each year (2010 to 2014) in drunk-driving crashes nationwide. During the 2014 Labor Day holiday weekend (6 p.m. August 29 – 5:59 a.m. September 2), 40 percent of the fatalities in traffic crashes involved drunk drivers, which was the highest percentage over the five years from 2010 to 2014. And nighttime proves to be the most dangerous time to be out on the roads: During the 2014 Labor Day holiday period, 83 percent of drunk-driving crash fatalities occurred between 6 p.m. and 5:59 a.m.
Additionally, 40 percent of crash fatalities on Labor Day weekend in 2014 involved drunk drivers (with blood alcohol concentrations [BACs] of .08 or higher), amounting to 162 lives lost nationwide and 20 in California. And we’re not just talking about a little bit of alcohol, either. More than a quarter (28%) of the crash fatalities that occurred on Labor Day weekend involved drivers with BACs of .15 or higher—almost twice the illegal limit.
The Avoid the 25 reminds everyone:
- Plan a safe way home before the fun begins. Before drinking, designate a sober driver.
- Drivers are encouraged to download the Designated Driver VIP, or “DDVIP,” free mobile app for Android or iPhone. The DDVIP app helps find nearby establishments that feature free incentives for the designated sober driver. The feature-packed app has social media tie-ins and even a tab to call Uber, Lyft or Curb.
- If you know someone who is about to drive or ride a motorcycle while impaired, take your friend’s keys and help your friend make other arrangements to get to where he or she is going safely
As the summer winds to an end, remember that there’s no excuse for impaired driving. Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.
Funding for the Avoid the 25 program is provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.Read More
John Muir Medical Center, Walnut Creek Ranks in Top 50 nationally for Gynecology, its tenth consecutive year with a nationally ranked service. John Muir Health’s Concord and Walnut Creek medical centers ranked in Top 4 overall in San Francisco/Oakland area and Top 15 in the state
John Muir Health’s Concord and Walnut Creek medical centers were 2 of just 504 hospitals or about 10% nationally that earned the designation of Best Regional Hospitals by U.S. News & World Report in its annual list of America’s Best Hospitals.
To earn this distinction, each medical center had to earn at least one national ranking in a specialty or at least four ratings of “high performing” across 16 specialties and nine procedures and conditions. Combined, the two medical centers had seven specialties nationally ranked or rated as high performing and eight procedures and conditions rated as high performing. This places both medical centers among the top ranked on the West Coast.
For the tenth consecutive year, John Muir Medical Center, Walnut Creek had a service nationally ranked. The Walnut Creek medical center has been nationally ranked in Gynecology for the past five years. It was one of just 153 medical centers – less than 3 percent of the nearly 5,000 analyzed – to be nationally ranked in even one of 16 specialties surveyed for the report.
John Muir Medical Center, Walnut Creek was also ranked as high-performing in Gastroenterology & GI Surgery, Geriatrics, Orthopedics, Pulmonology, Urology and Diabetes & Endocrinology. In addition, the medical center was rated as high performing in several adult procedures and conditions, including Heart Failure, Colon Cancer Surgery, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), Hip Replacement, Knee Replacement and Lung Cancer Surgery.
John Muir Medical Center, Concord was ranked as high-performing in four specialties, including Diabetes & Endocrinology, Gastroenterology & GI Surgery, Geriatrics and Orthopedics. In addition, the medical center was rated as high performing in several adult procedures and conditions, including Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Repair, Heart Bypass Surgery, Heart Failure, Colon Cancer Surgery, COPD, Hip Replacement, Knee Replacement and Lung Cancer Surgery.
Along with its national rankings, U.S. News & World Report’s Best Hospitals published state and metropolitan hospital rankings. John Muir Medical Center, Walnut Creek is listed at #2 out of 44 hospitals in the San Francisco-Oakland area and #11 out of 415 acute care hospitals in California. John Muir Medical Center, Concord is listed at #4 locally and #15 in the state.
“We’re proud to be ranked among the region, state and nation’s best by U.S. News again this year,” said Jane Willemsen, president and chief administrative officer of John Muir Medical Center, Walnut Creek. “Our highly-skilled team of doctors, nurses, staff and volunteers is the reason for this recognition. They are dedicated to delivering on our mission to improve the health of the communities we serve with quality and compassion.”
“Every day, we focus on the needs of our patients and that is reflected in the exceptional care and experience we provide,” said Mike Thomas, president and chief administrative officer at John Muir Medical Center, Concord. “We have a range of services not usually associated with community hospitals that allows patients to stay close to home for their care, which is a tremendous benefit in the healing process.”
“Our rankings should give patients confidence that exceptional care is available to them throughout John Muir Health,” said Irving Pike, M.D., chief medical officer at John Muir Health. “We are here to serve the community and our goal is to treat every patient like a member of our own family.”
Between the two medical centers in Concord and Walnut Creek, John Muir Health has 799 licensed beds. John Muir Medical Center, Walnut Creek also serves as the designated trauma center for Contra Costa County. In addition, the health system offers a network of more than 1,000 primary care and specialty physicians to care for patients.
The complete rankings and methodology are available at http://health.usnews.com/best-hospitals and will appear in print in the U.S. News Best Hospitals 2016 guidebook, available in bookstores and on newsstands in September.
To learn more about John Muir Health’s award-winning programs and services, visit: www.johnmuirhealth.com.
About John Muir Health
John Muir Health is a nationally recognized, not-for-profit health care organization east of San Francisco serving patients in Contra Costa, eastern Alameda and southern Solano Counties. It includes a network of more than 1,000 primary care and specialty physicians, more than 6,000 employees, medical centers in Concord and Walnut Creek, including Contra Costa County’s only trauma center, and a Behavioral Health Center. John Muir Health also has partnerships with UCSF Health, Tenet Healthcare/San Ramon Regional Medical Center and Stanford Children’s Health. The health system offers a full-range of medical services, including primary care, outpatient and imaging services, and is widely recognized as a leader in many specialties – neurosciences, orthopedic, cancer, cardiovascular, trauma, emergency, pediatrics and high-risk obstetrics care.
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Arrested at Walnut Creek church, investigations into other possible victims
The Contra Costa District Attorney has filed three felony counts of grand theft by fraud and one felony count of Elder Financial Abuse against Ward Steven Caldwell, also known as Bruce Harmon, also known as Bruce Goodrich, age 55. Caldwell is also charged with penalty enhancements for losses exceeding $150,000 and an aggravated white collar enhancement for committing financial crimes on two or more people with total losses over $100,000. Additional charges are pending after several more victims were discovered.
In September 2015, Caldwell befriended the first victim, a widowed hairdresser, by portraying himself as a successful investor and promising to double her money. Caldwell told her that he had a business partner named Junior in Las Vegas who invested in strip joints, casinos and TV commercials. Over a three-month period in 2016, the victim gave Caldwell a total of $139,500.
The second victim met Caldwell at a car wash in Walnut Creek. Caldwell struck up a conversation about the car she was driving and offered to help her sell her first car. Caldwell convinced her to invest $30,000 in a business deal where investors would buy a Bugatti Chiron and sell it for a large profit.
The third victim is a 90-year-old woman from Lafayette. She met Caldwell at the Grace Presbyterian Church in Walnut Creek. The victim thought Caldwell was an honest person because she read in the church newsletter that Caldwell had donated $150,000 to the church. In reality, Caldwell had given the pastor two checks totaling $150,000 and told him to hold the checks until Caldwell told him that he had received some settlement money that would make the checks good. The elderly victim gave Caldwell a total of $171,200.
DA Investigators and accountants found that Caldwell had used the investment money for personal expenses and none of it went to any investments. They also found two potential victims in Contra Costa, Alameda County and one victim in Butte County. Those cases are under investigation.
Defendant was arrested last Sunday at the Grace Presbyterian Church and is being held in custody on a $505,000 bail. The District Attorney’s office believes there may be other victims at the church and defendant may have befriended other elders living at assisted living facilities.
If you know of other victims, or assisted-living facilities that Caldwell may have visited, please contact DA Inspector Al Cofer at 925-957-2200.Read More