By Allen Payton
Contra Costa County Health Services announced, today, Tuesday, December 20, 2016, that the cause of the foodborne illness outbreak reported after a Thanksgiving Day charity event in Antioch has been identified. It was caused by the bacteria Clostridium perfringens.
A laboratory at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) confirmed the presence of the bacteria in stool samples taken from people sickened by food served at the Nov. 24 holiday celebration, held by Golden Hills Community Church of Brentwood and Antioch, at Antioch’s American Legion hall.
“Clostridium perfringens is one of the most common foodborne illnesses in the U.S. It can be found in the human intestine without hurting us, but eating food containing large amounts of this bacteria can cause illness and in some cases death,” said Dr. Louise McNitt, deputy health officer for Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS).
CCHS’ Public Health and Environmental Health divisions investigated 25 related reports of foodborne illness after the event, including three people who died.
“Our investigation was not able to determine exactly what people ate that made them sick. But after extensive interviews we found most of the ill people ate turkey and mashed potatoes and they all ate around the same time. Some dishes served at the event, including cooked turkey, were brought to the site after they were prepared in private homes,” said Dr. Marilyn Underwood, CCHS Environmental Health director.
Underwood said proper food handling is essential to prevent foodborne illness, including cooking foods to proper temperatures, cooling and storing them appropriately if they are not going to be eaten right away, separating raw meats from foods that won’t be cooked, storing food properly and washing hands and cooking surfaces often.
“We’re saddened for the families that suffered losses this holiday season. We encourage anyone planning charity events where food will be served to the public to contact us to understand the permitting process and to learn about food safety,” said Underwood.
All of the reported illnesses occurred within 24 hours of the patients consuming food from the event.
“We at Golden Hills are mindful of all the people who were affected,” said Senior Pastor Larry Adams. “We will continue to cooperate with local health officials and are encouraged by the county’s speedy investigation.”
“This is a difficult season for all involved. We as a Christian community will continue to pray for those who are ill and the families of those who have died,” he added.
For more information about preventing foodborne illness or about C. perfringens, visit cchealth.org.Read More
The Board of Directors of the Brentwood Agricultural Land Trust (BALT), announced via email, Monday night, December 19, 2016 a change in their executive directors. Following is their announcement:
“We are writing to let you know about some significant changes that are taking place at the Brentwood Agricultural Land Trust. Since 2002 BALT has been working to preserve Contra Costa’s productive agricultural land and to work with farmers and the community to create a vibrant local agricultural economy.
In June of 2003 BALT hired Kathryn Lyddan as our first Executive Director. Prior to her work at BALT, Kathryn had 10 years of experience as a practicing attorney, specializing in land use and public finance law. During the past 13 years, under Kathryn’s professional leadership, BALT has permanently protected nine farms and has been instrumental in reforming County zoning to support a sustainable economic future for Contra Costa farmers.
Kathryn recently informed us that she has accepted a position Assistant Director of the California Department of Conservation, Division of Land Resource Protection. In her new role, Kathryn will be overseeing programs to protect California’s farmland and open space resources, including the Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation Program, the Williamson Act and Farmland Mapping and Monitoring Program This is an exciting opportunity for Kathryn and we know that all of you join our Board in congratulating Kathryn and wishing her well in this exciting new professional position.
While we are sad to lose Kathryn and her professional expertise, we are excited to let you know that our Board of Directors is currently engaged in the development of a new strategic planning process that is exploring a number of opportunities for ways in which BALT can be even more successful in protecting and enhancing our agricultural protection mission and in strengthening our community’s agricultural economy.
To assist us in conducting our Strategic Planning process, the Board of Directors is pleased to let you know that we have engaged Ron Brown to serve as our Interim Executive Director. Ron recently retired as the Executive Director of Save Mount Diablo where he served for over 15 years. Ron has a Master’s Degree in Management with a specialty in Marketing Non-Profit organizations.
Ron’s experience as a successful non-profit organization leader, in addition to his familiarity with Contra Costa County will assist us in maintaining our current operations and in supporting the Board of Directors, as we excitedly undertake the responsibility of planning for the next phase of BALT’s organizational lifecycle.
We value your support of BALT, so please feel free to contact Ron or any of the members of the Board of Director by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tom Bloomfield, Chairman
Janet Caprile, Secretary
Jon Harvey, Treasurer
Patrick Johnston, Stewardship Director
Jim Gwerder, Director”
BALT works with Contra Costa farmers and the community so that future generations in the Bay Area will have a local source of food. The rich agricultural lands on the urban edge of Contra Costa County include more than 12,000 acres of irrigated farmland located just fifty miles from the Bay Area. With rich delta soils, ample water and a year-round growing season, Brentwood farms have provided food for the Bay Area since the 1880’s. Today Brentwood farmers continue to grow a remarkable diversity of food, primarily fruits and vegetables.
BALT permanently protects the fertile orchards and farms in this rapidly developing region with an active farmland conservation program. BALT promotes local farming and builds new markets for farmers through the Buy Fresh Buy Local marketing program. Working closedly with local governments, BALT develops programs and policies that supports a vibrant agricultural economy for Contra Costa farmers. Together with community partners, BALT is creating food connections between farmers and their urban neighbors.
For more information on BALT, visit www.brentwoodaglandtrust.org.Read More
Among final seven honorees from 409 nominations
WHAT: The Health Science Academy at Ygnacio Valley High School (YVHS) in the Mt. Diablo Unified School District (MDUSD) has been named by the California Department of Education (CDE) as a California Partnership Academies (CPA) Distinguished California Partnership Academy. YVHS is one of seven to be conferred with the award from a field of 409 nominees and 14 finalists.
WHEN: Honored academies will be recognized at the CDE’s 30th annual CPA conference in March.
WHERE: Ygnacio Valley High School, 755 Oak Grove Rd., Concord 94519 (Directions)
The California Partnership Academies (CPAs) were established to prepare high school students to succeed in both college and careers. Each CPA frames its curriculum around one of the 15 industry fields established for Career-Technical Education by the CDE. Each year students take classes together, including core academic subjects and at least one career-technical course related to the academy’s career theme. A team of teachers works with the same group of students over their high school years, linking instruction across disciplines and over time. Employers provide internships and other opportunities for students to learn outside the classroom. Career academies have become an important part of the current Linked Learning initiative in California.
“Distinguished Academies” have earned this title by surviving a rigorous multi-round audit of all program components required by California Education Code. The audit includes site visits by CPA state leadership and extensive documentation. In its notification to YVHS of the nomination and subsequent award for the school’s Health Science Academy, the CPA state leadership stated the honor was “bestowed based on very clear criteria, including strict adherence to the CPA model, implementation of all components of the model and known best practices, and providing opportunities for your students which go above and beyond those required by statute.” The notification goes on to state that the Health Science Academy program has “consistently shown itself to be exemplary in intent and implementation.”
Ygnacio Valley High School was notified recently that its Careers in Education Academy has been nominated as a Distinguished Academy for next year; it is now preparing for the audit and site visits associated with that nomination.
To visit Ygnacio Valley High School, please contact Principal Efa Huckaby, (925) 685-8414, email@example.com, or Communications Specialist Ursula Leimbach, (760) 705-6919 (cell), or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mt. Diablo Unified, located in Contra Costa County, is honored to serve approximately 32,000 students at one of more than 50 school sites in the cities of Clayton, Concord, Pleasant Hill; portions of Martinez, Pittsburg and Walnut Creek; and the unincorporated communities of Bay Point, Lafayette, and Pacheco. As part of a richly diverse community, MDUSD families represent numerous ethnic groups, speaking nearly 50 different languages and dialects. We are proud of our award-winning staff and extensive honors and recognitions for our innovative programs in Career Technical Education; Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM); extensive visual and performing arts programs; and rich foreign language and dual immersion offerings. MDUSD is also pleased to have launched its first middle college program, College Now, and is planning to open its first International Baccalaureate program in 2017. Extensive student support services help ensure an inclusive culture of excellence and achievement for all students to help them prepare for success in college, career, and life. Learn more at http://www.mdusd.org/Read More
On Monday, December 12, 2016, the Contra Costa County District Attorney‘s Office and the Contra Costa County Public Defender’s Office stipulated to the dismissals of three felony cases, ten misdemeanor cases, and two infraction cases involving former Pittsburg Police Officers Michael Sibbitt and Elisabeth Ingram. The officers were witnesses in all of the prosecutions. Issues had arisen in three of the cases over the failure to provide timely production of information to the court concerning the officers.
The dismissed cases included infraction charges of Petty Theft and Disturbing the Peace; misdemeanor charges of Petty theft, Resisting Arrest, and Providing False Information to Police, and Possession of Controlled Substances; and felony charges of being a Felon in Possession of a Firearm, Unlawful Taking of a Vehicle, Possession of Stolen Property, and Commercial Burglary. Only one of the dismissed cases involved a prison sentence, and that individual’s time in custody was served in county jail. The remainder of the dismissed cases involved either fine penalties or county jail sentences, with the longest county jail sentence being 180 days.
It is important to note that the officers involved in this matter no longer work for the Pittsburg Police Department.
For additional information concerning this matter, please contact Deputy District Attorney Lynn Uilkema at (925) 957-8794
Sacramento, CA – Today, Assemblymember Jim Frazier (D – Oakley) introduced AB 63, legislation to reduce vehicle collisions and fatalities among teen drivers by strengthening California’s provisional driver’s license program.
“This bill will help significantly decrease accidents among newly licensed drivers,” stated Frazier. “Increasing the age for a provisional license will ensure that California’s most vulnerable motorists go through proper training to become safe, responsible drivers.”
AB 63 would increase the maximum age to receive a provisional license to 21 years old guaranteeing that less experienced drivers have appropriate protections during this crucial learning period, by amending Section 12814.6 of the California Vehicle Code.
According to the Legislative Counsel’s Digest, “The bill would expand the scope of the provisional licensing program by extending the applicable age range for the program to 16 to under 21 years of age. By expanding the scope of the provisional licensing program, the violation of which constitutes an infraction, the bill would impose a state-mandated local program. The bill would authorize a licensee who is 18, 19, or 20 years of age to keep in his or her possession a copy of his or her class schedule or work schedule as documentation to satisfy the exceptions for a school or school-authorized activity and employment necessity, respectively, and would provide that a signed statement by a parent or legal guardian is not required if reasonable transportation facilities are inadequate and the operation of a vehicle by a licensee who is 18, 19, or 20 years of age is necessary to transport the licensee or the licensee’s immediate family member. The bill would make other technical and conforming changes. The bill would also include specified findings and declarations.”
“We are thankful that Assemblymember Frazier has taken on this critically important issue,” said Doug Villars, President of the California Association of Highway Patrolmen. “Traffic collisions are the number one killer of young people in America. We are proud to be sponsors of this bill and look forward to working together toward a common goal—saving young drivers’ lives and making roadways safer for all of us.”
It is estimated that one in three drivers do not receive their license before the age of 18, making them ineligible to participate in the provisional license program. A recent report from the Governors Highway Safety Association discovered that improvement in fatal crash rates among 18- to 20-year-old drivers was far less than their 15- to 17-year-old counterparts.
Policy expanding this program is essential to building safe driving skills for this at risk population. “We applaud Assemblymember Frazier for introducing this vital legislation,” stated Cathy Barankin, Executive Director CA Coalition for Children’s Safety and Health. “First time teen drivers are 45 percent more likely to be involved in a vehicle crash. This bill will stop teens from prematurely losing their lives.”
To read the complete text and Legislative Counsel’s Digest of the bill, click here.Read More
Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11) will continue his standing practice of meeting one-on-one with constituents during Mobile District Office Hours on Saturday, December 17th from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Kensington Community Center. Since being elected to Congress, DeSaulnier has hosted 30 Mobile District Office Hours and town hall meetings throughout Contra Costa County.
As our nation experiences an unprecedented transition, Congressman DeSaulnier is looking forward to meeting one-on-one with constituents and hearing first-hand about issues that impact their lives, families, and our community. Mark will be on site to share thoughts and answer questions and to assist with issues related to Social Security, Medicare, the Veteran’s Administration, or other federal agencies.
What: Congressman DeSaulnier’s Mobile District Office Hours
When: Saturday, December 17th from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Where: Kensington Community Center, 59 Arlington Avenue, Kensington
Details: First come, first served. No appointment necessary. This event is open to all residents of California’s 11th Congressional District.
For more information or to confirm you are a resident of the 11th Congressional District, please email CA11.RSVP@mail.house.gov or call (925) 933-2660.
John Muir Health and Stanford Children’s Health are continuing to expand access to children’s specialty care services in Contra Costa County through an innovative partnership launched just a few years ago. Local families now have access to nearly 50 pediatric specialist physicians and nurse practitioners in 14 different specialties, including cardiology, gastroenterology, orthopedics and sports medicine, pulmonology, urology and more.
“We listened and responded to the requests from our community and general pediatricians to enhance and expand the availability of children’s specialty services in our community so families could access and receive the care they need close to home,” said Jane Willemsen, president and CAO of John Muir Health’s Walnut Creek medical center. “Our partnership is exceeding what we originally envisioned and continues to grow, all for the benefit of our community and young patients and their families.”
“Stanford Children’s Health has long been committed to successful community partnerships with Bay Area health care providers,” said Christopher G. Dawes, president and CEO of Stanford Children’s Health. “Our strong partnership with John Muir Health increases access and convenience to world-class pediatric specialty care and is a very successful example of how our combined strengths can benefit the community.”
The partnership includes outpatient, inpatient, neonatal and emergency care, which enables children with conditions ranging from allergies to more complex illnesses to see specialists locally through John Muir Health. In April 2015, John Muir Health and Stanford Children’s Health jointly opened a state-of-the art pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) at John Muir Medical Center, Walnut Creek — the only one of its kind in Contra Costa County. The PICU is complemented by a 16-bed child and adolescent unit and 35-bed Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) also at the Walnut Creek medical center.
In just 18 months, the PICU team of Stanford Children’s Health physicians and John Muir Health nurses and staff has cared for 450 critically ill children. The PICU offers leading-edge medical technology, and a broad complement of pediatric specialists, including pediatric-trained nursing staff, pediatric anesthesiologists, radiologists, neurologists, surgeons, gastroenterologists, orthopedists, oncologists, and hematologists, among others. John Muir Health and Stanford Children’s Health are also in the process of finalizing all necessary steps to have the PICU certified by California Children’s Services (CCS), a rigorous and exclusive certification program for the treatment of children with complex medical conditions.
“Pediatric specialists are rare. In partnership with Stanford Children’s Health, we have broadened our services so we can care for children and families close to home, right here in Contra Costa County,” said Budi Wiryawan, M.D. medical director, John Muir Health PICU, and clinical associate professor of pediatric critical care medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine. “It’s a privilege to work with a team of professionals so dedicated to working with children and families, a team that consistently goes above and beyond to deliver top quality care for children with critical needs.”
The need for PICU and other specialty services in Contra Costa County has been proven many times in the past few years. “My son had a near drowning experience last year, when he was four years old. We performed CPR on site and he was brought to John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek where he was treated by the team in the PICU. The doctor was concerned about the 24-48 hour window post resuscitation, as my son could have had a fatal injury to his brain and lungs,” said Sadie Hannah, parent of a former John Muir Health PICU patient.
“I remember walking into the unit and seeing the kindness in the team’s eyes, as if they knew exactly how we felt and knew exactly what to do. I knew immediately we were in the right place for healing. The atmosphere was quiet and serene, it seemed we had 100 percent of the staff’s attention. We had caring, honest discussions with the medical team. We are grateful to John Muir Health for its quality care, good communication, quiet comfort, and its location close to home. Thankfully my son is fine. He returned to swim lessons five days after being in the PICU and started kindergarten this year.”
“It’s heartwarming to hear the stories of children who we have cared for and to meet their grateful parents,” said Willemsen. “We’ve always been here for our patients and the community, but now we can treat and care for children of all ages.”
For more information about the specialty services available at John Muir Health through the Stanford Children’s Health partnership, please visit www.johnmuirhealth.com/services/childrens-services.
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, nearly 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 Tenet Healthcare/San Ramon Regional Medical Center, UCSF Medical Center and Stanford Children’s Health to expand its capabilities, increase access to services and better serve patients. 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.
About Stanford Children’s Health
Stanford Children’s Health is the largest Bay Area health care enterprise exclusively dedicated to children and expectant mothers. At the heart of our network is the renowned Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford in Palo Alto. Together with our Stanford Medicine physicians, nurses, and staff, we can be accessed within 10 miles of most Bay Area homes through partnerships, collaborations, outreach, specialty clinics and primary care practices at more than 60 locations across Northern California and 100 locations in the U.S. western region. We are a leader in world-class, nurturing care and extraordinary outcomes in every pediatric and obstetric specialty, with care ranging from the routine to rare, regardless of a family’s ability to pay. As a non-profit, we are committed to supporting our community – from caring for uninsured or underinsured kids, homeless teens and pregnant moms, to helping re-establish school nurse positions in local schools. Learn more at stanfordchildrens.org and on our Healthier, Happy Lives blog. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.Read More
Will continue practice of declining state-issued vehicle and per diem perks
SACRAMENTO – Assemblywoman Catharine Baker (R-San Ramon) took the oath of office on Monday, December 5 and was sworn in as the representative for the 16th Assembly District in the California Legislature. This is Baker’s second term in office. Today she vowed to continue her independent and bipartisan approach to address the important issues before our State.
“It is an honor to continue to serve the 16th Assembly District in our Legislature and provide a strong voice for the needs of our community,” said Baker. “Over the next two years, I will continue the work I began in my first term, focusing on real results, not partisan bickering, to achieve solutions that will help improve the quality of life for all Californians. Our district expects no less.”
Baker added, “My very first act will be to continue the practice I adopted in my first term, of declining both the state-issued vehicle and per diem perks for Members. I want to start my term of service by giving back to the taxpayers and constituents who elected me to office.”
“Thank you, AD16, for this honor and for entrusting me with the responsibility of serving our community. I will work hard each and every day to deserve it,” she continued. “As we begin this new legislative session, I remain committed to working across the aisle — with a focus on real results, not partisan politics — to improve the quality of life for all Californians.”
On November 8, 2016, Catharine Baker was re-elected to represent the 16th Assembly District. Baker focuses her efforts on improving our education system, our transportation and water infrastructure, public safety and fiscal discipline, with an emphasis on bipartisan collaboration. In her first term she had nine bipartisan bills signed by the Governor in each of these areas.
The 16th Assembly District includes the communities of Alamo, Danville, Dublin, Lafayette, Livermore, Moraga, Orinda, Pleasanton, San Ramon, and Walnut Creek.
By Bryan Scott
In a 1987 speech President Ronald Reagan said, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” The speech was delivered at the Brandenburg Gate of the Berlin Wall, which has now vanished into history.
Today, the people of Brentwood say to Brentwood City Manager Gus Vina, “Mr. Vina, reallocate our taxes.”
Today a public safety crisis exists, a crisis that is well known to the elected leaders and municipal administrators paid to run the cities, special districts and schools within the 249-square mile territory of the East Contra Costa Fire Protection District (ECCFPD).
President Reagan made a bold statement; he issued a clear directive to the leader of the USSR. Even though the Berlin Wall was not in the USSR, everyone knew where policy decisions on the Berlin Wall were made.
A community-proposed solution to our local crisis includes the redistribution of 5.2% of future property taxes. Today about $165 million in property taxes are collected within the territory of the fire district, and in the most recent year property values within Brentwood and Oakley grew by over 8%.
By phasing-in this tax redistribution program over four years each government entity would receive 1.3% less in new property tax funding each year, cumulatively, while at the end of the program the ECCFPD would be funded at about the county average fire district rate, 12%. This would be a significant improvement over the current 7%.
City Manager Vina’s procedural steps are simple. The Brentwood City Council needs to hold a public hearing, pass a resolution, and then forward a property tax transfer agreement to Bob Campbell, Contra Costa County Controller. It is a simple and eloquent procedure, one used by the county to transfer property taxes just a month ago.
Oakley City Manager Bryan Montgomery, County Administrator David Twa and the other special districts of east county can follow the same procedures, outlined in the California Revenue and Taxation Code, Chapter 6, Section 99.02. School districts would transfer operating funds to the fire district to fulfill their obligation to assure the safety of their students, staff and faculty, using a memorandum-of-understanding method.
Using last year’s numbers as a guide this tax redistribution this would add $7.8 million to the fire district’s funding, allowing ECCFPD to permanently staff and operate a total of six fire stations, up from today’s three stations.
City Manager Vina, as well as his Oakley counterpart, City Manager Montgomery, and County Administrator Twa have all objected to the proposal. They’ve said there are other uses for the money, or that tight budgets make the funds unavailable.
Using last year’s numbers Brentwood’s contribution to this program would be $150,771 per year, $603,059 in total. Brentwood’s total budget is about $46 million. Oakley’s contribution would be $36,218 per year, $144,871 in total. The County’s contribution would be about $300,000 per year, $1.2 million in total, counting all county agencies. The county’s total budget is $1.470 billion.
The question has been raised, which services are to be cut? The answer is none. Government expenditures, and the services these expenditures provide, will simply grow at a slower rate for four years. They need not be cut.
The people of Brentwood and Oakley have said “no” to additional taxes for fire and emergency medical services that are provided to the rest of the county out of current property taxes. It is time to fund an adequate level of essential services using the current taxpayer burden.
“Mr. Vina, reallocate our taxes.”say the people of Brentwood.
Bryan Scott is a Brentwood resident and Co-Chair of East County Voters for Equal Protection, a non-partisan citizens action committee whose aim is to improve funding for the ECCFPD. He can be reached at email@example.com, or 925-418-4428. The group’s Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/EastCountyVoters/.Read More