I am a businesswoman here is East Contra Costa County. I am looking forward to having the opportunity to have more involvement again in how Sacramento hears us and works for our needs in our Community. Dave Miller is the man to be hands on with our Community and give us that access to share our important issues and get things done. To once again here our Voices in Sacramento. I encourage your reader to join me in voting for Dave Miller for Assemblyman.
You have probably received a lot of fancy mailers saying very different things. I wanted to take a moment to talk to you all directly about someone who I have worked with for years – Diane Burgis. Diane’s environmental credentials are unparalleled. She has a long history of fighting for our local waterways, parks, farms, ranches and natural lands. By electing her to the Board of Supervisors I know we can count on her to defend the Delta and our open space while also responsively developing the county’s economy so that our children and grandchildren will be able to live in and enjoy the land we love.
I am confident that Diane has the unique skill set that a leader needs to balance strong fiscal discipline with our universal desire to protect our environment, invigorate and enhance our historic agricultural lands, create high paying jobs, expand transportation options to ease congestion, revitalize each of our city’s downtown areas and to strengthen the safety net for our most vulnerable neighbors.
Please join me in supporting Diane Burgis for County Supervisor. She will be an energetic and effective advocate for all of East County, not just for the big developers and special interests that pay for her opponent’s campaign.
Retired Executive Director, Save Mount Diablo
Walnut CreekRead More
For the 19th year the Arts & Culture Commission of Contra Costa County (AC5) will be honoring those who have made a significant artistic or philanthropic contribution to Contra Costa’s arts and culture, during the Board of Supervisors meeting, Tuesday, October 25th at 9:30 a.m.
Contra Costa County demonstrates a wealth of artistic expression in every corner of the county. This year the commission will present five Arts Recognition Awards to honor outstanding achievements in the Arts to:
Richmond RYSE Center. Works with youth from distressed parts of the City of Richmond. The youth have written, directed and performed multi-media plays dealing with violence, drugs and crime creating platforms for youth to share their own stories and dreams.
Sylvia Amorino and Solo Opera. Sylvia Amorino is the Founder and Artistic Director of Solo Opera. Ms Amorino also works with Cantabella Children’s Chorus and Contra Costa Children’s chorus to perform operas that include children and teens that help teach audience, adults and children alike about social aspects of living.
Michael and Shannon Demers. Shannon and Mike have shared their talents and skills to Productions Teams, casts and crews for a collective 70 years; with many of the Performing Arts organizations throughout the area; including Contra Costa Musical Theater, Diablo Theatre Company, and Fantasy Forum Actors Ensemble.
Jay Bedecarre. Mr. Bedecarre has been involved in the Contra Costa County Art Scene since 1974. He was the Marketing Director for the Concord Pavilion for the first 12 years, Oakland and SF Ballets, and world famous acts such as NY Philharmonic with Leonard Bernstein.
Lawrence Kohl. Lawrence Kohl was president of the Orinda Art Council as well as music director and conductor of the Pacific Chamber Symphony. Lawrence recently led the expansion of the Orinda Art Council to become the Lamorinda Arts Council.
The Supervisors meetings are held in the County Administration building at 651 Pine Street
in Martinez. For more information about the 5AC, visit www.AC5.org.
Today, Monday, October 24, 2016, 19 environmental groups and community leaders, including the League of Conservation Voters of the East Bay and the Sierra Club, collectively representing more than 30,000 members fighting the Delta Tunnels, announced their support for Diane Burgis for Contra Costa County Supervisor in District 3.
“The Sierra Club proudly endorses Diane Burgis for the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors,” said Norman La Force of the Sierra Club San Francisco Bay Chapter. “She will be a strong voice for protecting the urban limit line and promoting smart growth in our county. She will also add to the elected officials opposed to the destruction of the Delta with the ill-conceived tunnels that will not only be destructive to the environment but also harm future economic development that relies on our water staying where it belongs, with us.”
Diane, a former Delta Protection Commission member and advocate for the East Contra Costa County Habitat Conservancy, is the Executive Director of the Friends of Marsh Creek Watershed and an elected member of the East Bay Regional Parks District Board representing most of District 3. She was recently inducted into the Contra Costa County Women’s Commission Hall of Fame for her work protecting county natural resources.
In addition to the League of Conservation Voters of the East Bay and the Sierra Club, Diane earned the endorsement of the following environmental champions and regional leaders:
Supervisor Mary Nejedly Piepho, District 3 Contra Costa County Supervisor & Chair of the Delta Protection Commission; Erik Vink, Delta Protection Commission Executive Director; Joan Buchanan, President of Restore the Delta & Former State Assemblymember; Congressman Jerry McNerney, Member of the House Subcommittee on Environment and Economy; Ron Brown, Former Save Mount Diablo Executive Director; Seth Adams, Save Mount Diablo Land Conservation Director; Lori Cook, Fmr. Antioch Parks & Recreation Commissioner; Sandra Myers, Brentwood Parks and Recreation Commissioner; Ayn Weiskamp, East Bay Regional Park District Director; Beverly Lane, East Bay Regional Park District Director; Doug Siden, East Bay Regional Park District Director; Dennis Waespi, East Bay Regional Park District Director; John Sutter, East Bay Regional Park District Director; Whitney Dodson, East Bay Regional Park District Director; Bette Boatmun, Contra Costa Water District Director; Constance Holdaway, Contra Costa Water District Director; John Coleman, East Bay Municipal Utility District Director; Andy Katz, East Bay Municipal Utility District Director
“Diane’s environmental credentials are unparalleled,” said Ron Brown, Retired Executive Director of Save Mount Diablo. “She has a long history of fighting for our local waterways, parks, farms, ranches and natural lands. I know we can count on her to defend the Delta and our open space on the County Board of Supervisors, while also developing the county responsibly so that our grandchildren can enjoy the land we love.”
Before joining the parks board in 2014, Diane Burgis served for two years as an Oakley City Councilmember and spent over ten years as a small business owner. She highlights four priorities for her candidacy: improving public safety, attracting economic development, ensuring fiscal accountability and preserving the delta for future generations.
Voters can learn more about Burgis and her platform at www.dianeburgis.com.Read More
I have lived my entire life In East County, my 34 year teaching/counseling career was in the Brentwood Union School District.
I have known Steve Barr for all 34 years: he is a trustworthy man of integrity, and dedicated to bringing the resources we need to East County.
Steve is truly qualified to be our next District 3 County Supervisor. In the past 11 years he has finished a four-year and a two-year (appointed) term on the Liberty Union High School Board, a four-year term on the Brentwood City Council and is now in his second term. When Steve starts something, he sees it through. On the other hand let’s look at Diane Burgis’ record: in less than four years she was on the Oakley City Council for two years, then left that position to run for East County Regional Park District Board, is in her second year, and is now willing to leave that position to run for County Supervisor. What next?
I am a member of the Contra Costa County Transportation Authority Citizens Advisory Committee. Starting in March of this year I attended every Transportation Authority Board meeting advocating for the need to have funds appropriated for the airport connector (SR 239) to be put on this November ballot (Measure X). Steve Barr was at every meeting advocating as well and also spoke up for the funds that were needed in Brentwood and Oakley. I do not recall seeing Diane Burgis at any of these meetings or speaking up on the behalf of East County.
It is extremely important that we elect someone to be our County Supervisor who has true leadership experience and is willing to spend the time needed to get the job done.
In my professional opinion, longevity counts. Please join me in this election and vote for Steve Barr, the most qualified to be our District 3 County Supervisor.
Patricia Mantelli Bristow
By Nick Goodrich
On Thursday, October 13th, a candidates’ forum for Tim Grayson and Mae Torlakson in the East Bay’s 14th Assembly District (AD) was hosted at Concord’s Crowne Plaza by the East Bay Leadership Council. It included questions from the audience, and outlined the candidates’ positions on key issues and upcoming legislation. The forum also presented an opportunity for the two Democrats to lay out their priorities and goals, if elected to the 14th AD. Council President and CEO Kristin Connelly served as the moderator.
Grayson, a current member of the Concord City Council and former Mayor of Concord, said in his opening statement that he is focused on making positive changes that include fiscal responsibility.
“Our state leaders have lacked vision,” he stated, while promising to find ways to make changes that don’t include new taxes. “It’s their first practice to raise taxes, but we can’t continue to kick the can down the road.”
Torlakson is serving her third term on the Ambrose Recreation and Parks District, and is also a manager in the MESA program, which helps disadvantaged California students pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Her top priority is education, and opened the forum by promising to pursue accessible and affordable education for all Californians.
When asked why she wanted serve in the State Assembly, Torlakson replied, “I want to help people. I especially want to help students all over California succeed in STEM…I will use my experience in education and the Ambrose Recreation and Parks District to find a quality of life for everyone, and help them pursue their California Dream.”
Torlakson also spoke on the issue of gun control, saying she would support “common sense gun regulations, background checks for all gun purchases, and closing the gun show loophole” if elected.
For his part, Grayson’s focus on fiscal responsibility was a major factor in his decision to run for Assembly. He cited his successful term as Mayor, during which he brought 1,700 jobs to the city and balanced its $90 million budget.
“I will focus on jobs, economic development, fiscal responsibility, education, and public safety,” he told the audience.
Continuing his statements on fiscal responsibility, Grayson promised to find effective ways to support schools in California that do not necessarily involve new taxes. His focus was more on finding out what is draining California’s current revenue streams, rather than generating more through taxation.
“It comes down to reform not just in the form of revenue, but what our unfunded liabilities and our debts are,” Grayson responded when asked how he would seek to reform the state’s education funding.
He used Proposition 30 as an example, calling it “nothing but a Band-Aid”, and that extensions of Prop 30 and similar propositions are “just bigger Band-Aids” that continue to tax Californians with less-than-effective results. Grayson supports more local control in education, allowing individual school boards to deal with problems on their own terms, with limited interference from the state.
Torlakson also supports local control, but unlike Grayson, promised to fight for increased funding that may involve new taxes if necessary.
When speaking on education funding, her focus was on getting the community to invest more in its students, which involves hiring quality teachers, increasing technology in schools, and attracting businesses to California graduates. She suggested a mentoring program that would increase the performance of California students.
Job growth in Contra Costa County was another area that the two candidates were asked to speak on. Grayson said that job growth was dependent on first accomplishing three things: minimizing the County’s debt, maximizing its economic development, and strengthening its infrastructure.
Then, he said, you support small business—which provide 36% of California’s jobs—by easing regulations and providing them with more resources and capital. By doing this, Grayson said, the County “will allow for an environment of growth and support.”
Torlakson posited that a university right here in Contra Costa County would attract jobs.
“Universities are business magnets,” she said, and stated that the County has the potential to be another Silicon Valley if it could build a four-year university in the area.
The candidates sparred over questions on rent control, housing, and Torlakson’s accusation that Grayson had accepted lobbying money while in office, before being asked for their stance on upcoming California legislation in a rapid-fire round.
At the time of the forum, Tim Grayson supported Propositions 52, 53, 54, 56, 58, 59, and 63, and opposed Propositions 57 and 64; he took no position on Proposition 61.
Mae Torlakson supports Propositions 52, 56, 57, 58, 59, 61, 63, and 64, and opposes Propositions 53 and 54.
Both candidates support Measure X, but differed on Measure RR, which Torlakson supported, but Grayson opposed.
The candidates also took positions on the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
Both Grayson and Torlakson believed that the possibility of reforming the Act was possible and perhaps needed, but wanted further study of the issue in order to point out what specifically they would recommend changing.
“It’s working to the best of its design,” said Grayson and Torlakson told the audience, “I believe in it.”
A large transportation bill put forth by Assemblyman Jim Frazier and State Senator Jim Beall was another topic.
Torlakson believes the gas tax proposed by the bill “is too high”, and suggested letting the voters decide whether to approve of the bill, which would raise an additional $3.6 billion annually in tax revenue.
Grayson, however, said he would support the bill.
“It is economically development-minded,” he said.
To better fund transportation, Grayson promised to look at problems with CalTrans, which he claimed has redundant jobs and projects to the tune of $500 million per year. Getting rid of these inefficiencies and poor spending practices, he said, would allow us to use the savings to fund what we need, rather than continue raising taxes long-term.
To close the forum, the candidates were asked a rather interesting question: If you were all-powerful in Sacramento, and could enact whatever tax reform you wanted to, what would you do, and why?
In his answer, Grayson described the California tax system as “narrow and deep.”
“It’s like a funnel, and it’s getting narrower,” he told the audience. Grayson stated that he would call together major business players, elected officials, and education leaders to discuss how best to spread out the tax burden equally and fairly. This, he said, would result in less of a burden on everybody, which would help stimulate the state economy. He included the erasure of unfunded liabilities in his answer, as well.
Torlakson said her first priority would be to help education, and would increase the budget in that area and raise taxes accordingly.
“We’re not giving enough to education, because it’s the key to prosperity,” she said. “Investing in our future is what we need.”
The hard-fought Grayson-Torlakson race will come to a head when California residents cast their votes in the November elections, with the winner will begin a two-year term in the State Assembly the following month.Read More
By Bryan Scott
The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors voted to reallocate over $700,000 of property tax funds each year, in perpetuity, to the East Contra Costa Fire Protection District (ECCFPD) on Tuesday, October 18, 2016. Still, the fire district continues to struggle with insufficient funding due to a property tax funding rate that was set three decades ago,when the district’s 249-square-mile territory was primarily farmland and small communities.
The Board of Supervisors used the process described in the California Revenue and Taxation Code, Chapter 6, Section 99.02 to change the fire district’s funding rate, something that has been advocated by a citizens action committee for most of this year.
East County Voters for Equal Protection (ECV) is advocating the use of this method to raise the ECCFPD funding level from about 7%, the lowest of all fire districts in the county, to just over 12%, the county average.
Since ECV began advocating for reallocation critics have claimed that the process doesn’t work, or that it takes too long. Members of the local government establishment have gone to great lengths to criticize the reallocation process, which would increase fire district funding with no new taxes, by making false and misleading statements to the public.
Instead of supporting reallocation a group of government and fire district union employees has worked to create a way to tax the public. This resulted in Utility User Taxes being place on the November 8 ballot in the cities of Brentwood and Oakley, but not the other parts of the fire district, the towns of Discovery Bay, Byron, Knightsen, Bethel Island or the Marsh Creek unincorporated areas.
The recently reallocated property tax funds will begin accruing to the ECCFPD with the next fiscal year, beginning on July 1, 2017. The process works, and it works rather quickly, in government time-speak.
The ECV plan for reallocation of the property taxes would increase funding for the fire district without raising taxes. The plan calls for all entities within ECCFPD’s jurisdiction that receive property tax funding to contribute to the community’s safety. Special districts and non-school government entities would use the same law the Board of Supervisors just used,California Revenue and Taxation Code section 99.02, to shift a portion of the growth of property tax funding to the fire district, while school entities would contribute a “public safety infrastructure fee” of comparable amount from their operating funds.
This year property tax valuation grew by over 8% in Brentwood, Oakley and most of the unincorporated county areas. This is what Gus Kramer, Assessor for Contra Costa County, told the Board of Supervisors in a letter dated June 30, 2016.
By phasing-in the tax reallocation program goal of 5.2% over four years each year’s transferred amount would be 1.3% of the funding growth, well below expected growth. As an example, if the reallocation plan were in place this year each entity’s growth in property tax funding would be 6.7% instead of 8%. This is a small price to pay to assure the safety of East County residents.
If property tax growth unexpectedly fell below 3% the program could be suspended until such time as normal growth returned.
Using this method there would be NO CUTS to current government expenditures. Revenues would continue to grow, but at a slower rate to accommodate the gradually shifting of funds to the fire district.
Once ECCFPD’s funding level is at the county average, about 12%, the structural funding problem of the district would be solved. Full growth would return to the tax-receiving entities of East Contra Costa.
The most important aspect of the reallocation program idea is that it is a community’s solution to a community problem.
Scott is a Brentwood resident who occasionally becomes a community affairs activist. He is Co-Chair of East County Voters for Equal Protection, a non-partisan citizens action committee whose aim is to improve funding for the ECCFPD. His email address is email@example.com, his telephone number is 925-418-4428. The group’s Facebook page is located at www.facebook.com/EastCountyVoters/.Read More
More than 90 representatives from college and universities nationwide in attendance
WHAT: Mt. Diablo Unified School District’s 4th Annual College Fair
WHEN: Monday, October 24, 2016, from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.
WHERE: Ygnacio Valley High School, 755 Oak Grove Rd., Concord 94519 (Directions)
MDUSD is pleased to host its 4th Annual College Fair, welcoming more than 90 representatives from colleges and universities across the country in addition to numerous local educational and career training institutions. The event is ideal for students in their junior and senior year, and affords a great opportunity to get all of the answers to questions about educational options and pathways following high school.
The College Fair is open to students and parents/guardians from the following MDUSD high schools: College Park, Concord, Mt. Diablo, Northgate, Ygnacio Valley, Olympic, Nueva Vista/Summit, Prospect/Horizon, Crossroads, Gateway, and Diablo Community Day School
Students must present their MDUSD student ID in order to attend the fair. For additional information, please contact event coordinators at firstname.lastname@example.org. An event flyer in English and Spanish is available here.Read More
Concord, CA – On Thursday, October 6th at 11:30 a.m., STAND! For Families Free of Violence’s 24th Annual Rebuilding Lives Luncheon and more than 350 civic, business, and community leaders gathered at the Concord Hilton this year to honor Domestic Violence Awareness Month, celebrate the resilience of domestic violence survivors, and raise more than $140,000 for programs that help survivors of family violence.
Keynote speakerTony Porter, Co-founder and CEO of A CALL TO MEN, addressed the role of men in ending violence against women. Exploring the influence that men have with boys and other men as fathers and coaches, he discussed how to encourage boys and men to stand up to those promoting men’s violence. “It is time to stop asking why women stay and starting asking men to stop.”
“Today it is clearer than ever that domestic violence is a men’s issue too. We will end this problem only when men, too end their silence around violence and tell each other this is no longer acceptable behavior. We need to change the conversation.” said Gloria Sandoval, CEO of STAND! For Families Free of Violence.
Though the movement to end family violence has made great progress, there is still work to be done: On average, one in four women and one in seven men will experience intimate partner violence severe enough to send them to the hospital; one in five teens will experience teen dating violence; and 3.2 million children will experience domestic violence in their homes annually. Awareness-raising events, such as the Rebuilding Lives Luncheon, are important for strengthening the movement as well as inspiring new supporters to help end domestic violence.
About STAND! for Families Free of Violence
STAND! helps 15,000 people in Contra Costa County break the intergenerational cycle of violence each year by saving lives, rebuilding families, and changing the future: intervening when violence strikes, supporting victims as they rebuild their lives, and guiding the community as a whole toward nonviolence. Visit www.standffov.org for more information.
The low-bid contract, awarded to two Contra Costa firms, is $3.9 million below costs budgeted for this final piece of State Route 4 Bypass Project
On Wednesday, October 19 the Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA) Board voted unanimously to award a contract to Brosamer & Wall, Inc. and Bay Cities Paving & Grading for the construction of a number of improvements to the State Route 4/Balfour Road interchange. The purpose of the project is to improve traffic flow on State Route 4 and enhance safety for everyone who uses the interchange at Balfour Road. It is the final roadway element of the State Route 4 Bypass Project, constructed with over $400 million in local funds and $25 million in State funds, over the last sixteen years. It includes the completion of the two lanes between Sand Creek and Balfour Roads.
Contra Costa-based construction firms Brosamer & Wall and Bay Cities Paving & Grading formed a joint venture to bid on this project (BWBCJV). BWBCJV’s low-bid is approximately $3.9 million below the $40,855,000 budgeted for the construction phase of the project.
The project has also benefitted from the Contra Costa Water District’s (CCWD) work with Caltrans to lift a mandate that would have required the relocation of a water line near the site. The deal allowed for the 90-inch water main to remain in place and saved Contra Costa taxpayers $18 million.
“I’m excited to see CCTA move forward on the State Route 4/Balfour Road interchange improvements by awarding this contract. That it is going to two Contra Costa construction firms who came in with an extremely competitive bid, makes it even better,” said Brentwood Mayor and CCTA Commissioner Robert Taylor.
The project will result in a new interchange at the junction of State Route 4 and Balfour Road in Brentwood replacing the existing at-grade signals with a new structure which will carry State Route 4 traffic over Balfour Road. New on- and off-ramps will allow traffic to smoothly enter State Route 4 from Balfour Road and vice versa. This new configuration will ease traffic congestion and improve safety at this busy intersection.
“Finally, we’re going to have this section of the Bypass completed, giving us a safer roadway and allowing people to spend less time sitting in traffic and more time with their family,” said Doug Hardcastle, Chairman of the State Route 4 Bypass Authority and Chair of Transplan, the East County division of the CCTA. “It’s our job as leaders to make sure the money is spent properly and to give the people living in East County a better quality of life. This is part of the progression of the road that will eventually connect to Tracy.”
This portion of the State Route 4 project is budgeted at $74.3 million including Environmental Clearance and Design, Utility Relocation, and Construction and Construction Management. The engineer’s estimate for construction was $40,855,000. BWBCJV’s bid of $36,925,826 results in a savings of $3.9 million. Both Brosamer & Wall, which is based in Walnut Creek and Concord-based Bay Cities Paving and Grading have a long history of providing excellent service on CCTA projects. Brosamer & Wall is currently under contract with the Authority on the I-80/San Pablo Dam Road project. Bay Cities Paving & Grading has worked on a number of projects for CCTA, including the State Route 4 Hillcrest project and the State Route 4 Widening and Sand Creek Interchange project.
“We are incredibly proud to be part of a project that will improve safety and improve the flow of traffic in our home county,” said Bob Brosamer with Brosamer & Wall. “By forming a partnership we’ve been able to offer a very competitive rate and we are putting local measure dollars to work using local residents on our workforce,” added Ben Rodriguez with Bay Cities Paving & Grading.
Utility work has already begun for the new interchange and construction is expected to begin in late 2016 or early 2017 and is expected to be complete in late Summer 2019.
About The Contra Costa Transportation Authority
The Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA) is a public agency formed by Contra Costa voters in 1988 to manage the county’s transportation sales tax program and oversee countywide transportation planning efforts. CCTA is responsible for planning, funding and delivering critical transportation infrastructure projects and programs that connect our communities, foster a strong economy, increase sustainability, and safely and efficiently get people where they need to go. CCTA also serves as the county’s designated Congestion Management Agency, responsible for putting programs in place to keep traffic levels manageable. More information about CCTA is available at ccta.net.Read More