Burgis gets Blackhawk Country Club to donate $40,000 per year for 10 years for police services
By Daniel Borsuk
Supervisors unanimously approved cost of living increases to three major elected office holders but withheld a salary boost for county assessor Gus Kramer citing “a salary adjustment for the Assessor will be considered at a later date once other issues in the Department have been resolved.”
That citation is in reference to an ongoing sex harassment case lodged against Kramer by county employees. Kramer would have been in line to have received a 1.96 percent cost of living adjustment increase that would have increased his pay to $208,013.
In compliance with a Dec. 11, 2018 Board Resolution, County Administrator David Twa said his office conducted a salary comparison of analysis of elected office officials in Alameda, Marin, Napa, Sacramento, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano and Solano counties and discovered in order to bring the salaries up to Bay Area average, the salary of Auditor-Controller Robert Campbell will rise 8.45 percent to an annual salary of $225,594. The annual salary of Clerk-Recorder Joseph Canciamilla will increase 5.48 percent to a yearly salary of $210,686. The yearly salary of Treasurer-Tax Collector Russell V. Watts will rise 4.77 percent to a yearly salary of $235,611.
There was no discussion from either the supervisors or public on the topic.
Blackhawk Country Club Donates $40,000 Per Year for 10 Years for Police Services
Notching a political victory in the tony enclave of Blackhawk, District 3 Supervisor Diane Burgis of Brentwood played a role for steering the Blackhawk Country Club to donate $40,000 a year over a 10-year span to help cover police services provided by the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Department.
A dispute had erupted recently when the Blackhawk Homeowners Association, led by association president Ron Banducci, who had called on county supervisors to intervene in urging the Blackhawk Country Club to contribute funds towards the community’s police force that consists of three deputy sheriffs and one lieutenant. Up until now, the country club had not provided funds for police services since formation of County Service Area P-2A in 1985.
Since the creation of P-2A, homeowners have shouldered the financial costs for police protection, but the county club has never provided any financial assistance for P-2A coverage. Last May, Banducci, who also serves as chairman of the Blackhawk Police Advisory Committee, warned supervisors of “any backroom deal” like the one Burgis and the country club were then discussing, the 10-year, $40,000 a year donation.
Banducci did not return a Contra Costa Herald phone call to respond to the $40,000 a year donation consent agenda item at Tuesday’s board of supervisors meeting. There was no comment from either the public or supervisors on the item.
“I appreciate the Blackhawk Country Club’s donation to the county to support supplemental law enforcement services in the Blackhawk community,” Burgis said in a statement to the Herald. “I look forward to continuing to work with the Blackhawk Police Advisory, the Sheriff’s Office and other community shareholders to support the level of police service that the community wants.”
In a July 26 letter, sent to Burgis, that lays out details about the donation, Country Club President Scott Batiste states that this is a donation, not a tax.
“Residents of P2-A have authorized a special tax for police protection services in this area,” he wrote. “The BHCC does not pay this tax. The BHCC Board of Directors has authorized making a donation to the County of Contra Costa of $40,000 per year to support the Sheriff’s law enforcement services in P-2A each year for a ten-year period.”
Over the next 10 years, the county will receive a donation totaling $400,000 from the country club.
Supervisor Glover Postpones Youth Summit Over Mass Shooting Concerns
Citing the series of weekend deadly shootings triggered by ultra-right shooters in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, Supervisor Federal Glover of Pittsburg announced that the Youth Summit, a one-day event that he co-sponsors at Los Medanos College in Pittsburg has been postponed.
Originally slated to be held this Saturday, August 10 to draw thousands of youth in Contra Costa County, Glover announced at the supervisors meeting, “I will convene a meeting of the stakeholders, including law enforcement, to make sure we are ready to deal with active shooter scenarios and other public safety emergencies that may arise. The Youth Summit brings together a number of youth and I need to be confident as well as be able, to assure their parents that we have taken all reasonable measures to ensure their children’s safety at such a large public event.”
“As we review our protocols and formulate our plans, we will notify members of the public of our plans for a future youth summit,” Glover said in a press statement.
Approve $19.2 Million Multifamily Housing Revenue Rehab Bonds for Bay Point Apartment Building
Keeping in mind the county’s affordable housing shortage, supervisors approved a resolution authorizing the issuance of $19.2 million in Multifamily Housing Revenue Bonds to finance the costs for the acquisition and rehabilitation of 88 units of rental housing known as Hidden Cove Apartments at 2900, 2911, and 2921-2931 Mary Ann Lane in Bay Point. The apartments will be initially owned at the time of the financing by Hidden Cove Apartments, LP, a California Limited Partnership.
OK Contract With Canine Companions for Independence
In another consent act, supervisors approved an agreement with Canine Companions for Independence to provide a dog to the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office. The dog offers comfort and assistance to victims of crimes during interviews, in-court testimony, and other traumatic situations. The cost of expenses for the care and feeding of the facility dog is estimated to be about $5,000 a year and will be covered from the District Attorney’s general fund budget.Read More
On Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019, Seth Sears a 39-year-old resident of Richmond, CA, pled guilty to first degree murder during his trial for the 2015 killing of victim Neil Akin. Sears will be formally sentenced on September 27 before the Honorable Judge Charles Burch in Department 23 of the Contra Costa County Superior Court in Martinez. Sears in his pleading also admitted to using a firearm during the murder. He is expected to receive 25 years to life in state prison.
“The defendant pled guilty as charged to the first degree murder of Neil Akin, and further admitted that he personally used and fired the weapon that killed Mr. Akin. We hope that the defendant’s full admission of responsibility will help the victim’s family find closure after four long years,” Contra Costa County Deputy District Attorney Satish Jallepalli stated. DDA Jallepalli prosecuted the case and is assigned to our Office’s Homicide Unit. DDA Alison Chandler and DDA Colleen Gleason also prosecuted the case for our Office.
In September 2015, the victim’s body was found deceased in Oakland with a gunshot wound to the head. Days earlier, the defendant shot Akin and left his body initially in the defendant’s apartment in Richmond. Sears wrapped the body in trash bags and used silver tape to bind the bags together to try to conceal the body. He rented a white van in El Cerrito and used the van to transport the body from his apartment to Oakland. Surveillance video in Oakland showed a similar white van in the vicinity of where the body was found.
Fortunately, a witness came forward to report that Sears had invited her over after the murder while the victim’s body was still in his apartment, and implored her to help him dispose of the body. She refused to help him cover up the crime and later met with the Richmond Police Department to describe what she had seen.
Case information: People v. Seth Rumi Sears, Docket Number 05-171844-4Read More
By Scott Alonso, Public Information Officer, Contra Costa County District Attorney
This past Friday, a Contra Costa County jury found defendant Edward Miller of Walnut Creek, California guilty as charged of four felonies tied to his criminal schemes to embezzle money from his employer Seeno Construction, Inc. and its affiliated entities. Miller was the former Chief Risk Officer for the Seeno Companies at the time of his criminal conduct.
Miller created a shell company to funnel funds held in trust from law firms representing the Albert Seeno Construction Company into his own personal accounts, using phony invoices to request that the law firms send him checks payable to a secret company he created. In turn, Miller claimed company expenses to hide the income and to avoid paying income taxes on the money he was collecting. Additionally, Miller used some of this money meant for the Seeno Companies to support his lifestyle at golf resorts and to account for his gambling losses. He spent this money at multiple casinos in Reno and Las Vegas.
“White collar crime is inherently complex, and this jury was willing to tackle a thorny body of evidence that wasn’t always straightforward,” Deputy District Attorney Adam Wilks stated. “This jury had to follow money moving across multiple bank accounts, and had to listen to testimony about issues of civil litigation, business formation, and interpersonal dealings within a corporate structure. The verdict in this case speaks volumes about our community, and specifically to those who sacrificed their time to be on this jury, have the sincere thanks of the Contra Costa County DA’s Office.”
Sentencing will occur later this fall in front of the Honorable Rebecca Hardie in Department 5 of the Contra Costa County Superior Court in Martinez. DDA Wilks prosecuted the case on behalf of the People. The case originated in the Office’s Special Operations Division, Real Estate Fraud Unit.
Case Information: People v. Edward Leroy Miller, Docket Number 05-180254-5
Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11) announced that due to overwhelming interest in this week’s town hall meeting in Danville, the location has been moved to a larger venue in order to accommodate all attendees. The town hall will meeting now be held at Charlotte Wood Middle School on Thursday, August 8th at 6:30 p.m.
During the meeting, DeSaulnier will provide an update on what is happening in Washington and other news of the day, including this week’s mass shootings in Dayton and El Paso. This will be the Congressman’s 86th town hall meting and mobile district office hour since coming to Congress four years ago.
Danville Town Hall
Thursday, August 8, 2019
6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
New Location: Charlotte Wood Middle School
600 El Capitan Dr., Danville, CA 94526
Doors open at 6:00 p.m.
This event is open to the public, press, and photographers.
To confirm your attendance, please RSVP online at https://desaulnier.house.gov/town-hall-rsvp or call (925) 933-2660. To request ADA accommodations or for more information, contact one of Congressman DeSaulnier’s offices in either Walnut Creek or Richmond.Read More
Last week, Donaciano Rodriguez a 66-year-old resident of Delano, California, was sentenced to 94 years to life in state prison for sexually abusing a minor in Antioch. His sentence was determined by the Honorable Judge Laurel Brady in Department 31 of the Contra Costa County Superior Court in Martinez.
The jury in this case found Rodriguez guilty of 11 felonies ranging from oral copulation, sexual penetration with a child 10 years old or younger and forced lewd acts upon a child. Deputy District Attorney Bryan Tierney with our Sexual Assault Unit prosecuted the case on behalf of the People. The trial occurred in late June and lasted eight days. Our Office would like to extend gratitude for the Antioch Police Department for their work investigating the case.
“The victim in this case and her family were very cooperative during the investigation and trial. Without their help there would be no justice. The defendant committed heinous crimes against Jane Doe that will forever impact her. I am thankful that the jury followed all the evidence and held the defendant accountable,” DDA Tierney stated.
In 2017, Jane Doe bravely came forward to the police to report the assaults which occurred years earlier. The victim reported that the defendant repeatedly assaulted her and threatened her if she came forward to authorities. Antioch Police continued the investigation and the defendant was eventually arrested later that year in Kern County. He has remained in custody since his arrest.
When the defendant was arrested by police, he admitted he molested the minor multiple times. He even demonstrated to the investigators what he did to Jane Doe. The attacks against Jane Doe occurred in multiple locations in Antioch.
Case information: People v. Donaciano Rodriguez, Docket Number 05-182336-8
The Contra Costa Transportation Authority is holding Telephone Town Hall Meetings to inform the public of the Initial Draft 2020 Transportation Expenditure Plan (TEP) and get their input before finalizing the plan and placing another tax measure on the March 2020 ballot to fund it. The meeting for East County will be held on Wednesday, Aug. 8 (see previous post on this website, below)
The plan (www.ccta.net/theplan) currently has a total price tag of $3.061 billion and the tax is in addition to the county’s current half-cent sales tax for transportation from Measure J, which voters approved in 2004 and expires in 2034. The new tax would last until 2050. The CCTA attempted to pass a similar additional half-cent sales tax in 2016, known as Measure X, but it failed. The only new section of roadway in the entire county in that plan was the $117 million “limited access” connector between Vasco Road and the Byron Highway, next to the Byron Airport. Voters overwhelmingly voted against the measure and it failed.
Fortunately, that project was included in the Regional Measure 3 expenditure plan which did pass. But, RM3 didn’t include the long-planned Route 239, the proposed four-lane freeway between Brentwood and Tracy, which will connect East County to Interstate 5, the economic lifeblood artery of the state.
That road has been on the books for over 60 years. But, planning for it only began in 2013 as part of what was known as the TriLink Project, as it crossed the three counties of Contra Costa, San Joaquin and a sliver of Alameda, and was to also include two lines of transit down the middle, connecting the end of the BART line in East County to Tracy.
However, the TriLink Project website is no longer active and neither the four-lane freeway nor the transit lines are included in Contra Costa County’s plans for the next 30 years.
Yet, it’s Route 239 that will ensure East County’s long-term economic viability, allowing current businesses, including agriculture, to get their products to market quicker. Plus, it will open up our area for greater local job creation, and complete what I refer to as the beltway around Mt. Diablo, eliminating the cul-de-sac effect with the three two-lane roads connecting us to the east and south.
Antioch and East County have the freight rail connecting us to the east and west, plus the river connecting us to the world, to move goods. But we only have Highway 4 and BART connecting us to the west for moving people and goods.
Central County folks oppose Route 239 saying it will “induce growth in East County.” But they’ve been saying that for almost 50 years about every new road improvement, including the Hwy 4 Bypass/extension, which we had to fight for over four years from 1994-98 to just get approvals, not any money. In fact, it was that same mindset that prevented Hwy 24 from being extended to East County back in the 1970’s and the result is a surface road with the three names of Ygnacio Valley Road, Kirker Pass and Railroad Avenue, today.
I grew up in Walnut Creek and moved to Antioch because it was more affordable. In fact out of all us who attended the 35th reunion of the Northgate High School Class of ’81 in 2016, only four classmates still lived in Walnut Creek. Where did many move to? East County. So, as I said to my fellow elected officials when I was on a panel during a transportation conference back in the late 1990’s when I was serving on the Antioch City Council and Contra Costa Transportation Authority, don’t blame us for the growth. They had kids and we needed somewhere to live that we could afford. That was when East County was pushing for funding and approvals for Highway 4 widening and the Highway 4 bypass/extension. We received it and those projects are now completed.
It’s time we completed the transportation infrastructure in East County and Route 239 is a key part of it.
Besides, that road won’t induce residential growth. We have the Urban Limit Line to control that. But it will induce economic growth with more local jobs, which is what East County needs.
We need both Route 239 and the transit link between Antioch and Tracy. But, for now, let’s push for funds for the freeway to be included in the county’s new plan. Estimates are it will cost an additional $1 billion. I say add it to the total and let the voters decide.
We need bold leadership from our local elected officials and the voice of “we the people” to make it happen.Read More
Recognize 50th Anniversary of Concord Jazz Festival; Sheriff opposes oversight bill
By Daniel Borsuk
A mission undertaken by two Tice Valley Boulevard residents to sway the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors to overturn a county planning commission land use permit approved to convert an existing elderly care facility into a psychiatric care facility backfired when the supervisors voted 5-0 to support the $2.5 million development on Tuesday.
About a dozen people spoke in favor of the project while two petitioners were against the development. Another Tice Valley resident, Penny Mahoney, opposed the project on grounds the development won’t care for patient’s older than 60 years old because the proposed National Psychiatric Care and Rehabilitation facility planned by Dr. Gregory Braverman will administer psychotropic drugs that can only be administered to patients ages 18 to 60 years old.
“This project morphed into something different,” said Mahoney.
Tice Valley Boulevard property owners Amy Majors, who was represented by land use attorney Terry Mollica, and neighbor Linda Uhrenholt appealed a planning commission’s decision supporting the developer Braverman and his National Psychiatric Care and Rehabilitation Services (NPCRS) plans to build a 12-bed facility at 2181 Tice Valley Blvd. in unincorporated Walnut Creek that had previously served as an elder care facility for eight residents. .
The new state licensed facility planned for Tice Valley Boulevard would specialize in providing 24-hour care for adult patients referred by Kaiser Permanente for stays on average lasting 18 days even though opponent Uhrenholt contended the developer’s letter of intent states “under no circumstances may a client’s length of stay exceed 3 months.”
Uhrenholt also cited “poor” Tice Valley area cellular connectivity presents potential emergency response problems and patient privacy violations.
Psychiatric disorders that will be treated at the Tice Boulevard facility will include schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder, panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, major depressive disorder, adjustment disorder, personality disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
“I just wanted them (County Planning Commissioners) to be on a level playing field,” appellant Majors told the Contra Costa Herald. Majors, the parent of a mentally disabled adult daughter, contends during the county planning commission process, commissioners, not the planning staff, did not give her and her fellow appellant, Uhrenholt, a fair hearing. “We were not given due process,” she contends.
Majors asserts political factors swayed the Planning Commission’s action.
Real estate attorney Mollica said it is too early to say whether his client will take any legal action against the county. The lawyer said the project is beginning to negatively impact home real estate sales in the area with some home prices recently dropping about $25,000 per transaction, a claim that District 2 Supervisor Candace Andersen of Danville disputed.
“Property values have not been impacted,” Andersen said. The supervisor also said prices of three homes in the Tice Valley Boulevard area have risen, recently. Additionally, the board vice chairperson supported the NPCRS development saying, “We need to demystify mental illness. I have family members with mental illness. I am for more mental health care facilities like this in the county.”
Rosemary Friedman, the mother of a bipolar daughter who stays at the University of California Davis, supports the NPCRS project because it would mean her daughter could be treated closer to home. “I want to let you know how badly we need this social rehabilitation facility in Contra Costa County,” she said.
Walnut Creek attorney Daniel Roemer said he supports the project because of his increased concerns about the shortage of mental health services and “I want to live in a community that takes care of itself.”
“These types of facilities are desperately needed in Contra Costa County,” said county mental health commissioner Douglas Dunn of Antioch.
“This is one type of facility that we don’t have in our county where people have to go out of county,” said District 5 Supervisor Federal Glover of Pittsburg. “Our families need these facilities so that they can be near their family members. This is something I would encourage more of in Contra Costa.”
Sheriff Livingston Opposes Sheriff Office Oversight Bill
At a rare public appearance before the Board of Supervisors, Contra Costa County Sheriff-Coroner David O. Livingston said he opposes state legislation, Assembly Bill 1185, that is sitting on Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk for potential ratification or veto. The sheriff believes the governor will veto the bill.
During the hearing, supervisors and the sheriff listened to a number of speakers support state Assemblyman Kevin McCarty’s (Dem-Sacramento) bill, AB 1185. The supervisors’ hearing was held to comply with state law, the 2016 Truth Act signed by then-Gov. Jerry Brown that lays out the rules whereby sheriffs must comply when dealing with persons in their jails and ICE agents.
Sheriff Livingston said he and sheriffs in 57 other counties in the state have gone on record opposing the AB 1185 legislation pushed by human rights organizations to hold sheriff offices more accountable.
“I am an elected official. To say we don’t have oversight is ridiculous,” Livingston told the supervisors. “We have a lot of oversight. I’m happy to have people come to the jail for visits.”
“Until this year, between 2015 and 2017 we had no deaths in the jails,” said the sheriff. “Then, in 2018 there were six deaths.”
The sheriff’s office has recently installed ligature-proof bedding in all jail cells to reduce suicides. So far, this year there has been one death by suicide and one by pulmonary failure, the sheriff reported. In 2018 there were six jail related deaths, two by suicide and four to health or medical reasons.
Recognize 50th Anniversary of Concord Jazz Festival
The Supervisors recognized the 50th anniversary of the Concord Jazz Festival, initially called the Concord Summer Music Festival, begun in 1969 with a resolution at their meeting on Tuesday. The inaugural event drew 17,000 fans to a park that what would be later designated as Dave Brubeck Park, in recognition of jazz great and Concord native Dave Brubeck. Over the course of the last 50 years, the Concord Jazz Festival has featured jazz greats Count Basie, Rosemary Clooney, Ella Fitzgerald, Woody Herman, Marian McPartland, Poncho Sanchez, and Brubeck. The festival was the idea of Carl Jefferson, who in 1973 started Concord Records which for 26 years had a strong jazz history in Concord, where talented musicians recorded albums that made the billboard charts.
From August 1 through August 10, the Concord Jazz Festival will sponsor jazz related events at different venue in the city. For schedule information, go to www.concord.com. Today, on August 3, the 50th Anniversary Jazz Festival and Art & Wine Expo will be held starting at 4 p.m. at the Concord Pavilion It will feature Dave Koz & Friends Summer Horns, Esperanza Spalding, Chick Corea – The Spanish Heart Band, The Legendary Count Basie Orchestra featuring Patti Austin, Jamison Ross, Carmen Bradford and Poncho Sanchez & His Latin Jazz Band, and many more musicians.Read More
By Lt. Courtney Prizer, Navy Office of Community Outreach
JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii – A 2006 Contra Costa Christian High School graduate, 2013 Diablo Valley College graduate and Concord, California, native is serving in the U.S. Navy aboard the guided-missile destroyer, USS Chung-Hoon.
Petty Officer 3rd Class Aries Socrates works as a Navy fire controlman AEGIS aboard the forward-deployed Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer operating out of Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii.
Socrates credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned in Concord.
“My hometown taught me the value of hard work and patience,” said Socrates, “Also, that the same day you plant the seed is not the same day that you will eat the fruit.”
Chung-Hoon measures approximately 500 feet and is powered by four gas turbines that allow the destroyer to achieve more than 30 mph in open seas.
Approximately 30 officers and 300 enlisted men and women make up the ship’s company. Their jobs are highly specialized and keep each part of the cruiser running smoothly, according to Navy officials. The jobs range from maintaining engines and handling weaponry to washing dishes and preparing meals.
As a Navy fire controlman AEGIS, Socrates is responsible for the computers and servers that provide the ship’s overall navigation and combat picture.
According to Navy officials, destroyers are tactical multi-mission surface combatants capable of conducting anti-air warfare, anti-submarine warfare and anti-surface warfare, as well as humanitarian assistance. Fast, maneuverable, and technically advanced, destroyers provide the required war-fighting expertise and operational flexibility to execute any tasking overseas.
Being stationed in Pearl Harbor, often referred to as the gateway to the Pacific in defense circles, means Socrates is serving in a part of the world taking on a new importance in America’s focus on rebuilding military readiness, strengthening alliances, and reforming business practices in support of the National Defense Strategy.
“Our priorities center on people, capabilities and processes, and will be achieved by our focus on speed, value, results and partnerships,” said Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer. “Readiness, lethality and modernization are the requirements driving these priorities.”
Though there are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community, and career, Socrates is most proud of graduating from boot camp and technical school and now serving on a ship stationed in Hawaii.
“Dedication and persistence to my personal goals and family helped to push me through to reach where I am now,” said Socrates.
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Socrates and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes, one that will provide a critical component of the Navy the nation needs.
“Serving the Navy means working on and reflecting on myself and my goals,” added Socrates. “Through various obstacles presented on the job, I am constantly being tested, allowing me to build myself up in some way. I have been growing in patience, resilience, and physical strength, as well as taking more initiative.”Read More