By Allen Payton
Embattled Contra Costa County School Board Trustee Jeff Belle, was refused entry into Assemblyman Jim Frazier’s office in Sacramento, when Belle was in the State Capitol for the county school boards’ legislative action day on Tuesday, March 18th.
When asked if Frazier told him he wasn’t welcome in his office, Belle replied, “Yes, he did say that I wasn’t welcome and should leave.”
“I told him that I’m here regarding education legislation which affects our school districts,” Belle explained. “He stated that I recruited someone to run against him. I replied, this meeting isn’t about partisan politics, it’s about our children and the issues within our schools.”
“I further stated that I would leave out of respect for the people in the room and the process, but totally disagreed with him. I then walked out of his office,” Belle continued. “The situation with Frazier, in my opinion, is an example of party interest over the interest of the people. He is a big bully. Witnesses will support my story. There were four other people in the room. Two of the four were parents from Antioch.”
Belle said those parents were Nallely Malaspina, a member of the District English Learner Advisory Committee and Cindy Osborne of the Deer Valley High School PTSA.
Malaspina confirmed she was with Belle in Sacramento, that day and that he was denied entry into Frazier’s office.
When asked why, Frazier explained the reasons for his actions.
“I didn’t allow Jeff Belle into my office because I don’t want to be associated with someone who is dishonest with the public,” he stated. “He was fined by the state, last year for claiming to be a respiratory therapist when he wasn’t.”
“More importantly, he lied to the voters on his ballot statement, claiming to have a college degree when he didn’t,” Frazier added. “He was investigated and is now being prosecuted by the county District Attorney’s office for that crime.”
When asked if it was partisan because Belle is a Republican, Frazier – a Democrat – responded, “No. It’s not a partisan issue. I just don’t trust him.”
Belle labeled it “State Capitol bullying in action.”
He is facing a trial in the ballot statement matter and can be fined a maximum of $1,000 if convicted.Read More
Regional Early Voting sites provide flexible timing and locations to cast ballots
Contra Costa County voters will now have unprecedented flexibility to receive and cast their ballots at seven Regional Early Voting sites throughout the county the week before Election Day.
The program will debut on May 31st, a week ahead of the June 7th Primary Election. All registered Contra Costa voters will be able to vote at any of the locations. They will be open from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm Tuesday May 31st through Friday June 3rd, and 9:00 am to 3:00 pm Saturday, June 4th.
“We are actively seeking ways to make voting more convenient for our voters,” said Joe Canciamilla, Contra Costa County Registrar of Voters.
The program comes as state lawmakers discuss reforms aimed at making it easier for Californians to vote in the future.
“While discussions to try and modernize our outdated voting processes continue at the state level, we are taking advantage of the flexibility already given us under existing law to offer our voters as much access to early voting as possible this year,” Canciamilla said.
Contra Costa County is adding this third option for voting in addition to voting by mail and voting at the polls on Election Day.
Regional Early Voting sites are structured so that any registered Contra Costa voter can vote at any location. For example, a Concord resident who works at Bishop Ranch in San Ramon can vote at the site in either of those cities.
The sites are geographically balanced and are located in convenient and accessible locations.
- Prewett Water Park Multi-Purpose Room, 4701 Lone Tree Way, Antioch
- Bay Hills Community Church, 4100 Klose Way, Richmond
- Lafayette Learning Center, 3491 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Lafayette
- San Ramon Community Center at Central Park, 12501 Alcosta Blvd., San Ramon
- Pittsburg City Hall, 65 Civic Ave., Pittsburg
- The Salvation Army Church, 3950 Clayton Road, Concord
In addition to the Regional Voting Center sites, vote-by-mail voters can continue to drop off their ballots at “CoCo Vote-N-Go” drop-off boxes at all 19 city hall buildings and the County Administration building on 651 Pine Street, Martinez.
For more information on Regional Early Voting, visit www.cocovote.us.Read More
Brentwood City Councilman and Supervisorial candidate Steve Barr’s endorsement by the Brentwood Police Officers’ Association is a clear example of what is wrong with California politics and government leadership.
A city councilman and/or supervisor is on the management side of the negotiation for pay, benefits, pensions, working rules, etc. with labor groups. Having their endorsement and, in all probability financial support, during the campaign, leads to the distinct possibility of a pay back or reward for that support during contract negotiations. The second problem with this arrangement is that the only people left out of that negotiation are the taxpayers, the people who have to pay for the results of that negotiation. It is especially easy to give pay increases and other benefits when you are negotiating with other people’s money.
I support Doug Hardcastle for Supervisor in District 3. Doug and his wife Linda have owned and successfully operated Hardcastle’s RV in the county since 1972. He was on the Ironhouse Sanitary District Board of Directors from 2000 until 2012 and a member of the Oakley City Council since 2012, serving as Mayor, last year. He is Chairman of Transplan (the East County transportation board), Chairman of the State Route 4 Bypass Authority and is Vice Chairman of the Tri Delta Transit Authority. Doug is a successful, independent leader who understands the need for private sector economic development and jobs in East County and has proven his ability to lead in the public sector. But, most of all, he is working for all the people of East County, not just a chosen few.
District Attorney Mark Peterson announced, Friday that after an extensive investigation, 11 felony charges were filed against Nathan and Sarah Moore, owners of NRM Renovations, Inc., in Concord for workers’ compensation fraud, grand theft of labor and payroll tax fraud.
When reached for comment, Nathan Moore said “No comment. I have no comment.”
The investigation originally began with a series of wage and labor complaints to the U.S. Department of Labor in June of 2015. Allegations included that workers were not being paid for work they completed doing hotel renovations for NRM Renovations. The Department of Labor forwarded these complaints to the District Attorney’s office, and a joint investigation of suspected labor violations began. The investigation expanded to include three state agencies. The CA Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) assisted in interviewing the employees. The CA Department of Insurance (CDI) investigated allegations regarding the underpayment of workers’ compensation insurance premiums. The Employment and Development Department (EDD) helped investigate tax and payroll issues.
NRM Renovations is alleged to owe over $30,000 in back wages to several employees, approximately $250,000 in workers’ compensation premiums to several different insurance companies, and back taxes to the EDD on over $1,000,000 in wages.
Charges include three counts of violating Insurance Code §11760(a) (Workers’ Compensation fraud), and one violation each of Insurance Code §11880(a) (Workers’ Compensation fraud), Penal Code §487 (grand theft of labor), Unemployment Insurance Code (“UI”) §2108 (nonpayment of contributions), UI Code §2177.5 (failure to file a return), and UI 2118.5 (Failure to account and pay over taxes). Due to the amount of loss, the defendants were also charged with an Aggravated White Collar Crime enhancement under Penal Code §186.11(a)(3).
“Businesses that exploit their workers through wage theft will be prosecuted,” said District Attorney Mark Peterson. “We place a priority on restitution for all victims.”
Multiple agencies assisted the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office with this investigation including: the US Department of Labor, the Department of Industrial Relations, the Department of Insurance, the Employment and Development Department, the State Compensation Insurance Fund, Norguard and Benchmark Insurance Companies.
Allen Payton contributed to this report.
Washington, DC – On Thursday, the Committee on Armed Services in the U.S. House of Representatives passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), H.R. 4909, which authorizes our nation’s defense spending. Included in the bill is a provision offered by Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11), which would require the Navy to investigate the circumstances surrounding the treatment of sailors at the Port Chicago Naval Magazine in Concord, California. The NDAA now moves to the floor of the House for consideration.
“Today marks an important milestone in the continued fight for recognition of the Port Chicago 50. A provision requiring the Navy to investigate whether racial bias was experienced by this group and to report their findings to Congress passed in the Armed Services Committee and is one step closer to becoming law,” said DeSaulnier.
While facing institutional segregation in the Navy, 435 African American sailors, who were not properly trained or supported, were killed when a cargo vessel exploded. This incident accounted for more than 15 percent of all African American Naval casualties during World War II. When 50 of these men understandably refused to return to the unsafe working conditions that killed their fellow sailors, they were discriminately charged and convicted of mutiny.
“I appreciate the support this measure received from my colleagues, and I will continue working to move this legislative effort forward until all of these sailors are completely exonerated,” DeSaulnier concluded.Read More
County Supervisors are seeking residents interested in reviewing data and discussing issues regarding disproportionate minority contact within the local criminal justice system. On April 12,
2016, the Board of Supervisors approved the 17 member Disproportionate Minority Contact Task Force composed of the following members:
- County Probation Officer
- Public Defender
- District Attorney
- Health Services Director
- Superior Court representative
- County Police Chief’s Association representative
- Mount Diablo Unified School District representative
- Antioch Unified School District representative
- West Contra Costa Unified School District representative
- (5) Community-based organization (CBO) representatives (at least 1 representative from each region of the County and at least one representative from the faith and family community)
- Mental Health representative (not a County employee)
- Public Member – At Large
Following passage of Assembly Bill 109, commonly known as Public Safety Realignment, significant program infrastructure, both within the County and in the community, were put into place to support returning citizens with successful reentry into the community following incarceration; however, there remain factors that contribute to minority residents experiencing disproportionate levels of arrest, prosecution and incarceration. Cities and counties across the nation are grappling with the same issue, but precipitating factors and solutions are unique to each jurisdiction.
In Contra Costa County, the Board of Supervisors has charged the newly established Task Force with identifying these unique factors and recommending solutions to improve the experience of minority residents across the County. The Board is seeking applications for seven (7) of the seats above; five (5) community based organization seats, one (1) Mental Health representative seat and one (1) Public member At-Large seat at this time. Applicants for community based organizations seats must be affiliated with a community based organization operating within the County. Applicants for the Mental Health representative seat must be involved in the mental health community within the County, but cannot be a County employee.
Applicants for the Public Member At-Large seat may be any individual that resides or works within the County.
Applicants will be interviewed by the Board of Supervisors’ Public Protection Committee (Supervisors Candace Andersen, District II and John Gioia, District I) with appointment recommendations being sent to the full Board of Supervisors for action. Below is a timeline for the recruitment:
- June 15th: Application Deadline (7 week application period)
- June 27th: Public Protection Committee Meeting: Interviews
- July 12th: Board consideration of PPC nominations
Application forms can be obtained from the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors by calling (925) 335-1900, or by visiting the County webpage at www.co.contra-costa.ca.us. Applications should
be returned to the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors, Room 106, County Administration Building, 651 Pine Street, Martinez, CA 94553. Applications can also be faxed to (925) 335-1913.Read More
Detectives from the Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff Investigation Division are continuing to investigate the killing of 47-year-old Kimberly Hoglund of East Richmond Heights.
On Wednesday, April 13, 2016, it was brought to the attention of the Office of the Sheriff that Hoglund was missing and that foul play may be involved. Detectives served a search warrant on a home in East Richmond Heights and discovered a possible crime scene, but did not locate Hoglund. The next morning, Detectives detained a suspect, who was later arrested and booked into the Martinez Detention Facility. 37-year-old Dylan Reese of El Sobrante is being held on homicide and assault with a deadly weapon charges; his bail is set at $1.3 million.
Detectives and Crime Lab personnel searched a home on Appian Way in El Sobrante in an effort to locate Hoglund. On Tuesday, the body of Hoglund was found in a shallow grave on the property. Detectives say Hoglund was last seen on March 28, 2016 and likely died shortly thereafter. Her family filed a missing persons report on her on April 12, 2016.
The Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office yesterday filed formal homicide charges against Reese and a second suspect, 43-year-old Andre Villedrouin of Richmond, who remains outstanding.
Anyone with any information on the whereabouts of Villedrouin is asked to contact the Office of the Sheriff at (925) 646-2441. The Investigations Division can be reached at (925) 313-2600. For any tips, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call (866) 846-3592 to leave an anonymous voice message.
On Monday, morning April 25 at about 4:45, Office of the Contra Costa County Sheriff dispatch received a report that an armed robbery was taking place at the California Grand Casino at the 5900 block of Pacheco Boulevard in Pacheco.
Deputies responded along with officers from nearby law enforcement agencies. A perimeter was set up and employees and customers were evacuated.
Suspect description: Male, 6′, approximately 200 pounds, wearing a full face Halloween mask, black hoodie jacket, dark pants, orange gloves, armed with a semi-automatic rifle.
Anyone with any information on this robbery is asked to contact the Office of the Sheriff Investigation Division at (925) 313-2662. (See more photos on the County Sheriff’s Facebook page).
On Saturday, April 30, 2016, from 10 AM to 2 PM, the Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will give the public its 11th opportunity in six years to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs. Bring your pills for disposal at the following sites. The DEA cannot accept liquids or needles or sharps, only pills or patches. The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked.
DROP OFF LOCATIONS:
-Office of the Sheriff Muir Station, 1980 Muir Road, Martinez (Field Operations Building)
-Office of the Sheriff Bay Station, 5555 Giant Highway, Richmond (West County Detention Facility)
-Danville Police Department, 510 La Gonda Way, Danville
-Lafayette Police Department, 3675 Mt. Diablo Way, Suite 130, Lafayette
-Oakley Police Department, 3231 Main Street, Oakley
-Orinda Police Department, 22 Orinda Way, Orinda
Last September, Americans turned in over 702,000 pounds of prescription drugs at over 5,000 sites operated by the DEA and more than 3,800 of its state and local law enforcement partners. When those results are combined with what was collected in its ten previous Take Back events, DEA and its partners have taken in over 5.5 million pounds—more than 2,750 tons—of pills.
This initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue. Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs. Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet. In addition, Americans are now advised that their usual methods for disposing of unused medicines—flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash—both pose potential safety and health hazards.
For more information about the disposal of prescription drugs or about the April 30, 2016 Take Back Day event, go to the DEA Office of Diversion Control website at: www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov.
Antioch’s Mayor Wade Harper and Councilwoman Monica Wilson are failures. Antioch is no safer or better off since their elections. Their impacts haven’t been positive in many ways. Their visions for Antioch have allowed Antioch to be a crime plagued community under their leadership. Don’t vote for them for County Supervisor.
Some of Harper’s primary election campaign platforms was to improve Antioch’s public safety. He boasted “The City of Antioch will be a safer city on my watch” and “Stopping crime now starts with Police Lieutenant Wade Harper.” It additionally crowed “How about we elect a City Councilmember who has experience fighting crime – well beyond talking about it.”
Harper also promised “more police” and “less crime” in his overzealous support for a YES vote on tax Measure “C”. What a farce that has also turned out to be, he was one of the main proponents for its passage. Same Police, similar crime results since. Monica Wilson was right there going along and not pointing out the farce it’s been.
Antioch’s Police manpower has really not been increased, even with Harper and Wilson at the helm, with almost the same number of sworn Officers as before. But, they did give big salary and benefits increases to some employee groups instead. Antioch’s crime rate hasn’t really been reduced, it’s been a misleading dog and pony show when publicly discussed by them and others.
As an example, where are the 20 plus “more” Officers that were promised? And where is the “less crime” they promised? Not kept. Antioch’s high crime rate situation is still way too high! Antioch’s documented crime rate is higher than the California average crime rate and is higher than the National average crime rate. Antioch’s is about 46% more than California’s average and about 49% more than the National average.
Let’s face it, Antioch’s Wade Harper and Monica Wilson are failures and should not be voted for County Supervisor. We can do better without them. There are four other Candidates to chose from and should instead be considered for your votes.
Ralph A. Hernandez
former Antioch Council Member, and
Chair Citizens For DemocracyRead More