Third candidate to announce for District 5 to replace Glover; touts major endorsements
On Thursday, September 21, Antioch City Councilman, business owner, retired police lieutenant Mike Barbanica announced his campaign for Contra Costa County Supervisor District 5. The campaign held its kick-off event later that evening at the Deputy Sheriff’s Association Hall in Martinez.
“We had a better turnout than expected,” Barbanica shared following the event. “We had well over 100. All the tables were full. It could not have been a more successful event. It was incredible.”
Barbanica is a 21-year veteran of the Pittsburg Police Department, where he retired in 2007 as a police lieutenant and earned the Bronze Medal of Valor Award for his service. Barbanica and his team were credited by the police chief with bringing about a 20 percent decrease in crime. Barbanica and his wife Kristine are the owners of Blue Line Property Group where they help local families access affordable housing. In 2020, Barbanica, a Democrat, was elected to the Antioch City Council and currently represents District 2.
“I am thrilled to announce my campaign for Supervisor for Contra Costa County District 5,” Barbanica said. “With over 20 years of experience protecting our community as a police officer and now an elected councilmember with a thriving small business that is taking on the housing crisis, I will proudly put my public service track record up against all-comers while I continue to fight for Contra Costa families. I will do what it takes to ensure Contra Costa County is a place where every family has an equal opportunity to thrive. I will use my experience as a long-time police officer and now councilmember to tackle the housing crisis, ensure we get serious about public safety, and build a stronger community for all who call Contra Costa County home.”
Barbanica is a real estate broker and owns Blue Line Property Management in Antioch handling both residential and commercial real estate sales, leasing and management.
He enters the race with a growing list of influential and respected endorsers, including Mary Knox, Contra Costa County District Attorney, Sue Rainey, former Mayor of Walnut Creek, Mary Erbez, former Mayor of Pittsburg, Frank Aiello, former Mayor of Pittsburg, Angelica Lopez, Pittsburg City Councilmember, Tony Oerlemans, Brentwood City Councilmember, Sean Wright, former Mayor of Antioch, and Arne Simonsen, former Antioch City Clerk and City Councilmember, as well as the United Steelworkers Local 326.
Barbanica is running for Contra Costa County Supervisorial District 5, which spans the north shore of Contra Costa County, including the cities of Hercules, Martinez and Pittsburg, and portions of Antioch and the unincorporated communities of Alhambra Valley, Bay Point, Briones, Rodeo, Pacheco, Crockett, Tormey, Port Costa, Mt. View, Vine Hill, Reliez Valley, and Clyde.
So far, he will face Pittsburg Mayor Shanelle Preston and Pittsburg Councilman Jelani Killings in the primary election in March. Filing closes December 8.
More About Barbanica
Barbanica, a lifelong resident of Antioch, is the small business owner of Blue Line Property Group in Antioch. He has received numerous awards for his teaching and coaching of others, including the California and Hawaii Region “Outstanding Brokerage of the Year” and the region’s “Broker of the Year.” Barbanica also authored an international bestselling book.
Before serving residents’ real estate needs, he began his career with the Pittsburg Police Department where he served 21 years and retired in 2007 as a police lieutenant. On the force, Barbanica ran a street level narcotic and crime unit for six years that was credited with reducing crime by 23% in Pittsburg.
In 2020, Barbanica was elected to represent District 2 on the Antioch City Council where he’s been cracking down on dilapidated properties, improving public safety, and getting small businesses the funds they need to succeed.
Barbanica is also active in the Antioch community, is a member of the Elk’s Club, the local Knights of Columbus, the Peace Officers Research Association of California, the National Association of Realtors, the Pittsburg Italian American Club, and other service organizations.
Barbanica is married to Kristine Barbanica, and together they have raised three children in the Antioch community and are grandparents to 4 grandchildren.
For more information on Barbanica for Contra Costa County Supervisor, please visit www.mikebarbanica.com.
Allen D. Payton contributed to this report.
OAKLAND – In partnership with six district attorneys, California Attorney General Rob Bonta on Friday, Sept. 8, announced a settlement with Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc., and Kaiser Foundation Hospitals (collectively “Kaiser”) resolving allegations that the healthcare provider unlawfully disposed of hazardous waste, medical waste, and protected health information at Kaiser facilities statewide. As part of the settlement, Kaiser will be liable for a total of $49 million and be required to take significant steps to prevent future unlawful disposals.
“The illegal disposal of hazardous and medical waste puts the environment, workers, and the public at risk. It also violates numerous federal and state laws,” said Bonta. “As a healthcare provider, Kaiser should know that it has specific legal obligations to properly dispose of medical waste and safeguard patients’ medical information. I am pleased that Kaiser has been cooperative with my office and the district attorneys’ offices, and that it took immediate action to address the alleged violations.”
The settlement is the result of undercover inspections conducted by the district attorneys’ offices of dumpsters from 16 different Kaiser facilities. During those inspections, the district attorneys’ offices reviewed the contents of unsecured dumpsters destined for disposal at publicly accessible landfills, finding hundreds of items of hazardous and medical waste (aerosols, cleansers, sanitizers, batteries, electronic wastes, syringes, medical tubing with body fluids, and pharmaceuticals) and over 10,000 paper records containing the information of over 7,700 patients. The California Department of Justice subsequently joined the district attorneys and expanded the investigation of Kaiser’s disposal practices further throughout the state. In response to this joint law enforcement investigation, Kaiser immediately hired a third-party consultant and conducted over 1,100 trash audits at its facilities in an effort to improve compliance. Kaiser also modified its operating procedures to improve its handling, storage, and disposal of waste.
Kaiser is headquartered in Oakland, California and operates over 700 facilities statewide, making it the largest healthcare provider in California. Kaiser provides healthcare to approximately 8.8 million Californians, as well as members of the public who seek emergency care from Kaiser facilities. In announcing the settlement, Attorney General Bonta was joined by the district attorneys of Alameda, San Bernardino, San Francisco, San Joaquin, San Mateo, and Yolo counties.
“As a major corporation in Alameda County, Kaiser Permanente has a special obligation to treat its communities with the same bedside manner as its patients,” said Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price. “Dumping medical waste and private information are wrong, which they have acknowledged. This action will hold them accountable in such a way that we hope means it doesn’t happen again.”
“I am confident that this case shows the residents of San Bernardino County that our Office will not stand by as hospitals and other medical clinics dispose of medical waste including biohazards, hazardous waste and personal health information into our landfills, jeopardizing medical confidentiality,” said San Bernardino County District Attorney Jason Anderson. “Deputy District Attorney’s Stephanie Weissman and Supervising Deputy District Attorney Doug Poston dedicated years of their time and expertise to ensure the residents of our County are protected from the mishandling of medical waste and Kaiser policies are improved to safeguard the public moving forward.”
“My office takes patient privacy and the protection of the environment very seriously,” said San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins. “Hazardous waste, medical waste, and confidential patient information must be disposed of properly. When it is not, we will not hesitate to take action. Protecting patient privacy and the environment is just as important as protecting public safety.”
“This resolution further protects the health and safety of the residents of San Joaquin County and the state as a whole,” said San Joaquin County District Attorney Ron Freitas. “The unlawful disposal of hazardous medical waste has no place in this county, or any county, and the mishandling of confidential patient information will not be tolerated. The settlement with Kaiser places the appropriate safeguards to ensure that this never happens again.”
“As the largest healthcare provider in the state, Kaiser has an extraordinary responsibility to the public and to its own patients to ensure that hazardous waste, potentially infectious human waste materials, and highly sensitive patient health information are handled according to state laws and not sent to municipal landfills not equipped to handle those wastes,” said San Mateo County District Attorney Stephen M. Wagstaffe. “Our Environmental Unit continues to work with San Mateo County environmental regulators and colleagues across the state to investigate and prosecute entities that break the law and endanger the environment.”
As part of the settlement, Kaiser:
- Will pay $47.250 million. That amount includes $37,513,000 in civil penalties; $4,832,000 in attorneys’ fees and costs; and $4,905,000 for supplemental environmental projects, primarily environmental prosecutor training.
- Must pay an additional $1.75 million in civil penalties if, within 5 years of the entry of the final judgment, Kaiser has not spent $3.5 million at its California facilities to implement enhanced environmental compliance measures to ensure compliance with relevant provisions of the law that are alleged to have been violated.
- Must retain an independent third-party auditor — approved by the Attorney General’s Office and the district attorneys — who will: perform no less than 520 trash compactor audits at Kaiser’s California facilities to help ensure that regulated wastes (including items containing protected health information) are not unlawfully disposed of; and conduct at least 40 programmatic field audits each year, for a period of five years after entry of the final judgment, to evaluate Kaiser’s compliance with policies and procedures designed to ensure compliance with applicable laws related to hazardous waste, medical waste, and protected health information.
Kaiser’s unlawful disposals are alleged to violate California’s Hazardous Waste Control Law, Medical Waste Management Act, Confidentiality of Medical Information Act, Customer Records Law, and Unfair Competition Law. The disposals are also alleged to violate the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, known as HIPAA.
In 2014, the California Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against Kaiser after it delayed notifying its employees about an unencrypted USB drive that was discovered at a Santa Cruz thrift store. The USB drive contained over 20,000 employee records. Kaiser paid $150,000 in penalties and attorneys’ fees, and agreed to comply with California’s data breach notification law in the future, provide notification of any future breach on a rolling basis, and implement additional training regarding the sensitive nature of employee records. In addition, Kaiser has been the subject of prior enforcement actions by local prosecutors for mismanagement of regulated wastes.
Kaiser Issues Statement in Response
Kaiser responded with the following statement:
“Kaiser Permanente is committed to the health and well-being of our members, patients, employees, physicians, and the communities we serve, which includes proper waste disposal and protecting the confidentiality of member and patient information. Millions of people receive care and support in our hundreds of medical facilities across California each year and we have well-established policies and procedures for disposing of the different kinds of resulting waste items.
About six years ago we became aware of occasions when, contrary to our rigorous policies and procedures, some facilities’ landfill-bound dumpsters included items that should have been disposed of differently. Upon learning of this issue, we immediately completed an extensive auditing effort of the waste stream at our facilities and established mandatory and ongoing training to address the findings. All Kaiser Permanente staff and physicians in California take this required annual training. We also introduced specialized equipment, instructions, and receptacles placed closest to where waste is generated to ensure all types of waste are disposed of properly, and we introduced more environmentally friendly products to enhance our long-standing environmental compliance measures.
We take this matter extremely seriously and have taken full responsibility to acknowledge and, in cooperation with the California Attorney General and county district attorneys, correct our performance regarding landfill-bound trash where it may have fallen short of our standards. We dedicated many hours to identifying and closing gaps to strengthen our regulated waste disposal program and are confident in our ability not only to meet the monitoring and reporting requirements of this settlement, but to comply with the numerous requirements that apply to the different kinds of waste that result from caring for millions of Californians.
In order to address this issue, Kaiser Permanente developed a three-step approach that includes:
- Assessment of hospitals, medical office buildings, and other facilities to identify the types of waste generated and to provide the right receptacles so that it is as easy and convenient as possible for our staff and physicians to dispose of waste in the appropriate receptacles;
- Worksite rounding to observe disposal techniques and to provide just-in-time training to ensure compliance with proper practices; and
- Training, which every employee and physician in California is required to participate in annually, on proper waste disposal processes.
We are not aware of body parts being found at any time during this investigation. There were isolated examples of what appeared to be small amounts of tissue debris.”
Brookfield Properties plans to develop the 2,300 acres of former Naval Weapons Station in 5 phases
By City of Concord
At a special meeting on Aug. 26, the LRA received a presentation from Brookfield about their plan to develop 2,300 acres of the former Concord Naval Weapons Station.
Following Council questions and public comment, the LRA voted unanimously to select the global real estate developer for this project.
With an office in San Ramon, and part of New York-based developer and real estate conglomerate Brookfield Partners, the developer agreed to a variety of requests including designating at least 25% of the housing as affordable and hiring 40% of its construction workforce from within the county. They propose a multi-phase approach beginning with connecting the community to the nearby BART station within the first phase of construction,
The next steps include outlining the terms of an Exclusive Negotiating Agreement (ENA) and a “term sheet”, a document that establishes procedures and standards for the negotiation of a comprehensive proposed Disposition and Development Agreement and drafting a Specific Plan for the property.
Previously, the council had selected Lennar in 2020 and Seeno’s Concord First Partners in 2022 as master developers.
The city council acting as the LRA is expected to consider the ENA at a meeting tentatively scheduled for Sept. 19.
A recording of the Aug. 26 meeting and supporting documents can be found online.
Allen D. Payton contributed to this report.
Join Tre Vista Antioch’s free virtual event: Understanding and Navigating Late Stage Dementia
Dementia has several stages, each with its own set of challenges. Late-stage dementia, in particular, requires a caregiver to adjust their communication and the care they provide. Join our community for a special virtual presentation featuring presenter Erinn Drouin, Community Educator with the Alzheimer’s Association of Nebraska. Erinn will teach you how to better connect and care for your loved one with late-stage dementia.
, , 4:00-5:00 p.m. (Pacific)
* Once you have registered, an email with a link to join the Zoom will be sent to your email before the event starts.
For more information, contact TreVista Antioch at 925-470-3395 or Antioch@agemark.commailto:Antioch@agemark.com.
Tech MeetUp launches Sept. 13
By Darin Gale, Brentwood Assistant City Manager
The City of Brentwood will launch the Brentwood Tech MeetUp at the Brentwood Community Center, 35 Oak Street, beginning Wednesday, September 13th at 9 am. The City’s Economic Development team is spearheading this effort in order to provide an alternative workspace for the hundreds of hybrid and remote tech workers residing in the City.
“The Tech MeetUp will serve to provide hybrid and remote tech workers a break from working at home and an opportunity to network with others in similar industries, seek new jobs or ventures with like-minded individuals”, shared Ricardo Noguera, Economic Development Manager.
The Tech MeetUp will operate from 9:00am – 4:00pm on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays in a casual drop-in setting, offering, free Wi-Fi connection and complimentary coffee, refreshments and snacks. “Just bring your laptop, phone, etc. to work and connect with other passionate tech workers in Brentwood”, added Abraham Salinas, Senior Economic Development Analyst.
September 1, 2023, marked the official start of the Bay Area’s eighth-annual Transit Month. Hosted by San Francisco Transit Riders and Seamless Bay Area with support from local transit agencies, including BART, Transit Month toasts the many trains, buses, and ferries that connect the region and uplift its communities, economies, and cultures.
During Transit Month, riders are encouraged to explore the region by taking local transportation. The month is hallmarked by a multitude of free events, a Ride Contest, ride-a-longs with transit leaders, a Rider First Awards ceremony, and more.
Some of the BART-centric events to look forward to this year include:
Meet the BART Anime Mascots on Sept. 16Beat the Ridership Record All Aboard Bay Area Transit Day on Sept. 16 Transit CEO Ride-Along and Happy Hour on Sept. 29 Mokelumne Trail Bridge Bike Ride from Antioch BART Station Plaza on Sept. 30, organized by Bike East Bay BART Scavenger Hunt from Sept. 1 through 21, organized by Young Professionals in Transportation
Read about the upcoming events and RSVP here.
Last year, riders logged more than 3,000 regional transit trips during the monthlong celebration, and we’re hoping to see even more rides logged this year!
“It’s no secret that the past few years have been hard on our transit, and though we scraped by a budget win recently, it’s not enough. That’s why we need to uplift transit all September long and highlight how necessary it is to keep our city equitable, equal, and fun,” said Thea Selby, Board Co-Chair of San Francisco Transit Riders, which created Transit Month. “It is more important than ever before that we show our elected leaders how important transit is to our city, and that we need to continue funding it. Let’s prove that to them this Transit Month by getting out and taking transit!”
Transit Month prizes are awarded to riders who log the most trips during the Ride Contest. But logging the most rides isn’t the only way to get a prize; this year, when a rider logs a trip, their name will be entered into a raffle.
“We’re expecting Transit Month to be bigger than ever before with more events, more participating agencies, and more community group involvement,” said Ian Griffiths, the co-founder and policy director of Seamless Bay Area, which co-hosts the monthlong celebration. “One of the things we’re most excited about is our community grant program, where we’re distributing 11 small community grants to get more groups involved.”
Transit Month prizes this year include lots of transit agency swag, as well as behind-the-scenes tours of sites not typically accessible to the public, like the Salesforce Transit Center.
The rider who logs the most BART trips this Transit Month will win an HO scale BART A car made by Rapido Trains (the model trains are currently available for preorder on railgoods.com). This museum-quality model will arrive inside a custom-made display case, allowing the rider to proudly show off their best-in-the-Bay Transit Month performance (Delivery is estimated Summer 2024). Other BART prizes up include a BARTable swag bag with promotional prizes, a poster-size BART map, and a BART anime mascot swag bag. Hear from last year’s BART Ride Contest winner below.Read More
Investigators assigned to the California Highway Patrol’s (CHP) Golden Gate Division (GGD) Organized Retail Crime Task Force (ORCTF) have recovered approximately $190,000 in stolen retail merchandise and approximately $24,000 in cash after serving a search warrant on a house in El Sobrante, Calif.
In July of 2023, ORCTF investigators were provided with information regarding a possible illegal fencing operation within the city of El Sobrante. It was alleged that after the theft of retail merchandise, the products were stored at a residence before being sold at various locations. An investigation was launched, and investigators soon had enough information to obtain a search warrant for the residence.
On Thursday, August 31, 2023, ORCTF and GGD Investigative Services Unit personnel executed the search warrant at the residence. Once inside, officers located stolen retail merchandise from Lululemon, CVS, Walgreens, Target, Rite Aid, Express, TJX, Ross, and Victoria’s Secret, among others. A preliminary estimate put the value of the recovered merchandise at over $190,000 and investigators also recovered over $24,000 in cash proceeds from the sale of the stolen merchandise.
The suspect, 52-year-old Ngoc Bui Bach of El Sobrante was booked into Contra Costa County jail on charges of 490.4 PC – Organized Retail Crime, 487(a) PC – Grand Theft, 496(a) PC – Possession of Stolen Property, and 182 PC – Conspiracy to Commit a Crime.
The mission of the California Highway Patrol is to provide the highest level of Safety, Service, and Security.
By Timothy Leong, Director of Communications and Community Relations, 4CD
The Contra Costa Community College District (4CD) has announced changes to its Full-time Free Tuition Program for Contra Costa College (CCC), Diablo Valley College (DVC) and Los Medanos College (LMC) students beginning the fall 2023 semester. The expansion of this free tuition program, formerly known as FT3, removes the previous requirement that participants must be a first-time student, and opens the door to full-time students who have previously taken college courses or even completed a degree.
To receive free tuition for up to two academic years, CCC, DVC, and LMC students must meet the following requirements:
- Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or California Dream Act Application (CADA) for the current academic year;
- Enroll in a minimum of 12 units; and
- Be a California resident or otherwise exempt from paying non-resident tuition fees.
Students are not required to qualify for financial aid, demonstrate financial need or meet any income requirements. Although the Full-time Free Tuition Program waives the $46 per unit enrollment/tuition fees at 4CD colleges, participating students are still responsible to pay for other expenses such as books, supplies, and materials fees required by their classes.
“We are very excited to expand the Full-time Free Tuition Program to students who have previously attended college”, said Interim Chancellor Mojdeh Mehdizadeh. “This cost-saving option provides the financial incentive returning full-time students may need to achieve their higher education objectives with us.”
To learn more about 4CD’s Full-time Free Tuition Program, please visit: https://www.4cd.edu/insite/full-time-free-tuition-program/
The Contra Costa Community College District (4CD) is one of the largest multi-college community college districts in California. The 4CD serves 1.2 million residents, and its boundaries encompass all but 48 of the 734-square-mile land area of Contra Costa County. 4CD is home to Contra Costa College in San Pablo, Diablo Valley College with campuses in Pleasant Hill and San Ramon, and Los Medanos College with campuses in Pittsburg and Brentwood. The District headquarters is located in downtown Martinez. Each college is individually accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges. For more information visit www.4cd.edu.Read More
Hercules Police also assist; both have history of arrests
By Fairfield Police Department
On August 26, Officer Spencer encountered a red Hyundai bearing plates belonging to a Jeep and attempted to conduct a traffic stop. The vehicle failed to yield, and a pursuit was initiated.
As the car sped down westbound I-80 near the American Canyon exit, a passenger discarded a firearm from the window. When the discarded gun struck the roadway, it discharged a round and either the round, or the gun itself, struck the windshield of another pursuing officer.
The vehicle eventually exited I-80 and entered the city of Hercules, where it pulled into a shopping center. The passenger exited the vehicle and fled on foot. Two of Fairfield’s officers remained with the driver, identified as 40-year-old Jesus Escamilla of Oakland, and took him into custody.
Hercules PD and San Pablo PD arrived on-scene to assist. Those agencies handled the perimeter and began searching for the passenger. A K9 from San Pablo PD located the man, 35-year-old Oscar Garcia of Oakland, hiding in a tree. He was taken into custody without incident.
The vehicle in which the two men fled had been reported stolen out of Oakland, and 2 oz of suspected drugs were found inside. Both Escamilla and Garcia were booked into County Jail.
Our thanks to Hercules Police Department and San Pablo Police Department (including K-9 Riggs) for helping bring this incident to a safe conclusion.
San Pablo Police shared the following about the incident:
Fairfield PD requested the assistance from our very own K-9 Riggs and Ofc. Kitchen. Fairfield PD had a suspect run from them, and they ended up in Hercules. They requested our K-9 to help them find the suspect as he ran from them. Once, Ofc. Kitchen and K-9 Riggs arrived on scene K-9 Riggs located the suspect hiding in a nearby tree. The suspect heard that K-9 Riggs was on scene, he decided to climb down the tree, and surrender peacefully. Great Job Ofc. Kitchen and K-9 Riggs. K-9 Riggs definitely deserves a puppuccino.
According to localcrimenews.com Escamilla has a history of arrests dating back to 2019 by multiple agencies including San Leandro PD, San Pablo PD, Piedmont PD and Alameda County Sheriff’s Department for crimes including drug and gun possession, grand theft, possession of burglar’s tools, vehicle theft and multiple cases of prowling.
According to localcrimenews.com Garcia also has a history of arrests dating back to 2014 by multiple agencies Oakland PD, Fremont PD, Berkely PD, Alameda County Sheriff’s Department and Castro Valley CHP for crimes including DUI, inflicting corporal punishment on a spouse or co-inhabitant, possession of burglar’s tools, drug possession, receiving stolen property and multiple vehicle thefts as recently as earlier this month.
Allen D. Payton contributed to this report.
Arranged meeting with 13-year-old boy
By Pleasant Hill Police Department
In August of 2023, Pleasant Hill Police Detectives participated in an operation with the Contra Costa County Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force in a proactive online investigation.
On August 16, 2023 Peter Joseph Digangi (age 65 of Pleasant Hill, CA) engaged in an explicit online conversation and sent obscene materials to an undercover agent who was posing as a 13-year-old boy on a social media/dating application. Digangi arranged to meet with who he believed to be a 13-year-old boy and was arrested by police upon arrival. A search warrant for Digangi’s home and electronic devices was granted by a Superior Court magistrate. The search yielded numerous electronic/storage devices and a preliminary examination of those devices yielded child sexual assault material. Digangi was booked into the Martinez Detention Facility on multiple felony charges.
The Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office filed felony charges against Digangi for violations of 288.4(b) PC- Meeting with a minor for lewd/lascivious acts, 288.3 (a) PC- Contacting a minor for lewd/lascivious acts, 664/288(a) PC- Attempted lewd/lascivious acts with minor under 14, 288.2(a)(1) PC- Sending explicit/obscene material to a minor, and 311.11(c)(1) PC- Possession of 600+ images of child pornography including at least 10 images of children under age 12.
The Pleasant Hill Police Department routinely participates in these operations in order to identify and arrest suspects who target minors. This is a good reminder to parents and young teens about the potential dangers associated to activity on social media/online platforms.
We would like to thank our local and federal partners who participated on this operation.
If you have any questions, tips, or believe you may be a victim in a case such as this, please contact PHPD Investigations at 925-288-4600 or PDInvestigations@Pleasanthillpd.org.Read More