County COVID-19 Ranking Expected to Improve to Red Next Week
County to Mail More than 700,000 Ballots for Nov. 3 Election
By Daniel Borsuk
For a county with five major petroleum refineries, the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors took a major step in addressing climate change by adopting a three-page climate emergency declaration. 43116_BO_ADOPT Climate Emergency Resolution
About 30 people supported the resolution’s nine items dealing with the global environmental issue during the supervisors’ tele-conferenced Board meeting on Tuesday. Supervisors also received a positive COVID-19 report from Contra Costa County Public Health Department officials and a report on the Nov. 3 California General and National Election from Contra Costa County Clerk-Recorder Deborah Cooper.
Upon adopting the climate change resolution, supervisors positioned the county in support of the State of California’s goals to cut greenhouse gases by 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, achieve net carbon neutrality by 2045, and provide 100 percent of the State’s electricity from clean energy sources by 2045.
The Board’s action also forms an interdepartmental task force of all county department heads or senior deputies that will focus on “urgently implementing the County’s Climate Action Plan – as currently adopted ….and identifying additional actions, policies, and programs the county will undertakes to reduce and adapt to the impacts of a changing climate. This task force should report to the Board of Supervisors through the County Sustainability Commission and the Board’s Sustainability Committee on a semi-annual basis starting in March 2021. Reports to the Board of Supervisors shall be discussion items for the Board.”
The resolution states that “Contra Costa County should develop policies to require all new construction to be fully electric through the adoption of Reach Building Codes.”
“Contra Costa County will prioritize the implementation of its Climate Action Plan in order to achieve greenhouse gas reductions as soon as possible and will consider equity and social justice issues in the implementation of the plan,” the Board’s resolution states.
In addition, the resolution states: “that health, socio-economic, and racial equity considerations should be included in policymaking and climate solutions at all levels and across all sectors as the consequences of climate change have significant impacts on all County residents, especially the young, the elderly, low-income, or communities of color and other vulnerable populations.”
Initially it appeared Board Chair Candace Andersen, who says she drives a hybrid car, was leaning to cast a “no” vote on the resolution, but after listening to about 30 speakers mostly in support of the resolution, the Danville-based Supervisor voted in support of the resolution. The Supervisor said she had an issue about the urgency of the state shifting from a fossil fueled based economy to an electric powered based economy that would potentially be more energy efficient and less environmentally harmful.
Jackie Garcia, a Lafayette-based builder, asked Supervisors to pass the resolution because “People want energy-efficient houses. People don’t use gas stoves anymore. They use energy efficient electric stoves.”
“This resolution requires immediate action,” said Supervisor Karen Mitchoff of Pleasant Hill who also serves on the commission of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. “I will support this resolution.”
Incoming Board Chair for 2021 Supervisor Diane Burgis of Brentwood, who said she has worked on environmental issues, especially related to water, said “I will support this resolution because it will directly affect our future way of life in Contra Costa County.”
Supervisor Federal Glover of Pittsburg, who was elected to serve as Vice Chair for 2021 by his colleagues provided he is reelected in November’s election against County Assessor Gus Kramer, said “This is a good first step. It gives people notice.”
In passing the resolution that more than 1,000 other California cities, counties and regional governmental agencies have done before Tuesday’s supervisors’ meeting, the Contra Costa resolution “declares a climate emergency that threatens the long-term economic and social well-being, health, safety, and security of the County, and that urgent action by all levels of government is needed to immediately address this climate emergency.”
“Real Good News” on the COVID-19 Front
Contra Costa County Public Health Department Director Anna Roth informed supervisors there is “real good news” concerning COVID-19. She expects the state to announce perhaps on Sept. 29 that the county’s COVID-19 status will be upgraded from purple to red.
The color change will mean the county will probably be allowed to open more businesses that have been shuttered since the public health shutdown order went into effect in March.
Roth expects some K-12 schools, as many as 35, could reopen for students with proper health protocols in place. Roth said Contra Costa County Superintendent of Schools Lynn Mackey will oversee the reopening of the schools.
Roth reported there have been 15,156 COVID-19 patients in the County since the outbreak of the flu in March. There have been 202 deaths in the county since March. In the past 24 hours there were 52 COVID-19 patients reported in the county hospital and no deaths have been reported, she said. “Our County death rate is less than the national average,” she said.
In a push to increase the number of people who are tested for COVID-19, Contra Costa County Public Health Officer Dr. Chris Farnitano said about 330,000 residents have been tested. “That’s still not enough,” said Dr. Farnitano, who said the County will open a drive-up test site at the Bay Point Health Center in October.
Dr. Farnitano said the county will start to give free flu shots at the County’s Antioch, Concord, Richmond and San Ramon drive up sites. “Vaccination is important because it is difficult to tell the difference between the flu and COVID,” he said.
More Than 700,000 Ballots Expected for Nov. 2 Election
The Contra Costa County Office of Elections expects to mail more than 700,000 ballots to registered voters for the Nov. 3 election, up from 687,000 ballots mailed last November to registered voters, said Contra Costa County Clerk-Recorder and Registrar of Voters Deborah Cooper.
“We encourage people to stay safe and vote by mail,” said Cooper. There will also be 37 ballot drop boxes around the County so voters can drop off ballots 24/7 from Oct. 5 through Nov. 3. Official ballots will be mailed to voters on Oct. 5, but if a registered voter has not received a ballot by Oct. 19 they should contact the Elections Office, (925) 335-7800.
To “drastically reduce demand for fossil fuel in California’s fight against climate change”
Transportation currently accounts for more than 50 percent of California’s greenhouse gas emissions
Zero-emission vehicles are a key part of California’s clean, innovation economy – already California’s second largest global export market
Order also directs state to take more actions to tackle the dirtiest oil extraction and support workers and job retention and creation as we make a just transition away from fossil fuels
SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday that he will aggressively move the state further away from its reliance on climate change-causing fossil fuels while retaining and creating jobs and spurring economic growth – he issued an executive order requiring sales of all new passenger vehicles to be zero-emission by 2035 and additional measures to eliminate harmful emissions from the transportation sector. (The text of today’s executive order can be found here and a copy can be found here.)
The transportation sector is responsible for more than half of all of California’s carbon pollution, 80 percent of smog-forming pollution and 95 percent of toxic diesel emissions – all while communities in the Los Angeles Basin and Central Valley see some of the dirtiest and most toxic air in the country.
“This is the most impactful step our state can take to fight climate change,” said Governor Newsom. “For too many decades, we have allowed cars to pollute the air that our children and families breathe. Californians shouldn’t have to worry if our cars are giving our kids asthma. Our cars shouldn’t make wildfires worse – and create more days filled with smoky air. Cars shouldn’t melt glaciers or raise sea levels threatening our cherished beaches and coastlines.”
Following the order, the California Air Resources Board will develop regulations to mandate that 100 percent of in-state sales of new passenger cars and trucks are zero-emission by 2035 – a target which would achieve more than a 35 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and an 80 percent improvement in oxides of nitrogen emissions from cars statewide. In addition, the Air Resources Board will develop regulations to mandate that all operations of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles shall be 100 percent zero emission by 2045 where feasible, with the mandate going into effect by 2035 for drayage trucks. To ensure needed infrastructure to support zero-emission vehicles, the order requires state agencies, in partnership with the private sector, to accelerate deployment of affordable fueling and charging options. It also requires support of new and used zero-emission vehicle markets to provide broad accessibility to zero-emission vehicles for all Californians. The executive order will not prevent Californians from owning gasoline-powered cars or selling them on the used car market.
California will be leading the nation in this effort – joining 15 countries that have already committed to phase out gasoline-powered cars and using our market power to push zero-emission vehicle innovation and drive down costs for everyone.
By the time the new rule goes into effect, zero-emission vehicles will almost certainly be cheaper and better than the traditional fossil fuel powered cars. The upfront cost of electric vehicles are projected to reach parity with conventional vehicles in just a matter of years, and the cost of owning the car – both in maintenance and how much it costs to power the car mile for mile – is far less than a fossil fuel burning vehicle.
The executive order sets clear deliverables for new health and safety regulations that protect workers and communities from the impacts of oil extraction. It supports companies who transition their upstream and downstream oil production operations to cleaner alternatives. It also directs the state to make sure taxpayers are not stuck with the bill to safely close and remediate former oil fields. To protect the health and safety of our communities and workers, the Governor is also asking the Legislature to end the issuance of new hydraulic fracturing permits by 2024.
The executive order directs state agencies to develop strategies for an integrated, statewide rail and transit network, and incorporate safe and accessible infrastructure into projects to support bicycle and pedestrian options, particularly in low-income and disadvantaged communities.
This action continues the Governor’s commitment to strengthening California’s resilience while lowering carbon emissions – essential to meeting California’s air quality and climate goals. In the last six months alone, the California Air Resources Board has approved new regulations requiring truck manufacturers to transition to electric zero-emission trucks beginning in 2024 and the Governor signed an MOU with 14 other states to advance and accelerate the market for electric medium- and heavy-duty vehicles. Last fall, California led a multi-state coalition in filing a lawsuit challenging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s attempt to revoke portions of a 2013 waiver that allows the state to implement its Advanced Clean Car Standards.
Last September, Governor Newsom took action to leverage the state’s transportation systems and purchasing power to strengthen climate mitigation and resiliency and to measure and manage climate risks across the state’s $700 billion pension investments. To mitigate climate threats to our communities and increase carbon sequestration, the Governor invested in forest health and fuel reduction and held utilities accountable for building resiliency. The Governor also directed state agencies to develop a comprehensive strategy to build a climate-resilient water system and made a historic investment to develop the workforce for California’s future carbon-neutral economy.
Challenges CA Air Resources Board to “pause and think” about effectiveness of Cap and Trade program
SACRAMENTO – Assemblymember Jim Frazier (D-Fairfield) announced today that he plans to introduce legislation in the upcoming session to fundamentally change the way California reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
“While I believe the work the California Air Resources Board (CARB) has been doing is laudable, we need to shift gears and address the main cause of carbon emissions in California, and right now, that is unquestionably wildfires,” said Frazier. “The data is undeniable and staggering.”
According the U.S. Geological Survey, in 2018 alone, the wildfires in California were estimated to have released emissions equivalent to roughly 68 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. By contrast, after seven years of reduction efforts from Cap and Trade funded projects to date, is estimated to be 45 million metric tons – at the cost of billions of dollars.
Frazier went on to say that he believes CARB needs to “pause and think” carefully about their programs and overall efficacy of the resources devoted to them, and reprioritize Cap and Trade dollars to address the immediate threat and environmental devastation that wildfires are causing. In addition to the further advancement of global warming, these fires result in property damage, loss of life, economic peril, and long-term health issues.
“The science and statistics of the devastation that wildfires are causing are not just limited to the land. These fires are pumping more pollution – far more toxic – than the burning of fossil fuels, and we must take a critical look at how we dedicate our precious financial resources to their reduction. As we know, wildfires are a major contributor to the advancement of global warming.”
Frazier will introduce a bill this December.Read More
Provide additional protections; retroactive to Sept. 1
By John Fout, Community & Media Relations Specialist, Contra Costa County Office of Communications & Media
At their meeting on Tuesday, September 22, 2020, the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors unanimously passed an urgency ordinance that continues a moratorium on certain evictions for residential tenants in the County through January 31, 2021. Urgency Ordinance No. 2020-25 also continues a moratorium on certain residential rent increases through January 31, 2021. The Ordinance is retroactive to September 1, 2020.
Contra Costa County’s urgency ordinance provides additional protections to the state’s COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act of 2020 (the Act), which passed and took effect immediately on August 31, 2020. The Act extends eviction protections for residential tenants experiencing financial hardship related to COVID-19.
“The urgency ordinance demonstrates the Board’s continued commitment to protect residents struggling with the unexpected economic hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Supervisor Candace Andersen, Board Chair. “We continue to seek ways to support renters and landlords, and hope that all parties will resolve to work together during this challenging time.”
This law applies to properties in all 19 cities in the County and in all unincorporated areas. To the extent that a city has adopted a law on the same subject matter, then the city’s provisions would apply in that city.
Protections granted to residential renters:
- Ban on No-Fault Evictions – A property owner cannot evict a residential tenant for any “no-fault” reason except to protect the health and safety of the owner or another tenant, to allow the owner or their immediate family to move into the residential unit or to remove the unit from the rental market.
- Prohibits a landlord from terminating a residential tenancy on the basis that a tenant allowed an unauthorized occupant to live in the dwelling unit, if the occupant is the tenant’s immediate family member living in the dwelling unit as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Moratorium on Residential Rent Increases – A property owner may not increase rent on a residential property through January 31, 2021. State law prevents this freeze from applying to commercial tenancies and to certain residential properties, including residences built within the last 15 years and single family
- These prohibitions and the specified exceptions last through January 31, 2021.
For information and resources, visit Contra Costa County at www.contracosta.ca.gov. For COVID-19 updates, visit Contra Costa Health Services at https://cchealth.org/coronavirus. If you have questions about the coronavirus, contact the multilingual Call Center at 1-844-729-8410, open daily from 8 am to 5 pm. For assistance after hours in multiple languages, please call 211 or 800-833-2900 or text HOPE to 20121.Read More
Chancellor Emeritus of California Community Colleges; former community college president; founder of organization using community colleges to address racism and discrimination in America
By Timothy Leong, Public Information Officer, CCCCD
The Contra Costa Community College District (CCCCD) Governing Board held a special public meeting on Tuesday, September 22, 2020, and today is announcing their decision to begin contract negotiations with Dr. Bryan Reece to become the next Chancellor. The goal will be to place the contract for public review and approval at their regular meeting scheduled for Wednesday, October 14, 2020.
The announcement was made following a nationwide search that began in January 2020. The selection process was paused in both March and April due to the transition to remote operations as a result of the pandemic and was restarted in September. Public forums were held last week for the finalist and a final interview was completed by the Governing Board.
Barrett praised the dedication and work conducted by the Search Committee and Collaborative Brain Trust Senior Consultant Dr. Brice Harris, a longtime California community college educator and Chancellor Emeritus of the California Community Colleges. In addition, the Governing Board acknowledged the hundreds of faculty, classified professionals, managers and community leaders who participated in the public forums and submitted comments to the trustees for consideration prior to their final decision.
About Dr. Bryan Reece
Until last year, Reece was president of Norco College in Riverside County, California, where he oversaw “approximately 450 employees, 15,000 students and a service area with over 300,000 residents. Expanded student enrollment by 9.6% and student completion of academic goals by 18.3% with transfers to the University of California (UC) system improving by 50%. Narrowed the equity gap with completion for students of color improving by 26%. Increased fundraising by 117%,” according to his website.
Also on his website, Reece shares about himself.
“I have been working in higher education for 30 years, with 15 years of senior management experience including a decade of community college administration (College President, VP of Academic Affairs, and Dean) and five years of private sector management. I hold a BA, MA and Ph.D. from the University of Southern California (USC). I taught Political Science as a tenured community college faculty member for 19 years and have a documented record of moving community colleges in directions that improve the academic success for students across all groups and have particular expertise with student populations from historically under-served communities. I have worked extensively with legislative bodies and government agencies at the local, state and federal levels and have a record of success with public-private partnerships and fundraising.”
According to his LinkedIn account, Reece attended USC from 1984 through 1990 for his undergrad and master’s degrees, and returned to the school from 2001-2005 for his doctorate.
Last year, he founded the National Policy Agenda for Community Colleges (NPACC) to use community colleges to address racism and discrimination in the U.S. According to his website, “The primary goal of NPACC is to address social justice and equity at the national level through the work of American community colleges. NPACC is supported by a grassroots group of over 50 volunteers, including trustees, college presidents, administrators, faculty, staff, CC alumni, community members, and elected officials. We believe racism and discrimination in America must be addressed through a national strategy that recognizes and supports the leadership role community colleges play in working with students from historically underserved communities.”
According to his Twitter feed, Reece is writing a book about community colleges. In a July 23rd tweet, he introduced a series of essays based on his book, entitled “Community Colleges: A Good Kind of Subversion – An Ongoing Essay Series on Educational Inequities and How to Solve Them.”
According to the About page on his website, Reece was a cow milker at a dairy throughout high school and college in the 1980’s, providing him with both the necessary experience for fundraising and a firm grip when shaking hands.
Allen Payton contributed to this report.Read More
- Alamo ranks 1st in county, 8th in state with overall fitness score of 88.68, out of 300 cities and communities
- Contributing factors to fitness scores include exercise opportunities, access to healthy food, air pollution and drinking water quality.
- Infographic showing top cities in California according to overall fitness score.
With the pandemic restricting our usual exercise regimes due to social distancing regulations, many Americans have had to adapt their fitness goals and align them with at-home workouts. Combined with the fact that many of us are comfort eating while in the midst of a global health crisis, this may have led some to gain the so-called, ‘Quarantine 15’ without even realizing. However, the good news about working or studying from home is not having to worry about your daily commute taking up too much time that could be used to achieve your at-home fitness goals for the day. But what happens if you don’t have adequate space in your home and don’t live near an open outdoor area in order to work out?
BarBend.com, the world’s leading strength training resource and news outlet, compiled a comprehensive list of the top fittest cities across California, using data backed by studies based on a variety of factors. These were combined to create an overall fitness score out of 100 for each city on the list. Fitness factors in this study include exercise opportunities, access to healthy food, air pollution, drinking water violations, physical inactivity, obesity and smoking, amongst others.
The cities and communities in Contra Costa County have a high rate of exercise opportunities at 970 (per 1,000 people) suggesting that the surrounding environment can play a key role in determining people’s fitness level.
Statewide 8th ranked Alamo was the most fit in the county with a score of 88.68, followed by Orinda #11 – 87.9, Blackhawk #13 – 87.57, Lafayette #22 and Danville #23 tied at 86.66, Clayton #27 – 86.42, San Ramon #28 – 86.29, Kensington #29 – 86.19, Moraga #30 – 86.15, Saranap (an unincorporated area between Lafayette and Walnut Creek) #38 – 85.58, Discovery Bay #41 – 85.3, Hercules #47 – 84.97, Pleasant Hill #52 – 84.76, Contra Costa Centre (Pleasant Hill BART Station area) #55 – 84.64, Martinez #56 – 84.63, El Cerrito #57 and Brentwood #58 which tied at 84.59, Oakley #65 – 84.31, Rossmoor (in Walnut Creek) #66 – 84.23, Walnut Creek #68 – 84.21, Pinole #69 – 84.12, Concord #78 – 83.83, El Sobrante #81 – 83.75, Antioch #87 – 83.58, Rodeo #90 – 83.48, Tara Hills (between Pinole and El Sobrante) #91 and Pittsburg #92 tied with 83.47, Richmond #101 – 83.25, San Pablo #115 – 82.75, and Bay Point #118 with a score of 82.71.
According to the CHR’s county health ranking model, “individuals who live closer to sidewalks, parks and gyms are more likely to exercise”, therefore access to exercise opportunities is crucial in maintaining a healthy population. Additionally, residents who live in neighborhoods with access to grocery stores that allow them to obtain healthy foods, such as fresh fruit and vegetables, are more likely to have healthier diets than those who do not have access to these kinds of supermarkets. Considering the Golden State is abundant in national parks and natural landscapes, the great outdoors provides the perfect background for recreational activities, such as rock climbing, hiking, swimming and cycling. Additionally, Antioch was found to have low air pollution, low rates of physical inactivity, obesity and smoking.
View the top cities for fitness across California (including Antioch data)
“As you can see, there are a variety of external factors that can have an impact on a town’s overall fitness, which can be detrimental to the population’s health, especially where some don’t have access to sufficient space for their at-home workouts,” says Max Whiteside from BarBend.com. “If this is the case, you can still try and keep fit while going about your work for the day by standing, instead of sitting in front of your laptop, taking frequent breaks in which you can complete some lunges and squats, making mobility work a part of your daily routine. Remember your own bodyweight can also be a useful workout tool!”
Allen Payton contributed to this report.
Motel 6 to be repurposed through a California Homekey Grant; site of Gov. Newsom’s press conference about Project Roomkey in June
A 174-room motel in Pittsburg now sheltering homeless Contra Costa residents at high risk from COVID-19 will become a permanent service hub to help county residents transition into stable living situations, thanks to a $21.5 million state grant.
Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS) rented rooms at the Motel 6 at 2101 Loveridge Road in Pittsburg to provide temporary housing through the state’s Project Roomkey program, which funded hotel rooms for residents who could not effectively isolate themselves during the COVID-19 pandemic because they had lost their housing. Gov. Newsom held a press conference at the motel about the program on June 30th. (See related article)
Homekey, the state’s follow-up program, will commit $17.4 million toward the county’s purchase and renovation of the motel, for a cost of $100,000 per room. The state will provide another $4.17 million toward staffing and operating the former motel as temporary housing for county residents experiencing homelessness, with on-site healthcare and behavioral health services, meals and assistance connecting with the services they need to regain housing.
“We are proud to partner with California in our work to provide safe, sustainable services for vulnerable members of our community,” said Candace Andersen, chair of the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors.
There were only 20 shelter beds available in East County for more than 500 people living outside there in January 2020, most in Antioch and Pittsburg. The county’s most recent homeless point-in-time count showed that 33 percent of residents living outside in Contra Costa were in East County, compared to 27 percent recorded there during the 2019 count.
CCHS will add the new East County CARE Center and interim housing program to its network of homeless service centers, shelters and outreach programs, helping to address an acute shortage of those services in the area.
“This is a great start toward the building services and resources East County needs to address homelessness,” said Contra Costa Supervisor Federal Glover, whose district includes the site. “There is a critical need for this project in our community.”
The grant includes funding for case management, housing navigation services, meals and a robust peer support program, among other services.
“The funding allows us to accelerate our efforts to provide shelter for people living without housing in the eastern region of our county,” said Lavonna Martin, CCHS’s Director of Heath, Housing and Homeless Services. “This project creates a new interim housing option that allows for a greater degree of privacy and flexibility in household configurations we can serve, with the critical services and supports they need to regain permanent housing.”
Motel 6 was one of four in Contra Costa contracted to shelter vulnerable residents who had no housing early in the COVID-19 pandemic, partially funded by California’s Project Roomkey. CCHS is now renting 494 rooms at these motels to house people experiencing homelessness, including more than 200 people at Motel 6 who will continue to receive services and progress toward self-sufficiency under Homekey.
Visit cchealth.org/h3 for recent data about homelessness in Contra Costa County. Annual point-in-time count information is available in the Data Reports section.
Allen Payton contributed to this report.
Former LMC President Dr. Raúl Rodríguez withdraws from consideration; public forums via Zoom begin today
By Timothy Leong, Public Information Officer, Contra Costa Community College District
MARTINEZ, California – The Contra Costa Community College District (District) Governing Board has decided to move forward with only one finalist, Dr. Bryan Reece, for the next permanent Chancellor opportunity. The other finalist, Dr. Raúl Rodríguez, withdrew from the process after accepting an offer to extend his contract as Hartnell College’s interim President/Superintendent Tuesday night. The Governing Board agreed to complete the search process out of respect for all the hard work done over the past several months by the selection committee and community.
Public forums for Dr. Reece will be conducting via Zoom and recorded at each college and the District Office on Thursday, September 17, 2020, beginning at 12:30 p.m. The public forums will last approximately 45 minutes each, and are open to the community, students, faculty and staff. A detailed public forum schedule, links to the public forums, and information on how to submit a question to be asked will be available on the District website at www.4cd.edu.
For those who are unable to join the September 17 public forums, links to all 4 recorded Zoom sessions will be made available on the District website. A comment box has also been created to submit your input that will be shared with the Governing Board for their consideration.
Following the public forums, the Governing Board will conduct a final interview with Dr. Reece in closed session on Tuesday, September 22, 2020, and is expected to announce a decision soon thereafter. If the Governing Board decides to offer the permanent chancellor opportunity to Dr. Reece, contract negotiations will begin. At their regularly scheduled public meeting on Wednesday, October 14, 2020, the Governing Board will vote on the final contract and employ the District’s next permanent chancellor.
The Contra Costa Community College District (CCCCD) is one of the largest multi-college community college districts in California. The CCCCD serves a population of 1,019,640 people, and its boundaries encompass all but 48 of the 734-square-mile land area of Contra Costa County. The District is home to Contra Costa College in San Pablo, Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, Los Medanos College in Pittsburg, as well as educational centers in Brentwood and San Ramon. The District headquarters is located in downtown Martinez.Read More
Gioia makes his support conditional on reviewing county jail facilities for closure
Includes funding for the Sheriff’s Office to hire 24 deputies for mental health duties at Martinez jail
By Daniel Borsuk
On the same day Contra Costa County taxpayers were pinched with a new $3.6 billion 2020-2021 fiscal year budget, supervisors also unanimously approved on Tuesday a County Clerk-Recorder’s request to boost 2021 election ballot printing and mailing costs an additional $1.8 million to a new payment limit of $6 million.
“This is going to be the costliest election year that I have experienced in my 25 year -career,” Assistant Registrar of Voters Scott O. Konopasek said in reference to the upcoming Presidential election and how the county’s contract extension with K&H Printers-Lithographers, Inc. to print and mail ballots and election pamphlets will alarmingly rise again by $8 million for elections held in 2021.
Konopasek said Governor Gavin Newsom’s Emergency Order instructing California counties election officials to mail ballots to every registered voter for the November election means an additional 160,000 Contra Costa voters, or 25 percent of all registered voters, will receive ballots in the mail thereby driving up costs linked to printing and mailing. That Emergency Order applies to any and all elections conducted in 2021.
While supervisors ignored the Registrar of Voters expense item, they unanimously approved the $3.6 billion 2020-2021 budget that garnered the support of all the supervisors, including Supervisor John Gioia of Richmond, who several weeks ago had said he would vote against the budget when it was ready for formal adoption. He said he now supports the budget provided supervisors study the closure of the Marsh Creek detention facility, and to have a study conducted on the future of the Orin Allen Youth Rehabilitation Facility in Byron and Juvenile Hall in Martinez.
When Supervisor Karen Mitchoff of Pleasant Hill questioned Gioia why he switched his initial negative vote on the budget, Gioia responded, “I support the county budget as a whole that is over $3 billion and as long as these three issues – Marsh Creek, Orin Allen Youth Rehabilitation Facility and Juvenile Hall are studied and come back to the supervisors for consideration.”
County Administrator David Twa said supervisors can expect Covid-19 related costs to continue to increase over the next 12 to 24 months. The county spent $131 million overall in Covid-19 connected expenses because it operates a hospital, health services for the homeless, provides Covid-19 testing and numerous other public health services.
Twa said operating costs will increase $28.4 million because of the newly opened County Administration Building and the Emergency Operations Center/Public Safety Building, both located in Martinez.
Supervisors provided funding for the Sheriff’s Office request to hire 24 deputies for the Martinez jail to handle mental health duties, a budget item that met public criticism especially in the summer aftermath of the George Floyd murder case.
Because of rising expenses, the county has placed on the November ballot a half-cent sales tax measure, Proposition X, that county officials counts on to generate new revenues, some $81 million a year for 20 years to fund hospitals, health centers, childhood services, and other community services.Read More
Three in Concord, one in Antioch
By Scott Alonso, Public Information Officer, Office of the Contra Costa County District Attorney
Martinez, Calif. – Today, Tuesday, September 15, 2020 the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office is announcing three homicide cold cases, involving multiple defendants who are gang members affiliated with the Sureños, were filed recently. The gang violence was focused in South Concord and near Monument Boulevard. This successful effort was due to the years-long investigation and operation led by the FBI Safe Streets Task Force and local partners, including Concord Police, FBI, U.S. Attorney’s Office of Northern California, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms along with our Office. Two cases were filed last week, and one was filed yesterday, totaling four homicides involving 11 defendants. (See related article)
One of the homicides occurred in Antioch, and the victim was from Pittsburg, (See related article). The other three of the homicides occurred in Concord.
Operation Boulevard Blues culminated in a major law enforcement operation last Thursday that resulted in the arrest of 31 individuals and involved 31 different law enforcement agencies. Thirty-four search warrants were executed in multiple locations across Contra Costa County and 42 firearms were recovered. The details of the operation were announced earlier this morning with our federal partners.
“Our local efforts working collaboratively with our law enforcement partners, especially Concord Police, will keep our community safer and take violent gang members off the streets of Concord,” said District Attorney Diana Becton. “This successful operation started with a wiretap and led to multiple gang members involved in senseless murders and violence being arrested. While these cases were not solved right away, Concord Police and the FBI Safe Streets Task Force did not give up and fortunately we can bring some closure to the victims’ families.”
Overall, the DA’s Office filed three separate homicide complaints involving the following gang members of the Sureños – all of the alleged four homicides were done for the benefit of the gang:
- People v. Michael Valdez, Andrew Cervantes, Daniel Rodriguez, Docket Number 01-194377-8
o Victim is Marcos Villazon of Pittsburg, Date of Alleged Murder is November 21, 2015 in Antioch
o Victim is Luis Estrada, Date of Alleged Murder is November 30, 2015 in Concord
- People v. Rafael Lopez & Juan Barocio Jr., Docket Number 01-194379-4
o Victim is Victor Gutierrez, Date of Alleged Murder is April 17, 2014 in Concord
- People v. Jose Cisneros, Marcos Ochoa, Luis Cruz, Aurelia Mendez, Antonio Mendez, Jose Ochoa, Docket Number 01-194418-0
o Victim is Erick Cruz, Date of Alleged Murder is September 12, 2015 in Concord
The criminal investigations because of this operation are still active and ongoing. All of the defendants charged by the DA’s Office remain in custody.
Allen Payton contributed to this report.