Spend $1.5 million in AB109 funds on Sheriff patrols; send cannabis tax measure to November ballot; approve Racial Justice Task Force report on split vote
By Daniel Borsuk
The dust may have settled as Contra Costa Sheriff-Coroner David Livingston’s decision (July 10) to sever department contractual ties with the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to house undocumented prisoners at the West County Detention Facility, but Contra Costa County Supervisors still had to leap over two significant hurdles at Tuesday’s meeting.
Spend AB109 Funds on Sheriff Patrols, Advocates Not Happy
First, on a 5-0 vote, supervisors instructed that $1.5 million in unspent Assembly Bill 109 funds initially designated for undocumented immigrants imprisoned at the Richmond detention facility to be detoured for sheriff’s patrol services in unincorporated communities like Pacheco, North Richmond, Bay Point, and Byron. Sixty-four community organization advocates protested; supervisors should have allocated state AB109 money for nonprofit human service organizations that assist undocumented immigrants and others find housing, jobs and other services upon release from county jail facilities.
On the AB 109 issue, Richmond City Councilman Melvin Willis asked supervisors to spend leftover AB 109 funds for community support services. “We need these services to keep people out of incarceration,” he said.
“People feel betrayed” said Dominic Ware of Richmond, who added that most in the community services field contend AB 109 funds should go to human service nonprofit organizations rather than law enforcement. “This is a win without a victory.”
County Administrator David Twa said 40 percent of the funds from AB 109 go to community organizations, but he also added it is also appropriate for the county to spend the money to shore up sheriff patrols.
“I have to protect a very large area and that requires more patrols. This one-time allocation will provide those patrols,” said District 3 Supervisor Diane Burgis of Brentwood.
“This is a move to assure that patrols are in those communities of Crockett, North Richmond, Bay Point, and Byron,” said District 5 Supervisor Federal Glover of Pittsburg. “I think this is a popular move.”
Second, supervisors and most of the citizens attending a mandated ICE Access Forum learned that in 2017 of the 284 ICE information requests that the Sheriff’s Office had received, 63 undocumented immigrants held at the West County Detention facility were released to ICE agents in 2017.
Sheriff Livingston defended his activities adding, “We follow the law,” he said.
Community speakers criticized the way the sheriff operates the detention facility and had cooperated with ICE during a three-hour TRUTH (Transparent Review of Unjust Transfers and Holds) Act Community Forum that the supervisors were required to conduct for the first time this year to be in compliance with state law.
The sheriff confirmed ICE had requested 63prisoners at the West County Detention Facility to be released to ICE agents for interviews in the parking lot or to be detained and transported elsewhere. Livingston said in 2017 ICE would give two to three hours advance notice to contact a prisoner.
“The rounding up of people by ICE leads up to the question ‘who is next?’” asked Peter Cray of Richmond.
Cannabis Business Tax on Nov. Ballot, Commercial Cannabis Health Ordinance Unveiled
With no public comment, supervisors unanimously passed a cannabis business tax ordinance that will appear on the Nov. 6 ballot. The general tax measure will appear on the ballot for all county voters, whether they reside in the unincorporated or incorporated (city) areas of the county. They will vote on: The tax on commercial cannabis cultivation will be based on the square footage of a permitted canopy. The ordinance will establish initial tax rates and maximum tax rates, with automatic inflation adjustments of the maximum tax rates and permit the board of supervisors to make annual adjustments to the tax rates. The ordinance will include penalties for delinquent payments. The tax and appeals will be administered by the Treasure-Tax Collector.
Staff estimates that potential annual general fund revenues and county costs in the $1.7 million to $4.4 million range.
In a separate consent action, supervisors set the stage for the August 7 formal adoption of the Cannabis Health Ordinance. Provided voters approve the cannabis business tax measure, the Commercial Cannabis Health Permit Ordinance would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2019. The health permit ordinance would set business hours by being closed between 9 p.m. to 8 a.m., controlling odors, prohibit the sale or delivery of flavored cannabis products for which the primary use is to be smoked or used in electronic smoking devices.
Supervisors Narrowly Approve Racial Justice Task Force Report – 2018 FINAL CCC-RJTF_Report
Even though the final Racial Justice Task Force (RJTF) report won widespread public support, supervisors Candace Andersen of Danville and Diane Burgis of Brentwood cast dissenting votes saying the two-year study basically did not dig deep enough into the racial justice issues in the county.
“I just think that the report barely scratched the surface,” said Andersen.
With a finding that Black adults were more than three times more likely to be arrested than adults from any other racial or ethnic group, and Black youth were more than seven times more likely to be arrested than youth from any other racial or ethnic group, the 17-member RJTF recommended that Board of Supervisors appoint a Racial Justice Oversight Body to oversee the implementation of the recommendations by the task force.
Other task force recommendations include:
- Diversion – With a goal of reducing racial disparities in the Contra Costa County criminal justice system, form a committee to recommend countrywide criteria and protocols for formal and informal diversion.
- Data – All Contra Costa County criminal justice agencies and local law enforcement agencies shall collect individual-level data on all individual encounters with criminal juvenile justice systems and processes.
- County support for local agencies – The county shall work with local enforcement agencies to seek funds that support the integration of de-escalation and behavioral health intervention trainings into local enforcement agency regional academy and/or department orientations.
- Community Engagement and Services – County criminal justice agencies shall establish formal partnership with community-based organizations to provide greater capacity for diversion, re-entry programs, alternatives to detention, and pretrial services, in custody programming.
- Practices Related to Trial and Adjudication Processes – Encourage the Superior Court to return to the process of jury selection where jurors are called to service to their local branch court for misdemeanor trials.
- Confinement – Expand eligibility for pre-trial services staffing, with a focus on reducing racial disparities and replacing the money bail system.
The board voted 3-2 to approve the final report.
To view the entire board meeting agenda, click here.