Preserving water quality and supply for CCWD if the California WaterFix is implemented
The Contra Costa Water District (CCWD) announced, Tuesday that they have signed a settlement agreement with the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) that will protect its customers, facilities, and operations if the Bay Delta Conservation Plan / California WaterFix (CWF), aka the “twin tunnels,” is built. The agreement is an insurance policy to protect the unique water quality and supply issues raised by CCWD.
Since studies began in 2006 to evaluate alternative conveyance strategies for Delta water serving those dependent on the export pumps in the south Delta, CCWD has publicly raised concerns about several issues including potential impacts to the operation of its facilities in the Delta that provide high quality water service to its customers. The state approached CCWD to discuss the water quality and supply concerns unique to CCWD and an agreement was reached that will provide protections for CCWD’s customers if the project is built.
“We take our role to protect our customers seriously and cannot gamble with the future of our water supply or quality,” said General Manager Jerry Brown. “Should this project move forward without these assurances in place, CCWD’s facilities and operations would be negatively impacted. We are confident this is an iron-clad insurance policy for our customers, we wouldn’t have reached an agreement otherwise.”
Key to this settlement is the fact that it will not result in rate increases for CCWD customers nor redirect any potential impacts to other areas. It is a legally binding agreement to protect CCWD’s ability to use the facilities its customers have invested over $1 billion in the past 20 years.
“We are confident knowing we have taken actions to protect our customer’s future if the tunnels are ever constructed,” commented Brown. “The state is committing to a significant investment to ensure CCWD customers will be made whole, and this agreement protects our ability to deliver high quality water to those we serve.”
“We’re pleased to have reached an agreement with CCWD that is good for their customers and good for the 25 million Californians who depend upon the State Water Project,” said DWR Director Mark Cowin. “We appreciate CCWD’s reasonable, efficient, and effective approach to resolving concerns about California WaterFix.”
CCWD is not a proponent of the CWF. This settlement does not change that position, but instead is a way to safeguard CCWD and those it serves if a larger statewide plan is ever implemented. CCWD will remain an active participant in finding statewide solutions and continue to protect the drinking water interests of our customers.
The Board of Directors will review the details of the agreement at the April 6 Board Meeting held at 1331 Concord Ave. in Concord at 6:30 p.m.
For further details related to this settlement, please visit http://www.ccwater.com/317/Bay-Delta-Conservation-Plan-Comments.Read More
Kids and swimmers will soon be splashing around again in the Ambrose Park Pool after being shut down for seven years.
“I used to work at Ambrose Park when I was younger,” said Supervisor Federal Glover, “so I know the value that the pool provides for the community.”
The Contra Costa Board of Supervisors approved, Tuesday morning, the release of Keller Canyon mitigation funds to help fill in the shortfall for the cost of repairing the pool to bring it up to code. The action, at Glover’s instigation, released a total of $250,000 from the county: $150,000 from the fees collected from the Keller Canyon Landfill for the fiscal year 2015-16 and will draw upon $100,000 from the anticipated fees to be collected in 2016-17.
Glover met with the park district and the City of Pittsburg to hammer out an agreement to pay the $682,000 needed to include a contingency fund and bridge the gap and between the original repair estimate to bring the pool up to new state standards, which forced its closure in 2009.
The balance of the funding gap will be split between Pittsburg and the park district, which encompasses parts of western Pittsburg and the unincorporated community of Bay Point.
“As a resident and board member of the Ambrose District, I am so pleased that Supervisor Federal Glover and the City of Pittsburg are helping us complete the pool project,” said park district board chair Mae Cendaña Torlakson. “This cooperative effort demonstrates how great teamwork among agencies helps serve our families and children.”
The Pittsburg City Council approved the city’s portion of the funding last March 21.
“Ambrose Pool is important to families in Pittsburg as well as Bay Point,” said Pittsburg Mayor Ben Johnson. “The additional funds move us closer to the pool re-opening, so the kids can swim there again.”
According to Ambrose General Manager Doug Long, the pool should reopen Memorial Day of 2017.
“The renovation project has inspired a great deal of community spirit and we’re looking forward to providing the public with a refreshed pool facility,” said Long. “Without the support of County Supervisor Federal Glover and Board of Supervisors along with the City of Pittsburg City Council and staff, this project may not have come to fruition.”
The popular swimming pool complex, which first opened in the 1940s, closed down seven years ago because it didn’t meet modern safety standards.
After several design and cost revisions and several community meetings, the new facility will feature a renovated pool and pool deck, a new bathhouse, and upgraded landscaping.
The new pool will host a variety of activities including swim lessons, recreational swim, water aerobics, and special events for the entire family.
“Residents have been waiting a long time for their pool,” said Glover. “I hope that the pool opening will once again serve as a way to bring the community together.”
Ambrose Park is located at 125 Memorial Way in Bay Point. For more information on the pool click here.
For more information about the Ambrose Recreation and Park District visit www.ambroserec.org or call (925) 458-1601.Read More
Washington, DC – Amid California’s ongoing drought, Representatives Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11) and Jerry McNerney (CA-9) introduced the Sustainable Water Supplies Act (H.R. 4862) to increase the water supply in areas of Northern California by expediting the expansion of the Los Vaqueros Reservoir in Contra Costa County. The reservoir is a 160,000 acre-foot storage facility built in response to the state’s last historic drought in 1977. It was last expanded in 2012 to meet local water needs, and is permitted to be nearly triple its current size.
“As we enter the fifth year of a devastating drought, it is long past the time to find ways to guarantee fresh, clean water for the residents of Contra Costa County and the surrounding area. Our local industry and economy would greatly benefit from a sustainable water source without the public spending a single federal dollar. An expansion of our water supply at no federal cost is a no-brainer,” said DeSaulnier. “Without this bill, local storage facilities like Los Vaqueros would not be allowed to enter water storage agreements with local and federal partners. It is a mechanism for the reservoir to receive investment for the shared goal of creating a sustainable water supply in our area.”
“I am happy to support environmentally sound storage projects like Los Vaqueros. This bill will promote an important expansion to an essential reservoir at no cost to the government and could provide even more water supply reliability in the region. We must move toward regional self-sufficiency, and responsible water infrastructure projects like Los Vaqueros are an important part of that process,” said McNerney.
“We thank Congressman DeSaulnier and Congressman McNerney for their efforts in support of water storage projects in California. Further expansion of the reservoir and conveyance facilities would broaden the regional water supply benefits and protection of Delta fisheries. CCWD looks forward to this opportunity to demonstrate how partnerships with local agencies who use space in the reservoir can help us meet our regional needs,” said Lisa M. Borba, Vice President of the Contra Costa Water District.
The legislation outlines a phased approach for the expansion of the reservoir with the help of the Federal Bureau of Reclamation. Under the first step, outside water districts would lease extra space in the existing 160,000-acre-foot reservoir to store surplus water. The reservoir would later be enlarged to up to 500,000 acre feet after enough agencies or water districts agree to share costs and become partners in the planned expansion.
See the full text of the bill, here: HR4862Read More
By Allen Payton
It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. What started out as an opportunity to convert the 5,046 acre Inland Area of the Concord Naval Weapons Station into a civilian use of new home communities, permanent open space with walking and biking trails, and a possible college site, has devolved into accusations by developers against each other, apparent favoritism by city staff, questions surrounding release of one developer’s confidential information to the other, the city attorney’s suicide, and an imbalanced investigation with no resulting affect.
The process, begun in 2006, could now be all for naught, as the developer that started the accusations, Catellus Development Corporation, is now asking the city council for a change in their “term sheet” they submitted. If not they want a refund of the deposit fees they paid and will withdraw from the selection process.
The Concord City Council has called a special meeting for this Monday, March 28th to discuss that matter, just a week before it is scheduled to make a decision on the master developer, during their regular meeting on Tuesday, April 5th.
Details contained in this report were derived from information available to the public on the City of Concord’s website or as a result of public records requests. Please see Special Investigators Report at www.concordreuseproject.org and http://www.concordreuseproject.org/pdf/report/comments_public.pdf
The two finalists for redeveloping of the site are Oakland-based Catellus and San Francisco-based Lennar, both new home community developers with years of experience.
In the agreements with the City of Concord that both companies signed, it disallows them from lobbying any member of the City Council or city staff or having any communication with them during the process, except for one, Michael Wright, the then-Director of Community Reuse Planning for what became known as the Local Reuse Authority (LRA). The U.S. military requires the formation of an LRA when transferring military bases to civilian use, and in this instance, since only the City of Concord is involved, it also serves as the LRA. Wright retired last fall and Guy Bjerke now serves in the position.
In addition, each developer had to pay up front $250,000 in fees to the city, to cover staff costs in the processing of their proposals.
Conflicts of Interest
Due to a legal conflict of interest, Councilmember Ron Leone had to recuse himself from the vote on selection of the Master Developer, because he lives within 300 feet of the project. But, he can later vote on other issues related to the project.
Councilmember Tim Grayson, at first claimed he didn’t have a conflict of interest due to contributions he received for his campaign for State Assembly, in a letter from his attorney to the the Concord City Attorney. He has since recused himself from voting on the selection of a Master Developer. More on that, later.
HR&A Advisors, is the city’s hired contractor on the reuse plan, “for specialized real estate advice in support of Master Developer selection and negotiations.”
The company also has Catellus as a client.
Paul Silvern, who is assigned by HR&A to the Concord contract, is a Partner in the firm and one of the 10 Partners on the company’s leadership team.
When asked by Grayson about a possible conflict of interest, City Manager Valerie Barone told him that there was no conflict of interest, since HR&A is a large firm and a different part of the company deals with Concord than the one that deals with Catellus. So, the potential conflict was ignored.
The Jenkins’ report states “In response to a question raised by one of the Master Developer finalists on August 13, 2015 Mr. Wright sent an email to certain consultants working on the Project requesting that they disclose any ongoing contracts with either Catellus or Lennar one of these consultants was Mr. Silvern. In response Mr. Silvern disclosed that between 2008 and 2013 HRA’s New York City office provided services to Catellus. Mr. Silvern was not involved in this assignment. More distantly in the 1990s HRA’s Los Angeles office worked on an economic Impact analysis concerning a Specific Plan for property around Union Station in Los Angeles then owned by a joint venture including Catellus. The property has since been sold to LA County Metro. Lastly, Mr. Silvern disclosed that the HRA New York office was awarded a $30,000 assignment by a partnership including SunCal. Mr. Silvern was not involved in this project. On August 14, 2015 Mr. Wright considered Mr. Silvern’s disclosures and concluded that they did not create a conflict of interest.”
When reached for comment about why his company’s website lists both Catellus Development Corporation and the City of Concord as clients, Silvern would not speak on the record.
From email communications, it appears that Catellus received unfair, favorable treatment by Concord city staff. In those emails Wright appears to have been in favor of Catellus being selected as the Master Developer.
Wright emailed Antenucci on September 22, 2015 at 11:36 am:
“Council has officially reversed its request for a staff recommendation and the staff report will be issued without one, over my strong objections. The Council is aware that if a recommendation were made that it would be for Catellus. I am truly sorry about this…
I do not think all is lost but I can certainly understand why you might think so and want to stop spending money on this.
Wright emailed Antenucci on September 24, 2015 at 6:55 pm:
“Not everyone has signed on so this is close hold for the moment. My strong recommendation to City Manager and City Attorney is for the City to pause the proceedings because we have received your letter and conduct an independent investigation of the issues. Council consideration of staff report and term sheets will be rescheduled liekley in early November to allow time for the investigation. CM [City Manager] and CA [City Attorney] agreed with approach subject to Council briefings, CM has completed 3 of 5 including Mayor who she called in China. so far no major resistance although Laura suggested that maybe we proceed with tues and then differ to later date but I told CM that would be awkward because we will have had to release the letter to the public to explain pause.
More tomorrow. Trying to control process but delay will make difficult. We got 25 letters today 23 from firms in SF singing Lennar’s praises. if you wish to stop I think i can get ernest [sic] money returned in full beyond more difficult.”
Catellus CEO Denies
Asked if Catellus had received favorable treatment or Lennar’s confidential financial information, Antenucci responded, “No. Absolutely not. “
“The belief was Lennar got information from someone in Council,” he continued. “We absolutely and unequivocally did not get any favorable treatment nor information.”
Antenucci commented on the report by Jenkins.
“He looked into allegations that were made up about us. He found none of them to be truthful,” he stated.
“Do you think it was favorable treatment to have the staff report not include a recommendation?” Antenucci asked. “We were told all along there was going to be a staff recommendation. The city changed the protocol when they didn’t have a recommendation in the staff report.”
Asked about Wright offering to get Catellus’ deposit returned, he said, “It was a total change, a 180 and he felt bad about it. I think Mike is an ethical guy.”
He was asked the reasoning for Catellus’ request for a change in the Term Sheet or withdrawal and refund.
“There have been some things that have transpired. It makes sense after all that has happened, to make some change for some sharing of the risk,” Antennuci said. “Mike said he wasn’t going to recommend it and we said fine. We are assuming that city council is not going to do it.”
He pointed out one strength of Catellus’ proposal over Lennar’s.
“The economic differences are huge. They’re substantial,” he stated. “Our proposal, economically is much better.”
“85% of the market-rate homes Lennar has the ability to develop themselves,” Antenucci gave as one example.
Yet, in private email exchanges between Wright and Steve Buster, Catellus’ Vice President of Development, and in meetings with Buster and Silvern, they discussed Lennar’s Term Sheet and proforma, which is usually confidential, proprietary, financial information. The proformas submitted by each developer are public, but the calculations and details of how the developers came to their conclusions are considered trade secrets, and are not available to the public or the other developer.
In one email dated October 5, 2015 at 11:30 a.m. from Buster to Silvern with copy to Wright, Buster wrote:
I talked to Mike this morning. It would be really helpful to go through a few of Lennar’s numbers with you to make sure I’m stating them correctly. I’m having a hard time tying the staff report to the proforma. Would you mind speaking with me this afternoon or tomorrow? Much appreciated.”
Silvern responded by email to Buster and copied Wright, at 12:19 p.m. that day with the following:
“Steve – I am heading to LAX at 1 pm, so available today until then only. But I be in SF for the ULI meeting on Tues & Wed. and can find time to talk during those days. The main differences between the staff report table and the Lennar pro forma excerpt in the staff report and the Lennar Term Sheet values are: (1) nominal versus constant dollars; (2) that I got more nominal dollar detail for some line items from Lennar; and (3) from the confidential detail in Lennar’s pro forma I was able to split out hard costs from soft costs for some items that is not readily apparent in the pro forma except or [sic] Term Sheet numbers.”
Then at 1:29 p.m., that same day, Buster emailed Silvern:
“Paul – I can meet you in the City if that works best for you. Otherwise, I can do a call. Just let me know what time works for you. Thank you.”
Silvern responded on Oct. 6 at 11:24 a.m.:
“How about 12:30 or 1 pm today? Easiest if I call you.”
Buster replied at 11:34:06 a.m.:
“1:00 is great. Thank you Paul.”
However, in an email from Wright to Silvern, on October 5 at 11:21 a.m., he wrote:
“Paul I also got a call from STeve Buster. as they prepare their presentation that are working on some comparisons of the two term sheets and wanted to confirm with me howsome [sic] of the numbers have been added together from the summary proforma’s, i told him you would be better person to ask but only within the bounds of what is in the public domain.”
Yet, it’s clear that confidential information from closed sessions held by the City Council, was shared by city staff with Catellus’ representatives, based on what was revealed in the emails posted on the City’s website, but not shared by Councilmembers in open session.
Another call to Antenucci and emails to Wright and Buster asking what was provided to Buster from the Lennar proforma, were not returned.
Campaign Contributions – Catellus Accuses Lennar of Agreement Violations
Catellus complained to the City that individuals and companies associated with Lennar had made contributions to then Concord Mayor Tim Grayson’s campaign for State Assembly.
In a letter dated August 21, 2015 from Catellus’ attorneys to then City Attorney Mark Coon, and copied to the council members, Catellus claimed those contributions were a violation of Lennar’s agreement.
By communicating directly with the council members, Catellus was violating their agreement, as well.
According to Jenkins’ report, “Apparently, Mr. Coon refused Catellus’s request to investigate at that time.”
City Attorney Investigates, Commits Suicide, No Notes or Report Found
However, just a few weeks later, in an email exchange between City Manager Valerie Barone and Lisa White, Staff Writer for the Contra Costa Times, dated October 2, 2015, it was mentioned that Coon was conducting an investigation into the allegations against Lennar by Catellus.
“Mark told me today that the investigation is nearly complete and he planned to release a letter early next week responding to Catellus’ claims,” White emailed Barone on October 2 at 1:45 p.m.
“Working on it…hope to announce before day is out” Barone responded at 3:04 p.m. that day.
On October 6, 2015, Coon committed suicide by jumping off the top of a public parking structure on Locust Street in Walnut Creek.
But neither a report nor any notes by Coon were ever released.
Catellus Decides to Withdraw
An email from Catellus’ Buster to Antenucci, on October 12, 2015, revealed they had already decided to no longer pursue the project:
Seth Adams with the coalition reached out to us. He would like to meet to discuss the proposed term sheet. He is also planning to meet with Lennar. Since we haven’t made it public that we are not pursuing the project anymore, I thought it was best to meet with him and answer his questions until such time as we provide the official notice to the City. I will likely be meeting with them next week.
Council Hires Outside Attorney, Investigates, Issues Report
In response to Catellus’ accusations against Lennar, the Council hired an attorney to investigate them. A report on that investigation conducted by attorney Michael Jenkins, of Jenkins & Hogan, a Southern California law firm, was released on Friday, February 11th.
Jenkins’ cover letter states “The City’s Interim City Attorney engaged this firm as independent special counsel to investigate and report back to the City Council findings and conclusions with respect to these allegations. What follows is a detailed explanation of the applicable law and analysis of the relevant issues which lead me to conclude that Lennar’s orchestration of campaign contributions to Mayor Tim Grayson’s Assembly campaign constituted a form of lobbying prohibited by the Agreement to Negotiate and the removal of the recommendation from the final staff report resulted from an illegal serial meeting I did not find merit with any of Catellus’s other allegations. Moreover, I conclude that the Agreement leaves the consequences if any of such lobbying entirely within the Council’s discretion.”
The report includes a list of contributors to Grayson’s campaign. Each of them had either done or are doing work for Lennar, or associated with former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, who in the past was connected to Lennar through their Hunters Point project in that city. They include the Shalom Eliahu, CEO of Engeo, who has done work for Lennar in the past and are their proposed geotechnical engineering company on the Reuse Project; G.F. Bunting+Co, a public relations firm which has done work for Lennar in the past, and whose Regional Vice President is the daughter of Kofi Bonner, the CEO of Lennar Urban; an attorney who had also helped Lennar raise $250 million for a project in San Francisco; a San Francisco resident and partner in Scarborough Insurance, who had been a “vocal proponent” of Lennar’s Hunters Point project; and Mary Jo Rossi, who had done work for Willie Brown and was Grayson’s campaign consultant.
The report also mentions that Bonner was appointed by Brown “to serve as his Chief Economic Policy Advisor” and that “Mr. Bonner declined to be interviewed in connection with this investigation.”
The report further states that “On or about April 22, 2015 Mayor Grayson arranged for a one-on-one meeting with Mr. Brown in order to seek advice about his nascent Assembly campaign. Mr. Brown was aware of the pending Project however according to Mayor Grayson the two did not
discuss the Master Developer selection or any Project specifics.”
Jenkins’ report lists contacts by Grayson and Rossi with
Site Visits, Grayson Consultant in Attendance, Campaign Contributions, Brown Meetings
Jenkins’ report lists the following information about a list of activities involving Grayson, his consultant Mary Jo Rossi and their connections to contributions to his campaign for State Assembly:
“On June 5, 2015 Mayor Grayson and Councilmembers Birsan and Hoffmeister along with City staff attended a special meeting consisting of a site visit to Catellus’s Mueller Project in Austin, Texas. Ms. Rossi and Mr. Antenucci attended the site visit.
Mr. Antenucci reports that at some point during the site visit Ms. Rossi approached him and suggested that it would benefit Catellus to connect with local third party developers in order to improve its chances of being selected as the Master Developer and he stated that she had also communicated the same message to Lennar.
While staff took appropriate measures to prevent interactions between and among the Councilmembers side conversations of this kind inevitably took place. For instance, during this site visit Mayor Grayson, in passing, mentioned his upcoming Assembly race and according to Mr. Antenucci commented on the difficulty of raising campaign funds within earshot of Mr.Antenucci. Mayor Grayson denies making this comment.
At some time prior to June 16, 2015 Mr. Bonner contacted Mr. Bunting to suggest that G.F. Bunting consider making a contribution to Mayor Grayson’s Assembly campaign. On June 16, 2015 G.F. Bunting donated $1,000 to Mayor Grayson’s campaign.
On June 17, 2015 Mayor Grayson and Councilmembers Birsan and Hoffineister attended a special meeting consisting of a site visit to Lennar’s El Toro Project in Orange County. Ms. Rossi was also present at the site visit.
On June 18, 2015 G.F. Bunting donated another $3,200 to Mayor Grayson’s campaign. The total amount donated by G.F. Bunting to Mayor Grayson’s Assembly campaign was $4,200 the maximum allowable contribution to individual candidates for the Legislature.
By the end of June, 2015 three other entities with ties to Lennar, Scarborough, Engeo and Mr. Kay each donated $4,200 to Mayor Grayson’s campaign.
In July of 2015 Catellus learned of the foregoing campaign contributions from an unnamed source.
On July 27, 2015 Mayor Grayson and Councilmembers Birsan and Hoffineister attended a public tour of Catellus’s Alameda Landing Development.
On August 4, 2015 Mayor Grayson and Councilmember Hoffmeister attended a public tour of Lennar’s San Francisco Shipyard Development. Ms. Rossi and Mr. Buster were also in attendance. Mr. Brown was the lead presenter.
At this tour Councilmember Hoffineister reports that Mr. Buster approached her to express concern over what he believed to be inappropriate private meetings between Mayor Grayson and Mr. Brown.
On August 17, 2015 Catellus received a phone call from an unnamed source stating that certain of Mayor Grayson’s campaign contributors were connected to Lennar.”
When contacted for comment on why she attended the three site visits, Rossi did not respond.
Grayson, according to Jenkins’ report, claimed he was unaware of the contributions or that they had any connections to Lennar and later returned them.
Jenkins’ report also states “Between August and September of 2015 Mayor Grayson and Ms. Rossi met with Mr. Brown to obtain advice for Mayor Grayson’s State Assembly Campaign.”
Also, according to Jenkins’ report “Prior to June 16, 2015 Mr. Bonner contacted Mr. Bunting to suggest that G.F. Bunting consider making a contribution to Mayor Grayson’s Assembly campaign… and discussed Engeo’s contribution with Mr. Eliahu.”
Bonner did not respond to attempts to contact him for comments for this report.
The report on the investigation, while mentioning rumors and allegations of impropriety by Catellus, provided details on the accusations against Lennar. However, the report appears to include a cursory response to those against Catellus, and dismisses all of them as baseless. Of the 42 pages in the cover letter and report, Jenkins deals with accusations against Lennar on 24 page and only eight pages are devoted to allegations against Catellus.
Accusations Against Catellus Unfounded
Jenkins’ report includes accusations by both Grayson and Councilmember Edi Birsan against Catellus:
“Team member Paul Silvern of HR&A had a conflict of interest and favored Catellus due to his firm’s prior work with Catellus (a concern which was first reviewed in August). Catellus was secretly negotiating a deal with Seeno Company that would give Seeno a major role in the Project. Catellus had given Golden State Warrior tickets to City staff and Catellus was vulnerable to being acquired by outside interests.”
However, Jenkins concludes that “Each of these allegations was investigated by [consultants] Mr. Wright, Mr. Ramiza and or the City Attorney and determined to have no merit.”
Additional accusations were made by Lennar against Catellus and investigated by Jenkins. His report states “Catellus representatives requested a meeting with staff to obtain a better understanding of Lennar’s term sheet. Lennar contends that its confidential information was shared with Catellus at this meeting. Both Mr. Wright and Catellus deny that any confidential information was shared.”
Jenkins concludes “There is no evidence to support the contention that confidential information was compromised in the meeting. It is true that the Negotiation Team concluded that the Catellus term sheet was superior to Lennar’s and by mid-September had made Catellus aware of that. This did not constitute more favorable treatment the very point of the process was to evaluate and compare the term sheets on their merits.”
Contributions, Yes. Brown Meetings, No.
Jenkins’ report includes responses from Lennar’s attorney, David Marroso of O’Melveny & Myers, arguing for the innocence of his client.
In letters dated January 6 and 25, 2016, Marroso states,
“1. Lennar has not given any money to the Committee for Councilmember Tim Grayson’s campaign for State Assembly (even though it would not have been improper to do so has not given money to others to contribute to Mr. Grayson’s Committee and has not pressured or coerced anyone to contribute money to it.
2. None of the individuals or entities that contributed to Mayor Grayson’s campaign communicated with Mayor Grayson about the Concord Naval Weapons Station.
3. As a matter of law ‘[c]ampaign contributions are not forbidden by or even mentioned in Section 11 or anywhere in the Negotiating Agreement. Nothing in the Negotiating Agreement purports to abridge Lennar’s or anyone else’s First Amendment rights.’
5. Lennar did not discuss the Master Developer selection process with Mayor Grayson through Mr. Brown.”
Jenkins responded with the following: “Mr. Marroso’s letter does not deny that Lennar solicited the contributions nor does it confirm or deny whether Lennar spoke to Mr. Brown about the Master Developer selection process and whether those conversations included discussions about campaign contributions.”
Furthermore, Jenkins commented on Marroso’s claim about Section 11, by stating, “I reject the argument that the lobbying prohibition in Section 11 excludes campaign contributions. It is fair to conclude that the agreement bound both Catellus and Lennar to refrain from engaging in any discussions, negotiations or any other actions intended to influence any City Council or Planning Commission members or other City employees or officials.”
Jenkins concluded that the contributions by the associates of Lennar to Grayson’s Assembly campaign violated prohibition against lobbying in the agreement, in the general, not technical definition of the term.
As for Grayson’s meetings with Willie Brown, Jenkins offered the following: “The concerns raised by Catellus are purely circumstantial.” But, later the report states that Grayson “certainly would have had some awareness of the relationship as a consequence of the August 4 San Francisco Shipyard tour, which was led by Mr. Brown.” Yet, Jenkins concluded “the investigation resulted in no evidence to contradict or to corroborate Mayor Grayson’s description of the meetings. There is no basis to conclude that Catellus’s suspicions have merit.”
Grayson Recuses Himself from Vote
According to Jenkins’ report, “On August 26, 2015 Mayor Grayson returned the campaign contributions from G.F. Bunting, Mr. Kay, Engeo, and Scarborough. Mayor Grayson later delivered to Mr. Coon a letter from Jim Sutton, his private counsel on the matter, concluding that the campaign contributions would not require his disqualification from the Master Developer selection.”
Yet, Grayson has since then recused himself from any vote on selecting the Master Developer to restore the public’s “faith in the process.”
“Councilman Grayson sent the following email to Claycord.com:
I am pleased that the Concord Naval Weapons Station report exonerates me from wrongdoing. The report concludes that there is no basis to Catellus’s accusation that I solicited funds from companies allegedly connected to Lennar, nor is there credibility to the developer’s accusation that suggests my meetings with Speaker Willie Brown had anything to do with or related to the Concord Naval Weapons Station.
My character and my integrity as an elected leader are important to me and I will always put what is best for the Concord community first and foremost, and it is for this reason I will be recusing myself from voting on the selection of Master Developer for the Concord Naval Weapons Station. I believe this is the only way the public can restore its faith in this process without concern, moving forward, that there may be undue influence in the selection of a Master Developer.
But, according to the state conflict of interest law, Grayson may not have one. According to that law, a recusal may be required for receiving campaign contributions from the party affected.
“Conflict of Interest Resulting from Campaign Contributions – Gov. Code, § 84308
Is there a proceeding involving a license, permit or entitlement for use? Is the proceeding being conducted by a board or commission? Were the board members appointed, rather than elected, to office? Has any board member received campaign contributions of more than $250 from the applicant or any other person who would be affected by the decision: (1) during the proceeding; (2) within the previous 12 months prior to the proceeding; (3) within 3 months following a final decision in the proceeding. If the answer to any of these questions is yes, the board member may have to disqualify himself or herself from participating in the decision.”
Grayson’s campaign returned the contributions and they weren’t directly from Lennar. If he wasn’t aware there was any connection to Lennar, even if his campaign consultant was, there appears that no legal conflict remains.
Grayson did not respond to attempts to contact him for this report.
Lennar Not Disqualified
Even after the Jenkins concluded his investigation and submitted his report, the City Council chose to not disqualify Lennar. They did however better define the term lobbying, as written in Section 11 of the agreements.
According to the annotated minutes of the February 23, 2016 Concord City Council meeting the Council heard a report by Guy Bjerke, Director of Community Reuse Planning on the “City response to Investigative Report by Michael Jenkins regarding the Master Developer Selection process for the Concord Naval Weapons Station Project.
Prior to Bjerke’s report, Councilmember Leone recused himself from the item and left the dais and Councilmember Grayson recused himself from further participation in the selection process for the Concord Naval Weapons Station Project master developer. He didn’t vote on the first item, however Grayson did vote on the remaining items related to the issue.
On a unanimous vote of the three participating council members, the City Council ‘Determined that Lennar Concord, LLC’s violation of the Agreement to Negotiate by soliciting campaign contributions to Councilmember Tim Grayson’s Assembly campaign does not merit the firm’s disqualification from the Master Developer selection process because (1) There is a public benefit to continuing with the competitive process and having both finalists considered by Council and the public as part of a robust public discussion; and (2) there is no evidence that Councilmember Grayson was aware of the source of the campaign contributions and he has indicated he was not; he returned the contributions as soon as he became aware of their possible connection to Lennar, and he has now recused himself from further participation in the selection process.’
The Council, including Grayson, then voted unanimously on the following items related to the report about Lennar.
- Directed staff to inform both Catellus and Lennar that the Council intends to apply the ordinary meaning of the word ‘lobbying’ in Section 11 of the Agreement to Negotiate and that campaign contributions fall within that definition.
- Committed as individual Councilmembers and as a Council to approach the Master Developer selection dispassionately, disregard previous history, proceed impartially, consider all public testimony, and adhere to a merit-based evaluation focused on the Term Sheets and what is in the best interests for the City of Concord.”
Catellus Wants a Change or Refund
Then, in a meeting between city staff and representatives from Catellus on March 14, and a subsequent letter from Catellus, dated March 16, the company asked for change in Term Sheet or the refund and their withdrawal from the process.
The city has scheduled a special meeting on Monday, March 28th for the Council to discuss and decide on the matter.
In the staff report for the meeting, it states, “The Local Reuse Authority (LRA) staff and consultants met with Catellus Development Corporation (Catellus) on March 14, 2016 in preparation for the scheduled April 5, 2016
Council meeting for selection of a Master Developer for Phase 1 of the Concord Naval Weapons Station (CNWS) project. In the meeting and through subsequent letters on March 17 and March 22, 2016, Catellus requested changes to its Agreement to Negotiate and Disposition and Development Agreement (DDA) Term Sheet (Term Sheet) related to the Master Developer Selection process. The changes sought, should Catellus be selected by the Council, would shift the financial risks associated with the DDA and Navy negotiation from Catellus to the City. Staff indicated at the March 14, 2016 meeting, and in a March 18, 2016 reply letter, that the requested changes are not in the best interest of the City; consequently, staff would not recommend to the Council that the changes be approved. This is the same approach staff took last September when Lennar Urban requested to modify its Term Sheet after submittal of the final version.
Catellus’ letters state the company wishes to remain in the Master Developer Selection process. But, this request for changes in the Agreement to Negotiate and Term Sheet, coupled with their offer to withdraw if the City refunds its Initial Good Faith Deposit of $250,000, suggests to staff that Catellus lacks confidence and trust in the process and that Catellus’ preference is to exit the selection process.”
Please see the following for details – http://contracostaherald.com/032501-2/.
Meeting to Choose Master Developer, Tuesday, April 5
On Tuesday, April 5, the City Council will discuss selection of the master developer for the Concord Naval Weapons Station, at 6:30 p.m. at the Concord Senior Center.
The Concord City Council will hold its regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, April 5 at the Concord Senior Center beginning at 6:30 p.m. to select the master developer for Phase 1 of the Concord Naval Weapons Station Reuse Plan. City Council meetings are usually held in the Council Chamber at Civic Center, 1950 Parkside Dr. The change of venue has been made to accommodate the large number of residents expected to attend. The Senior Center is located at 2727 Parkside Circle.
At the meeting, staff will make a report followed by presentations by the two developer finalists, Catellus Development Company and Lennar Concord LLC. Councilmembers will hear the presentations, ask questions of the finalists and take public comment before deliberating on the selection of the master developer. In the event a decision cannot be reached at the April 5 meeting, the Mayor will continue the meeting to Wednesday, April 13 at 6:30 p.m. in the City Council Chamber.
Unless Grayson changes his mind, again on whether or not he has a conflict of interest in voting on selecting the Master Developer, it will be left up to current Mayor Laura Hoffmeister and Councilmembers Birsan and Dan Helix.
For more information on the Concord Naval Weapons Station Reuse Plan, visit www.concordreuseproject.org.Read More
The Concord City Council will hold a special City Council meeting on Monday, March 28 at 6:30 p.m. in the City Council Chamber at Civic Center, 1950 Parkside Dr. By state law, City Council meetings may be called with 24-hour notice.
Monday’s meeting is being called to provide the City Council an opportunity to consider two requests from Catellus Development Corporation – a finalist in the Master Developer selection process for the 1st Phase development of the Reuse Area Plan on the former Concord Naval Weapons Station. Catellus has requested changes to its Agreement to Negotiate and Disposition and Development Agreement (DDA) Term Sheet, and has requested that Council consider a settlement agreement that returns their $250,000 good faith deposit should the Council not desire to change its Agreement to Negotiate and Term Sheet. The staff report for this item will be available by 5 p.m. on Friday, March 25 on the City’s website www.cityofconcord.org.
According to the staff report, “Staff recommends that the Council, sitting as the LRA: (1) reject Catellus’ request for changes to its Agreement to Negotiate and Term Sheet; (2) authorize the refunding of Catellus’ Initial Good Faith Deposit of $250,000 in exchange for Catellus’ voluntary withdrawal from the Master Developer selection process and waiver and release of any and all claims it may have against the City, subject to a mutually agreeable settlement agreement; and (3) authorize the City Manager to execute a settlement agreement on behalf of the LRA and City in substantially the form attached hereto.”
The meeting will be televised on Concord Cable TV channel 28 (Comcast), 29 (Astound), and 99 (AT&T U-verse), and streamed from the City’s website.
For more information, visit www.concordreuseproject.org or contact Director of Community Reuse Planning Guy Bjerke, (925) 671-3076. To see the complete staff report, click here. http://www.ci.concord.ca.us/pdf/citygov/agendas/council/2016/0328/3A.pdfRead More
Also announce Roosevelt Awards Honorees
Following weeks of deliberation, the Democratic Party of Contra Costa County (DPCCC) today announced its final endorsement decisions for the June 7, 2016 county elections.
County Supervisor Federal Glover, of Supervisorial District 5, earned the party’s coveted endorsement with support from 64 percent of elected and appointed Central Committee members. Martinez City Councilmember AnaMarie Avila Farias also demonstrated a significant showing. None of the other four announced candidates earned any support from members of the decision-making body.
“County Supervisor Federal Glover has served Contra Costa well for over 15 years, and we’re honored to stand by him once again,” said Party Chair Jeff Koertzen. “Nevertheless, we are gratified that multiple Democrats participated in our party’s endorsement process, demonstrating the strength of our bench.”
The Central Committee could not reach consensus on an endorsement in Supervisorial District 3, remaining divided between the two leading Democratic candidates, Antioch City Council Member Monica Wilson and East Bay Regional Park District Board Member Diane Burgis. None of the four additional candidates earned any support from members of the committee.
“Both Council Member Wilson and Board Member Burgis have fought strongly for Democratic values,” said Koertzen. “Monica previously served as Vice-Chair of this party and has spent years fighting successfully for Antioch residents, while Diane has shown to be a time-tested defender of the environment. We encourage District 3 residents to consider them both this June.”
The Central Committee will re-evaluate whether to endorse a candidate in District 3 following the June 7, 2016 statewide primary election and may come to an endorsement decision soon after election results are certified.
Roosevelt Awards Recipients Announced
The Democratic Party of Contra Costa County also announced today the preliminary roll of honorees for its Third Annual Roosevelt Awards Dinner. At the April 23rd, 2016 event, Democrats will honor the following local leaders:
- State Assemblymember Susan Bonilla
- Former State Assemblymember Joan Buchanan
- State Senator Loni Hancock
- State Senator Lois Wolk
- Eric Swalwell
- California Democratic Party Controller Hilary Crosby, Volunteer of the Year
- Betty Reid Soskin, Distinguished Democrat of the Year
Diane Burgis, a trustee on the East Bay Regional Parks District Board and Executive Director of Friends of the Marsh Creek Watershed received the Women Improving the Environment Award from the Contra Costa Women’s Hall of Fame, Tuesday night in Concord.
The Board of Supervisors established the Contra Costa Women’s Hall of Fame in October 1997 to acknowledge those exceptional, multifaceted women who have enhanced life in Contra Costa County through their careers and volunteer activities.
The honorees have made a difference through their efforts towards equity, innovation, service or achievement in commerce or community outreach.
Burgis was nominated by Susan Morgan, a Director on the Ironhouse Sanitary District Board. “Through Diane Burgis’ leadership as Executive Director of the Friends of the Marsh Creek Watershed, the protection of natural resources including creeks, water quality and open space has become a priority to our community and its leaders,” said Morgan. “Much of Diane’s work has been funded part time and she was able to accomplish great things for our environment and the Watershed by working beyond her paid hours and by recruiting and encouraging support from volunteers in the community.”
Marsh Creek is one of the fastest urbanizing watersheds in California, and the creek flows for 30 miles through the rapidly growing communities of Brentwood, Oakley and Antioch in eastern Contra Costa County and into the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
“I am honored to receive this award on behalf of the many volunteers who contribute their time and talent to protecting, conserving and restoring the Marsh Creek Watershed,” said Burgis.
Burgis is a candidate for County Supervisor in District 3 in the June election. This is the second honor she has received since entering the race.Read More
WHAT: César E. Chávez March, Celebration and Healthcare Fair
WHEN: Saturday, March 26, 2016
WHERE: 11:00 am – Noon Rally & March (rain or shine) from Pittsburg City Hall, 65 Civic Drive to the Celebration and Healthcare Fair at Marina Vista Elementary School, 50 East Eight Street, Pittsburg.
WHY: Cesar was a fighter for social justice with a simple creed. Si se puede! – Is, in three words, an entire philosophy for achieving the impossible, that out of many, we are one. César knew that when you lift up one person, it enriches a community; it bolsters our economy, strengthens our Nation, and gives meaning to the creed that out of many, we are one.
As we celebrate his life, we are reminded of our obligations to one another and the extraordinary opportunity we are each given to work toward justice, equal opportunity, and a better future for every one of our sisters and brothers.
Raised in the fields of Arizona and California. César believed every job has dignity and every person should have the chance to reach beyond his or her circumstances and realize a brighter future.
When no one seemed to care about the farm workers who labored without basic protections and for meager pay to help feed the world, César Chávez awakened our Nation to their deplorable conditions and abject poverty – injustices he knew firsthand.
He organized, protested, fasted, and alongside other organizers, founded the United Farm Workers.
Slowly, he grew a small movement to a 10,000-person march and eventually a 17-million-strong boycott of table grapes, rallying a generation around “La Causa” and forcing growers to agree to some of the first farm worker contracts in history.
Guided by a fierce commitment to nonviolence in support of a righteous cause, he never lost faith in the power of opportunity for all.
Cesar’s legacy is alive in the protests and rallies of the Dreamers – the young, undocumented immigrants whose families brought them to the United States and who are fighting to make a future for themselves in the only country that they have ever known. His legacy endures for Hispanics who are breaking barriers every day, rising in the world of politics, succeeding in business and making names for themselves in the arts. Future generations need to remember Cesar on the day we elect the first Hispanic president of the United States.
The Keynote Speaker will be Iliana Perez, DACAmented Doctoral Student with a M.A. in Economics. Perez was born in Hidalgo, Mexico and immigrated alongside her mother, father and younger brother to the U.S. at the age of eight. Iliana grew up in Turlock, CA and navigated the
educational system as an undocumented student for 18 years until she became a DACA recipient in 2013; her parents remain undocumented with no immigration remedy due to unjust immigration policies.
Iliana attended CSU-Fresno on a full-ride scholarship through the Smittcamp Family Honor’s Program, where she graduated from in 2009 with a degree in Mathematics and a minor in Economics. Iliana recently finished a M.A. in Economics from Claremont Graduate University and is completing a Ph.D. in Education Policy, Evaluation and Reform. Her research focuses on the occupational and educational attainment of immigrant students, the effects of deportation on the lives of young adults and economics of immigration. Iliana has shared her story and presented her work to various audiences across the country via keynotes and research presentations at professional conferences, organizations and college campuses.
Her personal story, as well as her work have been featured in several media outlets including LA Times, Business Insider, CNN, CNNE, The Huffington Post, Univision, La Opinion, Radio Bilingue and various other journals, blogs and newspapers around the world. Iliana plans to use her knowledge and research skills to help inform education and immigration policies in the U.S. and abroad.
ENTERTAINMENT: Ballet Folklorico from Pittsburg High School, Ritmo Mexicano (“quebradita” dance group) from Pittsburg High School and Spoken Word. After main celebration we will have a “Fiesta” with Alex Moreno Band, Andrés Soto and the Bay Breeze Band, Pinatas, Food, healthcare providers and nonprofit booths.
FREE TO ALL
EVENT SPONSORS: Mt Diablo Recycling, Federal Glover, Mechanics Bank – Pittsburg Branch, City of Pittsburg and Pittsburg Unified School District.
For more information visit www.pittsburgcesarchavez.org.Read More
Candidate for County Supervisor in District 3 and Antioch City Council Member Monica Wilson, announced Monday that she has earned the endorsement of California Nurses Association.
“Monica Wilson is a champion for Contra Costa nurses and patients.” said Kati Johnson, a Perinatal RN at Contra Costa Regional Medical Center. “The California Nurses Association’s is proud to endorse Ms. Wilson. She is committed to ensuring that our patients receive the care they deserve and that nurses have the support they need to continue serving our community. We unanimously support Monica and we know she is the best candidate to deliver real results.”
The California Nurses Association, together with the National Nurses Organizing Committee and the AFL-CIO, has more than 86,000 members in hospitals, clinics and home health agencies throughout the country. As one of the nation’s fastest growing labor and professional organizations, CNA has grown by nearly 400 percent in the past 15 years.
“I am grateful to have the support of the California Nurses Association.” said Wilson. “The compassion and work ethic of nurses is what inspires me to fight for what’s best for our community.”
District 3 includes Antioch, Oakley, Brentwood, and Discovery Bay. The primary election is June 7, 2016.Read More
In 1971, three hijackers took over TWA Flight 106 and diverted the plane to Cuba. One of the passengers on the flight was Jerry McNerney, who is now a congressman from who represents California’s 9th District which includes most of Eastern Contra Costa County in the U.S. House of Representatives. National Public Radio’s Robert Siegel spoke to McNerney about his push to extradite Charles Hill, the last of the three surviving hijackers from Cuba.
SIEGEL: And first, take us back to that day in November 1971. What do you remember of the hijacking?
MCNERNEY: Well, the first thing was that there had been a high-profile murder of a state trooper just west of Albuquerque maybe three weeks before the hijacking. And it was very big news. These folks were very desperate to leave the country. And I didn’t expect, of course, them to hijack the plane I was on. It was an evening flight – or red-eye flight really from Albuquerque to Chicago. And in those days, we didn’t have the jet walks. You had to walk on the tarmac and walk up the stairs to the airplane.
SIEGEL: The other fact about those days was there were a lot of airplane hijackings in those days, particularly in 1971.
MCNERNEY: There had been. And that was of course on people’s minds. And in fact, my parents dropped me off at the airport. And my mom waved good-bye and said now, don’t get hijacked, Jerry. So we walked up the stairs, and I turned around and there was someone with a gun not right behind me but a few people behind me. And then before long, it became obvious that these were the individuals that were responsible for the killing and that they were making an effort to leave the country.
SIEGEL: You mean they actually hijacked the plane while it was still on the ground? This wasn’t in midair?
MCNERNEY: That’s correct, yeah. They just had stolen a truck and burst through the fence, drove up to the base of the airplane and just walked up the stairs. They finally got everyone in their seats. The captain got on the plane and said please everyone be calm, you know, and nobody will get hurt. People stood up and said well, what are you going to do? And so we got airborne and they said well, the hijackers would like to go someplace in Africa, but we’ve warned them that the plane wasn’t an intercontinental plane. And then about an hour later they said well, we’re going to be going to Cuba. And then another hour later, they said well, we’re going to drop off in Tampa, Fla., and let everyone off except the crew, which is what happened. We landed peacefully and were allowed to get off the plane. And they took off and went to Cuba.
SIEGEL: Plane goes off to Cuba, the crew then flies back. Last summer, you wrote to Secretary of State John Kerry asking that Charles Hill’s extradition be part of diplomatic efforts with Cuba. It’s been almost 45 years. It’s still important to you?
MCNERNEY: Well, yeah. I mean, these individuals killed a law enforcement officer. They hijacked a plane and put 150 people’s lives at risk, including my own. I think the one that’s remaining alive should return home and face justice. This is about as serious a set of crimes as you can possibly commit.
According to a Daily Mail article, dated August 13, 2015, Hill, who is now 65-years-old, is one of 70 Americans currently living in Cuba as political asylum-seekers who lawmakers are petitioning Sec. Kerry to have extradited back to the U.S. to face justice. The improving relationship between the two countries leaves their protection up in the air.
The article also states:
Hill was part of a group called the ‘Republic of New Afrika’ which wanted to break off from the United States and found an independent Black nation.
In 1971, while traveling cross-country with two other members of the group, they were pulled over by 28-year-old New Mexico State Trooper Robert Rosenbloom, who later was found shot to death.
The three men were accused of Rosenbloom’s murder, and Hill to this day professes his innocence.
He does, however, admit to hijacking a TWA flight with the other men and flying it to Havana where Fidel Castro granted them political asylum.
For the past 44 years, Hill has built a life for himself in Cuba, living in a home provided by the government.
Cuban government spokesmen so far have said that they will not be extraditing anyone back to the U.S.
Congressman McNerney represent California’s 9th Congressional District that includes portions of Contra Costa, San Joaquin and Sacramento Counties.
To hear McNerney’s full interview and read the transcript click here.
To read the complete Daily Mail article, click here.
To read and watch an interview with Charles Hill done in 2013 by CNN, click here.
Publisher Allen Payton contributed to this report.