By Bryan Scott
A great political victory was won on November 8. The electorate should be congratulated.
No, not President-Elect Trump’s surprising victory. I’m referring to the roughly 60% of the voters in Brentwood who voted “No” on Proposition Z, the flawed utility user tax put forth by Brentwood’s City Council. A similar measure in Oakley received an even greater level of rejection.
Voters in Brentwood and Oakley rejected the tax that was conceived by a self-appointed shadow government “Task Force” comprised of two City Managers, three union leaders, three fire chiefs and the chiefs of staff of two County Supervisors. This group had no public membership, posted no public agendas or minutes, and refused requests for taxpayer participation.
These government fat cats, most of whom are drawing salaries and benefits costing taxpayers in the range of hundreds of thousands of dollars, felt entitled to reach into the pockets of taxpayers for another general tax. They used the structural funding problem of the East Contra Costa Fire Protection District (ECCFPD) as the justification, even though there was no requirement that the tax money collected would be used for this purpose.
Make no mistake- the ECCFPD desperately needs more money.It receives the lowest property tax allocation percentage of all fire districts in the county, 7%, which is roughly five percent below the county’s average. San Ramon Valley FPD gets 15%, Moraga-Orinda FPD collects 21%, and Contra Costa FPD receives 14% of ad valorem property taxes.
ECCFPD does an outstanding job with the funding it gets. Itis probably the most efficient fire district in California, attempting to meet the needs of 110,000 residents spread over 249-square miles. But a fire district with so little funding cannot provide an adequate level of services. As a result, people are dying, according fire department officers, and homes are burning down.
Last year property taxes collected within the ECCFPD territory exceeded $153 million. By state law property taxes are regulated, and their growth is limited. This is good.
What is bad is that local elected leaders have not gotten on board the effort to adjust where this $153 million goes. Elected leaders have yet to recognize the injustice of the situation, and openly support reallocation of these public funds in favor of the fire district.
As with all property taxes, this dollar figure will go up as property values increase. Gus Kramer, Contra Costa County Assessor, sent a letter to the Board of Supervisors on June 30, 2016, telling them that property values within the county had reached a record high of $181.7 billion. Property values in ECCFPD’s territory increased significantly, with values in Brentwood and Oakley increasing by over 8%.
ECCFPD needs a larger share of these funds. It is as simple as that. The hard part is to get government entities to give up, forever, part of the property tax revenue growth that is anticipated to come their way.
Residents of East Contra Costa pay the same property tax rate as the residents of Central Contra Costa, and all fire districts are primarily funded with property taxes. The benefits of California tax laws should apply equally to all citizens.
The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution includes the sentence “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
By providing the ECCFPD with only 7% of the ad valorem 1% property tax funding, and allowing emergency response times that are nearly twice as long as in other parts of the county, East County residents are suffering from reduced “privileges or immunities”and unequal “protection of the laws.”
When the allocation rate was set nearly four decades ago there were four volunteer fire districts covering what is now the jurisdiction of ECCFPD, and about 7% of the property taxes collected were spent on fire services. Today there are over 110,000 residents and the district has unionized firefighters, yet the allocation rate is the same.
The government, at the county and state levels, treatsEast County residents differently than residents of other parts of Contra Costa County. This is morally wrong.
Bryan Scott is a Brentwood resident and Co-Chair of East County Voters for Equal Protection, a non-partisan citizens action committee whose aim is to improve funding for the ECCFPD. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or925-418-4428. The group’s Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/EastCountyVoters/.Read More
By Caleb Castle
Wednesday, October 12, 2016 was a historic day for Save Mount Diablo as we successfully sold our five-acre Rideau property at 1650 Curry Canyon Road, Clayton to private buyers, Joseph Favalora and Jane McGuire, as part of our newly expanded Conservation Buyer Program. With this transaction the organization acquired our first, perpetual Conservation Easement on the same land.
The parcel’s preservation has been a three year process, and expands preservation of 4.3 mile Curry Canyon and beautiful Curry Creek to almost 85%. The Rideau property’s oak woodland and riparian habitat along Curry Creek will be protected and strategic trail connections retained to other Save Mount Diablo Curry Canyon properties.
The transaction purchase price also allowed Save Mount Diablo to help pay off remaining debt on our historic Curry Canyon Ranch acquisition. This transaction has also reduced Save Mount Diablo’s liability and expense from ownership of the Rideau property while gaining a new partner – the buyers – in the stewardship and management of that land going forward.
The Conservation Easement that Save Mount Diablo acquired on the Rideau parcel upon the sale of the land to Joseph Favalora and Jane McGuire protected the property’s conservation values while also providing the buyers a one-acre building envelope around an existing house where they now live.
“We welcome Joe and Jane to our team of terrific people who are helping us protect and steward the important open space lands of the Mount Diablo area,” said Save Mount Diablo Executive Director Ted Clement. “Our newly expanded Conservation Buyer Program is bringing in more people and resources to help us with our time-sensitive land conservation work while also providing a new tool, the perpetual Conservation Easement, to use where appropriate.”
“We’ve searched, for the past year, for a home in the average neighborhoods that a first time homebuyer would look. Nothing caught our attention until we encountered the outstanding beauty of this Curry Canyon property,” said Joe.
Jane added, “we knew at first sight that Curry Canyon is where we wanted to call home. Waking up to the green hills, the trees and the many families of deer we share the property with is all we’ve ever dreamed. We couldn’t be more happy.”
Curry Canyon is the largest remaining unprotected canyon on Diablo’s main peaks, between the Diablo summit and the Blackhills – 4.3 miles from Curry Point within Mt. Diablo State Park, northeast down to Morgan Territory Road. The top of the canyon was among the first state park acquisitions in the 1930s. Upper Curry Canyon was acquired in 1965 and 1987.
Save Mount Diablo has now protected approximately 1200 acres in lower Curry Canyon starting with the Wright property in 2001. Nearly 85% of the 4.3 mile canyon has now been protected.
The Rideau conservation easement was a new strategy for SMD and its Conservation Buyer Program. As we have done for many years, we sell strategic land to governmental partners to become part of a public park system and we then utilize the revenue to further our land conservation mission.
Now, in addition to our traditional approach, we also sell some lands to private buyers subject to permanent Conservation Easements, which we will hold, and then utilize the revenue to advance our work. This method allows us to protect properties with important conservation values (wildlife habitat, water resources, scenic vistas, agricultural resources, etc.) that may not be well suited additions to a government park because of their size, location or other factors.
A Conservation Easement is a voluntary legal agreement between a landowner and a qualified organization, such as a land trust like Save Mount Diablo, which restricts activities on the land to protect its conservation values forever.
Save Mount Diablo is a nationally accredited, non-profit land trust founded in 1971 with a mission to preserve Mount Diablo’s peaks, surrounding foothills, and watersheds through land acquisition and preservation strategies designed to protect the mountain’s natural beauty, biological diversity, and historic and agricultural heritage; enhance our area’s quality of life; and provide recreational opportunities consistent with the protection of natural resources. The organization is currently involved with its important year-end appeal to raise critical resources for its time-sensitive land conservation mission. To learn more and support Save Mount Diablo, please visit www.savemountdiablo.org.
Ted Clement contributed to this report.Read More
By Allen Payton
In the District 3 race for Contra Costa County Supervisor, East Bay Regional Parks District Director Diane Burgis beat Brentwood City Council Member during Tuesday’s elections by a wide margin of 59.45% to 40.31%. In the hard fought battle to replace outgoing three-term incumbent Mary Nejedly Piepho, Burgis placed second in the primary behind Barr, but was able to best him in the General Election.
The latest results from the County Elections office, as of Thursday afternoon give the former Oakley Councilwoman 31,287 votes to 21,580 for Barr, a former Liberty Union High School District Board Trustee. There were another 131 write-in votes in the contest. But, as of Wednesday, there were about 180,000 votes left to be counted in the county, according to County Clerk Joe Canciamilla. That represented almost 37% of the vote.
Burgis issued a statement on Veterans Day, Friday, November 11th, offering her thanks for the victory.
“I am honored to have earned the vote—and the trust—of tens of thousands of voters in District Three. I look forward to representing our community as Supervisor for the next four years.
Since this campaign first began, I have had the privilege to meet thousands of our neighbors and community members, and hear their stories as a candidate for Supervisor. I am so grateful to all of those that gave our campaign their time as we sat down at kitchen tables, in offices or on people’s doorsteps.
My heart has grown a few sizes as I have met countless people who are absolutely dedicated to their community. People who are willing to fight for what is right, take time out of their busy day and work diligently to make our County a better place. It gives me great hope for our community.
I am proud of what we have built here in East County and I am committed to helping us meet our potential. I look forward to what we will accomplish, now that the hard work of campaigning begins to transition to the hard work of governing.
I particularly want to thank everyone who has joined my campaign and gave countless hours in serving our community. Including dozens of local leaders, hundreds of dedicated volunteers and our bravest citizens: our sheriffs, firefighters, nurses and police.
Now we must look forward and work together to accomplish our priorities: faster fire and emergency medical response times, more effective community policing, a pristine Delta, a balanced budget, a strong public transportation network and reduced traffic.
I look forward to working with you as we do what we can to improve our community.
Please visit www.dianeburgis.com to sign up for updates. Thank you.”
The County Elections office has until December 10th to certify the election. Burgis will take her seat on the Board of Supervisors following that.Read More
Contra Costa College (CCC) held a ceremonial ribbon cutting to commemorate the grand opening of their new Veteran Resource Center (VRC) located in the Student and Administration Building. Over 100 people attended the event including community leaders, elected officials, veteran’s organizations, and District and college employees. The Sentinels of Freedom, a national non-profit organization assisting veteran’s transition back to civilian life, collaborated with CCC and its veterans club to create a space on campus for veterans to receive support, study and network with other veterans.
“It was important for CCC to create the VRC for a couple of reasons,” said dean of Enrollment Services Dennis Franco. “First, to have a private, centralized location that veterans could congregate in. Second, to provide a space that veterans could receive counseling, benefit assistance, and also assistance from outside agencies like the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Concord Vet Center, and more.”
Veterans now have a home on campus where they can study, network, and support each other. Veterans will also have access to Admissions and Records staff to guide them through the enrollment process and a certifying official to assist them in using their veteran benefits.
“The joining of two communities, the Veterans and the campus of Contra Costa College, working together, the mission at hand, is to support Active Duty, National Guard, Reservist, spouses, dependents and the veterans, to being successful in obtaining higher education,” said CCC veterans club president Leon Watkins.
Today’s ribbon cutting ceremony completes the goal of establishing veteran centers at all three campuses in the Contra Costa Community District.
Contra Costa College is one of three colleges in the Contra Costa Community College District and currently serves almost 11,000 students (unduplicated head county) annually. Since 1948, CCC has provided exemplary educational services to hundreds of thousands of residents from the greater West County area, and is proud of its diverse student body and commitment to individual student success. Excellent programs such as the Center for Science Excellence, The Advocate newspaper, the green Automotive Services program, Middle College High School, the Nursing program, and the Culinary Arts program are known through the state and the nation. A model of excellence, Contra Costa College prides itself on being one of the finest community colleges in the country.
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. For more information visit www.4cd.edu .
Principal marched with them, Pittsburg Superintendent downplays, Antioch Police Chief wants answers
By Lieutenant Tony Morefield #3320, Antioch Police Watch Commander Patrol Division and Antioch Police Chief Allan Cantando
On Thursday, November 10, 2016, at approximately 10:04 AM, the Antioch Police Department received word from the Pittsburg Police Department of a large (Anti-Trump) protest of approximately 200 to 400 Pittsburg High School Students along with their Principal headed into the City of Antioch. These protestors headed through Century Plaza in Pittsburg and into Antioch on Auto Center Way and Sycamore Drive, causing significant hazard and traffic delays in the area.
They then made their way to the Antioch High School campus in an apparent effort to involve students there. Antioch High was placed on lockdown, but this did not stop the protestors from damaging school property (knocking down fences and kicking over trash cans) before leaving that campus and heading toward Antioch Middle School. Antioch Middle was also placed on lockdown as was Live Oak High School and nearby Fremont Elementary School due to the protest, though the protestors never made it that far.
These Pittsburg High protestors continued to cause havoc on Antioch campuses and in the surrounding neighborhoods for over two hours and 15 Antioch Police Officers were tied up dealing with this protest causing a significant strain on resources. Evening shifts to be called in early. This resulted in numerous priority calls for service in the city having to wait for officers to respond.
Three male juveniles, ages 13, 15 and 17, all Pittsburg residents, were arrested during the protest: one for throwing a dangerous object at a police car, trespassing on school grounds and being a disruptive presence at school, one for inciting a fight with an area resident, trespassing on school grounds and resisting a police officer, and one for assaulting a police officer.
There is no estimate on any damage caused to Antioch High or Antioch Middle School at this time. It appears that very few Antioch students were involved in this incident. Most of the Pittsburg High Students eventually walked back to Century Plaza in Pittsburg and a few were rounded up onto school buses and taken back to their campus.
Chief Cantando Responds, Shares Pittsburg Superintendent’s Message
“In a post on the Antioch Police Department’s Facebook page at about 3:30 p.m., Chief Allan Cantando wrote the following:
“Many of you have inundated our department with inquiry regarding the incident on Century Blvd., Sycamore Dr., and in front of Antioch High School regarding student protestors in our city. Your observations were correct. Today, at approximately 10:00 AM students from Pittsburg High School and Black Diamond High School (in Pittsburg) marched to the City of Antioch and blocked traffic, knocked over garbage cans, assaulted one of our police officers, and trespassed at Antioch High School trying to incite Antioch High School students who were in class. As a result, three Pittsburg students were arrested.
The actions of these students caused the Antioch Unified School District (AUSD) to respond by locking down Antioch High School, Antioch Middle School, Live Oak High School, and Fremont Elementary School. During this incident, these students were accompanied by Pittsburg High School Principal, Todd Whitmire. We are still confirming, but there is some indication that this incident began as a rally at Pittsburg High School.
This incident tied up 15 Antioch Police Officers for approximately 2 hours.
During this incident I was in direct contact with AUSD Superintendent, Stephanie Anello, who immediately took a leadership role in assisting our department. During my conversation with Anello, I requested she contact Pittsburg Unified School District (PUSD) Superintendent Schulze to send an automated message to the Pittsburg students’ parents indicating that their children were off campus, out of the city of Pittsburg, and involved in a protest in Antioch. Approximately two hours later, the following statement was issued by Pittsburg Unified School District Superintendent, Janet Schulze:
‘This Presidential election has been especially emotional. In dealing with differences and moving forward, we have to respect feelings and work in community. Today some of our high school students, like many across the Bay Area and country, organized, via social media, a peaceful protest and walk-out to protest the Presidential election.
The District always prefers to have all students in class, however, we do understand some students are passionate about the recent election.
Our staff and Pittsburg Police Department followed procedures to insure their safety, which is always a top priority. Some of the students returned to the high school and a group of approximately 200 students headed towards Antioch High School. The District informed Antioch High School and sent busses to pick up students outside Antioch High School.
Unfortunately, a small number of the students were unresponsive to directives to return to school and get on the bus. Another group of students decided to walk back to the high school. Those situations will be managed on an individual basis and students will receive appropriate consequences for their behaviors.
At this time, students have returned to school. We appreciate the professionalism and cooperation of the Antioch High School staff and the Antioch Police Department in working with us and the Pittsburg Police Department to insure all students remain safe.’
Although I appreciate the comments made by PUSD Superintendent Schulze, the statement is extremely brief and does not adequately portray the incident. This incident raises serious concerns as it impacted the police services to our Antioch citizens as well as to the Pittsburg Citizens. Because of the impact to the City of Antioch, I will be attending the next PUSD board meeting to ask several questions including:
- Was there a school or district sanctioned Anti-Trump rally?
- Did school or district staff encourage the protest?
- Was school staff aware the students planned on leaving the campus?
- Were parents aware that their students would be participating in the rally?
- When students left the campus, were they supervised? If so, by whom?
- What is the district policy regarding student to staff supervision ratios during off-campus activities?
- When the students left the campus, when and how were parents informed?
- If the students were supervised, will the district take disciplinary action against the students who committed criminal acts?
- What was the schools plan or policy to deal with a child who may be injured during an off campus protest should it occur?
Lastly, I am extremely proud of our officers, AUSD staff, AUSD students, Pittsburg Police Department, and the citizens who patiently waited for us to respond to their calls for service.”
Antioch School District Message to Parents
Anello shared the message sent out to parents, Thursday afternoon, through the auto-dialer from Associate Superintendent for Educational Services, Dr. Adam Clark regarding the incident yesterday.
This morning a large number of students from Pittsburg High School walked out of school to protest. These students traveled on foot to Antioch High School and attempted to convince other students to join their protest. Police from Antioch and Pittsburg were there to ensure that all students remained safe. As a precautionary measure, Antioch High, Antioch Middle, Fremont, and Live Oak all locked down for approximately one half hour. Please do not hesitate to contact us should you have further questions or concerns.
Antioch High Principal’s Message
In an email message to school district staff, Antioch High School Principal Louie Rocha thanked his school’s staff and students for how they responded to the situation and reported that some Pittsburg High students made it onto the Antioch campus.
I want to commend our school staff for their collective effort in securing our campus during the School Lockdown. Thanks to the team work of our site safety security, front office staff, teachers, school administrators and students we were able to prevent our students from being in harm’s way of a large number of Pittsburg High School students who walked out of school this morning and attempted to enter our campus.
There was a small group of Pittsburg students who were able to gain access via the Don Richardson Gym entrance. The non-students ran through the PE area and exited out of campus on to 18th Street. The Antioch and Pittsburg Police Departments arrived on site to prevent the non-students from disrupting our school day. We had a small number of AHS students who exited the main entrance gate to join the unruly crowd. However once I informed them that I was going to lock down the school preventing them from re-entering they decided to return to campus without incident. The Pittsburg High School students continued down 18th and G Streets.
The lockdown continued because the non-students returned back to 18th Street in front of our main entrance and were escorted by the Antioch and Police Departments back to L Street in the direction of the city of Pittsburg. At that point, classes were released to their regular school schedule to their 5th period classes or first lunch.
I am proud of the team work demonstrated today and our students conduct when faced with unruly students from another high school. I am looking forward to the Veteran’s Day Holiday, and wish all of you an enjoyable weekend with your family and friends.
Principal of Antioch High School
Simultaneous Protest in Concord
At approximately 9:00 a.m. a witness reported a seeing a group of protesters walking on the Olivera Road overpass, above Route 242 in Concord, blocking traffic. They appeared to be of high school age, and possible students from Mt. Diablo High School, nearby. A short time later, a police officer said the overpass was cleared, as the protesters had reached the other side, near Glenbrook Middle School.
Allen Payton contributed to this report.Read More
By Allen Payton
According to County Clerk-Recorder-Registrar of Voters Joe Canciamilla, there are still about 180,000 ballots left to be counted in the county. As of the update Wednesday morning at 1:03 AM on the County Elections website, there were 305,123 ballots that were counted. That means about one-third of the ballots cast in Tuesday’s elections have yet to be counted.
“We have approximately 150,000 ballots in house and are expecting more as we pick up the boxes from the City Clerks, and from the mail-in ballots that can be received until Monday,” Canciamilla responded. “I would estimate that we will ultimately have around 180,000 in total.”
“We are having extra crews in today and tomorrow to process as much of the vote-by-mail that we can and hope to have two updates of the results, tomorrow (Thursday) afternoon,” he continued. “The balance of the ballots will not be completed until next week as we will have to process all of the regular ballots and update our records before we can finish with the provisionals.”
A provisional ballot is one that is turned in at the polls by a voter not voting in their assigned precinct. Those ballots get counted last.
For the latest elections information in the county, visit www.cocovote.us. For state and federal races visit the California Secretary of State’s website at http://vote.sos.ca.gov/.Read More
By Allen Payton
Former Concord Mayor and current City Councilman Tim Grayson beat Ambrose Recreation & Park District Director Mae Torlakson in a hard fought race for California’s 14th Assembly District, Tuesday night, by a margin of 62.1% to 37.9%.
Torlakson is the wife State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, who served in the State Assembly in the past.
Grayson issued a statement about his victory, early Wednesday morning.
“I want to sincerely thank everyone who helped to make this a strong campaign. From the hundreds of volunteers who joined our strong door-to-door effort to the supporters in our community who have stood by me since day one, I am sincerely thankful for your efforts,” said Assemblymember-elect Grayson. “I am looking forward to rolling up my sleeves and getting to work in the Assembly. We have a lot of work to do to grow our economy, ensure taxpayer dollars are spent more efficiently and tackle growing education inequality in our communities.”
The Assembly’s 14th District covers parts of Contra Costa and Solano counties, including Benicia, Concord, Clayton, Martinez, Pleasant Hill, Vallejo, Bay Point and parts of Pittsburg and Walnut Creek.Read More
Husband and wife Antioch voters not on voter list at their usual polling place, but mystery solved by Elections Office
By Allen Payton
Long-time Antioch residents Malcolm and Rosanna Hunter vote in every election. Malcolm usually votes by mail. But, this year he decided to drop off his mail-in ballot at the polls. When they went to their usual polling place at Carmen Dragon Elementary School, their names weren’t on the list of registered voters.
Performing a search on the County Elections office website, using their home address, it shows their polling place is at Carmen Dragon Elementary, where Rosanna votes each election.
They had heard of problems like this occurring elsewhere throughout the country, or people’s votes being changed by the machine they’re using, or only seeing Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s and her running mate, Tim Kaine’s names on the ballot.
So, the Hunters called the County Elections office and Malcolm said the staff member, there, confirmed they were on the list of registered voters and for voting at that polling location.
However, Rosanna was given a provisional ballot to cast her votes. They thought that means her ballot won’t be counted unless an election is close.
When reached for comment, Melissa Hickok of the County Elections Division office said, “They (the Hunters) are on the master voter list. The voter rosters are for people who are supposed to vote at that polling place. Those are the precinct voters for that precinct. Permanent vote-by-mail voters are not on the precinct rosters.”
“I’m showing her polling place at Carmen Dragon Elementary,” she added. “That polling place might have had more than one precinct. She might have been at the wrong table.
After doing a brief bit of research, Hickok said, “Carmen Dragon does have two precincts.”
Asked if the poll workers are trained to know that and instruct voters about it, she responded, “A seasoned poll worker would. I’m not sure how seasoned our staff was, out there.”
“Her provisional ballot will still be counted,” Hickok said. “Provisionals are not counted on Election Day. What we do is we count Election Day votes and vote-by-mail votes which are tied to the voter ID.”
“Then we look at the provisional ballots, last and we compare the name to their information in our system,” she explained. “Then if there hasn’t another ballot voted for by that person already, we run their ballot and it gets counted.”
“If she wants to go back and check the master voting list her name will be there,” Hickok stated.
“If she chooses to go back, have her ask for the inspector. Don’t talk to any of the front lines, about seeing the master voting list,” Hickok instructed. “If she (Mrs. Hunter) votes in the correct precinct, then her provisional wouldn’t get counted, because she had already voted.”
The polls close at 8:00 p.m., tonight. Election results will be posted to the Elections website, www.cocovote.us, throughout the night and will be updated by 5:00 pm on Thursday November 10th and then every Friday until the election is certified.
The county has until December 6th to certify the Presidential Election and until December 8th to certify all other items on the ballot.
Local election results will also be available throughout Election Night on Contra Costa Television (CCTV) beginning at 9:00 pm on Comcast channel 27, Astound channel 32 and AT&T U-Verse channel 99.Read More
Deputy Sheriffs Association provides last minute attack on Glover over August 1st recommendation letter for friend facing violent criminal charges
Glover says he thought it was a recommendation letter for a job
PUBLISHER’S NOTE: We have made it a practice, in the past, of not publishing articles regarding campaigns on Election Day. However, due to the seriousness of this issue and the timing of when this information came to light, which we learned of, last night, on this matter I am making an exception.
By Allen Payton
In a last minute attack in the campaign for Supervisor in District 5, the Contra Costa Deputy Sheriffs Association (DSA), on Monday morning, sent out a press release expressing concern about Supervisor Federal Glover writing a letter asking for leniency for a family friend facing criminal trial. The DSA is backing Martinez Councilwoman Anamarie Avila Farias in her campaign to unseat Glover.
In his letter sent to the court on August 1st, 2016, Glover “used his status and office to lobby for leniency from the District Attorney and Judge for a family friend arrested after a violent crime spree,” the Deputy Sheriffs claim.
In the letter, written on Glover’s official Supervisor letterhead, (see below) he wrote “It is with a great deal of pleasure that I write this letter of support for (the defendant’s name was redacted).”
However, when reached for comment, Glover said he thought it was a recommendation letter for a job.
“This is not uncommon. This is done all the time,” he said.
“It was written over an individual that I’d known and his family,” Glover explained. “I thought it was for a job. It was a very generic letter that we do all the time. I was unaware that it had anything to do with a court case or an incident at a bar, that he was involved in. This was a letter that his father requested it.
“The letter has nothing to do with a court room,” he repeated.
Asked when the Deputy Sheriffs knew about the letter and why it came out the day before the election, DSA President Shawn Welch said, “A citizen came to us who had done a public records request, last month and he sent it to us. I received it last Thursday.”
“We were kind of going back and forth and we drafted a letter and we decided to send it out and we sent a press release, yesterday around 10:00 a.m,” he continued.
“It’s been on our Facebook page, which has gotten over 11,000 reach,” Welch shared. “The guy was arrested in the middle of July and Glover wrote the letter August 1st.”
“We had done all our opp (opposition) research (on Glover) for the IE (independent expenditure campaign) we’re running prior to that,” he added.
Welch provided a copy of Glover’s letter and documents about the charges against Glover’s friend, which can be viewed, here: glover-letter-court-documents
After receiving Glover’s explanation, Welch responded, “The letter was sent to the DA. If I send a letter of recommendation I send it to the person who requested it not the person it is about.”
“Sounds like an excuse,” he added.
The press release had more to say about Glover’s letter.
“In stark contrast to his jovial tone are the suspect’s violent criminal charges. The Supervisor is calling in favors for a suspect arrested after assaulting a man with a firearm, attempting to rob two women at gunpoint, and threatening to kill his victims,” the press release read.
“For Supervisor Glover to lobby for leniency for a dangerous repeat criminal jeopardizes the public and the efforts of hundreds of law enforcement officers throughout the County” said Welch. “The men and women of the Deputy Sheriffs Association have done an excellent job of protecting the people of the County, even during difficult times. Asking a political favor from the District Attorney to be lenient on dangerous criminals makes our job unnecessarily more difficult and dangerous”.
Welch added, “It would be a travesty of justice if Supervisor Glover’s request of leniency resulted in reduced charges for this dangerous criminal. Peace officers did their job in this case, putting a bad guy on trial. A political favor could snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory in the war on crime. Frankly, the mere attempt to use one’s position of political power to gain leniency for a violent criminal is inappropriate and epitomizes the disconnect between Glover and the safety of the public in this county”.
“Every politician who lobbies for special leniency for violent criminals in this county can fully expect to be held accountable by the Deputy Sheriffs Association and its constituents. The truth about political lobbying for leniency is that it puts the public at risk. It does not put the public’s safety first and creates a dangerous situation for Deputies”, said Welch.
The press release also stated the “DSA is asking for District Attorney Mark Peterson, the Deputy District Attorneys Association, and the Sheriff to address Glover’s letter, and to reassure the public that political interference from a County Supervisor has no place in criminal justice, and that Glover’s letter will not result in more favorable plea terms for the suspect in custody.
This is only one example why the Deputy Sheriffs Association has endorsed Anamarie Avila Farias for Supervisor to replace Glover. Anamarie Farias’ steadfast support of public safety is the primary reason she won the overwhelming endorsement of the Deputy Sheriff’s Association. Anamarie has also earned the endorsement of police in Pinole, Hercules, Martinez, Antioch, plus the County Firefighters Local 1230.”
Glover is seeking his fifth term on the Board of Supervisors, representing District 5.Read More
Responding to anonymous criticism, community college board president says chancellor selection process participatory, fair
By Allen Payton
An anonymous email on Tuesday morning, November 8th, with the signature line reading “Voiceless Employees of the Contra Costa Community College District,” took the Board of Governors to task for a “Lack of Transparency in Chancellor Selection Process,” as was written in the subject line of the email message. Board President Vicki Gordon disputes that and says the process was participatory and fair.
The email message read as follows:
“To Whom it May Concern,
We write to you today sharing the voices of many within the Contra Costa Community College District whom believe the existing Contra Costa Community College District Board of Trustees has, with malicious intent, manipulated the recent search process that led to the selection of Dr. Fred Wood for Chancellor of the district.
The Board selected its own Board President, Vicki Gordon, to serve as chair of the search committee. Board policy (BP 2057) outlines that the Board is to appoint a chair of the committee, not to appoint itself as the chair of the committee. This unprecedented move to have a Board member, no less the sitting Board President, serve as the chair of the initial screening interview process and then as Chair of the final interview process eliminated the opportunity for district employees, through their representation on the search committee, to have a true voice in the process.
Board President Vicki Gordon then violated the intent and practice of the Brown Act, calling a special meeting of the Board to announce its decision, without providing the normal 72 hour public notification. While it is understood that Special Meetings are allowed with only one day’s notice, the rush to announce a selection was unnecessary, as a regular Board meeting is scheduled to take place on November 9th. Both Vicki Gorgon and Greg Enholm are up for re-election on November 8th.
The Board interviewed the final candidates and did not consult with the screening interview committee regarding the committee’s feedback on the finalists. These committee members all serve as representative voices of the various governance and labor groups within the district. Instead, the Board relied entirely on Board President Vicki Gordon’s account, whom again placed herself at both levels of the interview process, as Chair of the committees.
IF the Board had held a transparent evaluation of the final candidates, it would have become clear that there remained significant concerns about the qualifications of Dr. Wood:
– Dr. Wood has never worked within the California Community College system, except for a brief graduate teaching assignment over 30 years ago. Dr. Wood has never served in any post-graduate administration or faculty role within any community college.
– Dr. Wood has never served as a President of any community college.
– Dr. Wood currently serves as Chancellor, which is a President level position in California, at a rural four year institution in Minnesota that serves 1,800 students, 900 of which are online students. In comparison the Contra Costa Community College District serves over 50,000 students and has more employees than the institution Dr. Wood currently serves.
– Dr. Wood was forced out of his position as Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs at UC Davis after the infamous pepper spray incident in 2011/12 and proceeding fall out, yet no reference or any background checks on this situation were conducted.
The Contra Costa Community College District, despite the incompetence of its current Board of Trustees, continues to be one of the most successful and well respected community college districts within California. It is appalling that the Board would manipulate the Chancellor selection process to hire an individual that should have never even been in consideration as a finalist. Dr. Wood may be a qualified leader in the world of four year higher education, but his experience is not a match for the needs and complexity of the Contra Costa Community College District.
Voiceless Employees of the Contra Costa Community College District”
A reply message to the email address of origin from @guerrilamail.com, asking for the identity of the senders, did not receive a response. That’s because Guerrilla Mail is a “Disposal Temporary Email Address” as it describes itself on the website. It offers the promotional message of, “Don’t want to give them your real email? Use a temporary email. No registration, lasts 60 mins. Protection from Spam.”
When reached for comment, Board President Vicki Gordon said, the college district has “participatory governance, which means everyone has the opportunity to participate, our students, our faculty and staff, the community and the process was really, really open.”
“The passage of AB1725 gives all constituent groups a role in the governance of higher education,” she explained. “I have been reaching out to all of the groups who are concerned and talking with them about the process. But reaching out has been taking longer than I thought.”
Asked if faculty and staff participated in the process, Gordon replied “They did.”
“We held public forums which were announced in local media,” she stated. “We had a search committee, following our policy, comprised of faculty and staff, and two college presidents, and community members. That got us to the three final candidates.”
“Each candidate participated in four forums. So we had 12 forums scheduled,” Gordon continued. “We also videotaped the forums at Contra Costa College and played those live and recorded them so people could go to the website and view them. And people did and made comments and we collected that input, as well.”
She said the Board did follow the state’s open meeting law, known as the Brown Act.
“As the Board President and Chair of the committee, I worked very hard to ensure inclusion, to ensure the process was true, ensure all voices were heard and that it was fair,” she stated. “I’m ecstatic with the results and happy with the Board. We had a difficult time making this decision. We talked about it extensively at the Board level. I’m very proud of our Board members for putting in the time and energy.”
“Dr. Fred Wood brings not only a new, fresh outside look, but a hometown view as well,” Gordon said of the new chancellor, who not only attended Diablo Valley College as a student, he graduated from College Park High School in Pleasant Hill. “He walked the path that many of our college students are following and working to accomplish. We look forward to having him on board, soon.”
Dr. Wood is expected to start his new position in January.Read More