Labor and abortion rights advocates play in CoCo District 2 supervisor race

Labor and abortion rights activists have poured nearly $50,000 into the intense county supervisor race between Contra Costa Community College Board President Tomi Van de Brooke and Danville Mayor Candace Andersen.

Funded by two independent expenditure committees, robocalls and mailers remind voters leading up to Tuesday’s election that Van de Brooke is the abortion-rights option while Andersen, a conservative Mormon, calls abortion a social issue irrelevant to the job of a county supervisor.

Whether or not a candidate’s positions on social issues do, or should, matter in a local nonpartisan race has been a combustible thread throughout the campaign.

Read full story here.   See mailers below.





Ex-CoCo sex crimes prosecutor Gressett sues

Former Contra Costa sex crimes prosecutor Michael Gressett filed a sweeping lawsuit in Superior Court in Martinez today alleging that nearly every agency and person involved in his 2008 aborted rape case engaged in defamation and politically motivated malicious prosecution. Read full story here.

The defendant list includes Contra Costa County and its district attorney’s office along with a handful of its current and former deputy district attorneys and investigators. He also named the state and several deputy attorney generals; Martinez and several officers; retired District Attorney Bob Kochly; and unsuccessful 2010 district attorney candidate Dan O’Malley, and O’Malley’s former law partner, Tom McKenna.

Gressett, who learned in February that the state would not refile rape charges after a judge threw the case out on procedural grounds, seeks unspecified awards for lost wages and benefits, emotional distress, punitive damages and attorneys’ fees.

A contract deputy district attorney accused Gressett of raping her in May 2008 at his Martinez apartment. She said he used ice cubes, an ice pick and a gun.

Gressett said the sex was rough but consensual.

An independent arbitrator later ruled the allegations unsubstantiated and a Superior Court judge threw the case out after state prosecutors failed to disclose a $450,000 settlement to the alleged victim, among other procedural problems.

Read the full complaint here: http://www.docstoc.com/docs/121728287/Michael-Gressett-lawsuit


Oakley Dem Frazier takes big money lead in AD11 race

Assembly District 11 Democratic candidate and Oakley Councilman Jim Frazier has outraised and outspent his five opponents by a large margin.

In the latest campaign finance report, Frazier reported contributions of $160,429 since January and expenses of $296,383.

Republican and Suisun City Councilman Mike Hudson is in a distant second. He received $64,177 and spent $62,226.

Arguably, Frazier needed to raise and spend the most money. He is the only Contra Costa candidate running against five Solano County opponents in new district dominated by Solano County. It’s a large field and only the top two finishers will advance to the general election,

The numbers for the other candidates are: Democratic labor negotiator Patricia Hernandez of Rio Vista received $34,894 and spent $64,807; independent and ex-Vacaville councilman Len Augustine received $31,759 and spent $26,473; Democratic retired Benicia fire chief Gene Gantt received $22,364 and spent $49,930.

Democratic programmer and artist Charles Kingeter of Suisun City did not file a report, which presumably means he didn’t raise enough money to trigger the filing requirement.

Assembly District 11 is a newly drawn district that includes Antioch, Oakley, Brentwood, Knightsen, Byon, Discovery Bay and Bethel Island plus the bulk of Solano County.

Assembly District 11, map by Redistricting Partners



Contra Costa Supervisor Gayle Uilkema has died

Contra Costa Supervisor Gayle Uilkema on March 13, 2012.

Contra Costa County Supervisor Gayle Uilkema died early this morning with her family by her side.  She had been battling ovarian cancer since mid-2010.

In her fourth term, the 73-year-old former Lafayette mayor has been absent from her seat behind the board dais in Martinez since December, when she suffered a bout of pneumonia she described as a complication of chemotherapy.

She had hoped to return to her customary full-time schedule this spring although she was planning to retire at the end of the year after serving 16 years.

What I will remember most about Gayle is how much she deep-down loved her job as a county supervisor. She will be missed.

A rosary will be held 7 p.m. Wednesday St. Perpetua Church at 3454 Hamlin Road in Lafayette. The funeral mass will be held at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, also at St. Perpetua.

Flowers should be sent to Hull’s, 1139 Saranap Ave., Walnut Creek, CA 94595.

Memorial donations may to sent to the American Cancer Society, 101 Ygnacio Valley Rd., Walnut Creek, CA 94596




Was that a rat on Contra Costa Boulevard?

Yes, that was a giant, 15-foot-high inflatable rat you saw Friday morning on the sidewalk along Contra Costa Boulevard in Pleasant Hill.

The trademark rodent’s appearance along with more than a dozen sign-carrying protesters is the latest salvo in the long-standing animosity between the Contra Costa Building and Construction Trades Council and the nonunion Associated Builders and Contractors.

Watch video of the rat here.

Watch interview with trades council chief Greg Feere here.

The trades were protesting Erik Bruvold’s appearance at the Contra Costa Taxpayers Association breakfast. Watch video of Bruvold’s presentation here.

The National University System Institute for Policy Research president co-authored a 2011 study that found the use of union-supported project labor agreements had increased California public school construction costs by 13-17 percent.

UCLA Labor Center and Michigan State University researchers subsequently challenged the findings on several fronts but Bruvold defended the analysis on Friday.



State controller blasts Hercules’ financial books

State Controller John Chiang today called Hercules’ books the “worst set of accounting records” he has ever seen, and blasted the city on numerous fronts in its audits of the city’s use of federal and state grants and transportation money.

Read my colleague Tom Lochner’s story here.

Here’s what Chiang had to say a few minutes ago:

SACRAMENTO – State Controller John Chiang today released findings from his first two audits of the City of Hercules, one focusing on its use of state and federal grants , the other on the City’s use of transportation funds . The audits found glaring holes in the City’s accounting and management of state and federal grant funds, as well as inappropriate charges against street repair funds.

“During my time in office, this could be the worst set of city accounting records I have seen,” said Controller Chiang. “The City’s books were so poorly managed, that I must question their use of every single federal and state dollar granted to the City.”

Auditors made 32 requests for 107 documents from the City, many of them basic ledger statements that are fundamental to any accounting system, but the City only could provide 15 documents. Requests for meetings with City staff often were ignored or cancelled, and by the end of the review, the City no longer employed a senior accountant.

The City could provide almost no records showing how it spent more than $2 million in state and federal grants, leading auditors to question the use of all grant dollars in 2009-10. Some of the grants included:

  • State Citizens Office of Public Safety: $100,000
  • State Housing and Community Development: $720,000
  • Federal EPA Watershed – West Coast Estuary Initiative: $146,025
  • Homeland Security Grant Program: $4,824

The City’s reporting was so poor that it even failed to list four additional federal grants, which together totaled $159,984.

Auditors also found the City was commingling gas tax receipts – which are solely restricted to fund street improvement projects – in an investment pool with other city funds. Given the City’s questionable fiscal management practices, there is concern that gas tax dollars may have been diverted to fund activities unrelated to public streets and roads, and the Controller has ordered the City of Hercules to remove those dollars and place them in a separate bank account. The City also incorrectly charged more than $39,000 in interest against the gas tax funds, which must be replaced.

“The manner in which city officials approached their fiduciary responsibilities falls below every reasonable standard of care and begins to explain why Hercules is under water,” said Chiang. “The longer the City goes without accounting for its taxpayer dollars, the greater the risk that federal and state authorities will withhold money from the City, further increasing Hercules’ difficulties.”

The audits released today by the Controller will be followed by two separate reviews focusing on the City’s financial internal controls, as well as its redevelopment agency.