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Contra Costa reacts swiftly to revised Delta peripheral canal plan

Supervisor Mary Nejedly Piepho

Contra Costa County, whose leaders have been fending off a peripheral canal for more than three decades, reacted swiftly and negatively to a joint federal-state announcement today of a new Delta water diversion proposal.

“We need science before size,” said Contra Costa County Supervisor Mary Nejedly Piepho, who also sits on the Delta Protection Commission, Delta Conservancy and helped found the Delta County Coalition. “Science should drive the capacity of any project, not the other way around. It is completely unacceptable.”

See my colleague Steve Harmon’s full story here.

(ADDED 5:29 P.M. East Bay congressional representatives also blast plan. See full statements below.)

Smaller options must be evaluated, and science and the economic impacts of any pipeline must be more than “considered, as the announcement today said,” Piepho added.

“It’s easy to ‘consider’ something for 3 seconds, then shove it off the table and go back to your primary objective, which is to pipe massive amounts of Delta water into Southern California,” she said.

Supervisor Karen Mitchoff echoed her colleague’s dismay via  a text message from Sacramento, where she watched the announcement.

“If people believe what (Gov. Jerry Brown) and (Interior Secretary Ken) Salazar said today, I think there’s still a bridge available for sale,” Mitchoff said. “The plan will sacrifice the interest of one part of the state for the interests of others.”

The county, the Contra Costa Water District and others say the diversion will degrade both the environment and drinking water quality for tens of thousands of East Bay residents. The county board of supervisors formally opposed the plan in early July.

In contrast, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein wholeheartedly endorsed the pact, calling it a “major step toward a real solution in the Sacramento-Delta.” Feinstein led the federal legislation mandating completion of a Bay-Delta Conservation Plan by February 2013. See her press release issued today below.


Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, July 25th, 2012
Under: Contra Costa County, Contra Costa politics, water | 26 Comments »

East Bay political calendar

What do crab, fixing California and Sarah Palin have in common?

They are all subjects of upcoming political events in Contra Costa County. Check them out.



Rancher Jack Roddy, developers and farmers Ron and Bob Nunn and Tim Argenti with Allied Waste will host a re-election fundraiser on Dec. 15 for Contra Costa Supervisor Mary Nejedly Piepho.

Other hosts include John Herrington, Norm Hattich and Tom Bloomfield.

The event will be held from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at Vic Stewarts, 2270 Balfour Road in Brentwood.

For information, send inquiry to



Let them crack crab. Contra Costa County Supervisor Federal Glover of Pittsburg will host his annual “all you can eat” crab feed on Jan.7.

It’ll cost you $40 a person for the festivities, which begin at 6 p.m. with cocktails, at the Good Shepherd Parish Hall, 3200 Harbor St. in Pittsburg.

Glover is running for re-election but proceeds from this event benefit his officerholder account; that’s a fund that incumbents are permitted to use for expenses related to serving in office such as crab feed tickets.

For tickets or information, email



Former Assembly Speaker Bob Hertzberg will headline the Feb. 2 luncheon hosted by Contra Costa Supervisor Karen Mitchoff.

These days, Hertzberg is co-chairman of California Forward and a leader of the California Think Long Committee, two groups of reformers whose members hope to persuade voters to make fundamental changes in the way the state governs itself.

The luncheon begins at 11:30 a.m. at the Walnut Creek Marriott, 2355 N. Main St., in Walnut Creek. Call 925-299-1612 for more information.

Proceeds benefit Mitchoff’s officeholder account, a fund that incumbents are permitted to use to pay for expenses related to their official duties.


South San Joaquin County Republicans’ founder and author Frank Aquila will talk about his new book on Sarah Palin at the Jan. 26 evening meeting of the Blackhawk Republican Women.

Aquila wrote “Sarah Palin: Out of Nowhere” and was the 2008 chairman for then-president candidate and Arizona Sen. John McCain.  He lobbied early for Palin’s selection as McCain’s vice presidential running mate.

Aquila will also talk about the communist influence in America and present a 10-point solution to the nation’s woes.

The event begins at 5:30 p.m. at the Blackhawk Country Club, 599 Blackhawk Club Drive. The cost is $25 a person. For reservations, contact Marianne Lyons at

Posted on Monday, December 12th, 2011
Under: Contra Costa Board of Supervisors, Contra Costa County, Contra Costa politics, Political calendar, Political events | No Comments »

Supervisor: Hospital district action ‘outrageous’

Contra Costa County Supervisor Karen Mitchoff today said she’s disturbed by the Mt. Diablo Health Care District’s decision to hire an executive director at $10,000 per month – as Lisa reported today – even as the Contra Costa Local Agency Formation Commission mulls whether the district should be dissolved.

“I was very concerned by the contract between Mt. Diablo Health Care District and their attorney Ralph Ferguson,” Mitchoff said in a news release. “And this new contract for an Executive Director is outrageous. I am deeply disturbed by the continued depletion of taxpayer resources, especially while a decision by LAFCO is pending as to whether to dissolve the district.”

“The Health Care District was created with the intent to serve the public health needs of our community,” she said. “However, it appears that the board does not share this priority and is more concerned about preserving itself.”

The district includes Concord, Pleasant Hill, Pacheco, Martinez and part of Lafayette.

Posted on Friday, December 2nd, 2011
Under: Contra Costa Board of Supervisors, Contra Costa County, Contra Costa politics | 7 Comments »

Contra Costa supervisor districts see partisan shifts

The Contra Costa Elections Department is feverishly working on new digitized voting district maps that reflect the numerous boundary changes at the state and local level.

But at my request, the elections staff kindly provided me with a rough estimate of  party registration breakdowns for the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors’ five newly drawn districts.

Yes, supervisor seats are nonpartisan but party politics still play a role.

Parties view local nonpartisan seats as the “farm team,” the place where political novices of their respective philosophies cut their teeth, build a base and run for higher partisan political office. Partisan leaders from labor, business and traditional party organizations often provide campaign foot soldiers and money for the candidates of their choice.

In Contra Costa County, Democrats continue to outnumber Republicans in all five supervisor districts. Those who register as “no preferred party,” previously called “decline to state,” consistently comprise about a fifth of all voters in each district.

Among the shifts, districts 1, 4 and 5 largely retained their party registration breakdowns.

Democrats’ lead in District 2 declined as GOP registration grew from 27 percent to 36 percent of total registered voters. Likewise, Democrats’ presence declined nine points from 49 percent to 40 percent. The shift is due to the district’s move south into the San Ramon Valley and out of Martinez.

Republicans lost ground in District 3, dropping from 37.5 percent to 30 percent. Democrats boosted their numbers from 38.4 percent under the old boundaries to 48 percent in the new districts. The  new district lost most of the more conservative San Ramon Valley to neighboring District 2.

As an aside, you’ll see a significant spread between some of the districts when it comes to total registered voters. The law requires that new districts are redrawn to roughly equal populations but not everyone votes. In Contra Costa, District 2 has the highest number of registered voters by nearly twofold over District 1.

Here’s a more detailed breakout by district: (I didn’t include the third-party numbers, which make up about 4 percent of the voters.)

DISTRICT 1: Supervisor John Gioia of Richmond, Democrat


  • Total registered voters: 84,805
  • Democrats: 55,789 or 65.8 percent
  • Republicans: 9,317 or 11 percent
  • No preferred party or decline to state: 16,898 or 20 percent


  • Total registered voters: 77,025
  • Democrats: 51,408 or 66.7 percent
  • Republicans: 7,851 or 10.2 percent
  • No preferred party or decline to state: 14,468 or 18.8 percent

DISTRICT 2: Supervisor Gayle Uilkema of Lafayette, Republican, will not seek re-election in 2012. One candidate has filed for the seat, Contra Costa Community College District Trustee Tomi Van de Brooke of Orinda, a Democrat.


  • Total registered voters: 131,671
  • Democrats: 52,612 or 40 percent
  • Republicans: 48,872 or 35.6 percent
  • No preferred party or decline to state: 28,031 or 21 percent


  • Total registered voters: 112,973
  • Democrats: 56,066 or 49.6 percent
  • Republicans: 30,171 or 26.7 percent
  • No preferred party or decline to state: 21,928 or 19.4 percent

DISTRICT 3: Supervisor Mary Nejedly Piepho of Discovery Bay, a Republican, is seeking re-election. No opponents have filed yet.


  • Total registered voters: 95,689
  • Democrats: 45,871 or 48 percent
  • Republicans: 28,912 or 30 percent
  • No preferred party or decline to state: 18,479 or 19 percent


  • Total registered voters: 139,386
  • Democrats: 53,471 or 38.4 percent
  • Republicans: 52,307 or 37.5 percent
  • No preferred party or decline to state: 28,307 or 20.3 percent

DISTRICT 4: Supervisor Karen Mitchoff of Pleasant Hill, Democrat


  • Total registered voters: 113,179
  • Democrats: 53,045 or 47 percent
  • Republicans: 33,463 or 30 percent
  • No preferred party or decline to state: 24,770 or 22 percent


  • Total registered voters: 92,765
  • Democrats: 43,779 or 47.2 percent
  • Republicans: 25,594 or 27.6 percent
  • No preferred party or decline to state: 18,854 or 20.3 percent

DISTRICT 5: Supervisor Federal Glover of Pittsburg, a Democrat, is seeking re-election. No challengers have filed yet.


  • Total registered voters: 89,582
  • Democrats: 50,317 or 56.2 percent
  • Republicans: 18,511 or 20.7 percent
  • No preferred party or decline to state: 19,689 or 22 percent


  • Total registered voters: 88,588
  • Democrats: 50,125 or 56.6 percent
  • Republicans: 18,565 or 21 percent
  • No preferred party or decline to state: 16,207 or 18.3 percent



Posted on Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011
Under: Contra Costa Board of Supervisors, Contra Costa County, Contra Costa politics | 16 Comments »

Contra Costa at impasse over district maps

Without the necessary three votes to make a final selection, the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors this afternoon punted its decision over new political districts to the end of the month.

The five supervisors will take up the matter again on July 26 at 10:30 a.m. (Click here for Contra Costa’s redistricting web site and links to all the various maps and data.)

Frustration was evident as the supervisors each reiterated the merits of his or her preferred map but repeatedly failed to come up with that third and majority vote.  Each views the county through a different political and personal lens, and they have yet to find middle ground.

Supervisors Federal Glover and John Gioia agree. The other three supervisors (Gayle Uilkema, Mary Nejedly Piepho and Karen Mitchoff) dislike the men’s map but don’t support each other’s maps, either.

Four maps remain on the table for debate although any could change at any time.

Click here for Piepho’s preferred map (Proposal 15.)

Here’s the first map proposed by Glover and Gioia (Proposal 17.)

Here are the men’s second and revised map (Proposal 17D) they submitted earlier today.

And here is what Mitchoff has submitted (Proposal 16.)

Broadly speaking, Glover and Gioia want to create a map based on regional subdivisions and reverse the 2001 map under which East Contra Costa County was carved into two districts. They submitted two maps, (Proposal 17 and Proposal 17D) each slightly adjusted in an attempt to win a third vote. But one of their maps slices a small sliver of Concord into a second district, while both maps splits Pinole, Walnut Creek and Antioch and the percentage population spread among the districts is 7.95 to 8.76 points. The law requires the county to draw new districts of equal population or as near as possible to equal; deviations have withstood court challenges but must be justified.

Their map most closely matches the option drawn by a volunteer citizen’s task force, or Concept 6, as it was originally labeled. Much of the audience Tuesday endorsed this version, holding up signed and testifying in its favor.

Piepho’s submission appears designed to inspire compromise rather than survive outright adoption. It draws her out of Walnut Creek, her prime political support base, and instead shifts it entirely into Uilkema’s district. It splits no cities and has a 5.39 percentage point population spread. But it does split Bay Point and Pittsburg, communities with longstanding ties.

Mitchoff’s map shifts Glover’s district westward, as he wanted, and allows Piepho to keep portions of Walnut Creek. But it splits Antioch and Walnut Creek. It has a 6.86 percentage point population spread.

In the next two weeks, the pressure will be on these supervisors to cut a deal, end the political suspense and allow the 2012 election to official begin. Uilkema, Glover and Piepho are up for re-election and at least four possible challengers were in the audience Tuesday and testified.

The question is whether a majority of the board will simply ram a map down the throats of their colleagues and let the chips fall where they will … or will they unanimously choke down a compromise and avert open warfare.

My money is on the latter although the former would be a lot more fun to write about.

Posted on Tuesday, July 12th, 2011
Under: redistricting | 13 Comments »

East Bay events round-up

Here’s a look at upcoming political events:


Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, is the first congressman to host a mobile video town hall.

On Tuesday, starting at 6:16 p.m., residents may sign up for the video conference through Visible Vote’s free application for Facebook and smartphones including iPhone, Android and Blackberry.

Viewers may watch the congressman answer questions real-time posed from those who have signed up for video conference. Many elected officials already deploy the use of telephone town halls, which allow thousands of people to listen and ask questions via the telephone.

But this is the first opportunity for constituents to see Garamendi on their phones as he answers their questions.

Learn how to set up Visible Vote is available at php. A video on how Visible Vote works is available at


Contra Costa Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Gayle Uilkema will deliver the annual State of the County Address at a Feb. 10 luncheon sponsored by the Contra Costa Council.

The luncheon will be held from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, 45 John Glenn Boulevard, Concord.

Tickets at $35 for council members and elected official and $45 for nonmembers.

The council is a nonpartisan public policy advocacy organization funded through membership of businesses and other local groups.

For more information, visit, e-mail or call 925-246-1880.

Pleasant Hill

UC-Berkeley Statewide Database Director Karin MacDonald is the keynote speaker at the inaugural Feb. 22 lunch meeting of Community Connections, a lecture series sponsored by Contra Costa Supervisor Karen Mitchoff.

MacDonald leads the research center that will process Census 2010 data and geographic information system mapping for use in the state’s redrawing of its congressional and state legislative boundaries.

For the first time, an independent commission of residents will draw the boundaries after voters stripped legislators of the job.

The luncheon begins at 11:30 a.m. at Contra Costa Country Club, 801 Golf Club Road in Pleasant Hill.

A lunch ticket costs $35. Prices for tickets to the full series vary from $1,000 to $100, depending on the type of membership. Proceeds benefit Mitchoff’s officeholder account, a non-campaign fund managed by elected officials.

San Francisco

Experts will discuss California’s unsustainable public pension system at a March 9 forum sponsored by the Bay Area Council.

The event, entitled, “Is California Headed for a Super Storm of Unfunded Pension Liabilities,” will feature San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi, Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster; California Foundation for Fiscal Responsibility President Marcia Fritz, and Stanford professor and former state Assemblyman Joe Nation.

The forum will be held from 8:30 a.m.-11 a.m. at the offices of SNR Denton, 525 Market Street, 26th Floor, in San Francisco.

“California’s public pension system has been described by some as a ‘time bomb’ or a ‘tsunami’ and by others as an over blown hoax,” said Jim Wunderman, President & CEO of the Bay Area Council. “This forum is a chance to get down to the facts and see how much we actually owe, and to examine how to make reforms to get the state back on track.”

For more information, contact or call 415-946-8710.

Posted on Monday, February 7th, 2011
Under: Political calendar, Political events | 1 Comment »

CoCo supervisors to launch new year



The Contra Costa Board of Supervisors will officially launch 2011 tomorrow at its first meeting of the year.

The day begins with a little business followed by its annual reorganization luncheon hosted by incoming board Chairwoman Gayle Uilkema.

The supervisors rotate the chairmanship job each year. In addition to leading the meetings, the chair’s job entails the appointment of his or her supervisors to myriad committees. Acrimony has erupted on occasion among the supervisors over the more desirable appointments, such as the countywide transportation authority or the Local Agency Formation Commission.

Seniority matters, of course.

Former Pleasant Hill councilwoman and newly elected Supervisor Karen Mitchoff, chosen by voters in June, will sit on 19 committees. She will chair three of the board’s seven internal committees, including legislation; transportation, water and infrastructure, and the airport.

Click here for the full list of assignments.

Posted on Monday, January 10th, 2011
Under: Contra Costa County, Contra Costa politics | 1 Comment »

Contra Costa candidates report cash

Campaign finance reports were due this week. I have already reported on the high profile results on this blog a few days ago, but here is a round-up of a the other interesting tidbits as of the end of the reporting period on June 30:

CONTRA COSTA DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Mark Peterson and Dan O’Malley emerged in June as the top two vote-getters and will compete in run-off on Nov. 2.

Peterson raised $121,841; spent $156,597; had $3,748 in the bank; and debts of $10,000.

O’Malley raised $143,717; sp0ent $184,980; had $16,128 in the bank; and debts of $9,014.

CONTRA COSTA COUNTY SHERIFF: David Livingston won the seat, beating Brian Kalinowski in June.

Livingston raised $147,325; spent $193,601; had $16,548 in the bank; and debts of $22,000. He loaned his campaign $22,000.

Kalinowski raised $$135,679; spent $105,341; had $4,153 in bank; and debts of $58,115. He loaned his campaign $44,067.

CONTRA COSTA BOARD OF SUPERVISORS’ OFFICEHOLDER ACCOUNTS: State law allows officeholders to raise and spend money on a variety of non-election activities.

Gayle Uilkema: Raised 5,335; spent $2,440; cash in the bank of $27,701. No debts.

Susan Bonilla: Raised $2,315; spent $6,015; cash in the bank of $1,918. No debts.

Federal Glover: Raised $8,400; spent $12,378; cash in the bank of $45,748. No debts.

Mary Piepho: Raised $16,734; spent $20,690; had $15,235 in the bank. No debts.

CONTRA COSTA BOARD OF SUPERVISORS: Karen Mitchoff prevailed in the June primary contest against Mike McGill for the seat left open by Susan Bonilla, who is running for Assembly.

Mitchoff: Raised $74,148; spent $75,570; had cash on hand of $5,446. No debts.

McGill: Raised $108,265; spenty $109,105; had cash on hand of $1,702. Debts of $51,800. Loaned his campaign $51,800.

MAJOR DONORS: There must be gold in them thar jelly bean jars. The Jelly Belly Candy Co. contributed $90,252 in the first six months of the year to candidates including Contra Costa sheriff candidate David Livingston, GOP Assembly candidate Abram Wilson and $21,000 to the California Republican Party.

Posted on Thursday, August 5th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, campaign finance, Contra Costa County, Contra Costa politics, Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Contra Costa: McGill and Mitchoff duel over law





Contra Costa supervisor candidate Karen Mitchoff filed a complaint today with the District Attorney’s Office alleging that her opponent, Mike McGill, violated county campaign finance laws.

In response, McGill challenged Mitchoff to work for $1 a year, if elected, and “remove all financial motives and ensures that we are focused on public policy and solving real problems,” he said.

Under county law, supervisor candidates who loan or contribute more than $25,000 to their campaigns must file a statement of intent to self-fund at the time they file for office.

The total includes donations and loans from immediate family members.

McGill, a board member of the Contra Costa Central Sanitary District, has loaned his campaign $54,500 as of May 22. Relatives have contributed $3,675. His company, MMS Design Associates, has contributed $1,065 worth of office support and copies.

The Pleasant Hill engineer says he never intended to self-fund.

But as the campaign proceeded, the public responded “so strongly to my message, and I realized I could do more than make a point, I could win and implement the changes that I think are needed in our budget and public employee pension system,” he said.

McGill needed more money, so he says his campaign team began researching the rules.

He met with county officials and after what he described as confusing conversations, McGill filed a self-fund declaration Thursday, which was also the campaign finance report filing deadline for local and state candidates.

As the law also requires, he changed his campaign literature to reflect his self-funded status.

“I think Karen knows (he has followed the rules), but she’s frustrated that her campaign is struggling and my upstart campaign has been gaining a lot of traction,” McGill said. “Karen’s taken more than $30,000 from labor unions — but I’m not going to start throwing mud and accusing her of being a labor funded candidate, because I want this to be a campaign about the differences in our vision for the county.”

Deputy District Attorney Steve Bolen declined to comment on the complaint. Violation of the election code is a misdemeanor although candidates are rarely prosecuted.

Had McGill filed the declaration earlier, Mitchoff could have solicited higher contributions. The self-fund notification triggers a rise in the contribution limit for the opponents from $1,675 to $5,000.

Mitchoff has raised $75,017 since she started campaigning in 2009 but has written no personal checks to her campaign. As McGill indicated, the largest portion of her money has come from labor unions.

Outside of personal loans and family contributions, McGill has collected $70,156. He has received far less PAC money than his opponent, but what he has received came from the Associated Builders and Contractors, Homebuilders Association of Northern California and Western Electrical Contractors Association.

The legislation is intended to help level the playing field between wealthy candidates and those who rely solely on donations. It only applies to county supervisor candidates.

The ordinance also says that self-funded candidates cannot repay themselves but must treat the money as a contribution.

Candidates may loan their campaigns up to $50,000 if an independent expenditure committee spends in excess of $75,000 for the benefit of his or opponents.

No independent expenditures have been reported thus far in the county supervisor race.

Click through to read the pertinent ordinances.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, May 28th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, Contra Costa Board of Supervisors, Contra Costa County, Contra Costa politics | 8 Comments »

Contra Costa: Count the campaign cash

Check out the cash flowing into Contra Costa County candidates’ campaign accounts, per Thursday night’s campaign finance report filing deadline.

The totals are for 2010 only; some of the candidates started raising money in 2009 but the reports are for the calendar year only. The reporting period ended May 22. Not all the reports are yet available. Candidates had until 5 p.m. to submit them but postmarks count. I will update this list as the information becomes available.


Michael McGill: Raised $100,165. Spent $101,150. Has $860 in the bank. Outstanding debts of $51,800. No personal loans.

Karen Mitchoff: Raised $65,618. Spent $49,092. Has $22,995 in the bank. No outstanding debts. No personal loans.


John Gioia (incumbent): Raised $104,737. Spent $103,123. Cash on hand of $4,659. No debts. No loans.

Mister Phillips: Raised $4,678. Spent $5,511. Cash on hand of ($42.58). Debts of$1,971. He made a personal loan of $1,000 and received a loan of $730 from Angela McClain of El Cerrito.


Gus Kramer (incumbent): Raised $95,537. Spent $105,734. Had $8,200 in the bank. No debts. Made personal loan of $53,000.

John Nejedly: Raised $38,809. Spent $25,566. Had $13,242 in the bank. No debts. Made personal loan of $20,500.

Ross Butler: Raised $900. Spent $790. Had $109 in the bank. No debts. No personal loans.

Bob Brooks: His form is incomplete and fails to list calendar-year totals. Between March 18 and May 22, he raised $3,516; spent $20,228; had $3,369 in the bank; and reported no outstanding debts.


David Livingston: Raised $100,985. Spent $145,416. Had $15,353 in the bank. No outstanding debts. No personal loans.

Brian Kalinowski: Raised $82,962. Spent $80,702. Had $3,198 in the bank.  Debts of $42,100. Made personal loans of $44,067.


Dan O’Malley: Raised $111,872. Spent $120,369. Cash on hand of $45,242. Debts of $8,400. Made personal loan of $3,000.

Mark Peterson: Raised $96,866. Spent $114,837. Cash on hand of $7,495. No debts. No personal loans.

Elle Falahat: Raised $42,637. Spent $76,786. Cash on hand of $6,429. Debts of $33,225. Personal loans of $23,000.

Posted on Thursday, May 27th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, campaign finance, Contra Costa Board of Supervisors, Contra Costa County, Contra Costa politics | 2 Comments »