West County can give transportation priority input at call-in event tonight

West County are being asked to help shape transportation priorities in the county by taking part in a Telephone Town Hall call-in event from 6-7 p.m. today, Nov. 12.
To join the discussion and learn planning efforts now taking place, call toll-free to 877-229-8493 and enter access code 112664 when prompted.

The event is hosted by the Contra Costa Transportation Authority and the West Contra Costa Transportation Advisory Committee.

High-capacity transit provides substantially higher passenger capacity than local transit. It is the type of transit that people often use for their daily commute to work. This 15-month study will evaluate public transportation options and identify funding opportunities to improve the quality and effectiveness of transit in West County and expand alternatives to driving on congested streets and highways.

During the Telephone Town Hall Call-In Event, you’ll learn more about the Study and concurrent planning efforts. Experts will be on hand to answer questions. You’ll also be asked to respond to a few quick polling questions through the touch of a button on your phone.

The Telephone Town Hall Call-In Event will be the first of several opportunities to provide your input. The first round of public meetings will be held in February, with a second round anticipated in Spring 2016.
To stay involved with the project, sign up to get future emails about upcoming ways to participate, visit www.WestCountyTransitStudy.com.


Richmond Rosies saluted by their counterparts in Michigan

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Richmond is home to the national tribute to the World War II home front and on Aug. 15 the city set a new world record for a Guinness Book world record for the most women dressed as Rosie the Riveter gathered in one place at one time since the war.
That has earned a salute from the women who previously held the record, accomplished last year at the famed Willow Run Michigan plant that built bombers during the war.
They also issued what amounts to a challenge and could become an annual event.

Sincerest congratulations to the ladies of Richmond, CA on beating our Guinness World Record for the Most Rosie the Riveters. The contribution of Wendy the Welder and other women shipyard workers was essential to victory in WWII, as was the contribution of homefront workers across the nation in every imaginable job. Thank you, Richmond, for joining us in honoring “Rosie” and her sisters. Of course, we hope to bring the record back to Michigan soon, but for now it is in good hands in California!


AC Transit announces bus route detours for Warriors parade

AC Transit has issued the following announcement about bus route detours in downtown Oakland on Friday during the parade and celebration for the NBA champion Golden State Warriors:

AC Transit Salutes the Warriors & Detours Buses for Parade Celebration

AC Transit heartily congratulates the Golden State Warriors for winning the championship of the National Basketball Association, and will re-route buses to accommodate a parade tribute through the streets of downtown Oakland on Friday.

On Friday, June 19, 2015, the city of Oakland will stage a winding celebration that will disrupt all street traffic from the heart of downtown Broadway to the Kaiser Convention Center on the south side of Lake Merritt.

As a result, for the most of the day, there will be street closures and bus detours around the downtown Oakland area. AC Transit is urging its customers to be patient as bus routes will be re-directed and commutes will likely be slowed by significant traffic delays.

Specifically, the parade will affect the area bordered by Grand Avenue to the north; Martin Luther King, Jr. Way to the west; 8th Street to the south; and Lakeshore Avenue to the east.

The bus lines that are subject to detours include the: 1, 1R, 11, 12, 14, 18, 20, 26, 31, 40, 51A, 58L, 62, 72, 72M, 72R, 88, and NL and All Nighter lines 801 and 840.

More details about taking AC Transit to the festivities, including information about the detours on Friday, is available online at www.actransit.org.


El Cerrito mayor to give State of the City Address tonight

El Cerrito Mayor Mark Friedman will give his State of the City Address today (April 28) at the El Cerrito Democratic Club meeting at 6 p.m. at Mt. Zion Presbytarian Church, 545 Ashbury Ave. in El Cerrito.
The evening opens with a social time at 6 p.m., club business at 6:30, and Friedman’s talk at 7 p.m.
The address will be followed at 8 p.m. by a 30-minute talk by Greg Choi of Marin Clean Energy about Community Choice Aggregation and “Going Deep Green.”


In final hours of Doctors Medical Center, violence victim moved by helicopter

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Dr. Ronald Berman, a longtime medical staff member at Doctors Medical Center in San Pablo, was driving out of the parking lot of the hospital on Monday, the last full day of operation (DMC closed at 7 a.m. on Tuesday), when he saw several people gathered around a person on a stretcher. Presently, ambulances arrived, followed by a REACH medical helicopter.
“This hasn’t happened in ages, as all 911 calls have been diverted from DMC since last August,” Berman said in an email. “I thought it was ironical that this disaster (don’t know the nature of it) occurred on the very evening before closure, and wound up literally on DMC’s doorstep. I happened to have my camera with me, so took some pics.”

(Photos courtesy Dr. Ronald Berman)

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San Pablo: Why Doctor’s Medical Center hasn’t closed yet — a commentary by Dr. Sharon Drager

Why DMC Hasn’t Closed Yet

By Dr. Sharon Drager

If money were the only consideration, DMC would have closed years ago. Its financial challenges are no different than they have been. Hospitals close all the time; however, except for rural hospitals, there are usually other hospitals in the community to pick up the slack. So when Los Medanos closed, Sutter Delta was just down the road; the community still had a hospital and most of the medical staff was intact. The situation in West County is different, and everyone knows it. That’s why there’s a reluctance to see it close. DMC is not just the only public hospital in West County, it’s the ONLY hospital except for a Kaiser facility that has to take anyone who shows up in the emergency room, but is not open to the public for anything else.

Hospitals are ecosystems, not just inpatient facilities. In West County a medical community rich in specialists has grown up around DMC and cares for a community that has a high burden of chronic illness. So, when the hospital closes, so does the Cancer Center (radiation and chemotherapy), a busy Wound Care Center, advanced heart attack care, advanced comprehensive care for dialysis patients and comprehensive care for surrounding nursing homes, among other services.

Physicians won’t practice for long in offices surrounding a dead hospital. Many surgical specialists cluster around hospitals, which are their work places. They will disappear form West County and won’t be replaced.

The Hospital Council’s assertions that an Urgent Care Center will fulfill the needs of the community are disingenuous. Yes, many patients visiting any ER can be treated as outpatients, but many require advanced imaging, consultations and fairly aggressive treatment to allow them to go home. Urgent Care centers associated with hospital systems do can work like this but not small stand-alone units attached only to primary care clinics.

West County is in a relatively isolated position for an urban community as far as heart attack care is concerned. Without DMC, heart attack patients whether they’re Kaiser members or non-Kaiser members and whether they live in Richmond or Kensington have to be transported to Concord or Oakland. A 10-minute trip becomes an eternity.

The new hospital model for West County residents will be strictly 20th century, not up to date. Patients who require inpatient care will be treated episodically at whatever institution has room for them, often with a new set of specialists every admission. Kaiser has a vaunted coordinated care system, which applies only to its members. The default mode for non-members at Kaiser hospitals is “treat and street.” Pat Frost can argue that no one has yet died in an ambulance, but I know complicated patients who died because they were shipped to unfamiliar hospitals.

Finally, while I hope the community will consider a parcel tax, it is grossly unfair to tell West County residents that they don’t merit a hospital because they didn’t support another parcel tax. No one, including the editorial board of the Contra Costa Times, has ever suggested that residents of Walnut Creek or San Ramon or Antioch don’t deserve a hospital because they don’t pay a property tax. I guess those people are just luckier.

Dr. Sharon Drager is a vascular surgery doctor in San Pablo.


Berkeley protesters are not alone in trying to prevent sale of post office

Our latest coverage on the planned sale of the Berkeley Post Office, first sent out on social media on Nov. 20, received the following response on Twitter: “can someone please explain to me the importance of this post office? It’s a building. I don’t get it.”

We wondered how to explain the issue within the 140 character confines of Twitter and quickly gave up.

Boston Globe columnist Renee Loth took on the task of explaining the sale-opposition side (albeit in more than Twitter-length) in a piece about the proposed sale of the post office in Somerville, Mass., titled “When public buildings were revered.”

The group Save the Berkeley Post Office cited the piece in a post Tuesday:

Boston Globe op-ed on the sale of the Somerville MA post office: “We have traveled a long way from a time when public buildings were revered precisely because they belonged to everyone. Now public facilities from schools to swimming pools are being privatized. Corporations “adopt” highways that the taxpayers won’t pay to maintain. We rely on private developers to pay for roads and streetlights.”
READ MORE: http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2014/11/28/when-public-buildings-were-revered/3Fxrs6Rwd7a8YzSUEDlv6I/story.html


Fire units from El Cerrito and other East Bay cities assisting battle with wildfires in Southern California

El Cerrito issued the following news release about firefighters sent to help battle the wildfires in San Diego:

El Cerrito Firefighters Deployed to Assist with Southern California Wildfires
El Cerrito, CA: Two units from El Cerrito have been deployed to assist with wildfires in Southern California.
At 10:30 PM on Thursday night, El Cerrito Fire Engine 372, along with units from Crockett, San Ramon, Moraga, and Alameda County were dispatched to the Las Pulgas Fire located at Camp Pendleton CA. This is near the City of San Diego. The Las Pulgas fire first reported at 3:15 p.m. Thursday and at 5:00 a.m. Friday morning was reported to have grown to 8,000 acres burned and 5% contained.
Additionally, at 1:00 a.m. Friday, May 16, OES 300 out of El Cerrito was called to the San Diego Complex involving nine major wildfires burning in that area. OES 300 is part of Strike Team 2802A and is made up of units from San Francisco, Marin County (3 units) and El Cerrito.
The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) provides updated information on the size and containment of these and other major fire incidents online at http://cdfdata.fire.ca.gov/incidents/incidents_current
Already this year, CAL FIRE has already responded to nearly 1,300 wildfires, more than twice as many fires as average. All homeowners in California are encouraged to be prepared for wildfires. For more information on preparing for wildfires and creating a 100’ Defensible Space around your home are online at www.ReadyForWldfire.org.
CAL FIRE is an emergency response and resource protection department of the State of California.


Richmond: Parks group seeks protection for Field Station shoreline

Richmond’s City Council agenda on Tuesday includes discussion of the electronic billboard at Pacific East Mall next to Interstate 80, which could provide interesting discussion over its legality, which has been questioned by Councilman Tom Butt.
The group Citizens for East Shore Parks, meanwhile, is more interested in the item after the billboard, which is titled “Resolution to Protect the Coastal Prairie at the Richmond Field Station,” submitted by Vice Mayor Jovanka Beckles.
CESP issued the following email call to it members:

Please come to the City Council and support a resolution directing staff to remove any consideration in the South Richmond Plan for vehicle traffic through the coastal prairie at the Richmond Field Station- and to prepare alternatives for the Plan that only show vehicle being routed around the coastal prairie.

Why is it important to protect the coastal prairie?
Today, less than one percent of California’s original native grassland ecosystems remain intact! The Richmond Field Station is recognized by the California Native Plant Society for priority protection because it contains the last undisturbed native coastal prairie grassland adjacent to the San Francisco Bay Shoreline. This native grassland is an intact remnant stand that functions as a reference assemblage – invaluable for the study of how this threatened ecosystem functions and as an example of its community type for restoration ecologists. A great goal for the scientists at UC Berkeley.

Click here to view the resolution.

The City of Richmond will post the Council agenda online. Check the website here: http://ci.richmond.ca.us/index.aspx?nid=151.

It is item # I-2– which won’t be until 7:15 pm or later. But, you must sign in to speak prior to the item being called.


A working, old-style telephone booth survives in Richmond


Each spring for the past few years Richmond has bestowed awards for historic preservation efforts. This isn’t one of them, but it deserves recognition.
It’s a functioning, old school phone booth that survives in the Richmond Memorial Auditorium at Civic Center Plaza. The auditorium and the rest of the plaza were renovated four years ago and a bank of phone booths (phones long since yanked) in the lobby were removed.
But a built-in booth at the end of one hallway remains, still with a phone, the little table underneath, and a folding door.
Even better, there is still a directory (the 2002 West Contra Costa phone book from SBC) attached to the wall inside an original Yellow Pages protective cover (below).