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Contra Costa Council News 
The Contra Costa Council is a public policy advocacy organization
that promotes the economic vitality of Contra Costa County and the region.
1355 Willow Way, Suite 253, Concord CA 94520 / 925.246.1880 /
In This Issue
June 9 Dinner: Annual Installation Dinner salutes the Council's tremendous volunteer team
May 17 Reception Recap: Tom Torlakson wants to close the digital divide during after-school hours
April 27 and May 20 Forums Recap: Transportation Task Force education series explores mass-transit funding/financing and politics
May 6 Luncheon Recap: Small Business Awards Luncheon honors Contra Costa's oustanding business owners
April 21 Luncheon Recap: Controller John Chiang offers a lively lesson in California economics
CEO Viewpoint: Alliance of regional economic development organizations addresses regulatory issues
Contra Costa Economic Partnership News: Acalanes students win top prize for cancer project at international science fair
Advocacy: Council adopts Delta Levees Risk Management Policy ... Regional Innovation Clusters Initiative moves ahead ... Environmental certification is best option for MTC's Sustainable Communities Strategy ... AB 1134 offers consistency for Caltrans oversight of state projects ... New language in Bay Plan Amendments does not support economic vitality goal ... Council urges development of a robust and sustainable vision for region's growth
Member News: Three new directors join Council for 2011-2014 term
Contra Costa Issues: Experiencing the Contra Costa safety net firsthand
Task Force Briefings: May and June meetings
New Members: Welcome, Buddy Burke of Pacific Innovators
Quick Links

May 2011

Don't keep the Council a secret!

The Contra Costa Council News is published to keep you  informed about Council events and activities. This issue and past issues are posted in the News section on our website.

Please share the news about the Council with your friends and colleagues. Click on the link here to forward this issue:

June 9 Dinner

Annual Installation Dinner salutes the Council's tremendous volunteer team


AAA of Northern California, Nevada & Utah to receive Contra Costa Medal Award


Join the Contra Costa Council Executive Committee and Board of Directors on Thursday, June 9, for the annual Installation Dinner at the Lafayette Park Hotel, 3287 Mt. Diablo Boulevard, Lafayette. 


In addition to the installation of new officers for the 2011-12 board year, AAA of Northern California, Nevada & Utah will be awarded the 2011 Contra Costa Medal Award for outstanding service to the community and its support of the Council. Other awards include the Distinguished  Service Award and the Outstanding Task Force Chair Award, which will be announced that evening.

The 2011-2012 Contra Costa Council Executive Committee slate was approved at the April 15 board meeting. New officers are David Bowlby, The Bowlby Group, chair; Bob Brown, AAA of Northern California, Nevada & Utah, chair-elect; Judith Millard, Brown and Caldwell, VP task forces; Keith Archuleta, Emerald Consulting, VP task forces; Ron Wetter, Kaiser Permanente, VP communications; James Brandt, Morgan Stanley, VP membership; Terry Bowen, Gray-Bowen, VP finance; Andrew Sabey, Cox, Castle & Nicholson LLP, VP events; and George Smith, GBR Smith Group, LLC, immediate past chair.

The nominating committee, chaired by Cheryll LeMay, included David Bowlby, Andrew Sabey, Rick Wise, Angie Coffee, Judith Millard and Bill Gray.


Registration is requested by Friday, June 3. Please complete a registration form and fax it to the Council office at 925-674-1654. For questions, contact the Council office at 925-246-1880. 

May 17 Reception Recap
Tom Torlakson

Tom Torlakson wants to close the digital divide during after-school hours

Newly elected State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson says he is optimistic there will be a bipartisan solution to the state's budget situation. "I'm an optimist," he told the Contra Costa Council audience gathered at the Contra Costa Country Club on May 17.

The new superintendent, who has been in office four months and who declared a state of financial emergency for the state's schools when he took office, said there is a lot of work to do to improve education. He noted that 70 percent of voters in Contra Costa County don't have children in our schools.

Torlakson briefly discussed several initiatives he will be undertaking, including a literacy campaign to read to kids, and a technology initiative, called "No Child Left Offline," to connect students to the internet and close the digital divide after school hours. He is working with staff to improve communication at the Department of Education and to empower employees to make suggestions to improve how work gets done.

He says he is trying to "cut the red tape" and make things more efficient while balancing important accountability issues. We need to stop the finger pointing and blame-gaming, and work to figure out how to make education better for students. Every young person has the capability to learn, he said.

The Council thanks co-hosts Chevron and IBEW Local 302, and event sponsors, PG&E and SunPower.
April 27 and May 20 Forums Recap
Randy Iwasaki of CCTA

CCTA's Randy Iwasaki at May 20 forum

Transportation Task Force education series explores mass-transit funding/financing and politics

In the second and third forums of the popular Contra Costa Council transportation education series hosted by the Transportation Task Force, experts talked about the past, present and future of transportation in the region and the state. (See the March-April issue of this newsletter for a report on the March 25 forum.)

Alternative methods to fund transportation projects was the topic of discussion at the second educational luncheon forum on April 27 at Round Hill Country Club in Alamo. Ross Chittenden, deputy executive director, projects, Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA), introduced the program, which focused on high occupancy toll (HOT) lanes as an alternative source of project funding. He explained that HOT lanes and high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes offer the option of selling excess capacity to single-occupancy vehicles, using electronic tolling (FasTrak®). HOV and HOT lanes can also make use of demand management, which means that if capacity starts to be used up, the toll rate can change. Chittenden said the well-proven concept is being implemented across the country, and toll revenue is being used to close gaps in the HOV system and to fund mass-transit projects. He said the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) is applying to the California Transportation Commission (CTC) for funding to expand the system in the Bay Area; a demonstration of local support will be important to the CTC decision. CCTA will be discussing Contra Costa's participation in the program this summer.

Chittenden introduced John Ristow, chief Congestion Management Agency officer, Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA), who said transit systems are problematic in the county because Santa Clara's numerous businesses are spread out over a wide geographical area. The freeway is at capacity during peak commutes yet there are insufficient funds to build new capacity. The VTA has approved moving forward with HOT lanes on Routes 237 (10 miles), 85 (24 miles) and 152, an 80-mile east-west trade corridor crossing four counties. Funding will include conventional funding, bonds and federal loan programs, with design/build and public-private partnerships (P3) being considered.

Julie Bueren, director of Contra Costa County Public Works, outlined the county's interest in following in Santa Clara's footsteps with the Star Route 239 corridor from Brentwood to Tracy and I-205/I-580. She said HOT lanes would improve traffic circulation and truck access between Contra Costa and the Central Valley. Additional benefits include supporting economic development and increased jobs in East County and reducing the jobs/housing imbalance in that area. While the project is still in the planning stage, staff are addressing routes, funding and implementation strategies.

May 20 forum focuses on fiscal challenges

The third and final forum in the series, held May 20 at the Contra Costa Country Club in Pleasant Hill, featured State Senator Mark DeSaulnier, who chairs the Transportation and Housing Committee in the California Senate, and Contra Costa Transportation Authority Executive Director Randy Iwasaki, who addressed fiscal challenges and other issues facing local transportation authorities and projects.

While noting that transportation is in relatively better shape budgetwise compared to other areas of the economy, Senator DeSaulnier agreed with earlier series speakers who said there is a need to find new ways to pay for transit. The senator discussed his support for high-speed rail, a system "that would be controversial even it were perfectly orchestrated." He offered a short history of funding and financing for transportation projects, and recognized the public-private partnership model as "a good instrument although controversial in Sacramento." "We need to look at our transit system more like Japan and Western Europe. ... There is a need for a different kind of transportation system, which offers historic opportunities for California on multiple levels," he said.

Randy Iwasaki pointed enthusiastically to the large number of local representatives serving on state government committees and on agencies and boards that guide transportation projects. "Together we will work for additional funding," he said. He noted that President Obama has changed how earmarks are done and that Contra Costa's projects "will compete well" on the national transportation stage. "The faster you get projects into construction today, the more money you save," he said, and added, "If you choose the right project, everything is going to work out right." Iwasaki specifically mentioned recently approved dollars for the State Route 4 bypass ramps. He said that Measure J, the county's sales tax expenditure plan approved in 1988, would need to be extended. He underscored the importance of working toward permit streamlining and observed that the right projects will help the environment and the park systems. "We appreciate the support we have received for letting us innovate," he added.

Presentations at the Transportation Task Force forums are posted on the Council's Transportation Task Force page of the Council website.

The Council thanks April 27 event co-host Nossaman LLP San Francisco and sponsors, BkF Engineers, Mark Thomas Co., Inc. and NV5. We also thank May 20 event co-host Barbara Neustadter and sponsors, Gray-Bowen, Kleinfelder, MACTEC and NV5.
May 6 Luncheon  Recap
Small Business award winners 2011

Manuel Garcia (at left), Lori Cooper, Charles and George Del Monte, Jeff Warrenburg, Andy Chose, Martin Gonzalez, Julian Juricevic, Dwayne Glemser and Leila Douglah.

Small Business Awards Luncheon honors Contra Costa's outstanding business owners

Twelve of Contra Costa County's best small businesses, each nominated by their local chamber of commerce, were honored at the Contra Costa Council's Tenth Annual Small Business Awards Luncheon on May 6 at the Hilton Concord. The annual event coincides with National Small Business Week, May 16 to 20, which has been celebrated since 1963.

"It was a very successful event and a great way to share the success of local business owners with the community at large," said Angela De la Housaye, co-chair with Zach Sahar of the Council's Small Business/Entrepreneur Task Force, which organized the event. Luncheon speaker was Sunne Wright McPeak, president and CEO of the California Emerging Technology Fund, who congratulated honorees and urged them to continue to build a better world as entrepreneurs and community contributors. Dan Ashley, anchor of ABC7 News, KGO-TV San Francisco, deftly handled master of ceremonies duties.

This year's winners included (pictured above) Jeff Warrenburg, Paradise Skate, Antioch; Lori Cooper, Stonebrook Healthcare Center, Concord; John Stashik, Premier Graphics, El Cerrito; Manuel Garcia, Manuel's Plumbing, Hispanic Chamber; Leilah Douglah, Douglah Designs, Inc.; Dwayne Glemser, Les Schwab Tires, Martinez; Julian Juricevic, Orinda Taxi, Orinda; Charles and George Del Monte, Redwood Painting Co., Inc., Pittsburg; Andy Chose, C&M Party Props, Pleasant Hill; Martin Gonzalez, La Strada, San Pablo/Hercules; Bob and Lloyd Perata, Park Florist, Richmond; and Bonnie Waters, Changes Salon, Walnut Creek.

The Council thanks Chevron and Wells Fargo, title sponsors; Bank of America, Contra Costa Times and San Francisco Business Times, sponsors; AT&T, Bay Commercial Bank, De La Housaye & Associates, Kelly & Associates, LLP, Scott Valley Bank and Travis Credit Union, supporters; and AMERITAC, Inc., Grubb & Ellis and Musacchio & Montanari, PC, contributors.

Photo by Timothy Burman Photography  

April 21 Luncheon Recap
John Chiang

Controller John Chiang offers a lively lesson in California economics

State Controller John Chiang offered a high-energy Update on California's Fiscal Crisis on April 21 to a large luncheon audience at the Embassy Suites in Walnut Creek. The event was presented by the Contra Costa Council, the East Bay Economic Development Alliance and the Jobs & Housing Coalition.

The state's chief financial officer offered lots of numbers and comparisons, including the distant memory that unemployment was at 5.9 percent in December 2007. In March 2011, the rate had increased to 12 percent, although it dropped in April to 11.9 percent. Chiang noted that while California had officially lost 1.4 million jobs, some jobs had been recovered. He said the state's three revenue streams are 1) income taxes; 2) sales taxes and 3) corporate taxes. So if people have less disposable income, sales and corporate taxes will be lower. While California has the lowest credit rating in the U.S., it is in fact in a better position today than two years ago. "We have to think about how we're going to design our state for the future," he said. "We have to do a better job of competing in the global economy. We need to take tough action."

"We need locally created economic development," said Chiang. "We have been taking money from other parts of the state's economy and not paying for education. ... We have asked education to sacrifice a lot." While noting that health care inflation "is killing the U.S. budget," he noted there are early indications that the health care inflation is being reduced. "We need to look at the tax system. People don't understand corporate tax methodology. ... When people don't understand the tax structure, you can't have good government," he added.

Chiang said he is working to make the state's finances more transparent and accountable to the public. One of his missions is to return unclaimed money that rightfully belongs to Californians. To make his point, he read the names of numerous audience members whose unclaimed property is being held by the state. To see if you are owed money, visit and click on "search for unclaimed property."

Contra Costa Television will air John Chiang's presentation on Wednesday, June 1, at 10 a.m. CCTV is Comcast channel 27, Astound channel 32 and AT&T U-Verse channel 99. For additional air dates, visit the CCTV program guide.

The Council thanks co-hosts Cardno ENTRIX, IBEW Local 302 and Recology, and sponsor, J&R Associates.
CEO Viewpoint
Linda Best

Alliance of regional economic development organizations addresses regulatory issues

By Linda Best, President and CEO, Contra Costa Council

The regional regulatory issues that are being discussed this year and into 2012 will have significant impact for economic development in Contra Costa County and the Bay Area.

The Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) is considering amendments to the Bay Plan in the light of climate change and sea rise that could hamper development along our shoreline and potentially farther inland. The Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) recently adopted CEQA guidelines that will constrain infill development and at transit nodes. The Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) are developing the Sustainable Communities Strategy (SCS) to comply with the greenhouse gas emission reductions required by SB 375.

It has become clear that if the regional business organizations do not speak with a united, effective voice in these deliberations, it will be difficult to maintain the global economic competitiveness that has been a hallmark of the Bay Area. For example, if the SCS does not contain a robust strategy for economic growth and job creation, it will not be successful in achieving its other objectives.

Accordingly, the economic development organizations in the Bay Area have come together to coordinate efforts. These organizations include the Contra Costa Council, Bay Planning Coalition, East Bay Economic Development Alliance, Bay Area Council, Solano Economic Development Corporation, Building Industry Association, San Mateo County Economic Development Association, Jobs and Housing Coalition and the North Bay Leadership Council. We are pooling our resources to cover the many meetings and hearings in a more effective way and to deliver the message that an economic development strategy must be part of any regional vision.

The following general principles will guide our advocacy on the SCS process and other regional policies being developed:
  • Foster economic growth and development in the San Francisco Bay Area Region;
  • Increase the economic vitality of the Region by enhancing its global competitiveness, productivity and efficiency;
  • Promote consistency between transportation investments and national, state, regional and locally planned land-use and economic-development patterns;
  • Emphasize the preservation and enhancement of the existing transportation system; and
  • Avoid creating or exacerbating sub-regional economic inequity.
Stay tuned! We will continue to update you in future newsletters about our progress. And don't hesitate to contact me at 925-246-1880 if you have questions.
Contra Costa Economic Partnership News
International Science winners

Blake Marggraff and Matthew Feddersen, at left, react to the news that they have won the top prize at the Intel International Science & Engineering Fair in Los Angeles.

Acalanes students win top prize for cancer project at international science fair

In case you missed the widely circulated announcement and the wonderful news, Acalanes High School seniors Blake Marggraff and Matthew Feddersen have won the top prizes at the Intel International Science & Engineering Fair, held May 9 to 13 in Los Angeles.

The two won "Best in Fair" honors at the Contra Costa County Science & Engineering Fair (CCCSEF) for their entry, Simulated Treatment of Cancer with Photoelectric Effect-Produced Secondary Radiation, which develops a potentially more effective and less expensive cancer treatment by placing tin metal near a tumor before radiation therapy. The CCCSEF was held March 31 and April 1 and 2 at Los Medanos College in Pittsburg.

The two Lafayette students presented their science concept to a robust international judging team and won the Intel ISEF Best of Category Award, Medicine and Health Sciences, for a $5,000 prize; the First Place Grand Award, Medicine and Health Sciences, for a $3,000 prize; and the top prize of the international competition, the Gordon E. Moore Award, which earned $75,000.

"We are so proud of these young scientists, who stimulated a flurry of attention at the international fair, where more than 40 countries compete," said April Treece, CCCSEF director and project director for the Contra Costa Economic Partnership, a regional industry-led organization dedicated to fostering the economic health and vitality of the county and region. According to Treece, this is the first science fair project that either of the two conducted. Students must go through and win a regional Intel-affiliated science fair before entering the international competition.

Treece says that fairs such as the one held in Contra Costa at Los Medanos College in Pittsburg would not be possible without the dedication of resources provided by businesses from around the Bay Area. She points to employment trends that project STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) occupations will grow faster than employment in non-STEM fields fueled by an increasingly knowledge-based economy and an aging population. "We need to better prepare students, particularly in math and science, to respond to California's prediction that there are too few workers skilled in STEM to meet the future demand," she adds. Treece leads the Economic Partnership's Workforce Initiative, which operates a variety of STEM programs to build the long-term workforce pipeline in the East Bay region. The countywide science fair for middle and high schools is one of many organized by the nonprofit.

Contra Costa's Intel Science Fair is made possible by organizational sponsorships, including those from John Muir Health, Chevron, Bio-Rad Laboratories, Kaiser Permanente, The Dow Chemical Company, Eichleay Engineers and GenOn Energy. "Without these sponsors, the Science Fair county competition would not be possible, nor would we be able to send our students to the international competition to share their innovative science," Treece says. "The fair is the gateway to international competition, so business support of this program is vital."

Blake Marggraff and Matthew Feddersen are enjoying the attention that comes with the international science fair win. They were featured in a story on CNN and received full-page coverage in the New York Times, Financial Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post.
Watch these impressive young scientists on YouTube and learn more about ISEF here.


San Joaquin Delta

Council adopts Delta Levees Risk Management and Emergency Preparedness Policy


The Contra Costa Council has adopted a Delta Levees Risk Management and Emergency Preparedness Policy that reinforces the earlier San Joaquin Delta Statement of Principles, adopted by the Council Board of Directors in June 2007. The 2007 principles were submitted and used by state leaders, including the Delta Vision process, and subsequent legislation adopted in 2009. Essentially all the principles included in the statement are now incorporated in the legislative package approved in November 2009, including formation of the Delta Stewardship Council.

The new policy, which will be posted soon on the Council website, was approved on April 15 by the Council board. Both the statement and the policy were developed and recommended to the Council by the Water Task Force, under the leadership of Bob Whitley and Ann Spaulding, task force co-chairs.

In a letter accompanying the Levees Risk Management strategies document, sent on April 15 to Phil Isenberg, chair of the Delta Stewardship Council, Council President and CEO Linda Best said, "Our activities lead us to continue to be concerned about the sustainability and required improvements to the existing levee system that defines the structural framework of the Delta ... Our levee position advocates for a two-prong effort to make strategic investments in improved levee structures and to encourage all entities to become prepared in the event of a levee failure with subsequent flooding damage. We submit for your serious consideration our policy statement and request that you incorporate our policy elements into your own Delta Plan as it is being developed."

Fragile levee system

As noted in the introduction to the Levees Risk Management strategies document, "... ongoing assessments of existing Delta levee systems indicate that the levee system is fragile and, while efforts to maintain the levees proceed, levee failure may nonetheless occur with little or no warning, causing flood damage to people, property and essential infrastructure facilities and potentially severely impacting the regional economy and water supply quality. The extent of 1,115 miles of levees, protecting approximately 65 islands and land tracts, raises serious concerns about the capacity of public and private entities to adequately invest in sufficient improvements to the Delta levee system ... Even as efforts to evaluate and repair individual levees proceed, the risk of failure needs to be addressed by public and private entities with existing or future assets within the Delta."

The policy itself supports specific actions in order to lessen consequential damage and economic loss from unavoidable levee failures. These include emergency planning activities, public education, failure-event-response protocols, an objective and public triage process, public-private partnerships, levee capital improvement projects, establishment of an equitable "beneficiary pays" program and update plans that review and learn from each flood event. 

Regional innovation clusters initiative moves ahead 

The recently completed 2011 Regional Innovation Cluster Strategic Action Plan, which provides a framework for the establishment of an alliance of interested stakeholders to promote regional innovation clusters focused on clean energy and water technology, has been approved by the Contra Costa Council Board of Directors. Gary Craft of Craft Consulting Group, one of the key architects of the initiative and co-chair of the Council's Economic Development Task Force, presented the strategic plan to Council directors at the May board meeting.  


With the aid of a grant through the Workforce Development Board of Contra Costa County, the collaborative is expected to increase regional cooperation and capitalize on the economic strengths, entrepreneurial drive and strong values at play in promoting clean technology, renewable energy and water technology in the region. The effort is being undertaken in cooperation with the economic development entities and workforce development organizations in the three-county region, including the Contra Costa Economic Partnership, Tri-Valley Business Council, East Bay Economic Development Alliance and Solano Economic Development Corporation.


The launch of the regional collaborative is planned in late June. Watch for more news about this exciting initiative!


Environmental certification is best option for MTC's Sustainable Communities Strategy

The Contra Costa Council, in concert with seven other regional economic development organizations, is supporting environmental certification (Option 1) as the preferred approach in determining what projects are submitted to the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) for inclusion in the Regional Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy (RTC/SCS). The strategy has been developed to comply with the greenhouse gas emission reductions required by SB 375.

In reviewing MTC's Draft Committed Funds and Projects Policy, as presented on March 11, the coalition considered both the environmental certification (Option 1) and construction (Option 2) approaches, each of which "may result in significantly fewer committed projects than the approach used in the development of T2035," MTC's transportation plan for the Bay Area through 2035.

"We agree that because of SB 375, projects and programs will need to be carefully assessed and implemented in ways that meet adopted program targets and goals," wrote Council President and CEO Linda Best and other coalition heads. "... The environmental review process sufficiently allows for defining and evaluating project scope and fully vetting relevant issues with resource agencies and the community at large," they continued. "The duration and costs of substantive evaluation are well known and should be considered sufficient for project funding commitment."

(See CEO Viewpoint this issue for more information about the newly formed alliance of regional economic development organizations.)

AB 1134 (Bonilla) offers consistency for Caltrans oversight of state projects

Council directors are supporting AB 1134 (Bonilla), which would address cost issues and streamline Caltrans' process for developing Project Study Reports (PSRs) for state highway projects. "PSRs provide the information necessary to determine whether a proposed project will warrant investment of state money ... AB 1134 would direct Caltrans to work with local agencies to define the level of detail needed, provide consistency and clarify responsibility for oversight costs," wrote Council President and CEO Linda Best to Felipe Fuentes, chair of the Assembly Committee on Appropriations in urging support of the legislation.

New language in Bay Plan Amendments does not support economic vitality goal 

The Bay Area Business Coalition, which includes the Contra Costa Council and other regional business organizations, has registered its dismay that "following extensive meetings in which it appeared that consensus had been achieved, we now have a new version of the Bay Plan Amendment that has introduced new elements ... that have not been previously discussed."

In a letter to R. Sean Randolph, chair of the Bay Conservation & Development Commission, Council President and CEO Linda Best and other business leaders wrote: "We are particularly concerned that the new language introduces the California Climate Adaptation Strategy (CCAS) as a de-facto 'state policy objective' throughout the document. The intent of this document is to provide general guidance to the state, but it has not had a thorough review on the basis of potential regulations or any CEQA review..."

"We believe this new language significantly changes the Bay Plan Amendment in a way that will have a sweeping impact on development within existing communities and will negatively impact economic vitality in the region. It will cause conflicts with the planning of other regional agencies and stymie responsible planning and development efforts by shoreline cities and counties," they continued.

Council urges development of a robust and sustainable vision for region's growth   

Commenting on the Initial Vision Scenario recently released by the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), the Contra Costa Council has urged that a strategy for robust economic growth and the creation of quality jobs for residents needs to be part of the vision.


"We understand that this initial vision is unconstrained as it relates to projected housing," said Linda Best, Council president and CEO in a letter to MTC Chair Adrienne Tissier and ABAG Chair Mark Green. "However, we urge that subsequent scenarios consider the constraints that will impact the location of such housing. ... What are the realities with respect to physical limitations and adequate infrastructure? ..."


The Council also supported the intent in subsequent scenarios to address employment locations in relation to future housing growth and the transportation network. "We recommend that such analysis also include existing housing and population centers. The plan should include policies and incentives to locate regional employment centers near these existing populations and to support the growth of existing job centers. Such a strategy could significantly decrease existing commutes, vehicle miles traveled and, therefore, greenhouse emissions," wrote Best. She added that the strategy should not be confined to the urban core, and said that future development of the Concord Naval Weapons Station "affords the opportunity for a major employment center near transit and the existing workforce."


Support for AT&T purchase of T-Mobile USA

The Contra Costa Council supports the proposed acquisition of T-Mobile USA by AT&T. "We believe that the combined companies will provide a fast, efficient and certain solution to the impending exhaustion of wireless spectrum facing our community due to explosive demand for mobile broadband," said Contra Costa Council President and CEO Linda Best.
Member News

Three new directors join Council for 2011-2014 term

Three new people have been elected to the Contra Costa Council Board of Directors for the 2011-2014 board term, which begins July 1. Please welcome Jodi Avina of CFOs2GO, Linus Eukel of the Muir Heritage Land Trust and Bill Kelly of SunPower Corporation.
Contra Costa Issues

Safety Net Summit

"Realville" exercises helped participants learn what it is like for those who use safety net services.

Experiencing the Contra Costa
safety net firsthand

By Deniene Erickson and Marianne Balin

"My anxiety is really high right now," says the young woman waiting in line for a job and struggling to pay her rent, while trying to find affordable childcare and avoid having her utilities turned off. "The end result of this will be a goal met ... I am glad I have a strong foundation. I don't want to ever be here again."

The woman was a participant in the Contra Costa County Safety Net Summit's role-playing exercise called Through My Eyes. She, along with approximately 100 other Summit attendees, were assigned identities and given "families" through a poverty-immersion experience to see what it is like for the underserved in our community who use safety net services.

The safety net consists of the critical community programs that address basic needs for housing, food, health care and the safety of children, families and seniors. Food pantries, homeless shelters and community health clinics are just a few of the many safety net services available. With the recent economic recession, job losses and high foreclosure rates, more individuals and families in Contra Costa County are turning to safety net services than ever before. Demand for these services has grown, but the resources dedicated to supporting these services have been deteriorating for years and face serious cuts to funding in the future.

What if that person in the line for food stamps were you?

Out of that divide, the Contra Costa Safety Net Summit was born. Initial conversations between the leadership of the Contra Costa Council and the Contra Costa Funders Forum created an agreement to address the issue square-on. The goal? To involve more community members and to re-imagine the services of and access to the safety net in a time of reduced funding. How can we all do more, and help more people, in a resource-starved environment?

PMI generously donated the firm's attractive Walnut Creek conference center for the Safety Net Summit, which was held in late April. Invited guests included leaders from business, non-profit, faith and government, as well as safety-net providers and consumers. A large conference room was converted into "Realville," a town much like any other in Contra Costa County. Volunteers staffed the services available in Realville-from the town bank, check-cashing store and community health clinic to social services and a childcare facility.

"It is bad. We had to sell the TV and mom doesn't even know yet that dad had to sell her ring," says a man, playing the role of an 8-year-old boy whose "family" was ultimately evicted from their home during the role-playing exercise.

Deciding between healthcare and food

With a small amount of money in hand, each family had to navigate Realville, trying to make it through four 15-minute weeks while balancing the needs of their families. Tough decisions were often made as parents had to decide between healthcare and food, and between getting to work and finding childcare.

"Exercises like these help each of us learn what it is like for those who use safety net services," says Marianne Balin of Kaiser Permanente. "What are the decisions that people are forced to make, and how can we as service providers help make it easier? What can we do to help?"

Organizers intend to use the understanding and concern built at the Summit to create an ongoing conversation that will lead to innovative changes to sustain Contra Costa's network of services for our most vulnerable residents. To learn more or get involved, please contact Marianne Balin at

Deniene Erickson and Marianne Balin of Kaiser Permanente are members of the large team involved in the Safety Net Summit, which the group hopes will lead to a sustainable Contra Costa network of services for people who need them.

Photo by Elizabeth S. Schumacher

Task Force Briefings

May and June meetings . . .

New and prospective Council members are welcome to attend task force meetings. Please notify a task force co-chair prior to the meeting to confirm time and location, as details may change. To view task force agendas, policy papers and recent presentations, visit the individual task force pages on the Council website.

Workforce Development/Education Task Force . . . Wednesday, May 4, 8:30 to 10 a.m. . . . Contra Costa Workforce Development Board offices, 300 Ellinwood Drive, Bodega Room, Pleasant Hill. Gateways Regional Cradle to Career Education and Workforce Partnership Annual Report presentation by Emily Brizendine of Cal State East Bay; legislative review and advocacy discussion; and a report by April Treece of the Contra Costa Workforce Initiative on the proposed Lexile® Study about reading levels. Next meeting is June 1 (first Wednesday), which will feature a discussion of the state budget impact on educational organizations; a report by Jennifer Ortega on the newly released America's Edge campaign; an update on the Higher Ed Study and plans for a Council event; and a report from the Legislation Subcommittee. Co-chairs: Joanne Durkee and Kathleen Robinson

Health Care Task Force . . . Thursday, May 5, 8:30 to 10 a.m. . . . Morgan Miller Blair, 1331 North California Boulevard, Suite 200, Walnut Creek. Update on Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla's health legislation by her district director Mark Herbert; update on Costa Health Services by Dr. William Walker; the Safety Net Summit by Linda Best (see article, this issue); the West and Central HEAL (healthy eating, active living) Collaborative by Tracy Rattray; and the newsletter series and county-wide health indicator project by Lynn Baskett. Next meeting is June 2 (first Thursday) [confirm!]. Co-chairs: Lynn Baskett and Steve Van Wart

Environmental/Manufacturing Task Force . . . Friday, May 6, 8:15 to 9:30 a.m. . . . Brown and Caldwell, 201 North Civic Drive, Suite 300, Walnut Creek. Presentation by Sachi Itagaki of Kennedy/Jenks Consultants on the newly revised Industrial Stormwater General Permit. Next meeting is June 3 (first Friday). Co-chairs: Peter McGaw and George Smith

Small Business/Entrepreneur Task Force . . . Friday, May 6, 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. . . Hilton Concord, 1970 Diamond Boulevard, Small Business Awards luncheon honoring outstanding small-business owners (see article, this issue). Next meeting is Tuesday, May 31,at De La Housaye & Associates, 1655 North Main Street, Suite 260, Walnut Creek. Co-chairs: Angela De La Housaye and Zachary Sahar

Land Use Task Force . . . Wednesday, May 11, 8 to 9 a.m. . . . Archer Norris, 2033 North Main Street, Suite 800, Walnut Creek. Discussion of BART's program for transit-oriented development (TOD) and the Contra Costa Centre development at the Pleasant Hill BART station, featuring Gail Murray, BART director, District 1, and Jim Kennedy, retired director, Contra Costa County Redevelopment Agency. Next meetings are Wednesday, June 8 (joint meeting with the Water Task Force) and Tuesday, June 21 (joint meeting at JFK University, 100 Ellinwood Way, Room N-358, Pleasant Hill). Co-chairs: Mike McGill and Ed Shaffer

Water Task Force . . . Tuesday, May 17, 8:15 to 10 a.m. . . . John F. Kennedy University, 100 Ellinwood Way, Room S-312, Pleasant Hill. Alex Coate, new general manager of the East Bay Municipal Utility District, discussed resource management activities on the Mokelumne River including flow regimes and fishery (salmon) protections. Presentation by Gary Craft on the development of a clean water technology industry cluster in the Alameda, Contra Costa and Solano counties region. Also reviewed SB 475 (Wright), proposing changes to state law that would allow local governmental entities to provide for design/build/operate and finance infrastructure facilities. Next meetings are Wednesday, June 8 (joint task force meeting) and Tuesday, June 21 (joint meeting at JFK University, 100 Ellinwood Way, Room N-358, Pleasant Hill). Co-chairs: Bob Whitley and Ann Spaulding

Transportation Task Force . . . Friday, May 20, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. . . . Contra Costa Country Club, 801 Golf Club Road, Pleasant Hill. The task force hosted an Educational Forum, third in a series. Held a special meeting on May 3 to discuss SB 582 and the Sustainable Communities Strategy/Regional Transportation Plan (SCS/RTP) in conjunction with the Metropolitan Transportation Commission meeting on May 7. Next meeting is Tuesday, June 7, at PMI Offices, 3003 Oak Road, Walnut Creek (across from Pleasant Hill BART). Co-chairs: Kris Johnson and Jim Melino

Economic Development Task Force . . . Wednesday, May 25, 8 to 9 a.m. . . . City National Bank, 2001 North Main Street, Suite 200, Walnut Creek (close to Walnut Creek BART; validated parking). Presentation by Tim Buckley, CEO of Ocunetics, an early-stage startup that is developing an ophthalmic micro clip to replace suture procedures. Next meeting is Wednesday, June 22, featuring Jim Chapman, a partner in the Silicon Valley office of Foley & Lardner. An industry leader in cleantech, he was recently recognized by the Daily Journal as one of the top 25 cleantech attorneys in California. Co-chairs: Mike Conlon and Gary Craft

Social Responsibility Task Force . . . Thursday, May 26, 8 to 9:30 a.m. . . . Brandman University, 2950 Buskirk Avenue, Room 307, Walnut Creek. Report on the Safety Net Summit and a presentation by Brian Stein-Webber, executive director of the Interfaith Council of Contra Costa county. Update on the planned fall event from Mark Hughes and on the survey from Linda Jaffe. Next meeting is Thursday, June 23. Co-chairs: Kate Ertz-Berger and Mark Hughes
New Members

Please welcome new Contra Costa Council members!

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Buddy Burke, Founder
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About the Council

The Contra Costa Council is a public policy advocacy organization that promotes the economic vitality and quality of life of Contra Costa County and the Greater East Bay region. The Council engages on issues of critical importance to the business community and residents of the county, balancing the needs of a diverse region through policy efforts that provide for local and regional economic development while retaining our quality of life.

Through its task forces, the Council develops and supports policy positions to further its mission and sponsors educational forums for its members and the community.

For more information about the Council, please visit our website.

To comment on items in this newsletter, please contact Linda Best at the Contra Costa Council.

This issue was edited for the Contra Costa Council by Molly A. Walker of Walker Communications.

© 2011 Contra Costa Council