Claycord – Talk About Local Politics

September 23, 2016 19:00 pm · 56 comments


This special post is “Talk About LOCAL Politics”.

Please use this post to talk about LOCAL politics, and keep state and national politics out of this thread.

Thank you, and be kind to each other.

1 T@2 September 23, 2016 at 7:32 PM

We need to elect the City Council by District lines in Concord.and not At Large.

2 CCS September 23, 2016 at 7:53 PM

There are 38 cities in Contra Costa County, that’s a lot of politics the citizens have to put up with.

3 g September 23, 2016 at 9:34 PM

I didn’t think council districts were a good idea. But after watching the council debate, I’m thinking the whole council will be so far left in a few years, we better do something to protect the rights of the middle class homeowners who care about pubic safety, good police response times, street robberies, blighted shopping centers and residences, vacant storefronts and jobs for educated people. We might get 2 districts that lean that way and I’m all for it.

4 g September 23, 2016 at 9:35 PM

Sorry for the unfortunate typo.

5 THE BLACK KNIGHT September 23, 2016 at 9:39 PM

Hope Johnson, congratulations on your endorsement for the Concord City Council by the East Bay Times. Great news. We need you.

6 THE BLACK KNIGHT September 23, 2016 at 9:56 PM

CCS #2,

Contra Costa County has 19 cities: Antioch, Brentwood, Clayton, Concord, Danville, El Cerrito, Hercules, Lafayette, Martinez, Moraga, Oakley, Orinda, Pinole, Pittsburg, Pleasant Hill, Richmond, San Pablo, San Ramon, and Walnut Creek.

7 THE BLACK KNIGHT September 23, 2016 at 10:09 PM

T@2 #1,

The problem with changing from an At-Large Council to a District Council is a loss of power for the voters in Concord. Currently, we get to vote for all 5 City Council members, but with districts we only get 1 vote. Why do you want to give up your voting power? Now, if we added 6 or so Districts (at significantly reduced pay and benefits) in addition to our current
At-Large Council, I could go for that as we keep our power as voters. What do you see as the positive to a District Council?

8 THE BLACK KNIGHT September 23, 2016 at 10:12 PM

I didn’t post the website for Hope Johnson when I posted the Concord City Council Candidates websites 2 weeks ago, so I’m updating the information now.

Hope Johnson

(You may need to access from a Google related search engine if you use a Yahoo related search engine and it doesn’t get you to the site.)

9 THE BLACK KNIGHT September 23, 2016 at 10:15 PM

I didn’t post the website for Gloria Casillas when I posted the Concord City Council Candidates websites 2 weeks ago, so I’m updating the information now.

Gloria Casillas

(You may need to change your security and privacy settings to access website if they are set for maximum/high security and privacy.)

10 THE BLACK KNIGHT September 23, 2016 at 10:20 PM

Follow link and see post #8 to view the websites for the following 2016 Concord City Council Candidates:

Pablo Benavente
Edi Birsan
Harmesh Kumar
Carlyn Obringer

I could not find a website for candidate Eduardo Manuel.

11 THE BLACK KNIGHT September 24, 2016 at 12:57 AM

CG #12,

The bad thing about Carlyn Obringer touting the endorsement she received from the Concord Police Officers Association is that that endorsement never comes alone, it always comes in conjunction with the endorsement and financial funding from Concord Disposal and members of the Garaventa family. At the Candidate Forum on Monday night, Carlyn said she was proud of all of the support she has received from Concord businesses, large and small. The problem with her being so proud of those endorsements is that she doesn’t list CONCORD DISPOSAL on her website as a business that has endorsed her, a CONCORD BUSINESS that has endorsed her, or at least supported her by heavily funding her campaign for the past year. What does Carlyn have to hide?

The Concord Police Department currently makes-up approximately 60% of the City Of Concord’s budget. Currently, of the 6 elected positions in the City of Concord, 5 of those positions are held by individuals that had campaigns funded by CONCORD DISPOSAL, THE GARAVENTA FAMILY, AND THE CONCORD POLICE OFFICERS ASSOCIATION. What do you think the Concord Police Officers Association is going to expect from Carlyn Obringer when the time comes to negotiate a new contract? She will be expected to give in to their demands, just as she will be expected to do the same when Concord Disposal wants another rate increase. Do you really think Concord and its citizens can really afford more of that? The only thing an endorsement from the Concord Police Officers Association means is that Carlyn Obringer is a candidate that is BOUGHT AND PAID FOR. I wish it wasn’t the truth, but it is the truth.

As far as vacant retail space goes, I can tell you from the time I worked in property management that some owners of commercial space have no interest in filling those vacancies, and that is a large part of the problem here in Concord. So it is not a matter of her helping owners fill those vacancies, when they have no interest in doing so.

Corruption breeds corruption, and as current Concord City Councilman Edi Birsan and Concord Planning Commissioner Carlyn Obringer have both endorsed (and financially supported in Birsan’s case) corrupt Concord City Councilman and 2016 California State Assembly District 14 candidate Tim Grayson, we can expect no better from these candidates than being more of the same. When confronted with corruption Birsan and Obringer stood by, accepted, and then endorsed that corruption.

Then again you have been supporting Carlyn for some time already, so I’m sure none of this matters to you.

12 Always Right September 24, 2016 at 4:55 AM

@g – post 4 you are right. I watched the debate too and all the candidates lean left to varying degrees.

Concord is a democrat city with a reliable 60% vote for democrats, but the other 40% of us should have one or two voices on the council. Democrats talk about diversity but they are very lock-step and group-think.

Given the fragmented left wing vote, one conservative candidate could have picked up enough support to win in this election cycle.

Would at least make the council meetings more interesting and less of a rubber stamp.

13 THE BLACK KNIGHT September 24, 2016 at 1:20 PM

Always Right #13,

Look at the current Council, it is made up of 2 democrats and 3 former republicans and they all vote together. Grayson, Helix, and Leone all changed their voter registration status so they could be more easily elected in our area.

14 Divided and Concord September 24, 2016 at 1:22 PM

Congratulations Hope Johnson on your endorsement!

Concord council members so badly tarnished their city’s reputation that only a total housecleaning will begin to repair the damage.

Editorial: Clean Concord’s politics, elect Johnson, Kumar (East Bay Times)
PUBLISHED: September 23, 2016 at 4:00 pm | UPDATED: September 23, 2016 at 4:01 pm

After the Concord Naval Weapons Station debacle, voters must carefully pick ethical candidates who understand city issues, but don’t align themselves with political power brokers.

Two seats are up on the November ballot. We recommend:

Hope Johnson, a smart and articulate candidate seeking to end the shameful pay-to-play politics. Of all the candidates, she best understands how badly the council botched selection of a master developer for the weapons station project. A paralegal who grew up in Concord, Johnson recognizes the importance of government transparency after serving on San Francisco’s Sunshine Ordinance Task Force when she lived there.

Harmesh Kumar, a clinical psychologist making his fourth bid for council who this time brings a deeper understanding of city issues. He has served on the city’s Human Relations Commission and the committee overseeing spending of city sales tax revenues. He also offers free professional help to veterans with PTSD, substance abusers, the homeless and survivors of domestic violence. It’s the sort of selflessness currently lacking on the council.

Instead, the current council distinguished itself for its illegal secret scheming during the selection of Lennar Urban as developer of the weapons station, a project half the size of Pleasant Hill and worth more than $1 billion.

Councilman Tim Grayson was the worst, accepting during the selection process contributions from Lennar associates for his Assembly campaign.

How the council candidates view this tells us about their fitness for office.

Edi Birsan, the only incumbent running, was part of the cabal and still defends the council’s indefensible behavior. Rule him out.

Planning Commissioner Carlyn Obringer says, as we did, that the council should have re-started the selection process when the abuses were uncovered. But for all her sanctimonious protestations, she endorsed Grayson, the most ethically challenged council member, for state Assembly.

She also touts that she’s the chosen candidate of the Concord Police Officers Association, a key city power player with which she would have to negotiate if elected. So much for her independence.

Pablo Benavente is a union political organizer. If you want labor representatives on both sides of the bargaining table for city worker contract negotiations, he’s your candidate. We happen to think that’s a bad idea.

Former Hercules Councilman Eduardo Manuel has moved to Concord, but has no familiarity with key issues of the city. Similarly, Gloria Casillas, a Caltrans junior analyst, has little knowledge of Concord issues or local government generally.

Thus, it’s not a hard pick. Johnson and Kumar clearly stand out as the best, and only acceptable, council candidates.

15 Elwood September 24, 2016 at 3:48 PM

@ CG #10

If you would like more of the same with Concord controlled by the Garaventas and POA, by all means you should vote for Obringer.

Your post is hilarious. You are such an obvious Garaventa/POA shill.

16 bud September 24, 2016 at 6:05 PM

Comments and numbers have become totally screwed up and nothing makes sense. What happened? Were comments deleted?

17 THE BLACK KNIGHT September 25, 2016 at 1:00 AM

bud #16,

I’m just going to say yes, 3 posts where taken down that changed the numbering of the other posts. The first time I responded to you, my post was also posted and then taken down.

18 Dr. Jellyfinger September 25, 2016 at 9:34 AM

@ 17 ~ I know! I hate it when that happens. It throws everything out of sequence so that nothing I typed in response makes any sense… well, probably does not change things much in my case… but you know what I mean.

19 THE BLACK KNIGHT September 25, 2016 at 11:41 AM

Dr. Jellyfinger #18,

I’d be nice if a post could be inserted in the place of a deleted post saying “Post deleted by CLAYCORD’’, and maybe a reason why the post was deleted, so that we’d be able to figure out what it is that we are posting that isn’t allowed, so we wouldn’t do it anymore. I think my last post was deleted, either because I posted that I knew who another poster was that had a post deleted, although I never mentioned the posters real name, but only the screen name they had used, or because I listed the different cable channels where the second 2016 Concord City Council Candidate Forum/Debate could be viewed until election day, and that may have been considered advertising that wasn’t being paid for. Beats me.

20 Dottie September 26, 2016 at 9:54 AM

East Bay Times came out in favor of Hope Johnson and Harmesh Kumar and definitely against Birsan. Agree about Johnson, but question Kumar.

21 Concord Mike September 26, 2016 at 11:56 AM

@Dottie, I agree with you. I understand why they endorsed Hope. Her willingness to lead the challenge of the corrupt Lennar deal has been impressive. I also understand why they didn’t endorse Edi. He was on the wrong side of that issue. I wouldn’t disqualify him for that reason alone, but it is a big negative.

I don’t understand the endorsement of Harmesh Kumar. If he were sitting in the council I have no doubt he would have voted for Lennar. In spite of his statements to the contrary, I believe he is a compulsive “go along to get along” guy. He would also rubber stamp every high density low income development project he is presented with, regardless of quality.

22 Kirkwood September 26, 2016 at 12:30 PM

I agree that deleted posts should acknowledged as such and the orig. post numbers be retained.

I had a post that didn’t appear last week and don’t know if there was objectionable content, or if I just forgot to hit the “Submit” button. I usually read the purgatorial acknowledgement after hitting Submit but sometimes I forget.

23 Kirkwood September 26, 2016 at 12:34 PM

I usually proofread AFTER hitting submit, hence, the missing “be”.

24 Silva September 26, 2016 at 2:14 PM

I voted for Edi, and after seeing him support the very worst prospect for Master Developer Lennar, I definately regret doing so and won’t be making the same mistake. That was bad. I only wish there were somebody else who even approached my confidence in Ms. Johnson. I agree with Concord Mike regarding Harmesh Kumar at this point.

25 Donna September 26, 2016 at 2:43 PM

It surprises me that anyone would endorce Kumar. For a glimpse into his “judgement”, just google “Kumar, Mt. Diablo Health”. How quickly we forget!!!

26 Donna September 26, 2016 at 2:48 PM

Speaking of the Mt Diablo Health District reminds me of Jeff Kasper, who was the chairman when it was stripped of its power. Another stellar citizen of Concord. What ever happened with his case?

27 THE BLACK KNIGHT September 26, 2016 at 3:41 PM

Donna #25,

The only qualified candidate this year is Hope Johnson. I think the endorsement of Kumar was because he seemed to be the next best out of a group of candidates that are just unacceptable. Edi Birsan mainly because of his Lennar-Urban vote and his endorsement and financial donation to the campaign of the corrupt Tim Grayson make him unacceptable. Obringer is more of the same, the big money chosen candidate and her endorsement of the corrupt Tim Grayson make her unacceptable. Pablo Benavente is the union political organizer, age 25 and not ready for office. Gloria Casillas is to new to the area and doesn’t understand the issues in Concord. Eduardo Manuel is out of touch with the issues in Concord, has left the county and wont be back for more than a month. That leaves Harmesh Kumar. At this time I cant see myself voting for Kumar, but I haven’t forgiven Birsan, I absolutely will not vote for Carlyn Obringer as she is just more of the same, she is another Leone, Hoffmeister, and Grayson. My first vote goes to Hope Johnson, but who do I give my second vote to?

28 Cellophane September 26, 2016 at 3:55 PM

I don’t think there is a qualified candidate this year.

Let’s try a couple of years without a City Council, very little will happen, that might just be a better plan than the stumbling then failing we witness now.

29 Donna September 26, 2016 at 4:37 PM

@the black knight. Gloria. I don’t care that she doesn’t know the details or have a history with the players. Sometimes that’s a very good thing. Or Eduardo. Either are better choices then Kumar. Once again, I suggest people Google “Kumar, Mt Diablo Health” to see an example of his extremely bad judgement. And honestly, I’m being kind to him. I could say much worse things, and he knows it.

30 Dottie September 26, 2016 at 5:04 PM

Black Knight I totally agree with you. Birsan has been a BIG disappointment and has become a pawn and yes man instead of standing up for what is best for Concord. His backing of Grayson is reprehensible.

Obringer is a pawn of the POA and they will expect her to bow to their demands come negation time.

There really is no viable second choice, so I will probably only vote for Hope or give my vote to another unlikely candidate.

31 THE BLACK KNIGHT September 26, 2016 at 5:06 PM

Cellophane #28,

I don’t feel to good about giving all of the power in the city to the unelected and unaccountable City Manager Valerie Barone, which is what would happen without a City Council.

We all have a different definition of what makes someone qualified to be on the City Council.

32 Donna September 26, 2016 at 5:33 PM

I have to assume that the East Bay Times did not do their due diligence in vetting Kumar before endorcing him. I going to guess that the decision was made by someone very young and ignorant.

33 Recall 'Em ALL September 27, 2016 at 5:44 AM

@ Black Knight –
I agree, a District style with an At-Large Council member could serve us much better. The power lost by using a district vote is not as important as having people who are accountable to a smaller group of neighbors. To me, that is more powerful than the current, albeit, anonymous system we have.

34 Mary Fouts September 27, 2016 at 7:52 PM

To all of you who haved complained on the local politics thread about how handles moderated and deleted posts:

Hey, start your own blogs. Then you’ll find out what a pain in the neck it is to moderate comments and spam.

35 September 27, 2016 at 7:59 PM

On behalf of all the Claycord moderators, thank you Mary Fouts.

36 KAD September 27, 2016 at 9:34 PM

I love receiving political polls phone calls which is why I answer my phone. One I received this afternoon was regarding the Assembly race. One of the statements I was given to rate was Tim Grayson stating that he wants CEOs to move to the Concord Naval Weapons station housing. I can’t believe that anyone thinks that CEOs are going to live in Concord. They will still live in Alamo and Blackhawk, not Concord.

37 Concord Mike September 28, 2016 at 2:09 PM

@KAD, I tend to agree with you. There are no plans to build any executive housing on CNWS. Why would a CEO live here? Just pack and stack low income apartments, some senior housing, and some tracts of middle class single family homes on tiny lots.

What a waisted opportunity. We need some corporate headquarters in Concord, not more back office low paying clerical and telemarketing jobs.

38 Well Folks September 28, 2016 at 2:59 PM

Concord Mike #37 – It’s the low paid clericals that make corporate headquarters function. Do no be so flipping high and mighty. With out clerical staff most companies would dies on the vine.

As for executive moving to Concord…………yeah that’s a joke. Nobody in the upper echelon would send their kids to the lousy schools that exist in Concord.

39 KAD September 28, 2016 at 3:31 PM

The point I was trying to make is that even if they built executive housing on the CNWS no CEO is going to live in Concord.

40 No Excuses September 28, 2016 at 3:54 PM

Why would the city promote executive size/style housing? First, builders of executive houses probably don’t spend as much on bribes to city staff. Then from a legal standpoint, there’s really no tax money in it! If it were your pocket and you were choosing, which would you choose: your piece of 1% tax on a single million dollar house per acre — or your piece of 1% of 30 half million dollar condos? The more front doors, the more money to play with.

Also, think of just one (special) item on your tax bill — sewer service. My little 1100sf single residence (with just one person living/flushing in it right now) pays the same amount annually as; wait-for-it…..The Seeno mega mansion, each of the multiple Garaventa mega mansions, and so on…!

41 No Excuses September 28, 2016 at 5:15 PM

And then I started wondering…does Albert take out the garbage…who runs those totes down the hill…or does Sal make his driver go up the hill…how many totes does one mansion with sometimes as many as 15 residents use…is there a huge hidden burial pit on the hill, or does Albert truck his own trash to the dumps…….?

I can get by with putting my bins out just once a month, do Albert and I pay the same rate?

42 Too bad September 28, 2016 at 8:07 PM

There was a chance that there could have been horse properties and gated communities at the CNWS, but not now. Concord Mike described the plans perfectly. The largest residential lot in the whole thousands of acres is 7500 square feet. Kinda hard to put executive housing on such a small lot. The Nimbys of Dana Estates and the single minded advocates for subsidized and homeless housing came together to plan the CNWS and it is the farthest thing from a world class development that you’ll ever see. It is one thing to clean up an urban ghetto with nice looking, high density low income and senior housing, but it is another to take thousands of acres of agricultural and open space and turn it in to something that could be another ghetto in 50 years. Concord has such a poor record of Code Enforcement, it won’t be long before all that low income housing is surrounded by illegally dumped sofas and mattresses and tipped over shopping carts.

43 Concord Mike September 28, 2016 at 9:34 PM

@Well Folks,

I never said CNWS should all be executive housing. Of course we need plenty of workforce housing. Unfortunately, the plans approved by our city council call for 25% low income stack and pack housing, 75% work force and senior housing, and 0% executive housing. That simply means the Concord city council has 0% interest in bringing good executive or high tech professional jobs to Concord.

As far as schools are concerned, we do have some outstanding private, Catholic, and other excellent Christian schools in Concord. Most executives wouldn’t want to send their kids to public schools anyway.

44 Concord Mike September 28, 2016 at 9:52 PM

@Too Bad, You are exactly right. We are setting ourselves up for another 50 years of “oh you live in Concord… too bad for you” responses from coworkers and friends in nicer towns like Pleasant Hill, Walnut Creek, Pacheco, Martinez, Clayton, and Clyde.

I don’t see anything “world class” about the CNWS development plans at all. We will build a lot of low end housing (far more than our share). In 20 years Pittsburgh will be known as the nice town sandwiched between two sprawling slums: Concord and Antioch.

Maybe we can get someone new elected on the Council who can fight for good jobs in Concord instead of doing back flips for the special interests? We can only Hope…

45 Fyi September 29, 2016 at 5:53 AM

Concord doesn’t make the decision on 25%, you need to be better informed.

46 Fyi September 29, 2016 at 5:56 AM

Talk about getting proof, show us the kickup proof.

47 Silva September 29, 2016 at 9:26 AM

KAD is 100% right. It’s just laughable notion that any CEO of a large profitable business would be looking to reside in Concord.

With Concord’s plan for the CNWS it won’t take anywhere near 50 years for that beautiful open space as well as the rest of Concord to become a choking ghetto.

48 Hope Johnson September 29, 2016 at 11:10 AM

115 people applied to be on the CNWS CAC. Process for selection and list of applicants posted on reuse web site:

CAC is pretty much a toothless sham to convince the public that they have a say in the process. Nonetheless, we should pay attention that the appointments aren’t full of political lackeys.

49 Melanie September 29, 2016 at 11:33 AM

There are million dollar (plus) homes in Concord. I doubt the residents are “low paying clerical or telemarketers.”

My dentist (who is wealthy) lives in West Oakland. It’s called gentrification. What’s a wealthy, white woman doing living in the ghetto?

You never know where (or why) people live where they live. High income people in Concord probably don’t have school age children. They’re looking for more “bang for their buck,” and they don’t care about the schools.

There are people in Concord who make more than my husband and I in Clayton.

But most CEO’s probably live in affluent suburbs.

50 No Excuses September 29, 2016 at 4:10 PM

Justin should do a story about the chemical stink and air pollution from Secretariat’s sister’s campaign mailers! Talk about needing to spare the air! I dropped one in the recycle box, but my eyes were watering so badly I finally had to take it outside, and air out my living room in the heat of the day. Damn, girl, fix that!

51 It's 'Meme' is that you Ma? September 29, 2016 at 4:22 PM

“Let’s make Concord cool again!”

Mistakes aside there are still many many decient people who make up our community!

50 year people? Yes that’s right… We don’t own the curb persay, but we care about the region.

SF and Oakland are way way too risky and whimsey for some of the folks here…

Affordability has been a key card to hold; however change is a coming, and has come and we’ll take our shots and roll with it, that’s it as long as we can…

There is no real reason as we dumb down as a country to let the dumber dictates drown us out completely!

Keep Concord clean safe and clean of the mess for as long as possible!


52 Well Folks September 29, 2016 at 9:02 PM

Concord Mike – the executives that live in Lafayette, Alamo, Danville, Orinda and Moraga DO send their kids to public schools, that is the reason the live in those locations. And there are those that do not want their children exposed to “religious” brainwashing that comes from Catholic or Christian schools.

53 Concord Mike September 29, 2016 at 10:28 PM

@Well Folks, I was trying to make the point that not all highly paid executives would reject Concord because of our mediocre public schools. They have other excellent options, including excellent Catholic and Christian private schools here in Concord.

BTW “brainwashing” is not limited to private schools. Every public school teacher, administrator, and textbook author has a worldview – and very few refrain from preaching it these days.

54 KAD September 30, 2016 at 12:18 AM

Well Folks – You get it. People with money will live where they can send their kids to the public schools. Concord has got to do better with the public schools. What is the problem?

55 Fyi September 30, 2016 at 6:07 AM

Interesting that older people and those with out kids comment on concord schools. Concord has some very good ones.

56 Well Folks September 30, 2016 at 7:52 AM

Fyi – Concord has some adequate schools at best. The SAT scores, you know the ones that get you into 4 year colleges are mid-range for the most part. The 2 high schools in the district with high SAT scores are College Park, which is in Pleasant Hill and Northgate which is in Walnut Creek. Anyone looking for a top tier education will not be sending their children to school in Concord. I have co-worker that are using “convenience of day care” as an excuse to get their children into Martinez schools and my neighbor used an inter-district transfer to send her son Strandwood in Pleasant Hill, If you check the County Office of Education rankings there are no Concord schools in the top 10 for any grade level ranking. And those are the ranking people that are in executive positions look at when purchasing family homes.

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