The Virginia-based corporation that owns the Dollar Tree franchise has agreed to pay $2.72 million to settle a lawsuit in Alameda County Superior Court for routinely disposing of hazardous waste in an illegal fashion at their 480 retail locations in California.

The lawsuit filed by 45 California counties, including Alameda and Monterey, as well as two city attorney offices, alleged that Dollar Tree stores sent toxic materials, e-waste, corrosive or ignitable liquids and other hazardous waste to local landfills rather than authorized hazardous waste facilities.

Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley said in a statement that disposing of hazardous materials in landfills can contaminate groundwater and could pose a long-term risk for future generations.

The lawsuit was filed after a statewide investigation in which inspections of Dollar Tree dumpsters revealed that retail locations around the state were systematically disposing of hazardous waste in an illegal fashion, according to prosecutors.

Dollar Tree cooperated with the investigation, prosecutors said, and they’ve implemented new training and procedures to dispose of hazardous waste in an appropriate fashion.

Spokesman Randy Guiler said in a statement that Dollar Tree, Inc., has worked closely with the State of California to develop a comprehensive program to ensure that employees are properly trained to handle and dispose of hazardous wastes in compliance with state law.



A fire was extinguished inside a home at 11 Newman Ct., which is in the area of Pine Hollow Rd. & Tiffin Dr. in Clayton, according to ConFire.

No injuries were reported. The fire was extinguished within 10-minutes.

The cause of the blaze, which started at about 9:20pm on Friday, is under investigation.

Thanks to Travis for the picture.



Happy Friday to all the wonderful citizens in the City of Claycord.

This is a post with no subject, you can talk about whatever you want. If breaking news happens (such as an earthquake), or you hear about something newsworthy, feel free to post it here.



This post is “Talk About Politics”.

Please use this post to talk about politics, and keep politics out of the “whatever” thread.

Thank you, and be kind to each other!



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!


A fire burned several palm trees along Clayton Rd., behind PetSmart in Concord on Friday night.

No injuries were reported, and no buildings were damaged.

The fire is under investigation.

Thanks to Jake & Jessica for the pictures shown above.


On average, Americans drive 29.2 miles a day or 10,658 miles a year, according to a ground-breaking study underway by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and the Urban Institute.

The Foundation’s new American Driving Survey offers the most up-to-date, comprehensive look at how much Americans drive on a daily and yearly basis. The first year data, collected from May, 2013 through May, 2014 is now available from the ongoing study. This study sets the benchmark for future data and will ultimately reveal trends in Americans’ driving habits.

“This is the first ongoing study that provides a look at when and how much Americans are driving,” said Peter Kissinger, President and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “Existing federal data with this level of detail was last released in 2009, eight years after the previous release. This substantially limits the extent to which we can use existing data to draw conclusions about Americans’ current driving practices.”

“The information from these ongoing studies will allow states to make more informed choices when looking at traffic trends,” said Cynthia Harris, AAA Northern California spokesperson.

The first-year results of the American Driving Survey revealed that:

  • Motorists in the South drive the most (11,826 miles annually), while those in the Northeast drive the least (8,468 miles annually). Drivers in the West drive the second most (11,279 miles annually).
  • Motorists age 16 years and older drive, on average, 29.2 miles per day or 10,658 miles per year.
  • Women take more driving trips, but men spend 25 percent more time behind the wheel and drive 35 percent more miles than women.
  • Both teenagers and seniors over the age of 75 drive fewer miles than any other age group; motorists 30-49 years drive an average 13,140 miles annually, more than any other age group.
  • The average distance and time spent driving increase in relation to higher levels of education. A driver with a grade school or some high school education drives an average of 19.9 miles and 32 minutes daily. Drive time and distance correlate to higher levels of education.
  • Drivers who reported living “in the country” or “a small town” drive greater distances (12,264 miles annually) and spend a greater amount of time driving than people who described living in a “medium sized town” or city (9,709 miles annually).
  • On average, Americans drive fewer miles on weekends than on weekdays.
  • Americans drive, on average, the least during the winter months (January through March) at 27.5 miles daily, they drive the most during the summer months (July through September) at 30.6 miles daily. Interestingly, Western drivers drove the most in January through March at 35.2 miles daily and second most in October through December at 33.5 miles daily.

The data from this study will be especially useful when combined with crash data. For the first time, researchers will be able to conduct unique, timely studies of crash rates.

The results for the American Driver Survey are based on telephone interviews with drivers living in a random sample of households nationwide. The drivers reported detailed information about all their driving trips taken the day before the interview. Data collection is ongoing. The information reported in the first-year results was collected between May 21, 2013 and May 31, 2014. The full results from the inaugural American Driver Survey are available online at


The “Water Cooler” is a feature on where we ask you a question or provide a topic, and you talk about it.

The “Water Cooler” will be up Monday-Friday in the noon hour.

Where was your first place of employment, and how much money did you make?

Talk about it….


Caltrans and the California Highway Patrol are working together to increase the awareness of their litter pickup and litter enforcement efforts, according to Caltrans.

CHP is also be educating drivers to cover loads to keep materials from leaving their trucks.

The Bay Area work is just one of the events in the state in conjunction with Wednesday’s Earth Day 2015.

Caltrans spokesman Marcus Wagner said crews will be putting the litter in orange bags and piling them along roadways.

“It tends to create a little bit of perspective,” Wagner said. Caltrans crews collected about 3,000 cubic yards of litter during last year’s Earth Day event, equivalent to filling 190 garbage trucks with litter.

In Contra Costa County, crews will be working in Walnut Creek, along Interstate Highway 680 between North Main Street and Treat Boulevard.

Fines for littering, such as throwing something out of a car window, can be up to $1,000 in any county in California, Officer and CHP spokesman Daniel Hill said. Hill said a motorist could be charged with a misdemeanor if the motorist fails to secure an item that falls from the vehicle and causes an injury to another person.

Charges against a motorist who doesn’t secure an item that causes a death are different, Hill said.


Thanks to “Man-in-Brown” for sending these photos of the wildlife at the Borges Ranch in Walnut Creek.

It’s amazing what you see when you spend a few hours roaming our local open space.

Thanks again for sharing the pictures.

Please click on each photo for a much larger view.


Friends and family of four Clayton Valley Charter High School students packed a Martinez courtroom where the teens pleaded not guilty to armed robbery and criminal conspiracy charges today.

Deputy District Attorney Mary Knox said the four teens — Miles Harrison, Drew Crabbe, Lucas Ostolaza and James Dempsey, all 17 — are being charged as adults in connection with an alleged armed robbery of a reported marijuana dealer in Concord on April 9.

Knox said the defendants are all just a few months away from turning 18 and the seriousness of the crime, coupled with the allegation that they used masks and conspired together to commit the robbery, indicated a “level of sophistication” that made it appropriate to move the case out of juvenile court.

Over a dozen friends and supporters stood outside the courtroom, which was closed due to capacity constraints. Several said they were there to support their friends.

Roger Cortes, 18, also a senior at Clayton Valley Charter, said he played football up until this year with several of the defendants.

He was “sad” to hear they had been arrested, he said.

“It’s hard to hear something like that about your classmates,” Cortes said. “It’s a tough spot, a tough situation.”

On April 9, police said two of the defendants entered through a side yard and confronted an 18-year-old reported drug dealer, who was at home in the 1000 block of Rolling Woods Way in Concord, just after 2 p.m.

The suspects, one of whom was allegedly armed with a handgun, stole marijuana and a cell phone from the victim before getting into a car and driving away, police said.

Officers found the car and the four teens inside, along with the gun, cell phone and marijuana.

The gun turned out to be unloaded, police said.

Cortes declined to say whether he thought their friends are innocent. Cortes said he just wants them to know they aren’t alone.

“I just want them to know I’m here for them and that they aren’t alone in it,” Cortes said. “We’re all here to support them.”

The four teens are due back in court on May 4.


A suspect was captured after an armed robbery on Port Chicago Hwy. in Concord.

The suspect was tased and detained on Olivera Rd.

The suspect was armed with a handgun during the robbery, and demanded money at about 8:40 on Thursday night.

The suspect fled, and was captured about 10 minutes later.



The Concord Police Officers’ Association has a strong commitment to the youth in our community, and because of that, they are excited to announce their inaugural Scholarship Award Program.

This program targets outstanding college-bound graduating high school seniors, as well as community college transfer students and continuing college students who are either from the Concord community or dependents of active or retired Concord POA members.

The scholarships are competitive, merit-based and intended to help the leaders of tomorrow defray their costs of continuing their quest for higher education.

The Concord Police Officers’ Association encourages all graduating seniors, full-time community college transfer students, and full-time continuing college students from high schools in the Concord community bound for a four year college or university to apply.  Dependents of active or retired Concord POA members are also eligible to apply.

Applications and Scholarship Guidelines may downloaded by clicking on the “IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS” links shown below.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact Det. Sgt. Steve Chiabotti, at 925-671-5074 or via e-mail at

The deadline for application submission is Friday, May 8, 2015.


{ 1 comment }


The City of Walnut Creek announced a new cutting-edge technology application that will allow all 100 of the city’s traffic signals to ‘talk’ to smartphones through a free application called EnLighten, available for Android and iPhone users.

A few seconds before a red traffic light changes to green, EnLighten will notify drivers through an audio alert that their attention should be refocused on driving.

The functionality requires no driver involvement and conforms to local laws regarding cell phone use while driving. City officials hope this new technology will help smooth traffic and encourage drivers to pay more attention at busy intersections.

“We are pleased to bring this innovative technology to Walnut Creek,” said Mayor Bob Simmons. “It is a great first step in opening our roadways to technology that will make our streets safer in the future.”

Walnut Creek is only the second city in California—and the only city in Northern California—to make this technology available to motorists.

City officials plan to use the initial deployment of this technology to improve traffic flow in Walnut Creek and evaluate how Intelligent Transportation Systems can be implemented to help better manage traffic for motorists in the City.

Enlighten is available for download from Google Play or the AppStore.


Walnut Creek resident Benny Chetcuti, Jr. was sentenced yesterday to 51 months in prison, and ordered to pay $21,823,526.10 in restitution, as well as forfeit $3,968,995 in proceeds obtained from a multi-year real estate investment fraud scheme, United States Attorney Melinda Haag and FBI Special Agent in Charge David J. Johnson announced.

The following information is from the FBI:

Chetcuti, 53, pleaded guilty on October 21, 2014, to two counts of wire fraud. According to the plea agreement, Mr. Chetcuti admitted that between 2007 and 2010, he defrauded private investors who loaned him money under the belief that their loans were backed by equity in real property. In fact, Mr. Chetcuti misrepresented aspects of many of the loans including how much equity was available to secure the loans, the amounts and seniority of loans already tied to the properties, and how the loans were used. He also misled investors about whether their loans were recorded through deeds of trust.

Mr. Chetcuti, was indicted by a federal grand jury on March 27, 2014. According to the indictment, Mr. Chetcuti operated a real estate investment firm, Chetcuti & Associates, since 1998. Chetcuti & Associates was in the business of purchasing and flipping homes for resale after renovation and was funded in large part by loans from private individuals. To carry out his scheme, Mr. Chetcuti used a variety of tactics to misrepresent the equity that supposedly backed his loans. Among the tactics he used were forging deed recordings, forging letters supposedly written by institutional lenders and title company officers, and directing others to impersonate escrow officers. The indictment charged Mr. Chetcuti with two counts of wire fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343.

The sentence was handed down by the Honorable Jeffrey S. White, U.S. District Judge. The Court found that Mr. Chetcuti’s fraudulent scheme caused more than $3.9 million in losses, attributable to 21 victims. In addition, the Court ordered Mr. Chetcuti to pay more than $21.8 million in restitution for the losses his real estate investment business caused. The Court also sentenced the defendant to a three-year period of supervised release and explicitly barred him from participating in any real estate, banking, or lending-related activities. The defendant was ordered to self-surrender to federal authorities on June 4, 2015, at which time he will begin serving the sentence.


MJ garden

MJ and her family moved to Concord almost 27 years ago from San Francisco. I met her through the Concord Community of Artists and saw some of her lovely work in their recent show at aRt Cottage.

How long have you been making art?



The “Water Cooler” is a feature on where we ask you a question or provide a topic, and you talk about it.

The “Water Cooler” will be up Monday-Friday in the noon hour.

These days, a lot of people seem to just roll out of bed and go about their daily business.

What’s your opinion, is it acceptable to wear pajamas in public, or would you look down upon a person if you had to deal with somebody wearing boxers & slippers?

Talk about it….


A controversial bill that would repeal a personal belief exemption from vaccination requirements to attend California schools was passed by the state Senate Education Committee on Wednesday, according state Sen. Richard Pan’s office.

Senate Bill 277, authored by Pan, D-Sacramento, and Sen. Ben Allen, D-Santa Monica, would require students at public and private schools in California to be vaccinated for 10 common childhood diseases unless there was a medical reason they could not receive the vaccination.

It passed the Education Committee 7-2, according to Pan’s office.

The bill was introduced in the midst of a measles outbreak in California that started in Disneyland in December. In all, more than 130 people statewide were infected with the disease.

State health officials last week declared the outbreak over, but are still encouraging vaccinations to prevent another.

The bill has drawn support from San Francisco and Marin County supervisors, physicians’ groups and school districts but organized opponents continue to argue that there are doubts about whether vaccinations are completely safe and effective. If the law passed, opponents argue it would erode parental rights.

In response to some of the concerns, and to strike a balance between students’ right to an education and health concerns for the larger student body, the bill was amended to expand home school and independent study options for unvaccinated children.

Under the current bill, unvaccinated students will need to be either home schooled, attend a multi-family private home school, or use an independent study program.

“Today’s amendments reflect our commitment to increase everyone’s safety against vaccine-preventable diseases while ensuring every child has a place to learn,” Allen said in a statement.

State Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, who sits on the Senate Education Committee, said she now supports the bill and believes in the “validity and importance of vaccinations.”

“My concern has always been to ensure that all children have access to educational opportunities,” Hancock said. “I believe that the current bill, as amended, does a good job of balancing the state’s constitutional requirement to provide access to public education with the public health benefits of vaccinations.”

Randy Thomasson, president of, a social advocacy group that has campaigned for Proposition 8 among other things, criticized Hancock changing her position on the bill.

“What changed in less than a day?” Thomasson said. “How did senators like Loni Hancock go from calling SB 277 ‘draconian’ to calling it ‘good’ and ‘balanced’?”

His group is calling for a religious exemption to the bill and says it denies parents basic rights in decision-making. It claims that if passed, tens of thousands of students could be kicked out of California public schools.

The vaccinations required to attend schools under the bill are diphtheria, hepatitis B, haemophilus influenzae type b, measles, mumps, pertussis, poliomyelitis, rubella, tetanus, and varicella, commonly known as chickenpox.


A Concord man was arrested Tuesday night after he allegedly shot at police during a standoff.

Police were first called to the home of Rodney Baker, 38, around 8:10 p.m. after a family member reported that he had threatened to shoot himself. The family member said Baker was intoxicated and in possession of several handguns.

Officers found Baker in the backyard of his home, a detached cottage in the 1700 block of Sharon Drive, agitated and yelling. When they ordered him to come out, he refused and went inside the home, according to police.

Police surrounded the home and attempted to negotiate, but Baker allegedly fired a weapon at them from inside the home around 8:40 p.m.

Neighboring homes were evacuated, and police said Baker was overheard saying he would come outside shoot the police officers.

Baker fired at the officers again around 8:55 p.m., and one officer fired back, but no one was injured on either side of the exchange.

Baker allegedly fired several more times at police, but no one was struck or injured.

He left the cottage around 9:10 p.m., and when officers told him to surrender he refused and told them to shoot him, police said. However, he was apprehended without incident with the help of a police dog, and taken to a hospital for medical treatment.

Police identified Baker as a suspect in a felony spousal battery incident that had occurred earlier in the evening at a different location. A search of his cottage found several firearms and ammunition inside.

Upon release from the hospital, Baker was arrested on suspicion of assault with a firearm on a peace officer, negligent discharge of a firearm and felony spousal battery, and is being held in lieu of $450,000.

Police allege Baker fired at least seven rounds during the incident, and struck the exterior fence and outbuilding of a nearby home, but caused no injuries.

Anyone with information is asked to call police at (925) 603-5814 or the anonymous tip line at (925) 603-5836.