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

The “Water Cooler” will be up Monday-Friday at noon.

Today’s question:

Do you feel safe flying on airplanes?

Talk about it….

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Even if you’re in your home, you could still be a victim of a burglary.

The following information came from a Claycordian in the area of Cowell Rd.:

Wednesday morning before 6AM, our neighborhood, Parkwood Estates which is bounded by Cowell Road, Babel Lane, Concord Community Park and Merridan Drive had two burglaries while the occupants were in the house.

The thief entered the house by coming through backyard sliding glass doors. They entered the yard through unlocked gates. The occupants had left their sliding doors unlocked as they were enjoying our lovely weather. When in the house, the thief stole wallets and purses but no other items. The driver’s licenses and credit cards were later recovered in Pittsburg by their police. The victims lost cash, gift cards and one credit card used to purchase gas.

Thanks for the tip. Be sure to lock your doors.

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The state Department of Public Health is warning the public of the dangers of consuming raw milk after six Bay Area residents fell seriously ill, state public health officials announced Tuesday.

All six patients were diagnosed with campylobacteriosis, a bacterial infection that occurs after consuming contaminated raw milk.

Those with the infection may experience diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever, nausea and vomiting within two to five days after exposure.

The infection can persist for a week or more, state public health officials said.

Young children, the elderly and people with weak or compromised immune systems may have a severe reaction to the illness.

While most people with the infection make a full recovery, some are left with long-term arthritis or paralysis.

Animal milk can be contaminated with dangerous bacteria if it has not been pasteurized to kill germs, public health officials said.

In the past decade nationwide, the consumption of raw milk has led to outbreaks including campylobacter, E. coli and salmonella, many involving young children.

It is difficult to determine if milk is raw because the beverage does not have a smell or appearance distinct from uncontaminated milk, public health officials said.

Sales of raw milk are legal from some dairies in the state, but state public health officials do not recommend people drink it or serve it to children.

Products with raw milk have a warning label informing consumers of the potential microorganisms inside and the potential health risks if it is consumed.

On Sunday, a statewide recall was issued for Claravale Farm in San Benito County after raw milk and raw cream samples tested positive for campylobacter, but there were no reported illnesses associated with the products.

Products with code dates of March 28 or earlier should be disposed.

One of the farm’s distributors is Real Food Bay Area, a Palo Alto-based organization that makes deliveries in Santa Clara, San Mateo, San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa and Solano counties.

Another distributor of the farm’s products is Santa Cruz Local Foods.

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The majority of oil workers at a Martinez refinery will head back into work todat after a nearly two-month strike, a company spokeswoman said.

Workers represented by the United Steelworkers Local 5 ratified an agreement with Tesoro Corp. on Tuesday, Tracy Scott, a member of Local 5, said in an email.

The oil workers got instructions yesterday for their work duties and the refinery will begin resuming normal operations today, said refinery spokeswoman Patricia Deutsche.

“We’re excited that it’s over and we’ve got them back,” Deutsche said. “We look forward to returning to normal operations and we welcome them back.”

The national United Steelworkers union reached an agreement with a consortium of oil companies represented by Shell oil on March 12, but each refinery and local labor group must reach its own agreement.

Tesoro reached agreements with its Anacortes, Washington, and the Carson portion of its Los Angeles refineries on Monday and Sunday, respectively, according to representatives from Tesoro.

Two soccer fields located on Tesoro’s land in Martinez that were inaccessible during the strike will reopen after Easter, Deutsche said. A local youth soccer league that uses the fields had made temporary arrangements to play elsewhere, she said.

The union was trying to negotiate on issues related to worker fatigue, the use of contract laborers, healthcare and a “no retrogression” clause, which cements existing gains made by past negotiation efforts, Scott has said.

Scott did not immediately returns requests for comment on the new agreement.

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Arguing that threats not backed by actions are nothing more than hollow words, a federal court judge in San Francisco on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit filed by a public employees union against Contra Costa County and four supervisors, according to court documents.

The decision was the right one, according to County Counsel Sharon Anderson.

“I am pleased that the court agreed with the county’s analysis of this case,” Anderson said in a statement. “Judge (Thelton) Henderson’s order makes it clear that the facts do not support the (Deputy Sheriffs Association’s) legal claims.”

The Contra Costa County Deputy Sheriffs Association filed a lawsuit on Jan. 20 alleging that at least supervisors Karen Mitchoff and Mary Piepho made specific retaliatory threats against the union late last year, jeopardizing its constitutional right to free speech.

The union was then in the process of organizing with other public employee unions to gather signatures for a petition demanding the board rescind an October vote that increased supervisors’ salaries by 33 percent.

Supervisor Candace Andersen cast the sole dissenting vote and was not named in the suit.

The complaint alleges that Piepho told DSA President Ken Westermann that the association had “made a bad decision and it is not going to end well for you guys,” according to the complaint.

She also allegedly mentioned bringing “Chuck Reed type pension reform” to Contra Costa County, which association members took to mean a reduction in the value of their pension and retirement benefits, according to the complaint.

Mitchoff allegedly threatened to “come after” the association in its next round of negotiations, which are not scheduled to take place for more than a year.

The complaint alleges she told an association member, “I’m only going to be around for the next four or eight years. But the DSA is going to suffer for many years to come.”

Although supervisors John Gioia and Federal Glover are named in the complaint, the document does not mention any specific threats they made.

The county filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit on Feb. 17,

arguing that the entire complaint “rests on the perceived possibility of potential future unlawful acts.”

“This speculative labor dispute does not belong in this forum,” the motion reads.

Henderson agreed with the county’s motion and acknowledged that Gioia and Glover both lacked culpability, saying “it is undisputed” they did not personally participate in any of the alleged conversations.

“Indeed, the lack of factual allegations against defendants Gioia and Glover makes it more plausible that defendants Piepho and Mitchoff misled the DSA regarding Gioia and Glover’s support in order to add weight to their threats,” Henderson writes.

The thrust of his dismissal, however, hinges on the fact that the right to free speech cannot be diminished by someone else’s speech, only by their actions.

“The county board of supervisors has not formally proposed any legislation or undertaken any vote that might negatively impact (DSA’s) members,” Henderson says in the order. “Instead, according to the complaint, two members of the board have made threats regarding future contract negotiations and issued harsh, but ultimately hollow, words regarding pension reform.”

The suit was dismissed without prejudice, meaning the DSA can chose to amend the complaint and re-file it or appeal the judge’s decision. Anderson said that might be difficult, however.

“Although the court gave the plaintiff the opportunity to amend its complaint, this order will make it difficult for the plaintiff to proceed,” Anderson said.

Requests for comment from the attorneys representing the DSA were not immediately returned.

The board did ultimately vote to rescind its 33 percent raise and later voted to give supervisors a 7 percent raise instead.

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California Attorney General Kamala Harris is seeking to stop a campaign to make homosexuality punishable by death before it starts.

Harris filed today for a state judge’s permission to not prepare a title and summary for the so-called “Sodomite Suppression Act,” a proposed ballot initiative that calls for making the punishment for homosexuality “death by bullets to the head or by any other convenient method.”

The initiative would also call for making the distribution of “sodomistic propaganda” to minors punishable by a $1 million fine or imprisonment of up to 10 years or expulsion from the state.

If the measure passed, and the state refused to enforce it, the initiative would authorize the citizens of California to carry out the punishments with impunity.

Huntington Beach attorney Matt McLaughlin filed the initiative with Harris’s office last month.

If Harris is unable to get relief from preparing the title and summary, McLaughlin could begin collecting the 365,880 signatures necessary to get the initiative on the 2016 ballot.

“This proposal not only threatens public safety, it is patently unconstitutional, utterly reprehensible, and has no place in a civil society,” Harris said in a statement.

“If the court does not grant this relief, my office will be forced to issue a title and summary for a proposal that seeks to legalize discrimination and vigilantism,” she said.

The controversy over the proposed initiative has led two California lawmakers to call for reforming the ballot measure process entirely.

State Assemblymen Evan Low, D-Campbell, and Richard Bloom, D-Santa Monica, introduced legislation this week that would increase the fee for filing proposed initiatives from $200 to $8,000, according to Low’s office.

“We live in California, the cradle of direct democracy, but we also need a threshold for reasonableness,” Low said in a statement. “It’s been 72 years since we updated this aspect of the initiative process, this proposal is long overdue.”

Some gay rights groups agree that the ballot initiative system needs to be reformed.

“California’s ballot initiative process has been used in the past to restrict the civil rights of the LGBT community and the diverse communities that we are a part of,” executive director of Equality California Rick Zbur said in a statement.

“We look forward to working with Attorney General Harris, policymakers, and members of the legislature to review the ballot initiative process and implement reforms to assure that public resources are not wasted on measures that clearly violate the law or Californians’ constitutional rights,” Zbur said.

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bunnies1

bunnies2

The bunnies that were stolen from the campus of Valle Verde Elementary School in Walnut Creek have been returned.

Details of the safe return of the bunnies are not known at this time, but the Director of Valle Verde Children’s Center says “We are happy to report that all of the bunnies are home safe and sound. Big shout to our wonderful community that helped spread the word about our bunnies and Officer Duggan from the Walnut Creek Police who worked very hard to get to the bottom of our ‘Bunny Caper’. We are having a bunny party today complete with “bunny bites’ (carrot cake muffins) for snack”

Great news, thanks to everybody who kept an eye out for these little guys.

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airconditioning

John Swett Elementary and Las Juntas Elementary schools in Martinez are two of the three 50 year old elementary schools in the Martinez Unified School District, all of which are in need of facility upgrades.

The parents and guardians of children at the two elementary schools have created a petition to try and convince the district about the need for air conditioning in classrooms at John Swett and Las Juntas.

The following information is from the petition:

At this time, John Swett and Las Juntas do not have permanent air conditioning in all classrooms. During hot weather which commonly occurs in fall and spring, students, teachers, and parents at those schools regularly report conditions where students are uncomfortable or overheating and as a result have difficulty learning on those days – particularly in the afternoons.

Having young students exposed to hot classroom temperatures for extended periods of time is not a safe and supportive school learning environment, and it does not encourage academic achievement, physical, mental, or emotional health – which conflicts with Goal 3 of the Martinez USD’s District Goals and Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP). Our children deserve better, and these conditions can be mitigated if Martinez USD Board of Education will choose to promptly fund and implement these important improvements.

Please sign this petition now to urge the Martinez USD Board of Education and administration to promptly fund and implement permanent air-conditioning systems in all classrooms at John Swett Elementary and Las Juntas Elementary schools, for the sake of the health and well-being of our children and their education.

CLICK HERE TO SIGN THE PETITION.

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Hock Maple Frame

Let’s say you tackled some significant home improvement projects in 2014 …

You saved up, you ate in, you traded Nordstroms for TJ Maxx, maybe you postponed that trip to Cabo … and you wrestled the house back into great shape. Not only did you finally get the roof repaired, and repaint the living room, but you also decided to kick life up a notch – so maybe you overhauled the kitchen or built a great new deck. The neighbors are envious and life is sweet! But all told, you dropped about $35,000 and now it’s tax season. Can you leverage those home update and repair expenses into any tax deductions?

The answer is mainly  No … at least not in the near term … but in some cases, it’s Yes. And when it comes time to sell, those improvements can work to your advantage in terms of taxes as well as sales price.

Read on for an overview of home improvements and taxes – and remember that you need to consult the IRS or your own tax advisor to get the final word on any of this!

[CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST OF THE STORY....]

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

The “Water Cooler” will be up Monday-Friday at noon.

Today’s question:

When it comes to food, what is your “guilty pleasure”?

Talk about it….

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The City of Concord is preparing its first Bicycle, Pedestrian, and Safe Routes to Transit Plan and wants to hear from the community. A workshop will be held on Wednesday, April 8 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Willow Pass Center, 2748 East Olivera Rd.

“Community members are invited to share their thoughts about how to improve walking and bicycling conditions in the City of Concord,” said Principal Planner Andy Mogensen. “Everyone is encouraged to attend and join the conversation about walking and bicycling in our community.”

Community members are also encouraged to share their thoughts through a special survey created for the project, available online at the project’s website, www.cityofconcord.org/bikeandped.

The April 8 workshop will be an open-house format focused on community needs and the built environment. Staff from the Contra Costa County Health Services’ Community Wellness and Prevention Program, Monument Impact, and City staff will be on hand to listen to ideas and share the plan’s objectives. Planning staff from the Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) will also be on hand to share proposed designs and get feedback on upcoming projects at the Concord Station.

Real-time Spanish interpretation and child care services will be provided. Willow Pass Center is located in Willow Pass Park, at the corner of Salvio Street and East Olivera Road. The park is served by County Connection Route 15 and is about a 25 minute walk from the Concord BART Station.

For more information, contact the City of Concord’s Planning Division at (925) 671-3152.

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sunrise

Thanks to Justin for this photo, which was taken on Tuesday morning from the Concord BART station.

Click on the image for a much larger view.

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doggy

Hi Pet Loving Claycordians!

St. Pitty’s Day was a great success! More than 20 “pit bull” type dogs found their new homes at the event! It was a great time highlighting some excellent dogs! Did you know that all dogs at Contra Costa Animal Services have been temperament tested? Did you know the volunteers walk them and spend time with them and can answer questions? Each dog has a walk card, and we are able to write notes about the dog’s personalities, whether they appear housetrained, if they are good on leash (or not) and much more. They are Love-A-Bull, Laugh-A-Bull, Kiss-A-Bull, Train-A-Bull, Ador-A-Bull and so much more!

CCAS has extended the St. Pitty’s Day special for the rest of the month of March! Adoption of all pit bull and mixes are just $50! That includes spay/neuter, adoption fee, county license fee, microchipping, free vet check with participating vets and FREE 5 week training session! There is as dog for everyone. From puppy to adult. From active to laid back. From small to large.

Here’s a collage of just a few of the dogs waiting for you at Contra Costa Animal Services! These dogs happen to be in Martinez at 4800 Imhoff Place, but don’t forget that there is a shelter also in Pinole! You can search all dogs available at www.PetHarbor.com – use your local area zip code and select Martinez and/or Pinole to search all dogs available.

Also, if any of these dogs look interesting, or to search for more, come visit Smart Paws on Facebook as we highlight as many as we can and will share what we know. Several volunteers at the shelter help on Smart Paws and we’re all willing and excited to tell you more!

Do you want to help network the dogs, cats and rabbits at the shelter? Like Smart Paws on Facebook, and please help share the animals you see. You never know where that connection will be found. The shelter has very few resources to expose these animals to the masses, but together, we have the power of sheer numbers. Think about it. Start by liking: Smart Paws Facebook Page. Then SHARE! You can also search dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs (and more!) by searching Pet Harbor through the shelter site. SEARCH PETS ONLINE

You can visit and adopt dogs, cats and bunnies at either shelter (Martinez or Pinole). You’ll find cats at the shelters and at Pet Food Express in Walnut Creek or Petsmart in Concord. The Martinez shelter is located at 4800 Imhoff Place. You can call them at (925) 335-8300. Shelter hours are Tuesday – Saturday 10am-5pm, Wednesday 10am-7pm and Sunday 12pm-3pm.

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lindsey

A woman killed when she was crushed by a toppling gravel load in Martinez on Monday afternoon has been identified as a 32-year-old mother.

Lindsey Combs died when a gravel truck overturned onto her car near the corner of Shell Avenue and Pine Street just after 1 p.m. Monday, according to the Contra Costa County coroner’s office.

Combs was a hairdresser who attended high school in Martinez and was raising her 4-year-old daughter there, according to her Facebook profile.

Martinez police told investigators with the state Division of Occupational Safety and Health that someone working with JJR Construction had
asked Combs to move her car.

When she got into the car to move it, the load of a truck filled with gravel toppled onto it, crushing her inside the car, according to the
initial reports to Cal/OSHA.

Cal/OSHA investigators responded to look into the circumstances of the accident. JJR Construction was cited only once by the agency in the last
five years, for a minor violation in 2010.

Martinez police have not returned calls for further information about the incident.

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It’s been about four years since we posted this, and figured some of you who might not have seen it the first time would like to check it out.

This brochure shows the original advertisement for the Dana Hills subdivision in the City of Clayton, which was built in the early 1970’s.

As you can tell, life was a little different back then.

Thanks to “Joyce in Clayton” for sending this to us.

ABOUT THE CLAYCORD ONLINE MUSEUM: The Claycord Online Museum is made up of historical photos, documents & anything else that has to do with the history of our area.

If you have any old photos or items that you’d like to place in the Claycord Online Museum, just scan or take a photo of them, and send them to the following address: mayorofclaycord@yahoo.com. It doesn’t matter what it is, even if it’s just an old photo of your house, a scan of an old advertisement or an artifact that you’d like us to see, send it in and we’ll put it online!

Click on the tag below titled “Claycord Online Museum” to view other items!

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

The “Water Cooler” will be up Monday-Friday at noon.

Today’s question:

This week, Utah became the only state in the Nation to allow firing squads for executions. Utah plans to use the firing squad when no lethal-injection drugs are available.

Should California do the same?

Talk about it….

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gross

This needle was accidentally kicked while an 8-year-old kid stepped out of a vehicle in the Big Lots parking lot on Monument Blvd. in Concord over the weekend.

Fortunately, no injuries were reported.

Be careful where you step.

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On Monday just before noon, a BART Police Officer in Walnut Creek observed and detained two subjects for fare evasion.

A wants check on one of the subjects revealed that she had a misdemeanor $5k warrant for burglary issued by the Palo Alto Police Department.

The subject was arrested and booked into the Contra Costa County Jail in Martinez.

BART Police did not release the woman’s name.

 

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bunnies

Two bunnies were stolen from the campus of Valle Verde Elementary School in Walnut Creek over the weekend.

The bunnies were taken from the Valle Verde Children’s Center (daycare).

Witnesses say they were stolen by a group of teens, mostly boys and a girl. They were taken Sunday evening, and there is a reward for their safe return.

If you have any tips, please contact Valle Verde at 925-944-5255.

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