UPDATE: The FPPC will meet Jan. 19 to re-visit possibly imposing a $45,000 fine on Contra Costa County District Attorney, Mark Peterson.
By E. CLARK
Contra Costa County District Attorney Mark Peterson is still in hot water over the misuse of $66,373 in campaign funds, but that water isn’t exactly at a rolling boil.
Only three of five commissioners were present at the Dec. 15, 2016, meeting of the Fair Political Practices Commission. A vote was taken on the matter of whether to approve an agreement with Peterson accepting his apology and imposing a $45,000 fine – which Peterson has already paid voluntarily. The vote was 2-1 in favor with three votes necessary, so the item is being held till the next meeting Jan. 19, 2017.
I’m still at a loss as to why the well-paid DA would use campaign funds for things like lunches and movie tickets. He said in a statement that he “considered the money a loan,” and that he kept track of the expenses with the intention of paying them back over time. But isn’t that what credit cards are for? I guess his method spared any added interest!
I’m also surprised by the silence surrounding the DA’s transgressions. One would think Martinez residents would push back against Peterson’s blatant disregard of the state’s Political Reform Act. It is a law, and he’s at the head of an agency charged with the task of upholding the law. Yet only Bill Schilz of Martinez has publicly come forward with a letter to the editor regarding the DA’s infractions.
Maybe folks aren’t speaking out because Peterson is a nice guy who appears to be on the up and up. Or maybe it’s because the money was supposedly spent on cell phone bills and Chinese food. If the credit card statements included Ashley Madison affair accounts or casino cash withdrawals, maybe we’d all be a little more incensed?
The public isn’t the only body staying mum on the issue. I haven’t heard a peep from the Board of Supervisors on this issue. Why? They oversee our County agencies, and one would think each member would take a public stand on this. I guess it’s easier staying quiet and out of the fray, but I’d like to think we’re electing people with backbone. Perhaps that isn’t the case? …
Oh, boy. Another “Pine Meadows” is afoot with the ballot initiative detailed on page one of this edition.
I’m going to express my opinion here, and I know it may not be a popular one with the “Friends” groups, but that’s what this page is for. If you have a rebuttal, an explanation, a clarification or a public plea, I encourage you to write to email@example.com, and I’ll publish your responses here in future editions.
I believe there’s a war on private property in and around Martinez, and that war needs to end pronto. Our City Council and Planning Commission allowed it to start by delaying the sale and/or development of the former Pine Meadow Golf Course, and now a certain faction of citizens believe it’s their right to tell private property owners what they can and cannot do with their properties.
Somebody somewhere in a position of power should have stood up long ago and referenced the Fifth Amendment’s Takings Clause, which states private property shall not be taken for public use without just compensation.
Now, I know there are proponents of this latest ballot initiative that’ll spout pie-in-the-sky budget figures, including monies the City will again tell them are unavailable for use. They’ll say they “want the best” for the property owners and all involved. They may even mean it, and I believe some of them do. But it’s time to look these folks in the eyes and tell them what they’re doing – and that is spending gross amounts of City time and funds combating issues in ways that are productive to no one.
It is a good and noble cause to wish to preserve open space and save lands for public use. For that, we should commend the “Friends” groups. But to delay or prevent the sale or use of private property and expect the property owners to bear the brunt is not only wrong, but also illegal. Yes, it may be expensive and difficult to litigate, but the Pine Meadow issue is still afloat, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the City of Martinez is the subject of a major lawsuit for keeping the Dean family in the lurch for so long. About seven years and over 70 public meetings, if memory serves right. That’s ludicrous!
Readers, don’t you find it disconcerting to think that some random person or group of people can suddenly have the right to alter the use of your private property, simply by convincing enough registered voters – usually in hasty conversations in grocery store parking lots – to side with them and that their opinions of what should be done with your land are valid? That’s downright scary! And it’s happening right now, right here in Martinez. And pretty soon, it won’t just be happening to the Dean family or the owners of DeNova Homes.
Now, I’m not a policy maker by any stretch, but if something like this latest initiative were to actually be put to a vote, it should include some kind of language stating the new land uses would only take effect after the current properties are sold. Meaning current property owners’ land uses would be “grandfathered” in, and their land wouldn’t suddenly be under the control of others and for public use. The buyers, however, would enter into those sales knowing full well the allowable uses of the property. That seems fair, doesn’t it?
Again, I love open space, and I’m thankful for all that we have here in Martinez. It’s a major part of what makes Martinez pleasant and beautiful. But the Constitution takes property rights pretty seriously, and we should too. There’s also a lot to be said about being good to others and not infringing upon others’ rights to seek happiness and, under the confines of the law, do what they please with their own property.
Marijuana smells awful, and poses public health and safety issues such as impaired driving. I’m wondering how long it’ll take before support groups like “Mothers Against Marijuana” will form, if they haven’t already.
It will be interesting to note, a few years down the line as the data becomes available, how many lives are lost on public roadways due to intoxicated drivers. Not drunk drivers, but high drivers (my apologies for not knowing a better term).
The nation has spent decades and millions of dollars educating the public about the dangers of drunk driving. Will we have to start all over again with marijuana education? I believe so.
Call me uptight or too conservative or whatever you will, but I believe passing Prop 64 was a mistake we may eventually regret.
I think the suggestion made by Councilwoman Noralea Gipner at the last City Council meeting regarding the allowance of a dispensary in Martinez is a bad idea. Having a dispensary here will not stop those wishing to grow marijuana locally. It might, in fact, encourage them, having a nearby supply outlet. And anyway, those that need weed for medical or other purposes can have it delivered to their door within the hour. I say NO to a Martinez dispensary. And you know what they say about putting the genie back in the bottle…. We really don’t need that here, do we?
I’m appalled enough at the amount of people I’ve seen drunkenly stumble from one bar to the next only to then get behind the wheel of a car in a foolish attempt to drive themselves home. It happens frequently on the streets of downtown Martinez. Don’t believe me? Tailgate downtown for a few hours and keep your eyes out. I usually notice it while on late-night walks with the dog. Disturbing.
I have one more likely unpopular opinion to share with you this week. And again, I hope you’ll write in and give me the ol’ one-two should you feel I’ve got it wrong. But with the resurgence of the beavers, the upper regions of the creek have become utter cesspools.
When the poor critters had died off and disappeared and the city removed the clever “Beaver Deceiver” that allowed limited water flow through their dams, the creek was clean and running, albeit very shallow at times. Several species of fish were seen migrating upstream, and that awful pungent smell that once again permeates the creek was gone for a time.
I love wildlife and understand beavers are a keystone species that have helped return many other fading species to the lower regions of the creek, but their dams are wreaking havoc on everything to the south. Surely there’s a solution that will keep the tides flowing and cleaning out the waterway south of their dams. It just needs to be bigger than the Beaver Deceiver. Any suggestions?
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